If people ever think I made up the Reconciliation Industrial Complex, that it’s a wee bit overstated, consider this misogynist piece of crap that ran in the Daily Mail. “Want to win back a cheating husband? You must first eat humble pie,” says “respected” marriage therapist Andrew G. Marshall. (The “G” must stand for gaslighting.)
The Daily Mail tells us this is the “most unexpected” marital advice we’ll ever receive! Oh I doubt that, Daily Mail. This is really just a slightly more unvarnished bit of the same ol’ same ol’. How chumps need to make the marriage a good place to be. How our inadequacies drive people to cheat on us. And how, gee, it may seem hopeless, but if we just up our kibble game, we can WIN A CHEATER BACK! (Second prize — an all-expenses paid trip to Darfur! Third prize — a lifetime supply of rancid meat!)
So what do you got, Andrew? Lay it on me.
Here, I show how, with a bit of honesty and several servings of humble pie, women can begin the process of reviving the most unsalvageable marriage and win back the love of a cheating man.
Oh yum. Humble pie. Tastes distinctly of shit sandwich to me, but when you dress it up like pie that sounds so much nicer. I can make people — even really despicable people who are abusing me — LOVE me? And you’ll sell me the secret? Tell me more Andrew!
The first step towards recovery needs you to commit to change. And while you’ve probably said you are sorry a million times before to keep the peace, have you made a full apology? This is one that acknowledges your unhelpful behaviour (eg taking him for granted), accepts your responsibility (you’ve been so wrapped up in the children you’ve forgotten to be a wife as well as a mother), expresses sorrow and a determination to change, and is sincere.
So it WAS me all along? It wasn’t blameshifting? Goshdarnit, I’m the problem? You’re entirely correct that I never made a full apology to my cheater for paying off his debts, and financing his career move, and marrying him in front of assembled friends and family, all the while he was cheating on me. Yes, I was unhelpful, it’s true. When he threatened to kill me, those protection from abuse orders really fucked with his job security. Did I forget to be a wife? I was only a wife for six months when the mistress called, so I must’ve really sucked at that wife thing. She predated my relationship with him by about 20 years, so apparently I was sucking at wife and motherhood back in my teens. But I’ll work on my sorrow about that, Andrew. And my sincerity. I promise.
In particular, do you need to apologise for nagging, a habit that could be destroying your relationship?
“Nagging is the repetition of unpalatable truths,” said Baroness Summerkill. Did I speak unpalatable truths to my cheater sometimes, such as “YOU’RE A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR!” and did I insinuate that he needed to stop that? Yes. Yes, I’m guilty of that. The truth did destroy my relationship. That’s on me.
Acknowledge that it must make him feel constantly criticised. Promise not to nag again and that he should say something if he catches you doing it. Though it is tempting to add an explanation for your nagging, it can sound as if you’re excusing yourself and therefore lessens the power of your apology.
Ultimately, if your husband thinks you spend the majority of your time complaining, nagging or getting angry, he will feel that all the joy has been sucked out of your relationship.
Well, here you’re really on to something, Andrew. My ex-husband DID complain that I was angry, and that’s why he wasn’t sorry about his cheating. It was my anger — my anger at his cheating… that made him cheat. Um, that’s still confusing to me, but I don’t want to sound like I’m excusing myself, or lessening the power of my apologies for being angry. I own that was angry. Like gut-him-with-a-fish-knife angry. Or stick-his-head-on-a-pike-for-the-village-to-see angry. Or implode-into-a-state-of-paralzyed-depression angry. I only did the last one, but I thought about the other two.
My cheater, however, was everything you said he should be, Andrew. Every time I nagged him (stated unpalatable truths), by God, he caught me at it and spoke up. He said shit like:
- You should be medicated. I’m okay with that.
- How can I be sorry when I feel defensive?
- You need a beating.
I know he said these things, because I wrote them all down to remind myself to leave him. I didn’t have the benefit of your wisdom back then, Andrew, to wit:
Don’t ban contact with the other woman.
You write that women need to “stop being so controlling” because then “he’ll feel distrusted.” Yeah, I know it’s crazy, but I don’t trust people who cheat on me. And my spouse having side-dish fucks brings out the edgy bitch in me. I get all high maintenance and demanding when that happens. But it could be the PMS too. You know how we edgy bitches get. Never know what’s going to set our hormones off.
Don’t complain if he moves in with her.
Yeah, I didn’t get to try that.
Meet her yourself!
Or that either.
Andrew, for years I wondered why he was such an asshole. Why he felt the need to cheat on me. But today you explained it to me in a way that makes total sense… if I’d had a lobotomy.
“Why has he fallen out of love with you? You put the children first… Your sex life has lost its spark.”
I didn’t have a kid with him, and we had a lot of sex. He was never not cheating on me, as it turned out, so apparently my sex life must’ve lost it’s spark around date #4 or something. I don’t know. If sex was so dull and lifeless, why did he ask me to marry him? Can that be his fault?
If your husband feels that you don’t love him, he can start to feel entitled to look elsewhere.
Yeah, turns out he was never NOT looking elsewhere. But I guess I never told him just how much I cared.
One partner – probably your husband – is feeling ignored, a second-class citizen in his own home.
Only probably your husband? Are you sure about that? I think you think it’s my ex-husband that was feeling like a second-class citizen. But Andrew, I assure you if there was any sitting on the back of the bus, gender apartheid going on — it was me folding that bastard’s underwear, and cooking his dinners, and not questioning his spendthrift habits. He got the bigger cuts of meat, the best parking place, and sex when he wanted it.
But I didn’t cheat on him. So WTF Andrew?
You mustn’t panic. This is the worst thing you can do. More marriages end because of a wife’s panic than a husband’s determination to leave.
Now you tell me! I could’ve made that creep leave if I’d panicked? I couldn’t get him to leave me the fuck alone! Instead I was all strong and stiff-upper-lippy and left him on the sly. But if I’d lost my shit more dramatically, he would’ve been more determined to leave me? Good to know, Andrew. Women’s panic ends marriages. Not infidelity, folks. Panic.
So who is this Andrew G. Marshall? Apparently he has no educational credentials whatsoever, his therapy education being reduced to time spent at some charitable organization called “RELATE.” Yeah Andrew, and I’m a “journalist,” because I print flyers and stick them under people’s windshields.
I don’t think Andrew G. Marshall is real. I think he is an elaborate bit of performance art. Consider the evidence. He’s inflicted his books on the public in 15 different languages, one of which is “Make Love Like a Prairie Vole: Six steps to passionate and plentiful sex.”
And he’s a self-described playwright, author of such famous works as “Coffee Cantata based on the music of JS Bach which toured coffee shops in West Sussex.”
The coffee shops of West Sussex! Christ, that’s as good as La Scala. This has to be satire, right? He’s having us on, or taking the piss as you Brits say.
And can this picture be for real? Andrew G. Marshall looks like Voldemort with British dentistry. If I were to play armchair shrink, which I can because Andrew does too, I’d peg him for a malignant narcissist. A pathetic megalomaniac who can’t get laid, Prairie Vole-style or otherwise, so he has to blame women. For their anger, and not loving him enough, and their stupid, big mouths.
Idiot publishers give him a voice, because he taps into the infidelity zeitgeist, which isn’t radical but the same old blame the victim shit that’s been around forever.
Somebody please keep in him the coffee shops of West Sussex and out of the newspapers. The world doesn’t need any more cheater apologists.
This column ran previously. But feel free to be outraged again in the comments.