I think my experience and bionicgal's must have been very different in basic ways. Where she and others are coming from is legitimate for them and I'm sure it's helpful for others to see that perspective.
I just want to chime in for those posters, lurkers, and possibly Morhurt herself who have situations more like mine.
It is debatable whether getting personally healthy first is even possible if there are unhealthy dynamics in a marriage.
During the A, my H came at me over and over with lines like:
"Our relationship is not working because you criticize me. I'm unhappy because you don't show enough affection."
Now, I am a tolerant and loving person, but I wanted to improve our marriage, so I went out of my way to praise him and appreciate him and show lots of affection.
He just came up with other things that were wrong:
"We're living like brother and sister and you have no passion for me."
So, I bought new lingerie and initiated sex every other day in new places, and tried to seduce him back.
Then it was:
"We disagree on how to parent the children."
So I asked his opinion frequently and tried to involve him more in the kids' interests etc.
If I ever suggested that the problem might be within him--that he might be under stress at work, or that he might be depressed, or even that I suspected he was having an affair, he would insist that the problem was the marriage (and my marital failures). His favorite line was:
"We have big problems in our dynamic."
But it was all a big fat lie. The reason he was miserable had nothing to do with me or our marriage. Even if our marriage had not been healthy and positive pre-A, the real problem would still have been the same: WH.
I am so glad I got the help I needed to see that it wasn't me or the marriage. Otherwise, I never could have healed and reconciled. How could I stay married to him if I believed that our marriage dynamic leads to affairs? After all, I was giving my best. It would have been codependent for me to give more.
If my best effort created an unhealthy system for WH than what could I do? Divorce or doormat would be my only options.
As for looking at the family dynamic when adolescents are troubled, I fully support that. But I am not fWH's parent. He was messed up way before he met me. If I felt like I had to raise fWH, and instill in him everything his parents didn't, I would choose divorce.
In fact, it does make sense to look at fWH as not fully grown up, and to search his family of origin for the reasons. It doesn't make sense to search his marriage. Marriage is not the crucible for an individual's deeply held values, thought patterns and coping skills. That stuff is formed in childhood, and certainly before age 31 which is how old fWH was when he married me.
Morhurt, I don't mean to thread jack, and bionicgal, I fully understand that my feelings come out of my particular experience. I did want to get my point of view out there, since this is the R forum and I literally would not be here if I hadn't figured out that fWH had serious damage and he needed to address that. Of course, I was collateral damage and he (and I) needed to address that, too.
If Morhurt's H felt belittled by her asking him to be safe while swimming with kids, then he could have discussed that with her. He could have sought counseling to figure out why he would take her comment that way. Does he have low self esteem? My fWH was defensive about his parenting because his parents were horrible parents. He also tried to twist it and pretend that the issue was my judgement of his parenting. I was just being a normal mom--occasionally advising him or questioning a parenting choice, but believing him to be an equal and good parent.