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"The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" question

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 fournlau (original poster member #71803) posted at 5:36 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

I looked on the Book forum but there wasn't much about this book. I was hoping there was a discussion. Anyway, the reason I'm posting here is because of something Gottman said. Basically that an affair is never a cause for a divorce, but a symptom of something wrong in the marriage itself.

I'm wondering what people think about this? I was taken aback by that assumption. Especially since we often say that it was NOT caused by the M. I understand that a difficult M is usually close to a 50/50 in fault. But this seems like he is saying that it was the unhappy M that caused the A and not the fault of the WW's character.

How have others interpreted what he said?

[This message edited by fournlau at 5:37 PM, Wednesday, July 27th]

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 7:54 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Gottman walks this back a bit in "What Makes Love Last" and the atone, attune, attach means for addressing infidelity. In the "atone" phase the WS is encouraged to take complete and total blame for having the A.

I still don't 100% agree with the methods (encourages rug sweeping details) but found both books very useful.

I think treating an affair as a "marriage problem" in the sense it is presented in "Seven Principles" is a losing battle.

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 7:55 PM, Wednesday, July 27th]

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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Vomitousmass ( member #62687) posted at 8:06 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

I realize now that our marriage was at least partially to blame for my WW's infidelity. Quite simply, if I hadn't married her she wouldn't have cheated on me. I said "I do" to someone I had dated too little and had not known nearly long enough. I had no idea of the depth and pervasiveness of her dysfunction. It touched everything in some way or another. Given her FOO-filled childhood, I don't know how it couldn't have.

I accept no blame in any way for her actions. She alone bears the blame, but I did marry her without really knowing who she was, or maybe I just ignored what was staring me in the face. The adage "love is blind" comes to mind, but wrapping up all of my own lack of knowledge/understanding in something so pathetically lame as emotional blindness really doesn't cut it. Hindsight would dictate much greater circumspection when making such an important decision about a life partner. I see that clearly now. If only I'd known it back then.

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 fournlau (original poster member #71803) posted at 8:16 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Ok, so I'm not alone in thinking that A's are NOT M problems, they are WW problems! Honestly, it really put me off to the rest of the book, but there are some good bits in there.

I'll look for his other book and see if I can relate better to that one. I was going to suggest this book to my WH but after reading that specific paragraph I'm afraid that he will take it and run with it! Pushing more blame on me as he continues to say that he takes full responsibility for the A but states that there were "contributing factors" that led him there. Mainly our lack of intimacy and me no longer treating him like the center of the family! rolleyes

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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 9:12 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

I read many of these marriage books before my WH's affair. I genuinely like much of Gottman's content. There's an underlying message in most of this marriage literature that one spouse's efforts alone can heal the marriage. I no longer agree with that. Maybe a person can make things worse, but they can't always heal it on their own.

Recently I came upon one of those articles titled "X Reasons Spouses Cheat in Marriage". Usually I ignore, but I read this one. The first ones were problems that could be classified as marriage problems - lack of attachment, etc. The last one was that the cheater has a personal problem or personality disorder. That made me laugh. Reasons for an affair: 1)the marriage, 2)the marriage, 3)the marriage, 4) they're just an a$$hole. Very scientific.

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gmc94 ( Guide #62810) posted at 9:58 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

I appreciate Gottman's work WRT communication. But find him to be pretty much full of it when it comes to infidelity (I suspect he's a FWS himself, but that's PURE speculation). The "Makes Love Last" of atone, attune, attach DOES make sense to me, but (again), his views on the rugsweeping, details, etc. also turned me off. There's something about his style/tone, I dunno, can't quite put my finger on it, that annoys me. I can look past it on the communication stuff, but not on the infidelity stuff.

Reasons for an affair: 1)the marriage, 2)the marriage, 3)the marriage, 4) they're just an a$$hole.

Sorry for the t/j, but OMFG, that made me literally LOL!

M >25yrs/grown kids
DD1 1994 ONS prostitute
DD2 2018 exGF1 10+yrEA & 10yrPA... + exGF2 EA forever & "made out" 2017
9/18 WH hung himself- died but revived

It's rude to say "I love you" with a mouthful of lies

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Shehawk ( member #68741) posted at 4:43 AM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

"Quite simply, if I hadn't married her she wouldn't have cheated on me. I said "I do" to someone I had dated too little and had not known nearly long enough"

I am with Vomitus here only I married a he not a she. After decades tho I would say I did not really know them at all..

I have honestly had what is commonly called a "gut full" of victim blaming particularly by professionals. I daresay they would never think of blaming a spouse who was hit, but they will blame a spouse for getting cheated on. Really? I say to all the victim blamers 'until it happens to you...".

"It's a slow fade...when you give yourself away" so don't do it!

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Unhinged ( member #47977) posted at 5:34 AM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Basically that an affair is never a cause for a divorce, but a symptom of something wrong in the marriage itself.

I was also turned off by some of Gottman's opinions, which is part of the reason I never finished Seven Principles. It's also the reason I got turned off by a great many authors of books about infidelity. It seems that the only people who are adamant that the state of the marriage doesn't factor into why a spouse cheats are betrayed spouses. And there are good reasons for this (which are sufficiently discussed in countless other threads).

I think infidelity is deal-breaker, pure and simple, and a perfectly righteous cause for divorce.

I don't know what it is with all of these authors, these experts, who wash infidelity and spout glitter fart rainbows.

The only book I would now recommend to every betrayed spouse is: "Cheating in a Nutshell," by Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

Married 2005
D-Day April, 2015
Divorced May, 2022

"The Universe is not short on wake-up calls. We're just quick to hit the snooze button." -Brene Brown

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:45 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

What got me in 7 Principles was a comment about how people respond.

IIRC, some people think of good times while fighting; others think of bad times. The first tend to stay together; the 2nd tend to split. Starting on d-day, my (frequent) bouts of rage were always interrupted by memories of good times, and it bugged me. I also wondered for a long time if I really wanted to and could R. That section (paragraph?) of the book would have given me some comfort if I had read the book early on.

As for the M/relationship as a cause for the A, WSes often seem to blame the M. I guess that makes some sense. A person who looks for external validation probably blames the M because the BS didn't read the WS's mind. In those cases, I think the problem is the need for external validation, not the M, no matter what the WS thinks.

My W's IC became our MC, in part because she (the C) places full responsibility for cheating on the cheater. I think I would have done so even without the MC and SI - after all, my W pulled away long before her A, and I was in the same M as she was, and I didn't cheat. I swa my W's A as a symptom of her issues, and I am so sorry she had those issues - but they were hers to deal with.

As for As never being the cause of D, sometimes the A in itself clearly IS the cause for a D. I suspect that the WS's behavior after the A comes to light causes more Ds than an A itself.

SI helped me immensely by showing me that I wasn't alone, that I could heal either with D or R, and that R was possible because there are some fWSes who do the work. I really feel bad about not being alone - I wouldn't wish this on anyone else ... but I'm glad I wasn't alone. crying

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 4:18 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

An Affair is never a cause for D?

Wrong.

The M is the reason that people cheat?

Wrong.

Both partners have blame for an Affair?

Wrong again.

As Lucy says to Charlie Brown "5 cents please".

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

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 fournlau (original poster member #71803) posted at 5:21 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Reasons for an affair: 1)the marriage, 2)the marriage, 3)the marriage, 4) they're just an a$$hole.

laugh laugh laugh laugh

My WH once asked why I was sooooo adamant about refusing his whole "contributing factors". To me it sounds like "I take full responsibility for my A, but..." What I need/want is a full stop! PERIOD! Not a comma and a but! I was hoping this was a book I could share with him but the more I read, the more I feel like it's not for me/us. It feels like you have to treat your partner like a toddler. I'm all for the bids and treating your partner with more respect, but this takes it to a whole other level that seems to fit more to a parent/child relationship than a romantic one. Maybe that's just me.

Either way, my hackles always go up when I see anything that tries to blame the M for an A!

The1stWife

An Affair is never a cause for D?

Wrong.

The M is the reason that people cheat?

Wrong.

Both partners have blame for an Affair?

Wrong again.

As Lucy says to Charlie Brown "5 cents please".

You have my money! laugh

The only book I would now recommend to every betrayed spouse is: "Cheating in a Nutshell," by Wayne & Tamara Mitchell

I think if my WH read this book he would throw up! Too many harsh truths! He probably wouldn't get through it at all, still too much shame and guilt on his part!

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Definedbygrace ( new member #80351) posted at 5:47 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Blaming the marriage for someone cheating to me is like blaming the marriage for someone being emotionally or physically abusive to their spouse. Its NEVER OK and its never 'understandable' or a reasonable response.

NEVER

Its abuse and theres never a valid excuse for it.........

[This message edited by Definedbygrace at 5:49 PM, Thursday, July 28th]

Me: BW63 (24 at time of betrayal)Him: FWH66 (26 at time of Adultery)DD: 3/86 14 month NSA PA with married Co worker, 6x for lunch time quickies between 10/82-11/83Severely Retriggered 9/2021Reconciled but still healing from trigger

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BraveSirRobin ( Guide #69242) posted at 9:02 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

To me it sounds like "I take full responsibility for my A, but..." What I need/want is a full stop! PERIOD! Not a comma and a but!

I've quoted this before, but one of my favorite lines on the show Game of Thrones was "Father always said everything before the 'but' is horseshit."

Even if the marriage had issues before the affair, those issues do not justify the affair. The Stark Horseshit Rule would indicate a difference between "I was wrong to cheat, but I was unhappy" and "I was unhappy, but I was wrong to cheat."

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 4:15 AM, Friday, July 29th]

WW/BW

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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 9:06 PM on Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Ever since published studies (ie: by Dylan Selterman, Justin Garcia, and Irene Tsapelas detailing "The Eight Key Motivations For Relationship Infidelity") in journals such as Psychology Today, therapists and analysts, bloggers, influencers etc. have jumped on this bandwagon.

The studies involved the sampling of 495 cheaters asking them why they cheated.

Obviously, not an empirical study of the "Key" motivations. Should have been titled: "The Eight Common Excuses Broken People Give For Cheating"

The studies miss the point that healthy well adapted emotionally mature individuals do not resort to blowing up their lives, their marriage, their families causing severe and many times irreversible trauma-damage because of issues in their marriage. The studies fail to address the fact that many cheaters never initiated even the most preliminary and fundamental forms of redress before resorting to the nuclear option.

**It’s akin to asking 495 rapists why they rape and concluding their 8-key motivations are:

-I was lonely

-I was horny, deprived of intimacy

-She asked for it, deserved it

-I was angry

-I need variety

-It was situational

-Low self esteem

-I enjoy the thrill, my life is otherwise dull

Or armed robbers:

-I needed the money

-I can’t get a job

-Those rich bitches had it coming

-They’re insured, they can afford it

-I enjoy the thrill, my life is boring

-I feel empowered

-My childhood lacked….

Like if anyone experienced these same hardships and needs, they too would cheat.

They really need to look at cheating more as a crime, or maligned act, a symptom of a deeper psychological issue rather than a symptom of a troubled marriage. It would reframe pop psychology’s view and assumptions. When you consider the victims, the trauma, the damage, and the premeditated immortality, dishonesty…

In the business world, a breach of contract akin to adultery would result in Compensatory, Punitive, Nominal and Liquidated damages. If you consider the the personal injuries willfully inflicted…

**Apologize for the Rapist analogy. Can be an example of Godwins Law of Nazi Analogies.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 10:17 PM, Thursday, July 28th]

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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 12:40 PM on Friday, July 29th, 2022

I also wonder if Gottman feels this way because he is an MC?

If an MC sees saving the M as the goal, then you have to get both sides to the table. So you package the problem as less "you are a broken mother f-er" and more "what could each of you have done differently in the M" to lure the WS into participating (and maybe to give the BS a sense of control over the outcome, which we know they do not have).

I hated MC for the same reason that I hate Gottman's view: both sides do not always have equal issues or even any valid complaints. Just because there ARE two sides doesn't mean both side's positions are valid. Hell, I can creatively justify any and all shitty behavior if I want to, simply because I enjoy the challenge. That has nothing to do with any validity in my reasoning!!!!

"Ice cream for breakfast is a great idea because it has protein. And we all need some calories to start out the day!" I mean, come on! MC gives way to much credit to validating the feelings of both sides no matter how weak or inadequate the reasoning and justification.

So is Gottman's belief here just an extension of his background and his belief in equal fault to save the M? "Both sides MUST be to blame!"

Not all marriages can be saved. Not all marriages should be saved. And at times, I felt MC was psychologically abusing me to avoid making my H feel like the broken, dumb ass idiot that he was. Really, really unacceptable.

I question the idea that Gottman or other MCs can be objective if they view their personal success based on their ability to keep couples together. Should a husband stay with his child abusing wife? Should a wife stay with her serial killing husband? My friend divorced her embezzler husband while he was in prison. Is that an MC failure? Was she "part of the problem in the M"?

I am not a fan of MC unless your biggest problem is whether the toilet seat should be up or down. Then I will read Gottman's views.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 12:44 PM, Friday, July 29th]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 6:24 PM on Friday, July 29th, 2022

EDIT: Oops. Accidentally hit save too soon.

My WH once asked why I was sooooo adamant about refusing his whole "contributing factors". To me it sounds like "I take full responsibility for my A, but..." What I need/want is a full stop! PERIOD! Not a comma and a but! I was hoping this was a book I could share with him but the more I read, the more I feel like it's not for me/us. It feels like you have to treat your partner like a toddler. I'm all for the bids and treating your partner with more respect, but this takes it to a whole other level that seems to fit more to a parent/child relationship than a romantic one. Maybe that's just me.

Either way, my hackles always go up when I see anything that tries to blame the M for an A!

fournlau,

I feel I understand your frustration with the MC and marriage self-help literature. If both parties come into marriage counseling (or read marriage help books, etc.) with the idea that they both want to be totally open and do what they can to see if issues in the marriage can be resolved between two equally valid viewpoints, I think that's helpful. If one party brings another into marriage counseling to prove to them that they're viewpoint is the right one or to try to change the other party and the other party is resistant, I think that's probably not helpful.

In my case, my husband and I went to MC 10 years prior to his affair. I was unhappy with the marriage and connection, intimacy, etc. I also read and tried to apply all the advice in the marriage books. My WH told me years later that what he got out of the MC was validation of his feeling and viewpoint. He left that feeling he was right and I was wrong; and any problem in the marriage was because of me. He didn't tell me that until after his affair. If he had, I would have divorced. Also, he felt continually more entitled and deserving of having his desires met in the marriage. That is like a toddler or a spoiled child.

If you introduce the "love languages" to an entitled and resentful spouse, they're probably likely to see everywhere where you should improve meeting their love languages, rather than where they could improve themselves.

It's still a huge mystery to me why my WH would decide after D-day to put so much effort into the marriage after de-valuing it and me for so long. I know that's some form of regret and not remorse, but I still can't get that concept in my head deep down. If I imagine a scenario where I do have an affair, it would involve me being fully 100% done with him and the marriage.

I do think MC after the affair was helpful in me understanding how his upbringing and thoughts and feeling patterns affect his behavior and reactions. I couldn't tolerate MC until years after D-day. There were too many defensive walls that wouldn't let me attach and feel any sympathy or empathy. The early days when I tried, I just wanted to slap him and scream, "What about me you stupid jerk!"

The writings on infidelity are even worse. The article I mentioned had 4 reasons for affairs, and one was that the spouse was incapacitated by a health or mental issue. I don't think that's too common, except as a WS excuse. The author could have continued with 1940s movie plots and included: 1) seduced by the spouse's identical twin, and 2) spouse is lost at sea and presumed dead but shows up years later on the day of your wedding when you're remarrying.

[This message edited by humantrampoline at 6:33 PM, Friday, July 29th]

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id 8747707
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 7:18 PM on Friday, July 29th, 2022

If I was 100% done, I would leave, not have an affair. I don't get exit affairs. They are harder for me to understand than the much more common cake eating variety.

Reasons for affair:

It feels good.

It feels good if you resent your spouse.

It feels good if you are happy at home.

It feels good if you are stressed.

It feels good if you are content.

It feels good if you are grieving.

It feels good if you just had a major life accomplishment.

It feels good basically regardless, and that's why the A is on the WS, 100%.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 7:26 PM on Friday, July 29th, 2022

This0is0Fine,

If I was 100% done, I would leave, not have an affair. I don't get exit affairs. They are harder for me to understand than the much more common cake eating variety.

I understand that. I was thinking that I am married until I'm not, and in that case there would might be several years where I'm out and gone and waiting for it the divorce to finalize.

posts: 564   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
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Dkt3 ( member #75072) posted at 9:59 PM on Friday, July 29th, 2022

I like to say if marriages cause affairs there would be 100% infidelities in 100% of marriages, no doubt. All marriages are troubled at some point, every spouse is unhappy at some point.

I personally find it insulting that so many suggest it. Every BS here was in the same marriage as thier WS. Why didn't they cheat? In that answer you will find the real reason people cheat.

posts: 111   ·   registered: Aug. 3rd, 2020
id 8747725
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 12:37 AM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

It’s interesting, we focus so much on psychologists, therapists, Hollywood, courts, clergy, etc. for letting Waywards off the hook, making excuses for cheating, blaming the BS, blaming the marriage when…

WE’RE the one’s chiefly and ultimately responsible for, and to blame for, letting Waywards off the hook, blaming ourselves, blaming the marriage, the APs, complicit friends, circumstances, the family of origin.

Damned near every inch of forgiveness, lenience given to cheaters, every lack of consequence or justice is, given by us, the Betrayed Spouses.

And then we compound our trauma by subscribing to trickle truth, rug sweeping, minimizing, blame shifting, premature MC, inappropriate or inept IC, opening ourselves up to the judgment of others…

when we have the absolute power to control all of the above.

posts: 947   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8747796
Topic is Sleeping.
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