Trying to understand why do cheaters blame their spouse is a good way to figuring out your road to recovery after the infidelity. Coming back from cheating is all about understanding and healing the root cause. So what do they do it, what does it mean and what should you do now?
Cheaters often seem to blame their spouses as a defense mechanism. As humans, we’re hard-wired to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and form narratives of the world that comfort us. Cheating spouses will often convince themselves that something you did cause them to cheat.
We can sum it up in one word: justification.
We’ll get into what it means for your marriage and what you should do next.
Why do Cheaters Blame Their Spouse?
You’ve just had your heartbroken after finding out that your spouse has cheated on you but then it’s made even worse as they are putting the blame on you. Not a great combination.
This combination happens far more than you might expect though. I’ve even seen cases where the emotional shock of the infidelity is so much, the partner doesn’t even question this reasoning and assumes they did actually cause it.
It’s human nature to look for excuses when something bad happens. People don’t like accepting that they were in the wrong. They are looking for a reason to not feel as bad about something as they should be. The reality of doing something horrible to a person can be hard to take.
While in work you may blame your manager, work schedule, system or colleagues, when it comes to cheating there is only one place the blame can be shifted, to you. Statements such as “I only did it because . . .” are common but never a valid reason to cheat.
We’ll go over some of the other common reasons but if you take nothing else away from this, at least remember this:
Marriage takes work from both of you and you’re both responsible for putting in effort. You are not responsible for them cheating however. Even if it feels like this is the end of your marriage trust me, I’ve seen marriages come back from far, far worse. Even if it feels like they don’t want to try any more, take the marriage assessment quiz and we’ll figure out how to get your marriage back on track.
The ‘Hail Mary’ Distraction
They might well make a Hail Mary attempt at distracting you from your anger. The way they see it, they’re already in trouble so if this has a chance of working they might as well try. I covered this in more detail answering a question on husband denying cheating despite evidence but the same holds true for wives.
You’ll no doubt be angry that they’ve been unfaithful. Blaming you is a way to distract you from that emotional anger and get you thinking about something else. You may start thinking “maybe I could have done more . . .” when in reality the cheater needs to face up to what they have done.
Now, don’t get me wrong. In the long-run, both of you are going to need to put some effort into fixing things but don’t let this tactic work. In the short term, they’re going to need to accept they were at fault.
Your spouse may have valid reasons for feeling deprived of sex or attention. If this is the case, they can prey on that to make you feel guilty. It’s always important to remember that the answer to marital problems is never infidelity.
Straight Up Avoiding Confrontation
Not many people like confrontation and will do anything they can to avoid it. It’s often the cowardly way out of taking the blame. If they can blame you for the affair then the confrontation will be minimized.
The fear of confrontation may also be why they cheated in the first place. Instead of dealing with their issues head-on they instead turned to have an affair as an outlet. Trying to turn that blame to you is a way of trying to turn the argument on its head.
This can seem like some impressive mental gymnastics but remember:
These are not logical decisions. Emotion and base level survival instincts are calling the shots here. We’re going to need more than logic to make them accept the blame and move on – but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Blaming you may also be a power play to force you into accepting a type of relationship that you don’t want. “I have a bigger sex drive . . .” could be true or false but it’s irrelevant in this context.
There might be other issues you can work on afterward but this isn’t the time to allow emotional manipulation taking advantage of the pain of the infidelity. The only way you both truly come back from this in the long term is to address this properly.
This comment was sent by a reader. It’s a little darker than I like to assume about people but, yes, it could be a factor.
There could even be darker narcissistic elements at play where cheaters in a marriage feel they deserve to have sex with anyone they want while you don’t deserve the same in return. They may also be misandrist or misogynist and feel as though the opposite sex doesn’t deserve the same rights. Needless to say, this is all completely inappropriate behavior.
Common Excuses for Cheating
In my years of talking to people about their marriages (and my own), I often say you’ll not surprise me. I’ve heard it all.
Some of these excuses are prime examples of cheaters blaming their spouses to various degrees. While you’re entirely right to feel anger at them pinning it on you – try and pay attention to what they’re saying.
While cheating is firmly their fault, the reason they give will give you an idea of where they feel there’s a problem with the marriage. Even if it isn’t responsible for the cheating, it’s good to know.
We don’t have sex anymore
After a few years, it’s inevitable that you’re not going to have as much sex as you used to. The honeymoon period ends and other things can get in the way such as children and work. You shouldn’t feel guilty about this and it’s an issue that many couples work through. It’s never a valid excuse for cheating. It’s an extremely common problem and a strong person would address the issue with their loved one and talk about how they can overcome it rather than having an affair.
We’ve drifted apart
This happens. Sometimes relationships lose their way and some can be saved and others can’t. The solution to this is with communication and talking through your issues. The solution will never be found by cheating. You may have lost that spark and perhaps you should have put in more effort but that isn’t the point. Relationships are a joint effort that shouldn’t be ruined by a selfish act.
I just needed to feel loved
Your spouse may feel they don’t get the attention they need and perhaps the compliments you used to give them have faded away. Areas such as this may be something that you need to improve on but your spouse should address this through words and not adulterous actions. Often this is simply not true and they make up excuses to have an affair.
I’m not attracted to you anymore
This type of comment is simply designed to make you feel bad about yourself and justify their cheating. Any relationship solely based on physical attraction is doomed to fail. Marriage for most people is an eternal monogamous bond and if that’s what they signed up for, cheating is not acceptable. If they make a comment such as this then you seriously need to think about whether or not they have enough respect for you.
I’m bored with our sex
For many couples, sex can become a bit routine and it may get boring after years of doing the same thing. While that may be true, many couples will talk through these issues, try different things and find something new. That something new should never be another partner and it’s not a valid excuse. There are endless books, articles and resources that aim to solve this without someone having an affair.
We never spend time together
Perhaps work takes you away from home for long periods and you can’t spend the amount of time together that you used to. No relationship is plain sailing and there are a right way and a wrong way to deal with your issues. Cheating is always the wrong way. Being made to feel guilty when trying to provide for your family, for example, is cruel.
You deserved it
They may be trying to get you back for something that you did. You may have had an affair or done something else terribly wrong. While this can be more of a complex issue, it’s still one that needs to be solved with communication. A relationship will never survive if you’re simply taking turns in hurting each other.
Don’t Accept Guilt
We looked at a few common excuses there and they all had one thing in common, they aren’t good enough. Maybe you’ve been neglecting them, not giving them attention and perhaps you have drifted apart. Maybe the problems in the relationship have been caused by you. Even if they are, cheating is not acceptable.
Whether you decide to forgive your spouse or not is completely up to you. One thing that you should never do is accept culpability for the affair. Whatever the circumstances around it, cheating is never going to be the answer. If they had a problem then they should have talked to you about it, end of the argument.
Trying to shift their guilt onto you is nasty and manipulative. They need to take responsibility for their actions then it’s up to you whether you want to work on your relationship or end it.
How Do You Come Back from This?
It’s not uncommon for cheaters to try and blame their spouses. For that matter, it’s also not uncommon for marriages to go through infidelity and come out stronger on the other end.
Whether or not that’s right for you isn’t for me to say. If you’d like to dig a little deeper I do have a guide on how to save your marriage or you could take a minute to dig a little deeper into your marriage.
Is it my fault my spouse cheated on me?
No, it’s not. Whatever the excuse may be, it’s not going to be good enough. You may have some genuine problems is your relationship and some of them may be things that you can work on but that will never justify someone cheating on you.
Why do cheaters act like victims?
There are a wide number of excuses that a cheater may use. They are an attempt to justify their actions and make themselves feel better about the mistake they’ve made. Blame is an easy way of not facing up to what they’ve done.
Do cheaters cheat again?
Not all cheaters will cheat again but some will. People can change as some will accept what they have done is wrong and work on changing their behavior. If the cheater is unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions then that would be a huge red flag.
Can you love someone and still cheat?
There is no doubt that some people cheat even though they still want their marriage to continue. Whether you can truly love someone and do such a thing is another matter. Many cheaters will say they are still in love the act shows a huge amount of disrespect.
Should you forgive a cheater?
This will be completely up to you as every relationship is different. If they are remorseful and accepting of the blame then you may feel they deserve another chance. Make sure the decision is yours and you’re not making it because you feel guilty.