He blames me every time he cheats

All Woman
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DEAR COUNSELLOR,
I have been with my husband for 14 years, married for nine. For all the years of the marriage, I think I've only been happy for one year — and this is not one straight year, but different months over the nine years added to make it one!

My husband has cheated so many times that his own family members ask me why I'm still with him. I asked myself the same question, but I have no answer.

He blames me every time he cheats, saying I made him do it because I disrespected his mother. But every time I ask him or his mother how I disrespected her, there is no explanation. All they can say is that I disrespected her. He plays this blame game over and over and I'm tired of it.

In the 14 years I've never cheated, even after being disrespected by him and those he cheated with. Some of these experiences are too embarrassing to talk about. The worst part is not just him blaming me for his wrongs, but him getting upset and not talking to me for days when I find out, as if I'm the one cheating and I should be apologising!

I've thought about moving out but I wanted to go far away from him, his family, and my family, and just be by myself. However, rent is expensive so my thought is just to stay, save as much as I can, and buy a house.

For the past two months I've been emotionally unstable as he's now accusing me of cheating. He saw me texting a few late nights and early mornings and thinks it's with someone I'm having an affair with. The truth about that is I was only texting my cousin overseas who started a new job where she was on the night shift and was not adjusting well. I told him this, but he fails to believe me.

There is so much hurt inside of me and so much pain to bear. I wish to get some advice.

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It appears that your marriage has been punctuated with unfaithfulness, distrust and emotional turmoil. You seem to have experienced more pain than pleasure throughout the marital journey, which is no doubt your source of distress.

It is a usual tactic of cheaters to play mind games as they attempt to turn the search light away from themselves and focus on the victim. The idea is to make you believe that you are the villain and the reason for his uncaring and ruthless behaviour.

So what's the story with his mom? What is the connection between his cheating and the disrespect he claims you showed to his mother? And how come neither of them can indicate how the disrespect was displayed? This sounds quite curious! Could it be the mother is complicit in her son's infidelity? It's bad enough when the partner engages in adulterous behaviour, but when the parent of the offender fails to condemn such behaviour, it is most troubling.

So your husband's family members are quite aware of his wandering tendencies and would encourage you to walk away. It would be good though if they would have confronted him and denounced his actions over the years. It may have not changed his conduct, but at least he would know that he had no support from them in that regard.

Don't expect the blame game to cease any time soon — this is par for the course for cheaters. They engage in what the therapists call projection. And even if you apologise, he will still have reasons to attribute his unfaithfulness to you.

Suspiciousness is a hallmark of cheaters — they are experts at giving “bun” and expect that they may just be on the receiving end one day. So they are always on the lookout and often misconstrue things to satisfy their insecurities.

So what are your options in this dysfunctional marital relationship? The first thing is to recognise that you cannot take responsibility for another grown person's actions. So don't feel guilty and don't accept blame for things you are not liable for.

Secondly, you must develop a sense of independence because if you decide to move on, you must be in a financially stable position. Your emotional and psychological health is important, so you need to do what is required to ensure your sanity.

Try and remain faithful as you have been so far and give your husband no reason to say you are no different from him. That is probably what he wants to see to justify his behaviour.

You may want to get professional help as you negotiate this disheartening situation, so don't hesitate to see a counsellor and talk about the challenges you are experiencing.

Take care of yourself and be safe.

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Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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