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'infidelity is caused by problems in the marriage'

(240 Posts)
Wellwobbly Tue 08-Oct-13 08:59:24

This has come up again in a thread.

I can't cut and paste (copyright), but would like to post three links of differing views, and ask people's input of what they think of them?




What do you think?

Wellwobbly Tue 22-Oct-13 13:48:55

Blimey, familyscapegoat, that's clever. I think you hit MBP right out of the park!

familyscapegoat Sat 19-Oct-13 16:13:39

It is an entirely relevant comparison. Rape still happens in marriages, as does physical violence. However we know better than to blame the victim and say that he, she or the relationship itself caused it, or that anything was an excusable catalyst for it.

many moons ago on this thread Charbon wrote:

Relationship dissatisfaction and a desire to end a relationship might well be caused by marital problems

Which is presumably why MBP, your friend doesn't blame herself for her husband's choice to have an affair but takes responsibility for her part in the problems that beset her marriage. Since you appear to agree with your friend's take on this, I struggle to see where there is disagreement on your part to what posters (including Charbon) have been saying.

This is precisely the distinction posters have been making; that people have joint responsibility for their relationship but no responsibility for the unilateral and secret decisions made by the other half of the partnership. Their actions might have caused unhappiness and dissatisfaction in their partner either entirely or partially, but if they are not equal partners in the solution and aren't even privy to it, those actions cannot be held to be a cause of a solution chosen by only one of them and kept secret.

As for this:

I accept there are men who just want to fuck women whatever- even if their marriages are ok

This is ridiculously simplistic and sexist. Not all affairs when the marriage is okay are just about 'fucking' and those that are, engage women as well as men.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 16:10:53

Of course you can't.

It's not the subject but the logic behind it.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 16:09:21

Sorry- can't be bothered. If you want to start you own thread comparing affairs with rape or DV then feel free.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 16:02:15

But we are arguing causes, not catalysts, so what is it?

And it was not a spurious example, it's something concrete within DV.
So, please replace with DV, if you want, and try to answer my question, if you love me so much.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:56:50

It was your comparison that was spurious- not the topic of rape.
and I didn't say cause- I said catalyst- I know precisely what it means, love.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 14:53:15

Rape within marriage is not necessarily spurious and it's often claimed by the rapist that it's caused by lack of sex.

And on your previous post you seem to be agreeing with us.
I'm sure he claimed he felt pushed into another woman's arms.
I'm sure his wife would still get the wake up call if he had threatened to leave. So, his choice.

Oh and by the way, a catalyst facilitates a reaction, it doesn't cause it. Basic chemistry.

Wellwobbly Sat 19-Oct-13 14:51:04

Not if you accept that infidelity is abuse.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:47:56

I;m not going to discuss rape except to say it's an act of violence. I think it's spurious to compare it with an affair.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:46:58

I'm not missing anything.

Let me try again if it's so hard for you to get it.

Problems in a marriage do not cause infidelity, per se. But problems in a marriage may be the catalyst for someone's infidelity. The behaviour of either or both spouses may create a marriage in which one partner is unhappy. Their unhappiness may lead to infidelity.

Equally, another couple with the same problems may not experience infidelity.

There is a lot of research about the 'infidelity gene' as well as how family background may be an influence ( men whose fathers had affairs are more likely to have them, for example.)

The couples I know well- where an affair has happened- would all, without hesitation accept a share of the responsibility for creating a marriage which pre-disposed one of them to have an affair.
My closest friend whose DH had an affair believed firmly it was his choice but did say she had behaved in a way that pushed him away, destroyed his self esteem, made him feel unloved, and therefore it was not a surprise that he turned to another human being to feel good about himself. She doesn't blame herself but she does take equal responsibility for the state of the marriage.

I accept there are men who just want to fuck women whatever- even if their marriages are ok- but I also believe that there are times when problems in a marriage can lead to one partner choosing to have another relationship.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 14:30:39


Problems in marriage can cause infidelity.

Problems in marriage do not cause rape in marriage, it's the choice of the rapist.


It's interesting how you choose to argue small points (you didn't really argue against free will, though) and miss out big holes in your argument.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 14:24:05

Emotions are not rational.

Falling in love with someone (else) is not caused by problems in the marriage. It could happen regardless.
But it may not be avoidable.
Still, choosing to have an affair instead of leaving the previous partner is a conscious decision. It involves lying and deception, as well as compartmentalisation.

A man could say he fell out of love with his wife because she was a bitch. If he fell in love with someone else is an accident. If he chooses to have an affair (whether he loves this other woman or just wants a shag) is his choice alone and not because his wife is a bitch.

It's like saying I lied because I knew you wouln't like it. You didn't lie because of the possible response by the other person, but because you didn't want to face the consequences of the truth.

Affairs happen because someone doesn't want to leave their partner while or before embarking in a sexual relationship with someone else.
No other reason.

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 14:16:34

Influence being a compelling force on an outcome and cause being the reason for an outcome.

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 14:14:08

Well, that's what I'm asking. What do you mean by cause? It seems to be that you are equating influences with causes. The semantics are pretty important because as others have explained the idea that infidelity is caused by problems in the relationship is quite victim blaming and often tied to misogyny.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:11:56

Offred- I think this whole thread is falling apart through semantics. I am tired of it now because there is too much confusion over what people means by 'cause'.

I don't know what your point is anyway, so I'm off.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:09:47

Offred- are you wanting specific examples of couples? I could give you at least 3 - close friends- but I'd feel disloyal in case they felt outed. But in each of their marriages there had been severe discord, lack of connection and unhappiness for years and years. They had all tried counselling too- but one partner (wife and husband) chose to have an affair at the height of their unhappiness when someone came into their lives with whom they felt a huge connection.

There- is that what you want?

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 14:09:46

It isn't and I've consistently made those points that you say no-one on the thread is making.

Those points do not mean that problems cause infidelity though.

So what's your point on this thread exactly if you seem to accept problems are an influence on the choice to be unfaithful rather than a cause of infidelity?

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 14:07:20

Offred- I don't know if your post 'you two' includes me?

I don't think I've said anything along those lines. I believe that people do have a choice. I also believe that there are circumstances which influence choice. Choices are made when we take many factors into consideration both consciously and sub consciously.

I fail to see why it's so hard to understand that someone who is unhappy in a marriage for whatever reason and who, at that moment in time, does not want to leave the marriage, may be drawn into another relationship.

What I cannot understand is why this entire thread appears to miss the point that emotions cannot be explained rationally or logically.

People can behave in a way which they know intellectually is wrong, but their emotions carry them forward, even though they may feel regret afterwards. It's called human fallibility.

It's the same principle which applies to almost half the population who are now overweight- they carry on eating cake even though they know it's wrong and will in the end make them ill.
They have a choice to have an apple or a cake- they choose cake.
No one would deny emotional eating. A set of circumstances which predispose someone to comfort eating.

Why is it so hard to accept that marriages may have factors which predispose someone to an affair?

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 14:06:26

See it is will we are talking about rather than free will. No-one on this side of the fence has been perverse enough to argue that problems in a relationship do not influence a choice to be unfaithful.

We're simply saying it remains a choice no matter what way you analyse it. It remains a choice, and that the circumstances surrounding affairs differ wildly. The only common factor being the choice to be unfaithful.

Not sure why you're so invested in the idea that problems cause infidelity? Not sure because neither of you have articulated how problems cause infidelity...

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 14:01:11

Right, ok then...

So, how do problems in a relationship cause infidelity.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 13:57:03

Some philosophers and those who study metaphysics do not believe there is such a thing as free will. Discuss.

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 13:52:13

And I'm aware that a cause can have multiple effects btw. It really is totally irrelevant to the conversation here, which is about whether problems in a relationship cause infidelity.

I'm struggling to understand how you are unable to understand the difference between effect and choice and cause and influence. They are distinct from each other for a reason.

Offred Sat 19-Oct-13 13:44:04

Choices don't have causes. Choices may have influences.

Still yet to explain how problems in a marriage cause infidelity.

I say that as someone who has both been cheated on and cheated.

Very sorry if my last post doesn't make much sense and a lack of commas confuses you. Mumsnet isn't an english exam and I'm recovering from a very nasty tummy bug and haven't eaten for 2 days now. I'm not sure how it detracts from the point though.

You two can bang on all you want about how you disagree but neither of you has articulated your point; how do problems in a relationship cause infidelity? Do you have a different understanding of the word cause?

Missbopeep Sat 19-Oct-13 13:41:17

Ah- you're talking about yourself , Charbon and WW? Yep thought so.

Lweji Sat 19-Oct-13 12:48:27

is there a thing called the reverse Superman effect? Where certain two people always show up together? And they are not a couple.

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