Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Why is cheating wrong but being a 'bad' partner in other ways is less of an issue?(38 Posts)
Just musing on something I was discussing with a friend.
When you get married you exchange vows promising to be faithful but also to 'love, comfort, honour and protect' or similar.
Being unfaithful is seen as the ultimate betrayal and often (usually?) ends the relationship yet neglecting a partner emotionally doesn't seem anything like as big a deal. Why? To me both are wrong but why is one worse than the other?
Great question but i've no idea. Marking to read people's answers though!
So many times you hear of women staying for decades with men that treat them like shit but if they cheat, it's over. Like he can be a complete bastard, as long as he is their bastard. I don't get it.
Anyone if they wanted can change behaviours, but you can't unfuck someone.
That's a really interesting question... many women put up with abuse, but cheating is the final straw? I don't know, although for some cheating would mark the end of the relationship, I think there are many, many others who turn a blind eye to it. There also must be a good number of cheats that don't ever get caught out.
Abuse is as much a deal breaker as cheating IMHO. Lack of physical affection over a long time for no reason e.g illness is a type of abuse I believe
I think there are other behaviours that I would find worse than cheating tbh.
Just me, I'm probably weird!
I think because of the lying it entails the making your partner feel like they're going mad, taking away their choice to walk away without putting them thro the torture agony and self doubt. Making your partner think they're the crazy jealous harpy.
Putting your partners sexual health at risk.
Expecting your partner to remain faithful to you.
Spending family resources without consent from your partner on someone else.
Playing with your partners emotions and love and trust.
Breaking your partners trust.
Many also then check out of family life because they're in the honeymoon period with the affair partner.
Piling on the mundane shit on your partner and saving the fun bits for affair partner.
It's everything that having an affair entails.
Being a twat doesn't get another woman pregnant or risk you sexual health like piv does. .
If they really are abusive then you shouldn't stay anyway.
But the lying and the deceit of an affair is the thing. Trust. Recoverable? For many, it's not.
Fucking someone else is a pretty flagrant and definitive example of breaking your marriage vows.
Many examples of emotional abuse are less clear cut and easier to rationalise away, especially if your OH is a champion gaslighter.
Also I think emotional abuse is often poorly understood.
How many threads have you seen on here where the Op has detailed examples of horrible, cruel, soul-destroying behaviour from their partner but isn't even sure if they are unreasonable to be unhappy?
I am absolutely not defending cheating, but I really do think there are worse things a partner can do. Circumstances are relevant.
My father never cheated on my mother and was very vocally disparaging about cheaters. But punching her, calling her a piece of shit, treating her like a drudge and breaking her possessions were all fine.
I'd have preferred a discreet affair.
Marriage vows refer to "in sickness and in health", they dont include..."in the event you fall naked onto another person". I think its been said already, some abuse is much less clear cut and many can subconsciously 'excuse' the poor behaviour as a result of not being themselves - depression - stress etc. (Not saying this is right) its far harder to excuse the infidelity because theres no "accident" about it. Anyone might potentially be uncharacteristically grumpy and shout, slam doors after a bad day. It can happen and isnt always worthy of a LTB. Fucking someone else cant be so easily dismissed.
I agree OP. In the weeks/ months before my husband left he broke nearly all of his marriage vows. The only one left was forsaking all others.
Finding out later that he had probably broken that one too didn't make much difference to the betrayal I already felt.
I could probably have forgiven a 'one off' act of adultery because I could have seen it as a mistake rather than a choice.
That said right up until he left I'm not sure I would have realised he was breaking his vows if that makes sense. It was only really the benefit of hindsight. Discovering an affair is much more tangible.
Also breaking one promise usually leads to breaking the others whichever way round it goes.
Simply having sex with someone else isn't nearly as much of a betrayal in my view as the lies/ lack of basic respect / lack of for better or worse etc that usually go with it but I think it serves as a direct comparison to beat ourselves up with - ' why wasn't I enough / not attractive enough ' etc.
The other things tend to creep in much more gradually so you hardly notice them
Having sex with someone else
Even cheating isn't the ultimate failing for a lot of women. Some would rather just put up with anything rather than face a new start. My mum was one of them.
Can somwone put all the tradtioanl marriage vows on here
I think other behaviours are less open & shut (with apologies ) - they tend to be more subtle, drawn out and questionable. (Stiff like: Is he really emotionally abusing me or am I too sensitive? is it petty that I resent ending up doing all the shitwork? etc etc)
But discovering an affair is kinda definite.
I agree with AF , there are women like that. There's also still those who turn s blind eye to cheating 'once he comes home'.
Don't get that either.
There is still the societal expectation that the health of a relationship is wholly the woman's responsibility. If she's unhappy it's up to her to sort it, to make her husband/partner change.
There's another thread running at the minute the OP is fed up and the tip of the iceberg is her husband won't put the bins out. Obviously there's a lot more to it which has come out, but the amount of posters who have basically told her to do more and shut up is shocking.
I think for some people having been brought up in this way cheating is a good solid reason (even though chances are she'll still be blamed)..
I recently left an EA relationship, the nights I fantasized about him having an affair so I could justify leaving. Madness really. I guess its well known that marriages end because of affairs. But less people talk about emotional abuse etc. I have strong ideas about relationships and monogomy and I was brought up to believe you fought for a relationship/ marriage.
I think that is why it took me so long to escape, like it wasn't justified to leave with two kids because he would shout, get angry, be uber critical, insecure, rages, constant nit picking and moods. I feel like it would have been much easier to say "he had an affair, i left". People accept that as a valid reason. Not that you should justify it to anyone, but I feel it.
I feel that especially from the older generation. Its something deep in our society that people put male needs above females and that women should put up with so much shit because historically men had much more control and women had no choice but to put up and bear bad relationships. Its only a few generations ago divorce was frowned upon. Its only been post war that women have much more rights and many are financially in a better situation. Sad, but true.
I guess it depends on how severe the other 'betrayals' are. My H is not abusive, he is supportive. loving and appreciative of me but he is a lazy bugger round the house and doesn't talk about his feelings - that drove me mad over the years but I could deal with it. When he had an affair I couldn't.
Because I am not perfect and for the things he does wrong he could easily point out things I do wrong too. That is life - we aren't perfect beings. I could forgive him for his laziness just as he forgives me for my mood swings and occasional irritability. I think that is the essence of long-term relationship - love in the face of warts and all.
When he had an affair he turned to someone else who didn't have my faults and didn't know his. He made himself available as the perfect man - he became the man I would have loved to have been with - romantic, passionate, a man who could talk and listen for hours on end. In fact the man he was when we first got together. It was that betrayal that stung most of all. What did she have that I didn't? Why could he be that for her and not for me.
Of course it wasn't really like that for them at all but in the first pain of discovery that is how I imagined it. I was shut out from something I deserved to have, that had earned in a sense. It cut like a knife.
Maybe I felt so strongly because we had been together so long and been through so much. So much investment, love, hard work and time rejected for something newer and shinier. Ah, I don't know...... all I can tell you is that it hurt like nothing else <shrug>
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.