For a lot of women, when a man cheats on them, they feel betrayed and will generally blame him. If they decide to share that information with their close friends and loved ones, even they are likely to blame the spouse or partner who cheated.
Some women, if they decided not to leave the relationship, will question their partner over and over about why they cheated and usually, the answers only lead to more questions. Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., a s*x and relationship expert; psychotherapist and author suggests that maybe it is not as simple as we may think:
One of the first things you will need to do to heal from an affair is to explore this question of why it happened and to be open to hearing the real, honest truth. Most people want to blame the cheating partner. And the cheating partner does have to take responsibility for pursuing the outside relationship. But no affair happens in a vacuum.
Collusion in the Affair
Collusion means “secret cooperation.” The dictionary says that collusion is “secret cooperation between two people in order to do something underhanded or undesirable.” Many couples, if they are honest with themselves, may find that the partner who was cheated on colluded with the infidelity even if he or she didn’t participate directly in the affair. That means that on some level, there was some type of cooperation, even if unconscious, to make the affair happen.
This secret cooperation may mean the betrayed partner is doing something in the relationship to collude with his or her partner’s behavior, even if he or she doesn’t realize it. To be unconsciously aware means that on some level, the betrayed partner had an idea that their spouse was cheating.
In a 1995 study, two groups of practicing therapists described extramarital affairs they treated or were themselves involved in. They reported that 89% of betrayed spouses in the study were consciously aware of the infidelity or, even if they did not acknowledge it, really did know about the affair. The majority of the betrayed spouses behaved as if they were in collusion with their cheating partners, even when they said they were opposed to the affairs.
Maria and Frank had been stuck in conflict over Maria’s affair for over a year. Maria had cheated on Frank with a neighbor, Joe, someone they saw weekly for card games and occasional barbeques. When Frank found out that Maria had cheated with Joe, he became incensed and almost left her.
As time progressed and Maria and Frank discussed the affair, Maria shared her confusion with her husband: “I always felt that you approved of my relationship with Joe. You saw how he flirted with me, and you even encouraged me to go over there when his wife was out of town. You used to say that Joe was probably lonely and that maybe I should go over and have a drink with him. Now you are so mad at me! There’s some kind of mixed message here.”
Frank was furious with Maria for insinuating that he pushed her into the affair: “I never told you to cheat with him. Did I ever say, ‘Go sleep with Joe; he and his wife aren’t having any?”
As Frank’s feelings calmed down, he tried to see things from Maria’s point of view, to find some empathy for her experience: “I guess it makes sense that she would move toward Joe. Maybe I was hoping that they would cheat so I would have an excuse to leave.”