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Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's a Woman's Responsibility to Keep "Her Man" From Cheating? Really?

I just read a recent article by Kim Olver called "Ten Ways to Keep Him From Cheating"  on Psych Central's Your Tango column which, in my opinion, gives women the wrong message about relationships.  Ms. Olver gives 10 suggestions to help a woman prevent "her man" from cheating.  The article gives the impression that Ms. Olver thinks it's the woman's responsibility to try to keep "her man" from cheating.  Really?  Are women responsible for trying to keep their partners from cheating?  Can we ever control another person's behavior?

As a psychotherapist who has worked with many individual adults and couples on the issue of infidelity, I believe that the responsibility for cheating lies with the individual who cheated--not with the spouse or partner who is being cheated on.

When I work with clients on this issue, no matter what "reasons" the person who cheated gives, whether s/he blames the partner or gives some other "reason," my position is that it's essential for the person who cheated to take responsibility for his or her own actions.

If the person who cheated tries to justify the cheating by giving reasons that were stated in Ms. Olver's article, like:  "I was bored" or "She was nagging me too much" or "I felt like I was disappointing her too much, so I wanted to be with someone who is new and excited about me," that's not taking responsibility.  That's making excuses.  It's an immature response, and if the person who cheated doesn't get beyond that, it usually doesn't bode well for the relationship.

This advice reminds me of a popular 1964 song by Burt Bachrach and H. David called "Wives and Lovers."  Part of the words to this song, say:

"Hey, little girl, comb your hair, fix your make-up, soon he will open the door,
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger, you needn't try any more.

For wives should always be lovers too,

Run to his arms the moment that he comes home to you.

I'm warning you,

Day after day, there are girls at the office and the men will always be men,

Don't stand him up, with your hair still in curlers, you may not see him again."

While this might have been accepted advice among popular songwriters and Cosmopolitan magazine in 1964, women have come a long way since that time.  Many more women today recognize that they don't have to be with a man that they think will find "reasons" to cheat.  

This also reminds me of a time when a client, who got a DWI, said, "It wasn't my fault.  After all, I'm an alcoholic."  That reason certainly wasn't accepted by the police officer who arrested him, and I didn't accept that as an excuse for his behavior.  Although he was a person who had alcohol problems, he was still responsible for his behavior, and taking responsibility was, eventually, a big part of his being able to stay sober.

Just like certain baseball uniform numbers are retired, I'd like this notion that women are responsible for keeping "their men" from cheating "retired" once and for all.

What do you think?

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hynotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my web site:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

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