So I am starting this one worked up again, as that is usually what compels me to write.  One of the things that kind of drives me crazy with divorce is the “blame the victim” mentality.  That is, for some there is never a victim in a divorce, that both sides of the conflict must share the blame of the split and they won’t budge from that viewpoint.  Another blogger, who I absolutely won’t mention as I don’t want to give him publicity or attention cherry-picked one of my articles.

This is how he quoted me.

By her third sentences, she regrets having acted as she tells others they should not — “but not completely.” Why? you may ask. No need: Her run-on sentence goes on to say that she was “mad, extremely mad at my husband who had been…” blah, blah, blah.

Those blah, blah, blahs….that he left out were in fact quite important.  I wrote the following.

I was mad, extremely mad at my husband who had been lying to me for years and living as a closeted homosexual. I had nine years of sacrifice and struggle to keep a relationship together that was ultimately a fraud at its core.

My critic also goes on to criticize me for basically taking none of the blame of my divorce.  And to quote him directly, he claims

“I was 100% right and he was 100% wrong” story.

I hate to break it to this self-proclaimed divorce expert, but sometimes…divorces really are that lopsided.  I can think of my example, and most straight spouses.  A straight spouse is someone who was misled by a closeted homosexual into believing that they entered a marriage with a heterosexual partner.  In some cases, the straight spouse may know beforehand that their partner is gay, has gay tendencies or a gay past and they choose to marry them anyway.  However usually the closeted partner will go to extreme lengths to hide their sexuality.  When the truth is finally revealed what is the straight spouse to do to save the marriage?  Continue to live a lie?  Live a non-traditional marriage perhaps having new sexual partners, but remaining in a sham marriage? My ex-husband begged me to stay with him, work out an arrangement, live with him in a fraud, he was willing to do almost anything to keep me.  I didn’t want to live a lie anymore so I left him.

The only exception I can think of is that if a gay partner and a straight partner choose to stay in a relationship and everything is above-board and honest.  I know of a few examples of non-traditional relationships that work quite well.  But in my situation deception was the only thing keeping my marriage together.  And I knew that by keeping my ex-husband in the closet would ultimately destroy him.  Because “the closet” is a horrible, miserable existence.

If anything by leaving my husband I released him from this destructive self-loathing.   So I am not going to take half of the blame for my divorce.  I was fully committed to my husband, I never had an extramarital affair and that was even after my marriage became celibate.   I put up with lies and excuses because I was dedicated to making my marriage work.

There are other examples of blame not going evenly to both partners, such as

  • One partner is physically abusing the other or abusing the couples children
  • One partner is a serial cheater and has not been faithful to their spouse and cannot be faithful to any partner
  • One partner is leading a secret life that puts his or her family in jeopardy.  i.e. criminal activity without the other partners knowledge
  • One partner is mentally ill and refuses to get treatment
  • One partner has a substance abuse problem and refuses treatment
  • One partner marries the other for a green card or other fraudulent reason

I know it might seem impossible for my critic to admit that there charming yet nefarious people out there who have absolutely no intention of keeping their marriage vows, but these situations are quite common.  I blame myself for picking the wrong partner, but I won’t take responsibility for his lies.

In some marriages both parties have made multiple mistakes, or perhaps entered into the union before they were ready.  They may have both been emotionally abusive to one another or had extramarital affairs.  Financial or lifestyle issues and lack of communication might tear them apart.  Or they simply could have grown into two very different people than when they entered the marriage.  In these cases there are many shades of gray.  Even infidelity sometimes occurs because one partner simply wants out desperately and is looking for any excuse to end it.  They have an affair, admit it immediately and their marriage is over.  Not exactly a serial cheater who lied for years, but a desperate person looking for and end to a broken marriage.  I have had friends go through nearly every scenario, and in most cases the reasons for a split is very murky.  Neither side can blame the other without taking some blame themselves.  But when one spouse enters into a marriage with a secret and lies, there is little the other spouse can do to change that.

Human relationships aren’t so neat and tidy or democratic.   So to those who insist that I or any other spouse like myself should accept responsibility for a person who repeatedly lied during the marriage I say they are way off base.  The best thing we can do is avoid picking another deceptive partner and move forward.


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9 comments on “Divorce – The Blame Game and the many shades of gray

  1. Anders

    My take on this “grammatically sensitive” but context and meaning insensitive blogger, is he’s a Troll. Don’t feed him. You know where you come from in this context. By any reasonable persons standard gay, straight or otherwise, your ex lived a self contradictory life, by defrauding you, and lying to himself. That had to end. Ending it was the only reasonable and compassionate solution. The idea that all marriages are worth saving is wrong. When someone does not understand this they have given up on perception and cognition as a concept for human behavior. The idea that both sides in a divorce must take blame for the split. It’s more about who gets the credit for actually putting an end to stupid. If a relationship is utterly unsuccessful it needs to end and there are plenty of unsuccessful relationships in the world.

  2. tropicaltheartist

    Actually, you could have renamed it “Divorce – The Blame Game and the many shades of gay” and the article still would have been on topic. 🙂

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  4. Brian Chaney

    What about my ex that promised a loving close physical relationship. Then after marriage she thinks 3 times a month of a 20 minute sexual relationship meets the promise. Pulls away when you try to hug her etc. Doesn’t understand when I get upset and then she takes the next 20 years blaming my actions to why our sex life is so poor. Then during the one and only marriage counseling session she states that she never had much of a sex drive. She blamed me for 20 years when I would have done everything in my power to make her happy. Not as bad as an homosexaul partner, but I would bet my experience is a lot more common.
    We Live, learn and move on to make the rest of our lives the best as we can.

  5. Kiri

    HI Juliet, just stumbled upon this blog from Carolyn Castiglia’s page. I went through the same thing and wrote about it in a book, “Can’t Think Straight.” I would say that you need not take on any blame for “picking the wrong the partner.” After all, unless he told you at the beginning that he was going to lie and cheat on you and was, indeed, a closeted homosexual, I don’t see how your picking of him is wrong. I’ve discussed in many of the media stories related to my book how there’s a a blame the victim mentality in this culture, especially having to do with relationships. Over and over and over again I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I must have known my ex was gay. Um, yeah, that’s why I kicked him out the very second I learned about it.

    People generally insist you take blame for something gone wrong, even if you had zero control over the situation, out of fear. The reasoning goes something like this: If something bad happened to you, it must be because you caused it in someway. That makes you not very smart. I’m smart. So nothing back will happen to me.

    If you can cling onto this hypothesis enough, it’s a nice little blanket of comfort to have in a rough and tumble and unpredictable world.

    Watch my video with Gayle King to see how I answer her when she tells me I must have known:

  6. Kiri

    Sorry, I don’t see an edit button and was typing fast. I meant nothing “bad” would happen to me not “back.” Ah, well. I need to proofread 🙂

  7. Ele

    I realize no posts have been left since January, but I need to be heard. Some of you may think I am partly to blame when I tell you I knew before we were married that he had homosexual tendencies. Let me explain. As a new member of the Mormon Church, I was told if we got married those inclinations would go away. That is their belief, and that was their “therapy” 30 some years ago for that “problem”. I was too young to be married, and very naive with little knowledge of the subject of homosexuality and even less knowledgeable of the teaching of the Mormon Church. Through the years I went to counseling and I was told things I could do to make things better. After awhile this did not sit well with me but kids came along and I began to feel stuck. After awhile the “issue” got well hidden and I guess I chose to not care anymore. I had been hurt long enough and what I didn’t know didn’t hurt. One day recently I found out the interest was still alive and well, duh. I had had enough. I got a divorce, and now the story being told is I left “him” with no explanation. I chose to take the high road and not ruin “his” reputation and I have been hurt ever since. I still am not willing to be revengeful, but it is eating me alive. My town turned against me, his family, even some of my kids are more supportive of him than me. Tell me when my vow to be honest and kind will pay off. No, not all divorces take two. I may have stuck in there too long and believed an organization that fed me lies, but I am not to blame for trying to make a 30 year marriage work.

    1. julietjeske

      No your not and anyone who would blame you doesn’t know what they are talking about. There are winners and losers in a divorce and people who don’t understand that are idiots. I was getting a lot of critics attacking me for not taking enough blame in my marriage imploding and I will hear none of it. I know some things about the Mormon faith but I was raised Catholic. But from what I understand everyone marries really young, and if you go against your church you hurt your whole family. So from what I know the “going against you” mentality is quite common. I am not a fan of any organized religion to be honest. I just think they put insert too much control into people’s lives, and it sounds like they were feeding you nonsense. But its over now and as much as it hurts, at least you aren’t stuck in that personal hell anymore. And even if people want to point the finger at you, at least you know the truth. And that is something. Hang in there, you are definitely not alone. I am so sorry for what you had to go through. Much love. 🙂

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