When Dan got married to Marie, he took an oath to love and cherish only her. He also took an oath to be faithful to her. Marie has recently caught Dan cheating with a woman named Teri. She is angry at both of them and in the heat of the moment, that anger is justified. But if we take a step back, does Marie have a rightful bone to pick with Teri? Is her anger towards Teri justified? This is not a trick question. Teri may not have known that Dan was married. Assuming this is true, Teri’s overall anger, while justified, may not be fairly pointed towards Teri.
I bring up this scenario because it is very easy and common for women to get mad at the other woman, to blame her even. I look at anger and blame pointed towards the other woman as a situational affair, no pun intended.
Before I go further, I will acknowledge that you are going to feel what you feel and that I do not have the right to tell you how to feel. I am merely remarking from the objective lens of a Certified Relationship Coach.
Situation 1: The other woman was single or married and did not know that he was married.
If Teri was single and did not know that Dan was married, anger towards her is not justified. I say this with full awareness that when Marie discovers that she is being cheated on, she is going to be rightfully angry and the immediacy of her negative emotions may prevent her from fairly directing them squarely on Dan. But the fact is, Teri was a single woman taken in by a man that she was attracted to. She did nothing wrong in this situation. Some would argue that Teri “should have seen the signs” and that may be true but ignorance and inexperience are not good reasons to be justifiably angry towards someone.
Anger is different from disappointment, by the way. If Teri were married and did not know that Dan was married, Marie’s anger towards her is still unwarranted though disappointment may not be. Cheating goes against the oath that Teri took to her husband and Marie now has first hand knowledge of how that feels. In this, her anger towards Dan for breaking his vows could justifiably translate to her disappointment in Teri for breaking hers.
In neither of these situations is blame warranted. After all, married or not, Teri women did not take a vow to love and cherish only, and be faithful to Marie. And while it takes two to tango, Teri did not know that she was doing the tango with a married man. Hence, she was an unwitting accomplice in Dan’s dance of adultery.
Take what you just read and think about it. We are asking ourselves if Teri deserves anger and blame under the auspice that she had no idea that Dan was married. If she were married, she is a cheater just like Dan but this does not mean that she is to blame for Dan cheating on Marie. This is the connection I make in my pragmatic mind before I lay judgment.
Situation 2: The other woman was single or married and did know that he was married.
This is a bird of a different feather. Anger is warranted all around, let’s start with that. If Teri knew that Dan was married, she would be knowingly contributing to the dismantling of his vows. I do not care if Dan told her that “the marriage was rocky already” or that “my wife won’t touch me.” The bottom line here is that a marriage is a marriage until it is not. Teri slept with Dan knowing full well that he was still married.
Now, the trickier area is whether or not blame is warranted. After all, Teri may have known that Dan was married but she did not force him to cheat. It can often be the case that women will blame the other woman because she tempted him, wooed him with her sexual energy. In some cases, the man will use this in his own defense. I don’t buy it. We all make choices, few of which are more important than when we decide to take a vow with someone to honor and be faithful to them the rest of our lives together. In this, Dan or Marie blaming Teri is completely baseless. Teri did not force Dan to cheat on Marie, even if she is a complete b**ch for knowingly contributing to the dismantling of his vows.
What is not baseless, however, is the fact that Teri was a witting accomplice in Dan’s dance of adultery. In this, I believe that some blame on Teri by Marie is warranted. After all, two people tangoed and both of them knew better. Teri could have and certainly should have declined partaking in the rendezvous but she did not.
In either of these situations, Dan should be curbside rather quickly. Ultimately, he took and broke the vows. And while I realize that I am knowingly and intentionally splitting hairs in the decision of where to lay blame and anger, when it comes cheating and the decision to stay or go, I see things from a very black and white lens. If someone cheats on you, go. There are no excuses for forgoing communication, courage and respect. None.