Blaming the Non-Cheating Spouse?

Blaming the Non-Cheating Spouse? July 26, 2019
The only Roomba I could afford as a young Quiverfull mother. Screen cap from a YouTube video.

Through the years I sometimes cover Evangelical writer Sheila Gregoire. Rarely because much of the time she’s perfectly nice, not fulminating poisonous tripe, like say Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife does. Her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum is more concerned with things like Christian women knowing they are supposed to be having orgasms too. I see that blog title, laugh and think, “Girl, get a Roomba and be done with the vacuuming!”

Today Sheila is taking on a rather vile assertion by the guys at Focus on the Family. They’ve released a book titled “How God Used the Other Woman: Saving Your Marriage After Infidelity” by Tina Konkin

This is one of those posts Sheila does where I am shouting from the sidelines “Right on!”. I totally agree with her. I don’t always agree with Sheila about everything, but I appreciate that she does not fall apart, run away crying, or get hyper defensive like Lori Alexander does. We can agree to disagree.

The gist of this awful book is that wives who are cheated upon bear responsibility for the actions of their husbands.

Sheila starts where I would, you cannot own your own problems and rebuild your marriage until the cheating spouse owns their cheating and repents from it. Sometimes that never happens.

Toxic ideas flourish at Focus on the Family that make marriage an Idol

Focus on the Family tweeted this about the book:

Sheila’s response:

The first step must be repentance. No ifs, ands, or buts. If Focus on the Family had said something like:

 

“He had an affair and repented. She found the strength to forgive–and the humility to rebuild the marriage.”

I’d be fine with that. But the way that Focus worded that status, the thing that mattered was not his repentance but her acknowledging her role. That’s toxic thinking.

Do you expect anything non-toxic from Focus on the Family, a group whose leader bragged about his mastery over a small dachshund he furiously beat into compliance? Emotionally healthy people do not think animal abuse is such a great thing, much less an analogy for how to treat your strong willed child.

Is she to blame?

Sheila writes up a long laundry list of why it is not the wife’s fault if the husband cheats that I encourage you to go read, but this really boils down to one thing and one thing alone. This.

The cheater made the decision to cheat. No one else did.

No matter how good or bad the marriage is the person that cheated crossed that line into infidelity all on their own. They didn’t consult the cheated. They decided their own sexual gratification was worth more than their children and spouse, the hurt it would cause, and the ongoing damage. They willingly violated with promises made on their wedding day. It is one of the deepest betrayals someone can do.

I’m not talking about those marriages where there is an agreement in place that fidelity is not required, or people estranged and separated. I’m speaking of those where it’s likely the put upon partner has no real clue this has happened until it’s  too late to salvage much of the marriage. The cheating, lying, emotionally abusive people that string the unsuspecting spouse along.

Blaming the unsuspecting faithful long suffering wife to a husband that cheats is such a slippery slope into blaming women for all sorts of things that they have nothing to do with. Example: At my old church I was blamed for my husband deciding on his own to leave the church, even as I was staying. Not that leaving a church and infidelity to anything to do with one another. These are the same kinds of weak Christian men that refuse to take any responsibility for their own actions. The kind of men that likely blame Jackie Kennedy Onassis for not picking up pieces of her husband’s skull and wiping down the blood from his assassination, something so inappropriate in any moment that she is in no way responsible for.

A comment from Sheila’s site that explains this horrid tendency in Evangelical Quiverfull to pin the blame for every horrible thing on women:

But a choice to cheat is on the cheater.

And the problem is that there is a HUGE problem of women being blamed for things without there being proper blame on the husband.

A woman is cheated on – well what did she do? Did she sleep with him enough? Disrespect him?

A woman is raped – well what was she wearing? Did she go out somewhere alone? Why didn’t she scream louder?

A woman is abused – well did she make him angry? Did she start the argument? Was she struggling to submit?

It’s not on the women. It’s on the cheater.


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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ingeborg Nordén

    Female victim-blaming: Poisoning religion since the dawn of civilization.

  • Jennifer

    Good for Sheila! She’s exactly one of the bloggers conservative women will listen to, and they really need to hear this.

  • Cynthia

    SO glad you are spreading the word about Sheila! If you haven’t done so, please see this blog post about a month ago, where she admits that she was naive about Focus on the Family: https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2019/06/podcast-naive-beth-moore-focus-on-the-family/

    While, once upon a time, Sheila and Lori seem to have gotten along, Sheila is a decent human being which meant that Lori turned on her. Sheila, being a decent human being, doesn’t think that it is right to hit babies with plumbing line or encourage a wife to stay and submit harder to a violently abusive husband. She therefore had a problem when the Pearls wrote books that encourage these things, and she called it out. Lori ran to criticize Sheila in the comments section for being mean to her idol Debi Pearl, and Sheila politely but firmly stood her ground against abuse. Since then, Lori – who tolerates absolutely no dissent against herself in the comments section of her blog – allowed her husband and another male commenter to make repeated nasty comments about Sheila. For her part, Sheila just didn’t engage, because she’s not petty and she’s become pretty successful.

    I’m not Christian, but I really, really like Sheila. No, I don’t agree with her on everything – I have different views on things like porn and erotica and vibrators and the 2016 US election – but she will post my comments and is able to engage in rational discussion, and most of all she just seems like a fundamentally decent human being, who increasingly has the courage to call out bad stuff that she sees even when it comes from powerful organizations that claim to share her faith and that had supported her in the past. Because of her position, she can help conservative Christian women fight against misogyny better than I can. [On a personal level, since her husband is a doctor and our husbands both did residency in the same city just a few years apart, I relate to her even though we haven’t met IRL. I’m pretty sure that we must know people in common, and I know that I was living just across the street from the hospital when her infant son passed away.]

    She used to go on Focus on the Family radio and had a relationship with the organization, naively thinking that they were a good Christian organization that actually wanted to help families. In totally good faith, she and her assistant realized that the book “Love and Respect” was toxic and they did a thorough academic-style statistical analysis of all the comments that they got about it, and sent it off to Focus on the Family. Since she had worked with them, she thought they would appreciate knowing that a product they were pushing could be dangerous. They wouldn’t give her the time of day, but let others know that they disagreed with her criticism of the book

  • It’s surprising to hear a conservative evangelical Christian woman make such a bold yet accurate statement! Maybe the tide is turning?

  • persephone

    Church attendance has been falling. The evangelicals have been trying to breed members, much as the Catholic Church did for centuries, but the kids are often not buying into it. They’re trying to keep the youth interested using young preachers, in jeans and expensive kicks, and deemphasizing the more psycho dogma, and sometimes that works. The ages of people attending church keep rising, and they’re dying off. Boomers and some Gen X and Y may still be attending church, but Millennials and Gen Z are not.

    I hope it continues.

  • Aloha 2

    Sounds like a decent book! You can also read my pastor’s new work, “How my wife’s secret career as a stripper made me a better man.” It’s very encouraging how he realized that his wife’s poor choices were all his fault.

  • I hope religious affiliation continues its rapid decline too (as a gen x who gave up religion over a decade ago and whose gen z kids think all religion is mythology). At least I hope the more toxic brands die off soonest……

  • AFo

    It’s funny how they’re all about personal responsibility and accountability until it’s a man screwing up.

  • Friend

    Re: expensive kicks, have you seen the Instagram account called PreachersNSneakers? It shows celeb pastors in their favorite outfits, along with advertised prices. Like a “pastor” in a $9000 parka.

    I’m grateful that someone is taking the time to decode the various forms of showing off. Younger folks will know a Gucci baseball cap, but I was blissfully unaware.

    https://www.instagram.com/preachersnsneakers/?utm_source=ig_embed

  • Friend

    There used to be something called Mad Magazine’s Thinnest Books. Hmm… what would be on the Christian literature shelf?

    I Sent My Kids to Public School and Didn’t Spank Them, And They’re Fine

    My Husband Encouraged Me to Develop My Own Credit Score

    The Christian Lady’s Guide to Yoga Pants

  • Saraquill

    If only Anna Duggar had people like this surrounding her.

  • Ruthitchka

    Kudos to Sheila and to you, Suzanne, as well. We women are blamed for every darn thing here in the U.S.A. A prominent example is when the Trump campaign brought all of Bill Clinton’s, er, lady friends to the debate with Mrs. Clinton. It’s as if she was being tried for his crimes.
    My ex, in 1988 (?), had a one-night stand with a co-worker, came home and BLAMED ME. Sound familiar. I sought marriage counseling, because I was a fixer. We had small kids, so I had a strong interest in “saving” the marriage. The marriage sort of worked until my kids grew up and left for their own lives. After they left, the gloves came off the ex-husband’s hands, so to speak.

    I eventually left my ex, but due to me realizing I was in a domestic-violence situation and HE was the perpetrator. The verbal violence had gone on for years, with him blaming me for every unhappiness he experienced in life and telling me what a crummy wife I was.

    Anyway, this book published by Focus on the Family sounds very toxic and damaging. Then again, our American society is very toxic and damaging to women as well.
    I admire this Evangelical lady, Sheila, whom I’ve never heard of before, for speaking up about this.

    Blaming a woman for her husband’s affair is akin to blaming a woman for her husband beating her. The first Al-Anon book I ever got, One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, asked the reader to look at her own part in provoking her husband to being violent. Even in 1989 or so, when I first read that page, I was absolutely livid. I feel similarly these days about having been blamed for my ex’s affair.

  • This times a million.

  • Jennifer

    Praying they find the true God and not a legalistic, myopic, hateful or passive version.

  • Yes that’s so disturbing

  • Which is the typical evangelical type…..

  • That is horrifying that Al Anon literature blamed people it’s supposed to help

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    The 2016 US election? Oh God, is she into Trump? Because if she voted for that Nazi, frankly, fuck69 her. Those children in the camps are on her conscience, no matter what she has to say about the female orgasm an Focus on the Family.

  • Jennny

    I think we should start a charity to send care packages to all these poor downtrodden hard-done-by males…consisting of a Roomba, a microwave and a blow up doll…they’d be sorted for life, all their needs met without harming another fellow human being ever again.

  • Jennny

    OT, the Mrs Rod, who is so desperate to be QF royalty has got her DD betrothed to Anna’s brother…. Wonder how big a part that played in him being considered suitable…. that poor naive couple

  • SAO

    That was something the Russians did. The result? The Russian Orthodox church photoshopped out 1/4 M$ watch of the patriarch. Most Russian politicians have watches that cost far more than their financial disclosures suggest they can afford.

  • Friend

    Clearly your ex was abusive. You were right to leave.

    I do not know what you read from Al-Anon (can’t see that edition online). I accept your account. However, I personally have never seen an Al-Anon publication, or group, tell victims to blame themselves. Al-Anon tries to help people find insight and power over their own situations—to free themselves, whether they stay or leave, and whether or not the alcoholic stops drinking.

    Again: I believe you.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Oh Mrs. JRod! The most ridiculous and over the top practitioners of QF trying to be royalty. She brings the laughs.

  • persephone

    Yeah, it’s ridiculous. That’s why I mentioned the expensive sneakers. The whole, “Oh, he’s one of us, just jeans and a plain shirt, and sneakers.” But the jeans are True Religion, the shirts are designer, and the sneakers start at $500 and go up.

  • Cynthia

    No, she’s Canadian.

    ETA: She is technically a dual citizen, but didn’t vote because Canadians have to pay a sh1tload of taxes if we do, and it wasn’t worth it. She didn’t like either candidate and was operating on the basis of what she knew as of Nov 1, 2016. She didn’t think that Christians should be rushing to support and defend Trump. Given what she wrote them and some of her changes in POV in other things since then, I think it is possible that she could feel differently about the 2020 election.

    Changing things in 2020 is going to mean that some people will need to vote differently than they did in 2016. Not everyone needs to change, but enough swing votes to switch. I don’t think you can afford to simply say “fuck69 them” because those are the voters who can make a difference.

  • fractal

    City folk don’t attend church like they used to either.
    Much more likely to do hot-yoga or Buddhist meditation or Sufi Dancing or church of Unity.

  • Ruthitchka

    Thank you for believing me.

    Al-Anon HAS changed since the late 1980’s. The latest publications, on the very first page, state something like, “If you and your children are in physical danger, get out NOW.” I am hoping the latest printings of One Day at a Time are minus the blaming the woman for the abuse and plus the “Get Out Now” information. (I think One Day at a Time was Al-Anon’s first book of daily meditations.)

    One of these days, I will get back into a good Al-Anon weekly meeting, if I can find the time. Other than that one glaring problem, the program helped me help myself as well as cope with my then-husband.

  • Friend

    I appreciate your reply. Hope all is well with you now. It’s a process………

  • persephone

    Better ROI than going to church.

  • fractal

    Personally,

    I think magic mushrooms are a fine substitute for a church service.

  • Years ago, I read a book on Focus on the Family, James Dobson’s War On America written by Gil Alexander-Moegerle, who had been a co-founder of FotF and was Dobson’s second in command. The author relates that when one of the male executives* complained about all the overtime Dobson forced on him, explaining that he wanted time to spend with his own family. Dobson told the man, “This is Focus on the Family, not Focus on your Family.” Typical talibangical hypocricy – and the opinions expressed in this book do not surprise me one bit.

    *It maay have been Alexander-moegerle himself – it’s been around 21 years since I read the book,

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Reminds me of something that happened 30 plus years ago in Virginia when I moved to a small town and could not find a job in my field. I went to work as a manager at the local movie theater for a few years. Our user was a 19 kid named Sean that liked to indulge in a little LSD, mushrooms and the like. One day he showed up tripping so hard I literally had to prop him in the corner behind the snack bar and tell the kids to watch him. Could not allow him to work like that, but could not send him home driving his motorcycle either. He kept giggling, staring in the popcorn machine and saying “The COLORS!!!” A few weeks later he gave up all hard drugs. Myself and others had tried to intervene and ask him to step it down to no effect. I asked him what happened. He said he’d been up on a mountain at the Shenandoah National Park tripping balls off on LSD and then God showed up and boy was He so angry.

  • fractal

    Guess he should have talked to the Goddess instead!

    Psychotropic substances have been used for many thousands of years by humanoids to develop a deepening relationship with the Sacred.

    I myself would be an atheist if I hadn’t used them, and consider them to be a catalyst into higher states of consciousness, as well as a substance which can significantly accelerate the mastery of whatever skill one is trying to learn.

    There are lots of examples of people solving problems with the help of psychedelics, that had been unsolvable before—this includes things like the design of submarines, theoretical physics, communication with other species, computer programming and complicated physical skill-sets like dancing or martial arts.

    I suggest you read up on it; it is possible that these substances are gifts given to accelerate our spiritual evolution—in fact, it may be their influence is what made us more fully human.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Did you read “Jesus is the Sun” by Kerry Wells. It will make you question if using any sort of mind altering substances while praying should be done.

  • fractal

    I don’t pray.
    I communicate, listen, relax, open, and simplify, as I embody the receptive principle.

    If that doesn’t bring me closer to sacred unity, it is probably time to ride the tiger of the active principle, and stretch, walk, create, garden etc…

    And if that doesn’t work, it is probably time to fly the dragon of emotions, and reclaim my rage, weep deeply, walk thru the hell of anxiety and panic, die a few ego deaths, and come thru the other side cleansed and laughing.

  • Astreja

    Hey, Roombas are expensive! I think we should train them up with dollar-store brooms and dustpans first before letting them near any complicated household maintenance equipment. /s