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Its Your Fault I Had An Affair!

When you read it like that, out of context, you'd be hard pressed to believe that anyone would have the nerve to come up with it as a serious justification for infidelity. Yet film star Jude Law has, allegedly, used this astonishing piece of sleight of mouth to justify a recent fling with his children's nanny.

The sad truth is that he wouldn't be the first; and he won't be the last. Of course, you could argue that it's the kind of excuse you only use as a last resort, but it's not really that simple.

You might think that when someone is skating on such thin ice they might do a little better than that. Even hanging their head, apologising and saying "I don't know what came over me" has to be slightly better than that.

Sure, they may believe it when they lay the blame for their action at their partner's door; that's not the most important point, in any case. What is important is the fact that they genuinely believe they have a real chance of getting their partner to buy into their perspective. They believe it because it's a tactic they have practised many times before, with a good degree of success.

When you stop and think about it, the argument "it's your fault that I did X (or didn't do Y)" is not only laughable, it's playground stuff. It's not unlike the small child who trips, falls over and then turns to someone standing some distance away and says: "You made me fall over." The same question, "How do you work that one out?" hangs heavy in the air.

The behaviour of one person may trigger an emotional response in another. But particularly in the case of chronological adults, people old enough to take responsibility and major decisions for themselves, they alone are responsible for their own actions.

Feeling aggrieved because they don't consider their partner is sufficiently available to them does not exempt them from responsibility for their philandering. Feeling angry because either their partner has failed to do something for them, or else has committed some misdemeanour, such as crashing the car or being in any way 'provoking', does not justify whatever course of behaviour they choose to adopt.

It's all about accountability. Adults are accountable for their own actions. There are no special dispensations from accountability because someone has upset or riled you. You are entitled to your feelings. But you're not entitled to pursue a destructive course of action so as to avoid addressing difficult feelings.

Except that some people are remarkably good at getting their partner and/or family to believe that there are dispensations; that they are a special case. These people are singularly adept at dumping blame at their partner's door. Generally, the partner will pick it up, more or less meekly, and sweep it under the carpet. They'll even make a point of acknowledging how the bad behaviour was triggered by their shortcoming.

Often, even after they have got out, they'll still believe that they were somehow to blame. It's one of the reasons they keep going back. They're seduced by the abject, loving apologies they hear and the misguided belief that if they only work a little harder at the relationship, they'll be able to stop it happening again. And then they'll live happily ever after.

After all, it will be their fault if they can't live happily ever after with the erstwhile philanderer, drunk, bully or emotional vampire, or whatever, who's never to blame for their actions. By continuing in the relationship the partner who assumes the full burden of responsibility tacitly colludes with the accuser.

It remains to be seen whether Sienna Miller will patch up her relationship with Jude Law. Many women in a similar situation do; and are surprised when it happens again.

Things only change for the better if something inside the relationship shifts. That shift occurs when both partners accept accountability for their own feelings and favour communication rather than blame as a way of resolving difficulties.

C) 2005 Annie Kaszina

Joyful Coaching

An NLP Practitioner and Women's Empowerment Coach, Annie specialises in helping women build strong boundaries so they can attract the relationships they desire.


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