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WH reason for affair is empty love tank.

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SimpleTruth posted 7/22/2013 02:48 AM

A book his counselor has asked him to read says about the same thing about affairs and my WH has latched on to that explanation. He is reading The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman. Gottman says that "problems in the marriage that send the couple on a trajectory to divorce also send one (or both) of them looking for intimate connection outside the marriage. Most marital therapists who write about extramarital affairs find that these trysts are usually not about sex but about seeking friendship, support, understanding, respect, attention, caring, and concern - the kind of things that marriage is supposed to offer." This is the only thing about affairs in the book.

How would you respond to this?

Why is the marriage to blame? WH says he wasn't looking for an affair and that he got from the affair (support, understanding, attention, etc.) what he wanted from me.

Yes, there were marriage problems. Problem is, when he and I talk about the past we remember things differently. Although hurt and upset (we had just met his 7 year old OC for the first time from Affair#1), I was there for him as best as I could be at that time but he pushed me away. He didn't want to deal with the problems. He ran away instead of trying to fix it.

Duffy1958 posted 7/22/2013 03:21 AM

That whole summation would piss me the hell off. .

You don't take a hatchet to your spouses forehead because they have a fly on it. B.S.

Any counsellor or book which tries to lay responsibility for this lying, cheating mess on you is cruel & wrong. You don't look outside of the marriage to fix some "lack" within
your spouse.

I would either come to terms with counselor or find a new one. There are stories of bad counsellors.

That makes me so mad for you. I'm so sorry. It is a double betrayal.

Take care & don't let them/him get away with this B.S. There are things in the healing library. I read a lot. Nothing comes to mind but look around for support.

Ask your husband, so if we end up in financial ruin, can I expect you to jump ship & gain a new identity? It makes as much sense. What B.S.

silverhopes posted 7/22/2013 03:52 AM

Yup. So far, that was the real problem I had with Gottman's book. His portrayal of affairs.

As a certain wise person here says, that has stuck with me - we are all responsible for our own choices. He had other choices than to cheat. So no, the marriage isn't to blame for the affair. What is to blame is, he decided that it was OK. He decided that the answer to "be intimate with someone other than my wife" was yes. That's where the problem is.

standinghere posted 7/22/2013 04:42 AM

Problems with marriages don't lead to affairs. That is where your husband is heading off down the wrong track.

Sure, there was a problem in the marriage, ALL marriages have them, my marriage still has them, always will.

But, having an affair is a destructive way to deal with them. Sort of like deciding to set your car on fire BECAUSE THE TANK IS EMPTY.

My wife and I still have struggles with intimacy, that are entirely from her end of the relationship. We always will, almost certainly, because of what happened to her in the past. I expect to have to deal with that.

I can deal with it by talking, going to counseling, being supportive, and working together...or amicably and respectfully and thoughtfully ending the relationship...or...I can go and fuck someone else.

That choice is what defines the problem as "ours" vs. "mine".

Your husband is blame-shifting.

JustWow posted 7/22/2013 06:20 AM

In my book - (yet to be published - lol) a person going outside of their M to fill their love bank is caused by deficiencies in the MORALS of the WS, not deficiencies in the M.

There are a bazillion healthy, honest, mature and productive ways to solve an "empty love bank" problem. An A is not one of them.

frankiebaby posted 7/22/2013 06:25 AM

That is some bullshit, and if any counselor gave me that line I'd give him one he'd never forget.

My WH and I were married for six weeks before he went out and cheated on me. That's a hell of a short time to decide he couldn't forge enough "friendship, support, understanding, respect, attention, caring and concern," to drive him to screw some other woman.

Okay, I'm going to stop right now because I'm getting heated. God, I hate him so much my hands are shaking. lol

[This message edited by frankiebaby at 6:25 AM, July 22nd (Monday)]

karmahappens posted 7/22/2013 06:27 AM

Why is the marriage to blame

It isn't.

The AP and WS are to blame.

It's called accountability.

Take2 posted 7/22/2013 06:54 AM

Well isn't that convenient...

But aside from the lack of accountability in his excuse - if you were to buy into the empty love tank as a "why", doesn't that raise a bunch on new questions:

Does he have a defective love tank? A hole in his love tank? What if his love tank is a gas guzzler? Is he self-sabotaging by draining the tank at night when nobody is watching? What if he only registers "strange" fuel as filling the tank?

My love tank was storing only fumes, memories, and hope for a lot of years - I didn't cheat.

newnormal posted 7/22/2013 06:55 AM

Gottman did say it correctly as you wrote: empty love banks CAN lead to D or A. 3 different choices: deal with it, leave or cheat....and the answer to which choice is the worst: ding, ding, ding: cheating.

solus sto posted 7/22/2013 07:05 AM


[This message edited by solus sto at 7:09 AM, July 22nd (Monday)]

solus sto posted 7/22/2013 07:08 AM

His counselor should focus on his thought patterns and coping mechanisms, not do marriage counseling with just one half of the couple.

It sounds as if he's being armed with "reasons" that are superficial and, worse, are ultimately harmful to R.

I say this because my husband spent IC--something HE badly needed--focusing on how others had shortchanged him, rather than exploring whether his perceptions were reality-based or shared, or on the destructive choices he was making.

Heading down the wrong path with his IC was a catalyst for my husband to have the affair that ended our marriage.

I would not be at all comfortable with this focus in IC. Dissection of your marriage belongs in MC, where your perceptions, too, are heard.

I'd ask your husband to focus (and this may require switching ICs) on the thought processes that made it okay, in his mind, to have an affair, and on gathering the coping mechanisms so he doesn't go down the same path again.

wincing_at_light posted 7/22/2013 07:09 AM

Best response I ever heard for the "empty love tank" reason went roughly like this:

"So you had an empty love tank?"
"Well mine's now empty, *and* you've punched a hole in it, so you'll be understanding if I have an affair or three?"
"You wouldn't do that. It's not how you are."
"So an empty love tank isn't really is reason then, is it?"

BostonGirl posted 7/22/2013 07:10 AM

I know that book well. That statement in no way condones extramarital involvements, but tries to explain the motivations, what gets an affair started and keeps it going.

The entire book is essentially about how to stave off that emptiness in a marriage. I think the thing that is lacking from that book (maybe it can't include everything or it would be a six volume set!) is why people have great difficulty embracing or living those seven principles, which are things like "really get to know your partner well" and "cultivate appreciation."

I guess I don't see the part you quoted as a statement of blame of one party or the other. But I do absolutely think its true that two people can be in the same marriage and have very, very different perceptions of what's going on, what's working well and what isn't. Intimacy is ultimately about letting your spouse in to your own inner world and being a welcome participant in theirs too. Either party can put up barriers to block that...

RockyMtn posted 7/22/2013 07:11 AM

Gottman is right in the sense that most marital therapists say that (those who write books). Even the all-hailed Shirley Glass writes a lot about friendship, support, attention, etc. being the goal for WS - I see it come out in her many anecdotes.

Anyway...just sayin'...Gottman is not alone here. SimpleTruth, your husband's counselor is not alone and, dare say I, not necessarily a total douche. Your WH has, admittedly, latched onto this. The therapist may be layering this idea with a whole lot of other stuff (kind of like Shirley Glass does) that you aren't being told because it doesn't suit WH's agenda.

I actually hate what Gottman has to say and Glass' book made my skin crawl in some areas (great in others). I won't go into all the reasons why I disagree with the statement, some have already mentioned.

[This message edited by RockyMtn at 7:13 AM, July 22nd (Monday)]

SimpleTruth posted 7/22/2013 08:24 AM

I don't know his counselor's view on infidelity, but I'll be finding out on Tues. WH asked me to go with him. Even if the counselor's view is the same as Gottman's that doesn't mean she is a bad counselor, it just means she isn't the right one for people dealing with infidelity.

I don't agree with Gottman. That doesn't discredit all of the other research he has done. I just don't believe that marriage problems and an empty love tank are reasons for an affair. Those reasons seem to put the responsibility for the affair on both spouses, rather than on the WS.

So my next questions is this: How do I know he will not have another affair? Based on my WH's reasons for affair, I guess I can affair-proof our marriage by keeping his love tank full. For my WH, that means letting him rugsweep and blame shift. Sorry, I did that after finding out about A#1 and OC and that didn't work. His reasons for A#1 were "it was just sex" and "it felt good to be wanted by somebody else."

What will happen if I get sick, we go broke, etc. and I'm not able to keep his love tank full like he needs me to?

Skye posted 7/22/2013 08:48 AM

The question you should be asking yourself is "why do I want to be married to this man?" A marriage cannot be affair proofed. Your husband has shown you who he is. Are you facing your problems?

karmahappens posted 7/22/2013 09:01 AM

What will happen if I get sick, we go broke, etc. and I'm not able to keep his love tank full like he needs me to?

This is when unhealthy people (some) search for relief outside a marriage.

When you have 2 healthy people in a M they work on these problems together.

His love tank has nothing to do with an A. He might have sad, lonely feelings, might not be happy or have a bank full of money.

It isn't an excuse to cheat. It's a time you turn toward your spouse/partner and dig deep together to solve issues.

You can not fulfill him. He needs to be content within himself.

If you have to worry about "keeping him happy" I would pack my bags now...

We create our own happiness and nobody can control our actions...period

solus sto posted 7/22/2013 09:24 AM

His problem is not that YOU are not filling his "love tank."

It's that HE is not doing the real work needed to become a safe partner.

If he lacks appropriate coping mechanisms, he'll fall back on faulty ones when the going gets rough.

So, if he lacks healthy coping mechanisms, he needs to LEARN them. That is what IC is for.

tushnurse posted 7/22/2013 10:45 AM

Ok I may have a differing view here, so bear with me as I try to get this out in writing.

Gottman's book actually helped us a lot in healing, and starting the hard work of R. It helped us understand that we each function from a different place. That being said, it in no way excuses the WS behavior. My H found understanding this helpful in figuring out his why. Yes he felt his tank was empty, but WHY?!? I was there for him, I was a good wife, willing to have sex, always ready to hang out together, cook, clean, and be a good family. But for some reason he felt empty. THAT HAD NOTHING to do with ME.... I was upholding my end of the deal.
IN the end it was a combination of things that made him feel that way. One was I was raised to be independent, and never rely on a man to do anything for you. So I didn't need him to change light bulbs, mow the yard, fix the weed eater. I was capable of doing all of that. He said that he just didn't feel NEEDED. He realized I loved him, and I showed him that love, but he wanted that NEED. Well that was his own FOO issues. Once he figured out the why, he realized it was much better to be WANTED than NEEDED.
He also was dealing with the whole mid life, is this really as good as it gets stuff too. He was tired of struggling financially, and not having the picture perfect life. Again, because of FOO issues, once he realized that NO ONE has the picture perfect life, and that he could accept what he had, and be happy with it, or he could spend the rest of his life miserable, and unhappy he had to make a decision on how he wanted to spend the rest of his life. Miserable, or happy.

So As far as say I had an A because my tank was empty, and that's the end of it, I call BS. You have to push deeper. You have to understand why it was empty. You have to fix the holes that caused the tank to get empty. Then you can feel loved, and fufilled.

SimpleTruth posted 7/22/2013 10:52 AM

Yes, I know a marriage cannot be affair proofed. I want him to accept responsibility for his affairs and the aftermath. He just started seeing counselor, which is one of my conditions for R.

I have a set date in the near future when I will decide if he's someone I can have a healthy marriage with. I don't want to waste years of my life waiting for him to change. Either he will or he won't. I will be fine without him.

Im very thankful for SI. Without insight from here i would probably still be living with him, rugsweeping, and blaming myself. I'm taking care of myself.

I'm just looking for insight from others on material my WH is reading (it's a decent book, i just dont agree with author on his reasoning about affairs) and his reasons for affair.

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