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August 19, 2005



Psychologists and their stupidity have ruined the morality of this country. There is such a thing as a unilateral divorce and a blameless spouse. Or do you blame the spouse of alcoholics, drug addicts and abusers for driving their spouses to drink, drugs and spouse beating? Divorce between two 20 or 30 somethings who are childless and selfsupporting can be full of self-absorbed discussions of what it means to end their marriage. You can talk about self-growth and reflection when you can afford it. It is quite different when one spouse decides to run off and leave their spouse and children with nowhere to turn but welfare. How about my aunt who was abandoned by my uncle after 50 years of marriage, penniless and homeless. She had a stroke from the shock and DIED after a year in a nursing home at taxpayer expense. I would have liked to see you talk to her about "good" divorces and how she should consider her own faults and grow at 75? Why should the taxpayer pay so my uncle could find himself and 25 elderly girlfriends?


After decades in and around the recovery movement, Rainbow, I've never seen the spouse of an alcoholic or drug addict who didn't have their own issues. As anyone who's ever been to Al-Anon knows, the partner of a "user" is frequently just as sick as the addict. After all, they "picked" him or her, and usually, in one way or another, enable their spouse.

I'll stand with the therapists who did so much to help me and countless others, as well as the principles of the Twelve Step movement that have touched the lives of millions. In Twelve Step programs, it is axiomatic that the first step is recognizing that the problem (bad marriage, sex addiction, alcoholism, codependency) is always of a spiritual nature -- and it is OUR problem, not anyone else's. Only by accepting our part and taking responsibility -- at any age -- do we change our lives.


Mostly, I just wanted to point out that divorce can destroy lives and impoverish the elderly, the disabled, the middle-aged stay at home mother. For many people, divorce is the END of their life, their joy, their living in dignity. It is not a growth experience. It may not even be a survivable experience. It just worries me when a teacher of young people glosses over the experiences of so many. Go to the goodwill downtown and talk to some 60 year old women with swollen ankles and gain a new perspective. some of them will even tell you how happy they are since the divorce. At least, they aren't being beaten and kicked daily and cleaning up the drunken vomit every weekend.


I do not believe al-anon is stupid enough to blame someone who married at 25 that they did not forsee that their spouse was going to develop a problem with drugs or alcohol 10 years after the marriage. and what about all the people, who decide marriage and chilren are boring and want to go back to a merry go round of casual sexual encounters. I suppose it was the faithful partners fault for not being 20 different people with 20 different looks and personalities.


Rainbow, the general rule-of-thumb is that no one suddenly turns into an addict in mid-life! By 25, one's identity -- including one's predilection for drugs/alcohol is already set. And yes, I think we all know -- often on a subconscious level -- exactly who it is we are marrying.

I've never, ever seen a marriage fail where the blame wasn't 100% on each party. That doesn't mean, mind you, that I'm saying Laci Peterson deserved to get murdered; don't flame me on that sort of thing. I'm not defending violence. But we only heal when we focus exclusively on our own part in the failure of the marriage, because believe me, we always all have our part. And trying to proportion blame at anything other than 100% for both parties is ultimately fruitless, and makes the marital equivalent of insurance adjusters.


Well, if that is your attitude, I hope your fiancee turns you in someday for a rich sugar daddy willing to pay her legal fees, takes you to the cleaners, and keeps you in family court for 20 years arguing about every cent you should be contributing to the kids you never see. Then I want to see if you come back to your blog and write about how your divorce and life is 100% your blame.
Think about a good prenuptial agreement, since you don't believe in personal accountability for one's actions. Everyone needs a good prenup anyhow these days if they don't want to get raped when their blameless spouse takes off for the new honey or the new life.

Hugo Schwyzer

I wrote:

"I've never, ever seen a marriage fail where the blame wasn't 100% on each party."

You wrote in response:

..."you don't believe in personal accountability for one's actions."

Huh. If that's how you construe my statement, the gulf between us is too vast to be bridged, Rainbow.


What do you tell a student who comes to you with a report that their girlfriend/boyfriend threatened them?

Do you tell them to get the hell away and call the police/campus authorities? or do you tell them to think about how they are 100% to blame for being threatened because they chose a person who was charming and pleasant when they first met but turned violent after a few drinks at a party?

Do think about the prenup. It is amazing what those things will flush out about your future partner?

Hugo Schwyzer

Rainbow, you're conflating two issues.

When someone is being threatened, they must immediately seek help. No one deserves to be beaten; all of us deserve to be safe.

At the same time, we are attracted to people who meet our conscious and unconscious expectations and needs. Women who are attracted to "bad boys" don't deserve to be hit, but they ought to take a good hard look at what it is that leads them to put themselves in jeopardy time and again. Men who marry women who cheat on them need to ask themselves the same question. Taking responsibility for one's own actions is not about letting anyone else off the hook; it's about recognizing that ultimately, as adults, we are less often victims than volunteers.

I'm done with this thread; others may continue to comment if they find it useful.


Whether you think being beaten, abandoned, cheated, or financially destroyed is the decent spouse's fault or not, that person's life is still seriously hurt if not over. Calling the abandonment, destruction a potential growth experience and a good divorce won't help someone who is dead or broken.

There are professional cons out there who look for people to cheat and steal from. They can be very convincing and blaming the victim is very naive.


Women who are attracted to "bad boys" don't deserve to be hit, but they ought to take a good hard look at what it is that leads them to put themselves in jeopardy time and again.

Nice. Really lovely. Do you think all those battered women who say "But he was so nice at first!" are lying, dumb - what? The ones who left an abusive marriage and never entered another one - imaginary? Unimportant? Only women who are beaten by more than one man count?

When you have a marriage that is one-sidedly physically abusive, the victim can 'save' the marriage by continuing to stick around for the abuse. The abusive partner can save it by stopping the abuse. So if they both refuse to do these things that are in their power, they're both 100% responsible for their failed marriage. In a way that is completely meaningless, insupportable, and trivializing.

And trying to paint wife-beaters as sexy bad boys women can't resist is utterly beneath you. It's embarrassing to read.


Here's a summary of what I was trying to say:


It captures the point about 100/100 responsibility very well. My own inarticulateness made the point in what was perhaps a more offensive way.


Maybe I was inarticulate too. The shrinks, Bill Ferguson, and Professor Schwyzer are all talking about more or less normal, decent people with feelings, some kind of moral system, etc. but as sophonisma is pointing out there are vicious, furtive, lying, manipulative people out there and even non co-dependents can make a mistake that proves deadly. Then there are the completely self-absorbed. Sure, there may have been some warning signs way back when in hindsight, but exposure to drugs, job stress, predators, and late developing mental illness can blow things up to a whole new level. In my personal opinion, one of the problems with relationship theory and divorce law theory is the fact that divorces involving more or less decent folks and divorces involving psychopaths are discussed together. I am sure Hugo and his exes had their issues but they probably did not involve massive amounts of cocaine, serious attempts on each other's lives, intentional attempts to drive each other to suicide, multiple families in mutiple jurisdictictions, theft of 100s of thousands of dollars, hospitalization for broken bones or the realities that unfortunately are present in many other relationships. Maybe we need different names for the different types of relationships and divorces.

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