Are You Making Excuses for Your MLCer?
A few years ago I spoke with another LBS on the phone. We talked regularly for a few years and on this particular occasion I also spoke with her teenage daughter who said some things that had me concerned.
Before I start let me review the specifics of their situation.
MLCer: early/mid 40s
Alienator: early 20s with a son
The MLCer had his own apartment and did not ever live with the alienator. He kept her from meeting the children, though there were a couple incidents where they ran into her—likely because she contrived such circumstances. I spoke to the teenage daughter following one of those incidents. The alienator manipulated a few situations deliberately to reinstate the affair or make the wife look bad.
I finally asked the LBS the degree of blame she gave the alienator in the situation; she said it was 30% her MLCer and 70% the alienator.
When I spoke to her daughter, I and asked her what she felt regarding the alienator and the affair. She said the alienator manipulated and pursued her father when he was weak and vulnerable due to MLC. Without verbalizing it she victimized her father as a weak person who is unable to control his impulses. MLC is a time of vulnerability, but this does not absolve responsibility. What understanding MLC and vulnerabilities can do is offer a person who is not a Stander by belief a reason for Standing.
Now, I am not going to disagree that there may be one person who bears more responsibility for the affair by pursuing and refusing to end the relationship. But at the same time the LBS was encouraging something dangerous. A person’s choices are not 50/50 or 30/70; as far as choice goes, a person is 100% responsible.
What she was doing by diluting her MLCer’s responsibility was saying that he is not capable of making choices on his own, that he is thus weak, vulnerable and easily manipulated. This is especially dangerous when children understand this belief may be thus encouraged to believe it themselves. The belief has the risk of being transferred beyond the specific situation to all people of the specific MLCer’s gender.
For the young teenage girl in this example there is a very possible danger that she will unconsciously translate her beliefs in her father’s weaknesses to all men. She will thus rationalize that men are incapable of being responsible or of making decisions and that such things are her job in a relationship. She will project this belief into her marriage and seek control to compensate for her fear that her husband is incompetent. She also has a risk of marrying someone who perpetuates her belief system, either because his root experiences match her expectation or because he reacts to her expectation by believing her.
Regardless of MLC, MLCers are not inept. Vulnerability does not dissolve responsibility, it merely explains how or why something may have occurred; it does not excuse or pardon. But excusing someone’s behaviour on the basis of weakness or vulnerability disrespects that person. It perpetuates the idea that he is like a child, unable to help himself and that you, the LBS are like a parent to them, thus you are the better decision-maker and must step in to fix the messes. Give your MLCers more respect and hold them responsible for their actions. They chose to have an affair and are choosing to continue to have an affair. Sure, the alienator may be persuasive, but that is not relevant. Regardless of the alienator’s temptress/temptor abilities, your MLCer has a choice and the ability to say No.
Woman often place higher expectations for fidelity on other woman and absolve men with the that’s the way men are stereotyped belief. But how could a woman do this to another woman? If the alienator herself is married, her betrayal is seen as even more shocking.
Blame creates a good/evil split wherein the alienator gets to play the part of evil and the MLCer plays the role of good, though broken. This blame is an energy directed at the alienator which is a form of giving her your power and keeps the idea of her and the affair mentally and emotionally active in your lives—whether the affair is over or continuing.
Take back your power by recognizing the alienator as a person with flaws as well as positive attributes. She is not a demon—even if she did intentionally pursue and manipulate a married man. She has a life history that has placed her on this path. That is not an excuse for her misbehaviors, but understanding or at least merely acknowledging its existence can explain her behaviours without excusing them. The alienator made a mistake, just as your MLCer made a mistake. Her mistakes do not make her a worse person than his mistakes make him.
Isn’t it ironic that we complain about our MLCer’s lack of responsibility and how they project blame and yet by deflecting blame for the affair from the MLCer to the alienator, we are enabling the MLCers blaming and irresponsibility. We are providing them with reasons why their behaviour is not their fault and thus they are not responsible for their actions.
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you blame the alienator more than your MLCer?
How about your kids?
Are you so focused on hating that you forget to love?