Playing The Victim Cards

A winning hand of victim cards would include a royal flush of blame, powerlessness, self-deception, self-pity, and fear. Hanging onto these victim cards has been a key reason that my husband and I have struggled during recovery. In fact, an Affair Recovery video I listened to recently said that the unfaithful playing the victim is the single most intolerable thing we can do in the healing process. But being a victim is an easy way for me to avoid responsibility for my actions. Being accountable is hard, uncomfortable and requires courage and vulnerability. Since I have shame and a false image to uphold, the choice is clear. When I am faced with the backlash of my actions, my go-to moves are to deny, blame, justify, minimize, and protect, protect, protect my fragile sense of self. To take accountability is terrifying, and I would rather not go there. While this way of thinking may seem like a safe win for me, it is actually a destructive, losing hand for my marriage.

I played my hand one evening about 15 months into recovery. My husband and I were having a fun conversation, laughing and reminiscing, when my husband asked a seemingly innocuous question regarding what sex is like for a woman versus a man. Thinking nothing of it, I answered candidly. My answer, however, filled in a missing piece of information my husband had been seeking regarding my affair and triggered him. One moment we were happy, and then suddenly, his emotions were spiraling down. I felt instantly exposed and guilty from my accidental slip of the truth and our loss of connection. I panicked. I backpedaled (you misunderstood), I apologized for saying it wrong (so it wasn't my fault), I managed his emotions (so now you can't be upset). . . I fought the reality of the situation and ended up making it so much worse. I could have accepted that something I said hurt him, that it was no one's fault, and then tended to him in an understanding and caring way. Instead, I felt victimized by his flood of emotions and the fact that my truthful statement could have such dire and unexpected consequences. I railed at the unfairness of it all. I became indignant that he would treat me this way, that he didn't care how I felt. He was victimizing me and he ruined our good evening. What was really happening though, was that he was reliving how I had victimized him with my infidelity, and I missed this opportunity to show him empathy and help him feel safe when he was at the mercy of this unwanted pain.

Later, while still feeling sorry for myself, I posted on my Hope for Healing class wall. I retold the story with an added flourish of how wronged I was for speaking the truth - how being honest did not pay off like everyone says. I wanted sympathy. To cement my role as a victim even further, I continued with the "poor me" act during our next couples' counseling session. It was an award-winning victim portrayal, and our counselor suggested that my husband soften his response and change how he was expressing his pain to make it easier for ME. I really didn't do anything that bad to warrant the emotional distress that I was clearly in. Great advice I thought, but my husband didn't take it, and was even indignant and angry. "What about my feelings?" he said, "I am the wronged party here." He started to pull away in self-protection, and the new safety he had felt up to that point was severely damaged. Afterwards, because I did not take responsibility for how I acted, I was not able to reconcile with him on this topic. I did not realize that the horrible consequences from that conversation were not because I was at the mercy of honesty, but because I did not accept the reality of what was going on, leading me to fail at making it right. It was a selfish attempt to lessen my pain at his expense - a hard lesson in self deception versus the truth.

As an unfaithful spouse, I am no victim. And I am never a victim of the truth. My journey through recovery has opened my eyes to how holding onto the victim cards has made my marriage go bust. I have started to realize how my victim thinking infiltrates many areas of my marriage and how it holds me back as an effective person. I now know that I have to first accept who I am to be able to take full responsibility for my actions. There can be no disconnect between me and my actions. My intentions are not actions. My accumulated actions are my being. I have also learned that for my husband to feel safe and even consider getting and staying close to me, I have to let him see me for who I am - the good and the bad - and then I have to let it go. Let go of my fear that the truth will send him running away. Let go of my perceived right to have my feelings dictate how he should feel and behave. Let go that no matter the intentions, the truth is in the actions. Maybe I couldn't have learned this any earlier in my journey, but I sure wish that I had. I have caused my husband more undue pain and have damaged the progress we have made in recovery by holding onto my victim cards. A victim can't be a healer, and I want to be a healer for my husband and be accountable for myself. I owe him that. For the first time in my life, I, as a victim, will fold.

EMS Online Registration Opens Soon!

Our Emergency Marital Seminar Online, better known as EMSO, isn’t a one-size-fits-all program for couples. Over decades of experience exclusively in the field of infidelity, our methodology has been honed to better serve couples as they address the betrayal, reconnect as partners and restore their lives.

"Affair Recovery's EMS Online course literally saved our marriage from divorce. We had tried other professionals, which only led us to more pain in our marriage. It was a relief to find someone who understood our pain. It was comforting to know that others were feeling and thinking the same thoughts as us. We were not alone on this journey. Our marriage has been enriched by the valuable lessons we have learned through EMS Online." — K., Alabama.

Click the button below and be reminded before registration opens.

Subscribe to Registration Notifications!
Add New Comment:


Very Powerful Blog


This blog was so powerful. You must have experienced tremendous growth to be able to put these words together in such a meaningful way. People who learn the hard way are often the best teachers, aren't they?

I am a betrayed wife, and participated in Harboring Hope a couple years ago. My small group is still in contact on a frequent basis, and I shared your blog with them today as part of a discussion we were having. This blog spoke words to the pain and frustration one of the wives had been expressing and she was so impressed at how you captured and articulated this difficult and painful truth.

I especially appreciated "As an unfaithful spouse, I am no victim. And I am never a victim of the truth." As a betrayed wife I feel this, but I appreciated hearing it as validation from someone who had been unfaithful.

I am so glad you have decided to write from your experience. Thank you for sharing your insight with all of us.


I am sorry that you and your HH ladies are on the receiveing end of victim card playing. It is horrible to think that there are so many others out there who-like me- want to shift blame, shirk responsibility and alter reality in order to step out of the spotlight that the truth always shines. The destruction victim thinking brings is unconscionable, yet an alll too comfortable role that those of us with weak character love to play. I am humbled that you were able to find some validation in my words that perhaps you cannot get from your unfaithful spouse. I wish you the best on your recovery journey.


Thank you for your honest

Thank you for your honest blogpost. Self-examination is never easy, it’s MUCH easier to shift blame onto others and not take responsibility. But if we are ever going to mature, then we have to be able to identify and weed out the not-so-nice parts of ourselves. That takes work. Being a victim on the other hand is effortless.
As a faithful wife I’ve had to recognize the times I was not a victim in our marriage, but the one who wounded and hurt my spouse. I turned away from him, I tolerated his presence in my life and caused him to feel unloved and undesired. I think back on those years, pre-disclosure, and I see the pattern and uhhealthiness of our relationship. Yes, he betrayed me and our marriage with infidelity; but if I were going to be honest, I’d have to admit that I also wronged him.
Fortunately we are both now in a place where WE take responsibility as a team for the good health of our marriage; owning our contributions good and bad, quick to admit fault and not be the victim. It would be so easy to say, “Well you were the unfaithful one, so everything from now on is your fault!”
Ha! No marriage ever fared well with that attitude.
Again, thank you for your post.

bighorn mountains

It's good to hear that the hard work you are doing to heal from the damage caused by your husband is leading you to a better place in your marriage post infidelity. Marriage is a exercise in personal maturation and no one ever reaches that goal by playing the victim. Being the victim is the childish, easy way out of the uncomfortabless of taking personal responsibility that I too have used our entire mariage. Its so easy for me to blame. It is inspiring to hear that you and your husband have found a path out of playing the victim in your relationship. Wishing you safe travels down that path and continued healing in your recovery.


My husband

My husband gives himself too much credit for being empathetic and "helping" me to heal. We were almost two years out from the second D-day before we found Affair Recovery. His stance those many months was to give up porn and his emotional affair (his half-his-age affair partner had blocked him and cut him off nine months before he ever revealed the 13-month-long affair to me) and wait for me to heal. So he plopped himself down in front of the t.v. while I studied and searched and journaled and tried to repair my broken self-esteem and our marriage. When we discovered Affair Recovery, he participated for a while. He attended Hope for Healing and he has continued in a small group class after Hope for Healing ended. But that class of guys has grown jaded with the concept of helping their spouses heal. They seem to be more interested in affirming their own pain and the role we betrayed spouses played in the marriages going south. So my husband has clearly communicated to me through gritted teeth and pounding chest that it is TIME now to focus on HIS pain. No point in bringing up the fact that he has always been more concerned about protecting himself than he was about acknowledging or understanding my pain. He has this nifty trick where he will pick apart anything I say, ignore my feelings and find one kernel of misstated "fact" and pounce on that. Then the whole conversation becomes about HIS truth and how I misstated something or misunderstood something and he effectively deflects and shuts me down. He's gotten quite good at it. So good that I don't even try anymore. When I found out recently that he will use this technique even when dealing with my pain that is unrelated to his betrayal, then I knew, there is no place for me to be honest and vulnerable with any sadness or grief in this relationship.

Thankfully, I leaned into the Lord from the beginning of this harrowing journey. And now, I am glad that my husband wasn't a hero and didn't rescue me. Because if he had, I would have continued to depend on him for my emotional well-being instead of on my Lord. I write about my journey. You can find me on Under the subject of "Betrayal and Infidelity" I have several blogs related to this. I have "My Ideal of Romantic Love Has Died". And "Help! My Husband is Ignoring Me in My Pain" and "Single Wives". And "I Am Enough".

But I truly enjoyed your blog. And I admire your fortitude to stand up to the fall-out of your actions. I think it may come more naturally for you to be empathetic because you are a woman. I could send this article to my husband, but it wouldn't change his way of thinking. He has found his super-power. He is Capt. Deflector Man. And my super power is leaning ever deeper into Jesus. I will heal. I am probably 90% healed. I have forgiven my husband for his betrayals and I am breaking the chains of bitterness and looking forward to serving others who have experienced infidelity. And I am trying to learn to love my husband and others with an agape love. I am not perfect - far from it. But I have grown spiritually from all this pain. And I have found my One, True Love in Jesus Christ. I really believe I needed this to shake me awake from my spiritual slumber. And so I rejoice in this trial. And I thank God for it.


Your husbands techniques of self centeredness, deflection and victim thinking sounds ALOT like how I have acted in various stages of our recovery. I am so, so very sorry that you have endured this type of treatment during the most painful time in your marriage. It's unthinkable behavior yet so very common from unfaithful spouses. I commend you for finding a source of strength to continue on your recovery journey outside of your husband and your abilty to forgive him is humbling. I wish you the best and I will definitely check out your blog.


My Husband

So as a question to you is...........why do you stay?

Too late

I wish he cared enough to engage at this level. He kicked me out and made me homeless again in order to have another affair... which I have suspected for a while...he utterly destroys me. I have to pawn my rings. It's so painful I can't even I said to him the other day trying to difuse the impending rage and must hurt to to know that you have hurt the one you love.


I am so sorry for what your husband has and is put ting you through. As an unfaithful myself, finding empathy was vital to even begin to understand the pain that I had caused. Shifting my focus off of myself was hard and uncomfortable, but I soon realized all the damage I had caused when I could finally sit in the truth. Accepting what I had done and learning to forgive myself is ongoing. It sounds as if your husband is still completely thinking of himself and causing you immense pain that you don't deserve. He does not seem to even want to begin to start the journey towards healing. It's not fair and again I am so sorry. I feel the desdperation and hoplessness in your words. I hope that you can find some solace in AR and all the support that is offered here. You are certainly not alone. I also hope that your husband's heart can soften and that he will realize his mistakes and committ to change and healing.


My partner of almost 9 years had an affair with a married woman from our daughter's school. I have been financially supporting him and my 3 children for our entire relationship.
He suffers from depression following the loss of his parents 2 years ago but failed to seek or accept help. He developed a friendship with this woman, which had me questioning their feelings from the beginning. They had a secret app to talk to each other and when I discovered their affair, it had been going on for over 4 months. Lots of emotion involved which they both later said it didn't mean anything. Anyway, he declares he wants a fresh start, it's me he loves etc, only to turn around and state he will be moving out. (Remember, he has never worked so I gave him money for rent). He is avoidant of all my questions, pleas and anger for the truth. His avoidance caused me to spiral and feel an indiscribale anger, to which he responds that i am just ensuring that we never get back together. He blamed me for everything that ever went wrong in our relationship including the suicide of his mother. Now, he will not respond to any texts unless its about our child, he barely talks to me. Looks at me as though I had the affair and ruined our lives. He has no feeling or care for me. I have ended up in therapy after a stress induced heartattack and self harming and there is not a single emotion inside him that cares for the 9 years we shared. Is this extreme victim mentality or so sort of narcissism?

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas