Cheaters often are very insistent about controlling the narrative on what happened to end the marriage.
Some think that they are entitled to avoid the natural consequences that come with doing something very, very bad. You know, the sort of consequences that people tend to trust and esteem you less knowing how you treacherously betrayed your (former) spouse.
To avoid such consequences, they will employ all sort of tactics to silence and invalidate the story of the faithful spouse.
I was just pondering these things in light of a recent article on gaslighting and emotional abuse (link appears to be down). For the new, gas-lighting is a form of abuse where a person trains the victim to discount their senses and knowledge.
Narrative Control As Abuse
I believe cheaters controlling the narrative crosses the line and is a form of emotional abuse–pastor speaking here and NOT a professional therapist.
My reasoning is that the cheater is so committed to controlling the narrative that they will distort the facts of the situation denying even the most basic of events–e.g. gaslight.
To a vulnerable faithful spouse, this can be very unsettling.
The faithful spouse has probably just endured months or even years of unease doubting their perceptions because the cheater was deceitfully hiding his or her treacherous infidelity.
So, the revelation of the awful truth of the infidelity in the end is usually held very tenuously by us–faithful spouses–when it is first grasped.
A cheater pressuring the faithful spouse to accept their narrative is another play to steal that little piece of truth and sanity from the faithful spouse.
“That’s not what really happened.” -Cheater
A cheater saying such thing is flatly attacking the faithful spouse’s perceptions of events. They are engaging in gaslighting by trying to invalidate actual, real events in this sort of attack.
In the past, they may have confessed to the events but now want to control how those facts are rolled out to others. So, they attempt to take back what they had already confirmed in the past.
To do this, they have to invalidate the history as known by the faithful spouse.
“Come on! It wasn’t that bad.” -Cheater
This sort of attack is both a minimization and an invalidation of the faithful spouse’s feelings. The cheater is not in the position to invalidate the expert on your feelings–i.e. YOU!
Instead of it being a factual invalidation, this is an attack on the faithful spouse’s perception of their own feelings. It is abuse, IMO.
To get free of this abuse, a faithful spouse must get to the place of not caring about the cheater agreeing with their marriage demise narrative.
That is easier said than done.
However, the cheater loses his or her power to abuse us in this way when we no longer value his or her opinion:
So what if he or she disagrees about what happened? He (or she) is a liar. And only fools listen to liars without skepticism.