Dear Chump Lady,
Clearly you’re bitter. And divorced. And probably live alone with cats, but ballyhoo how great it is “on the other side.” I don’t get why you’d tell people — especially people who have children — to chuck their marriages.
What do you have against reconciliation? When my husband cheated, yes, it was horrific. I wanted to beat the crap out of the other woman with a threaded pipe. But my husband was deeply sorry, and did the hard work on himself in counseling. It’s three years later and although I wish it never happened, the affair brought us closer. We addressed a lot of the things that were wrong in the marriage, and I owned my part in that. I didn’t break up my children’s home. My financial security is intact. And I still have my husband and my marriage.
If I had listened to you, I’d be alone, spending my nights filling out my match.com profile and dating losers — guys not any better than my husband. They probably cheated too.
But I stayed and now my husband and I have a stronger marriage than we ever had before.
I’ll Stay on My Side, Thanks
Thank you for your concern over my marital status. It may relieve you to know that Chump Lady is happily remarried to a good guy, a Texas trial lawyer, whom she did not meet on match.com, and has no cats, but one very spazzy puppy.
To begin with, there are men better than your husband. Actually, you could walk into any bar in the land, swing a cat, and hit a man that is better than your husband, simply by virtue of the fact that that man has not cheated on you.
I don’t believe you that your marriage is stronger than before. If you lost a leg, you would not argue that now your body is stronger than before. You lost your trust in your husband. Your security. Your ability to ever love him unreservedly again. He can’t unring that bell or unfuck that woman. And while you may be one of the rare unicorns that reconciles successfully, you’re over selling it when you tell me your marriage is BETTER. It endures. Affairs don’t make marriages better, no more than spousal abuse and hurling your spouse down the stairs once, makes a marriage better.
For every day of your life you have to live with the knowledge that this man cheated on you and gutted you emotionally. If it didn’t gut you emotionally, you weren’t that connected to him in the first place and your marriage has never been “great.” He’s capable of betrayal. And while you may be able to do the mental gymnastics to live with that, I can tell you from experience, that it IS better on the other side. Either being independent and alone not living with the drama (BTDT) or happily partnered up with a person who loves you right and doesn’t need therapy and 12-step to be faithful. Cheaters often cheat again. Who wants to live waiting for that shoe to drop?
You posted at my forum that you are not against reconciliation-though you find true examples to be rare. You have a testimonial from someone claiming her marriage recovered and your response is to pass judgments on her spouseâ€”a man you do not know personally. Maybe true reconciliation is rare, and maybe it isnâ€™t. Maybe it is rare, but could be less so with education. But you are defining â€˜true reconciliationâ€™ and then basing your ideas on your definitionâ€”perfectly understandable and within your rights, I will add. But why dismiss peopleâ€”who you do not knowâ€”when they claim their marriage recovered.
At my forum you also responded to a poster who had an affair and done the work to repair his marriage and you called him a stand-up guy. But this woman who wrote you is saying that her husband did that too. At my forum we have a huge gap between discovery and recovery, but according to the information given by the writer, that was not the case I her situation. Why isnâ€™t he a stand-up guy also? Maybe itâ€™s because heâ€™s not the one writing to you and so we only have her perspectiveâ€”I get that. But still, why dismiss her supposed success? Just because the random men at a bar did not cheat on her, does not mean they are better menâ€”they may have cheated or be cheating on their own spouses; why is it more important that they have not specifically cheated on her?
I understand skepticism. But you really donâ€™t know what you seem to be assuming about her marriage is trueâ€”and itâ€™s subjective since itâ€™s opinion anyway. But her opinion has more credibility than yours simply because she knows her husbandâ€”if you knew both of them before and after, maybe yours would be more credible because you might have more distance than she does. If you do know her, then say that, and Iâ€™m sorry for assuming otherwise.
My marriage is stronger after infidelity too. And itâ€™s not some perfect bliss either. We fight like we did before infidelity, but now we know itâ€™s just a fight and not the end of the world, we have reassurance in each other that we can deal with differences and conflict and we accept that conflict is going to happen sometimes. Why make claims that you canâ€™t back up? You might be able to cite statistics that apply to a general sample, but individuals are not a general sample. When people ask what I do, many often then go into the reasons they divorced and how like me, they really donâ€™t like divorce and they think it should be harder to getâ€¦but their situation was an exception and it was one of those that was truly unfixable. If it really is true (and I could be wrong) that most divorces could be prevented (and the marriages improved), why do so many think they are the exception?
Honestly, I donâ€™t see you as a bitter old cat lady! I see you as someone who is trying to pass a message because you want to help people. Awesome! You and I may differ on how we advise people to resolve the problems, but helping betrayed spouses is still the purposeâ€”it seems to me.
I donâ€™t think the writer is saying that the affair made her marriage betterâ€”leading to the idea that affairs are then good for marriage. BARF. My marriage is better too. But the affair was certainly not a good thing and I so wish we could have got here without infidelity, but thatâ€™s not how it happened and I need to accept the reality of how it did happen.
But I am pretty mixed up regarding what you think and believe.
At my forum you said you donâ€™t believe that once a cheater means always a cheater. Here you said that cheaters often cheat again. Okay, those are not the same, so you are leaving room to acknowledge some will not cheat again, but why so pessimistic about it? Why not come out and say what you said at my forum?
You said you are not against reconciliation, but here you are dismissing someoneâ€™s claim that her marriage is stronger. Again, not exactly parallel, but unclear as well. And you gave kudos to the person who talked about having an affair and being remorseful and doing the repair work.
Basically I donâ€™t know what to believe from you because you are one way here and saying things that are just different enough at my forumâ€”and maybe other places as well. I think you write well and you have spunk, but I donâ€™t yet trust what you say as being you because Iâ€™m not seeing consistency.
You tell us that from experience itâ€™s better on the other side. I am assuming that by saying that you want people to believe itâ€”and I do believe it. But why are you not giving the same courtesy to those who came through to a different side than yours and claim its better there also? You are not on my other side, so you really canâ€™t know. I am not on yours and thus I canâ€™t know your side either, but Iâ€™m not going to dismiss it.
Well, there’s a lot to respond to in your comment. Most of my arguments against reconciliation and why I think it’s better to fold your hand and walk away are on this site.
If I recall your situation correctly, your husband was lost in a wilderness of cake eating for around three years? That’s longer than a lot of people could tolerate, and I would wonder how a man who could make that many entitled decisions to cheat, over *years* is someone you could ever feel emotionally safe with.
I believe you when you say you have a happy marriage now. I think there are many, many places on the internet like your MLC site, like marriage builders, like SI, that preach reconciliation. There are not as many sites that tell, what IMO, is the more LIKELY outcome (divorce after infidelity) with hope (your life WILL be better without being tied to a cheater).
I do not believe all cheaters are serial cheaters (see my post, a Spectrum of Cheaters). But I do very much believe that once you’ve cheated in a relationship you have destroyed THAT relationship. You may go on, work on yourself, start another and never cheat again. But if you reconcile and the person never cheats again, the betrayed party has to suck it up and accept a less than marriage. As I wrote, you can’t unring that bell or unfuck that affair partner. And either you have to predicate your relationship on amnesia (let’s forget it ever happened… okay, after a lot of therapy), OR you live in a twitchy state of paranoia, being the marriage police. Trust but verify.
That’s fine for Cold War NATO summits, but I think it makes for a lousy marriage foundation.
Also, when you reconcile with a cheater, you’ve got a deep investment in not understanding my point of view and promoting reconciliation. I have no such investment. I could very well put my past behind me and never think or write about infidelity again. I created Chump Lady to give other people who are stuck, in a way I was once painfully stuck, a way out. This is what helped me. And when I understood it, I got a much better life.
Infidelity is not part of my life any more (except on this blog). I’m happily remarried to a man who was also cheated on in his first marriage. We get it. I want to encourage people to get the relationships they deserve. To know that they matter. To not accept disrespect and abuse. And there is no benign fucking around, in my opinion. Infidelity — deceit, risking another’s health, and their children’s homes — is abuse.
People would not be so quick to tell someone with an physical abuser, hey, he’ll be better after that anger management class, stick around and try harder. Be nicer. But the internet is full of articles that tell people to stay with cheaters and put a little spice back into their bedroom. It’s fucked up. Cheating is every bit as painful — more so really — than being slugged by your spouse. There’s more to lose, more pain, more fall out.
But your post has made me realize I need to put other people’s stories on this blog, about their happy endings on the other side. So I’ll start doing that. It’s not just me.
But thanks for visiting and your comments.
â€œIf I recall your situation correctly, your husband was lost in a wilderness of cake eating for around three years? Thatâ€™s longer than a lot of people could tolerate, and I would wonder how a man who could make that many entitled decisions to cheat, over *years* is someone you could ever feel emotionally safe with.â€
That is an understandable thing to wonder! I know that many would not Stand for as long as I did, of course many do also. And yet I do feel emotionally safe with him.
I believe you when you say you have a happy marriage now.
â€œI think there are many, many places on the internet like your MLC site, like marriage builders, like SI, that preach reconciliation.â€
I have MarriageBuilder refugees at my site. They and others may preach reconciliation relative to what you preach, but a lot of people feel harassed for Standing. From the perspective of many of us, there are plenty of sites like yours and perhaps even more people outside of the Internet. Iâ€™m not saying there are more or less sites like yours than mine, but a personâ€™s attitudeâ€”angle of attack or perspective fuels what we notice.
â€œThere are not as many sites that tell, what IMO, is the more LIKELY outcome (divorce after infidelity) with hope (your life WILL be better without being tied to a cheater).â€
I donâ€™t tell people that there is a better chance of reconciliation than of divorce; I tell them that is my wish.
â€œI do not believe all cheaters are serial cheaters (see my post, a Spectrum of Cheaters). But I do very much believe that once youâ€™ve cheated in a relationship you have destroyed THAT relationship.â€
Thatâ€™s where the common â€˜the old marriage is deadâ€™ metaphor comes in.
â€œYou may go on, work on yourself, start another and never cheat again. But if you reconcile and the person never cheats again, the betrayed party has to suck it up and accept a less than marriage.â€
That is falseâ€”and since you are not in one, how would you know? I am in a marriage that has recovered and though I guess there are some things that are less, though they are things that are improved by that. My marriage is better now than it was before Bomb Drop.
â€œAs I wrote, you canâ€™t unring that bell or unfuck that affair partner.â€
No argument there! Sweetheart cheated and thus I know that he has the capacity to cheat. He had that before he cheated too, but then I didnâ€™t think he would, now I know he can because he has. Thatâ€™s living in reality.
â€œAnd either you have to predicate your relationship on amnesia (letâ€™s forget it ever happenedâ€¦ okay, after a lot of therapy), OR you live in a twitchy state of paranoia, being the marriage police. Trust but verify.â€
There are more options than two. Trust is not blind or an Unconditional; it is earned-continuously. Forgetting would be foolishâ€”as you know. And I donâ€™t live in paranoia. During his MLC when he came home and was still seeing her, yeah there was paranoiaâ€”and it was valid, though no fun at all. But now, his actions have been consistent in building our commitment.
â€œAlso, when you reconcile with a cheater, youâ€™ve got a deep investment in not understanding my point of view and promoting reconciliation. I have no such investment.â€
Oh most definitelyâ€”I used to have this fear that I would let people down, but the fear was during his crisis when people were looking to me for advice and my situation for their hope. Itâ€™s so weirdâ€¦I took my mother with me to meet lawyers so I had someone else who could help me with what to ask. That was maybe 4 months after Bomb Dropâ€”so 4 months into a 3.5 year affair. At that time she asked me if this was something I wanted to do with my lifeâ€”studying MLC. She knew then. I sort of did too, but that early in I was not ready to take the leap. I am utterly fascinated by the studies Iâ€™ve been doing for the last 7 years. Itâ€™s a passionate calling.
â€œInfidelity â€” deceit, risking anotherâ€™s health, and their childrenâ€™s homes â€” is abuse.â€
Standers are a sensitive bunchâ€”when in the throes of the crisis. Many donâ€™t realize that you and I really arenâ€™t so far offâ€”I agree with a lot of what you sayâ€”and of course I do disagree with a lot. But many of the most sensitive want to disagree across the board which becomes dismissive. Infidelity and cake-eating are absolutely abuseâ€”not merely abusive which is merely an adjective, but they are abuse.
â€œPeople would not be so quick to tell someone with an physical abuser, hey, heâ€™ll be better after that anger management class, stick around and try harder.â€
Physical abuse is not infidelityâ€”which is a different type of abuse. And though it is not always the case there has often been an historical pattern of physical abuse. I would not give the same advice for situation of physical abuse as for infidelity.
â€œBut the internet is full of articles that tell people to stay with cheaters and put a little spice back into their bedroom. Itâ€™s fucked up.â€
Agreed, that is messed up. My advice is more geared toward doing what you want and if you do not want a divorce I can help. That doesnâ€™t mean I will help you prevent or stop a divorce, but like you I can help a person deal with it and maybe, just maybe they will get to reconciliation instead of divorce. The way you say it is not the way it felt to me. I wasnâ€™t trying to stay with a cheater; thatâ€™s a bit like saying I wanted to be married to the Monster that he was during his crisisâ€”yuck. And spice in the bedroomâ€”I said no sex and other than once in the first year, I held to that. No sex when heâ€™s cheatingâ€”that was a DUH, but also get tested when he ended it and no sex for 6 more months and tested again. I thought I might become a born again virgin.
And at my site, most people are not â€˜stayingâ€™ with their cheater. Itâ€™s a site for left behind spouseâ€”most of the cheating spouses have moved out and most Standers do not want the cheater home, they want their spouse home, but not while that person is cheating. We set up boundaries and conditions regarding return.
â€œCheating is every bit as painful â€” more so really â€” than being slugged by your spouse. Thereâ€™s more to lose, more pain, more fall out.â€
I donâ€™t know about that because I have not been slugged by my spouse, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a fair statement. If you have experiences bothâ€”I am so sorry that you have gone through that. But even if cheating was worse for you, it may not feel that way to others.
â€œBut your post has made me realize I need to put other peopleâ€™s stories on this blog, about their happy endings on the other side. So Iâ€™ll start doing that. Itâ€™s not just me.â€
A good idea. And for the record, I donâ€™t think itâ€™s just you. There are successes and happiness on both sides.
We have people on HS who are on their second and third marriages and in every single one of those relationships THEIR partner cheated.
Just because you remarried a person who him/herself had been betrayed and cheated on, is no security that he/she could/would/will not, do it to you. We have some marriages between two betrayed people, and guess what, one of them is cheating, right this moment. What did she/he gain by starting anew?
Come on Chump, admit it… NOTHING can guarantee that your partner will not cheat, betray, disrespect, dishonour, whatever …. nothing. Let’s live in the real world. Being a tough ass and stating your expectations to your NEW spouse, won’t prevent it either. How many marriages are you prepared to go through?
WE all take risks when we allow another person into our lives, hearts. When you remarry, the possibility of being betrayed again is just as likely as it was with your first marriage. In fact, from the statistics that I have seen, the probability of each progressive marriage surviving, decreases!
At least I know my h is not a pedophile or some other creepy type of dude. He may have betrayed me once, he may even betray me again, but the likelihood for each of us is about the same, from what I can see. I can only assume your pride is the deciding factor for you. At least to your KNOWLEDGE the new husband had NOT cheated and betrayed you…. YET!!!
If that is ENOUGH for you, good. I wish you continued happiness.
Longtime reader but first time commenter- mostly because holy crap she won’t quit with the constant comments. If you were so happy in your marriage with a man who disrespected you for 3 years you wouldn’t need to defend this much. How sad that you feel the need to make
Other women act like fools so you can feel less like a fool. How come I never hear men preaching this bullshit with the same zeel that lonely, weak women do? Ohh because they have self respect and they don’t buy into patriarchy that says all men will cheat and you should just be happy you are married. Seems like you are here for chump lady’s approval of you complacency when what you really don’t have and need is your own approval of your misery making choices.
I accidentally posted my response to the wrong person so my apologies, but this is what I wrote:
Longtime reader but first time commenter- mostly because holy crap she won’t quit with the constant comments. If you were so happy in your marriage with a man who disrespected you for 3 years you wouldn’t need to defend this much. To the point where you are bullying a woman to the message of her site to change so it can make you feel less bad about your poor life choices? How sad that you feel the need to make other women act like fools so you can feel less like a fool. How come I never hear men preaching this bullshit with the same zeel that lonely, weak women do? Ohh because they have self respect and they don’t buy into patriarchy that says all men will cheat and you should just be happy you are married. Seems like you are here for chump lady’s approval of you complacency when what you really don’t have and need is your own approval of your misery making choices.
Seems to me that if someone is okay with working it out after an affair that is their business. However, I have a friend who has done this numerous times. At what point do these people say “fuck this. I deserve better and being alone IS better”. I’ve read at SI and other sites all about reconciling and it is stupid mostly. there are SOME that this works, but when I see that someone is still on a site after 4,5,6…..10 yrs with the same song and dance I feel very little to no pity. If you stay with someone who is cheating on you, has cheated on you and you refuse to do what is REALLY difficult and leave then you sign up for more bullshit cheating and lies.
Also I’ve read enough on those sites to see that the betrayed ones are VERY freaking bitter to EVERYONE. They hate themselves more than anything though. The ONLY break they take at bitching and calling the lover of their spouse names is to add names to another poster who is just like them…….sticking around for another affair to be discovered, another lie to be detected.
If you read enough you will see that some say “get him/her to take a polygraph” ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?????? Not in a million years. If you have to get a polygraph to determine if your spouse is lying or cheating you have bigger problems.
My spouse cheated on me ONCE. Over. Divorced. and moved on.
My parting words were “fuck you very much. May karma visited you daily”.
I’m happily not married and living a great life. At least I knew/know my worth which is more than I can say to those who stay time and time again and make excuses.
Kay — I like your style! And your definitiveness!
the problem is… you never really know what he is up to. There are zillions of ways he can cheat and you’ll never ever know about it.
that possibility is not something that I can live with. It was very difficult to get out. money issues. special needs child. 25 year marriage and much, much more. I got caught up in the crazy and I didn’t like who I was becoming. Is it possible that a guy can do the really hard work and make a turn around?
its very, very rare and I for one, couldn’t take the possibility that I was going to keep on finding his shit laying around. How utterly disrespectful and humiliating.
It makes me wanna vomit when I hear that a husband’s infidelity in the end, made their marriage stronger. really? how is that possible? I don’t know… all I wanted to do was rip my husband’s fucktard head off!!! I was so traumatized, I ended up in the ER room one night. horrific trauma. I was an abused child and I married my husband because finally, I found a man I could FUCKING TRUST!!! all I could say, was… “how could you do this to me?” I know good and well that it was all about him and his shit, but still… us wives are collateral damage and did he ever once consider that? no. and that is the problem.
I am going to end with a surprise. My mother had an affair with my uncle. (not related to her.) She eventually left my abusive father and guess what? the uncle left his wife. (my father’s sister)… then, he married my mother and my aunt remarried another man… and they all lived blissfully happily ever after.
Rarely, it does work out and quite nicely, but it still wasn’t right. they didn’t go about it the right way. we’re all human. we all make mistakes. I’ve made plenty of ’em.
I just try not to make the same mistake twice. :]
best ~ Laurel
IMO infidelity does not make anything stronger it is painful and there is a pang of wondering every time she gets a fucking text “Who is the text from?” “Who you talking to” I wasn’t a policeman when we first got married and i didn’t want to be when she came back. I’ve been on the R’ing websites because I didn’t want to feel like a failure and they do offer support when your heart is lying on the floor for you to wonder what the hell to do with it.
Two months ago it was confirmed that my wife was talking to another man….one that was at my wedding. Because she was stupid enough to switch phones when she broke her good one and then give it to my sister without deleting everything. She immediately tried to guilt me and say that these texts were not recent and that it was an old phone from when we first split up. I’ve only just found CL yesterday but all of the posts is only confirming one thing, and it is hard to accept, I’m a fool and a chump if I continue to try to reconcile with my wife. She doesn’t deserve me and she doesn’t deserve my time. My kids will get that from now on. What I hope for her is that she looks in the mirror and sees a piece of shit and finally wants to get help. I know it probably wont happen and the most I can do is work on me healing and making my kids lives as awesome as possible while their mom goes off like her mom did and date the entire city. If history repeats itself like our first separation she’ll come calling. And I’m going to continue to read this website so I can plain and simply tell her no. A firm no, with a fuck you in the undertone. Fuck I’m pissed off. I wish I this site was around 3 years ago and that I wasnt such a forgiving idiot to think she would change. The past three years had its good times but getting punched in the face by her, slapped, pushed, bit and all that other shit didn’t make it worth it.
CL keep doing you. What you are doing is giving a perspective that I didn’t find three years ago, i found a book that told me I could do all the work and things would be fucking fine. But they werent.
I’m certain you aren’t reading here anymore.
I too have a physically abusive STBXW. I’m really starting to wonder about the comorbidity of physically and sexually abusive behavior of heterosexual women against men. Hmmmm. Hope you got the fuck out of that crazy marriage.
I know a male chump who was hit, punched, slapped, and threatened with knives by his ex-wife. This took place over a decade and a half. Services for battered men are few and far between (even here in Ontario, Canada!), and the cultural bullshit males are fed in our culture makes it excruciatingly difficult to speak out and ask for help. I wish you and all the other men who have gone through this hell every kind of healing, health, and happiness.
I agree, all I’ve found is advice that I have to do the majority of the work as he slowly comes out of the fog, his initial response to my questioning if he regretted all he had done to us, was to say “I don’t regret it, I liked it and I’d do it again.” But don’t do anything for a year he’s in a fog. Do a 360 , go to marriage counseling (you can’t do this on your own) and I’m supposed to find and understand “my part” in the failure of my marriage and work on me. I’ll become such a great person and my renewal will draw him like a moth to flame. Sex him up till he is satiated (reclaiming my husband and my marriage) and he’ll be (sexually bonded) under my spell. And we’ll live happily ever after. A nurse for 25 years, as a caretaker I must of been trying to do his work instead of my own and I smothered him. < gaslighting I didn't appreciate all he had done for me. <more gaslighting I tried to control him, and he wasn't going roll over and expose his soft little underbelly to me any more. <even more gaslighting. Almost 4 years post discovery and the hits just keep on acoming… Trickle truth is subject to recant, retelling, denial of ever being said I'm still bat shit crazy and trying to control, punish and remain unappreciative of the great guy he is. Our history, rewritten by him, scapegoats me. Seek the real truth… go back the beginning of the relationship with your revelations and epiphanies, and you won't like what you find. When I read many of the websites I see many trying to believe (hope versus denial and myth making) in the better than ever new and improved marriages they exclaim to have created. And sorrowful tales of people who 10, 20 and 30 years later are still deeply wounded and forever scarred, because you are never the same after this. There is no moving on just getting over it or sucking it up. Forget safe secure trust integrity honesty kindness empathy unless you give it to yourself. But it cannot be achieved with this person capable of undeserved unfathomable betrayal of trust and insidious treachery.
What’s interesting is the point of this letter is about not jumping to conclusions about people, but from the start, she jumps to conclusions about CL saying she’s probably divorced with a bunch of cats. Which brings me to my next point. I don’t think this woman’s marriage is better. To her, “better” is simply better than being alone, which in her mind looks like a crazy lady with a bunch of cats. Clearly, this woman fears being alone and being with a guy, even a deceitful guy, is better than her own company.
I also think her “better” is better to be with the devil you know than the one you don’t. She says the men out there aren’t any better than her husband and are probably cheaters anyway. So she’s resigned to believing all men will cheat eventually, so her being cheated on already means it’s out of the way and won’t happen again (she hopes) or if it does, at least she won’t be blindsided like before. Not like those poor single women who haven’t been blindsided yet but will.