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Dear Chump Lady, Should I waste any more time in limbo?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m thinking about just going ahead and divorcing my cheating husband. Really, what is the point of wasting time in limbo? Everyone says you should wait 6 months to make a decision, but I can’t get over the lack of remorse.

Judging by reading on other sites, my dilemma is pretty universal in the betrayed spouse world. When we are a crumpled mass of agony, the cheater seems to put their hands on their hips, surveys the domain, and ponders what their next move should be. Unfortunately, that next move is NOT to run to the rescue of their battered and bloody spouse. We the betrayed, want our life partners, these people we love above all else, to stop the bleeding. We want them to WANT to stop our bleeding. But they do not give a shit about our agony. They do not have our backs. They had a grand life of cake and they want it back — at any cost — and our bleeding simply makes them roll their eyes.

I cannot seek comfort from my husband. So I may as well face divorce sooner than later. I don’t think he’s going to snap out of it. I don’t think I’d like him now, even if he did.

Your thoughts?



Dear Paula,

Well, you’ve come to the wrong place if you think I’m going to tell you to “stand” for your marriage. I’m not of the opinion that there is a cheater “fog” and that if you just wait patiently, the cheater will come trotting back to you of their own accord. If they’re going to come back, they have to fear that they will lose something they value. The betrayed person wants to believe that something is them.

But that something could be financial security, their reputation, the appearance of being family. That something could also be cake. You don’t know.

I also think the whole “wait 6 months” to make a stay-or-go decision is nuts if you are dealing with someone who is patently without remorse and/or still in the affair. Living with someone who is cheating right under your nose, or pining for the affair partner, or giving a big shrug to your pain — is living with emotional abuse. I don’t understand why people do not see it in those terms — that infidelity is abuse. No one would say to someone who was physically abusive — oh, hey, stick it out for 6 months and see if he doesn’t stop slugging you.

The terms with which you describe betrayal are pretty graphic — you want your husband to stop your bleeding. Physically abusive people are not known for hitting you and then “stopping the bleeding.” No, they tend to tell you it’s your fault and you asked for it. A lot like cheaters. We tell people, rightly, to get the HELL AWAY from people like this!

There’s a lot of advice out there to “make the marriage an attractive choice” for the cheater, and spruce yourself up, and throw yourself at marriage counseling while the cheater decides whether or not staying with you is worth the terrible price of not fucking around. I say bullshit. File already.

It may have the effect of waking your cheater up, and he has his come to Jesus moment. It may not. (Hey, at least he’s consistent.) But it if does wake him up — why would you want him? Do you really want someone that needs a legal gun put to his head before he’s can recommit to you?

Limbo is for beach parties. Move forward without him.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Totally agree that it’s emotional abuse.

    I do think a lot of these walk-away spouses are really messed up in the head, and I even feel sorry for mine quite often, but I don’t tolerate emotional abuse. I’m glad I did what I had to do.

    If he’s ever sorry, we’ll see what happens, but I’m not waiting around for it; I’m getting on with my life and having a really great time doing so.

    That’s not to say I’m not lonely from time to time, but I’m certainly not lonely for who HE REALLY IS, as opposed to the guy I wanted him to be. He’s not the guy I wanted him to be–he’s actually the guy who abused me.

    I believe cheating is a sign of character–you so aptly describe a sense of entitlement–and I don’t believe cheating/abandonment suddenly appears from nowhere from a previously high-character individual. In fact, I think a lot of abandoned spouses have a long history of overlooking a lot of bad behavior well before the bomb is dropped. Yes, the abandonment is a peak of the crisis, but it’s not an isolated insult.

    So I really doubt my ex is ever coming back full of remorse and a plan to make it up to me, and I don’t see myself ever wanting that old man back in my new life for more of the same bull shit. It finally took an affair to separate us, and it might well turn out to be one of the best things that ever finally happened to me–so I could finally see what kind of guy (can’t call him a “man”) he is.

    • Stephanie, I am also skeptical of the midlife crisis model of the happy marriage and upright spouse who one day derails into a life of debauchery and tawdry affairs. I would say though that a person who abandons a marriage is at least honest about that and is making a decision (albeit an unhappy one) to exit. I find that less odious than cake eating. Although, of course, it’s all odious.

  • God forbid he should regret it; I don’t want to hear the whining or see the self-pity. All I care about is making ME happy and taking good care of my kids. If he thinks he’s happy with a not-intelligent homewrecking skank with a personality disorder, oh, well. Says more about him than I care to contemplate. I just want him to leave me the hell alone.

  • Stephanie,

    I 100% agree with you. Cheating is a character flaw. My cheating husband has a grandiose sense of entitlement. He is certainly messed up in the head. And now that I am out of the situation, I want no part of him or the marriage he destroyed. I want no part of him. I am sure he will be sorry at one point in the future (It’s not now, because he is now living with his skank in our marital home) but, I could care less. He did me a favor and I am actually enjoying my life again.

    • Ugh. How did he get the house? I hope that was your choice. But good for you for getting out! So happy to read you are enjoying life on the other side.

      • It’s his crappy house we moved into to sell my nice condo. I booked out of there back to my condo and recently sold my condo (He can’t touch it or the proceeds.) and am moving into a neighborhood I want to live in, with absolutely NO input from his cheating self. Freedom!!! (Really, he did me a favor, showing himself for who he truly is)

  • I agree whole heartedly. For the moment I can’t leave……I have a list of things I need to take care of before I can…..all financial. But once in a while I “forget” because most of the time we get along great, but then I remind myself he’s not the person I fell in love with and maybe never was. Plus I printed out and saved copies of his online dating profiles. One copy in a safe place and one copy to remind myself.

  • I wrote a thnak you note to her affair partner. Poor idiot did me a huge favor.
    My XW was abusive as hell, but , the infidelity gave me a reason that folks would understand for divorcing her. It is much easier for a man to explain his decision to divorce based on cheating vs trying to explain long term , ammbient emotional abuse to folks.

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