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Happy Birthday Chump Lady

Well, I try not to blog about myself too much, because God, how narcissistic and dull. (Mommy blogging anyone? Does anyone want to know about my son’s travails with geometry?) But I’m going to make an exception today, because today is my birthday. (Cue Leslie Gore… “It’s my birthday! And I’ll blog if I want to! Blog if I want to!”…)

I’m 46, if you’re curious. Fairly ancient.

What does my descent into middle-aged decrepitude  have to do with infidelity? Well, my 46th birthday is a nice reminder of my fortieth birthday, which sucked epically. And I thought I’d tell you about it as a little example of how different life can be post-cheater.

When I turned 40, I had just moved to a new state with my then husband for his job. I’d been married four months. We bought a 100-year old fixer upper house (with my money) and it had been badly neglected. A widow had owned it and hadn’t done yard work since her husband had died years ago. But hey, you know what they say about codependents, right? Codependency is the addiction to the POTENTIAL of things. I was still a flaming codependent. I loved the potential of this ancient pile of house and I was resurrecting the garden single handedly.

It was the day of my fortieth birthday and I ordered myself a truck load of cow manure from a local farmer. He delivered it, dumped it in my yard and I spent the day ankle deep in shit, shoveling cow flop around.

At the time — swear to GOD — I thought “I’m ankle deep in shit on my fortieth birthday. This must be a METAPHOR for something!”

My metaphor called me about six weeks later. It was the Other Woman phoning to let me know she existed. Turns out — surprise! — my husband had a mistress spanning 20 years and three marriages. (It also turns out, I later discovered, that they had a grown child together.) No, I had NO IDEA. Remember, I’m a CHUMP. No clue. None. Zip. Zilch.

I had just moved to a no fault divorce state, financed a serial cheater’s career move, and bought a 100-year old fixer upper with this fucking sociopath.

How I got out of that mess is another story for another time (many miracles, many blessings, a lot of idiocy on my part — idiocy I share with you as trial-tested results of What Not To DO). The point was… my birthday.

My fortieth birthday sucked. I literally spread shit on my fortieth birthday. My cheater husband’s gift to me was a pen. (Admittedly a nicer gift than the tie-dye motif license plate cover he presented to me that Christmas). And during that weekend, unbeknownst to me at the time, he was off screwing his mistress. Cherry on top of the shit sundae.

What a difference six years makes.

Today I am so blessed. I’m remarried to a great guy who is truly my better half. He’s nerdy and kind and super smart. Verbal. Bright. A mensch. A wonderful father to his kids and a rock to my son. He eats too much popcorn and loves polka music. His quirks fit my quirks. I marvel every day at my amazing fortune that this is my life and he is my husband… and I will shut up now before you choke on my treacly, heartfelt, love goop.

My husband has been pestering me for the last week about what I want for my birthday breakfast. He is a master at French toast, and tragically for him, I do not care for French toast. (“It’s JUST LIKE BREAD PUDDING! You love bread pudding!” No, it’s not the same. French toast is a pale substitute because it’s not drenched in Bourbon.) I got a sweet roll and coffee and roses for breakfast. Swoon.

He took me out on a date last weekend and gave me a ridiculously extravagant gift. He put a pressed shirt on, and the man hates to wear all things dry clean only. He opened my door. He bought the fancy dinner.

I’m not writing this to make you hate me. I am writing this to you to say  — YOU ALL DESERVE THIS. Everyone deserves to have someone in their life who delights in delighting them. Who gets honest to God pleasure from giving to them. Who  will go to whatever effort just to PLEASE you on your birthday.

You know what’s sexy? EFFORT. Effort is sexy.

I didn’t know this until I was 42 and met my husband. I spent a lifetime in my relationships shoveling shit to one degree or another. I’m not saying <sniff!> no one loved me, no one bought me a pretty present. I’m saying — I didn’t know what reciprocity felt like. What it was to love someone who loved me back just as hard, maybe harder. Who if I lobbed the ball to him, picked it up and lobbed it right back. Who threw it further into the green, past me, so that I had to run to catch it. Who (damn him) is ahead on this birthday celebration thing. But I have a few things planned… his turn is coming…

Betrayed folks — do not settle. Good people who make effort exist. Go find each other.

Going to go celebrate some more. I’ve got a sugar coma now, between my prose and the birthday cake… maybe I’ll go take a nap… Happy birthday to me!



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  • Happy Happy Happy Birthday to the fantastic Chumplady!
    Know that there are many, many of us who are glad you are on this earth.
    Your kindness and directness and humor and vision are gifts to those adrift in the infidelity wasteland.
    Thank you for being born!

    • Thank you Paula! I’ll pass your kind words on to my mother (her fault my being born and all). I appreciate the compliments. It’s been a great day.

  • Thank you for sharing your story – I turned 40 this year when the shit hit the fan, too. But you’ve inspired me to get past all this, take care of myself, and maybe one day find a good person who makes the effort.

    With everything you have given us, you only deserve the best. Happy Birthday Chump Lady!!!

    • Thank you so much. 🙂

      Sorry to hear you had the craptacular 40th year too. It really does get better. My next phase of CL is to post more “happy on the other side” stories like mine. And trust me, I thought my ending was pretty damn improbable. If you read the post “The Walls in Your House Sing” — that is my aunt’s story. Remarried now 27 years. She was 43 when she remarried. We’re ordinary people — it’s out there. And I should add too, that there a million different happy endings. I love being partnered up, I was also very happy being independent as a single mom. (I did that gig for nearly a decade).

      Wishing you all the best too. Thanks for reading here.

  • Thank you for such a cheery and funny post. I know people say it can happen. That I too can meet someone who really, truly loves me (not who says you are the best thing that ever happened to him meanwhile he is hooking up with people on those creepy “friend-finder” sites) but it seems unlikely when you are still shaking the shit off your boots. Thanks for hope, Chumplady. 🙂

    • Thanks Duped. Life after a cheater is addition by subtraction. (Creepy friend sites BE GONE!)

  • My first dday was two months before my 40th. We ‘cough’ reconciled and he brought home pizza on my big day.

    My second and final dday was two months before my 47th birthday. I kicked him out. 47th birthday sucked in a lot of ways but I know my 48th is going to be amazing, because the last year of my life has been a total shift, with so many great new things and people in it.

    So CL, you are so right: don’t settle, find what you deserve to have and don’t ever accept less than the best.

    Happy Birthday, lady. You’re an inspiration.

    • Pizza! Oh, I think I can match you. When my ex came back from a fuckfest in Vermont with the OW — he brought me a one pound bag of coffee.

      Thanks so much for the birthday wishes. And here’s to your amazing 48th!

      • Just seeing this now. It was posted on my wedding date btw. Well my guy could never figure out what to get me. So, after 28 years I had a stack of iou’s. For a massage. For dinner out. For time away. For a piece of jewelry. What a master chump I was. And what a pos was he. When I discovered his EAP I came across a receipt for Xmas ruby earrings. I got a scarf. Then I called my attorney.

      • I know this is way past the date you originally posted. But, just wanted to UP you all one. (first liar doesn’t stand a chance, right?)
        My H went to England, then Harrod’s (with his mom for a heritage trip) and guess what he brought me back?? A toilet seat. From. Harrod’s. Didn’t even get a photo of Princess Di’s ‘throne’. Granted, the toilet seat was embedded with ….ooo – seashells…..and it doesn’t fit the US seats. Thanks. So romantic. I have to sit on it many times a day. Think I’ll toss it.

  • Found out about my first wife’s expeditions one month shy of my 40th(18 years ago, now_YIKES).
    Happy Birthday.

  • Happiest of Birthdays, m’lady de Chump! So glad I found you – a sane light on the shore of the murky, tumultuous infidelity sea! (ok, that was super lame, but it’s all I got right now).

  • Huh, it’s not just me, 40 is truly craptastic! Yep, D-day last year was almost 4 months before my 40th, and on my birthday he moved into his apartment (taking the good furniture with him. Good riddance to it all.)

    And I’m glad to hear how much better 46 is! Many happy returns!

    (And thank you, btw, for the site. It’s nice to hear that, for some people anyway, an affair is not just an expected little roadbump in a marriage, and I should get over it already. I can get over it, no problem, provided I don’t have to be married to him any more.)

  • I recently found your website and have been reading your articles to help me find a way out of the infidelity quagmire. You’ve provided me with a harsh dose of reality regarding my ‘cake-eating’ husband. Since then, I’ve seriously questioned my motivation for putting up with this crap way of living- waiting for him to ‘come to is senses’ for 12 months.
    However, after reading your birthday article, and learning that your husband’s affair was exposed to you after being married for 4 months, I feel somewhat confused again about being a ‘stander’.
    Anyone who finds themselves in this position knows only too well the rotten smell of the shit sandwich you’ve been served. I am 46 yrs old and I have invested 30 yrs of my life with this man-married for 20 yrs. We have 2 fabulous teenaged children, and he admits that we had a good relationship until he crossed the line with an employee. We are now separated for the second time in the last year, he lives alone, and implies that we will ‘get through this’. He doesn’t admit to anything, but I know that he is seeing her- whenever he wants. OW is single, has past history of relationships only with married men-preferably ones with $$. As devastated as I am, I initially gave this ‘relationship’ no credibility- and was naive enough to think it would die when exposed.
    Is it really that stupid of me to be a ‘stander’? I had NO reason to doubt him/ his mental state/ our marriage/our future. I feel torn about giving up on everything I’ve worked for in my life to this point. Do you think you would hold the same opinions if you had invested so much more with the man that cheated on you? Please don’t think I’m being critical of you here- I’m seriously looking for a way to get off this fence because my ass is hurting!!

    • I understand the feeling of ‘giving up everything I worked for’ because I feel the same way. We worked our bums off for years to get to a good financial place and now? Back to scrimping and saving because I kicked him out and now there’s two homes to support.

      But you know what? I may not have much money but I do have peace of mind. No more of his passive aggressive N crap, where everything is my fault yet he’s the one behaving like an ass.

      It sucks to lose your life, no doubt, but what you’re gaining has no price tag: you no longer have to worry that the idiot is banging someone else.

      Let go, find yourself and your own peace, let him wallow in his idiocy and live well, even if it means less material comfort. YOu’ll be better off in the long run, trust me.

      Off the fence! I’m pushing you.

    • If it makes you feel any better — my husband was once married for 22 years (together nearly 25) with a serial cheater and had two teenagers. He spent 10 DAYS in reconciliation. He was divorced within 6 months. If you read the post “The Walls in Your House Sing Again” — that couple left cheaters after long marriages and each had teenagers at DDay. I realize you have far more investment at 30 years than I had at 2 years (My dday was 6 months into my marriage, was dating him before I married him). But from where I sit — you don’t have ANYTHING to reconcile with, except his lame ass words that “we will get through this.”

      Glaring issues with that? 1. He doesn’t admit to anything. 2. He sees her whenever he wants to. He is eating CAKE.

      I think you need to reframe this. YOU aren’t giving up everything you worked for — HE IS. You cannot hold up a marriage by yourself. This is the scary, vulnerable, horrible truth about infidelity — you are not in this together. You can invest and invest in a person and they can drive your life into a ditch. Your husband happens to be a cheater, you’d have the same problem if he were a gambler or a drunk. But, but! I’ve invested all these years! “Standing” does NOT change your reality that he is NOT THERE IN THE MARRIAGE WITH YOU.

      So you either FACE THAT or you keep pretending. I’m sorry to be harsh with you, because I know it hurts. It seems to me that you do not want to be in a marriage that is lopsided on the commitment and you are being emotionally abused and disrespected (yes, infidelity is abuse). Every single betrayed spouse has that moment — I face that this person is not in this with me the way I deserve — and **I** have to do something about that. That’s true at 30 years. That’s true at 1 year.

      Would I hold the same opinions if I’d had a longer marriage? Absofuckinglutely. My ex-husband was married twice before me — both relationships were over 10 years. He cheated on those women over and over again (how do I know? I spoke with them). He was no different with me. And apparently he’s done it to women after me (according to a cheaterville profile).

      I don’t know if your husband is a serial cheater. But I do know from what you write that he’s not in that marriage with you. I’d file for divorce on his ass like yesterday.

    • You may also want to do some reading on sunk costs. You can’t change the past, but do you want to keep throwing good money after bad?

      • Sunk costs! That’s the term. What economists know as a bad investment. I totally agree, Amy.

    • Thanks, it was a great day… with too much cake. (The good kind, not the cheater kind.)

  • Dear Chump lady – How did you get past your codependency and find the right person the second time? How do you know you are seeing the real deal?

    I get the potential vs real reciprocity concept (excellent way to put it) but my husband was deceptive for the first 2-3 years of marriage. (he seemed committed etc…showed his ALL true colors about year 4). 21 years later I just divorced him having to pay alimony buyout, child support and lose half of everything? Thoughts?

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