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Part Four, Not Everything Is Pathological

I’m skipping around here in my How Not to Get Chumped Again advice (blame my recent vacation), but I had a bit more to say on the subject. I hope you’ll find this hopeful, because it’s been rather revelatory for me.

4. Not everything is pathological. All those chump qualities you possess? Thinking the best of others, trying hard, and even some spackle — in the service of the right sort of relationship are not bad things. Now, I am NOT saying don’t examine yourself. If you’re a flaming codependent (I was), get help for that. If you persist in thinking well of someone despite mounds of hard evidence to the contrary, you need to stop that. And if you’re comfortable with lopsided giving, that’s never going to be healthy.

But what I am saying is — chumps, you don’t suck at this marriage thing. You sucked at choosing the right person. If you’ve got a bad picker, there’s help for that (outlined in the previous advice — mostly pay attention to their actions, and look for reciprocity, kindness, and interests in common). But it’s entirely possible that you will reconnect in the future with a giver, another chump, a decent person and find out — wow… relationships aren’t THAT hard. You aren’t a shrieking harpy. You aren’t that hard to live with. You are found attractive. You aren’t succumbing to drama and fights, or coldness and withholding. There isn’t a secret bastard child you don’t know about, or dating profile, or missing retirement funds. Life is just rather… normal.

Yeah, normal exists. Who knew?

If I have any dispatch to send you from the other side of infidelity, coupled up again, it’s this — you can DO a healthy marriage with a healthy person. Look, I’m not saying my marriage or me or my husband are perfect. We’ve got our issues like anyone else. But what’s different is I have a full partner where I never had one before. Whatever drama life imposes on us (teenagers, disease, five feet of floodwater), we work through together. That’s new! Ex-husband #1, would stonewall and refuse to discuss anything, Ex-husband #2, would fuck around and rage. Both would point to me and say I was the problem, because I saw a problem.

That stayed with me. I did think I was the problem. Two failed marriages, and trust me, people see you that way. Aren’t you the little fuck up? When I got married again my family was like “Yeah, good luck with that.” Not a big vote of confidence there. I’m sure they wanted to be happy for me, but they’re flinching too.

Several years into it now — what’s apparent to me is I’m not a failure at marriage. I’m actually quite adept at it. And so is my husband (Mr. Hard Ass Kill Joy No One Can Live With You according to his ex). All of our chumpy qualities are still a part of us. We’re givers. We compromise. We take people at their word. We’re not comfortable receiving. But these aren’t deadly flaws. It’s just startlingly apparent that in the past we were with some really disordered fucked up people who did fucked up things. It’s mortifying… we chose them… but it really didn’t have much to do with us, who we are, who we continue to be.

Bad choice. Bad person. It can be corrected. It’s not fatal. It was never really about you.

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  • Very good points all. It’s the most insidious trap out there for Chumps making a new beginning, the inclination to fix oneself . . . too much. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a betrayed spouse talking about dating again say something like, “I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll never give my heart away completely/compromise so often/give so much/trust without verifying,” etc.

    Usually the wrong lesson, I think. Not only are these traits not pathologicial, I’d go one step further and say they are *essential* to good marriage. I can’t imagine being married to someone who doesn’t have my heart and trust completely, or with whom I can’t compromise or to whom I can’t gladly give everything I have. The fact that I was once married to an a*shole does not change the beautiful mutual reliance (and vulnerability) that is at the heart of marriage iteself. Fix the picker, and these “bad” impulses often make life hum like a bumble bee in a field of clover.

    • Nomar,

      Please don’t panic, but I think I love you. 😉

      My (then) husband once told me I made him cheat because I took it for granted he would be faithful. If I would just stop trusting him (my husband), then our marriage would be fine.

      I was completely: Mind. Blown.

      I could not even fathom a marriage in which fidelity (in whatever format the couple agreed on) and trust would not be the starting point from which everything else was built.

      Of course, this makes more sense when I factor in that he decided to lie to get a woman to marry him before he even met me and decided it was the chump he would focus on manipulating into marriage.

      I think I needed to hear someone say these things today. Been kinda rough day.

      Thank you Nomar & CL!

      • Your assuming he would be faithful made him cheat on you? HUH? Was that your cue to up your game to keep him “faithful”? Didn’t do the pick me dance with a lively enough step?

        I learn a new mindfuck here every day.

        • Yes, lol, apparently I cannot dance. I also don’t lie worth a damn, and I’m pretty much useless at noticing subtlety. (Captain Oblivious was my second choice for alternate persona, and it was a hard call.)

          Well, next time he wants to pick-me dance, I will be wearing stilleto heels–and a restraining order.

          And I have experience in tap dancing. When I was younger, I used to go up and down bleachers wearing heels. We’ll see how well the pick me dance turns out for him the next time he wants to go a round.

          Best part? He works in the criminally insane hospital in our state. I have no doubt one day he will be forcibly committed on a temporary basis. Can you imagine the call that he will not be in for his shift?!

  • Look for a giver, someone who reciprocates. I have found, that , almost universaly, the NPD cheater types display this lack of reciprocity. It may not be too obvious during courtship, but, if you really pay attention , you may see clues.
    There is a stigma attached to having made the same mistake twice, as I did(CL too, apparently). FWIW, after my first wife cheated and abandoned me and the kids, I was really vulnerable to another NPD. I had never heard of personlaity disorders(pre-internet) and I thought I had caused everything(and my XW blamed me for everything).
    So, when a nice looking, younger woman started showing a lot of interest, I took the bait without doing a proper vetting. Same result. I was miserable and stressed out by her constant raging and silent treatments.
    I could have gone slower and looked more closely at what I was dealing with. But, I was pretty depleted by the first boout of cheating and all the crap that had gone on in my first marriage.

    • I totally get that Arnold. I think part of bad choice #2 was that depletion, and not having worked out my chump issues from marriage #1. Also, he was a con and a good one. But I also agree, if I had paid attention to red flags, I could’ve avoided it.

  • Yup, fix the picker but realise that the very qualities that were taken advantage of are the ones that actually make us great spouses. Or at least good ones… 🙂

    It’s funny because I’ve never had this kind of break up, I’ve never hated an ex, I have never had friends that caused this sort of drama in my life but between my STBX and the friends I made from his world, I see that these are not safe people for me: they simply do not really care about me or my feelings, particularly the ‘friend’ of mine who fucked him and then spent loads of time in our home, including when my family was visiting.

    So I’ve learned: take a good look at their friends, listen to what they tell you about those friends (I knew several were cheaters and laughed along with the stories STBX told me about their ‘adventures’ in cheating)….just listen, look, observe, take your time and if someone wants to move too quickly and not give you the time you need then fuck them, move on.

  • Wow! Great points CL! Good to know that the traits I possess and other chumps possess are definitely strengths.
    Right now, I need to heal. Get my life back on track. But when the time comes, I will put my heart on the line again. I will fully trust and love again. The difference will be I will be much wiser in my ability to spot a fraud. Red flags. I won’t spackle over neglect/abuse again. But minor idiosyncrasies? Might be kinda fun to spackle some of those.
    Great insight! Thanks again. Refreshing to hear and a good guide for all of us chumps to follow.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Wow, you really are adept at unraveling the skein in my brain. Seems like every post is another example of your uncanny (astonishing!) ability to examine ALL aspects of chumpdom. Wow!

  • A guy I read named Richard Skerrit(he has several e-books about dealing with the disordered. Ad, he sends out little blurbs on this stuff, if you go to his site) talks about this new concept that he feels is overused in assessing people who have stayed with the disordered. He feels that the “co-dependency” label is overused in many cases.

    He talks about how our ability to commit and to give the benfeit of the doubt to ur spouses are, in fact, admirable qualities.
    I think it is important to make a distinction between staying with a boyfriend or girlfriend who is abusive vs a spouse. Often there are kids involved and there have been sacred vows exchanged. There are financial and family entanglements. Snd, in many cases, the abuse was ramped up very gradually(the old tepid water frog boiling deal).
    It takes a fair amount of time for a commited parent to figure out what is going on. And, believe me, a disordered spouse is very invested in keeping you confused and feeling fully responsible.These folks are aboslutely masters at this, due to a lifetime of practice.
    One has the tendency to feel like a fool or to feel as if there is something dramatically wrong with oneself for having endured too long.
    But, really, we were not aware of these disorders. We were perplexed by the about faces our spouses did after entanglement.
    Hindsight is easy, but when youu are in the thores of this stuff, the silent treatments, the accusations, the contradictory behaviors, the gaslighting where they deny saying or doing things, anyone would be confused as to what to do.
    Couple that with the isolation they often invoke(hating your friends and famile etc, and the consequences they impose if you continue contact) and a healthy , nice person just does not know where to turn.
    This is why, or me, the infidelity was a Godsend. It was a bright, clearly abusive line that was violated and it got me off my ass to end the long inflicted abuse.
    I am a healthy, happy guy with many friends and am successful enough. I am decent looking and in shape. Yet, I was made to feel as if I was some abusive, controlling moster. I could never figure out what landmine i would step on next.

    • Funny about the tepid water frog boiling to death thingy: my therapist used that very early on, right in front of STBX, and it didn’t click with me at the time. At some point it did and it made alot of sense: he kept pushing my boundaries but so insidiously, so slowly and carefully, that I didn’t notice the faint changes along the way. With Dday he tried to push my bottom line so low that I’d actually allow him to stay in the home while he ‘figured things out’. Thank god the one thing I did was kick him out. I may have sent some dumb emails thinking maybe we could work it out but he never spent another night under my roof and it wasn’t long before all his stuff was packed and he was told to pick it up or it hits the trash. Divorce papers handed to him right after that.

      I still have my moments where I get very, very wobbly but I know that this guy will never respect anyone once he has them sewn up and he will always be a serial cheater. And his family will always enable him.

    • Arnold I’m on the same boat as you. Mirror!!
      Absolutely identical. It’s a fucking world wide problem. I thought this shit only happened over there.
      It scared the shit out of me when I realised the truth in all this. Frog analogy is good.
      What I have done though is piss off a narcissist and that is a big no no.
      I have to become James Bond. Quickly!

      • YOu pissed of your N? Yeah, it’s narcissistic rage and boy is it ugly. STBX was quite nice at the beginning, when he thought I would be nice and not say anything. I never got mean but I did start telling the truth and wow, what a shift in him! As soon as he realised I had no intention of going along with the ‘the marriage was broken’ story and was instead going to tell the truth he fucking lost it and the mask fell away very quickly.

        now he’s one very angry, rage-filled man and absolutely hates me. I mean HATES me. Why, you ask? Because he can no longer pretend to be that nice guy to a lot of people and he has to find new people to fool. Must be exhausting work.

        • Nord, it’s like your describing my situation, too. Now that I’m no longer of use to STBX (because I’ve told people he cheated on me and we’re divorcing) and now that I refuse to back down when he gets upset, he no longer has to be the “nice guy” when it comes to me.

          I realize now that if he’s talking, he’s lying, and if he’s being nice to me, he wants wants something.

          • Yes, STBX vacillates between being nice (very rare these days) to get something and general rage and insults. It’s ridiculous. Did he really think I was not going to tell people why I was divorcing him? He’s got his family and a few friends who go along with what he says, mainly because they don’t know the whole truth.

            It’s kind of fun to watch him go nuts, I have to say.

  • It takes a bit of time for all this stuff to sink in and in the last week it really did sink in.
    I only heard of the term narcism recently and really didn’t step back and look at the ex for what she really is.
    I thought it was all about me.
    She said early after d day that I viewed her as the centre of my universe and I did. Everything I did revolved around the family and I derived enormous pleasure from it.
    What I’ve realised is that she fed off that attention
    With the guidance of a very good therapist I’ve realised what her relationship with chainsaw man is all about.
    The ex( should come with a name like running woman but she doesn’t seem to be doing much of that lately) has walked away from me and the boys, the girls she did the New York Marathon with, and has destroyed her sneaky clean reputation in the community.

    All she has done is found someone else that’s places her as the centre of her universe. (Emails and text available for proof ). Poor man


    She is a narcissistic. Chainsaw man probably is one too. Very likely!
    She needs that complete feeding of kibbles and cake. What’s interesting is the therapist has suggested that he could become the dominant narcissist now and he will feed off her and she off him which is apparently what happens in these situations. Apparently like two leaches that feed off each other in an orgy of sucking life out of each other and minimising other people in their life unless they are prepared to be leaches and suck off each other as well. .
    From today’s comment I spent so long thinking it was me. She went to him because he was the big CEO of multi national, big income, flash apartment etc. he has the same traits as her.
    it’s all about entitlement for her.
    She is now moving in 300 yards at the end of the street.
    She wants to be closer to the boys hoping they will pop over more. What she doesn’t realise is even the boys friends see her for what she is. Selfish and they see she has hurt me. They don’t agree with it and therefore don’t like visiting. Some didn’t go to her old place and they won’t go to the new place. I must say there is no dramas with the boys visiting her which is great fir them but they don’t spend much time with her. They still refuse to meet him which is driving her fucking nuts! He’s a good man ( don’t you know). No he’s not- he fucks families!
    I now have to be stronger than Ben hur.
    It’s great to e able to look at her with some perspective. To begin to understand why certain things happen.
    I asked yesterday ok what happens if chainsaw man accidentally falls on a chainsaw or goes under one of his orange ride on mowers and the ex is left isolated.
    Nothing. She made the choice. She owns it. She can only save her self.
    I’ve always learnt from investing to diversify.
    In relationships I invested every ounce of me into my wife and family. The wife walked away and I thought I was fucked.
    Now I realise my next relationship will not be co dependent. It won’t be a life support system for me.
    I have learnt so much about relationships, friends , my two beautiful boys, and myself in these last 13 months.
    As s often in life it takes hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis to teach us what is important in life I time for cleansing, reevaluation, reset the compass stuff.
    CL says that we chumps chose them. Well they chose us too. Maybe we were beneficial for a while. For some of us beautiful children were born. There’s a lesson in everything in life. We just have to make sure we learn it and move on.
    I think you’ll find most of our exes will learn in time that they made the wrong choice to cheat on us. However as my therapist said yesterday often they just stay together feeding each others lonely existence like leaches that just can’t get enough of each other. Better to keep away and have a lighter handy in case one latches onto you.
    The other thing is the experts- the therapist etc they are here all the time. This is where they learn all their craft in these blogs and web sites. It’s real shit that you don’t learn in text books. Mayb some of our politicians should be here too and they may be able to relate better to the people.

    • Baci, you and I are on the same timeline, more or less, and yes, once you see that they are narcissists who feed off of you and then dump you when your carcass is dry it’s both enlightening but also dispiriting. STBX is a complete N and the young OW hero worships him, thinks she’s won a big prize, does everything for him, and literally tells him that he is the best, most handsome and wonderful man in teh world EVERY SINGLE DAY. (she sends him texts while sitting next to him. The kids read them and unfortunately told me. Gag).

      We were together 20 years so I probably wasn’t blowing smoke up his ass while staring lovingly at him 24/7 and just waiting for him to fart in my general direction so I could smell the nectar. No, I was a grown woman who had two kids, a home, and a life to deal with. That wasn’t enough.

      And yes, I did make my family the center of my life. Why? Because it meant so much to me. I loved having a family and I loved my family more than anything and I fought to protect it until I saw that it was pointless. But I won’t let any of this stop me from being just as warm and loving and giving in my next relationship as I was in my last. Sure, I’ll be more aware of red flags and I probably won’t spend 20 years kissing my new man’s ass every time he shifts in his chair, but I will appreciate him just as I appreciated STBX and I will give him all the love I can.

      Don’t let this change you, Baci, just realise that she’s the problem, not you. You’re ability to give and be a good man is going to make some woman very, very happy one day and you will hopefully find someone who knows just what a gem you are.

      • OMG
        Identical. Together 20 years. Exactly same thoughts.
        Don’t worry about young thing. I’ve been told that they just continue on in the feeding frenzy. It’s unhealthy

        I have email- ” Darling I live for you. You are my everything. Can’t wait to be with you always and forever”
        ” I love you beyond anything”
        Good luck with that!

        Nord you too will find someone and we will all meet on CL first tv programme. Will be a ripper!

        • We’re identical right down to the two boys. Weird, eh? We’ll both find someone. And hey, the kids and I are planning a trip to Oz to visit people we knew when we lived there. Might not happen for a year or two but we can meet at the RSL in Balgowlah and have a beer. 🙂 I think my membership card is still good.

        • As far as young thing she was just the last in what appears to be a rather long line…and while he was telling her he loved her he was hooking up with others, so I suppose as long as she drinks the koolaid it will last but he’ll eventually slip up and she’ll either bail or be so embarrassed that she knowingly went off with a serial cheater (and she is well-aware of his history of cheating) or else they’ll end up like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, or Soon Yi and Woody–forced to stay together because they made such a stink about it being so bloody important. God, what awesome karma!

          The best part? She has to put up with his nutty parents now! I win!

      • I know the OW in my case was kissing my STBX’s ass all day long as well, and I’m sure also commiserating on how “horrible” I am because if she were married to him she’d do x,y, and z so much better than me!

        I did also put my family first, but we had an infant and a toddler! I had just read some new parenting book right before finding out about the affair that said you should “put the marriage first” and I had just started to think, huh, that’s a good idea, we should try that… maybe that will help some things. Then all our shit went down.

        • I wonder how common it is for cheaters to start when their wives become pregnant/have babies. I’ve seen this happen several times. Is it because suddenly the wife is now “mother” material, and less “hot screw” material? Or perhaps because they are suddenly not the be-all and end-all of our existences any longer, and have to share us with other needy beings? Just when you’d think your husband would step up and protect his family and nuture and be there for them, that’s when they step out. I know mine started signing up for the dating sites and hitting the strip clubs right after our first was born and progressed onward to the prostitutes from there.

          Anyone else have that happen to you?

          • I think it’s in the ‘I’m not number one with him/her’ category. STBX was always a flirt but then, so am I. Not in a gross way, I’m just kind of friendly.

            But I know that he felt ‘neglected’ when the second one came along because kid #2 was a screamer for nearly a year, I was completely exhausted from trying to deal with it, he was working all the time, we had problems with getting him into nursery, etc. and this is around the time I cut back on work massively and focused on kids, home, etc., mainly because there wasn’t any option.

            It all became too real and too ordinary, I think, and he needed some attention and excitement, the poor dear.

          • Yes- it happened to me. My husband unbeknownst to me had an affair with what he called his really ‘good looking’ assistant. He hired her when our son was 9 months old. Apparently the affair started started just after my son’s first birthday. My husband checked out on me and the marriage when I wanted and then became pregnant. He drank throughout my pregnancy. During the affair with the assistant, spending A LOT of the time away from home, his coming home drunk, and even peeing the bed, I was wondering ‘what was going on with him?’ ‘Why wasn’t he home in the evenings enjoying his beautiful baby son?’ Hmmm. . . I later asked him if he was having an affair and of course he said, “No.”

            Interestingly, things didn’t go so swimmingly for him and the OW. She was married and had two kids from a previous husband- she was certainly ‘chumping’ her husband No. 2 who was dutifully raising kids with her from her first marriage. I later found out that when my STBXH and the OW was employed by him they used to argue a lot at work. They would get into arguments outside of work when they weren’t busy being fuckbuddies.

            My STBXH then decided that he was going to ‘cool’ the relationship with OW-office assistant and told her she needed to dress ‘more professionally’ in the office. What did OW do in response? She filed a sexual harassment claim, a human rights claim and an unemployment claim against him promptly quitting her job alleging phony sexual harassment.

            What did I- chump of all time do? Well I am a lawyer. I sure as hell did not want my husband to pay her settlement demand claim of $10,000.00 to make everything go away. My husband’s regular attorney advised him to settle the case and just pay the money. I just could not see why our marital community should pay 1 fucking dime to this woman! No f***ing way!! So, you know what I did? I represented my husband as his attorney on all claims. I contracted with forensic teams to seize evidence- bedsheets full of DNA, red high heels in his ‘secret’ apartment etc. etc. My defense to the her bullshit claims- duh. . . was that she was engaged in a consenting sexual affair with my husband!

            Now, I have heard many chumps here at chump talk about getting “REVENGE!” Well, I think I got my sweet revenge moment. You should have seen OW’s face during the unemployment compensation hearing when she (representing herself) realized that I was prepared with witnesses etc., and forensic evidence of the affiar- it was too precious! The case went to trial in one day trial. The judge found in my husband’s favor and that he she had no claim of hostile environment, sexual harassment etc. She and my husband were majorly exposed to the rest of the office staff. After losing her unemployment hearing, she then rather quicklydismissed the other bogus claims against my husband. And my husband? Perhaps you are wondering about how he was with my defending him. My husband was of course gloating- talk about me huh, the kibble providing lawyer wife defending him in his business? I was doing what CL says is the pick me dance by running to his rescue. Pretty damn sad.

            It felt like I was performing an autopsy on my soul representing my husband legally. I would cry reading the discovery and prepping the case. I was eating sh*t sandwhiches BIG TIME all to prove that I was a spouse who cared- he had said that I was an unsupportive spouse and claimed that’s why he had the affair. . . blah. . . blah.. blah.

            Why did I do all this? I was absolutely devastated by his affair. My heart wanted to leave the relationship but I stayed in the relationship for my son. I didn’t want my son to grow up in a broken home and I knew I’d have to DEAL with my husband co-parenting and all that if I divorced him and hell, he might have ended up with the OW and I wasn’t going to let THAT happen! So, I stayed in the relationship.

            Not wanting my son to be an only child I further spackled and went on to have a beautiful daughter. Now the kids are teenagers. Fast forward 17 years after Dday and the devastating discovery of the affair. . . .

            Well, I finally had it with my husband. To my knowledge he didn’t continue cheating BUT he was passive aggressive to me and not paying back loans to his MIL for substantial amounts of money that was owed. He would make unilateral moves behind my back with finances and trying to enroll our son out of state into a military academy without my consent! He wouldn’t give me grocery money so I could buy sanitary pads for my daughter- he’d tell me to get the money from my mother! Funny thing, was I put up with sh*t sandwhiches all these years, BUT when it was clear that he had no problem taking advantage of my mother and family financially- it was time to get the HELL OUT.

            I filed for divorce last February. Initially, I had a divorce attorney represent me but it’s really expensive when you have been an underemployed attorney and have been raising two kids more than lawyering. My husband always let me deal with the kids and the hard stuff. Oh well . . . I have learned much. . . It took me 17 years to get out of this fog. I am slowly moving forward, some day things will get better emotionally and financially for me. I just want to get myself back and get my bounce back- when that happens I know I’ll be okay. I do know that I spent WAY TOO MANY years wasted on STBXH.

            So, Dawn. THAT is my story if you and anyone else is interested. Pretty f***ed up? Huh?

            • Hope, WOW. What a story! (((Hugs))) If it’s any consolation, this Use the Legal Services of My Chump appears to be a favorite entitlement program among cheaters. My husband (also a lawyer) unwittingly gave legal advice to one of the long-term OM, you know he was a “friend” of his then-wife, just doing a favor. (barf) My ex-husband’s second wife (an attorney) told me a story of how the OW booked an appointment with her for a custody matter, but he intervened in time, so it didn’t happen. She thought it was a coincidence. I think the OW was trying to fuck with her head.

              I’m sorry you got chomped there, and ate your own shit sandwich. My husband turned me on to a trial lawyer expression here “Some money is just too expensive.” I think you should’ve paid that $10K and taken it out of the divorce settlement! You WILL get your bounce back — sounds like it’s already there, and only getting bouncier.

              • Oh yes CL. . . the mind fuck games that OWs and OMs are willing to play- it is really VERY sick. How does it play out in the OM’s mind? It’s the I’m getting a secret thrill and ‘look’ like the good guy kibble, and I’m getting a legal referral for my wife knowing all the time that you Mr. lawyer/unknowing spouse are getting fucked while I’m fucking your wife- you’re the chump!

                I agree with you on that conclusion about the OW getting pleasure of mind-fucking the female attorney who married your former spouse. I don’t think that was a coincidence at all, oh no. . .. These people are sick, sick, sick!

                Thank you CL for acknowledging my pain in my story along with the other chumps’ pain on this very important blog and the (((Hugs))). We so need this! I suffered for so long protecting my STBXH. I spackled. . . spackled . . . and spackled some more. I never even told my family about my STBXH’s infidelity- not even my best friend! I was SO ashamed and SO in despair and I just wanted to patch everything and make things perfect.

                Unfortunately now, I see that you just can never spackle over infidelity. It’s not simply ‘a mistake’ as cheaters say. Infidelity is not like a crack or dent in the plaster- it’s a HUGE fault line in the house foundation of marriage. No, what you have to do is literally tear things down to the studs (a divorce) with your kids and you then build the foundation of trust as a family unit rebuilding carefully and thoughtfully. We all need to rebuild like the 3rd little pig who builds his house not of straw, not of sticks but of bricks and mortar so big bad wolves can’t blow our houses down ever again!

                Someday, I will get my bounce back. I imagine myself like the charachterTigger in ‘Winnie the Pooh’- so full of energy and glee that I just can’t stop being all bouncy! It will happen. . .

                There you go, another good symbol on merchandise at Chump
                Pictures on our coffee mugs of what we ALL can be. . . from chumps to Tigger! Now, if you could just get the pass from Disney on trademark infringement that would be great- otherwise you’ll need your spouse to get licensed in patent law!

            • Ding ding ding! We have a strong contender for Chump Lady’s title. I am so sorry you went through that and yes, it’s amazing how we’ll contort our very souls in order to ‘save’ the marriage.

              Good for you for getting out and you will be fine. Think of The Good Wife…and go buy some sassy suits while you put your life back together. Bravo for finally ending it!

              • Thank you Nord! I need to watch the ‘Good Wife’ because I’ve never seen it. When I get my career and finances in shape I’m going to buy some sassy suits for certain!

              • It’s a Chump smackdown! I still think I win, but the lawsuit is very compelling.

                Per Hope — no patent law for my husband. Perish the thought. My ex (cheater) was a patent attorney. Never again.

            • Hope, WOW is right. But guess what? If I were a lawyer and my husband had actually been willing to fire his assistant/AP, I probably would have done the same thing.

              • Well he didn’t ‘fire’ OW/office assistant- instead when he issued her a written directive that she was to dress more professionally- she then saw that he was trying to ‘cool’ the relationship. He wanted her around and I think that he still would have continued in a sick relationship/affair with her. However, when she got the directive that she was to wear more appropriate attire in the workplace I think she saw the writing on the wall. . . the eventual demise of the affair. Also, I think she was embarassed because other co-workers picked up on the fact that she and my husband were fooling around. Suddenly she desperately needed to ‘justify’ quitting her job- her husband who was raising her kids from her first marriage became suspicious about her late ‘work’ hours and activities. ‘Aha!’ she likely thought. ‘I’ll just accuse my employer/lover of hostile work environment/sexual harassment, get some money out of him, cry crocodile tears and I’ll be vindicated and be a little richer.

                Well, unfotunately for her she should have been smarter than to fuck MY husband and make phony claims. I am a former prosecuting attorney. I LIKE going to trial. Very foolishly, she assumed my STBHS and I would just want the matter swept under the rug and she’d get her $10,000.00 demand payed up fast – no problem, right?. She was VERY wrong and got outed in the justice system- that at least was MY satisfaction.

  • I have to say guys – getting involved with my X after not dating and just sort of living my own life for 8 years or so, was such a huge leap of faith. I was in with both feet, my head, my heart….. everything. Frankly, I can’t imagine ever ever doing that again. I feel so gun shy – like I’ll always have this really bad sunburn and there is no way to be touched without it hurting. I’m over 90 days into no contact and the acute stage, like spontaneous crying is over…. but I have to say, it has made a serious impression. I’m in my late fifties now and I just don’t have any vision for what a partnership at this point in my life might look like. I feel like I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to “do” to move on but I have to say, its still a pit.

    I don’t feel like a Tiffany window at all. Don’t mean to be a self-pitying downer…. I’m just sayin…. its a yucky time.

    • Erika,
      I’m 52 and am just at the beginning stages of it all ( OH JOY ) but I keep thinking that at my age I’m just not resilient enough to even SURVIVE this…! So, you are proof that I can…

      • Dear Toni – hard to think of myself as proof of anything…. but, I have remained NC and its a BIG FUCKING DEAL. Yes, lick your wounds for as long as you need to – gather the cats and stay in bed. Not forever, but, give yourself a break…. if you’d been physically wounded nobody would quarrel with a bit of downtime…. and that cheating shit is a train wreck. You’ve been through a train wreck, at least that’s how I thought of it myself and because I’d never been through such a wreck before, I had to write my own playbook. And I’m still writing it. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief… no way no how would I have thought this was possible. No way no how.

        I thought I went in with both eyes wide open….. I was wrong. Deeply wrong. As CL says, its a mindfuck. I’m so glad I’ve acquired all this new vocabulary.

        • But you know, it’s not pathological.

          It sounds as if your X was your second husband. Your first died. That means that you had some kind of expectation for your second marriage. The first worked. Why would the second be any different?

          Then you discover that you married a cheater. At this point, all bets are off. They try to foist off the problems on you. The message they send is that it’s your fault they cheated. If you’d been more understanding, less demanding, heavier, skinnier, etc.–they’d have picked you! It’s natural for you, as an abused spouse, to start to buy into this kind of mindfuck.

          It’s why I plan on therapy. I don’t want it to understand that I’m not pathological. I don’t want it to understand why the affair happened in the first place. I want therapy to help me work through the anger, the grief, the everything that needs to be worked out when I discovered that 16 years of marriage and 25 years of being together was tossed out the window. I, too, am in my 50s, but while I know that I don’t need a spouse to make me feel complete, I want to be open to a future relationship so that, if I find the right person, I’ll be able to establish a healthy relationship, without carrying the toxic baggage from this marriage. Yes, I’ll have the experiences, but the therapy will help me detoxify them.

          So I think that we can find good spouses when we’re in our 50s and 60s (and probably later, though my mom tells me that she’s not doing the marriage thing at her age), but we first have to get rid of the poison from our cheater relationship.

          After all, we’re not the pathological ones in the relationship. We might need some help getting past some of the shit shoveled our way, but the fact is that the cheaters took advantage of all those things that are good and true about us. And they did it because they knew that we were good and true.

          And that’s pathological.

          • Not that it matters, but we were not married, just together for 12 years. Therapy sounds like an excellent idea, because of before, now, and what I know now. I vaguely remember being on my own (raising two kids, but not in a relationship) and being quite happy. It seems like a distant dream at the moment

            STBX just turned 50, and has given me many reasons to doubt but he would become enraged and tell me I was, well you know…crazy, etc. etc. that frog thing fits perfectly. Since his 50th he has become obsessed with fitness, supplements, grew a goatee, and when I received an anonymous letter at work he finally confessed and said it’s been this way pretty much since the beginning, so as much pain as I have…I also am relieved in a way if that makes any sense. The girls are all younger, but believe me, no ME. Going to check into therapy in the AM. TY

          • No, I wasn’t married either. And I wasn’t at all convinced that him showing up again in my life was worth it. He hasn’t aged well, he can’t really earn a living – he spends way more than he makes and he likes to take lots of vacations to see his daughters and his grand kids – and then I just started not seeing it. We would always have money problems no matter what I brought to things…. I was vaguely aware of that and I feel like I protected myself around it. But, it took alot to get me back into this relationship…. we’d been 20 years apart and he just got to invent who I was out of whole cloth – I was sick to death of his family…. that sounds terrible, but, I was – his whole extended family was like within 200 yards of each other….. to say nothing of trying to have a relationship with his daughters who seemed to visit for LONG periods of time from out of state. Eventually, I was so tired of trying to put on a happy face for relationships that just weren’t very rewarding. I feel terrible saying that – I know he didn’t tell his daughters the whole story….. maybe he did and they just don’t care, there’s no reason why they would I guess.

            I feel like I’ve been poisoned….. my life made sense to me and now it doesn’t. And healing takes time, I get that. But, I feel like I’ve been poisoned.

            • I can relate to the ‘We would always have money problems no matter what I brought to things’. . . Many NPD types I don’t believe EVER can achieve financial security. It doesn’t matter whether you’re home doing all the work, cleaning, mowing lawns etc. or working full-time. They will spend money because THEY are entitled. Forget college education funds for the kids and or emergency household funds. No, these NPD types live on credit cards and they are always on square 1 and pissed at YOU about the financial hell they create. Am I not correct?

              • Hey Hope49 – we were planning a marriage and I guess I need to be super thankful that it never went that far. I was certainly in with both feet – stupid stupid – but, I knew, if only in the back of my mind, that we would be looking at serious money problems. His mother gave him money whenever he wanted it – she gave him the tens of thousands he needed to make his first wife go away – initially his plan was that I would pony up that money…… Somewhere, somehow, I said no. God, it sounds so weird to spell it out. Suffice to say I was worried about the money thing….. as money problems always bring people closer, right? 🙂

                In the grand scheme of things, I dodged a bullet so why do I still feel so bad???

                I’m astonished at your story – (((hugs))) – I can’t imagine the strength it must take to do what you are doing and what you’ve done. I’d love to sit down sometime with all the chumplings on this site and have dinner. Wouldn’t it be so cool to put faces with names….. and when all of us are at “meh” – we could laugh because its all behind us. Just imagine……

              • My STBX actually did let me control most of the household finances, so we were secure. I don’t think he would have put us in major debt or anything if he had been “in charge”. But we sure as hell would have never bought any furniture. It would have been all toys for him all the time. He sure did want to buy himself a ton of expensive shit and made me feel bad about the fact that I wouldn’t “let” him to the extent that he wanted. Because, seriously, what he wanted was ridiculous. I am a reasonable person, he got a decent amount, but it was never enough. I think no matter what, it is never enough for these people. It’s always woe-is-me and shit.

                So, yes, Hope49… no matter what they are always pissed at you. You are the one standing in their way of it being all about them. You take away some of their precious money buying crazy things like FOOD and clothing. You are mature and realize relationships and families come with some compromise and sacrifice – they do not.

              • From Hope’s post: [No, these NPD types live on credit cards and they are always on square 1 and pissed at YOU about the financial hell they create. Am I not correct?]


                I think you are correct because that was my experience too.

                I was the saver and the ex was the big spender. He was always angry about not having enough money, but he would still spend money we didn’t have.

                And, yes, somehow, I was blamed even though I was the saver.

                At one counseling session he said I was cheap and that caused problems.

                Well, I paid all the bills and I knew we had no savings.

                One of the things about the OW that stands out is that she was just as spoiled an spendy as was my ex.

                I think that is why my ex was attracted to her. Still, he was smart enough to not marry her knowing she was too high maintenance.

                Goodness, you can’t have two NPDs in a marriage, there would never be enough for the taker if there was no giver in a cheater’s marriage.

  • I’m in such a strange place on my head. I am reading the posts by CL, then reading the comments and it’s like everything everyone is saying is just hitting the target. I am getting the locks changed this afternoon, but I only managed to get one of his drawers cleared out of the misc. crap he left in it. God now I have to clean up all this F-ing mess besides the hole he filled left with turmoil inside me? Is this numb feeling normal??? I feel like I should be DOING more but I just want to stay in bed with my cats and read… Is it OK to just lick my wounds for a week or so, now that the shock is wearing off? I have a wonderful support system in my grown daughters (from my husband that passed away years ago) but I don’t want them to be down for me or worry any more than they already have. You people are a miracle, you most of all CL…TYTYTY!

    • I keep struggling with no contact. It’s like getting clean laundry dropped on the dirty floor before getting them into the dryer. I have to eyewash the cloths again. This week I have a calendar, and I’m going to mark off the days.

      • Getmeout,
        Hang in there, guess I will be trying the calendar thing too, Good idea. He got some clothes out, but that’s about it, he showed up this AM and got something out of a back room…I just stayed in bed….don’t know what will happen when locks change, just pray it will give me some peace. And tomorrow I will be able to mark Day 1.

      • Dear Getmeout – NC is what its about up front. I know that many of the chumplings don’t have that option with kids and a marriage that is dissolving, but if it is an option then go for it – Totally – I have never written another email, or text or letter and with the exception of that one fateful day, I’ve blocked everything and never called again. I had to create a predictable environment for myself….. but damn its a bitch.

        I hate that drop the clean wet laundry on the dirty floor thing. Just had a major sewage back-up – filled up the wasing machine and before I realized what was going on, I STUCK MY HAND IN IT!!!! Ew. It is the damndest smell.

    • You know, why should you have to go through the things that he left behind? If the divorce has been finalized, and if he’s now truly gone, then going through that stuff is a lot like going through the belongings of the deceased. Every little thing will remind you of “the time when….” That’s really painful!

      Instead, why not contact your church or charitable organization? Many of these will do this stuff for you. They’ll either sell it or pass it along to the appropriate agencies.

      • Kb,
        it really is just misc. junk. I’m just scared that I’m going to throw something important away…think I’ll gather some boxes after the lock thing and just box it all up like someone here suggested a few days ago. I really thing part of it is he’s toying with me and I’m letting him. I just feel continually shocked by ..ALL.. Of it, I don’t know. Like at some point he will start acting like a man and just GO AWAY…stupid, i know…

        • Toni – it is like stepping into a new dimension isn’t it? Like suddenly reality just shifts a couple of steps to the right…. its so difficult to get your bearings. It is very hard for sure. I don’t know what that “he won’t leave you alone” thing is…. with mine, I said, “I love you and I set you free” – like go forth and bang your neighbor and he WOULDN’T LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! Like who does that?? It was certainly a new experience for me. Its the “mindfuck” thing. You can’t run it thru a rational filter – it just won’t go.

          • Erika, in responce to your reply I just read, It’s only been 1 day of NC, but I don’t trust him because I really think he was shocked that I actually threw him out, and you are right – it’s like another dimension. I am doing well, thanks to you all. Locks changed, NC, cleaning EVERYthing out of the apt., boxing everything he left behind. But when I pause, for even a minute, I just want to howl in pain. I feel like I don’t exist, how could 12 years just disappear in the blink of an eye? It’s like it was all a dream, even tho’ most of it was bad. I am walking and talking and doing the proper things but I feel like I’m frozen. How can anyone hurt someone so bad? And there are so many of us..and that’s just here on this post…

            • Toni – try and hang in there – Its hard, I know it is. Yes, it makes you want to howl in pain – they took the best one has to give: Love, trust and turned it against you and it sucks beyond belief. It is an other worldly experience and I didn’t have nearly the shared history of you, and I hurt like all hell get out.

              NC is absolutely critical. It is like kicking a drug. Once it moves into this kind of betrayal, there’s no going back. I’m so sorry Toni for what has happened to you. It gets better, but, its slow – at least it has been for me. I’m so sorry.

    • Toni,

      I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there.

      My house is a pigsty. Even months after the divorce. I was working ridiculous overtime for several months, and just trying to keep laundry, dishes, & bills up to speed.

      I have found furniture I didn’t even know we had. I have found electronics (some of which actually work) I didn’t know about. I found his girlfriends unmentionables in our bedroom. (for the record: YUCK!)

      My therapist tells me I have synched the idea of clearing him out of our house with the idea of clearing him out of my head. There’s too much to tackle in one weekend.

      I try to clear 5 or 6 boxes worth of junk every other weekend when my daughter is with her father. The rest of the time I just try to keep my head above water.

      And I do schedule some me time every day regardless of how much or little there is left to do. 10 – 11 pm is me time, regardless of how much remains on my to do list.

      If you don’t devote some time to yourself, you will burn both ends & the middle of the candle. And I know from experience, your doctor will yell at you if he/she sees you for exhaustion.

      • Blue Eyes,
        I know I sound like a broken. Record but Thank You! Tried to do the “me” thing, it lasted till this afternoon, so started digging…what a mess. No unmentionables yet .. But leaving me this mess implies it to me. I too found electronics, those I will donate.

        Tomorrow is my Sun off work and I promise myself I will spend some of it outside….

  • I think there should be a section entitled “Stupid Shit Narcissists Say”, just like the “Stupid Shit Cheaters Say” section. This could be a section where they say something unrelated to cheating.
    I can start;
    My XW would be gone most nights after work, leaving me to care for our two toddler boys alone( I tracked this in 1994 and she was gone 112 out of 180 nights until after midnight(cheating takes a fair amount of time, apparently)).
    In any case, when I inquired, rather politely I might add, why she was taking so many nights out , she replied ” Of course I am going to take more nights off then you. I have more friends (complete BS , as most people disliked her).
    I got a similar response when I pointed out that a much larger portion of our income was going toward her activities and interests. I was told ” I make more than you(about 2% at the time. I soon surpassed her). Of course we are going to spend more $$ on me.”
    I bet many of us have had similare things said to us. We just wrote them off, not knowing about NPD.
    I believe that NPD is rampant among cheaters. In fact, I doubt anyone but an NPD could be a long term or serial cheater. I suppose there could be a few exceptions, for example where the wife is a husband beater or is verbally abuive as hell( or the woman could be the victim of this , too, although I have read it is slightly rarer for men to be abusers :).
    This whole infidelity deal is entwined with the personality disorders. These folks lack empathy and will hurt people with no remorse at all.

    • Arnold – yes, that threw me completely – absolutely no remorse, zero empathy. The only thing he felt was self pity….. It was completely bassacwards and it threw me completely. Of course my first impulse was to comfort him – which now is so completely weird to me. But, this person I loved was hurting and it was, I think, a natural impulse on my part. I can’t wrap my brain around it, still.

      • Erika
        That’s exactly what I did. They look for self pity because they know what they have done and what they are doing while you try and save them is going to hurt the people that love them. But actions speak louder than words. It takes years if ever for them to realize what they have done.
        Up until recently I wanted to save her bit I can’t. She has left the building.
        Bloody hard to wrap my brain around like you

        • Aside from a disturbingly obvious disordered lack of empathy from my STBXWW, such as her saying to me “grow up and get over it”, and “I don’t regret it” (she has never, not once used, or can even say the word “affair”), and “if you were a better fucking husband, it never would have happened”, the most chilling behavior was her reaction to my pain and severe sadness, and my daughters too.

          Normal folks, would as others have mentioned want to comfort a person in pain, anyone, especially if their pain was because of your actions; my STBX would get increasingly more angry, unleash increasingly nasty verbal put-downs, and become more agitated as my pain and sadness worsened about her affair! I’ll never forget this unreal feeling of standing in front of for all intensive purposes, a psychopath, and I can absolutely not wrap my head around it, and never will or can.

          So much surreal and “never in a million years” behavior has been demonstrated from my STBX post D-Day, and I can only figure because I no longer supply food for the beast; their was only one leach, one host, and I’m dry.

          I see silent treatment mentioned, and this was a huge red flag throughout the marriage, mixed in with terrible passive aggressiveness, many times used in unison… It makes the situation hopeless, as you can never have a meaningful discussion, and looking back now constitutes severe emotional abuse.

          • The post dday anger and lack of empathy, particularly towards the kids, also really shocked me. I mean left me stunned and completely confused because all I could think was ‘who is this person?’. What sort of person, when his child is literally on teh floor crying his eyes out, tells the kid to ‘get over it, you’re being ridiculous’? A person who either really doesn’t give a shit or a person who is unable to face what they have done to people whom they supposedly love.

            STBX still tosses out the ‘I will always be here for my kids and take care of them, they mean everything to me’. I used to reply that ‘well, they didn’t mean enough for you to not fuck a long list of people’ but now I just ignore him.

            He got new supply, the kids provide secondary supply, I’m useless because I called him out on his shit. It’s all very simply when you really look at it.

            • “I mean left me stunned and completely confused because all I could think was ‘who is this person?’. What sort of person, when his child is literally on teh floor crying his eyes out, tells the kid to ‘get over it, you’re being ridiculous’?”

              I witnessed the same, and it is chilling. I heard my STBX point blank say to my 17 y/o daughter verbatim: “I don’t she why this affects you so much”… That insanely cruel comment resulted in my daughter’s immediate convulsive crying, and a confused, “all my trust in you just died” look at STBX that I will never forget. Daughter had been very strong and handled the whole shit situation so well up to this point, but nearly immediate counseling was needed after this.

              Now it’s STBX buys her/treats her to everything, using her vastly greater financial leverage (I’m outa work) as another twist the knife move to me, and as sick leverage to control my daughter when STBX thinks she is out of line concerning her feelings about affair, shit like: “OK, so you think your dad is “better” than me (non cheater), fine, let him pay the bills and pay for your upcoming freshman year at university.” Talk about the lowest form of torture!… Whats next; a bamboo manicure?

              • Oh yes, the ridiculous gifts. After one particularly horrible incident between STBX and one of the kids STBX showed up two days later with a very, very, very expensive computer and installed it in said kid’s room. It was incredible. Meanwhile, he bitches at me about every single thing I buy or do, which isn’t much since he has really put the screws on financially.

                God, I can’t wait to get my financial house in order so I can tell him to suck it.

              • Jay, hang in there guy because your daughter needs you BIG time! I don’t care how old the kids are as realizing that a parent has cheated on the other parent absolutely devastates a kid- more so when they are old enough to process this. Your daughter as a young woman is learning about trust, crushes, young love etc. and this has been all earth shattering for her. Don’t rush into any relationships or bring a new woman into your life too soon Be the emotional ROCK for your daughter.

                Don’t let your b*tch of an STBXW tear your daughter down any more emotionally or anything. Your daughter will see who her mom and your STBXW REALLY is and who she can count on when the chips are down.

                Also, don’t let your outa work situation cause you ANY guilt or feel bad. You have lived with a b*tch of a woman and your energies have likely been depleted. You’ll get through this like we all will eventually getting our financial houses in order. Focus on NC, getting yourself together, being the ROCK for your daughter emotionally and gently remind your daughter that NO ONE should be manipulated by a cheater and she shouldn’t be manipulated over her educational goals. Instead, encourage her to work hard in school, maybe get a part-time job, get good grades and THANK GOD for financial aid. . . she will be paying back school loans BUT she won’t have to kiss her mother’s feet for any schooling assistance. . . right? You be there and do what you can but I can guarantee you that you’ll be the person she’ll appreciate the most cheering her on as she makes her way through her university studies!

              • Thank you Nord, Toni, and Hope49. I’ve been 100% NC for over a week, and just today got an email from STBX about something her attorney needed, but she also threw in that her, my daughter, and her mom have talked about, and want to go on vacation, but if I had a problem with that the trip will be cancelled… Fucking great; fully plan a nice fun trip to the tropics, tell me this ex post facto with the plan seeded, and expected to be a GO for my daughter, with no regard to how I feel/how this impacts my life, then make me the bad guy if I said no way, or even hint such… What’s new.

                Jesus, I’m worried if I can keep my 20 y/o car running, feeling guilty for spending $8 for a G-Damn fuel filter, how the hell I’ll have $$$ to visit my daughter when she moves out of state, and if I’ll have a roof over my head in a few months. STBX just this weekend was out dropping $100 @ V Secrets, $100 at American Eagle, taking daughter out to nice $50 lunches and buying her a new I-phone and its $$$$$ plan, dropping $110 for two tickets for some “work” function, doing all of this in her gas guzzling 2012 luxury SUV bought less than a week after D-Day. Yeah, her affair has her all torn up.

                A few weeks ago I told her (never should have) that yes, I’ll make it, but it will be challenging because for the years I was a SAHD so your career could go exponential with no drag, or your feet ever touching the ground for the daily mundane or tedious, and that my work as a trader, whose jointly held seed $$$ has been frozen for months due to divorce filing, really sucks and put me out of work… All she could muster was to say in an very heartless, condescending Elmer Fud voice:

                “What, afraid of the big scary world.”…

                I guess that’s better then when she rages about knowing she will be sued/whatever the word is for spousal support, and even that makes me feel guilty; God knows why?

                Hope49, I have gently but firmly told my daughter the reason I filed D against mom, was she was hurting and disrespecting me, our vows, and promises she made to me many years ago. I told her all the things I taught you about integrity, honor, and truth have come to visit me, and I hope you respect my decision; a decision I never asked for, wanted, or ever thought could happen concerning one of the two people I love most on this earth. She said she did respect it, and saw no other way to handle it. I told her I do notice conflict within her, and sure enough it really bothers her that she knows I did the right thing for the right reasons, really hates what mom did, has lost respect for her, yet is afraid of alienating her because of $$$ and her security for now… Talk about a shit sandwich being served, with so much going on in such a delicate time in her life… Nice timing STBX.

                She knows I will do what I can to help her, loan paperwork is on the way, and I have great hope for her future. A few months ago, I wrote for her my version of “life’s owners manual”, and will send it to her when the time is right. I will continue to be the best rock I can, continue to let her know how much I love her, and keep telling her she will be ecstatically happy again!

                As for me, I’ll be honest; I am so rocked by my STBX betrayal, her insane and cruel post D-day words and actions that right now, I truly have trouble even knowing up from down, where to even start, anything really. I agree; I am worn down, cloudy, and completely confused and low functioning, but I do keep exercising, volunteer work, and talking to my daughter, which always makes me smile. There is absolutely no plan to soothe myself with women flesh… Right now I know that would only confuse and complicate things, and quite frankly, even the idea of possibly hurting another person with matters of the heart, is something I will not chance; just ain’t right.

                Did not mean to write War and Peace II… Thanks to those who read my story, and again, thanks for the help, guidance, and virtual shoulder to lean on.

          • Jay, they do get pissed when you are sad.Thye ack empathy.
            As for the silent treatments, these are the more covert abusers substitutes for the raging that is often cited as an earmark of the disordered.
            Some victims who reafd about the raging and question whther their abuser was disordered wonder if thye got it wrong, due to lack of more overt rages.
            Almost invariably, you find that the silent treatment replaced the loud raging. I call it silent raging.

            • Thanks Arnold. I must have hit the jackpot, as she will super rage/get physical (throw things at me/bump hard going past me when pissed, super reckless driving nearly causing accidents when raging), and pull the worst passive-aggressive and silent treatment crap many years before D-Day, and for such trivial crap… Example:

              I would say; honey, you look cold, can I turn the fan off. No, that’s OK, I’ll just go to another room (in a sulking voice and manner). I would follow her down the hall (I know now, big mistake) asking why you did this, and it would be silent treatment, or “I don’t want to talk”, whatever, then escalate to her raging if I perused it.

              I told her over the years about her not talking/resolving what bothered her about me/us until it blew, and it was futile. I even used to tell her “fer crisake, quit handing me shovels, and hand me a ladder to get out of this pit I’m in that you created.” Her incredible resentment, stubbornness, pride and lack of ability to forgive or apologize I admit was infuriating, and I DID YELL AT HER, which makes me feel lousy now and then. Add to this a lot of gaslighting, and I did at times think I was going crazy.

              If only folks at work could see how she really is… They all think she is perfect, she never hears “no”, and they even comment on how nothing rattles her, and she is so calm and collected. Guess the act is a road show, permanently stopped at my place. I recall telling her that maybe she is so used to having her ass kissed at work, literally being told she is irreplaceable, and seen as “perfect”, that it was effecting how she was treating me… All that got was anger and mean comments about putting her down? Also, she is the corporate events volunteer cheerleader (used hotel stay for at least one hoop-up), and wonder how much it had to do with selfless acts of kindness, or mega kibble supply? Thoughts?

              • “Guess the act is a road show”. LOVE this! I have copied and pasted about a 100 things from this website and ya’lls comments into a “notebook” A scrapbook of this time! I too yelled alot Jay, not all the time, but when it would build up. I feel terrible about it too, but how do you live with someone that NEVER speaks to you about anything important, even necessary in your lives? So much that you are forced to make decisions, and then they don’t like the decisions that you made? And him driving, I was ALWAYS scared if it was in town, now I’m wondering if it was on purpose all along…

              • My thought. are that you married my wife, or her clone.
                Jay, have you visited any of the men’s abuse sites, like Shrink4men or menwhoareabused? You willsee many stories about eerily similar behaviors.

              • Arnold, I have been to those sites, and agree it is uncanny how the demented script of one, plays so similarly to others.

    • Arnold:

      All the incremental progression of girl’s night’s out and increasign spending fits the “boiling the frog” analogy that you cited.

      My Ex did the same thing.

      He started going out once a month with the boys or a business activity and once a year on a men’s trip, then it was eventually 3x a week for BNOs and business events and four times a year for men’s trips.

      All this made it easier to cheat without getting caught. If he wasn’t cheating all along, by the time he did cheat, I was so used to him going out a lot, I never suspected a thing.

      In fact, if I had been informed anonymously, I might still not suspect a thing.

      When I would be upset that he was spending too much time out without me, he would start an argument and then later find a way to make me feel responsible.

      But I agree, anyone who can carry on a long term affair, complete with all the required lying, and hiding, is likely suffering from a personality disorder.

      BTW: not all PDs rage and give the silent treatment.

      Some are extremely passive aggressive and rarely air a complaint because they hate confrontations. Most likely because they don’t want to be forced to confront themselves and their negative behaviors.

      Those types just sulk covertly, not even openly. This way they can keep their nice guy image.

      • Mine was always “working”. ALL the time. Yet I believed him and all the sorry excuses for why he had no money…low pay, etc. And yes I know now what an idiot I was $wise I just am (was?) a trusting schmuck. So I didn’t even realize that he wasn’t at work…I made excuses for him, automatically and naturally for every holiday, family outing, etc.

        • We always had money but yea, he ‘worked’ all the time. I believed it and felt pretty stupid when it became clear that his working was actually chasing other women.

      • mine is super passive aggressive… though I don’t think he’s an extreme sociopathic narcissist, just a garden variety one. And yeah, he totally does the self-pity thing… because, yes, I have been known to be a sucker for it in the past.

      • Mine was totally passive aggressive and still trying ti cling to his nice guy mask right up until the moment I went pretty public with what happened. Then he went nuts because he realised I wasn’t of use anymore to prop up his image.

    • “stupid shit that narcissists say:

      “you belong to me but i dont belong to you”

      “you will never make it without me”

      “you are not strong enuff to make it without me”(from the cher song)

      “you need to forgive me”

      “forget what i did in the past”

      “the past is the past”

      “our son is not yours”(meaning hes from another man)

      “what mine is mine and whats your is mine”

      “dont be stupid you know i love you”(shortly after i found about an affair)

      “why dont you do what i tell you to do?”

      “nobody likes you”

      “you are too honest”

      “the landlady wants to have sex with you”

      “you always make me mad”

      “every man wants my body”

      “your not depressed your faking”

      after i caught her and an AP together i said its over between us and she said:

      “if i cant have you and my OM you will pay child support and only see your son every other weekend”

      • Mark: that last one especially sucks. I see a lot of bitter men that post on the Huff Post and part of me can see why, because it is annoying that a woman could essentially blackmail the man with child custody, support, etc. threats into staying in a marriage that she has essentially destroyed. (though some of these men also sound like they could be equally at fault, who knows). Do the courts even take a mother’s cheating into consideration when deciding things like custody, etc.?

        I wonder if it does make the decision to leave easier for a woman who has been cheated on than a man, especially when kids are involved…

        • Mark, I’m a criminal lawyer not a divorce attorney but I will tell you what I can. A LOT of states are no-fault divorce states meaning that the court doesn’t need evidence of a valid reason for divorce, ie. cheating. Now, I frequently hear men on HP who are REALLY upset because they are paying large amounts of Child Support to their cheater spouses. I am not so sure their attorney did them any GREAT job in the initial temporary orders for child support or even in the determination of primary custody.

          If the spouse has been absent from the home, not taking care of the kids cause she’s cheating, spending the money on manicure buffing herself up for her OM or NEXT husband the court needs to hear this, see evidence and the financial documentation of waste in the marital finances. So, if you have say a kid with emotional issues from poor parenting because Mom is not around cause she’s spending a lot of time with the OM, the lawyer needs to be arguing that the cheater spouse is wasting family resources and NOT putting money where it should be ie., tutoring for the child, counseling for the child etc. etc. So a good lawyer can get past the ‘cheating is immaterial and not relevant objection’ BECAUSE all states’ courts do look at HOW the children are faring. A good attorney will make the documented link between cheating and financial waste which equals less required resources for the kids.

          • Good point, Hope.
            In my case, I did get thhe evidence of infidelity and financial abuse in through the back door.
            My XW was asking for alimony. I put in her phone records, ppre and post seperation, where her bills were over $300 amonth(with no data plan). We argued they were relevant to show dhe was not in financial need of alimony.
            I still got tagged for 18 months worth but the judge really cut back on her request.

      • Or the always special classic:
        “I love you and I don’t want to be in a relationship with you”

        or, “I owe to YOU to give HER my undivided attention now”

        or, “Never in my worst nightmare could I ever have said these things to you” wink wind nod nod

        Wow…… sounds so weird to repeat it and spell it out….. we could go on and on

  • Yes, the sulkers/passive/ aggressive types. I think, regardless of their techniques, they are trying to frighten and punish anyone that gets it the way of their gratification.

    • Yep, mine was diagnosed by a sexual deviancy psychologist as being super high on the charts for “Histrionic Personality”, “Passive-Aggressiveness”, and “Narcissism”.

      Fun times!!

      • Wow, so that’s what it was…I was told ” There’s something wrong with me – I’ve never been satisfied” ” Sex means nothing to me” and to the question “Why didn’t you just leave?” He replied…..”Because I love you…I mean loved you” all within a 2 minute discussion which was the only one we had. I couldn’t look at him then or since. It was like looking at a real live 6ft 2 headed snake.

  • Man, new memories keep popping up re the NPD. This is not directly related ot infidelity. So, skip this if it get boring. But, I just jeep thinking about my first iwfe and how she reacted to having a son with Down Sydrome. I don’t think she ever bonded with him as a mom.
    Here are a few things that popped into my mind:
    My son could not cry for three months or so. I would never get a decent nights sleep, as I would get up about every hour to check on him. If he was uncomfortable or hungry or something, I would find him in his bassonette, slently crying with his face all scrunched up. But, he could not emit any noise.
    Fianlly, he cried, when he was 3 months old. I had been clipping his fingernails and must have cause pain.
    So, once he learned to cry, we would put him down for sleep and she would want him to just cry himself to sleep. I could not do it and would hold him and rock him etc. This really pissed her off at me.
    Then, when he was 4 or 5, she wanted breaks from him on weekends. She negan researhing placements for th weekend. Like a coward, i went along with this, for a time.
    We did this twice and I was frantic. I picked him up and the last time, he said to me “suck penis’. Out of the blue he said this. I think hewas abused.
    After her affairs , when we were divorced, she tried to place him, again, for a weekend. I eas aghast. She told me where he was and said “don’t youdare get him.”
    But, I ignored her and went right to the home he was at and got him out. What a fucking monstrous bitch. She wanted free time.
    I always took both my boys on vacations alone, as she would not come when we were married. I would have two toddlers in tow, carrying them through airports to see my family, along with our luggage. I got so muscular and ripped, my arms were like iron(my one son could not walk until he was 3 and a half.
    I’d take both to swimming lessons, alone. All the other little kds had both parents there for one child. I had two, one sverely disbled, by myself. She would never help.
    When we divorced, she told me that my normal son would not engae in ay sports if she had to take him to any practices. So, I would take him every time, on days the boys were scheduled to be with er.
    I could go on and on. Now , I can see the NPD. She was almost exactly like Beth Jarret in “Ordinary People”, MTM’s character.

    • Oh Arnold my heart goes out to you, how blessed your sons are to have you. This is not directly related to the subject either, but the hindsight thing is very strong for me right now also, my X has two children from previous relationships. One he has back back back child support owed, which he will never catch up on, and the other, that’s 14? Well his own mother does not know the child exists. I bought the stories about how crazy and messed up those kids mothers were/are and am only saying this out loud so that I can see in writing what a piece of s*** he is, and I just felt it was “none of my business”

      You are a good person, a good Father and all your posts help ME. I’m seeing so many parallels – even if I don’t want to.

    • Arnold –

      Your kids are so lucky to have you!

      My STBX didn’t do anything so horrible as your wife… he’s a decent dad. But he sure does go out of his way to make sure everybody knows about every little fatherly thing he does so he can make sure he gets some credit for it. And then there was all the times he’d come home and tell me about some patient he had whose husband had never changed a diaper in his life or ever gotten up in the middle of the night for the baby. Just so I’d know how incredibly lucky I was that he was willing to and/or try to guilt trip me into letting him off the hook. That didn’t work. Probably because I’m so “demanding”.

    • Arnold, I am dumbstruck by the abuse you and your boys faced. I am in tears!! My heart goes out to you and your kids. I am outraged that a mom could be so cold. So removed from her family’s wellbeing. You are their hero. I hope you know that. I am so happy for you that you are with a good woman that will love and support your kids and love and support you. Your first and second wives are the complete definition of fucking bitches. Abusive people. Thank God they have a dad in you that will catch them when fall no matter what.

    • Arnold, WOW! I breast fed my son till he was 4 1/2 years old and tandem nursed my daughter when she was born. Your story is heart breaking. I would have our son sleep in my STBXH and my bed because I wanted sleep and I hated having to hear my son cry or ANY baby cry for that matter. I would RUSH to his crib when he cried because I loved him so much and couldn’t stand for him to be sad. I can’t imagine your pain then being that your son has down syndrome.

      I can relate though a bit. When my son was 1 week old I walked into where he was sleeping- at that he had what appeared to be something akin to a SIDS episode. I started CPR and pulmonary resucitation. Ambulance came and I stayed with him in the hospital overnight not leaving his side and sleeping next to him in a chair. What did my husband do when I called him to inform him that I was in the hospital with our son and they were running tests to see what had happened.

      My husband came to the hospital. He was very cool the whole time. He flirted with the young good looking ER doc while she was discussing our son’s health with us- seriously! The pediatric neurologist after all the tests said that my son was very healthy and fine but concluded that he thought I walked in an a SIDS episode which experts ‘think’ more babies have than they know but somehow pull out of with no problems. In any event, he suggested I might want to use an apnea monitor for some time.

      Apnea monitors are a pain because there are many false alarms when the electrodes slip during the day and night. My husband HATED that machine. He didn’t want me to attach it to my son when my husband would go out in public with him. Why? He told me that it made him feel like he had a handicapped son. Seriously. . . He said that!

      This was a NPD Red Flag. It bugged me a lot, but looking back I can see ALL KINDS of red flags! I just don’t know what to say having heard your story except that I am sorry your wife was such a raging NPD B*tch- you and your sons did not deserve that fate!!

    • Arnold:

      You are such a good, Dad. It made me tear up when you said your son’s face was all screwed up because he was crying silently but could not emit noise.

      The OW in my ex’s case was just like the wife of yours that you describe.

      She was too busy going out with the girls and to the spa and on girl’s only vacations to pay attention to her children, yet she would tell everyone they were her life.

      She also complained because she had to attend school plays or anything else involved with her children. I guess it interfered with her free time, too much.

      My ex was infertile and invitro failed so we never had children but I know I would not want to go on vacations without my children, if I had them.

      I know, because after a few vacations in which I left the dogs home with a pet sitter, I would never ever go on vacation without my dogs because they would pine and refuse to eat and get sick.

      Two big dogs are a lot of trouble to travel with, moreso than kids because the hotels and restaurants are not always welcoming of dogs and special arrangements need to be made for them.

      I just don’t get these Ows and OMs, likely because I am not a narcissist.

  • I deeply regret that I was not more protective of my boys. I had never seen a woman act like this with her kids. I shpild have left sooner, but wanted to be there for them.
    My XW’s sister came to me and encouraged me to get out. offered to testify against her sister re the cheating and neglect.
    Again, like a passive idot, I did not want to drag her throguh the mud, despite all that she had done to me(one night she woke me to brag about the body of the young pro bilke racer she had spent the evening with).
    I cannot believe what am onster she was.
    This why I feel, in a way, despite all the pain and humiliation, that the infidelity can be llooked at as a blessing. it got me out.

    • Arnold
      Your boys will stick like glue to you because you’re a decent man. From what you’ve written in the posts here a man of integrity.
      I also agree that we don’t see the monster. It’s very well hidden but when we discover its like wow!
      Be strong bro!

  • CL,

    Again, you give me hope for future relationships!

    I think the reason I’m so happy alone right now and not in a hurry for a new one because I literally have never been in a healthy relationship and don’t really know what they look like. All I know is my marriage… so for now I’m happy being at home not making another human (apparently) miserable. But you say it’s possible maybe I won’t do that to a normal guy?!? 🙂

    I especially relate to your shrieking harpy line. Mine made me feel like crap anytime I asked him to do anything. And of course I had to ask him, the thought of him taking initiative to do anything is ridiculous. Any little chore or small errand we had to run or anything. He acted like it was all such a huge pain in the ass and couldn’t find any joy or fun in any of it. I’m sorry, I think going to Costco can be fun! But no, he expected me to do all the grown-up stuff, every chore and errand. Hell, I WAS the only grown-up. I made all the plans for everything. I took care of everything. So, yes, I eventually want another relationship eventually because I’m tired of taking care of everything. It’s exhausting. I want someone to take care of me a bit for a change. I also don’t know if my husband ever made me feel special. He always made me feel like he thought I was the lucky one. I hope there is someone out there that I can be with where we both feel lucky to have found each other.

    I pay a lot of attention now when I hang out with other couples… I see these guys that are willing to do so much more than my husband ever was. They (generally) don’t complain. And in fact they initiate doing some of these not-so-fun chores. And they do nice things for their wives, just because. Essentially, they are considerate. And they are grown-ups. It’s almost mind-blowing. But I know it’s possible.

    • Yeah, my ex sounds like yours. I often thought, even before I found out what he was up to, that he was like my third man-child. No initiative, no work-ethic, just selfish laziness that manifested with him on the couch with a laptop in his lap playing “online poker” (AKA online porn and instant messaging prostitutes).

      I’d love to find an actual grown-up adult man. 🙂

      • Mine, too.

        I agree with Erica–it’s good practice to study other couples, to realize, it’s ok to expect a man to want to do nice things for us, the way we did nice things for our ex’s.

        *sigh* That’s going to be so nice!

      • Dawn – what’s funny is I finally told an old college roommate who I hadn’t spoken to in years that I was getting divorced (over facebook message, so zero details). And one of the lines she wrote back to me said something like that I “can still be a boy-mom” because I have two little boys. I think it’s funny/sad/annoying that apparently I was even being my STBX’s mother back in college.

    • Ha! Mine loved running errands, I always thought that was strange but I can honestly say I saw him give women looks, straight in the eye, while he was walking next to me in a grocery store..I would just look at him (not only do you notice because of Her face but you FEEL it) and he would actually insinuate that I’m crazy. But usually he would grocery shop alone…for 2 or 3 hours…which was strange cause we live in such a small town. I stopped caring / showing it a long time ago because he kept telling me how sick I was if I brought something up…and then I would eventually lose it and yell, so he could say….”See, I’m right – you are a crazy bitch” My daughters even said they didn’t believe me till I got the letter at work….jeez…He does electrical work…would anyone like to guess how many lightbulbs I have to change in this apt?

  • I think our NPD spouses may have been drawn to us because they knew we would watch the kids etc so they could play.
    I have read that two things factor into getting into a relationship with them
    First, they can sense that we have soft hearts.
    Second, we are not adept at spotting red flags,although in that reagrd, they are masters of disguise.

    • Arnold,

      your “soft hearts” comment… I’ve been messing around on OKCupid the past couple days. I don’t have a profile or pic or anything, I was just seeing what it’s about. But they do have all these questions to answer that helps match you to people. (a lot of the questions seemingly tailored to 22 year olds, but anyway). Anyway, so far I score like super significantly higher than the average female (that uses the site at least) in Compassion. See? A positive spin on being a chump! Anyway, it’s kinda fun and it’s free.

      I definitely appreciate all the ethics questions on there though, if I ever actually put a picture up and do it for real, maybe it can weed out some cheaters. From what I can tell I like it a lot better than because at least it does try to measure some of your values.

      • Erica there is a dating site called our time for 50 somethings.

        Apparently it has men who are looking for age appropriate relationships, not 50 year olds look for 20 somethinngs.

  • Good stuff on Shrink4 men about the online dating flags. It is a site for men, but there are some womne there and the advice would seem to apply to both genders.

  • A littl off topic, but do any of you guys ever feel like responding to a WS purporting to be suffering immensely that “at least you can harken back to allthe orgasms, strange whatever, excitement, fun etc to get you through this suffering.”
    Nothing pisses me off more than listening to some miscreant do the “poor,poor me” deal.
    I just had a case where some a-hole punched out a co-worker, breaking the guy’s nose and knocking out his teeth. He sued his employer for work comp for the injuries he sustained to his arm and wrist from punching the guy(he lost and was also convicted of felony assault).

    • Arnold:

      The cheaters that claim to be suffering do piss me off.

      You are right, too, at least they got to have a lot of fun and butterflies in the stomach and all the associated high feeling of the first date and sex with a new love interest.

      Meanwhile to borrow one of chumplady’s phrases, the loyal spouse only gets to eat the shit pie.

      Then, too, maybe the cheaters do suffer some.

      It’s still self focused, but it had to b see yourself as a nice guy, the courts and most of your mutual friends are treating you like a sleazebag.

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