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Dear Chump Lady, Am I an asshole for wanting to leave?

Dear Chump Lady,

My husband cheated almost three years ago. Since that time he has been remorseful and been the husband that he was before cheating and more.

Three years in… I’m at a loss. I feel like I have wasted his time because I’m seriously thinking of leaving. Last time I had a bad nightmare the other day and he hugged me and apologized. Something snapped in me. Husbands and wives should apologize when they hurt each other, forget to fill the gas tank or forget a birthday. Infidelity is something that he should not have to apologize for because it should have never happened.

My question is am I an asshole for wanting to leave three years later?

Three long years

Dear Three,

No. You’re not an asshole for wanting to leave. He’s an asshole for cheating on you.

I’m sure it’s hard to feel that way if he has done All The Right Things. And honestly — good for him. I’m glad he’s done the hard work. I’m glad he’s strived to be a better partner, to have more empathy, to be the sort of person who will hold you and feel bad when you have a nightmare. It’s good that he’s changed as a result of what he did.

But you don’t OWE him reconciliation. You never did. It was your choice and it’s not compulsory if he’s Good. If this is a deal breaker for you, it’s a deal breaker, even three years later. Even 30 years later. You tried hard, bravely, in the face of great pain to heal this and you have the choice to throw in the towel if you want to.

Your letter, like a recent one, underscores some perennial problems with reconciliation IMO. Even a successful reconciliation, where the cheater isn’t cheating, does the therapy, finds the empathy and soldiers on. The trust is shattered. You can learn to live without it, I suppose. In that –oh, hey, anything can happen. People are shits. That’s human nature. I embrace the chaos — sort of lowering of expectations. But I don’t think it’s possible to live that way and be truly intimate with someone.

Or you can really let it go, assuming that is possible. Trust them again. Or try to. Eat the shit sandwich that this happened, and put your faith back in the person who betrayed you. There’s no doing this, IMO, without accepting the shit sandwich that he “gets away with it.” The “consequence” is his self improvement kick, a set of qualities that frankly, he should’ve possessed all along. You let that go, you accept the “new and improved” spouse and live with the mental gymnastics that this person you trust is capable of intimately betraying you. It’s a lopsided trade. He keeps his marriage. You live with the gymnastics, and get to keep the marriage. And try not to resent him for it.

This may surprise a lot of chumps, but I think a reformed cheater (yes, I believe that is possible) deserves a relationship with trust and intimacy. If this is a deal breaker for you, if you cannot get past it, despite three “long years” of trying? he deserves a clean slate someday with someone who can trust him because he hasn’t betrayed them.

I think infidelity destroys the relationship you’re in. I don’t think it has to destroy future relationships. A lot of chumps hold on to this thought — shit! He’s all IMPROVED and now he’s going to go be PERFECT for someone else! Ack! He’s going to be perfect for the OW! Must. Die. Before. That. Happens!

In my case, I had to realize that it didn’t matter if he was perfect for someone else. I had to let that go. He wasn’t right for ME. (And this was not a hard thing to take on faith, ultimately, as he wound up on cheaterville and apparently is still fucking around on people.)

A lot of chumps have the virtue of stick-to-it-iveness. We’re not quitters. We go the extra mile. So to “give up” puts us in a real conflict with our core values about ourselves. But I think you need to give some of your other values greater weight. This is your life. You only get one. You don’t have to live with this heart sickness, this internal conflict forever. You can invest in a new life free of that.

You haven’t wasted his time. You’ve given him a gift of reconciliation, but perhaps one with term limits. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about yourself and relationships in these three years, so it’s not been a waste. But you may be borrowing time from a different future you want more than this marriage.

I can’t say what you’ll do — it’s totally your choice. But you’re not, and you’ve never been, an asshole. I’m sorry you were put in this position.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • If he can’t make it up to you, he needs to let you go.

    If you can’t bring yourself to trust him even though he does everything right, you need to let him go.

    A marriage build on guilt and fear is good for no one.

  • Three
    Forgive me for been so blunt but your an arsehole if you stay and pretend everything is ok

    That’s no way to live.

    One of the hardest things in life is to be totally honest with yourself even though it may hurt someone. It takes an enormous amount of courage to tell someone I can’t live with you like this but it’s far better than cheating.

    I thought I had an opportunity to reconcile but really I didn’t have all the information. Groceries was cake eating.
    In hindsight the best thing to do would have been to just walk away and get on with my life and treat Groceries with respect ,calmness and ‘meh’. But I’m human and all those emotions and the upheaval result in improper behaviours.

    In some way you answer the question. ” infidelity should never have happened”.
    That’s spot on so does that make it non negotiable. It’s a deal breaker.

    It’s taken me time but I now see the affair for what it is.

    At least you have your husband and I assume the affair is properly over.
    You have the opportunity to be completely honest with each other without the third person around.

    Three be true to yourself.

  • I agree with CL completely, but I wanted to add something and I’m not saying that your husband hasn’t changed and is not doing the “good work” now… but… from what I’ve seen, it is very, very rare that it is REAL. Most of the time, its a carefully crafted act, meant to demean and confuse.

    But even if it IS real and I agree that its possible, (although as I said, rare), it doesn’t mean that it’s PERMANENT, either. What if he loses his job. What if some God forbid thing happens to him. What if, what if… How will he handle the stress once its really tested? will he revert. He very well might.

    It was the “what ifs” (based on the face that my h never STOPPED) that lead me to realize that I NEEDED to leave.

    So, the point is that he was an ass for cheating and these are the consequences of his betrayal. Through his lack of empathy and arrogance, he thought that you would never find out. He lied to you and he did it because he felt ENTITLED to do so.

    What’s to stop him from doing it again or acting out in some other way? Can your heart take it? Would it do you in, irreparably?

    Is he to be punished for the rest of his life? Its a consequence and if he’s not prepared to do the time, then he shouldn’t have done the crime! Its as simple as that and I think that you’re brave and honest.

    People leave for lots of reasons. Maybe you’re just not in love with him anymore. Maybe he’s hurt you so badly, that the love just died. You are giving him a gift by setting him free. The more I think about it, the more I realize that its not only a dance of “pick me,” but its a dance of “come a little closer so you can hurt me, again.”

    That is why I think its once and you’re done. This is not a baseball game where its three strikes and you’re out. These are people’s lives and intimacy is the foundation of trust in any marriage and once its broken, I agree with CL, its impossible to put humpty dumpty back together again. some things are just no fixable, no matter how hard we try.

    • Laurel, I agree with what you’re saying — but on the point of “is he to be punished for the rest of his life?” — I have more to say on that. I don’t think you can successfully reconcile and “punish” someone for the rest of their life. That’s not a consequence. To R, you must LET GO of those consequences. They MUST, for lack of a better term, “get away with it.” You’re still there. The consequence, IMO, that matters, that resonates, is you leaving.

      So reconciliation is accepting that there are no consequences. Yes, they may be embarrassed that some people know. Maybe they even lost their job. Therapy isn’t a consequence. Being a better person isn’t a consequence. And chucking the affair partner and forgoing ego kibbles isn’t a consequence either. They get to keep their marriage. Full stop.

      So if you feel the need to “punish”, to even the score, to get them to feel your pain — hey, guess what? You aren’t in reconciliation. You’re in some hellish limbo state.

      If someone is intent on being humble and doing the hard work? I don’t think they should be “punished” in reconciliation. But if the injustice still feels too great, I think you have to LEAVE. For your own sanity and for theirs. You both deserve better. (The chump, of course, deserves MUCH better.)

      That’s ANOTHER reason why I’m skeptical about R. The whole dynamic of the cheater being all humble and “well, I’m the fuck up here” and the chump having some upper hand of moral superiority. No, you have to give that shit UP if you R. Mutuality, respect. You can’t respect someone you think of as a congenital fuck up.

      This is one of many reasons why I think a healthy, successful R is a rare unicorn.

      • oh, I probably didn’t word that correctly as I’m in total agreement with what you’re saying. (If I’m understanding you correctly) Let me see if I can articulate that better. :] What I was trying to say is that the cheater will perceive it as a punishment not as a natural consequence of his traumatizing actions. I agree that to intentionally hurt or punish is inappropriate. (even though I’d like to rip his eyeballs out) ;] but that as per usual, the cheater will not understand what THE BIG DEAL IS. I also feel that in about 99% of the cases that R is an exercise in self-punishment and a certain hell. (sooner or later)

        and the monitoring/detective— even boundary setting is absolutely a hellish way to live. WTF is that anyway? WHAT BOUNDARIES? Those boundaries were clearly set on August 21, 1988 on the shores of Lake Michigan with 110 people as witnesses.

        For all these reasons and many more is why I agree that its better to leave. it doesn’t make it any easier. I’m always using my Titanic analogy.

        two choices

        1) get thee to a lifeboat, albeit uncomfortable and very scary
        2) die a certain death in life sucking frigid water.

        the problem arises when there’s the erroneous belief (sometimes referred to as “hope”) that there’s a THIRD/fourth/fifth choice. stay on the boat because it isn’t really sinking and/or you will be rescued, or they will figure out a way to “fix it.” right.

        Its far riskier to stay than it is to leave. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I believe it with all of my heart.


      • For me, it is not about the need to punish or to trust in the future. With other types of offenses with all types of people, Ihave always been able to let go and get past it.
        But, there is just something so personal, so intimate, so incredibly damaging about rejecting one’s spouse sexually that I doubt I could ever get past cheating.
        Maybe it is my own insecurity in that area. But, once my spouse, through cheating, has shown me that she feels I am inferior, that someone else is better for her in this area, I would not want to make myself vulnerable to her again.
        I would feel like I was always being evaluated, assessed,etc.
        My first wife was the first and only woman I had ever had sex with. I am sure other men, with greater resumes, were better, more experienced lovers than me. I just had never garnered all the experience they had, I guess.
        When my then wife began having sex with other men, it was a clear message to me that she felt dissatisfied with me and how I am. And, if we stayed together, I would still be that same , inexperienced guy. So, why would she remain faithful and why would she be satisfied with me?
        I am who I am and that is all I can be. I like who I am. I am glad I was never promiscuous, despite all the pressure on men to be so these days. This is what works for me and I was not going to change.
        So, when one’s spouse rejects one in this area, it is just too much for me to get over.

        • Good for you Arnold, it’s wonderful to know that there are men that believe being intimate MEANS something. There is IMO a huge diffence between being with someone and being with just anyone. Add to that the incredible pain, feelings of rejection, shock and sadness I just don’t understand how people like my X can just so casually throw love, friendship, history, trust away so easily. I really don’t think I will ever heal. He knew I had been hurt before and that I would be devastated. And he just didn’t care. My husband died 25 years ago and I think all of this situation has just made me miss him more. I honestly hope I NEVER meet anyone again…and I hope you find the love you so obviously deserve!

  • Three, what does your gut tell you? Is there a “feeling” that you just can’t shake? Does it feel the same as three+ years ago, right before you found out about the betrayal the first time?

    Trust your gut……I wish I’d paid more attention to the gut feelings I had….I would’ve been able to free myself from a cheater, and started my new life much sooner…. Trust me, it’s worth NOT having to look over your shoulder, and constantly wonder……

    • Can’t agree more – my gut feeling wouldn’t go away, no matter how much I tried to stuff it down and ignore it.
      It turns out my gut was right – I found out tons and tons about of stuff he had been up to over our entire marriage and before. The “first and only” step over the line (as he promised me) was only one of years of serial cheating.
      I could/should have listened to that inner voice way earlier.

      • Amazing…my gut didn’t really point to cheating, I just thought he was being a dick at times. Then I found out, like you, about years of serial cheating. Absolutely shocking, like a bad soap opera.

        • My gut didn’t point to cheating either…. which is completely shocking to me now of course because suddenly a whole host of weird behaviors make complete sense. I do remember a kind of out of body experience tho when I wrote him a letter and said that what we had was broken, I set him free and I was moving on with my own life…… I have absolutely NO idea where that came from. I remember calmly driving to a mail box and dropping it in…. Like something pulled me out of the current by my collar. It still doesn’t actually feel like it was me who wrote that letter.

          • And, sorry Three, I meant to respond to you…. If things are broken, they’re broken and you get to leave whenever you want. He will probably feel “victimized” by your exit….. mine certainly did which to this day is a complete mystery to me. If he did all the right things….. well, you still get to leave. This is your life too.

          • Erika,
            I had a whole lot of “out of body” stuff going on too…..And looking back it was all auto-pilot…kind of like when someone dies, I wonder if that’s common?

            • Toni, I believe many people experience a form of clinical shock–the same kind of physiological reaction a person would have to a train wreck, tornado, fire, natural disaster, etc.

              A week after dd, my doctor diagnosed clinical shock. My pulse was so low & thready, they were actually amazed I was conscious, never mind going to work each day, feeding my child, & dealing with her night terrors.

              It was months before I stopped feeling like an extra in a zombie movie.

        • My gut didn’t point to cheating at all either until he “arranged” for his OW to be at the same campsite as us on our family vacation. I clued in pretty quickly, but couldn’t believe that my “devoted, loving” husband could possibly be involved in an affair. Lies and denials ensued and he would only cop to what he thought I knew. We reconciled – he promised this was his first and only step over the line, he denied ever having sex with her and seemed totally devastated that what he had done could end our marriage.
          It was then that my gut told me that this wasn’t the first time and the voice just got louder and louder. As Baci states, the scariest thing is when they look you in the eye and lie outright with no visible sign of conscience. It is reptilian. Of course, when I brought the affair up he told me I was throwing it in his face and let’s just forget it ever happened.
          Then I discovered what a lying slut he really was.
          My gut told me.

  • Can’t undo the loss of trust once infidelity shatters it. You need to be with someone who didn’t cheat.

  • Hi, Everyone:
    I have been reading all of the posts on Chumplady’s site for almost a year now. It has helped me realize that I am not alone and that I am not crazy. For some reason, when I read this post, I felt the need to respond. I too have been in the unfortunate trap of trying to decide whether to leave or stay for three years.
    I first found out about my husband’s infidelity three years ago next month. My “Discovery Day” happened because I stopped ignoring my gut feelings and his lies (when I asked him if he was seeing someone else), and I looked on his phone. It didn’t take too much looking to find hook-up text messages he sent to women asking if they were free to play that day or not. [I found out later that those texts were to strippers, he was trying to hook-up with.]
    His cheating didn’t just happen once or twice, but numerous times over a period of years as I eventually found out. [An affair when I had just given birth to our daughter lasted a few months. Hook-ups with strippers. Massages with a “happy ending”. Prostitutes. Lap dances in the middle of the day. And probably more things I don’t know about.]
    Of course, as with most cheaters, I was only able to find out the actual truth by finding proof and confronting him about it each time. Even then, he only admitted what I was able to prove and stick in his face. Never has he provided any actual truth about his infidelity on his own.
    After “Discovery Day”, he expressed what appeared to be extreme remorse. He told me he loved me more than anything, didn’t want to be with anyone else, the cheating “meant nothing”… “It was just an escape”, “Just a fantasy”…”So sorry”- “I didn’t mean to hurt you”…”I’ll do whatever you want”, etc. – You get the idea, and I am sure everyone here is all too familiar with it unfortunately.
    I am not going to spend time telling my whole story just yet (maybe another time). But, the one thing I can say is that I chose to try reconciliation. Honestly, I was scared, distraught, and humiliated. I was also in shock. I knew I shouldn’t make any major decisions that would abruptly change my kids’ lives without really figuring things out first. (No matter how angry and devastated I was) I felt I owed it to them and to myself to exhaust my efforts in trying to keep the family together.
    We went to couples therapy (until it starting getting too deep for him to handle it), did a weekend marriage therapy retreat, renewed our wedding vows and exchanged new rings on a beach with our kids there. [He wanted to start over and recommit to the marriage.] He has done what he probably believes is his best at being a good husband and father. But, my feeings for him have been permanently changed.
    Well, over the past three years, I have realized that what has been eating me up inside is that I have been going against myself by staying. I have tried to will myself to love him. I have tried to convince myself that staying and keeping the family together for my kids was the most important responsibility I have in this situation. I kept telling myself to try harder, it would get better, I am strong, I can do it. But, what I haven’t been able to get past is the LIES. The level if dishonestly and manipulation that he had to use in order to betray me the way he did is what has destroyed the way I feel about him as a person. It has taken me a long time to get to this level of clarity. I realized that I have been going against my own sense of self – the things that I believe in – the things that are important to me in order to stay and try to reconcile. Honesty and trust are two of the most important things to me as a person. As hard as I have tried, I have just not been able to get to a place where I believe I will ever deeply trust him again. He hurt me in the worst way I could have imagined (without killing me). What he did destroyed the foundation of the relationship. The feeling of safety that I need in order to actually feel love toward him is not there. We feel safe when we can trust. And, the person we should be able to trust and rely on the most is the person we love the most (our husband/partner).
    What I have realized is that the betrayal he committed crossed over my bottom line. And, by me not leaving after he crossed my bottom line, I have kept myself in this awful cycle of emotional termoil. Almost like me being an accomplice to this charade. I know that the betrayal ruined the relationship for me. But, I have stayed – and now it’s as if I am somehow complicit to it all. My complicity has trapped me in the relationship and it has made me feel as though I have betrayed myself.
    That is what has gradually happened over the past three years to me. I feel like I have been going against myself – my true feelings. And, as a result, I now feel dishonest. So, in effect – I have now become a liar.
    I am not sure if it is possible to repair the damage caused by a deep betrayal such as infidelity. It cuts so deep to the core of who we are, and we can’t hit the erase button. Believe me, I have wished that I could hit an erase button hundreds of times.
    That is the thing I have come to realize above all else – I am strong. And, I am a good person. But, I can’t erase what my mind and my heart already knows about. It is not an issue of forgiving. There is no delete button that I can hit to take away the knowledge of the betrayal, lies and deceipt. And, the wounds really don’t actually heal – we just ignore them in order to move ahead. We step over the wounds, but the scars are still there.
    I still struggle with the little thread of hope that I can somehow get over this thing and pull out the most amazing level of strength from deep inside of myself to keep my family together. My idealistic mind would like to think it would be possible. But, without the delete button, it seems very impossible. Fear is also a big part of the difficulty I have had in figuring out what to do.
    I am now in a state of planning to move ahead. I think I have realized that I have to let the relationship go in order to live an authentic life and to be happy again. I just have to dig deep and get the strength to start making it happen. And, I have to let go of my vision of what I thought my future would be with my family. There will be a new future, and it is going to look and feel different. I have visualized it many times recently. When I do, I feel a sense of relief.
    – Daisy

    • Daisy, I understand what it feels like to go against your true feelings, your gut. On day one, I said to my dad (a minister) “This isn’t fixable, is it? I have to end this” and he agreed. I KNEW it. And yet I persisted. For a lot of reasons I outline at this site. But deep inside I always knew what the right response was for me — to leave.

      You’re not a liar. You’re a very strong person who has spent three years trying to navigate a hellish situation. I would not feel safe in your marriage either.

      Listen to that relief. It’s okay to lay this burden down. It’s totally normal to feel afraid of the unknown future — but it’s better than tying your wagon to a serial cheater. I’m sorry, I’m not buying his reformation — therapy is “too deep”? WTF?! — his actions are compulsive, deceitful, it’s a double life, sex addiction, whatever you want to call it. It’s very fucked up. Get that therapy for YOU and use it to help you navigate yourself away from this guy.

    • Daisy it sounds like you have tried to do all the right things to reconcile.

      I experienced a similar reconciliation but fortunately mine was short term because I went digging. I accessed full email and text and copied it and was able to make informed decisions. If I hadn’t have achieved access to that information I would be where you are. Partial ” I’m sorry ” but not the whole truth and nothing but the full and absolute truth. I’m thankful that I discovered the real truth otherwise I would be in a complete mess now.
      You’re also spot on about trying to delete the past. You just need to deal with it. The good the bad and the ugly.
      Good luck as you sound like a strong family focused person and with those traits you have every chance of making it.

      • It is always tough to reconcile the inability to get past this with all the propoganda out there about the healing power of forgiveness. I think may of us have been done a great disservice by this advice, that it is necessary to forgive and get past this in order to heal and live fully.
        The fact of the matter is that there are some offenses, like infidelity or hurting one’s kids intentionally or even negligently, that people should not let slide. Telling folks that they must forgive is piling on further, in effect, claiming you are deficient or a grudge holder, when this is not who you are.
        Infidelity has long been considered one of the gravest of offenses for a reason. It was put in the same category as leaving one’s comrade behind in battle in some cultures and was punishable by stoning because people realized just how greatly it affects the victim.
        Nowadays, we have desensitized people to this, such that is is considered a triviality(but, usually, only to those who have not experienced it).
        It’s a huge, evil offense and no one should feel bad about leaving a cheater.

        • Arnold, well said.
          The propaganda about the healing power of forgiveness was a huge stumbling block in my healing. I couldn’t get past the fact that I couldn’t find it in me to forgive him – therefore, I must be “lacking” something in my psyche as a good, loving person. My xh threw it in my face too – we weren’t supposed to discuss anything relating to his unfaithfulness, “because I was just trying to make him feel guilty” by referring to it. I was supposed to forget about it and pretend that all was fine and dandy, as if nothing had happened. In the meantime, I didn’t know that he was still secretly online with other couples, other women and men.

          You’re so right – it did me a great disservice and I remained “stuck” for far longer than I should have been. Every book I read and any thereapy session I attended told me I was hampering my own healing by not forgiving him for myself and for my childrens sakes.
          It was only since I discovered this site late last year that I have found a tremendous measure of freedom with CL’s posts and the resulting comments from fellow chumplings – in particular, the one about forgiveness was one of the most defining moments since my separation and divorce and I have been able to move forward again after remaining ‘stuck for so long.
          It was so empowering! The site – CL, the advice, the support, the sharing – ranks high on my list of things to be grateful for.

          • “When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” – Lewis B. Smedes.

            I’m from a faith that preaches that one must forgive, and I agree. I think however that forgiveness is misunderstood. There’s a difference between saying, “I’m going to let go of the bitter feelings in myself” and “it’s alright.” Sometimes, it’s not alright.

            When I was in elementary school I was bullied. It went on for the whole year. The only time I spoke to my mom about it was on one notable occasion when a boy grabbed me by the hair and repeatedly slammed my head into a wall. The person in question was forced to apologize and given detention. All the other humiliations and actions I ignored because I thought I was suppose to forgive. Instead I tried different methods of never being without an adult or avoiding school all together.

            The revelation came right near the end of the school year. The teacher walked in unexpectedly after leaving the classroom to get something and she saw one of the boys throw used tissues at my face. She held us back from recess and told him to apologize. He did. I said, “it’s alright, I forgive you.” She said, “no. It’s not alright.”

            I needed to forgive. I can’t spend my life defined by anger toward people who hurt me. But that doesn’t mean people can hurt me at leisure. I can forgive and say, “it’s not alright”

    • Daisy… My First DD was 25 years ago… when my Third child was just 8 weeks old… Without going on and on with the gory details you can guess that was not his first affair or his last ( come to find out) Two years ago he had a left -sided stroke that left him with severe aphasia and apraxia… he is lucky to be alive and even luckier to not have any sort of physical impairment . He is able to drive, , can read and write… now , play golf, text ( hmmmm) etc. He is worth many millions of dollars( self-made N ) Howevah… the man behind the curtain has been exposed. And after 34 years of marriage and me care taking him for two years 24/7… he packs and leaves… and fills a prescription for Viagra!

      • “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” He isn’t a wizard or a good person. He sounds like a real gem (NOT!). The sense of entitlement with these cake eaters/cheaters/pigs (insert your favorite adjective here) is ASTOUNDING!

      • Ohhhh…fifty shades. This makes me ill. 34 years and you take care of him when he’s sick. I hate fucking narcissists! Take care of you.

        • The stroke just revealed how really damaged the goods are… and I just wanted to share with all of you … men and women… you REALLY do need to pay attention to your gut and the HUGE red flags… you know them, you have seen them and you have either dismissed or minimized, had children an/ or blamed yourself. If you can… just go. If you are being shamed, threatened, raged at … please find someone in your life that you can trust and at least OUT them. They tend to turn into giant wimps when the spotlight is on them. Do I love my husband? Yes. Do I hate my husband? Yes. But… being the best Chump Evah! I now need to find him help for the sake of my adult Children … because it is really bad. Would I rather be in Positano with another Chump? Yes!!! But… I have to see this one through till the end… FOR ME.

  • “You can’t respect someone you think of as a congenital fuck up.”

    Isn’t that the truth! That’s exactly what STBX is. For half of my life I managed to convince myself that even though this was the case, I could fix things, if they got too bad. I’d shore up my end; we’d get by with his. I was always the fixer – if there was a problem, I’d take care of it. And despite this, I respected him.

    Until he told me he’d been lying to me for years (at the behest of OW, who wanted “things out in the open (her words). No, she probably just didn’t want to have to hide or explain what they were doing together when they weren’t supposed to be together). I was blindly in love with him. I would have done anything for him. When he wanted something, I wanted what he wanted for him. I supported him in whatever he wanted to do. He was my everything.

    And then he cheated and lied. He risked his job, our happiness, our security, everything we had worked for, and for what? To feel up a different body? To “come to the rescue” of females 10, 15 years younger than himself with daddy issues?

    Recently he told me it was just easier to lie and keep the peace. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just not cheat?

    He didn’t respect the kids or me or my family enough to do what was right. We were supremely useful to him. We were his respectable public face: the educated wife, the smart kids, the happy home. No way would anyone suspect the quiet guy in the background of anything untoward.

    I wanted to reconcile; he just wanted to “move forward” and forget anything had ever happened. He talked a good game, that he would get therapy (he did, after I asked him to, but stopped going once the therapist told him to stop the affair and go back to his wife), that he had changed, but he hadn’t. He lied about going NC with the OW; he omitted the fact that he had slept with her (on her 21st birthday, no less!) when he was supposed to be at an all day meeting for work.

    He didn’t respect me – how can I respect him? How could I respect someone who would do something like that? How can I respect someone who’s using me?

    I can’t, and I won’t. Fixing his mistakes does not make for a mutual relationship. The risks of staying, even if I were able to always turn a blind eye to his misdeeds, outweighed the benefits. I couldn’t sustain a relationship by myself. There was no reason left to trust him. To quote something I read a good while ago, “love cannot live where there is no trust.”

    • Really, your ex sounds like my STBX. I’m glad you’re leaving. I was also the fixer. My kids and I were also supremely useful to him. No one should be his/her partner’s unwitting “beard” so that the cheater can look acceptable and respectable to the rest of the world.

  • Daisy-
    The word “authenitc” is BS. It is what midife crisis men use as the excuse to leave their families- be thankful you are married and have a family unit- The illusion of happy ever after is exactly that. An illusion. Your husband has tried to make amends- feel fortunate. You will otherwise be alone the rest of your life, unless you have found someone at this point that you are lying about. You sound as though you have too much time on your hands. Be thankful. Raise your kids- get on with it….

    • Mary — WTF? Are you a troll? Authentic is not bullshit. It’s living an honorable life. Daisy’s husband sounds like a freaking sex addict, serial cheater. I wouldn’t feel safe in that marriage either and she’s absolutely LUCID when she concludes this isn’t the marriage she signed up for.

      ALONE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Really? You KNOW that? Better alone than to spend your days with a serial cheater. That is the POINT of this site. And alone is not likely, not if you don’t want to be. I’m not alone. My husband’s not alone. We both left cheaters — and are super happy with our decision and our lives. And I didn’t know he existed when I left. He didn’t know I existed. It’s an act of faith to move forward.

      Daisy no doubt will “raise her kids” getting “on with it” — because cheaters seldom stick around for the fun, responsible work of raising children. She can do it with his child support, and let some other BETTER stepdad in the future model what it is to be a good man. Mr. I Fuck Strippers ain’t it.

      • Mary, I tried to “just get on with it” and had my soul shredded. I’m sorry, but I never felt thankful. Who are you? If you are not a troll, maybe you should share your story with us. You sound very cynical and hurt. Maybe we can help? Oh and btw…my stbx tried to use the midlife crisis shit excuse with me. I’m just not buying it.

        Three long years – hang in there. It took me two to leave. I finally decided that I couldn’t be married to someone who i couldn’t trust. End of subject!

    • Mary, it is better to be happy and healthy alone then to be miserable and unhealthy in a toxic relationship/marriage.
      Now take your troll self and go bugger off. Your comment is ignorant and disgusting.

    • Oh dear. Mary must be a hard-core reconciler.

      Her reference to the midlife crisis male makes me think that maybe she’s one of those ones who are “standing” or whatever they are calling wholesale martyrdom these days over at that site dedicated to seeing your spouse through their midlife crisis (MLC= cheat-a-palooza-with-no-consequence-because-I-recognize-my-mortality).

      *eyes rolling so far back in my head I can see my past lives*

      Poor Mary. Projecting like mad. “You will otherwise be alone the rest of your life…” Yes, just like Mary is, remaining in her marriage with her cheater. Alone the rest of her life.

      • I am laughing so hard right now! “Wholesale Martyrdom”…”eyes rolling so far back in my head I can see my past lives”
        Pure genious! Thank you for putting this smile on my face tonight, Kristina!

        • 🙂 Glad to oblige.

          But really — don’t pay attention to Mary, Daisy.

          You were honest and sharing some difficult stuff; please don’t let nutty commentary diminish the fact that most of us here recognize how brave you are for sharing.

      • You can be alone in a marriage. I think it is worse than just being alone by yourself.

        Proverbs says “better peace in a hovel than strife in a palace”

        • You are so on target Janet.

          I used to think I was the loneliest married person I knew.

          Ironically, 9+ months divorced, and I haven’t been lonely in more than a year.

          • That is what I felt to in my marriage, lonlieness. This was true even before i discovered the cheating. Living with a disordered spouse is as lonley as it gets. I was much happier once I moved out.

    • Mary, I feel FAR less alone now that I am single than I did in the last few years of my marriage. I think we all know on here that “happily ever after” is a line from a fairy tale, but as far as I’m concerned, staying with a cheater will guarantee “happily NEVER after.” At least when you dump the toxic cheater, you have a chance of some sort of happiness. Staying with a cheater is a like a prison sentence being handed down to an innocent person. I like life outside of “prison.” I feel like I have a future to look forward to instead of a marriage that feels like a jail cell.

    • Wait a sec, Mary…are you suggesting that being alone, sans a man, is worse than living with a cheater? have you travelled here from 1950? Because no one needs a partner to define who they are. Being alone is actually just fine.

      • “have you travelled here from 1950”

        LOL, Nord. That was a great way for me to start my day!! Thanks!

  • How sad that Mary thinks that an authentic life is BS. That a person can’t live their values, that a person can’t live with integrity, that a person can’t leave a bad situation and make a better life for him or her self. Very sad world view, Mary.

  • Thank you, CL. I was surprised by such a hostile response. And, what I meant by authentic was living honestly for myself – not pretending that I feel something I no longer do. As anyone who has been in long-term relationships can understand, we develop habits with our partner. Habits about how often we say “I Love You” – on the phone when saying goodbye – in the morning leaving for work, etc. We have habitual ways of communicating, expressing affection, and dealing with each other. The difficulty I had was getting to the bottom of whether I was saying “I Love You” out of habit, and believing that I loved him because that is what I was used to – or because I honestly FELT it in the moment. We get used to loving the ones we are with. Relationships become comfortable (and safe) that way. It might sound silly to some, but believe it or not, it took a while to really get to the bottom of that. And, that is what I meant by living an authentic life. I have been, in effect, pretending as a way of convincing myself that my thread of hope was possible. You refer to it as believing in unicorns (which I love, by the way!).
    And, FYI – After the renewing of the vows, 6 months later I caught him exchanging numerous inappropriate facebook, and text messages with a woman. That woman was the same woman he had an affair with when my daughter was a newborn. So, after forgiveness, reconciliation, renewing of the vows – I was betrayed yet again. And, that time was much more painful that the first. That discovery was two years ago.
    Maybe I do have too much time on my hands. It sure doesn’t feel like it, though. I work a full-time job, have two kids, a husband I don’t trust, and a mother I have to financially support. My husband’s idea of “working on it” is putting the betrayal in the past and moving forward day by day. Anytime I tried to talk to him when I was triggered or when I caught him in another lie, he would just say that he can’t change the past-he’s sorry-he is affraid he caused too much damage-that I will never trust him, etc. That is not really making amends. And, he is not willing to go to counseling at all. I go for myself.
    Anyway, I will continue to enjoy reading your blog, Chump Lady. You are hilarious, and you speak the truth! Which is something we all need – especially now…
    And – Thank you for saying I am LUCID. This betrayal/infidelity stuff really can make you feel bat shit crazy sometimes!

    • Daisy, you sound like a truly beautiful person. And I have been in the same type of marriage where the habits such as saying I love you’s and small other gestures gave a false sense of comfort and security. Habits formed. Some good, some bad. But underneath that false sense of security was doubt about if the marriage was true and real. Authentic. Did this man support my goals, hopes, dreams? No he did not. But I was 110% supportive of his. Did he provide what I needed emotionally, mentally, physically? No. His time was spent on his OW, work, and his hobbies. I took on his hobbies and some stuck with me. Did he want to take part in my family, friends, my life, or help me build a life together in the family we had? No. He did not like my family, friends, my hobbies, or spend time with my daughter and I. His family I embraced and loved with all my heart. Begged him to take part in the family we had, but to no avail.
      Was I a perfect wife? No way. Could I have been a better wife? Sure could’ve. But is it okay he cheated and while doing so neglected me and our daughter? Heck no. But sometimes, Daisy, it takes time to come to the realization of what you will/will not accept. And guess what? These last three years for you have not been a waste, but a period of time that you needed to get back to you. What are you all about? What kind of person are you? To recognize and fully see the strength of character you have. You have a strong moral compass that will guide you in your journey. Daisy, you have your answer. You want to live an authentic, healthy, true-to-yourself, and your values, life. And the cheater husband just does not fit into that equation. All the best to you, Daisy. Stay strong!

      • Thank you, Rose. It is comforting to be able to communicate with others that truly understand what I have been going through. We have all been going through this craziness. I need to take the SHIT SANDWICH off of my daily menu!

        • Oh Daisy,
          I am so, so sorry. I have heard so, so, so many stories on other sites so similar to yours its ridiculous. You went into this with the best of intentions and there’s no way you could’ve known going into all of this… because unfortunately the status quo is of the feeling that we need “couples therapy” and “intensives.”
          NO, NO, NO! Please, take those thousands of dollars and take a cruise instead. (maybe not on Carnival though)
          Your husband is clearly a sociopath, sex addict, amongst other things; just very, very sick and Oh, I know… I know… he has some lovely qualities, but who effin’ cares? He’s like a fvckin card board cut out; not really quite real. Its all just talk… God…I’m so, so sorry.
          Pay no attention to troll Mary. You do not have too much time on your hands. There is no other life to lead but an authentic one and some people thrive on being assholes. You’ve been living in an abusive situation and need your own private counselor who understands relationship trauma. You sound like a really lovely, strong courageous woman. You will get through this! best, L

        • Hang in there Daisy, I too have been eating much healthier, and I’m feeling stronger and better and more like ME again…slowly but surely!

      • Oh my God Rose, you sound exactly like me, 110% indeed, which is why I am broke and my heart is broken. I even used to ASK him, whenever he started acting strange, if he was SURE he was happy in our relationship, and he would always reassure me (God what an idiot I was, begging for kibbles) till the lies finally caught up with him…then he claimed it was only because he “got tired of lying” He couldn’t lie anymore…he got caught!!!

  • Three Long Years,
    No, you are not an asshole. People that cheat are assholes. I am so sorry you are going through all this pain and suffering.
    But you know, some things are just too broken to fix. Your husband disrespected you, betrayed you, severed the trust and loyalty in your marriage. Some people can work on mending that. Others it is impossible because they are so pained and broken inside. And do not feel guilty for one second to lay down the burden. You did not cause this, Three. Your husband did when he cheated. Whatever you decide to do, get back to you. What kind of person are you? What are your life goals? Your values? All the best to you!!!!

  • I have some different thoughts on this one other than those posted so far, but CL has, once again, stirred the pot with a topic central to all of our experiences.

    I know those who are not chumps will confidently say cheating is a deal breaker. We all did pre-cheating, but by just reading on this site I realized that basically all chumps entertained R once they discovered their spouse cheated. So cheating by itself apparently is not a deal breaker for most people. A failed R is, whether because of the cheater or because the chump chooses not to stay any longer.

    Also, there are successful post-cheating marriages. Whether they are rare as a unicorn I don’t know, but they do exist. So cheating by itself does not rule out a mutual, reciprocal, trusting marriage if there is a true reconciliation. (And I am not trying to advocate that cheating “improves” a marriage. It doesn’t, and it is “better” if it had never happened. It did, so now the question is what do we — the chumped ones — do).

    I think CL is right. If you can’t get over it, leave. You are not being an asshole by any use of the word. Cheating changes the whole dynamic and the end game, divorced or reconciled, is to be in a mutually, intimate trusting relationship. Whether it is with our spouse or a new person.

    I would really like to address, however, the issue raised in the letter to CL… a repentant, “changed” cheating spouse and the emotional response of the chumped spouse who stayed for R. A chump will never get justice. The cheater, even a repentant one, will never understand what pain and loss you felt. Either on your level or your loss of respect for them as a person. They did this to you. It is personal. Cheating does make them a bad person. My point is that R is not a road to justice. That road is called divorce and a successful post-divorce life for the cheater.

    If you are going to reconcile (and I am assuming for discussion’s sake the cheater is truly repentant, contrite and remorseful), then the chump’s decision is mercy, grace, forgiveness, call it what you will. At some point, the chump has to assess whether the cheater has truly changed their heart in Dr. Simon’s words. If that is in place, then the trust and intimacy returns slowly and step by step. IMO, the chump will know whether the cheater is committed to the marriage and family. And I am not talking about the “I am sorry I got caught but I want to eat cake” kind of commitment but the “I have, and will continue to be, a changed person” kind of commitment. You will see it in their actions and like a previous post said you will feel it in your gut.

    I would disagree with CL that there are not any consequences in a successful R (again I am assuming “success” for discussion’s sake). I struggled a lot whether “amnesia” was required for a chump to do R, or, as the current post discusses, whether the cheater “got away with it.” Look, once the dust settles, the chump will know whether they are dealing with a truly fucked-up, disordered person or not. If you are leave a cheater and gain a life.

    If your spouse is truly repentant in your estimation, then he or she knows they intentionally harmed you (and their kids as the case may be) even though they vowed to care and protect you and them. That’s on them as a person. That is not getting away with anything. The scar is my wife’s to bear, not mine. I can’t change the past and neither can my wife. But I will not allow it to define me or my life, either married or not.

    I trust I am not preaching to anyone with this post. One thing I have learned here is that each chump deals with a universe of one as it relates to cheating and the issues invloved. CL’s great service is to point out that there are patterns to chumps and cheaters alike that we would be wise to heed. I have and still am learning a lot from all of you.

    Good luck.

  • and I just wanted to add- Men ( or whatever they actually are) who cheat on their pregnant S.O. are total cowards. I want to use the T word but i don’t want to get banned! CL- you are the best … helped me through some truly harrowing nights… Cheers!

    • I might add that women who cheat make their husbands question the paternity of their kids, another truly despicable aspect of women cheating at least equal to men cheating on pregnant women.

  • Matt,

    While I think that your intentions are very good, I am dubious of many of your assertions. While I do not generally believe in absolutes, unfortunately, there are some predictable things and one of them is that you most likely will never know what is truly going on, because its just the way they are wired.

    you said:

    ” Look, once the dust settles, the chump will know whether they are dealing with a truly fucked-up, disordered person or not.”

    not necessarily. The woman I told what her “devoted” partner was up to after 11 years of living together, believed with all of her heart and what used to be a soul before she sold it, actually MARRIED her cheater (3 years later) and I know for a fact that he is still out there!

    some cheaters are so good that they fool EVERYONE! (even themselves!) Ever see a pathological liar— LIE? Its the scariest thing ever. They do not flinch. move a muscle. There is NO TELL. They are master con artists and they are also, the really, really NICE GUYS. They are often very, very sweet, kind, generous, giving, gregarious… blech… I’m making myself feel faint.

    so, no… you can’t always tell. You really can’t and I find that extremely scary. My husband falls into that camp. I asked him point blank and he LIED straight to my face. He even goaded me to check his computer. I didn’t for months until one day, I had to copy a drawing for a client and he had left his normally LOCKED UP email–open………………

    that was probably the worst day of my life, except for when my brother died.

    • Groceries can look me dead in the eyes and without flinching do I Bill Clinton. ‘ there is no third person in our marriage ‘ Fuck me that is the scariest memory I have. Your words laurel really effected me then. How they lie to your face. Where the fuck do they drag that from. Makes Antony Hopkins look like an amateur

      • You know, Baci, you bring up a great point/valid question:

        “How they lie to your face. Where the fuck do they drag that from.”

        I think that this is just one of those things that people who have poor coping mechanisms or a disordered/screwed up way of thinking deal with life. I mentioned in another post — my mother never, as far as I know, told the truth. Like, ever. It makes for a real treat as I look back on my childhood etc. Because I have no idea what the reality was/is/was. Nightmare.

        But the thing to focus on, I think, at least it is the thing in which I find a tremendous amount of comfort: this is nothing to do with us, it is just the way they are. They are self-impoverished, they are completely ego driven, they only know how to react and to protect themselves (which would explain groceries inability to make smart decisions with respect to your boys and visitation and stuff). They are so driven to control their narrative and make themselves feel safe that they don’t give a flying fuck about how they do it.

        And they learn early that lying is easy and they get good at it, and they can protect themselves that way, because then the stories they tell themselves and others around them bolster their egos and keep them feeling safe.

        When the truth caves in on them, they suss things out. Wherever they can regain control the fastest and most completely, that’s where they go. If they have a chump who is keen to believe them and will willingly enter into some kind of pathetic codependent scenario, then that’s where they stay, rebuilding a narrative that makes them feel safe again. But they don’t change. They only change the narrative and start telling the lies their partner wants to hear. Or, if they are forced to tell the truth, they cut and run to where they can build a new narrative that makes them, you guessed it, feel safe.

        It is all about them. It is never about us. That’s a freakin’ awful thing to get the head around, but once you do, it really is freeing. It seriously has nothing to do with us. We never factored. Only they and their ego did.

        Be glad you’re not living in service to that ego anymore, Baci. 🙂

      • Same here. About two months after dday, when I thought reconciliation was still possible, I brought up the OW. “You keep throwing it (the affair) in my face” STBX told me. So I told him, “all right. I’ll never bring it up again if you promise never to have contact with her again.” He looked me right in the eyes and said, “I promise.”

        That was about a week after STBX and OW first had sex, and about a month after he promised NC…for the second time (he failed the first time). About a week later I found out that he went for about a week with NC when he first told me about the affair. Then he started planning how he was going to surprise her with sex on her 21st birthday.

        So, if he’s talking, it means he’s lying; if he’s being nice, it means he wants something.

        I can’t believe I fell for it for so long…I wanted to believe him. Now I can see there was nothing really there….

      • STBX vacillates between ‘yes, other people came into our marriage’ and ‘our marriage was crumbling, no one outside had anything to do with that’.

        It doesn’t matter what he says or believes. He cheated for years, I had no idea, we are divorcing. I assume he will lie anytime he is caught out doing or saying something that he shouldn’t be doing or saying so I don’t bother listening to him about much. I just carry on and deal with myself, my kids, my life. He will always be a liar and that’s his shit to deal with. Why drive myself crazy trying to get him to admit anything or stop being that way? He won’t change and even if he did it will have little bearing on my life.

    • Laurel, you are spot on about the lying.

      Pathological liars convince themselves that they are telling the truth. And in fact, lying is so second nature to them that they feel worse when they DO tell the truth; I often wonder if the truth, in a way, feels confusing to them, because they feel more in control of the lies. It is really astounding. My mother was like this, so I can say I’ve seen it in action. She had such an unquenchable thirst for control that she never told the truth. The entire world around her had to fall into her narrative or it felt scary and out of her control. Tremendously manipulative and an absolute codependent nightmare of a person. Gaah!

      The funniest thing — she hated liars. And she was quick to point out those people who she thought were pathological liars.

    • I finally realized the best way to tell if Andy was lying was if his lips were moving.

      You are absolutely on target, Laurel. Andy is the “nice” guy. He’s the guy with all the “little sisters”.

      He’s also the guy who’s been known to put his fist through a brick wall.

      He’s the guy who will give money to a hurting friend no strings attached—of course, as his wife this means I’m skipping meals, but hey, one of his “little sisters” is eating this week.

      This nice guy’s girlfriends were calling my home, leaving obscene messages on my phone, because he had decided to walk out on me for a THIRD time—and he blamed me for it. Gee there’s a shock.

      This nice guy repeatedly told me how he had friends from his gang days, he could simply make a phone call, and someone would die.

      But he was a nice guy. The last five years or so of our marriage, I was sporting bruises under my clothes almost all the time. Always from sex, always by “accident”; when I tried to question him about it–I was informed its not good sex unless a guy forgets himself.

      I’m sure if you asked his affair partner, she would tell you I’m talking shit.

      She’s also had one sprain & started dejectedly talking about how she is so bad at communicating.

      But, hey, I’m the one who’s full of it.

      • BE & B – I am so sorry for what you went through in your marriage. The physical abuse and the infidelity. You deserve so much better.

    • The above is true. You, often, cannot discern that these folks are disordered until it is too late.

  • Ah… I struggle to be diplomatic when these kinds of posts come up. For me cheating was a deal breaker, full stop. I have a hard time understanding people for whom it is not, but I obviously know that it happens and I do not wish to say things that make people who are in miserable situations feel worse about the choices they are making. And I know that I sometimes do that. It is a blind spot for me, and I am trying to be less judgmental.

    But I wanted to lend support to the original poster and to Daisy who chimed in later with a similar story of feeling, 3 years down the road, that the betrayal may have actually been a deal break, even with spouses who appear penitent.

    I can’t say whether or not they are truly penitent or remorseful or whatever. I tend to believe, and this is my personal opinion, that people are remorseful that they were caught and have been made to feel bad about their choices. But okay, giving them the benefit of the doubt: even if they are remorseful, even if they’ve changed and are doing much better, if betrayal is your deal breaker, then to remain in a relationship in which you’ve been betrayed is just a further betrayal — and worse now, because you’re betraying yourself.

    As CL says, you can lay the burden down and not feel guilty. Staying for the kids is not ever a good idea, because it breeds resentment in us, and (probably more importantly) puts a lot of the burden on them, too. As in: “well, I was miserably unhappy staying in a marriage with a man who cheated on me, but I did that for you, kids….” I mean, how can children ever live up to that, because don’t think for a minute they don’t know it, they do; they understand and as they get older they understand more. Also, in the end, the kids go away and you are left with a man (or woman) who betrayed you in a marriage that has been undermined in a tremendously unhealthy way by betrayal. And then what the fuck?

    Seriously. Think about it. Then, what the fuck?

    Do we not deserve, as human beings, to live in a manner that is consistent with our values and in a way that allows us to feel good about ourselves and find happiness in ourselves? Do we suppose that the only way for kids to be happy and healthy and well adjusted is in a home where there are two adult bodies titled “mom” and “dad”? What if those two bodies are existing in some kind of roommate situation or are disengaged from intimacy, or are actively unhappy together? I reject that. Two parents, yes, but they don’t have to be living in the same house. They can be coparents and live separately and still raise happy and healthy kids. And it is all relative anyway. Lots of fucked up people come out of ostensibly “happy” two-parent homes.

    Whatever we do, we must be true to ourselves and know what we can and cannot tolerate. We must know when to walk away, and we must not be ashamed or allow ourselves to be shamed by society. It is not losing or giving up or being a jerk or an asshole or letting things get out of control. It is just understanding and acknowledging by word and deed that we, ourselves, matter as much as anyone else and that we deserve to be whole and living in a way that is consistent with our values.

    If Daisy and the original poster decide to remain married, God bless them and I wish them continued strength. If they decide to walk away from their situations, God bless them and I wish them continued strength.

    But they, neither of them, should be made to feel guilty or ashamed for having self respect and believing that they deserve better than to remain married to people who (however penitent they may seem now) betrayed them.

    I wonder, as an aside, if 3-5 years is a watershed mark for BSs who try to reconcile, or think they want to reconcile, but then realize they really just don’t want to or can’t do it.

  • Daisy- oh how I can relate to your post. Sounds like we are (thankfully were for me) married to the same guy. I caught my Ex about 10 years ago. It started with the massage parlors, then 3 years later (when I was 5 months pregnant) it was soliciting fuck buddies on Craig’s list. We spent thousands of dollars on counseling and I drew the line in the sand. It’s almost laughable now looking back. At year 9 of marriage I catch him in the midst of a year long affair. He cried, he begged, he pleaded, he said he would do more counseling…..and yet he still couldn’t stop engaging with the OW. Deciding to end the marriage has been the best decision I have ever made. The honest truth is I knew in my gut the last few years Of the marriage i was done, he would never change, etc. My gut was always right! As far as lonely goes, I’ve come to the realization that I was lonlier in the marriage. I never thought that could be possible.

    • ShellySho:
      It really is a lonely feeling to be in a marriage and to have such underlying doubts and lack of trust. I can’t believe this is my reality. It feels like being trapped.
      I am glad you are happier now – and you are free from the trap.
      Best wishes to you for a happy life,

  • I so agree with the point about “staying for the kids.” (or rather, leaving for the kids) My mother left my sick, abusive father when I was 14 and it was the bravest kindest thing she ever did for US.

    And when D-Day two came, my then 21 yr old said to me…

    “Mom, you should leave Dad and find someone who really adores you… you deserve that.” I know, I know… I was as flabberghasted as you are! He’s quite something!

    now, two things. He ADORES his father, and despite being a fucktard, the h IS actually a very good father in most respects that matter. the other thing is that my son has severe AD/HD and I have heard that they are very intuitive people. quite extraordinary.

    not to freak out anybody, but my mom’s a shrink and she once told me that one out of every five of us was sexually abused as a child… so, you can do the numbers, but those statistics put our children at high risk for inappropriate sexual contact or conduct, such as fucktard walking around in his boxers with the fly open.

    Cheaters very often abuse their children too. And just as you didn’t know about the cheating, you won’t know about the way he’s fucking over your kids. Of course, he gets to see them, but at least it won’t be every day, if you leave! I once heard a woman say that she didn’t want to leave so that she could “keep an eye on her abusive husband.”

    sure, sure. but she won’t be needing just one eye. She’ll be needing thousands of them and even then, he’ll find a way to go unnoticed.

  • If your house flooded, and everything you love was submerged and covered in mud, would you be an asshole for wanting to leave? Of course not.

    Your spouse’s cheating was a disastrous flood. You might hope the water never rises that high again, might want to believe that the climate or topology has changed, but you can’t be sure. As a still-married Chump, you live in the flood plain. Floods tend to happen there over and over again, in the same places. It’s usually just a matter of time. And who really wants their home to be a place of dread, of waiting for the next disaster? Not me, and not anyone else I know who’s been through that horrible mess.

    There’s no shame in grabbing the family Bible and heading for higher ground. In fact, some might say that staying put on low ground and expecting to remain dry is a kind of self-delusion. . . .

  • Hello CL,

    I am most interested in your comments on this subject. You acknowledge that a cheater can reform and a chump can heal. You make the cogent statement however that they are better off served in a future relationship with different partners. I think you may be entirely correct. However, does that mean, to you, that there cannot be a successful R? I am partuclarly interested in your comment that successful R requires “for lack of a better term” that the cheater gets away with it. Loosely paraphrased at least. They get away with the cheating because a successful R assumes they do. I am more interested in your opinion whether post chumpdom you ever see a R with a truly reciprocal mutual intimate relationship. In other words, does true healing ever occur?

    Thx for your thoughts.

    • I guess I knew this sort of subject would come out. What drew me to this post today was the 3 year mark. While I’m past the 3 year mark but not at the 4 year mark I’m right there with Three Long Years. Though I don’t think they have been long, they have been the most painful. I can’t help but feel, haunted. I know what she is capable of, I know she can lie to my face and drop her yoga pants for another fucktard guy. Has she since declaring her commitment to our marriage lied?. I will never know and I’m haunted by it. I have also accepted that I’m haunted by it. The pain hasn’t crept in like this for some time. The trigger? I had to see the fucking retard other man last Friday after Ski club. He was picking up his Betrayed GF’s daughter who also skis with the middle school ski club. I am a chaperone so I got to see this epic excuse of a man. A little vomit formed in my mouth. I didn’t tell my wife or talk about this trigger.It’s haunting. and it sucks.

      It ‘s a point where you question yourself. It becomes comfortable but every now and then your gut screams, ” what the fuck are you doing”. This is one of those moments.

      I guess it’s a crossroads isn’t it? es ist ein Hundescheiße Sandwich.
      I know what you are going to say. Leave a cheater gain a life. I have a life but the same strength that is getting us throught this dogshit sandwich is keeping us from gaining a life.

      Kristina said “I can’t say whether or not they are truly penitent or remorseful or whatever. I tend to believe, and this is my personal opinion, that people are remorseful that they were caught and have been made to feel bad about their choices. But okay, giving them the benefit of the doubt: even if they are remorseful, even if they’ve changed and are doing much better, if betrayal is your deal breaker, then to remain in a relationship in which you’ve been betrayed is just a further betrayal — and worse now, because you’re betraying yourself”

      Clarity, clarity, clarity……

      ugggg….. my brain hurts. This is going to suck.

  • Ohhhhh,this one really strikes a chord. So how do you even really know if you’re in R? I’ve been dealing with this since Nov. and have avoided asking for the whole truth f rom him because then I’ll actually have to do something about it.Help!

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