Dear Chump Lady,
My husband has cheated on me with two different women over the course of the last year and a half. I found out about one, moved to my mom’s and then came back to the family home to find out he was cheating with another one about 3 months later.
I have been trying to reconcile in spite of it all. I have basically put love first and turned a blind eye to all his behavior. I won’t say it was all for not, because it finally got me to the place I am now. I have finally put my foot down and told him enough is enough — I am moving out. (I asked him to leave and he said no).
A bit of background, over the last 2 years he has constantly told me that he doesn’t know why I am home, can’t you find anywhere to go, etc. As you can imagine, this is very hurtful especially since I’m the one that has been betrayed. I am the primary breadwinner and can make this move no problem financially or otherwise. He continues to work with his latest fling and the last straw was when he didn’t come home about a month ago and I saw them coming out of a hotel together on Monday morning when I was on my way to work. He said they didn’t sleep together…really?!?! Just reading that makes the hair on my neck stand-up.
Of course, after all the pain, hurt and lies he is NOW staying at home, not getting drunk all weekend, (he has a drinking problem), helping out a little around the house (he is a man child). Why now? Flowers delivered to my work…..why now?
I’m now slightly second guessing my move. I have always had faith in this man and maybe this is finally my chance? Maybe all my hard work and suffering over the last year is finally making a difference?
We have a young daughter and it pains me to think that she will not have a “family unit”. I know, don’t stay for the children but it is difficult.
Dazed and Confused
Let’s recap. You’re the breadwinner. You’re the responsible adult. He’s a serial cheater with a drinking problem. Just to round out the winning combination, he’s verbally abusive and yells at you and your small daughter for two full years on how he’d like to be rid of you. Oh, and he lies to you about his affairs and isn’t one bit remorseful.
And you’re second guessing yourself about dumping him because… of a bouquet of flowers?
Were they magic flowers?
Oh hang on — a bouquet of flowers AND a few household chores AND a weekend of sobriety.
Dazed, put the crack pipe down. It’s time to kick your hopium addiction. There is nothing to second guess here. This guy has serious, decades-of-therapy level problems and a colossal sense of entitlement. You can’t reconcile with that — and you shouldn’t subject your daughter to a chaotic, drinking, cheating father either. I promise you, two years of “get the hell away from me” rejection has fucked with her young head. Her first steps were probably to the “pick me” dance. For two years you modeled to her how to respond to abusive behavior — stick around and try harder. “Turn a blind eye for love.”
But! But! He’s NICE for entire stretches of … what? Days? Hours? Fleeting moments?
Read up on the cycle of abuse, because I’m afraid you’re in it. He’s horrible to you, and when he senses consequences, like you leaving him, he ups his game, sends flowers, and it’s the honeymoon period. Tension builds, and there’s drama. He acts out, cheats, drinks, lies. Repeat.
The man who responded to your devastation from his first (discovered) affair with ANOTHER affair — that’s the real him. His sorry wasn’t a bouquet of flowers, it was another OW.
I know you want very badly for him to be sorry. And maybe at some level he is (I tend to doubt it with disordered types, but perhaps it is possible). The problem is — he cannot sustain it. He can’t wear his “good husband” mask for very long without indulging in more chaos — the drinking, cheating, and lying. You cling to those moments where he’s good, and give them far more weight than they deserve. You want to believe in that vision, when the overwhelming evidence points to his bad character.
I get it. I was there myself once. I understand second guessing. There’s a whole post about it at Five Things that Keep You Stuck with a Cheater. A shrink explained it to me this way — it’s a battle between your core values. Your heart and your head. You may think of yourself as someone who is not a quitter. You love unconditionally. You can rise above challenges. You are someone who gives others second chances. And then those values are in conflict with your head — which says — this person is not changing. These outcomes don’t look good. If I stay here, I will get hurt again. Heart says — oh, maybe not! Maybe there is hope! You’re not a quitter… and the values stay in conflict.
Shrink said — most people stay stuck like this. Locked in this battle. This is codependency. This is why people enable. Stay with drinkers, gamblers, children who steal their wallets for dope. The way out is to ACT. Listen to your head and love yourself more than this person who is hurting you.
Your impulse to say — enough is enough — I’m moving out — was a HEALTHY one. This is the voice you need to listen to and nurture. Pay no attention to the hobgoblins of hope.
On moving out — talk to a lawyer. There may be some legal ramifications if you’re homeowners. But I can’t see how any judge would fault you for getting you and your child away from that creep. Seeing a lawyer will give you a sense of agency, a road map for escape. You’ll feel so much better for it, so please lawyer up ASAP.
You’re a strong woman for surviving this crap. It gets easier when you leave him. I know it doesn’t feel that way now, but there is a good life waiting for you on the other side. You’re already so far ahead of other folks — you can support yourself, you don’t need him financially. The only thing holding you back is your hopes for him. Put those to rest. It’s okay to wish him well — but do it from a distance. Get on with your life. Model resilience to your daughter. Best of luck to you!