Dear Chump Lady,
My husband and I have been married over 30 years and for the last several years I could feel something terribly wrong in our marriage. My husband was suddenly very distant, distracted and detached. We always prided ourselves on having such a strong marriage, we were so devoted to each other, willing to do the hard work in our marriage, blah, blabbity, blah!
I finally uncovered his secret life in the spring of 2012. My husband had been frequenting a video sex chat website and paying for private video chats. While I’ve been worrying at how quickly retirement was approaching, he was spending thousands of dollars a month on his video sluts. Yes, THOUSANDS a MONTH!
After exposure, he vehemently insisted it was all just a game and hey, it was fun! He paid for chats with 4 or 5 different “models” and once (accidently) referred to his favorite as “my girlfriend.” I saw private messages where he told her that he loved her with all of his soul and read the love poems he composed for her. But he insists that it was just part of the game!
He is adamant that this was not an affair and is INCENSED when anyone (me, his IC or our MC) tells him that his behavior was infidelity. He insists that this entire devastating, painful mess was a “game.” A game for $4.99 a minute!
I got the usual promises of transparency and honesty as well as his assurances that he would stay off the site and stop all contact with his girlfriend (he had her email address). Well of course, the next 10 months were nothing but lies. Every time I busted him he begged for another chance. When he sent her an email for her birthday, he actually tried to justify it to me by saying he couldn’t be rude to her because he had been talking to her for two years! I guess it doesn’t matter that I have been his wife for over 30 years!
He lied through four months of marriage counseling before he quit. He lied to me EVERY DAY because he never stayed off the site for more than a week (although in free chat, because I immediately took over all the finances).
After 10 agonizing months I saw a lawyer and then presented my husband with my proposal for divorce. He begged me for one final chance. I asked him what the difference was this time and he actually said to me, “because now it is my world being destroyed.”
Fast forward and of course, he’s back on the site. Our adult children are devastated. At this point, I’m just numb. He admits he has “a problem” staying off the site. But now instead of a being an exciting game, he writes the most vile, abusive, dehumanizing things to these women. I can’t reconcile who he is on the site to the man that I have shared my life with for over 3 decades. I can’t comprehend that the man with whom I have built a life and family can look me straight in the eyes and lie to me – over and over again.
I am struggling to let go. What am I holding on to? Please, Chump Lady, I need a good dose of your “dump a cheater.”
It’s a game? File that divorce, Kammie. Do not go past GO. Do not collect $200. This shit is OVER. You’ve given him chance after chance after chance. And when you finally got serious about ending it, he cried — not for you, not for what he did to his family — he cried for CAKE. “My world is being destroyed.” Oh, his beautiful, beautiful cake. Poor man.
Not that you can reason with an addict, but I wonder how he’d feel if you were spending thousands of dollars a month on Scrabble? I’m sorry, you cannot be present in your marriage, because you’re too busy landing triple words scores with “ZOUAVE.” (Try it sometime, word geeks.) You can’t go to bed right now, because you need to finish this game online. And your penchant for little wooden tiles and word play has landed you in debt.
Anyone would think you’re deranged. Only no one is humiliated by a Scrabble gamer in real life. If it were a “game” that was ruining your life, that would be crazy enough — but it’s not a game — it’s porn and prostitution. That he calls it a “game” — is very telling. You’re all just game pieces to be used for his enjoyment. They don’t really matter (they’re all interchangeable for a price). You don’t really matter. Your children don’t really matter. Thirty years doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he is allowed to play the Game.
I just spent today in the company of an exhausting, rambunctious toddler. She’d cry and beg and wheedle to play some game. So, I’d stop whatever I was doing and agree to play blocks/alphabet/coloring. And no sooner did I fall for that rouse, than HAH! she didn’t want THAT. She wanted goldfish crackers. That book over there. Or a different adult. The point wasn’t what she SAID she wanted. The point was to move the target. To be in charge! To have adults running around waiving diversions at her, attempting to please her. The goal was to play whatever game she said the game was.
You’re married to a toddler. That shit’s not sustainable. He wants what he wants because he wants it. And if you take it away from him, (like control the checkbook), you’re being mean, mean mommy. You’re the parent. You’re the heavy. He’s the naughty child. This is not what healthy, adult relationships look like.
It’s okay for two and a half year olds to be little tyrannical narcissists. It’s not okay for a middle aged man to behave this way. And really, his “game” is quite beyond narcissism. It’s more like sociopathy.
I know I’m supposed to wring my hands and say he’s a sex addict or something. But whatever he is Kammie, is not worth saving. He cannot be the person you need him to be. He can promise to be that person. He can pretend to be that person. But he has shown you over and over again that he is NOT that person.