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Dear Chump Lady, My cheating wife is a SAHM

Dear ChumpLady,

My wife of 10 years, a stay at home mom (SAHM), developed chemistry with the father of my son’s buddy from school in November 2011. He is a stay at home dad. I discovered the chemistry from their emails. She was really remorseful about it.

I recognized maybe I did not give her enough affection. So I gave her more hugs and kisses, more affection. But she was still in her affair. I’d research articles from a Christian website to help her pull herself from affair. I continued to buy her flowers, gifts, chocolates, as usual.

I knew they exchanged emails 6 or 7 times a day, so I joined in the battle. I texted my wife jokes and updates from work, to win her back. That didn’t work. Then I told myself, maybe I should trust her and not get suspicious. So I took the family (with 2 beautiful kids, 8 and 5) on vacations, twice, to help to reconcile, and many more outings during the summer of 2012. At home, I have always helped out with housework and I started doing homework with my elder son, hoping to lighten her workload at home.

That didn’t work neither. It actually developed into a full blown affair with intimacy while I was trying to reconcile. I intercepted an email in November 2012, my wife said “I love you” to the OM. I talked to her immediately — “Do you remember the whose name it is engraved on your ring, and do you still remember this picture that we’re holding our son when he was first born in the hospital?” She replied “Of course, I do.” I hugged her and kissed her, asking her to come back to reality.

For the next few days, I knew they were dating, but I presumed they were talking about cutting off. So I sympathetically asked my wife “ Are you having a hard time?” and “What can I do to help?” Then the next day, I found another email — the OM claimed he had ordered a ring for my wife and my wife declared “…even if it’s a plain wedding band, I’ll still put it on…..you are the man I love and that’s not going to change….”

The affair developed deeper. In December 2012, I asked my wife do you know what you’re doing, she said yes. Nothing changed. In late December, we had another talked, still no help. By then, they’re calling each other husband and wife, promising they’re going to look after each other til they get old.

In January 2013, she asked me why am I being so suspicious and she suggested if we should separate. I told her I’d actually seen a divorce lawyer. She then broke down and cried and begged for forgiveness. She tried to be nice to me, returned gifts to the OM, told her parents her sin (edited version). After couple weeks, I gave in, I told her I’ll try to move forward but she need to cut off all contacts with the OM. I researched Disneyland packages for the family with her. Then after a few days, she tried to contact the OM again. They re-connected, again 4 to 5 emails per day. I discovered she had researched the address of a jewelry store several times. Then eventually, in March 2013, I found this email my wife asked “Hey, what about our ring?” I was totally devastated. The switch for my love for my wife was turned off.

She knew she was busted again. This time, she was even more remorseful, started going to church, going to MC, trying even harder to please me. But my love and trust for her was gone. I told myself not to make any decision while I am emotional, so I waited. She claimed she has not been seeing or contacting the OM, maybe, I don’t know, since she disabled my technology. Plus, now she knows how I track her, she wouldn’t use the same method of communication anyway. One night, she was waving a bible in front of me claiming she is not thinking of the OM anymore. But in her calendar, she has marked down the birthday of the OM, and the date of Nov 26, 2027 where they’re promised to re-connect. I am convinced she is deeply in love with the OM and he will be in her heart forever.

I really want a divorce but she doesn’t want to. Also the kids are very very attached to her because she is stay at home mom. My daughter cuddles in her bed every morning. It’s heart breaking for me to see my daughter push me aside and goes to her mom when I try to tuck her in bed. The kids love to play with me, but when it comes to daily routines, they don’t want me. She wants to be with the kids 24/7, which means I have no private time with the kids.

What should I do Chump Lady? Should I suck it up for the kids? I don’t even want to talk to my wife now, how can I spend the rest of my life with her? Maybe you can help point out if I did anything wrong?

Andre

Dear Andre,

Help you point out what you did wrong? Will do. God bless you, Andre, you’re a super chump. You’re exhibit A of How Not to React to a cheating spouse. Don’t feel bad about it though. Most of us here have made every stupid mistake you did. You’re among chumps. Glad you found us.

Mistake 1. You assumed the affair was because of something you were not giving her. “Maybe I didn’t give her enough affection?” So you up your game there, more hugs and kisses, more presents, more kibbles. And… no surprise. It didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? Because that wasn’t the problem. The problem was HER — her entitlement. Her incessant need for ego kibbles. The affair is about her lack of character and her desire to eat cake (you and the OM). It’s not about something that was “missing” in your marriage. I’m sure you were missing things too — did she sent YOU chocolates? Yeah… I don’t think so.

Mistake 2. You did the “pick me” dance. You competed with the other man. When he sent loving texts, you sent loving texts. Why didn’t that work? See mistake 1 — this isn’t about you (or him) — it’s about maintaining cake (having you both).

Mistake 3. You told yourself “maybe I should trust her.” You felt compelled to trust someone who DEMONSTRATED that they were completely untrustworthy. You assumed this was something about YOU (your inability to trust) versus HER (she is a cheater, and ergo untrustworthy). You doubted your  common sense. She needs to EARN your trust, not do some sorry song and dance. That takes years, even with someone trying very hard, it often can never be regained. To think you could trust her so soon was foolish. It was hope over evidence.

Mistake 4. You tried to reason with her, instead of taking action for YOURSELF. When you caught her in a physical affair, you tried to remind her of her bonds to you. You tried to marshall evidence of why your marriage was a good place to be. This is another version of the “pick me” dance. What you needed to ask yourself was — is this marriage good for ME? Is this treatment acceptable? And what am I going to do about it? Talking with her had been exhausted by that point. She had continued to disrespect you — and she felt license to go further. She showed you what she thought of your talk with her actions — she slept with him. When she crossed that line — it was past time for you to lawyer up and leave.

Mistake 5. You let her eat cake. Talk didn’t work and AGAIN she felt license to go even further. Now it’s talk of marriage and rings. The fantasy intensifies. You kept expecting her to rein herself in, when she trampled over every weak objection you’ve had. This is not a person who can be counted on to do the right thing. You only control YOU. Instead of constantly taking her temperature about things “Did you end it?” and “Are you okay?” you should have said “This is completely unacceptable and this is what I’m going to do about it.” See a lawyer. Ask her to move out. You move out. You needed to demonstrate with your actions — not your words — that this was a deal breaker. You did neither, really.

Now then, what to do? Go forward with a divorce. I hope you saved all the evidence of her affair — give it to your lawyer. Tell the OM’s wife what is going on. She deserves to know she’s being a chump, supporting Mr. Stay at Home Dad’s ass. You work out the best custody arrangement you can, 50/50 if possible. You may have to pay her some alimony until she can get on her feet. Again, your lawyer can advise. But whatever you have to pay to get out of this, is worth your self respect and NOT modeling dysfunction to your children. Would you want your children to stay in a marriage like this? Do you want your daughter to grow up to be like her mother? Then stop modeling this shit to them. When people cheat on you — it is abuse. Do NOT accept abuse.

Go let the two stay at home parents have each other. Then see how lovely their fantasy is when they both have to get jobs and there is no one there footing the bills. What’s stay at home daddy there going to buy his ring with? His wife’s paycheck? Fuck ’em. Let them have each other.

Andre, you’ve been a chump. Take your power back! Good luck to you, man.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Yep, the idea “it’s not about me” or “us” really is the hardest thing to choke down. I know my own ego got in the way of really seeing that and understanding that for the longest time. And heaven forbid you finally start thinking for yourself because that’s when you’re likely to hear how it “really is all your fault” or “the chemistry is just not there with us” or how your wife is really doing you a favor because once you realize she owns her choices, you will act differently and make different choices, and there’s a good chance she will want to push you back into your Chump role.

    Best of luck.

  • Andre,
    My sympathies, man. You bought into the whole reconciliation industry – so often promoted through our churches, synagogues, etc – and did every logical, heartfelt thing you could do. But logic doesn’t apply to a NPD cheater – and heartfelt just leaves you with yours being shit all over on the floor by her and the OM.

    We have all been there – presenting like archeological evidence every happy, fulfilling, joyful moment in our shared lives with our cheating spouse. I remember vividly bringing out a photo of my ex and I two years into our marriage at what was one of the happiest moments of our lives on vacation. We both looked -for lack of a better word – golden. Golden skin, golden smiles, golden, sparkling eyes full of love in every sense of the word. The promise of a shared lifetime of joy and happiness captured in that one blissful moment.

    You know what he said to me? “Look at this picture – can’t you understand that you really did get the best of me. Look at how good I look!” Swear to God – that was his only reaction. That’s when I knew he was really, truly all about him and always had been. My kids and I had just been window dressing for whatever vision he wanted to project of his life for those certain years.

    Get out or get her out. Work hard to be sure you get shared custody and have ample time to be with your kids. She will work to manipulate this situation to her advantage – especially with the children. You’ve caught her – and like any cornered animal she is desperate and will do even crazier things to screw you over down the road. GUARANTEED.

    So get a GOOD lawyer – not necessarily a shark but a really, really smart and thorough one and get that divorce filed. The sooner you reclaim your life and find a new path to happiness – the better.

    Because, Andre – she drove a stake through the heart of your marriage. It’s dead, dead, dead. Bury it before it begins to stink and move on. Best of luck – it will get better.

    • Char,

      Your story is not funny, but I swear I laughed out loud! “. . . you really did get the best of me. Look at how good I look!” OMG!!! Who says that?!! Just as I’m always thinking my Top 1% of his NPD Class is the most consummately selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed asshole on this planet and beyond, you have come along and proved me wrong. That window dressing thing for a certain number of years? I can SO relate to that. Lots of hugs to you.

      • Oh yeah, can I relate? I think so. . . My STBXH when I met him at 33 years of age would talk about, ” how good he looked in high school.” Yes, REALLY! Just this Spring after I foolishly attempted to reconcile with him he was MORE foolish than I. During a visit to the family home he used my computer and left open his e-mail account. Not trusting him, I made certain to read what he wrote to his best childhood boy buddy. In these e-mails he confided that although he was ‘reconciling’ with me he was still going to continue getting laid while he lives out of state away from me and the kids and that he would keep seeing his Ukranian dental assistant girlfriend.

        The reconciliation was short lived to say the least-not even a full 3 months! In any event I’ve really gone No Contact and communicate with him only regarding the kids, etc. So, what did he do today after I refused to come down with my daughter and visit him and my in-laws? He sent me a dozen roses saying he was sorry that I didn’t come down with my daughter. . . . blah. . . blah. . .

        Andre, please read yesterday’s e-mail posting to CL from Rebecca. We could ALL learn how to be kick-ass like Rebecca- believe me. Simply Amazing! She’s WAY ahead of many of us in quick chump recovery. Totally KICK ASSS!!!!!!

        Now I know you are Christian and trying to do the right thing. Believe me, after you get into reality and the ‘hopium’ fades you are going to get ANGRY, REAL ANGRY!!! That’s okay, everyone will be here for you and we will know you are healing when you start cursing a wee bit. . . you’ll be able to call a spade a spade!

      • Thanks, Chump Princess – if it weren’t fact anyone would think it was just some clever, unreal screenplay dialogue! Sounds like your a-hole and mine were valedictorian and salutatorian of that worthless NPD Class! 🙂

    • ‘Look how good I look!’????? Wow, buy that asshole a mirror and walk away. My Ex actually tried to tell me his drinking and lack of weight control was somehow my fault. Because apparently I was shoving food down his gob then forcing him to wash it all down with the finest wine available. Or something like that. He’s a puppet, you see, and does whatever the puppet master tells him….? Now his new puppet master has him working out daily and eating ‘her’ kind of food. It’s….weird.

    • Always the old pics. Mine had his 20-ish affair person take an old photo from him at 20 years old, all tan and on vacation in Europe…and have it professionally mounted and hung in their new home along with his HS Homecoming King pics. All from 25 years ago.

  • Andre, my deepest sympathies and prayers to you and your children. Chump Lady could not have said it any better. I will add from my own personal mistakes/experience of the aftermath of infidelity, I did everything I could from my end to save my marriage. But just like you, Andre, the ex-husband continued in his affair while I thought we were reconciling. I thought wrong. There does come a point where your self-respect, worth, and esteem are hanging by a thread. And you have to make the choice to save yourself and your children from the madness. I can honestly say I had no regrets when I laid down the burden that was beyond me or my control. I hope you choose to save yourself and kids too.
    I was a SAHM. I am a great mom. I was a good wife. Faithful. Honest. Giving. Ex husband was the breadwinner. I had to make sacrifices to regain my sanity and well being. They have been worth it.
    Be the role model and rock for your kids. I am so outraged for you that a woman, a mom who has the privilege to stay home and raise her babies with a hardworking husband, is a cheater. Blow whistle on OM for sure. Howych you want to bet he used his working wife’s money to buy ring for your cheating wife? What a joke! Total scumbag. Let her go, she deserves the classless clown of a man that he is.
    Lawyer up and fight hard for 50/50. Good luck Andre. Again, my deepest sympathies. Continue to read here and get all the support you can.

  • Your wife and the OM actually bought each other rings and refer to each other as husband and wife, even though they are both married to others? Oh my. I’m sorry Andre, but you have been far, far too patient and understanding with your cheating freak of a wife. She does not deserve you, and your children do not deserve to have this as their model for marriage.

    Don’t waste a second more trying to “save” this marriage. It is clear that your wife has no interest in saving it, and any tears, apologies or “remorse” are just bullshit as she panics at the loss of her meal ticket. Don’t buy it for a second. She had ample time to change, but chose to remain a lying, cheating, selfish monster.

    Talk to an attorney right away and begin the process of freedom from this marriage. No more playing her game. Let your STBX find out for herself how unlikely it is her OM is going to actually marry her, ring or no ring. You will be free and on your way to creating a better life for yourself and your kids.

  • Andre I have been married to a man for 23 yrs who suddenly found an old girlfriend on facebook and told me he wanted a divorce and to marry her. That was almost a year ago. While I have lined up my ducks to protect myself and my rights I have waited patiently hoping he will realize this is fantasy and not reality. (They don’t see each other but text and talk daily). He refuses to see a lawyer. I hate to throw away 23yrs of marriage but the sad fact is I will probably have to. I see the text to her “I love you Baby” it rips my guts out. I think in your case she is cake eating big time; has a lover and a husband playing up to her. Go see a lawyer, learn your rights serve her with papers (I’ll bet she doesn’t think you will) Tell the OM wife. Go see a therapist for YOU not a marriage counselor (and not a Christian counselor I went that route for awhile and it just doesn’t work they have a slant on trying to keep the marriage together). Keep us posted we are all here for you and have all been in your shoes

    • are you fucking kidding me? what is he??? 16? 17? What a fucking loser! Seriously. and bingo on the “marriage counseling.” ohhh, that gets my hackles up!!! and I agree to keep religion out of it, because again, its not about “for better or worse.” Its about one person making the contract of marriage NULL AND VOID!!! (there should be a default clause to that effect, that if one of these sacred covenants is broken, then the other party has the right to terminate said contract.)

      • Laurel Yes it is so high school. Since they don’t know I know about the “secret cell phone” I pretty much keep up with the love affair by reading the daily text messsages. I’m not even sure what either is getting out of it. Ego kibbles for the seriously overaged teenagers? He doesn’t even ackowledge that she exists and she doesn’t seem to know that I know about them. This from a woman who followed me on facebook through her mother’s account. Dumb and Dumber.

    • Andre,

      What a horrible, horrible bitch you got shackled to.

      Most of what I want to say to you has already been said by others.

      I will mention this solely because there’s a lot of references to faith in your letter:

      The Bible is very specific (think 10 commandments) that adultery is never acceptable. Jesus cites sexual immorality (a breaking of the marriage covenant–pretty sure adultery would be one of the big ones) as the only reason why a person may divorce and marry another without committing adultery. Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11 & 12, Luke 16:18

      One frequently used by the Not A Big Deal Camp: Jesus’ statement “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” is often quoted to preclude judgment of any kind. However, some commentators point out that if the woman was caught in adultery, there should also have been a man standing trial. The law clearly stated that both parties were to receive the death penalty. By not bringing the guilty man to justice, these leaders shared in the guilt and were not fit to carry out the punishment. Not condoning her adultery, Jesus warns the woman in parting, “Go and sin no more.”—John 8

      Its true Christianity has more than its share of reconciliation weirdos, but much of the faith is pretty rabidly opposed to the flavors of crazy you describe.

      If you can find a psychologist who is also a Christian, it can be immensely helpful to people of faith in recovery. Many psychologists who are themselves Christians refer to Jesus as the “first psychologist”.

      I hope these examples will give you some peace and relieve any burden of guilt others or yourself might weigh you down with.

      After a few months, I began to enjoy their faces when the reconciliation industry Kool-Aid addicts were faced with Biblical evidence that they were not lining up with Biblical principles.

      • Yes, the bible is very clear that adultery breaks the marriage bond. Breaks it. You’re free. Its a horrible act, and you don’t have to put up with it. Your’e not expected to put up with it, at all, not even for a minute.

        There are definitely Christian counselors who promote this as well. Personally, I had a catholic mc and he said exactly that.

        • My STBX’s AP is a – wait for it – MINISTER.

          Being a Christian is not reflected in what you say you believe but is reflected in your actions and behavior.

          Andre, your wife can wave the bible, recite biblical passages and rend her clothing as she falls to her knees in prayer – her treatment of you, her marriage and, by extension, your family is NOT very Christian. Christians are human and make mistakes. The point would then be to ask for forgiveness and then ACTUALLY CHANGE AND DO BETTER. Your wife? Not so much.

          We all suffer trials and tribulations to refine us as people and to teach us. However, it is not our PURPOSE. You are a good man Andre.

          • Amen (haha!!)

            I’m not particularly religious but my ex was. Knew the bible inside and out. We went to church every sunday. One of the hardest things to wrap my head around after the fact was how he sat in church knowing the things he had done.

  • Andra,
    I have no idea how in the world you have been able to do this. Your letter made me feel the way ALL of the men’s letter’s comments here – they are SO many women that wouldn’t believe good men like you exist. But all of us here are Chumps. Our partners will take and take and lie and lie as long as we will take it. It will only get worse – you need to save yourself for your childrens sake.
    One thing that helped me was not knowing the minds of the OW (s) or thier husbands if they had them(?) you are not a “family” unit anymore and they are alot of other people that she has dragged into your life. Please love yourself, FOR your kids, they will grow up to know the truth and surely need you more. CL is always spot on, and we are here for you too..

  • ew… sociopath.

    “you’re the only one I love… ” (she says to her paramour) blech!

    meanwhile, she’s married to a different man that she doesn’t want to leave. hmmm… if only that made some kind of rational sense, but it doesn’t. You’re for real life and for a semblance of normalcy, cache, whatever it is that you provide that she thinks she needs and deserves. He is all about some fuckedup romantic fantasy crapola that she thinks that she’s entitled to have, as well– until real life intervenes and she makes all sorts of promises she is unable to keep.

    Andre, I’m so very sorry that this woman has been subjecting you to these hideous, repeated, what I know are deeply, deeply traumatic discoveries that she’s taunting you with. Pretty effin’ sadistic, if you ask me. I’m so disgusted, I just can’t tell you.

    I concur. Please find a way to get out of this sham of a marriage and let those two love birds have themselves all to themselves. (I guarantee that they won’t survive, for a myriad of reasons, but not your problem.)

    As for the girls… I concur with everyone else that you can work out an arrangement whereby you can have a lot of time with them. Its not the quantity of time, its the quality. That is what they will remember.

    big (((hugs)))

    • ps: I didn’t read all of CL’s great response before writing my own, but just went back and read it. (I do a lot of things backwards. lol) and I’m just mentioning it, because it sounds like I’m echoing her.

  • Andre,

    I’m very sorry. You deserve better. As much as you might want to believe in the marriage the evidence is that she just isn’t into it anymore and try as you might, nothing can change what’s happened and what will continue to happen – that’s on her. She is messed up and you’ve given your best and more. While it will be difficult to share your children and it’s no fun to go through divorce, this sounds like a horrible situation to live in.

    My STBX and I did a “trial” separation where we both agreed that we wouldn’t date others and that the finances would remain untouched. I was devastated when he left. I did not know it at the time, but during the separation he was having an affair. Also during the separation we went to MC and individual counselling. During MC he was asked if there was anyone else and he denied it. I believed him. He moved back home after I won the “pick me dance”, until I didn’t. As soon as difficulties began in our marriage he was back to sex-texting his affair partner. It was soul crushing but I didn’t waste any time and asked for a divorce.

    It’s a challenge to divorce and it’s not easy on kids. I wanted to believe in “divorce busting” and all that and yes, I read the book. But at the end of it all I know I made the right choice. He’s already moved on to another and the ink isn’t even dry on the separation papers. So my advice: Don’t waste anymore of your life. You’ve done your best. Move on. It’s hard but you can do it.

    • “I won the pick me dance, until I didn’t.”

      Good line. Resonates. I know I would have been writing this line had I not left.

      The first book I read was Divorce Busting. Then I highlighted portions of it and gave it to him. Which is laughable to me now.

      Three years out – getting easier.

  • One of my favourite quotes: “When people show you who they are, believe them. The first time.” – Maya Angelou

    This one is very hard for us chumps.

  • Andre,

    Where to begin with a wonderful chump such as you? First of all the only thing you need to “suck up” is a stiff drink as you pack up either your things or those of the middle schooler to whom you are married. Stick a fork in your marriage – it is done. Each time you offered your child-bride an opportunity to reign herself in, respect you, respect her children, respect the marriage, hell, respect herself, she stuck out her tongue, stomped her foot and chanted, “Nah-Nah-Nee-Boo-Boo, I don’t want to!” I can’t imagine having a husband who would go out to work everyday and afford me the privilege of staying home with my children and the only way I can come up with to show him how much I appreciate it is to “fall in love” and cheat with the local stay-at-home (read: unemployed) Dad. She couldn’t spend her “free” time doing something more “constructive” (as opposed to destructive) like, I don’t know, yoga maybe?

    Andre, trust me on this – I have spent 26 years (probably more) sucking hard on that Hopium Pipe and believing that I could love my STBX into loving me and being a committed spouse. I was not a perfect wife, but I was damn good wife. I cooked, cleaned, worked a full time job (I worked nights when the children were little so I could be with them during the day), took care of my family when they were sick, I never even seriously considered being unfaithful, and I am pretty good looking, if I may say so myself. My STBX showed me how much he cared about me and my efforts by cheating on me with anything that had legs that opened. Love? Respect? Appreciation? From Him? Ain’t NEVER gonna happen. EVER. (Unless it’s loving him that we’re talking about – then he’s all in.) He is constitutionally incapable of being a TRULY loving spouse (or father, or a loving anything else that requires any authentic emotion beyond anger and contempt). It would have been so much better if I had the where-with-all (and enough love of myself) to leave my STBX years ago – I have wasted most of my life with him. I might have been able to meet someone who was authentically kind and loving and committed so that my children could have seen what a REAL loving relationship looks like.

    In the long run, you will be doing your girls a favor. If you stay with your wife (or allow her to stay with you) the message that your children will get is that her treatment of you is acceptable. It isn’t. You are SUPPORTING HER while she disrespects not just you, but your family unit. Tell that Boy Toy’s Wife! Why should she keep footing the bill for him to “play” husband with YOUR wife?! I am beyond incensed with those two clowns!!

    Andre, I am sending you a big hug and all of my anger. Use the anger to push yourself to run, not walk, to the nearest divorce attorney. You deserve better – and so do your girls.

    • “I can’t imagine having a husband who would go out to work everyday and afford me the privilege of staying home with my children and the only way I can come up with to show him how much I appreciate it is to “fall in love” and cheat with the local stay-at-home (read: unemployed) Dad. She couldn’t spend her “free” time doing something more “constructive” (as opposed to destructive) like, I don’t know, yoga maybe?”

      THIS. The Owife in my situation was a SAHM and still is now that she’s sucking at my XWH’s financial teat. I was also a SAHM who only returned to work part-time because many people lost their jobs at XWH’s company, and we were afraid that he was next. If that hadn’t happened, I would have happily stayed at home full-time. I am disgusted by the fact that there are people out there who are fortunate enough to SAH with kids and then behave in this manner. I was always so grateful to SAH and never once considered stepping outside the marriage, and now I’m forced to return to work as a divorced parent while the Owife does what I wished to do.

      Kick her out on her sorry ass, Andre. She abused you and took you completely for granted, so now it’s time for her to see what life is like when she has to support herself to make ends meet. Maybe she and her AP can find some romantic, minimum-wage jobs together.

    • Chump Princess – you hit the nail on the head (and don’t we wish our ex’s were the nails?)
      For anyone in a long term marriage that blows apart because you find out you are married to a seriously self absorbed, infantile NPD type, that loss of TIME is particularly galling. You really captured that frustration that I and every spouse who was in it for the long haul must feel. And NO – not one of us was the “perfect spouse” – but I’d lay money that – as you said – we were damned good ones -pretty close to perfect or it’s doubtful the marriages would last as long as they do before the NPD spouse decides to destroy it.

      I am still SO resentful of the time I lost that might have been spent finding an honest to God good man. My ex started the cheating game (as far as I know) after we’d been married about 15 years. He started the affair with the OW he is currently leeching off of shortly after our 20th anniversary. I found out about the adultery and the affair shortly before my 25th. So there are TEN years I have essentially lost because of him. I was blind for so long to what he was….and by the time I found out and finalized an odious divorce process (made longer by him) I’m up to year 13 since I had a “real” relationship with a man. So much easier if I’d been able to get a jump start on it when I was turning 40 rather than facing my 50s. It’s almost impossible not to see the marriage as a monumental waste – I totally agree.

      So many people say ‘Well, you got your two children out of it” but that doesn’t really correlate. The girls are so much like me – it’s really hard to see where he put any stamp on them from his part of the equation. And I could have had children with or without him – so I hate when people say that. To me – the marriage was just so fake, so built on sand, that it’s hard not to see it as anything but a total waste of the best years of my life.

      And YES YES YES – getting angry does make the difference between being a doormat and closing the door in his/her face. Totally agree with you. I hope Andre has read your comments carefully o- it’s great advise.

      • Char,

        I so understand your feelings. Imagine me at the tail end of my 50’s and starting completely over. I look a lot younger than that (Thank God!) but I’ve lost all of that time hanging on to something that never actually existed. At least you had some years in your marriage where you don’t think your Ex was cheating. I don’t even have that small comfort. I have actually found out that there was little to no time in the marriage when my STBX wasn’t cheating, as if it was part of our wedding vows.

        If I dwell on the lost time it has the power to make me sad and then angry. I have decided that while there are going to be days I will get angry about it, I need to look at my life as still being about possibility. My blood pressure finally, after years and years of trying, came down and I was able to get off of my high blood pressure medication. All it took was running screaming away from Mr. Top 1% of the NPD Class. Everything else I had already been doing for awhile – a better diet, exercise, etc. It was him. The relationship was, literally, killing me.

        I AM happy that I have my children – they are fabulous – even if the sperm donor turned out to be a narcissistic creep. At least I can look at them and say I got SOMETHING of value from that House of Horrors called a marriage.

        You still have a lot of good years left Char. You still have time to find AUTHENTIC love and affection with someone genuinely worth your time and effort. My grandmother always said, “Where there’s Life, There’s Hope.” I’m going to believe that and I want you to believe it, too.

        • For me it was 36 years, but luckily I don’t dwell too much on the lost years. I’m free of the depression that dogged me for years, so for that I’m grateful. What makes me really angry, though, is that if I’d known how it was going to turn out I sure as hell wouldn’t have sat at home waiting while he was gone for weeks on business trips with his ho-worker. I’d have invested in my career and my desires instead of sacrificing those things for his career and desires. I thought I was putting aside my own personal needs for the good of our family, but in reality I abandoned myself. That is on me, and that’s what I regret the most.

  • Andre,

    God bless your sweet, forgiving heart. She’s poison. Please save yourself and your chidren. You can do so much better for all of you.

    If you haven’t already, find an individual counselor to help you through. You’ve been far more forgiving than is good for you.

  • Andre,

    Your wife sounds mentally ill, or developmentally stunted. Wedding rings?? This is nothing you can fix with chocolates, vacations, or love. She is not a partner to you. She is abusive. I very much hope that you take the advice of all of us chumps and end this marriage asap, for your sake and the sake of your children. Put as much distance (emotional if not geographical) between the two of you as you can, as soon as you can. This will help you to see things as they truly are – which is sick and twisted, and hopefully OVER.

    ((Hugs to you)). Please keep us posted.

  • Hi Andre,
    First off, I respect you and all of the actions you have taken to finally arrive at this moment. It’s a course well-charted, unfortunately, by Chumps before us, and it will be repeated many times by Chumps to come. It is of little comfort right now, but you are not alone.

    Your wife is not the person you believe she is. She cannot be reasoned with. She’s into her fantasy like she’s living some cheap romance novel. It’s her way of getting off, trying to pretend she’s something more than what she really is. It was never about you, anything you did or anything you failed to do. If it was, then what you tried would have worked.

    Hire a lawyer, and perhaps a Private Investigator. Follow their advice, and methodically work your way towards the best case scenario. Your wife probably has NPD, or is at least severely narcissistic. In any case, she has very little chance of change, and you have a zero percent chance of changing her for the better. Religion nor children nor shared history is in your corner here.

    Google “doing the 180” as a method for “saving” your marriage. It won’t work, but at least it’s free, and the advice about moving forward with your own life is solid.

    Best of luck and rely upon the stories here to help get you through the day.

  • Andre,

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through…

    I completely understand not wanting to break up your family. I never ever thought my children would be raised in anything other than a two parent household. Instead my two boys will likely never even remember having both their parents in the same house at all. But I had to save myself. And by saving myself, I also was saving them. I did the limbo thing for 6 months… you’ve been doing it two years and you know it is not a healthy way to live. You are not happy, your relationship is not healthy, and your children sense all of it, I’m sure.

    It takes a long time to adjust to your new reality once you leave. But you will adjust. And actually, some things will immediately feel a lot better while you work on adjusting to the other things. You know what will be especially nice for you? Your wife will no longer be able to keep you from having a relationship with your children by hogging them all to herself. Because that is what she is doing. You may not see your children everyday when you divorce, but when you see them, they will be ALL YOURS. You’ll get to do it all. You will be able to develop a deeper relationship with them. And they will actually get to see you happy and with a healthy sense of self. You will get to teach them what real morality and compassion are. And maybe eventually you’ll even get to show them what a healthy adult relationship should look like.

    Your kids are school age now… mom can work. Yes, you’ll have to contribute to her support for a while. But at least you can move on. If you stay together you’d be paying all of her support and she’d still be eating her cake (what do you think she’d be doing while the kids are in school?) and you’d become a shell of your former self. So, leaving is definitely the better deal.

    You deserve better and so do your kids!

    • Andre – Bless you for trying so hard.
      Chump Man stated it very well – neither religion, nor children, nor shared history is in your corner.
      Seems to me you need to look at what will serve you and your children well.
      It has nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do – it’s all about her and her fantasy of being more special than she actually is. She’s in a great situation – getting her fantasy played out while being married to a good, decent, caring man who makes it possible for her to be a SAHM – and you’re doing cartwheels for her. But the more you give, the more she’ll take. How many times do you have to turn the other cheek?

      Let OM buy her the ring she so desperately wants from the man she loves. Just not with his poor wife’s hard-earned cash. That poor woman deserves to know.

      You bet she doesn’t want a divorce – that means her meal-ticket will disappear. If she was genuinely remorseful, OM’s birthday nor a reconnection date in 14 years time???? would be on the cards. I guess that means your daughter will be 19 by then. Time to say adios then, while you footed the bills and served a purpose. Wow, sounds bloody cold and manipulative to me. Not like a loving wife who is remorseful.

      Andre, don’t waste years of your life while teaching your children what marriage shouldn’t look like. Hard as it is to come to terms with, she’s checked out long ago and is merely staying while you’re serving a purpose. Serving you a shit sandwich so to say.
      So sorry you’re faced with this.

  • I’m so sorry Andre, the multiple betrayals are so hard, my ex also went to MC and continued the affair and much worse. I am still healing from the betrayal by the one person I trusted above all others. I know why you tried, it’s why we all did – in the end it hurts more. She has shown by her actions that her words are worthless. Take back your self respect and please see a therapist so you have someone to talk this through with. Take care.

  • Andre

    While the details may be different, all of us here know what you’re going through. I haven’t been able to bring myself to leave my wife yet, so I may not be in the best position to advise you, but any objective person reading what you wrote would recognize that there is something seriously wrong with your wife that won’t be remedied by any change in your approach to the marriage. You need, for your own peace of mind and for your children, to get out of this situation asap/ I have two children, too (boys 7 and 10) and I’m slowly but surely beginning to see that raising them in a home where a huge inequality of power between spouses prevails (and that’s what’s happening in your household — when your wife has the right to do any cruel can thing she wants to you) can only be harmful in the long run for your children. I don’t want my boys to think a marriage like mine is normal and I don’t want yours to think a marriage like yours is normal. This stuff is hard: you’ll need to summon up all the courage you have and lean on other to get more, but you, and all of us, will get through it OK. God bless you.

  • Andre–

    This may sound harsh. You need to find your spine. You need to give up on your own fantasy, that she is a loving woman who just needs time to see your righteousness, to see the value of her family and of living according to the tenets of your religion. I admire your creativity, thoughtfulness, loyalty, sweetness. But I’m afraid you are showing your wife that you are soft, because you have given her way too many opportunities to show disrespect for you. And you know what happens when you accept disrespect? You become someone she won’t respect. Women are not attracted to men that they don’t respect. You’re hurting, and she is turned off. A good woman would never put her husband in this position.

    But don’t end this for her sake, in the hope that she will come to her senses. Do it for YOU. Take control of your life and destiny, stiffen your spine, grow a pair of testicles, and start acting decisively. Stop giving her more time and space, and stop acting passively. Stop reacting to her, and start deciding for you. YOU WILL LIKE YOURSELF BETTER, TOO! Good things will happen in your life when you start making decisions. You can and should behave honorably, but you need to set some personal boundaries. Being cheated on and lied to is OVER ANYONE’S BOUNDARY LINE. Start acting like it.

    No more chances, brother. She’s had plenty of chances. No more threats. Just end it. Divorce her. Pack up her stuff and move her out. Ask her to go to a relative’s house or get a small apartment.

    Which brings me to another point. Your children are being manipulated to reject you, as well. This is unnatural and unacceptable. You seem to be a good and faithful man. Your children would naturally want to spend time with you. How much fun are you having? Are you too wrapped up in your own despair to breath and relax and laugh and really enjoy yourself? It’s time to cut off the soul sucker that you share your house with. She is not a partner. She is a parasite. You must NOT allow her to turn your children against you. It would be one thing if YOU were doing the cheating, and they did not like/approve of your behavior. But, the opposite is the truth. YOU are the stable, hard-working, loving parent. If they are rejecting you, it is because she is putting them up to it. This is SICK. Your children are being harmed by a very selfish woman who pretends to love them. Cheating on their father is not showing them love. Turning them against their father is not love. Do not fall for the fakery, my friend.

    DO NOT make the mistake many men make of giving up on their kids. DO NOT MOVE OUT OF YOUR FAMILY HOME. DO NOT GIVE UP CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILDREN, no matter how much they or their mother protest. They need to spend some quality time with you. I learned from another column a few days ago–maybe someone can find it and link to it–that you should bring in a female friend or relative who will testify on your behalf if your wife suddenly gets ugly in order to take your kids away from you, in case she starts making appalling accusations about the way you treat your children. I am afraid, as is often the case, that the cheating parent is gas lighting the kids, manipulating them into a distorted way of thinking. Just as she is messed up in the head, she is cultivating the same thing in your children and it is very, very unhealthy. If you give up on those kids and give into her attempt to alienate them from you, you will always regret it. Your kids will be screwed up, and they will hate you for abandoning them. Everyone here is urging you to go for at least 50% custody. Let the kids get to know the real you during your time with them.

    You’re down right now. You’ve been kicked over and over and over again. Don’t let your sad state zap you of all your strength and desire to do the right thing.

    What do YOU want, Andre? Spend some time thinking about that. While you cannot (and never should try to) control your wife, and you cannot make her love you, you DO have a lot of control over the rest of your life. You love your children and want what is best for them. What is best for them is to have at least 50% of their time spent with a SANE parent, one who truly enjoys their company, not for her own selfish needs, but who loves them for who they are and will grow up to be, under your guidance.

    You get one life. You owe it to yourself and your kids to take life on. If you need it, go get some individual counseling so you can find your inspiration. Keep coming here, man. We are in your corner. You are one of us.

  • Andre,
    My heart goes out to you and your children.
    You can stand tall: you have done your absolute best. Time to think of yourself, and your children. Time to finally have a relationship with your children without their mother’s interference.
    Best of luck to you all.

  • Andre,

    While Stephanie seems to be hard…she is straight on the head of the nail. Exactly!

    You are a wonderful person and a great gift…but only to a right person, who would value you. For this, you need to operate upon your wound and remove the poisonous contamination and allow it time to heal. However, you’d need to keep off the infectious bacteria (read: your wife) and might need antibiotics doses (read: lawyer n advice).

    As for kids, why work on 50:50 custody. Get you mother, a forthright sister or any one woman who is forthright, who shall see to it that your kids are not being trained into hating you etc. Get your wife go away. She would eventually make mistakes (they all would…just allow them time). Take advantage. Children need a “working father” and “a sane parent”, more, once they are out of tender age into their teens and adulthood. Wait. Things will work on their own in your favour.

    Hope you see light at the end of the tunnel.

  • I have been reading with interest all about Simon Cowell and Lauren Silverman who has made a total chump out of her husband Andrew. Interestingly, Andrews parents never attended the wedding because they smelled a rat. Their suspicions have been confirmed and it’s looking to me like she was something of a gold digger. It’s awful to see people’s good nature being taken advantage of no matter who they are.

    Don’t let religion cloud your judgement Andre. I grew up in a strict Catholic household and I am watching all the corruption and abuse of the last few decades come to light. Believe in your own power and autonomy . Leave a cheater, gain a life as CL advises.

  • Andre, honey, please…take and absorb all of the wonderful anecdotes and advice given by the awesome chumps on this thread. See the commonality here.
    1)stop wondering what you did wrong – you did NOTHING wrong
    2)realize your worth as a man, father, human being and GET OUT of the sham of a marriage. save your soul, and you will be saving more than yourself, you will also save your children. listen to the experience from the folks who frequent this site. WE have ALL been there.
    3)get an attorney, ask friends, co-workers, get recommendations and take meetings, and get the ball rolling on regaining your life away from your soul sucking harpie of a narcissist. You and your children deserve so much more than you have right now.
    4)understand your civil rights in your state(country). In my state custody is 50/50, a SAHM of 10 years can get a 50-60% division of cash and property, and alimony for 3 1/2 years (1 year of alimony for every 3 years married). In my state she would have to go back to work post divorce, court mandated, unless she has a disabling condition or remarries. So worth it to get your soul and your sanity back in place.
    5)once more, WE have ALL been there. we hurt for you but, know how much better life is away from the crazy you are experiencing right now. Give crazy it due, and allow her and her new soul mate to have each other, and walk your ass away with your sanity. You and your children with survive and thrive wonderfully. It will take some work, but, so worth the effort.

  • When I read this, all I could think about was, what kind of child care are these two APs giving? And where is all the sexual FUN happening? Probably with your and his kids in the other room? Sickening!!! Get the hell out!! No kid needs to grow up with that exposure.

  • And also regarding the bible preaching your wife is giving. Just because she tries to belittle u with her version of Christianity and forgiveness doesn’t mean she’s qualified to give it. She doesn’t walk the walk she just gets off giving her guilt feelings to u. That is not LOVE! That is verbal abuse. Think of all the priests who made their victims feel like tiny insignificant creatures while tge man of God was preaching on Sundays and fornicating with them on Mondays. It’s abuse u have been living! Stop being a doormat and walk out the door!

  • You know, when I was going through the worst of my chumpdom many people were telling me to open my eyes. They couldn’t understand why I still loved him, why I wasn’t furious, etc. I kept telling them that I just couldn’t turn my feelings for him off overnight, and I felt really confused. It took awhile to stop believing in my own fantasy — that I could make him see that we could have the kind of marriage we both wanted if he would just be willing to open up. I thought he was basically a good man who had gotten confused. Now that I’m out of my marriage, though, it’s easier to see more clearly how he was manipulating me. Andre, you have all our sympathy. We’ve all struggled with wanting to keep our families together, and many of us are the kind of people who are willing to sacrifice our own happiness for the good of others. You are a good person but you are having trouble seeing the truth of your situation. Find a really good counselor who can help you discover your strength and learn how to love yourself enough to end the abuse.

    • Lyn,

      I could have written your post – that was exactly what happened when people were telling me that my STBX was not honoring me and loving me the way I deserved. Your response was my response verbatim, in addition to me explaining to people that I believed him to be a good and decent person who had FOO issues that caused him to BEHAVE the way he BEHAVED. Spackle, Spackle. Denial, Denial. Too much time at the Hopium Den passing the Pipe. You do need distance to get a perspective. Even then, it doesn’t necessarily come immediately. Our exes and STBXes are like parasites who have laid their eggs under our skin and the eggs have hatched and are living inside of us, even though we’ve managed to extract the parasite itself.

      Andre, you are a good person – most Chumps are incredibly good people – probably better than most. The initial step onto the road to your better life is the hardest part. It will get easier as you go along – one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Hugs to you.

  • Hey Andre; Sometimes this denial phase is a real bitch. You think you have had a life built on a sturdy foundation, and usually quite suddenly you have so much to face & deal with that you never thought about before. It is hard to switch out of the “I love her, she is the mother of my kids” mode & get into the reality of your situation. You are a fine man. and we understand your confusion. ..it is like the ground is shifting beneath your feet. But it sounds like you have done FAR more than a cheating wife can hope for and can divorce her knowing you gave it e very chance & then some.

  • Andre….HOLY SHIT!!

    I’ve been reading and contributing to this website since almost its inception and yours is by far the most HEARTBREAKING Dear Chump Lady letter I’ve ever read. THAT, by the way, is saying something. We’ve all contributed our pain, heartbreak and sorrows to this blog but yours was the only time I felt the need to bathe after reading of your wife’s absolutely heartless and childish behavior.

    I’m also amazed by the absolutely devastating responses that other CL contributed haven’t written. Usually the #1 attraction for Dear Chump Lady letters is Chump Lady’s response, when she unleashes absolute WARFARE, dropping logic bombs and firing wake-the-fuck-up machine guns in all directions. It’s what makes Chump Lady an untouchable force in this virtual world; this however is one of the few occasions where the commenters have out-Chump-Ladied Chump Lady!! Please read these comments again and again and again. Everybody here is 1000% on-point.

    I only have a few thoughts to offer:

    1) I can tell already that you’re an amazing, doting husband. Your Chump Behavior is evidence not only of your Chumpness, but also how forgiving and understanding you are as a man and a husband. Most men scream and punch walls and throw out the words “slut” and “whore” like beads on Bourbon St. when they found out they’ve been cheated on. Your reaction was very un-guy-like, which speaks to your character.

    2) The reason everybody here reacted so violently to your Chumpdom is because your wife deserves NOT ONE OUNCE of your patience, understanding or forgiveness. Nobody here gives a shit how great of a mother she is or how madly in love you are with her. She’s a CHEATER. Full stop. The only thing she deserves is divorce papers.

    3) YOU, however, deserve a loving and fulfilled life with a REAL Christian wife who will apply Biblical principles and values to ALL aspects of her married life, up to and including that pesky: “Thou shall not commit adultery.” Your wife literally waving a Bible around in the face of her OWN fucking adultery is LAUGHABLE and speaks to her own hypocrisy.

    3) Is there something WRONG with your wife beyond her cheating? Her behavior as you’ve exhaustively described it is some of the most disturbing I’ve ever read about a cheater. I know the adult-child behavior well; I dated a man-child for three years. And even HE never stooped to the childishness your wife has put on display. Pledging to be a married guy’s wife whilst she HERSELF is married to someone else and getting the notion to separate from you only AFTER she’s made that pledge….what the FUCK?! Is she 14?!

    Far be it from me to untangle your wife’s skein of fuckupedness (big no-no in Chump Lady World) but it sounds like your wife is sorely lacking in any kind of mature life and real world experience. Another reason why you should run a mile from her. You deserve to be married to an ADULT.

    Here you are actually trying to FIX whatever it is you think is broken while she’s carrying on a very, very childish affair-cum-pretend-marriage with a fucking UNEMPLOYED MARRIED MAN!! That’s so beyond bizarre and disturbing, not to mention her Bible-waving after the fact.

    One final thought: As a chump I’ve always advocated being the Bigger Person and The Adult in situations such as these. That’s why I’m not judging your Chumpdom; I doted on my cheating ex and planned all sorts of getaways for us before the bottom fell out of destroyed relationship and the record that was playing the background music for my “pick me!” dance came to a SCRATCHING halt. Even AFTER that, I still tried to fix it and still tried to get him back.

    That’s why I say to you: FUCK THAT. I’m politely advising you to put your deep Christian morals aside for a brief moment and do the following:

    1) Print out EVERY piece of communication that you intercepted between your wife and Mr. Unemployed Mom.

    2) You are to find out where Mr. Unemployed Mom lives and HAND-DELIVER your documentation of your wife’s affair to the real man of the house: HIS WIFE.

    3) Make sure you write down your cell phone number on the pages and invite Mr. Unemployed Mom’s wife to call you at ANY time. When she does (and she will) be sure to tell her EVERYTHING you’ve told us, including ANYTHING you might have left out of your Dear Chump Lady letter.

    4) Go see a divorce lawyer.

    5) Go NO CONTACT with your wife by any means necessary. You’ve done MORE than enough as the loving husband and man you’ve shown yourself to be and you’ve given her FAR MORE than she deserves. Her problems are Mr. Unemployed Mom’s problems now. Let them have their kiddie romance at the soda shop while they split a milkshake with two straws. Let’s see how the two little lovebirds will function with no jobs and TWO destroyed marriages in their wakes.

    After that, it’s all about you! Take care of yourself first and foremost. Read these articles/comments again and again for inspiration and insight. Don’t sweat the fact that your 5-year-old is a Momma’s Girl. Doesn’t mean she’ll ALWAYS be. Especially if your wife continues to behave in such a deplorable manner. I don’t have kids so you need to talk to other chumps about how to manage this trainwreck when there’s young children involved. The comments I’ve read regarding this topic are VERY insightful.

    But DO NOT allow her to manipulate you any more than she already has. Her behavior has been vile and childish. It’s time for you to let go of that crazy, trust that she sucks, and move on with your life.

    • Andre,

      Listen to Chris. He’s got great advice.

      Don’t worry about putting aside your Christian morals. Nothing Chris is advising is contradictory to your faith. Your wife didn’t just break her marriage vows; she shat all over the paper they were printed on.

      If it helps any, remember in the Old Testament, God went through a spiritual “divorce” with the people of Israel when they apostatized themselves with idols. (Jeremiah 3:8 explicitly uses the word divorce to describe God’s action.)

      So the act of seeking a divorce and protecting yourself after your spouse has broken marriage vows is actually something God Himself has done previously. You are in good company. Even God has been chumped.

      • Priceless Old Testament commentary! Thanks for making my day! Even God has been chumped, indeed! LOL

  • “Our exes and STBXes are like parasites who have laid their eggs under our skin and the eggs have hatched and are living inside of us, even though we’ve managed to extract the parasite itself.”, said Chump Princess.

    Ooooh! That is a gross but VERY accurate description I would say. You feel damned because the parasite is OUT but the eggs feel like they could hatch and you continue to feel uncomfortable like a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy. Yes, it is definitely not a over when the parasite is out of the home.

    Actually, I think chumps feel like moths that keep hitting that damn hot bulb on the porch and getting fried cause we have trouble keeping away from the light!

  • Thank you all for your comments!!! Very supportive!!!!

    I hate indecisiveness, I have always know what I want, think through it, analyze it, and execute it the best way I can. But this, I have to admit I flunk badly.

    May I clarify one thing, I don’t think my wife actually had sex with the OM (not that I’m aware of anyway), but they do have intimacy…at my house

    Without kids, I would have make the call long time ago. But everytime my kids cuddle their mom, everytime I listen to their gigglings and laughs, I just couldn’t do it…. On the other side, I get very upset when my kids prefer their mom over me for daily routines. Of course, I have to work to support the family so she can have all the private bonding time with the kids and I don’t (I even paid for my wife’s expensive professinal licence fee and training course fee). Any advice??!!!

    For 2 months since she got busted second time, it appears she had not been in contact with the OM…she is still trying to please me big time. (I am not talking to her) But the thing is, I don’t even know if I am the person she loves or I am like a “family member” she is willing to look after but the OM is the one she actually loves? Also, I find my feelings for her has gone…

    I pray every night to God, how can I handle this situation without hurting anybody? or at least minimize the damage..to myself, my beautiful kids, my extended family, and even my wife? I have been parying for the past 2 months and still haven’t got an answer from God yet…. I wish I have the strength to get past this.

    Thanks all

    • Andre, I went back to this posting because I am dealing with an abusive SAHD. I have postponed leaving for almost two years, partly because I am afraid of him and partly because I don’t want to hurt my kids (7 and 9). I can’t tell you what to do, because I haven’t figured it out yet, but I can tell you how I am dealing with a few of these issues.

      1. Tell your story and hear what people have to say. CL is a great place to do this. Some of these chumps feel like good friends who I can share a laugh or a cry with, who care more about me than my own spouse. Counseling can help. You need to hear other people tell you that this is just not right. What she is doing to you is cruel and you deserve better.

      2. Know that you are not hurting the kids, she is. You can do your best to protect them, but their mother is destroying the family. You can’t hold it together all by yourself, no matter how hard you try. The damage has already been done. Divorce is not the sledgehammer smashing your lives, infidelity it, and that is on her. You need to be the sane one and show them how to live.

      3. Sex isn’t the only issue. I don’t think my H actually had physical sex with his affair partner. It doesn’t matter, he rejected our marriage vows, put his own selfish desires ahead of his family, destroyed my trust, and treated me like dirt. I have lost all affection for him. I do not want my children to learn from me that this is acceptable in a marriage.

      4. Your kids need you. I am fortunate that my kids are very close to me, even though I work full time and do most of the housework. Take this time to strengthen your relationship with them. Take them to the park, read to them, ride bikes together, go out for ice cream, whatever they like to do. Do things without her. She does not own the kids, you have a right to take them out too. All that attention you are wasting on her? Redirect it towards them.

      5. I doubt she has stopped contacting OM. Cheaters typically learn to hide it better after they get caught. Trust that you will catch her again. And again and again. How long do you want to be her warden?

      6. “I really want a divorce but she doesn’t want to.” Taking a wild guess, you are used to including her in any major decision, like a respectful spouse. You no longer have to treat her as a respectful spouse, because she is not. She does not get a vote. You get to make the decision.

      7. Divorce is hard on kids. Learning how to live in a screwed up marriage and stay with an abuser… well that’s hard on kids too. I am thinking that divorce is the lesser of evils. I am pretty sure that I ended up with an abuser because I grew up with that, I never learned to set boundaries, I never learned how to say this is not ok and I won’t put up with it. Teach your kids. What if your grown-up son came to you and told you he was in this situation? What would you tell him? That’s what you should do.

    • I’m going through the same thing, Andre, though the details are different. I know it’s best for all of us to end the marriage but I can’t bear to break up the family. We both need strength.

      • ANR

        Now we’re in a limbo. She knows I want a divorce but she doesn’t. I don’t want to make any drastic move as I don’t want the kids to go through any drama. but this creates a stalemate….I also don’t know what to do.. how to bring this crazy thing to an end so I can get on with my life (my cheating wife is very nice to my kids, so that make it even more difficult to divorce)

        ANR, what’s your plan right now?

        • Hi Andre

          My plan is a) not to tip my hand and b) file when I ‘ m SURE it’s the right thing to do. Not much of a plan, really.

  • Speaking of family vacations, I’m on one now with my cheating wife and our two boys — 7 and 10. Today she attempted to cheat at mini-golf , exploded at our two boys while I wasnt there, yelling that she was tired of trying to make people happy. My younger son stuck close to me because he was afraid of her getting mad again — said I shouldnt mention ito her or she probably would. Later she accused me of acting strangely. Total projection. It all reminds me of my childhood, sadly.

    • Good luck ANR. At least the kids have one sane parent. I will pass on a suggestion from my DV agency to document these incidents. It doesn’t have to be detailed – you will remember the story – just note down date, time, and place, and one line about what happened.

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