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Dear Chump Lady, Should I give him time to change?

Hello Chump Lady,

I am currently in a situation where I am deciding whether or not to continue my marriage and could use some serious guidance and honesty. My husband, over our 9 years relationship has had several one-time physical relations with different women, the last time he allowed himself to have sexual intercourse. From my knowledge this has been the first and only time sex was involved, but I guess that really doesn’t matter, he shouldn’t have EVER had any sort contact with anyone other than me…EVER!

I am writing to ask are there any circumstances in which you should give a serial cheater another chance? I am wrestling with this decision for a few reasons, one because he confessed it shortly after it happened, whereas there is no possible way I would have ever found out on my own. Second, he has been showing genuine remorse, including he initiated, found and scheduled an appointment with a marriage counselor. Third, has been working on personal growth, says he doesn’t like who he is and is trying to change it — with working out regularly, attending church every week, and “soul- searching.” He has been communicating lately, keeping me informed on his whereabouts, gave me all passwords to his email accounts and access to his cell phone. And more than anything else he has took full responsibility, he doesn’t blame me and acknowledges that it is his own character flaws.

With all this I am not 100% convinced. To me, he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. He knew I would be crushed and devastated. And because of that, if we didn’t have children (a 6 year old and a 4 month old) I would have been out the door and moved on after the first incident years ago. I have stayed hoping to give my children a family, hoping if they were raised right they wouldn’t encounter the same problems he and I both have had (both from broken homes with traumatic divorces). Financially, I will be able to take care of myself and my children without him. But I would be financially vulnerable if I become a single parent with an infant, as I would have to cut back on hours at work, and I don’t trust nor can I afford day care.

I know people change, I just don’t know if he’ll be able of changing. I genuinely think he is trying to be a better person. BUT I also realize his method of coping with relationship problems is through trying to ignore them or escape. He internalizes relationship problems as rejection of him, and looks for acceptance from others. Which I am not okay with, and see no excuse in coping with feelings of (perceived) rejection in that way. Should I give it some time and see if I can keep my family together or count my losses and get out while I can? Would LOVE your opinion. Thank you so much!!!


Worried about my children’s future

Dear Worried,

Nine years and how many women? How much “almost sex” has this guy had? And it was only intercourse “once,” that you know of, and that’s because he confessed? Worried — you’re being chumped. Multiple “one-time physical encounters” means MULTIPLE not one time. I think you mean there were many women, but each time he was only inappropriate once… and then he moved on… and was inappropriate again… and again… culminating in a single night of unbridled intercourse… missionary position, probably — and let me guess, he felt guilty about it and didn’t enjoy it one bit.  And then they adjourned for Bible study and lemonade.

Dudes a serial cheater, Worried. He’s “confessing” to only a little bit of the iceberg. Why would he confess? Oh, lots of reasons. Probably one of these women was threatening to contact you and so he decided to get to the narrative first. Or it could be he is testing you, to see how much cheating you’ll tolerate. You know, as he’s working on his issues, and throwing you further off his trail.

You asked are there any situations in which I would give a serial cheater another chance? Not any I can think of, Worried. But if I were you, I’d propose testing his apologies and commitment to you with a generous post-nup settlement — with an infidelity clause. Only he controls if he cheats again, so what does he have to lose? If he balks? There’s your answer. If he signs, there’s your paid way out if he cheats again.

If he cheats again… well, to find that out, you’d have to be the marriage police. Which, if you stay with this guy, I’d also recommend. You know, GPS, voice activated recorders, a PI if you can afford it. Because problem is, Worried, serial cheaters are good at their game. His phone? Probably got another one. The passwords? He could have other email accounts. Transparency is a fool’s errand.

Of course, being the marriage police is no way to live either. And why risk the heartache, the STDs? Why not just go ahead and file for divorce. Let him improve on his own time. If he’s serious about being a better person, let him get the scads of counseling he needs while you move on with your life. Divorce shouldn’t deter him from his self improvement kick if he’s serious about it. If it is contingent upon you not divorcing him? Well, I question his sincerity. He should want to be a better person REGARDLESS of what you do or do not do. He should accept the consequences of his shitty behavior and not expect you to assume the risk that he reoffends.

Instead of putting all your focus on (and giving your power to) him and his potential for change — why not focus on your own potential for change? Challenge yourself to come up with solutions. I’d rather trust day care than your husband. Really, how bad can day care be compared to life with a serial cheater? Talk with a lawyer, perhaps with child support you can afford it. Maybe you could find a family member, or consider a move closer to family. I hate the expression “think outside the box.” Let’s change it to “think outside the boob.” Look past HIM.

Just read the many stories here, Worried, of other folks who stayed after the first affair and left after the umpteenth discovered later. The sunk costs just get greater and greater. I do think you should cut your losses and get out now. If he transmogrifies into a Shiny New Person, he knows where to find you. But I suspect, Worried, that you’ll be so much happier without him, by the time that day comes, you won’t care. As I’ve written here before — a good heart is a terrible thing to waste on a fucktard. Move on, I say.

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  • All I can say is he is lying through his teeth! Get out now. My ex faux human would never blame me and would always tell me I did nothing wrong and this wasn’t my fault and had nothing to do with me. Yet he lied and he only knows how many times he cheated on me really. I can only imagine. He admitted to three times over a 1 year period. Once a happy ending at a massage parlor and twice with the same woman (or prostitute) on Craig’s List Casual Encounters.

    I know there were more without proof but I know.

    Reality hasn’t seemed to have yet sunk in to your head. It’s alot to put in there, I know. It took me 3 months to really even start to grasp the reality of what really happened. But I did and it was all true, my worst thoughts of how the one I loved put me in both mental and physical harms way without my knowledge and without remorse or care of that point.

    To him he was only hurting himself, he couldn’t imagine how I felt (his words).

    To him, he felt we could have saved our relationship by working on it. I had nothing to work on, I didn’t see prostitutes behind his back and then get caught. I didn’t change the relationship parameters without his knowledge, I didn’t lie or cheat or hurt him but I did leave when I found out he lied and cheated and hurt me.

    • Wow Deborah, so similar to my story. He never blamed me at all either. He wanted to work on our relationship. But I wasn’t the fucktard that was involved in a full blown affair. I asked for a closure talk, which I got last night and he told me that he now realises he was really in love with the other woman, and that he never learnt to love himself so he seeks external validation. Now it turns out he also had a hidden gambling problem too.

      He would reconcile with me, however now that people know he believes that he deserves a better life where someone is not always looking over his shoulder.


      • Melissa,
        I believe the “sweeter” these retards are about our “non-involvement” with their problem are, the more deceptive and worse their problems really are. That scared the hell out of me, when I realized that.

        Mine is 55 and has been cheating his entire life. His Son will have nothing to do with him, his daughter speaks with him but I see she doesn’t really respect him.

        He minimized like a mofo and was always the victim.

        I am so thankful even after all of the pain and trauma caused to me that I finally see him for what he is and so clearly and that I had the strength to walk away. I could see the future if I stayed and there was NO HAPPY ENDING (pun intended) . I knew that like I knew my name. That is where my strength to not go back came from.

        He still tries to get back into my life at any opportunity he can find but that door is closed permanently. He found his new victim in less than a month and although I was devastated at first, I see that doesn’t even matter as he still tries to contact me. This just reinforces to me how sick and twisted he is and how glad I am that I am not a victim anymore!

        Even though I am still depressed over what happened, I am now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for my own happiness and future.

        Going to my gyno yesterday for a 6 month follow up visit to get tested for all STD’s kind of added to my feeling of freedom. I know that if the results come back negative that he no longer can hurt me in any way unless I let him. It’s kind of like the official closing of that chapter in my life and the beginning of the new chapter…………

  • “And then they adjourned for Bible study and lemonade.”

    That is the funniest thing I have ever read, EVER!!!!

    “Worried”.. you have reasons to be. It takes time, but you will arrive at the right conclusion when the time comes. Hopefully, it will happen for you sooner than later.

  • Worried, it sounds like he’s being sincere. But here are two things that stand out to me:

    1) He may genuinely be sincere about changing. But it doesn’t mean he is capable of it. He may not be anywhere close to being able to.

    2) If this was his *only* incident, then I would consider the odds higher (assuming he continues to Do All the Right Things). But it isn’t his first time. He is a serial offender. He has cheated multiple times (physical, emotional….what does he consider sex, anyhow? Do blow jobs count? He could have had lots of sex without it being intercourse.)

    From what you wrote, my gut is telling me he will re-offend.

  • Worried,

    Andy actually announced he was walking out on his wife & child in order to become a better man.

    Trust me, its all word salad justification gaslighting bullshit.

    Come over to the other side, where you can still respect yourself.

    I suggest a kickass divorce attorney, but if you aren’t quite comfortable with that, consider a kickass divorce attorney to draw up an extremely generous legal separation. Generous to YOU. Legal separations also require a trial, just like a divorce, and usually the terms of the separation are simply transferred into the divorce if you go that route. Meanwhile, his response to being faced with legal papers — even if they are not divorce papers — will tell you SKADS about his true intentions. If he genuinely regrets how much he hurt you, and truly wants to make your marriage together work, his interests will be in how to protect you.

    My gut instinct is telling me he is going to go ballistic. How dare you demand a fair and equitable settlement? Don’t you know the sun shines out of his arse? Did you miss this memo?

    But at least you will know for certain where you stand with him. You won’t have to wonder about whether or not you “owe him” another chance, because you will know exactly what he will do with it.

    Meanwhile, consider having a conversation with a therapist about the things your spouse owes YOU: honesty, respect, fidelity for the duration of your marriage, a basic concern for your health and wellbeing and not exposing you to possible STDs without your express permission.

    Worried, it may not feel like it right now, but I promise life is so much better on the other side.

    • Tracy you had me laughing at your Bible Study and Lemonade remark . Well put!

      Worried, so sorry about your shitty situation he has put you in.
      I really like the way CL has advised you about changing the way you’re thinking this through.
      Not placing the focus on him (and thereby giving him power) and his potential for change, but instead, focusing on YOU and your potential and what is best for you and your children. I suspect that this is really where you’ll find your answer.
      As for living your life trying to police him – it’s no way to live. They become very sly and very good at lying and hiding the truth.
      Good luck and a big hug!

  • Worried,
    I am truly sorry, but in your case I think you need to walk.
    I think if the affair is a one night stand, immediately confessed, then maybe….
    But in your case, inappropriate behavior happened more than once.
    And 99.99% of the time, just once= lots more.
    It happened to me. I thought ex was having an affair, i confronted him. Ex lied about the affair, we went to counseling, I got pregnant. 13 years later, relationship #2 (that I know about) claims this one is only an emotional affair, and admits the previous affair “only happened 1x.” No way. Looking back at his behavior that first time, and the fact that was the only time I ever had any type of gynecological related infections ( I thought just a yeast infection, but did not go to the doctor)… The affair lasted much longer, included unprotected sex, and I regret not getting tested for STDs. Imagine if I had gotten pregnant with an unknown STD. And now I will always worry about an undiagnosed HPV infection and cancer.
    To top it off, in one of our last pre-divorce taks, ex admitted being worried about the health of our unborn child…. But not enough to ‘fess up about the affair.
    A true coward, through and through.

    I am truly sorry, but the odds are slim. If anything, go with the post-nup for legal separation paperwork. If he is TRULY trying to work on things, it might work out.
    But if he truly has such deep issues, the odds are slim.


  • As others have said, whatever he admitted is just the tip of the iceberg. Serial cheaters don’t change, IMHO, but they DO get better at lying, manipulating and fooling their spouse.

    Your best bet is to get out now, while he is still feeling some guilt and might be more generous than he will once the guilt wears off in a few weeks. And who knows? If he’s truly sincere, truly repentant, truly determined to change his ways, he can work on himself and come back to you in the future.

    But my guess is he is a cheater through and through and you are better off without him.

  • A chance to change ?
    He has HAD his chances… to answer the question, “HELL NO !”

  • “Divorce shouldn’t deter him from his self improvement kick if he’s serious about it. If it is contingent upon you not divorcing him?”


    and I concur with all CL said– in spades!

    There is NO “once.” There is no “only.” There is no “just”

    as in: It was only just once.

    ermmmm… no, it was not, but you don’t have proof and he knows that and he also knows that you can’t get the proof. Its all a big game for him, that is and a nightmare for you.

    there’s another problem with the serial cheater in particular and that’s the ol’ “euphoric recall.” THAT never goes away. That is his drug of choice and he needs it.

    and policing and worrying when the other shoe is going to drop is no way to live. I’m so sorry worried, especially because your children are so young.

    But please consider this fact. My mom’s a shrink and she once told me that one out of five of us roaming the planet is a victim of some sort of incest. Your hub being a sex addict just increased those odds exponentially, like maybe 4 out of 5. maybe 5 out of 5. So, its not for the sake of the kids that you stay. Its the opposite.

    Hey, with these guys– anything goes and I mean anything. My father used to walk past my bedroom door in his boxers with the fly open. Furthermore, whatever he’s told you, is only the tip of one ginormous dickberg. I guarantee it.

    I would love to be proven wrong. I love the idea about the postnup. There, you will find your answer. If he balks… you’ll know for sure. brilliant.

  • Dear Worried,

    I think you need to stress test his sincerity, like, right damn now. It’s perfect to tell him it’s “for the children”. If he wants to be seen as a good father, how could he object? If he actually does care about his kids, he won’t object. Offer up some sort of legal straight jacket — if he is serious, he should rise to the challenge. If he gets all offended, you have your answer. If he whines and wusses out, that’s also an answer.

    Here’s what bothered me: the juxtaposition of “working out” with “going to church” in order to improve himself. Are you working out or going to church with him?

    My ex never was one for going to church because he couldn’t stand the hypocites he knew were there. Me neither, really although I did try to stomach it when we were first married, but when I came out of church in a worse mood than when I went in, I quit. I felt we didn’t really need that experience in order to prove we were decent honorable people.

    Fast forward many many years, and in middle age the ex is working out LOTS and going to Bible studies. He and his AP, in their infatuation, spiritualized their relationship and used that as a jumping off point to justify leaving me. I was going to go to hell, you know, and furthermore, was going to take my kids with me unless a way was figured out to get them away from me. It was a Holy Crusade as far as they were concerned. They still go to church in order to keep God on their side since Karma is not.

    It never occured to him to take spiritual charge of his own family (that’s supposed to be his role) and get us all to go to church, or study the Bible after dinner or maybe STOP SINNING. Nope. King David and Bathsheba were part of God’s plan and they couldn’t wait to have the Luv Child to prove it. After all, it worked out pretty good in the Bible….

    Act fast and keep him off balance, before plotting against you becomes part of the affair mystique. If you can move closer to family, do it. Family is the only thing that got me through my divorce.

    • That’s a very digusting use of religion, it makes me sick! How can these giant hypocrites even stand themselves? Some day that will come home to roost, whether it’s illness or depression, that’s just wrong on every level.

      • It’s how they deal with guilt. Their favorite saying is “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven!”

        Of course it totally turned the kids off. If there’s any age group with zero tolerance for hypocrisy in adults it’s teenagers.

        • My ex sent bible verses to me right after he abandoned me. One in particular was from Proverbs: “Lean not unto thine own understanding…” as if he had no idea why the divorce was happening and he was a victim too. He should have turned the page in his bible and read “Rejoice in the wife of thy youth.”. It made me sick because he didn’t believe in God anyway. WTF with quoting bible verses to justify his actions? Was he trying to say his choices were sanctified by God?

          • Quoting Bible verses would seem to be a fool’s game when “Thou shalt not commit adultery” can be lobbed back into your court each and every time.

            “Don’t exasperate your children” was one I can recall pitching back at him.

            I’ve just decided he’s seriously mentally ill, and even he realizes only a supernatural power has the ability to bail him out. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get that it requires some action on his part (STOP SINNING) beyond waving your hands in church and buying God off with tithes.

            I think it probably started out as an extension of the euphoria of the affair, then became the perfect camouflage, maybe even to prove to the AP that he’s not a dirty old man, and finally the only way to try to maintain a little respectability. Respect is real big for people who aren’t respectable.

              • Pray tell, how does a MINISTER justify being an OW and aiding and abetting (and encouraging) a man in deserting his spouse (not that he needed much encouragement when he discovered her “rich” lifestyle after her divorce from husband NUMBER 3), coming to stay in the marital home while one of the couple’s children is still living there (and thus, sharing the marital bed on the marital sheets when the BS has only been gone from the home for about 2 1/2 months), while providing said husband with intel on how he might best screw over said spouse?

                I must have been absent during that particular Bible study lesson (and I probably missed the lemonade, too. That was the best Tracy!). In fact, from what I remember from my catechism class (that’s what we little Catholic girls call Bible study) God didn’t appear to think much of “coveting” and “adultery.” In fact, he appeared not to care for it enough to have a commandment dealing with each. Not only aren’t you supposed to sleep with another person’s spouse – you’re not even supposed to think about it. So much for your husband’s “waving” of the bible, Chumpalicious. Perhaps he was just hot and sweaty.

                My STBX spent years railing against “organized religion” and the “charlatans” who practiced and promoted it, most particularly MINISTERS. Now he has Jesus on speed dial. Not only is he a cheat, a liar, a knave and a pig from the bowels of hell, he’s also a hypocrite. And did I mention those were his good qualities? (Also, I once again, I apologize to fine, upstanding, hard-working pigs everywhere for the comparison).

              • HOT AND SWEATY!!

                Thank you, Chump Princess for the best laugh I’ve had today!

                At one time I thought there had to be some deep seated fear of death and eternal damnation going on there — but now I just think it’s the ultimate in narcissistic image and narrative control. Puts them above reproach, at least in their own minds.

          • During the five horrible months after dday but before I was able to move out of our house (I filed for divorce during this time), the ex narc husband was always leaving his bible laying around open to various pages. Once I found it open to a bunch of verses about adulterers, I forget what book that is now. Anyway, I flipped through til I found the verse about a good wife being worth more than rubies and left it open to that. After that, he didn’t leave the bible lying around anymore.

            My ex has always gone on and on about what a wonderful Christian he is, how blessed by Jesus, how he himself is “just like Jesus.” He uses my being Jewish as one of the excuses for him cheating and ending our marriage.

            Of course, he also used to go on and on about how “God opened all the doors” to his quitting his excellent career in his mid-40s to become an actor. It’s been three years since God opened those doors, and ex is unemployed, bankrupt, homeless and all of his old friends think he is mentally ill.

            • Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

              Gilbert K. Chesterton

              Blabbing on and on about Jesus like you were a Jr. High girl is what I call taking the Lord’s name in vain. The real deal (Christianity) is hard work and one should expect to be tested. Trying it out as some sort of free pass around atoning for your actions just gets you deeper in the tar pit. If they knew what they were really doing, they wouldn’t do it.

            • Ok, CL’s quip about adjourning for Bible study and lemonade is hilarious!

              And Chump Princess, I love: “I once again, I apologize to fine, upstanding, hard-working pigs everywhere for the comparison”


            • Glad Its Over,

              I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

              He uses the fact you both believe in an Abrahamic religion to justify disobeying 1 Corinthians 7:13 which actually forbids divorcing one’s spouse solely because they are a non-believer?

              You’re well shot of him. Really not dealing with reality here is he?

          • Lyn,

            that’s actually kind of hilarious.

            You should have responded with, “thou shalt not commit adultery”.

            The five seconds after he read it would have been sweet before the screaming started….

  • Just my opinion, and you may think I am biased because I took STBXH back after the first “I swear we were just friends!” affair and got royally chumped this second time….

    You need to lawyer up. Quietly. Don’t even tell him you’ve done it. Find a decent PI–if you can’t afford one, could you borrow a few bucks to get one? They are worth their weight in GOLD, let me tell you.

    Secret cellphones (mine has at least one that I know of), trysts in his vehicle when he actually is going where he SAYS he’s going (just not recounting all of the extracurricular activity going on between home and destination), shopping trips alone (coming back with nothing)—these are examples of what is going on in my house–and my STBXH swears to God and all that is Holy that he isn’t fucking around with this OW anymore, that he hasn’t spoken to her in months.

    If I hadn’t had warning of what he was doing, he hid things very well. This is what strikes me about what CL said to you regarding why he “confessed”…

    One of these “one timers” (don’t you believe that for a second. they ONLY cop to what they think you already know)—is threatening him with exposure. Or someone in the community…a friend or neighbor…knows what he has done/is doing and has said that they will go to you. He is getting out in front of this, capturing the narrative.

    Anybody can live with severe restrictions for a set amount of time—say 6 months to a year–he may even truly do well for awhile, because his financial security and reputation is at stake here. Then it’ll be back to business as usual–this time with more stealth and care, learning from his past failures to hide things from you.

    By then, you’ve got an STD, or a pregnant OW, maybe another child of your own—you are being humiliated (believe me, more people than you care to think about know what is going on)…he may bring a really crazy OW into the mix next time…not just one that will “do the deed and go away quietly”.

    He’s being blackmailed in some way, that is my opinion. He’s a confessed serial cheater (like someone just said….he may be parsing what “sex” really means. blow jobs? hand jobs? just kissing? second base? talking dirty? what if he says he really didn’t enjoy it?) at the very least a serial EA cheater.

    Get a lawyer, do it quietly, start the police file. Policing is no picinic–and I faced up to that recently–that I would rather chew my left arm off while jabbing a red hot poker into my eye sockets than continue with this nightmare of being the marriage police. It sucks. Get your proof—quietly—and decide from there.

    In any case…you may want to figure out what you are getting from this marriage since you’ve known about his “one timers” for awhile now and haven’t thrown his ass out.

    • I agree Abby that being marriage police sucks. I only did it a short time, but hated every minute of it. It’s no way to live. Once the trust is broken, it’s really impossible to get it back.

  • Dear Worried, you sound like a sweet, trusting, kind person and a good mother. You WILL have a wonderful life, but unfortunately not with your phony husband! My ESP was just tingling like crazy reading your story- he wants to hurt you, and you’ve got to protect yourself. A social worker told me I really should leave my kids father when my youngest was 4. I was shocked, couldn’t do it. I just divorced him, and that child is now 23. I wish I HAD left! Those were a lot of years of mean, unfair abuse I endured. I hope you are OK, and get a counselor, and do what’s best for YOU!

  • Having been married to a serial cheater (and Worried, your H is most definitely a serial cheater) I can only say one thing: Get. Out. Now.

    I wasn’t aware of the cheating but after dday I found out a lot and you know what? It was a blow job here and a quickie there and some sexting there…and then there were affairs and emotional entanglements and, well, you get the picture: my ex was a very busy guy.

    Your ex is not being honest with you about who, what, when where. As others have said, he’s making a desperate attempt to control the narrative. Get out now and let him sort his issues out on his own, if he’s so inclined.

  • Hi Worried,

    I really don’t have much to add, but I will add my voice to the growing chorous here: staying married to this … um … ‘person’ means a lot more pain ahead, based on what I know about philanderers.

    That’s what you really need to be honest with yourself about, IMO. How many times can you sit through your world falling apart? Eventually, his affairs have consequences (even if they aren’t coming from how you choose to deal with him), and you will wind up dealing with his messes ( unless and until one of his future affairs turns out to be an even bigger chump than you and he decides to jump ship), so the most-likely best-case scenario is that you keep going through this for as many more years as you can stand it, or like one aunt I have… your whole, stressful life long, and that’s a lot of pain to go through.

    I wouldn’t want to live a good deal my life in a state of hypervigilance and with no sense of safety or security if I were you, and that’s what you are volunteering to endure if you decide to make a go of this, IMO.

    You get to decide how you want to live your life, but now you shoould understand what you are volunteering to do if you decide to continue with this “marriage?”.

    Or as my mom once said to her sister, “You knew how he was, and you decided to stay with him every time, so please stop complaining to me all the time because you signed up for this”.

    If you stay, then you stay. But if you stay, you are volunteering for more, and you are no longer an unwitting victim if you stay knowing you will go through this again and again, maybe not this week, this month, or this year, but… I see no reason why he won’t do it again: he’s already done it multiple times, and he already knows he can get away with it, and you will forgive him.

    Why would he stop? Because it hurts you? Did that ever stop him before?

    • True, true. And, one thing to consider, if this wannabe husband cheats while his wife is young, and in the glow of having 2 young children of his, how will he treat her say, 20 years from now? How much care and respect for her will there be when she’s middle-aged? You know this kind of guy can’t do it long term. They’re just too cheesy.

  • Oh, Worried, please don’t waste your life. Your husband’s confession and subsequent steps of “remorse” are exactly what my ex did after his first affair. Twenty-three years after the first affair, I’m finally out (see August 3 CL post). Please, please, please get out. I stayed, too, because I wanted my child to have an intact family. If my adult child now knew about every affair (he is just aware of the final one), he would have been the first to tell me to leave. If your child is confronted with a similar situation, what would you tell them to do? There’s your answer. You love your children, you should give the same love to yourself. Tracy is right. If he truly wants to change, he will continue to work on himself, divorced or not, and he knows where to find you. Move on, please. Life is so much better without a serial cheater. If my ex miraculously transformed, he knows where to find me. But I won’t be there.

    • my young adult children did tell me to leave. My son, now 23, told me two years ago when he first found out.

      “Mom, you’re so pretty… you should go find a man who really loves you…”

  • Worried,

    I too am skeptical about this never happening again… his wake up call should have been back the first time. But instead, it seems he really likes the cheating high.

    If you want to even THINK about staying with him, he needs to put his money where his mouth is. I’m not technically talking literal money, but that works too. Like that post nup situation. You monitoring his whereabouts and checking his accounts just sounds like a lot of work for YOU. He’s the one that needs to do the work. At least a trial separation or something as well would prove you are serious and show him exactly what he will lose. And instead of monitoring during it, you’re stepping back and saying, “meh”. They hate that!

    My Dday was when my kids were 2 1/2 and 6 months and I was a SAHM. We had about 6 months of the limbo pick me dance and then another 4 months of drawing up a separation agreement, him whining, and finally him getting an apartment and moving out. It sucked a lot. But, actually, I will admit (don’t get mad at me, chumps) I think it was good for our kids that he was around a little longer than if I’d kicked him out immediately. Visitation schedules with infants sound like hell – you’d still be seeing him like ALL the time for some short frequent visits. And the kids got to develop a better bond with him so that when they did go on their visitation they do better and was older and could handle sleeping in a different place and with just daddy there. AND most of all, my ex got to help out with the diapering and feeding, baths, bedtime while he was at home. That first year is HARD, I know that. And my ex had always been decent about helping with the kids… and I expected more after all this shit came out.

    So, I guess I’m saying in my opinion taking a little time to figure things out wouldn’t be the worse thing. You would get some stuff out of the deal too – you can figure out your plan for you while getting help with the kids from him (this only works if he actually DOES help with the kids). Maybe think about ways you could find a better job and a good daycare situation. I think you do need to think about YOU and the kids. And make a real, long term, plan.

  • Worried, you picked your name well, because you SHOULD be worrying … right out the door!

    To me it’s a big red flag that your husband booked marital counselling, but hasn’t gotten himself into counselling. If he’s working so hard to be a better person, why would he be avoiding one of the very few ways people DO change?

    Another red flag for me is the context of these ‘one-off’ flings. Were these emotional affairs that eventually got a ‘bit’ physical? WAY more risk of future repeats! Flings while travelling for work? WAY more risk of future repeats, unless he changes to a job that doesn’t require travelling.

    Another concern is that you haven’t mentioned what he’s like in other areas of his life and your family’s life. If he’s self-centerd, entitled, negative or hard to get along with in general, then you KNOW. He’s showed you who he is, so believe him!

    I agree w/CL. Post-nup would both stress-test his sincerity, and make things financially easier if he cheats again. And HE should be paying for a PI so you can be sure there isn’t stuff he hasn’t told you about, and that he hasn’t got the secret cellphone, the unmentioned e-mail account, the quickie in the car on the way to somewhere else (YIKES!).

    • YEP!!! It’s this “compartmentalization” thing, isn’t it KarenE? Where “it was JUST ONCE” or like Nord said–a quickie here, a blow job there…since it wasn’t anything REGULAR, it can’t be considered an affair, now could it? Cheating and affair aren’t the same thing, right??

      I read a book recently by Steve Harvey (yes, the comedian) where he says that some men can just “wash it off, go home and be all good” with what they’ve just done. It has no emotional impact for them. I am realizing it’s much more complicated than that, but this shocked me into a higher awareness of these types of people–the irresponsibility, the callousness, the self centeredness. It’s breathtaking.

      And YEAH….he tests YOU–your limits, your tolerance. Why shouldn’t you test HIM? Set boundaries and limits—hard line, zero tolerance—and see what he does. If he doesn’t feel up to the challenge, you have your answer.

  • Dear Worried,

    I, too, am worried – about you. You sound like a very loving person. However, your husband is a serial cheater. Serial cheaters don’t stop cheating, unless they become paralyzed from the neck down or get old and can’t afford viagra. My STBX is a serial cheater – he began cheating on me while we were still dating. Never stopped, although he hid most of it pretty well for years, until he didn’t. Then he used the cheating like a club to assault me.

    I will paraphrase the advice one of my children gave me – if your daughter was in the same situation you were in, what would be your advice to her? There’s your answer. I hope your advice would be to run like the hounds of hell were on her heels – because that’s pretty much what a serial cheater is – a hound from hell.

    I understand about wanting to keep the family together, but unless you are willing to continue living the rest of your life with someone who will never stop cheating on you, I would suggest you get out now. By doing so, you give yourself a chance to be with someone who will love you and treat you with the care, honor and respect you deserve. If your husband continues to cheat, one day HE may decide to leave because he may not be as committed to keeping the family together as you are. I mean, seriously, if his family is a priority, why is he out on the prowl like some deranged alley cat?

    Take care of yourself and your children first, Worried. I will be sending you good thoughts because I know this is not easy for you. Listen to CL. She knows of what she speaks.

  • Worried, oh I sure do understand where you are at. It sucks, big time. My kids were a little older the first time I caught my now ex with a “friend” at work, but he minimized and denied and I believed him because I couldn’t face the truth. In the end, it took me going through this carnival of hell 4 times before I finally had enough. Looking back now, I wasn’t really happy either but I was so afraid of being alone, raising kids on my own, that I buried my head in the sand and stayed. Was it right to wait, let the kids get older and then confront what I couldn’t deny any more? I don’t know, and probably never will. But I was able to justify it to myself, how I stayed, by feeling like what he was doing wasn’t quite bad enough. He didn’t actually bang her, so he said. He didn’t cheat, it was just a friend – so he said. etc. It was like I could stay in the marriage because there was some invisible line that no matter what he did, well to be bad enough to end a marriage (together for 21 years) and break up a family, was always just inside of the line. So it wasn’t bad enough for me to justify leaving. Really, for almost 10 years of our marriage I wasn’t really happy or secure or whatever word you can think of – but I lied to myself right along with him. Because I was afraid to be alone. Until the day that I realized that I felt more alone being with him and not trusting him than I ever have since he moved out.

    The fact that you are writing for advice is already telling you that you don’t trust him. You don’t “owe” him forgiveness or another chance regardless of how sincere he is now. It doesn’t matter how sorry someone is, what has been done can’t ever be undone. Look in your heart and you will find your answer.

  • Worried, my heart goes out to you because you are in such a difficult situation. I have to admit my chump heart wants to give the guy another chance if he’s sincerely trying to change. But I’ll tell you my story. I was with my ex 36 years, married 31. I had young children like you, when I first started finding love notes from his college students in his pocket. There were strange telephone calls asking me if I knew where my husband was when he was traveling from people who wouldn’t identify themselves. Every time I asked my ex about these suspicious events he had an explanation. To tell the truth, I wanted to believe him so I did. I had two small children sick with asthma and wasn’t able to work full time. It took all I had just to take care of them and keep them breathing. I rarely got more than a few hours of sleep at night. Still, it was so painful for my husband not to be there supporting and helping with all the ER trips, breathing treatments, etc. He traveled all the time with his work. Fast forward a few years and I have thyroid cancer and endometriosis. I suspect it is the result of years of neglecting my health and the stress of having to deal with so much on my own. Around this time my ex is getting calls from his female boss at home in the evenings. She wants his advice on whether she should date the guy she has great sex with, or another guy. Great conversation for me to overhear. She calls my ex her “work husband.” My ex seems to be spending an awful lot of time with his boss. It gets to a point where I tell him “you either come home now, or you’ll have nothing to come home to.” He comes home. It gets better for awhile. A few years later my ex seems to develop a relationship with his married graduate student. I’m running the kids back and forth to soccer, school, etc. and he’s running around with her. I talk to him about my concerns over this relationship many times, but he always assures me there’s nothing to worry about. By this time he makes 5 times what I do. He’s a big shot at the university. I’m pretty unhappy but afraid to leave. I still hold out hope that he will change and think that he’s just under too much stress from work. He has an extremely demanding job that requires lots of travel. I think maybe I’m too jealous and insecure, and that it’s really my problem. Fast forward to 31 years…he walks out on me and lays the blame for the failure of our relationship at my feet. I didn’t do enough to keep him happy, I yelled at him 20 years ago, I was too controlling. I had problems with anxiety. I didn’t like everything that he liked. He leaves at the same time my kids get married and move away, so I have to deal with the devastation of empty nest on top of abandonment at age 53. My prospects for supporting myself are not as good as when I was in my 30’s, but I’m doing okay. He gave me a decent settlement and maintenance payments for life. The day he announced he’d filed for divorce he left and I told him not to come back and refused to see him again. I packed up a huge house full of memories and moved in with a friend, my kids didn’t help me pack, they wouldn’t come home. They were busy with new wives and jobs. I’m living modestly, he bought a half million dollar property. My health insurance is not nearly as good as his, and I had a recent trip to the hospital that cost me thousands of dollars. Now. I’m not saying this is going to happen to you, but I want you to know that this is your potential future. I would suggest you find a very good counselor and work on yourself. Get stronger. Consider your options. Build a network of supportive friends. Be prepared.

  • WAMCF,

    Most of us here have gone through the “it was only once” shenanigans – only to discover they lied about it.

    Most of us have been given passwords and transparency – only to discover secret email accounts and credit cards etc.

    Ditto the “I feel terrible, please forgive me – you couldn’t hate me *neeearly* as much as I hate myself!” Poor poor cheater. He’s to be pitied really! Rolls Eyes.

    Please please please – move on. As CL said… if he magically changes after divorce you can remarry. Some people do that.

    But I strongly suggest that he is BS’ing you as all cheaters BS.

    You’re worried about your children? They will thank you for getting yourself out of a cr*ppy situation and away from someone who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but themselves.

    • “It was only ONCE.” —per day? per week?

      reminds me of some comedienne who was lambasting Madonna’s lifestyle with her song “Like a Virgin”—

      “Like a virgin….touched for the very first time…”—- TODAY!!!

  • Worried,

    Welcome to the blog! My STBXW was a serial cheater as well. I thought it was 2 then after digging, it was 4. More digging it was 5. I’m the alpha-male and she’s up to the gamma-male(boy). I decided not to stick around to learn the entire Greek alphabet. Mine happened during her mid-life crisis or whatever they want to call it.

    After awhile one tryst will click and he will turn on you. You will have realized then that you wasted many years with someone who doesn’t love but uses people. Be strong and DUMP THAT MOTHERFUCKER!!!

    • Tennis, that’s another thing too, isn’t it? When the AP “turns” on your wandering spouse. I call it “poetic justice”…but that doesn’t make the hurt for me or my daughter any less devastating.

      They never think of that…that the AP isn’t stable or “on board” or won’t get pissed off about something eventually and go ballistic. I think some cheaters are “more aware” of it or have been burned in the past, so they choose APs that have as much to lose as they do—or….they just look for the person with absolutely nothing going for them…and they cling to the cheater as if they’re “all that”.

      Either way, they’re predators. They kill and destroy everything in their path.

  • Dear Worried,

    I’m really sorry you are going through this. It’s a terrible situation and the choices either way are crappy. I can’t add much to what’s been said. Ultimately the decision is up to you and either way there will be pain. However, as one who decided to get out of the marriage I can say that while my divorce is painful living with him would have been worse. I felt awful about myself, wanted to do more to “please” him and was worried sick half the time, quite literally. Letting him go and the dream that I thought I had is hard work and a daily process for me at this point in time. But I cannot believe the progress I have made. I would not have believed this was my life a year ago, could not have imagined life without him back then, but slowly I see how life really was and would have been had I chose to stay married. I have some good days now and I’m only a few months out of discovery day. I know that I deserved better and I need someone in my life with more courage for me.

    In my opinion, it sounds like he is likely to do more of the same. You can give it time if you need it but watch what he does, see a lawyer, gather your financial information and be prepared to act.

    I wish you the best.

  • Worried, I feel for you. I too am married, soon to be unmarried to a serial cheater. I married him even after he had had 3, for sure affairs/one night stands in our relationship. I can only imagine what the real number is. He then started an affair within a month of our vows. I finally found my spine to move in a direction that is healthy for me. I did a ton of research and snooping to find the truth, I became my own PI. I may be a chump, but I was a chump who really did want to know the truth about my own life. I see through your husband, and I see through your fear.
    “My husband, over our 9 years relationship has had several one-time physical relations with different women, the last time he allowed himself to have sexual intercourse.” You must know this isn’t true. He probably had sex with every one of these women. They only tell you what you already know, or the bare minimum. He obviously quickly realized as long as he said he didn’t have sex with these women, you were going to forgive him
    He confessed because he had to, something or someone is making this happen, it’s not because he feels guilty. People who are serial cheaters do not know what guilt is, they do not feel it. They go through the motions of what it looks like, but they don’t actually feel, not one bit. His only form of “soul- searching” he knows how to do is in someone else’s vagina. Our souls are not located there; believe me, my STBX thought he found my friend’s soul there as well.
    These kind of human beings do not care if it’s wrong; they do not care who they hurt while doing it. They don’t have to care as long as their chump wives and husbands continue to condone it and participate in it. Once you, and me, knew about several affairs we were condoning and participating in our own abuse. I chose to be abused until the pain of it outweighed living without him.
    “if we didn’t have children I would have been out the door and moved on after the first incident years ago.” I don’t think this is true, I think it’s an excuse people give themselves to stay still. How could it ever be better for young children, boys and girls, to watch their mother get cheated on, become a basket case, to see her cry and cry and cry? To have their father never there because he is too busy “soul-searching” in other women? How could that ever be better for them? If you can financially support yourself and your children, you are way ahead of many other single mothers out there. Count your blessings you can.
    If you think he is so “sorry” you need to set up a polygraph test for him to take and don’t tell him the questions on it. If he is trying to change himself, he will do the polygraph willingly! Do the post-nup where you get EVERYTHING and he leaves with the clothes on his back if he cheats one more time. Secretly GPS his car and secretly tap his phone; these two things will give you the answers you need. But most importantly, you have to be sly enough to never let on about doing any of these things. You collect a LOT of data and then decide what to do. I tapped my husband’s phone and found out he was still in his affair and I sat on it for a week while making plans to move his stuff out while he was at work. Never give away the small amount of power you gain. Never let on how you gain the information. Once they know how you know, they change their game.
    You have to become smarter than him and find out what you deserve to know. Your children need to see their mother is strong and will take care of them; not someone who is putting this kind of father figure before them. He isn’t a good father if he is cheating all the time and you aren’t responsible for making him any kind of father at all. That is his responsibility.
    I’m in your shoes Worried, I’m just a little further out than you and I never hid or cringed from the truth. I wanted to know and I was going to find out. Anything that comes out of their lips is a lie, the sooner you realize that, the better. Concentrate on actions via GPS and Phone Tapping.
    Just keep moving forward.

  • Abby,

    You’re correct. My playbook is the Ten Commandments and the Constitution. They have they have their own playbook which no one knows but them. Both the cheater and AP. They make it up as they go along. I’m not a bible pusher but, I like to think of myself as a religious person. One thing I can’t stand is people like them that USE religion to continue with their BS.

    My father-in law had a second family but always chatted up church when we got together for holidays until the truth came out about his “secret world”.

    BTW…I meant zeta-male…and again, I really don’t want to learn the entire Greek alphabet.

    • Tennis-

      Like they say, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

      I wish I had had a “Zero Tolerance Policy”–as I am certain every single one of us here do–towards any of the red flag moments (up to and including D-Day). There simply is no excuse. None. For their cheating, or for us staying to put up with the abuse. Civilized, rational people do not act this way. I also don’t for one minute buy the mental illness, i.e. “depression”, excuse. Depressed? If you are cognizant enough of your depression to use it as a shield—then you are aware of your need to seek professional help from a psychologist.

      What I’m starting to believe is that they aren’t really that intelligent. I’m having a hard time with this conclusion, because it says something about ME. How can an intelligent, highly educated person fall for their bullshit. That somehow I missed all of these huge, waving, star spangled banners my STBXH was wrapped in all along—and I chose to ignore them. Therapy, here I come.

      Yeah, my STBXH is up to (I think, at least, at this point) Gamma Girl as well. Not waiting around either, for Delta or Zeta. They can have him.

      • They break down your boundaries very slowly until one day you find yourself chumped, my friends and coworkers could not understand how someone as strong and confident as they knew me to be could have been so screwed over by my ex. We bring a lot of childhood baggage to our love is all I’m going tosay about that, but abuse is often slow, very slowly ramped up, that is why we stay, the shit becomes normal to us until the abuser goes too far too fast and we look back and think, how the living fuck did I let thi happen?!?

  • Dear Worried: Please exit that relationship asap. Listen to me and everyone on this blog. Your husband will not change. It took me more than 20 years of hoping, praying, pleading (at my childrens and my expense) to learn this. Please dont wait any longer. The only person that you can change is…you. Hugs, nmc

  • It is so true – they will only tell you what they think you already know (or are about to find out)!

    • 🙂 My SYBXH has no idea what I know, who has given me this information, if I’ve found out things all by myself or I have others (many, many, many others) helping me dig. I also have no intention of telling him what I know, either–just as CL said in her “What NOT TO DO”—I ain’t tipping my hand. Did that once, won’t do it again.

      What is the cause of so much despair at this point is that I am pretty sure I have most of the information, the facts–I know what I know and have the facts, pictures, emails, texts….etc….etc… back all of that up. I look at it repeatedly, review it constantly to make sure I don’t forget what a piece of shit he really is.

      Then….shithead opens his pie hole. He doesn’t know what I know yet. He tests. He throws something out there, something that maybe was said in one of the emails to his fuckbuddy or something about a picture or a weekend that he disappeared. I KNOW what he actually did, but he doesn’t know that yet….and it’s just the most disgusting feeling that I am hearing this shit from his mouth as if it’s the truth, that he actually expects me to believe it.

      Yes, L….they only cop to what they think you know or what they think you’re about to find out—but when you already know and they keep trying to lie—it’s just downright pathologic.

      • Dearest Abby: your pain is palpable and my heart goes out to you. I was in your position not too long ago. I had all my info and stayed the course (although he ended up admitting the affair only after AP threatened to show up at my door and our sons work with pictures of their vacations and declarations of love). He told me only because he needed to beat AP to the punch but in a way, it was easier for confirmed everything i knew and i was spared from having to use energy to confront him.
        You will know when you are ready. Wait, watch, listen. And…prepare yourself for the fallout. I thought i had thought of everything until Fucktard told me he loved me, would do whatever i wanted and wasnt leaving our home. This was the third affair that i know of. Prolly many more. But…he is gone now and my son and i are peaceful. Hugs n prayers, nmc

        • :'( NMC…thank you. Yes, STBXH does that same exact thing–“I would NEVER do that to our family.” was the first set of lies. When more information came to light, it was literally the same stupid script that everyone here has told again and again. “Just a friend.” “She misunderstood my attention towards her.” “It was only talking.” (for several hours every day) “She needed me.” “She can’t let go of me.” “You need to own your part in this.” “We need to make this work.” “You never loved me anyway.”

          Just say it!!! That’s what I want to scream into his face, every single day. Just fucking tell me all of it, if you are capable of that. I can’t resent/detest you any more than I already do. It’s SO disrespectful! I mean, the cheating is bad enough. The exposure to STDs is bad enough. The humiliation to family and friends is bad enough. Now you can’t even tell me all of it, even though it’s here in black and white? You have to add insult to injury?

          I’m waiting, like you said. The right moment is coming.

          • Dearest Abby: he wont say anything until he has to. The reason: he (and my stbxh) are cake-eating cowards. Something big will happen that reveals his true pathetic self…or you wake up one day and say to yourself “im done”. Either option is scary, sad and depressing.
            But trust me, post dday, my son and i finally were able to throw away our Tums, Rolaids and Mylanta. Yes, he and his bs made us physically ill. The day he finally left we exhaled and appreciated the peacefulness. You will get there. Sending prayers your way, nmc

  • “With all this I am not 100% convinced.” That’s your gut instinct talking. Is this the 1st time you knew about his cheating? We here at Chump Nation take a jaundice view of people who feel entitled to do this to their marriage. Personally I think people can change but I liked the one piece of advice CL gave you ” But if I were you, I’d propose testing his apologies and commitment to you with a generous post-nup settlement — with an infidelity clause. Only he controls if he cheats again, so what does he have to lose? If he balks? There’s your answer. If he signs, there’s your paid way out if he cheats again” If you want to have your heart broken again it’s up to you but protect yourself and your children.

  • Dear Worried,

    When your husband lies and cheats (even if it’s only once or ‘almost’) you become he marriage police, when you become the marriage police, you waste your time and he goes about his life, when he goes about his life (disclosed passwords and all) you begin to second guess yourself. When you start to second guess yourself, you start to believe the cheater. When you start to believe the cheater you’ve accepted being a chump.
    When you accept your husband making you a chump you’ve sold yourself short.
    Soooo don’t become the marriage police.

    Okay…so I tried to make that in the format of a local cable commercial, but it is

    All the time I have spent being the marriage police I could have written a book or learned a language.
    Listen to CL.

    • Jane,

      You did an excellent job with that “commercial!” I Love It!!!!!

  • Worried, short version of my story. 7 years in I thought he cheated, he convinced me he couldn’t have the sex, so like your husband, he sorta almost cheated (this was a lie). He went “transparent” and said all the stuff your husband is saying. So after a couple of years I trusted him again. 10 years go by and I find proof of an affair totally by accident, this time he tries to convince me nothing happened but it’s so obviously bullshit. He suddenly goes into therapy and does MC therapy because he says he loves me. The whole time he is still lying, still having the affair. This second time he does not do the “sorry”, no second time it’s my fault. Second time I caught him, he already thought I would get over it since he had done it before and his lies worked.

    The point is that I should have kicked him to the curb the first time but he was so remorseful and lied so well I played the game and ended up wasting another 10 years of my life with a cheating asshole who treated me like shit, worse and worse over time. And why expect anything else if you don’t respect yourself…you can try to stay with your husband or you can recognize that time is all we have and wasting your life with a lying asshole will leave you sad and alone when you hit your 50s.

    Write down pros and cons of being with your husband, this may help you realize that cheating is not the only issue you have with him.

    • Datdamwuf……you said “Second time I caught him, he already thought I would get over it since he had done it before and his lies worked.”
      I don’t know if I have seen this point talked about ‘here’ other than in comments, but I have recently been thinking about this.
      The first time I found a dating profile and acted like I believed his lies, that he hadn’t set it up etc etc, that must have (in his mind) given him the green light to continue being a jerk. Add in the times I have told him looking around on line is unacceptable, yet he continues. Of course he doesn’t realize I have concrete proof I am not just guessing or whining. But you are right, I totally screwed myself when I didn’t pack my shit and leave that first time Dancing the dance. Geez, I need continuous reminding to keep me on track. Thanks.

      • Datdamwuf and Jane,

        That’s one (of the many) things with which I have struggled – I was actually complicit in my own abuse. I cared more about him than I did myself. I’ve read the literature. I know that when you are with a covert narcissist that the abuse is less obvious, they are more self-effacing, etc., etc. However, there was a part of my mind that always KNEW. I articulated what I was experiencing, i.e., the living with Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde phenomenon, constantly mentioning how everything was always about him, the feeling of being devalued and unappreciated, and the list goes on. I didn’t know it signaled a personality disorder; I was the CEO of spackling – he is depressed because of his FOO issues and if I show him authentic, unconditional love I will heal him and our life will be wonderful. WTF!!! Really?! Insanity comes in all flavors.

        When he would be particularly effusive and complimentary regarding a co-worker and my cheater radar would start flashing and I would ask, “Are you sleeping with her?” He would always respond with “Of course not. Why would you think that?” But I KNEW, but pretended because I didn’t want to know. Then when I found out about the prostitutes – I didn’t leave him. We argued about the porn, but I stayed. There was nothing to constrain him because once I accepted anything, he figured I would accept everything.

        So here I am, in the words of a fabulous song by Frank Sinatra, in the autumn of the year, getting a divorce because he sucked me dry and moved on. I am not responsible for his abusive behavior, but I am responsible for not leaving him when he did it. Whatever I felt his issues might have been should not have trumped my concern for myself and my right to be honored and respected.

        When I feel myself becoming confused, coming here ALWAYS gives me clarity. Thank you all for that.

      • I think you bring up an extremely important point, Jane. With serial cheaters and predators, once they know their chump is willing to swallow the abuse, the cheater feels extreme contempt for the chump. They KNOW they can do whatever they want to, and the chump will keep swallowing the bullshit and coming back for more. So the cheater is free to up the ante over and over again, until they either get bored enough to dump the chump for someone else, or the chump grows a pair and dumps them.

        This makes it even more foolhardy to stick around with a cheater. You are giving them a bullet for their gun and asking them to keep shooting at you. Heck, I even think that if you really want to pursue the unicorn of reconciliation, your best first step is to move out (or throw them out.) At least then, they know you mean business, and that might keep their contempt in check.

        • No unicorns here. That’s what I like about CL. When I first realized I was in a mess I knew I didn’t want to talk to anyone who suggested reconciliation, learning to trust again and all that crap. In fact, my close family and friends are chumping right along with me because some of them have been in the same position for years or just don’t know how to help me, so they don’t jump up and point out the insanity of it.
          I know I have a few emergency places to go to in case my husband having a total mental meltdown .
          For now I have to keep my mouth shut, I’m almost in the position to leave or kick him out. But yes, he gets bolder.
          Interestingly enough I think I have recently geared into anger mode…..the series of steps we go through in mourning, because for me, that is what this has been.
          Anger is good, it keeps me focused and moving forward.

  • Worried,

    As Abby and I were eluding to about the APs. These other people are lower lifes than your husband. This can open up very dangerous opportunities for someone insecure. ie Amy Fisher. There are many stories of deadly love triangles. Get away from this ASAP.

  • After reading all of the above posts – I have come to the conclusion that I spent the vast majority of my married (27 years) life in a haze of cluelessness. I feel chagrined and humiliated that I consistently put my needs and self esteem in last place. Granted, I learned this behavior from my mother (old baggage), but I was really good at it all by myself. When I discovered this (were there more?) affair – I also played the “pick me” game for about six months – only to find out that the affair was continuing. I heard all the same self-serving lies, believed the tears, endured the humiliation. I cringe when I look back and realize that I also allowed the abuse.

    Reading your stories and hearing how real people not only survive, but flourish, gives me great comfort and reignites my determination to find peace and success in both my professional and personal lives. Keep on, people….!

  • Hi all

    I found out about this blog from Runaway Husbands website but boy I wish I’d found it sooner. What you guys write is just bloody spot on. The behaviour of these men (and women) is just so similar.

    Worried, listen to what the others say about reconciliation with a cheater, i.e. DON’T. I lost my self respect there for a while as I did the pick me dance for a year, and listened to the “no, I’m not seeing her” lies and worried myself sick that he was still seeing her. One day he gives me his phone bill to pay…… the wrong page….. not the front payment page…. the one with the details of his phone calls….. yep they’d been having nice little conversations the whole time but oh no “we aren’t talking now”. I became the marriage police; how soul destroying is that…. After about a week of stalking her workplace, I said to myself NO MORE, I’m done, she can have him. And she does. It’s not where I wanted my life direction to go but I definitely did leave a cheater and gain a life.

    • To Angie66, you struck home for me this morning. You said “I became the marriage police; how soul destroying is that…”
      So true, it is a total soul suck and time suck.

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