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In Praise of Good Men

johngreenweddingI read so many depressing stories here at CL and elsewhere about men who abandon their families, who just shrug off decades of commitment, ignore their kids, fail to pay support. Blows my mind.

I also know that guy chumps feel unfairly supported in infidelity literature, the assumption being that men are the cheaters, the bad guys.

So I thought I’d post today about good men out there and open the floor for your stories about the good men in your life and family history.

I got thinking about familial commitment recently, not over anything related to infidelity, but over an interesting bit of personal genealogy. I am named after my great-grandmother, Tracy, who wasn’t really my great-grandmother at all. She was my great-great aunt. My actual great-grandmother, Wilhelmina (in the photo above) died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, when my grandfather was 6 months old.

My great-grandfather, John E. Green, was left a widower with three small children. In addition to his family responsibilities, he ran his own business and took care of his aging parents. (This was in the days before social security. There was zero safety net.)

It was a time of immense suffering. The flu pandemic was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. It killed 3-5% of the world’s population between 1918-1920.

In addition to losing his wife, Wilhemina’s two sisters, Theresa (Tracy), and Dorothy were widowed with small children in the epidemic too. So John Green married one of the sisters, Tracy, adopted her daughter, and financially supported the other sister and her family until he died.

Growing up, my grandfather never knew his mother was really his aunt. He discovered it when he was older, no one spoke about it. He didn’t see his parent’s wedding picture until my aunt uncovered it doing some genealogy research. I don’t know if he’d ever seen a picture of his mother at all, or was curious about her.

But his mother/aunt Tracy was the family matriarch and doted on her children and grandchildren, so much so that my mother named me after her.

So, she’s the one I’ve always wondered about — my namesake. I don’t know much about her other than she made enormous Sunday dinners for everyone, and took my mother to church and spoiled her rotten with sweets and spending money.

Insofar as I ever thought of my great grandfather, he’s sort of this stern background figure. He founded a successful business, an industrialist. The Patriarch.

But recently, I got to thinking of what it must’ve been like to be him as a young man. To lose your wife, the mother of your three kids — so suddenly and so horribly. To lose your two brother-in-laws. To think, they were all just in their 20s, only years away from celebrating each other’s weddings — and now half of them are dead. The grieving children. The financial insecurity.

John Green stepped up to the plate — he merged the families. Was it the evolved merging of today’s blended families with therapy and considered courtship? No. Did he marry for love?  Was he sexually attracted to his sister-in-law? I have no idea. He did it to provide for his family — to give stability. His children needed a mother, her children needed a father, and another sister needed financial support. He stuck with that arrangement until he died. They were family.

It was a different time, and certainly those were harder days. But to me, my great-grandfather’s story stands in stark contrast to choices other men make — who respond to vulnerability with abandonment. Who leave, who cheat on pregnant wives, who run off with the mistress, who fail to pay support.

From all accounts, my great grandfather was not an easy man. He was a hard ass.

During the Depression, he pulled my grandfather out of college, not because he couldn’t afford it, but because my grandfather played football. Evidence in his mind that my grandfather wasn’t taking his studies seriously enough. When the Dean objected, my great-grandfather asked him: “So, how much do you make as Dean?” The Dean then told him his salary. My great-grandfather responded, “I’ve got plumbers who make more than that.” And he dragged his son home and made him dig drainage ditches.

Harsh? Absolutely. But the message went down through the generations — know what it is to work. Always be able to support yourself and your family.

I don’t long for the days of paternalism. I could diminish what he accomplished — building a successful business while supporting his entire extended family — by saying that’s was how it was in those days. He could be a patriarch, because women didn’t have the ability to support themselves.

And yet the world is full of stories of men who didn’t step up back then, or died young, and left widows and children in poor houses and orphanages.

When we marry, we make ourselves vulnerable. There’s no getting around vulnerability if you want to be intimate with someone. And some people can step into that, and other’s cannot. Some people can shoulder crisis, others cannot find happiness in a secure, well-ordered life.

For every male chump out there, was a guy who was putting his family first, who was faithful, who gave with his whole heart. Responsible men. For every guy out there who tried to reconcile, is a man who tried in great pain to put his family above his own searing heartache.

Good men exist. Men like the man I married, who didn’t balk at taking on a stepson, at blending families and lives at middle age. Who stepped into a role and wasn’t sure exactly what he was getting, but is still there each day.

And men like my great-grandfather, who lived through a plague and a Great Depression and kept working.

What stories of good men do you have?

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  • My paternal grandfather was one of the last of the Mohicans. First-generation Italian-American, dropped out of 5th grade to go to work (it was the Depression), and worked all the way until age 65.

    His wife of nearly forty years (my grandmother) passed away before I was born. In an almost unthinkable move for a widowed Italian man, my grandfather NEVER re-married. He outlived my grandmother by 24 years but remained faithful to her until his dying day.

    In Italian culture, women are expected to remain faithful to their deceased husbands, while widowed men are actually expected to re-marry rather quickly. Madonna’s father is a great example of this. After Madonna’s mother died of breast cancer, her father re-married within a few years.

    But my grandfather just couldn’t do it. He had nearly 40 years of marriage with my grandmother and decided (almost stubbornly) that no woman could ever or will ever replace him.

    If that’s not a good man, I don’t know what is.

    • Small world, as I have a similar story. My maternal great-grandfather came over from Italy in 1915 and was married a year later to another Italian immigrant. They were married 13 years and had one child when she died in 1939 (she was a few weeks shy of 29 and he was 42). He never married again and for all that I have heard was happy with his life. He passed away 56 years later.

      My paternal grandfather was married two weeks after he came home from WWII, and he stayed married until he died, 66 years later.

  • I love this post. We forget and get jaded ( rightfully so) but all men are not pathetic cheaters. We hear more about the bad than the good ( squeaky wheel and oil and such)…

    My father is a good man and so is my brother. They have done nothing heroic. They have stayed with their wives, supported their families, and been around for the good and the bad. Neither of them asks for accolades or attention or a ticker tape parade. They just do what is right. They have never accused anyone of “not meeting their needs ( emotional or sexual). They have never expected anyone to bolster their egos. My father went to work each morning, deposited his paycheck each month, taught my brother and me right from wrong, and respected my mother and insisted that we did too.

    He loved us and provided for us and protected us to the best of his ability. Good men exist. Good people exist. Unfortunately, our husbands and wives were not part of that group 🙂

  • My husband is one of several brothers. None have cheated and have long term marriages. I got on this blog because I only know two men who cheated but a bunch of middle class, suburban wives who did and broke up their marriages. I am related to two of them. Both knew before the wedding that they had cold feet. The other women say the same thing. If you look at magazines the thickest ones are usually aimed at brides. Once that snowball got pushed down the hill it became an avalanche that the women felt helpless to stop. They all used an affair to get out of their marriages because they thought something was wrong with them. They couldn’t love the “very nice” men they married. Had no idea that they could feel deep passion. When they did they left their marriages. A few married their AP but some did not. My question is why we, family, society, have these quiet, or not so quiet, pressures on these men and women to go against their gut feelings. When did the $20,000 wedding become more important than the marriage? I blame a lot on tv and other media. You must marry. You must have a spotless house. You must have children. Why not that you be true to yourself. All these women say they hurt good men and children because they couldn’t back out once they agreed to marry. The husbands of these women did NOT cheat and they had their hearts broken. They really were good, devoted husbands.

    • Very true. My brother had a tiny wedding, but he went through with it when he wasn’t sure about marrying her (and my mom begged him to postpone it). He felt that he “owed it to her” to finally get married after they had been together for so many years.

      How did he show his commitment? By cheating on her less than two years later. He took up with a HORRID woman who would later become his Owife in an ostentatious wedding. He paid the price, though. His marriage to her was a nightmare that finally ended when he discovered that she was cheating on him.

      My point is, he broke his first wife’s heart. He never should have felt pressured to marry her; he should have let her go. Fortunately, she eventually remarried and had kids with another guy and seems happy. That’s my kind of karma– when the BS gets the happy ending, and the WS suffers for his/her cheating. Too bad it doesn’t happen more often.

  • My Dad lost his father when he was 10 years old. The family was not well off and his mother remarried, possibly for financial reasons. That didn’t last, in large part because the new husband didn’t like and was physically abusive to my Dad. Grandma became a divorced, single parent whose job certainly did not support a comfortable lifestyle. Funny, I wonder how long she was a chump before she made her way to a better life.

    Dad went into the military, then to college. My Dad said that he could go anywhere to college, as long as he could walk there. Fortunately, he lived in a college town. He worked full time during college and afterward married my Mom. My Mother’s father would not attend the wedding because “my Dad would never amount to anything.” Guess what, he was the CFO of a Fortune 500 Company when he retired.

    Despite his rough start, Dad thinks that he is the luckiest person in the World. He’s right, there has to be some good luck involved in his success. But he APPRECIATES everything he has, including his wife and family. Since my adult kids have started wrestling with the issues presented by their own father’s betrayal and abrupt decision to leave the family a large part of the foundation for their hope and optimism is their Grandfather’s example of how to live. Dad is lying in a nursing home right now, having had a severe stroke two weeks ago. He will never be himself again. But to us he is and will always be an example of all that is good in the World.

    • I like the saying “90% of ‘Good Luck’ is hard work and preparation meeting Opportunity”.

      If you don’t get an opportunity, you won’t be lucky. But if you don’t prepare and put in a little effort, your chances of being lucky are far worse 🙂

      Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel fortunate when you are though:)

      • I think part of the reason for my Dad’s success, in addition to luck and hard work, is that he never made things all about him. It’s just not in his nature.

    • Roslyn, your father is an amazing man. Very sorry to hear of his current circumstances and wish him recovery. I am sure he will be surrounded by loving family no matter what comes next.

  • My current husband is a rock. Solid.

    He was chumped by first wife but still offered to take and raise her son (from a prior relationship) in addition to the two boys she left him with (one was still in diapers). She wouldn’t let him keep adopt her son and instead gave him to her sister to raise. My hubby raised two preschool boys and always treated his former stepson as his own. They boy , now a man calls him dad.

    He has taught my sons how to fish, drive, tie a tie, shave, bait a hook, use the weed wacker, and instilled in all five boys (now young men) the importance of a strong work ethic and treating women respectfully. He takes his 80 year old mother to lunch once a week and ensures her car is running, snow is shoveled, and lawn is mowed,

    He’s not a touchy feely guy and isn’t good on discussing feelings but he doesn’t judge others, has always insisted our home be open to feed any needy or lonely kid our blended brood brought home, and somehow talked me into adopting scrawny beagles needing a home from our local dog rescue.

    A real man.

    • Beautiful story, Marcie! Not many men would take on all those boys.

      “It takes a man to raise a man.” Sounds like you got a good one!

      • I sure did. And to add this as a testament of character – prior to meeting me he had dated another woman for a while after his divorce and things were starting to get serious. My husband’s stepson from his first marriage is of mixed race. Hubb’s GF of the time apparently really had an issue with it – and he apparently cut her loose ASAP once it surfaced.

        He’s never told me that story. A common friend that knew him prior to us meeting – shared it with me.

        • Marcie,

          Your husband sounds like a prince among men – and you are his princess! Good job! These stories are just making my heart sing!!!

          Thanks, Tracy for posting this topic. What a great way to start the weekend!

  • CL, thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I agree that we need to remember all the good men out there. During my personal debacle three wonderful men have risen to my aid, emotionally and financially. I am very blessed to have these three men in the circle of my family and friends.

  • Thanks for raising this topic, it’s one that appears to be suppressed in the mainstream press. According to stats I’ve been able to find, women who admit to it cheat almost as much as men, close to 70% of all divorces are filed by women, less than 25% are because the husband was unfaithful. I find it very hard to believe the other 75% of divorced men are abusive alcoholic drug addicted pedophiles.
    For us men whose did not cheat, were “good men” and our wives have left, we’re often treated like we ” must have abused ” our wives in some way for them to leave, the old ” You never know what goes on behind closed doors” line of thinking. I got the evil eye and cold shoulder from most of the wives of couples we knew for the better part of a year until the “Other Man” was finally exposed by my daughter and the fact the kids were still living with me got round.

  • There are a number of good men who post to this blog, reading their stories is heartbreaking and also brings me hope.

  • My dad is a good man. My mother was raised in an abusive family. She’s had horrible issues over the years as she’s tried to work through her emotional wounds. He’s stayed by her side the whole time, doing the right thing when it wasn’t easy. Early in their marriage, she had agorophobia so bad she couldn’t leave the house for six months. We’re talking she couldn’t take the trash out to the curb or she’d have a panic attack. He’s always provided for her and then for me when I was born. (Don’t get me wrong, my mom adores my dad. She does her best to build him up. It’s just a fact that she has been very vulnerable at several points during their 35 year marriage and he didn’t use it against her as I’ve seen so many do.)

    Did I mention he’s the first in his family to go to college? He earned a PhD in engineering and worked successfully on a variety of projects that include the Hubble Space Telescope. He quit his job that would have given him Sr Scientist status to move back to the midwest where we would be closer to family. I was home schooled for the first 8 years of my education. I owe my love of science and mathematics to him. He taught me how to start my first business and how to never give up on doing the right thing.

    So, yeah, pretty amazing man.

  • I only have to look at my father, who is taking care of my mother in frail health. They have been married over 60 years, my mother has had serious health problems since her 20’s. My father recently spent the night in the ICU with her and helped her turn every 15 minutes after her 5th major reconstructive back surgery. He was exhausted but refused to leave her side.

    In contrast, my husband got tired of my illnesses, my thyroid cancer, my endometriosis. My allergies. Even though my health had improved and those things happened in my late 30’s and early 40’s, he wrote in his journal that he loved how healthy and athletic his AP was. She was also 15 years younger than me.

    A few months ago my mom was at her sickest in the ICU (she was rushed there during a code blue). She woke up saying she was sure my ex was glad he’d left before he had to deal with another medical crisis. That is his legacy.

    And my father staying up all night to sit by her side, supporting her through 60 years of health problems, that is his legacy.

  • Number 1: My father, age 92, still married to my mother age 91 after 71 years. During the depression, my grandfather shattered a leg and was unable to work for nearly a year. My father, age 16, dropped out of high school and worked to support the family until my grandfather could work again. Dad then went back and finished his education. My father worked hard all of his life, was faithful to my mother (who also worked) and provided a premier example of taking responsibility and honoring one’s commitments. He could be the hardest of the hard-asses when a kid was making excuses for being a shit or a slacker; but he was also one of the wittiest and most gentle humans with respect to others, children, and animals. Both my parents survived the Great Depression learning early how to be independent, resourceful and hard working. They still garden and grow much of their own food. I have seen my petite, feminine mother with grease up to her elbows, under an A frame helping my father rebuild a car engine from the crankshaft out because their budget would not permit a new car. They did not believe in “gender roles,” they were an indissoluble partnership who believed in equality, versatility, and commitment to marriage and family.

    Number 2: Ironically my first husband (the father of my oldest child) who not only defeated (with the help of AA) the alcoholism and associated abuses that caused our youthful divorce, but who also changed his entire attitude and spiritual worldview (He became a devout Christian), subsequently going on to become a faithful, hardworking husband of over thirty years to a woman who died last year after a very lengthy battle with a terminal illness. He took patient loving care of an invalid wife, remained sexually and emotionally faithful through what had to have been a very long and hard “dry” spell of having his own physical and emotional needs take a huge backseat…and he has gone through what was arguably the most traumatic event of his life with no evidence of recidivism. We became and remain close and transparent friends. He is living proof that people CAN change and change drastically by learning that taking personal responsibility for our lives and eliminating destructive and non-productive behaviors are what really help us become happy adults.

  • There haven’t been a lot of good men in my life, although one of my brothers qualifies, and my step-father, now deceased, qualified. My three closest friends are all married to good men: honest, decent, faithful, family-oriented.

    The stories I read here from chumped men give me hope that there ARE decent men out there. I pray that I eventually meet a good man. I would like to know what it’s like to be in a real partnership, what it’s like to be with a man who isn’t leading a double life, what it’s like to be loved instead of just used.

  • I know of several good men. Two are a gay couple that are utterly devoted to each other and have been for years and years. They are a great support to each other, they are close to each other’s families, they weather the ups and downs of life as a team.

    The other is a man married to a friend of mine. They lost their first two children, had three more and he has remained steadfast and committed and a great husband, father and man. There are others, of course, but those are the ones who immediately spring to mind. Good, strong men who get on with life and don’t moan when shit happens or they don’t get exactly what they want. They’re men of character, whose actions show what good people they are.

    There are a lot of good men and women out there and I say surround ourselves with those sorts of people and cut out the loser brigade in all areas of our lives.

  • I’ve got one! My mother’s father, my Grandpa Kelly, was a fantastic partner to his wife. They were married for 60+ years, and just seemed to live for each other. They were incredibly poor but really seemed to know how to enjoy life and each other. My grandmother never learned to drive a car, so my grandpa had to take her everywhere. He was happy to do so. They made a weekly trip to the grocery store, with him pushing the cart and her tossing items into it. Weekends were for drives in the country, or getting together with other couples for a game of cards (and likely some drinks). Evenings, after dinner, as the kids cleaned up the kitchen, the two of them would sit together reading or maybe even playing records and singing songs.

    I asked my aunt to make me a copy of a favorite picture that she had of my grandparents,
    “The one where they are sort of dancing and laughing and hugging on each other?”
    “Which one?” she asked. “I have dozens like that!”

    So sweet.

  • I may have had a shit of a husband but I have been blessed with one hell of a dad.
    The sort who worked every hour to provide for his family and build a home.
    Who was always committed to his family and wife.
    After 45 years of marriage after my mum passed he suffered a major stroke.
    At 82 he has fought back to health and been the most amazing man and rock to me during my divorce.
    My Ex’s actions are alien like to him.
    I’m so very proud to call him my dad, and overjoyed my children have such an amazing male role model in their lives.
    Yes good men exist. He is a testament to them.

  • The one good man who comes immediately to mind is my current philosophy professor. Professor Watts is one of those characters who should be the hero in a book. He is lively, engaging and talks about his wife of 40 years often and with love and gratitude. He was a Methodist minister for 35 years before getting his doctorate and taking on a full roster in Philosophy and Theology. He has been a Godsend in my darkest hours simply because he recognizes and acknowledges my “fine mind”. He truly enjoys engaging his students in dialogue and holds the men and women in class as “treasures”. What a balm to a weary chump soul. Remember when Readers Digest used to feature “my most unforgettable character”? He is definitely mine!

    • Lol, good question. I’m sure there must be but I’ve met a lot of selfish or crazies. That was why I was attracted to my STBXH. He was 37 and divorced with two kids. I bought the whole devoted dad thing. Turned out to be the devil.

  • I’ve had quite a few good men in my family.

    My father was a good man. One of the Great Generation, he enlisted prior to World War II. He attended college on the GI Bill, went to grad school, and became a professor. He could remember his students even years after they left his classroom. He met my mother while at college, and they married just after she graduated. My sister was born later that year, and they went on to have quite a large family, including my two brothers.

    My father was the product of a dysfunctional family. His own father, an abusive alcoholic, left his wife and son to seek employment on the West Coast. His last words to my father were, “I will send for you.” He never did, and when he died while my father was serving in the navy in WWII, my father declined taking compassionate leave to arrange for the funeral. His own mother was emotionally distant. He said of her, in later years, that he came to realize that she loved him as much as she was able. Thankfully, his uncle and aunt lived with his mother, so he had a chance to interact with warm, friendly people who loved him and weren’t afraid to say so.

    With my own brothers, he was openly demonstrative. He hugged his sons, and both learned that it was okay for boys to have emotions, to hug, and to tell people they loved them. He also taught us to see ourselves objectively, that subjectively, we might think things were dire, but objectively–sub specie aeternitatis–things that seem monumental are often a blip in the course of a lifetime. That advice has helped me weather my husband’s cheating. Dad would be proud that I’ve not allowed my emotions to get the better of me.

    One of my favorite memories is his telling me, just before his 25th wedding anniversary, that he’d never have imagined he’d stay married for 25 years, but living with and waking up next to someone you love is “wonderful.”

    Another good man–one I’ve never met in real life, but whom I’ve known now for about 5 years via online gaming–was on voice comms with us when he left suddenly. He’d just had a call that his girlfriend, who was on an overseas volunteer service trip, had been a victim of a natural disaster. Her family hadn’t heard from her. He rushed off to be with them. It turned out that she was alive, but she’d suffered injuries that required amputation. All he could think about was that he’d nearly lost her for good. As soon as she arrived back in the US, he proposed. Her story received significant publicity, enough to show me that she is a remarkable woman. But he? He is a remarkable man.

    I am optimistic in that I think that there are more people who refrain from cheating than who cheat. Maybe it’s hopium, maybe I long for unicorns. But whatever it is, I sleep soundly at night and wake up cheerful in the morning. 🙂

    STBX does neither.

  • Even though my parents separated when I was about 5 or so (and divorced about 15 or 16 years later – my father’s girlfriend at the time finally got him to marry her. The entire family disliked her), my father was a good man. He was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, but a really good man and good and decent person. He would surprise my grandmother (my mother’s mother) by bringing her food from somewhere as a special treat because she cooked and fed everyone all the time. I will always remember how pleased she would be at the simple, thoughtful gesture. His mother had a series of strokes until they became more debilitating and later in life she had to be placed in a nursing home. He and my uncle (his brother) visited her every day and cared for her until she died. He raised my older sister as his own daughter and never showed any preference between the two of us even after my parents were separated and divorced, always referring to her as his daughter. Even though they were divorced, as I was growing up, I saw him and spent time with him every day. He was the one who insisted I go to college. He was a good and loyal friend, retaining all of his old friendships from his youth.

    I had my parents as role models for separation and divorce, so the context of the relationship with the STBX is totally foreign to me. Of course, my parents, while not without their issues, where not seriously personality-disordered individuals. They remained friends up until my father died. My mother actually paid for his funeral because it was going to take weeks for the insurance money to be released. I really have no reference point for the angst and animosity that exists between my STBX’s divorced parents.

    I have several friends who are married to really good and caring men who quietly go to work every day, are raising or have raised their children and are grateful to have their jobs, wives and children in their lives.

    Yes, I know there are good men out there – I have never suffered under the illusion that my STBX was a representative sample of all men. I hope to have a good man in my life – I think I deserve it, but if not, I will just settle for having a good life.

  • Great story CL! It got me thinking about the big picture. What makes us what we are.
    I spent over 20 years with my STBXW who cheated on my me in 3 separate affairs including the entire cocktail of lies, gas lighting, blame shifting, projection etc.

    I even tried the reconciliation route with her. I feel quite foolish about that now.

    But why do some men (or women) step up when the pressure is on? Why are some of us reliable? To me, it’s what I am. I think it gets down to one’s own values. Is that nature or nurture? I don’t know.
    All I know, is that doing the right thing by others makes me feel good. It make me happy and fulfilled.

    I always go back to the basic premise for life. …………”do unto others as you would have them do to you”…………

    I just don’t understand why so many people don’t get it.

    • It’s values, two of which must be honor and integrity.

      If you don’t got ’em, you don’t got ’em.

      • Thanks Steph!

        You are spot on. I guess the answer is to fnd your equal. Us chumps have all been sucked in by the sparkly ones. Time to learn our lessons and never entertain that sort of person again.

        Good luck to us all!

        • Agreed. If someone is too sparkly I go cold inside now. I want a bear of man now, one who makes me feel safe.

          • Agreed Nord, that’s exactly it, a bear of a man, someone to depend on and count on in ways our exes could not even begin to fathom. I describe my fiancé as “non-sparkly,” and unless it’s to members of chump nation, I get strange looks as if I am insulting him. But I mean it as the greatest of compliments- he is real and true and solid inside and out. He is also a big guy, and makes me feel safe physically, emotionally and spiritually.

            He was chumped by his own ex throughout their 17 year marriage. She finally left him for her karate instructor, and took their 3 boys with her. He found himself alone in a small apartment, paying child and spousal support, seeing his children only every other weekend, being bad mouthed by his ex who furiously re-wrote their history, and left wondering (to this day at times) if all 3 boys are really his own. That was 7 years ago. He worked his way through grief, bewilderment, despair, etc., somehow maintained a “cordial” relationship with his ex for the boys’ sake, and continued forward though he told me there were days, weeks and months when he thought he would surely die from the soul-wrenching and overwhelming sorrow. His parents and older sister had died earlier, so he was truly alone. But slowly one by one the boys decided they wanted to live with dad, and moved home. And he and I met and fell softly and soundly in love. In experiencing a true and loving man, I have come to realize how incredibly shallow my ex- was, how little I had settled for. There are good men (and women) out there Chumps, we can and will find them (or sometimes they find us) 🙂

    • Kraft, this is something I’ve talked to my kids about quite a bit – that life isn’t all skittles and unicorns and sometimes it’s just dragging your tired, miserable butt out of bed on yet another morning and getting one with things, safe in the knowledge that life won’t always be this way and that it’s worth it in the larger picture. Kudos to you for being a good man. 🙂

      • Thank you so much Nord! I try to create that mindset for my kids too. It’s not always easy. I guess my parents gave me a good work ethic.

        I believe, at the end of the day, regardless of nature verses nurture, we all have to make choices. If you make a decision that you know will hurt someone else, you must own it. You can’t blame anyone or anything for it. Eg: cheat on your spouse? That is a cold blooded decision. If that person won’t own that 100%, then run for your life. I wish I learnt that a lot sooner.

  • My sisters second husband. Looks hardcore, lots of tatts, rides a Harley. Is soft as a teddy bear, works his guts out to look after my sister and their 3 boys. Oldest 2 boys aren’t his but you would never know it. He took them on as his from day one and they asked to call him dad even though they see their real dad twice a year. Great guy, exact opposite of her first husband. The less said about him the better.

    • nothing reflects on a man more than how he accepts the responsibility of raising not only his own children well but demonstrating an ability to willingly accepting, loving and stepping up for children that are not his.

  • I know a few good men. They are not close friends but from what I have experienced lately we have met to support each other in familiar circumstances.
    Virtually all have experienced the walk away wife syndrome. Some wives like mine have been having multi year affairs, some wives have run off with men more than decade younger or older like mine. All have been left to raise the children. Most of the children are teenagers, that age when they chose who they want to be with.
    These men obviously mourn their loss of family etc but they just get on with it and be an emotional available and physically available parent.
    I have watched two guys raise their children and their ex just split and had very little contact. They have raised really emotionally balanced kids. They have girlfriends but very careful how the GF becomes involved with the kids. The kids always come first.

    I believe it boils down to values.
    If I compare myself to chainsaw man our value system is reversed to each other. Children, spouse, work , money and health. It’s actions that define you not words.

    I was told often by groceries that I was a good man etc and she had perfect family but she still chose to abuse it.

    There are many wonderful men right here like Matt Nomad Arnold. They are able to focus on what’s important and while there is a whirlwind of trauma swirling around they stay steadfast fir their children. Not expecting reward they just do what they have to do. I don’t think their exes ever fully appreciate it all. They just selfishly carry on.

    And of course you can remove the gender and oh my god the shit some of the women tolerate is beyond any reasonable understanding.

    What makes a good man or woman- their value system and ability to survive this mess. Sometimes not easy

  • And this seems like the right post to leave this song, and yes you will cry, unless like CL, you have found that good man;

    Schultz told the story behind this song: “Henry and Liz were my neighbors when I first moved to Nashville. Henry told me that on their first date her father said, ‘Son, take good care of my daughter. Walk her home from the movies and promise me you’ll never leave her side.’ A couple of years ago I visited them in a nursing home. After a hug and saying goodbye, I stood at the front door and watched them walk down the hall, arm in arm. Henry was walking her back to her room. I remembered the promise that he made to her father, to walk her home and never leave her side… He was still doing it.”

  • I’ve always thought my father was one of the most honorable people I’ve ever known.

    Daddy started working before he was even out of high school. He attended college and lived at home to cut expenses, while still working. He was on the collegiate dive team, and was once called on –as the most experienced diver in the county– to retrieve a body from an underwater crime scene (while still a college student).

    He started graduate school on scholarship, and then was drafted into the military during Viet Nam. He eventually worked his way up to Corporal in the army, and was asked to attend officer school when his tour was up. In the meantime, at one point he had to travel alone across Germany to testify in a German military tribunal on homicide charges levied against another (guilty) American soldier. All by his early twenties. He declined to attend officer school, and returned to the US.

    Daddy picked up his graduate studies with his GI money–which he had carefully saved and sent home to Grandma–but started to drink on the side. He graduated with a Masters in Clinical Social Work (mental health equivalent of a nurse practitioner). Around this time he met my mother, and they eventually married. His drinking got progressively worse.

    Early in his career, Daddy treated the criminally insane. Hannibal Lector? Yeah, Daddy was the guy who went into the cell with him, had a conversation, and then told the parole board not to let him out. Daddy made us promise to never watch Silence of the Lambs, not because it is sensational, but because the pathology it portrays is so accurate he didn’t want us kids scared every time he went to work.

    And his drinking got worse. I learned about this years after the fact, but once he actually had to go before the court for drunken driving charges. The judge, bailiff, arresting officer, etc?–they were colleagues. Some people would never be able to come back from that kind of embarrassment. Daddy got sober & stayed sober when I was in seventh grade.

    One of the things Daddy taught me was that you don’t have to be perfect to be honorable; but the fact it was an accident doesn’t get you off the hook for doing what you can to clean up your own mess; that there is always one more thing you can do. And he taught me this without ever speaking a word. His actions were so loud he didn’t need to speak.

    Daddy took a new job when I was little, and eventually he began running a program for the severely schizophrenic. People who would have been permanently hospitalized before this country decided to close the mental hospitals. Psychologists & psychiatrists make the big bucks in mental health. Clinical social workers–like nurses–do not get paid anything near the amount of work they do. To make ends meet, Daddy worked a second job teaching substance abuse programs, some patients court-ordered, others voluntary. His day started as early as 6:30 am when he started picking up some of the clients from their homes; he had as many as 25 schizophrenics all day simultaneously in his day program, and then when his job ended, he taught the substance abuse classes until late into the night. Some days the only time we saw Daddy was breakfast at 6 am.

    It may not sound like much, but what he accomplished for those patients was phenomenal. He even took a small group to an international convention in Canada. People who were severely schizophrenic and had never even been out of their *county* before. Plane flight, hotel room, a presentation in front of a room full of mental health professionals. The professionals couldn’t believe their eyes. It was the kind of thing professionals like to say cannot be done. Daddy did it. Not to make a point or score funding–for a handful of his clients, it was a very, very big next step in building their confidence and helping them move that much farther forward in managing their illness. The clients spent more than a year preparing for it.

    One day, Daddy’s morals came into conflict with patient confidentiality. A patient knew he was HIV-positive. This young man was having unprotected sex with 18 and 19 year old girls, without even disclosing to them that he was HIV-positive. It was not a quick or easy decision, but Daddy decided this mentally ill young man was putting these young women’s lives at risk, and Daddy reported him to the police. To my knowledge, in more than 35 years of practice, this is the only time Daddy has ever broken patient confidentiality. His employer did not agree with Daddy’s assessment that this met the medical community’s requirements to break patient confidentiality.

    A different employer might have agreed with Daddy’s assessment, but his employer of more than 20 years gave him a choice between retiring or being fired. They were not required to give him that choice. Daddy could have been summarily fired and lost his entire retirement pension for that one action, after 35 years of service. But his integrity meant more to him than money. Protecting those young girls, who will never even know the details, was more important to him than a pension. That’s not to say Daddy was stupid–he had a pretty good idea which way his employer’s decision would swing, and what the final outcome would be. He also had a pretty good feel for the likelihood he could win a lawsuit for his retirement if his employer surprised him.

    But ultimately, Daddy knew he could be giving up everything to take this action. That didn’t change the fact he believed it was the only appropriate action he could take with the information to which he was privy.

    After being married to someone who believes integrity is the punch line of a bad joke, I’ve decided I’m going to do radically more than just “not settle”.

    I don’t know if this world produces men like my Daddy any more. But I’m not going to take chances on someone who values integrity a cent less than my father.

    He worked long hours to feed his children & pay his bills, and loved one woman all his life, served his country with honor, and risked his entire future for what he believed was right.

  • I’d like to also add my dad to this list. He refused promotions at work because he didn’t want to move his family all over the state. He worked a job that he really hated so that he could provide for all of us. He stressed that his daughters should get educations so that we could take care of ourselves and not have to rely on a man to care for us. He and my mom just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and I had a fantastic childhood being raised by two people who were (and are still) clearly best friends.

    I know there are tons of great guys out there. My question is– aren’t you supposed to end up marrying a guy who is like your dad? If so, why the hell didn’t I!?!?

    • Just reading through these old posts and had to comment here, MO. Don’t know about you, but for me it’s because I married someone who is like my mom (a narcissist)! I am like my dad in the relationship, if you know what I mean. That is how I carried on the family pattern. My dad, a wonderful guy, worshipped my mom. Mom, however, was always very selfish and controlling. Just like my ex! You don’t necessarily turn out like your mom, even if you are a woman (thank God!). Whatever happens, I’d rather be a Chump than a Narc any day. Now, I’m a smarter Chump and my next guy will be a good guy like my dad.

  • My father is an honorable man. My mother was a beautiful young woman on the outside and inside. She dotes on him and is fiercely loyal to him, as he is to her. She was disfigured by breast cancer treatment, and he is grateful that she is alive and next to him every night in their bed. He was her rock when she looked death in the eye. And her mother was a victim of breast cancer, too; surgery and radiation took their toll on my grandmother’s body, and my grandfather loved nobody else until the day she died.

    I am surrounded by good men. My circles are heavily populated with couples–the parents of my children’s friends. These men work their tails off to support their families, and they delight in the treasures of life–the school performances, the field trips, the graduations, the back-yard barbeques, date nights with their wives, driving kids all over California for athletic events, the vacations, Back to School night, volunteering for fundraising events–the whole pot. I am SO grateful to these men for being good role models to my sons when their own father walked away to avoid responsibility. These good men show my sons that there is life and love and happiness in being a married father. That’s what I want for my sons.

    I honestly don’t know very many cheaters. I think they must know what I think of them and they stay away. Ick.

    Most of the men I know are good men–by FAR, the vast majority of men I know are solid and admirable.

    Kinda makes it tough to be single. It’s like I’m starving, and surrounded by food that is not mine to eat.

    • For the record, my mother is still beautiful to this day–though time and life have made their marks, my daddy loves her all the more.

  • My husband.

    He was the man I started dating after my cheating ex.

    I met him through a mutual friend of ours. They casually dated for a very short time, and it didn’t work out. They decided that they were much better off being just friends. All three of us are still friends and she was a bridesmaid in our wedding this July.

    He and I both have degrees in theatre and our mutual friend introduced us at an audition. I still remember that introduction like it was yesterday. It was an audition for The Talented Mr. Ripley. I was auditioning for the role of a prostitute (I know, I know XD) and he was auditioning for Ripley. Neither of us got cast, but that’s okay. We’ve done plenty of plays together since. (The guy who got cast as Ripley was perfect for the role…and he DJ’d our wedding.)

    Anyway, my husband has been more understanding, strong, loving, open and adventurous than any man I’ve ever been with. He has listened and communicated in ways I never thought possible from a partner. I’d never had someone like him before, and I was used to guys who would wait until passed the point of no return before mentioning that there was something wrong. …Which, in retrospect, usually meant they were hiding something from me that they shouldn’t have been doing.

    I don’t have to worry about that with my husband. I don’t have fears or worries about where he is or what he’s doing. He is honest and transparent with me. Always has been since day 1.

    I can recall a very specific occasion where he put me first when others would have just gone underground and behind my back.

    There was a girl we both knew. Tory. She was kinda weird, but I didn’t think much of her. She was in one of his classes and liked music. Often went to see a local band that her room mate was in. And she invited my husband sometimes.

    But only ever JUST him. Never me. Even though I had known her before I even met him.
    And soon it turned into inviting him to see the band to inviting him to her house. Not me, just him.

    And then one day, she decides to tell him that she wants to be “polyamorous” and asks for his advice. He tells her that he’s in an exclusive relationship, and that he’s never been poly so he is not the person to ask. We come to find out that her decision to be “poly” came after she had two boyfriends…that did NOT know about each other. …Eeeeyup. She soon after invited him to her house for drinks.

    I told him that I did not like her and I did not trust her and that I don’t want her around him. So he told her that they could not be friends anymore.

    She says “Why? I don’t get it.” He told her that I didn’t feel comfortable with her around him and that I didn’t want them sharing alcohol. She said “Do it and don’t tell her.”

    Now, I can think of almost any of my exes that would have totally done that. Especially my last ex. I can think of a number of guys who would have totally had drinks with her and then said “I didn’t tell you because you’d react this way” when I got upset.

    But not my husband. Nope. He said “This is why we can’t be friends. I’m not going to lie to her for you.”

    And that was the last we ever heard of her. That was about 2 years ago.

    My last ex would not only have lied to me for her, had alcohol with her, but he would have fucked her six ways from Sunday. My husband told her that he was not into polyamory, told her he would not lie to me for her sake, and then cut her out. That’s why he’s a good man.

    • Yes.

      It all comes down to transparency, doesn’t it? One of my friends and colleagues recently discovered her husband is having an EA. When she first caught him, he was texting an old girlfriend via Facebook. When she confronted him, he asked what was wrong about talking to an old friend. She reminded him that it wasn’t the talking to the woman that was the wrong part. The wrong part was hiding it.

      • Yup. If it’s “just talking to a friend” then they don’t need to hide it.

        Good men don’t need to hide anything from their wives.

  • Oh, and for those who are wondering, he didn’t go to her room mate’s band shows without me. The times I couldn’t come along, he just didn’t go. This twat didn’t get a shot at him.

  • There are few pleasures sweeter than the gaze of a good man.

    The “goodest” man I’ve ever known, my favourite uncle, is gravely ill and hovering at a threshold. He was the man I always wanted as my dad when I was little. He and his beloved, who have known each other since early childhood, have been married more than 60 years. They’re my (and a lot of other peoples’) “gold standard” of marriage. My uncle is a man who believes that character is a matter of choice. Every day, a choice: Do I devote or desert? He’s chosen devotion every day, and now, as his life begins to close, he is being saturated with love, prayer, and presence from a *lot* of people. He’s left an indelible imprint on several generations…and his gaze is the sweetest I’ve ever seen. Gratitude!!

  • i know, work with, say hi to and encounter daily a lot of nice men. brothers and BIL’s are nice men. know a lot of women who are married to nice men. unfortunately husband wasn’t nor was my father. damn it. just going to keep plugging away and maybe a nice man will notice me. wish me luck.

  • My husband, Paul is the most wonderful man I have ever met. He is sweet and affectionate, open and attentive, kind and generous, and everybody loves him. We have been happily married for 25 years, and were BFFs for 10 years (since age 15) before that. We have no children, but otherwise have a really good life. In all these years I have NEVER EVEN LOOKED TWICE at another man, and I believe in my heart the same for Paul.
    !!! WAIT !!! why am I telling you this, and ON THIS SITE?
    Long story but… I was “friended” on FB by an old junior high school crush, we talked over the next many months, and he turned out to be a VERY skilled covert narc, manipulated and reeled me into trying to help him untangle his skein of fuckupedness, and he brought out the dormant semi-narc in me (that perhaps is inside us all). NOTHING physical happened, I have FB, email, phone number blocked him, and thank my lucky stars EVERY DAY that the fog has cleared with NC. Most importantly, my Paul has not found out, nor (as far as I can tell) suffered any adverse effects during my brief barefoot mesmerized stroll into the land of butterflies, and my own stupid, selfish, weak, vain, lying, cheating, untrustworthy…
    And most of all I am telling you this because even though the OW/ OM in your story may have been all of the above and more, just like affairs “if they will do it with you…” also applies to your Fucktard’s Narciness and the ability not to “Hoover” but to “Dyson” people into their web. In fact, right before (but not why) I blocked him I saw that he had already begun to groom his next FB potential prey. I thank you all for sharing your wisdom, assisting me in staying NC, and more clearly understanding the MANIPULATIVE (poor tortured misunderstood, neglected @ home soul) TURD I ALMOST GAVE IT ALL UP FOR. I have learned a lot about myself, and hope I can make forgive myself this mistake some day.
    PS. FB makes it even harder to smell the SHIT STINK!!!

  • Oceanlover, Social networking has made it way easier for emotional affairs to start that end up going physical. That “new car smell” of someone paying so much attention to you I would imagine becomes tempting after years of a stable marriage. My X found her OM playing one of those multiplayer video games, it went on right under my nose..

  • Thanks, Mike. I feel so shameful, and I think the reason I’m a lookie-loo on here is that I really want to feel the pain I almost caused my husband, and the married man’s poor chump. And you’re right, in fact the POS has a PHD in PHI, so he literally “wrote the book” on word salad. He found me in a bored moment, but in the long run he woke me up to what I almost lost.

    • My X found his OW on, she told him she’d had a crush on him and never forgot him, he told her he was married but lonely. The difference is he never realized it was wrong, he never stopped, not even after I found out.

    • Oceanlover, it sounds like you just didn’t get to the tipping point of no return. Once that switch gets hit and the attachment transfers to the OM/OW, it all would have been over and your marriage history rewritten to support your choice. Once those
      True Love/Soulmate hormones kick in hubby becomes just an after thought.

  • If I could I would tell his chump, because I think she is an innocent victim, unlike me. Selfishly, I couldn’t risk even the very slightest chance that it could somehow come back to break my innocent (almost chump) husband’s heart.

    • Just stay NC Oceanlover, with everyone involved in that mess, and thank your lucky stars you saw the light.

  • Hi Chump Lady, I’ve been meaning to ask this for a while, and this really lovely article tells me it’s really time:) Does your husband have any single brothers?

  • My father lost his mother when he was nine and his father when he was 12. The fifth child of nine, he and his younger brother and sisters were put in Quarriers orphanage in Scotland by their only living grandparent despite having 7 aunts and uncles in Scotland. He was sent to Canada alone when he was 15 as one of the British Home Children and lived on various farms as an indentured servant until he was 18 or 19.

    Dad met my mother when he was about 37 and they had five children. Times were always tough for us financially and my father had a lot of demons which led to his drinking; a lot. Despite that, he adored and respected my mother and his children.

    His coworkers took him for drinks after work one day to a bar a little out of town and when he realized it was a strip club, he called my mother from a pay phone to pick him up and waited for her in the parking lot. Dad was very much what my xh was not; a man.

  • My dad is 87 years old, mostly blind and joined the US Navy 70 years ago.
    He spent 2 years in the So. Pacific in 1944-45. He has worked since he was 11.
    He worked 2 jobs so that my sister and I could go to college and grad school. Guess what?
    He has NEVER complained about his lot in life or my mom, who is a handful! My husband, who I am now separated from, has complained about me from Day 1. The litany of my faults are too long to list, in his mind. I am grateful that I have a wonderful dad and what a role model. Not all men are selfish and self-centered. Some put their families first and know what love, trust and loyalty are.

  • Over the past 3 years I’ve kept a tally of friends’ and acquaintances’ divorces. The list is up to 20 — now including my own. Of the 20, only one involved a man (not me) leaving his wife & family. The other 19 could be summed up with the general statement that the wife/mother decided she needed to be “happy” and her husband was the only obstacle to that happiness. A large majority of those 19 included the wife/mother chumping her husband.

    The stories are horrific: one man forced out of his home by his wife who threatened to tell the police he was physically abusive (he wasn’t; no evidence); one man being met by the OM in his boxer shorts at the front door when said friend went to pick up his kids for school (pre-divorce); one man getting chumped by an OW, then the ex-wife chumps the OW with an OM; one man learning his wife and OM gave him an STD; the list goes on and most involve couples with kids.

    The thing is, I read perspectives everywhere that focus on men doing the chumping. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but I’ve seen far, far more of the woman/wife/mother chumping her man/husband/father-of-their-children. Is it selection bias — I tend to befriend a certain type of man? Is it my cohort’s age range — 36-44 year olds? Is it perimenopause? Life stages? Loss of role boundaries? Flake-factor in the area of the city I live in? Who knows.

    I do have some thoughts on why we don’t hear more about women chumping their men: for men, it’s an internal struggle. One to be ashamed of. One to try to “figure out” inside their heads — where men typically go when confronted with problems. We don’t tend to air things publicly. If I could be forgiven the stereotype, women tend to seek social means for confronting chumpdom and airing their anger, pain, and confusion. The internet being a great place for that, HuffPo and other sites focus almost entirely on female chumpdom (or, at least, perspectives).

    We’re out here and the stats prove it (as well as my own anecdotal evidence). I’d love to see more submissions/articles/sites that give more screen space to male chumps.

    • No question plenty of women dump their families. Which you see more of may well depend on your circle of friends, though. Back in my married life, I was a homeschooling, SAHM for ten years. Pretty much my entire circle of acquaintances and friends were fellow homeschoolers. While it is NOT true that all homeschoolers are religious fanatics (though plenty are), it is true that the majority are at least fairly conservative. I was kind of a misfit in that regard, but plenty were like me. Anyway, there were quite a few divorces in my large homeschool group over the years. Every single one involved the husband dumping the wife, in some cases really brutally.

      I do have a couple of female friends outside that group who chumped their husbands, though. I believe a somewhat higher percentage of men cheat, but I think the women aren’t that far behind.

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