Dear Chump Lady,
Here is my situation — I never exposed his affair.
He told me he wanted a divorce. I told him he could move out whenever (it took him 3 months). I let him tell his family that it was a mutual decision. I told him to take anything he wanted from the house. I took care of the kids most of the time while he was honeymooning with her, I even gave him gifts!
I signed up for guidance from many online people including Mort Fertel, Homer McDonald, Michele Weiner Davis, etc. who told me to cling to hope and treat him like I would want to be treated. I even took the kids on a trip to give him space. He told me on New Year’s Eve and moved out April 4.
Is it more humiliation for me to start spilling the beans? Is it worth it? I have lacked so much self-respect… (my fault). I danced the pick me dance for 10 months now. His exit plan was carefully crafted and executed so he would never be caught and his reputation would remain intact.
I knew something in our marriage was wrong but could not put my finger on it because he made my tea ever day, ran my bath, came home to put the kids to bed before going back to “work”. I was so blindsided and he blamed me for everything, so for months I told my family it was all my fault. Pure emotional abuse as you say. And I can see how he and his girlfriend must have laughed at me. But now he has his good guy image intact and everyone thinks he is so great. I want to expose him now, but is it the wrong thing to do?
Also, I miss him a lot. How does one get over all the memories (14 years and two kids) and move on? I actually feel jealous of the women on your site who say their husband came back and wanted them back. (Just so you know I am successful, have a masters degree, a great job, good looking, etc.) My friends tell me that his family likely thinks I had an affair and he left because of it. When I think of that I want to scream.
When I think of the predatory tactics of Mort Fertel, Homer McDonald, Michele Weiner Davis and the snake oil hopium shit they peddle — I want to scream. When I think of you giving your ex-husband “space” so he could cheat on you, and sending off parting gifts for his honeymoon with the OW? I want to scream. When I think of you accepting the fault for his abuse of you, I want to scream.
Is it more humiliation for you to tell the truth? YOUR truth? HELL NO. It will be the first non-humiliating thing you’ve done in a long time, Tammy.
I’m not saying go leaflet the neighborhood, I’m saying start opening up to the people closest to you about what happened. Stop protecting his image — that’s not your job. It should never have been your job — healthy people don’t need PR departments. Narcissists do.
Doing the “pick me” dance and keeping his secrets was bargaining behavior. You were acting out of grief, and you were trying to control an uncontrollable situation. See how good I am? How understanding? How kind I’m being? Choose me! What I find abhorrent about those “counselors” you mentioned is that they are selling this fantasy sense of control. You alone can FIX this! Affair proof your marriage! Convince even the most recalcitrant spouse! Heal addiction! On the brink of divorce? Buy my motivational CDs for $159 and have the BEST MARRIAGE EVER! Yes! Closer than ever before! Oh thank you God! And thank you Mort! (An actual quote.)
A pox on those idiots.
We can’t control other people. That’s scary and that’s liberating. It means this isn’t your fault, and it wasn’t ever within your powers fix. You only control you. Your pretty pick me dance cannot compel him. He wanted to leave — so he did.
Fear of losing him made you eat those shit sandwiches. Hindsight is 20/20 — but at any point after his “I want a divorce” speech you could’ve asserted yourself. Said what YOU need. “I need you to pack your bags and leave.” Or “It’s not acceptable to me that we are living as an intact family and you are cheating on me.” You could’ve lawyered up. You could’ve spoken your truth then — he’s having an affair. And you could’ve spent that money on a wedding gift for the soulmate schmoopies on yourself. Oh hey, it’s actually not too late for that — go buy yourself something really nice.
Now that you “lost the dance,” as it were, and what you feared has happened — your incentive to protect him is gone. So I can imagine at some level it feels vindictive to you to tell the truth. Like it will come across as sour grapes.
All you can do, Tammy, is speak your truth. It’s yours. You don’t control how other people receive it. If they blame you, or think oh really, you were the cheater — that’s on them. As I’ve said here many times before — this shit shows you who your real friends are. Who has empathy, and who doesn’t. Who to hold close and who to let go of. You may be surprised at the number of people who already knew. You may also be surprised at the grace and kindness of folks who will comfort you when you share your story with them. (Online chump forums are especially good for this.)
As for missing him? You’re grieving. Give it time. And get angry at what a shit he is to cheat and walk out on you and the kids. He took no responsibility for the demise of the marriage, he blamed you. And all the while he had his hand out for kibbles!
There is NOTHING to envy from chumps whose cheating husbands came back. I think they will all tell you, they came back for cake, they came back to inflict more D-Days. That was certainly my experience.
Put your focus on your new life. Stay busy being awesome. OW just “won” a cheating, emotionally abusive husband. You just won a new life. Go put it to good use. (((Big hugs)))