Dear Chump Lady,
I am a new reader to your blog and I am disgusted to say I was the OW. So why, you might ask am I reading a blog about cheaters cheating on their married SOs – especially when you zing the APs pretty well? Deservedly. Because I was in a long-term affair with a married man (MM) for nearly five years, I am not at all proud of this and in fact now see what a delusional total piece of shit I was but it’s over now (nearly six months) and I am moving forward. But something has come up that involves the married man’s wife and I need advice on how to handle the situation.
Over the course of the affair the MM’s wife found out about me approximately 4-5 times. She actually kicked him out once a couple of years back but allowed him back into the home after nearly two weeks. Earlier this year he was let go from the company we both worked for which was pretty much the beginning of the end for he and I. He was home with her 24/7 and she kept him on a short leash. For a couple of months after that our only form of communication was occasional texts from his secret cell phone. This was after he had supposedly recommitted himself to their marriage and promised to go no contact with me, which he being the manipulator he is decided that meant only live and in person contact and did not include texting. For about a year prior to this I began to “dabble” in self-evaluation, I knew what I was doing was wrong, but was still trying to convince myself that True Wuv can find you anywhere. We were just victims of circumstance! He had done the right thing marrying a woman who was pregnant with his child, he was A GOOD MAN for doing this but that didn’t mean he had to be stuck with her forever right? (those were his actual words BTW). We would make it through this together and come out on the other side united and strong and be everyone’s dream couple.
But time wore on and the whole thing just became so draining (lies and deceit and cheating take a lot out of you) and I finally woke up and realized what a loser I was for being involved in such a horribly selfish and destructive “relationship” (if you can call it that). I’ve since been reading anything and everything I can to try and understand my actions for which I take 100% responsibility. I see now that I was NOT entitled to “love at any cost.” Just because you “love” someone does not make it OK to hurt people – it is NEVER OK to knowingly hurt people. It is NEVER OK to overstep the boundary of marriage in insert yourself into ANOTHER woman’s life. When I first met him he cried the usual….only there for the kids, money issues, his wife was fat and unattractive, all her focus was on the kids and they only went through the motions, he only married her because she was pregnant and he would have never chosen her otherwise, as soon as the kids were old enough he was OUT blah blah blah. He said he had never felt about anyone the way he felt about me, and as usual…we were different, special, unique “unicorns” and we were going to show EVERYONE who ever doubted us! And I WANTED to believe him so I did. I made that choice. Ha! I actually feel a mixture of repulsion and humor when I think about accepting such cliché bullshit. I thought I was smarter than that. But no, I was just an asshole. I see how delusional and stupid I was for not only willingly participating in tearing up a marriage and family, but for also believing his self-serving his crap. I not only gave him cake, I accepted the crumbs of that cake. He was/is extremely manipulative and believed that anything was OK as long as it had the outcome that we desired. Finally around July of this year (four months after he lost his job and was not supposed to be contacting me but was still texting from the secret cell phone) I told him to STOP and to fuck off. If he needed an ego boost, get it somewhere else. There was no real “love” between us – that shit was not LOVE. He didn’t love me, he didn’t love his wife, he loved/loves only himself. He has thankfully stopped contacting me and I am resting easy for the first time in years. No more wasted energy on all the shit that goes into an affair (planning, scheming, conniving, secret texting, quick phone calls, pining for him). Ugh!
So here’s the thing, his wife has chosen to remain in the marriage. She told him that it’s because she loves him so much she’s willing to stay and move forward. I’m sure she has her legitimate reasons for staying, but a big reason is because she told him she would never lose him to me (he told me this, imagine the ego boost?). In the past each time she found out about the affair she would guilt and shame him and club him into submission, she’d threaten to tell his kids and his family, and would also remind him of the financial repercussions of divorce. He’d promise her he’d never see me again, and we’d be back fucking at the dingy motel room we’d meet at Monday after work. Bottom line: he’s a fucking liar, she knows it and while I have removed myself from the situation completely she must still deal with the residual fallout. Don’t get me wrong, I was a lying piece of garbage too, the difference is I don’t have a husband who as to deal with the trust issues she has to deal with. Also, I should add that about a year ago she found his original secret cell phone (he had two more after that) and read three months of a text stream. The thought of this makes me ill because no wife should have to read what she did, it was all there…sexting, professions of love, negative speak about her, everything. I know this must be seared in her mind making it horribly difficult to move on.
Cut to now and my reason for writing: in the past six weeks or so I have received four calls from her cell phone. One I ignored and three were missed calls. One was made very late, about 1:15 a.m. I don’t know what to do if she calls again. Should I answer? If she’s calling for information do I give it? I have not seen or spoken to him in months but given our past I’m sure she thinks there Is a possibility that we are still in contact. Also, even though she read three months of our texts there is SO much she doesn’t know. Not only about the affair between he and I, but about HIM in general (he confessed that I was not his first cheat, he’s had a few one night stands over the years while traveling for business) and sooooo much more. I don’t want to inflict any more pain on this woman than I already have. I know from reading through your archives how incredibly painful and damaging affairs are to the person who has been cheated on. I know that every single day she has to think about it and live with it. It makes me sick and I just want to put it all behind me and move on, but that’s easy for me to say right?
CL, if she calls again should I answer and share any info I have if she asks for it? Should I just forever ignore the calls and hopefully they eventually stop? I know I’m scum and I’m not looking for any kind of sympathetic ear I can only continue to work on myself and try to be a better person – and that’s what I’m trying to do. I am remorseful the role I played in this whole nasty mess.
Yes. Answer the phone! What good is telling ME you’re sorry? ACT sorry. Apologize to the person you hurt — douchebag’s WIFE.
I’m really glad you feel awful and are working on yourself and everything, but I can’t help but notice you still suffer from a common OW ailment — wife disdain. Who you? Yeah you. I’m not feeling 100% remorse as long as you pepper your narrative with nuggets like “kept him on a short leash” and “each time she found out about the affair she would guilt and shame him and club him into submission, she’d threaten to tell his kids and his family, and would also remind him of the financial repercussions of divorce.” Club him into submission? Seriously? How was that working for her seeing as the guy was a serial cheater? Guess she didn’t club him hard enough. Or in the right places. He still had equipment to operate with.
I think you clued in after 5 years that your magic romance was a dead end. He wasn’t leaving his wife and it’s a lot harder to sparkle and buy dinners and shit when you’re unemployed. So you ended it. Okay. You dumped the married man, but you maintain your sense of superiority over the wife. You did the pick me dance for five long years, and mentally, you’re still there. “Nanner, nanner boo boo! I’m better than you!” You want to heal from this? Get down from your perch of judgment. Quit competing with her. You don’t KNOW her. Everything you know about that man’s wife was told to you by a practiced liar. A highly manipulative person. She’s lived in your imagination for five years, and you’ve painted her as an old battle ax.
If you’ve read on this site, then you know what chumps do when confronted with evidence of an affair, or what they do in false reconciliation. They throw themselves at saving their marriages, which surprise! requires a large element of policing the person who betrayed them. They make arguments for why marriage is a good option, everything we have together! family! children! — and yes, the life they built together — finances! To lose that is a LOSS. What you describe as “clubbing him into submission” is basic reconciliation 101. Betrayed spouses don’t say, oh hey, go to Vegas. I’m cool if you don’t call. Don’t need to open the mail, or see the bills. I trust you! They’d be IDIOTS. They’re traumatized. They check, they double check. They seek assurance. Douchebag probably reassured her, and then obviously took his affair more underground. She’s undoubtably gone crazy from the gaslighting.
You fell for his shit for FIVE YEARS. She’s been with him much longer and she’s probably got him weeping all over her promising to be a better man. Oh please oh please don’t tell my family and kids. The wife has got serious sunk costs. You, Sorry, you lost crumbs. She’s got a shitload more invested than you did. So don’t judge her. You want to get past this blot on your integrity? You FACE her. You TAKE her call.
You know why you don’t? Because if you pick up that phone, or return that call, you’re going to lose your last shred of superiority. You dumped the guy, but you got to walk away thinking “Well, at least I’m better than her. I’m not so pathetic as to take him back and keep him on a short leash.” You sucker punched her. She doesn’t have one iota of the knowledge of her husband’s fucking around that you have. And if you give her that knowledge, you’re going to level the playing field. You’re going to release that power you’ve had over her — all his secrets. And you can’t tell his secrets without humbling yourself and feeling complicit. To take her call means you’re going to walk into her PAIN. Pain you helped cause. You will feel like shit. That’s why you’re avoiding her.
So you’re sorry, Sorry? You tell her what you know. Starting with that secret cell phone. You tell her you were not the first OW. You answer every question. You tell her about Chump Lady, so we can help her leave that motherfucker. But you don’t presume to tell her to leave him. You can’t. You’re not a chump. She’s going to think you want him back. She’s going to question your motives. You let her take the lead. And you apologize.
And when you’ve done that, then I’ll believe you’re sorry. Be brave and call her back. She deserves the truth.