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The “Upside” of Infidelity

shrinkAn alert chump, anotherErica, posted this ridiculous article from Slate yesterday “The Upside of Infidelity — Can cheating on your spouse save your marriage?” Articles like this, which Hanna Rosin must imagine are so unique and taboo-breaking, come out every couple of weeks on HuffPo and elsewhere. In fact, I argue against this crap so often I have a favorite rejoinder for the trope that Affairs Improve Your Marriage — yeah, and shooting off your kneecaps improves your tennis game.

Does anyone buy this shit? Embezzlement improves your pension fund performance! Food poisoning can enhance your dining experience! Child molestation could be the best thing that ever happened at summer camp! Hey, it’s all in how you look at it.

Chumps, let’s take a moment to contemplate the upside of infidelity. Was it the STDs? The sudden weight loss from the shock? The stolen 401K spent on prostitutes? Oh! Was it paternity testing your children? No? How about abandonment and legal bills? Was that jolly? Or the thousands of dollars you spent on therapy while your spouse blithely continued to cheat on you? Was it explaining infidelity to your grade school children, that mommy has a boyfriend and you’re not supposed to have boyfriends when you’re married and daddy’s really upset right now? Or maybe it was explaining to your Obgyn while you’re 8 months pregnant that you need an STD screening because your husband’s been unfaithful. That wasn’t awesome?

Got trust issues? Hypervigillance? Insomnia? Do you just go around staring at this person thinking “I have no idea who you are. I can’t believe I invested my whole life in you. What a boondoggle.” Do you plead for them to love you and then later that same day fantasize about gutting them with a fishing knife?

Well, be comforted to know, that really you could save this relationship if you just owned your part.

“the person “at fault” might not just be the one that had the affair, but that both parties created a space for infidelity.”

Yes, chumps, you ALLOWED this to happen. Now, of course, you might have had no clue what was going on, but that’s no excuse! According to Emily Brown, (a therapist you need to avoid if you live in Arlington, Virginia) you must not focus on the affair, but the subterranean issues that compel people to fuck others they are not married to:

Brown has to quickly move the affair off center stage and get to the underlying issues. This is the tricky part, because opening the box of emotions means risking rage and helplessness and crippling guilt and obsessing over details of the affair. But Brown tries to delicately reframe the affair as a situation not just created by the wife but also something the husband allowed to happen.

Has any chump in the history of chumpdom experienced a cheater’s “crippling guilt”? Also referred to as “toxic shame.” I think it’s about as mythical as the reconciliation unicorn. Have there been sightings? Cheaters lack shame. IMO, if they had more shame, toxic or otherwise, they might keep it in their pants.

But what I find truly odious about this article, and the quacks Rosin interviews, is that she disses all therapists with a very broad brush. They “defer” to the Puritan state, good grief. I understand that therapists are of the opinion that you can save a marriage after an affair. Okay.

But this article is criticizing therapists for acknowledging a basic power dynamic — that one spouse did a damaging thing to the other spouse.

No! That’s Puritanical! It’s ascribing blame! We shouldn’t feel ashamed of the Bad Thing. Mustn’t even ascribe “judgment” that it was bad. In fact, the cheater isn’t even at FAULT. The chump “allowed it to happen” and “made space for it” in the relationship. If there is any blame, it must be shared.

Early on in Brown’s counseling career, affairs were not much mentioned in the family therapy literature and the attitude about them, even among therapists, was fairly conventional and judgmental.

To observe the OBVIOUS — that betraying someone is “bad” makes you conventional and “judgmental.” Rosin then goes on, weirdly, to blame the Catholics. Yeah, who knew they were a secret cabal running all the therapy. Someone tell the Jews. There’s competition on this New World Order thing.

“People shriek and cry when they are confronted with an affair,” Brown writes in her essay, “The Affair as a Catalyst for Change,” which appears in the book Infidelity “Almost never do they realize that it might be the best thing that ever happened to them.”

Yeah, shriek and cry. Imagine that. You don’t say?

I have to agree with Brown on one thing, however. Affairs are catalysts to a new and better life. After you dump the cheater. And while you’re dumping, throw out the quack lit that wants to blame you for being chumped.

Hanna Rosin — May your husband impregnate your babysitter, may your savings be invested in a Ponzi scheme, and may your father be your uncle. And may every soul you turn to for comfort denounce your grief as Puritanical. May you take the blame. And may you be forced to convince your tormentors each day that this was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.

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  • You sound very bitter, CL. And, judgemental and unevolved.
    WTF is wrong with a little cheating to spice up the old sex life?

  • Gross. Either the author AND the therapist are disordered themselves, are OW’s themselves or have never been cheated on, and are the smug, self-righteous types that think, “Oh, that could never happen to ME. I’m too good for that.”

    That kind of shit makes me sick. There is way too much of that sort of thinking these days, however. Our “anything goes, everyone is special, follow your dreams, Law of Attraction, do what makes you feel good” society promotes entitlement, infidelity and selfishness. But that article goes beyond all that, and is just plain stupid.

    • GIO – that law of attraction thing just makes me laugh. Early on I found out that the OW used to run a home based business and in one of her pamphlets spoke of how she believes in the law of attraction. I guess she eventually attracted a dui and hit and run on her record and her mugshot on the front page of the paper. LMAO!!!

  • Love this site! CL you are awesome and the fellow chumps just incredible. So thankful to have stumbled upon here when I did. 🙂

    • I have always said that I wouldn’t wish this shit on anyone… Not my worst enemy. I now recant that. I wish it on the author of that insensitive, stupid and irresponsible piece of shit article.

      • I agree, and most importantly I wish her cheater begs to go into MC with her whilst continuing to fuck his OW and blaming her for his inability to stop. You know, I want her to learn from her mistakes and realize it really is her fault he can’t stop. 😉

  • Hannah Rosin, may there be day when your daughter or son show up devastated on your doorstep that they’ve been cheated you tell them it’s their fault and the best thing that ever happened to them. May you congratulate your son in law or daughter in law for treating your child in such a way.

    May you forever dine on shit sandwiches and enjoy the taste.

  • So this guy is of defending our country and her and shes running around. What an insentative asshole this guy is. It’s so selfish of him to have left this VOID in their marriage. Cut me a break.

    • The flip side….my ex husband was inSaudi Arabia defending our country for the Air Force. I was at home sending love letters, care packages, taking care of the home, bills, cars, working, etc and he was lonely. He had volunteered to go there without even telling me, told me he was selected….a lie. He found someone new to take my place and then blamed me for not being there for him. When I flew to Saudi to attempt to save things in my humilitTing pick me tango, he sent me home. So according to idiot Hanna Rosin I am to blame. He volunteered, he sent me home, he found someone new before even informing me he was unhappy. He never looked back….exactly what else could I have done? Oh wait that’s right, stay in limbo and wait for him to come out of the fog….
      I truly believe that when 2 people want to make their marriage work, they can and will….the problem is usually only one person is in the ring. Mr. Military guy from the article needs to dump his cheating wife and come sit by me. I will show him how a true military wife should act!

      • I agree. Both people need to be vested in the marriage. However, that’s exactly why Rosin’s reconciliation scenario just doesn’t work. The cheater backs out of the marriage. There’s no communication. No “gee, honey, I’m feeling alienated/my needs aren’t being met” discussion. Nope. They just go off in a corner and have their affair.

        I’d have been very amenable to talking about issues with the marriage. He wasn’t, and basically isn’t. His modus operandi is to announce what he wants, and since he wants it, he’s doing it. It doesn’t matter what I think, and if I respond with anything other than praise, then he tells me that we’re arguing (and thanks to this site, I know now that this is typical of the BPD individual).

        I suppose that Rosin would tell me that it’s my fault that STBX never communicated with me since I should always praise each and every one of the ideas and suggestions coming from his lips, and continue to accept without question his comments devaluing me and my contributions.

        If it were a domestic abuse case, she’d fault the abused for failing to offer the abuser the stick used for beating.

        • Hmm….Ex used to actually turn anything that wasn’t high praise from me into an argument. And certainly if I disagreed with him about something it would eventually become an argument because HE WAS NEVER WRONG.

          I didn’t realise this was a sign of BPD, I thought it was a sign of an infantile dickwad…but maybe they’re the same thing?

          • This sounds so familiar. My STBX used to ask for my opinion on some topic and when I would give it to him he would argue with me and at times berate me. I finally began saying, “Let me get this straight. You weren’t really asking to hear MY opinion. What you really wanted was to hear YOUR opinion coming out of my mouth.” He never disagreed.

            Also, there was always a good “reason” for him doing or having whatever he wanted, whether it was reasonable or not. Me and what I wanted? Never a good reason for me do or to have – and I really didn’t ask for much.

  • CL, I loved your last paragraph. Oh, how I wish the shoe was on Hanna Rosin’s foot. She’d be singing a different tune if she had experienced this kind of betrayal on a personal level.

  • I read this article yesterday. Sooooo good to know that cheating once again gets a free pass and can “save” marriages/relationships. I def created the infidelity space……This made me gag. Give me a break.
    So glad aE brought this to your attention. Well said Tracy. These quack therapists are the absolute worst.

    • Yeah, I now realize I “created the infidelity space” by not having a DICK. Shame on me for not providing my ex husband with what he really needed. And you know what? All his cheating really WAS the best thing for our marriage, because it caused that nightmare marriage to END.

      • Well, I , for one , think you should have a dick, Glad( assuming you want one after the shit your NPD transvestite XH pulled.

  • There are sure a lot of people out there who can’t own their shit. I take blame shifting as proof positive of guilt — like the little kid who ate ALL the cookies and points the finger at the dog or the baby sister who can’t talk. The enablers out there? Probably guilty too.

    I experienced a lot of arm twisting trying to get me to “accept responsibility for my part in the divorce”. He just didn’t want to look like a lying, cheating, scumsucking, non-Christian to his kids and very nearly got away with it, but we discovered the girlfriend at the love shack one day. The arm twisting and blame shifting continued though.

    I also take it a proof positive that it’s not about Love with a capital L. Real Love that wants a fresh start with a soul mate would be happy to start back at square one with nothing — just walk away as long as you can be with your beloved, life should be perfect. But NO — never heard of anyone doing that yet.

    • Yes, I was asked ‘what about your part’ by ex when we were still arguing. Someone else pointed out ‘well, you two did argue at times’…because longterm couples aren’t supposed to argue or something? Blameshifting is hilarious when you really think about it.

      • Yes, I got plenty of “I refuse to take all the responsibility for the problems in this marriage” from ex. Then he’d bring up something like I didn’t play boardgames enough, or I never got up at 5:00 AM to go with him to his exercise class. Those apparently were equal to constant fucking of other men in gay bathhouses.

        • I didn’t notice he had lost a bit of weight the summer before dday. This was apparently one of his reasons for fucking other women. I was distracted by some issues with the kids but hey, he lost a few and I should have thrown a party or something.

  • This made me doubly sick when I read about the mythical couple – the fact that he was military. And she cheated on him while he was deployed.

    My daughter (who is fighting her own divorce battle with her lying cheater) is active duty, and been deployed multiple times over her brief marriage. No one wants to be deployed, and it’s not like you can say to your superiors – hey, my spouse is lonely and unhappy at home alone, so if you don’t send me back, you and I are creating a space for him/her to cheat. Our military aren’t staying at the Ritz and enjoying themselves while the spouse is “suffering” at home alone. Yeah, the separation sucks, but to blame the military partner, who is quite literally risking life or limb while serving a deployment is just….I have no words.

    This is a new low in “excuse” quackery.

  • Every time I hear that nonsense, I think… “Sure, and burning down the house is a good way to start remodeling your home”.

    Other than the obvious problems of arson being illegal and a possible prison sentence, the possibility that somebody may be harmed by the fire or trying to put the fire out, and the problem of your insurance probably not wanting to pay for the rebuilding, what could possibly go wrong?

  • What the hell is UP with this shit?!

    I mean, seriously, where the hell is it all coming from and why on earth does it have any tract?

    I guess to these people any marriage is a good marriage as long as it’s still together, regardless of the actual quality of the union. And quack therapists who tout this crap just count it as a win for them if the couple is still together and doesn’t really consider that this is, plain and simple, the subjugation of one partner by the other. And the therapist that pushes this mentality is absolutely complicit in that subjugation.

    CL is right when she calls it abuse. Abuse need not be a punch in the face or a bruise on the arm. It could be the systematic denigration of someone’s self esteem and sense of self-worth. Cheating on your partner and telling them it’s their fault, is one step in that disintigrating of their emotional foundations. Having a therapist back up that claim is just further acid on the already damaged wall. Then the cheating happens again, more shit therapy, and the cycle continues.

    I would daresay that there is in our society now, a systematic and structural power dynamic that exists for the purpose of letting narcissists get away with their shit at the expense of others.

    • I think it goes back to the start of the “feel good, self-esteem” movement. I can remember when they started that crap when I was in junior high school. They actually had propaganda (pencils, pins, posters) that said: “You Are Somebody At Blahblah Junior High School.” At the age of 13, I remember thinking, what a load of hogwash. That’s not real life. We’re not all these special little snowflakes that deserve accolades at every turn.

      But no… we don’t want to acknowledge that. There aren’t any LOSERS! People don’t actually screw up and need to held accountable! Instead it’s “Mistakes were made” and everyone gets a trophy, no matter how subpar their behavior or performance. I think that infidelity gets that free pass because our society gives poor behavior a free pass in general. “Oh, he had a bad childhood… she grew up in tough circumstances…[enter an apparently compelling societal force that takes away all free will] made her do it.” We don’t want to admit that we screwed up because… gasp… that might make us FEEL BAD! We can’t have that. It’s not good for our self-esteem!

      Case in point: the latest detritus to come out of my ex’s mouth to our kids about why had the A: he felt like we were just friends and that our relationship really wasn’t a marriage anymore. Wow. Talk about blaming me, deflecting the blame away from him, revising history… not to mention the message that sends our children: When you hit a rough patch in your marriage, it’s perfectly okay to seek attention from someone else. It’s been fun trying to fix the damage he caused with that little pearl of wisdom. But his behavior embodies this whole discussion perfectly– he didn’t do anything wrong, he wasn’t getting his “needs” met, and his continuing asinine behavior with the Owife is perfectly fine. Stop judging him! He should be allowed to do whatever he needs to make himself happy!

      Sacrifice? Altruism? Community? Selflessness? Those are SO 17th century. There’s a reason the Puritan faith doesn’t exist anymore– people got tired of the angry, “you’re going to hell” message (understandably so) and wanted something more forgiving and merciful. While I agree with that sentiment, unfortunately, I think we’ve taken things too far in the other direction: do whatever you want, whenever you want, damn how it affects everyone else, and ignore the consequences as long as it feels good to you.

      • I agree that our culture of entitlement has enabled a lot of affairs, and makes the general conversation about cheating absolutely revoltingly narcissistic. But I’m not sure things were a LOT better in the past; for many families and many cultures, it used to be about power and controlling the money, instead. Men were ‘like that’, they cheated and kept mistresses, and wives just had to put up w/it, or lose everything (or, of course, sneak around and quietly screw the tennis pro.) Blergh, blergh and double blergh. A pox on all their houses!

        • That’s always been true. But I think that, like CL said in one of her previous blog posts, that more and more advancements in internet and communications technologies have given idiots who believe that shit to reach wider and wider audiences. I also think there is something to the self-esteem movement pushing it along.

        • KarenE, your post reminds me of a comment my mother made after she’d retired and become involved with a lot of community organizations. Women tend to make up the bulk of the volunteers, and given the age demographic, a lot of those women tend to become widowed.

          My mother’s experience of marriage was a long and happy one, filled with love and lust for all 50 years until my father’s untimely death (okay, he was in his 80s, but it was accident, not old age or illness that killed him). She told me she was astounded by how many women felt that their spouse’s death freed them. These are women from a generation where divorce was considered shameful.

          Mom thinks their lives would have been much happier overall if they’d divorced. She believes in marriage, which is exactly why she thinks that divorce is important.

  • If both spouses are to blame in an affair (as Emily Brown’s “counseling” teaches), are both spouses also to blame when one does something that causes the other to “escape” from them, children in tow, as happened in Emily Brown’s own life?

    I’d like to hear her thoughts on that. Well, not really.

    • Both spouses to blame? Hmm…I can’t…recall…ever saying to the one who betrayed me, “Sure! Go ahead and f**k someone else! Fine by me!”

      It’s still gob-smacking, the depth of deception, denial, and mind-rape. He had the gall, about two weeks after I discovered his betrayal, to say to me,

      “I can be a *friend* to you.”

      … After what you did to me as my husband?!

      • My ex keeps trying to be my friend, too. I think he needs that, to prove to himself, his family, the OW/now gf and people who knew us (and no longer know him) that he’s actually not a bad guy.

        Ain’t working.

        • I finally had to tell my exH, we are not friends. I will be “friendly”, but please do not share details of your life with me (AP/new wife went to the emergency room for leaking amniotic fluid, etc). He truly thinks we can be friends; but friends (enemies even) do not treat people the way he treated me and the kids.
          Sad really: 23 years together, 18 years of marriage…. poof.

          • Yeah, because that desire for our friendship is STILL about them getting what they want; they want us to be interested in their lives, listen to them, encourage them, sympathize with them. They’re not interested in friendship so they can be there for US, that’s for sure. ‘Cause if they were, they wouldn’t be the shitheads they’ve repeatedly shown themselves to be.

            MY friends are honest, caring people who treat me with respect, even if we disagree at some point or are annoyed at each other. The ex just wants kibbles. I told him I will be polite and respectful, but NOT friends.

      • “Sure! Go ahead and f**k someone else! Fine by me!”

        Funny you say that. My STBXW told me after I found out that she wouldn’t care if I slept with someone else. She told me that more than once. As my daughter said “She’s Insane”

        • My STBXH “encouraged” me to have an A with, among other our married friend. This was supposed to “even the score” between us.

      • They always seem to pull out the friend card – it seems like throwing us a bone or something, because they are just so damned special that we’d be happy to be their friend just to stay in their lives. A downgrade,sure, but hell, at least we get to spend time in their sparkliness! And they get the added bonus of us still being there for them. My ex tried this crap and I pulled the plug after one dinner, mainly because he actually told me that he would not discuss certain things with me. So yeah, I have enough friends. If my ex was so keen to bang other women then they can be his friends. They’re the only friends he has, actually. 🙂

        • I think the common cheater’s ploy of wanting to remain “friends” with their ex is a clever move on their part. Benefits include:

          1. Image control. If ex is still friends with them, then how bad of a person could they be? This is backup for the crap they’ve told everyone about how the marriage just “drifted apart”, not that their infidelity blew it out of the water.

          2. Backup plan in case their AP doesn’t work out. They want ex handy in case they need a quick exit and somewhere to go.

          3. Continued kibbles

          4. It makes it easy to mess with ex’s head. This was a major benefit for my ex, until I got wise and cut off contact.

          There is no benefit to the chump in continuing friendship with the cheater. All benefit is to them. Yet another reason to go as NC as possible.

          • Totally right GIO. My STBXH suddenly became loving, kind and started to “like” me again. It is very confusing, but my gut is screaming that something is very wrong with this picture. I boil inside when he is suddenly so “nice” to me after being a complete blob for years. I see 1, 2, 3, but especially 4.
            He also wants to think that he is such a good person – that was his answer to my legitimate requests. “Please, spend time with the kids” – me. “But I am a good father, better than my friends”- him.
            Another thing is that a therapist he visited once told him to fight me so I can be angry and this will help me. Even though I disagree with this advice, I think he immediately became nice just to make it harder for me. Maybe I’m too paranoid.

  • I totally agree that infidelity is in a different category than say, for example, being too controlling or too detached as a spouse. Any therapist who suggests that there is equivalent fault on the part of each spouse is wrong and is likely inflicting further undeserved damage on the BS.

    Having said that, I think we all have to be mindful of the probability that we were nowhere near perfect wives and husbands. No, we did not deserve to be cheated on as a punishment for our mistakes. The cheating transforms what might have been a marriage in which both parties had legitimate beefs that needed to be addressed into something that is almost never fixable. Our justifiable indignation at the way we were treated does not make everything we did in the marriage ok. That gives us something to think about, not in order to fix the marriage but in order to give us a better shot at a healthy relationship next time around.

    Just saying. We don’t get a free pass just because we were dumped on.

    • Not tracking you. Sounds personal.

      I think the issue is… how do you respond to somebody who says, “Beating your spouse can improve your marriage”?

      • No, you aren’t tracking me. I disagree with the idea that all wrongs are equal, or that infidelity, especially serial infidelity, is not a deal breaker. As far as I’m concerned that, like spouse beating, is a deal breaker. Any therapist who disagrees with that has a very different moral compass than I do. All I’m saying is that we should spend a little time admitting to and learning from our own mistakes (we don’t have to admit them to the cheater, or to anyone other than ourselves) for our own good. Maybe it is personal, but I doubt if I’m the only person out there who was a less than perfect spouse. I will say I was a hell of a lot better than my cheating husband, though!

        • Roslyn, I think most chumps would agree they were less than perfect. Isn’t that admitting our humanity? Absolutely, I think we should strive to be our best selves.

          I know for me, when I was married to #1, I was my worst self. I was super codependent, I tried to manage his illness, I literally cleaned his messes and excused his chaos. I seethed and resented. I found my happiness outside the marriage in my work, in friends, my son, in art classes. Anywhere but him. I should’ve bought a clue YEARS before I did. I totally learned from that.

          Marriage #2, much shorter. My learning curve, while painful, was shorter. I was also not my best self — I was hyper vigilant. I was emotionally fragile. I could be withering and insulting. I raged. I also made all the mistakes from #1 — I overcompensated. I did his therapy homework. I made the appointments. I shepherded. In the words of our MC I was “exquisitely codependent.”

          Did I need to own that? HELL YES. Consider it owned. All that shit was making me MISERABLE.

          Now I’m married for a third time (it’s the charm). We’ve got similar issues. We did the same parenty/child thing in our last marriages. Only now it’s two parents in one household. You made the coffee? OMG! You emptied the dishwasher? I love you! It’s two former chumps. We fight, sure. We also accept responsibility and apologize to each other. We each make EFFORT. It’s reciprocal. So whatever our issues, they are not echoing in a great, big canyon, alone, unaddressed.

          It makes a WORLD of difference.

          My husband was convinced he was “difficult” to live with. A more considerate roommate has never lived. I’m not kidding — he’s the most nauseatingly productive person you’ve ever met. He’s done 12 things before 7 a.m. most mornings. Who could find this person difficult?

          But in his last marriage, where he over performed, and she underperformed — he was “difficult” — he seethed and resented. He took the parent tone.

          When you escape the dysfunction — and forgive yourself for being married to it — you realize, wow, relationships are not that hard. You were used to dragging a 50 ton anchor behind you, and now you’re free to move like a normal person.

          Chumps, IMO, just need to learn that they deserve more. They deserve and should demand reciprocity and respect. It’s not that hard of a path. Cheaters? Much harder row to hoe. They have to give up entitlement. I don’t think many of them succeed.

          • ah, sounds nice. I know about the anchor and I definitely know about being the parent. Which is especially funny to me since I’m really not super organized, type A, whatever. But I guess compared to my ex, I was. Or at least I had to step up because it seemed like he wouldn’t. I would be so happy to find another grown up.

            So, yeah, I definitely know I wasn’t perfect. And, like you, I think I was probably the worst version of myself with him. I still don’t think it was THAT bad, and as we all agree here, definitely didn’t deserve cheating.

          • This gives me hope. I think the point about overperformance and underperformance is a really good one. I know ended up carrying the weight of almost all the “unfun” necessary adult tasks and when I needed or asked for help, he resented it, which made me angry because I was only asking for minimal assistance, etc. I hope to find a person who can handle the adult, unfun tasks of life, next time around….

          • I agree with so much of what you wrote here, CL. I ended up a seething, resentful, raging mess because I was carrying the whole relationship and still couldn’t figure out why thigns were ‘off’. It all clicked when I discovered the serial cheating and no matter that I was not perfect, I was actually a pretty good wife. Hell, even ex said it all worked except there wasn’t a ‘spark’ anymore, meaning he had gotten bored with fucking me, basically. then again, he must’ve gotten bored pretty early on as he was screwing around for a very long time.

            At this point I’ve done a lot of soul searching about myself and figure I’ve learned a lot about me and what I want and what sort of relationship I’d like to ahve in the future. I figure it’ll come along at some point.

            • My ex actually sent me a letter shortly after dday, and wrote that I’d been an excellent wife, had taken wonderful care of him, our son and our home and had been faithful and devoted. But he just didn’t feel enough “passion” for me, yada yada yada. What a fool.

        • I do think this is a good point. I have thought quite a bit about the ways I was “less than perfect” in my marriage, and how I could correct those issues in any future relationship/marriage. NOT because I blame myself, or think my marriage could have been saved, or think my minor faults compare to my ex’s staggering infidelity. But because like all people, I am not perfect, I have annoying traits and habits that could be improved, and I would like to be a better person going forward, whether for myself or another partner.

          When I look back at my marriage, I do see quite a few things I would have done differently. Not one of those things would have saved the marriage, or kept the ex from being a sparkling turd, but I would have had the satisfaction of being a better spouse. Still, overall, I do believe I was a wonderful, devoted wife for my entire 20 year marriage. Imperfect or not, my ex never deserved me.

          Hmm, not sure I’m explaining myself very well here. I’d better eat another Halloween Snicker bar.

          • Luckily, I handed out all the Halloween candies except for a few Tootsie Rolls.

            Back to healthier living. The week or so leading up to Halloween involved too much chocolate, if you know what I mean. Not outright gluttony, mind you, but I am glad the little monsters came and rid me of the temptation 🙂

          • Ha, my relationship was short at 3 years but I refuse to think of how I could have been a better wife/partner. That’s because I spent my entire life before that navel gazing and learning how to be a better person. My natural inclination is to look at a situation and wonder how I could have been better. Not doing it this time. I am not perfect but the only thing I wish I had been better at was recognizing that sparkly vampires are real. Then I could have avoided all this and hopefully been a relationship where I could learn and grow with someone else.
            And yes, I just used “better” four times because it’s late and I’m tired. 🙂

    • I don’t think chumps are claiming any mantle of perfection. Even the suckiest spouse doesn’t deserve to be cheated on. IMO, if you’re in a sexless marriage, an emotionally abusive marriage, it doesn’t give you free reign to be an abuser yourself.

      It’s about personal responsibility. Absolutely, chumps should examine themselves — IMO that is usually their chumpiness and spackling and acceptance of a lopsided arrangement.

      We don’t compel people to cheat on us. Not accepting the blame isn’t an assertion of perfection. In fact, most of what I see here are chumps who beat themselves up way too much. Who *happily* take the blame and eat the shit sandwich because then they feel they have the power to fix it. If it’s me, then I can control this!

      Issues in the marriage are never improved by infidelity. As you said, it turns “legitimate beefs” into a situation that is almost never fixable.

      I am by no means perfect, and neither is my husband. But I have to say, our “issues” are at volume mark 1, as compared to volume mark 11 in our previous marriages. When you’re in a mutually supportive relationship, and you’re out of the orbit of a disordered person, you realize — hey, I’m really NOT that bad to live with. This marriage thing isn’t that hard.

      • Yes, I get all of that. I think I recognized it in my post. It was just intended as a gentle reminder that just because you’ve been cheated on, or abused, you shouldn’t forget that a little self examination and remedial work might be in order before you head into a new, hopefully healthier relationship.

        • Would that remedial work include working out 2 hours a day so that a man 20 years my junior would find me exciting and sexy? Well, I’m not going there. But that’s the remedial work the ex took time off from his family to do, and of course, he swore it was a “healthy” relationship that resulted from all that work.

          I was not perfect. The ex was not perfect. Together we had a long history of tolerating, forgiving, and accommodating each others imperfections because that’s what you really should do to get along with someone for 30 years unless you want to be nagging someone constantly. You can be yourself — it’s comfortable, but it’s not exciting, which appears to have been the real problem.

          New relationship? Forget it. I don’t have the time to invest getting to know someone that well ever again. And being safely on the other side of menopause, I’ve got other priorities anyway — namely my kids and their lives.

          The “healthy relationship” gets held out there like some holy grail we are supposed to quest for in these lives here, and if we don’t find it we have to work harder and keep trying. Sure keeps the relationship/industrial complex in the chips. And a lot of people feeling like failures.

          • “The “healthy relationship” gets held out there like some holy grail we are supposed to quest for in these lives here, and if we don’t find it we have to work harder and keep trying. Sure keeps the relationship/industrial complex in the chips. And a lot of people feeling like failures.”

            Chumpalicious, thank you for that. I still hold out a sliver of hope that I will find someone else, but I have stopped living my life as if some man is out there to rescue me from the need to care for myself, my finances, and my children. I do believe that “holy grail” of the healthy relationship does leave many of us believing we are failures. And for many women, I believe all that seeking ultimately makes us weak and dependent–which is how a lot of men would like us to be.

            • For the record, I absolutely do NOT think you have to be partnered up again to “gain a life.” Hell no. Life alone, well lived, is infinitely better than the misery of a bad marriage.

              But from the perspective of someone who has done both (spent years as a single parent alone) and also remarried (something I doubted I would ever do again, if you’d asked me 5 years ago) — I have to say there is a validation that comes from a good marriage that is very healing, for me, personally.

              It’s the sort of validation you only get if you’re living with someone else, and I don’t think it’s NECESSARY. You can certainly heal without it. But for me, it was a revelation to discover — Hey! I can do this marriage thing, and wow, it’s not so fraught. It’s a blessing. I *don’t* suck at this. In fact, I’m really good at it.

              I think chumps were robbed of the chance to be in reciprocal relationships, to feel what it is to have someone who VALUES them as a good partner, and is a good partner to them.

              There are lots of other places to get this kind of validation too — people who love you at work or in friendships, who see your gifts. But for me, I had hang ups about flunking marriage — and I see now that, no, I’m a pretty good partner. I chose a couple losers before. I probably had to go through all of that to arrive at where I’m at now. I probably would not have appreciated my husband in the same way if I met him at 18.

            • I have a great GF. But , I agree that finding a new relationship is not necessary for having a rich, fulfilling life.
              There are plenty of happy healthy productive folks who stay single and do great.

    • There can be no realistic expectation of perfection in a spouse. I think that is why we take the vows we do.
      Of course, any human being is going to have faults and deficiencies. That is why there is this little deal called “courtship” or “engagement”.
      If your spouse has some quality that makes you think it is alright to cheat, then, maybe, just maybe, you were an asshole for not realizing this and marrying that person.
      This is nuts ” my spouse was not good at ABC or D, so she/he drove me to cheat.”
      WTF, have these morons never heard of no fault divorce? No one can force you to stay married. So, get fucking divorced and do not rob your spouse of his or her precious time on earth, spent abiding by a contract that does not, in reality, exist anymore.
      I could give a shit if my XW hated me and that she was fucking another man/men. What bugs me is that I was forgoing similar opportunities with much better looking, smarter, sexier, nicer women and sticking with the piece of shit I married.
      What was supposed to happen if I did not find out and remained married? We’d get to the end of our lives and my wife would have compiled a resume with miles of strange dick having passed into her cavernous whatever. Little ol’ me could look back and think “crap, I fucked only one boring, dumb woman in my life, my idiot wife.”

      • Arnold, LOL! I totally get what you are saying! I sometimes think how bizarrely unfair it is that I’ve only slept with one man in my entire life, yet my ex husband fucked hundreds of other guys. Not that I’d want to be that promiscuous, but you get what I’m saying (I hope.) It’s just not right!

        • And, in many of our cases, Glad, I suspect that we were, actually, the more attractive partner with , perhaps, more and better prospects for encounters than our cheating asshole spouses.
          I know for a fact that i am smarter and better looking than either of my XWs. During my first marriage, I was still all muscly and cut up from years of athletics. I’d get hit on , regularly, by some really good looking women.
          Fuck, now I am old, wrinkly, out of shape etc and have nothing to show for having forgone those opportunities.
          That is theft, in my book, theft of my years, my youth, my vigor and stamina. I can never, ever get those back.
          Once, for some strange reason, in a rare moment of, perhaps, remorse, my first wife asked what she could do to make this up to me.
          I told her, get cracking on getting into MIT or Cal Poly or somewhere and studying relativity and physics etc. She needed to invent a fucking time machine so I could g back and have a life during the years she stole from me.

          • Arnold – THIS, I’m going to post the article again that lays out exactly what you are saying because that damn article perfectly articulates the consequences of that betrayal. Yes we are not perfect and yes we can honestly and ethically decide we are not compatible but that is not what the cheaters do.

            http://www.spectacle.org/0500/lies.html

              • welcome Arnold. I like to share it because it’s so right on that people who don’t get it usually do after they read it, whereas when we say it we have strong emotions, this takes the emotion out of it and is rational.

              • Loved that article, Dat, this quote says perfectly how I have felt:

                “In being unfaithful, I create a situation in which my wife has a false view of reality: she loses her way. She reposes all her trust and love in me based on an understanding that we are exclusive, that all my concern is invested in her, and this understanding is completely false. She is in effect living in a house which may appear solid but has no foundation. I can’t imagine a greater fraud than to steal years of someone’s life this way. The opportunity costs are tremendous: your spouse had the opportunity to find someone else who was truthful and build a life with him and you robbed her of that.”

      • yeah, I think only idiot, entitled cheaters actually expect perfection from their spouse. And the cheating is a result of the fact that we can’t live up to their ridiculous, impossible expectations.

        Nevermind that they aren’t living up to their side either. And they are much worse because they expect all kinds of impossible things from us and give little to nothing in return. We chumps unfortunately learn to settle for less, much less, than we deserve. And yeah, we might subconsciously get grumpy about it. But drive them to cheat? No way.

  • Well, the weight loss was a nice side effect; not just the 40 I lost but also the 200 pound piece of shit who is not unloaded on to his whore. All yours!

  • Yep, OF COURSE I allowed my XW to cheat on me!

    All I did was let her know that the new guy at church might be trouble since he seemed so desperate for her attention, trusted her to make the right decision when he made advances on her, and to put our relationship first. I am such an enabler of her affair that I should live out of shame as a hermit for the rest of my days, forget about the kids, and let her AP take care of them.

    (by the way, that was sarcasm)

    Thank you, CL, for continuing to expose nonsense like this and for continuing to be a voice of reason and reality for us chumps.

    • Shudder.

      Notice after everything else he has done to his wife, she is being charged for his crimes.

      Thank God my divorce is final. Can you even imagine facing criminal charges on top of everything else they put us through?!

      • I don’t have imagine it, the night I told him we were divorcing and he attacked me. My ex set me up on a domestic assault charge, yeah I spent a night in jail – that was a horrible experience.

  • I just read the article cited here. I am shocked by the lack of analysis and the trite cliches in this article as well as most of the articles proclaiming the possibility of a stroneger, better marriage etc.
    Almost without exception, these writers assume that the betrayed spouse , somehow, simply must have played a role in the cheater’s decision to cheat.
    I wonder, does it ever occur to them that a person so willing to betray, to lie, to inflict incredible pain, may be the very person who brought the relationship to it’s abysmal state in the first place?
    Why is this such a difficult concept for these “experts”? I mean, really, when presented with a situation where one partner is willing to be this abusive, what causes them to start looking at the betrayed as the source of the problem?
    Wouldn’t the logical place to look be at the cheater, at least at first?
    I think I know why this is. I think there is a reluctance among some therapist to acknowledge that some people, like most cheaters, are just not good people. That these folks do not have empathy. That these folks are not like other people who have consciences. I think it is just really scary for a therapist to look across at a nice looking. articulate mom or dad and to acknowledge that they have a monster in front of them.
    When I was a young lawyer, I worked for the Public Defender’s office in a large city. I encountered all types of really evil people. The ones that scared me the most were the ones who looked and could act normal. When my wee brain tried to reconcile their violent, sadistic actions with their appearance, it just freaked me.
    I get criticized for this by some, this tendency to see cheating as being just as evil as some of the more violent and more horrifying things that people do. But, I have spoken to so many betrayed fokls who were every bit as devastated by the cheating as victims of violent crime.
    And, I see the cheaters, the long term and serial ones and what they are capable of doing in terms of lying, gaslighting, abusing their spouses and I feel that to be capable of something like this is, really, not any different than to be capable of a big time Ponzi scheme or a sadistic violent crime.
    One must be oblivious to the pain of others. One must be totally focused on only one’s own gratification. One must be able to sleep, socialize, function at work etc and not be affected by what they know they are doing to their loved ones. How is that not evidence of a malignant heart?

    • People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck
      The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley

      It’s a scary world out there.

      • I read “People of the Lie” and it was good.
        Interestingly, Peck, himself, was an abusive, cheating alcoholic who neglected his kids, according to what I have researched.

    • It’s not PC in our “enlightened” world to believe that some people are simply WICKED. But the evil walk among us.

    • “One must be oblivious to the pain of others. One must be totally focused on only one’s own gratification. One must be able to sleep, socialize, function at work etc and not be affected by what they know they are doing to their loved ones. How is that not evidence of a malignant heart??”

      Wow, Arnold, that is incredibly insightful. And so describes our exes.

      • I agree Kelly, that is spot on. Arnold, what you wrote seems very true for me.

        My STBX is at work, dressing up like a dandy, has a new younger girlfriend and has ZERO empathy for the wreckage he’s caused, not just to me and our child but also to our extended families. None. He continues to lie and deny. There is something severely “off” about that. It is NOT normal.

        As for the affair being “my fault?” No. I didn’t have any choice in that. If I did, I surely would have picked someone less skanky and without a mental health problem. So there’s that. But seriously, I get so tired of being blamed for this mess. I’m not perfect but either was he. And in no way did my imperfections entitle him to go out and fuck someone else, keep it a secret and expose me to harm.

        I see now how disordered he is and how fucked up I got trying to make it work. I became a shell of my former self. I am now slowly regaining who I am.

    • It’s one of the perennial questions: the existence of evil. You wrote two phrases that really got to me: “oblivious to the pain of others” and “evidence of a malignant heart.” It’s all too easy to set our sails (so to speak) in such directions; to allow our moral compass to run amok.

      One of the most difficult maxims I chose to live by in the short-term (1-2 years) after I was betrayed was, “The best revenge is no revenge.” It’s far too easy to behave in a similar manner when we have been brutalized. Mammalian neuroscience really helped me through –> coming to understand our biological reactivity when we have been injured … and learning to apply a restraining intelligence on my own behaviour. It’s bloody exhausting at times, but so worth the effort. I’m no saint, that’s for sure … and I have made a vow with myself to never sink to the extreme that my once-husband did.

      Arnold, thanks for your thoughtfulness about these things. Much appreciated. 🙂

      • I just finished watching the series ” Breaking Bad” and I found that my ex has the same mind set as Walter White. No, he didn’t cook meth or kill people but he is a very successful business man who may have started out wanting to provide for his family and eventually it turned into a huge ego trip that was about stepping on whoever and whatever got in the way of his building his empire and reputation. Soon me and the kids didn’t matter, life became about him only and winning!

  • Tracy, I believed for the longest time that there was an upside to infidelity. Problem was, the darn upside never came no matter how long I waited, no matter that I did whatever advice the quack literature suggested. It’s just plain wrong to give hurting people hope when they should have used the time and energy to get a new life.

    • I think anyone who attempted reconciliation at all believed this for at least a little while. That once we got through it, our marriage would actually be stronger as a result. It was going to be THE REASON why this had to happen to us. But then we wised up and realized THE REASON this happened to us was so that we could wise up and get the hell out. And realize we deserve more and can be happier, much happier, without the cheater in our lives.

  • Quote from XH’s sister, given to my children for justification for their father’s cheating: “There are two sides to every story.” Sadly, there are so many articles which claim that marriages can survive and improve after infidelity, that I believe this is now the accepted wisdom. I also think it shows that cheating of all kinds is rampant in our society. I’m glad CL is giving betrayed spouses a much-needed voice. To trolls like Arnold, you deserve what you get if you post here.

    • I wonder if there are any stats out there on what proportion of couples that seek counselling because of infidelity actually stay together, and what proportion of those are actually happy (at least as happy as the average happy marriage) 5 years later. I’d love to see this stuff, and surely there are researchers in this field?????

      I know that couple’s counsellors are routinelly taught that in any couple, the pathology is pretty equal on both sides. So as messed up as one partner is, the other must be equally messed up, although perhaps in other ways. And I wonder if anybody’s ever questioned that, ever done the research to find out whether couples in general actually are pretty equally messed up, and more specifically whether that applies to couples where there is a personality disorder, and/or cheating.

      Anybody up for a lit search? I don’t have access to many databases any more ….

      • I did some research early on, disregarding the claims from the “pay for reconciliation services” sites with preposterous stats on the percent of marriages that remain intact and happy after cheating is introduced into the relationship.
        About 30%stay together. Of those,about 7% report being happy thereafter.
        So, 7% x 30%= 2.1%
        Not exactly the 85% figure some sites claim.
        As far as relationships with the personality disordered and sharing the blame for the horseshit state of the marriage, no way can the non disordered be fucking things up as much as the disordered spouse.

    • That’s tactful, Jade. My kid’s aunt told her “shit happens”.

      Then there is the universal “Let’s move on”

    • Jade my ex SIL said pretty much the same thing to my kids at one point. His whole family continues, after 2 years, to make excuses and justify his cheating. Basically, the story is that I didn’t ‘make’ him happy so golly, he just HAD to cheat to find a replacement. This doesn’t explain the myriad other women for years but well, that’s just an insignificant detail, I suppose.

      • Mine is very fond of claiming I didn’t make him happy to justify his cheating. Of course he never mentioned this once to me and I had no idea he was so ‘unhappy’ until I found out he’d lined up a replacement behind my back. They come out with some shit don’t they? And at one point he actually said ‘I deserve to be happy!’ through tears of self pity. I can laugh at it now but it’s been a hard road getting to that point.

        • I got ‘I did everything for everyone and now it’s time for me to do something for myself!’ and ‘My happiness is important!’. Which it is, of course, but like yours my ex never mentioned any unhappiness. And according to him all those women he screwed over the years had nothing to do with our marriage. It was the final OW who made him ‘realise’ he was unhappy…basically because she was prick-teasing him and he had to jump through a lot of hoops to bang her. And she played the innocent young thing. Now he’s stuck with her. 🙂

          • I should add that the whole idea of someone else being responsible for your happiness is ridiculous. Certainly you can contribute to someone’s happy life and you can make things hell for them. But someone else responsible for making me happy? I don’t think so. And so ex is ‘being made happy’ at the moment (although reports differ on this front) by final OW. But when she stops ‘making him happy’ by, oh, I don’t know, not being perfect like we all are in the beginning? He’ll start looking around for a new person to ‘make him happy’. Or else she’ll be a doormat and put all her energy into him. And then it’ll take a bit longer to play out. Ask me how I know.

          • I should have clarified that I had no idea he was unhappy with me or our marriage as he generally was a miserable arsehole. He always blamed everyone & everything else for his misery, never once doing anything about it or recognising he was responsible for his own happiness. All he did was drink & wallow in self pity. I wasted so much time and energy on his ‘happiness’ & completely neglected to think about whether I was happy. Now it appears it was me who made him so bloody miserable, it’s astounding how they turn it all on us.

          • They sure do say the same things. My ex told me all the time how happy he was being married to me, I was his best friend, he would never want divorce. Right up until the day in the coffee shop when he suddenly announced he’d been miserable from the beginning, should have never married me, felt no passion for me, etc. Oh, but NO, there was NO ONE ELSE involved, he’d just come to this realization of his misery on his own. Yeah, right. His constant fucking of other men over the years, that had nothing to do with it either. Because he was “straight, but confused.”

            Even his OW didn’t buy his bullshit about how miserable he’d been in the marriage. She knew me, had spent time together with ex and me at parties, at her house for dinner, playing tennis, doing volunteer work. I saw an email she sent him, and she actually wrote that she didn’t entirely believe he was as miserable as he claimed. Of course, that didn’t stop her from fucking him whenever possible, or making plans for him to dump me to be with her.

  • @Arnold, I just read some of your other posts–my apologies. I only read the first few responses and sounded off. Sorry!

  • This is the author of “The End of Men” I don’t even have words to describe how bad her tripe is. She is so fucked up on so many levels I’m not surprised she wrote that shit. She blames women’s success in education and the lame strides we’ve made in equality for men’s masculinity and identity issues. Surprise, it’s really the fucked up patriarchy that insists men must be better or “more than” women. But, nope, Hanna Rosin has spoken, women are immasculating men by being more successful, quick get barefoot and pregnant, you must shore up those poor men. Now she’s an expert on infidelity?

    You realize her current husband is the editor of Slate? That’s why she gets published. She needs a helluva lot of therapy before she can even talk about this subject. Article mentions that she had to cross state lines to get away from her ex husband but I’ve never been able to find out why she divorced, not one damn word is written about her failed marriage.

    She is an entitled piece of crap with delusions of…oh wait, she’s published. We should bow down to her obvious intellectual prowess and realize she is totally right! We are to blame for our spouses cheating, they didn’t owe us honesty when we weren’t meeting their needs. We should have KNOWN they were unhappy and exactly why and magically fixed our marriages, we should have been able to read their fucking minds. I for one totally blew it, I didn’t read my ex’s mind, no wonder he cheated…

  • “Hanna Rosin — May your husband impregnate your babysitter, may your savings be invested in a Ponzi scheme, and may your father be your uncle. And may every soul you turn to for comfort denounce your grief as Puritanical. May you take the blame. And may you be forced to convince your tormentors each day that this was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.”

    I snorted with laughter CL, hilarious yet profound as always.

  • My poor eyes could not stop rolling over this latest steaming pile of … you know.

    It kind of reminds me of something my ex said to one of my friends who encountered him about two years after he left me and our companion animals, one of whom bonded exclusively with him. My friend asked,

    “Why didn’t you take Henry?”

    “I didn’t want to split up the family.”

    I laughed so hard I thought I’d puke!

    What the hell is the matter with people who don’t think that betrayal is a big deal?!

  • I seriously googled this chick after I read the article to see if she had some kind of suspicious marital history because I thought only a cheater could write such bullshit. Alas, she is happily married (or so it appears) so she must just be ignorant.

    One of my favorite parts is when she dismisses the practice of therapists treating infidelity as a trauma and refers to using a more “practical” approach instead. Practical or not, what I went through was a fucking trauma.

    The only thing I found interesting was the categorizations of types of cheating, since sometimes we try to do that ourselves. Although the categories themselves are wrong since entitlement is it’s own category and we know that all cheaters suffer from that, maybe with a side of the conflict avoidance, etc. that they discuss.

    • see my post above AnotherErica, she is married now to editor of Slate, she eludes to having to cross state lines to get away from a previous husband but there is nothing at all about her past online. Love to know if anyone finds out her history. This woman’s seriously pissed me off with her book and Atlantic article, sorry I’m kinda letting it spill over to this post. I want to know why she divorced her first (second, third?) husband. She has no real bio on line, this is unusual for an author of an article about infidelity.

    • aE– The only word I could find to describe how I felt after I learned my ex had cheated on me for decades, with family friends, sometimes group sex, always unprotected sex, while acting like he adored me, was “violated.” As if I had been the victim of some terrible crime.

      • yeah, and it’s not really something you can explain to someone who hasn’t gone through it. That’s why it’s annoying when people who don’t know what the hell they are talking about try to minimize what we have experienced.

        • Yep. The minimizing is annoying. And they’ve never been through it, so how do they know, anyways? Someone the other day was telling me how, “Let’s be honest, there are lots of worse things that can happen to you…” Well….I know that this is not a life-and-death tragedy or war or something….but the emotional devastation is incredibly, deeply traumatic. I’ve never been through the type of stuff he was implying would be worse, but….I would imagine the pain is a different type of pain. I know that absolute betrayal and abandonment by the person you loved and trusted most is incredibly painful. And I don’t know if there would be so much cognitive dissonance with a lot of the other tragic circumstances he was implying… I guess I can’t know because I haven’t been in those shoes. I do know that I have a very hard time imaging pain worse than the emotional pain I have been through this summer…

          • yeah, I don’t think we should rank pain or anything… but I personally know someone whose husband of 20+ years cheated on her AND she is a cancer survivor and she said the cheating was worse. My therapist who is a widow said that experiencing my ex’s infidelity may be worse than if he had died.

            So, while I don’t go around ranking who has it worse or better… I do have it on good authority that I’m not “overreacting”.

            All I know is whoever you were talking to seriously lacks empathy. And tact. Even if you can’t imagine what someone is going through, you don’t need to negate their feelings with examples of what could feel worse. And it doesn’t sound like he’s experienced any of these supposedly more horrible things either.

            There is no reason to compare whose suffering is worse. Does it matter? This is the shittiest thing that has happened to you. It’s so far beyond shitty that it is in fact traumatic. And you can only experience things relative to your own life. I don’t see how thinking about some hypothetical experience that could have been worse is helpful or relevant.

            • Thanks, anotherErica. I think he was just trying to help, but that and a couple of other comments during this have shown that he doesn’t get the depth of betrayal. But, hey, this kind of thing is hard to “get” until you are experiencing it. Other than those couple of comments, he’s been super, incredibly supportive. So I let those comments pass because he’s been there for me more than most other people. Buy yeah, I have a list of things not to say to someone in this situation that I have been noting as I hear some comments from people here and there… 🙂

            • On this depth of pain thing, I have read, like others, that recovering from cheating is more difficult than revovery from sexual assault of loss of a child.
              Now, I never took that to mean that the pain was greater. I think, clearly, any of us would rather go through this than lose one of our kids.
              But, there is a distinction between saying something is more painful and saying recovery is more difficult.
              Often, when I tell folks this, they think I am saying that I would rather lose one of my kids, or be sexually assaulted (I was , as a kid) and that I am diminsishing the effects of those things and exaggerating the pain of infidelity.
              But, what I try to make clear to them is that I do not know what it is like to lose a child(as mentioned, I do know about sexual assault, first hand). It may well be that losing a child is the most painful thing in the world. I know I would much prefer being betrayed by my spouse to losing one of my kids.
              But, the recovery is different for each of these things. Death of a child involves no betrayal, usually. One’s fond memories of the child are not vitiated. One is not left wondering things like ” when we went to Disney World and I thought we were all happy, was my child betraying me at that time?” etc.
              Folks give you much more sympathy and support to help recover from a death like this. You do not hear folks saying “get over it” or such. Your work gives you slack and time off. You get food sent to the house. Neighbors come over to check on you etc. Not so much with infidelity.
              And, your child is not around all the time , flaunting a betrayal in your face, reminding you of the loss all the time.

              • Great point on the difference between “level of pain” and the process of recovery. I think makes a lot of sense about the differences as related to recovery from the pain…and I think you’re right that it’s the recovery process that is different because of all the questioning of what came before… Great distinction, Arnold.

              • My work was pretty good about giving me time-off with the whole post-Dday 2 thing.

                They insisted I take a week off just to get my head together. A week isn’t long, but at the end of that week, I was looking forward to working just to keep me busy and interacting with others.

                All in all, I would say my work team was very supportive allowing time off for the divorce and moving her stuff, and so on. I feel very fortunate to be a part of that team. No doubt about that. I work with some really good, compassionate people.

            • Agreed re: “experiencing my ex’s infidelity may be worse than if he had died.” I see it as a whole other category of being widowed — widowed, in this way, by intention. Yes, it would have been easier on me, eventually, if he had died.

              And yes, the abandonment by betrayal is trauma — a threat to one’s life. I was very ill and not able to work (for $ — I work my kiester off every day to survive, to keep myself functioning, on a very small medical pension) when my once-husband’s betrayal came to light. He’d probably been at it for about a year. I am still ill — my health has not recovered; in fact, it has become worse. He began trolling elsewhere when my medical situation was deemed “not fixable.” He wanted a new toy that worked, I suppose.

              Can’t help but wonder … Didn’t Dante, in his *Divine Comedy*, assign betrayers to the lowest ring of Hell?

              • That made me go refresh on Dante and it looks like my ex is in line for a visit to most of the circles. 🙂

              • Yep! I checked:

                “The soul up there most punished, and for cause,
                is Judas,” said my Guide…
                …We do not see or hear the way he begs
                For that same mercy he did not bestow.”

                (Clive James’ translation of Dante)

                Too bad that relational treason isn’t considered as horrific a crime as treason to one’s country — Betray your country? Life sentence or death. Betray the one you’re supposedly mated with? No big deal! It isn’t really your fault anyway! Boggles the mind …

          • Wow, whoever you were talking to is seriously unsympathetic. I hope that isn’t a friend or family member. Yeah, I am sure being skinned alive or locked up in some sociopath’s house for a decade would be worse than the nightmare I went through, but really, who the fuck would make such a comparison? Only a person who needs to get hit hard and fast by the clue bus.

            • “Let’s be honest, there are lots of worse things that can happen to you…”

              That’s obnoxious. He may have been coming from a good place but I still want to punch him for you. This is by far the worst thing I have ever been through and I’ve had some messed up stuff happen to me. Discovering my stbx was a sex addict was like discovering he was a serial killer. Or a rapist. The depravity, the betrayal, the loss, the abuse, and the violation that I didn’t even realize was going on. For some of us the risk to our health, our finances, our kids? It has all of the hallmarks of a random act of violence with the evil of it being done by someone we love and trust the most. Yeah, there are few things that compare.

          • You know Northern, fuck ’em. Learning we’ve been lied to and betrayed by our spouses, who have literally stolen years from our lives and abandoned our families….and we should say, “hey, someone died the other day so I have it good”??

            What my ex did to me made me feel profoundly VIOLATED. What my ex did to me caused me to have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. I think these people do not value marriage or fidelity so cannot understand why you do, and why you mourn its loss.

            I was the victim of an exceedingly violent crime when I was 23, and almost died. I told my ex shortly after D-Day that that was nothing compared to what he did to me, that I would choose the crime committed by a stranger any day.

      • “Violated”.

        Pretty on target.

        About 2 years in therapy, I think my psychologist lost patience a little bit.

        He announced, Blue Eyes, you’ve still never had sex.

        When you consider I was married for 9 years, its a chilling thought that there is a level of deceit so extreme it renders you incapable of informed consent.

        • THIS is the part my cheating ex cannot cannot understand. That when you lie to people in order to get what you want, you are treating them as an OBJECT, not an individual human being with the right to INFORMED consent about the situations in which they involve themselves, including having sex, and investing their time and energy into a relationship.

          He just tried again to convince me to `try again`, after all sorts of apologies for not appreciating me or the kids before, and speeches about how he now understands so much more about why he behaved so badly, and is becoming a better person pretty much before my very eyes! And yet, he asked me out on a date while the OW still thinks they are in a monogamous relationship, and does NOT understand why I would take that as evidence that he is still not the kind of person I want in my life. He is still a bad person.

          (Not that I would have accepted the date or ‘tried again’ even if he hadn’t been trying to cheat on the OW with me. I am well vaccinated now!)

          • Excellent! I am hoping I am a better judge of character in future if I decide to get involved in another relationship, and if I am not, I am hoping I at least have the good horse-sense to walk away before it turns into a horror story 🙂

            This morning… I read of the adventures of Kris Jenner… at the risk of turning myself into an avoidant personality in retrospect. I am pretty happy being single now, and behavior like that woman’s just fills me with dread.

      • @Kelly, yes, I have said the exact same thing. I felt like the victim of a crime. I know it sounds very odd, and it took me a while to articulate, but ultimately it felt like I had experienced a form of murder. The concept of my mortality was at the core of my horror. In a blink of an eye, life as I knew it was gone. I was being forcibly lifted out of my life, home, community, but other than my absence, everything in that world would go on as before with another woman in my place, as if I never mattered. Everything that I thought belonged to me was suddenly taken. It was the most vulnerable and powerless and worthless I have ever felt.

        • OMG!!!!

          I was about to say ‘you have no idea how much I was vilified by STBXH for equating being cheated on with murder’ – but I am absolutely sure that here, of all the thousands of bloody websites I’ve googled over the years, I’ ve finally found the place where you’ll all exactly understand what I mean! I love you all! So, so tired of the unicorn of reconciliation and the bloody, bloody evil blameshifting – it’s a mad world out there!!!

          kisses and hugs to everyone, and many thanks to Tracy for creating this haven of intelligent sanity xxxx

  • I love what Arnold wrote–thanks, Arnold!

    (I’ve always liked you….)

    I need to remember how to articulate that–not that people challenge me, ever. I do believe that living well is the best way to get people to wonder what the hell is wrong with xH.

    On the other hand, there is that bullshit about, “Oh, it takes two,” or, “There’s two sides to every story.” (Yeah, the cheater’s side and the truth.) No, I wasn’t perfect. No, I’m no more deserving of abandonment than any other wife I know who is happily married–except she picked better than I did.

    But, right! Why is it so hard for people to see that cheaters suck!? Why would people be so reluctant to blame the sort of person who could lie, cheat, and steal, for being a bad person? Where did the idea come about that we “shouldn’t judge”?

    Meh. Let people believe what they want. As far as my divorce goes, it doesn’t matter. All I know is that I don’t have to be married to the jerk any more.

    The upside of infidelity in my case was being let out of a really bad marriage.

    • I am going to keep reminding myself of this: “I do believe that living well is the best way to get people to wonder what the hell is wrong with xH.”

      We sign the divorce paperwork today. I will try to think of it as a way to stop opening the wound, allowing it to heal and me to move forward and live well…

        • We signed the paperwork. It was the saddest thing I have every had to do in my life. Not the saddest and worst day of my life, cause that was dday. But it was definitely the saddest thing I have ever had to do. Especially because I had to be the one requesting it, cause it is for reason of adultery. Anyhow, I went to the bathroom after leaving the office, and as soon as I closed the door I started crying hard (I didn’t know I was going to start crying then, but I did) and I ended up throwing up (because I was crying so hard). Ugh. Hopefully the divorce will be finalized before the end of the year.

          • Hugs.

            I remember those days.

            I cried until I vomited. I took a prescription narcotic just to get a straight 5 hours of sleep each night. I got through each day on coffee and antacids.

            And the AP gushed all over Andy that I must really not give a shit since I was still functional.

            Hello? Five year old child expects dinner on the table and heat in the home, regardless of what kind of bullshit her father is up to.

            It will get better. Making it legal is a really big step in putting all his shit behind you.

            Keep us posted.

    • Stephanie, I so get you on the better picker. We were away on a weekend. The other wives were pudgy, with fat tummies. They weren’t fantastically groomed. They wore glasses. They bossed their husbands around. Ordinary middle aged married mothers, you know?

      And their husbands responded to them, looked and them, and loved them. I am talked normal interactions, not Hollywood luvved up BS.

      And I thought, why me and not them? You gave the answer right there. They had better pickers.

    • I look at the “it takes two” thing this way. My ex cheated on me when I was thinner and when I was heavier , when I was more interested in sex and when I was less interested in sex, while I was pregnant, when I had infants and young children at home, and when all our kid were teens. He cheated when I was a peon lawyer and when I was a named partner, when I paid him a lot of attention and when I paid relatively little. My ex cheated for at least 15 years, through good times and bad, when we were richer and poorer, when I was sick and when I was well, I think you guys see where I’m going here.

      Of course I had faults, and could be blamed for those faults. But causing THAT??? Nope, sorry. Our cheating exes own their own shit.

      • Kelly, that sounds so much like my situation. I will never know all that happened but yes, he cheated on my through anything and everything, it seems. And if he wasn’t actually cheating he was having online flirtations with a harem of women that were completely out of line. It’s astounding when I think about him saying I wasn’t paying him enough attention or that he simply wasn’t happy. Well, yeah, it’s hard to be happy with your wife when all your energy is spent on getting attention from other women.

        He still blames me to this day and still tries to peddle that the marriage was just, you know, crumbling all on its own, and I just didn’t ‘make’ him happy. Nothing ever said about the fact that he was screwing around.

        • You know Nord, they should stop trying to hide behind our skirts at this point, and instead man up. We are not the ones who cheated, betrayed, got sex wherever and whenever we chose with whomever we felt like at that moment. We never shortchanged our marriages, lied to our spouse and children, risked their physical health and certainly harmed their emotional health, gaslighted, and spent marital assets on OW. We never allowed our spouses and children to build a life based on lies and deceit and betrayal. We never willingly broke our most solemn vows and continued to do so without mercy and without remorse.

          WE are the ones who should have complained that our spouses were not meeting OUR emotional needs, OUR sexual needs, and OUR family’s needs. They cheat, destroy a family, and complain that they were driven to it by…. themselves. Why didn’t we STOP THEM, for god’s sake!!

          What pitiful, mewling cowards they are.

  • Sheesh—how long before the next quack suggests that wives or husbands of murdering spouses “made space” for their homocidal partners to off them?

    • Interesting that you should say this. I just read an article where an elderly couple who have been living in Missouri are being accused of murdering their ex-spouses and are awaiting extradition to somewhere out west (I forget where – Wyoming maybe?).

      I would like for that idiot Hanna Rosin to explain to me how those two ex-spouses were somehow at least partially complicit in and responsible for their own deaths.

    • “made space” There is the tell. These new age yupster therapists love this type of weird word salad deal. I wonder if my XW was seeing this therapsit when she coined the phrase “the chemistry became sexualized” in describing her cock gobbling.

  • Right on with your final paragraph, CL. I don’t fault people who haven’t been cheated on for not understanding the depths of pain it brings, but I guess I do fault them for advising me on how to deal with it when they can’t possibly know. If I hear one more time, from a well meaning friend or therapist, that the affair isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of larger problems in the marriage, I swear to G-d I will scream out loud.

    My mother in law, whom I stupidly looked to for support after learning of my husband’s affair during my eighth month of pregnancy, told me that I should try to figure out my role in her son’s unhappiness so I could fix it and ‘fight for my family.’ She also told me that I needed to give him time to grieve the loss of his affair partner. Horrifyingly, my MIL is a marriage and family therapist, and I think she is proud of her advice and viewed it as clinically appropriate and sound. I’ve thought a thousand times since then whether she’d give the same advice to her daughter if her daughter’s husband had been the cheater.

    Honestly, I don’t think these things can be handled other than by personalizing them. So in line with CL’s final paragraph, may she discover during the eighth month of her first pregnancy that her husband is cheating with another lawyer at work. May those she turns to for support encourage her to examine her own inadequacies to figure out her part in his need for an affair. May she torture herself by wondering where he really is, and with who, every time her husband happens not to pick up the phone when she calls or is a few minutes late getting home. May she find emails and photos of her spouse and his affair partner (which invariably include sex talk as well as at least one mean-spirited comment about how naïve and clueless the unsuspecting betrayed spouses are) and have those words reverberate through her mind like a debilitating echo chamber. May her self esteem be demolished by endlessly comparing herself unfairly and unifavorably to the person her spouse cheated with, and may she lay awake at night imagining [inaccurately] the fairy tale perfection that her cheating spouse and his AP now share.

    Now I feel better!

    • “She also told me that I needed to give him time to grieve the loss of his affair partner”

      In other times, other places, this would not be figuratively speaking.

      • I started working on divorce immediately after I found out about the bullshit. Then I read the book “Just Friends” Then the MC my ex convinced me to see said all of these things. She did tell me it was hard for ex to let go of OW because they had a relationship, so I should be patient. That we had a long history together so surely it was worth fighting for, blah, blah blah. And in the end he nearly shot me – I guess that was my fault too. I should have realized he might bring a gun in if I insisted on divorcing him.

        • Ugh, the whole thing about needing to understand that the cheating spouse’s relationship with the affair partner is ‘real’ and that he or she needs to be given time to get over it… I swear that was one of the more insulting slaps in the face (I’m speaking metaphorically– no physical abuse in my case). Like a true chump, I heeded this advice and gave my spouse a wide emotional berth to address his ‘grief’ over the loss of his affair partner. So now I’ll always have the image of my husband crying his eyes out over her while holding our six-week old son, tearfully telling our infant over and over, “I’m doing this for you, I’m doing this for you.” I know, the noble sacrifice he made! It’s so ridiculous and melodramatic that I genuinely laugh about it now, but at the time it was excruciating.

          Your ex sounds terrifying, Datdamwuf, and you’re well rid of him (which I know you know). Good for you.

          • Waht a complete asshole and drama king. WTF,wailing like a baby while holding your baby? Thatis fucking unbeleivably pathetic.
            Oh, the bravery, the sacrifice. Why, oh why God am I so much stronger than other men?
            I love the scene in the movie MASH, where Sally Kellerman, after listening to Frank Burns tell her how God meant for them to cheat together,opens her robe, grbs Franks’ head and jams it between her boobs , saying ” His will be done”.
            For some reason, your husband’s whining etc reminded me of this.
            You should have videotaped it and broadcasted it.

            • Arnold, that is both the funniest and most validating thing I’ve read in months. Thank you! Thank you! I may adopt this as my own secret code. The next time my husband makes one of his self-congratulatory references to all he’s given up to stay with my son and me, I’ll say quietly to myself or maybe even aloud, “His will be done!” Awesome.

              And thank you for validating my disgust about my husband’s crying himself to sleep with our son when he finally gave up his affair partner. Drama king is right, and it feels like coming up for air to see that put in print by someone else.

          • they really can be melodramatic, can’t they? The annoying thing is I think it takes a while for others to see it…

            like my ex is so over the top about expressing his love for our kids, I do kinda worry they will love him more and/or think he loves them more than I do because I act like a normal person around them.

          • That just made me vomit into my mouth, I can’t think of a word bad enough for your ex, aRebecca. Fuck him too.

            • Thanks, Kelly. For some reason it helps to hear others agree about the hideousness of that episode. And I didn’t mean to lawyer-bash by mentioning that he (a lawyer) cheated with another lawyer at his firm. I know you and Arnold are lawyers… and I am too.

        • Oh yeah DDW, you left “space” for him to bring a gun and shoot you, see, you have to own your “part” in this (eye roll).

      • Yeah, offing your spouse or your spouse’s affair partner used to be considered a ‘crime of passion’ and penalties were very low! Now it’s ‘there are two sides to every story’ and ‘don’t be bitter, just move on’.

        I’m glad it’s no longer considered acceptable to kill a cheater, but not so glad it’s only some kind of misdemeanor to cheat.

    • Or even, since the claim is that an affair can only improve one type of marriage where there was one type of affair (I guess the ‘brief stupidity affair’), to normalize immaturity and laziness (in the sense of taking the easy way out). I don’t think everybody who has an affair is a sociopath, and some aren’t even narcissists (although anybody who has long-term affairs or multiple ones is surely either one or the other). Some cheaters are just immature and lazy – but I wouldn’t want to be married to one of them, either! And I wouldn’t want to place any bets on how much marriage counseling will help w/those issues, especially in the absence of the ‘real remorse’ signs we’ve all searched for, and in the absence of a couples counsellor who is willing to dive into the affair, the real responsibility for the affair, and its impact, and THEN deal w/any ‘relationship issues’ that were occurring before the affair.

    • You know Nancy that is a very good point. I have been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about these kinds of articles. They ARE trying to normalize sociopathy, and they are encouraging us to try to appease the sociopaths. Ick!

  • Well, she is getting really panned on it.

    ‘A person got shot in the abdomen. When he was admitted to ER, the scan discovered he had the beginnings of cancer, which was treated, and saved. Therefore, being shot saves your life’.

    Nope, they aren’t eating the shit sandwich even there.

    • I don’t think it’s always money or religion, I think people actually believe this stuff, especially couples counsellors who’ve been trained w/this twisted info. The Simon’s book on character disorders talks a lot about the models of psychopathology that lie behind the belief that we’re all the same, deep down, and therefore cheaters are poor messed up people who are suffering inside, and that’s why they behave badly. Add that to the ‘systemic’ beliefs that anything that happens in a family or couple is a reflection of everything happening there, and that couples have pretty equal levels of pathology, and you can see where it comes from. WRONG, but not necessarily about money or religion.

      And the other option, of course, is the writer/therapist’s own narcissism. If you have to justify and avoid responsibility for your own bad behaviour, it can be pretty attractive to do that for everybody who falls under the same umbrella!

  • The comments about this piece of crap article Rosin wrote are nearly all negative, how this stuff get published is a wonder.

  • I know I am late to the party on this, but articles like this just chap my ass and make my head want to explode.

    From my own personal experience and from what I’ve read here and on other sites (most particularly those that champion reconciliation), most Chumps sincerely internalize what part they may have played in any breakdown in the marriage and take whatever SINCERE and MEANINGFUL steps they can to try to correct it. Most Chumps are 100% in on making the marriage better and making the marriage work – until they’re not. When they’re not it is usually because most of the effort to make the marriage work is coming from them and has usually come from them throughout the marriage. If the cheating spouse was committed to the marriage, IMO, they wouldn’t be cheating. They would be discussing with their partner why they might be less than enthused or feeling unfulfilled or unhappy in the relationship and suggesting ways in which they might work on it to make things better. Should that fail, they would be having an HONEST discussion about how to best and amicably end the relationship.

    Cheaters cheat because they lack character and integrity, because they want to and because they can. I would like for someone to do a study, if one hasn’t already been done, to examine how many marital cheaters also exhibit situational ethics, morals and integrity in other areas of their lives. Cheating requires time, energy and a willingness to deceive and lie to a person who, for all intents and purposes, is doing everything they can to support and honor you, even if their efforts are sometimes flawed and incomplete. If cheaters would invest the same time and energy they expend cheating into the marriage, they might find the same fulfillment within the marriage – if that was actually what they were looking for.

    I know for a fact that I did everything I could to make my cheating POS SOB STBX feel happy and content in our marriage – to the extent that I lost sight of the fact that I also deserved happiness and contentment, among other things. Everything was all about him all the time and it still wasn’t enough. Why would it be? In making it all about him, I gave up all of myself.

    So to Hanna Rosin and her bullshit article, and all the psuedo-therapists who do victim-blaming, blame-shifting and minimizing to an already traumatized group of survivors – Fuck you and the lame ass, half dead horses you rode in on.

    • Hurrah Chump Princess! Those last two paragraphs are it. I gave up so much for him and I really did lose myself at the end. And then this shit happened, just when I was pretty much at my lowest ebb. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. He made little to no effort for years and I just kept trying to fix things and fix things and fix things. Insane.

  • there’s an upside. crap. I thought the upside was the stress over money, raising a teenager as a single parent, worry about what will happen as I am now entering the golden years, listening from others the BS he spins, losing mutual friends, the wonderful life I thought I had, a dating pool of people just like him, loss of self esteem, the pain and humiliation of his affair. being told after 27 yrs together that he never loved me-ever, at least I didn’t lose my sense of humor. gotta love those curve balls.

    • “being told after 27 yrs together that he never loved me-ever, at least I didn’t lose my sense of humor. gotta love those curve balls.”

      Well, you obviously left your socks on the bathroom floor one too many times.

      No? Oh wait, that’s my story 🙂 The rest is similar, but my sentence (marriage) was shorter.

          • LOL KarenE 😀

            … of course, there’s no excuse for UGLY SHOES – you just wanted him to cheat didn’t you???? 😉 how very passive aggressive of you!!!!! 😀

            … and Mehphista – really?? – the WRONG SPOON??? – Oh for heaven’s sakes – hope he’ s taken his security spoon with him – did you pack it up with his beaker and dummy (retainer, for our US chums :-D)?

            LOL – came across a post on Mumsnet re ‘stupid things cheaters say: ‘It’s not my fault. I’m a psychopath!’ OP coined the phrase Tosspotopath – I so love it! 😀

  • I was about to say ‘you have no idea how much I was vilified by STBXH for equating being cheated on with murder’ – but I am absolutely sure that here, of all the thousands of bloody websites I’ve googled over the years, I’ ve finally found the place where you’ll all exactly understand what I mean! I love you all! So, so tired of the unicorn of reconciliation and the bloody, bloody evil blameshifting – it’s a mad world out there!!!

    kisses and hugs to everyone, and many thanks to Tracy for creating this haven of intelligent sanity xxxx

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    While I enjoyed reading the negative comments on Slate in response to Roisin’s P.O.S. article, I want to thank you for writing the definitive Smack-Down. That new-age victim-blaming bullshit deserves as much ridicule and abuse as possible.

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