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A Word about Reconciliation

divorce_cheerleaderAn extra post today, guys. We have new chumps joining our ranks each day, and all are welcome. But I wanted to clear up some misconceptions about this site that were the subject of discussion a couple posts back, by Aloysha. Essentially taking me to task for not being realistic about the horrors of divorce, and not being more pro-reconciliaton when possible, among other topics.

Chump Lady is not a pro-reconciliation site. You only need to google to be directed to hundreds of pro-reconciliations sites. This is not one of them.

I have argued my skepticism about reconciliation in many places on this blog. Here are two posts that sum up my views. Reconciliation and Entitlement — and — Real Remorse? Or Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse.

I am not disdainful of people who reconcile. Yes, I think the decision to reconcile is often based in fear, but it also comes from the noblest parts of our character. The parts of us that try to forgive, that sacrifice, that try harder. Unfortunately, in my experience and the experience of many others, those qualities are often shared with people who abuse them. Who do not sufficiently appreciate or bring their best efforts to match ours. Who often continue to cheat on us and disrespect us.

I do hold cheaters in disdain who feel entitled to reconciliation. It is a gift. It’s not an entitlement. I am disdainful of cheaters who gaslight and blameshift. Who want chumps to “own their part” of  infidelity. And I despise cake eaters. Cheaters who want you to be patient with them while they “choose.” I despise the secret cake eaters — cheaters who put chumps through false reconciliation.

I do question chumps who stay in reconciliation with cheaters who aren’t doing the work. This isn’t disdain. It’s What the Fuck are you DOING?

Oh, hang on I have disdain!– I  am disdainful of people in reconciliation who are disgusted with people who divorce, dismissing them as quitters or some how not quite noble enough to  Keep Their Family Together. A big middle finger to those people.

I think that sums up my disdain.

As for the horrors of divorce? I believe I’ve covered those. Other people’s judgement of you? Check. Fallout with the children? Check. The financial scariness? Check.

Am I sugarcoating divorce? Oh, it’s awesome. I could have a year-long vacation in Europe, or I could be sued for custody. I picked paying my legal bills every time. Paris is still waiting for me.

Nobody wants divorce. No sane, loving person goes into marriage assuming it will end in divorce. No one wants to see their children hurt.

Chump Lady is not a “cheerleader” for divorce. I’m a cheerleader for a new life.

Someone cheats on you. They won’t stop. They’re endangering your health and welfare. They’re spending your retirement account on prostitutes? They’re not one bit sorry? What’s the alternative? Sucking it up for the children?

I don’t think so. Hell YES it’s painful. But the pain is FINITE. IMO, hopium and spackle are the tools we use to avoid pain — the necessary PAIN that comes when we enforce our boundaries and stop being chumps. When we say NO MORE. When we call the divorce lawyer.

I’m not lying to you. It hurts. Giving up the dream of what you thought you had. But what else do you propose? Getting hung up on the injustice of it? Staying stuck at IT’S NOT FAIR!

Okay, it’s not fair. You didn’t deserve it and it’s not your fault. NOW WHAT?

How about embracing a new life? How about taking control over what you have control over — YOU.

Oh, but the “horrors of divorce!” We’re supposed to be scarred for life.

Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you the horrors of my divorces. My solid kid. The new career opportunities. Falling in love again with a good man. Remarriage. Happiness. A kind of low key contentment. The absence of chaos and mindfuckery.

Okay, I lost money. Fair enough. I recouped it. I sold a house (at a loss). I retooled the job skills. I combined a life. I inherited some money. I’m okay. Just fine.

Of course I knew nothing of this when I had to make the scary decision to leave a cheater. No one gave me a crystal ball and said “It will all work out, Tracy.” No, I had to take it on faith like everyone else does.

The point of this site? Have FAITH in yourself. Stop putting your faith in unholy unions with cheaters.

I think that sums it up.

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  • The reason I love this site so much is that you don’t sugar coat it. Divorce sucks, but there are some things worse than a divorce and I lived it for 4 long years of separation and then false reconciliation with a serial cheater. And this after 23 years of what I thought was an eternal marriage. So Chumlady, keep on telling it like it really is, not what so many delusional chumps want to believe it is. I love you! You ROCK!

    • It, thanks for sharing. How did you know my story?!

      I am grateful for the post in the HuffPo (which I rarely read) that mentioned TS/CL. Through that I stumbled toward her brilliance and her village of soul mates who truly Get It. Pulled me from the chumpweeds. Thank you all. Here’s to us. Let us raise a bowl of bread pudding to CL. Huzzah!

  • “I disdain cheaters who gaslight and blameshift. Who want chumps to “own their part” of infidelity. And I despise cake eaters. Cheaters who want you to be patient with them while they “choose.” I despise the secret cake eaters — cheaters who put chumps through false reconciliation.

    “I do question chumps who stay in reconciliation with cheaters who aren’t doing the work. This isn’t disdain. It’s What the Fuck are you DOING?”..,,.

    .. These paragraphs described my marriage !!!!.. I agree with CL.. I only wish I knew what she knows many years ago.. I would have saved myself a lot of heartache, pain & loss of self esteem.

    I have no criticism for reconcilers especially if the cheater is genuinely remorseful , owns the affair completely & is willing to do the work BUT I’m living proof that CHEATERS will continue to cheat! I know for certain that marriage to a cheater is a life of MISERY & that most women stay not because they cannot see “the handwriting on the wall clearly” but because we are afraid and because we will rather live on false hope or ” HOPEium ( I love that word 🙂

    I spent an entire year reading the pro reconciliation blogs & books & a lot of it put the blame on the betrayed & claimed it was my job to “restore my marriage”

    The first day I came across CL was the first day of my redemption of the horror I called marriage.. I have peace I filed for divorce from someone who cheated on me repeatedly, I wake up without pain in my heart, I have no fear of his emotional abuse, I found the strength & wisdom to go & stay no contact right from the pages of CL & chump nation.

    I know there will be bumps & difficult times ahead & even though I know I did the ABSOLUTE RIGHT THING by filing for divorce, it is still painful acknowledging the loss of your dreams but anything & I repeat ANYTHING beats staying with someone who cheats on you. I have hope of a new life filled with new dreams.. I have hope of a LIFE.. Which u will never have staying with a Cheater

    • 13YEARCHUMP,
      That’s the hope I have. New dreams, new life. It’s already here. Rock n Roll 13YEAR. Get stoked. To our STBX’s I say….Bazinga!

  • Ugh I just don’t understand people who say negative things about those of us that choose divorce. It wasn’t MY choice – my NOW EX chose it for me when he decided that he wanted out of a marriage that wasn’t bad, he just decided he wasn’t getting enough out of it but not vocal about it. HE was the one that left the marriage when he didn’t live up to his obligation of being a husband and ensuring he did everthing in his power to truly know it was time to leave. He just gave up and then KNOWING he couldn’t get himself to actually follow through on filing for divorce, he chose the most damaging and hurtful route and had a nearly year long affair because a) his happines was what mattered most at all costs and b) an affair would be the only thing that would cause ME to file for divorce. He got me to do his dirty work for him. He’s the one that did not honor the marriage yet I’m the one that’s bad for divorcing him? He broke the contract, he broke the vow, he chose the dishonorable way to get out of the marriage – at 23 year relationships, married for half that and the onus is on ME to make it all better. How do you make it all better with someone who has no real intention of doing the right thing? Divorce is awful but so is staying in a marriage that your husband checked out of.

    • This is exactly what happened in my situation. Well put Chrissybob. There was NO WAY I could right that marriage. It was done and he wanted out. He was just a coward and a cake eater for as long as it suited him.

    • Chrissybob, you summed up my life perfectly! I did all the ‘dirty’ work while he did the wrong…6 affairs (ranging from emotional to physical in 5 years). He even said to me “one day I’m going to tell the kids that YOU were the one that filed for divorce so they will hate you”. Nice.

    • Chrissybob, you also just described my marriage and my ex perfectly. I was the only one fighting for our marriage. My ex checked out about 10 years prior to the divorce when he cheated the first time. We “reconciled” but he never showed true remorse. 10 years later, knowing another affair was a deal breaker for me, he cheated again in order to end the marriage. He forced ME to put a bullet in our marriage and end it. It was the last thing I wanted for me or our kids. But you simply can’t stay married to someone who clearly made no effort to honor you or your marriage. It is painful enough to be cheated on, but to add insult to injury, WE were the ones who were forced, by our ex’s actions, to file for divorce and end the marriage. That makes them even BIGGER cowards. Divorce wasn’t MY choice, cheating wasn’t MY fault. It was his, SOLELY and UNILATERALLY. I just had to do the dirty work of putting an end to it. Yet another shit sandwich to eat. So, yeah, divorce was they way to go here and if I could have turned back the clock to the first time his cheated, “reconciliation” wouldn’t have been and option.

      • And I wonder where the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” comes from? Hmmm
        Sorry, my snarky self is in overdrive today. In some strange way, I enjoy challenging the reconciliation warriors. I don’t enjoy telling them “I told you so.”

        • Yes, this is an “I told you so” none of us ever wanted to have a reason to say.

    • My husband just now sent me an e-mail to get the ball rolling for the divorce. I’m so sad. He has been living with the other woman since Aug and left me over a year and 3 months ago and I am still a complete mess. I don’t know how to let go and move on no matter what I do. When will this pain go away?


      • Oh, you poor thing, Maria. My heart goes out to you. When will the pain go away? It’s been 6 months for me and I’m still a mess, although I don’t cry every day anymore. There are even rare days when a handsome man smiles at me at Starbucks, and I get that glimpst of hope that I may be okay after all, I don’t know if it makes sense. My cheater wants to reconcile and guess what, I don’t want to, so I don’t know if that gives you any idea about what “needs to be done.” I’ve never been in this situation before, but I am, just like CL, and most people who comment on this blog, definitely against any kind of reconciliation with a cheater, especially one who’s done it more than once, which is the case for me.
        Id say he’s doing you a huge favor by initiating divorce proceedings, honestly, you’re in far better position than many of us who deal with policing, false recon and all the other bs. But please know, we all know that it does hurts like a motherfucker. You just have to wait when that Tuesday rolls around, whenever that will be. Hugs.

  • Ditto. Over 20 years with my STBXW and 3 years of false R and limbo. Tracy, I’ve told you several times before, but your blog totally rocks. No other information whether it be books, internet or real life has come close to your views. Your advice and opinions are from real experience, are heart felt and genuine. It seems you are unique in that you call cheaters and the entire reconciliation industrial complex on their BS. It’s a hell of a war fighting that. I’m glad I’m on your side.

  • CL — Thank You! and ditto, ditto, ditto. I’d only add that I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least in the case of long-term relationships like mine (25 years) cheaters cheat for two basic reasons, or a combination thereof. And neither condition is fixable.

    First are the cheaters who really don’t give a shit about you, deep down. They want what they want (to fuck other people, generally) and they are going to get it. They are the people my beloved therapist calls the “fuck you narcissists”.

    Second are the people who cannot stop lying to themselves, and therefore you–the partner–about what they want in life (to fuck other people, generally). They feel sorry for themselves because they “don’t know how to express their needs.” These are the people my beloved therapist calls the “fuck me narcissists”.

    In either case, I can’t see much future for any kind of relationship with such disordered folk. Reconciliation?? With someone who either (a) doesn’t give a shit about you and your feelings and dignity, by definition, or, (b) lies to him/herself about giving a shit about you and your feelings and dignity, by definition. Or a combination of the two.


    • Hooray! Another cut and paste into my journal, with citations! 😉 Thank you for this.

  • Divorce SUCKS for children. I never wanted my kids to have their hearts ripped out, to have their happiness and security peddled for fool’s gold. I regret picking for them the sort of coward their father revealed himself to be. I truly have no idea what the long-term ramifications of their father’s choices and behavior will be, but believe me, I worry about that constantly. All I can do is to salvage from the ruins what I could and do my best with it. I refuse to model victimization or teach that being abusive is an option. I am thankful for the freedom I have to reject abuse. And in taking that action, and living well on my own effort, I am serving not only my but my children’s best interests. I am a proud role model for my children and their friends–perhaps a warning, but also reassurance that you can survive and thrive with aplomb. I won’t apologize for it. I don’t respect anyone who would ask me to. I don’t gloat. I never wanted this for my kids, whom I truly love in action, not just words. But this is what I got, and I am determined to be mighty.

    • Keep up the great work, Miss Sunshine! You’re a very wise & compassionate individual ~ thanks for keeping us inspired & moving forward.

    • Miss Sunshine, this is IT! You have completely and articulately summed up my position on my divorce and the kids. You ROCK!

    • Miss Sunshine,

      A great comment. Beautifully written!

      When facing life with the disordered, NPD-types, the idea of sticking around “for the kids” is really crazy. You are modeling victimization and subjecting them (as well as yourself) to abuse. “Divorce” is not the cause, it’s the result of a bad relationship.

      If you have a bad marriage to an NPD type (who operates according to the forgiveness entitlement idea [“You have to forgive me, or YOU are bad!]), then you have a bad relationship. You are in something that’s radioactive. So, do you want you and your kids to stay close to the radioactivity? (“Here, kids, take this little glowing isotope of uranium and press it to your chest! Swallow it! Pretend it tastes good!”) Or do you want to get some distance from that radioactivity, some shielding? Sometimes divorce is best of the tough choices out there.

      • My gosh, you all are so kind. I am glad we can help each other here.

        For the record, as Tracy says, cheating is a narcissistic act, but I would not with certainty say that my ex has NPD. Rather, he is of the passive-aggressive, anti-social variety of cheater, a victim, “the world is against me” type of personality. He’d been looking for the exit affair since we met–literally. And I hung onto him as if he actually loved me. Perhaps it was wrong of me to make 3 kids with a guy who was so hostile, but I am so thankful every day for my children. I regret him, not them, of course. I wish they had a better father. Maybe one day they will have a better step-dad.

        I guess I always knew something was a bit off with him, but I spackled so that I wouldn’t be alone. I actually believed he was better off with me than without me, and I couldn’t bear to set him free.

        I’m smarter than that now. Lord knows I hope so.

        • Miss Sunshine,

          You are truly an incredible person. I love the way you look at situations and the world.

          • Miss Sunshine: My position exactly. My ex is not NPD, although cheating is narcissistic. But, looking back now, is the poster child for passive-aggression. And cheating to end a marriage is absolutely in my opinion a passive-aggressive act. I too live with the regret of making two children with him who now have that sorry excuse for a man, father and husband as their father for life. I fight feelings of guilt on that quite frequently. But who could have told my 21-year old self that this would happen and he would do what he did? No one. I spackled too because I was afraid to be alone, afraid to damage my kids with divorce. And I’m hoping to one day give them a better example of a man in a step-father. If that’s not in the cards for me, then I will be the example of a better person for them.

        • Miss Sunshine, I didn’t catch on to my ex’s narcissism for a long time, because he’s not the charming/sparkly kind. But over time I started to realize that his every choice was a selfish one, his every expectation an entitled one. Then I found this article that really opened my eyes to his narcissism, of the ‘covert’ type;

          This fits him so perfectly, and perfectly explains why I got dragged in; couldn’t resist trying to help this good-looking, smart guy, who had some very real reasons to be unhappy when I met him, be happier and have a better life. Didn’t know he’s never been happy in his life (other than a few moments of narcissistic highs), that he ALWAYS has someone to blame for his unhappiness (that was me for 15 years), and I thought that this concern for the other’s happiness would be mutual. HAH!

  • Forgiveness and reconciliation efforts are noble. It does show the better part of us as men and women. But, so does claiming your worth and refusing to be hurt by others. For this, I am responsible. A divorce is the only option for me now. Otherwise, I sell my self short and hinder my daughter’s growth. Listening to the reconciliation folks is (mostly) accepting shame from people who are not privy to my thoughts, heart and soul on the matter of love and growth. They think I am ignoble for failing to forgive. So be it.

      • Thanks MovingOn. I come from a Catholic background. My mother is like a shia-Catholic. Crucifixes and holy water are readily available at her house. So, you can imagine the shaming I was going to get. But, once I told my folks, laid it out, they were understanding. But to them, it is a holy sacrament. And, so I may be condemned in their eyes. I doubt they believe it if I were to press the issue of my eternal damnation.

        I think this is where a lot of this shaming crap comes from. I just don’t think Jesus would agree with their view.

        • Thirsty,

          According to the bible, there are two instances where divorce is okay. Here are your citations: divorcing on the grounds of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32; 19:9), OR abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:15).

          I learned about this in Divorcecare. I’m a lapsed Catholic, but it gave me some solace to learn that I wasn’t condemned in God’s eyes to divorce my serial-cheating, sex addicted ex.

          • Thanks. I hope I don’t get into a bible fight, but if I do….Whabam! Nothing a little New Testament to pounce on their ass.

            So, is it moving_on or MovingOn?

              • LOL, it’s handy, I suppose if you deal with that sort of thing from time to time 🙂

                New Testament Vs going to hell for eating clam strips… with tartar and cocktail sauces… yum.

                BTW, a rabbit does not “chew its cud” no matter what some bronze age Hebrew happened to think about that 🙂

        • thirstyfish, I conferred with two priests prior to filing for divorce. They both supported my decision. One of them told me, “Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do to your spouse is to let him go.” He meant that my cheater ex never had to know the consequences of his serial cheating (with a stand by your man wife, he had it made) and I was enabling him by staying. Serial cheater ex never ever wanted a divorce. Cake was too tasty. He was shocked I filed for divorce. Fortunately, the divorce was drama free, other than his initial resistance to sign the papers. He got over it in a hurry when he knew I was going to get it anyway even if he didn’t sign. It was in his best interest to sign. Only time will tell if he has finally hit rock bottom and decides to make better choices. If he does, it will be for the greater good so he never ever hurts another chump, and if he doesn’t, well, it’s not my problem since he is out of my life.

          • My friend and I discussed the “Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do to your spouse is let them go” idea.

            She is is 76 years old and fairly crabby. But, we have wonderful conversations that meander through our histories. It’s good to know an old woman who is not your mom. She said the same to me in this way: “Sometimes the healthy one leaves the relationship. You just have to walk away.” She’s a chump from long ago. If she was on the internet, she would join our conversation here, I’m sure.

        • Actually, the Catholic Church allows for annulment in cases of adultery. Look it up!

          • Thanks heartbroken.
            I need to clarify that I am not Catholic now; just raised in the religion. Although my STBX and I were active Methodists for a time. I’m not active now. I was just pointing out where IMO, some of the faulty beliefs and shame come from when divorce happens. You know, the onus is on the betrayed to forgive. If betrayed fails to do forgive then they are considered feeble spiritually or playing the victim. There is some truth to it otherwise it wouldn’t be cliche. However, I’ll do the healing I need in my time not someone else’s (or some church) idea of what or how that ought to look like.

            • Im sorry to be blunt but fuck whatever religion that tells you to suck it up and deal with cheating. Catholic or not, MOST religions I know about not only condemn adultery but allow for annulment right away. Don’t forget, cheaters get stoned for it in the Middle East 😉

              • Right. I’m not religious. I agree with you. It’s not the doctrine of any particular brand of faith that I know of, but the people. They all do condemn adultery; but I was just commenting on forgiveness and the (sometimes) accompanying pressure. 😉 There are a lot of good religious folk out there and I try to be quick to see where they are right.

  • The first affair I forgave him because I wanted to save the marriage and I still loved him and I thought I could be better. I was one who chose that route. It didn’t do any good as 8 years later he’s telling me he wants out of the marriage, only to find out he had been having another affair. I have been on the both sides of the fence and know that when I walked away, I still felt we had a chance. I was naive to think that. There are very few women that walk away without hope that it can still work out. Then logic sets in and reality sets in and Bam your heading for divorce court. These creeps are too much of cowards and too lazy to face the hard honest work of reconciliation. Its easier to tear the family apart and get their jollies with their whores, just live the life. In the meantime we, as chumps, have the hard jobs of trying to manoeuvre the insanity of keeping the hurt family together.
    Most of the chumps don’t choose divorce, these fools having affairs do. No, no one better criticize what has happened to my life. Put blame where blame belongs, on the Cheaters!

  • I could read a ka-billion books, peruse a sca-billion articles, spend every day in a library for a thousand years and NOT be well read if I had not found your site Tracy. Calling it out, naming it, owning it is the first step in any new life. YOU labeled cheating for what it is and unabashedly define what leaving it behind can mean for us. Perhaps a moral pendulum will swing from selfishness back to doing what is right for a family because of your blog.

  • I was the victim of SWAS (Sudden Wife Abandonment Syndrome) I had NO say in any of it. My cheater told me that I was his second wife when we got married. I found out after we were married (in embarrassing and humiliating ways) I was his FIFTH (cheated on all of them) . I should have cut and run then but he was critically ill with cancer and not expected to live. Somehow he miraculously survived (he called me his Nurse Angel, ahhh~~isn’t that sweet??) and insisted we renew our wedding vows on our anniversary. We did and three months later I caught him with Skank Librarian sneaking off to a motel room. That’s how I knew my marriage was over. He ‘let’ me catch him a motel room with another woman. Much easier on him than just leaving me. But I know for a fact he has cheats on Skank Librarian but she believes she’s got the platinum pussy that can change those spots on that leopard.
    I so wish I had found this site right afterwards. I was devastated beyond words. But at least I finally found this site. Tracy tells it exactly how it is and if people want to try reconciliation, more power to them. It wasn’t even an option for me and today I am So Glad it wasn’t.

  • Funny, my x whose refusal to communicate and hid his location from me for 22 months was the catalyst for me filing for divorce. I guess I was suppose to keep waiting or hire a detective to find him like a good wife. That was suggested by a few so call friends.

    I will no longer feel like I was the bad guy for stopping the emotional abuse and destruction of my self-esteem. I am not a door mat or will sit idly by while he blame shift me. I made the best decision that was about taking care of me and my needs. Call me selfish but I say that for the first time in my marriage I thought about me first.

    Thank you CL for giving me the validation that I needed to stop the gaslighting behavior. I am not ashamed for divorcing him or afraid of being single. It was about my own self preservation.

  • Geeeesh, Chump Lady.

    Did you have to be so wishy-washy? Hahahaha.

    This post was by far your best yet. Why? Because you “virtually” modeled the sage advise you dispense every day.

    Make no excuses.

    Stand firm in your convictions.

    And if you’re a dog-sitter, you’re accepting chump change when you deserve millions.

    I learned a lot from you every day–thank you!

    (((Hugs)) Elizabeth

  • When dday happened, all I could think of was to keep the marriage together. For the kids, mostly. Because it would be best for them.

    So I did everything in the book. I went through the wringer to save my marriage. Went through bone-crushing false R. I lost massive amounts of weight, lost half my milk supply for my newborn baby, and started having panic attacks, which I had never had before (I have enjoyed very good health in my lifetime). When he kept cheating and lying, I was done.

    Now, I have to kill something I loved – my marriage. I was the one who had to file for divorce. He wouldn’t have – he enjoyed eating cake. I had to be the one to do it.

    Divorce SUCKS. I didn’t want this. But I know that this is the best option, given my choices.

    CL’s post about whether it’s “Real Remorse….” is great. My STBX’s was of the pleather variety.

    If it were real, believe me, I’d be staying to reconcile. I don’t have trouble doing the hard work. But I can’t be the only spouse working on the marriage. I can’t continue to be cheated on while he lies to me AND to our marriage counselor.

    • FWIW, I realized that staying with my cheating STBX was actually not best for the kids. At best, he was putting his time and energy (and our money) into his OW, instead of his own family. At worst, he was raging at our children, and driving drunk with them. Part of my journey was me realizing that my “dream” of an intact family wasn’t even real, in this case, so divorcing was actually an improvement for all of us.

      • DLU,
        I am not saying this is true for all cheaters but I know with mine, he viewed his children as accessories and just something else to make him seem normal. He was more angry than sad that his son who is now 23 stopped completely talking with him 5 years ago and will not even allow anyone in his family to give him his address.

        Another fucked up thing, his own mother knows the son’s address and will not give it to him and neither will his ex wife or daughter.

        So I think it’s best for the children if you leave a sick spouse who cheats as children are wiser than anyone and know when something is wrong. They feel safer knowing at least the one sane and more normal parent is happy, healthy and stable. It gives the children more stability and at least one safe haven to rely on without having to worry about walking on eggshells in a house with parents that are having serious problems.
        You can not hide that from children.

        • Wow, his son doesn’t he even want his father to have his address? That is no contact, if I ever saw it.

          What you say is also true for my STBX, who truly thinks that our kids exist to make his life better. When they were anything less than charming and delightful, he was angry at them, or ignored them completely (silent treatment).

  • My parents divorced when I was six years old. I didn’t see much of my bio dad after that, but since he was shacked up with his OW, was a habitual liar and cheater, had the emotional warmth of a refrigerator and was kind of a lazy mooch as well, not such a big loss. Two years later, my mom married a wonderful, loving, generous, big-hearted man who was a fantastic stepfather to me until the day he died ten years ago. I still miss him every day. My bio-father died 16 years ago, and very rarely crosses my mind. So was I scarred for life by my parents divorce, or did I actually benefit? I vote for benefit.

    As for my marriage, sure, it is sad that a 20-year marriage didn’t work out. And I did try as hard as I could to reconcile, to eat the shit sandwiches, to play the pick-me game and to do everything I could to keep that freak satisfied. I did everything all those b*llsh*t pro-reconciliation sites tell you to do. Hell, we even did the Retrouvaille weekend, and the follow-up classes.

    Freak-hole did NOTHING to try to make it work, clearly felt NO remorse whatsoever, and by all indications was STILL cheating during that bogus reconciliation. When he told me he saw no reason to work on the marriage as long as I expected him to get a job, I was DONE. Getting that divorce was the BEST THING I have ever done. Good God, I cannot imagine how horrifying my life would be had I stayed married to that monster.

    Who cares what people who don’t know what they are talking about say? Those of us here who have actually been with a disordered, habitually cheating, lying, abusive manipulator — you guys really get it. I had a choice between a living death with a demon, and the scary unknown of creating a new life. I went for the new life and no one can tell me that is wrong.

    • Glad,

      Can you see that woman standing on the chair whistling and clapping? That’s me. Here! Here!

  • In the beginning I was terribly ashamed of the divorce, of my husband walking out on me. He told me it was my fault and I believed it. After finding this site, and of course a lot of counseling and some time has passed, I now feel like a SURVIVOR.

    I believe there were a lot of messages I received growing up through my church about the importance of marriage, of sticking it out no matter what. My favorite verse is one I had read at our wedding — “…love hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things.” I now think that verse was actually talking about God’s love for us which is perfect. But here on earth between mortals I don’t think we’re meant to “endure all things.”

  • The only people I’ve found who have successfully reconciled are those chumps who discover the affair, IMMEDIATELY leave or toss the cheater out, and file for divorce within 24-48 hours. They end the marriage then and there.

    It forces the cheater into action. If they want to save their marriage, THEY have to do the work: end the affair, end all contact with the OP, and refocus on the marriage. THEY have to chase the chump, beg for forgiveness, and convince them to give ’em another chance. The onus is on THE CHEATER to make it right.

    Unfortunately, most chumps are too shell-shocked on d-day to act so decisively – myself included. We deny it, we get angry, we bargain, etc., for months or YEARS, while the cheater blames us so they can continue to cake eat. That short “window of power” after D-day closes forever as we do the “pick me” dance and eat sh*t sandwiches. The more we bend over backwards to save the marriage, the more the cheater feels entitled to treat us like sh*t.

    It’s a path NO reasonably intelligent person in his right mind would choose. Yet this site is replete with stories of very intelligent people who have done just that (and more), because we don’t want to fail, we don’t want to put our kids through divorce, we don’t want to be a statistic, etc.

    CL, PLEASE keep “telling us like it is.” Because just like hysterical people need to be slapped across the face sometimes to snap ’em back to reality, so too do chumps need to be reminded of “what’s what” when it comes to cheating. It’s as black and white when you’re dating and supposed to be exclusive as it is when you’ve been married for 20 years, have 3 kids, and a joint checking account: cheating is WRONG. DUMP THE CHEATER.

    The instant they put someone ELSE before you, it’s over. Act accordingly.

    • I’ve posted before that the only successful reconciliation that I am aware of where the chump held fast was facilitated by the cheater being shoved into a fall back into reality. He was a pastor in the town I used to work in. Yeah, a Jesus Cheater. When the church elders found out about it they fired his ass. They cut corners on protocol to do it, too. He went from being the shining star for his denomination to sweeping floors and washing cars at the local Ford dealer and he wasn’t so attractive to the OW anymore. So this does not apply to those of us who are dealing with self made men in the throes of megalomania, nor those who are saddled with mooches for whom a job at a car dealer would be a step up.

      The irony of it for me is that the ex sat through that pastor’s testimony in church one Sunday (he and his wife make the rounds occasionally to talk about their reconciliation experience), and it made no impression at all, as far as I can tell. Certainly didn’t make a difference.

      The ex got the church in the divorce, and he and the whore attend, as they say, “religiously”.

    • Amen Red. I too was totally shell shocked. He just walked into my work and said he was leaving me. That was it after 21 years. I did all of the bargaining, the pick me, the anger, did the reconciliation websites…. Yep he blamed me and I had texts from her as well saying how I was hurting her man over and over. I did everything I possibly could to “save” my marriage.

      I found this site. Love love love Chump Lady. For the first time in a long time, I see things so clearly. I read the posts on here and think wow, it is such light bulb moments. Thank you Chump Lady for all that you do.

    • I loooove those stories where the cheaters were dumped IMMEDIATELY but don’t hear them often enough. I always wonder why I’m not that strong that I could do the same. I didn’t do the pick me dance but I was numb for 6 months post DD and now looking back I wish I kicked him out right away. Who are those people who do? I bet they have financial means to support themselves. Jealous.

  • My husband walked out on me. You can’t reconcile with someone that doesn’t want to reconcile. What is my alternative? Stay married to someone that doesn’t want to be with me and is currently living with another woman? A man who left his wife and small children to move to a different state to start a new life?

    • My husband did the same..walked out and left his two boys to live in another state with a woman and her two children. At times I am so glad he is so far away!!

      • OMG, what a monster. I’m so sorry your boys have such a lowlife for a dad. Hang in there.

    • Yep, I didn’t have a choice either. A marriage takes two people and I was the only one with mine, considering mine was with his girlfriend and never looked back. Not much you can do with that…

  • Sorry, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. He literally abandoned the marriage. I didn’t even file for the divorce– I made him do it. He could go through the inconvenience and the fees. The burden was on him to dismantle But the fact remain I was not staying. I am not apologetic.

    I initially asked for alimony when we were negotiating. It occurred to me one day that I did not want to depend on him each month for a check because somebody who lies, cheats, and swindles is incapable of supporting any good life I want to have.

    If you don’t want a divorce, don’t get one. It is hell, true hell, and the impact lasts. But my dignity was never up for negotiation.

  • My dad was a serial cheater. He is on wife #3 and he cheated on every single one. So you should think that I should know better that cheater never change.

    When I first found out from friends that my STBXH was hanging out with another female, I was in total denial. I told everyone “no way, he is not like that. He look down on people that cheat.” I had to eat those words back.

    Then, I told everyone this must be a one time thing. OW must be super nice and rubbed his ego to cause him to cheat. Then, I found evidence that I was probably the OW in his previous relationship without even knowing about it. I had to eat those words back again.

    Once filed for the divorce, I told my lawyer there is no need for discovery as I am 100% clear on the finances. He insisted to do it and I found out a number of financial dishonesty. Again, eating back those words.

    Pretty much everytime I protected his character I have to eat those words back in the last 4 months. I am at a stage that I have nothing positive to say about him because he is capable of anything. I now truely believe a cheater, who cover-up their cheating while in a relationship, have serious character flaw or disorder. Anyone that think they can change someone with character flaw or disorder is in denial. If they are capable of changing, then they would have never cheated. Cheating is basically finding the easiest way out of a problem.

    If one is really just caught in the emotion, then one will cheat and leave immediately…..not wait for months or years.

      • Of course, I am told by several man that she looks like a striper and hooker. He being the narcassist that he is probably have no clue what all his co-workers are saying behind him and laughing at his butt. Oh well, he is not my problem anymore so he will have to learn it all by himself.

        • Isn’t it sad how they can be so self-absorbed and yet so lacking in self-awareness?

  • After years of living a complete lie, I now only deal with the truth. This is what this site offers. A place where truth reigns and where I can feel safe to express myself and feel secure about the incredibly difficult decisions I have had to make in order to live a life free of abuse. This is the ONLY site I have discovered where honesty is encouraged. Thank you Chump Lady and fellow Chumps.

    • Waiting, this is the center of the thing for me, too, the truth. Now that I am well and truly NC with STBX, I no longer need to try and reconcile his particular version of the truth and my own. I no longer need to listen to him mocking my truth, belittling me for living in the real world, hearing him lie and trying to make me come on board with his ever-changing version of his “truth”.

      There were a lot of secret and silences in my family when I was growing up. I think I just assumed that was how families work. Maybe the death of my marriage happened in time for my kids to not have to assume that silences and lies are normal in relationships. I can only model and hope.

      That’s why I come here too – lots of truth telling, letting the light in. So good after so many years living in the dark.

      • exrepeatedmeme, I totally get it. Denial of reality was at the core of my upbringing too. I refuse to model that way of living for my children. Unfortunately it took a catastrophe in my marriage to wake me up, but, from now I live only in the light. Telling the truth about my marriage to the creature is empowering.

  • CL, you are so right; “Am I sugarcoating divorce? Oh, it’s awesome. I could have a year-long vacation in Europe, or I could be sued for custody. I picked paying my legal bills every time. Paris is still waiting for me.”

    I could have paid off my house with the money my ex cost me in attorney fees, I could have retired early as planned with the money I had to give him to reach settlement. I didn’t luck out financially but the extra 10 years on the mortgage and not being able to retire on time? All well worth it.

    • Yes, by the time it’s over, I will have paid as much for my divorce as for the wedding. And, yes, I paid for them both. Awfully chumpy, I know. Would much rather have all of that money back to put into a house for our children to live in. Or for education.

      I guess it’s cause divorce was just so fun, just couldn’t resist spending the money on that, instead…….*sheesh*.

  • Bravo Tracy!

    You speak the truth and it matches my personal experience.

    The fact that you are close to the only voice online that speaks the real face smacking truth compared to everything else our there should be reason enough to keep opposers quiet. They have plenty to read online stating reconciliation and forgiveness works. They certainly don’t need to read you.

    Anyone who really thinks they can change someone else when so few people are truly willing and able to change themselves is living a fools dream.

    By your own posts and so many others here, change is very difficult and takes time and hard work. The rewards are there if the necessary changes are made.

    It seems that change for a serial cheater is next to nill. A chronic liar who goes from affair to affair or relationship to relationship doesn’t leave much room or time for hard work or change. Neither does a spouse who remains married while carrying on a long term affair. Since they all seem to lie and live secret double lives there doesn’t seem to be a place for an honest start or a real commitment to change or committment in general.

    I’ll take the hard cold truth over lies or fantasy any day!

    If I choose to gamble I prefer the odds to be in my favor. If I am going to play, I want to play on a level playing field.

    Mad Love to you and all that you write here!

    Anyone with any sense could see that you make sense.

    Plain and simple, someone who loves you doesn’t make you depressed, unhappy or put you in harms way without your knowledge and not tell you about it.

    • Deborah, YOU are ALSO telling it like it is, and are a champ-not-chump!

      All too often, reconciliation is NOT compatible with justice. And that goes for all the “truth and reconciliation” crap out there masquerading as restorative justice for victims on the political front. Again, compromise at the victim’s expense.

  • Having lived with a cheater for over 20 years (lived through 2 affairs during this time), I was one of those who frowned upon chumps who left their cheaters. I needed to disapprove of their choice because I didn’t have the courage to do the same. I was paralyzed with fear. I made them “wrong” so I could feel “right” about my choice, even though my inner voice was screaming for me to get out. I had to silence that nagging voice by disapproving of those who “abandoned” their marriage so I justify to myself why I was staying. In a messed up way, it made me feel better making a choice that appeared right for everyone else other than myself. But lies could not withstand awareness. I started waking up through therapy and spiritual growth, and finding Chump Lady was the catalyst that sealed the deal. I had to get out if I wanted to find peace and joy. I knew that was the way for me. Do I judge people who choose to stay with cheaters? No, because that’s their journey. Would I advise someone to leave a cheater? If they ask, absolutely. If they don’t like my answer, that’s okay, too.

    I left the drama behind and I don’t miss it one bit. Has the divorce been difficult on our adult son? Without a doubt but he was the very first one to tell me to leave when he found out his father had a girlfriend. I wish, like everyone here on the site, that my marriage had a happily-ever after ending. But it did not. It is as it is. Fighting what is simply causes more anguish and pain which I don’t want. I’m just happy that the anguish is in the past and the present is a million times better, thereby giving my future a chance to be a great improvement from the past.

  • Uniquelyme,
    It seems your experience echos so many others here who were married with children long term before they decided to save themselves and have a better and happier life.

    That is not an easy thing to do but I am sure becomes easier over time when you just can’t take the misery anymore and finally realizing it ain’t gonna change and isn’t working.

    Unlike most here, I was not married and didn’t have children and was only in a year long relationship with a 11 year divorced serial cheater with two grown children, one who no longer speaks to him and the other who does but clearly has no respect for him.

    The effects it had on me were life changing and I went through the trauma and pain and fear of having caught an STD and feeling badly about being stupid and duped etc….

    It seems it doesn’t matter the length of time as the personal effect and affect is the same across the board with the exception obviously that a divorce with children is more complicated and costly and often you can’t totally detach from the cheater due to the children.

    But the experience itself and the results of that experience are the same to all.

    I cheer you and all the others here who were married long term or are married long term that are doing or have done the harder but wiser choice of leaving to find a new and happy life for yourselves as I did.

    The fact that you are willing to admit your past fear for not leaving and knowing you had to and doing it is a huge deal and one you should be so proud of. It takes guts to face fear.

    I learned that this past year and facing them is so rewarding and freeing. Vulnerability is not a bad thing as long as you are aware of what yours are and how to properly value and protect them from harm that may come from others looking to take advantage.

    It’s such a painful lesson to learn but one of the most valuable and enriching I have ever learned. Learning it and facing it takes courage and strength. Living after this has become so much more fulfilling because you really now value and appreciate the good in yourself and your life. Fear only now plays a minor role now as you have faced it head on and know you can beat it and come out a winner so there really isn’t much to lose when facing a fear only to gain!!!

    • Deborah, if you told me over a year ago that I would be peaceful and joyful today, I would have thought you were crazy. And yes, the pain of betrayal ranks very high on the pain list, whether you’ve been duped for 30 years or 30 days. Not listening to my fears was my way out. Looking back, I could no longer relate to that woman, who had a lot of fear only in her marriage. I am/was quite fearless in other aspects of my life.

      Suffering does lead to incredible growth. Of course, I prefer to have skipped the pain, but unfortunately, hard lessons are not learned while lying on the beach in an exotic island.

      • Uniquelyme,
        I think betrayal ranks so high on the pain list because it doesn’t just involve what the cheater did, it involves yourself. It forces you to look at yourself and why you let yourself be abused and lied to. That’s very painful. It’s extremely personal on a deep emotional level because in essence it’s a double betrayal, by the cheater and on some level by yourself allowing the cheater to do this to you.

        The most ironic part is that the cheater doesn’t really have emotions that run very deep or long. It’s actually kind of funny when you really think about it.

        I understand what you say when you state you don’t relate or know who that woman was, I felt that way on DDay and said this is definitely not a situation I would ever be in and then 2 days later I left and took my stuff with me.

        Then the reality hit that I was in the situation and had to figure out how and why I got there.

        I don’t know, I have learned the lesson of always making sure to put sun tan lotion while lying on a beach after not doing so and getting severe sun burn! : )

        • “…in essence it’s a double betrayal, by the cheater and on some level by yourself allowing the cheater to do this to you.”

          Deborah, this is so true. I’m still reeling from this.

  • CL,

    First off, can we get that Pom-Pom Girl on a T-Shirt? I LOVE the illustration!

    Secondly, it is IMPOSSIBLE (as in, NOT POSSIBLE) to maintain a marriage when both parties are not committed to maintaining the relationship. If that is not the dynamic, then you’re not really married, in the words so eloquently written by Tennessee Williams and so perfectly delivered by Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, you’re “just occupying the same cage.”

    I NEVER wanted to divorce my STBX or break up my family. I didn’t get married to date (anyone other than my husband) or divorce. Unfortunately, there was only one person in the marriage for whom that was a value. I poured all of myself into trying to hold my marriage together, until I was empty. I didn’t just eat the shit sandwich; I dined daily at the shit buffet. The more shit I ate, the more the Flaming Turd Cheater-Chef flambéed and served up. It was during the last affair that my adult and semi-adult children, who apparently knew before I did that it was enough, TOLD me to leave him. So that bromide about staying together is better for the children? Yeah, not so much. YOU CANNOT RECONCILE WITH THE ETERNALLY ENTITLED AND/OR THE CHARACTER DISORDERED. Period. End of Story. If you do, you will die on the inside.

    Even when I left, I did not skip gleefully from the house, running naked through the streets announcing my glorious freedom to all and sundry. Initially, I seriously struggled, primarily from the abuse, but also because I wanted to try to work things out and be a family again. Double Vomit. And really, while we haven’t completely figured it out yet, the kids and I are still a family.

    I continuously drank the reconciliation kool-aid, excusing the inexcusable, accepting the unacceptable, until I couldn’t and then I didn’t. The cheating, the disrespect and the abuse was never going to stop unless I stopped it.

    Thank you CL and Fellow Chumps. People who were finally able to recognize that they were in a fucked up from the floor up situation to which they could never return needed a place to be validated, and this is that space. People who prefer the Hopium Den can surely find it, just not here. We prefer the fresh air of rehab, recovery and healing and we are not apologizing. We took a ride on the Reconciliation Railroad and discovered we preferred the trip on the No More Shit Express better.

    • Hear, hear Chump Princess. Spoken like a true rehabilitated chump, like me.

      P.S. Your descriptions are always fun and yet truly captures the essence of our journeys.

    • Thank you all, but your stories of pain, struggle, courage and overcoming have been the bright light that has helped to lead me through the darkness (along with CL’s amazing clarity and writing) and enabled me to finally see the light of peace and healing that awaits me at the end of this particular journey.

      I salute and sincerely cherish all of you.

  • CL, I’m not this “simple minded” in other areas of my life, but cheating for me is the ultimate “we’re done.” You fucked me over, you don’t deserve me at all. Why should I defend myself if to me it makes so much sense. Struggling with untangeling the shit they’re made of, countless hours of therapy, the knowdledge that my toddler son’s life is fucked up, that’s still a challenge. But the decision to leave a cheater was always a no-brainer. And mine “only” did his deeds for a few months. One time is enough to say to yourself that NO he/she doesn’t give rat’s ass, despite any claim they make.

  • Choosing to leave my ex-husband was the hardest thing I ever had to do. At the same time I will admit it was also a selfish decision in the moment when I packed his bags and drove them to his work. I wasn’t thinking of my children in that moment… whether life would be more difficult for them or if it would be better for them, I wasn’t thinking about money or what I was going to do for work or if I would be alone forever or if I would find love again. There were no practical thoughts in my mind. No worries either. Just primal rage and self-protection. I packed his bags because he pulled one last shitty action that showed he did not respect me, did not love me the way I deserved to be love and I realized that if I stayed with him it would literally crush my soul. I kicked him out because I had to save myself.

    I will admit that even after I did this, I still hoped he would do something to actually try to save the marriage. It did not happen. I have since suffered through extreme divorce shame… mostly self-imposed. Cringing in embarrassment the first times my little, little boys mentioned so happily to random people how they were “going to daddy’s house”… how normal it seemed to them, but how heartbreaking it sounded to me.

    My ex still likes to blame me. Tells me how “I divorced him” as he goes and brings the OW around my children. I honestly don’t know how he can look me in the eye.

    I can say I did try to do all that I could to save the marriage in my 6ish months of “reconciliation’. But I did it because I didn’t yet understand who my ex was. Finding out about the affair knocked me off my ass and I was further dumbfounded when he would not do the work with me to save the marriage… when he refused to take any real responsibility for his actions. In my gut I realized who he was when I kicked him out. But it still took me months after that to really come to terms with it. And to come to terms with not having the “intact” family as I had always planned to have for my kids sake as well as my own.

    I think that is why we chumps try to reconcile… not as much out of fear, but because we just cannot wrap our brains around who our spouse actually is. It is denial that takes some longer than others to come out of. Especially when the cheaters do sometimes talk a good game, etc. If my ex had remotely done anything I asked, I probably would have wasted more time in reconciliation… but I truly believe this end result was inevitable. And I do not blame myself one bit for getting out.

  • aE, well said. Choosing to divorce is an extremely difficult decision to follow through with. As heartbroken said, the decision to leave a serial cheater and abuser is a no brainer. My heart was never in reconciliation after Dday. But it took me 3 years to get away from my STBXW. And I agree, there is no shame or blame for a betrayed spouse in leaving a cheating spouse.

    • Kraft – you’re right, there shouldn’t be shame or blame… but I did feel shame even thought I knew I had done nothing to be ashamed of. But at least I never let myself feel blame!

  • Why have I gone to this site every day since mid-June, reading every article and commenting on many of them? It’s articles like this one. On days when I think that the rest of my days are going to be alone and miserable, this site helps keep me centered and focused on that main goal, which is to have a good life. No more pick-me dance, no more false promises, no more mental abuse, only be true to myself. My gut feelings were that I needed a support group, and I’m happy I have this.

  • Chump Son here,

    Now, cheating was not my problem, but dealing with an NPD parent was.

    What I found (after many years of applying son-spackle to my father) was that there is reality and there are labels.

    So, you can be officially married, living together with the certificate and the house with picket fence, but, if you spouse is an abusive cheater, you are not really married/mated/on the same team. You got the form, but not the content.

    Likewise, you can be related to a parent legally and biologically, but if the relationship is not mutually respectful, it’s not family. It’s just trouble.

    So, sometimes you have to take action to change the label to represent the reality. In my case, it was a spontaneous conversation (described in earlier posts) where I suddenly distanced myself from my father. Sad, yes. But necessary? Absolutely!

    For an heroic female friend of mine, it meant divorcing a cheating, selfish, abusive husband who was constantly isolating her. Tough? Yes. But she got out in time to save her children from major damage (they were entering adolescence) and now she actually is grateful, in a way, to the OW for taking a crappy husband off her hands. She also is in a very happy relationship with an exceedingly decent guy.

    Just hanging on to labels (to forms) that don’t correspond to reality (that don’t have content) doesn’t make sense. Go for the reality of real relationships. Judge folks by their behavior toward you, not by their biological connection or by some historical/legal connection. Labels should reflect reality. We expect that when we buy a can of soup. We should expect at least that much from our most important relationships.

    • Chump Son – I think this is a very good way of explaining this. It’s hard to accept that the reality doesn’t match the label, but sometimes it just doesn’t.

    • Chump Son,

      I LOVE how you are able to untangle so many of the circular thoughts that go around my head and package them in such beautiful, clear and concise prose. You are truly brilliant and I appreciate your insight so much. Thank you for being and sharing on this site.

      • Chump Son,
        Thanks for that post. You are like the Scientist with Emotions here. You always diagnose the problem clearly and concisely but with heart!

        • Yes, thank you, Chump Son. I’ve saved many of your quotes for my own personal journal, to help with my healing. The “labeling” explanation is the newest to join them.

          Since most of us were married to disordered cheaters, we have a lot of marriage emotions and sexual emotions and similar all tied up with our experience. What I love about your posts is that you talk about how fucked up narcs are, even if you aren’t married to them, even if you weren’t cheated on directly. How it sucks even if you are a child of a narc. Speaking for myself, this angle helps me to realize that the sexual/marriage portion isn’t the critical factor. It’s that they’re just messed up and any relationship with them is unhealthy. So, thank you for your insight.

    • Thank you so much for articulating this, Chump Son! This is exactly what I did when I kicked the x’s narcissistic butt out after finding out about the second affair. Changed the label to a truthful one. But most importantly, it’s what my kids have recently done with their dad. He was always a mediocre father, sometimes really a bad one (how could a narcissist be otherwise?), but really outdid himself around the 2nd affair, the separation, and his subsequent relationship with his kids. It became EXTREMELY obvious to the kids that he did NOT think about them AT ALL, not one minute, not one moment, throughout the year and a bit after DDay. And he later admitted that to me – the kids’ reactions, their well-being, his relationship with them, NEVER crossed his mind when he was making decisions that would affect them.

      So the kids decided to re-label. It doesn’t act like a parent, it doesn’t talk like a parent, it doesn’t care like a parent, so guess what? It’s not a parent.

      At ages 12 and 14, my kids are wiser and tougher than I was at 50. I like to think that my refusing to be taken advantage of by their father any longer was a catalyst, as was my encouragement in general to look at what people do, not what they say. But mostly, my kids ROCK, and they refuse to buy into the false labels.

  • Wow, this seems like the perfect place to post this — I got DIVORCED today!! I am so relieved. It’s still sinking in, but the amount of weight lifted off my shoulders is tremendous. My mother went with me for emotional support – I don’t think she anticipated my profound joy as I danced my way out of the building. I will never be totally free of this person (we have a daughter) but I got pretty much everything I wanted in the divorce, including sole physical custody. He will have minimum contact and I think that will be the best for her.

    I know in my marriage I tried my hardest. I had to for myself and my own integrity – I had to know I gave it my all before pulling the plug. Ultimately he did it for me when he said ue
    wanted to move out. Best most honest thing he said to me the entire time.


    • CONGRATS RJam! May this be the be the beginning of the best years of your life!
      Best wishes & God bless.

    • .CONGRATS RJam! May this be the be the beginning of the best years of your life!
      Best wishes & God bless

    • Congratulations! A new door opens! I am, as so many others here, looking forward to my new life and wishing you the best in yours! My marriage was like swimming through mud uphill and it took me a while to figure it out. Actually it was the day my ex told me he wanted a divorce. Then all the pieces fell into place. What didn’t make sense then over the last few years, did. The finances, his growing absence-both physically and mentally (each year it increased, did any one else go on vacations with their ex and not have a good time? Because of the ex? Lol) and anger, the new “we need to do this” equity loan, the new truck, the new cell phone…and on and on. Sometimes I need to remind myself what he DID. Best and sweetest day, the judge granted me the divorce on the day I chose (and a day family court was not normally held on in our very beautiful small town). My divorce became final on December 1st, twenty two years to the day I got married. So, to all our new beginnings.

    • Yay RJam! Congrats to you. Here’s to the official new start for you and your daughter! Hugs!

  • Just wanted to repeat: the research showing that unhappy couples who stay together end up happy was for couples who weren’t dealing with adultery, abuse, or addiction.

  • Has anyone else had the xperience of a serial cheating emotionally unavailable & emotionally abusive spouse being surprised and very angry that you filed for divorce ?

    My STBEX made it very clear that he had no interest in me and ” could not give any assurances he would stop cheating” but said he was “happy” the way things were & did not ant a divorce …. yet he was shell shocked & very very angry that I had the audacity to file for divorce?!!

    I’m confused.. Is it about control or about the fact he’s going to pay alimony & child support.. STBEX is a cheapskate… But that cannot to me explaini why u will want to be with a woman you clearly despise.?

      • Cheaters don’t make sense. Over the course of our twenty year marriage my ex seemed to grow more disconnected, sort of like that experiment where the rat just keeps pushing that lever for more drugs. And not getting any. You’ve upset his routine. Don’t kid yourself this man is INCAPABLE of loving anyone. My ex snuck around the last two years of our marriage f^cking his racquetball partner-they had so much integrity!-while also disassembling our finances. He went bat shit crazy when it came time to retrieve his stuff from the house he forced into foreclosure (there ought to be a law that penalizes CA state peace officers who dump marital assets when they make over 100k/year, but that’s another story!) and stripped the fixtures. We lived out in the country and one night someone shot at the house. My car was tampered with. Just be sure you are very clear about what you need. I sent him an email letting him know that I was not going to settle for nothing and I wasn’t going to end up dead in the process. Cheaters are bullies. The more we say we are not going to put up with this the better our next generation of marriages will be.

        • Dear Drew.. Cheaters are indeed bullies & Thank goodness we are the lucky ones either enough courage to leave!

    • Yes, 9 years post divorce, ex-H is still ‘punishing’ me for having the audacity to divorce him (despite the fact he had the affair, said he had to stay ‘friends’ with the OW – after all who was I to dictate his friendships!).

      He was livid that I sued for divorce, despite 2 years worth of attempting to reconcile on my part.

      He is also a tight-arse & begrudges every penny that he pays towards the children’s maintenance. He is very successful & wealthy but it is like trying to get blood out of a stone. I had to take him to court to agree maintenance & he still tries to wheedle his way out of contributing.

      I work full-time, so it is not like I’m somehow living the life of the idle rich on his contributions – which is of course the picture he likes to paint.

      I think it is about loss of control but also they know you don’t respect them anymore. They know that the spackle has run out, that no amount of ego kibbles (gosh I’m getting good at all this US lingo) will resurrect them in your eyes. You are no longer worth any of their charm, so you see their true character – and it is not a pretty site.

      • Hello ENGLISH LADY!.. Glad & ..Sad to find another British import here! I moved to the States only in the Xmas of 2012 from Surrey after STBEX husband decided that Medical Doctors made a better living in the States! It’s like learning a new language isn’t it? :)… The Americans have a way with words! 🙂

        You are absolutely right! I believe they realize they no longer have control over us and that respect is gone & they hate that.. Combined with the fact they now have to hand over money to us! 🙂

        I’m proudest of the fact that I’m able to stay No contact, I was like a love sick puppy dog, playing the ” Love me, Pick me, I’ll do anything to make our marriage work” DANCE for over 10 years.. IT must annoy the hell out of him that his chumpy STBEX wife no longer pays him any attention!
        Best wishes!.

    • Yes, this was my experience as well. IMHO, there are a few reasons the disordered acts this way:

      Anger at loss of control
      Anger at perceived humiliation
      Anger at required child support/alimony payments
      Anger at losing house/possessions

      • Notice that NOWHERE on my list are:

        Grief at loss of marriage
        Remorse for their own actions
        Sadness at losing their spouse
        Sorrow about hurting their children

        That’s because the disordered do NOT feel any of these things, not ever. They only feel anger, which is always directed at YOU.

        • I was also the besotted wife that “couldn’t live without him” Not anymore!
          I love the fact that I can be completely “no contact”.
          I also LOVE the fact that he has NO control over my life. He hates it.
          I saw him recently after the birth of our grandchild, he spent the whole time scowling in the kitchen, not talking to anyone. 3 years on and his body language screamed out his arrogance and anger. Even on such a precious occasion he couldn’t be pleasant.

          I am so glad to be free of him.

  • Top post Chump Lady.

    There is still perception (certainly in the UK) that divorce is somehow the easy way out, that you didn’t quite give the marriage your full attention, that you weren’t forgiving enough, that you wouldn’t compromise, that you didn’t put the children first, that you were too bitter & so on.

    This is, of course, mostly bullshit – largely spun by those whom we divorce. A cheater isn’t going to say “yes, my spouse is divorcing me because I had an affair, broke my marriage vows & told a million lies.” No, they’re going to say that the marriage broke down because of all the reasons given in the first paragraph – maybe thron in a bit of gone off sex, too preoccupied with the children, suggestions of lesbianism or all the muck-spreading that we read about on here all the time.

    So, when us chumps do finally pluck up the courage to stop the pick me dance, stop unskeining, to see through the gaslighting, lies & deceit and sue for divorce, it is very painful to have to listen to the accusations of lack of effort, wanton destruction of the marriage, damage to the children & so on.

    The more we can change the attitude towards cheating & affairs, the more we will shift the perception that those who leave cheaters are somehow a bit weak & lacking in determination to make their marriage / relationship work.

    • I echo the UK perception of the betrayed spouse that leaves a cheater but believe me that perception is prevalent here too.. This is one of the very few blogs that is PRO LEAVE A CHEATER.. Most are a Pro- reconciliation and a lot shame the betrayed and say it I’d our responsibility to make the marriage work.

  • It is not always the case that cheaters are unremorseful or have NPD, BPD etc.PD… It just isn’t. Many people have rebuilt mutually fulfilling relationships after an affair and made stronger marriages. Your mind does not seem to be able to admit this possibility at all. And yes, you do consistently mock it.

    “Chump Lady is not a “cheerleader” for divorce. I’m a cheerleader for a new life.”

    Remaining married and gaining a new life are NOT always mutually exclusive things. Both can be accomplished when both partners are committed to the struggle and hard work it takes to do it. It takes both. I agree. If that is not there, reconciliation just isn’t possible. I lived that very reality. However, I would still advise any chump with children to at least seriously and honestly explore the possibility of reconciliation.

    Based on your own experience, you are an extreme skeptic when it comes to reconciliation. I get it and it’s hardly a crazy view. BUT with so much on the line when children are involved, it is folly to dismiss the possibility of reconciliation out of hand before it is even tried. If you are truly interested in helping people (and I think that you are), you have to admit that this makes sense. Not everyone’s reality is your reality.

    Peace to you, CL. I hope you keep telling and living your truth because you help a lot of people.

    • Whoever you are, what’s your situation anyway? Who are you? Betrayed or Wayword? I apologize if this has been explained because I don’t always read all the comments. Our perceptions are shaped by our individual experiences, I’m just curious where do you actually come from in terms of school of thought. You made it obvious that you disagree with CL as she’s not very supportive of reconciliation, but are you considering the possibility that she is just one smart broad who actually means well and is trying to pull the wool (also known here as “hopium”) off our eyes?
      So many of us are just so in a desperate need of common sense advice because there is so much harmful info out there, including the profit driven industry of marriage counseling and self help lit. How about this: cheating is a deal braker. You cheated, you’re out. What’s the use of trying to glue a broken vase? I’ve tried to make this point yesterday when I responded to someone else about this topic. Also, given that psychiatric diagnosis, personality disorders are such highly SUBJECTIVE labels, there’s nothing wrong in making a statement that cheating is indeed an ultimate narcissist act. Hell, I’ll go as far and say that ALL cheaters are narcissists because this is indeed my opinion. Btw, statistically narcissists are the hardest to treat in therapeutic setting. They just don’t get it.

      • I agree. Cheating was the deal breaker in my marriage. I could never have fixed that. I wish I’d discovered this site sooner. My ex was all about lies, and he still believes he did nothing wrong. My children were devastated. First because while he was leading his double life he was rarely around for them when they were in high school. He made great money and had extremely flexible hours. We, all of us, know about his affair and look back on that life with something akin to horror. We didn’t even KNOW this man. Loving husband, NO. Loving father, NO. User, YES. And he still is. Hard lesson.

        • You just touched upon a significant point: it’s an absolute anomaly and contradiction to say a cheater is a good parent. Good enough? Not abusive physically? A provider. Yes. But a good parent? Fuck no. I’m pissed because this hits too close to home. My STBX insists he’s still a good father. I keep responding to him by saying that based on his own definition he just might be.

      • I know someone now who is still cheating while telling his wife (after she filed for divorce Feb in Texas) temporary orders in effect he’s working his bs on her to extend next court date till Nov for discovery because he travels a lot for work and wouldn’t be back there till November.. he is so full of it bull shitting her with getting back and yet still cheating WTF…pshychos

    • For what it’s worth, my parents stayed in their marriage for the kids, and all that did was keep the abuser (my father) in the home. So an “intact” family doesn’t make it a better family.

      It’s better for kids to come from a broken home than be in a broken home. Just sayin’.

    • One more thing about the children. I’ll keep it simple: happy parents, happy children. If the cheater did not consider his/her child’s well being then, he/she will not do it now. Statistically speaking, of course.

    • Alyosha – are not reading everything here?? You say “However, I would still advise any chump with children to at least seriously and honestly explore the possibility of reconciliation” – Uh, that’s what nearly all of us have done!!!! We tried to reconcile – we tried to fight – WE TRIED!!! You tell me how having an affair and saying you no longer want to be married but then keeping us stuck in an unhappy limbo because they aren’t willing to put forth any effort – you tell me how you can reconcile with that??? My cheater is not NPD or any of the other things, maybe has some tendencies but up until he cheated – never a problem or an issue – genuinely got along. But when he was out – he was out! He refused counseling he refused to do anything to repair, improve, – anything!! But he was more than willing to stay married even though he said he didn’t want to because that was easier. Staying married is EASIER. It’s been devastatingly hard to leave. Divorce is no joke, it’s TOUGH. You tell me, how do you reconcile with someone who is willing to LOOK like they reconciled but truly won’t actually do it? NO ONE HERE KIDS OR NOT LEFT BECAUSE IT WAS EASIER – Divorce is the harder option. I am not so skeptical that I think reconciliation can’t happen – but it has to be a perfect storm of things and between two people who are willign to put in enormous amounts of effort until their dying days. Have you not read – the majority of the stories here there was only ONE person willing to do that.

  • “It’s better for kids to come from a broken home than be in a broken home. Just sayin’.”

    Aphorisms like this that are easy to mindlessly parrot are dangerous because they function to shortcut actual honest, thoughtful examination of the reality of each particular situation.

    In point of fact, it’s better for for kids not to be in either situation, and if there is a chance that that can be accomplished, kids deserve for their parents to give it their best shot. Again, it is not always a choice between stay and be miserable, leave and be “liberated.” Everyone who has an affair is not an untreatable narcissist (my cheating wife, e.g., isn’t. She is an essentially good person who made some horribly selfish choices).

    Life, as much as we might wish it to be, just isn’t that simple.

    I’m done here.

    • Good luck to you. Seems as you love your wife unconditionally. Please consider checking up on her every so often, especially when your intuition tells you something seems off. Trust but verify.
      Consider installing a keylogger ok her smart phone or personal comp. do it for 6 months. Trust but verify.

    • Alyosha, I think you’re overlooking a lot of people who posted here saying exactly this — they tried R and gave it their best shot. For the kids. For the marriage. And it was a huge kick in the teeth, but many say they don’t regret trying.

      That was my story. I’m just putting my opinion out there — the odds of a successful R are pretty damn slim. If your heart says go for it, go for it. But realize that you CANNOT hold a up marriage alone, no matter how much you want it.

      I can’t tell if this is your wife’s first or second affair? I wonder how you’d feel about R if you had a false one. If you gave it your best shot and she never stopped screwing the other man. If she shat all over your reconciliation.

      It’s one thing to romanticize reconciliation when you didn’t get a shot at it. It’s quite another to live through false R. Honestly, I think the best thing a cheater can do is leave honestly and definitively. The cake eating is evil.

  • My wife is divorcing me. She moved out with my kids the day before Thanksgiving and is now openly dating her AP.

    My point is that even when I found out about the first affair, I would have done all I could to reconcile because I think marriage is about sticking it out even through the bad times and providing a safe and loving platform to raise children to be good people.

    The fact that I wanted to reconcile does not make me: weak or fearful or deluded or co-dependent or an enabler or some kind or a zealot or a poor rube fallen prey to the ‘reconciliation industry’. It makes me someone who loved my wife valued my marriage.

    My wife had other plans but that doesn’t mean I wasted my time trying to get her to come around.

    • This is the second time she’s done this to you? Dear man, bless your heart, cut her loose.

    • “The fact that I wanted to reconcile does not make me: weak or fearful or deluded or co-dependent or an enabler or some kind or a zealot or a poor rube fallen prey to the ‘reconciliation industry’. It makes me someone who loved my wife valued my marriage.”

      And who ever said that you were any of things for wanting to reconcile? I’d estimate that 90% at least of the posters here also tried to reconcile, desperately wanted to save their marriages. Everyone here valued their marriage and loved their spouse, as far as I can see.

      The point is, and you yourself prove it, reconciliation — no matter how desperately the chump wants it — very, very rarely works. That’s because the cheater, like your wife, doesn’t give a fuck and isn’t interested in you, your kids or your marriage.

      No one here thinks divorce is great. But as your own story demonstrates, cheaters throw away their marriages in favor of their APs. Cheaters also lie and cheat during supposed reconciliation. What CL says, and most here eventually discover for themselves, a longterm or habitual cheater is NOT going to change, and you are better off moving on.

      • Anecdotally, I’ve heard a while ago that some marriage counselors (mind you, those who make their living off this!), will NOT counsel couples who have expressed interest in reconciliation. They just can’t do it for ethical reasons, because they actually don’t believe in it as a positive concept. They support individual therapy as a way to work on individual issues but they simply cannot do the prior. I forgot to ask my own therapist about the validity of this anectode, but given MC have a right to their own professional opinion, sounds legit.

      • Gladitsover.. You are neither weak, fearful or deluded! Every sane person wants their marriage to work, a lot of us here believed in the vows we made & were willing to forgive again. &again. In my books, it shows a sense of integrity & love…. Diodes our integrity hurt us? .. Is the love we showed thrown back in our face ? Yes it does & Yes it is!.. but it foes not take away the fact that we gave it our all.

        It took most of here more strength to give up than to work on our marriage … It is not your fault you were betrayed & you are not weak!

    • Are you upset because you didn’t get a chance to reconcile?

      Or did you find out about a “first affair,” try reconciliation, and then she had another affair?

      There’s nothing wrong with valuing your marriage. When it’s a marriage. When it’s dead, there’s nothing there to value.

    • One more q. Is she gone for good bc she said so or you’re just not interested in another reconciliation( providing she wanted to try again)? So you still don’t think there’s something fundamentally “wrong” with her? Is she still capable of making another “mistake?”

  • “One more q. Is she gone for good bc she said so or you’re just not interested in another reconciliation( providing she wanted to try again)?”

    Both. She doesn’t love me and has no interest in trying again. Period end of story. There’s nothing to reconcile. Even if she wanted to, I just couldn’t go through it all again now.

    I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with her. She’s got some pretty serious FOO issues (father had affairs with both men and women, physically abused her mother etc.) but she has the ability to empathize, loves her kids, has lots of friends, doesn’t steal, is generally honest can hold a job etc.

    I think she just doesn’t feel anything for me anymore and she does for the OM.

    Can’t make someone love you…

    Nevertheless, if any of my friends were betrayed and came to me for advice, I would tell them to give reconciliation their best honest effort. It doesn’t make you a weak or disordered person.

  • “You tell me, how do you reconcile with someone who is willing to LOOK like they reconciled but truly won’t actually do it?”

    You can’t.


    With all respect, you don’t know that and neither do I. When I read things like “you cheat, it’s over.” “What’s the point of trying to fix a broken vase.” That sort of puts the lie to the idea the “EVERYONE” here gave their best shot at reconciliation (or even considered it).

    I’m not here to judge anyone. Everyone has to make the decisions that allow them to look themselves in the mirror. Being an adult is hard. I would advise people who have been betrayed a little differently that CL would. So what? Who really cares?

    CL is the one who has done all the work and put herself out there and helped a lot of people in the process. Not me.

    Believe me. I recognize that.

  • I did try hard, I was willing to do anything to keep my marriage, my best friend with me. He chose to leave me and didn’t want to even try. He didn’t blame me or find anything wrong with our relationship. He said I was his best friend, a great wife and we had a wonderful relationship.

    Yet he decided to throw away 22 years for someone he met on internet only after just two weeks. He wanted to divorce right away, fly to another country and marry her instantly.

    Believe me that my vows meant so much to me, I was always committed, but the lying cheating and being tossed like trash for a complete stranger who couldn’t even speak English was just too damn much.

    After months of debilitating depression I was forced to choose to file divorce because the dumbass didn’t even have the balls to himself. So no, I won’t take the blame for the marriage failing, he has to own that, not me.

    You CANNOT reconcile a marriage on your own!

  • “Are you upset because you didn’t get a chance to reconcile?

    Or did you find out about a “first affair,” try reconciliation, and then she had another affair?

    There’s nothing wrong with valuing your marriage. When it’s a marriage. When it’s dead, there’s nothing there to value.”

    Found out about first affair. Was far and away the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me. Tried to reconcile. She played along for about 5 months until I discovered the second time (with same OM). Don’t know if she had been with him the whole time. Don’t care because it doesn’t matter.

    I am not upset that I tried to reconcile and I don’t consider that time wasted even though it was a sham on her part. I really worked on myself during that time and poured everything I had into becoming the kind of man she could love, respect and honor as a person. I did become better.

    Agree 100% that if only one partner values the marriage, then there is nothing left to save.

    • “Agree 100% that if only one partner values the marriage, then there is nothing left to save.”

      At least we can agree on one thing! 🙂

      With that said, I am truly sorry you’re going through this. The feeling of betrayal is a searing pain like no other, and we don’t wish it on anyone. But we all have so much living left to do, we will prevail, we’ll all get through this crap, and like CL says, there’s a new life on the other side waiting for you. All the best.

    • Hi Alyosha, I’ve been following you here on CL’s site and I wanted to thank you for sharing your insights, bravely “going against the grain,” in a respectful and even-tempered manner. I also think CL has responded well and in-keeping with her principles . . . I just had one thing to add: as I read your message (above), I was struck by what you said “I really worked on myself during that time and poured everything I had into becoming the kind of man she could love, respect, and honor as a person.” I guess my question for you is: Why weren’t you worthy of these principles earlier in your marriage? Especially before your wife cheated on you? You say “I did become better.” Were you worse? Unlovable? Not worthy of respect and honor? If so, holy cow, what did you do that was so horrible? My knee-jerk response is that maybe you internalized her betrayal/rejection as an accurate reflection of you as a less-than-desirable lover and friend. Could this be true? Or maybe you were simply disappointed with yourself–you grew bored with or distant from your wife or you let yourself go physically & mentally–But even so, would any of these really justify her abandoning your marriage? God knows, we all have character issues we’re continuously working on . . . So I guess my question for you is: Why didn’t you measure up? Did she or you set the “standards” that would make you “better”? Thanks in advance for considering my question ~ Elizabeth

  • I am re-posting this. I posted in the wrong place earlier..
    My husband just now sent me an e-mail to get the ball rolling for the divorce. I’m so sad. He has been living with the other woman since Aug and left me over a year and 3 months ago and I am still a complete mess. I don’t know how to let go and move on no matter what I do. When will this pain go away?


    • Maria, I am so sorry. While I can’t tell you when the pain will go away, I can tell you it WILL go away. Some scars on the heart will always be there, but the pain will subside. I know you don’t see it this way now, but in the end him leaving will be a blessing to you.

      Right now focus on you. Spoil yourself, take care of yourself. Keep busy with good friends and family, people who love you. Every day that passes, it will get easier, I promise.

      Come here for support, but seek a good therapist too to get it all out.

      I’m so sorry you’re here, but please read the posts and comments, it will bring comfort that you’re not alone.

    • Maria, I echo Lunachick, the pain that seems unbearable and never ending will one day pass. You will find joy again. Many of us here felt exactly the way you do now at one time.

      Seek help, read all the posts here one at a time, join a support group, get therapy, Go to church, let Google be your new best friend & google stuff like ” healing from heartbreak during divorce”. “When your husband leaves you” etc.,,, you will be surprised at the number of articles on the wen that describes your feelings & bring you comfort. You will be happy again. I felt as sad if not sadder an you did for the greater part of 2013 but I am proof that the pain ends!
      Big hugs Maria & we are here for you!

      • Thank you so much 13 year and Luna. I have been reading stuff here and articles I google for a year and 3 months and I am no better. I hope eventually this pain will end because I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. I actually think I might have PTSD. I wake up with anxiety every single day.

        • Maria,

          I don’t know if you are already in counseling, but if you aren’t, please try to find a good therapist. It may take more than one attempt, but don’t get discouraged. I could almost feel all of your pain as I read your entry.

          It is good to go to a competent therapist to whom you can talk about this, as well as coming here for support and, as others have suggested, continued reading. When I initially sought therapy I was on the verge of suicide because the pain was so intense I just wanted it to end. If you start therapy at one day a week and you feel that isn’t sufficient, request that your therapist schedule you for 2 days a week until you begin to feel better able to cope.

          Getting into therapy allows you to begin to shift your focus to YOU and what happened to you and YOUR needs. It will help you sort out and learn ways of handling what has happened to you. If you need medication to get you over the hump, a therapist will make sure you have what you need. Continue to come here for support and continue to read things that will help make sense of what has happened to you.

          I am so, so sorry that you are having to go through this. We have all been where you are Maria and are in various stages of moving past it into a better life. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, you will too. I am sending HUGE (((HUGS))) to you.

        • Dear Maria, I truly wish I could reach out & take your pain because I can say with all conviction that I know how horrible it is because I’ve been there! The PTSD & triggers & anxiety are very real.. The pain seems unbearable and you can barely function. At the time I was going through it, nothing seemed to help, not books, not talking to others , not even my faith in God & I had been a xtian for 25 years. The cruelty and emotional abandonment from the wandering spouse only seems to make it worse but trust me, everything u are doing to heal is gradually breaking down the pain and one day you will wake up and realize you feel better.

          You will only be truly free when you detach yourself emotionally from your WH. Google “Doing the 180.”… It took me ages to be able to practice the concepts but my healing began when I could.

          Talking also helps, my email is [email protected]…. I’ll send u my phone number if talking would help. I went through hell Maria but I can tell you it will get better.. I am happy now, the pain of betrayal is gone, divorce brings it’s own kind of pain but if you are able to overcome the challenges of betrayal, you will be in a good place to handle that.
          Big hugs.

  • A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook and I think it’s relevant here: “Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”

  • Interesting posts and a great topic again. My wife cheated on me and we have reconciled. I have posted about this some time ago so I won’t repeat the details again.

    I love CL’s advice, including the divorce first bias, although I do think Alyosha makes some good points as do the replies to his posts.

    I don’t think that the first issue post D-Day is divorce or reconcile. It is “get a life.” It is odd bc by objective standards that factor was already in place for me. I am a lawyer, make good money, have financial independence, come from stable family backgrounds, 3 great kids doing well at the usual things kids do (school, sports, etc), and I believed my marriage was loving, passionate and without cracks.

    So discovering cheating for me was like being a victim of one of those “knock-out” punch videos shown on YouTube. I was out cold and never saw it coming. I got back up and was very disoriented. From reading here, I do believe all cheaters practice the same script, so I got the lies, manipulation, blame shifting and gaslighting. It was like the person who punched you told you tripped and fell all by yourself. A very confusing time.

    After several months of this, I found CL. “Get a life” resonated with me, not in the usual sense but in the ability to understand the cheater script and the chump’s script.

    No hopium, only realism.

    No shame for being a chump but only trusting that they suck.

    No playing along nice while they cheat (and I work to support the family)

    No baking cakes for the cake-eating cheater but a declaration to end the affair now.

    No false conceit that love can stop a cheater, make a person honest, or guarantee a faithful marriage. Only the cheater can do those things.

    In my journey with CL and Dr. Simon, I have learned one really important lesson when life really challenges us — passivity in the face of adversity results in failure. I sincerely thank CL for teaching me that lesson.

    Once I learned those lessons, I could decide for myself whether I wanted to reconcile or divorce. In my case, we have been able to reconcile. It’s not a bitter marriage or a half of a marriage. It’s still a little bruised but also maybe even a little wiser.

    Cheating sucks. It is an intentional abuse and harm and I love CL for trying to change the tone of the public debate on this issue in that direction. The default setting should be divorce with reconciliation only if both genuinely pursue it.

    I really appreciate everyone who posts and love to hear all of the opinions expressed here. Thx

    • Hey Matt, I actually remember your post from while back, most likely because it was so thoughtful and well written. I think you said then that you no longer “need” your wife to feel “whole”, or something along those lines. I probably also remember it because it’s so rare to have a chump with successful reconciliation on here.
      For what it’s worth, you sound wonderful, especially the description of yourself as a loving, devoted, forgiving, kind husband. I would totally date you just based on this description but you’re already married 🙁
      In all seriousness, what made you stay? Is your wife very attractive? Is the sex still out of this world? Maybe I’m being simple minded here, but I’m just curious about a man’s perspective since apparently so many of you value attractiveness and good sex life above all else. So wife decides to fuck another man and you’re able to stay in the marriage because?

      • Now that you say it that way, I may have to re-think my decision!!

        In all seriousness, the first several months were not the result of any conscious choice. Discovery of her cheating was a beat-down, and I was just trying to get my work done and keep things going in a straight-line. After finding CL and recovering from the shock of it all, I would say that I stayed for my kids in the first instance. When all of this went down, the oldest had just graduated HS and had been accepted to Harvard. The younger two were excelling at school, sports and other pursuits so I did not want to bequeath them the legacy of a cheater-divorce, even though it was my wife’s doing, without attempting reconciliation.

        About my wife. Pretty? yes, to me. Sex great? yes for both of us. Were these factors? No. I think all of us chumps get to a point, with CL’s help, where you understand that you can’t live in a marriage with cheating. It affects the chumps, it affects the cheater, it affects the kids, if affects friends, etc, etc. When the chump decides he or she will leave if the cheater does not change, reconciliation is possible at that moment. Some cheaters won’t change so the chump leaves. Some cheaters leave straight away.

        Why stay? I was and am proud of what I have accomplished with my life, and I am not going to let her cheating ruin that (that applies whether I left or now that I have stayed). CL is right that we have the MIGHTY power to reconstitute our lives in the face of hardship and tragedies greater than cheating. But this principle also applies to a reconciled marriage if both chump and cheater are doing the right things. I guess that the best answer I have so far. I wanted to try reconciliation because of my values and my wife has done her part so far. It’s not a fairy tale marriage any more, but it is honest and heartfelt.

        About the last part of your question — my wife fucking another man — yes that bothers me. Makes me see red. Very nearly derailed reconciliation at several points along the way. Very hard to place it in context. What has helped me with that? First, it’s her shame, not mine. That’s an important concept to really accept for the chumped spouse. Second thing was that discovery of cheating can actually help in the sense that it’s not secret anymore. CL is right about the power aspect of cheating. Once I told my in-laws that I was going to divorce their daughter because of another man, that “secret” was gone and the only issue was whether or not my wife and I would repair the marriage. SO the sex part of the cheating does not have the power it had before discovery.

        Hope this helps.

        • Why did she do it? Did she try to blame shift even a little? Give us some details, please.

          • Did she try to blameshift? Yeah in the beginning at least (eg, when I was suspicious but had not yet discovered the reality). After that and with reading CL and Dr. Simon, you realize that a cheater’s fantasy works only if the chump buys into it. If you don’t allow the blame-shifting, lies, etc., it doesn’t work at all. I would simply say to my wife that I didn’t believe or agree with whatever she was saying and that she had to stop all contact with the AP. That gets you to the point where they will either start changing, you leave or they leave. In my mind at least, I think it makes the cheater realize they will actually have to live with the consequences of their actions (blow up the marriage, devastate the kids and so on). I do think the thrill of the secrecy of cheating is a big part of the motivation and once that was gone things seemed to be different.

    • You are a good man Matt! I agree with your saying reconciliation is possible if there is true remorse with both parties willing to do their parts.. The betrayed the ability to forgive & the cheater the ability to do the work to regain trust & love & stop the cheating.
      Sometimes life is noyt black & white and no two situations are the same.
      I admire your family values. Your ability to look at the bigger picture and to make necessary sacrifices. I doubt you are anybody’s fool & I doubt your wife is taking advantage of you because you don’t sound as if you will let her.

      If your wife is wise, she will know she will lose you if it happens again & if God forbid it ever happens again , you will be satisfied you gave it your all.

      I stayed with a cheating husband for 13 years because like you I valued the institution of marriage awns the vows I made. I had a career we are both M.Ds, I am attractive enough, I am not overweight( not that that is an excuse to cheat!), above all I loved my STBEX WH. & I was a good wife but it was all one sided & he never wanted to do the work. I was unlike you , a stereotypical chump but I saw the light & I’ve regained my life back.
      Best wishes & I will be rooting for you.

      • Thanks for your kind words. Sorry for your situation, but you sound as if you are on the road back to health. That is why I do admire CL so much. Her advice to get healthy and strong in the face of infidelity helps all chumps regardless of the individual situation.

        • I am on the road back to health Matt…I have the same values as you do and I gave it my all but it was totally one sided .. I’m still happy I did but I have taken control of my happiness & CL and the kind & wise people on this site have played a big part in helping me do that.

  • I feeling one step closer to meh ladies & gents & I have to share
    STBXH rang me at 8.45 pm in a flap – he realised my name on mortgage & becos he is in shit street financially needs my signature to get more money. Tells me he will meet me at 1pm today & it’s just a formality. For 4 years I have been asking to see state of mortgage. Always excuses
    I say I need to look at document & get advice. He says it’s just a formality & don’t be stupid . Fuck that / I tell my team – they say sign nothing . He takes till 11am to send stuff. Fuck that . Don’t have full disclosure anyway & you want me to sign as guarantor . No .
    He wants me to sign in cafe, his uncle as witness , hand kid over same time.
    I shake entire time but I do not sign . Despite him screaming at me & threatening to take kid out of private school . I now have acess to accounts on line & can see where he paid ow & his new house renovations. From our mortgage. Also $25 k a month – I don’t think he is poor.
    Fuck him & the whore he rode in on

    • Good for you, Posy! It must have been so hard to stand strong, but that one moment of strength will no doubt pay huge financial dividends for you and your child. Imagine what a loss you could have incurred! Unbelievable that he thought you’d just sign…

      This would be a good time to have another family member or friend start handling the child exchanges, so you don’t have to see him at all. You should not have to listen to screaming.

  • @Seren3838,

    All good questions. I know about blame shifting and re-writing of marital history (believe me, I should have a PhD in chumpdom considering all of the books I read to try to get a grip on my situation).

    80% of my wife’s unhappiness and complaints about me were, in fact, blame shifting/re-writing/rationalization BS for her own bad behavior. However, some of her gripes were legitimate. I did spend too much time at work. I was not always as present as I could have been when I was with my family. I was becoming less fun, less social, and more pessimistic. Those things were all true and I worked hard to REALLY change. Not for a few months but really change from the inside out for good. I did some individual counseling, got more involved with my church and really just held my own feet to the fire.

    The result is that my relationship with my kids is better. I AM really there when I am spending time with them. I am more generally engaged in life and as a result I AM happier and more optimistic.

    Did any of this make my wife love me? Nope. You got me. But I don’t regret making the changes.

    Did any of my former faults justify her screwing another man, falling in love with him and lying to me about it over and over and over and over again. No freaking way.

    • No justification on earth, heaven or hell for cheating Aloysha!…& u know what u are the winner here… It takes a big person to own their own faults, work on it & come out a better person.

    • Aloysha,

      Thank you–I learned a lot from your reply–and I appreciate it. What impressed me most is how you were able to sort through your wife’s blameshifting and her legitimate grips about you. That takes a lot of humility. And god knows it’s especially hard to be humble when someone’s screwing with your mind/emotions and your marriage vows. I commend you for your incredible inner strength at very difficult time in your life’s journey. I also commend you for trying to reconcile. Your intentions are why we marry in the first place, against all odds, you loved your wife. Pure and simple. I get that.

      And look at you now! More engaged with life, fully present with your kids. Whewww, in this day & age–with all the digital distractions–this is an incredible accomplishment. And ya know what, Aloysha, you sieged victory from the jaws of defeat and today you’re a better man for it. That’s more than some people accomplish in a lifetime. You should be proud of yourself. Lots we all can learn from you–keep up the great work!–thanks for the inspiration.

      Take Care, Elizabeth

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