Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Chump Lady’s Conspiracy Theory on Divorce Shame

So… thinking some more about this divorce shame phenomena. And I’ve concluded that most of this divorce shame comes from cheaters. Yep. Cheaters and their apologists.

Insofar as cheaters feel shame (I have my doubts about how robustly they feel shame), they feel divorce shame. People will wonder about them exactly what we fear they wonder about us — what did you do to wind up divorced?  But unlike chumps, cheaters actually have a skeleton to bury. They’ve got a damn good reason why they’re divorced — they cheated. So, let’s avoid all the ugliness and consequences and not divorce. Narcissists care very much what other people think of them.

Which is why the majority of cheaters do not file for divorce — they cake eat, neglect, gaslight, and drive their poor chump to do it. The ones that run off for the affair partner — the clean exit affair types (IMO a minority of cheaters) — they can avoid divorce shame because they’re heading straight toward the greater glory of The Love That Was Meant to Be. It was bigger than the two of them, it could not be denied. There’s no shame when the heart wants what it wants. These are the cheaters that want to stay friends. Hey, we just weren’t working out, I fell in love with someone else. You’re over it, right?

I can’t think of a single cheater who has ever initiated a divorce simply for the pleasure of fucking around unhindered. No, these people cannot be alone. They need several suckers lined up at once.

But oddly, that is EXACTLY what the divorce shamers accuse chumps of — justing wanting to be free. Of neglecting their station. Of valuing their independence over the welfare of their children. Yes, single parenting is a big party… You can buy a lot of booze and cheese doodles on food stamps…

Cheaters project their divorce shame on us — so many of them are just FURIOUS, even years later that we divorced them.

My cheater was married three times, (who knows, maybe more) — cheated on everyone. He was INCENSED that I divorced him. Dragged it out as long as he could. He was incensed his exes divorced him. Don’t you think by the third wife he would’ve connected the dots? The guy had advanced engineering degrees, but this basic logic eluded him — if you cheat, you will be found out and left. The cake disappears. Ergo — Learn to live without cake. Or stay single.

The more divorces you rack up, the harder it is to find a good sucker to take you on. You have to explain this shit away. His excuse was those women cheated on him. So let’s shame those women for being Bad Wives Who Left Him.

Cake must be awfully precious. Imagine you have no conscience for a moment. You get all the kibbles of home, and all the kibbles of fucking around on the side. You can tell yourself each day, that despite your secret kibble sources, you’re a good person. Heck, you’d never LEAVE your spouse. You might siphon off resources. You might endanger that person with STDs. You might emotionally abuse them (kibble production cannot be threatened!) But you have the status of Family. Of normalcy. You are secure.

Some uppity chump rocks your place on the hierarchy? They presume to make demands of accountability? Shame! Shame! Back in your box!

As Dr. Simon points out in his book, shame is a very good manipulation tool for those who feel it — chumps.

I would add — shame is effective on cheaters too. They fear judgment. They care what people think of them, which is why they try to control the narrative. So put the divorce shame back where it belongs — on cheaters. Who cares who initiated the divorce? Who CAUSED the divorce? Who wasn’t the full partner? Who didn’t do the hard work to repair what they broke?

Cheaters. Shame on them.




Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Thank you for yet another great post CL. I have been embarrassed and ashamed for years for being ‘divorced’. I do not have one friend who is divorced…just lonely old me. I had no one that I could ask advice of; I go to group parties/dinners where I’m the only one that single. To me this adds to my shame. But I have to keep remembering who CAUSED this…not me. Instead of feeling ashamed, I should feel proud of myself…for throwing his ass out to the curb. Thanks for the reminder.

  • The only shame I feel now, is that the affair was going on for several years and I never found out. I did suspect something in the last year or two, and found myself snooping, but somehow thought I was just being insecure, because I just couldn’t believe he was capable of that. Also, to have lived a lifetime( total of 27yrs together) and totally revealed myself to someone for so long and so intimately, and then to be tossed aside for a AP who is definitely Histrionic PD and alcoholic! He says the usual ” we grew apart” ” I did not support his work( bullshit)” and that he was “unhappy” and “that I didn’t make him feel good” as excuses for our marriage failure, when really he was being hit on hugely and went for it. I think one of the things that bothers me the most, was that I wasn’t given a choice in any of it. I didn’t know about it, he left me and I found out all of it after the fact. Now, he did ask me to “wait” and give him “time and space” and was angry when I didn’t, and filed. He also tries to control the narrative and hide the affair as well!

    • My x said similar things to me, not supporting him, making him unhappy, making his life a living hell for 18 years (all unbeknownst to me) and I have really dwelled and dwelled on that, trying to evaluate how much damage I caused him. I have a guilat complex anyway, so it has been easy for me to believe everything he said right at the end. I am getting to a point however, where I can have a giggle and hope and pray that I really was all the things he said I was. He deserved it after all! 😀

    • My XW was in the minority and took the exit affair’s way out, saying I was a “youthful mistake”. For a few months I had the “where could I have done more?” guilt and also shame from being blindsided by the affair. I felt like I was this huge burden to her, and never knew at all what she wanted. She would give vague statements like I “needed to fight for her”, and not telling me exactly what she truly needed (apparently mind-reading is a part of marriage?)

      I’ve gotten past that guilt for the most part, but it sometimes still comes up when I feel particularly lonely or my thoughts wander on a possible future relationship that is far from happening. It’s a day-to-day thing, and that’s how it needs to be.

    • This: “…and totally revealed myself to someone for so long and so intimately, and then to be tossed aside for a AP…”

      This is the part that kills me. The one person I fully revealed myself to and trusted completely left me without warning for another woman he hardly knew. And I had no choice in it… My only choice is how to live now in this new reality he forced me into…and I hope to build a d#%n good life without him.

  • I agree with you that narcissists are all about “image management.” My X after cheating and leaving a 33 year marriage for ‘true love at last’ tried once to get me to file for the divorce so that I could let him “look like the bad guy”. (A manipulative move if there ever was one.) I told him flat out, “Unlike you, I don’t live by appearances and image management, therefore this maneuver on your part won’t work. If you want a divorce, YOU will have to get it.” He eventually did. And people wondered why. If they asked I told them the truth.

    That having been said, I don’t believe that many people who have serious reservations about the ease with which no fault divorce can be unilaterally obtained are “shamers.” Some of them (myself included) have deep concerns about the long term detrimental effects of divorce on children. I had the option of filing on grounds of adultery. Several things kept me from doing so or in fact filing at all. In prioritized order: The effects that it would have had on the children of the other family, the fact that it would not have made one whit of difference in the property settlement in our stated, and the fact that I was NOT going to make his cowardly exit any easier for him. (The OW in my case is still with her H after 6 years, and I don’t think she will ever do to her children what she helped do to mine. But I believe that she will eventually pay some kind of price for her callousness. Shit always eventually deteriorates and floats in some fashion or another.)

    When a marriage produces children, it is no longer just a marriage; it is now a FAMILY. There are other equally important and innocent souls to be considered when contemplating the long term consequences of divorce. Having been a child psychologist for years, I have dealt professionally with the effects of divorce (especially acrimonious ones) on children. It is not pretty. Any way you slice it breaking up a family is serious business.

    Should a partner be able to terminate an abusive relationship or one with a serial cheater or other personality disordered individual whose presence in the home would be worse for the children over the long term? Absolutely. But there is a “weighing” or balancing of detrimental effects that needs to be part of the decision. And the decisions needs to be made very carefully, rationally, and with due consideration to all parties involved.

    Nothing about this is easy and there are no perfect solutions. Too frequently we are left with only the lesser of two evils from which to choose.

    • I agree nothing is easy about it at all. I think it is adding insult to injury, however, when chumps face attitudes that they didn’t try hard enough — not just from judgmental people on the outside — but from cheaters themselves! As if they are entitled to an infinite amount of cake.

      It’s good you could persuade yours to initiate divorce. I think many others suffer in limbo — my feeling is just pull the plug already and don’t buy the divorce shame.

      • CL,
        I didn’t “persuade” him to do anything. I left him no option. If he wanted any “on the side cake” then dammit he could “buy it at full retail price.” And he did.

        My advice to those divorced through no fault of their own and for no reason other than the simple mistake of having married an immature or dysfunctional assclown? Lose the shame! Go forth honorably, and bide your time. People will eventually recognize you for who you are. It is pretty hard to hide grace under pressure. Like I said, ” Shit always eventually deteriorates and floats in some fashion or another.”

        • I asked my cheater to divorce me if he wanted out. He agreed but did not seem to be in any rush. I initiated divorce soon after because a divorce attorney explained that it was legally advantageous to do so. (In at least one state, I believe, you get to stay in the house – maybe just during the length of the pending divorce, not sure – if you are the petitioner.) Just putting that out there for any chumps who may be undecided about whether or not to file first.

          • My cheater filed first because he thought he would be able to dictate all the terms of the divorce and force me to settle for whatever he wanted me to have – which was nothing. Of course, this was while he kept telling me he wanted to make sure I got everything I was supposed to have – but apparently he wanted to decide what it was. He had also promised, since I was not going to deny him a divorce, that we should discuss it and maybe work out some of the terms before hand. Instead, he sought to file and have me served by stealth. I found out he had filed before he could have me served, had my attorney request acceptance of served and promptly filed a counter-claim.

            Of course, I had to counter-sue on the grounds of adultery which assisted me in filing a dissipation of marital assets claim (which I knew I would have to do – because that’s how well I know his behavior), which I then had to use as leverage to get him to meet financial responsbility with respect to the still dependent children. Even if you live in a no-fault state, if you are dealing with the disordered (and I am), there are still options that may be available to you in order to protect yourself as much as possible financially even if you don’t file first.

            As I knew we would have to sell the house, I didn’t mind leaving because I knew no matter what, he would never pay the mortgage or even give me any money towards it. Now he’s complaining because he says he doesn’t have any money to keep paying an attorney and keeps trying to get me to come to terms with him without the benefit of legal counsel. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. That would be a big Hell to the No, Oh Great Insane One.

            • That should read, “acceptance of service.”

              I would like a proofreader and an editor for Valentine’s Day, thank you.

  • TAIUTBMT (The asshole I used to be married to) actually said, on more than one occasion, “I tried to be so mean to you that you would leave me and divorce me. That way I wouldn’t have to do it.” Pretty much says it all, to your point, CL.

    And he was. And I did. I have yet to inquire of him if it was worth it, since I will now get nearly 1/2 of his income pretty much for the rest of my natural life. MIGHTY! (and ruthless…no ruth what-so-ever.) Cheaters do not deserve ruth, or Ruth either (whoever she might be.)

  • Well, I guess my X made a clean break. That was his M.O. though. He had been married five times before me (he told me I was his second wife when I married him) and he left us all the same way. He was madly in love with us one day until OW came along and stroked his insatiable ego and then he was madly in love with the new OW. He screwed around openly until we caught him red handed and then he was out the door. I don’t see anything noble about this ‘out the door exit affair’ or view it as a ‘clean exit affair.’ It was horribly painful. I honestly never saw it coming. I felt like someone in one of those ‘knock out’ violent stories. He had just insisted we renew our wedding vows three months before that. Of course I filed for divorce. He couldn’t be bothered. I find it so hard to believe that he can find SO many women who fall for his bullshit. I did NOT know how many times he had been married. I told OW the truth about all his marriages and how he had JUST remarried me. She’s still with him. He’s cheated on her and she knows it. She stays.

  • My cheater moved out, and then filed for divorce 5 months later without telling me. The first I heard about it was when I was served divorce papers on a Saturday when the kids were home. His first response?

    “Why did you tell the kids?!”

    Apparently, it was a BIG secret and no one was supposed to know about it, including me, the kids, his parents, etc., because he didn’t want to come across as, “the bad guy.”

    Cheating on your wife, walking out on your kids, ending a decades’-long marriage without discussing it – sorry, there’s just no way you can NOT be the bad guy. Moron!

    • Sure he can not be the bad guy… to whoever is listening to his stories now.

      Which is really why it’s just good to stay no-contact: the last thing you want to hear is sob story fabrications, and worse… real, actual stories of woe that happen later and might make you fall into the “feeling sorry for them” hole you have to force yourself to climb out of again and again.

  • What my ex did, and I think this is a very common ploy, is pushed the envelope hard enough so that eventually I was the one who had to file for divorce, although he was the one saying how he never should have married me, was in love with someone else, blah blah blah. He did this deliberately so that he could later claim that I was the one who ended our marriage, that I was the one who “blindsided” him with divorce papers, that I was the one who gave up.

    Cheaters try to cover their stink by blaming the betrayed spouse for their shittiness. Manipulating the betrayed spouse into being the one who files is just another typical move from their playbook.

    • Hear Hear GIO! – and let’s not forget the injustice of actually having to finance the termination of this ‘contract’ they broke! Seems ludicrous to me that employment law / property law / every f**king else law is so robust with regard to contracts, yet divorcing someone who deliberately breaks the contract conditions in marriage is a ruddy nightmare with(at best) a ‘no fault’ option for people who simply can’t afford to pursue justice!

      • Let’s not forget that ‘Interference with Contract’ is a legitimate thing to throw at a 3rd party interloper, but we don’t even have ‘Alienation of Affection’ for divorce anymore.

        Which is why I’ll never have a contract marriage again, ever. The state and it’s courts and their functionaries appear to like divorce because it’s such a money maker for them. “The business of the country is business!” Everybody got a slice.

        • I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but here in the UK, if you stay with your cheater for 12 months after discovery of the affair, you can’t file for divorce on grounds of adultery as it is deemed acceptable to you (by you staying with them) a ‘minor’ detail the false reconciliation complex mindf**kers keep quiet about. You are then left only with the nebulous ‘no fault’ divorce – that frankly pisses me off – I don’t want posterity to think I ‘gave up’ on my solemn vows because of ‘irreconcilable differences’ – when I truthfully was keeping my promises; ‘better or worse, sickness and in health, forsaking all others’ etc. Sadly, without any guarantee my ex would pay my ‘costs’ I can’t afford to ‘clear my name’ for posterity. At this moment, I’m trying to hardly care, but it’s just ANOTHER shit sandwich and I want to smear that ‘snack’ all over his face!!!! 😀

          • Here you can’t file for adultery if you have “forgiven” the affair. I am not sure what the legal definition of that would be though….but any definition of forgiven did not apply to me/us, so it didn’t matter in our case.

    • I had the same thing happen to me. He used my filing against me. It was “their” plan all along. Seems the bimbo learned a little bit about manipulating during her divorce, too. Perfect couple.

  • Wow did this post hit home. He cheated, he asked for a divorce. We live in a no fault state so I said go for it see a lawyer. I did got my ducks lined up and waited as he said he wanted to wait for an annutity to mature. That was 7 ms ago. There has been no discussion of divorce in months and I think the OW dumped him (if I were her I would have he kept saying he wanted to marry her but never even went to see her in over a yr) and now when the subject comes up he says ” This was always YOUR plan!” WTF it is now.

  • If my STBX wife feels any shame I wouldn’t know it. If anything, she is still manipulative and tries to shame me by blame shifting. She is so image oriented it’s sad. But, she had to make her false justifications long before I knew about the dopey boyfriend.

    I like to imagine that on occasion she does feel some shame and realizes the depth of her betrayal towards our family. Then, I snap out of it. I don’t think she is as hollow as an NPD. But, she does have many of the symptoms of an NPD, and not just as a passing phase sort of thing. It’s entrenched. I am sure at the core of her is toxic shame; which ultimately has nothing to do with me. I just got run-over by it.

    And, so did my sweet daughter. I dreaded telling her we were separating. When we did, she just put her head on the kitchen table and cried a little. She was five. It broke my heart. She still asks when am I going to ask mommy out on a date again. Which makes me feel white hot rage towards STBX.

    Over the holidays I saw my brother. I had not talked with him about it yet. All he could say was “You must have known something was going on, right?” I walked away from him. It’s his insecurity not mine. Everyone was shocked when I told people I wanted a divorce. We had date night, family game night, marriage night, and so on. We are award winning professionals in our community etc..,. So, I think people say, “well, if it could to happen to them…. ” And, so many friends/family encouraged me to try and work it out. It was never an option for me. I tried everything in the marriage to make it work. All the usual tools people use.

    We had a lot of problems. Cheating is not something I can reconcile. It’s her shame not mine. She went an fucked someone else. And then she had to live a double life filled with lies. To me and him. For years (maybe, I just assume). How exhausting is that? I do not feel shame. Did I suck in the marriage? Yes I had my faults. At least I can admit them and try to work on them which I did.

    And, if someone tries to put shame on me, I am quick with a “fuck off.” I told a friend of mine what happened. He said without hesitation “Well, what did you expect?” I replied without pause “That my wife won’t fuck someone else.” Duh. He’s not my friend anymore.

    How people react says more about them than it does my character. I don’t accept other peoples shame today. And, they don’t like it. Too bad. Time to move on to healing.

    • What did you expect? Man, I’m sorry your “friend” sucks so bad. I can only take that comment one of two ways — either he thought it was obvious to everyone she was a cheater, and expected you to know that — or he thinks everyone should accept infidelity in their relationships.

      Either way, he’s not the friend for you. (Or anyone, except morally retarded people.)

      Hard to know if your ex feels shame. If she’s blame shifting, she feels something icky and uncomfortable that she wants to give to you — and you aren’t accepting it. Good for you.

      I’m sorry people are being such idiots about this. Where’s their compassion for you?

      • Hey thanks CL. My former friend believes everyone should accept infidelity. He is an idiot as far as emotional health goes.

        I don’t know much about the affair. I know that she was pushing me away hard with all those familiar moves out of the cheater playbook a few years ago. And, then things got better. Ironically, my marriage was the best it had been in years just before I ended it. So, she may have ended it with loser boyfriend some time ago. My sister thinks she felt guilty; that’s why she wanted to have another baby less than a year ago. WHAT! Crazy, I know. I don’t know everything and mostly don’t care now.

        It is hard though. I read “Standing on Lies” yesterday. I do claim my story and I’ll tell it as I see fit.

        And, I will say that I do have a really good support network, which includes a little old lady. She’s 76 and crabby; but she is wise about chumpiness. She’s a “get a life” advocate. And, I have you guys here. There is no other place that understands what I’m thinking and feeling about this shitty time. Very few in my support network here “get it” like we do here. And, I hope they never do. lol But they still help me. Thanks again.

        • I don’t think anyone gets it unless they’ve experienced it. How do you explain to someone what it feels like to discover that your spouse has been cheating for years,including with – but not limited to – your friends. People think they get it but they really don’t. It’s a pain I cannot even describe now, as it’s passed mostly and although I recall it I can’t quite dredge up the searing, debilitating pain that nearly laid me out for good. I simply cannot explain it to someone who hasn’t been through it.

          • Nord,

            I agree- that pain is excruciating and I can’t imagine someone who hasn’t been through it can fathom it.

            So glad that’s over!

          • That searing pain.. where you could scream yourself hoarse and it doesn’t help. Curled up on the floor, sobbing so hard it feels like your eyes are trying to pop out of your head. And you don’t die right there on the floor, though you thought you would for all the agony you’re in.

            But even spelled out like this, someone who never went through it will never understand.

          • soul ripping death. literally feels like your soul is ripped from your body. your body goes numb. your body could take a stab to the heart and it wouldn’t even register. Your soul, however, is completely consumed by pain so raw, you wish you had died, because at least that way, you don’t have to feel anything anymore.

        • I think the reason some people don’t get it is because if they can think it’s something unique to you, it can’t or won’t happen to them. It’s like a defense mechanism.

          Years ago, I was training as a Rape Victim Advocate and some of the most outlandish, blame the victim comments came from other women. I was surprised until I realized that they believed if they could find the flaw in the victim, if on some level, they were “different” from her, they wouldn’t be raped. I thought it was delusional, but people who thought like that could not be shaken from their belief.

          I don’t think these beliefs necessarily end with infidelity and rape either.

          • Nat1,
            She’s a badass from Chicago. She clamps the responsibility down on whoever it belongs to. Sometimes in the shame game I lose perspective and take on shit that’s not mine. We call it passing the hot potato of shame around. I’m learning to drop that tater.

            So my friend keeps the focus on solutions for my daughter and me. She was chumped. By her best friend with ExH. She has perspective; and she knows it’s hard as hell.

      • CL,

        I particularly relish that term, “morally retarded.” So simple, yet so all-encompassing. You are plainly a genius.

    • My ex’s main concern was what others would think of him if he left me. I discovered this when I read his journal. He also wanted me to file for divorce and tried to convince me it was my idea, but I refused. I’m still glad I forced him to take responsibility for his actions. At the time it felt like he was asking me to shoot something I loved to help him save face but I refused to do it.

      After he left he didn’t tell anyone, not even his siblings. I had to tell people in his family months later. What a coward.

      • Lyn,

        It’s weird I know. My ex’s concern at one point was that I would file first so that it looked I was divorcing her. Um…yeah. This goes in line with her sending all of our friends and colleagues a “Here’s my new address” announcement. I have yet to see one of those beauties. Wtf, right?

        Maybe work on the marriage instead the your shiny thin veneer. Oh wait, too late.

      • I was more than happy to file for divorce because I knew OW was pregnant but didn’t know when she was due and I couldn’t stand the thought of what people would think of me when they knew my husband was already having kids with someone else. Goodbye, good riddance!

          • I can relate my soon to be ex husband had a baby with the OW and hid it for almost 3 yrs. The OW and I have children that are under a year apart. Bastard!! I have seen a divorce lawyer and am saving up for the retainer fee. Now my soon to be ex husband refuses to move out of the house until I file and he is served. Initially he said he would move out…that was 1 month ago…..smh

      • Actually now that you mention it he told me he didn’t want every one to think he was an arsehole. This was while we were talking about mc and fixing it all, before i knew about her. Now that everyone does know what he is and what he did, he moved interstate. I guess everyone there will work it out too.

    • Nicely put, thirtyfish. I went through pretty much the same thing, married to a bottomless pit of disordered need.
      I have zero tolerance for taking shit now, whereas before all this I was very tolerant of assholes.
      I have seen zero remorse and only justifying and blames hiring from both my cheating XWs.

    • thirstyfish ‘ WOW what a real mess .. MY SBXH pulled same thing . now going through divorce after 28yrs I loved him unconditional never was it returned kinda really pissed of with him trying shift blame I soon woke up my NEW YEARS resolution is I’m NOT SORRY after all I didn’t step outside this marriage . 2 I place blame back on him your right it’s there honor to wear badge of shame ‘ SO ROCK ON TO MEE LOL sorry your friends FCKEN asshole..
      best of luck to you n your daughter have a blessed mighty life

  • I’ve considered this a whole lot – we heard a few posts back (in the comment section) about how “70% of divorces are initiated by women,” and that is true. However, what the research fails to show is why the divorce was initiated by the initiator, and I’m always curious if my storie(s) are common or not.

    My CHPWD (Cheats-on-His-Pregnant-Wife-Dickhead, pronounced Chipwad) is my second marriage. The first marriage also ended due to infidelity on my XH part (yes, I need to FIX MY PICKER, I’m working on it).

    Anyway, the XH had an affair with a coworker, fell madly into Twu Wuv, and we suddenly had a “sham of a marriage,” “haven’t been happy in years” situation on our hands – according to him, anyway. He told me to my face on multiple occasions the marriage was over and had no hope of being saved. He made no move to initiate a divorce. We continued to live together in the same house as “separated.” He continued to openly see/call/text/e-mail the OW during this time. What a special Hell THAT was.

    It didn’t take long for me to move out after that – DUH. I did the whole “You want a divorce, YOU go get one” thing, and I stuck to my guns about it, too. For three years. Did you read that right?


    My XH, while a cheating asshole for sure, is not a completely irredeemable human being. So, he paid the bills on the marital home responsibly, didn’t take out a bunch of debt in my name, voluntarily paid some of my own bills (he made a LOT more money than me) because he didn’t want me to struggle financially, etc. The cheating screwed me over, sure…but I could have been screwed over way worse, and I didn’t pay attention to that fact until hindsight let me in on it. I’m perversely a little bit grateful he turned out to only be a three-star Fuckhead and not a five-star Fuckhead.

    But three years? Seriously? He had long broken up with the OW by then. He was not in another relationship. He didn’t want to reconcile with me. He just DIDN’T WANT TO FILE, because “Eww, hassle. Eww, might have to read some papers. Eww, filing fees.”

    So, I finally did. I became one of the 70%, and it was not by choice. The stats are easy to read as “women are the ones who give up,” but I just don’t think it’s true. Women might just be the ones who can act like grownups.

    So, anyway….on to Chipwad. Same story, different decade, except now there are two lovely children in the mix. He cheats with a coworker, gaslights, minimizes, deflects, and swears he “loves” me and our family on the daily, all the while carrying on with The Whorecunt (yeah, I have strong feelings about women who date married men). I catch them together red-handed, and suddenly he hasn’t been happy IN YEARS, our marriage is a sham, we’re inherently incompatible, blah-blah-blahdity-blah. I flat out ask him on a number of occasions if he wants to be married or he wants a divorce. It takes a dozen times, but he finally says “Divorce,” then has spent every day since then (sometimes every HOUR) cycling between divorce and I-love-you-so-much-I’ll-do-anything-to-make-this-work.

    I go Super-Chump on him and live within limbo for months, dancing the ever-loving SHIT outta the Pick Me Dance. I should win frickin’ trophies for nailing it.

    Every time he’s feeling “divorce-y” He FLAT-OUT tells me that he can’t stopped feeling ashamed about being “that” guy, so he wants ME to file so he can “comfort himself down the road with the knowledge that I wasn’t the one who did it.”

    That is a direct quote, by the way. He also TELLS ME TO MY FACE he is mentally torturing me with limbo to get me to pull the plug, because he can’t live with the shame of filing for divorce. Read that again…he is purposely limbo’ing because he knows it’s killing me and he ADMITS IT.

    So, Chumpy Me (I just became Mighty two weeks ago) is all “Oooo, I’ll show HIM. I won’t file! I’ll just wait his sorry ass out! I’m not giving him the satisfaction! I won’t let him HAVE THIS from me, nosirree-Bob, no-way-no-how!” But I do kick him out. So now we’re separated.

    And a month has gone by. I have about another four months worth of savings before I’m wiped out, and with two minor children to support, I need a court-ordered child support setup ASAP. I can’t support the three of us forever without money from him. He knows this. In our state, he is under no obligation to pay anything unless a divorce is underway (no legal separation in our state). He could stop supporting his children anytime he wanted without repercussion.

    Guess who won’t file?

    So, I’m filing, and I’ll be in the 70% again…but the shame belongs on him.

    • He can’t live with the “shame of filing for divorce”? But he lives with the shame of being a cheater just fine.

      You absolutely need to file. And prove your date of separation and get that fucking support paid retroactively. No way he abandons two children and doesn’t pay a cent.

      Oh, hey, apparently he’s not ashamed about THAT enough either!!!!

    • LML, did he move out? My state doesn’t recognize separation either, so for a time my ex was not paying child support either. But my attorney managed to get him to pay “what he thought was fair.” The a*hole (also an attorney) produced trumped-up math “proving” that he owed me about a third of the child support he actually owed when the calculations were made by the court. Now he owes me back support, which is paid at a rate of about 200 extra bucks a month. Be sure to keep records of when he left (if he did). If you both are still living under the same roof, I am not sure he will owe any child support for the separation period–check with an attorney.

      My ex also had the attitude that it was “his house” and he wouldn’t leave, no way, no how. So I was the one who had to develop the exit strategy and save for it. It took me two years and getting a full time job. I won’t say it is easy, but I do not regret leaving. I bet you won’t either. Get out before he milks your money dry!

  • Once again, wonderful post

    I feel no shame now. I am content in the knowledge that I did everything I could to stay in my marriage. It was not my fault that I was fighting a losing battle with a man who did whatever (and whoever!) he could to sabotage my efforts. I feel absolutely no shame in being divorced from him. If anything, I am proud that I am divorced. It is a testament to my strength and my awesomeness that I am not only surviving – but THRIVING now. Yay me!

    The only time I felt shame was when I felt pressured to give him (yet) another chance – by our family doctor, by my brother, by our marriage counsellor and by my therapist. I wasn’t strong enough to stand on my own then, so I agreed. Not surprisingly, it took less than a month before XH’s old habits resurfaced and then I felt the shame. I was so ashamed of myself for being weak and for not pulling the plug on a that train wreck of a marriage years ago. I was so ashamed of myself for valuing everyone else’s opinions and expectations above my own.

    I was ashamed of still being married to him…and the moment I realized that was my Turning Point.

    That shame propelled me forward. I kicked his ass out and filed for divorce. I got it all…kids, house, alimony….and a bright, shiny future to boot.

    There is no shame in divorce…but there is shame in willingly letting someone shit all over you time and time and time again.

  • The clincher for me to file was because otherwise I had no rights to my children. According to law, my husband could physically take the children from me at any time. At least now, I have a court order saying when and where he can take them.

  • I struggle to this day (3 years later) with the divorce shame. Mine is less about what other people think and more about my own FOO issues.

    My parents were divorced, bitterly so… from when I was just a toddler and with all the common trappings of cheating, fighting, money woes, etc.

    I swore I’d never be them. The failure of that promise to myself is probably the biggest of all hurdles in finalizing my divorce.

    Even worse, my husband was well aware of my feelings on that before we even married and still took it upon himself to cheat and abandon. It boggles the mind how someone you trust with all of your vulnerabilities can stab you in the back with them.

    • Ahhh – isn’t it amazing how in telling them our vulnerabilities it turns into a ‘bucket list’ of things they must do! I swear – the new, savvier me, will make sure I tell my next that I would be mortified if they – ooh lets say; took me on five star vacations at least twice a year, bought me a house, new car, found me the fountain of eternal youth 😀 Seriously – how does love convert into this shite they allow themselves to dole out????

  • This makes so much sense, my husband was having an affair with cw, usual I had no idea everything took place during working hours, he confessed and asked us to try again, I did for one year but it was to painful and we split. Ten months later we were back together, year later downsized, within two weeks he is cold again. He says he feels empty,unworthy I thought it was guilt, he moved out to a colleagues no address given to me or our boys, kept coming back to visit for two weeks, next I know he says he has been put on depression tablets, visits me on our 32 wedding anniversary and says I no longer love you, I could stay as your handyman or companion? I ask him to leave.

    Next morning I get a email at work advising me he is away to the algarve to start his medication, I get a letter from ow husband two weeks later to say they were on holiday together and are now living together, I phone him and ask why. He replies I don’t know why but I am happy!!! NC since that day and I have filed for divorce. I am devasted and so hurt but no going back. Thanks for this site if I have ever been tempted to contact him this keeps me sane. Why can’t they see the pain they cause? Why?

  • It’s nice to have found a community that understands. Great points in this post, Chump Lady! Thank you.

    I will never forget the time my cheating, ex-wife messaged me angry that I actually shared the fact that she had cheated with mutual “friends.” The fact she cheated and lied to me over months (minimally) didn’t matter as much as my sharing of that fact. How dare I mess with her narrative/image control?! I let her know I would keep on telling the truth as I saw fit, and that was that.

    So glad to be off the crazy, shame train! I have finally met someone who is respectful of me and owns her behavior/choices. There really is a bright future and hope afterwards for chumps!

    • My ex was furious when I told people. He got even more furious when more came to light…and I told people. He actually said he didn’t want people to think he was screwing around all the time. My response – ‘But you were’ – was met with more anger. Fuck him. He’s a moron.

      • Nord,

        Seriously, I think your X and my STBX were separated at birth – two morons with a colossal eternal entitlement complex.

        • It looks bad, and they don’t want to look bad. Sad thing is that they didn’t think of that before cheating. In arrogance, they thought they were too clever to get caught. Now, they are facing the truth. Yep, it makes them look bad…because what they did WAS BAD!

  • I filed today. I am of the exact opposite belief. I am not ashamed, I am proud as hell! Hello backbone, hello self respect, oh how I have missed you both!! This was my choice, his fault, plain and simple. I don’t have children so that made the decision & process easier. Talk about feeling mighty. I AM A WARRIOR!!!!

  • “They don’t want to be alone”

    I’m in the camp where the ex lined up the new relationship – the perfect were meant fir each other “forever yours my darling”. “You are my everything. Oh I love you my darling”

    Now entering the third year they just have each other. The boys want nothing to do with mum if chainsaw man is around. My oldest son is yet to meet him and refuses him to be at a footy game. My youngest hasn’t met him but was I the house at the same time when chainsaw man stayed the night. How fucked up is that they don’t seek permission for chainsaw man to stay but instead just say he’s staying and too bad if you don’t like it.
    The damage that does to a young boy is immeasurable. To date no one has stayed here if the boys are here. It’s simple respect.

    I’m not ashamed any more. There has been so much love and support from friends of the boys and my friends both old and new.
    Groceries amd chainsaw man live in a cocoon just with her family visiting. What a boring insular life. However my councillor said that’s exactly how they designed and wanted it. Away from children and daily stresses.

    As far as divorce is concerned I don’t care about it. Just like a don’t care about groceries. She’s the boys mother ( when its convient for her)

    • My ex and final OW are in a bubble with his family, her family and a handful of other people and that is it. Everyone else has bailed. One kid sees them, the other refuses to have anything to do with final OW so ex chose final OW over the kid. May he burn in hell for doing that.

      • Nord, they simply don’t care. They expect you and I to support OW/OM and encourage life to go on as if nothing happened.
        My boys are old enough to work out what’s right and wrong.

        We get blamed for everything. We just have to ignore them and their families and live a good life for ourselves and our kids

  • As others have said, my STBX kept escalating; it went form the beginning “Are you happy?” apparently hoping I would say “No” so it would be my fault. Then he went to he wasn’t happy and didn’t know what he wanted to do, so I initiated a trial separation with a lot of room for reconciliation. Well, that wasn’t what he wanted so he told me about his affair (the first after 28 yrs of marriage). When I said I wasn’t willing to throw away 28 yrs of marriage, and 33 years together for a few months of misbehavior, he got to the nasty emotional hurting shit. He “settled” when he married me. He wouldn’t care if I died (seriously, he said that). I was controlling (after he had said I gave him everything he ever wanted and let him go wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted). Blah, blah, blah.

    Even after moving out, I find that no one knows we are separated. I am constantly hurt by those inquiring about how he is, what trips we have been on lately, did he come with me to an event? These are people he sees on a regular basis, but has not told. Oh no, I have to tell them so they are embarrassed about their comment, and I am hurt all over again. I mentioned this fact to him last weekend and he said it “wasn’t their business”. Oh, why isn’t it when he gives them info as if we are still together (such as telling people that I would be attending the party last Saturday). He has had many opportunities to just state simply that we aren’t together. It’s not like I expect him to tell them everything, just that we aren’t a couple anymore.

    I will have to be the one to file for divorce because he just isn’t going to get around to it even though he has made it clear that it is over and he doesn’t want to be together.

    Yep, I can relate to Chump Lady’s post, and all the comments on this subject!

    • He didn’t care if you died?????? H. I. T. M. A. N.!!!!! That’s all I have to say! Remember that old song “he had it coming”? Man these idiots just keep getting away and getting away with it.

    • I had a lot of the same situations – I had to tell our friends, I had to tell our acquaintances, I had to tell our neighbors, I even had to tell our dentist! It was mortifying for a while – but now it doesn’t bother me as much. It’s all about his image and him not having to feel bad about himself – at my expense! It so clearly highlights his selfishness and just reminds me why I NEVER want this person in my life anymore.

      • I too had to tell our dentist, our chiropractor (both a week after he was at those places). Both those places were dumbfounded because apparently he talked about me as if we were still together (we had been living apart by then), and had said only good stuff about me.

        It is all about his image, but I finally decided it was no longer my job to protect his image. If it had been that important to him he would have initiated the unhappy talk BEFORE starting to F*ck his coworker!

    • Bogie, don’t even bother talking to him about anything other than practicals. Don’t discuss your marriage, your relationship, anything personal. He will simply fuck with your head.

      As far as telling people, just simply say ‘We are divorcing due to his cheating’. And that’s it. Confide in those close to you should you feel comfortable. Don’t if you don’t.

      And the death thing? Ex told my kids he hated me and hoped I ended up homeless….he’s done everything possible to make that happen. All because I discovered his serial cheating and refused to say we were divorcing for any other reason. Even if I do end up homeless I’ll still have my integrity.

      • Nord – you are right. This was the first time for a while that I had gotten into anything personal because that very day I had had to tell the people holding the party that we weren’t together and I was sick of having to be the one to break the news.

        Your Ex actually said he hoped you ended up homeless? WTF?

  • Not to interject at all, but just wikipedia’d something for us.

    Knockout (violent game)

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The “knockout game” is one of many names given to assaults in which, purportedly, one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, all for the amusement of the attackers and their accomplices.

  • That’s what happened to me. We had just renewed our wedding vows.
    Talk about coming out of fucking no where.
    I ended up in the hospital with ‘takotsubo cardiomypathy’ …broken heart syndrome.

    Break my jaw and knock my teeth out. That would have been kinder.

  • My divorce only took 4 months to get. I (of course) had to file even though it was him who didn’t want to work on our marriage, him who said he wanted to move out, him who refused to stop cheating. But I knew that if I waited for him to do it, it would never happen. In my state you have to be separated for a year before you can file – unless you file for a fault divorce. I filed at fault, cited his adultery, subpoenaed his girlfriend to court and got my divorce. This doesn’t make me feel shame, it makes me feel mighty! Anytime someone asks how my divorce happened so fast, I just smile and say “I had cause”. They usually understand what that means. It makes him look stupid.

    The thing that amazes me about it, is that even at the very end (after all of his lies and gaslighting) he still thought that I would do what was in HIS best interest and honest with HIM about the divorce and my plans. He was pissed that I didn’t tell him I was going to subpoena his AP, that my mom was going to be there a witness. Like he deserved my candor?? He did exatly what my therapist said and let me handle things because that’s what he always did. He’s too self absorbed to even think that I, little chumpy me, would get one over on him. But I did, and I’m free!

    No shame here; I’m proud of myself.

      • I wish too, i dream of taking out a full page ad in the lical paper of his town. It’s very hard to shut up when he promotes his business and himself by the fact that he is a “parent” and if you want “simple and honest” (HONEST!!!!!!!!!!WTF????????) go to him. Really?????? His shit doesn’t stink!

  • I filed for domestic abuse, desertion and adultery. Unfortunately one has to put the details in the filing. The only time I felt shame was writing down the nasty things, he’d done to me over the years. That was difficult because I blamed myself for allowing it, for not leaving sooner. And of course, divorce papers are public record.

    Ex emailed me after he was served and he said; “this will ruin me, it’s humiliating”. Of course he still dragged out the settlement until two weeks before the court date. He only signed then because he had failed to respond to the filing in any way and I lucked out, the judge cited him with contempt of court. Since he was on probation for two DUIs he signed the next day and his lawyer got the contempt charge dismissed. I am a lucky person, my ex is VERY afraid of going to jail.

  • Well,
    in my story, i am the cheater.

    (I am not from US, not even from an english speaking country, so forgive my terrible language. I learned it only from movies. it’s my first time I ever write in english on a blog)

    I made this dumb mistake, a slept with an OW. During that time, i felt guilty, but not too much. My wife havent slept with me for one entire year, so it seemed wrong, but also ok to do that. The OW was married too, she lacked sex as well, and it seemed like a right thing to do at the moment.
    Now, I know it was totally wrong, but it’s too late. I tried to put the guilt on her side, but now i understand I was so fkcing predictable. I was something between an ordinary monkey/man and a sociopath.

    Well, I made other DH mistakes (where DH means Dumb Husband), the biggest one being to invest half of all family money in one single bad business. And, to lie about it, hoping i could cover this somehow. Which i dont. For her, this seemed to be the biggest fault.

    Long story short, after the moment she found out all the lies, She divorced. Not instantly, but after 3 years, where we lived together, with our 2 children. For 3 years, we slept separately, and I provided for us. (only me working during our marriage) In my country you can divorce in court (if there are issues about money or children) or directly to a lawyer, if we agree on all terms. Clean and discreet.

    Fcourse, knowing I was guilty, I accepted all her conditions. I gave her everything, (including all 4 houses we own) and children. The law here doesnt allow to give everything, if the other part doesnt pay at least 20 percent back. Well, I signed an official paper that i received from her 215k usd that i never received, only to finish the divorce.

    I did this because I understood i was wrong, that I acted like a teenager instead of a grown up and because i want to have her back, and live like a family, even without a silly paper between us.
    I thought she will forgive me.

    Well, after the divorce, she let me literally on the streets. I have no money, no car and only the clothes left on me. She dont want to talk to me or let me home. Nor see the children. Not even to grab my things from our home.

    I dont even have the key from one of our 3 other houses, so i had to rent.

    I could go to police, I could claim my very few rights i kept for me, but i dont want to do such thing to my family. i really love her, and I presume she only want me to feel what i had and what i can lose. I hope i’m not too blind.

    Or, she can simply move away or start over with somone else. She doesnt have to work a single day in her life from now on, (which makes me feel somehow good) but i dont understand exactly how she could think right now.

    what would you do? Would you take back a man who cheated, lied and then lied again to cover lies? Even he accepted the guilt, spent 3 years without touching her as a punishment and left everything to her?

    as a note, I never missed a single night home in 14 years of marriage. I lied about what I have eaten or who I met, and I never fall in love with someone else. I lied about any thing I thought it can make her angry. Which I understand now is no use @all.

    (this is not a fiction or an exercise, so it’ll be helpful if someone of you might provide an answer. thanks in advance)

  • Oh CL,
    Your right on ess doesn’t stop! Always so clear and to the point and above all well written!!!

    Funny how they never get the simple problem of being unfaithful = problems, nor do they ever learn from the repeated pattern. It’s truly amazing and they keep on rolling on the same tracks.

    As I said to myself and the ex cheater, my only contribution to the problem was staying longer than I should have. I own that. I have learned from that.

    This evening I came across something that made me crack up laughing on my own facebook page while I was looking for a video I had posted that I had wanted to send to a friend who is not on facebook. It was a post I had made when I was with the cheater which said, “To Quote the WHO – I won’t get fooled again”. The first person to post on my post was the Cheater who wrote, “Is there something I should know about?????”.

    This had me laughing as at the time I had posted I was commenting on the Presidential Re-election, but clearly the cheater thought I had found something out about him and panicked. Funny how things take on completely different meaning as time goes by.

    Had to share that one with you all.

  • >