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Dear Chump Lady, I’m confused, well sorta

Dear Chump Lady,

I have been reading your blog since my husband left me in June 2013. I would like your opinion. I should start by telling you a bit of background about myself. I have constantly struggled with depression and anxiety and in June 2012 began a particularly severe bout of depression which lasted until just a few months ago.

We have been together for 17 years and married for 10 years. Those were truly the best times of my life. We thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, travelled all over the world together and just loved each other to death. First sign of trouble was in May 2013 when I got a phone call while he was out taking our dog for a walk. His voice loud and clear says “Hi are you in your nightie?” He swears to this day that this was a pocket dial and he was speaking to the neighbour who was outside her house.

Next was a few weeks later when we went to a friend’s cottage and he was constantly checking his phone (only found this out later through my friend). Let me take this opportunity to tell you that he is not in the least “a phone guy,” always made fun of those who constantly carry them. He left in June 2013 stating that he was tired of dealing with my depression and because he couldn’t do anything to make it better, he felt his only option was to leave.

Fast forward to July 2013 and my friend sees him and the OW together. We both worked with this woman and so this was a double whammy. They are seen at least 4-5 more times throughout the summer. He claims since they were old friends they were merely comforting each other in their times of need. Her husband passed away in Dec 2012 and he said to me in a letter that they were together since both of them had “lost” their spouses. We had virtually no contact all summer, then out of the blue he e-mails me in Sept 2013 and wants to talk. I ignored this and he wrote three more times, the last e-mail saying that he had done some hard work with a counsellor and he hoped that I would join in the counselling. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I agreed and attended a marriage counselling session with him. I was all messed up for days after that. Started believing things he said in the session that now I think back, just don’t make any sense. An example is that when one of my co-workers saw them at a fair holding hands, he stated he never attended that event.

As you can imagine I’m heartbroken, feel betrayed, lost, abandoned, etc. I just want the marriage to be like it used to be but my counsellor says it can never be that way again, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be different.

We have another session tomorrow night and I have so many questions for him, but don’t even know if I’m getting the truth.



Dear Denise,

So what exactly was the “hard work” he did with the counsellor if the idiot cannot admit he’s been cheating on you and left you for the other woman?

I’d try another shrink. This one seems snowed by your husband. The whole canard that the marriage “can never be that way again, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be different” is laughable. No, it’s EXACTLY the same marriage because your husband is still gaslighting you. He’s still not taking responsibility for his affair and abandoning you. But let me guess — I bet there was a lot of talk of how difficult your depression was on the poor sausage, right?

Imagine your shrink is a realtor and she’s taking you to look at “new” houses. And here’s a house that was previously condemned in a gentrifying neighborhood. When you go to look at it, there’s the same moldy carpeting. There’s still the backed up gutters and a weird rotting smell. But it’s got some new paint. But when you look, you see that they didn’t do any prep work. They just painted over the old cracking, peeling paint and the giant cracks in the wall.

It’s a NEW house. Move right in Denise!

You hear gunfire? Pay no attention, says the realtor, consider the potential! The neighborhood is turning around! Get in early, while the getting is good!

You remember what the neighborhood used to look like decades ago, when it was sturdy and prosperous…

This is a bad investment Denise. This guy’s soul is still a moldy carpet with a putrid stench. He wants you back if you’ll just do him the small favor of denying reality.

Why are you confused? Do you want this guy back? A man who bailed on you and blamed you for it? He couldn’t deal with your depression. Okay. I hear abandonment really improves depression symptoms. But whatever. He could’ve been honest about his decision to bail. He could’ve called a divorce lawyer, ensured that your health insurance was covered through spousal support, paid a fair and generous divorce settlement, and left you honestly.

He didn’t do that. He cheated on you for God knows how long — and THEN he left for the other woman and pinned it on your depression.

I know depression is an illness, but has it occurred to you that you may have suffered  depression as a result of his double life? Your worst bout was a year before he left. Six months after the OW’s husband died. You got butt dialed 11 months later. He clearly was in an affair by then, to be on “nighty” intimate apparel terms. Ever consider your gut was screaming at you? Telling you something was off? That maybe this guy is not as sparkly and wonderful as you’ve always believed?

You’re in counseling. You’ve got questions. If he doesn’t answer these questions honestly, what’s the POINT? If he cannot admit his affair, and take responsibility for abandoning you, why would you spend two seconds around this mindfuck? Please don’t tell me you’re going to go session after session while he works himself up to it. Oh! Hey! I see a ray of sunshine! The fog is lifting!

Start calling the tune, Denise. Quit waiting on him, looking to him for answers, and letting him gaslight you. Set the terms of engagement. You want to reconcile? Demand a post-nup. Demand accountability. If you don’t get it, you’re hiring a divorce attorney and filing.

If he’s truly “sorry,” and working on himself, he’ll keep on his self improvement journey regardless of what you do. He’ll accept the consequences.

Otherwise Denise, this is all a ploy for cake. He misses clueless you. He misses the narrative of being the martyr to your depression, who needs the help and understanding of another woman, to admire him and stroke him and tell him how brave he’s been to face all that. Perhaps the OW dumped him and you’re plan B. Who knows. The question to ask yourself in therapy is — is this relationship as it is NOW, moldy carpet and gunfire, an acceptable one for YOU? If not, what are YOU Denise going to do about it?

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Denise, I was in a depression and didn’t even now it for the last year of my marriage. I only realised it when I described to my therapist what I had been feeling like and she just said, very matter-of-factly ‘You were in a depression and it probably had a lot to do with your gut screaming and you ignoring it’.

    Denise, don’t go to any more MC sessions. Just end things. He’s playing games with you and it won’t end. I’ve been there. Just walk away. If he really REALLY wants you back? He’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen. Walk away, see a lawyer, and make sure you’re protected financially.

    Good luck and yes, I know, it sucks.

    • ‘You were in a depression and it probably had a lot to do with your gut screaming and you ignoring it’.

      Paraphrasing someone, probably Jung, “If you do not make your unconscious, conscious, it will run your life and drive you mad”

      • I think that’s true. The last time my ex came home from a business trip I opened the door and looked in his eyes, he couldn’t hold my gaze. A voice in my head said as loud as day “there’s someone else.” It was so clear it was like a person standing next to me said it. Even then I tried to ignore the voice and tell myself I was hearing things.

        • I’d agree. My husband’s never been a sexual tiger, but the summer before Dday, I was walking my dogs when a voice in my head said, “If he’s not getting it from you, he’s getting it from someone else.” Then, in bed he did something that was very small, yet very different. It was practiced, and I knew that yes, there was someone else. And yes, I tried to repress this, too. It wasn’t until I saw the texts about a month later that I realized I’d tried hard not to know.

          • Yes, I’ve come around to believing the new-agey types that say on a spiritual level, or unconscious level, we know everything that’s going on — and they know we know it, hence my H’s growing paranoia and weird behavior around me.

            I was angry with him A LOT, and I didn’t know where it was coming from, so I stifled it during the daylight hours and projected it to him in bed. He woke up several times with really bad nightmares that he wouldn’t talk about.

            Those strong emotions don’t come from nowhere, I’ve learned. They are induced in you to wake you up.

            • Chumpalicious…
              I am laughing thinking about the nightmares. XH is a cop a POS one at that (he lost a gun right before the divorce, about a year after this story – how does a cop lose a gun???) and shortly after dday during false R, we were in bed sleeping, (yes, I know stupid me) and he started to tremble and shake and just spaz out while sleeping. He then woke up short of breath, said quietly I love you and went out front. I just pretended to be sleeping during the whole thing. He later said that he had a nightmare that I shot him. LOL
              Sucks to be him…

              • Yeah, I figured it was something like that……..

                It’s nice to know that on a certain level they’re NOT getting away with anything.

          • kb, towards the end of our bogus reconciliation, my now-ex did something in bed he’d never done before. Like you said, it was a very small thing, but different and practiced. Right off, I thought he was either still with the OW, or cheating with someone new, and that was where he had learned it. To this day, I do not know who it was, but it’s over now and irrelevant. Just wanted to say I understand exactly what you are talking about.

            • Okay, so figure me this: My XH snored like a dozen pit bulls during his entire affair–never before, never since. I even (finally!) got him to go in for a sleep apnea study (poor lil’ me I was worried about him… oh, jeeze…).They couldn’t find any biologic or organic cause. Surprise!

              In hindsight, (20-20), his body was acting out the aggression that his devious mind was hiding from me. Seriously! Among other things, it meant that we often slept in separate rooms; hence, he could sext up his whore-stress all night long. But he really was dead asleep when snoring, not faking it. I think it’s possibly the weirdest thing about this whole episode of my life.

              • Ah, the nightmares. My exH had them for months way back in 1999… Turns out that is when he was in affair #1.
                More recently he spent 4 years suffering from insomnia… Again, now I know it was due to his lying and “unhappiness.”.

                The body lets you know when there are problems, the key is understanding the message.

          • KB, I had a similar experience. There was some small little thing he did once that made me think ‘that’s not normal for him’. It wasn’t anything huge, just a tiny little thing, but I didn’t pay attention.

            Of course, now I know one of the things she likes, which makes me feel icky but laugh at the same time.

    • Same here Denise. I was in a depression for YEARS and started having panic attacks–you see my mind was trying to accept two different things that can’t both be true: My conscious mind telling me “your husband loves and adores you,” and my subconscious mind telling me “something is very wrong with this picture, he is a liar and a pretender.” Once I found him out and kicked him out, I uncovered just how long the crap had been going on…..AND I realized that my depression and anxiety was there because a part of me sensed his double life all along. I hate to admit just how long that was.

      I am a different person now that he is gone– strong, sure, confident, HAPPY, optimistic. I am so much healthier. I am finally ME.

      • Same here, Kelly. I am slowly getting back to the me that used to exist but was sucked out by ex’s idiocy. Bonus? My hair and skin haven’t looked this great in years. Weird, I know, but it’s like I’m bursting out with light from inside these days, despite my financial woes.

  • In addition to the points CL laid out, unrepentant cheaters who insist that the betrayed spouse go to therapy are NOT looking to change their own selves for the better. They don’t think THEY have any problems.

    They are looking to “dump” the betrayed spouse and that spouse’s visceral reactions into the lap of the third party (counselor) so that they (the cheat) won’t have to deal with any emotional fallout.

    Avoidance behavior at its finest!!

    • yup yup yup

      The couple of sessions I got dragged into (the STBX’s psychologist knew it was a bad idea but was under pressure to allow it) were so confusing as he sat there and dissected our lives back into the past clear to right after we got married. When the psychologist asked him basically what the problem was, he said “we have different priorities in life”

      News to me. Not a word about being in love with someone else, or having spent more time invested in another relationship than with his family. Had he managed to get to some disclosure, he knew the fallout would have been Vesuvian.

      The psychologist gave us an exercise in mutual communication to do before the next session. I waited and waited for H to initiate a work session on it, as evidence he was into repairing our relationship. Never happened. When he announced he’d set up another appointment, I handed him a letter to take to the psychologist explaining why I wasn’t going to go anymore. So of course, then, the failure of the counseling was all my fault. See how it works, Denise? You can’t win when he’s not sincere, so don’t torture yourself by getting suckered into being the scapegoat.

  • Which brings me to another of my corny (but quite possibly true) quotes:

    “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem first make sure that you are not in fact surrounded by assholes.” ~Anonymous

    (Or in the case of a cheating spouse, afflicted by one MAJOR asshole.)

  • “. . . he was tired of dealing with my depression and because he couldn’t do anything to make it better, he felt his only option was to leave . . .”

    Because leaving a person with severe depression is supposed to “help” you? Wow. What if you had cancer? Would he just bail on you because he couldn’t do anything to make it better? Fuck this guy.

    • Actually, Rumblekitty, there is some interesting anecdotal information about men who abandon “sick” wives, and it is not a pretty picture:

      Personally, I think men are much more romantic and idealistic about marriage and women are more realistic. Another way of putting it might be that too many men just can’t “hack it” when the going gets rough.

        • CL, what you say is true. My point is that it is a matter of degree of participation. Women just don’t seem to bail on either circumstance quite as often.

          • Women don’t tend to bail as often because they’re the ones holding the bag in the first place. Maybe it’s because women have less options to bail. Case in point – pregnancy, children, and sickness, since women statistically get more long-term illnesses than men (unless the stats have changed recently).

            Plus, I happen to personally believe that women tend to be a bit more chumpy (nature or nurture? not sure the reason) than men, and thus pick up the slack and end up holding the bag of you-name-it – household duties, child care, financial responsibility, etc. I think it’s easier to bail when you don’t have much responsibility….as opposed to the responsible spouse, who is bearing the brunt of it.

            There are some women who do bail….and it’s wrong and sad. Leaving the husband to raise kids, repair finances, heal from cancer. It’s messed up.

            Any spouse who bails while leaving the other one holding the bag? Cowardly. Gender neutral. Lifestyle neutral (straight, gay). Doesn’t matter. You’re supposed to be a team and help each other and bailing is betrayal all its own.

            • In the journal I found where my husband had written all about his love for his married coworker “She is healthy” was on the list of the things he loved about her. On the other hand, I’d struggled with cancer and endometriosis and had allergies and asthma. The strange thing is how much healthier I am now that I’m out of the relationship. It’s truly amazing. My body knew what my brain didn’t want to admit.

              • Me too. Went through all the tests for MS. Thousands of dollars on tests with a final diagnosis of severe fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
                A week after he left: Perfectly healthy, going on four years.

              • OK, disclaimer in case this sounds weird. I read A LOT. I particularly like reading about, let’s say, less than popular ways of explaining how the world works. That’s where this comes from, no particular proof, but it did make a certain amount of sense.

                Homeopaths are convinced that one of the worst things that can happen to a woman is to have sex with an energetically “dirty” man. Not just the nasty energies of the known STDs either. Those energies are deposited within you and work against you from the inside out. The man gets his his energies all disordered with every sexual encounter that’s not you. If the partner has had lots of partners, so much the worse.

                A what was the height of his screwing around, I too, noticed some difference in technique, but what really weirded me out was AFTERward, I would have to get up out of bed, go to the bathroom and take a shower because I felt like I had been defiled. It was so automatic and weird. Eew, eeew, eeew — I couldn’t get scrubbed fast enough. Nightgown got treated like it was toxic waste. I thought I was going nuts.

                If you don’t cotton to homeopathy, black magic works just fine as an explanation.

              • Chumpalicious, FWIW, I have a friend who is very new agey. When I was going through the Troubles, she explained my ex to me this way — (she believed in reincarnation) — he’s a young soul. He’s not very carnated. New souls are very warring, primitive, ego centric. They haven’t evolved to higher planes of existence (compassion, sacrifice, empathy, etc.)

                Damn if it didn’t make sense to me. Still does really.

              • CL: That explains a lot about the entire world actually.

                I can go with that too, really, because the ex didn’t really like being the way he was and exhibited a lot of existential angst during the process of leaving, which took him over 2 years to really do. When I talked with my pastor about what was going on, explaining FOO issues, medical issues, interpersonal issues etc, he eventually just waved it all away and said “This is a spiritual matter for XXXXX, and if XXXXX wants a divorce, I suggest you make him file.” OK then.

                I sometimes have the sense that the ex was my mission here in life and I failed. Or maybe I didn’t. All the energetic stuff though makes NC an absolute necessity.

              • Chumpalicious – your exes spiritual development is his mission in life. Free will means you can’t save him.

                You have a responsibility to yourself and any kids. However, sometimes the best you can do to help someone is to not let them hurt you and to show what their actions really mean. It’s up to him to learn from it, but it may be that what he needed in the end was to lose you and see the consequences of his actions.

  • And from a more scholarly perspective……

    Excerpt: “Avoidant behavior is one of the defenses that’s associated with narcissism. Narcissistic individuals lack authentic ego strength, and this (core) deficit makes it nearly impossible for them to acknowledge their flaws or failings; they may be quick to point out your shortcomings, but confronting their own invokes intolerable levels of shame and self-loathing. This personality type is usually more comfortable “giving than taking,” which spawns codependent dynamics with family, friends and lovers. The notion of receiving challenges their (false) non-needing self, and prompts anxiety about loss of control in relationships. Sensitive, open/honest dialogues involve the willingness and capacity to feel vulnerable; core-damaged people avoid vulnerability, and rely on passive-aggressive tactics to manipulate others into accommodating their needs. Some of these folks become People Pleasers, as they’re deeply invested in having others regard them as perfect, or above reproach.”


    Pathologically conflict avoidant people have the trait so ingrained into their personality that they usually cannot become appropriately assertive and healthy without a willingness to understand their pervasive dysfunction and to undergo intensive long-term therapy. They alternate between pathological passivity and aggression– OR meld the two into the single most frustrating and pervasive of all personality disorders: The Passive-Aggressive. Dealing with a PA is like trying to nail jello to a wall! The PA can appear narcissistic or psychopathic to people not trained to discern the difference because PA’s engage in so many of the same behaviors…obfuscating, sandbagging, gas-lighting, truth burying…etc. But for them it is truly a defense mechanism. Very damaging to those around them –but a defense mechanism nevertheless. Somewhere in their FOO they were taught that expressing dissent (no matter how respectfully submitted) is a huge ” No! No!”…. that “conflict” is a horrible, ominous thing which must be avoided at all costs. That anger is something to be repressed instead of examined and dealt with constructively. They don’t learn how to face and to resolve conflict in constructive ways. They learn to ” run for the hills”, or worse, manipulate in order to get their perceived needs met. They can exhibit many narc traits without being a strictly diagnosable narc. Speaking from both personal and professional experience, I believe the PA personality is the single most difficult to deal with and to treat. The prognosis for change is dismal.

    • Sheesh…this is my ex AND his father. I always felt slightly unsure about the narc thing with them and I’m reminded now that very early on my therapist was all about ex being PA (she had treated us together for a period of time). My ex lied just yesterday over something so unimportant that it was amusing. And then, because I called him on it, he tried to, out of nowhere, convince one of the kids of the same thing hours later. For no reason. It was fucked up and quite sad.

    • And they are so good, you never see the writing on the wall. Until it blows up! Because they slip up after there are so many lies they can’t keep them all straight. Or in my case. I became strong and independant. The kids grew up and moved on. I started not waiting around for him and all his excuses of having so much work he couldn’t possibly take time for a vacation. So I started taking trips with my sister and girlfriends. So he stepped up his multiple extra curricular activities and found some poor young women who needed his undying devotion and money. He now lives with his brother and sister in law and drives my old piece of shit car because he totalled his driving around with one of his devotees. I just found out that that has now broken down, so I have no idea what he drives now. Because evidently he has no money……I think the Karma Bus is spinning it’s tires somewhere in his vicinity. Funny how that works……I still question almost daily if I drove him to his behaviors and then I read these posts and all the info on Narcs and Psychos. My therapist keeps me thinking in the right direction too……There is no hope for these damaged souls. If they even have one. Best of luck to you Denise… is a daily struggle that I have been dealing with since March 2013. Just when you think you are moving forward…..doubt sets in. Kick doubt in the ass and remind yourself that you are worth more than spending your life with a less that trustworthy person.

    oK, my family has a history of chemical imbalance depression. I say it that way because it isn’t really the same as situational depression. I have experienced both. PPD after each of my children were born. THAT depression wasn’t going any place with out medication. As a parting gift, the PPD left me with an anxiety disorder. It took 2-3 years for my hormones to level out after each child, 3 children. It was worse with each one. Perhaps Roy cheated because he couldn’t deal with my depression? You know, the depression brought on by bringing our children into the world? Perhaps he was JUSTIFIED, by your husbands definition Roy was.
    Car accident has completely left me a different person physically, unable to do all I used to. Major depressive episode for a year coming to terms with the “new me.” Perhaps Roy was justified in cheating on me THEN? Again, your husband’s definition says so.
    I pulled myself out of my situational depression and what I found, after years of PPD medication, anxiety drugs, pain killers, lyrica, and too many other medications to list, was Roy was a complete and utter fucktard. I like to blame the meds for making me so complacent. It makes ME FEEL better. The fact is, no matter how many meds I took, I KNEW IN MY GUT that Roy was a cheating prick. When I decided to taper off of every med (from 8 down to 2) I couldn’t hide my head in my ass any more. I had to decide what I wanted out of my life.
    I can’t tell you your depression is caused by your husband. I can’t say your meds helped blind you to what your gut was telling you. I can tell you that your depression/anxiety issues ARE NOT YOUR FAULT and I can tell you your husband’s actions WILL NOT make it better. Especially since he is mind fucking you.
    This is what he is doing (so much easier to say it to others than to see it in my own life 😉 )
    He FEELS BAD… sniffle sniffle, POOR HIM… he had a great wife and he fucked around on her, then realized that he either loves her or that he will loose a frickin butt load of assets.
    He NEVER admitted to fucking the dead guys wife (skank hoe bitch slut) so TECHNICALLY it never happened (in his head).
    He can go to counseling and explain/justify his behavior to a shrink who has no clue what the truth is. The shrink then helps support his poor pitiful woe is me dance.
    THAT IS WHEN YOU GET DRAGGED IN. Don’t fall for it.
    He wants to drive the marriage on a flat tire by just putting air in the tire every 50 miles instead of getting the gd tire fixed. HE IS THE TIRE. As long as he can shift the blame, it’s your car too and the flat tire was really your fault because you hit a curb (depression). The flat tire has NOTHING TO DO with the fact that he stabbed it with a knife (his stupid dick in her vagina). You really think that frickin tire is going to last? Its going to blow.
    You get to decide right now, are you going to be in the car when it blows?
    I won’t tell you to leave him or divorce him or stay.
    I can tell you if your jackhole fuckity fucking husband won’t even admit to the affair, he is NOT a different man. He is putting air in the tire.
    Get your OWN counselor. Go to therapy for a while. See what you can discover about YOU. Then take a look at him with those eyes.
    I would HIGHLY suggest looking into the divorce laws of your state. Perhaps he spoke with an attorney and this “counseling” is just on a lawyer’s advice.
    DO NOT fall for the counseling mind fuck. I did. 9 months worth. It’s a double penetrating mind fuck and you will kick your own ass even harder later on.
    You know what you KNOW. Listen to yourself.

    • All4,

      The bottom line? Marriage is about, “forsaking ALL others….in sickness and in health…for better or worse..”

      Roy didn’t hold up his end of the marital contract/covenant now did he?

      And THAT is the primary factor that a betrayed spouse needs to consider in order to make the best decision regarding personal mental health and marital status.

      Thus you are correct when you say, “You know what you know. Listen to yourself.”

  • I can see his actions speak louder than his words. So what more do you need to hear? More BS thrown at you? Just work at getting better before you slip into deeper depression because of this self center asshole. Stay strong 🙂

  • When a spouse treats a reconciliation as a conciliation prize it’s time to bail. You know…that piss poor of “Gosh I’m here in therapy what more do you want?” kind of attitude is for the birds.

    Blame shifting and not taking full accountability are giant red flags that your hubby isn’t ready for person insight into his own behavior which is a part of the process of making amends…which duh…is the point of therapy. If hubby isn’t showing an intense desire for healing his side of the street then that IS your reality.

    I believe that most reconciliation’s are mechanical; most people stay because they’re afraid of losing.

  • I say call his bluff. Find a place to take a lie detector test and state that unless he takes it to find out the truth you are out! He sounds like he’s still lying to you. That’s where your depression is coming from. You probably feel like your over reacting, or over sensitive , or such a bad wife that he had to get a break from you. This is The lies we as chumps believe about ourselves because we can’t understand why our spouses aren’t THERE anymore. It must be us.

  • He’s still lying to you. Even the Reconciliation Industrial Complex says that if the cheater does not admit to what he/she did, is sincerely regretful and making amends then reconciliation will not work.

    I could be you, 17 years, the last 5 married. My Mom died and I went into a severe depression so instead of trying to help me, he went out and got a girlfriend. He left me to rot – when I pulled my own ass out of the depression I discovered the OW. Fuck that shit, the first time I EVER needed my ex to take care of me and he couldn’t handle it….

    My ex said he did hard work on himself too – later I paged through his therapy “work book” HAH Big fucking joke, he never did ANY of the exercises. He moved out, just like your husband so he could cheat without me seeing what he was doing. Then he dragged me into MC and blamed everything on me. The whole time in MC he continued to see the OW.

    It sounds like you suffer from clinical depression, are you in therapy, checking meds? You know self care is the hardest when you are in the depths, are you eating and exercising? Please take care of yourself as you navigate this mess. I highly recommend the site as a place where you can feel better about the depression and anxiety. She will make you laugh and remember DEPRESSION LIES.

    If you insist on MC you need to find one that is NOT committed to saving your marriage at all costs, an objective MC therapist is really hard to find.

    • Funny, isn’t it? I spent years being his rock, holding him up when things went wrong or he had worries, figuring out everything and anything. And then, when I was really down and needed him to step up and take care of me (and didn’t even know I needed this but hey, why didn’t he notice, right?) he was not there for me. He instead saw my problems as him being ignored and not getting what he wanted/needed and thus he amped up the cheating from random hookups to a number of affairs. So yeah, the time I needed him the most it was still all about him. What a prat.

  • “For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, forsaking all others,” yada, yada, yada.

    The first standard marriage vows were written in the 16th century, which means people have known for at least 500 years the most common problems that derail a marriage. By making your vows on your wedding day, you acknowledge that problems may arise, but you promise to solve them together.

    And yet, SO MANY spouses just walk away at the first sign of trouble, like when jobs are lost, people get sick, or someone else looks their way. It’s like the vows they took don’t apply to them. It’s a total sense of entitlement.

    A friend’s 4 year old son contracted meningitis. It didn’t kill him, but it did leave him with severe brain and spinal damage. He’s been a special needs kid ever since.

    In the early days of the crisis when the boy was in the hospital, my friend was with him day and night. She counted on her husband to “step up” and run their restaurant and their house, and take care of their two older kids. It’s what any dad would do.

    But while the husband enjoyed all the sympathy attention for family, friends, and neighbors, he had ZERO interest in the additional work. He resented my friend for spending so much time in the hospital, and he resented the 4 year old for “messing up” their lives.

    So while my friend was at the hospital ’round the clock for weeks, wondering if their child was going to live or die, her husband started an affair with one of the neighbors. Pat found out about it when she came home late one night, exhausted, grabbed the mail on her way in, and found a letter from OW’s husband, 10 pages of intimate emails between Pat’s husband and the OW. When Pat needed him most, her husband was off with someone else.

    They’ve since divorced. The husband got the house and the restaurant and every other weekend with the two older kids. He refuses to have anything to do with his youngest, because the kid “ruined his life.”

    Nice, huh? Blaming a child for contracting a life-altering virus, instead of blaming himself for not handling it like a man.

    Well, Denise, your husband isn’t much better. Just when you needed him most, he left you for someone else. No, he’s never going to admit it, and yes, he’s going to gaslight you every chance he gets. He’s discovered the grass ISN’T greener, and he’s trying to keep you as an option.

    Don’t let him.

    “When people show you who they are, believe them,” says Maya Angelou.

    He’s shown you, Denise. Like my friend’s husband and John Edwards, your husband took up with someone else when you needed him most. It’s a tough, TOUGH pill to swallow, but it is what it is. He doesn’t have your back and he’s not putting your interests first. The only person he cares about is himself.

    The question is, what are you going to do about it?

  • I was at my annual doctor visit when my doctor noticed my heart was beating irregularly. She was worried enough to hook me up to an EKG machine. She didn’t like what she saw, so I was sent straight to the hospital. I spent hours there and was asked so many questions about stress and if I had noticed any problems with my heart. I had no idea what was going on, as I thought I was completely healthy. I left completely confused and with orders to take a baby aspirin (low dose) every day. Six months later, I found out about the year long affair. I have not had any detection of heart problems since then (I see my doctor annually) so I stopped taking the aspirin. Our “gut feeling” manifests in various ways. Mine was a heart problem caused by a heartless asshole.

    • I also got a heart issue in the middle of my four year long nightmare of X obsessing, having sex with, and then making a ‘pal’ out of our neighbor. My chest started getting tight, then I got pain in my left arm daily. I went and got one of those EKG treadmill tests and the Dr. said I was fine.
      But, after I moved 900 miles away after divorcing him, and stopped caring WTF he was doing, or with who, surprise! My chest pain vanished. I tell him he almost murdered me!

  • Dear Denise: You have all my sympathy, and nothing I could say hasn’t already been said better by the terrific crowd here.

    I’ve existed with depression as my “best” friend for years– it’s both chemical/genetic, and situational for me. However, having moved out from my cheating SOB last June, and finally finished divorcing him last week (woo hoo!!) I’ve done a lot of serious looking back. D’oh!

    First off, my depression worsened just at the point when the asshole decided he “was no longer married to me, in his mind” (no matter –small detail–he neglected to tell me). That was about 5 years before Dday. Coincidence? I don’t think so…

    Mine was a classic passive-aggressive/covert-aggressive type, so he amped up the under-mining shit like crazy all those years. But it was subtle. And I spackled like mad. And peddled like crazy to try and make it work.

    But you know, as so many here have said, you can’t make a relationship work when only one person is trying. And the other one is posting Craig’s list ads.

    Having said all that, the situation still sucks, there’s no pretending it doesn’t. For years I thought I had a good marriage, with someone who loved me… Many times it was the pillar I leant on.

    So, finding out that it was a great big sham has been a huge blow: I lost my house (we sold it); my marriage–and really, family as I knew it; nearly all my friends bailed on me; I left my job–it became unbearable. Just Everything. So, depressed? Yeah, I’m super depressed, not gonna lie. But the only place I have to go is up, I guess.

    So I’m depressed, but you know what? I’m not in the kind of limbo, or the kind of psychic agony I was in while I was shackled to the asshole and subject to his lies and gaslighting and all the rest. Really bad depression is way better than suicidal agony. Way better.

    So take heart– this community is awesome. You can do this, however low you feel. Just put one foot in front of the other and be RUTHLESS. Get a kickass lawyer. It’s the rest of your life on the line, and you have a brighter future, at some point to go and get.

  • “But has it occurred to you that you may have suffered depression as a result of his double life?”

    This is exactly what happened to me. I was with my ex for 17 years (married 9). I was diagnosed as being depressed during the marriage and was medicated. My ex blamed everything that went wrong on my depression (although this only happened during our breakup…prior to that the asshole never even let on like he had any issues). He even wrote ONE of his OW about such depression and how he couldn’t handle it. Turns out, as soon as I found out about the affairs and kicked him out, I was able to come off my medication. At a time when I should have been the most depressed (going through a divorce with 2 small children), I was actually ok. Almost 3 years later I am still off all medication. It’s amazing how our bodies work. We need to listen to our gut.

  • Denise I suffered with depression throughout my marriage. I became almost suicidally depressed at one point, right around the time I discovered he was in love with his married coworker. One of the reasons he gave for leaving was that I was unhappy. Looking back I think “who wouldn’t be unhappy spending most of their time alone, feeling abandoned?” There was always a gut feeling that something was going on but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve been out of our marriage for 2 years now and I’ve never felt happier in my life. My depression is gone.

  • He’s still lying to you. Therapy is pointless. It will only hurt you more, and it won’t get you anywhere.

    It’s quite likely that your depression was your gut trying to tell you something that your mind wasn’t yet ready to hear.

    Before I found out about my STBX’s cheating, I think my subconscious knew. I kept having vivid dreams about natural disasters…..our house being leveled by a terrifying tornado…earthquakes… was horrible.

    • My recurrent dream was that there was something “evil” hidden in my house, something dirty, something leaking, and I had to find it. Haven’t had one dream like that since I caught him and threw him out. Found out after he had been cheating for at least 15 years.

      • Whenever I was in bed with my ex I felt like there was a third person there. It was such a strong feeling and it drove me mad trying to figure out where it was coming from. It felt like I had to share him every time we were alone together. I swear it was his um…man parts that couldn’t keep up the compartmentalization. I’m pretty intuitive and even though he could lie to my face I felt like his body kept trying to confess it. I too had reoccurring dreams about him being with others until I eventually developed a sleep issue. I didn’t ignore them…I just couldn’t find any proof and of course he denied it. I also had my back go out without any logical cause and experienced a lot of random pains (sex became weirdly painful). We know. Our bodies know. Our minds know. Now I would trust that gut feeling immediately, although I really hope I’m never again in the situation to have to do so.

    • I had started suspecting something was up with some trips to the city he had made while on a business trip. He said he stayed with friends…emphasis on the plural. He had me thinking for awhile that it was a married couple we both knew from college. Then, he started talking about this lady from work just a little too much and she had been texting him. On the night I confronted him, my gut screamed to me, very audibly to me I must add, “ask him where he stayed! Ask him where he stayed!” So, I asked him and after some clarifying questions, I found out that he had gone to spend the night at this chick’s house while he was on business…not the married couple’s house! I don’t ignore those gut feelings anymore if I can help it.

  • Dear Denise, I must echo what the others are saying. Every time I was dealing with a deep depression (and sadly, there were many episodes over the years), it was because I was unable/ unwilling to identify and act on what the narcissist-cheater du jour was doing to me. Don’t fall for the marriage counseling ploy.

  • Denise – I was depressed during my marriage as well. I went from 5mg of Lexapro to 20mg when he left. After he left (still denying the affair and me actually believing it), I wanted to think clearly of what my next step should be and decided to stop taking Lexapro. Guess what…..I was FINE without it. I was no longer tired all the time and wanting to die and it made no sense to me as I was mentally not worst than I was when he was still home. This is when I realized my depression was due to this marriage as I always though my marriage was good. I started writing down everything that happened from the day we dated till present. I brought it to my therapist who told me I was manipulated and brain washed. This is when I realized I subconsciously that mentally I was so bad. You might want to look into this to see if this is the case for you.

  • Count me among the ranks of those married to a bottle of antidepressants.

    My Ex gaslighted the hell out of me and I ignored my intuition far too long. Although on anti-depressants for years, like Sick of Her Chump, I stopped taking them after leaving…this was during a 4.5 year custody dispute, cancer (yep, the body will keep upping the ante until you start paying attention), and job loss. None of these things, alone or in combination, was as mentally and emotionally debilitating as being married to the personality disordered jackass.

    Leaving = living longer and prospering, even if you cannot see it now.

    • Count me as one too. In the emergency room twice. She didn’t even come to see me or pick me up the second time. Ouch. This site has been a good send. CL deserves a medal.

  • Denise, to me it sounds as if his affair with the Black Widow neighbor has ended. This means that you’re Plan B.

    Only you can decide if you’re okay with that. To me, it sounds as if you aren’t, but you’re in deep mourning over the death of your marriage. That’s natural. That’s also why you need your own therapist, especially if you don’t have one and especially if you’re on antidepressants. Physicians will prescribe those, but they don’t always recommend therapy for the cognitive/behavioral side of depression.

    What you felt for your husband was real. You. Were. Happy. You love(d) him.

    What happened was that he betrayed that. He broke your marriage. Now he’s trying to blame you for his actions. And he’s trying to gaslight you into disbelieving your own eyes, your friends’ reports.

    I call manipulative asshole. Maybe he was true to you for all those years, but one reason I suspect he’s trying to blameshift and gaslight today is that both techniques worked so well yesterday. Honey, no wonder you’re depressed!

    Truly remorseful cheaters own their cheating. I believe that Mike has posted about his reconciliation. He doesn’t play marriage police or anything like that. He has boundaries for himself. His boundaries are that he deserves to be married to someone who doesn’t cheat. If his wife cheats again, then he files for divorce. He can’t control whether she cheats, only his response to it. She has had her one chance to prove that she fucked up, not that she’s a fuck-up. His wife, on the other hand, owned her cheating and is doing the work.

    Your husband won’t even admit he’s cheated. This is naugahyde remorse.


    • Heh, I just looked at this now and saw the last sentence was missing.

      I was going to say, “Find another therapist, one who is experienced in abuse and infidelity.”

  • I am so sorry you have to go through this nightmare. We all understand here. I’m going to say right upfront that my guess is your cheating husband was dumped by the OW and that’s why he suddenly wants to “reconcile.” The other possibility is he is starting to realize how much $$$$ support might cost him if you two divorce, so he wants to get out of that.

    What is clear is that he is STILL a liar and is not taking ANY responsibility for his actions. If he isn’t admitting to the affair, then it’s either 1. still going on 2. he thinks it might start up again in near future 3. he’s with another OW. No matter what, he is not honest and does not really want to reconcile. He simply wants to use you for his own benefit.

    Run, and forget about that useless MC. Your money is better spent on a good divorce attorney at this point.

    • Yes, once the OW has to live with the guy all the glitter seems to fade, at least if the OW has some boundaries anyhow

  • “I just want the marriage to be like it used to be but my counsellor says it can never be that way again, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be different.” Well, duh. Please do not pay this person a dime more.

    Your husband is a jerk. ” Comforting” a widow and cheating on his wife? What a lying sack of shit.

    I felt “off” the months leading to my husband’s departure and had vivid recurring dreams. Once you wake up, you can’t go back to sleep.

    • I had a dream my H was going somewhere but refused to tell me where- he was just going, it was very odd but kinda cliche if you what I mean – my dreams are normally more abstract, anyway I mentioned it to my H in a joking kinda a way the next morning, he was quiet. The very next day was DDay……….. Just saying trust your gut …… Thankfully he is now my XH.

    • I would lay odds that there was an emotional affair, at the very least, with the Black Widow. Decent people don’t fall into bed with the first person who comforts them, and especially they don’t fall into bed with people who are married to someone else!

  • Denise,
    You need to create a boundary around your husband. The boundary: I will not speak to you or have any contact whatsoever as long as you continue to lie to me. Even the smallest lie and I will go completely no contact.

    You do not need marital counseling. You both need individual counseling. You, for the trauma he’s put you through. He, to unravel the mess he’s made of himself.

    I agree with many here, your depression is at least partly a result of his a) negligence and/or b) abandonment and/or c) undermining of you. Cheaters cannot help but to do at least one of the above to their betrayed. The betrayed person feels something in their gut, even if their minds aren’t in agreement.

    Set up the boundary. The second he lies, go no contact. Be very clear, out loud, about the truth and the lies to your husband. This clear verbalization will help you embrace the import of the truth. He says he didn’t go to the fair? You say, “that is a lie, you were at the fair. Do not contact me again until you come to terms with that lie and all your other lies”. Denise, you are the only sane person in this relationship right now. Take control of the wheel! Do not go to marital counseling. Marital counseling is completely inappropriate because he is not speaking the truth and has a ton of personal work to do first. If you’re interested in the marriage, find him a good counselor who deals with affair issues, then walk away and build your own life. Don’t engage with a liar and a cheat.

    • You say, “that is a lie, you were at the fair. Do not contact me again until you come to terms with that lie and all your other lies”.

      –Preya, I think that is excellent advice.

    • I agree completely. Even now, ex will lie to me, about both big and small things. As I said above I had to see him the other day. He lied about something and I just said ‘No, XXX is what is going on.’ He tried to repeat his lie. I said ‘XXX happened’. He got all nervous and instead of saying ‘yeah, ok, XXX happened’ he instead made up a REASON, an EXCUSE as to why XXX happened, which was completely bullshit by the way.

      When I walked away I thought to myself that he is still the same, he hasn’t learned one damned thing from all of this. He’ll lie for no reason, he’ll expect me to buy his lies even if I know the truth and if I call him on it he’ll find a ‘reason’ for the lie. And I felt so relieved I no longer had to deal with that kind of frustration any more. I think for years I bought his lies because calling him out on them always ended up in these weird circular arguments/discussions where it became about something else and I would end up so frustrated and angry and feeling like I was nuts. I no longer feel like I am nuts. I now feel like I lived with a fucked up nutter whose default setting is lying, even about dumb stuff.

  • Hello Denise

    OMG – we are living the same life. Seriously. I am three and a half years out, but I can tell you that I am no longer on anti-depressants, I no longer see a chiropractor, I no longer see a therapist, and I am…..slowly, tentatively, quietly happy.

    I am still alone, my children are now adults, but I am….slowly learning to find myself again. But I no longer cry when I first wake in the morning. I do not cry in the showers. I do not cry in the bathroom stalls at work. I cry over sad movies.

    You did nothing to be treated this way. Nothing. It’s time to focus the spotlight on the root cause of problem: your ass-hat of a husband. He does not deserve you.

    He doesn’t deserve to be pissed on if he was on fire.

    Walk away without looking back.

    Get out.

  • Denise: As it has been stated here before Trust That They Suck. My H after TELLING me he wanted a divorce to marry the OW ( naming her) now denies there ever was an affair. Does he think I am stupid, is he trying to gaslight me. What is his point. They alweaus want to blame you for their actions.

      • Kelley, I look at him like he has 2 heads sometimes. I mean YES it is insane. I found and monitored his secret cell phone for awhile and forwarded some of the text messages to my phone and saved. When I am ready to unload on him I will send them to him just waiting for the right time. FYI he claims he was drunk when he asked me for a divorce. Too bad he asked me repeatedly for over a year but never got around to actually doing anything about it.

  • Denise,

    Stop the joint counseling now. The counseling isn’t worth it if you leave the sessions feeling like you have described. It really isn’t counseling, it’s enabling the cheater and it’s actually mental abuse to you. If you get counseling, do it by yourself and do it with someone you trust to be sympathetic to you and can also objectively evaluate your situation, and most importantly, keep your husband out of it.

  • I can totally relate to all those gut responses. I too took showers afterwards, I felt dirty and while I’d always loved sex with my husband the last two years were horrible and I felt frustrated and used. Aren’t most women in long term healthy relationships great in bed? I can remember trying to discuss our relationship with him because I no longer enjoyed it and when I made suggestions he had every poor excuse ready. Looking back it makes all kinds of sense, in a very disordered way. I do think a lot of our exes have many traits in common. When I think of my marriage it kind of makes me sick. I deserve a better man in my life.

  • The term psychic parasite best describes the invasion of having another person in what is supposed to be monogamous sex. Gross.

    Denise, please give yourself the gift of getting rid of someone who treats you as Plan B while you continue to treat him as your Plan A. It doesn’t work because, in his mind, there will always be someone better because he sees you as Plan B. By leaving, you show yourself that you are no one’s option.

  • Reading through the responses, I am once again reminded that so often we chumps are kind, sensitive empathetic people who go down the tubes when we are giving our best and denying how little we are willing to settle for in return. I have always been somewhat of a “go getter” believing that hard work and persistence pay off. Living with a personality disordered completely hi-jacked my personality and, like so many here, I did slow dive into deep depression. I remember back to the first time I heard the Coldplay song, “Fix You” and I knew that every word was describing my life and something broke through the surface of denial. It was my own instinct crying out to be heard. It took three more years before I had the courage to scream, “What else are you lying to me about” and found out the depth and breadth of what I had unconsciously known for so long. I think the first clue was when something ridiculously unfair happened to me at church and my husband didn’t say a word in my behalf. Looking back, I can see how that started a land-slide that ended with me lying in bed, hugging the mattress seam and waiting for the sky to fall. Like you, Denise, I was stuck in the cognitive dissonance mind-fuck of giving a soul-sucking imposter the benefit of the doubt, even at the expense of my own sanity. And like the others here, I am no longer depressed – even though my circumstances are challenging to say the least. My divorce was final last Thursday and I felt a palpable sense of relief that has only grown since then. Listen to Shawn Colvin sing “Get Out of This House” and decide to do yourself the biggest favor ever.

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