Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Making the Marriage a “Good Place to Be” and Other Reconciliation Nonsense

shrinkOne piece of advice the Reconciliation Industrial Complex likes to give after D-Day is telling chumps it is their responsibility to make the marriage “a good place to be” after an affair. That way your cake-eating spouse will see what they’re missing. Often this advice is combined with the contradictory advice to be all 180 and WTFever.

Are you home from work? Well, I’ll be busy with soccer practice. Can’t chat. Everything is running smoothly here! Dinner’s cooked! And notice the freshly fluffed pillows and scented candle. Gotta run. Bye!

Try this with a buoyant nonchalance, chumps.

Because that’s exactly what home life is like after D-Day, right? Somebody out there in unicorn land is awaking refreshed and ready for a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond after D-Day. Me? I had sleepless nights, dry heaves, and calls to domestic abuse hotlines. I flunked nonchalance. I was more hung up on HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.

In fairness, I’d only been married 6 months. I assumed the marriage was a good place to be because he’d just put a ring on it. If I sucked so epically, why marry me? But perhaps I was mistaken. I should’ve improved my game. Maybe it wasn’t enough to move to another state, finance his career move, and buy a fixer upper house in a no-fault divorce state, have a robust sex life, cook his dinners, entertain his family, and do his laundry.

I wasn’t a smorgasbord of pussy. My bad.

Because that’s why affairs happen according to Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders. Emotional needs are not met. (Like the passive voice? I think that’s intentional.) Let’s puzzle this out. Who doesn’t meet those needs? (Put it in the active voice.) Chumps!

He had an emotional need for me to be 573 different orifices, and I was just one person. I failed.

According to Harley, infidelity happens when someone (let’s not name names) doesn’t put enough deposits in the “love bank.” If you don’t meet those needs, they will stray. Everyone is capable of infidelity, says Harley. Has nothing to do with character.

 I shouldn’t be trusted by my wife, and I shouldn’t trust her. The fact is that we are all wired for infidelity, and under certain conditions, we’ll all do it. The way to protect your marriage from something that has been common to man (and women) for thousands of years is to recognize the threat, and do something to prevent it from happening.

What can I do to prevent it from happening? Tell me!

Meeting each other’s most important emotional needs, avoiding Love Busters and building an integrated lifestyle, free of secret second lives, are all ways to affair-proof your marriage.

Did you catch that? The way to not have affairs — a secret second life — is TO NOT HAVE SECRET SECOND LIVES!

OMG. Enlightenment.

Curiously, Dr. Harley doesn’t say anything about you fucking other people after D-Day, when your love bank balance sheet looks as fiscally grim as the subprime mortgage crisis. No, chumps, when your love bank is overdrawn, you need to find the strength to make the marriage a nice place to be.

And you have to stop bringing the affair up. Because that’s a real bummer, okay?

My advice to her husband is to never mention her affair again. It’s a good example of one of the enemies of good conversation, dwelling on past mistakes. Whenever you keep bringing up your spouses past mistakes, you not only make your conversations incredibly unpleasant, but it cannot possibly lead to a resolution of a conflict you may be discussing. And as soon as his resentment doesn’t pay him any dividends — no longer helps him get his way — he will find that it hardly ever occurs to him.

This advice contradicts his other advice — the Policy of Radical Honesty — you know, where you’re supposed to share everything that’s on your mind with each other and act like you care. How he makes coffee, how you loathe your co-workers, your hopes and dreams about your golf game. Everything is on the table, but just don’t discuss the affair. That “mistake.” Be radically honest! Just not your feelings about your spouse fucking someone else. Stuff those feelings down and choke on them, then go buy some nice throw pillows for your New Improved Marriage.

Because you can’t trust anyone, say Dr. Harley.

How can a spouse ever trust an unfaithful partner again? My answer is that the spouse should never have been trusted in the first place… Basing a marriage on the Policy of Radical Honesty and the Policy of Joint Agreement goes a long way toward preventing an affair… With these measures in place, we end up trusting our spouses because an affair becomes almost impossible to achieve.

I’m confused. To agree to a policy of joint agreement on things and be radically honest… uh… doesn’t that presuppose TRUST? But to “end up trusting” again, we have to… trust. This is circular logic. Kind of like the way to not have secret lives is to stop having secret lives.

Clearly, I lack the sophistication of someone with a PhD in family therapy, who has saved thousands of marriages. The point is chumps — this is all your fault. Okay? Go fluff some pillows.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • One of the (if not the greatest) problems with the reconciliation industrial complex and psychology/counseling fields is that too many foxes are in charge of the henhouse. How can pathological narcissism be seen for what it is (or god forbid confronted) when those who aspire to — and work in — these professions have the condition that they themselves so desperately wish to spackle and “justify?”

      • Telo,
        Right on sista! Also, how can you follow advise from someone who basically is telling you to live in fear and work from there to prevent an affair or an unhappy marriage. Where is there happy in any of that?

  • Love this column. Rock-solid advice mounted atop armor-piercing snark. Chumplady is a cheater-busting bazooka. BLAM-O!

    I also love Dr. Harley’s “insight” that bringing up the affair(s) is an “enemy of good conversation.” Yeah. Right. Because we need to keep our priorities straight. And avoiding the “enemies of good conversation” is more important than avoiding the enemies of, say, your family’s safety and well-being? Or your sanity? Or your financial solvency? Or your health? Or, or, or, . . . .

    Because I’m sure what draws cheaters to their affair partners is “good conversation.” [snort] My cheating ex-wife apparently *really* enjoyed conversations with her boss about which deserted shopping centers were best to park behind for afternoon blow jobs.

    Marriage Builders? More like Bullshit Peddlers. Fuck Dr. Harley with King Kong’s pecker in his stupid, callous arse.

    • But it _Is_ the good conversation, don’tcha know. 😉
      At least according to my ex: affair #1 occurred because we only talked about work, and she was interesting…
      Uh, huh.

    • ‘Because I’m sure what draws cheaters to their affair partners is “good conversation.” [snort]’ – 😀

      Was snorting coffee by the time I got to the [snort]!

      Thanks nomar x

      • Great rant to start the week off right, Nomar!
        My X was drawn to his BJ pal because ‘she’s so sweet’!
        Yeah, all the ‘sweet’ women are out there destroying families, they care so much.

  • You may not have a PhD, but your head is not up your ass. May explain why Harley is giving shitty advice.

  • Where, oh where is the ROFLMAO icon???? 😀

    Thanks CL – you are neck and neck with Terry Pratchett as my all time favourite wise, humane and comedic writer x

  • And if someone ever robs you at gunpoint, find them and keep giving them MORE so they wont rob you again, because they actually care about you, you just aren’t meeting their needs. And don’t tell the police and “bring it up”.

    • Vinnie,
      That’s awesome! I gonna remember that and use it….it’s a great analogy!

    • LOL. Good point that making the home super-comfy in reaction to an affair is nothing but rewarding shitty conduct.

      And yes, bringing up the law is very much also an “enemy of good conversation” with criminals. As we all know, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela were horrible conversationalists.

  • Idiots like Dr. Harley are one of the reasons I stayed married and wasted an entire decade of my life. Had to be “cross-examined” by my crazy, cheater exH in court last week, and he actually asked, “Why did you stay married to me?” I basically said, “because I thought that’s what a good wife would do”…ugh.

    I’ve learned over time that what a “good spouse” does when confronted with poor behavior is to leave and give their offending (ex)partner the time, space, and prayers needed to heal THEMSELVES, if they choose. You can’t fix, love, or help these people – they need to do it themselves. And since they rarely, if ever, do – you get to move on to a better life – without them.

    • ReDefiningMe,
      Yea…I hear you. I read (and followed) Dr. Harley’s Marriage Builders myself and sacrificed a lot of self-esteem and time. Imagine that it turned out that whatever I did…”x” continued to eat his cake for a little while longer. Guess there is just a lot of $$ to be made in unicorns.

      Wish I came across “CL” sooner but very happy to be here now! 🙂

    • Totally agree. Im trying reconciliation because he stopped the obsessive behavior 7 months prior to me finding out. (and not for what he said but because I had full access to absolutely everythng, that D Day, totally by chance, I stumbled across his email and after that became a master hacker….to this day I don’t know how but I uncovered everything – passwords, files, email accts, profiles…everything) This is the only reason I gave him this ONE chance, because I had proof he had stopped by himself, with therapy, even though he hoped I would never find out. I don’t fluff pillows but I don’t bring up his actions on a regular basis. LIfE itself brings it up. TV shows we are watching, friends’ conversations….our kids….he is constantly exposed to other men whose pride come from being the best husbands, fathers, friends they could be and NoT from how many desperate women they could meet online and F by the third date then dump, or how well they could lie. I don’t need to bring it up believe me. And I stand my ground 100% now. No put downs or criticisms, no sarcasm…he had to learn to communicate and BE nice….it’s been a year and a half since D Day and so far so good. I will never be able to trust him like I did before, and he knows it, in the end I tell him I made my decision and WILL respect it: I’m not ever going thru this again. So time will tell and for now we are trying to make it work but I’m not reading Marriage Builders either cause I think is BS….and I’m -almost- perfect. His addiction wasn’t that he wasn’t getting attention, or that I didn’t meet his needs (so muchBS that one) it was his CHOICE , and he took his time to go thru it, years….SO This is his problem and his issue to carry for the rest of his life…I’ve lived my life with integrity and no one can take that away from me. He can’t say that, and that’s very very sad. But if this is gonna work I need to leave behind the anger and self pitty, do what I love and take advantage of the situation. Love myself and my kids even more from now on and not focus on him and his issues so much, I made my decision and that brings me peace.

      • So very very rare… I guess you’re one of the “lucky” ones. What’s your proof again that he stopped on his own?

        • He left that morning to go to work and I sat at the PC to read my email….there it was! His email -he had passwords- was open. I went back to 2009 when I suspected something happened and I found his double life. From there I also found a “file” where he stored ALL of his passwords to every dating site as well as pictures of women, notes about them, poems, lines, profiles drafts…I went into his “dating” email account ands sent him an email from there. He was home within 5 min. I emailed the last 3 women and 2 replied. And yes ALl activity had stopped. NO emails no credit card charges, nothing. And he would have kept track of everything, as he always did. There was no place to hide so he confessed, completely. Now I don’t know about “lucky”. Trying to get past THiS and have compassion for his tormented soul -childhood trauma- is very very hard! I know divorce is difficult but at least you can put it behind, whereas I need to get it out of my head everyday. Is just…there.
          I have no idea if it will work out, all know is that I know I’ll walk out and never look back if he goes as much fr a coffee with another woman and is not job related or he doesn’t tell me about it. In terms of Pst-nup I have AlL passwords remember? And he knows it. I can totally and completely ruin him on every level. One thing I won’t ever do is hurt my kids. They don’t know what he did, and I want to keep it that way. Now If he cheats again, then I’ll tell them a version of the truth….I won’t take the blame for the divorce. Having said this he has changed So much, leaves his cell phone everywhere, gave all passwords, calls during the day and if he does have an occasional dinner, tells me with whom, where, and….takes a picture! And I never asked him to do that, it was his idea. But, I learned. I look at what he does not what he says, and for now, he is doing all right .

          • P63…
            I fail to see how having ALL his screen names & passwords is your “ace in the hole” in lieu of a post nup.
            I know you think he is a total dumb ass… but I bet he could have a screen name & a password all in his little brain.
            Just because you have some… doesn’t mean you gave ALL.
            You maybe kidding yourself.

            • I know, and I access the accounts (Bank accts, emails, etc) on a regular basis, so I know they are current, and also, the computers he uses at home record all the activity. But yes, if he wants to cheat, he will. I can’t control his actions. All I Know, is that, if he cheats again, I’ll take it as a clear sign that he not only does not love me, but hates me, and I don’t want to be with someone that hates me that much. I deserve better. Meanwhile, I do keep my eyes open, and as much as possible, check that the passwords are current. That’s all I can and want to do.

              • Hi P63. Your situation sounds a lot like mine. Actually, the posted story does too. It’s a super long story and I prefer not to get in to details here. The short version: My husband cheated on me at least twice with two different girls and has a long history of porn and sex finder type sites.

                I get a lot of conflicting advice. And I now doubt my ability to make decisions for myself (infidelity does wonders for your confidence). I do have a job but it wouldn’t come close to supporting any kind of lifestyle except the ones where you starve to death under a bridge.

                His friends knew all along and straight up accused me of causing it claiming I treated him badly despite 1. I was always supportive of him and helped him survive in life, 2. his dumbass friends almost never saw us together and never liked me before they ever met me, claiming I “took him” from them (????????????). Anyway, they’re all immature idiots who have barely experienced life.

                Finances are part of why I stay. There are other concerns as well about my kids which have already been investigated and deem “unsubstantiated” but we all know that doesn’t mean too much. I tried though. I really did. But at this point divorce means living in poverty, never finishing my degree, and letting my pre-verbal kids be with him unattended. No one seems to get that they’re safer with me in my house with him here than with me in my house visiting him alone…. At least for now. Plus it gives me a chance to get finances together at the very least.

                I trusted him a lot before. More than I had ever trusted anyone. We’re about 3 months in and sometimes I wonder if I’m more mad now than when I first found out. I try to keep busy but I’m resentful and I’m not sure IF (much less “how”) I want to move forward. I want to be in a marriage where I can trust the person without going through everything he does.

                Well, he also got fired for a second time in a year and I have to wonder if it involves his indiscretions. See, the way he cheated wasn’t the typical “found someone at work”. He actively thought out how he was going to do this and planned to get as many people as he could. Meanwhile demonizing me to his family and most of our friends so in the end I only had a couple people who didn’t hate me (because they were my family members – but not because he didn’t try to get them to hate me too). It seems it was a vicious plan all along. And our 4th anniversary is only just now getting close.

                I need someone to talk to who has been through something similar and is sort of on the same page as I am. It seems like you’re where I’m trying to be. But I need someone to vent to when I’m mad and can relate to the fact that despite being mad I still am TryinG. But there is just a lot of fear, doubt, confusion, anger, sadness, more anger. Sometimes I just wanna go up to him and punch him in the face and cry and cry and cry.

                I feel so bad for my kids. Like I failed to pick a suitable father for them…

                Anyway, can you please contact me so we can talk more about this.

              • Dear Msfur08,
                I’m So sorry! it takes a long time just to process what happened. So be patient with yourself and grieve all you want. Just not in front of your kids. Also, blaming yourself is normal, I still think about that sometimes, but if someone is out to deceive you, there is no way you can protect yourself against this unsuspected fact. I don’t know if your husband is a sex addict or just an ahole, you say he spoke bad about you to other people? Could be that was his way of justifying his actions…how was he at home? You say you stay because of finances but….he lost his job twice in a year? Without knowing all the details I think your best bet is to find out just how bad your financial situation really would be if you divorce him. On the other hand, if you can stomach it, stay but be clear about boundaries, no intimacy between the two of you, he can do whatever he wants, and you get to work NOW. regain your independence, talk to a therapist and find out your best options. It would be great to talk to a lawyer. Some cities offer programs to help women in your situation. Your kids come FIRST. Divorce is hard but living in a broken home with constant fights is even worse. If you are worried about your kids with him alone, once you tell the Judge about his activities, he’ll probably order supervised visitation.

                Now I am reconciled, my H changed drastically and has done more for our marriage in this year and a half than in the previous 10. I’m not blind and can’t trust him 100% but I’m also not consumed by the possibility of him cheating again. What helps me is my determination to divorce him if he ever even speaks with another woman and he hides it from me. I think he knows I mean it. In my marriage there is still love, and a lot of work ahead. You need to find out if that’s the case in yours.

              • Well, for the finances, he’s medically retired from the military so he gets disability (it’s for asthma and anxiety. The anxiety he put on himself because he was always messing around and afraid of getting caught and thus getting in trouble at work and hearing it from them). He never deployed or anything, it’s not PTSD from combat. Most of the time he cleaned and serviced tanks and got to do some cool (for him) field ops. As for the asthma idk how he got that. I know he really does have it and didn’t have it before he was in the military. Regardless, he gets disability and housing when he’s in school. That alone it’s enough to keep our heads above water because we live in a very expensive area. The job I work, even if I worked maximum hours, wouldn’t be enough to pay rent. Not even close. So we’re working on buying a place in a much less expensive area that we will be able to afford on just his disability. Yes people say there is assistance. There is not housing assistance in this area anymore and even with all that is available I still wouldn’t be able to make it here even if he had to pay child support. Plus we’re on his health insurance which is much cheaper.

                I am in the process of getting my degree. I only have student teaching left but it’s full time, unpaid, for 12 weeks. The expectation is that you have no other job because it’s very intensive. I won’t be able to complete my degree ever (there are time limits for completing this so waiting five years for the kids to be in school isn’t an option). All the time and money I spent on this degree and being so close to the end would be a huge waste. I’d be stuck in low paying jobs forever unless I went back and started over and paid a bunch – which I’d never be able to afford after all the regular bills, even in a cheaper place.

                I did go to a judge and ask for a temporary order of protection. Because there is no physical evidence and my kids are too young to speak coherently I basically have no proof other than what I have witnessed. I even talked to a lawyer and CPS and no one could help me. His friends claimed I made it all up and without physical proof or convincing testimony from the kids I don’t have a leg to stand on. They even said he could get full custody because I don’t have enough income to support them. Broken system. I can’t fix it. All I can do is finish up school this year, find a more affordable home, and try to protect my kids long enough for them to be able to testify on their own behalves. Once I’m done school I can get even a part time job in the school system, have more than enough to pay my bills (only need about $1500/mo after we move and it is to an area with the highest paid teachers in the country), time to be with my kids, and health insurance that comes with the job (I actually have a medical condition that requires I have no lapses in health insurance for more than 6 months or my premiums become ridiculous – ironically I have no symptoms but that was yet another reason for the courts wanting to give my kids to their father who currently has symptoms of his medical condition that actually prevent him from caring for them properly and safely. i.e. kid runs away, which my oldest does a lot and she is extremely fast even for her age, which I realized from people always commenting on how fast she is even when she isn’t going all that fast for herself).

                I figured this time period is an opportunity for him to prove he wants things to work. No talking to the asshole friends who told him it was okay to cheat, no Facebook (which he used to find people to cheat with), Internet only for school when I’m present (because of the porn, FB, dating sites, etc), Can’t go any where except school without me and after we move he’ll switch to online school which he can only do in my presence, he can’t have a cell phone right now (ummm his was seized by police after I expressed concern over some of the searches he had done on there – hence the fear for my kids’ safety. Another thing his friends said I made up along with saying I made up that he cheated at all even though they already knew about it), possibly get a basic phone without internet as long as I can track all messages and there should be no calls or messages to numbers I don’t already know, if he gets a job it needs to be from home – something I can monitor.

                Now, to a lot of people that sounds like a ridiculous way to live. It even sounds stupid to me. However, I’ve determined this is the only way I can know he isn’t lying about the majority of his activities. If he willingly does all these things AnD I see an improvement in his attitudes and efforts then I’ll consider working on things. But for right now I’m more so just focusing on doing things with my kids and getting things financially stable.

      • While I think that true remorse would have asked you for forgiveness, that he stopped on his own and was doing the work shows actual hope, not the blue scent of hopium. I think that one of the Mikes who’ve posted here is also reconciling, and said that at the heart of it, he drew boundaries for him. He deserves being married to someone who is faithful. He can’t make her be faithful. If she screws up one more time, that’s it.

        Oh, I do think that real remorse would involve a nice post-nuptial that would leave you and the kids with significant financial security in case he does screw up–very likely, if he has a long history of affairs.

        • Thank you for your encouraging words….I don’t have a post nup but I do have every password, everything is out in the open so I do have the capability and right to go into every account, but as far as $ goes he has always been ok generous and since D Day has been super generous, we moved, bought a beautiful house, I stopped working and I’m preparing for a State Certiication and doing Freelance work as a translator…he won’t leave me penniless but again….I don’t, can’t trust him blindly like I did, that is, sadly, gone and I know I have to look after myself and the kids. Thing is, he knows and he decided , it seems, to put as much effort in changing and have integrity as he put into his Double life.
          Maybe this is for good, I hope. But my new line is: “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.

          • I hope for your sake this works for you. The first time I found my ex cheated he gave me every password and all accounts (I already had them too). He was sorry, he made amends, did every damn thing the reconciliation industrial complex says he should do. Reality? He just created new accounts with different names, he lied better, he stopped cheating until he regained my trust. I found that out 10 years later, I found out all that “transparency” was just a deeper lie. I do hope your situation works differently.

            • I know that can happen, but my decision to stay and give him another chance -the only one- is not based on the happy ever after changed man syndrome, but in the reality that I need to look after myself not only emotionally but financially, as well as after our kids’ needs. He can still cheat and lie or he can be someone whose value comes from being the best husband, father, friend he can be, is his choice. I drew my line here, and I’m not going through this again. Yes, it can happen 10 years from now, and well, I’ll leave then, but my career is probably really off the ground, my kids would have lives of their own, even married already, a better place to start over. So, there is always a door that stays open, even if only a little. Now, he is doing everything right. Future will tell….

          • I would suggest not giving up work. I have seen women do that and then when the shit hits the fan again they’re in a horrible position, nothing to fall back on and that generous guy? He’s no where to be found. Make sure you’re financially safe, tuck a load of money away in an account only you know about and get your career going. I really can’t say this strongly enough. He may be doing everything ‘right’ at the moment but you do not know what the future holds.

            • I would agree with this. No matter that he’s doing everything right and trying hard to change–and initiated that change before you found out. Protecting yourself comes first, and I would insist on the post-nup as part of that. Of course you want to believe that he’s trustworthy, but it also sounds as if he’s got a LOT of history and a lot of issues that he’s working through. You need to be protected should he backslide, and even if he’s generous now, he may not be then.

  • “Its all your fault, now go ahead and eat the shit sandwich, mkay….? If you make your spouse feel bad for their own actions, then it’s your fault that they cheat again!”
    That in a nutshell is what reconciliation is about.

  • “The spouse should never have been trusted in the first place . . .” Well, he’s got that right. My bad for expecting that my wedding vows meant something. If someone’s “emotional needs are not being met”, maybe they need to open their face and explain this to their spouse, rather than purchase hotel rooms in the middle of the afternoon to fuck other cheating whores. That to me, is a “love buster.”

    When I began IC, I was afraid I’d get someone who went along with this kind of garbage and would try to minimize the betrayal and try to push it off on me. But my therapist is gold. After each appointment, I literally float out of there.

    During our second meeting, after I had told him just about everything I could think of about STBXH, he puts both hands up in the air like he was blocking traffic and stopped me in mid-sentence.

    He said, “Your husband is a broken, cheating fuck who you will never, ever be able to repair.” That’s the kind of truth I need to hear.

    • I love my therapist too. She was our MC and watched him devalue me over months. Once he finally admitted his affair, I started seeing her individually. After the revelation came out that he’d been cheating on me pretty much the entirety of our relationship, she just looked at me and said, ‘He doesn’t have a conscience.’ It was the truth I needed to hear as well.

      I couldn’t figure him out b/c I don’t work that way. And finally hearing from someone that knows, someone that saw his behavior and could put it in the right context for me REALLY helped me understand that he’s messed up. I’m going to get better, but he’s fundamentally messed up and there isn’t anything that I could have ever done to make him not cheat on me. All the BS he tried to peddle about me not being the spouse he wanted was exactly that – straight BS. And she sees that and she tells me. THANK GOD FOR HER.

  • Marriage Builders doesn’t just sell Unicorns. It sells Jackelope’s riding Unicorns and demands strict adherence and distancing yourself from anybody who tells you anything else… just like any other cult.

    And then they want to charge you for “coaching”, which is a legal thing so they don’t get sued for malpractice like counselors sometimes are sued.

    • I was banned from that site for taking issue with one woman who seems to , essentially, have rub riughshod over all dissenters. She hasd a group of mindless drone followers who cowtow to her and exalt her wisdom.
      Yet, if you read her crap, she is really quite a dim bulb.
      Appartently she has been cheated on in two marriages and is now an expert on Harley’s advice. She keeps close tabs on her husband and, essentially, never lets him out of her sight.
      Now, I find Halrey’s advice to be idiotic, in general. I do like his video where he emphasizes the extent of the traum betrayal inflicts. But , his advice on reconcilliation I find ludicrous, requiring constant vigilance, becoming a doormat, and running around trying to be the perfcet Stepford spouse.
      But, despite this, I am a bit shocked that he allows this one woman, a veritable Harley groupie, to act as his evangelist. It really makes him look like a dumbass, associating with this person. I expect he probably is a dumbas, but a rich one.

      • Arnold, the groupie in question must be the Texan that can’t really hold a tune. You are dead right about her being a Harley groupie. Given the chance, she would surely be the OW with the good doctor.
        Harley not only allows her to run roughshod over other posters, he encourages it. That way, HE doesn’t need to get his hands dirty.
        BTW, have any of you seen the snake-oil that the good doctor tries to peddle in regards to homosexuals?

  • Gah – it is the pedlars of this kind of verbal snake oil, disguised as therapy that keep people from seeing the truth.

    The fact that he contradicts himself so frequently, just in the small excerpts above suggests it must be utter codswallop.

    Let’s blame the emotionally stunted chump – again – seems to be Dr Harley’s advice. Heaven forfend you might want to talk about the lies, deceit & betrayal – good gracious no, that doesn’t make for pleasant conversation!

    Whilst it is fun to poke fun at this kind of nonsense, it really makes my blood boil, as it perpetuates so many long held beliefs that you really can change your cheater’s ways by being even better yourself. It turns all the attention back on the chump and says try harder, if you just were more pleasant, more obliging, more forgiving, more trusting you sad sack, then you’d keep your philanderer.


    • Love the phrase, ” verbal snake oil”!.. Oh and utter codswallop is pretty good too

    • And that’s just what we want, to keep ahold of a philanderer (Dr Harley should sell a 29.95 GPS their dick or vagina kit! He loves $$$ so much!).
      God, this brought back such sad, painful memories from 4 years ago, when I had just figured out the affair. I fell for that website and read it all the time! ChumpLady pulled the scales off my eyes, and now I see the light of truth!

  • I know I’m in the minority here, but I think Dr. Harley’s advice is sound. He isn’t catering to pathological liars or people who want to use the chumps faith or beliefs against them and when he speaks of never bringing up the affair again it is only after full disclosure not trickle truth or a host of other games played by my stbx. He also highlighted one couples situation where the wife continued to see her lover , moved out of the home deserting her marriage.

    I believe there are instances where an individual may cheat and be truly repentant and that is what Dr. Harley’s book is about. For the types of spouses that are discussed here, NO! His approach is not for drug addicts, alcoholics, cheats with long histories of infidelity, from histories of long infidelities, abusive spouses, etc. There are tons of books and therapist on the subject you just have to find the best one that fits your situation.

    Unfortunately Dr. harley’s book didn’t apply to my situation but they have shown and supported my beliefs as to what I was missing and what a true marriage was about. My stbx read his book and in some ways it helped him to acknowledge just how screwed up he is, though we are not together.

    • LOL.

      Somebody is still in denial about Willard Harley and his Duck Zoo and what they are selling there (lot of quacking going on while the Jackelopes ride Unicrons).

        • Well, at least you seem to have gotten something out of it and that’s what matters. In my case, it would have been a complete waste of time. Especially when you’re dealing with a person who cheats for sport.

        • jinx,

          I find it arrogant that anyone would who has not had your unique experiences would presume to label you as in denial. Congratulations to you for having been discerning enough to realize that Harley’s methods would not have been applicable in your particular case, and also for realizing that blanket statements and rigid stereotypes about any and all infidelity constitute dangerous ground. For a couple who both genuinely want a solid reconciliation, Harley has much to offer.

          I agree with you that Dr. Harley’s methods don’t work with the personality disordered, and agree with him that not all people who cheat (especially if it is a one time thing and the cheater is experiencing genuine remorse) are beyond redemption.

          Dr. Harley is under no illusions about how painful infidelity is. In the following video ( ) he says, ” For most women it’s more painful than rape or physical abuse.”

          I’ve posted this quote before and will post it again.

          “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”― Friedrich Nietzsche

          Interesting reading….

          • Frankly, I think Harley is the one with the rigid stereotypes. To state authoritatively that affairs happen because emotional needs are not met is IMO crazy talk. Unless by emotional needs you use such a broad definition as to mean “my emotional need is to have a secret life and gain advantage over others.”

            “Regular” cheaters do this. And disordered wing nut cheaters do this. To have an affair is to have a secret life and gain advantage over an innocent chump.

            There was never a day of my relationship with my ex in which he was NOT cheating on me. He had multiple women from day one, it turned out. So what emotional need didn’t I meet?

            You could go with that premise — that affairs are caused by unmet needs — and say there are some people who have needs that are IMPOSSIBLE to meet. Their “needs” are beyond the beyonds. And let chumps off the hook by saying, hey, NO ONE can make this person happy.

            Harley doesn’t do that. He sells the snake oil that chumps are responsible for a cheater’s unhappiness and that they can control the outcome of whether or not someone cheats on by improving our marriage and being better partners — contributing to the “love bank.”

            Of course honest brokers who want to improve their marriages and be better partners have better marriages. However, a cheater has just demonstrated to you that he/she IS NOT an honest broker — that they feign things to gain secret advantages.

            Harley’s answer to this seems to be — be radically honest (with a liar), make an agreement to care for each other (with someone who demonstrated their lack of care), and fill the love bank (with someone who showed no care for filling your love bank, or ability to stay faithful with a pretty full love bank).

            The problem I have with this affair proof your marriage sites is that, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s like saying make a million dollars! And the first rule is have $999,999 in the bank.

            When you have a remorseful, loving, doing all the work, fully honest, utterly transparent, completely committed person from the get-go? Yeah, how hard is “saving” marriages?

            • Well, to Dr. Willard Harley’s credit, he’s overtly codependent and encourages codependency. There’s nothing covert about his agenda 🙂

              • I agree with CL, but I do appreciate and live by the quote you cited, I first read it in the book “Gift of Fear”. It is important to realize that what lives in the heart of the worst of us, also lives in the heart of the best of us. The difference between us is what we can imagine doing and what we will actually do. This is in ref to the quote below.

                “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”― Friedrich Nietzsche

              • Taht was me posting from my iPad for the first time, I guess it defaulted to anonymous

              • “What lives in the heart of the worst of us, also lives in the heart of the best of us.”

                Uh, no. I didn’t cheat. Never considered that an option. And please don’t assume you know what’s in my heart. And people who assume that in my heart lurks the potential to lie and cheat and steal? Don’t need such folks in my life.

              • nomar, you misunderstand what I said – that one can imagine a thing does not mean one can do a thing.

            • That’s the thing, Chump Lady.

              People who think about the other person, meets them semi-half way and all the things covered by the term ‘reciprocity’, aren’t IN bad marriages.

            • You nailed this. What Harley fails to realize is that in dealing with a person who has lied, cheated and abused you for so long, you are. most likely, not dealing with a normal non-disordered person.
              His beleif that we are all wired to cheat demonstrates that he thinks that a normal person is fully capable of lying, stealing, abusing etc, and sleeping like a baby. The truth is that we are all capable of some misbehavior, some minor lying, maybe fudging a bit on things at times.
              But, in order to cheat, a person has to have a much higher comfort level with a much greater degree of dishonesty. These are the disordered, folks who are “People of the Lie” (Peck BTW, was a cheating NPD,apparently, himself).

          • I think the main problem with Harley’s advice is that he presents it as the standard way to deal with cheaters – that most cheaters will respond positively to his methods. When in reality it is the other way around. His advice is only good for a very small minority of cheaters, the unicorn cheater, who has a lapse in judgement and has a fling and is genuinely remorseful. That person is an exception. He’s selling hope that you are married to an exception, when it’s pretty clear just by looking around that the rule is cheaters lie, are selfish, and love cake.

            The unicorn cheater doesn’t have other bad behaviors, and is generally NOT selfish, or a liar. Regular cheaters, the ones we are all familiar with, have other bad behaviors that make them bad spouses. They’re selfish, detached, they lie about things big and small, controlling, passive aggressive and on and on…the cheating was just another manifestation of how shitty they are at being a team player. Harley’s advice will never work on a regular cheater. Never. You would have better luck teaching a goldfish to talk.

            Harley is selling a treatment for an exception like it was aspirin, good for everyone and all uses! Blech.

          • I’m currently one of the post DDay reconcilers and the word “solid” doesn’t really fit for us. I’m much better in my healing. My anger has lessoned, my insecurities have lessoned, my marriage policing has lessoned, but I’m not back to solid, because the trust has been damaged. Did anyone see the show Episodes this week, where the English couple are in counceling and the betrayed husband talks about trust? It was a brilliant scene! My H will tell u there was nothing wrong with our marriage, it was him wanting some excitement, an escape from everyday life. He has done the IC and has learned about boundaries, and has really treated me like a queen. If I had to kiss his Ass like the marriage industrial complex claims, I would not be here!

          • Your excerpt brings up an intersting thing about Harley. He is , quite clearly, an old school sexist. If you look at his advice, it is much different for men cs women. His view seems to be that men are the primary cheaters and that betrayed husbands should tolerate their wives abuse(cheating) for a much longer period of time that a woman should.
            He has articles on the site about “Why Women LEave Marriages” but nothing similar about why men do. He uses the male pronoun , primarily, when referring to cheaters, too.

    • even if you might agree that some cheaters actually are repentant, and that reconciliation is possible, I don’t see how you can agree that the way he suggest going about it is fair at all to the chump.

      To suggest that you never bring up the affair because it’s “unpleasant” and the vague accusation that “emotional needs were not being met”… we know what that means. It was the chumps fault that it occurred and you should just try to make the marriage better, admit needs were not being met, and try to sweep it under the rug. How will that do anything but make the chump feel even shittier and encourage the spouse that there is no repercussions to their actions? That they can betray their “loved” one and the chump will just take the blame and turn a blind eye…

  • “My answer is that the spouse should never have been trusted in the first place… With these measures in place, we end up trusting our spouses because an affair becomes almost impossible to achieve.”

    So, trust in our most intimate relationship is THE barrier to a “better” marriage then? So, distrust everyone and especially your spouse…that does sound like the road to relationship bliss. Ha! Yeah, right.

    My hard learned chump lesson completely contradicts this teaching: I refuse to ever (again) take responsibility for another’s fidelity. That’s not my job.

    I strive to keep my word and vows. That’s not too much to expect of another. After all, we regularly operate under that expectation in the business world. And the failure to live up to one’s word or try to make reparations DOES reveal a character-deficit.

  • In its defense, Marriage Builders recommends first Plan A (basically the pick-me-dance plus telling the unfaifthful spouse’s family and friends about the affair) followed by Plan B (basically NC until the unfaifthful spouse meets certain conditions, like giving his spouse email and phone passwords, writing an NC letter to the AP), and Dr. Harley says that women shouldn’t do Plan A longer than 3 weeks as it could be detrimental to a woman’s physical and mental health. Plan B can be a potential lifesaver to a chump who might do the pick-me-dance indefinitely. I think a potential flaw with Harley’s approach is that he thinks that all of the abusive actions by the unfaithful spouse (e.g., dishonesty, blameshifting, gaslighting) are due to some temporary “fog” that he is in while “high” on the affair, like a drug addict, rather than the actions of someone with a character disorder that is unlikely to disappear once the affair has ended.

  • My guess is Dr Harley is a narc himself, and sees no problem with cheating because he is ENTITLED to cheat if the chump doesn’t cater to his every emotional whim. His comments on how everyone cheats, no one can be trusted, never bring up the affair again, blah blah blah, sound rather self-serving and like projection to me.

    I suppose my not having a penis qualified as “not meeting my ex’s emotional needs,” but since he did not practice a policy of “radical honesty” and TELL me he preferred balling dudes, how was I supposed to deliver, even if I could, which I couldn’t?

    I’m so, so glad to be away from all of that desperate, snake-oil, bullshit reconciliation complex ripoff advice. My God. I feel so sorry for all those poor chumps out there desperately spackling, dancing and eating the shit sandwich right now. I thank GOD and CL that I am no longer one of them.

  • I simply don’t get this gobblecrap. It doesn’t make sense to me and so I can’t follow it. My STBX broke a fundamental trust, gas lighted, blame shifted and has shown zero remorse. Most cheaters are like this whether it’s a one time deal or a long term deal. It doesn’t really matter. The pain is intense and the relationship is over. Unless of course you really like to wait around and marriage police and you know, all that lovely life….

    I wish therapists would take a stand and talk smack to cheaters instead of all this gobblecrap. I’d love to hear a MC say to a cheater, “What you did was wrong under ANY circumstances. You have a problem. You need to look at your behaviour. There are no excuses.” It’s not rocket science.

    I don’t need a PhD to know that what happened to me was abusive and there was no way to heal other than to divorce. I have zero tolerance for anyone who tells me that I was less than gracious or that I am “bitter” or “didn’t try to _______” Fuck off. Leaving was HARD and I’d love to hear more support from the psychiatric community (like I get here) that I made a good and healthy choice.

    • You made a healthy choice, don’t know about getting validation from experts but go read Captain Awkward if you need another safe place where ppl understand boundaries and responsibility for their own acts

  • but how do you explain all the successful recoveries from infidelity on the Marriage Builders website? i think Marriage Builders acknowledges that recovery requires a lot of work and accountability from the WS.

    • You mean like “Bob Pure”? LOL. Yeah, that’s just going swimingly now isn’t it.

      All those years teaching the marriage builders stuff to couples at his church, and his final admission years later: his marriage is a disaster.

        • He was a man whose wife cheated who had an account on MB.

          As part of his Plan A (MB terminology) he became much more active in his local church and did all that “Be the better option” stuff, and eventually he and his wife “reconciled”.

          Bob was very active in MB, spent money on coaching and books and even spoke with Dr. H from time to time.

          Eventually Bob began teaching “marriage classes” to couples using MB concepts at his local church.

          After many, many years… Bob re-appeared on MB to confide that his wife didn’t buy into anything MB was selling, and that his marriage was not healthy. He, of course, blamed it on the fact that his wife would not internalize and value the MB material as did the forum regulars, but there was much suspicion that Bob was just not up to following the MB process himself. I kid you not.

          The message: even if you are one of the “success” stories, if it goes South, you failed. You failed the MB process. How do we know? Because your marriage is not happy, MB’s process is 100% successful all the time, and so you have failed somehow (unless, of course, your spouse develops an alcohol or drug problem or starts going to orgies regularly). You are diminished because you failed the program. The program didn’t fail. You failed.

          It really encourages dysfunctional thinking.

        • PS. 2long could tell you more about Bob than me. 2long inhabited MB for 10 years.

          The thing to realize is that this is a fundamentalist/evangelical-leaning organization with an overt agenda: save the marriage at any cost.

          They don’t ask “should this marriage even be saved?” unless there is addiction to drugs or alcohol or devastating physical abuse involved. Emotional abuse and manipulation isn’t on the radar because the view on relationships is somewhat codependent, ergo if your spouse cheats, it’s because you didn’t make enough deposits in their love bank.

          Plan A, then, is essentially what we call the “Pick Me Dance”, or what DivorceBusting calls “being the better option”. The effect of cheating on the spouse and family, the entitlement that fuels people giving themselves permission to cheat in the first place are minimized, I believe, because that would mean acknowledging the betrayed cannot control their straying spouse. And so, in the case of infidelity, the program degenerates into a kind of inauthentic manipulative strategy to try to win back or shame the straying spouse in order to achieve “reconciliation”.

          Predictably, this often ends badly after a prolonged struggle.

          • The reason Harvey must make the chumps do the work is because he knows the cheaters won’t! It’s the only option!

          • Bob is an intelligent man, and eloquent writer. He AND his wife taught MB methods at their church. And still, it didn’t work for them. The forum changed from one where an exchange of ideas was encouraged 2 one where the primary purpose is 2 teach MB “principles.” Saving marriages is secondary.

            As a result, I have seen a handful of “old-timers” from 10-14 years ago come back and either report that their marriages ended or that they’re 2gether and it’s “different” than they expected. Those in recovered marriages, even good ones by their own description, get run off the forums in short order if they’re not back 2 talk about drinking the Kool-aid.

            Bob Pure is a success story. Not because he has stayed married, but because he’s realized there’s more 2 marriage than playing some game of planting obligations on one another and trading emotional needs. He’s gained wisdom.

          • In Marriage Builders’ defense, though, you’re only supposed to be in Plan A for 3 weeks (if you’re a woman, and 6 months if you’re a man), after which, it’s Plan B, which is basically NC. And you don’t take the WS back until s/he is willing to show complete transparency (e.g., email passwords, takes a polygraph, writes an NC letter to AP).

    • Couples and cheaters that honestly want to change do. I know people that cheated on their spouses and went on to have long loving relationships. They weren’t serial cheaters, they repented, they begged pleaded and took full responsibility for what they did….without the aid of a counselor . Marriages can survive and thrive but only if the cheater is repentant and both parties examine what happened.

    • What successful recoveries? I was on MB’s forum for almost 10 years and, though I never compiled statistics, I remember at least as many, probably more, marriages I read about ending after infidelity as recovered. At best, those who recovered got all happy and shit and didn’t feel the need 2 post about their personal lives anymore. Harley often claimed a 100% success rate if both partners drank from the same Kool-aid punchbowl and used his program. Well, duh! The implication was, however, that any “failures” were due 2 one of the partners not getting on board.

      I discovered my wife’s affair 2 months after she insisted she ended it. MB was the first site I found. I don’t believe CL existed 12 years ago. Wish it had. I had been married over 26 years by that point, so I thought trying 2 follow the Harley plan was the way 2 go.

      On d-day, my wife even offered 2 leave for a while, if I wanted that. I should have taken her up on the offer, but I wouldn’t have wanted her back if she had left.

      I think the most important thing for a chump 2 do about an affair is respect themselves and their loved ones, including the cheater, by doing some serious curb-kicking.

    • It depends on what you call success. If you call not getting divorced success, then there are tons of successes on MB and on SI.

      After hanging around MB and SI for awhile I realized that the capacity of the BS to spackle and mind fuck themselves should never be underestimated. I would read of people who thought they were happily in R with spouses who continued to have lunch with the OP at work, or refuse to talk about the A at all, or was still being secretive about contact with the OC’s mom. If guess if the goal is to stay married, then yes, those couples are “successful”.

      • yep…I have spoken to her on the phone when I was part of the MB inner circle(the BBQ Group). She was nuts then…by the sounds of it, even more so now.

  • “Because that’s why affairs happen according to Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders. Emotional needs are not met.”

    If you follow this logic then I should have had an affair too, because my emotional needs were certainly not being met when my ex was living his secret double life. Instead of continually trying to connect with my cheater, or trying to get him to communicate, I should have just found someone better but kept it a secret.

    • Same here. My emotional needs weren’t being met and you want to know why? Because ex was out screwing sidepieces while I was home with kids and had very little life outside my family. Why did I have so little life? Because ex was out screwing sidepieces.

      See how that works, Dr. Harley? His emotional needs (and physical ones) were being met but he was getting those emotional needs (and some physical ones) fed outside the marriage, with me being completely clueless and wondering what in fuck was going on with my life.

      Harley can suck it.

      • My thoughts EXACTLY, Nord.

        Fuckin’ A! Like it wasn’t draining enough to be working and taking care of 3 kids and a home, he wanted me to be his mommy, too. What he offered was a video-game-playing loner who had an allergy to lifting a fucking finger around the house, and who was a begrudging asshole.

        My ex can suck it, too. My needs were not being met. I really worked hard to be a good wife, and then he left me for an alcoholic, husband-poaching twat who reminds him of his mommy. Ugh.

        Good riddance.

      • Bingo! Seriously, how can the cheating spouse sit there pouting about YOU not meeting their needs when their needs are being met and their bank is full? As a betrayed spouse, it’s acceptable to run on a deficit of emotional needs?. The betrayed spouse must fill the asshole’s bank and get nothing in their love bank. This nonsense makes no sense.

    • Hells yeah, sister. Excellent point. Only difference btw them and US is that we’re not fucked up narcissists.

    • I agree Lyn. In my next relationship I’ll make sure to call shotgun on infidelity so that I have a get out of jail free emotional card.

      Sheesh, that “emotional needs” reason doesn’t even excuse children’s behavior. “You didn’t give me enough hugs mom so I destroyed the couch, ignored the rules, lied repeatedly. I think Dr. Harley’s line of thinking is enabling. These people need to grow the eff up. Nothing they’re missing emotionally in a marriage can be anywhere near as painful and awful as the damage they cause when they step outside of it.

      Never mind the fact that my ex would have gone ballistic had I done the same thing.

    • Yep. My emotional needs haven’t been met. In retrospect, I’ve been like an abuse survivor. When I get some of my needs met, I feel that things are magically better, but then when they’re not met, I spackled about how STBXH had such FOO issues that really he didn’t mean to/didn’t understand that he was being mean.

      Actually, I really believe that STBXH doesn’t mean to be mean/doesn’t understand when he is being mean. Now, he’ll refer to one of his more paranoid rantings/temper losses as a “little incident,” and tell people he was upset about A, which triggered him to rant about B. Now that he’s more social, he’s having to use this excuse more, and people are swallowing it, just as I did.

      But according to MB, I should be in an affair. Why am I not? Well, because I choose not to do so! I’m not stupid. I can tell if a man finds me attractive, but that’s just hormone chemistry. Recognize it as such and move on. If the attraction is strong, then establish boundaries for your interactions.

      Really, I get tired of this “needs not being met” crap. I tried to raise my needs with STBX. He got angry because he was oh so tired and here I was, nagging him to get out of the house on the weekend, or bothering him about taking me someplace for my birthday. And the only communication that STBX did with me regarding his “needs” was to tell me that he needed 1) to sleep, and 2) that I needed to agree with him more (I did agree, but apparently offering other reasons for agreement constitutes “arguing”).


  • Threadjack: check out this fascinating article on non-violent psychopaths — the scientist doing the study discovered he was one and proceeded to dissect his past looking for understanding. Interesting brain scans — maybe they should replace the blood tests of old before marriage. Or dating even.

    Buried in that article was a link to an article on identifying child psychopaths. It is truly a chilling read.

  • I did all the things this quack recommends, and it nearly killed me. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. Projecting happiness and being playful and fun, while inside I’m dying of a broken heart? It was horrible and I would never do it again. I’m still no over the emotional toll it took on my psyche.

    Part of my wishes I would have just raged at my cheating STBX, to get it off my chest. But I didn’t. I went to Bed, Bath and Fucking Beyond.

    • Me too, me too, me too. The absolute hardest thing I ever did….playful, fun, PICK ME< PICK ME! It was SOOOO screwed up. Everyone else could see that he should have been doing the PICK me dance for me. Harley screwed with natural order on this one.

  • This seems like a good topic to publish an update on the fellow who led me to the Chumplady blog in the first place– (a little backstory: he claimed to be divorced but sure seemed like he was still married, even though his “ex-wife” lived separately, and he was also jetting off to California to see his “elderly dad”, but turned out to have another girlfriend there as well.)
    I ran into him recently after almost a year of NC, and we got to talking. I said, what was the real story? He said he never got divorced “because ‘ex-wife’ is too dumb and wouldn’t know what to do with the money, he wanted the money to go to his (adult) kids, not the “ex-wife”, that he didn’t want to tell me he was still married because he didn’t want to lose me, he was maybe eventually going to divorce if he decided I was “the one”, etc.” This was after first trying to tell me that there were no divorce records because”the county made a mistake, they don’t care, they only pay those people $9/hr”, and “you can’t find our marriage certificate on file either” (actually, you can and I did).

    And as for the California girlfriend, first it was “I couldn’t have been cheating on her with you because she’s ugly!” and then, “I couldn’t break up with her because her dog just died,” and “I was only with her out of pity”, and “when she found out about you it was awful being fought over by two women! She threatened to come up here and kill you!” And all this from a sweet, smiling, huggy, loving guy. Oops, I mean, disordered douchcanoe.
    So now I wonder if, because of his lies, his ‘ex-wife’ may not know they are still legally married. She’s “in a relationship” on Facebook with a guy who works at my company. Wondering if I should say something to him or just back away slowly from the inevitable trainwreck…..

    • Stay off the crazy train, it’s not your responsibility. And FWIW, my ex told his OW I was dangerous and might kill her, lies, damn lies, don’t believe these assholes

  • Everything is on the table, but just don’t discuss the affair. That “mistake.”

    My STBX tried to call her affairs “mistakes” once. ONCE.

    • Mine called his multiple infidelities a “mistake.” Singular.

      It’s minimizing. IMO, to reconcile you have to minimize the affair, otherwise you can’t do the mental gymnastics to stay.

      • That’s exactly what our first two marriage counselors tried to do. Minimize and focus on what I did in the marriage to “contribute” to her affairs. Looking back, I feel like I must have been in some kind of fog to go along with it for as long as I did. Thanks CL for creating this site. It’s helped me a lot.

        • Yes. Been there. Some therapists just SUCK. They don’t get the damage that they do to people…who are already suffering.

      • Yes, mine also spoke of his “mistake.” Then apparently decided it sounded better to say he went through a “sordid phase.” Yeah, a sordid phase that has so far lasted his ENTIRE adult life. That is quite a phase.

        • GladIt’sOver, that’s one trainwreck that comprises denial, minimizing and even an attempt at glamorizing all in one shot. Phew.

        • Ex says now that he’s ‘changed’. So after his entire adult life being spent cheating on whomever he was with (that was fun to find out quite late in the day) he has suddenly had an epiphany and final OW (who was not the only game in town when I discovered her – and then the rest) is the one he’ll be faithful to. Yep, I believe that.

          • xh says he has changed too – my kids actually say that he HAS changed a lot.
            I’m feeling very quite out of sorts actually as xh and his fiancée (not the OW) are going to South Africa shortly. She will be meeting his family and for some reason this upsets me terribly. I am still in contact with my MIL and brothers- in-law – I hate the fact I suppose, because we had always spoken about going back as a family, showing our kids where they were born, schools they attended, our favourite beaches etc.
            My kids are also a bit upset because he had alluded to the fact that they were going to go together, now it’s just him and his new love.
            I see little or no way of being able to afford to go back to visit – it’s 20 years since we left and I have never been back to visit. This is his 2nd trip.
            I am trying so hard (the story of my life – I tried so hard to be a good kid, tried hard @ school, tried to be an awesome wife and mother, tried so hard to ‘save’ our marriage after DDay #1, etc.) to get on with my life and get a more joyous life, but it’s taking so long to happen!
            I just get a bit jealous I suppose, that he moved on so quickly and completely without looking back. It’s as if our 31 years together never happened except for our kids which is the only part that he acknowledges. It took me so long to process that our ‘wonderful, loving marriage’ was not what I was led to believe and that he was not who I thought he was.
            Just seems so unfair. I need to go for a good long walk or box again!

        • Mine said that our marriage ending was my fault because I insisted on knowing his deepest darkest secrets. His sordid secrets were his business and his alone and I had no right to know about his 3somes, and BJ’s with other guys and sex with my friends.
          He was so incensed and furious with me when I told him our marriage was over – his anger was so intense that spittle was flying in my face.

        • My XW reffered to the period of time when she was out fucking strangers she would meet in bars as “my restless period”. She actually reuqested that I use that phrase when reffering to her cheating.
          Yeah, I was about as likely to do that as I am to referring to her cheating as a situation where ” the chemistry became sexualized”. another of her favorites.

      • The “mistake” word is starting to creep into conversations the ex is having with the kids these days (not with me since I’m NC) and I’m taking it as a sign that things aren’t that spiffy in the so-called “healthy relationship” that he carpet bombed our lives for. Like I couldn’t see that one coming.

        It was no “mistake” — it was willful and deliberate sinning and rubbing of salt in wounds for the dark ecstasy juice that he got off on.

        But seeing as how “mistake” is the best a narcissist can do for a mea culpa, I guess I’ll have to go with that. Yeah, cowboy, it was a “mistake”.

        • Well mine called it a HUGE mistake, so that’s completely different! That means he’d never do that again, right? oh forget it.

      • Ex likes to say he ‘made mistakes’ in our marriage. I say I made a mistake as well. By marrying him.

      • They are not ‘mistakes’ and I made well sure Ex knew about this:

        They are CHOICES, he made a choice, not a mistake, a mistake would have been, for example to accidentally have sex with someone else because he thought it was me.

      • Who posted the link to the Christian therapist who talks about the need for the cheater to recognize his/her sin before anything else? That guy made a lot of sense. Before anything else can happen, the cheater has to come 100% clean and take ownership of the affair. The Chump is not to blame, and looking at the Chump’s role in the affair shifts the responsibility from the Cheater to the Chump.

        Only after the Cheater does the work should the therapist start to focus on the underlying relationship dynamics.

    • In my ex’s latest attempt at reconciliation, he said he wishes he didn’t do what he did. He couldn’t even call it for what it is – cheating. If he can’t even say the word, then there was no chance that he even thought what he did was wrong. Cheaters are truly a different breed.

  • Wow. Talk about “word salad.” Policy of Radical Honesty? Policy of Joint Agreement? He sounds like a politician… and we know how honest how many of them are and how many of them are faithful to their spouses… *eye roll*

    I can’t believe anyone listens to that man for more than 30 seconds. What a snake oil salesman.

    • If someone sounds authoritative, has good enough hair, and is bombastic enough, weak minded people flock to him.He is the big daddy safety guy, the one with all the fucking answers and folks just want to feel safe under his umbrella of pedantic assholery.
      Look, no disrespect to psychologist, as law is also a pretty bullshit profession, IMO. But, thse are not the best and brightest among us, in general. It seems to draw a bunch of folks who could not cut it in the hard sciences where reason and logic are needed.
      This guy is , pretty much, a blowhard, much like Peggy Vaughn, Shirley Glass and some of the other authors on this subject.

  • The problem with “advice” like this is that it is predicated on the assumption that we are, deep down, all cheaters and that cheating has nothing to do with character disorder.

    No, NOT everyone cheats. This is Harley’s first mistake. A blanket statement about all humankind which 1) Can’t really be empirically supported and 2) Takes responsibility off the person who did the cheating.

    His second mistake is basically saying that marriage should be based on distrust, but to gain trust you have to trust. …What? He makes numerous contradictions that make no frikkin’ sense.

    Then he decides to amp it up with the whole “Don’t talk about it” bullshit and then places responsibility on the betrayed spouse to “fix” the marriage by making it “a nice place to be.” Why is it the betrayed spouse’s responsibility to do that and not the person who actually did the betraying? Wouldn’t cheating make the marriage a pretty shitty place? I’d think so. Blame-shifting at it’s finest.

    He completely ignores character disorder. The possibility that a cheater cheats because of shitty character, and not because of something their spouse did. For a “psychologist,” he sure takes great pains to ignore personality disorders and damaged character and psychological disorders. Sure, this shit may work for someone who is really willing to reconcile and work, but the problem is the majority of cheaters are not true reconcilers. Taking advice that fits into a very, VERY niche space and applying it en masse to all marriages, or in this guy’s case all PEOPLE, is stupid.

  • ‘I shouldn’t be trusted by my wife, and I shouldn’t trust her. The fact is that we are all wired for infidelity, and under certain conditions, we’ll all do it. The way to protect your marriage from something that has been common to man (and women) for thousands of years is to recognize the threat, and do something to prevent it from happening’.

    In Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ‘Safety’ is ranked just above our basic physiological needs for food, water, shelter.

    If one cannot trust one is ‘safe’ with the person who is intricately linked to our life decisions and resources – if we are unable to ‘trust’ that the other person is not going to destroy all that is, was and will be – then happiness will never be possible. According to Maslow it is impossible to move through the hierarchy of needs without accomplishing each step, in order. The order being: physiological. Safety. Social. Esteem. Self-actualisation (the pinnacle of happiness).

    I find it hard to understand why anyone who believes they are qualified to give psychological guidance would advise abandoning the need for safety – i.e. TRUST. This seems to me to be contrary to living authentically as a human being. I am sure Mr Harley would have heard of Mr Maslow – I guess he (with reference to Dr George Simon) ‘just doesn’t agree’.

    • It seems like Harvey is so caught up in the jargon that he forgets basic common sense.

  • Oh, screw him and his favorite vegetable.

    I once thought I had the magic elixir for marriage too. If fact, he had the the Golden Ticket from the Willie Wonka Chocolate Bar itself: If either of us feels we might cheat, just say something. Then we can decide what the “best course” of action is, whether its feeling wild oats on a marriage hiatus Lennon/Ono/Pang style or figuring it out in marriage counseling. I believe in unicorns and mermaids. I do not believe in divorce.

    The trick to the magic elixir is that the other person has to drink that Kool-Aid too. Not put their fingers in someone else’s pie on the sly.

    These days, I am not so cavalier. While I might have some Type A tendencies that need to be addressed, I simply refuse to budge on fidelity. Lying and cheating? I sniff that
    out like white on rice.

  • Wow… that is the biggest word salad I have ever tried to digest. OH THE HEARTBURN!

  • I read and re-read Dr. Harley’s books when I though reconciliation with a cheater was possible. What a complete waste of time. I do have a question for him – I was in the same marriage for over 20 years and my emotional needs were barely met by my ex. So, how come it never even occurred to me to cheat even for one second? Gee, it must be that thing called character.

    The guy’s an idiot and has caused more heartaches.

    • Uniquelyme,

      You summed it up perfectly. Just like everything else with people who suffer entitlement disorder (just in case someone doesn’t view the grandiose sense of entitlement that cheating engenders as some level of narcissism), that “emotional needs not being met” canard is just the excuse that gets pulled out of a cheater’s ass when they have to explain why they’re a cheating asshole.

      I think that most of us Chumps not only tried to meet the needs of our partners, we tried to anticipate needs that we thought they might have and tried to meet those before they even expressed them. We Chumps tend to believe in reciprocity so attempting to meet someone’s needs is part of that cycle of reciprocity. Our morals and integrity are not situational – an I pledge fidelity IF. I never cheated on my STBX and if unmet needs were a reason for cheating, I should have slept with everyone from Rhode Island to Wales.

      Cheating is always an outgrowth of your level of morals, integrity, character and sense of entitlement. Can people grow and change? Of course they can. Unfortunately, most don’t.

  • Dr Harley is not even considering the emotional needs of the betrayed spouse! And he is saying that wives should fluff pillows and make the house warm? Well how nice and convenient for the cheater! He can go on and “escape” the reality of everyday life, teenagers with eating disorders ( that was our case) 2 other kids in the middle, wife working long hours and he….gets to go on a wonderful, romantic, planned out date to the F…g Queen Mary (Long beach CA)????
    I would have liked to escape reality too, but I have something he didn’t…I don’t need validation from anyone but myself, my kids, my friends and yes it would have been nice to have it from my husband but then I didn’t have it and I still did what a responsible woman would do. I never once blamed myself for his cheating and anyone that tells me that, is in for a big earful of my mind…not even my husband ever, ever bamed me, never. Dr Harley doesn’t know what he is talking about and he is irresponsible.
    That site “Marriage Builders” is NoT one I would ever go to for advice. If my marriage is going to work is gonna be because of MY commitment to myself and my beliefs, because my H has kept his promises and makes me feel wanted, loved and respected, daily. And because I don’t put a bag over my head (that was my way of coping and I’m not proud of it but I had enough on my plate I guess). Not because I fluff his pillows and keep the house warm and fulfill his needs. I come Second to my kids, but first in this relationship. Or any other.

  • Ah! I remember the glory days of trying to show my ex all the benefits of being married! I have an especially fond memory of getting the kids packed up (they were 1 and almost 3 at the time) to go meet him for lunch… did this a lot more often during “reconciliation”… reminding him of our happy family and how much he got to see the kids of course… I texted him to ask or let him know (can’t remember which now) to which he replied and told me that the OW “was back at work helping out”… but “where would I like to meet?”… and that was the day I packed up his bags and drove them to his work and dumped them all over her car!

  • CL,

    “How can a spouse ever trust an unfaithful partner again? My answer is that the spouse should never have been trusted in the first place… Basing a marriage on the Policy of Radical Honesty and the Policy of Joint Agreement goes a long way toward preventing an affair… With these measures in place, we end up trusting our spouses because an affair becomes almost impossible to achieve.”

    I have two Master’s degrees, so I hope I’m smart…I’ve been staring at this for a good half-hour and I can’t understand what I think is backwards logic. Why is the affair “impossible to achieve”? Is this justifying the chump being the marriage police? I like to think that I could trust my spouse to make the right decision, and not for her to take that trust and twist it into “oh, he doesn’t really care what I do, so off into the OM’s arms I go!”

    I’m so happy I didn’t spend significant time on those reconciliation sites after I was dumped. What little I looked at I read it as asking the impossible. I was sick, short on sleep, and unbelievably angry, and I knew reconciliation was impossible and undesirable for me, and the XW didn’t want it either – she wanted the OM.

    • For me regardless of what the “logic” of reconciliation is it just wasn’t a possibility Infidelity is and always has been the deal breaker for me. My ex knew that in no uncertain terms. Once he stepped outside of the relationship he had in essence murdered it. You might be able to make peace with a ghost but you can’t resurrect it. I don’t think fidelity is too much to ask since I seem to be capable of it.

      • Kat–for me you’ve really hit the nail on the head.

        When they drag out the, “Oh, but [cheating spouse] was unhappy/unfulfilled/un-whatever in the relationship, it meant he/she HAD to cheat”…I think…”well, I was in the same marriage!” My response to being unhappy/unfulfilled/un-whatever was to get us into marriage counseling…NOT to cheat. If I didn’t “have to” cheat, neither did he.

        (In point of fact, he started the physical part of his affair WHILE we were doing the MC–especially gross and affronting and a brutal betrayal of trust. It just revealed, after the fact, what a seamless liar he is…and that there would be no reconciliation because clearly, he had zero regard for me, the family we had spent 25 years building, our child, our network friends (who all ended with him–I guess they like the dazzle more than the pain) yadda yadda.

        One simply cannot express in words how devastatingly cruel his behavior was…like most of us here, it’s a club I would have rather not joined.

        • My XW accelerated her affair while under the guise of counseling too. I was pursued by women a couple of times while I was married, but never fell to temptation. I knew infidelity was a deal-breaker and I honestly only wanted to do marriage once, but I was coming from a place of “needing” to be married and I chose poorly. I would “want” to be married again, but I don’t have the “need” to be married anymore. I hope the life I end up with will be a good one regardless of whether I’m married or not.

  • “How can a spouse ever trust an unfaithful partner again? My answer is that the spouse should never have been trusted in the first place… Basing a marriage on the Policy of Radical Honesty and the Policy of Joint Agreement goes a long way toward preventing an affair… With these measures in place, we end up trusting our spouses because an affair becomes almost impossible to achieve.”

    If my ex had been capable of following a “policy of radical honesty” and a “policy of joint agreement,” then he wouldn’t have been a pathological liar to begin with. And if I shouldn’t have trusted him in the first place (well, THAT part is true) then how could I have trusted him to stick with the policy of radical honesty? And if I shouldn’t trust him to begin with, meaning that I really can’t trust him to be “radically honest”, then how does that make an affair “almost impossible to achieve”, considering we ALL are cheaters under the right circumstances according to Dr Harvey? The whole thing makes my head spin.

    But the bottom line is: MY emotional needs were sure as hell being neglected while my ex was banging dudes in bath houses, carrying on constant emotional affairs and having threesomes and orgies with married folk of both genders. Yet somehow I managed to not cheat, or even consider the possibility. I don’t think I’m some sort of paragon of virtue — just a decent person, by no means extraordinary. If I was able to do it, then so IS EVERYONE ELSE, including the cheaters. It all comes down to personal responsibility, integrity and commitment. In other words, character. You have it or you don’t.

    • “If my ex had been capable of following a “policy of radical honesty” and a “policy of joint agreement,” then he wouldn’t have been a pathological liar to begin with.”

      Exactly! A liar’s word is worth nothing. If he would have been honest, he would have never cheated in the first place. My ex also vowed he would never cheat, ever, ever, ever. Yeah, right. A”policy” of honesty? Lip service.

  • Fuck that asshole. On my iPad so I can’t type a dissertation but srsly, fuck Mr blame the honest spouse. All the ex had to do is say he wasn’t happy and I would have said goodbye, it’s a special king of hell when you say that after finding out about cheating and spouse lies some more to keep with them while they keep on cheating and blame you for it. Hell to the no Dr asshole, don’t need you to help me

  • Got to “emotionl needs are not met”. My emotional needs were not met, and still I did not cheat. What was wrong with me?

  • My H is suddenly pushing for reconciliation, love bombing me. This all comes from the fact that his FB girlfriend dumped him ( I quess I am Plan B) This all happened when he asked why I haven’t put any of my china away since the house was repaired after the tree hit it. “Well we ARE getting a divorce aren’t we?” Oh the crying, the hysteria, the denial there ever was an EA that we discussed. Reminded him that he asked for a divorce not me. That fact seems to go right over his head. I am actually enjoying this on a very sick level. He forced me to start viewing him in a different light and he aint so pretty anymore.

    • Janet!! My situation exactly! He’s the one who said he wanted to date other people a few months ago, but when she dumped him, all of a sudden he wants me back. Funny thing, he still claims OW was a liar and that’s why he stopped liking her. Wtf?

  • According to Harley, infidelity happens when someone (let’s not name names) doesn’t put enough deposits in the “love bank.”

    WTF??? Seriously??? It is normally the CHEATERS who don’t make ANY deposits in the ‘love bank’!!!! they just withdraw!!

    • It’s too easy to see how this can be twisted into something horrible:
      “Get over here and suck my… err… fill my love banks, or else I am going to cheat on you, and it will be your fault”, right?

      It won’t be my fault if I cheat on you because you didn’t … err.. umm… fill my love bank (like Sally, May, and Sue filled it over and over and over), and divorce isn’t an option, so I obviously have to cheat to get my “needs” (you won’t dress up in latex, and really, you need to drop a few pounds to wear latex well anyway) met.

  • Sorry…I haven’t read any the comments yet, but this PARTICULAR doctor, really fucked me up after D Day.
    I read Marriage Builders…about 20 times…highlighting, post it notes, paraphrasing and sending it to my cheater husband. Love Busters? Memorized it. Oh, but I didn’t stop there…NOOOOOO way. Dr. Harley’s son does affair counseling over the phone. SOOOO, I convinced my ex that we needed to do that “therapy” because he was an expert on affairs. The problem was…my ex just wouldn’t stop cheating with his married customer/paramour.

    I believed EVERYTHING that this stuff told me. I cut him slack. I blamed myself. It was all my fault…(as my ex spouse was telling me. Including a 5 page essay about how I didn’t let him put the kitchen utensils in a bin on the counter, I insisted on using a drawer and how this was a metaphor for ALL that I did wrong in the relationship.) Let’s just forget the fact that I had a 9 month old, a 2 year old and a 4 year old at the time.

    Let’s also not mention the fact that I found out that my ex had a MASSIVE gambling problem and had spent a LARGE FORTUNE (our savings…it was a whole lot) on his addiction over the years. Despite this PATTERN OF DECEPTION…it was all MY FAULT.
    And by God, it was up to me to save it. When I said that I did EVERYTHING I could short of my sanity, I mean it.
    Yummy, fresh gourmet dinners, sexy outfits, “not bringing up the affair”, attempting to trust him again…except for becoming an expert detective (computer software, car tracker), I did it all.

    Oh…one other part of the counseling…the partner that had the affair is supposed to tell you every gory detail. I think he lied about when the affair started, but he did tell me every charming detail on a day-by-day blow basis once he admitted to it starting.

    Once upon a time, two good looking, misunderstood people whose insensitive partners weren’t meeting their needs, met in a parking garage, just to “talk” on Dec. 18th. Dec 28th menu included a blow job and swollowing! Why don’t you do that more often, Starlight??? She GETS me!!!!! Jan 4th they had lunch at our favoite sushi restaurant! Did he mention that their first kiss was at the restaurant in which we always celebrated our anniversary…on their first “date” in front of other customers? I am so THRILLED to know all of these vomitous and disgusting details. Learning all of these details during their 5 months of *falling in LURRRRRVE* made living in my (albiet large) city after D day almost impossible. Nothing in our 9 year marriage felt special anymore. Driving by a certain street would cause me to break down in tears, thinking about what THEY did there.

    How did it all end up? Well…we are divorced. He is marrying the affair partner in April (she divorced her poor husband, too). My kids basically think of her as a second mom and I eat the SHIT SANDWICH on a daily basis, as she decides all these crazy things to do with my kids (who takes a 6 year old to a spa get a massage with her when she is completely naked and my child is only wearing underwear? WTF???????????).

    So, Dr. Harley, thank you so much for completely fucking me up instead of me trusting MYSELF, I trusted you. Even my friend who was dying of breast cancer told me at the time…you are acting CRAZY. Don’t talk to him again. He’s a POS. I should have listened to HER…

    Sorry so long…this touched a nerve…

    • Starlight, that royally sucks…..what a POS your ex is, and the OW, and that Harley quack.

      Just trust that they suck. Now that your ex is getting married to the OW, odds are the fantasy won’t last very long. “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opening.” Or something like that.

    • It’s OK, I get you +1. I was sucked in by the book “Not Just Friends” and an insane MC who practiced IMAGO, translation = all my fault and save the marriage even if it’s not worth saving.

    • Starlight, that is just a horrible story. I know what you mean about “nothing being special to your marriage any more.” It’s so heartbreaking. You really got screwed with having to listen to all the details. That’s what I don’t understand, why we Chumps are so willing to put ourselves in harm’s way to “save the relationship” again and again. There were times in my marriage that I felt like “go ahead and run over me, if sacrificing myself will heal our marriage and family I’m willing!” Oh, I guess a lot of it is the whacked out advice we get on “how to save our marriage,” the shame our society puts on people who fail. Anyway, Starlight, you don’t ever have to put up with crap like that again. I’m just so sorry you still have to deal with the OW’s relationship with your children. That is especially difficult, my heart goes out to you.

      • Lyn, I’m a lot like you. I really think if you look in your childhood, it’s there. Someone important devalued us. I was doing the Pick-me for BOTH of my checked-out parents, and on and on it goes!
        The good thing is, once we understand it, change begins in our hearts and heads.
        Happy future to you, Goddess willing!

      • Thanks, Lyn. I really would have done just about ANYTHING to save my marriage, I was so focused…like a machine. I couldn’t accept the fact that the man that I THOUGHT was my husband was a fantasy. I had been excusing moderate to bad behavior for so long that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
        It is sad when you realize that what has significant meaning to you…vows, family, whatever? means absolutely nothing to your spouse.
        You are right. The kids being around her is still the killer, but I am working on trying not to get upset over things I can’t control…xo

  • It’s interesting that these reconciliation sites/programs all have messages that are geared toward the chumps. The poor sap who has just had his/her worldview forever warped by cheating. Why is that?
    I remember having this feeling after D-Day, this desperate need to fix everything. I was in so much pain, so afraid, so vulnerable, and I wanted someone to tell me how to get back to happy, NOW. It’s similar to a person who has been told she has a fatal illness searching frantically for a cure. There are all kinds of snake-oil salesmen who know they can make big bucks by peddling a treatment, no matter how crazy. To be honest, I didn’t want someone to tell me my marriage was broken, and to walk away at that point. I wasn’t ready.
    Still, it’s dishonest and wrong to tell someone to swallow this horrible behavior and take the blame for it continuing. Abusive, really.

  • These were my favorite tidbits from the 180:
    * Do more then act as if you are moving on with your life; begin moving on with your life!
    * Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent.
    * Don’t sit around waiting on your spouse – get busy, do things, go out with friends, enjoy old hobbies, find new ones! But stay busy!

    I don’t know about y’all, but after D-day, I was lucky if I could get some food down and make it to work everyday. I did not have strength to “go out with friends” and pick up a new hobby. Hey! I’ve got all this free time on my hands – I’m gonna start glass blowing. Fuck you heartbreak!!

    No. Cheating is a deal breaker – End of story. I’m glad I didn’t get a chance to reconcile because I would have just been wasting more time.

    • Telling a chump shortly after D-day that they should “Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent” is like telling someone who recently lost their legs in a car crash to “Run fast, skip rope, and tap dance.”

      Impossible for them to do. Cruel for anyone to ask.

      • Ha ha! You are right. Dance! Cheer up!

        Sure you can do these things they recommend later on, but right after my heart got ripped out, I was just trying to survive. Eat a piece of fruit – check. Cry – check. Find a therapist – check. Cry – check. Throw up – check.

        To expect the betrayed spouse to fake it and make things all happy too try to woo back the disgusting person that put them in misery in the first place is idiotic. Yes, I really want THAT back in my life.

        • A well meaning person at church told me to just watch more TV to get over my divorce. LOL. People just don’t have a clue unless they’ve been through it. Plus they don’t really want to hear about it because they’re afraid it could happen to them!

    • I actually followed that advice and took up archery. Ha. I don’t regret doing that at all, actually. I was still miserable, and it didn’t do anything to change the situation or his behavior. But it was good to think about something else, if only for an hour.

      • LilyBart…dangerous.! 😉 I wasn’t in a good place to pick up new hobbies that could kill or mame…;)

  • I have always been confused by Harley.

    He believes everyone can be a cheater if someone else doesn’t provide external validation.

    But he believes that homosexuality can be “cured” by whackadoodles like him.

    I just find him so gross, so blame the victim, and such a bigot, that I want to run around telling everyone who will hear me.

    I think he is harmful. To chumps, to waywards, and most likely, to a lot of misguided people who think he has the answers.

  • Let me try this again (I had my comment all typed and proofed and got blocked – ugh!).

    This is why I struggle with Dr. Harley’s advice at this point in my life. *I* actually read Dr. Harley’s material about 15 years ago during a “rough patch” in my marriage with x2b. (I have since learned that was most likely during his, I think, FIRST affair). x2b, of course, would not read any of this to help improve our marriage. However, I did try to apply a lot of Dr. Harley’s advice to my marriage at that time and *thought* our marriage would get better (guess I was wrong, in hind site). I believed, at the time, the “love bank” concept made sense but wasn’t focusing on the infidelity aspect.

    I have read enough posts on here to know that there are definitely other women (and perhaps some men) who have verbalized the same way *I* felt in my marriage. I felt very lonely, ignored, “dismissed”, unwanted and disrespected in my marriage. I married, partially, for some companionship that I rarely got. Aren’t these emotional needs? Isn’t feeling this way indicating OUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS were not being MET? Yet why didn’t any of US cheat? That is a question I constantly struggle with (unlike some of you who still had good marriages, my marriage wasn’t so good toward the end.) – if MY needs for emotional connection weren’t being met, wasn’t the logical choice for ME to turn to another man to get those needs met? Well, no, because I was married. But if I adhere to Dr. Harley’s advice, my husband was not properly depositing into my love bank, so I should have been cheating on him. *Sigh*.

    Therefore, because of his needs not being met/infidelity connection, I can’t say I think I could ever subscribe to his theories again. Because I should have ALSO cheated on my husband for feeling so lonely and abandoned in my marriage for years since my “love bank” was so overdrawn it was pathetic. And it sounds like a lot of other ladies (and men) have felt the same way.

    I was going through some old storage bins a few years ago and came across his book. This was when my marriage was tanking again. I threw that book out because I thought, well, obviously this didn’t help my marriage……….

    • I still have “Surviving an Affair” and “His Needs, Her Needs” somewhere in the attic. At one time, about mid 2002, I thought about giving them 2 some other newbie dealing with a recent d-day. But I quickly realized that would do them more harm than good.

      When I happen upon my copies again, I’ll put them in the recycling bin.

    • I found a copy of “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About it” on a high closet shelf when I was packing up and leaving the house. It represented a particularly low point in my marriage for me. I took great joy in throwing it into a trash bag. Useless rubbish.

  • In short, with this kind of advice – why get married then? Just don’t. Because if your expectations of marriage don’t match then it’s not fair to the person you married.

  • In Harley’s defense, he does advocate that the WS experience the natural consequences of his infidelity, e.g., separation from his/her spouse, filing for divorce if necessary to protect your financial/legal interests.

    I think the real dangerous one is Mort Fertel, whose CDs I listened to religiously for awhile and to whom I paid over $600/hour for a couple of counseling sessions! He recommends the pick-me-dance indefinitely, including calling the WS at least once a day and buying him gifts. After I told XH’s family about his affair, Mort actually told me that I had committed the bigger sin by violating XH’s privacy and that I owed him an apology! If you listen to his CDs, Mort’s philosophy is that the affair is just a “symptom” and just something you should ignore/not discuss while working to be a better spouse. He recommends that you don’t file for divorce, as it is important to “stand for the marriage,” and that, if your WS does file, you should give him everything he asks for to show your “unconditional love” for him, because once the affair ends, WS will look back at your behavior, realize how much you truly loved him and return to you. I would hate to see a chump get screwed over financially/legally in divorce by following Mort’s advice.

    • I think the real dangerous one is Mort Fertel,

      Hmm, which is worse? The snake or the rabid weasel?

    • I’ve heard about this “expert”, and I use the term loosely. A friend of mine, albeit a divorcee, has recommended his CDs, so I browsed the net a bit one evening, and when I for a NY minute considered reconciliation, and found his shtick to be beyond insulting. Wtf, so he fucked up and I AM to be pick me dancing? Get the fuck out of here! The chump lady has only only been the voice of reason for me, but truly a saving grace.

  • “He had an emotional need for me to be 573 different orifices, and I was just one person. I failed.”

    Sorry to hear that.

    Joking aside, this Dr. Harley seems to be giving pretty dangerous advice. Understanding that cheaters may have personality disorders appears to be a vital element of analysis here, but it’s probably too ‘holistic’ a step for some.

  • You know I can see why the whole “affair proof your marriage” websites and theories are so popular. I spent about 10 whole days looking at before I knew for certain that my ex was actually physical with someone(s). These sort of sites advocate for the “wayward” spouse to be the kind of partner we wished they had been to begin with. So the theory is that I would get an upgrade of the man I had to begin with if I’m willing to put up with working through the infidelity that happened.

    This bullshit of the betrayed spouse being responsible for affair proofing their marriage with a cheater is like trying to burglar proof your house when the other asshole keeps leaving the door open. Incidentally this is EXACTLY what happened to me. My jackass ex left the house with the door unlocked and some guy came in and stole my jewelry and my computer. I lost things collected over 25 years including my grandmother’s ring and all of my digital pictures that existed prior to my ex. Nothing of his was stolen. I think the universe was trying to tell me something. Perfect metaphor for his other activities.

    • “This bullshit of the betrayed spouse being responsible for affair proofing their marriage with a cheater is like trying to burglar proof your house when the other asshole keeps leaving the door open.”

      PERFECT analogy!

  • There is NO reconciliation for those of us who have yet to legally dissolve our marriages. I’ve been advised to use this term: (you are) mediating the OPTION of the possibility of reconciliation. Always state it as such to protect yourself if you do file for the big D. It eliminates the possibility that the court may determine you forgave your cheater while going thru the dead zone.

  • Now that things have cooled down a bit, I’d like to reiterate Dr Harley’s book or Evangelical’s view never support staying with an unrepentant cheater. His book provided me and my stbx with a set of guidelines of which certain things needed to be met. I find it interesting his materials view points were berated for situations they were not appropriate for.

    If a a spouse is not honest, sincere, or willing even GOD will not go against the free will/choice of the individual. It doesn’t matter how much you pray or plead.

    Indeed Evangelical’s, Christian’s, the bible if that is your belief does not support marriage at all cost. I used Dr Harley’s book as a guideline, my last and best shot and managed to take away good positive things from a miserable experience. Hell …you know….I’m a good woman, an excellent wife and he didn’t appreciate what he had.

    I’m better and deserve better. Stbx realizes it too but is incapable of giving me what I need- my emotional needs- to help sustain a good marriage. STBX got issues and even GOD won’t over step the desires of the inner man.

  • Dear Msfur08,

    Your situation is difficult. Is normal for us Chumps to NEED, want to control everything they do, but in reality, if there is any chance, your husband can’t be made to want to be a better person, he needs to want it himself. If I were you I will get a spyware to put in the computer (like That way you won’t be telling him what to do, or not to do, but you will know exactly what is happening. After this, well, you will know for sure and then you can make your decisions. IF he continues to cheat, then I will confront him with evidence, not give him a chance to explain and just tell him that because of the financial situation your both are in, divorce is not an option right now. But, you give him his freedom. He can do whatever he wants and be whoever he wants, and you will be a mother to your children, tend the house, make dinner, everything the same, just that there will be nothing intimate between the two of you. That, he can get outside. Demand respect in your house, no criticism on you or the kids, politeness is a very strict rule. You WILL get your Degree, take care of yourself, exercise, be with your friends, but….try, please try to avoid talking about this. Don’t let it have any space in your mind.

    IF it turns out he wants to be a better person, then don’t say anything to him, but do praise him once in a while, make him feel his efforts don’t go unnoticed. But, this is NO easy road either. I think sometimes, it would be actually easier to get a divorce, and move on, but if he is really trying to be a better person, you probably want to give him a chance. At least, you will know you did everything you could to save this marriage.

    Now please your kids come first. Don’t fight, cry, or be super sad in front of them. On the contrary, try to be cheerful (I know is hard), nurture them, read them stories, BE the parent that actually cares, don’t share your pain with them.

    The moment you let your H know that you don’t care, will be the moment he will make a decision, an honest one. Either be the ahole or be the better person. ‘I know is hard, but indifference is a powerful weapon, remember that ALL these men want is indifference….really hurts them.
    Good luck!

    • Thanks. I do have one of those internet things but it’s kind of difficult and annoying. It tracks all internet activity (even incognito and stuff). But it’s not easy to read and it records advertisements in banners and stuff that are irrelevant. I can the one you suggested. I still don’t want him having a phone. It’s a waste of money to pay for something he will use to destroy our lives so screw that.

      I have actually told him the conditions are that he CaN go do whatever he wants under the assumption that I can too as long as someone is here to watch the kids and we’re not blowing a bunch of money. But after a lot of discussion the agreement (for now) is that neither of us will go out. I told him even though he technically CaN go do whatever, that does not mean there are not consequences. IF he decides to do that then I will take it as him not wanting to work on things and respond accordingly (not arguing, but getting my shit together and moving on).

      Basically I just focus on taking care of the kids. He has been helping more than usual which I guess he thinks makes up for X, Y, and Z. But either way, while help is nice, especially with them being so young, cleaning and feeding kids isn’t going to fix much of anything. I did tell him that IF he wanted to try to fix things he would have to go above and beyond. He will have to do a lot more than what he was supposed to do in the first place. (Kind of like late fees I guess). I praise him on some things but not overly. Just like “I like when you…” “Thanks for…” Not making a big deal over it.

      I try not to argue in front of the kids. We spent a couple months being epic failures at that though. Being sad is a little different. My personal belief with parenting is just to be honest about your feelings as best you can. I go out of my way to be cheerful for them. But if I’m having an especially sad day or something makes me cry I try to explain that I’m sad. The reality is that hiding your feelings is like lying. I think it’s confusing to kids when you fake feelings because your words and the vibes you give off don’t match. But that’s just how I personally see it.

      I grew up with my mom being very distant and never understanding why. And a dad who was always angry and blaming me for it. So I prefer to tell my kids how I feel and why, on their level (mainly my older one who just turned 3 yesterday – the baby still can’t comprehend any of those things and is way too sensitive to deal with any strong emotions around her).

      I’m trying the indifference. It is really hard. I’m still trying to get past feeling like I’d be a moron to even consider letting him try to repair things. I have conflicting feelings because on one hand I feel that it’s dumb to take him back and I never wanted to be someone that stays with a cheater. My grandmother did that and her life sucks extremely bad now and I think she’s just waiting for him to die at this point. Then on the other hand I never wanted to be divorced. My parents divorced when I was a kid and life was WAY worse after the split. It resulted in me having NO free time because it was all spent visiting my mom who was always working or just doing whatever and my dad was constantly yelling at me because he couldn’t have the social life he wanted. Before the divorce life wasn’t perfect but I got to sleep in my own room every day, had privacy, cold have friends over. All that ended with the divorce. Plus I got a couple step parents I don’t get along with and my parents StilL aren’t happy. So I feel like either way my kids’ lives are going to be screwed. I don’t want to add poverty to the list of suckishness. Because that really does make it worse – I know first hand.

      I want a loving, lasting, trusting marriage. I just don’t see it happening with anyone though. And it’s really sad because that was one HugE thing I wanted in my life… And even moreso, I wanted to demonstrate that for my kids. Now I can’t. And I’m extremely pissed about that.

      Does that feeling fade? The anger, jadedness, guilt for your kids? So far it has only gotten worse. I know it’s only been 3 months. But I feel like getting past those feelings would be naive. Or like saying what he did was okay. I literally feel like he has ruin my life and my kids’ lives. It could have been so great. But he didn’t want it. Why should he even get a chance at having a great life? I guess I’m still at the “he should suffer” stage. And his friends and these other girls should too. I’m just so pissed at them and logically I know it’s hurting me more than any of them. But their lack of remorse makes me want to club them…

  • I was very unimpressed with MB and the full scale exposure 101, certainly seems to do more harm than good from what I’ve read on there with recent BS’s. I’ve never come across such a radical marriage support website. Where on earth do you start arranging dates and wooing your cheating spouse, in the immediate aftermath of dday…. talk about ridiculous.

    I really wish I could tell newbies to steer well clear of it., if they have any hope of reconciliation. There are so many more effective and supportive sites where you an gain support and opinions/views can be given freely.

    It just struck me as some kind of time warp with the star woman on there ML. I felt like it was an episode set in the town of Stepford..

  • Ahh, the ol’ RIC. Quite possibly the best term coined on this site!

    People who haven’t experienced infidelity shilling out information about how to handle it is akin to a nurse advising an oncologist.

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: