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Dear Chump Lady, Should I trust him again?

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Hi Chump Lady,

I’ve been married for 13 years and we have 3 small kids all under 10 years old. I was 10 weeks pregnant when I found out about the affair, this was 2 years ago. He was a very busy VP and always came home late, but then I just had feelings that something was off. Turned out he was in the middle of 6 months emotional and physical affair.

My first reaction was to kick him out of the house, I told him to pack up his stuff and took of the ring. He stayed at his parents house for 2 weeks and we had no contact, but my kids really missed him so I let him came back. Then I decided to start reconciliation process.

But the primary reason was not because of love but because of my kids. I grew up with divorced parents, bitter mom and indifferent father and it really sucks. I just can’t let my kids to go through it. He was a shitty husband but a good dad so I thought I’d give a shot at reconciliation. Also being a single working mom to 3 small kids would be a real challenge and that’s the other reason why I stay.

Pre-affair, ever since he got the big promotion he always ignored me that I had to beg for sex. So when I found out about the affair it was the final blow to our marriage. I just stopped feeling anything romantic toward him. During the 2 weeks period when he wasn’t in the house I was broken, yet a bit relieved but I felt guilty for my kids, they kept asking questions about him. Hysterical bonding ? Ha, nothing for me because I was too repulsed by him. I was so horny during pregnancy but still managed to chose dildo over him. The first time we had sex after D-day was after I gave birth and that was because he got the night shift to fed our newborn.

We went to marriage counseling and it helped. He’s very remorseful and has changed drastically. He quit his job and got a new one with shorter hours, he’ll call if he’s late, he gave me his email and social media password, but I just hate that I have to be the marriage police. I appreciate his effort but somehow I just don’t buy it. I like it but I don’t trust it.

My friends said I should be grateful and give him a chance, my mom told me that I’m selfish cause I only think about myself. At this point I don’t hate him or am repulsed by him, we’re pretty cordial. In short our relationship now is fuck buddies who coparent. It feels like I have this inner wall that confines my feelings toward him, my MC said it’s because I don’t trust him and that I should try to.

Should I trust him again ?

Stuck

Dear Stuck,

Do you know the expression — if you didn’t want to go to Chicago, why’d you get on the train?

You got on the R train. You can’t be surprised that it looks like reconciliation. You know, that place where you get to keep your family together and your husband in your bed (grudgingly) but you have to learn to trust again and play marriage police.

Essentially, you’re asking me if you can just stay married and not trust the guy. Stay in it for the kids, but not feel any intimacy toward your husband. Enjoy the perks, but bitch about the suckitude.

No, you don’t get to be a cake eater. You need to own your choices. I’m sorry your choices suck. Every single chump can relate to exactly how much your choices suck. How much you don’t want to be divorced. How hard this will be on your kids. On you. How much it will suck financially. You are not being presented with a scenario any different than any chump with kids hasn’t been presented with before. You just hopped on a different train.

Look, I think cheaters have to do the heavy lifting in reconciliation, but that does not mean I think chumps get a free pass. That does NOT mean owning the issues in the marriage that “made them cheat” (I HATE THAT SHIT). It means reconciling because it honestly reflects your values and you honestly think you can make a real effort to get past it and have a different marriage. (Not better, I don’t believe that shit either.)

I get a rap for being anti-reconciliation, but I think chumps who reconcile have big hearts. They commit. Some people reconcile not just out of fear, but out of an over abundance of bravery and an over estimation of the powers of their love. They will accept the humiliation and try to rise above it for the sake of their marriage. It’s a beautiful thing. I just happen to think it’s a noble impulse directed at someone wholly undeserving of it.

But Stuck — you’re not one of these noble reconcilers. You have your eyes wide open about exactly what kind of arrangement this is going to be. The family stays together, you’re fuck buddies who co-parent. The kids aren’t put through a divorce. You don’t trust him.

I think you want me to tell you it’s okay to stay on the fence and never trust him again. And you’d be WRONG.

You got on the train to Chicago, last stop “Trust Your Husband.” It’s a long ride, but you bought the ticket.

If you can’t trust him ever again, why not just admit that to him and yourself, honor those feelings, and end it? Or ask if he’s okay with living in a relationship in which you cannot trust him, and will feel compelled to be the marriage police. Because I doubt he’s okay with it. And if he IS okay with it, and he’s the rare remorseful unicorn — is it okay to waste his life in a relationship that has no intimacy? More to the point, is it okay with you to waste your life in a relationship that has no intimacy? And I don’t mean fucking, I mean TRUSTING. Feeling safe with this person. Knowing they have your back and will love you through the hard times.

Trying to trust again is the inevitable shit sandwich of choosing to reconcile.

That’s why I advise people against it. But if you’re going to do it, you need to build up resiliency so that if your husband betrays your trust again, you can WALK AWAY and not look back. Yet you’ve precluded that outcome. By staying for your kids come hell or high water, you must accept that it very well COULD happen again and you won’t leave.

Consider the ramifications of that. You’ve essentially sent the message to your husband that you’re here for the kids only and if he cheats, you won’t enforce the boundary of divorce. The best he gets day to day is “you don’t repulse me” — think he’ll stay faithful? Or do you think the odds are you’ll be looking at another D-Day in your future?

Do you want a marriage or an arrangement? Because it sounds to me like you have an arrangement.

If you want a marriage — you need to live your values. Either this relationship is not acceptable to you — or you want a full relationship — with trust and intimacy — with your husband and you’re going to try for that.

Now, let me tell you why that’s incredibly difficult. Because infidelity doesn’t make anyone feel safe. It’s totally normal not to trust someone who made you beg for sex, who cheated on you while you were pregnant, and had a six-month affair. You were vulnerable — you had two small children and were pregnant with a third when he did this. He demonstrated to you that when things got hard, he escapes. It was all about him and not about you and the kids.

So yeah, I get why you don’t trust him. I wouldn’t trust him either.

I don’t know who he is two years later. I don’t know what he’s done other than give you passwords, marriage counseling, and get a new job. All good things, but I don’t know his heart. I don’t know if he blames you for his affair or if he’s owns his shit. I don’t know if you’ve asked for a post-nup. (If you haven’t do — don’t reconcile without one. And also ask for a credit report in case he’s hiding money or debts.) I don’t know what manner of unicorn he is, really.

And neither do you. And that is what you accept when you reconcile. You can either do the mental gymnastics or you can’t. You either believe the evidence of remorse (if it exists) or you don’t. You either wait for the next anvil to drop, or you’re okay with the uncertainty.

I’m not sure trust can be regained once it’s been shattered. And I think you’ve got better things to do with your life than conduct that particular experiment. My belief is that character changes slowly and painfully if it changes at all. I don’t believe “once a cheater always a cheater” — but I do think “once a cheater” you’ve killed that marriage that you’re in. You might go on to another one with a clean slate, but you forever fucked up the marriage you’re in. And the best thing to do is admit you broke it, give your chump the fairest, most generous settlement possible, and go and sin no more.

That doesn’t happen very often that I can see. Entitlement dies hard. Cheaters stay married if they can. They eat cake. They cheat again. Cheaters leave. They eat cake. They cheat on the next person. And the person after that. Humility is hard. Giving up the goodies of entitlement is tough for cheaters. As is accepting full responsibility.

Getting “unstuck” Stuck, means figuring out what your values are. I can tell you this though — staying married to a cheater does not ensure avoiding the future you fear — you could well become the bitter mother and your husband the indifferent father. When you threw him out and the kids missed him, you had options that were not reconciliation. You could’ve arranged for them to visit him without you.

You have failed to listen to your feelings. You’ve failed to imagine feeling safe outside the confines of this relationship. You’ve failed to imagine a happier, peaceful, authentic life on your own. If you can’t imagine trusting your husband again, imagine those things.

You can stay stuck, or you can expand your mind. It’s entirely up to you.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Stuck:

    You really need to think long and hard about what it is you want out of life. Can you work on your marriage, get past the hurt and really live your life joyfully?? I really thought (or wanted to believe) that I could do just that. I played the marriage police for five years and I continued to discover that my exH had never ended his affair. I continued to try and he continued to lie. Maybe your husband is different and he really wants to fix what is broken but that is NOT the real issue here. You have to determine whether you can honestly get past (not over) his affair!

    After my last dday I asked my exH to leave. I took a week long vacation on the beach and got real with myself and I realized that even if my now exH had done the real work of trying to help me heal and fix our marriage I was never going to fully trust him again and it changed who I am forever. I now know that I would never have opened myself up enough again with him to allow for a passionate relationship full of love and mutual respect. Even if he had tried to really work on the relationship it was still going to fail.

    And, my children are happier now that I am happy! I wish I could have kept the family together for them but they are happier this way and so am I. You do not owe your husband reconciliation. You can still decide to end it if you choose.

    Good Luck!!

    • Just today, 5 years after D day, I discovered a perfumed T shirt of hers.

      You try and they lie. They just don’t want to do that emotional intimacy stuff, which is why we women are exchanged like oil filters.

      So for me the issue is: the safety of $$$ and no intimacy (the biblical ‘knowing’), or uncertainty and integrity.

      Both choices suck. And I am a frightened person.

  • Stuck,

    This bit totally jumped off the page at me, “But the primary reason was not because of love but because of my kids. I grew up with divorced parents, bitter mom and indifferent father and it really sucks. I just can’t let my kids to go through it.”

    A very wise friend pointed out to me that, as cliche as it is, you have to consider “quality time”. Is the time you spend together as a “family” really, truly quality time if you’re indifferent towards each other? If it’s a strained, awkward, humiliating time? Isn’t it better to just let them spend time with their dad on their own rather than subject them to that? Food for thought.

    • I grew up in that family-and DON’T recommend it.

      People who cheat are not good parents, because they aren’t good people, period-they are not capable of putting an innocent young person’s needs above their own, and as the kids grow up and individuate, it just gets worse for them. Single Mom of three, yep, scary and daunting (unemployed Mom of 1), but stacked against another ten years of your kids being gaslighted, and ultimately, tortured?!

      I totally get it-I jumped on the R train, too, for a while, but swiftly realized it was Mr Fab’s way of getting more cake, and I was not serving DD’s best interests by continuing to present a simulation of a functional family, or even telling her her Dad loves her. It is his job to show her that-NOT my job to compensate. Finding that out was as hard, in some ways, as finding out about his affair.

      It will suck, and hurt, but please spare your kids that-my Mom’s spackling meant I thought that was what you did, and I ended up with an abusive narcissistic cheater, just like dear old Dad.

      I have decided to change my child’s inheritance from accepting emotionally abusive behavior as normal, to esteeming herself enough to assert her rights and walk away from toxic people. That is the only noble cause I could find in all this.

      Good luck-none of this is likely what you wanted to hear, but the 2×4 of Truth is more credible and authentic than focussing on getting your cheater back.

      love to all Chumps.

      x-Meh

      • Amen, so true Mephista. 2 yrs after D-day, and .5 month after my divorce is final, I’m slowly beginning to do better, and my once deeply depressed beloved daughter is coming out of her cocoon into the sunlight. At her college graduation she refused a card from her cheater dad, and basically told him to fuck off in front of a crowd of friends and family. She asserted her independence. Whether her relationship with him changes with time is up to her, but for now–she has set her boundaries, feels more healthy, is getting clear & happier, and on to her own, independent new life. Applause. It’s better.

        If I had stayed with cheater Ex, not sure I would have survived, and what kind of life would she have had? He tuned her out around age 14…just absent in every way except for his physical presence. That was such a powerful negative, and I’m so proud that she overcame it.

        Kids are always so perceptive, even if they can’t put words to the truth. It is my belief that modeling integrity and honesty serves everyone best in the long run. When you have a young adult child, you really see how that works out.

        best of luck, all–

          • namedforvera – our story to a T. The ex for some reason “had it in” for his daughter as soon as she hit puberty. Like she was competition for him…blamed her as well as me for “pushing him out” of the house….while he was self-absorbed, whining, useless and drinking more often than not. She’s in college now and says she accepts the fact that she doesn’t have a father like other girls and is “moving on” because she has bigger fish to fry. I’m concerned about how this is going to affect her future interactions with men and my therapist says she is going to have to have “some kind of relationship” with her father because all kids “need their father.” Even a cheating one?

            • I recently called out similar behavior of cheater to our oldest son. He’s now 19. I swear he’s been jealous of him since BIRTH. And has treated him kindly on the surface with no real emotionally connection beneath that. Very sad.

              I’ve been mom and dad to him and love him tremendously. Asshat hates it when I tell him he’s been a tactical father to him and not a full parent. Asshat treats the other 3 kids a lot differently.

              I really do not know how to address this with my 19 yr old. He knows I have his back 100% of the time. Like other people have stared, I wonder how this will play out in his future relationships.

  • Dear STUCK
    As the Fabulous Chump Lady said:
    “You’ve failed to imagine feeling safe outside the confines of this relationship. You’ve failed to imagine a happier, peaceful, authentic life on your own. If you can’t imagine trusting your husband again, imagine those things.”
    …otherwise that inauthentic life will fester, and you will always be balancing on the gossamer tightrope of safety, never feeling like you can take a full breath and really see out of your eyes. That mistrust puts a veil over your life. It burrows to your core. It locks down your spirit.
    Please, please give yourself the gift of freedom.

    • “That mistrust puts a veil over your life. It burrows to your core. It locks down your spirit.”

      Wow MMB, what a beautiful description of such an awful thing.

    • My ex thinks we can “go back” someday, even though we are now split up. I told him that it will never be the same because, like you, “it changed who I am forever.”

      Thanks Kimmy.

  • “My mom told me I’m selfish because I only think of myself…” Oh, my gosh, just reading this made me sick. You were GROOMED to take sh*t your whole life if you have a mom like this! It is no accident that you met and married someone who treated you like sh*t, too. If your mother is so cruel and nasty to you at a time when you need support, I can only imagine what she was like as you were growing up. (now’s when you’ll want to jump in and defend her…please don’t!) You deserve better. Listen to and keep reading Chump Lady.

    • And this is why I haven’t told my mom. She would throw me under a bus to save my husband. Just like he threw me under the bus to eat cake. And my best friend has sucked thru this too. And my mil, the licensed marriage therapist who employed the married ow? Haven’t heard from her in 6 months, even after I reached out. Lots of sucky suck suck, nothing surprises me about people anymore. Always thought I was savvy, but omg was I a 45 yr naive idiot.

      • Your MIL employed the married OW? Before or after the affair was known?

        Hugs to you, RockStar.

      • Rockstar and Lulu – I’ve met a few people in my divorce group whose mothers blame them for the marriage breakup despite their cheating husbands. WTF? I’m so lucky to have such supportive family (and friends) and I realize it because of knowing those that aren’t so lucky. So sorry! I hope all the chumps out there can find the support they need despite having folks like these mothers in their lives.

        • Don’t forget the cheater mantra–the chump made the marriage so unbearable he was DRIVEN to cheat. And mommy believes that narrative.

          Seems to me the vehicle he was driving was a hotwheels trike…

    • The part about her mom really bothered me. Moms are supposed to support their children, rally to their defense, you know, be a mom. Having been raised by an extremely narcissistic mom, I can tell you that you are absolutely dead on ,Lulu, about the grooming aspect of chumpdom. We are taught at an early age to please, at great cost to our own well-being. By the time our cheater comes into our lives, we have spent years mastering the “art” of spackling.

      Now, I’m not saying every chump had a narcissistic mother and moms definitely get blamed for all kinds of shit far too much. But I do think chumpdom , for me at least, was learned behavior. It is painful to think about some of the things my mom did, things like line us up at the door and demand that we pick which parent we were going to choose when she divorced my dad.(I always whispered dad, dad, dad). How’s that for learning about the pick me dance at an early age? Of course, she never left because my dad would do anything to keep his family together.

      So, Stuck, is staying what is best for your kids in the long run or are they learning some really damaging lessons? Leaving is hard, it SUCKS, and it is frightening, but ask yourself this. At the end of your life, do you want to say you stayed in a loveless marriage because of fear or do you want to say I was mighty and lived my life on my terms?

      You don’t have to decide today. Take your time, allow yourself to truly consider all your options. Hell, go back to school, find a rewarding job, and then decide. Just don’t stay stuck, Life is to short for stuck. As the saying goes, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

      Also, please consider counseling to help you navigate this mess. Believe me, I am no cheerleader for therapy, but, it really helped me figure out why I was so willing to overlook bad behavior and soldier on. People pleasing is learned at an early age; understanding that was crucial to my forward progress and helped me be a better mom. Your kids deserve more and so do you.

      • Louise,

        ” . . . therapy, (but, it) really helped me figure out why I was so willing to overlook bad behavior and soldier on. People pleasing is learned at an early age;

        I, too, had a pattern. My fantastic attorney told me that my first task, before retaining her, was finding a therapist. I bristled but I listened. The second meeting with this therapist gave me the biggest gift. I was made to realize that I had a lifelong pattern of saying, “That’s okay. I understand.” My therapist earned every penny.

        I read your whole post and those which preceded it re: Stuck’s mom. My own Mommy Dearest, who has had nearly no relationship with my siblings, used to be able to depend on me. She lives across the country from all of us but I used to visit her – with her grandsons – at least twice a year. I made sure that she had the money she needed. After my marriage ended, I discovered that Mommy Dearest betrayed me, too. She continues to have a relationship with my x. Once she dropped that bomb, she stopped telling me of his visits, his calls, his gifts (he is absolutely using her as a pawn: he has the money and the time and her acceptance makes him look like a better person. It’s all about appearances) but she would let slip information which told me that she still hears from him. That was another gift I received from my therapist. When I told her about my mother’s betrayal, she made me realize that I had married my parents. My mother is a narcissist and my father was/is a cheater. I got the prize by marrying the combo.

        My mother’s betrayal hurts more than my x’s. I learned that I couldn’t trust him and now I can’t trust her. I told her that I have only one request: change her executor. It’s him from when we were still married. I told her that if it’s the only request I have because I do not want to deal with him after she’s dead. She has said that she has done it but I have yet to receive proof. Another lie.

        • Joy-filled Chump — ah-yup on the impression management that ex pulls on your mother, and her own chumpiness in buying it.

          That feels like its own kind of betrayal. That your mother would give this person, who so damaged you and your family, any respect at all. Boggling. It allows him to inflict further damage in that passive aggressive way he so prefers. It’s like finding out about yet another secret life of his, only this time the other woman is your mother. How sick is that?

          My mother’s second husband recently died, and while I was back helping her through the painful, confusing, overwhelming first days and weeks afterward, she shows me a bonsai tree my cheater ex had sent her. There was delight in her eyes — “I love bonsai trees. I don’t know how he knew that. Wasn’t that nice?”

          She wrote him a thank you card. Pure kibbles. This, to a man who throughout our entire 20-year marriage never had a single nice thing to say about my mother. Or her second husband. He hated visiting them. But now he is Compassion in the Flesh. She buys it full price.

          She minimizes his affair. Continually asks about him, as if she really cares how he’s doing. As if I care how he’s doing. I finally asked her to stop. She wasn’t picking up on my flat, dead tone of voice, or my standard response of: “I don’t know how he’s doing, Mom. I don’t follow his career.”

          I believe she has a vested interest in minimizing his cheating behavior because my mother is a serial cheater herself. I love her dearly, and I wish I didn’t ever have to know that about her. Her second husband was once her affair partner when she was married to my dad. And not even the first affair partner, or the second.

          You look at the people who aren’t coming through for you when you need them, and you can begin to see their own issues rising to the surface. It turns out that it really isn’t about you, not much if at all. It’s about them. Still hurts just the same, though.

          • Rally Squirrel

            “You look at the people who aren’t coming through for you . . . ”

            Wow! Thank you. This jumped out at me. I learned early that I couldn’t count on my mom. I always made excuses for her. When we would visit her and there would be no food that two little healthy boys would eat, I would go to the store and buy what we needed. That became a routine. Fly all night. Get to her place. Go to the store and buy any food that we needed. I was okay with that but I was always embarrassed for her. Why could she not make us feel welcomed? It was too much to ask to have regular food in the house. How dare I expect that!! I have actually learned not to count on anyone. I have a difficult time asking anyone for anything – unless I pay them.

      • Thanks for that reply Louise, especially writing the reality ‘I was so willing to overlook bad behaviour and soldier on’.

    • “my mom told me I’m selfish because I only think of myself…” um, isn’t that what your husband was doing? Only thinking of himself? I hate how outsiders say these types of things to the person cheated on when they should be said to the cheater!!!

  • I am sick of hearing “He was a shitty husband but a good dad” (or mom.) Part of being a good parent is showing your kids how to treat their mother/father and what to expect in a relationship when the time comes. You can’t be a shitty spouse and a good parent at the same time. I hear this so many times from Chumps who excuse the atrocious behavior of their cheating spouses, even after a divorce. Spackle, anyone?

      • No question, during the affair he was categorically a shitty dad, treated me shitty, which in turn affected how I mothered. Made stupid decisions, acted like a dick, lied, rewrote, etc. But before and after, always an involved affectionate parent.

      • Amen to that, Andrea! My sentiments exactly. Just how is it consistent to crap on the person who is supposed to be your closest and dearest, and claim to be able to be a good parent to your children, just because you have the title of “parent?” BS, if you ask me. People are integrated beings, and what we do and how we treat others sums up who we are. It’s not like being a shitty spouse and a good cook, or musician or carpenter…it’s about how you relate to people. Chances are, if you’re a shitty self-absorbed spouse, you’re a shitty self-absorbed friend, sister, brother, son, daughter, and YES, parent!

        • Yup. It’s one thing to parent, and another thing to be this “good person” parading his/her OBJECTS in front of them for all the world to marvel at. Barf-o-Rama.

    • I completely agree. You really cannot compartmentalize integrity. Initially I tried to say the same thing to my divorce lawyer who promptly replied “A good father does not cheat on his child’s mother.”

      • Yes! It was just another symptom of my chumpiness that I tried to apply spackle to my ex’s parenting. A good parent doesn’t lie to the family. A good parent doesn’t neglect the kids so he/she can get laid. When I finally dropped the trowel and quit piling spackle on top of that mess, I realized that he was a TERRIBLE father.

    • Yes–a “good dad” does not take give the time, love, affection, and loyalty from his whole family–his pregnant wife and two kids–and give them to an affair partner. A “good dad” doesn’t risk his marriage for emotional and sexual thrills. A “good dad” knows that his wife, the mother of his children, should be cherished before, during and after pregnancy because she is risking her life to bring his child into the world. A “good dad” knows what my high school civics teacher taught me: the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.

      So, Stuck, your husband is not a good dad. My guess is that you have a pretty low bar for “good” from him. Gosh, it makes me sad that people expect so little for their lives. You deserve to be loved and cherished. You should be able to trust your partner. He broke the deal, and if your mother and his mother and the neighbors can’t see that, there is something wrong with them. I hope you find a way to be really happy. You say you don’t want your kids to grow up with a “bitter mom and an indifferent father.” If he loves your kids, there is no reason that divorce will make him indifferent. And you have total control over whether you will become bitter or not. “Bitter” seems to be a passive state, more about resenting what has been done to you or what you feel forced to do than about making choices that line up with your values. So whether you decide to stay or divorce, find a way to love yourself as well as your kids. Because the best thing a mother can do for her kids is to show them how to love and value themselves by doing the same herself.

      And what is with people calling the chump “selfish”? It’s the cheater who is selfish, having ripped other people apart for some Schmoopie. Sheeesh.

      • I am not a huge Dr. Phil follower, but gotta love this:

        “Be mature enough to recognize that life is not always about you and what feels good for you in the moment. If you are married and have children, you have an obligation and a commitment that far transcends what feels good.”

      • I don’t think this is uniformly true. Cheaters can be very good parents and shitty spouses. Clearly children need different things from their parent than spouses need from each other.
        The problem is that as experienced sparklers, we are not the best at telling who is really a good parent, and who is just putting on the Parent-of-the-Year show. That is why chump lady’s advice is so good – it’s not our job to manage a child’s relationship with their other parent. Kids will figure out who the flaming nut jobs are soon enough, and who can actually put aside their selfishness long enough to parent.

    • “She/he was a shitty wife/husband but a great mom/dad” is industrial strength spackle. Overlooking the Washington Monument of prick-itude to scour the pebbles at your feet from some little hint of not-so-badness. It’s not ambiguous or multi-faceted. Good. Parents. Don’t. Napalm. Families.

      Reminds me of that old punchline, “Other than *that* Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy Dallas?”

    • I feel like I’ve been hit upside the head w/ this.
      I BELIEVE this.
      My stbx is a wonderful father to our daughter. Loving, caring, involved, helpful, etc.

      I don’t know why it never dawned on me (DUH) that being a good parent includes being good to their mother/father.
      ” A good parent does not cheat on their spouse”
      “A good parent does not lie to the family”
      “A good parent does not neglect the family in favor of the OW/OM”

      I’m having one of those eyes opened moments.
      Thanks everyone 🙂

    • Exactly. I can’t stand this either. No you are NOT a good parent, when you’re out screwing someone else and betraying the mother or father of your child and unknowingly ripping their lives apart.

    • BRAVO!!! YES! YES! YES!

      This drives me absolutely insane as well. This is compartmentalization at its finest – and it can really screw up one’s boundaries to the point that one doesn’t know where they lie anymore.

      Point #1: bad spouse = bad parent

      Point #2: good spouse = good parent

      Point #3: good and bad are not interchangeable.

    • Spot on Andrea! My STBXW is always talking about how she has the “best interests of our kids” at heart and how everyone says what a great mother she is (I hear this from her you see, not from anyone else). What a crock of shit! They were the last thing she was thinking about when she had her affairs. Didn’t think about how her behavior was going to profoundly affect the rest of their lives and the lives of many others. Someone said that they “compartmentalize”. Don’t see the connection between their character-disturbed behavior and outcomes.

      • Abusing your spouse is not good for your children.

        Cheating is spousal abuse. I’ve lived it. My husband has never lifted a hand against me, but the cheating he has done, along with the blameshitting and gaslighting, is clearly abusive.

        Not ok for kids.

    • My kids are all over 18 now, and they all spent way too much time with my verbally abusive husband who tells everyone what a great dad and mellow guy he is. I spackled constantly, and the kids heard him scream and swear at me since they were toddlers. My eyes are finally opened since D Day a few months ago. As I am coming out of the shock and getting stronger, I am disgusted with myself for putting up with his emotional and verbal abuse for 35 years!!!! He still denies he cheated even though she sent him a photo of herself in a bra and there are 500 texts in one month. He is angry rather than remorseful. And he “never lied”….”only omitted”…and was “just having fun because he was bored.”

      Those of you worrying about leaving a man like this, RUN while the kids are young enough not to copy his verbally abusive style. Unfortunately, my kids have internalized this mode, and I am doing everything I can to help them overcome it. Of course, much of it is directed at me because they saw from a young age that it is the norm to speak to me in this manner. If you are on the fence about staying with this type of man, DON’T!!!!! They do not change, and they are not remorseful.

  • P.S. And your friends say you “should be grateful”?! Consider this question: Who are these people that you populate your life with? You need new friends!

  • I’m in a similar situation and I can totally relate. I’m legally and financially bound to stay right now, and I’ve experienced the whole gamut of emotions since dday 5 months ago. Hysterical bonding, love him, hate him, need him, don’t need him, blah blah blah. On his end, complete transparency, fired the ow, blah blah blah. Am I worried about him cheating again? No, not really, certainly not with that ow. He’s embarrassed, sorry and gracious every day, ic, text book reconciliation shit, shows me and the teens humility. Took me to my std testing (although he swears it was emotional only, which is really the painful part of his deception). Was and is a great present dad. But right now, I’m not feeling much for him, not anger, not lust, not suspicion. I almost miss the anger, I just feel kind of numb.

    Because I don’t have a way to make a decision for another year, this may be my life for a bit. I’ve resigned myself to growing myself and skimming money, taking any contract work that comes my way. I’m not stressed or tense, just apathetic right now. That may change, gawd knows I’ve felt every possible emotion in a short time. I get what Stuck and Chump Lady are both saying – sitting on the fence is wrong, but it’s comfortable right now. Somedays I feel empowered, some days I feel like a weak chump piece of shit. I think in my case I’m just experiencing life with my eyes open and with all the facts and truth at my disposal – as opposed to 12 months of being blind and blinded. So it just feels different.

    He wants to reconcile, I don’t need to decide right now. It’s right and wrong at the same time to me. Self-mindfuckery perhaps?

    • For me – after all the mindfuckery (“you’re so jealous and resentful” “you’re so negative” “there you go again”……after 20 years of being LIED TO EVERY DAY) – it was my pure fear of failure…. I completely reuined my own life to be with HIM and couldn’t wrap my head around THAT FAILURE. IF I could just make it work then I wasn’t a fool. But I WAS a fool – and I’m not now. So there, Admit it – step away – get a life – get my honor and self respect. I didn’t get out on my own terms – and that’s a hard one for me to suck up to – but I am (almost) out nonetheless.
      I am as happy as I have ever been in my whole life – and I’m talking even compared to the la-la land of 7-year-old sparkly summer night laughing and running in the wet grass just past dusk memories – I am truly happy.
      AND
      I’m still not divorced 3-1/2 years past d-day because my sociopathic narcissistic STBX says “What’s your hurry”. He’ll eat that Karma Sammich someday.
      But “ta ta” I’ll be long gone.

    • If you are “legally and financially bound” to stay for another year, that actually might be very fertile time for you to (as you say) “grow yourself.” Part of my own problem is that old devil codependency, and I often wake up to find myself more invested in others than in myself. So now that your eyes are open, and you still have another parent in the house, you have time to become not a “weak chump piece of shit” but exactly what you want to be. It always comes down to: who am I? what do I want for the “wild and precious life? ” (to quote Mary Oliver). You might think of this year as a true gift, time out of time, to figure out yourself without an immediate agenda. To store up not only financial means but to heal enough to make the best choices for yourself. Even if you moved out TODAY, there would still be that limbo space while you went through the transition from an old life to a new one. Growth takes time. And if you commit to NOT reconciling for a year, to spending the year on your own growth, then at the end you will see what you have, with your eyes and your heart open,”with all the facts and truth at your disposal,” but most especially about your truth about who you are, what you want. He killed the marriage. Now you get to choose what YOU want to do about that and you have time to do that.

      • This is how I’m choosing to view it. My eyes are open, I’m not policing. I’m working on me. He can grovel, my kids will see a strong growing mom. Thank you 😉

        • I’m right there with you. I don’t fucking want to spend an ounce of my née grey policing him. I already know what his IS. I know what I need to do and I am doing it. Build your resources, emotional, financial, etc… And then get ready to fly.

    • Reading your stories I am reminded of an old “Ann Landers” editorial – you have to ask yourself: “Am I better off with him or without him?”

      • Totally valid question. But I also need to ask am I with him or am I not with him? Am I willing to be emotionally invested in this marriage? Why am I really fence-sitting? Can I live with this marriage having been forever altered? I don’t have the answers yet, I’m not even asking myself the questions at a deep level. No tension at home, may as well have him finance my betterment. Frankly my kids (older ones) have been deeply affected, he confessed everything to them. I can use this time to make sure they’re getting all the help they need, considering my other option is full time work and being around a lot less. (this is in no way a criticism of working moms – ever at all – it would just be another stress during a shitty time to place on my kids that they’ve not had – I support all women’s choices and responsibilities, we each have our own path, no one way is the right way).

        Honestly it really boils down to the fact that cheating is a bomb that detonates and cruelly affects a lot of lives. The ow got canned from her job, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop now, because apparently she’s none too happy. And she’s got a h and a slew of kids and is the breadwinner. Since my h is part of his family business, the decision was that the ow had to go, she of course wanted the job and the affair to continue. So maybe my numbness is a protective shield as I wait for another surprise from her, I guess her wily ways with men have never backfired before. It’s just a lot f ugliness, and I’m having a depression filled day for no reason I can pinpoint. Maybe her still working there kept me good and angry…. Thanks chumps for the room to vent.

  • This post makes me so sad, but it is spot on. You either have to open your heart, let go, and trust again with abandon, or you have to move on. I, too, had to beg for sex after I had my baby, so I was so shocked that he felt he didn’t have sex at home when I asked for it all the time. Now, though, I think for him sex is not about a connection with his partner, it is about an impersonal fantasy. Before the baby, we could have fantasy sex. Afterwards, it was real life sex with a real person, and that was something he didn’t want.

    I think the financial ramifications of splitting can’t be overstated. You will probably end up filing for bankruptcy. Its almost impossible to avoid. Happy Haus Frau speaks a lot about the financial side of it and I can reiterate everything she says. You just have to let go of your fear of financial ruin. There’s no debtors prison and they can’t reposess your babies. However, the upside of splitting is you heal so much more quickly. I’m only 5 months from split, leaving the depression stage of grief, and moving towards acceptance. I’m starting to have lots of good days. So, split is bad financial/good & quick for healing. Stay is good financial/long and difficult healing.

    • What a sad thing that someone would chose fantasy sex over a real connection with a real person–actual intimacy. So sorry you had a husband that stupid and shallow, to put it bluntly.

    • “. I, too, had to beg for sex after I had my baby, so I was so shocked that he felt he didn’t have sex at home when I asked for it all the time.”

      NORMAL, HEALTHY MEN VERY RARELY TURN DOWN SEX

      Men who withhold and make their wives literally beg for sex are passive-aggressive pathological control freaks who use sex to manipulate. Not sure they even do it consciously.

      This behavior has nothing to do with fantasy… or the wife not looking good enough..blah… blah.

      It is all about FEAR AND CONTROL. Fear of the female’s imagined and mythical “power” and control of any situation that may have the effect of making him face his dependency needs.

      Scott Wetzler thoroughly analyzes the sexual dysfunctions of PA men in his book. Makes total sense to me.

      A sexually healthy man made this comment once about women and sex. He was joking but there is a lot of truth in his comment:

      “The sexiest things about any woman are genuinely enthusiastic availability and reciprocity of pleasure. If you find a faithful woman like that, hang on to her.”

      • notyou – “The sexiest things about any woman are genuinely enthusiastic availability and reciprocity of pleasure. If you find a faithful woman like that, hang on to her.”

        OMG – here’s why this site is doing so much good. I was one of those GEA’s but never got the RP (reciprocity of pleasure – EVER!). Games – flirting games like meeting for dinner and pretending we didn’t know each other. Yanno- a little foreplay. I bought toys by the dozen. Even velvet handcuffs! He loved being tied up and felatio-d but was all done when I wanted to get tied up. (omg – TMI! I’m sure) Oh, I was ready. But, what did I get? Not even good vanilla sex. I think he thought anything below my belly button was dirty. But, boy did he like his blow jobs and hand jobs twice a week. I need to ask MYSELF why I kept being a chump and not demanding reciprocity (just a simple back massage would have got me in the mood). OK, working on this one with therapist.
        It’s why I can’t understand why he left me for some low-life whore – did she have other more exciting ways to please this NARC? I don’t like to go there myself….so won’t…

        • ” I think he thought anything below my belly button was dirty. But, boy did he like his blow jobs and hand jobs twice a week.”

          Highly likely he DID have hang ups about female genitals. Consider this: Essentially he was manipulating you into “servicing him” without much concern for mutual pleasuring. This is PA controlling behavior, and you can make book on it that whomever he’s “doing” now is getting that exact same treatment or will be soon.

          “I need to ask MYSELF why I kept being a chump and not demanding reciprocity”

          Just know that you were needlessly being a chump and resolve that from now on, you will NEVER again SETTLE for a man who is not as enthusiastic about pleasuring you (and willing to learn how) as you are about him. Because sweetly and happily showing a man how to pleasure you is totally welcome to most men.

          [Even my goofy-assed PA X got the bigger charge out of mutually pleasurable sex, and one of the things that I resented most at the time of separation was the loss of a robust and fulfilling sex life.]

  • The only person the man loves and always will is himself! Not you, not the kids not anyone, just HIMSELF !
    Got it ???

  • This Father’s perspective…

    A good Father would never gamble with his Families wellbeing for any reason. Especially on something as lame as the perspective that “I won’t get caught.”

    And secrets with the OW, well they won’t stay secret long! Talk about misplaced trust.

  • Stuck , I am divorcing my cheating, no-good husband after trying to reconcile for almost 5 years. It took me 5 years to realize that I had to file for divorce. I would read the divorce log in our newspaper and dream about the day I would see my name next to my husband’s in a future publishing. I finally started the divorce process after seeing an attorney for the third time. Once before I had paid a retainer to an attorney but canceled and called off the divorce. I got that retainer back. This time I paid a retainer and am going through with the divorce this time.
    I was a SAHM and I still don’t have a job. I was taking care of 4 children, one who had serious medical issues. My h thought that I would never leave him because of my lack of job skills and not having a job for so long. He has told me before that since I don’t work, I contribute nothing to our marriage. Sounds like he really loves and respects me, huh?
    I just can’t take feeling like shit anymore and I need a chance at being happy again. A chance is what I’m looking for. I can’t take the stress he causes me any more. I can’t keep pretending that I want to have a husband who has been with other women during our marriage.
    I really feel like we could have weathered anything that was happening in our lives if my h hadn’t cheated. His cheating is what destroyed our marriage and our lives as we know it. There is really no life together for us since he fucked other women. I just wish it didn’t take me 5 years to do something about it. I felt that way, but I tried to put those feelings aside. Our divorce is going through and his actions and behaviors keep telling me that I made the right decision to file.

      • Exactly. And while the Jackass still swears he wasn’t “stepping out,” which means whatever he says it means, the secret FB chats, the lies, the disengagement were all symptoms of that lack of respect. His superiority and entitlement to do what he feels like doing. The fucking and the “I love yous” to the MOW were just symptoms.

    • Supreme Chump, “He has told me before that since I don’t work, I contribute nothing to our marriage. Sounds like he really loves and respects me, huh?” I can relate to that. My husband went on to say that “If you died tomorrow no one but your kids would notice or care.” His respect for me is less then the bum on the street. He can repeatedly told me that “I am A NOTHING” The day after I finished an Ironman he told me “I am a fucking lazy bum.” I finished the Ironman in 15 hours and 50 minutes. I was so fucking lazy the whole time.

      • Wow – MGirontree and SupremeChump – talk about extreme emotional abuse. I can’t believe how mean those comments are! (and everybody out there probably thinks they’re the nicest guys in the world) I have no idea what those kind of comments do to your self-esteem, especially after so many years. At least all I’m dealing with is the cheating and all that goes along with that. I wonder if you can record some of those awful comments they make. Not sure what good it would do you (especially in a no fault state) but isn’t there SOME law on the books about ‘verbal and emotional abuse’? Please, tell me there is.

        • And hey, MGirontree – huge congratulations on the Ironman! AWESOME time too! wow – my nephew is a pro Ironmaner and I know how completely exhausting just training for that is. Ya right, you’re lazy. Maybe you should have had an involuntary knee spasm and kicked him in the balls for that comment.

    • Supreme Chump I am sorry your ex felt like you contributed nothing to the marriage after being a good SAHM. My ex said the exact same thing. What’s so ironic is I thought it was true because I heard it for so long in a 22 year marriage. He also said I couldn’t survive financially. I had a small home business but that was chickenfeed compared to his big CFO position which I helped support all those years. I think there
      must be a special cheaters playbook with a memorized script they all use. The words still linger and hurt after filing for divorce but at least I know other women on this site can encourage one another. His words are merely projections of his own
      inadequacies not yours. Hope things get better for you and don’t forget you had the best job in the world and that was being a mom. No one can replace you.

  • Stuck,

    If you can’t trust your husband again, the marriage really isn’t worth keeping. Do you want to be the marriage police for the rest of your life? I did that for a month when I thought my XW was cheating and it caused me a lot of mental and physical problems, not to mention the anguish I had when I did find out she was cheating. I was worried I would have stress sickness. Please don’t do that to yourself and think really hard about what you want out of your future marriage, and get out if you don’t think your husband is the guy for you.

  • First.
    ” I was 10 weeks pregnant when I found out about the affair…” Um….excuse me?

    This douchebag was cheating on you when you were pregnant?! THIS ALONE would make this whole letter (for me) not worth reading. Sorry, Stuck. Tracy is absolutely and unequivocally correct, but she is being nice about it. You WANT to believe ANYTHING and EVERYTHING this guy says/does because it will inconvenience you in the end. THAT, my dear—-is cake eating. I don’t give a pass on that. If he hurts you and your kids? (and he will—any man who would cheat on a pregnant wife…is capable of ANYTHING when things get too “overwhelming” for him)

    Second. “Pre-affair, ever since he got the big promotion he always ignored me that I had to beg for sex.”

    Sorry. Remind me again what fantabulous marriage you’re trying to save?

    I think you pretty much told us everything we need to know—you’re not leaving because you don’t want to give up your lifestyle. You’re not being genuine about any of this—and you want permission to act as entitled as your husband.

    I don’t hear pain or anguish–the way that most of the chumps here have communicated. It’s insulting, actually, to those of us who retch each and every morning thinking of the things that our spouses did with the OW/OM, that have to apply for SNAP in order to put food on the table for our kids (we don’t want to model CRAZY and IMMATURE and ENTITLED to our kids) or even “I feel like running over the OW with my car.” kind of anger.

    “Fuck buddies that co-parent”—that is absolutely the most disgusting and reprehensible thing I’ve ever heard someone with children say.

    • I think Stuck has been taught to disregard her genuine emotions, so she is focusing on the surface stuff. It took me a long time to give myself permission to acknowledge how I actually felt, to get angry enough to change how I was living my life. Stuck recognizes she is on auto-pilot and is seeking advice about how to change that. Numbness is not the same as selfishness.

      • Louises, I respectfully disagree.

        She admits this is not about love. She says that she went to MC and “it helped” and he is giving her passwords, etc–but she hates being the marriage police (didn’t we all?) It’s been two years and she openly and freely admits that this is “Fuck Buddies that Co-Parent”.

        She’s okay with this whole FBTCP and even says that the second reason she stays is that ” being a single mom with kids will be too much of a challenge.

        This isn’t a newly formed chump who is still in shock–this is someone living with a cheater that chose (THAT SHE KNOWS OF) to have a SIX MONTH affair (that he admits to)—having sex with her enough to get her pregnant, btw…..she’s asking for permission to be okay with this.

        I cannot project what I would do onto her—but she’s wants for someone to say it’s alright to act this way—she’s been in MC with this guy—I’m sure she’s asked others and can use the internet to see and understand what happens to kids in this kind of household—and she knows about secret cellphones and secret email accounts (and all of the other tricks that just made that justification of “but. but. but. he gave me his passwords to social media” absolute nonsensical.)

        Those kids are living in a household where she’s okay with “Mom and Dad are Fuck Buddies that Co-Parent.” This is HER description of the situation, not mine. What happens when those kids are older and see this? Is that okay too? Will it be another justification—“Well, I stayed so that I could send you to private school. I understand that psychologically you have absolutely zero idea of what a functioning, loving, trusting relationship looks like—but you’re a smart kid. You’ll be okay.”?

        How many times have WE been told and shown that your FOO issues (“taught to disregard her genuine emotions”) is not a valid excuse for behavior? Is this not the same thing as saying, “Well, he was not loved enough when he was a kid.” ergo, this caused his cheating.

        • She is clearly not okay with the situation or she would not be here. She knows something is wrong, but she is getting alot of bad advice from people who supposedly love her. She is a young mother with three little kids and has suffered the ultimate betrayal of being cheated on while pregnant. I did not read selfishness in her comments; I read fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for her children’s financial security, and most of all, fear of her own emotions. We are all a work in progress and have to learn about life on our own time frame. I think she would greatly benefit from individual counseling to help her figure out why she values herself so little that she is willing to settle for what sounds like, as someone else has pointed out, “death by a thousand cuts.”

        • DTRT,

          Yes after he got his promotion and pre-affair, we were in a bad situation but i chose to trust him and tried to justified his action, he’s too tired or he had too much in his mind etc. I didn’t see clearly, i saw through the rose tinted lens because i trusted him. When we started we had a fantastic relationship, but like many relationship it went downward gradually not in one big swoop. I’m sure you’ve heard of the frog boiling theory, if a frog is dropped in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and ends up boiled instead of leaping to safety. And that’s me. I clinged to the hope that my marriage could get better, if i gave him more space maybe it’d get in right direction but i was wrong.

          Those pain you’re talking about, i have it. The non-stop movies about them fucking in a hotel room with champagne, it had replayed in my mind countless times. I stopped drinking champagne and threw all of scented candles in my house. If i have to write about every single trigger and hatred that i have it’d take more than 10 pages. Remember that this happened 2 years ago, slowly and gradually it subsides, it hurt less and less

          No it’s not about love but about my children. I admit that i’m more in the conservative side about raising children, there’s a lot of scary research and statistics about kids in broken home. Added by social pressure around me, this is why i chose to stay marriage. This is why i’m looking for another perspective

          FBTCP, i’m sorry that you find it disgusting, that’s just a close description and we are all adult here right ? I’m not that stupid to tell my kids about that

          I’m trying to describe my fear and problem in clearest way that i can and maybe that’s why the letter sound pragmatic. I’m not here for affirmation of my action but for genuine opinion. Pro marriage pro r is easy to find but CL’s no bullshit approach is refreshing and rare and that’s why i’m here. To seek the other side’s opinion

          • I hear you, honey. But I lived with a bitter (and narcissistic mother) and a father who was never home–and I ended up with as many “issues” about relationships and marriage as children from divorced homes. It’s about the quality of the parenting–or as my first therapist, a titan among men, told me, “All a child needs is one adequate parent.” As long as you are working at being a plugged-in, loving, and responsible parent, your kids will be fine if you separate.

            The real issue as I see it is the authenticity of your own life. Not in the narcissistic “I need to be happy!!” way, but in the “how can I best live a life wherein my feelings, my actions, my beliefs, and my spirit are aligned?”

            “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver.

          • Stuck, I wrote almost the exact same letter to CL in December. This is a long process. The only person I know in real life, who has successfully reconciled with her husband, told me it really took her about 5 years before she stopped feeling even occasionally resentful and started really feeling love and trust for her husband again. Five years is a long time. I too have 3 children, although mine are somewhat older than yours, and my DDay was about 2.5 years ago. I’m still on the fence about the marriage, and like most here who had young children, am really fearful and cautious about disrupting their intact family. (I know, he is the one who threw the grenade on our family, not me.)

            Why do I choose to stay? It’s not, as DTRT says, from a selfish desire to eat cake and not disrupt my lifestyle. (I actually make slightly more money than my husband… who knows, I might be better off without his medical bills dragging me down!) It’s because I know that we will have a relationship for the rest of our lives, because we have children together, and so I would like to find out what the best possible relationship is. Regaining trust is an incrementally slow process, even when the cheater does all that the consensus here is that he should do. Truly, there is nothing I can point to, to say, you aren’t doing X and if you did do X I would trust you again.

            Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it does take 5 years for trust to return. I’m half way there, and things are incrementally better now than they were 6 months ago, and the 6 months before that, etc. We continue to have marriage counseling 2x/month, including just this morning. If at the end of 5 years, I still don’t trust him, well, my kids are 5 years older. At least one will be launched and possibly two. I have a better job and salary than I did then, and I will also have the knowledge that I did my best to try to make it work.

            I agree with CL that the old marriage we had is over. In fact, I don’t wear my wedding ring at all and never plan to again, even if we stay together, as that ring symbolizes a marriage that is dead. I also agree with CL that this marriage will not/is not “better” than the old one. It’s different and that’s what we are exploring. I would say that your characterization of fuck buddies who co-parent, while a little glib, is pretty accurate. Here’s the thing — I don’t assume that this is the way it will be forever.

            I read a study where people of all ages, from teenagers to seniors in their 70s and 80s, were interviewed about how much they had changed in the past 10 years, and then asked to predict how much they will change in the coming 10. Pretty consistently across all age groups, people were able to look into the past and describe tremendous changes in their lives. Also pretty consistently, however, most everyone only predicted slight changes for the next decade. Kinda funny when you think about it.

        • DTRT,

          I think your tone is uncalled for here. Stuck wrote in with a genuine question about something she is struggling with. Your contempt is not appropriate.

    • “I don’t hear pain or anguish–the way that most of the chumps here have communicated. It’s insulting, actually, to those of us who retch each and every morning thinking of the things that our spouses did ..”

      Just because you don’t hear it, DTRT, does not mean it isn’t there.

      Stuck may be analytical and an internalizer, but I call “foul” on this particular observation.

      On this forum NOBODY’S PAIN TRUMPS ANYBODY ELSE’S.

      Period.

      Ask CL about that….

      • [applause] We’re not here to critique other chumps’ emotional styles or judge them for not being broken enough for our liking. We’re here to share our stories, our pain, our hope, and whatever wisdom we may have.

      • DTRT,

        Please don’t absent yourself from the forum because some of us cautioned you about being careful with others who seem to not be suffering or who might even come across as almost smug.

        I am 6 years out and am well into “Meh”. I post here to try to help those in the more acute stages (like you) to gain some logical insights, to take practical measures that you may not yet see the value in doing, and to begin to internalize that you will NOT always feel utterly destroyed and completely miserable. You believe you won’t survive. But you WILL. And, if you learn and grow, you will not only survive, you will thrive.

        When I was first “nuked”, I wanted to smack my mother in the mouth when she said things to me about how I would eventually completely recover and rebuild my life. What did SHE know? She has been married for 71 years and my Dad (while far from perfect) never cheated or was abusive. I didn’t believe she could not understand the intensity of my emotions. I was wrong. In my obsession with my self, I kept on forgetting (and she did not bring it up or compare) that she had buried my older brother in his early fifties due to a freak accident…. and that she was well acquainted with the protracted grief and trauma that accompanied his death (She and my Dad had unsuccessfully tried to save his life).

        The pain is new and all consuming for you; but we all know that pain and have lived it. Some here more than once—and once was enough for me! We had to fight it in our own ways and for as long as it took.

        I remember the retching; the panic attacks at 4 AM complete with passing out on the bathroom floor; the sleepless nights; the continuous knot in the stomach for months; the pacing like a caged animal; the sheer grief complicated by enormous anger; the loss of 30 pounds in a month; the inability to perform at work; the total frustration of having to deal with someone who lied, attempted to gas light, seemed to not understand English and whose skull was impenetrable to anything resembling reason…..all causing a toxic cocktail of horrible somatic symptoms, total frustration, overwhelming sadness and rage….with homicidal urges thrown in from time to time to spice it up a bit. In retrospect, I probably should have hospitalized myself for about a week during those early stages. But I survived and you will, too. My pain doesn’t trump anyone else’s nor does my recovery. ALL who experience this suffer unbelievably… whether others see the suffering or not.

        Right now you may feel like you have “stepped in it” here. That is not the case. It’s OK to feel as crushed and crazy as you do. Like any wounded animal, this kind of pain can make us quick to lash out (sometimes inappropriately) and I have done it, too. So, again, don’t feel like you are the only one or that it will be held against you. It won’t unless it becomes pervasive and chronic.

        Try to keep in mind that online we can read the words but we don’t have the huge advantage of seeing the face of the writer….a visual can be worth a thousand words when quantifying motive and intent.

        OK?

    • Hey, DTRT, I think we need to focus on helping Stuck not insulting her. Sure, her letter has a lot of pragmatic passages, but trying to take objective stock of a situation is not a character flaw–any more than expressing the emotional pain of a situation is. I remember thinking of my EX as a “reliable babysitter, when he showed up” rather than as a partner during the period I was considering my options. I knew he’d get the kids to a doctor if they broke a limb on his watch, but that would be about the extent of what he could be counted on to contribute. I wondered if that level of support was worth staying in a marriage for (it wasn’t), but I had to think my way through the different scenarios available to me before I landed on my own best choice. And it wasn’t a speedy process. The fact that I’m still reading Chumplady three years after I left is further evidence that growing out of that “awkward chumpy stage” hasn’t been quick for me either.

      My advice, Stuck, echoes some of what has already been said–don’t rush. Think about what kind of job and life you’d like to have if you left. Think about what you need to do to actualize some of those dreams. Take a college class, put in a job application, start doing things for you rather than for your marriage and then take stock again. I can’t imagine you’ll ever be happy while policing your marriage, but if you let that task go in order to free up space and time for things you want to do, you are likely to discover that either you can trust him again or that it just really isn’t worth it to you to try.

      I do like the idea of asking for a pre-nup. It might give you some financial security to pursue your own dreams and put him on warning that you have no intent to even experiment with reconciliation should he cheat again.

      • ” I can’t imagine you’ll ever be happy while policing your marriage..”

        Right on, Eilonwy!

        Being “marriage police” is assuming responsibility for the behavior of another adult. NEVER works. NEVER.

        Therefore, Stuck should not even entertain the notion of being “marriage police.” She should tell him point blank, “It is not my job to be the marriage police and treat you like a helpless child. YOU will need to solve this problem, and I believe you CAN solve this problem effectively. So be thinking hard about it and let me know when you believe you have some workable solutions.” [Then back off, give him some space and see what he comes up with.]

        If he is TRULY remorseful, he will begin to diligently and even cheerfully be his OWN marriage police…and possibly do a damn good job of it. When we experience real remorse we are always much harder on ourselves than others are.

        There are ways to up the odds of him policing himself effectively. And if she is chooses to be “stuck” with him in the interim, why not do it the best way?

        She dumps the problem completely back on his shoulders.

        She calmly (even with empathy) asks him to generate the specifics of how he intends to solve it (i.e. to be transparent, to demonstrate by his BEHAVIOR that he can be trusted again).

        THIS transfers complete ownership of HIS problem to HIM, where it belongs.

        When he comes up with specific suggestions, she should query him up by asking, “And how would THAT work out for US over the long term? Please elaborate.”

        The querying will cause him to THINK as opposed to just dashing off superficial half-assed shit in order to get off the hot seat.

        This process of communication between the will almost certainly need to initially take place and become “practiced” within the neutral space of a marriage counselor’s office. Plus any marriage counselor worth a shit will definitely DO this. Additionally, the therapist can subtly call him on poor “product performance” by asking the question, “Would you like to know what some other people in this situation have done?” and then supplying for discussion: (1) Good, (2) Better, and (3) Best options (in that PRECISE order… because people almost always dismiss the first option out of hand due to initial resistance to assuming responsibility.) [ This technique works really well in helping children learn to assume responsibility, too]

        But until he owns BOTH the problem and the solutions, he is not going to internalize the best way to keep from doing it again. (And he may not ever….that’s always a risk.)

        It is ALL about putting him in the position that he must assume 100% personal responsibility. It’s all about THINKING as opposed to feeling and acting. He has got to do it for himself or he will not learn anything other than the concept of, “Everybody else in this world can solve his or her problems …except YOU.”

        Doing it this way will get her many more answers much sooner about how the next years are going to look.

      • Stuck, if I wrote a letter to CL it would sound very logical and without much emotion because I am introspective and try to be objective and say shit in the fewest words if I were trying to write to an advice person. I totally get that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Please don’t let one commenter make you feel like shit because you don’t communicate the way ze thinks you should. Jedi Hugs!

    • Um . . . I don’t know what kind of day your having, but your response is a bit overboard don’t you think?

      Stand down. This isn’t cake-eating. This is a person with children weighing their options and being very honest about the state of their marriage. If you don’t like the terms used, don’t comment.

      Your post pisses me off. Furthermore, nobody here needs to be reprimanded because they don’t sound “anguished” enough. Get a fucking grip.

      • Agreed. It has taken me a long time to get to a good place and I am sometimes accused of being unfeeling, usually by people who don’t know me. Just because you don’t see someone’s pain, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain. In fact, it has been my experience that the people in the most pain are the ones who “hide” it the best.

  • Stuck – You aren’t just staying in a loveless marriage, you are staying in a marriage where you flat-out don’t trust him, and for good reason, since he betrayed you in the worst way and lied about it. And he doesn’t respect you, period.

    I think staying is the fastest way to become a “bitter” person. You deserve better.

    In my case, staying with my husband (who had cheated on me) was killing me little by little, every day….death by a thousand cuts to the heart. Being out with other families, but knowing that my husband really didn’t respect me and was with other women, killed me on the inside, and it took a lot of energy and joy out of my life. Now, I’m recently divorced, and the split was hard, but I’m moving on. My life will now be authentic, and I’m starting to grieve the dead-marriage and make a real life for me and my three pre-K kids.

  • Today’s column is OUT-FUCKING-STANDING!

    Dear Stuck,

    CL has called you out honestly but gently about the long term ramifications of your choice, and essentially reminded you that you need never forget that you are doing this having had fair warning of what is possible in the future.

    She has reminded you that after weighing the odds (known cheater) and weighing your values (security of the children), that you are taking a calculated risk with a higher than average potential for backfiring and that you have agreed to live with some serious uncertainty…possibly for many years.

    She has pointed out that IF you take this calculated risk, and that IF he cheats again down the road, you probably shouldn’t feel as entitled to raise as much Holy Hell as someone who gets blindsided by cheating with absolutely NO warning. That you need to be prepared to own your enabling of him, if he does it again.

    This is the analysis of a realist and is the best possible commentary that can be made given your choice. She has done this very gently, but do not EVER under-estimate the significance of her advice.

    I would add the following comments:

    Since you have chosen this route for now, you need to learn how to live with uncertainty as gracefully and peacefully as possible. Be prepared to do just that.

    The first and single most important thing to realize and internalize is that: In life there is an opportunity cost (trade-off) inherent in every choice we make. We must acknowledge that these trade offs are an inevitable part of life and we must be prepared to live with them without resenting them.

    Since you have had fair warning and advice of good counsel, and you still don’t believe that [at present] breaking up your family is not really a viable option, the best thing you can do is to work on yourself and your life circumstances so as to create more palatable and workable escape options, should he EVER do this again.

    Because if he ever does it again, it is NOT going to hurt any less than it has the first time.

    If you need help to develop the strength to cope effectively with uncertainty, do not be ashamed to seek professional counseling in order to polish those skills.

    Make slow but steady career preparations to optimize professionall success should you ever be in the position of a single Mom supporting children. [This is a prudent choice regardless of partner fidelity because a widow could easily be faced with the same situation.]

    Learn to set boundaries with him by what you DO–NOT by what you SAY. As my grandfather used to say, “Talk is cheap; but Mr. Do Do gets the job done.”

    Move heaven and earth to secure a fair financial post-nup or agreement of some kind.

    Get some serious counseling (WITH HIM) about his passive-aggressive withholding of sex. (This may sound flippant, but if you have chosen to live with him, don’t punish yourself with sexual deprivation…) If fear of more babies is one of the root causes, make sure you have iron-clad contraception. (But I suspect there may be more to the withholding of sex on his part than just that.)

    And finally, DUMP HIS PROBLEM BACK ON HIS SHOULDERS, STEP BACK AND REQUIRE THAT HE SOLVE IT… in such a way that he does not create a problem for anyone else on the face of the earth.

    Do this with empathy (” Husband, I know it’s a bummer”), and do it gently (“So, what are you going to do to solve this?”) but don’t let him off the hook. He broke it; he needs to fix it. This particular problem is NOT your responsibility. Not now. Not ever. You can only be responsible for fixing your own deficiencies.

    And finally work ON you-FOR you. Not for him. Not for the children. FOR YOU.

    If you do these things, you will gain a confidence that will allow you to feel that no matter what comes your way, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO COPE….efficiently.. if not downright gracefully…from a position of personal power.

    Feelings of confidence always restore a huge measure of self-respect, and they also command respect from others without you having to “demand” respect.

    Good fortune to you. You have chosen the hardest of the hard way.

    • Think of it this way:

      As long as you know that you can completely trust yourself; it is not necessary to totally trust anyone else….including him. Matter of fact, to totally trust any other person is kind of foolish. As the Bible says, “The arm of flesh WILL fail you.”

      • Sorry, typo:

        This: “don’t believe that [at present] breaking up your family is not really a viable option,”

        Should have read: “don’t believe that [at present] breaking up your family IS a really a viable option”

    • Good point about women needing to have financial options. I have a relative who was widowed in her twenties with three small children. She had a tough time but made it because her mother stepped in to help in the beginning and she had the opportunity to retrain for the job market. Not everyone has that kind of support. All couples should plan for how the survivor would go on in case the unthinkable happens.

      As to the sex part–counseling might help, but his behavior seems to my non-psychologist self to speak of a lack of love, a lack of affection, a lack of respect. It may be that he doesn’t have, at bottom, the regard for Stuck that a husband should have, as indicated by cheating while she is pregnant at home with 2 kids; there’s a guy who takes his shot while he victim is absolutely, helplessly vulnerable.

      • I was thinking of you when I read this post, Michael. Staying for the kids and stuff . . . 🙂

        • Yea 🙂 That stuff ran out of bed jumped into my arms this morning and asked “daddy are you feeling better today”?? Does it wash it all away ?
          No.
          But it sure does help.
          The bottom line I keep reading over & over is ,,,,take better care of me so I can take care of them. Its starting to sink in a little, thanks Rumble 😉

          • 🙂 Aren’t they wonderful? Savor and cherish those moments and that joy from and with your precious gift! Since you’ve made a decision to go slowly, let it be enough to sustain you while you work this out, Michael. I admire the strength and patience that I am sure you do not see in yourself some days. Someday, somewhere there will be a faithful, vibrant, loving woman who will treasure you. It has to happen. I just don’t see any other way…..

            • Michael, when a storm is coming, all other birds seek shelter on the ground. The Eagle, alone, avoids the storm by flying above it. ( Keep strengthening those wings.)

    • “The first and single most important thing to realize and internalize is that: In life there is an opportunity cost (trade-off) inherent in every choice we make. We must acknowledge that these trade offs are an inevitable part of life and we must be prepared to live with them without resenting them.”

      THIS was why I have chosen to divorce. I have to be honest with myself, that my husband’s abuse and cheating is a deal-breaker for me no matter how sorry he really is. I cannot have a truly intimate, trusting marriage with him because he has forever changed the way I think of him. He has shown me an evil side of him that I cannot ever forget.

      I don’t want to live with a man who is capable of being that evil to me and my children. If that means that I will be alone and poor starting out, then that is a trade off I will make to stay honest to who I am. I will never have inner peace while being dishonest with myself.

      That is one reason why I was so devastated by his betrayals, because I loved him and wanted to be with him and have things work but I knew that once he had betrayed me on that level I could never have that with him no matter what.

      I have received pressure from some of those around me to forgive him and help make a marriage work with him. But the thought of doing that (and I have pondered much upon it) always makes me feel resentful. On the other hand, although divorcing with children and little money is undoubtedly hard, it feels more empowering to me. My therapist told me to do what makes me feel empowered and that has made a huge difference in my life. I was a victim of his betrayal initially but I am not one now. I will not trap myself with a man I cannot trust and respect. If I stay I will be doing that to myself, trapping myself. I have more respect than that. I am worth more than living like that. I have taken a stand for me and it’s about damn time. I have sucky choices to make but they’re my choices, and my life and happiness aren’t contingent on the whims and moods of a self-centered, immature, ass who appears to believe his actions in life should have little to no consequences.

      Be honest with yourself first and foremost. Take your power back. Best wishes for you and your children.

      • Hawk,

        You carefully weighed your options, decided what was “too much” of an opportunity cost, and appear comfortable with your decision. Good on you.

        I think you will agree that when we can calm down and avoid “knee jerk” reactions (even when we KNOW that a divorce is going to be the only solution) we do a better job of being comfortable with ourselves while we get the job done.

      • Well said, Hawk. That is what I aspire to do. I know myself. And I know that I’d never be able to fuck him again without thinking about how I compare to the other woman. As much as I am tormented by by still having feelings for him, I must move forward and away from him. It takes strength and I can see you have it.

    • My first D-day was March 2013, and I chose reconciliation with my XW. Thus begins the pick-me dancing with the stars, the shit sandwich buffet etc etc trying to bring our relationship back together again. D-Day 2 was in December 2013 although I was conscious of warning signs before that I chose to ignore. That was it for me and separation began immediately. Notyou talks about the opportunity cost of reconciling and I can honestly say I totally regret the time, energy, money, and effort I devoted to the reconciliation attempt doomed to failure, followed by the humiliation of it all. I feel so stupid. All I did was educate her how to cheat more secretly underground, and off to another OM she goes. Notyou also talks about the pain the 2nd time around is not any easier, and in my case I found it dreadfully much more painful. During reconciliation I filled myself with a false sense of hope that we can repair the damage and someday get back to a new normal, so I didnt face the reality right away. The 2nd D-Day it was horribly painful where I finally had to face the reality of the situation and dealing with the grief. Therefore, it sounds to me in Stuck’s case that the marriage is likely over, and to stay for other reasons will only prolong the pain, or make it worse including the humiliation and delayed grief of it all. I wish I could take back time.

      • “During reconciliation I filled myself with a false sense of hope that we can repair the damage and someday get back to a new normal.”–You say it all right here. The chump has hope/false hope/hopium that “we” can repair the damage. But the “we” is trying to repair what only the cheater damaged or broke, and the cheater was one foot out of the marriage in the first place and is getting “reconciliation” without actually demonstrating any change. So sorry, though, that she didn’t appreciate the gift you gave her of trying again.

  • Stuck,

    Almost anyone can get married.
    Almost anyone can STAY married until death.

    Even highly dysfunctional/abusive people can get married and STAY married for many years. It doesn’t take any special skill or knowledge to get married. Simply meet the MINIMUM requirements set forth by your state and voila!

    But getting married and/or staying married doesn’t mean you have a **MARRIAGE**.

    So ask yourself if you want to be MARRIED or if you want a MARRIAGE.

    If you want the latter, then trust is essential.

  • That is about the best analysis of the situation that I have read. Staying married and being married are two completely different things.

    • I agree, I think this is the best ‘get out of jail’ reason I have heard for a while on why you should call time on a ‘marriage’ that exists only on your certificate.

    • Louise,

      “Staying married and being married are two completely different things.”

      That statement is so simple yet one of the most profound things I’ve heard. Thank you.

  • Oh Stuck, I hope for the sake of your kids you find a way to detach from this knob! It is my belief that your are recreating the scenario you most fear – bitter mother, indifferent father for your own kids.

    Would you want your children stuck in a relationship like yours? Aren’t you modelling the dynamic and set-up you despise. Your ‘friends’ and your mother are not being supportive. I suggest you try to find people who have some empathy – but maybe you’re not ready for empathy. Maybe you think that this shitty life is all you deserve. Maybe reality hasn’t bitten you yet.

    Listen to Chump Lady, you’re on the wrong train.

  • Saddened to hear about the death of Maya Angelou. I have always found her words encouraging.

    For the day that’s in it…

  • Hi, i just want to say thank you for your perspective and supports. Many of what CL and what everyone wrote here totally give me a different POV, to dissect the problem and possible outcome from different angle. I really appreciate it

    • Stuck, I lived the life you are choosing for decades. He was always cheating, hitting on other women constantly, enjoying the cake at home. And I stayed because of the kids. Sacrificed my own self respect, and ‘settled.’ In the end, he left me and the kids anyway – finally found that AP to leap off on to. I have felt embarrassed, ashamed, angry, hurt, etc., and my kids, well…they have called me on the years of spackling. So I know that conflict you are living with. I lived a parallel life with my ex. Went through the motions for many, many years.
      Now that I am a year or two out, I guess I still don’t know if I would have done it differently. I can’t say it was all a waste. What I do know is that I am rediscovering the self that I had buried…that real happiness is returning…that it is a relief to be free of him and yes, the lack of trust, the lack of respect, the contempt we had for each other, glad to be free of that. Like, I loved what CL said about having a ‘marriage’ v. an ‘arrangement’ Exactly. Who are we to tell you that an ‘arrangement’ isn’t right for you.
      But I think you will be mad at yourself in the end if you ‘settle’ for this. I think it will erode your own feelings about yourself and your self respect. I see my adult kids happier because I am happier. I know they respect the fact that I WAS their one good parent, I still am, and that as a person, I am prevailing over the big life change that divorce brings. They knew the truth all along, but they had bought into Mom’s spackling because they trusted me. Eventually, those things collide, and we have had some rough times ourselves. I regret not being stronger and leaving their dad sooner – for their sakes. He was a liar, and I lied right along with him. So I am responsible for that.
      You are going to have to be responsible, too, for your choice, that’s all there is to it. I think you know that. You seem to have your eyes wide open. Like I said, though, I think you will regret it more and more, and you’ll just really be pissed at it. That’s where the bitterness will come from, not from getting divorced. And you’ll only have yourself to blame. You know what you need to do, really. But I would never judge your choice because I did it, too – except for the ‘benefits’ part. That ended long ago.
      I think lots of people figure out how to co-parent well. I bet you can, too. Try that. And be a mighty single mom. I bet you’ll do great at that, too. Trust that your kids can handle anything, as long as you are right there with them, every step of the way. Kids are pretty amazing.
      We’re here for you!

  • Hi Stuck,
    I just wanted to say that the break-up of a family is very hard but things do get better with time. If you are not happy with your husband then it would be the right thing to ask for a divorce and try to make a plan where you do get child support and help with child care. It is a scary road and there is suffering, but like ChumpLady says, you would be at the helm of your own ship. You make your own decisions and don’t stay with someone who cheated on you in a moment where you were the most vulnerable. It is liberating to get rid of that weight on your shoulders and focus on what you need. If you are happy, your children will be happy.

    Good luck to you!

  • Hi Stuck,
    There’s so much stuff you mentioned that makes a happy marriage with this guy impossible. You already sound resigned to the fact that although you think it’s better to remain together for the kids, it’s obvious your heart isn’t in it. You don’t need to ask if you should trust him again. You already know you can’t.

    Tell your “friends” that you CAN do better than this and no, you don’t need to be “grateful”. Tell Mom, “Thanks for the “support” but it’s OK if I worry about myself now because obviously hubby wasn’t.” Tell all of them too stop projecting their own fears and inadequacies onto you.

    What is it with people? I’m so fucking sick of this attitude that the chumps need to overlook this “mistake”. And we get it from all sides. I make mistakes when I buy the wrong kind of batteries for my remote, a mistake is painting and getting a little on the trim. But no, a stray penis inside my vagina isn’t a mistake. It’s deliberate.

    Don’t allow yourself to live a fake life with a guy you obviously wanting to be rid of. You deserve to be happy. Don’t waste your life. We’re not going to be here forever . . .

    • “What is it with people? I’m so fucking sick of this attitude that the chumps need to overlook this “mistake”. And we get it from all sides. I make mistakes when I buy the wrong kind of batteries for my remote, a mistake is painting and getting a little on the trim. But no, a stray penis inside my vagina isn’t a mistake. It’s deliberate.”

      THIS!!!

            • I’ve always loved that line out of some movie, and I’m not good at this quoting, but it was something about how you HAVE TO lift a hip up at some point to get your jeans/panties off. pfffft

  • I forgave my husband 22 years ago when our daughter was 6 and here I am now with the same fact pattern. He never stopped the cheating. It just went really underground.
    99% of cheaters do not change. Their behavior just wears you down. The only answer is to leave or throw him/her out. Your kids will recognize you as the real parent and grown-up. There is a bright future for us!

  • Stuck, if all you want is your kids Dad in their life and you don’t want him to move out in order to maintain that, there are alternative scenarios. Consider divorcing and living as room mates, no more fuck buddy, get free to find someone who will cherish you. Or, open your marriage, you share child responsibilities and finance and you are each free to find your own romances. If you do either of these, you will need to explain to your kids the arrangements (age appropriate). But honestly, if you don’t leave or find some third way? I have to agree with others; you will become the bitter person you fear.

    as far as your husband doing “everything right” per the IRC? Yeah, about that. My ex did the same thing the first time I caught him cheating and then we continued for 10 years before I caught him again. I cannot get the years back. I actually did believe in the unicorn, I did regain my trust in my ex and thought we were OK. Liars, they lie – they don’t stop lying, they get better at it. I am certain my ex stopped cheating for a few years, I am equally certain it was done to keep me and as soon as my trust was back he started again. The second time around he had lost all respect for me, he thought he could do whatever he liked and I would stay. He was dead wrong. BUT, I repeat; I can never get those 10 years back…

    • Why do they stay if they’ve lost respect for us or no longer love us? We know about the AP so why not let us go and go live your wonderful life with them? And what about the AP? Do they respect them? Do they respect someone who is willing to help them commit such an atrocious act of betrayal?

  • Hi Stuck,

    I don’t envy your choices here. Having three young children and doing it alone is a huge challenge.

    I can relate on some level because I went the reconciliation route when I found out about my ex’s affair. It (reconciliation) lasted 3+ years in total but truthfully only about a 1.5 years in earnest (on my part). Though I am a mom, my children are adults and if I’m completely honest with myself, I would say that fear of doing something different after 23 years was my primary motivator to stay.

    At the 1.5 year mark after dday, he received yet another text from the OW that I discovered while playing the role of marriage police. He claims he didn’t know it was there, but I believed then and still do that he just forgot to delete it. He said he understood why I didn’t believe him but threw his hands in the air and told me he didn’t know how he could fix that. I said ‘you could get the usage details of your phone for the last year from your employer” He put me off and put me off and then told me he didn’t want to tell people at work about his personal life and that would be too much of an inconvenience. I could literally feel the wall that was erecting around my heart at that moment. I cut him off emotionally, physically (unless I was super drunk) and thought I was protecting my heart but I was really only hurting myself.

    Here’s the thing, stuck. Cheaters are typically too cowardly and passive-agressive to let anyone know what’s bothering them. They just know they are entitled to their happiness and instead of telling us what’s wrong, they cheat. Trust me, your husband notices that you’re not “all in” but he will never tell you that. He’ll just catalog it in his ficticious list of grievances he has and use it against you when you have dday number two.

    I didn’t get a dday #2 because I asked for a divorce before it could happen. It was then, and only then, that the ex confessed that he was unhappy too. He agreed to the divorce but asked me to stay through the holidays. Why? So he could set up his soft place to land. He established multiple dating profiles and started dating while I was still living in the house. He thought about contacting the original OW but ultimately decided he was “mad at her for returning to her passionless marriage” after he decided to stay with me???

    So I guess technically, I did get my second dday but I had a foot out the door. I’m not gonna lie; it didn’t hurt any less because he kept demonstrating he had zero respect for me. Even worse; by staying with him after dday number one and hanging on through the holidays so he could set up his soft landing I showed zero respect for myself.

    You should know what you’re potentially getting yourself into-I think CL and chump nation has given you a pretty good idea. I don’t remember who said it but I think it’s always a good idea for a woman to be financially independent; to be prepared for the worst. In addition to a career, you should consider a post nup agreement that guarantees a fair settlement in the event he cheats again.

    I have to agree with CL though. You need to be all in or all out for your own sanity. Though some would argue that it’s not fair to the cheater to never trust them again (too bad); I think that’s way more unfair to you! Trust is the only way you can experience an intimate, caring, loving relationship.

    Good luck.

  • Stuck, when I was in that difficult place, wishing and wishing I could save my kids’ intact family, I asked myself;
    Is it realistic, given who he IS and who I AM, that we will one day again have that loving, caring, trusting relationship?

    You said your ex was already a crappy husband before the affair; how likely is that to change, long term?

    My ex disrespected me in SOOOO many ways, even long before DDays #1 and #2 (8 years apart), that I realized the cheating was just the boot that got me out the door. I needed to show my kids that I would not put up with being treated like that, I needed to show them what a healthy parent looked like, even if I couldn’t give them an example of a healthy marriage.

    I realized that what I wanted and what was realistic were two different things, so I decided to go with reality – it tends to work out better!

    And it HAS – 2 years almost since I confronted him and kicked him out, and life is SO much better without him! For me, and the kids too …

  • I’ve been in reconsiliation 1.5 yrs, and I’m starting to trust more, but it will never be where it was before. Stuck, your letter about just being parents with sex seems sad to me . I didn’t want that kind of life, I wanted a happy future together throughout old age if we were going to get through the pain from his cheating and lying. Our marriage before was more about the kids, and we never seemed to work on us. Rarely did we talk about the future. You have to own the reconsiliation thing, if you believe the cheater is over the affair completely. I marriage police some, but less and less, because there has been nothing wrong each time I have checked. He never gets angry with me about checking up on him either, he says it’s completely understandable.

  • Stuck-I may have a different take on your letter than everyone else and what I took away from it is you have a lot of fear inside you and that you are sacrificing your life and happiness to keep up the appearance of a normal, loving family and keep a roof over your children’s head. I completely understand Stuck, I get it……..I am like you…….I have a pre-k child, no job, any no where else at the moment for us to go. Yes, it is easier to stay and fein indifference to the cheater husband and put on the act of happy, loving family to everyone in the outside world but at what cost Stuck? What about YOU? What about being YOU being happy & YOU living your life to the fullest? That is the best role model for your young children. You need to put the focus on YOU and mending the broken YOU. Stop being afraid of the stigma of your children coming from a broken home-it is not a reflection of you, you did not break the marriage-your cheater did. Plenty of great people come from divorced families-what will make your children great is you. You have the opportunity to show them about real love relationships and what true respect looks like. Yes, it will be hard but your children will thrive because of you. As much as you want to believe that you can stay and act out the happy wife/family routine-it won’t last. The anger, resentment and hurt will permeate and affect everything you do and say until it festers to the boiling point. You will end up dying a slow death every day until it overcomes you. Don’t let your children be a witness to this terminal disease…….

    I say CHOOSE LIFE!

    In my own situation, although I am temporarily stuck with the fucktard-I am 100% going to divorce him and the game plan is in action. There is no way back from the cheating, lying, porn, hookers, etc. (which he is still doing by the way) Just having to deal with him right now on a daily basis is draining for me-I couldn’t imagine doing it for the rest of my life. I have removed the focus off of him & his theater of drama bullshit and am focused on me (and my son) I found a therapist & got some artificial MEH which is working wonders. Yes, my future as a single mom sometimes seems scary to me yet other times, it seems exciting. I know I have a lot of life left to live and I’m excited about new possibilities. My son will get to see and know the real me-not the verbally beaten down subserviant version of me that I let stbx mold me into.

  • He can be a good dad that is divorced. It’s easy to be a “good dad” when the kids are little, because it really isn’t a give and take relationship. Young kids just love their dads.

    Another way to think of the future is this. People who have affairs do not have good friends. You may spackle, but others, once they know about it, put the car in drive and move as far away as they can from someone with those ‘values”. No married couple wants to be friends with a known cheat. Leads to a lonely life.

    • Hmm…several years out, I am finding many married, couple friends are over time ok to be friends with a known cheat and his GF (now wife). And be friends with me, too. I am finding that you just have to let it go. They know the score and I think in their hearts they feel differently about him, and are not real respectful of her. They are fairly protective of me, so I have to accept their stance on this or loose some friends who are pretty good to me. You can only rationalize that they have no idea how devastating this is. It’s hard.

  • Forgot to add…..this part..

    “but my kids really missed him so I let him came back. ”

    You are not taking responsibility for this decision. They could have visited him wherever he was, he could take them out for meals, talk to them on facetime. You are not owning this.

    This will lead to the bitterness you resent in your mom. You will tell the kids “but I did it for you!” When you actually did it for yourself. You are spackling your own behaviour.

  • I like to say I “forgave” my husband the first time he cheated. We went to counseling, he made all the promises of never doing it again, although he never really admitted having cheated, and yet, it continued. And I stayed. I pretended to look the other way. I pretended that “we” were good. I pretended that I wasn’t checking up on him. I pretended that we were happy. I pretended and he continued to do what he always did. And, I suppose I would still be there today if there hadn’t been another cheat with another woman. I supposed I would still be there if I hadn’t taken a real stand and moved out of the bedroom. He didn’t know what to do when I did that so he thought he would challenge me and asked me for a divorce. I think he thought it would frighten me into pretending again. I guess I was just waiting for those words to be spoken because a month later I moved out. While I was sad that life as I knew it was over, things that I had wouldn’t be mine anymore, I was HAPPY! I didn’t have to check up on him anymore (even though I still do just because I can and it pleases me to know that he is cheating on her.)

    I would still be there, still be unhappy, still be pretending. Anyone can pretend. It won’t make you happy. It won’t fulfill you. And, to what end? So you can mark time? So you can have “things”? Life is too short and if you think your children don’t feel it, believe me, they know. They see what is going on in their home.

    The sorriest fact is this: You are cheating yourself out of life. A life of respect for yourself because I didn’t respect myself. If I did, I wouldn’t have allowed this fuckup to fuck with my life. I would have dumped his sorry ass the first time I found out. Instead, I made excuses.

    If he’s a good dad, he will be one whether you are married or not. I’m telling you he wasn’t a good dad. He was taking time away from them to be with her. It wasn’t just you that he was cheating on, he cheated on them too. And, what about the 3rd child? He cheated while you are pregnant? Not my description of a good dad.

    Do what you will but you will never look at him the same, never feel the same, never be the same. You can’t. Being the police reminds you everyday of what he did. As long as you remember, you can’t let it go. And if you can’t let it go, your life will never be happy. Move on. Find your happiness.

  • I went through a fake reconciliation for about four months. After I discovered that he was still in contact with OW (actually I busted them together) I pulled out the rug and never looked back. It was after all that happened that I discovered CHUMP LADY, and she validated every thought and experience I had, and I have NO REGRETS. I am proud that I finally reached the point of “I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS anymore.” Chump Lady is so relevant and so “on the mark” that it is mind-blowing. She truly knows a Chump’s experience……
    I have no regrets trying to reconcile, but I am more proud of the fact that I walked away from being a chump-even before I learned (through Tracy) what a Chump was.

  • Such great advice here for Stuck! It’s better than have 1000 therapists IRL in a room to help here because we’ve got time to think and absorb each comment. Bravo Chump Nation!
    Good luck to you, Stuck. I’ve only got me and several large dogs to think about and no – asshole left them also when he fucked the ho, so he doesn’t get to see them anymore. Sorry! Too bad it can’t happen as easily with kids. But, having the control is nice for a change. You do have a lot of control with child support as they have an actual formula for that and sounds like your H has resources to provide for you. Use those courts in your favor, including visitation. Good luck and I’m sure you will keep searching your soul for what you think is right – and then it will be.

  • CL, I think the problem with your advice on this one is that it makes it pretty much impossible for anyone ever to fix their marriage after infidelity. It makes sense that a lot of people can’t fix their marriage because the cheater isn’t sorry. It also makes sense that a faithful spouse might not want to try to fix things. That doesn’t mean that fixing things can never work.

    I don’t know if you should trust your husband, Stuck. I think changing his job says a lot about his willingness to put the marriage first.

    I don’t think it’s possible to trust quickly if someone has betrayed you. I don’t think you have to choose between being able to trust him immediately or giving up on him. I don’t know how long it should take or how long you should be willing to give it.

    I can understand why you would stay for the sake of your kids. It is a big deal to split up a family and divorce won’t get rid of the conflicts. However, I also think that if you are going to be miserable and never trust him again, it’s not going to be good for them. Also, it’s not selfish to get a divorce after you’ve been cheated on.

    Anyhow, Stuck, I don’t have an answer for you. I think the key is figuring out whether or not you really want to stay with him and think it’s worth the suffering. Can you love him and trust him someday in the future?

  • Stuck, if you do want to stay together, you might want to try a romantic get-away. Sex with a co-parent doesn’t sound that great.

  • Stuck, I’m in the early stages of rec.

    I know I will have to work on the trust part. However, it does not mean that you have to depend on him, or be rash.

    Personally, what I am doing, is I am preparing an exit strategy, so that IF my trust is misplaced, I can leave. That does not mean I will not engage in the rec process less than 100%; I am choosing to do this ONCE. But I will still protect and care for myself and my son, and be prepared in case it is false.

    • CITS, I am curious. Isn’t that really stressful? Do you really think you can ever trust him again? Won’t you always be looking over your shoulder? It just sounds as if you are preparing yourself for the inevitable.

      • I am also in early reconciliation, Chump in the Sand…if it can be called that. D-Day was a little over a year ago, and I have just decided in the last couple of weeks to give it (the marriage) a fair shot. When I say early, I MEAN early – lol! I just last week agreed to speak to him (in counseling) about being together. We are not “together” now, and he is not yet aware that I am considering it. I know he will jump at the chance if I let him, but I am taking things very slowly, moving at a pace that is right for me. Our counseling appointment is for June 11th.

        What you said really rings true for me – preparing an exit strategy, ONCE, and keeping it in place no matter what. Doing what I can to protect my future, the future of my kids, and being prepared for worst-case-scenario while hoping for the best.

        @ Tonya – I do not find it stressful, no – not in the sense that it makes me anxious. I have spent a year working on ME, putting myself first, working on MY future, working through grief, working through the betrayal…I did all this without him, just as he has worked on himself without me. I know without a single doubt that I will not be chumped again. When I say that, I don’t mean he will never cheat again – I can’t possibly know that. But I do know that I will not be a chump about it if it were to happen. I am mighty. I will be fine. My kids will be fine. There will never be a third chance. I know my worth. I trust MYSELF (which is what it really comes down to anyway, but that is a long topic better covered elsewhere).

        I have no fresh insight for Stuck. It is the same insight that others have said, and said better (doesn’t make it less true).

        Know what you are worth. Know what you can handle. Ask yourself if you can live authentically the way you are living, and answer yourself with brutal honesty. Ask yourself what you want to show you children about life, love, forgiveness, trust, and commitment. Whatever that is, LIVE it, because they will make their life choices based on what you DO and not what you SAY. Know what you require in a relationship, and don’t settle for less for the sake of anyone else, not even your kids.

        Answering these questions for yourself may leave room for reconciliation for you, and it may not. If it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to walk away, and don’t let fear keep you from doing it. Your life will be great, even if it sucks for a while. You will be fine, because you are mighty. Your kids will be fine because you are mighty.

        If the authentic answers to all these questions DO leave room for staying with your cheater, then you do eventually need to accept that you absolutely do have to trust him again to make it work. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, or even next year…but the day will come when you have to let go and trust him, IF true reconciliation is what you want. Otherwise, the lack of trust will be a yoke around his neck and yours that will eventually wear one or both of you out.

        Hugs to you!

  • This chump had never heard the train analogy before. I think I’ve used it half a dozen times already – it seems to be relevant to so many areas of my life right now.

    Rock on, Chump Lady!

  • Best post ever learning a lot! not ready yet to share my story of false Rec. but will soon. Thank you all.

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