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Dear Chump Lady, Why am I stuck?

inert_chumpHi Chump Lady,

I’m currently on the fence living with a two-time cheating wife. We have been married for 25 years now. Both married in our late 20s. We have two children and are about to be empty nesters. I am a physician and my wife has always worked part time as a nurse until two years ago.

At that time two things happened that stressed our relationship. One, my daughter ( 15 years old at the time) was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a suicide attempt and the revelation of other self-injury behavior. This was a shock to both of us and especially my wife, who seemed to always take great pride in her perfect little family and her perfect children. I grew up in a home which had issues with depression and I made sure our daughter had the professional help she needed to recover.

My wife, however, did not deal with this very well and she began to drink more, started going out with her friends more, and quit her job as a nurse and went back to school to become a financial advisor. Her selfish, narcissistic traits, which always been there to some degree, became much more pronounced. Still she had never given me a hint that she would cheat on me except for a bad tendency to tell me periodically about how many men at work  were hitting on her, telling her how pretty she was and trying to get her in bed.

I always tried to act cool when she said this to me and didn’t act jealous, although of course I was inside. Then her first confirmed affair came to light a year ago almost to the day. A Cinco de Mayo party at the bar near her work where she met one of my best friends “just for a drink.” It turns out he had a local motel room all ready for them but she still says to this day that she turned down his request for sex and had no idea that was what he wanted. I don’t really believe her, but I have no proof whether they went there and had sex that night or not. At a minimum they flirted, kissed, and met at a bar without my knowledge and lied about it.

She had been caught many times prior, and a few times since, flirting heavily with him and kissing him at parties at our own own house and other friend’s houses while we all had a few drinks and she always said it was the alcohol that “made” her do what she was doing with him. I consider this at least a strong EA and probably a PA. I was informed about the motel by my “friend’s” wife who actually hired a private investigator. Obviously she had her suspicions too. Well, finally after a few months this all came out and they have not met alone and have acted respectfully when together at social gatherings. I figured, okay, after 25 years of marriage, I can live with some heavy flirting and even a one time motel visit, if that is all this was. However, she always minimized this affair saying it was no big deal and blamed it on the fact that my friend was a player, which he is, and she had been drinking.

So, we come to affair #2, the “real” affair. In late July, only a few months after the above affair, she accidentally ran into the brother of her old boyfriend from college while out with the girls again at a local music festival. She had dated this boyfriend for several years just prior to us meeting and had become very close to him. She left him because he became a cocaine user and eventually a cocaine dealer to support his habit. During this time, I have now found in retrospect, that she used cocaine with him every weekend for years and became very comfortable with the weekend binging with cocaine lifestyle. All this while she was going to nursing school!

Well, now go to the present, 25 years later, and this guy’s brother asks her if she would like to call him after all these years and gave her his phone number. Long story short, she did call him that night, he drove out to meet her, and they went to a hotel and did cocaine and had sex, just like the old days. She didn’t come home until 9 a.m. the next day.

She had never done anything like that before in our 25 years of marriage. I was very worried about her that night and called her many times that night but no answer. She lied about what had happened of course, and said she was sorry she drank too much and passed out on a friend’s couch. Over the next several weeks I became suspicious and started becoming a detective. As time went on I caught her meeting him multiple times, and their affair continued. She lied right to my face numerous times to keep the affair going. Not only did she meet him to do cocaine and fuck, but she professed her love to him and said she had always loved him. He treated her like gold and said the same back to her. She was the one he shouldn’t have let get away, blah blah blah.

Timing on this affair couldn’t have been worse (if they ever are) because we were just about to leave on a wonderful 2 week trip to Europe for our 25th anniversary. I was very tempted to cancel but my hopium kicked in, and I thought if we went we could re-connect and maybe save our marriage. Well we had a decent time on the trip but during times when she could get a cell phone connection she texted him behind my back, even saying that she wishes he was here with her instead of me. Finally, after 8 months of lying and cheating with him, meeting him at bars and going to motels all night, I finally left her and moved out and started divorce proceedings. I had told her many times during those 8 months that she was crossing an unforgivable boundary and if she saw him again I would divorce her. She would cry and promise no more, and then see him all over again.

After I had left, she broke down and started crying every day, calling and texting me that she was a fool and wanted me back and truly only loved me. The whole groveling begging thing began. She started doing all the things that they say in those reconciliation books that she would need to do to help me forgive her and try to start over again. She began to look like the mystical unicorn in all it’s glory. After weeks of this I finally started to feel that maybe, maybe she was being sincere and I should give it one more try. I moved back home and for the last month now she has been the beautiful unicorn. I must also mention, that my daughter, who loves me more than the world, and is much closer to me than my wife, was showing some signs of getting depressed again and this, of course was a big part of me moving back in to our home.

On one hand I feel that maybe she has come out of her fog or mid-life crisis, or whatever it was, and she has learned her lesson and we should do the hard work of reconciliation. On the other hand my deep inner self and gut tell me that she went too far and that I could never truly love, respect, and trust her again. I’m still checking on her phone and being the detective and it’s obviously been very, very painful.

Do you think that what she did could have just been a midlife event and that she now might truly be that elusive unicorn or is this just the typical reaction when they finally realize that they are about to lose the dream and the cake? Do most cheaters grovel and plead and beg only to go back to their old ways when things have calmed down?

Thanks for listening and any help you can give me.


Dear ICBI,

I don’t believe in the fog or in mid-life crises. I believe in character, and that’s shown over time. From what you write, your wife has had issues with “narcissistic, selfish traits” over the course of your marriage. Case in point, aside from the cheating, she responded to her daughter’s suicide attempt with drinking. So a kid who needs psych help and stability gets a mom who enjoys “girl’s nights out,” being inappropriate with men, fucking around with men, and alcohol and cocaine abuse.

Let me connect the dots for you — she responds to your daughter’s pain and makes it about HER pain (loss of her “perfect family”). She takes this crisis as carte blanche to screw around — leaving you in an absolutely horrific position. You are oh so conveniently hostage to her shittiness, because you don’t want to rock the boat. You need to be the rock who holds the family together. You don’t want upset your daughter’s fragile emotional state further, which is one of your stated reasons for taking her back.

Oh, that and she’s real sorry.

She’s not sorry. She’s sorry about the loss of cake. She’s sorry the consequences were starting to be imposed and if she trumps up some genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse you’ll come back. She hoovered you.

How do I know hers isn’t a true unicorn heart? Because this isn’t her first rodeo. She continued affair #2 for 8 months in front of your face while you begged her not to. And she totally lied to you about affair #1. As you didn’t provide further details, I’m assuming she didn’t give them to you. She’s still minimizing her affairs and lying to you. Grown ups don’t go to hotels to hold hand and recite Bible verses. They go to hotels to fuck.

You spackled affair #1 (what’s one night in a hotel after 25 years together?) — which fed her entitlement to indulge in affair #2 — and some blow.

Are you feeling the sorry?

Next you get uppity. Now you’ve had enough. So you file, you end the crazy train. She hoovers you back.

And you write to ask me if she’s sincere this time.

I don’t think she is, but let’s say for the sake of argument she is. Let’s say she sobers up and quits screwing other men. Okay, you are left with a woman who does NOT respect you.

She has tried over the years to goad you into the “pick me” dance — aren’t you jealous? Other men want me! NOT respectful.

She rewarded herself with a second affair after you forgave the first one. She does not respect you.

She enjoys girls nights out and acts like a single woman, giving her phone number out to men. She does not respect you. 

She flaunted the second affair in your face and refused to believe cake would end. She does not respect you.

Do you think she respects you now that you threatened divorce and have her on a short leash? Do you think that’s a recipe for happy? Now she’s the hostage — one false move and I divorce you. How will you know there’s a false move? You won’t unless you monitor her. So now you’ve got this parental/police vibe going.

The Unicorns would say, oh now she is repentant, now she’s going to own her shit. Except you’ve given me zero evidence of that, because she hasn’t come clean about her affairs. I’m always dubious of the remorse of cheaters in foxholes. Why does it take cataclysmic consequences to manifest their “remorse”?

Oh! I know! Because suddenly the pain is HERS. Your pain, your daughter’s pain, meant jack shit to her. That has been demonstrated clearly by her actions. You told her she was crossing an “unforgivable boundary” — and she crossed it.

Enforce that boundary. I think you clearly sense this is not sustainable. Honor that feeling. My opinion is that she destroyed your marriage and you have no obligation to work with her to fix this. Frankly, I don’t think she’s invested in fixing this, she’s invested in a lack of consequences. So test the depth of her sorry — divorce her and see how long she commits to her path of self improvement.

Did she do rehab and counseling when you filed? Or did she just expend on her energies in hoovering you back? Guilting you about your daughter’s depressive state?

Your wife has major issues and I suggest she work on them without you, while you move on and get your life together. If she’s truly sorry, she should be willing to bear the burden of those consequences. Her “recovery” should not be contingent upon what you do or do not do.

As for your daughter — keep giving her professional support for her depression and bipolar illness.

One lesson you can model to your daughter is — we can’t control a lot of things, but we can control ourselves. Your daughter cannot help her illness, but she can control the degree of crazy she allows in her life. She needs a sane parent. She doesn’t need a cheating cokehead for a mom. You cannot control your wife, but you can control the degree of crazy you allow in YOUR life.

Yes, divorcing her will be disruptive and difficult, but you’ve already started that course. The back and forth and instability isn’t good for anyone. All you can do for your daughter is what you’ve been doing — give her professional care and be the sane, consistent parent.

My opinion is you can be the saner, happier, and more consistent parent without your toxic wife. You want to know why you’re stuck? You won’t give yourself permission to save yourself –so here it is — SAVE YOURSELF.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • We have 3 responses to shock/stress/trauma: fight, flight, or freeze. Each has its own reason for being appropriate in the jungle, and when you’re faced with a python, you see, concretely, which response is most likely to be successful.

    Now that we are urban apes, and our stresses are more abstract, sometimes we don’t have as much concrete data coming back to us about which of the 3 f’s is most appropriate.

    Currently, you are Fleeing reality, Fighting your gut which is telling you the truth, and Freezing in the relationship. This is not doing you any good.

    You need to Freeze OUT the wife, Flee her, and Fight your way back to you and your reality.

    And, in that case, you can add a fourth F–fuck it. The relationship, her, the bullshit stories.

  • Physician, heal thyself.

    Get out first, though, because I don’t think there’s going to be any real healing going on if you stick with the victim role you’ve been cast in.

      • I took 2 days after D Day to sort out what I wanted to do away from him. Followed my initial gut of running away and fast, followed by contacting a therapist and seeing my gyno to be tested for all std’s. Worked well for me, left and sorted it all out as well as myself after I left and stopped any more harm from coming my way. NO REGRETS.

  • Hopium is such a powerful drug. It’s incredibly difficult to give up on the kind of life you hoped to have, and the person you hoped would love and respect you. My heart goes out to you because I’ve been stuck in a very similar situation. My ex also constantly “flirted” with other women throughout our marriage, and dallied in emotional affairs, so I know what that feels like. CL hit the nail on the head when she spelled out the reasons this kind of behavior means your wife doesn’t respect you. All I can say is listen to your gut and not your head. You gut knows the truth.

    • Lyn is so right. I was on hopium for years. It has a powerful hold on you. There comes a time, however, when you have to realize that what you saw is who she is, the real person. The crying woman is a façade, look behind the curtain to see who she really is.

      And , for sure, she has no respect for you. Take it from an expert.

      • I agree. Hopium is the worst. It’s so much easier if they don’t try being nice or show emotion. It’s been really hard for me to get my head around the fact that the cheating asshole of the past several years is this same guy who is being considerate and kind right now. I kept wondering which is the real him until my therapist told me that he’s both of those people to what degree his actions indicate. And I don’t get a say in which person he is or decides to be at any given time. So it’s like they’re selling us on how good they can be so we won’t remember how bad they’ve been.

        Do I want to wait around HOPING that he will stay good this time? I don’t think so. It’s time for me to live my life without the fear that he’s going to personality split without warning and disrespect me again. Until I’m all the way out I’m going to keep reminding myself of what he’s capable of when he’s that awful guy, because I hate that guy and I have given enough.

        • ICBI

          Hopium is the worst because it’s addictive and it helps you stay stuck. Infidelity is about a lack of respect. Your wife doesn’t respect you. I’m sorry to be so direct but I speak from experience since my ex husband didn’t respect me. We were married for 27 years and just got divorced this past January. His affair was in 2010 and I smoked the hopium pipe and spackled like the true chump that I am until I realized that he didn’t respect me any more for staying with him. The truth was, in fact, that he respected me even less which he has demonstrated several ways since I first told him I wanted a divorce.

          You know what’s maddening though? Cheating was a deal breaker for me in my younger years. It is for most of us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in our situation say things like “You always think you know what you’ll do in this situation but life isn’t black and white. Things aren’t that simple”.

          Yes, they are that simple! What was so uncomplicated in our early 20s suddenly didn’t get complicated; some of us just lose that fierceness and confidence. Who knows why it happens but it does. When I was in my early 20s, I didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, but I wouldn’t have hesitated for a moment to leave if my ex cheated on me then. More than two decades, a bachelor’s degree and a decent paying career, and it took me three years to finally pull the trigger.

          CL is right. Heal on your own. Let your wife do her own work by herself. Be the sane parent for your daughter and find your fierce self!

          • I also was cheated on in my twenties and it was a deal breaker. What changes I believe is we do have to face the possibility of being alone for the rest of our lives (will be 60 this year), the length of the investment is many times decades, and also the limited time left which is the mystery piece. When you are young, you are quite aware you have your whole life ahead of you, and a mistake of a few years (mine was 5) doesn’t seem that bad with so many years ahead and a large pool of singles.
            Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Dr. should leave too, he has not been given much beyond mind screwing, selfishness and immaturity. I just don’t think we lose our guts so much as our options in life at least appear to be reduced. I am not as optimistic a person as I was in my 20’s, reality is clearer.

          • Yes yes!!! I too feel this way cheaterssuck. I think I was more likely to hang on to my serial flirting cheater later in life because I made a commitment and thought that meant dealing with every hard thing that came up. Also, I put out so much of my love, labor and life every single day and gave of myself so much that it was so hard to believe that my piece of shit ex would act with such cruelty, this opens up the hopium vestibule. I still kind of have it. I ask myself “Are we not all human? Do we not all feel?” For my ex though that answer is: “only for myself, only for myself.”

            Icantbelieveit, you name is very familiar to me. I am with CL. Your wife disrespects you. You have invested a lot, and have taken risks that have hurt you. Please leave this phoney. She will only harm you. Perhaps if you say that to yourself. “She will only harm me”

          • This. Then. Similar timeline. Decades of work. Sweat. The good and not so. The cracks, spackle caked over disbelief after ultimate betrayal.

            Now. Here’s my thank you to self: “Girl, thank you…you got guts and grit. Where you been? Scrape that shit off and be glad you feisty. Get busy livin. Crank up the tunes. Ride.”

  • I agree with ChumpLady and the posters above. You need to start the divorce proceedings, keep custody of your daughter and try to heal yourself from this relationship. It will be hard but hopefully you will get to a better place in the future. Let your wife deal with her own issues without creating more chaos in your home, I think you have been very patient with her so don’t feel guilty about divorcing her.

    Good luck!!

  • Whenever I would bring up anything with my former husband, he would say:

    “Well, it can’t be that bad, because you’re still with me!”

    Your wife will continue to cheat if you stay with her. By staying, you’re giving her permission. It doesn’t matter how many times you *tell” her that she needs to be faithful. Your actions will say to her that what she did wasn’t so bad.

    • This is SO true! I didn’t leave when my ex had his first affair years ago, went full RIC, but ‘told’ him very clearly that he needed to be faithful. Of course he promised to do that. But he conveniently ‘forgot’ about that conversation, when the low-risk opportunity for another affair arose (out of town for work, she was single and hitting on him). He was VERY surprised that I kicked him out, and much more so that I wouldn’t let him come back, no matter what a sad puppy he was. My actions the first time had told him that what he had done wasn’t so bad, and I would put up with it.

      • The comment about low risk opportunity is one I have been considering as a future threat though my cheater seems sincere right now.

        I actually get angry every time he promises to never cheat again. Because he was so awful at keeping that promise the first time I should take on more risk and believe his promise now?

        I think that’s really a sign right there, that CL has posted about. Even the most sincere seeming unicorns are showing they feel entitled to more of a chump’s time and patience. They expect us to bleed for them over and over.

        The fact that I’ve considered staying with mine at any point is lunacy, but thankfully that’s worn off. Now I’m not crazy, I’m just pissed.

      • Boy, isn’t this the truth. My ex thought that since I forgave him with his two affairs, he could just walk back into my life without any issues. He’s still in a state of shock that I didn’t do the pick me dance with the final OW. More like the “how far can I kick you” dance. 🙂

        • A lot of people here refer to the “final OW”. Does that mean the final OW before you left? Or the final OW meaning he married her?

    • Why would you ever have to explain to someone that they need to be faithful? If you have to say that to someone, you are in TROUBLE! LEAVE.

      • This!!! You shouldn’t have to remind your wife that she’s supposed to be faithful. She should know that already. The relationship is not worth it if you have to force the other person to respect you.

        I saw this on one of those snarky ecards, but it’s true. “Marriage is like a fart, if you have to force it, it’s probably shit.”

  • CL is exactly right. Those behaviors are her shouting, “I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU”. If she did, she would consider your needs, feelings and boundaries. You’re not in a marriage of equals when there’s a lack of respect – and you’ll never get that from a Narc. It’s counter to their entire life-narrative and a sign of their disordered character. I’m guessing you’d benefit from some couch-time with a therapist as well. Those disrespectful behaviors can really erode your self-esteem, also contributing to being “stuck”. Those daily digs over the years are death by papercut to you emotionally, in comparison to the sledgehammer of infidelity. She destroyed any trust you had in her, and playing marriage police is agonizing. I think it’s always going to be lurking subconsciously. Save yourself. Best of luck to you.

    • THIS. Marriage police sucks and there’s no peace to be had in it. More investment into the cheater and what she’s doing instead of living your life.

  • ICBI,
    Welcome to chumpdom.
    Sorry you had to hear your wife would rather have been on that anniversary trip with someone else. That’s cruel.
    I’m a bit of a cynic so forgive me for the assumption I’m about to make. Your beautiful unicorn quit her part time nursing job after your child’s diagnosis to change careers as a financial advisor. Odd to me for some reason.
    Sounds more like baiting the hook for financial support.
    Good luck with all and glad you got your child the aid and support needed.

    • Why would that get her financial support? I would have thought the long-term effect would be a higher income?

  • ICBI–first, let me say how sorry I am that you’ve had to join our club. We are wonderful, but I’ll bet none of us wants to be here….

    May I suggest that you are fence-sitting because you are a care-taker? Good physicians are. But reflect for a moment: who really needs your care in this mess? Your daughter. (You didn’t say if you have another child, but if so, that kid needs plenty of caregiving, too.)

    Your daughter needs your care-taking far more than your wife, who, frankly ,sounds pretty messed up. But she’s an adult; she knows how to find resources. And as CL has said she has blown off several chances at remediating her crap behavior.

    Living in in this maelstrom of painful emotion cannot be good for your daughter—or for you. I suggest that you take the hard step and rip off the band-aid. You’ll feel so much better afterward, and so will your child.

    • “Your daughter needs your care-taking far more than your wife, who, frankly ,sounds pretty messed up. But she’s an adult; she knows how to find resources. ” This is one thing that has really irritated me with my husband and these other cheaters. They can readily perform acts requiring calculated deceit and complicated strategy and find the resources they need in order to have their cake when they want it, but when it comes to any positive changes they need to make of themselves in order to be a genuine unicorn, they like to keep it simple–one or two therapy sessions maybe, some studying of their personality problems even, being a better parent perhaps. In the meantime, the chumps and their children are not getting the attention and care they need to heal because the focus is still on the cheater. That’s why I have personally hated being in limbo so much. No matter what, it’s still about the cheater. Oh good another positive change Cheater has made! Great, Cheater was actually where he/she said he was today, the receipts prove it! Look, Cheater is being nice to the children! And on and on.

      I Can’t Believe It, what about YOU? What do you want in your life? You aren’t happy living like this, and you deserve to be happy and healthy and so does your daughter. No matter how good she is being now, you’re still the one taking the risks, losing the time and energy that you could be investing into things that really do make you happy.

      Chump Lady is right when she reminds us that the cheaters are grown ups. Let them have their grown up consequences.

      • Hawk–The inability of cheaters to stop cheating will bleed to other areas of their lives.

        My STBX is what I’d call a fat skinny guy in the sense that his metabolism has always meant it’s been easy for him to eat junk and not gain weight. However, over the past couple of years, his weight has shot up dramatically. He now falls under the category of prediabetic, though he does not appear to be “fat” by any means. His doctor told him to lose about 20lbs, and to limit refined carbs, candy, processed cheese, and starches.

        So what does STBX eat? About 2 lbs + of processed cheese, nearly 2lbs of candy, and either pasta or starches. No attempt to change his diet. So of course, it’s not his fault that he can’t lose weight.

        How does this fit into his cheating? Well, OW called him on the fact that he’s not divorced me yet. His response was that he, like his father, is fated to be torn in two by love. In other words, it’s not his fault that he’s cheating on me and stringing her along.

        At the same time, though, he spends a lot of energy trying to keep up the deceit, so go figure.

        • Lots of us manage to be overweight and honest and faithful. 🙂

          • I think what kb means is that his passing off of responsibility on to other people/things encompasses many parts of his personality and life. Oh it’s not HIS shitty diet that made him overweight, he’s just “doomed” to it. Oh it’s not HIS fault that he’s a cake-eating cheater, he’s just “destined” to this. Ugh…eyerooooolll.

            This is so true though. Cheaters who think nothing of massively hurting others and passing off the responsibility tend to do the same with other things.

            My ex had finally enrolled in some courses at the local community college, which he hadn’t done in at least a year and a half (putting a good deal of time between his first and that time). We’d gotten into a car accident a couple weeks after the beginning of the semester. Since his car was smashed, he dropped out of ALL of his classes. “I can’t get to campus anymore!” he says.

            His friend had offered to carpool with him. But oh no, he couldn’t do THAT, there would be an hour between one class and the next!

            He was just trapped wasn’t he? -_- There was just NOOOOTHING he could do. How could he be expected to wait a WHOLE HOUR on campus between classes so his friend could drive him to class?! It was out of his HANDS y’know…

            Aaaaand of course it wasn’t my fault he cheated, no, we broke up because “he wasn’t happy” and “I’m too unpredictable” and “I just have too many problems I need to work out.”

            …Uh huh…

  • Dude that SUCKS period. CL hit every point dead on. I know how your feeling & whats going through your mind. What is going to happen to my daughter if I leave ? ? Well my question to you ,,, why do you have to leave ? Make her leave. I am sorry but I would not want a liar cheat drunk druggie NPD and God knows what else being the primary care giver of your daughter & I think any judge would and should agree with you. Its hard man,,,, I know how hard it is. I am still there I stayed it sucks sometimes, but when I lay my head on my pillow at night I can close my eyes knowing my boys are safe snug in their beds happy and I got to say good night love you to my sweet pea,, my kids are younger than yours but its still the same feelings your dealing with. You dont want to leave your kids,,,,, so make her get out & get help asap.
    I could babble on about how she should get into rehab and she should,, but this goes beyond rehab and getting sober will it help her yes a million times yes if for anything it will make her a better parent but she has to be commited to living a clean & sober life style and some people are just not ready for that. CL says,, she does not respect you or your kids & she is right my God she is sooo right. I know what its like to be the police the detective the father the house keeper the worker bee etc etc it wears you down because she will just go along and do what the fuck she wants. Man I have so many thoughts I hope some are making sense. You need to stop the insanity & denial TODAY !
    Let me leave you with a starting point for her and make it a NON negotiable. She has to go to rehab asap not some after work group thing a real 28 to 50 day rehab. After she is sober for 60-90 days then start talking to her about what direction you want to go in. But I would not do anything until she has detoxed and started to recover its a deal breaker my friend & you should find al-anon for you & al-ateen for your kids. Your kids know & feel more than you think.

    Its time to be SMART not strong for the kids & yourself 🙂 Good luck.

    • NO, I strongly disagree with the LW telling his wife if she does rehab then they can talk about direction. She will do it, and it won’t be real. BTDT.

      • By direction I ment where she is going to live. I dont think he should take her back but she is and always be mom so. But Yes I agree with you. And what is BTDT ?

        • I think it’s, been there, done that. I agree MichaelD that it’s worth pushing her into rehab for the sake of the children. My husband has stopped alcohol and says he stopped because when me and the kids left he hit rock bottom. How would I know if that’s true? How would I be able to tell if he just made himself stop so he wouldn’t lose his family, and if that was his reason is that enough to make him change for good?

          I relate to staying for the kids’ safety. You know they have a sober sane parent in the home while they are sleeping. It was freaky the times he had them and would drink and a lot of courts are lenient on that shit. It wasn’t that he was drinking it was that he was a total asshole when he was drinking and they weren’t getting to bed, etc. and he would leave them to go get more liquor at night.

          I can say that limbo completely sucks though too. I really just want a grown up man, dammit, I really do.

          • Hawk, I am so sorry ,,, its a really shitty wretched fucked up disease that steals your soul & your life and your families life along with it. There is no cure,,,, if he is not working a good program in AA & he does not have a sponser (lol sorry CL I had to do it,) then he will relapse. He could be in AA and work a program and still relapse but the chances are a hell of a lot less if hes in AA with a sponsor.
            Hawk all of us drunks have diff bottoms. It could be the loss of you & the kids it could be a dui a health issue money issues sex issues the sun comes up issues its raining the game is on,,,,, get the picture. There are sooo many bottoms.

            Until he is ready to accept that he is an alcoholic & believe that a power grater than himself can restore his sanity and then turn his life over to the God of his understanding, he will drink again.
            If it sounds like I am preaching I am not trust me I had a really hard time with the God piece and turning my life over to a high power but once I got over myself it became easy.
            Dont drink go to meetings help another drunk call my sponsor and before you know it your ALMOST normal lol !! Its quite simple,,,if I drink I die period end of sentence, and hurt a ton of people that love me on the way down.
            So if he is going to meetings and he is praying and is on the phone with another sober drunk chances are he is heading in the right direction. If not its a matter of time before he picks up again he might be hiding it from you now & you just dont know it. We drunks are pretty good at that shit.

          • BTDT…BTTSAHMPT … T.

            Bought the t-shirt and had my picture taken… twice.

      • I see what you are saying, using rehab to let her bargain at a chance at keeping her family intact, at being a unicorn? Yeah, if that’s her motivation what are the chances of her staying clean? I have no idea about the drugs and alcohol aspect. Mine already had one relapse which was when the most recent crap happened. Apparently he was an alcoholic when we met (I didn’t know) and gave it up to be with me. Really stayed sober for seven years and then a relapse. So now he’s sober again and this time he says something clicked and he’s lost all the desire to ever drink and this is for real. How the hell would I know? I would just have to keep living and watching the signs I guess.

        Rehab should happen anyway, but regardless of whether the family stays intact. And that’s a sucky dilemma because the chump won’t know if it’s going to be her straightening up just so she won’t lose her family fallback plan or if she’s truly changed. Observing that change takes more of the chump’s time. Sobriety in a cheater gives a strong dose of hopium to the chump.

    • I concur that rehab is a must. Until she gets detoxed there’s nothing to work with, even from a co-parenting angle. For the sake of the children it’s a must.

  • Do you have any evidence of the drugs??? Cuz that is GOLDEN in court. I’m fighting over custody with my X. It’s very bitter and very expensive. Currently he’s being investigated by a court-ordered SW. He smokes pot daily and that is nothing compared to cocaine. You could definitely retain custody of your daughters. She would only get visitation. If you have evidence of the drugs. The affair, they don’t really care about. But the drugs are huge.

    OK- so honestly, I don’t always agree that every time someone cheats the relationship is over. I don’t think every cheater is a psychopath and every cheat-ee is a Chump. However, I think you should leave. She is a psycho. As a mother, if something was wrong with my little one, I would never, ever, ever go out drinking and have fun times with my buds. WHAT??? That she could even dissasociate enough from her child’s pain and have fun when her daughter was suffering is gross.

    • I would have to say though, that every cheater sacrifices their spouse and children to go out and have fun times with their buds. Are they all psychopaths, I don’t know. But they all suck.

      • Yes Hawk, that’s what I see too. It’s escapism. They can’t handle the stress and so they bail on the responsibilities, family be damned. How can I stay with someone who would do this? I fear they will get their act together for a while because they see what they’re about to lose but when the stress comes back in the future ( and it always will – that’s life) are they going to check out again? Do you want to stay with someone like that? What if I get sick or hurt? Is she going to be the nurse or is she going to run away and get high to deal with the stress?

    • My kid was going through a particularly difficult time and I was focused on helping that get better. Ex decided this would be the time to go nuclear with his cheating. I had no idea about any of it but when it all spilled out it was ugly – and he was doing this when his kid needed him most. That tells me all I need to know about him.

  • You can’t unravel her skein of fuckedupness, so follow your gut & step away from the pain & damage she is causing you.

    Your daughter needs to be the focus of your attention – give it to her – not your wife. Her bad behaviour is her choice – not yours. You don’t have to be sucked in.

    Wishing your strength & courage & most of all my best wishes to your daughter.

    • This! Your daughter needs you to be the sane parent. And to be in a sane environment.

  • Hey ICBI – sounds like you and I have the same wife! I must agree with MichaelD – she should be the one to move out. It may be painful to wait her out though. Mine stayed in our guest bedroom for over a year until she finally settled and moved out. Don’t know what state you’re in, but if you decide not to believe in unicorns, find out what your options are for filing. I had evidence of her many affairs and filed based on adultery so I could try to get her out of the house. I didn’t have much on my fuckwit’s drinking so full custody wasn’t an option for me, but if you have evidence of her cocaine use, you may have more of a chance. So sorry you have to go through this. I know exactly how you feel. Tried to “fix” what was wrong with me that caused my wife to cheat for almost 2 years. Couldn’t bear the idea of losing the family life I though was mine forever. Then I started going to support groups and Al Anon and finally woke up. I know feeling like you do now that it is really hard to hear this.

    BTW, you may find local help in divorce support groups and single dad groups. Some of us here have formed local chump groups as well. I couldn’t have done what I did without lots of support from my family and friends so get some real, live support.

    I wish the best for you and your daughter.

    • “I couldn’t have done what I did without lots of support from my family and friends so get some real, live support.” This is important. The mental and emotional whirlwind of torture a chump goes through is too much to bear alone.

      • I agree. I am not religious but have always lived by those golden rules. Along those, “treat others as you would have others treat you….” One of the best things I did was find a Divorce Care support group. You have several issues to think about. Two big deal breakers: drugs and infidelity. Please save yourself and your daughter. Your child’s health should be a priority, it’s amazing how much of our relationships our children “see,” and your wife’s poor choices could be contributing to your daughter’s illness. She loves both of you. Model for her what healthy is. Boundaries are going to be important so start with those. I say get the ball rolling. It’s not that your wife doesn’t respect you, you are not even on her radar! Affairs, a new job, going out with her girlfriends are all signs of checking out. She is not present. Do not waste your time on a woman who will never recognize your worth. I know this shit hurts but get to a lawyer soon. Cocaine abuse is not something you want modeled. It kills people. File ASAP. There is life after being cheated on. I wish you and your children a safe journey.

  • Hi ICBI,
    I think you’re situation mirrors mine in that, I saw things for years that should have been enough for me to fire my X, but I didn’t. My gut screamed at me that something was up, but I didn’t move. I’d weigh leaving him in my mind, but always was too scared to actually do it because I knew my entire life would change and I was afraid of how to move forward with that uncertainty. Now after my divorce, I only wish I would have left him years ago.

    My X would bait me the same way; he would tell me certain girls at work thought he was hot, he would subtly hit on our neighbor, he did lots of skeezy things that there’s not point in even mentioning here. The point is, if you feel it in your gut, the Universe is telling you something. And it sure sounds like you know you need to make a break from her. You’ve got years of disrespect from her to validate your decision. She’s learned that she can treat you like this, and you’ll still come back to her and the marriage continues.

    My life after my divorce is completely mine, free of the bullshit, the drama, the disrespect, and the many sleepless nights laying next to someone that I could never trust. I never thought I’d be so happy. Sure its an adjustment, but I am in such a better place now. Like I said, I just wish I had done it sooner.

  • It’s highly likely that your wife’s narcissism, erratic behavior (BPD?) and selfishness is a major root of your daughter’s depression.

    Time to get the “wife” to move out. She’s hurting everyone. Something tells me there are PLENTY of examples of behavior that might look on the outside to be loving or kind, but upon closer examination is actually all about her, perhaps very underhanded.

    Are you able to turf some responsibility at work so you can be home more? Maybe consider down-sizing your lifestyle? Is your “wife” abusing you financially, too, and maybe divorcing her would give your life a modicum of sanity? Any chance of getting her to go back to work so she can support herself, or helping the court to understand that she quit her job NOT to take care of the kids, but to be able to screw around on her family?

    This stinks, my friend. You’ll get through it. It’ll be a slog for a bit, and then peace.

    • I have never heard anybody say, “Other than the lying, cheating, drinking and drugs, he/she was a great parent”.

      • I cringe when I hear that ‘cheater’ was a good mom/dad.

        A good mom/dad doesn’t indulge in behavior that can tear a child’s world apart.

        No matter how many times she/he tucks them in and reads a bedtime story.

        • Thank – you for your comment Jim – this is exactly where I cringe too. It sceeves me out that we seem to have a double standard where the kids are involved. We teach them from an early age to not lie, cheat, steal, bully, abuse and yet when the parent does that to the spouse, how is it OK – simply because of biology, children are supposed to love someone who can be so downright dishonest and mean? So how do they reconcile that crap? Again, my broken record, – would we expect children to tolerate any other type of abuse??

  • ICBI, I agree with Michael, the courts will ignore many things, but addictions and abuse they will not. Document everything you can about her drug-using lifestyle. Also, if your daughter feels closer to you than your wife, she will, at 15, have a voice in court about who she would rather live with. My kids are 16 and 13, and I was awarded close to full custody because they refused to stay with their Dad. I also agree with the other chumps: spend your energy on your kids, not on someone who has proven to you, over and over, that she needs professional help. If she TRULY cares, SHE will do whatever it takes to fix this.

    • the daughter is 17 now if I read the letter correctly so custody is not a huge issue at this point.

  • Dear ican’tbelieveit,
    For you daughter’s sake, talk to your attorney about what you need to do to get primary custody.

      • If he can get her into rehab that will give him 30-90 days,, ALONE without her in his face and the constant mind fuck that is going on. Then he can take a day to breath talk to a lawyer then make plans without her in his face. He needs to get her out of the house asap, he could even do an intervention,,, fuck her call the whole family in to call her ass on the carpet and out her. Be smart not strong ,,,, ,, , ,,

        • I did an intervention on my ex, all it got me was 25 days and more mind fuck. It gave him time to get sober enough to figure out better ways to fuck me over. Don’t help your wife fuck you over.

          • I agree it can back fire,,,, BUT if he does it right it will give him a month or more head start to get shit done, lawyers moving her shit out of the house put it in storage get his daughter ready for what is going to happen etc etc & not have to deal with her drunk & coked up ass. It will be in motion when she is away, I am still telling him to end it,,, but get her out first. Plus if there is a plus,,,,, she will always be the girls mom and will always be in their lives,, so its just my opinion its MUCH easier to deal with a clean & sober person than it is a person in throws of an active addiction. Just my 2 pennies.

            • I think he should discuss this with a lawyer first, because while the rehab definitely happen even for their daughter’s sake, it might be best to get custody first while he has more grounds. Because getting the wife clean will possibly make it easier to deal with her, it certainly did with my husband, but there’s no guarantee that she will stay that way and it can backfire in the long run if he isn’t protected. I think the lawyer should come first to protect himself and then work the rehab in whatever order will be best for him and his daughter.

            • Michael we had this convo before, you’ve forgotten the first 1-3 months when you have a dry drunk on your hands that is far more nasty then the drunk drunk, at least in my limited experience and my reading up tells me it is not unusual.

              • Yes I remember but if the person is in rehab or fresh out going to meetings working a program it’s not being a dry drunk. If they come right out of rehab & do nothing yes dry drunk and he will be drinking within a month. I am saying to stick her in rehab to give himself room to maneuver without a coke head in is shit every 5 minutes he needs room to breath.

          • I think his wife has to come to the decision herself. The only thing I see it giving him is time, if she agrees. These are the two affairs he’s had evidence of. Her narcissistic traits were there are along. If she’s like most drunks/ addicts she’s probably doing and been doing far more that what she admits to or what he knows about. Maybe she’ll agree to it, but what happens when she slips? I feel terrible for your you and your daughter, I forget your initials. You are too good a man for the treatment you’re subjected to. Let her find her way to recovery (she can look it up on her cell phone) while you file, and get all of the legal, emotional, Alanon/ whatever support you need to get through this and into a life you deserve.

  • Apologies for being off topic but is there any problems with publishing the names of cheating partners and writing about what they did?

    • It has been said here that if it is the truth, it is no slander. But I wouldn’t. Mr Fab and the Downgrade know who they are. In any case, pseudonyms are more fun because you can let rip!

      A lot of the advice is to go No Contact, tricksy when you have kids. But libeling/slandering is contact, of a sort. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lake of vitriol at my disposal, but ultimately, I want to get to ‘Meh’, so I am trying to cultivate not dignifying Mr Fab’s exploits with comment. He already damns himself with his own testimony, which is much more fun to watch!


      • Thanks for your reply. The reason I ask is I was going to write a blog of my experience in part to help me come of terms with everything that happened and in part to expose the actions of this lying cheating bitch. Obviously she is lying to all her friends and family about what happened and I just want to put the truth out there.

        • Personally I think you’re inviting trouble. You crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. No need to go back into the sewer where the cheaters reside. (With apologies to the Shawshank Redemption) 🙂

        • Write a blog, but do it anonymously. I don’t mention my cheater ex here, just my experience of him. There are no links to his ID.

          Your life is your truth. Live your life with integrity and take the high road. Tell the truth to people who get it, like this forum, or write out your own story online.

          IRL if anyone asks you for your story, you tell them the truth.

          But if you blog JUST to malign your ex and set the record straight, people will assume you’re the jerk.

          Emotion sloppiness and oversharing is part of getting over being chumped, but be wise. The people who matter believe you. They think the best of you because of your demonstrated integrity. The people who do NOT believe you — you don’t need them.

          Please don’t try to manage what people think — you don’t control that. You just control you.

          • Thank you for your message. I guess I know you are right. It’s just so hard for me to not want to seek what I perceive as justice. I’m pretty sure she scores pretty highly on the sociopath spectrum and so doesn’t really give a shit about what she has done. Exposing what she has done to people who know her though would hurt her as she has massively hurt me and I guess that is what I am feeling right now. Some days are worst than others, I guess today was perhaps just a bad one… Again thank you for your reply, I really appreciate you input in helping me through this!

            • Yes, the last OW was a bipolar, bat shit crazy, evil bitch. She PROUDLY told her invalid mother whom she lived with – even introduced her to my husband. Then when they were “outed”, she apparently went into overdrive – sharing with her technical college nursing class all the grim details of the affair. She had NO shame. In fact, she kept calling/writing me for 2 1/2 YEARS proudly proclaiming that she had never spoken anything but the truth. Even showed up on my front lawn with a trash bag full of costumes and sex toys which she proceeded to fling around the front yard while screaming about what a liar and shit he was. Ya think?

              I swear, they all have a screw loose (cheaters and their partners). Don’t poke the tiger. What’s the saying about wrestling with a pig? You’ll just get muddy and the pig will enjoy it.

            • I’ve visited a website where the other woman is named (first name) and the blogger even posts the OW’s photograph (with much of her face obscured.) I can certainly understand the rage, but I can’t help but feel that at a point it prevents her from moving on.

  • Hey ICBI,

    I can’t do much more than echo what my fellow chumps have said. My daughter self-harmed, too, so I know how bowel-weakeningly scary that is, how much guilt you feel about not noticing because you were being gaslit. Narc Mr Fab blamed me for it, of course, but now we are a long way away, it has stopped. Keep vigilant though, for signs of PTSD.

    Sorry bro, but you have to get ready for the true character (or lack of it) to come out once the mask is off. It is hard, it really hurts, and causes a fundamental reality shift (and possibly PTSD for you) when you understand that the cheating, snorting narcissist is WHO SHE HAS BEEN ALL ALONG. If she has no compunction about treating you like dirt she will treat her kid the same way. Your kid won’t want to believe it either, but nothing you do can heal or change your wife. Like me, with your daughter you have a chance to break that abusive cycle.

    Dealing with the disbelief is hardest, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. One thought that comforts me is that the Narc wanted (and got) something good from their Chump. That goodness doesn’t disappear-YOUR contribution to the mariiage and family was REAL. If you are a medic, then you have empathy, and that is the one thing your ex counts on you for, because it enables her to excuse herself to do as she wishes. Save that empathy for your daughter, and teach her to do right by herself while learning to do right by yourself.

    This is a hard, long road, but welcome to Chump Nation. We have your back.


    • “the cheating, snorting narcissist is WHO SHE HAS BEEN ALL ALONG.”

      Believe it. The caring nurse & mother was the act. That woman does not exist and has never existed. It was an act–a show to snag a doc for a husband and to look good for the general public.

      I cannot tell you how much more peaceful my life is without the narcissist. I could finally stop walking on eggshells, but I still have issues from spending so many years (25) with him, and so do my kids. I sincerely hope you have hard evidence of the drug use. If either of the kids are still minors, it will help your custody situation.

      • The coke in nursing school was her. She cleaned up her act to bag Doc.

        Normalcy was a thin veneer over her true self.

        I know, I sound bitter. Sometimes the mask slips off.

            • I think often of the times that mask fell, and I glimpsed the vile monster beneath. I let him convince me that was not him because I desperately wanted to believe. And even at the end once they finally know the jig is up, they will either try to destroy you, or abandon you, or both, but you will never ever to be forgiven. And of course even then there is the perpetual and ongoing punishment of breeding with a fucktard.

              • Yes, so true Kelly! Once the demon KNOWS that you know what they are, they can never, ever forgive you for discovering the truth. That’s when you will see their true evil nature. At that point, they have nothing to lose.

        • No it sounds true. My ex denied the straw was his when one (half) fell out of a book. I found cute little baggies with seals on them when I emptied the trash can under his desk. One day I finally saw him doing what he’d denied so many years. He thought I was wasn’t home and he walked through the front door dancing and whistling. He usually walked in growling and I knew something was up. My gut sank, my heart was pounding. I watched from a few steps above as he sat his ass down to watch The Game, shuffled something out of his pocket and took a big snort. I just stood there, maybe five minutes until finally he saw me. Takes all the focus, those things. “Oh, you just saw that?” he asked. “Oh.” That was it. A few hours later he haughtily announced that an episode he directed was on if I wanted to watch it. I didn’t. He quite knows what rehab is. He faked a little bit once but as it turns out he’s too good for any of that crap for weak people like me. It was the only time I saw, out of how many? He lied so much about everything that breaking any denial was a heartbreaking wake up call. As the daughter of parents who stayed together because that’s what parents did then, but they were miserable with each other? It would have been much healthier for all of us if they’d divorced but been able to find any true happiness.

      • That reality of that being who they were all along is so disturbing. While for some reason I still love and desire my husband, I would never consider reconciliation now that I know that he is capable of hurting me this badly. That’s the bottom line.

  • CL,
    PERFECT response.

    Can’t Believe it….
    BELIEVE IT…and ACT ACCORDINGLY…. for You and your Daughter’s Sake.
    Your ” Wife” Doesn’t care about ANYONE but HERSELF.

    Love You and Your Daughter Enough to LEAVE..Take Your Child WITH YOU when you Go.
    Don’t Worry, Your ” Wife” will Find ANOTHER Doormat to Wipe Her Coke Crushed Feet on..They Always DO.. THIS is the Way they WORK.
    Don’t let it Be YOU and Your Daughter Anymore.

    Many Prayers for the Two of You.

  • BelieveIt, everything you wrote about your wife screams out lack of character and integrity. She is a BAD PERSON. She is not going to change. She does not feel sorry, guilty or shame. She is a toxic poison and she will happily drain your very life away if you let her. I don’t believe for a second that a woman (or man, for that matter) who has acted the way she has is NOT still cheating or in contact with her fuck buddy. Almost certainly there is a hidden cell phone or email account somewhere. And even if not, this nasty woman is going to cheat again eventually.

    Please divorce this horrible woman, and show your daughter how a stable, normal, self-respecting person acts, because she sure as hell is never going to get that lesson from her mother. You deserve better, and so does your daughter.

  • ICBI – both of my daughters were diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the midst of our divorce, and both run in XH’s family. So I know where you’re coming from – it’s just another burden to add to the mess. Serenity now!

    I know of a surgeon’s wife, also a part time nurse, who ran away with their 5 year old twin boys to be with OM in another state. The affair crashed and burned when OM wouldn’t leave his wife. The cheating wife then decided to go back to her husband, who – much to her surprise – refused to take her back. When he told her he wanted to see the boys before formal custody arrangements were made, she told him he could see them….IF he paid all her living expenses until the divorce was settled. When he refused, so did she. It just got uglier from there.

    I mention this because cheating wives of high income earners tend to be VERY reluctant to give up that lifestyle. They want their cake, their cars, and their country club memberships, and they get VERY put out when it’s all taken away.

    So take it away, ICBI. Divorce her and put her out on the street. THEN see just how sorry she is and see whether she mourns YOU or the lifestyle you’ve been providing her. It will become abundantly clear soon enough.

    Just a thought….

  • Divorce will completely suck, but it is better than where you are now.

    Right now, you are married to an alcoholic narcissist who cheats on you. I just don’t see an upside.

    “Alcohol made me do it.” Well, uh, no. Alcohol doesn’t make you do anything. Sure, it lowers barriers, but it doesn’t compel. If your wife respected you, she’d realize that when she drinks, she finds herself tempted to engage in risky behavior that could affect her marriage. What’s the answer? Not to drink. Or to limit drinks to one–and if one drink is too much, well, that’s another sign of alcoholism.

    CL’s right. She’s made your pain, your daughter’s pain–all that is really her pain. Your daughter is bipolar. ” Oh, I’ve lost my perfect family! The shame! The humility! My life is ruined!”

    I don’t see the grown-up in that kind of reaction. Where’s the concern for the daughter? For getting her the support she needs, working on getting the meds adjusted, having the appropriate therapy, and helping her so that she will be able to function as an adult in a world that doesn’t really understand mental illness?

    I won’t even go into her affairs, save to say that once more, she’s all about herself.

    Get a good lawyer. You’ll likely need one, but it’ll be worth it, and so will your new life.

  • Whenever I struggle with hopium and doubt enters my mind, I remind myself of the following:
    – will my relationship ever be the same? NO!
    – cab he un-fuck that whore? NO
    – can I live with the above? NO!
    Goodbye, cheater.

    • heartbroken, you GOT it! I’d just modify that first question to
      – will my relationship every be healthy and happy?

      Those were the three questions that got me OUT!

  • ICBI, if you take CL’s advice to dump her, please hire a PI before you tell her you are divorcing. Otherwise, you won’t get the evidence of substance abuse that will help you with custody. Also, if your state is like mine, proving adultery means you don’t have to be “separated” for 6 months, or a year to finalize. And proving either or both of these things may keep you from being forced to pay alimony. My ex tried to get alimony from me because he couldn’t work (hard to work when you drink non stop, heh?). I filed for abuse, infidelity and desertion, I bluffed a bit, I made the mistake of not hiring a PI until I’d told ex we were divorcing. Doing that allowed him to go deep underground about everything.

    Take care of yourself, take care of your daughter, drop your wife – she does not deserve you.

    • Maybe he could share the evidence he got from the “friend’s” wife who caught OM at the hotel? OTOH he probably needs the evidence from the second affair as well.

      • I dunno, in my state the attorney said without an independent person, the PI, I would have a problem. Friends or others involved are not as good, also, they may lie once you get them on the stand.

  • ICBI

    Your wife sounds a lot like my STBX. He said that the reason he slept with OW#1 was because he was drunk. Um, was he drunk when he sent her every text message, every email, every naked picture, and planned to have a night together with her when I was supposed to be at a bridal shower in another city???

    They had sex while I had a broken foot and was in the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery.

    He didn’t respect me. I didn’t trust him. He started an EA with OW#2. I finally put my big girl panties on and moved 3 hours away. Divorce papers are waiting to be signed by a judge after the required 1 year separation.

    Move out, get custody, enter counseling (for you and your daughter and any other kids), and get a divorce.

    • You know, between the alcohol et al, those skeins are just too tightly woven.

  • Thank you for all the quick replies. The one good thing about this is that my daughter is now nearly 18. She became ill to our awareness when she was 15 but has now just graduated high school and has been accepted at a good university about 2 hrs from our home. I do have another child, at 19 year old son who is finishing up his sophomore year at college himself. Both of my children have already said that if we divorce they will choose to live with me.
    My wife has had NC with the old boyfriend for a month now, started the day that I left. She has made the therapy appointments, has given me all the passwords, has left on her iphone GPS feature so I know at least where he phone is during the day. She has had the full STD check and fortunately she was clean. She is now working full time as a financial advisor and has been doing well now for 3 months at that job.
    It appears as if she’s doing everything she can to allow me to “heal” and reconcile and work on “making our marriage better” – her words. It’s as if she’s read the book on all the bullet points of true non-Naugahyde remorse and is currently doing them. She does not drink during the week but does still drink on weekend. No girls nights out. This all has been going on for a month, started immediately when I moved out and that was 1 month ago. I’ve been home for a week.
    The day I left was after that last time she saw him. She said she was going out with her friends for one of their birthdays and promised me over and over that there would be no guys there especially not HIM. Well I didn’t believe her so I knew where they would be at and I went over there after a while and I actually saw her leave the bar with him and go across the street to a hotel. She didn’t come home until 9 Am the day I left. Now I leave and she says she feels like she was hit over the head by a 2×4 and she realizes her pure denial for what has been happening. She says that our MC, who she saw right after that by herself, told her that she was in total denial about what she was doing and she was unbelievably lucky I stayed around as long as I did.
    My fear is that this is just part of a covert narcissist’s playbook and when the dust settles she’ll go back to her old behavior. I think I know the answer. It’s just so hard to give up what we’ve worked for all these years. All of her family and friends are praying for our reconciliation. However my friends think she went too far and that I should divorce.
    She can be so seductive and charming and sexy when she wants to be, boy it just sucks me in. She is quite beautiful and intellegent and looks 10 years younger than her 50 years. She just had her 50th birthday too, that didn’t go well for her and she’s been getting botox for the last year without telling me to try and keep her looks as long as she can. She is so hung up on her looks. Yes I’m happy she looks good and exercises but I’d much rather she be real and true.
    I think after all these years I’ve become a bit co-dependent. Yes I do have a lot of empathy. I’m not a big money surgeon but a primary care physician who loves my patients and they love coming to me. Fortunately we have saved enough money that we both would be comfortable if we split. Now that she has a good job again, she’ll be able to support herself although I’m sure I’ll have to pitch in some for maintenance, at least that’s what my lawyer says.
    My son is already out of the home mostly now, he has an internship this summer and will likely have one every summer until he graduates. He is doing wonderfully and has actually helped with my daughter, whom he loves as his sister. My daughter will be leaving for school in a few months and I had planned on staying in our house until she leaves and then file for divorce ( or stay with the unicorn and go through more MC and soul searching). Ugghhh, this sucks !

    • Just a guess, but your cheater-wife may also be borderline….often goes hand-in-hand with narc traits. Either way, doesn’t look good. You need to protect yourself – your heart, your body, your spirit. It’s really painful to be cheated on, and to police her all the time. You deserve better than that. Stop the abuse now, before she brings home an STD.

    • A question that may not be relevant, but I’m curious.

      When you saw them leave the bar and walk to the hotel did you confront them?

      As I said, just curious.

      • No, he was a tattooed, biker, convicted felon high on coke and alcohol. Not exactly the kind of guy I wanted to confront. It just wasn’t worth it.

        • I agree.

          She went from a respected doc to that. Not only does she not respect you, I don’t think she respects herself.

        • Prime for Hep C. Nice. Not easy to catch by sex alone, but the coke? Ew.

          She’s abusing you. She does sound borderline to me.

          The faster you rip off the band-aid, the quicker you will heal. Believe it or not, there are really awesome women out there looking for a guy like you.

          You need to start respecting yourSELF. It’s really hard when you’ve taught your partner not to respect you. It’s a downward spiral. But you’re better than this. Remember who you were when you got into med school, when you matched your residency? Where is that guy? Maybe you need IC, and more time with your friends. Sounds like your friends love you.

    • “My wife has had NC with the old boyfriend for a month now, started the day that I left.”

      You are taking her word for this. You have no idea if it is true. You were gone for three weeks of that month.

      “She has made the therapy appointments, ”

      Okay, going to therapy is fine, sticking with therapy is different. Listening to a therapist is different still.

      “has given me all the passwords,”

      Means nothing. She can have all new accounts.

      ” has left on her iphone GPS feature so I know at least where he phone is during the day.”

      Cheaters usually have secret cell phones. They get around the GPS feature by leaving their phones at their desk or at home, etc.

      “She has had the full STD check and fortunately she was clean.”

      That’s good.

      “She is now working full time as a financial advisor and has been doing well now for 3 months at that job.”

      Great, but it’s only been 3 months. Not exactly job security yet. It is good she was able to hold on to her job after you left her, at which point she was only working there a few weeks? Funny how narcissists can focus on the things that matter to them.

      “It appears as if she’s doing everything she can to allow me to “heal” and reconcile and work on “making our marriage better” – her words.”

      This to me, was the worst thing you mentioned. Making OUR marriage better implies you were part of what made it unbearable — no, that’s completely on her.

      Also bad that she’s still drinking.

      She’s a pretty 50 year old with botox and bad character. You know what’s better looking? A woman who loves and cherishes and respects you. They come in pretty models too.

      • Thanks CL. I think it’s time to cut my losses and look for someone who cherishes and respects me. I do admit that when I was separated for 3 weeks I felt so free and at peace. I’m looking forward to more of that.

        • “I do admit that when I was separated for 3 weeks I felt so free and at peace.”

          You have no idea how much better life can be, my friend. BTDT. And after 22 years of marriage to a serial cheating wife and mother of 2 sons I also found it hard to imagine ending the marriage. Wishing you strength for the journey.

        • Please please you know the answer, you know what she’ll do to you if you stay, you know it will be so much worse for you and your daughter when she crashes again (and she will, it’s who she is…and even if she magically didn’t, you deserve so much more). Please please save yourself and your daughter and get her out of there. Reading what you write is like watching a horror movie and knowing the scary music is playing and something horrible is going to happen, and I want to scream, “RUN and save yourself and your children.”

      • ICBI, CL has some solid points here.

        And I agree with notyou about finding a real counselor who will do what’s necessary if reconciliation is what you choose (along the lines of Dr. David Clarke).

        Two points:

        You wrote, “…she always minimized this affair saying it was no big deal and blamed it on the fact that my friend was a player, which he is, and she had been drinking.” And “It appears as if she’s doing everything she can to allow me to ‘heal’ and reconcile and work on ‘making our marriage better’ – her words.”

        This strikes me as blame-shifting on her part. As long as she doesn’t take full responsibility, I doubt she will stay faithful even if she is now (which I still doubt as CL points out above). What happens the next time another “player” hits on her again? And how can you even start to trust her again while she is still holds these secrets with the other men she’s kissed or had intercourse? They are bonded by nasty secrets, and that bond will remain until she decides to expose it, if ever.

        I am not impressed with this marriage counselor. You wrote that she “made the therapy appointments.” Did she choose this counselor as well? I would be very concerned if she did.

        Focusing on making the marriage better is like focusing on the rigging while someone is firing the cannons into the ships hull. You HAVE to stop the cannons and patch the holes first before even thinking about the rigging. And perhaps the holes are too big and too late to patch. Only you can make that decision for you will have to live with it. Plus, this focusing on making the marriage better is blame-shifting just as CL calls it out. Did the counselor sit back an allow her to dump this on you, too? Crazy.

        As long as your spouse is blaming her behavior and choices on the alcohol, players, and/or your marriage, she is not in a place where she can offer you fidelity. At best, she is a dry “drunk.” She lacks the moral fortitude to follow through on her commitments and hasn’t demonstrated the vital change needed in order to demonstrate she now can. She made choices. In my opinion, until she sees this, your marriage will remain vulnerable to her future acts of adultery.

        • Full Steam,

          Love the analogy: “Focusing on making the marriage better is like focusing on the rigging while someone is firing the cannons into the ships hull. You HAVE to stop the cannons and patch the holes first before even thinking about the rigging. And perhaps the holes are too big and too late to patch.” That’s like the old saying, “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

          The best thing about Clarke’s method is that it (relatively quickly) either helps the couple completely renovate their relationship, OR it allows the waivering victim to solidify in his mind that he has done all he can do and to be able to move on with a more peaceful resolve. (And, some people need to know with certainty that they have exhausted all resources.)

          As Clarke puts it, “It’s focused, it’s clean, and it works.”

    • cantbelieveit,

      I sense you are waivering since you are back in the home and are attempting to set boundaries. If you are one of those people who must be convinced that you have done absolutely everything you can do before you can walk away with a completely clear conscience, then you may wish to find a marriage counselor who uses the approach thoroughly described at the link below. His atypical methods get straight to the adulterous spouse’s problem and cuts out all that, “the marriage made me do it” BS.

      In the meantime, whatever else you do, please look out for yourself as suggested below by TennisHack.

      Nothing about this is easy regardless of the path you choose. Good luck to you.

      • My ex did everything he was supposed to do too, transparency and all dontcha know? That was ten years before I caught him cheating again in 2010. Turns out he never stopped, just got better at hiding it. Last time he told me he was committed to therapy and staying sober, it was bullshit. He was committed to fooling me again, sure he went to therapy every week but he didn’t do the work, he went through the motions. If your wife wants to be a better person, let her do that work alone, maybe in a few years you can date her.

    • Doc…
      I have been the marriage police for 30 plus years!
      It sucks ass!
      And the real life like dreams of her and OM are a nightly occurrence.

    • What do you mean MichaelD, was my last reply confusing? Be happy to clarify.

      • I think I speak for myself when I ask, “Why would you stick around?”.

        You know that whole marriage contract was in breach the moment the whole “forsaking all others” ended, and the spun tweaker binge drinking was a major turd on top of that crap sundae right?

        You don’t owe her anything beyond what the court determines in terms of dividing marital assets.

        Why do you want to stick around and try to fix something you didn’t break? You can’t control the woman, you can’t fix her, and nobody is going to blame you if you seek a more peaceful life.

        You already gave her once chance (one more than most people who aren’t dysfunctional and codependent would probably give), and how did that work out for you?

        I can’t speak for Michael, but I suspect I am in agreement when I say, “If this is how you want to live your life, keep doing it”.

        • Nope I agree with you, the second part of his story confused me.

  • ICBI, darlin…..

    It sounds like your kids are way ahead of you, but also that you are still stuck thinking that somehow your ex is just having an ‘episode’, or mid-life crisis. Even if she is apparently taking herself in hand, you need to believe your own experiences, and you may not like to hear this, but you have been abused. And you will continue to be, if you allow your ex any traction in your life. If your finances are as sussed out as you say they are, then there is little to fight over, aside from with yourself-if this had happened to a pal or a patient, what would you be saying to them?

    Chump Nation gets it. We know how bad it feels to be cheated out of a future. More than anything, I want what I thought I had- a safe, peaceful,home to bring up a child, a loving partner but instead, I had an auntie-fucking-coke-snorting wannabe playah who cried crocodile tears and played the MC like a violin, re-traumatizing me every time, for over a year. Starting over is hard, but you have a lot going for you, and so do your kids. As the dust gradually clears over my family’s implosion, what was real between me and my daughter has remained, and your self-respect will grow alongside that of your kids as you all grow through it.

    If your ex is in a program-good. Get yourself on one-holding out hope for this creature is just another form of self-harm. It was clearly ‘game over’ for your ex a long time ago, and besides, the only way to win is not to play.

    Jedi Hug


  • Off topic… But here’s a video of Elin Nordegren (chumped hugely in the news and all by Tiger Woods) getting a student achievement award at Rollins College. Nice to see a Chump getting recognition for getting a life–she kept going to college and just finished her degree. Good for her. ($$ not withstanding.) (Also, disclosure, good friend works at Rollins, still… )

    • I saw her on the morning talk shows.
      She is so beautiful ,young and thin and she still got cheated on !Just goes to show you it doesn’t matter what you look like.

        • Jim for the win. A great comfort to those of us who were told it was our fault b/c we somehow didn’t measure up in the body/looks dept. Grrr. Because our cheaterpantses are all *so* lovely! /not.

  • Do the following incognito:

    -See and attorney
    -Make sure YOU file for divorce
    -take over ALL finances
    -put ALL joint bills in your name only
    -Stay in the house until its over
    -Do it quickly!

    • Tennis Hack – thanks to this site, that is exactly what I did! Yeah, it was tough but the best advice in the world. JUST NEVER LEAVE YOUR HOME and get the ducks all eating out of the same bucket. He’s eating my shit sandwiches NOW, not to mention scrambling about his huge attorney fees suddenly, MrControlFreak – no more. I AM ~~ ha ha ha

  • ICBI, if the love she has for you is as real as you want it to be, then divorcing her will prove it. If she’s truly committed to changing her attitudes and behaviors then she will do that regardless of whether or not you stay with her. The difference is that you will be able to focus on healing yourself and enjoying the time with your children instead of trying to protect your marriage from her further damage, which you don’t control anyway.

    At least take some time away from her to clear your head and work through your emotions. You’ve taken a lot of hits from her behaviors and could use some peace from it.

  • ICBI:

    I was stuck in this phase for FIVE YEARS! It took a while for my heart and my head to align!!! You see, each and every time I caught my exH with his OW (same one for five years) he would hoover me back in. He would be so good for a few months and then I could see the change in him and I would once again begin the detective work and would catch him again! Each time he got better at the lying. He also found new and clever ways of hiding his affair. He never truly meant any of his apologies. If he did, he would not have continued. I have come to realize that he did not have a mid-life crisis, he did not lose his mind, he was not confused, he was not stressed with work! HE JUST SUCKS!

    I have since divorced him. It took a year and a half and I have been divorced now for three weeks. In that year and a half I have not worried about where he is. I have not worried about who he is talking to. I have not worried if he would be out all night. I didn’t have to worry any more because I was no longer giving myself to him in any way, shape or form! My heart was protected! I have discovered life again. Before, I was just existing.

    Trust me on this……you are not living! You will never regain the trust back. It is nearly impossible. She is damaged and self destructive! LET HER SELF DESTRUCT AND SAVE YOURSELF!!!!

    • “In that year and a half I have not worried about where he is. I have not worried about who he is talking to. I have not worried if he would be out all night… I have discovered life again. Before, I was just existing.”

      This is dead on, Kimmy. Once I got used to not checking up on my ex, it was as if I lost 200 pounds of dead weight. Life is just better.

      • No more waking up and wondering what weird tests you’ll be put through, right?

        No more talking yourself into believing the words of an established liar so that you don’t have to waste all your energy playing marriage police, right?

        No more spending all your time as a minor character in somebody else’s movie where every plot twist revolves around them somehow, and finally time… to remember to think of yourself sometimes, right?

        At least, that’s how it was for me. I forgot how to take care of myself. I forgot who I was. I was so busy dealing with my ex’s crap half the time (or more), that I just stopped having the energy to concentrate on anything that made me “me”, and it didn’t happen all at once. I was slowly whittled away by a persistent erosive onslaught.

        • That’s the one thing that I’m not completely “meh” about, I think.

          I remember thinking it was a “good day” if she just wasn’t messing with me. How sad is that?

          • Yikes. What you described, TimeHeals, was my live for over 20 years. It.was.gross. So glad I am out now for nearly a year and a half.

          • I love that I’m messing with HIS life now, as the chump. I know, I know, knock off the gps tracking. You think he’d realize his ‘find my iPad’ is on? (I even showed him the function and how it worked!) SHE knows no better either as she is an idiot. ha. (glad I used my years off work to learn a few computer skills) Anyway, Promise guys – I’ll stop this in order to get to meh, but ONLY after the divorce is over. I want to make his life as miserable as I can. I like to think I’m a good chess player and can think 3 moves ahead. So far, it’s worked in my favor. He’s almost saluting me and saying, yes m’aam. Nothing wrong with that, right?

            • Yikes, I used to be SheChump – must have changed a setting trying to log into the Forum. sorry for confusion. If anybody was following, that is 😉

        • …”as a minor character in somebody else’s movie..”

          TimeHeals, this is such a great description of the experience. I think at best I was cast as the wicked witch who kept my ex and his OW apart, and at worst I was merely scenery. I could have been whistling zippity-doo-dah whilst brokering world peace and baking brownies, but I’d still be a nuisance.

          Now I only bake for people who deign to notice. Sometimes that’s just me. 🙂

          • I like this description: “I could have been whistling zippity-doo-dah whilst brokering world peace and baking brownies,…”

          • On D-day I told my ex I was sick of feeling like I just wasn’t quite the one he wanted and I was sick of being the OW in his life. I felt like he treated his coworker more like his wife than he did me.

        • “No more spending all your time as a minor character in somebody else’s movie where every plot twist revolves around them somehow,”

          This is an absolutely spot-on description of my 20 year marriage. God, what a hell that was. I am SO GLAD IT’S OVER!

    • “In that year and a half I have not worried about where he is. I have not worried about who he is talking to. I have not worried if he would be out all night. I didn’t have to worry any more because I was no longer giving myself to him in any way, shape or form! My heart was protected! I have discovered life again. Before, I was just existing. ”

      Does that really end? Even though I’m divorcing him, I still am jealous of where he is, who he’s talking to and what he does, even though he’s with the OW permanently (?) now. When will this jealousy ever end?

  • ICBI,

    I’d like to reiterate what everyone has said above. You deserve better than a life of feeling disrespected and on high-alert. Please do get out.

    I also thought I’d repost Chumplady’s fine response to a letter I wrote her in January while mulling over staying stuck for many months. Same inert chump illustration. 🙂

    Good luck, and I hope you find the strength to make the decision that’s best for you.

    • Ha! I confess I recycle my cartoons. 🙂

      cant believe it — I gave LilyBart a longer discourse on being stuck. I get why chumps do it. I wish we wouldn’t. (sigh)

      • I think one reason we do it because we have character. People with character don’t quit and are selfless in the face of intense emotional pain. We strive to be better people, and don’t just leave without thinking about it.

        But you can leave an abusive situation, and still be an honorable person. That’s what I had to learn. It took some time.

  • Icantbelieveit, I’m sorry you find yourself a member of Chumpnation. My ex went through what your wife is doing after two OWs and I took him back, believing he meant it. On the third OW, I kicked him out so fast and never looked back. He tried to come back a year later and my answer was a quick NO. I’ve wasted enough time with him. Don’t look at your 25 years with her as an investment; it’s a sunk cost. Investments give rise to benefits, sunk costs are, well, sunk.

    Unfortunately, they don’t change unless they do the hard work. They do not, no matter how much you want to believe (spackling 101), cannot change without doing the hard work of seeing a therapist (a kick-ass one), working on themselves and showing proof (beyond the crying, begging, etc) that they have indeed changed. And this takes time. A lot of time. Your wife could be the perfect wife for a number of years and then wham, another affair is discovered. I am really sorry because your daughter is affected. That stinks. I’d run NOW but in the end, only you can decide that. If you can handle discovering another affair in the future, then you can give this marriage another shot. Best of luck and I hope you find peace in your decision.

    • “Don’t look at your 25 years with her as an investment; it’s a sunk cost. Investments give rise to benefits, sunk costs are, well, sunk.”

      See, now this is where I have trouble. I do look at our 26 years together as an investment. In our children, our family, our lives in general. And I am shocked that he let it all go. Were those 26 years a complete waste? Obviously they meant something to me that they didn’t mean to him.

  • I’m not happy that this happened to ICBI, but in an odd way it makes me feel better that women are cheaters too. I keep thinking it’s a male thing, which makes it hard for me to imagine trusting men again. But I’m beginning to see it’s not a case of gender, it’s a case of people who break their commitments and treat us with disrespect.

    • Umm, of course women are cheaters TOO, because think about it, those men cheaters need someone to cheat WITH, and it’s the gays only account for about 1%.

        • 🙂 oh they cheat and are much colder when shit hits the fan and they get caught. It was all my fault I wanted my wife all the time and not want to stick my dick in another woman and I gave her the wrong type of connection after 14 years 2 kids 2 dogs a big house etc etc it was the wrong connection !!! Meh ,,,Yes my NPD Princess just needed that connection in the parking lot that me & our sons could not give her I feel so less than ,,,,,,,,,

  • It sounds to me like your wife responded to a crisis with alcohol and drugs. I might give her a chance, but I think she has to go for treatment for addiction first.

    If you do end up divorcing, I suggest you consider asking for custody.

    I would advise you to talk to your daughter and her counselor about all this. I would consider the effect of divorce on your daughter since she has issues with depression. What’s worse – the two of you staying together or the two of you splitting up? also who would get custody if you split up and would living with a mother who is drinking be even worse than having both of you there?

    I am squishier and would believe that someone who had been faithful for years might be able to go back to it. That is a sign of character, too.

    The only caveat I would add is this – I have some cynicism about your wife’s motives. It sounds like her financial situation married to you is a great deal better than it would be without you.

    If you do take her back, I guess you need to figure out what limits you want to set – what you want to see her do in counseling with you and on her own. Something that shows her remorse is about what she has done to you and your daughter.

    • He already gave her a chance, and you know what she did?

      She cheated with somebody else. And then flaunted it.

      You know when that stopped? Right after he left, filed for divorce, and probably when it became abundantly clear that the OM wasn’t going to support her in the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed.

      How many chances? 3? why stop at 3? Why not 30? Heck, why not 300?

    • Thanks everyone in CL land, I really appreciate all the advice.
      The one good thing is that both my children will be over 18 by the time any divorce is final. They have both said they would live with me. Unfortunately they are both aware of most of the details of what their mother has done . It’s hard not to when she comes home looking like shit at 9 AM the next day after telling all of us at 7pm she’s going out with friends for a few hours. I’m also not the best at always holding back on my angry words towards her ( do you blame me) and I’ve said things to her in a loud enough voice for any young adult with in hearing range to understand what’s going on. This is actually another issue for me. What am I telling my children if I keep forgiving and coming back ? I don’t want them to repeat my experience, if possible. I should teach them that their are consequences if someone who professes their love to you betrays you and that your should respect yourself enough to leave if you are being abused, be it emotional or physical.
      I truly feel that cheating is a severe form of emotional abuse.
      Time Heals, it’s not just that she cheated twice but the last time she did it over and over again, right in my face, even though she knows I keep finding out each time. It lasted for 9 months total. At least 10 different rendezvous. It’s been brutal. I think at part of the reason I’m stuck is that at least that constant pain is over for now, at least it’s subdued. However I know she did it so many times with no apparent care for how it would affect me, that she has it in her to do it again in the future whenever another stressful time comes into her life.
      I believe I’m going to get all my legals in order over the summer while my daughter is still at home, and then file when she leaves for college. If, during that time, some miracle happens and she goes into intensive therapy and maintains NC despite my hyper-vigilance, maybe I’ll stick around for a little longer. But I doubt it. My gut still is yelling at me “RUN !!!”. Maybe I should listen to it.

      • If it needs a miracle to keep her faithful to you then I think the odds are against you.

        Your gut is screaming at you.

      • You know iCBI, it occurs to me that your wife is very needy — and she wants the pick me dance. First she goaded you to do it with the comparisons to other men, their attention, etc. You didn’t bite. She upped her game. The affairs. The one in your face was goading you to do the pick me dance, to be tortured and upset, to “fight” for her, to warn her, to beg her.

        All kibbles.

        By taking her back, she’s being “good” because you’re placating her with the pick me dance. You “wanted” her. Now, she had to eat a tiny nibble of shit sandwich to get you there, but there you are.

        And things IMO are just going to ramp back up again to the pick me dance. Prove to me how you love me. Buy me a pretty thing. Compliment my botox.

        Emotional abuse. Chaos. It’s what she does.

        Please listen to your gut. Infidelity IS abuse — and also listen to the peace you felt when you were out of it. You deserve a good life. Your wife made her bed — she needs to lie in it — alone.

      • Canbelieveit- believe what we’re telling you, please. Believe that despite the fact your wife seems like an intelligent person and is physically attractive, you could actually do better. Have you considered the possibility of an attractive, emotionally stable, good woman entering your life one day? Think about it, please. How do you really feel about yourself and your own worth that you’re willing to stick around with a piece of shit that obviously doesn’t have respect for you? Strong words, I know, but this type of verbiage actually helps me (and believe me, I am also an attractive, educated woman in my mid 30s. How’s this then: your wife performed oral sex with someone else’s penis, quite possibly let that individual perform oral sex on her, they may have had unprotected sexual intercourse, there may have been a lot of sensual kissing… get the picture? Forget the details of how and why and what drove her to it- she fucked another man, who wasn’t her husband. This can’t be UN-fucked.
        As a family physician, I’m sure you remember the course in med school about personality disorders and how the general consensus is that they are untreatable.

        • despite the fact your wife seems like an intelligent person and is physically attractive, you could actually do better. Have you considered the possibility of an attractive, emotionally stable, good woman entering your life one day?kee

          Or a nice dog. If you need to take care of something, a dog might actually appreciate it and not keep at you with “You know, the neighbor said I looked nice. I think he wanted to give me a treat. That’s what I think. Your treats suck, BTW”.

      • I would also add, you really don’t heal from this until you go no contact. If you’re hanging out through the summer to take one last toke on the hopium pipe, I’d rethink that.

        The other thing with disordered people is — they build the walls higher so it’s harder to get out next time. More charm, more manipulation, more bullying. That wears you down, wears down your resilience.

        I would ask her for a credit report too, while you’re at it. Could reveal any hidden credit cards, PO boxes, debts, etc. If she balks — there’s your sorry.

        • I agree, I think you really need to see the lawyer now and start the divorce proceedings as soon as possible and protect all of your assets.

          Last year I lived in 3 different states (Georgia, then Washington and after D-day I had to move to FL with my mom) because my STBX dumped me 6 months after moving us to Washington from Georgia. We have two children (10 and 8) and it made me so angry that he would move us so far away only to dump me a few months later. I hated that my kids had to have 3 different school in one year.
          I have been in FL now for about 5 months and my kids are doing well.

          So if you think it’s better to wait because of your daughter, I would have to say that it is too late for that now and it is better to just start disentangling yourself from your toxic wife now so that you and your daughter start healing sooner and she can start college without all the baggage. Maybe take a vacation with your kids before the semester starts.

          Stay strong, you can do this!!

      • You are having a hard time giving up because you’re a care taker and healer. You probably feel like you need to exhaust every avenue to help your wife and you probably have a lot of compassion for people in general. The trick is developing the same kind of compassion for yourself that you extend to others.

  • Chump lady, I just wanted to let you know that you have helped me soooo much! I am getting through this rough time in my life, 3 kids, and relationship of nine years has come to an end b/c of his cheating, but you have shown me the light. I thought I was going crazy, thank god I found your website! Thank you so much for all the information you share, and please keep doing what you are doing, you are helping so many chumps!

  • From Dr. I Can’t Believe I’m a Chump (that’s right, I’m working on a being a doctor– PhD) to Dr. I Can’t Believe It: The affair is bad enough. Cocaine? Um, no. Nothing, I mean, nothing good can come from that except cracked out unicorns.

  • Icantbelieveit,

    Believe it. CL is dead on. Your child becomes suicidal, she responds with narcissistic behavior. Sadly, I have personal experience with this…after I left my cheating husband, my kids’ mental health took a turn for the worse (but honestly, even within the marriage, the signs of stress were already there for my kids). I spent two years trying to get ex to see what I thought was obvious–that they needed help. Most of the help they got was arranged by ME without his permission, because he wanted to sustain the illusion that they were thriving teens worthy of Facebook brags. It’s been a tough year for me, but finally they are getting the help they need and things are turning around for them both. I still don’t know if he realizes that kids are not accessories meant to impress others, but at least he cooperates with their care. Again, I had to dig in my heels and fight for them–so many tears, so many prayers and sleepless nights. But it has been worth it.

    Bottom line, you need to do what is best for your child, not your wife. It may be tough to walk out on a twenty-plus year marriage, but you need to be able to say TO HELL WITH IT. If she wants to change, she can do it from a different address than your own.

    Sorry to give you this tough love, but you are getting it from a person married 24 years. I doubt your wife will change, and with a child in crisis, frankly you don’t have any more time to wait for her to get her stuff together.

  • And another thing, ICBI, I am still suspicious why she wants to get out of nursing which as far as I understand it offers good pay and as many hours as one wants to work, and instead go into the financial field. When I saw my counselor post D-Day, he told me that the financial field can be a sort of magnet for frauds and charlatans, and that it is hard to imagine that someone who is so devious and dishonest in his personal life would be completely honest in his business dealings. And at least with the companies my ex was involved with, the business is still mostly full of men. My ex’s AP’s were two women he worked with in the financial services industry– they loved the attention they got as women so it was a great fit for them too. So for these reasons and something that screams from my gut, there is something about her choice of that field that is putting up a red flag to me.

    • I have been thinking about that too. She does admit it’s 90% men at her work place and a good number are liars and money grabbers. Hmmmm. I’m beginning to think she’ll fit right in

      • Hey, changed to your screen name. Sometimes phones auto fill and you lose your anonymity. Careful about that!

    • I was wondering if she left nursing because she’s got a drug problem.

      • Drug problem, OM is a dealer, felon. She has access to drugs. Hmmm?

        Maybe she was prodded into leaving?

        Doc, her involvement with a drug dealing felon leaves you exposed to legal problems besides a nasty divorce. I would get out sooner rather than later. You don’t want to get tangled up in any drug crap. Too much for you to lose.

    • That and her concern for her fading good looks. IMHO, nurses on coke usually don’t have a lot of job security. I also believe that some people who cheat have a hard time growing older and usually place an inordinate amount of importance on physical good looks, to the detriment of all that is good. My ex was ripe for the flattery his OW put out and our history and twenty plus years together was nothing compared to the smoke she blew up hiss ass. Nothing can save a marriage blown apart by infidelity. Not your good character, sense of humor, intelligence, loyalty, or love. One thing I do know for sure, I can always lose a little weight (am just a bit fluffy), but my ex and his OW will never be able to grow good character.

      • Bingo on the “I’m losing my looks” dilemma. Some of “our” cheaters may not openly admit to this, but I’m fairly certain that beneath the surface of some (most?) affairs is the desperate need for approval and validation. Because, well, hello? their self-esteem is in a toilet. Many cheaters are looking for someone outside of their relationship to acknowledge that they’re still desirable (fuckable.) In the case of my ex’s OW, she openly discussed her need for someone else to admire her body, as her own husband grew disinterested. She dropped hints about Botox (asked my ex indirectly for money for it), dropped hints about how she was good in bed (before they slept together, she apparently told him that she’s a “good lay.” but her own husband doesn’t appreciate her, blah blah.)
        Both ex and OW are in their mid 40s, so I wonder if this is a common issue for many cheaters in that age group.

        • Aging is REALLY hard for narcissists! Their looks may start to fade, their sparkly ‘potential’ may not pan out into the huge successes they expect ….

          Narcs are often very very hard to deal with in old age, even more entitled and critical, ’cause they can’t handle their own decline. So perhaps many of us have dodged a bullet!

  • First time your wife gets sued for fraud, and you’re still her husband, you’re in for a world of hurt, my friend.

    I can understand waiting to file until your daughter moves, but understand that she may feel betrayed if you are not 100% honest with her about the fact that you’re going to do it.

    The more I read about your wife, the more convinced I am that she’s borderline. Your daughter needs help with being the daughter of a borderline.

    So when you kick the wife out of the family home, she’s gonna go APE SHIT, and I can totally understand not wanting your kid to see that. Prepare her for the inevitable onslaught of her mom pulling out every tactic of manipulation, including dragging your daughter into the fray–even if she’s away at school. Your wife can still call her and scream and cry and threaten and demand attention. Your daughter may need help going NC, as well. You three need a sit-down family meeting. And you need a really trusted friend or family member who can talk you down when things get really upsetting or you feel like you want to buckle. YOU have PTSD. YOU have Stockholm syndrome.

    But you are about to run through fire to get to the other side–and there you will find peace, and you will be amazed that you didn’t do it sooner.

    You got this.

  • Dear ICBI,

    I am in a situation where I keep going back and forth with my decisions, second guessing everything. The divorce papers are already filed. I’m waiting for my husband to get served. This Hopium thing is very strong. The thing is, I’ve been married for almost 8 years, not 25 years like yourself. The hardest thing about this is that the cheater’s true selves are coming out. It’s this part that keeps us in disbelief. How could anyone be fooled for so long a time? What about all those happy Christmas mornings?, what about those vacations with the family where we stayed up and laughed all night?, what about those tears that fell from their faces upon the births of our children? How can all of that be fake? Well, I’m sure some of it was real and some of it was fake. My husband was loved and adored by me and my entire family. We all thought of him as an awesome, loving, giving person. No one in my entire family would have suspected that he could create a profile of 5 dating websites stating he was single and having 4 admitted affairs over the course of a year! No one would have thought that he would have started to do that when my son was only 9 months old. Now my husband is crying all the time and states he has been a “fool”. He knows the divorce is coming and he knows he will be leaving his precious cake. I’ve been caught in the Hopium wondering if he really does realize everything he’s lost, maybe I could possibly agree on a marriage seminar or retreat or something. All this time, I have been telling him “no” to marriage counseling and marriage retreats. The more I read of CL and all of the people writing in response to you, I realize that the cheater still did what they did and somehow justified it in their minds that it was “ok” with them. There is something terribly wrong with that. We have to remember that we have been severely emotionally abused. We already have proven to have a high tolerance for pain. If we take them back, our tolerance will grow even bigger and that’s just not healthy. I’m divorcing my husband because he’s got issues from his past that have just come to light and I realize that I can’t save him or help him with this complex unpeeling of an onion. He has to fix himself and do this without me. CL is right. Divorce her and see if she is still doing the work required to make herself a “better person” in 2 or more years. Then you might be able to believe it. Same with my soon to be ex. The work is so difficult. The chance that he will survive the uphill climb to develop into a person with integrity? Not likely.

    • Oh, I love your take Jo(Joe?) So straightforward and logical. You wouldn’t be in the NY/NJ/CT area by any chance? We’re having a get together soon (mid June) and I would love to have someone with your wisdom join us 😉
      I command you for your strength. 8 years is a significant length of time. I’ve read somewhere that emotional attachment develops within first 12 months of a typical relationship, so whether it’s been 8 months or 8 years, us chumps all share the same painful experience.

    • Joespino1, What you have said is exactly what’s going through my mind. She never messed around, never did coke, took time off work for a year for each of my children and breast fed them for a whole year each. The big happy family went on for 22 years. Then the change slowly started and got worse and worse. The spiral down to rock bottom. There I sit, trying to keep everything together. Working my 55 hrs per week, on call many nights, weekends. Taking my child to therapy.
      What happens to these people? Is it something in their past, some kind of childhood ticking time-bomb that goes off at a certain age or under stress that transforms them?
      Did I see little signs of it before, yes. You try to ignore it because you are the giver and the tolerant one. You love them so much you try to overlook it. Those aspects of their personality, if they were the only bad parts, are really not that pervasive to cause someone to leave. And when D-day comes, you are just dumbfounded.
      My initial reaction is to try to “save” her and help her. I see that behind the selfishness is someone who is also hurting. My nature is to love her and help her and get through this. However, it comes at a price, oh such a big price. I don’t think I have the funds to pay it, my love fund is broke, but it hurts.

      • Its called DENIAL,,you didnt want to see or acknowledge her disease. One of my fav sayings from CL and the fine people on this site is “spackle” you tried to fix it, but you can’t & you can’t control her or the disease,, you tried to manage but failed dont be disheartened it happens all the time.

        When this is all said and done,, take a long hard look back at her & I am sure you will see the signs . Dont enable her any more by trying to “save her” she will just suck your soul dry if she does not get help and if you let her . Let go make her get help & then you do the same.

  • ICBI,

    She needs to leave the house.

    I should have done this immediately. Yes, everyone said to do this. I suffered intertia and in other ways am still stumbling. Now I’m in a situation where super cheater of my 20 yr marriage, where a DECADE was utter bullshit, is still here in my home.

    I sought MC because I felt compelled to at least try for the sake of our 4 kids. Listen, if someone can blatantly screw you and your kids over without a second thought or at least concern for their kids’s well being, they should not be in the house.

    My cheater’s problems run pretty deep. That’s for him to figure out in IC. He should be doing this alone. Your wife’s shit it NOT your job. Your job is attending to the needs of your kids and yours too. MC could be come an option AFTER she addresses all of her personal crap.

    Everyone here told me the obvious.

    • I agree ANC, it’s time for them to figure out why they snapped by doing the IC. It’s not my place to “save” them or to be their therapist. MC maybe AFTER they figure their shit out, if they can.

  • Again, I’m so impressed with all of you taking the time to help me. One concept I really didn’t appreciate fully until now is Hoovering. I followed a link in one of your responses to this article. This may be in the blog/forum somewhere but I thought some of the other people here and observers like myself until now, might benefit from reading it. I sure have.

    Hoovers & Hoovering – A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.

    Here We Go Again

    Many Nons have experienced the phenomenon we call Hoovering, which is a metaphor derived from the popular (and effective) brand of vacuum cleaners. And just as dust gets caught up in the vacuum cleaner, many Nons get sucked back in to the status quo when they attempt to escape an abusive situation.

    It is most likely to happen when:

    There has just been an emotional outburst, episode of violence or other extreme period of abuse; at the point where the perpetrator realizes the victim is likely to leave, retaliate or seek help from others.
    The victim starts to pull away from the relationship, leave the relationship or establish firmer boundaries within the relationship.
    The abuser internally feels unworthy and fears the loss of the relationship.

    The abuser may shower their victim with gifts, compliments, promises, demonstrations of love and acts of affection in order to win back the victim’s trust or faith, and therefore maintain the status quo.

    Hoovering is one of the key components of an Abusive Cycle. It is the tactic which ensures many abusers do not have to live alone. It can also act as the ‘plus’ side when the victim calculates the emotional balance sheet, manipulating them into sustaining the abusive relationship.

    Like a tango, it takes two: the person doing the hoovering and the person being sucked in.

    How it Feels

    Hoovering feels good -and that’s the point! When you are being hoovered, your warm-and-fuzzy buttons are all getting pushed, your feelings are getting validated, your needs are being met, your wildest dreams are coming true, your opinions matter, you are the most important person in the world to that certain person.

    It often feels like vindication. You might find yourself thinking “Finally! The message is getting through! I’m not crazy after all! Now THAT is what I’m talking about! They really DO love me!” But watch out…

    When you are starving for any emotional food, just about any kind of personal validation tastes wonderful. However, just because it tastes good, doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy or nourishing.

    Manipulative abusers are often adept at giving their victims enough of what they want to keep them where they want them. Even slave owners know that they have to feed them enough to keep them healthy and productive.

    How do I know if a hoover is “real”?

    It can be a struggle to work out whether a hoover really is a hoover, because it initially looks like it could be a sincere attempt at change by the personality-disordered person whom they care about. And as Nons, that’s what we want!

    The mistake in that logic is that it assumes that it can’t be both. Many abusers and personality-disordered people really are sincere and really are trying when they also are hoovering. People who are hoovering you may not be consciously trying to manipulate you or deceive you. They may sincerely be trying, even hoping, to make it “better this time”. They may not be consciously lying when they make promises of change and put them into practice. They may be so convincing because they are so convinced, at least right now.

    You are going to have to be like the adult in a parent-child relationship, who listens to their child’s black-and-white promises and says “Hmm, we’ll wait and see”.

    If you’re not sure if you’re being hoovered you should wait and see. Take the long-term view. A person’s character is like an average of their behaviors over their lifetime. People can and do make positive changes in their lives sometimes, deciding to change their behavior for the better. Wait a year and see.

    If you feel you can’t wait a year, it could be your relationship balance sheet is deeply in the red, which is an alarm bell worth listening to.

    How to Cope

    If somebody who has been treating you abusively starts to treat you well, there’s no harm in letting them knock themselves out and give yourself a break, just be careful not to take the bait to erode your boundaries, settle for less than you deserve, stop doing things that are healthy for you or stop exercising your own independence.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t change any of your boundaries or allow them to be broken during a hoover.
    Don’t relax or give up on any consequences of previous poor decisions for the abuser.
    Don’t stop any healthy activities or relationships you may be engaged in elsewhere.
    Don’t assume the hoover will last forever.
    Don’t use a hoover to bargain for a better life. You are setting up the abuser to break a promise and setting yourself up for a disappointment.

    What TO do

    Remember that mood swings are a normal part of a number of personality disorders and that what goes up must come down.
    Accept that highs and lows are a part of everyone’s emotional life and that, for a personality-disordered person, those may be more intense and lead to swings in behavior.
    Maintain all your healthy lifestyle habits and relationships with others.
    Take the long-term view. Wait a year if it is safe to do so.
    Get yourself off the roller coaster. Position yourself so that your safety and happiness isn’t dependent on a personality-disordered person’s mood.
    If the hoovering was preceded by acts of violence towards you, a child, or a pet, get advice from a Domestic Violence service immediately.

    • Great description of what goes on. It’s interesting how even the cheaters could truly believe and convince themselves that their feelings of remorse are true. I told mine when he asked me if I had seen any changes in him in the last few weeks that I wasn’t sure if those changes were REAL. I would hope that they were, but I’ll check back and see if it continues 3-4 years from now. Mind you that he speaks with a pastor/counselor from the church, reads the bible daily, attends a weekly sex addiction class, has been acting like the dad of the year, folds the laundry when he’s ever at the house, and tries to talk to me daily. This was all after D-day. So he’s got a lot to keep up if he wants me to consider him again down the line. But there’s always a possibility that I may fall in love with a better man in the meantime…. Who knows? Getting closer to “meh”…

  • All I can say is when something difficult happens in my life I refer to this clip from Gone With the Wind to regain my strength and it helps me! Hope it helps you or at least makes you laugh : )

  • I think your wife behaves this way because she is about to lose the dream and the cake..
    OMG how I wish I could leave my H and make a life on my own without facing financial ruin…..

    I don’t have enough years or energy in me to make a reasonable financial recovery without help….

    I have no respect for my someday to be ex.. I have no wish to reconcile…

    My cheating husband and I have been married 38 years and I live off of my pension..You guessed it, my STBX (someday to be ex) has no pension..

    He refuses to move out of the house, so I will have to legally force him out, which means I have to file for divorce (no fault state)..

    Some how or another I will have to be ready to enjoy the privilege of supporting STBX in his new single life with 1/2 of my pension…

    So I will have to un retire while in poor health..Not a sustainable new life for me, I am already in my senior years..

    So to avoid getting stuck in my predicament, see if your wife will put her money where her mouth is..

    If she gets to come back into your life, she has to divorce you first so that you will have a generous financial settlement in place for your retirement years..

    Then she gets to date you, and reestablish your trust in her, while supporting herself in a place of her own..

    If there is to be a remarriage on the horizon , your (redeemed) ex-wife will have to agree to a pre-nup before any remarriage happens..

    I know, it sucks to be so cynical about marriage this late in life…

    But marriage should not mean that one spouse gets to enjoy life at the expense of the other spouse’s physical/mental health..

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