Dear Chump Lady,
I filed for divorce from my lying, cheating husband a few weeks ago. I was absolutely miserable and tried reconciling for almost 5 years after I found out what a cheater he is. Our marriage never got better. I have been feeling a lot of self-doubt since filing. Any insight on why I am being so stupid about thinking my marriage still has a shot at working? Intellectually I know that this will never work out. But emotionally, I am having a hard time with filing. When I think of my husband’s lies, cheating, lack of real remorse, I feel like the supreme chump for even feeling like I am wrong about filing for divorce.
Ever since I filed, my husband cries when I talk about about the divorce proceeding. He cries a lot. I can’t figure out why he would be this upset when I have told him many times over years about what needs to be fixed in our marriage. He has never tried to really work on our marriage, but does the same things over and over. So now that I have filed, he’s all upset about it.
Please help me stop being a supreme chump.
Dear Supreme Chump,
In answering your letter, I would like to quote from the absurdist 1970s song “Mac Arthur Park” — as sung by disco diva Donna Summers above.
MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
You’ve been reconciling with your cheating husband for 5 years and he’s shown zero remorse. But now that you’re divorcing him, he cannot stop crying. Why? Because Oh NOOOOO — cake is melting! And it took so long to bake it! And he’ll never have that recipe again!
The loss of a cake is a tragic, tragic thing for cheaters. It inspires lugubrious song lyrics. By divorcing his ass you are imposing consequences, which are painful to HIM. And you’re taking away his sweet cake! And leaving him with the bitter gluten-free rice crackers of karma.
Do you know how long it takes to
bake make a chump? To get the gaslighting set at just the right temperature? To ensure that their self-esteem never rises? You want to LEAVE? He’ll never have that recipe again! It’s hard to find a good, loving sucker!
Of course he’s in tears. They move you. He’s giving you what you’ve always wanted, at least for the last five years — some measure of emotion that show that he cares.
But SC, his tears are not for you. His tears are for himself. I’m sure he is sincerely sad and sorry about the loss of cake, but his tears are a manipulation tactic. He doesn’t truly care about you — he has demonstrated that with his lying and cheating and unwillingness to fix his marriage. He knows his displays of self-pity will move you — so desperate are you for a sign that he gives a shit, you’ll take this as a sign. You waited five years for a sign — now you got one. A blubbery, sniveling, snotty sign from your cheater that he doesn’t want his marriage to end.
What marriage means to him and what marriage means to you, are two very different things. To him, marriage is cake. To you marriage is mutual respect and commitment. He has demonstrated that he cannot — he WILL not — give you the marriage you deserve, and you have tried very bravely to have. So you must leave him. You must enforce that boundary — that you will not be abused by his infidelities and his indifference to your pain. You must hold forth the vision, however painful, that you are worth more than this.
You cannot waste any more your life on his potential. You’ve wasted five years already post D-Day. Let go of the figment husband you hope he is and start seeing him for who he is — a liar and a cheat. A man who had every chance to save his marriage and didn’t give a fuck.
Stop putting him first. Stop putting his self-inflicted pain above the pain HE inflicted on YOU. Love yourself more than to be treated this way. Leave his damp, sobbing ass in the rain and let him melt.