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When You’re the Parent in the Relationship

memes_hipster_disney_peter_pan-s500x375-144224-580One common thread I see running through a lot of stories here is that the chump is takes a parental role in the relationship. Gah! This person won’t pay the bills/watch the children/work a job and I must do this and then they resent me for it!

Totally maddening.

I was completely guilty of being Mommy in my first marriage, and baffled by it, because he was 10 years older than I was and you’d think he would’ve worked out the basics of Adult Responsibility. He had a job he’d held for many years and owned a home, so on first glance he seemed normal enough. But when I was married to him awhile, the guy couldn’t pay bills on time — or at all. (Part of this was OCD, he freaked out if anyone touched his papers, but I learned about his anxiety disorder years into the relationship.) He also couldn’t/wouldn’t clean things.

So not only was I doing the lion’s share of the adult work, I was resented for it. Which made me totally lose respect for him, and pissed me off no end. And he was pissed off… but I could never figure out why. Because I’m organized? (I’m not terribly organized, ask anyone who knows me.) At some point the dynamic dawned on me, like that Miller Lite beer ad (tastes great, less filling) — All the control! None of the responsibility!

To a chump — why would you want control if you weren’t going to be responsible?

Wrong question to a disordered person. The answer is always ” Because you are not the boss of me.”

Now, of course, the healthy thing to do in a relationship like that is speak up. “Uh, we’re both adults here. The mortgage needs to be paid. What’s your plan on that? How should we approach this?”

If the freak is true to type, they’ll feed you some line that they’re going to get around to it. Or the check is in the mail, or some such. And then inevitably we discover… that’s not true. Or they’ll blameshift and tell you you’re a hard ass. Bills, schmills.

So, if you’re not a chump — you’ll connect the dots. This person’s actions demonstrate they don’t give a shit. And I need to act on that. Like consider a divorce, because we don’t share values and I can’t be the only adult here.

If you ARE a chump — you won’t connect the dots or act in your best interest. You’ll accommodate and resent. You’ll be afraid of your sunk costs. You’ll spackle. (Well, I guess child care/bill paying/cooking dinner/working isn’t their thing…) And you’ll arrange your life in such a way that Peter Pan/Petra Pan gets to live in Never Neverland.

Life becomes a game of chicken. Who is going to pay the mortgage? Who is going to care for the children? If you’re a chump, you feel a tremendous amount of anxiety at those things not happening. A disordered person? Little to no adaptive anxiety. They’re cool cucumbers in the face of disaster, mostly because they have you sussed — you’ll take care of it. Of course you will, Chump-o. The chump always caves. The chump needs order over chaos.

And if you’re deeply chumpy, you’ll feel this is your role. You need to be needed. You need to be that guy with his finger in the dyke. The metropolis would drown without you!

But you’ll seethe. There’s no way to keep your finger in the dyke and enjoy other aspects of life. You’re stuck there saving everyone from disaster.

If this sounds like your marriage — you’ve become the Parent, the kind of person who seethes at the immaturity of their roommates. Ever live with a teenager? There’s a reason the wealthier classes send them all off to live in boarding schools, quarantined from  polite society — they suck to live with. Between the hormonal drama, the obliviousness to chores, and the feigned helplessness, there isn’t a lot to recommend the experience, except that eventually teenagers grow up.

Peter Pan never grows up.

And Peter Pan never finds you sexy. You don’t live in Never Neverland with Tinkerbell. You live in some drab, gray London and care about life insurance and pruning the garden.

Here you are, smoothing out the chaos, you think they’d recognize your value. Oh, they do — as someone who smoothes out their chaos. But a soul mate? No. You don’t sparkle with fairy dust. You’re not terribly spontaneous or fun.

Yeah, well being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in a marriage does it? Being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in child care either. Someone has to be the heavy, if you’re doing it right. But marriage is not supposed to be heavy. You’re supposed to share burdens together with reciprocity and mutual respect.

Peter Pan doesn’t respect Wendy. He just needs her.

If you’re married to someone like this — let the fantasy world have them. Come over to the land of adulthood. There are some nice people here. And we keep our rooms tidy and our bills paid. And the gardens are really well cared for.

 

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  • My exH was in the military and as he was deployed so often, I had to run everything in his absence. Most everything was set up for auto pay anyway but I still had to be the one to double check everything, get the oil changed…blah blah. His job in the marriage was to cook dinner. I’d clean up but he had to cook (which I hate doing). I remember having a conversation with him when it looked like he would be home for awhile and telling him I though it would be good for him to do some more of the “manly” things that needed to get done. My list included getting the oil changed on the cars (once every 3000 miles), and taking car of the yard (which meant calling the landscaper to come clean).
    He said he had no problem with such as long as I would do the cooking….um yeah no deal thank you. Should have been a tip right there, but nope, chumpy me kept on keeping on.
    Later I was accused of not “letting him do things” when I reminded him of the convo he quickly changed tunes and said well I’d let him do things but he wouldn’t because I would tell him they weren’t done properly….is there a right way to schedule the yard guy?
    Thank you Tracy for yet another reminder of why life is better in the other side

  • O. M. G.
    This is me. This is my “marriage” with STBX.
    You always nail it, CL. I was actually pondering this yesterday. I’ve been thinking that STBX married me in the first place because I reminded him of his mother. I’ve never been sexy to him. Always been the one to keep track of the bills, the daughter, the things that needed to be organized. Was always accused of stressing out too much about things. Was always told that “everything would work out – quit worrying so much.” STBX would always simply do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, knowing that I would simply be there to take care of our daughter. Except for those times when I worked nights, or *gasp* actually decided to make plans of my own (which happened maybe once a year, if I was lucky.) Then I would have to make special effort to make sure STBX could be home with our dd. But if he’d made plans, or had to work himself (which was the majority of the time) I was the one who found childcare for her.

    But I also must confess to being a person who does get something out of being needed. That’s why I’m good at my job. I don’t feel put upon, because I realize there’s a big part of me that feel fulfilled when I’m useful to others.

    The tough part is finding the balance I suppose.

    I’m your classic enabler. AKA chump material.

    • Same here. The balance comes from being in a reciprocal relationship. And a big part of that is on us, to fix our pickers and choose better partners. (As well as recognizing our own tendencies to be people pleasers/doormats who allow people to use us while we enable their selfish behavior, and why).

        • Me, too, Kay H…I did all the childcare, all the housework and all the yardwork too. My ex didn’t lift a finger, yet found time to bitch that he “worked too hard.” He found his little HS sweetheart on Facebook to comfort him, and that’s how the affair started.

          So, since I know what a doormat I am, I’ve pretty much decided not to date. Not until I figure out how to stand up to people and stop acquiescing to their every demand.

        • Same here. XW didn’t have to do anything some days because of how much work I did. When I made a mistake (and I made some whoppers) I tried my best to atone for them, but it was never good enough.

          No reciprocity equals no marriage. I’m not putting myself through this again until I figure things out.

    • “Was always told that “everything would work out – quit worrying so much.”
      I was told over the years that it would be alright, we’ll get through it. Too bad he didn’t remember that promise when he chose to cheat.

      • I was always told that, too. You know how everything worked out? It’s because I made it work out! I did all of the juggling so it did work out! LOL I’m the magic fairy 🙂

        • “I did all of the juggling so it did work out! LOL I’m the magic fairy :)”
          Yep! We waved our magic wands and POOF! Everything was taken care of! It’s not like it was hard work you know..keeping the family afloat!

    • I have always handled the finances, kids, house and just about everything else so he could be on the road. Now that I am in the middle of divorce proceedings, the bills that are strictly his and not my responsibility aren’t getting paid. He just ignores their phone calls, and one now has gone into garnishment. Which means I’m screwed for child support now, because his wages are going to be garnished by one of the the debt collectors. So, he can’t handle his OWN stuff, let alone all of OUR stuff. I am the one who kept us afloat all of these years, as we both worked full time, and I made sure everything was paid. Now, my reward is no child support because he’s being garnished already. That’s the way my life has been going since January when I discovered the affair.

      • Sandy, child support always takes presidence over any debts your ex has. Notify the child support division for your state, the court where your divorce took place, your attorney, or the states atty. office what the amount he is responsible to pay. Even if he owes the IRS, child support comes 1st.

    • Yep, me too. Always stepping up to handle what he wouldn’t, doing all the worrying so he didn’t have to. At the end I told him, I am tired of being your mother. I think his brain development stopped at 14.

    • I can really connect to this whole thread so thank you all.

      I realized three years after DDAY that my role in the marriage was the enabler. He was a narcissist and an addict and my value to him was of normalizing his life. I took care of everything and created a life for him that allowed him to continue to engage in his poor behaviour. I didn’t feel loved or valued so I stopped our sex life months before the official separation.

      A few months after the divorce he took his own life- leaving me to take care of the estate and deal with the emotional well being of the kids. I am happy to say we are all doing well and my biggest regret is that I chose such a poor father for my children.

      Now that I am dating I keep choosing the same person! I too feel like I am better when I am giving to others and struggle with expecting reciprocation. I know I am dating a narcissist and yet I stay in the relationship and choose him over other worthy men. I feel like a hamster stuck in a wheel and need to jump off. I start counselling in two days but I would like to find the strength to end my current relationship. I am an enabler and addicted to narcissists!!

  • Yes- You pulled this story right out of my marriage. My STBX is living (and always did although I thought I could ground him) a fairytale life. I am on Adult Island filing for divorce because he can’t afford it due to his “priorities” – even though he’s the one who walked out on me to live with Tinkerbell.

    Anyway, my friend always said “You have the same conversations with “X” that I have with my 9yo son”….and I never wanted to see it…but now I do. In technicolor.

    Thankful for Chump Lady and Your Incredible Insight that helps me take off the rose colored glasses.

  • Dear Chump Lady: You nailed it! I was the grown up, that’s for sure. (Thankfully he was/is good at his job, likes to do it …sandbox!!… and it is a lucrative profession…otherwise, shit creek, meet paddle.)

    The kicker really is getting resented for doing all the scut work. I never got that part, and protested for years. Why I never went a step further and said “fuck this noise!” is a mystery. I loved him; I was honest; I was a chump.

    The problem as I felt it was that you were damned if you did or damned if you didn’t:

    If you renewed the car registration, great…but seething partner resentment. If you didn’t..potentially huge and expensive tickets. Or, you could nag the partner into doing his share, always fun, and a Great excuse to have an affair (for them.)

    • Exactly. I never got the anger and resentment either, when I was just trying to take care of us and care for us by managing all the unfun, adult stuff. I didn’t mind doing all the unfun stuff (I told myself he just hated paperwork), but I did mind him getting mad for some reason I could never understand, when really I wanted a small amount of appreciation for all the work. Or at least not anger.

  • Oh yes!
    I was often resented for being the responsible (i.e: not fun) one.
    Um, SOMEone has to do all of this stuff. That’s the balance.
    I used to think it was a good balance. He’s fun loving and risk taking and that helped me be less reserved. I’m grounded and plan and that helps rein him in some.

    Peter Pan – yup. Always more toys, more fun time. I don’t want to stop your childhood but you’re almost 50 and you have responsibilities. How is it that I’m the bad guy?

    I was also chastised for having too much control on our finances. It had to be that way. I became the heavy and when he started drinking and $ was constantly an issue I started doing what I called “financial gymnastics” to keep up. So saying “no” to your XBox isn’t me being a hard ass. It comes down to we don’t have the $ anywhere – but I’m the bitch.

    How is it that they need the stability but then resent you for giving it to them and ultimately holding it against you? UGH!

    “Peter Pan doesn’t respect Wendy. He just needs her”
    That one hit home – and stings!

    • Ditto Edie. Only he took it a step further, he didn’t just resent it, he punished me for it. He denied me “fun”. Now I resent losing 18 years of my life that were deprived of fun and joy, that saw me constantly having to fix up his fuck ups. Jeez I’m a flaming dumbass.

    • I also used to think that my ex and I balanced each other out. He lived in the moment and helped me have fun and I thought about the future and took care of all theadministrative-type stuff (the adult responsibility stuff). I don’t think I will make this same mistake again; I was okay with it at the time with my ex, but now I see how far-reaching this refusal to live like an adult is. It affects every aspect of the person and a relationship with that person. Now I get it.

  • That was by far the most accurate description of that part of my former life I could imagine (and never hope to put into words so eloquently). Thank you.

    I know for me it came as such a shock. XW owned her own home, maintained it, took care of a couple pets responsibly, all the things a grown up does. It all changed after marriage and co-habitation. Suddenly I was Mr. Fucking Belvedere, and yeah, I really started to resent it. I enabled that Petra Pan bullshit by being a people pleasing chump for some crumbs of validation. Also, I didn’t discover the financial irresponsibility until we applied for a loan and got her credit report. Like most everything else…it was all part of the show.

    I never wanted children – and I certainly didn’t sign up to play Daddy to a 30-something year old professionally successful and well educated grown-ass woman.

    • “I never wanted children – and I certainly didn’t sign up to play Daddy to a 30-something year old professionally successful and well educated grown-ass woman.”

      Slow clap!

      I am disturbed by how easy it is for these adult children types to project an image of normalness.

      When I met my WXH he had a good job in management that he had for many years, a nice car, and an apartment of his own. Checks off all the “responsibility” checkmarks doesn’t it?

      After we were married I found out his credit was for shit (he could only get a decent credit card or car/home loan from his credit union because they use payroll deduction), I planned every outing and vacation, I paid all bills, cooked all meals, did all shopping for food/household items/furniture/toiletries, arranged and supervised any home repairs…basically he just went to work and came home to eat and sleep.

      One day I finally woke up and realized I was getting nothing out of the marriage except stress pounds and more bills.

    • OMG – so totally true of my married life as well – I actually have referred to exH as Peter Pan too…

      I remember about a year after divorcing, getting asked to a play date by a divorced dad. We were working out the logistics – which park, snacks, time, and the guy say, “Hey, don’t worry about it – I’ll just take care of the details.” AND I WAS COMPLETELY SHOCKED! I had forgotten after ten years of being married to a big whiny, irresponsible child that there were actually grown men that “took care of” things! So he shows up, on time, with his kid, and even brought snacks for all the kids. Who knew? But it’s sad how we just get used to the steady, constant, dripping of their immaturity and it become our normal.

      Indeed, I sure didn’t plan on signing up to raise a 6’2″ momma’s boy. Blech.

      • Living with these people…It’s like every day is a miniature boundary-stretching shit test. I’ll admit, she trained me so well, Cesar Milan would’ve been proud, ha ha. Until this sleeping Rottweiler had enough, that is. WOOF WOOF. 🙂

        • Life sure feels good on the other side Scotty – Glad you’ve had enough and have a sense of humor still intact 🙂

  • Another hand up over here, from the over-responsible only adult in the relationship. The ex did take some household responsibilities, but of course he got to pick and choose which ones, and when. Let’s not even discuss being the default parent ….

    And I spackled like hell! It was OK that I was ALWAYS the one up in the night with the kids, ’cause I don’t need as much sleep as he does, and fall back asleep easily. It was OK that I was responsible for getting supper on the table 6 nights a week, because I got home from work earlier – but of course, on the two nights a week I then had to leave to work some more, he could never be bothered to be home on time to be with the kids, stressing me to the max. It was OK that I took care of all the bills and the school paperwork and dealing w/the workmen around the house …. can’t even remember why that was OK, but he was always so busy and tired and stressed, and I just seemed to cope better … Pathetic.

    Now that we’ve split and the kids are with me full time, it’s actually EASIER in some ways, ’cause I know it’s all on me. And on the e-mail address we still share for kid-and-house stuff, I see the dunning e-mails and the arrangements to pay bills automatically by credit card – clearly he’s not taking care of his bills, and doesn’t care what that does to his credit rating! And this man has a Ph.D. and an MBA. Pathetic.

    • I totally agree that it’s actually easier to do everything yourself. I have my kids full-time as well and doing things myself is so much less stressful than worrying about whether he’s going to show up on time. So often his oh-so-important job got in the way of family commitments. “So I was an hour late picking up our daughter. I was having an argument with my boss. What would YOU have done?” Uh I would have told my boss that my 6 year old daughter had to be picked up and the discussion would have to be continued til tomorrow. But a narcissist isn’t worried about anyone else but himself.

    • You’ve hit on something that always bothered me. My ex’s inability to COPE with anything. Any sign of unpleasantness – dig a hole and don’t come out until I have taken care of it.

    • I am actually grateful I was never able to rely on X for helping around the house because it has been sooo easy to continue to do things he never would. Everything from changing light bulbs to bringing in firewood are old hat to me. Early in my marriage it became clear that if I wanted something done, I needed to do it myself. You should see me deal with repair people! I am definitely not a little old lady to be taken adavantage of-all because I always had to deal with every aspect of our domestic and financial lives.

        • well, and I think it prepares us for our life after divorce. As scared and sad as we might be, we DO know how to take care of ourselves and our families – and with distance, it becomes more apparent how much dead weight we were carrying all those years.

          I came to the conclusion a few years ago that he really only represented a paycheck – that was the only thing he was actually contributing to our family life. I am grateful for that. So after he left, it was just that piece, really, that I have had to figure out after being a SAHM with part time jobs, working around kids’ schedules, for over 30 years.

          It was very gratifying in the months following his departure to have so many people come up to me and say, well, but you’ve been doing it all on your own anyway for so long, haven’t you? so I believed he was contributing more than people on the outside looking in….so it’s actually been such a relief to a. remember, yeah, you HAVE been doing it all anyway – and can we talk about the heavy lifting with four kids all these years? I loved that part, CL, about raising teenagers. Where are the gypsies when you need them, I used to ask! and b. and now I don’t have Dr. No being contrary about EVERYTHING when decisions have to made and action needs to be taken. SUCH a relief.

          So yeah. Good training for life on our own. Kind of a stiff price, overall, but….we’ll survive!

      • Ditto here also! All he had to do was mow the lawn ( riding law mower) and he bitched about that! Really not missing him much!

    • Yep. I was a single mom long before I actually became a single mom. It’s much easier now that I don’t feel resentful about doing it all myself since I’m actually on my own.

      • Yep – I know this tune. The only difference now is that I don’t have anyone popping up every now and again, telling me what I’m doing wrong…

  • So we bought a house together, he was all gung-ho about the prospect of said fancy new house. Oh…oops, there’s a yard. and yeah…we don’t have a cleaning lady. He comes home (probably after sticking it to one of his whores) to find me, mowing the lawn in cut off jeans, frye boots and a tank top. He remarks that I look “rough”, and “a bit dyke-ish” (HIS words, mind you…).

    It was all about the fantasy, never address real life. Oh booo, fiancee wants to actually wear pajamas to sleep in the dead of a Chicago winter instead of sleeping nude like fantasy women do….(yes, he remarked about this as well). He never once cleaned anything in the year we lived together, he had stacks and stacks of mail…I should have known when I was dating him that the dust bunnies that littered his apartment were a sign.

    • mowing the lawn in cut off jeans, frye boots and a tank top. He remarks that I look “rough”, and “a bit dyke-ish” (HIS words, mind you…).

      I dont want to sound like a pig, but thats pretty hot 🙂 Nothing wrong with a little dirt, grass stains & sweat 🙂 Just my opinion not ment to offend. My wife does not sweat or get dirty lol !!

      • I am a horse girl. I used to wear a tank and jeans with cowboy boots all summer. Stbx made “dyke” comments about me all the time.
        No offense, I have women friends who are in same sex relationships, but it pisses me off – he is overweight and would wear pretty much the same outfit , plus a beer when cutting the lawn.
        Oh wait- I think it might have happened twice in our 16 year marriage
        And yes, I looked damned good.
        I should have known better- he was living with Mommy when I married him – he just changed addresses!

    • What a Total ARSE your EX is..

      A Women who can HANDLE Shit IS SEXXY.

      He Felt Emasculated by YOUR Power.. that is the ONLY reason he didn’t find you ” SEXXY”.

      Whenever I Mow the Lawn Wearing basically the Same Getup You described, I get Whistled At By Strangers Driving By..
      There are PLENTY of Men that Find Women willing to get Dirty to Get it Done, Very Sexxy…

      MJD…. There WILL Be Someone WORTHY of you who WILL find you Sexxy Again.
      Please Don’t Doubt that.

    • MJD,
      I also cut the grass in our home because STBX was the main financial provider while I was a SAHM raising 2.

    • MJD thought it was just me! i got the hairy dyke lesbian insults and accusations too. so what did i do? tried to say those are not nice things to say and then went to get waxed!!! boy did i try to please that guy! but nothing was ever enough or appreciated. ‘hey look at me, see me, i do it all AND i look like a hot chick!’ (slaps own forehead) NEVER AGAIN.

      • Yeah. I cut my hair really short because I always wanted to and because I thought my long hair looked unattractive on me. My ex basically intimated that only lesbians have short hair and wanted me to grow it out. I feel far sexier now with short hair, and instead of growing out my hair for him, I cut him off and kept my hair short! 🙂

  • I lurk here a lot. This really hits home. I do my own gardening and continue with my own bill paying. It gets done. It is easier. CL nailed it again.

  • Oh boy, perfect topic for me today. I went to the lawyer (again) last week, but am still having trouble pulling the trigger (again) two years post Dday.

    My H did “the commute,” so it was up to me to take care of everyone’s life including his, while working full-time myself. I use to say that the kids and I lived in our town, but H just slept there. I was the one taking care of the day-to-day EVERYTHING from the time they were infants until they left the nest. I’m a people-pleasing chump, so I just thought this was the natural order of things, just part of being a wife and mother.

    Once the kids were gone I started telling H that I was tired of being his Mommy and that I wanted an equal partner. To tell the truth, I was also tired of being “the man” in our marriage, because he was too lazy, and too accustomed to me taking care of everything, to step up and contribute.

    Apparently he wasn’t too happy with me wanting to change the status quo – that’s when he got bored and restless and started his “game” with the sex chat video sluts. He did pay the bills though, that’s how he was able to hide the fact that he was draining our life savings on his “privates” with his girlfriend.

    • I understand you wanted a reciprocal relatinnship, but that ” be the man” shit is mysoginistic and hurts both men and women, IMO

      • I understand what you mean Dat, and certainly meant no disrespect. I should have phrased it differently.

        I ended up being resentful when I was the one going outside to help our neighbor clear our driveway of snow, while H stayed in his lounge chair. I was embarrassed to have our neighbor doing all the work, while we stayed comfy in the house. H couldn’t be bothered to stir himself. I was the one putting the ACs in the window because H couldn’t figure out how – then I got the silent treatment for days because he was mad at ME for his own inability. I made the dump runs because he wanted to wait 7 months until spring….

  • I think there are some cheaters who are able to act like responsible adults and do their job or parenting or house work.

    There are also people in faithful marriages who struggle with many of the issues related to who will be responsible for the chores and the money and the kids.

    • Sure. I never said it was every cheater and every chump. I said it’s a dynamic though that I see over and over again here. I do tend to think chumps over perform and cheaters underperform.

      And it makes sense in the context of an affair. An affair takes time and resources away from the marriage and someone has to pick up the slack — the chump.

      My cheater was quite an amazing multitasker. He worked a professional job, apparently did pretty well at it, paid the bills (only just — a lot of debt for his “hobbies”/whoring around), and screwed around. He did almost zero housework except mowing the lawn (which he resented).

      Before I knew about the cheating, I though I had traded up. I did all the housework (just like my first marriage) only this one didn’t openly RESENT me for it.

      My husband totally blows me away every time he washes dishes (most nights, and I cook). And he does all the “guy” things like mow the lawn, car care, etc. Viva reciprocity!

      Anywho, I tend to think cheaters aren’t terribly reciprocal in other aspects of their life. And if they are — it’s justification to cheat. Hey, I pay the bills, I work, ergo you owe me.

      • I thought that was part of being a good husband & person, you know pulling your own weight rowing the oars in the same direction if she has a hard day help that person dont shove it up their ass with the dishes or wash ? Just do it because your fucking team and not looking for constant thank you’s IDK. Sucks being a big boy sometimes. But personally I love doing the yard work, my kids won’t let her do the wash because when daddy does it my shirts are not wrinkley and they are so soft lol 🙂 I get to bath the little one almost every night read him books we have a whole bed time gig songs stories etc. She does help out shes not a total dreg she will cook help the big with homework you know in between checking FB and the constant texts because you know her job is the most important and always requires some drama lol,,, I pay the bills and she works a side job for cash FOR HER not the family but I understand and I just do my job as a husband & father no bitching I thought its all part of being a good husband,, when she cooks I do the dishes & when she doesent I still do em, hell if I didnt they prob would sit in the sink all week I know its hard to rinse and put into dish washer ! But I sorta of known this all along she just does not clean she never did from the first day I met her. So we pay a person every two weeks to clean the house. I dont mind I would much rather be out playing tag or shooting hoops then scrubbing a toilet 🙂

        • I understand you’re staying in that relationship for the kids, but I will tell you right now, MichaelD, that when you get tired of it and free yourself, you’ll find that women will love having a man around who’s actually willing to help out with the kids and do daddy things with them.

          • MichaelD, are you in reconciliation? Somehow I had thought that you were separated or divorced (new to the board here and learning people’s stories). Everybody’s got their own journey through this, but I gotta agree with kb: there are plenty of women who will appreciate a man who helps out in the house and is a hands-on parent. And they won’t chump you, either.

            • Yep I stayed after I caught her cheating & I understand there are other women but I want it to work with this one I made a vow. I know the odds & what I am up against NPD is no fucking joke & has no cure. Will it work ? IDK but I do know this I dont want to be a part time daddy. So for now I stay & work my hardest to be the best father & husband I can be & let the chips fall where they may.
              We only have today,, yesterday is a cancelled check & tomorrow is a promise. I live 1 day at a time.

      • Exactly, CL! My exH was also one of these men-children. He used to say, “I work hard, I deserve to have fun when I get home.” Um, yeah, well he forgot the fact that I also worked hard and FT, and so technically I should also get to have fun too, right? Yeah, Um, no. not reciprocal. Another of his faves was telling me, when we visited his hometown, “I shouldn’t have to watch the kids, I need to visit with my family and friends.” Ok, that makes sense, so I accommodated. Then, when we visited my family, he’d say,” I shouldn’t have to watch the kids, I’m on vacation.” So Not Reciprocal. Though, of course, chumpy me always complied, to make him happy.

        Same deal with finances. He was always losing his job and could never seem to make very much money, but he Loved spending it. So, since I made about 4x what he did, I stupidly put all our money into a single account and gave us both full access to it. Didn’t want money and/or resentment over it to ever become a problem in our marriage. Haha was that ever a stupid chump move. When I got sick and was in the hospital for 3 months, he withdrew money like crazy to finance his affair. Then, When he abandoned us shortly afterward, I asked, “how do you have enough money for the intl flight, etc?” He said, “oh, I’ve been withdrawing and putting (MY) money aside” for this. Yeah, so he even abandoned us on my dime! Crazy how he was never any good with money until it came to screwing over his own family.

        Anyway, Chump Lady, you really hit the nail on the head with today’s post. It makes perfect sense that irresponsibility in life generally correlates with irresponsibility in marriage. My exH was even Proud of being a man-child. “I may be 46, but I’m like a 16-year-old at heart.” Um, yeah. Not. A Good. Thing.

    • if it Doesn’t Apply to You and Yours let it go Over your head, Diana…and Thank GOD Whilst You’re at It, that it Wasn’t Yours.
      It’s BAD Enough having to Deal with a Cheater, let Alone one of THESE Types on TOP of Everything Else.
      Those Saying They GET This Post, NEEDED to See it.

    • I believe this imbalance does occur more often when you’re married to a narcissist- the same entitlement that leads them to cheat also makes means they don’t need to be full working partners in the relationship in so many other ways, and don’t feel they need to comply with all those little annoying rules, like paying bills on time.

      My ex is HIGHLY competent at work, and very motivated to work hard there, keep improving his skills, etc. (Even so, he had several long periods of unemployment during our 15 year relationship – primarily I think because of his arrogant personality.) But clearly he expected me to be the ‘mommy’ who would take care of everything at home, and then he could be resentful.

      It’s not all pathological, that we chumps get sucked into this one-sided-ness. We know that it’s pretty normal for couples to have issues about who does what and when, for chores, money and kids. And we know that there are differences in people’s strengths, and phases in the marriage when we each have more demands or need to do more. But what is chumpish is that it takes us so long to notice that things are so very far out of balance, for so long.

      • I believe this imbalance does occur more often when you’re married to a narcissist

        Yes I agree ^^ well said.

      • I agree! I think for my ex it was very much about the rules not applying to him. My ex was and is also very competent at his work, but he always described it as play. His work is enjoyable to him and he loves doing it.

        And I also think that you are right about the one-sidedness too. I thought it was that we just had different strengths, etc., and it took me a long time to realize the degree of unbalance. I am still realizing it even… This post is super helpful and describes my relationship very well….

    • My ex was a responsible adult (mostly). He worked full time, paid the bills, picked up after himself. He left most of the cleaning the house responsibilities to me but if I cooked dinner, he would occassionally clean up afterwards and load the dishwasher.

      He still felt entitled to cheat though. Cheaters come in so many different flavors. The one in this topic is just another flavor of entitlement.

  • Excellent post CL! This was my marriage, though ex was at least responsible for paying the bills while we were married. He’s now off in Never Never Land with his skank. Our house has been on the market for many months and sits vacant. He refuses to share in the monthly bills other than the mortgage – “I’m not paying for services I don’t use!” It would cost more to take this issue to court – per my attorney – than the bills will amount to. Any advice? I, the ever chump, have just sucked it up and have been paying 1/2 as the bills are also in my name. I can’t contact him as he and OW filed restraining orders against me.

    • I am in the same position. My STBX bomb dropped 10 months ago and immediately moved in with younger woman and her young child abandoning my daughter and myself. He immediately wanted a divorce too so I didn’t get the satisfaction of filing first. He has been trying to control everything. I will add he is a flaming narcissist. He too has left me with paying the mortgage and all of the bills and feels this is justified because he isn’t living in the house. I was also the kind of chump described here – I did everything from cooking , shopping, washing laundry, yard work, home maintenance (I am good with electrical, plumbing and carpentry). As the psychologist said, I was his mommy and daddy. I made the excuse he was very busy. He is intellectually brilliant at his job as a professor (we met as graduate students) and he his academic success went to his head. His job is pure intellectual masturbation which is perfect for a narcissist and academia as the last bastion of the feudal system is the perfect occupation for a narcissist. The one thing he did do was clean and maintain the pool. He wasn’t like this for the first 10 years of our marriage but gradually shifted into me becoming the doormat help. He could never be bothered to be involved in our daughters life since she was around 5 – the time his first affair evidently began. It makes sense in retrospect – he emotionally checked out with the first affair that I didn’t learn about until Dday and he never emotionally returned to the marriage but clearly has resented the hell out of me for the last ten years while I tap danced for him taking on more and more responsibility in he marriage thinking hat would make him love me again. Her view of him is an absentee father who never gave a shit about her and that I have been a single mother for pretty much her whole memory. If will say he was great with her on vacations but of course that was doing activities he was interested in.

  • Nothing to ad really, just wanted to say thanks for this post…Totally nailed the dynamic with my STBXW…I took care of things she failed to, dealt with all her drama, was primary bread winner and care giver…and she resented the hell out of me!

  • Exactly! This is my life. When he actually does have a job, I also get to hear him whine about that too. But employment is never long term for him.

  • I spent my entire marriage taking care of him. And the kids. And the house. And the bills. I juggled bills when his hours were cut. I robbed Peter to pay Paul some months. Why? because even though his hours were cut from 60 – 32 per week, he saw no reason to change his spending habits. The mortgage would bounce because he forgot to give me the $500 worth of mac receipts in his car (before online banking). He worried about none of it. I stressed about all of it. Looking back I cannot believe what an enabler I was.

    He is 47 years old and does not know how to write out a check or balance his checkbook. His brother in law’s name is on the account so he can do it for him.

    He can’t manage his money. He can’t figure out how to raise his kids. Both my lawyer and counselor have told me he needs parenting classes. He’s like a 9 year old in a 47 year old’s body.

    Plain and simple – He is a LOSER. Glad to be away from him, but still trying to get divorced from him. He also a Narc who is in it to win it. But that’s a whole other story.

    • Ugh, just remembered my ex also “forgot” to give me receipts which always kept me guessing about what our true balance was. That was before online banking. I’ve told both my kids that they should have separate checkbooks and accounts with their spouses after I what I went through with their dad. That way everyone is responsible for their own expenses.

    • “I robbed Peter to pay Paul some months. ”
      Same here. I can’t even count anymore the times I’ve had to make payment arrangements just to keep the lights on, let alone pay for anything else, like groceries. Not a necessity to eat, I suppose.

  • Ah, I recognise this. I didn’t mind being the “parent” so much when it was just the two of us. I’m so organised and efficient I could take care of all the household admin, while booking holidays, doing a bit of gardening & arranging our wedding. To be honest, I didn’t even notice it, as I’d always done my own and it wasn’t really very different doing it for the two of us.

    However, I was shocked when our firstborn arrived and I presumed that my husband would step up and share the responsibility of everything with me. What a fool I was. I was suffering from PTSD (horrific birth), post-natal depression, undiagnosed anaemia and also had an autistic screaming baby (although didn’t know that our eldest was autistic either, just that he screamed relentlessly) but child-husband went to the doctor who thought he may be a bit depressed. This was his get out of jail free card, as far as he was concerned. If I had the audacity to ask for help (because it was NEVER volunteered), I’d get a lecture about how he was struggling to cope (usually the morning after a big boys night out) and he just couldn’t “take on any more”.

    So, what did I do? Did I read him the riot act & insist he step up? No, of course not. Despite barely functioning myself, I made sure I did everything, so as not to burden him further. If I could go back in time, I would shake myself so severely for this. I was literally this “And Peter Pan never finds you sexy. You don’t live in Never Neverland with Tinkerbell. You live in some drab, grey London and care about life insurance and pruning the garden.” That was me, drab & grey in London dealing with pruning, life insurance and an exhausting baby all by myself – even though I was married.

    I tell everyone who’ll listen these days, that there is nothing appealing to anyone about being an unappreciated domestic drudge. Don’t take up the slack, don’t give anyone taking advantage an easy ride. As my amazing counsellor said “Find your inner Gabby” (Desperate Housewives was big at the time)!

    • An English Lady, I used to try to get him to help. It was futile. I even read him the riot act and do on. For my trouble, he would scream at me and telling what a fucking bitch I was. It still hurts me. I gave up and did everything myself. Now that the kids are older, they tell me they have always known their dad did nothing. That is both comforting and humiliating.

      • In the 6 months before my STBX ran off he would insist our daughter act as dinner servant. She was to pour him wine in just the right way and I had to hop up and get him seconds if his lordship wanted. He also made our daughter do all the clearing of the table and clean up the kitchen by herself while he sat there as king of the house. It had been that they would both clean up after dinner together but it gradually shifted to only our daughter which seemed unfair to me. During the last 6 months he would frequently tell our daughter during dinner (the only time he was blessing us with his presence) that she should appreciate her mother more because if anything would happen to me, he would never be willing to do any of the things I do for her. At the time I was stunned. y the hostility in the statements and wondered what message he was trying to give to both my daughter and myself. I was such a chump doormat I never asked him what the hell he meant by that but I sure wish I had. I felt at the time he was looking for a fight – like I was spending too much time paying attention to my daughter and not enough on him or something. So instead I danced harder for him. Which of course only caused him to resent me more. Of course he was deep into his affair so maybe he was just signaling he was about to run off. It doesn’t really matter – but now I can’t fathom how I put up with his mental cruelty and how I didn’t see how emotionally cruel he was to his own child. I feel ashamed for not standing up for my daughter and that I set an example of being a doormat. No more – better late than never.

  • It doubly sucks to do more than your fair share of the drudge work in family life–and then being resented for doing it. Expecting an occasional “Thank you” only to get “You’re too uptight” or “You suck the joy out of life” instead.

    What the what?!?!

      • Exactly. Or at least not attack someone who just did something to help you.

        It’s like you fixed someone’s flat tire on the side of the road while they stood off to the side and when they drive away you find out that while you were working they keyed your car.

        I mean, was that really necessary?

        • No, lack of gratitude is part of the game. If they said thanks, that’s too much like showing weakness, and conceding your superiority. (Admitting you were competent.)

          They are the superior being and superior beings are just served. And it’s very hard to find good help.

          • Reminds me of that old saw, “Dogs have owners. Cats have servants.”

            Chumps work for cheaters, I guess.

            • I think my dogs must be cats then 🙂 lol

              Never quite sure who’s in charge, and neither are they… especially the youngest 🙂

          • INSANE LOL 🙂 But I understand,, same as ” I am sorry ” its like those words do not exist in their world……..superior beings yes !!! Man I feel so small ,,,, , ,,, ,, ,,lol

            • I hear you Mommy Chump! I was pregnant, project managed our renovation, worked full time, looked after our toddler and was never appreciated! He was “working late” every night and when I said to him I was tired and that he didn’t appreciate anything I did, he said “sorry for being shit at everything” and still didn’t offer to help, continued his charade. Being a chump I put up with it as didn’t want to upset him!

          • CL, thanks for explaining the Why behind the lack of gratitude. That is SUPER helpful because I haven’t understood that for years.

  • CL,

    Good Lord….. What you’ve written in This post…. So ON..

    Seems other than the Bills, I’ve been the Parent in damn near ALL my relationships throughout my Whole Life…and it sets you Up for being the ” Parent” in your Adult relationships too. It Seems to be the Role you’ve been Trained to do for As Long as you can Recall.

    The EX..Yep GREAT with Kids…EXCEPT HIS OWN. His Nieces and Nephews..soo Very FUN.
    His OWN Kids….RUN..Run Fast and FAR Away… Hide Behind HIS MOMMY, Try and Make his FIANCE’ who had NO IDEA about his Other Kids Clean up the Mess He Runs From when SECOND Babymomma Comes round with Her Kid Demanding a Paternity Test…
    HE Hides the Note I Found Stuck in the Door to The Apartment… Asking Him for Another Paternity Test from Yet The THIRD, at His Brother’s Apartment, After I Confronted him with it asking ” WHAT the Fuck ?! ” after taking HIS Dogs out to take a Shit, cause HE was Still SLEEPING.

    ” You Can’t Make Me “….THIS is Soo HIS Motto…about EVERYTHING, even when it’s Totally for HIS Benefit..

    Dumbass actually sent me the link to ” Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift.. After I Dumped his Arse.
    Truer Words Never Spoken..He will NEVER GROW UP…and Seems to Think it’s a Virtue.

    His First Babymama and Him are Just about the Same… She’s Friggin damn near 50 year old Tinkerbell.

    After I Got Pregnant I Totally Realized there was NO Way in HELL I was Willing to be Mother to my Baby AND A Middle Aged Crazzzzy Child with No Conscience.

    Wendy…Yea..That WAS ME.

    NO MORE.

  • I was allowed the privilege of the accounting responsibilities, but if I made a mistake, or he was displeased with our debt percent ratios, he would shame me, and become very angry. I have, on two occasions in 12 years, been officially dismissed from my duties. Deemed ‘useless’…Until he would discover that he sucked at maintaining a good credit with our lenders and utility service providers. He would begrudgingly ‘allow’ me to resume my previous position- no apologies were offered-I had to extract them. I should have known THEN, that this was a more than a tiny little control issue. This was a trust thing- a big red flag- a peek at his true opinion of me, a glimpse of his true character. Yes. I should have known THEN…but like a true chump, I took it all and stayed for the rest of the ‘show’…smh.
    Funny story: A few months ago we began seeing a therapist for marriage councelling. The therapist
    listened to our story, and offered STBX a short book called, “You might be a Narcissist If….” He struggled through the first 2 or 3 chapters before he began making excuses for not reading it. I can’t help but wonder: ‘You might be a Narcissist If…’ you can’t even finish the book! 😉

  • We were both very responsible in our roles until the spring broke her head. Then she wanted to be best friends with our 14yo daughter who is 18 now. After my STBXW found out about her fathers affairs, she made me her new father.

    So, I was a single parent with 5 kids. One of which was a scoundrel in charge of our checkbook. Oh what fun that was! I left and hopefully forced responsibility on her. If I wasn’t working 1-1/2 hours away, I would have stayed until the end of the divorce. After having a couple of nervous breakdowns from the stress of it all, I had to go. The “fun house” wasn’t fun for me.

  • My narcissist ex-wife, although college educated, couldn’t balance a check book, or pay bills on time but was an expert credit card shopper. She wanted to be a stay at home mom, she said it was her calling. Except that even as a stay at home mom she insisted putting our one year old in day care 3 days a week because it was too much for her, she needed “her” time. Her “time” I learned many years later was cheating on me.

    When I filed for divorce in late 2008, which was the year of the stock market and housing crash, the biggest financial meltdown in recent history. she was shocked that there was little money, my business suffered, that our home was worth less than the mortgage. She blamed me for not informing her about what was in the news that I should have let her know the world and her lifestyle was threatened.

    Poor thing, handled the divirce best way she could. Got herself a boob job, Botox, and wnt hunting for a new chump. They’re getting married in the very near future. He’s short fat bald Texan doctor who loves hunting and red meat and potatoes. She’s a breast implanted, botoxed, neon yoga wearing vegan. They’re perfect for each other.
    I’ve made side bets with my family member on how long this will last.

    I almost feel sorry for the Texan gun tooting doctor, except that he’s an asshole and she’s one too.

    Soon, very soon, I will be alimony free and narcissist free. Yippe ya yay….

    • Congrats PF on your upcoming freedom! Sounds like our STBXWs share a lot of the same characteristics. Mine wouldn’t let me be a part of our finances though. Everytime I suggested we discuss financial planning or helping with the bills, I got the “don’t you trust me?” defense. She was very aggressive about it too. Basically trained her chump to stop asking. Later found out she had charged up our credit cards to $30K for no good reason I could see. Also later figured there was stuff charged there that she didn’t want seeing the light of day. Mmmm, shit sandwiches!

      • Thanks guys….

        I’m counting the days until the wedding, I have nightmares that fat Texan doctor calls off the wedding.

        Soon….soon….I will alimony free.

    • PF, you definitely have to keep us posted on how long her new marriage will last. Do you think she will cheat on her new chump or vice versa?

      Congrats on being alimony free!

      • My guess is she’s already cheating on the new Texan chump. She’s a one night stand kind of gal with an affair on the side.

        Odds are, the marriage will last until he puts a break on her spending. She’s crafty, she’s always got a chump on the side as plan b.

  • This reminds me of what my ex wrote to me in an email shortly after Dday: That he had married me because he thought I would take good care of a house and children and him, and that I would never leave him. Sure sounds like Mommy, doesn’t it? Then went on and on about how he felt no passion for me. Sure, because his “passion” was spent on other people, mostly men at the gay bath houses.

    My ex is staggeringly immature. I would say he’s emotionally around the level of a 10-year-old boy, but chronologically, he’s in his late 40s. Pathetic.

    • Mine, too, Glad. His emotional maturity was arrested in his early teens, and now he is pushing mid 60s. It (used to be) embarrassing, now I am like, meh. Embarrassing more now for the kids and our nieces and nephews…the older they all get, the worse it is – they have all outpaced him, in all ways, and it’s just so fucking bizarre to see their faces and try to get a grip on just exactly WHAT he is talking about… ManChild.

      • Oh my Gosh, Glad I am sure yours and mine may be related. X has always had a very codependent relationship with his mother. I remember pulling him up couple of time on the fact that he would kiss her on the lips the same as he did me (just a peck nothing more. should have been my first clue). 5 months ago confessed to doing OM’s for the last 8 years after our then 14 yr old son came to me to confide that he had caught his father looking at Male pron.( not for the first time i have come to learn). 14 year old son is now 15 with the maturity of a 20+ and 42 year old X acts like he is 12. X has even had the audacity in the last few day to demand that the 15yr old give him an outline as to how he can be a better father? seriously
        I have pretty much run our home and due to being worn out or down sucked the fun out of life as I was left to do it all and then was scrutinized. At the time of his initial affair I cared for a 7,4 and 2 yr old. youngest of which was full on. Moved lawns, did the shopping, cooked meals. etc etc, etc.. while he was working (supposedly) till all hours) it got to the point I had a break down. he had me hospitalized and when asked by the Dr before I was released was there anything he wanted to bring up.
        X ‘ she is not a very good house keeper’
        Dr ‘ how do you think you might be able to help her in this’
        X ‘ well I can clean the house to how I want it and she can just maintain it’

        Guess who’s back living with his mummy?

    • Ugh. My ex too – a perpetual 12 year old child. Except after our daughter was born and our son was on the way, he admits he had been molested as a boy…when he was about 12. I was so overwhelmed with worry and trying to help him – and the counselor (he went twice) actually told me that “when a boy suffers a huge assault like this, he often stops developing emotionally at the age of the attack – he essentially needs all his energy just for survivial.” So I got stuck with the forever Pan 12 year old.

      And I chalked all his shitty abuse and cheating and other issues up to what had happened to him – and continued to try to help and spackle and dance…all for this selfish 12/40 year old who had NO intention of ever trying to be anything but a terribly mean excuse-making person. But anytime I tried to encourage him to NOT hurt his wife and kids, I just got more of the “can’t you be more understanding” theme. Oh, and he kissed him mom on the lips too – and told me a few years after we got married that “he wasn’t allowed to love me or our daughter more than his mother – she told him that since HER face was the first he saw when he was born, he had to love her the most forever.” Batshit crazy.

  • My h situation is a twist on this – he’s the parentified son in his relationship with his narc mother, so after being his mother’s partner (gross) and fantasy knight to the ow, I was third. Nanny/chef/housekeeper/bookkeeper and general fun sucker during the affair. not paid or valued, just an employee who was kept in the dark. It’s seriously fucked up and allows me to maintain a constant nauseous feeling in my stomach. Too many women in this marriage, and the fallout is pretty ugly. When do I get to act like an irresponsible teenager?

    • Nic–I understand your sentiment exactly. This is the most accurate description of my present situation too.
      My STBX mows the lawn. That’s it. Nothing else. Nada. Zip. I was accused of abandoning him because I have a job that I am proud to go to, and spend some time nurturing. I gave up nurturing HIM, because it was NEVER ENOUGH, EVER. I could give and do ad nauseum and he would simply say, “I deserve more.”

      The thing with the mother is the stuff of legends. This is where the narc comes by their pathology, it is said. She created this monster, ask anybody here about their stories with the mother in law and you’ll see, you’re not alone. If he is the “parent” or “partner” (ewwwwwwwwwww!) to his mother, and she either doesn’t recognize it (they never do) or actively encourages it (buys a house near yours, calls incessantly, demands his time even when she knows you/your family need his attention)—YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE that battle. That bond won’t be broken, no matter how you try and convince him otherwise.

      “Fantasy Knight to the OW”—well, I think you’ve answered your own question as to when you get to act like the irresponsible teenager—let OW have him. Kick his sorry ass to the curb and watch just how “UGLY” things can really get. Better yet, let Mommy take him back and maybe he can live in HER basement and date the OW. Win-Win all around and YOU get the freedom to be YOURSELF–free from nauseous feelings in your stomach. You deserve better!

      • Lol. He doesn’t want the ow and he doesn’t want to be married to his mother anymore. He sees the mother for what she is but that umbilical cord is strong. And both he and the ow work for her. This is where I run down the street screaming….

  • The one positive of all this, is when you/they leave, the transition is smooth. You’ve been pulling the weight of 2 people all along, and now that anchor you’ve been dragging around is gone. For me, it greatly simplified my life without a woman-child to babysit.

    For them? Probably not so much. No wonder they immediately latch onto their TWU WUV SCHMOOPIES. A parasite can’t live without a host.

    • YES!!

      I had people telling me how hard it would be to be a single parent of five kids. Instead, life was so much simpler after getting rid of child #6.

      What I find really hilarious is that he STILL hasn’t done the paperwork to get my name off the marital home and a small mutual fund, even though he got them in the divorce. I consulted my attorney to make sure there was not down side (there’s not for my situation). If he dies, I get half the house and all the money in the account. What’s really stupid is the fact that I GAVE him the paperwork for the mutual fund. He must have lost it. LOL!

      This is a man who used to go out of town for work with a limited supply of his daily medication, and then expected me to drop everything and figure out how to get him more when the business trip lasted longer than expected. What a freaking child!

    • This is sooo true.

      After I left him, suddenly there was more disposable income. I could actually save!

      There’s less to clean! No grungy microwave where he reheated leftovers and didn’t wipe up. No nasty bathroom surprises.

      And him? The last time I went by the house we once shared to drop off some divorce related documents for him to sign he was sitting in the living room watching videos on his laptop from a jumpdrive. Why? Because the cable was shut off and he was too cheap or too irresponsible/lazy to get it turned back on. This is the same man who when we were together insisted that we have every channel known to man and would obsessively watch sports and movies all night. I guess the NFL channel isn’t a necessity when you have to pay for it yourself. Ha!

    • So absolutely true. My life is soooo much easier now that the anchor is gone. The child that was the most work (and the most expensive) is gone!

      A few months after he had move out, he was out of town and lent his car to his girlfriend who was to leave it at his place with the key locked in it. He forgot that you can’t lock your key in a Prius. Duh! So its 10pm and he calls me about the kids (yeah right) and then asks me to go over to his place and get the key and lock the car. Shocked that I said, “No.” “What! Why Not!?!” “We are not friends,” I say. “We aren’t!?!” “No. Have your girlfriend fix it.”

  • Hmmm….perception is everything.

    My X was the codependent fixer and enabler. When I married him I was an independent, self-reliant, fully functioning adult single mother. I had no fear about being able to take care of myself or my child or of dealing with the future. No addictions, no particularly egregious bad habits, hardworking, and responsible, and fun to be around.

    I did NOT need fixing, and it seemed that these were the qualities that attracted him in the first place, as he was highly complementary about them.

    BUT, no longer was the ink dry on the marriage license and Mr. Fixer went to work, subtly taking over everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Encroaching bit by bit over years and years …peeling the layers off that onion.

    One of the most glaring examples?

    I am a great cook and I like to cook; but I couldn’t cook anything without him coming in, taking the lid off the pots and re-seasoning everything without EVER tasting it first! This resulted in overly seasoned food (both too salty and too hot with pepper) than only HE enjoyed.

    Initially we had calm talks about this. I explained that I seasoned food during the cooking process, that my palate was much more sensitive than his; and that while I appreciated his efforts to help, could he please season his servings at the table. He got the hang dog look, apologized, and said he’d never do that again. Well, until the next time. I tried to compromise and accommodate by dividing the activity…so that he could make things he enjoyed and leave mine alone. We could be together in the kitchen during dinner mean prep…what could be sweeter?

    Worked for a short while, and then he “forgot” again.
    We had the calm talk again. (many times)
    Hangdog-cycle clean up-lapse
    Protest escalates to: “You did it again.”
    Hang dog-Cycle-lapse.
    “You did it again. Do I speak English? I am beginning to believe that I don’t.”
    Hang dog-cycle-lapse.
    [All the while the years are going by and children (who also didn’t like food that blow torched their tongues) came into the picture.]
    He continues to “forget” and lapse.
    Protests escalate to, “I have discussed this with you so many times, it keeps happening. I don’t feel “heard” and I feel disrespected.”
    Hang dog-cycle-lapse.
    “One of these days I am going to turn ALL the cooking over to you because apparently you want to do it.”
    Hang dog-cycle-lapse (going on about 10 years now)
    Finally one night I put a spoon of my beef stew in my mouth and literally needed a fire extinguisher. I got up dropped the bowl in the sink hard enough to break it and splatter stew all over, turned and told him “We have discussed this hundred of times with no resolution. The cooking is now YOURS.”

    And it was. I quit cooking and maintained that stance for about another 20 years… right up until he left…EXCEPT when I could do it early and get it on the table for the kids before he got there OR when I knew he would be gone at that particular meal time. I did keep the fancy foods like desserts because he had never tried to participate in it and, DAMNED if he didn’t start meddling in that!

    One day when she was about eight or so my youngest asked me, “Mom, can you cook?” I said, “Yeah, baby, I can cook.” And she said, “I don’t mean cakes and pies and microwave food, I mean cooking on the real stove…like Daddy.”

    This pattern extended to the laundry (really it extended to everything) where silk blouses were dried at kiln temperature and came out sized to fit a toddler. Being the good counselor that I am I tried the patient, instructive, reinforcing him for compliance approach…until one day (after many lapses) the damn would break, and I’d take out the verbal 2×4… a melt down and transfer of duties on my part.

    When you tell someone hundreds of times in a gentle but direct way to give you some space and a bit of individuality and they keep on disregarding your wishes? They know what they are doing and it is the epitome of PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE behavior of a very ingrained kind. Because you WILL eventually get enough, have a melt down and express for them all their own repressed anger that they are unable to express.

    This kind of constant invasion of my activities was totally pervasive, as if I were helpless or incompetent. I think the man would have taken bowel movements for me if he could have. It was smothering, frustrating, and nullifying.

    And this is a CONTROL ISSUE. They will take shit over to the max and then get all angry and bitter on the inside because you don’t appreciate them enough! Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. The old emotional double bind is alive and well inside every codependent. And, the repressed anger is eventually going to erupt. It is just a matter of time.

    Codependents have HUGE CONTROL ISSUES….they must manage everything. Their issues are turds which they oh, so sweetly and charmingly roll in the glitter of, “I was only trying to help.” along with the guilt inducing and INSINCERE “hang-dog-act-apology. following by a few weeks of cleaned up act, and then “back to business” again …thus perpetuating a sickly sweet, autonomy invading, all pervasive presence because they are compelled to “fix” and/or “change” one….through enmeshment and passive-aggressive behavior.

    It is a miracle that I could wipe my own butt at the time he left..and he left all bitter at me for seemingly having checked out of attending to his needs. Why not? You weren’t going to allow me do anything independently anyway? [But we tend to revert to type and I was a “quick study” in regaining my lost autonomy and diminished identity.]

    The kicker? ( One of the things he said to me after walking out to be Knight In Shining Armor to his new “fix up project and vagina” tp start his codependency cycle all over with someone who could REALLY appreciate him?)

    “You never would cook for me, and it hurt me so deeply that you didn’t care enough to do that.”

    Bullshit, sumbitch, you had subtly and over years and years conditioned me to believe that I could not do much of anything to please you..and you did it with a fucking SMILE.

    • I am sorry that just sucks. After a long days work I could care less what is cooked. I am just very thankful for it. What a control freak.

      • Yes, indeed, Michael; but if you met him you would be convinced beyond all doubt that he is nicest, most generous and most selfless man on earth… a bona fide martyr. Abuse by a codependent “fixer” can be ambient and incredibly subtle; and when it is, it takes years to figure out what is going on if ever.

        • Yes, and if you try to describe it to someone who has not experienced this brand of passive-aggressive torture, they will think you are crazy. It’s beyond gaslighting, even.

          • Yes, Lily it is beyond gas lighting. Because I swear I don’t believe PA’s are necessarily covert-aggressives. I think it is such an ingrained coping mechanism from a childhood of being smothered, over-controlled, and repressed that they are unaware most of the time just how frustrating they are to deal with on a 24/7 intimate basis. In the rest of the world their charm carries them through and people don’t necessarily pick upon having been manipulated. PA’s are the masters of the double-bind…the win-lose situation; and it has worked for them so well in all other areas of life that they automatically bring it the table in intimate ones. The need to control will always over power an ability to be appropriately interdependent.

            …. because from time to time, usually after months or even years of their constant Chinese water torture on a simple and legitimate boundary, you reach the 2×4 stage and have an ugly, snarky rant saying things like, ‘Fuck! I must speak Chinese. I really must, because what I believe is English that I am speaking is not getting the job done around here. How about I switch to Arabic? Do I need to write it down? How about in Braille? Do I need to make some of those subliminal tapes for you to play while you sleep? How can a concept so simple elude someone as intelligent as you?”

            This kind of rant is basically verbal abuse (never mind it has been a looong time coming and after hundred of attempts to resolve it in a gentle and cooperative manner). So, then, you get to feel guilty about having acted like an asshole, and the PA has stuck it up your butt again. So, you apologize for the rant, but not for being upset at the boundaries that were breached. You stand there asking yourself “Who in the hell was in my body acting like a banshee? This isn’t you, what’s wrong with you?”

            And, of course, any outsider who witnessed your meltdown without a clue as to the months or years of triggering antecedents that you have squelched (antecedents which you have clearly and gently discussed with your spouse on number of prior occasions) will think you are the biggest wing-nut they have ever seen…and mean as hell too boot!

            I wish I had a dollar for every time I said to my X, “You do more than your share around here now and I appreciate your willingness; but I am a big girl, and “I’ve GOT this.” But he was not going to give up that CONTROL. It is like he WANTED a parasite! So, I’d eventually back up and let him take over. Then at the time of his implosion, he had the audacity to bitch to me about all the things I never did anymore that caused him to have to leave (He never did own up to the PI documented affair.)

            ***

            In his book “Living With The Passive-Aggressive Man,” Scott Wetzler states, “It’s not unusual to develop an especially active temper around him, even become violent for the first time in your life. The maddeningly provocative behavrior of passive-aggression has moved women to toss dishes across the room; rip up clothes; build bonfires in the bathtub of his photos, books and letters. If your rage has escalated and you find that you are suddenly shrill or cruel to others, you probably will stop in your tracks and wonder how you’ve been transformed into this creature of destruction. Ashamed of your behavior, your pattern may be to give in and agree with him that you are the persecutory figure he says you are, and he the unfortunate victim. You wind up apologizing to him.

            A passive-aggressive man plays on your open-mindedness and willingness to empathize with him. You give that extra inch, then he slaps you in the face with your generosity. This is because there are two realities in operation: what’s actually happening between the two of you, and what he wants you to believe.”

            ***

            This video that went viral last year may or may not be the result of a PA man having consistently tortured a wife past sanity levels, and I certainly would not have had a tantrum of that magnitude. ( When he hijacked me to go get his tires rotated, I’d taken a taxi home at the first opportunity.) HOWEVER, listen to his contemptuous voice and complete lack of fear of this woman while he baits and secretly videos her. Keep in mind, too, that she is a nurse anesthetist who probably makes three or four times what he makes. I suspect there is much more to this story than meets the eye. Yes, indeed. This man may even be covert-aggressive.

            • This kind of rant is basically verbal abuse (never mind it has been a looong time coming and after hundred of attempts to resolve it in a gentle and cooperative manner). So, then, you get to feel guilty about having acted like an asshole, and the PA has stuck it up your butt again. So, you apologize for the rant, but not for being upset at the boundaries that were breached. You stand there asking yourself “Who in the hell was in my body acting like a banshee? This isn’t you, what’s wrong with you?”

              Oh my God YES! Yes! Yes! Yes!

    • Yep, you might just be a codependent fixer and a narcissist if your way is not just the best way; it’s the ONLY way.

      And does old dude have “Mommy issues”? You bet your sweet ass he does.

      His mother had the “clean addiction” of workaholism. He was parentified by her and enmeshed with her at the early age of being just tall enough to stand at the stove and cook for his little sisters about 5 nights a week while she and his father worked late…. often until after nine or ten o’clock at night. He was also responsible for supervising homework and keeping them out of her shop which was attached to their house.

      Naturally all the kids were TV addicted and he was the worst. He literally cannot be in the home without the TV going…even if he is in another room doing something else.

      When we first married I made the mistake of turning off the TV when nobody was watching and he passed through and turned it right back on again. When asked, “Why are you doing that?” He responded, “I like the sound of it; it keeps me company.” [So I suppose that made me chopped liver, right?] But I left it alone after that. It seemed a trivial thing to make a fuss about.

      He loved to have me in the room watching HIM while HE watched TV. Not much quality interaction, eh? I was just supposed to be in close proximity. This, of course, prevented me from being somewhere else doing what I enjoyed. Naturally, being my SELFISH self, I often went ahead and did things I liked elsewhere in the house…partly because he hogged the damn thing and then relentlessly channel surfed during commercials and partly out of sheer boredom.

      Another one of his complaints when he left? “Not enough togetherness….we grew apart.” Bullshit on that one, too. We were blown apart by your cheating with someone shrewd and predatory enough to feed you all the “Attention Kibbles” you wanted in order to get her own kibbles (attention, jewelry and romantic clandestine assignations a la a Lifetime movie)…until she either mined that vein out or got real close to being caught by her own husband. [This is a pattern for her with old insecure men. He was not the first and most likely won’t be the last. ]

      They are no longer together. She dumped him and did not divorce her own more independent husband. Was that predictable or what?

      He has recently become hooked up with a “needy” and “fragile” widow of a little over a year. This woman is codependent, too, having lived for 32 years with a man who drank himself to death. She seem nice enough and I have no problem with her…just a curiosity about how long it will take them to “smother” each other to death. The control issues in that relationship ought to EPIC…once the “new’ wears off.

      When we do not address our own baggage, we just recycle it into the next relationship. Sad but true.

      • Something else too. We don’t see it or realize it, but it is the compilation of unresolved little shit that becomes the real deal breaker in long term relationships. The cheating by one or the other is just a coup de grace…which in retrospect (after we calm down) we, the cheatees, realize was probably a needed death blow. Since the one who cheats is typically the one least likely to have developed conflict resolution and reciprocity skills.

        • At the end of our marriage my ex told me he’d looked on the internet when he became unhappy, he tried some of the things he read there, and nothing worked so our marriage was over. Of course I had no idea he was even unhappy at the time. It floored me that he’d look on the internet for answers instead of just talking to me. It became very clear after his mask slipped that he had the emotional maturity of a middle schooler.

          • Lyn,

            Mine never said a word about being unhappy about anything either BECAUSE he wasn’t unhappy until he got into the affair, experienced the all consuming neurotransmitter “high” as compared to a somewhat mundane and settled (but still viable and good) long-term marriage and then began to pick our marriage and me to pieces (all internally now mind you).

            At that point he became even more solicitous and careful…even though somewhat subdued compared to his former self. I never saw the bullet coming, but then I was busy doing constructive things and not navel-gazing at a pity party because our marriage was not Prom Night 24/7 after 33 years. I am a realist and don’t expect everything to be perfect in my life.

            For almost the entirely of our marriage he had given a convincing performance of being a realist, too; but when they go rogue, any underlying dissatisfactions no matter how trivial turn from molehills into Mt. Everest.
            I realize now what a “bean counter” he had been, but until he imploded would have laughed out loud at someone who even suggested it.

            Cheaters completely re-write marital history to justify their current bad behavior. Psyc’s call it the process of self-delusion.

            ” Highly Advanced Self-Justification Techniques” is Chapter II in the Cheater’s Handbook…don’tcha know?

            • Same here– he never once mentioned in all our years of marriage that he wanted a divorce. Suddenly, two months into his A, he tells me (on the phone when he’s out of town; how convenient) that he started thinking we should get a divorce. I was totally taken by surprise. Where the hell did that come from? But of course, why would he want to stay with boring, routine me while he was getting ego kibbles and a huge high off of his deceptive trysts with his love, who, of course, was infinitely more sexy, funny, devoted, and interesting because they were residing in Cloud Cuckoo Land together without the stresses of bill paying, child rearing, and house cleaning?

              I felt the same way, notyou. I knew our marriage wasn’t a carnival of exciting delights, but it wasn’t a bad marriage, and I was realistic. You take the good with the bad, and you can’t expect it stay super exciting and romantic every moment over the long haul. However, I also never had an A, so I never had my head so far up my rear that I conflated fantasy with what my life should really be like (or felt that I was entitled to).

              • MovingOn,

                He never mentioned it because he never thought about it and didn’t want one UNTIL he “got off the farm” and deluded himself into the belief that he was “Stud Muffin Supreme” and that all the hotties out there wanted a piece of him.

                The following can be found in various places on the internet, and I have posted it here before. It is hilarious but true about what happens when people (not just men) decide they need to indulge in some cheating:

                I don’t believe in Midlife Crisis. Just substitute “Cheating” for “Midlife” everywhere you see it, and you will see that it fits perfectly!!

                ***

                MIDLIFE For Dummies

                Welcome to the wonderful world of Mid Life Crisis!! You are about to embark on one of the most perilous journeys you have ever taken. A journey fraught with intrigue and guaranteed to turn you inside out! This book is designed to help you make sure you get the most emotional bang for your buck.

                In these pages are the “how to” answers to the questions you have been asking yourself about damaging as many people as you can along the way. Come on and dig in, it’s time to get this roller coaster rolling on down the tracks!!

                Chapter 1 – Choosing the Correct Speech
                There are 4 basic speeches for you to choose from. They are:

                a) I love you but I don’t know if I’m in love with you.

                b) I’ve never loved you, and we should never have gotten married.

                c) We got married to young. I never knew anything besides you.

                d) You tricked me into marrying you, I would never have done it otherwise.

                Once you have decided on which speech to give, you need to cause as much anxiety in your spouse as you can before you actually give it. Continue to the next chapter for Lessons in building anxiety.

                Chapter 2 – Lessons in Building Anxiety
                You will find these lessons to be helpful in causing anxiety in your spouse and others (depending on the level of pain and damage you want to cause), not just prior to giving the speech, but throughout your MLC.

                Lesson 1 – Monstrification of Your Spouse
                This is easy to accomplish. Simply think of only the “bad” things that your spouse has done throughout your entire relationship. Have one of those “angel” spouses? No problem, just remember how bad she always makes you feel. DO NOT under any circumstances remember fondly your spouse, or anything they have done for you. Remember, they are going to be the cause of all of your problems, so it is imperative that you convince your self of this first.

                Lesson 2 – Emotional Detachment
                This will be very easy to do after accomplishing lesson 1. All you have to do is start reminding yourself that you don’t care about them, what they feel, what they want, or if they hurt. Simple! Every time you remind yourself of this, you will get further and further away from your relationship emotionally. Now, that wasn’t too hard was it? On to lesson 3

                Lesson 3 – Mass Confusion and Indecision
                This lesson requires a little more thought and attention. You must constantly practice saying “I don’t know” to ANY and ALL questions. That is imperative!! Your spouse (and others) must never know precisely what is going on in-side your head. Also, never let them know where you are going, where you have been, who you were with (this will go hand in hand with the lesson on the Other Person, or OP), or whether or not they can expect you to return home.

                Lesson 4 – Lies and Deceit
                To get the most damage, and cause the most pain, you must lie and decieve at every opportunity. And to really achieve hall of fame status, you should be very inept at it, so that everyone knows that you are lying, or suspects, but can’t prove it initially. This works very well for the following chapters, OP and Cake Eating.

                Chapter 3 – The Other Person (or OP)
                Now it is time for you to succumb to temptation. You KNOW all of those other women/men want you! They have been coming on to you for years!! It is time for you to give them their chance at having some of you. Make sure that you leave a very confusing trail for your spouse to follow. One that lets them suspect, but have to dig and sneak (to make them feel worse about themselves) to find the information they need to prove it. Hold out admitting the affair as long as you can, and don’t admit it ever, if you can get away with it.

                Chapter 4 – Cake Eating
                This chapter is designed to string your spouse along in uncertainty as long as possible, because as long as they have hope, they won’t be able to go out and find their own lives and be fulfilled. Why should they get to do that, while you are so miserable? They shouldn’t!! So, make sure that you are affectionate occasionally (not too often, as this will raise anxiety levels), that you drag your feet about making a decision on the marriage, and that you leave and come back several times (as many as you can get away with).

                Chapter 5 – History Revision
                It is very important that you revise the life you have lead with your spouse. You must use words like: Always, Ever, Never and All of the Time. Always precede the statement with the terms: you, I, and we. As in “you always nag me” “I never ever (double bonus here) get to do what I want” and “We have to do what you want all of the time”. This will help to make your spouse feel like the way you are behaving is all their fault, and can cause them to feel even worse about themselves than they already did!!

                Chapter 6 – It’s All About You!!
                Remember this is all about you! What you want and need, RIGHT NOW! You shouldn’t have to wait until you can afford something, just go on out and get it! You deserve a new haircut, new clothes, and some new toys. You’ve worked for it. You would probably look great in that new Convertible, or on that new Harley!! So don’t hesitate! You live in the here and now! So why wait until tomorrow!!

                Remember, the word is CRISIS and if you are in one, EVERYONE else should have to ride the Roller coaster with you! It’s no fun taking a ride alone, and you know what they say about misery loving company! Go on out there and get started, so much pain and damage, and so little time!

                Chapter 7 – Avoid, Ignore, and Run Away
                This chapter is to help you deal with the problems that your spouse will try to cause. We don’t want you to have to “deal” with anything, now do we? You shouldn’t have to “think” about any “issues” right now, except those that concern you “feeling good”. The best way to handle this, is to Avoid, Ignore, and Run Away. Any time someone tries to make you see a more “reasonable” stance on a subject, simply Avoid making a reply… stare out into space, as if you are thinking about something important, and they will become uncomfortable and leave you alone.

                If there are responsibilities that need your attention, simply ignore them. You don’t have to do anything you don’t feel like doing. And the best for last is Run Away! This can be accomplished in many different ways. OP’s can help you Run Away from all of these “problems” as well as Alcohol, Drugs, New Sports Cars… etc the list is endless. Of course, you can always just leave… but remember not to let them know where you are going, and if you’ll be back!!

                Chapter 8 – MC and Therapists
                Your spouse may ask you to go to counseling with her/him. This is only useful to make them feel better. It cannot possibly have anything to you so there is no reason for you to follow-up with anything suggested–it doesn’t matter to you. The only thing you should look for is more reasons (excuses) for avoiding, running and ignoring (see previous chapter).

                Chapter 9 – I Don’t Have To if I Don’t Want To and You Can’t Make Me!
                Remember that this is about YOU, and what YOU want and how YOU feel!! No one else is important, so don’t let them make you feel as if you have to listen to anything they say. Your spouse will try to help you of course, because they love you. Don’t let them get away with giving you unwanted advice. Let them know in the teenage vernacular, that they can’t make you do anything.

                This is important, you must be as childish as possible!! Any truly adult behavior on your part will only convince them that you are listening to what they are saying, and you will have to start back at the beginning. Of course, this technique can be used knowingly to cause more confusion and chaos, just beware of the danger, you don’t actually want to start acting like an adult!!

                Chapter 10 – How To Threaten and/or How To Move Out
                You threaten to move out for weeks or months but you don’t. (*)You tell your spouse that you got too much on your plate right now to look for a flat but that you will do so in 2 weeks time. After 2 weeks, repeat from (*).

                If your wife wants to come too close to you, like entering your bedroom to talk to you, tell her to stay away or you will move out. When she replies that you will move out anyway tell her that you will move out faster if she comes any closer

                Chapter 11 – Art of Clinging
                The Art of Clinging to the End of the Mattress without falling off the matrimonial bed while still sharing it with your spouse.

                Chapter 12 – Advanced Lessons
                This is usually reserved for those in more difficult situations, where the LBS has responded not by tossing you out, threatening to leave, or filing for divorce, but instead persists in not only OFFERING to cooperate, but actually MAKING THE CHANGES you said you needed.

                “I am tired of living like this/I don’t want to live like this anymore/I am not going to live my life like this?” often is coupled with another advanced tactic, “It’s not you, it’s me”.

                This line is most effective AFTER the LBS has jumped through hoops and bent over backwards. It basically confirms that no matter what changes the LBS is willing to make, the incompatibility lies within the MLCer, who has no intention of, or implied desire or ability to, compromise.

                Appendix
                HOW TO MAKE YOUR SPOUSE THINK SHE IS CRAZY
                1. When confronted by the evidence of an EA or PA, become very indignant. Stress that the LBS is obviously just a jealous sob/bi*ch, and you are entitled to “buddies” of the opposite sex.

                2. Never, ever answer the question, “Are you okay? Is there something wrong?” with a direct answer that might actually lead to a discussion that might help the marriage. Continue to never talk to spouse, never give her/him a personal compliment or touch of affection and by all means work on the “cling to the edge of the mattress to avoid touching” manoeuvre that is so successful in making your spouse crazy.

                3. Always bear in mind that your spouse will expect you to want to at least give them the chance to “fix” the marriage. Since you have already checked out emotionally (of course NEVER tell them that!), you are under no obligation to actually listen to anything they say or acknowledge anything they do. This tactic is also extremely beneficial when they employ the MLC diet. When they lose a massive amount of weight and you are in ear shot of someone who mentions to spouse about the weight loss, say “Are you losing weight? Why don’t you ever tell me things?”

                4. Of course one of the most successful ways to drive them crazy may only be used when you have earned the MLC Black Belt. Go to marriage counselling for months, let them pour out their soul to you and the counsellor and let them believe they are actually accomplishing something. Then arrange things so the spouse finds you in your own home with OP. This will accomplish two things: a. She will finally have to understand how lucky you are to have found your “soul mate” and b. She will be doubly betrayed because she thought you were actually working on the marriage.

                DON’T LET YOUR SPOUSE GET TOO INDEPENDENT – STATEGIES FOR SUCKING YOUR SPOUSE BACK IN
                1. Make negative comments about OP or the chances that the relationship with OP will succeed. HOWEVER, under no circumstances, make any commitment to end the relationship with OP.

                2. Make veiled hints about suicide or excessive drinking or drug use. Be erratic and hard to contact.

                3. Do random acts of kindness such as yard work or something. That will keep your spouse confused and hopeful.

                4. Make vague comments hinting that things might work out between you and your spouse IN THE FUTURE. HOWEVER, under no circumstances take any actions to work anything out.

                CUSTODY – Using the Kids To Your Advantage
                If you have children, they can be extremely useful for inducing fear and panic in your spouse. Recommended phrases include, “You’re poisoning my kids against me”, “You put that idea into their heads”, and “You need to do [insert pertinent action here] for the sake of the kids’.” Remember, your spouse, being a responsible and loving person, is not only trying to cope with his/her own feelings, but trying to protect the children, and you can use that to your advantage.

                Don’t forget to use the fact that if you spend any time with your kids, you should get Extra Credit Bonus Good Parent points from your spouse. It doesn’t matter if you feed them ice cream for breakfast and have them watch “Hellboy” when they asked for “Veggie Tales”, you Just Wanted To Make Them Happy, and since YOU are the best judge of Happiness, that makes you Super Parent.

                You can use this opportunity to trash talk your spouse (“Isn’t this more fun than what Mommy/Daddy would let you do?” “Mom/Dad doesn’t know how to relax.”) which of course, will be repeated back to your spouse so you get the benefit of destroying their self-esteem second hand.

                Highly advanced MLCers may want to start casually using the word Custody, but be very, very careful. While useful for sending your spouse into a state of panic, you certainly do not want to be responsible for a bunch of kids who will seriously cut into your personal fun time. The word Custody should only be used in a casual tone of voice for the most devastating effect.

                BUTTON PUSHING
                You (the mlcer) know a lot about your spouse. You know what pushes their buttons to get them both upset and/or happy. You have the power, you can do it! So using the kids to upset them is fair game (see section on how to use “custody” to upset them but not take on the “custody”). And if that ever stops working, find something else. Suggestions might include pets, valuables in the home, their appearance, family, career. Nothing is out of your reach since you have put in so many years getting to know your spouse–use what you know.

                THE BLAME GAME
                By now, you should be aware that all of this MUST be your spouse’s fault, however, your spouse may not understand this completely yet, so you need to start planting the seeds.

                There are several ingenious ways to put the blame on your spouse, and we will be exploring them all.

                Method 1: The Non-Blame Statement

                I’m trying not to blame YOU

                This statement implies that you are “not putting the blame on them” but on closer look (which your spouse is guaranteed to be doing) The words actually put all of the blame on the spouse (where of course we know it belongs).

                Method 2: The Passive Blame Statement

                I don’t think that I can live with you.
                My opinion never mattered to you.
                I can’t live like this.
                We rarely have fun anymore.
                I don’t want to live this way anymore.

                These are passive statements that don’t actually assign blame to your spouse, but your spouse will definitely get the idea if you use them. They can’t help but see that it MUST be them that makes you feel this way.

                Method 3: The Direct Blame Statement

                You never listen to me.
                You never put creases in my pants.
                You use bagged salad.
                You never keep the house clean.
                You are going to do it your way.

                All of these are direct statements of blame. You should mix actual faults with things that don’t really matter to make it more confusing, and make your spouse feel as bad as possible about themselves.

                Your spouse has probably already started doing the hard work to look inside his/herself (Yuck, what an awful thought!) and will take on all of the faults you list to try and correct them. This will keep them occupied for awhile, and you can avoid any serious relationship talks while they apologize for and try to fix all of their own faults.

                Make sure that you don’t actually accept the apology, that way you can continue to bring the fault up which will slow down their self improvement process. Remember, they are working on becoming better human beings, and you wouldn’t want that to happen to fast, as that would interfere with your ability to string them along.

                Note: NEVER ACTUALLY ADMIT TO ANY FAULTS OF YOUR OWN!!!! REMEMBER, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY! YOU ARE THE GOOD ONE, AND HAD THE RIGHT TO HAVE AN AFFAIR, LIE, SPEND MONEY, OR ANY OTHER THING, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE BAD!!!

                Let’s not forget “We’re just incompatible – we always were.”

                Also, when the LBS starts to make changes, make SURE you find fault with these changes, or point out how it’s “too little, too late”, or wasn’t what you meant AT ALL. If all else fails, put the LBS down for being so willing to change herself for your needs. Also, when the LBS starts to make changes, make SURE you find fault with these changes, or point out how it’s “too little, too late”, or wasn’t what you meant AT ALL.”

                How to keep you spouse guessing…be mean one minute threatening divorce, etc then next day be kind and sweet almost the way your spouse remembers you..rinse repeat….

                HOW TO CONTINUE THE CRAZINESS ONCE SEPARATION/DIVORCE IS AGREED UPON
                1. Even though by now you, dear MLCer, have done everything human possibly to convince your spouse that you do not love him/her and want out, when the time comes to actually file, DON”T DO IT! This is the coup de gras of MLC. Absolutely DO NOT TAKE THE INITIATIVE. This is a most vital and awesome crazy-maker. Holding out will force your by now totally devastated spouse to finally throw up his/her hands and seek legal counsel.

                2. Once the LBS has had enough and decides that divorce is in their best interest, you have won HUGE points here. Refusing to be the one to file now puts YOU in the role of victim, bringing you all the attention and pity necessary to allow you to again regain your image of the abused one in all this. Now you can, with absolutely NO guilt, tell everyone the divorce was your LBS’s idea (which of COURSE it was!) and they will assume that:

                a. the LBS lost all that weight and obviously has been involved in an affair, and

                b. the marriage ended because your LBS spouse is going through a – YES! THE PINNACLE OF CRAZINESS! – Midlife Crisis!!

  • CL this definitely resonates with me.

    I was the one that did the majority of the cooking, I would make his coffee and lunch every morning, and I was in charge of all of our bills.

    He would complain that he had no idea what was going on with our money. I lost count the number of times I showed him the spreadsheets I kept on Google Docs (and gave him access to).

    During our whole 5 year relationship he was often unemployed – but as a chump, I would let us continue to live our normal standard of living instead of cutting things from the budget and as such we racked up the credit card debt.

    After we separated I still had to pay some bills just so I could get my frigging name off of them. It made me so angry how I felt like he just used me for my money (and my parent’s money) throughout our whole relationship.

    Thank goodness he is the OW’s problem now.

  • I do not want to generalize here but my therapist made a very good point to me during one session. She explained that my exH likely cheated BECAUSE he was not INVESTED in our marriage/family life. I think it was easier for him to detach from the realities of our lives because he wasn’t connected enough to them. He only worried about himself, his business and his hobbies. He did no housework or taking care of the kids. He did not run them to Dr. appointments, he did not cook meals, he did not grocery shop, etc. You get the picture! His home life was unknown to him. He showed up to eat eventually and he slept there. I don’t think he could imagine what he would lose if he cheated!!!!

    He is gone now and really………..my life has not really changed much! I was always a single mom!

    • Oh that’s so me too. “my life has not really changed much!” so accurate. In fact it’s easier as I have one less person to run after, organise etc and the house is a much more pleasant place without him in it. Hope all goes well for you.

    • Kimmy, thanks for sharing what your therapist pointed out. My ex always put his career and hobbies first in his life. I never thought about him not feeling that invested before, but he probably didn’t.

    • That’s the best, & saddest thing about my “marriage”. I literally did everything but earn the money (SAHM).( Now, my stbx does have a neuromuscular disease that makes it impossible for him to do some of the physical things, but he didn’t do them before either, so…) My life has only changed in the day to day in that I’m not dealing with the tension of him being there in a manic state, I don’t have to police his actions, & sadly, my kid’s lives haven’t changed that much either. He was gone before they got up & once he got home would hide out in the TV room. They don’t have the 20 minutes before bed that he would carve out of his “busy” day, but other than that?? Not much has changed. Now I just have to deal w/ his narc ravings whenever I “make him mad” by stating facts that he doesn’t want to hear. (Stuff like: you can’t put the house on the market without me agreeing to it. That is a LAW, I’m not saying it to be confrontational. It is a matter of fact.)

    • kimmy THAT IS IT!!! i was always a single mum! that has been the most saddening and liberating realisation.
      life has changed only because i now have two sons. the third child has gone hallelujah!!!

  • Just a thought. It has occurred to me whilst reading this post and the comments that chump people (me included) seem to be complicit in their own undoing by association and involvement with cheater creatures. (Before anyone berates me – there are absolutely no reasons or excuses for cheaters to cheat.) That said, we choose one another for reasons only known to ourselves.

    If these doomed couplings could be nipped in the bud, if only we could preempt the crazy behaviour, it would save so much misery to so many.

    I say this because I have children and I sometimes fret a little over what will become of them and I know that I’ll have no input into who they gravitate towards and only hope that they will have be smart enough to see someones true character and if it’s bad, to end relationships. It is possibly about people valuing themselves enough to believe they deserve better.

    • Tonya, part of the problem is that the narc cheaters DO often put up red flags, but we spackle over them! We WANT to believe the best of people (good quality), but blind ourselves because of it (big mistake). We WANT to be part of a team and work hard for that team (good quality), but don’t recognize when the other half of the ‘team’ isn’t doing much teamwork (big mistake). We give a lot (good quality), but let our partners get away with take, take, take (big mistake). We cut people slack and understand that no one’s perfect (good quality), but take it too far and let our partners take advantage of us and abuse us (big mistake).

      I worry a lot about my son becoming some type of chump, ’cause he’s such an easy-going, sweet guy, and a bit passive. I worry about my daughter becoming a narc, because she has a lot of the ex’s negative, demanding temperament.

      So I work hard at teaching my kids to be good, balanced people, and to recognize red flags in themselves and others. I talk to them about looking at what people DO, not just what they say. About cutting people slack for brief, non-severe exceptions to good behaviour, but recognizing when it’s frequent or severe. I encourage my daughter in her honesty and caring, and my son in standing up for himself.

      But I did the most important thing for THEIR future when I walked away from their dad. I showed them that, loving and caring as we may be, we cannot stick around to be further abused. And that as much as others may love us and care for us, our behaviour still has consequences.

      • Also narcissists/sociopaths tend to be very good actors. You may have gotten a few red flags, but have no idea the extent of the problem until after you’ve committed to the freak. When you come from a culture/religion that thinks divorce is one of the worse sins, you tend to spackle instead of opening your eyes to the truth and getting out. My X changed the day we got married. I should have left him immediately, but I was making the best of a bad situation because I thought I had no choice.

        • “Also narcissists/sociopaths tend to be very good actors.”
          My STBX should have won an Oscar. He had this fabulous way of portraying that I was the one at fault. He was never cheating. It was all me. I accused him of cheating, which meant that in reality I was. Very great at covering up his lies and deceitfullness.

      • Yes I agree wholeheartedly that extricating yourself from an abusive marriage is the best example for your kids in not taking abuse. My son, the eldest of my two kids is someone who takes no shit from people, he may be just a little too cynical but I’d say my daughter will be more prone to being taken advantage of. She even likes unicorns, yikes!

        I despaired the day she went to a party at this pottery shop where you paint ceramics and chose a unicorn to paint. She painted it in rainbow colours and was all starry eyed
        about it. I feel so protective toward her and her soft nature.

  • Oh, CL. This is a great post! I’ve read in other places that Chumps tend to feel super-responsible. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to the “life of the party” kind of mates because deep down we want to loosen up a little. I felt a lot of responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of my mother growing up. When my sister was born, she had special needs, and I felt like I was supposed to be her second mother. So what happened when I got into my marriage and my ex decided he was too busy to pay bills, but wouldn’t give up control over the checkbook? It made me crazy to get those little pink overdrawn slips in the mail all the time! The way I finally convinced my ex to let me handle paying the bills was to tell him how fabulous he was at the “big picture” economics of our situation, but how he was much too important and busy to worry about paying our every day expenses. After a year of wrestling him for the checkbook, I discovered that fawning over him worked. He finally turned it over to me and we never had another “insufficient fund” slip arrive in our mail again. My ex finally resigned himself to the fact that I was did a better job paying our monthly bills. However, if I tried to warn him that funds were getting low so he shouldn’t buy the big purchase item he wanted, he would get really mad and say I was trying to control him. Often he would buy the thing anyway, just to prove I wasn’t the boss of him. Once he left on a business trip and overdrew our banking account which left me with no money to feed our kids until his next pay day. So CL’s post makes sense to me. My ex saw me as his mother and that made him feel rebellious. I remember trying so hard to convince him that we were on the same team, I wasn’t trying to control him, I just wanted to have our bills paid on time and keep a decent amount in our checking account so I could feel safe and secure about our finances. It was a constant battle between the two of us — him seeming to think that since he made most the money he should be able to spend it as he liked, and me trying to pay our bills on time and feel a sense security in how we handled our finances.

    • Lyn,

      Your post is amazing. I also have a special needs younger sister, and all of the other siblings in our family have married…chumpily. We were so accustomed to trying to help, to rallying around the struggle, and to biting our tongues when WE needed or wanted something, because what our sister needed took precedence. These cheaters use those good traits against us, but I do think it’s a pattern. Hugs to you.

  • I can’t say this was really a dynamic in our marriage. I handled all our money, he mainly cooked, I mainly cleaned but he helped and even said Thank You and how much he appreciated all the stuff I did. I did the laundry and he helped fold. He took care of the outside, I did the inside. Our marriage seemed to hum a long pretty nicely, at least I thought it did, but it still didn’t stop him from hunting for pussy and cheating on me. Sigh.

    I kind of wish that we had more problems in this regard, so I could pin his shit behavior on a crappy married life, but we really didn’t. He liked that I did the bills and I did too. I got our debts paid down and fixed our credit. He fixed “man” stuff and cut the grass like the happiest homeowner in the world. We were inseparable.

    But what can you do. I’ll never figure it out. I guess he liked his home to run like a well-oiled machine to free him up to bag other women. Who knows . . .

  • Add me to the list. Practicing attorney, running my own business, infant in day care while daddy occupies his days golfing and – wait for it – building a home video arcade (then a home theatre, man-cave, home computer lab -always a self-centered project in the works). I’d rush home to tend to the baby, get dinner ready, put my daughter to bed, do whatever house chores or work stuff I couldn’t get done in my abbreviated 9-5 day and then have wine/adult convo with husband for a couple of hours before baby would wake me (she didn’t sleep through the night for more than two years and I was 100% responsible for the nighttime . What did he do with his day? Web-surf and waste time mostly. Weekly cleaning service did most of housework, lawn service took care of grass and baby was in day care, so dad was responsible for paying bills, doing most of the laundry and tending to contractors and repairmen when necessary. That’s about it.
    I’ve thought a lot about why I put up with the imbalance. Part of it was that he was pulling his weight financially (he had a decent amount in savings). Part of it was that he was (*seemed*) so loving and accepting and good-natured and fun – I couldn’t have cared less that I was working harder. But when DDay hit and the justification offensive launched -“you didn’t pay me enough attention”, “I always wanted more time with you”, “you didn’t initiate sex more and it was too routine”, “I resented the fact that you hung out with baby in our bed before putting her down for the night”, “you told so-and-so that I didn’t cook”, “you didn’t call me enough during the day” – I lost my shit. The secret to our compatibility was suddenly very clear – we were both committed to putting his happiness first.

    Peter Fucking Pan is right.

  • I just dont get a man not having a job,,, unemployment for a week or 3 sure I get that but all of these stories of guys with no jobs wtf is that ??. If I had to be at home for whatever reason I would make sure you could eat off of my floors wash done dinner cooked kids delt with . I just dont get it ?? ?? No job ? Where is your fucking pride ? How do you look at your kids and say yea I am the man & its my job to take care of you & mom and keep you warm and safe with a full belly……. I am sorry for ranting I just dont fucking get it.

    • “I just dont get a man not having a job.”

      Thank you. I guess I’m old school (just turned 50) but I am shocked at the epidemic of boys (NOT men) under 40 who HAVE NO JOBS. They are artists who can’t draw and writers who never publish and curators of websites no one visits and house husbands who leave childcare to grandparents. Dabblers and dilettantes and dickheads. What my parents would call “bums.” And the women in the lives . . . ACCEPT it. And often it’s more than one woman, because of lot of these douchebags use some of their abundant free time to f*ck around. It’s crazy.

      Ladies: think twice before you accept this kind of assholery. See what you’re holding in your hand there? Yeah, it’s a big bucket of spackle. Put it down. Step away. You CAN do better.

      • Yes, well, what can we say but . . . you are right.

        All I can say in my defense is that he was employed when we first married, and it took a decade and a couple of his job changes for me to figure out that his pattern of leaving a position every few years was not due to his being “head hunted.” He had a history of being fired that he had neglected to mention. Eventually, he shifted to not being willing to work at all because no one appreciated his worth and surely he could make a fortune doing something glamorous as soon as he found “backers.”

        Most of these jackasses don’t propose by saying, “You’ll be responsible for all our financial stability and all the housework and all the childcare; I’ll take care of the exorbitant spending on items only I enjoy and treat myself to the company of other women as the mood strikes me.”

        But over time, this pattern does emerge . . . and in our bafflement, we find Chumplady with her magic mirror and backbone supplements!

        • Well, I think you were just duped. Classic bait-and-switch. I’m talking about women who *knowingly accept* deadbeats. For example, I know a young woman neighbor (24 or so I think) who just became engaged. She’e working on her master’s degree and has a full-time job at the university and her name on an apartment lease and a new car and is pretty and has a very bubbly personality. In other word, she has her sh*t together. And the guy she just agreed to spend her life with? HE. HAS. NO. JOB. Well, he’s a “concert promoter.” Does a small show every month or two. Can’t make much money at it. Moved in with her and is at home most days all day long. WTF? If that was my daughter, I’d pull her aside and tell her, “You’re boyfriend is a nice guy. I understand he’s fun and a great dancer. But he isn’t a grown up, and you can’t expect to make a grown-up life with him. Please reconsider.” It just seems like a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

        • My exH was exactly the same. Was working when we got together, but somehow always got fired from every job within 3 yr. By the time I figured out that my guy was a slacker, I was already married with kids, and i loved the guy.

          What I don’t understand, though, is the fat, ugly OW who took in a known cheater, let him live with her with no job, supported his lazy ass for a year, and is now marrying him. That, to me, cries desperate and pathetic. And it’s not like she’s some young thing who doesn’t know better. The troll is in her 40s. Definitely a Loser with a capital L.

          • Far out you guys are going to save my months of counseling.

            X had a very good job when we met ( in our early 20’s) lived at home with his parents, not unusual for a christian boy. I also had a good job finances were fine had the capacity to take out a very modest lone to help pay for our wedding as I have no family, all was good. 6 month out from the wedding X moved into the small house next to his Grandmothers which would be out first home together to save money, and to be closer to the location changed offices with in his employment, as the new home was out of town. 12 months on and all of a sudden he doesn’t like the new office and after all the effort put into making the small house a home and dealing with his family. He one day announces he is moving back to the city office effective immediately random excuse give which I accepted. We moved 6 times in 4 years. on the eve of 2000 (literally) we moved into the home I still reside in with our children and will fight to keep. but three days before we signed the paperwork he lost his job and only that I had pick up some night shifts at a local supermarket we would not have been able to make the first months mortgage payment as we seem to be always short, it took a few years and more debt to realize he was not good with money even though he worked in accounts when we met so I took over the running of the family finances he did care one less thing he had to do. I thought I had a good man but hind sight is 20/20 omg I was blind. In the past 20 years my X has had more than 15 jobs some of which have lasted less than a day. He has had three in the last three years. Lost his job a year ago and sat on his a for 6 weeks eating up the small loan we had taken out to do up our very outdated bathroom. then took a low paying casual job even though he was offered a perm roll in this field of work. reason given for not taking it…… I want a change. When I put him out 5 months ago I took on the responsibility for all the household bills, insurances, mortgage, utilities, and all the other expenses relating to running a house. He pays a small amount of child support each month, the kids school fees ( which are reasonable) runs his own car and insurance and was asked to keep up the health cover for all us till we sort stuff out. He lives with his mother so his living cost are low. 3 months ago he cancelled our hospital cover claiming he can’t afford it, but since then has bought a new car and taken two interstate trips.
            Peter Pan?
            Passive aggressive?
            Narcissistic?
            Oh did I mention that over the 13 years he has done very little to maintain our home and prior to putting him out 5 months ago it was suggested to him by an elder at our church that he attempt some things around our home (as an outward expression of his commitment to our marriage) so seeing the bathroom had not been done as the money had been used up he finally decided
            to replace the towel rail that had fallen down more than 12 years ago when our then 3 yr old son swung off it. It took more than thee days for him to install (he was so very proud of his efforts) it fell down last week. Great job!

      • I’ve known about 3 SAHDs. In two of the cases, the father was in a lucrative profession, but the wife made more. Dad got laid off, and the family discovered that with Dad doing the cooking, the ferrying back and forth, etc.–the family was doing pretty well without having to spend extra $$$ on daycare, babysitting, lawn care, cleaning, etc. The plan is for the father to go back to work when the kids are in middle school. In the third case, the parents met while the father was in grad school. He had a small inheritance, and again, his wife started making more, had her own business, and it simply worked out for them to have him watch after their daughter. All the dads are very active in their children’s upbringing, and since their wives are in pretty high-pressure fields that can demand long hours, the fathers bring a lot of stability into the picture.

        It’s certainly not typical, but being a stay at home dad is not necessarily the lazy option.

        • But its the couples choice he stays at home I have no problem with that he is very lucky. I WISH I COULD BE A FULL TIME DADDY :)’
          I am talking about the stiffs that sit at home all day and do nothing. We have a few women here where I work,,, these poor girls work hard all day 8,9,10 hours and their husbands do nothing they are at home no job it just makes me sick.

          And Nomar if being old school means being a responsible man ok I guess I am old school.

  • My ex was a total Peter Pan. I grew to hate that character and Disney movie. Still can’t watch it without grimacing.

  • OMG this was my N!! Then he would promise the kids like we will take this vacation or buy them a new car!! I would have to step in and say we couldn’t afford it. He would say how I was always so negative about things and would call me Debbie downer!!
    I started making him tell the kids no since he was the one making the promised. He would then tell them Mom said we can’t afford this!
    It was a never win situation as y’all know.

    Now kids see me as the one who keeps their word! I make very few promises but the ones I make I keep. He still is blaming me telling them he can’t afford things because of all the things he has to pay in divorce. The divorce that he filed for because he wanted to be with ow. Btw I only received what the judge ordered because I refused to negotiate with a crazy man and it worked in my favor

  • Chump Lady, you given the most succinct summary of my marriage: “Peter Pan doesn’t respect Wendy. He just needs her.” I am happily divorced now!

  • I can’t believe how accurate this is. Do you know him?! This describes 22 years of marriage with a complete idiot. Why did I not see it clearly before?!

    Discovered I was a chump in November and my first reaction was to throw him out – no way was I begging him to stay. He was gobsmacked. Thought we would remain friends and he could get his mum and step-dad to spend Christmas at my house and he would come for the day! Eh, no! I threw him out and he had to live in a caravan with no running water for the rest of November and December until he could find somewhere to rent! Oh I enjoyed that!

    Life is so much simpler without him. Right now I’m waiting for him to leave the house for the last time – he’s been coming in a couple of evenings a week to help my youngest with revision for exams – last exam tomorrow and he will never be over the threshold again. My house is mine, not ours, I inherited it, he has no claim. Thank goodness for Scots Law – if I lived over the border in England I’d be selling up and giving him half the value of the house my parents spent all their lives working for.

    He’s lying to his parents, to our boys, but I’m just sitting back and waiting for the whole situation to fall in around him. I’m so very angry, but can see how much better off I’ll be in the long run. Onwards and upwards.

    Thank you so much for your website, it’s validated everything I have done so far. Am working towards “meh” each and every day.

  • “All the control! None of the responsibility!”

    “Peter Fucking Pan”

    Oh, how this place makes me laugh and think.

    I once made a spreadsheet (that’s the kind of gal I am, need to see things in black and white to absorb their reality) of household chores and who pays for what.

    No surprise to anyone here, but one party in the marriage did 80% of both. (‘m rounding, one was 79.7%) From child care to arranging to have insurance to house cleaning and buying toilet paper, one person took all that on to be a helpmate. And because it needed doing.

    When it came to finances, we earned approximately the same. He graciously threw about 20% of his earnings in the pot, and I put in 100%. Then I administered the funds being distributed. Net result: we racked up more than $40,000 in credit card debt (have no real idea what he bought… porn fees? Scanties for Schmoopie?) and I racked up $150,000 in a retirement account.

    Now that he’s scampered off to Neverland, I, unfortunately, don’t get 80% of what I created during the marriage. He’s fighting me tooth and nail for his 80%…

    And I am NOT sponsoring Peter Fucking Pan any more!

    • Trust me, that is SOME satisfaction. Good job! All your work will be for YOUR benefit now, since you didn’t really have a partner. You had a parasite, and you’re about to be cured.
      Nice!

      • “Didn’t have a partner had a parasite” THIS!! Glad I got rid of mine…I was the main bread winner and worked hard and never spent a dime on myself to get us ahead plus I was pregnant! STBXH spent a fortune on himself – clothes, perfume, watches, music, mixers etc etc and I let him as I loved him and wanted him to be happy! Little did I know he was really happy from his 2 ho’s on the side! Chumped big time!

  • Clarification… HE racked up 40K in debt on HIS credit cards. I, uhm, paid mine off each month.

  • I think this is why so many affair crumble (or so I’ve heard) when left to their own devices and why cake is so delicious. Cheaters needs the stability of the home life in order to feel free to have the fun of the fantasy life.

  • I realized recently that I have more free time, do less housework, and actually enjoy cooking for my two teen boys now that I am no longer married to Mr. Jesus Forgives Me Control Freak Adulterer (JFMCFA for short). For the entirety of our 20 year marriage, I worked (at times making over 50% of our income), did ALL the childcare except for the occasional grudging night out with the girls (and he would call his mother to come stay for the weekend to watch them…Lord forbid he have to take care of his children for a few hours on Saturday night for mommy to go to a chick-flick), did ALL the housework, all the cooking, errands, yardwork, everything. He wrote out a menu each week that I was expected to follow (yes, I am an idiot…I did it…I wanted to keep my family intact) and would criticize each meal. Most nights after working an 8+ hour day, commuting home in urban traffic hell, cooking dinner in my heels while simultaneously supervising homework and throwing in a load of laundry and walking the dog, he would saunter in from his home office (he worked FROM HOME…and never lifted a finger during the day to get anything done AT HOME), sit down to eat, and disappear back into his office to “work on important paperwork” until the kids were bathed, kitchen clean, and the house was quiet and orderly. He made such a show of how haaarrrddd he was working all the time…until he declared bankruptcy and I realized his little home business was tens of thousands in the red and he had exactly ZERO clients. What had he been doing all those nights holed up in his office?? Frankly, I really don’t even want to know at this point…it wasn’t working on supporting his family and being a responsible husband and father. Heck, he wasn’t even a responsible MAN. Rant over. Thanks for the place to share. Hugs to all of you dealing with the aftermath of divorce from a selfish, controlling man-child.

    • Wow, Nicole. Hats off to you, man. Just imagine how you’ll fly now that you’re rid of this lead weight! Holy smokes.

    • Nicole,

      You will have so much more time, freedom, and peace. So many of us have had this same dynamic, and when the smoke clears, YOU GET YOUR LIFE BACK!

      Enjoy thinking about the activities and hobbies that made you happy BEFORE this marraige, because you’ll have time for them again. And your kids will see their mommy smiling and relaxed too. Hugs to you. 🙂

  • Nicole…….it’s a wonder we didn’t cheat on our spouse!!! I actually told my exH this in an argument over once again discovering that he was still cheating on me with Slutface! I mean really, I had a laundry list of ACTUAL complaints with which to justify my potential cheating behavior! He had the nerve to tell me there were “things” wrong with our marriage and it takes two!!!!!!!! OMG….I saw RED! I told him he was absolutely right, it takes two to make a marriage work and there was only one person working on it!!! ME!!!

    Ugh. Still gets me mad as hell!

    • kimmy, my ex accused me of ‘making him feel inadequate’ during a discussion, about a year and a half post-separation, about why the kids didn’t want to see him anymore. I held my tongue on the obvious answer;
      It’s because he WAS inadequate! An inadequate husband, friend, lover, and father!

      I had SO much to complain about, legitimately, but HE’s the one who cheated. Just like you said, ‘it takes two to make a marriage work and there was only one person working on it!!! ME!!!’ The world really sometimes is upside down.

  • THANK YOU chump lady.
    in my marriage and in the years that proceeded the official union i could not see the wood for the trees. you have gotten inside the walls of my marriage and i now do not feel alone. to all the people who have shared this life – we get it. no one else did. i didn’t. stbx poisoned all those around me and soon i thought i was controlling and hard to live with. but now he has gone i realise yes i was really doing it all and trying to be sex godess wife too. at least now i can go to sleep and not have to worry about upsetting him and trying to talk nicely to him or wait for him to ‘do’. i lived with ‘i was about to do that’ and it slowly ate away at my insides while he sat around hating me for never breaking and outshining him.
    we do and did our best. we are and were super human. they can never be like us and resent this fact.
    at the same time i look forward to not being so super human and just being cherished. and i am being right now by my children who, bless them, at the ages of 5 and 7 can see already who is the one that has it all covered, who shields them and provides for them.
    i am cherishing myself. my friends cherish me as i now engage in the world. there is space for life and i intend to never be ‘mummy’ to anyone but my children ever again. 16 years of that nonsense is quite enough. we are mighty to have endured. now we can do more than endure – we can live.

    • Enjoy your babies, hug them close, and you can be sure they know that they have the best mummy in the world.

      Oh, and enjoy sleeping again too 🙂

  • I did see this to a certain extent in our marriage. It was like a twisted game– who’s going to clean the toilet? How nasty will it get until someone relents? To be perfectly honest, he would clean from time to time, but I did most of the cleaning. This was especially frustrating when I was working full-time, had the longer commute (30 minutes one way to his 5), and usually brought home piles of work to correct. You would think that the person who had more free time might help to pick up some of the slack. You would be wrong in the case of my ex. *eye roll*

  • I think that even if a cheater is a responsible person, at some level, they expect their chump to fit into their parent’s role. Especially the disordered have mommy and/or daddy issues, so they expect their chump to fit into one of those roles.

    I never felt as if STBX were irresponsible, but I often felt that he expected me to be like his mother. His mother was a timid woman in many respects, but she also used her insecurities to tell her sons that she needed them to do things for her. As I write this post, I realize that all these tasks had to be completed with drama in order for them to be seen as complete.

    For example, his mother once called over to my parents when STBX was visiting. She lived about 30 minutes away. Her dog had vomited on the carpet, so her son needed to come home to clean up the mess. See? Neediness and drama. He’d have to make a production out of it. Look at me! How I am helping You!

    Me? I don’t need that kind of help. I’m perfectly fine at cleaning up dog vomit by myself. I just don’t get the need to make routine household tasks into drama-laden events.

    STBX mows the lawn. He’s out there for over two hours mowing a lawn that takes an hour to mow. He refuses to drink water or other fluids while he’s working because he’s too hot. THen he takes a hot shower, and then he’s sick from the heat. I used to get after him to drink fluids, and then I realized he likes the drama of being heat-sick. It shows how much work he’s done, how much he’s sacrificed.

    STBX does clean. I’ve always liked that about him, but again, it’s a drama-filled event. When we rented, he’d clean our small, 1000 sft home, but it would take him nearly 4 hours. I was never sure how he spent that time, since he didn’t move books from the book shelves and we were bursting at the seams from all the books we owned. They were stacked everywhere! Once we moved to a larger home that gave us bookshelf room, I volunteered to clean the main area of the house–about 3/4 of the square footage. It takes me about 2-3 hours to do so. STBX always approaches his cleaning as “I have to clean the house. This place is a shit pile.” Uh, but I cleaned the bulk of it. Are you saying I did a shit job? Or is this just drama to tell me that you’re going to sacrifice your time to clean 3 rooms that are rarely used?

    So it’s not that he’s irresponsible about household tasks, but more that he has to create drama when he does them.

    I think about this now, because I remember my mother saying to me once that I kept STBX anchored in the real world, as his flights of fancy tend to make him lose his perspective.

    • “I have to clean the house. This place is a shit pile.”

      Wow, I got that attitude, too. I tended to clean intermittently every day, then do more over the weekend to catch up. Ex would decide to clean once a month or so, and very dramatically declare the place a pig sty. Never mind that we both worked full time, and I was the only person who had lifted a finger. It felt like a punch in the gut — like he was disgusted with me.

      Now I have my own place. It’s not 100% neat (I have a couple of books and some mail on my coffee table — stuff like that), but it’s perfectly clean and presentable. I like things neat, and just keep on top of stuff from day to day. So much more peaceful.

      • I have a couple of MOUNTAINS of books and mail and papers all over every horizontal surface of my house, all the time! Plus my kids seem inherently incapable of putting clothes, whether clean or dirty, anywhere except the floor. Oh! The jackets and sweaters get piled on the chest in the hall – is that better? (I have the classic ‘clean but messy’ house.) So you’re doing good, there, Lilybart!

        Good thing my kids think this is normal 😉

    • Ah yes! The drama!! Everything had to be passive-aggressive drama. I soooo do not miss that! Ok, I still get it, but I am no longer living with it daily.

    • LOL – the high drama, “look at what a sacrifice I’m making” – “helping”…

      ExH had 2 chores I asked of him – to take out the garbage, and to cut the grass.

      After watching/smelling overflowing garbage for 5 years, I finally relented and started doing the garbage when I saw the toddler playing in it.

      And after watching the grass get almost knee high on a regular basis; having him destroy two lawnmowers in 3 years because he didn’t put oil in them; and listening to him bitch about mowing for “two hours” EVERY F’ING TIME – I took that one over. He never acknowleged my help, or said thank you. Oh, and the 2x/summer edging took him ALL DAY. Like 10 hours of whining and sweating and mess. And now I do it – and it takes one hour. Tops.

      Oh, and our 10 year old daughter started the mowing last year. It takes her 35 minutes (it took him TWO HOURS). What. a. dick.

  • Oh my, I recognize myself. I paid the bills, made sure the oil was delivered, got airlined tickets, concert tickets etc. I also made sure that whatever he wanted, we had money for (at the cost of some contribution to my 401k – he got to take his fully allowed amount). I also researched TV’s when the old one died etc. etc. etc.

    Although we had no kids, I was the parent in the relationship. He got to do whatever he wanted, while I would be home holding down the fort. I dealt with getting people in for estimates for work on the house or on the yard. He didn’t even want to talk to them about the siding, the roof or the windows.

    He commented once that since I quit drinking, I was no fun anymore. Well, I was never a heavy drinker anyway, but I was working a lot of hours to pay for bills and then had all the other responsibilities. He also told me he didn’t clean because I enjoyed it! No, it had to be done, so I did it.

    Then, one of his excuses for cheating was that I treated him like he was stupid. Say what? – I acted like he had no desire to do that stuff. Hell, after we were splitting up, it took him 5 weeks to call and have the landline disconnected (it was in his name so I couldn’t do it). I got him his apartment (and signed the lease because he was off playing with the OW), I got his utilities turned on, I picked up furniture for his place (some of which would become mine when I moved to my own home). I inventoried all the stuff that needed to be split. I figured out how much each of us owed each month to the household account (which included both our bills), then I paid every single bill (out of joint account) that both of us accrued.

    Then when I bought my own house and moved out, we split up the “household” money and became responsible for our own bills. I find it funny now that he complains because “the bank” keeps messing up his bill paying (he has a couple of loans from the same bank). Uh, no dude, you are the one putting the incorrect account numbers on your payments so they are going to the wrong loans.

    But – not my problem so I just keep my mouth shut.

    • ‘ I got him his apartment (and signed the lease because he was off playing with the OW), I got his utilities turned on, I picked up furniture for his place (some of which would become mine when I moved to my own home). I inventoried all the stuff that needed to be split. I figured out how much each of us owed each month to the household account (which included both our bills), then I paid every single bill (out of joint account) that both of us accrued.’

      Yup, this was me, too, bogie! I didn’t get him any furniture, though, ’cause he wanted to leave everything we already had in the house for me and the kids. Result – 2 years later and he still has almost no furniture!!! AND he consistently messes up his bill payments. Such idiots!

      • xMIL bought xH furniture for his new apartment. Oh, she just jumped right in and rescued him from himself. She acted like she couldn’t be more thrilled that he’d run out on his family–just made xH and the Twat Troll a nice little love nest! Aw!

        For once I didn’t lift a FINGER to help xH pack up his belongings into our family truck (though I should have removed a few things he took,) and I didn’t help him lift and load any of it, either. All the shit I came across that was his or that was ours and not wanted by me (I let him have all our really nice sheets–ew) I just threw into boxes with no concern about presentation, because he’s an asshole. It felt good to get his crap out of my home, and to just text him to come get it off the front porch.

        I’m sorry you ladies were chumped into feeling like you had to be helpful to the cheater as he moved out. You’re TOO nice!

        • In my case, I found him the apartment because it became clear he wasn’t going to move out, ever, otherwise! And I was trying to keep things peaceful; the kids didn’t know about the cheating at that point, and I was trying to keep the drama low, for their sakes.

          On the way back from signing the lease for his place (yes, I went with him!), he said ‘this is just temporary, right?’ I assumed he meant that he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life living in a one-bedroom rental, so I said, ‘yeah, of course’. Only later did I realize he actually thought he was going to come back ‘home’, even knowing that after #1 I made it clear that another affair was a total deal-breaker.

          Such a toddler. ‘I’ll do what I want when I want, and there will be no consequences!’

        • I also found him an apartment because I would not be keeping the house, and he would. So everything of his wasn’t going. Also, the apartment would have become mine in the deep of winter as I couldn’t have dealt with snowblowing the long driveway (and plowing just wasn’t a good option). I got fortunate when I found my house and moved in Thanksgiving weekend and I never had to move into the apartment.

          Most of the furniture I got was either from the side of the road (amazing what nice furniture people get rid of) or for cheap off CL – and that came out of the household account. Just took a lot of my time and energy. However, on the bright side, it kept me busy and focused on other things than the ruins of my life at the time.

    • Mine thought he was a wize with the numbers, had us in so much debt 4 years into owning our home we almost defaulted as he had maxed everything and had been drawing back of the mortgage to cover. our credit rating was rock bottom. could not even score high enough at one point to get a new fridge.
      So I took over the running of our finances. and have done so for the last decade. when it became clear to the eldership of my church that I was not willing to have X back knowing what he had been up to I was instructed to seriously look at separating my finances. They even went as far as to insist that I allow some one they suggested to look at our/my finances to see if he could “help” not disrespect to the person they suggested I have high regard for them. But they could not be serious, it was like the thought of running my own finances was some foreign concept to them.
      I am 42 yrs old I did not have the guts to tell them that I had opened my own bank account the week after I put him out. It took X 4 months to stop using our joint credit card. I am grateful our mortgage does not have a redraw facility any more as we are both still named on the Mortgage. Splitting that will be fun as even though I have all three of out kids one of which is seriously ill, he is expecting it to be a 50/50 split.
      yeah right!

      • I should mention that he was good with the number when it came to Tax time to ensure he got the best return, or if he could arrange his pay so he didn’t have to pay tax. Or if their was some way to scam a few extra dollars. he is up for it.

        • It’s not that they are incapable, it’s that they don’t give a flying fuck! Why shouldn’t they use whatever means handy to have the great life they deserve? Why should they have to pay attention to stupid little rules like paying bills on time? Their magnificence is above all that!

          Idiot toddlers in grown bodies.

          • That’s an insult to toddlers! My 2 year old son is much more mature and has more sense than his scumbag father!

        • Next year’s taxes will be interesting for STBX. I took care of it every year we lived together (33 years) and did it for last year too. He will probably have to hire someone to do his taxes next year. And no, I won’t do them for him even if he asks nicely!

  • Ugh. This was my pattern with the (scam)Artist-Formerly-Known-As-My-Husband.
    He was the fun guy! I often thought “hey! I used to be fun, too!” But, those bills weren’t going to pay themselves, and someone had to maintain the home and pay for the vacations. So many of these comments remind me of the bad old days. I felt so used.
    I swear, the beginning of the end was when I cancelled cable – I never had time to watch TV, and never had the inclination to utilize the NFL ticket or the MLB package, and so I stopped paying for it. (Oh, but did I pay for that decision!)

    Today’s awesome post reminded me of an expression I learned during The Troubles and my quest for understanding. I think of it often when I am here and see how much of a pattern these folks follow — Jung called the Peter Pan types the “Puer Aeturnus” — the eternal youth. I found this article that made my jaw drop when I read it. Described the ex way better than I ever could. http://drpetermilhado.com/puer_complex

    Today’s discussion is yet another reminder of how much better it is on the other side!!!

    • “Scam artist” perfectly describes my STBXH. OMG “You cancelled cable” to save money. The world’s going to end without cable, don’t you know. I deal with this drama all the time.
      I loved the article. It was spot on. My STBXH’s dad died when he was seven. He thinks he’s Cassanova. If I accuse him of cheating he flies into a rage and says the house is a pig sty. One time he said I was “an old lady with a dog.” Then things settle down and he’s pretty normal, but I don’t trust anything he says or does. Pray for me that I get the courage to leave this POS and “get to the other side.”

      • Keep reading here and building on YOUR life, the things you enjoy and that satisfy you, Danabern7, and you WILL make it out to the other side.

        2 years since DDay #2 and a few weeks short of 2 years since I told the narc to move out, and all I can say is;

        Come on in, the water’s FINE!!!!

      • Danabern7:
        I am sending you a prayer for courage. I recently looked up the definition of encourage, and it reminded me of CL.

        en·cour·age
        transitive verb \in-ˈkər-ij, -ˈkə-rij, en-\
        : to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident
        : to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen
        : to make (someone) more likely to do something
        : to advise (someone) to do something
        :to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; hearten; to attempt to persuade; urge; to spur on

  • As soon as SW had the ring on her finger, she tried to quit her job and fortunately for me, her boss who is a good dude (of course he was the Devil in her eyes. He actually expected production from her! What a SOB!) let her work half time. So between SW and her first husband and the father of her oldest daughter (just writing this makes me a Chump) combined after taxes, they brought home 1500 bucks. This paid the mortgage. Sort of. SW had kept from me her true financial picture. On her own, it took her two months to pay for one month. She always paid her mortgage 30 days late. This means that she lived on the float between paychecks. Before she went part time she brought home (including the baby daddies cash) about 3600 dollars. See where this is going? This means her total expenses for a month are about 7k. Then she went part time. So on her own, it now takes her 4 months to pay for one month of her and the kids life. I’m spending 6k+ a month and it’s all going to debt! I might has well burned it in a barrel. On top of this, SW has no interest in being a parent. Spends more time picking out the oldest daughters outfit for school the next day who is flunking out of school! And I was the annoying (yesterdays post) task master pointing this out. And paying for a tutor.

    In retrospect, thank God it was just 49 days.

  • I was resented for “putting the roof over our heads!” I owned my house prior to being involved with STBXH. A couple of months before DDay he harped on about how he wasn’t happy and he didn’t get to save up and buy a house with me together and the house was my house – keeping in mind he came to the relationship with nothing and pretty much moved in from the day we met and two children later! After DDay I kicked him out and he had to move back to his parents place (poor them) – thank goodness it was my house else me and the kids would be homeless! Still threatened to take me to court for half! These cheaters have NO SHAME! He has no remorse and biggest concern is paying child support till the kids are 18. That’s the only thing he is good for!

    • Oh yes my harped on hoe he would be homeless if I died until he convinced me to put him on the house deed, right after was the first time he cheated. Then he did all the right things and my trust again. 6 yrs later convinced me to marry him and that is when he devalued me completely, ever so slowly and manipulatively, I cannot believe how slow the descent to hell was or that I was so snowed my the martyr man.

      • “I cannot believe how slow the descent to hell was or that I was so snowed my the martyr man”

        Yup.

  • This was so my life. Paying the bills, doing the taxes, cooking cleaning, working full time AND being the only real parent to our son – all because STBX was too busy playing xbox and drinking rum and pretending to be perpetually 21. Any of you who are still with one of these assholes – Listen to Chump Lady and RUN!!!
    Before I came to my senses I was terrified of being a single mom and having to start over. But looking back I can’t believe I put up with that shit for even a second! Once you get past the initial shock and just decide enough is enough, its like coming up for air after someone holding your head under water.

  • My ex was financially irresponsible too but we made really good money. It was always a source of stress. Our values and priorities were different. I was a stay at home Mom raising our three children together. His job required long hours and the agreement was that I would hold down the fort (housework, yard work,and childcare) while his energy went towards his demanding career. He was a devoted father those first years together and some weekends helped with yard work. The majority of the time though I may as well have been a military wife or a single parent. That man was always gone. When his work and hours were long he’d go to his fitness club and work out. He used to say he liked to spend time alone. Mind, I dated this guy for seven years (red flag!) but after a few years of marriage and a few kids I started to get the impression that he was embarrassed of our family :(. He made good money but it was always like he needed more. I was very frugal, and spent very little money on myself. He was fine with that. Our first major purchase was a home in a subdivision and while we could easily afford the entry level model he chose to purchase the bigger one. He was always looking at cars and purchased two in spite of my arguments against, ie we did not need to make these purchases as we had two perfectly good vehicles and the state paid for his work vehicle, we had three kids in high school and were saving up to send our kids to college. He also participated in “hobbies” that were extremely expensive. Traveled to sporting events by himself (red flag here!) and as the years moved on became more and more reluctant to do things together. Family “Vacations” were spent traveling to my relatives and staying at their homes (very cheap) because my children and I adored visiting their grandparents but he became more and more difficult to be with, distancing himself and critical of those I loved. He was depressing to be around. One year we spent a week on a houseboat with all our immediate family and I did not see him once! He spent that entire week with his sister out fishing. I entertained his other sister, who commented on his absence, and of course took care of our three kids. I felt like the hired help. When I had the audacity to mention his behavior he did not understand why I felt the way I did. That man spent our entire marriage sabotaging it and dodging me. Doing what he wanted and basically putting everything he wanted first. He also liked to sabotage my activities. Taking classes at the local college, he’d bail on taking care of our kids so I’d have to quit mid semester. Got a part time seasonal job and had to quit because it was all so hard on him. Our kids were easy. He also sabotaged paying off our mortgages and often refinanced our homes when he wanted to draw more money out. Then walked on our mortgage so he could buy a house with his OW. I know they are perfectly suited to one another and wish them well. (Snort!) Oh if I had the chance to do it again I would have RUN the other way. Chumps, pay attention to how they make you feel. My ex did a lot of little things too to belittle me (I know I rock!) over the years and it does wear you down. To those who think it’s okay to spend time raising children together. IT IS NOT. My ex discarded me because I was not perfect. Ask me how my children spackle, they are all in their very early twenties, and how they struggle to become intimate with others because they do not trust that they are LOVABLE. My ex loves only himself, his kids are TOOLS. When they are successful he SHOWS up. Please be courageous and save your kids. If I could change anything about my past I would have left my Narc sooner. My kids are just hurt.

    • Drew, your story breaks my heart! I’m almost grateful for the narc ex’s second affair (7 years after the first), since it finally got me out the door. I realized I had to get rid of him, or I’d be teaching my kids so many bad lessons, about spackling, about letting people take advantage, about putting up with being badly treated ….

      I’m so hoping the mess he created doesn’t hurt my kids too badly in the long term (they were 11 and 12 at the time of the separation). They’ve since figured that they are tools or toys for their dad; to be picked up when he finds them useful or needs entertaining, dropped when he’s busy with his work or the OW. I too feel like I should have gotten out sooner. We were trying to do what was best for our kids, but couldn’t see what would really be best.

    • Oh my goodness, Drew, we were married to the same person. The worst present I ever bought him was an iPad. That became the means by which he could disappear whilst sitting right next to me. I too was a single mother to a workaholic – I used to worry about going into labour, because who would look after my toddlers then? Ditto cars, everything.

      Ha ha ha! This British mother loved your boarding school comment CL. It is a wonderful institution, the British boarding school. Second family to your kids, which really helps when you discover you are married to and they are fathered by a freak and he isn’t going to wake up/get it/finally understand.

      They go to a place which is sane, fair, calm and structured away from the seething tensions in the home. Their masters are deeply caring and second fathers to them. Pip pip to Eton, Harrow and all those august places who have saved many a middle class English adolescent. (And I have long thought this, way before my subconscious knowledge I was M T A F got blammed into consciousness)

      • The worst present I ever bought him was an iPad. That became the means by which he could disappear whilst sitting right next to me.

        WOW talk about smashing the nail right on the head ,,,,,

    • Drew, your story makes me choke up because your ex is much like mine was. Withdrawn, always “working,” always wanting to buy “toys,” and spending too much. Just checked out of the marriage and family by the end. Why did I refuse to see? Why didn’t I kick him out 15 years before when I suspected (well I was pregnant with our youngest, but still!), why didn’t I stand up for and protect my children?! Because now I have 3 beautiful young adults/teen who do not want relationships with the opposite sex, do not trust anyone but themselves and me, do not trust life. And why should they, their father was a lying cheating sociopath and I stayed all those years. It breaks my heart. They now simply refuse to see him. But the damage of his pathological lies, his twisted hidden life, has been done. My daughter cannot process that the father she thought she loved and who she believed loved her is just …poof….disappeared. My sons could care less that he is gone, just as frightening.

      The path of destruction these narcissists/sociopaths leave is truly terrible.

  • Oh, good song to check out is Patty Griffin’s Peter Pan. I played this into the ground when my ex walked out.

    • I’m going to hum Cats in the Cradle by Cat Stevens next time I’m within earshot of the jackass.

      Which will be never, because I can’t stand him.

      Also that would be cruel, and I don’t get any joy in what xH did to my kids. None at all.

      Coward.

      • I keep saying I am waiting for the karma bus to hit my ex, because he is still out there pretending he is successful and happy. But our 3 beautiful children do not speak to him, he lost the only family he had (his parents passed away long ago, he did not speak to his only brother).

        Makes me think of the bible verse about gaining the whole world but forfeiting you soul. How did I not see that the bus ran him over 2 years ago.

  • All XH had to do was go to work and mow the lawn. Literally.

    I took care of the house, kids, bills, groceries, laundry, birthdays, Christmas, after school activities, etc. Heck, I’d even go to the ATM and put spending money in his wallet. When he moved out to “live the life,” he lost 20 lbs right off the bat because there was no one to pack his lunch or make him dinner.

    I have an event tomorrow that prevents me from picking up the kids from school. It’s the THIRD time in 16 YEARS I’ve asked for his help. Can he do it? Of course not! Just like the other two times, he has something ELSE going on – because EVERYTHING is more important than his own flesh and blood.

    The man is 50 years old and STILL thinks HE’S the center of the universe. Like Peter Pan, he NO interest in growing up…

  • I am very grateful to you CL.

    At my last visit to my counselor, she after working with me since November following my husbands confession of getting it on with OM for the last eight years following an initial “affair” suggested that X may have adult asperges. So once home I set about researching the possibility and came across your web site. I sent X packing to his mothers a week before his confession following our teenage son confiding in me that he had discovered male porn on his fathers phone. so here we are….

    I have seriously laughed more in the last few day than I have in weeks.
    Laughed at the utterly dumb ass crap our once significant others have pulled and honestly thought was ok and then at the BS that has followed as some sort of justification. Laughed in utter disbelief as others have outlined what they have done as I realized I was reading a description of myself. But mostly I have laughed at the amazing resilience of those who have posted honest outlines of their life for others like me to read enabling me to fully understand that my situation is not unique and that laughing at the dumb ass crap my X has done and is still doing is helping me to heal.
    Please understand my laughing is not in disrespect to anyone who has posted.
    I am able to identify with so much of what yourself and others have written I am dumbfounded. I started by reading the posts about the Christian other woman or as you put it the “Jesus Cheater” (as my X and I met in bible college and have attended and ministered in church together for 20 years) looking for some insight. The notion that someone can claim to be a christian, raise their hands, worship, pray in tongues, be involved in ministry the whole shebang, and cheat. I personally do not get. And to have the follow up of “well God has forgiven me so why haven’t you” just P’s me off. I then read the posts, Stupid things cheaters say. WOW I thought my X was the only one that was not able to filter the stupid shit he said and utterly believed. But clearly from all the amazing posts and yes I have read all of them, No he is not.
    But today I read your Post about Peter Pan, and I must say I have commented along the way as I read different things. but the posts on this one have really given me some light bulb moments.
    My ex would never discuss anything of importance this was evident before we married but me being from a broken home and him being raised in what appeared to be a solid christian family I let is slide. After we married we moved heaps and then when I was pregnant with our first child it really hit home how child like he was. A few months before our first child was born we moved back in with X’s parents to save money as we always seemed not to have any even though we both worked full time. X went right back to behaving like the was 16 and I was just the boarder rather than he and I being husband and wife (we were both 26 at the time). When ever his father would start crap at the dinner table he would just sit there and let him get away with it. Would not stand up for himself or me, resulting in me defending both of us. The whole time his mother would sit and not say a word.
    I must mention I have since come to realize X is codependent with his mother.
    That now looking back as I type this should have been the line in the sand. Form that point on I often found myself in the defense position. If I was not defending I was apologizing. Constantly for everything, X would rarely take responsibility for his actions.
    I can so relate to some earlier posts, the committing to things only to have X act in a way that made it impossible to follow through, leaving you looking like your not capable. My marriage became a competition if I wanted to do something he wanted to something equal or better, I could not plan to go anywhere or do anything as that would mean him having to be there for our kids. What The Horror!
    When I was pregnant with our third child I was so depressed that I was convinced that I would die in labor, I was in a pretty bad place. He had not idea I was so good a spackle. Nor did any one around me. It probably did not help that I had been isolated from my friends. We were in a new church, he had another new job. (one of many). I remember one time wanting to get a way with a few girlfriends for my birthday and getting such a scathing response to my proposal. X ‘birthdays are for family how would the kids feel if you were not here? interpretation. ‘ no way in hell am I looking after the kids so you can go off and have fun on your own. who the F do you think you are?”

    By the time our youngest was 18 months old I cracked! and the ” who the F*^& are you?” came out. I became this over emotional, erratic, screaming mess that took off one day after exploding at X. I took off in my car with a knife. A large Knife, I don’t remember being suicidal but I did turn myself into our family Dr as I knew something was very wrong. This lead to X talking me into voluntarily being admitted to the local psych hospital, while he temporarily took up his long coveted position of stay at home dad. Only one problem his idea of being a stay at home dad is to meet up with others for coffee, as he had no idea how to just “be with our kids” (and still doesn’t) so he had to be out all the time. So with unfettered access to our bank account funds what should have lasted three weeks including covering our mortgage lasted him 5 days. I squared things with the bank when I got out.
    I have shared this in a prior comment I have made but the last meeting I had with my psychologist while in hospital X was asked “is there anything you need to bring up as your wife is in a very good space right now?
    X ‘ she is not a very good house keeper”
    Dr ” how do you think you could help her in this?
    X ” I can clean the house to how I want it and she can just maintain it.

    Really X it never crossed your mind to bring up that you had already had or were contemplating and affair with another man at this point. Seriously? house keeping?

    How about that I worked full time at home, casually outside of our home. Am a people pleaser and say yes when others wanted stuff done that is not on my daily list of chores, especially when it came to our church as I was such are poor reflection on you being constantly on edge and being judged on face value rather than people actually getting to know me (it’s all about the look) how about your hardly being home. wow to help save us money I even cut and carted our own firewood. while you travelled for work anywhere up to 2 weeks at a time and would send me photos of your lavish company funded hotel room or phone me to complain that the hotel wouldn’t allow you to put a glass of your preferred red on the company tab,. But I’m getting off track.

    I am about to begin reading the posts on the “pick me dance” as I am sure to get a laugh there.
    again thank you,

    • “Adult Asperger Syndrome”?

      Asperger becomes apparent pretty early in childhood although in years past and occasionally now not identified until adulthood.

      Even though Aspie behaviors are pervasive and very distinctive, including difficulty learning to empathize; Aspies usually know the difference between right and wrong, with many of them being fanatical sticklers for rule following (think Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory”).

      Not saying that an Aspie would not cheat…there are always exceptions…let’s just say that your story kind of clanged my skepticism alarm in this case.

      He sounds a bit too social ( “Only one problem his idea of being a stay at home dad is to meet up with others for coffee.”). The thought of OCD and passive-dependent personality did cross my mind though.

      Regardless, cheating is wrong and the odds are very high that old dude KNEW BETTER.

  • It has been soooo helpful to hear everyone’s story on this site….I thought I was the only one, and it is both comforting and disturbing that this dynamic is so common in marriages and divorces that result from it. My ex is nearly 8 years my junior (yeah, that should’ve been a clue, but hey, I was ‘in love’) and our 20 year ‘Christian’ marriage saw me increasingly assuming more and more responsibility while he did his Peter Pan musician thing. Wasn’t willing to work at anything other than “the craft that he was trained for” BS while I took on every piano student I could get, and even got a $7.25 hour job at our library when I stopped homeschooling our third child, just to get away from his expectation of “sex on Wednesdays” where he expected to re-enact the pages from some sex manual (with pictures, mind you). Funny how these guys think they’re entitled to “great sex without great responsibility”(with apologies to Spiderman…) I would get anxiety about sex because it just made me think of death….yeah, like why don’t you give it to me up the “you know where” because I’m getting that everywhere else in our marriage right now. On top of this, the last 10 years of our 20 year nightmare had him drinking, getting fat, getting skinny, drinking, getting fat, depressed, miserable, drinking, getting a DUI, getting skinny again, spending money right and left, looking in the mirror, buying a new car, $45.00 sunglasses, complaining that he didn’t get the respect he deserved from the local music community, and that some other sax player was getting all the jazz gigs, buying three 5 liter boxes of wine a week and getting another DUI, totalling the only nice car we were ever able to have in 20 years (and of course, him saying after he totalled it,”That car stunk anyway!”) wracking up fines and lawyer’s fees, and having two condoms discovered in his wallet by my 17 year old daughter as we were going to breakfast while he slept off the DUI arrest. Oh, yeah, and two or three years before that, he woke up after drinking at a friends and pissed in a basket of homeschool books in the hallway. Attacked me like a maniac and my daughter called the police….I filed a report, but didn’t press charges because of course, I was on “hopium.” Thank you, everyone, for sharing your tales, because I know I’m not alone and there are real assholes out there, and my ex definitely has lots of company.

  • This post really describes my ex well and our dynamic. Maybe dday was a blessing in disguise because our marriage was on the shorter end of the scale, and I can imagine his tendancies most likely would have become worse over the long term. I think I might have dodged a bullet…

  • Looking back on it now, my ex was my mom. I think that’s part of the reason that she left me for someone else. It tears me apart, but it’s just a lesson learned in the event that I get another shot at marriage. Too late to change the past.

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