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Reconciliation — What did you try? What did you buy?

muffintopChumps tend to divide into three camps — those who tried to reconcile, those who got left, and those rare chumps who recognized cheating as a deal breaker immediately and left.

I think the majority of us fall into the first camp — we tried to reconcile. At least for awhile, until it proved false or we just couldn’t hack it anymore. Those who got left might have tried their own form of “standing” for their marriage, doing the pick me dance from afar. And those who just left the building avoiding all the mindfuckery? We salute you.

And of course there are unicorns — the rare people who actually make a go of reconciliation. Some of us believe in unicorns, some of us do not. I want to believe in unicorns, because I want to believe people are capable of authentic change. I just think it’s very rare. My arguments for that are all over this blog.

But today, I’m talking about reconciliation — what you tried and what you bought.

I’m asking for a couple reasons. First, as I was pitching my book, I had to explain to people that there are ZERO infidelity resources out there that aren’t about reconciliation. There’s “Just Friends,” “When Good People Cheat,” “After the Affair,” etc. And every single one of them is cheater-focused and assumes the chump wants (or should have) a relationship with the cheater. No one, that I’m aware of just says don’t waste your life on someone who isn’t one bit sorry — LEAVE. Or weights the post-affair discovery decision-making in favor of chumps and leaving, and puts the onus on cheaters to get their shit together. (You do that self-improvement stuff on your own time. I’ve got a life.)

People looked really shocked and surprised when I said that — I have this position all to myself. Alone. Fortunately for them, they’ve never been chumped, so they never did the 3 a.m. Amazon searches.

The second reason I’m asking is to open the floor up about your experiences. If you’ve been watching the book’s number one Amazon rating in divorce, you’ll notice the troll attack. It’s best to ignore trolls, but I expect as we come out of the chump closet and start really discussing infidelity — that it hurts people, especially kids, the costs are devastating, it’s narcissistic, and silly, and tragically wasteful — there will be more resistance to this point of view. Shut UP! Accept the narrative that you grew apart or you are are shitty, sexless spouse who drove them to it.

Or accept the narrative that you Must Forgive and love all the cheaters’ hurt away (even if they continue to cheat on you — it’s a fog, just wait, it might clear…). You know, the hopium POV.

This blog is criticized for being derisive about reconciliation. I’m not derisive about reconciliation. I think people don’t just reconcile out of fear and misplaced hope, I think they do it with incredible bravery too. They overestimate their powers, IMO. But I think chumps sincerely believe their goodness and their humility will be recognized and rewarded. They suck it up. They try harder. They love in the face of incredible pain.

It must seem churlish to some people that I don’t seem to respect that. I do respect fortitude, but I think that sort of loyalty is misdirected and you should love yourself more than the person who is hurting you and has betrayed you.

I reserve my derision for the Reconciliation Industrial Complex who makes a buck off people’s pain and peddles false hope — this idea that you can single-handedly save marriages, and that is possible, because really, you’re the problem. (Fix you, this thing fixes itself. Nice them back into the marriage because you “meaned” them into the affair in the first place.)

Those people? Yeah, they suck. I don’t mind saying so.

So tell me — what do you think of the infidelity literature and resources out there? What did you try? Did it help? Did it keep you stuck?

Should we organize a virtual chump bonfire and toss in every book in the “When Splendid People Cheat” canon?

Speaking for myself, I had four (yes four — I wear the chump crown) D-Days. I don’t regret the first attempt at reconciliation. I regret the subsequent three. I needed to try and get kicked in the teeth a few times to really understand who he was. I suspect other folks did similar. I’m not that person any more, I think people who are sorry act sorry, and you shouldn’t waste one second wondering where real remorse is. Those hard lessons are why this blog exists.

Thoughts on time spent in reconciliation?

I’m leaving this post up until Tuesday. 

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  • After the discovery of my then husband’s five your affair, I purchased SEVEN books on how to save my marriage. Twenty-six years of marriage made me quite reluctant to give up on the life to which I so desperately wanted to cling.

    Between the uncontrollable trembling and projectile vomiting I would read and study these books with great earnestness and tremendous hope. At first, I took notes in the margins and wrote key phrases in my journals, but I soon realized that my husband was completely unconcerned. He loved the fantastic meals I prepared as I pick me danced in the kitchen and he loved the hysterical bonding as I pick me danced in the bedroom but other than that – he was entirely unconcerned. My anguish and heartbreak were pretty damned inconvenient to him.

    By book number five I began to find the writing insulting. The insinuation that I must double – no stinking triple, my efforts to regain his attention began to just piss me off.

    I became so disgusted with them that I threw them into a box and took them to my wise therapist, thinking he might have clients he could pass them on to. He glanced at the titles and made a gentle remark that none of required remorse from the cheater so really, they were just a pointless jumble of words.

    It wasn’t until I found Tracy (I was one of her earliest readers) that healing words finally had meaning.

    • I just wanted to say that I projectile vomited too. I didn’t even know how projectile vomit could be before I did it… (I have not had kids. I am sure parents have much more vomit experience than I did before dday.)

        • I couldn’t eat and threw up for the first couple of months.
          When then H told me he did not want to try in MC, I did that crazy gasping crying that Emma Thompson did in “Sense and Sensibility.”
          I guess that is a regret of mine as well… why I did not simply say “ok, let’s get divorced” when he said he did want to undertake MC.
          Live and learn… when they say it, believe it.

    • “Twenty-six years of marriage made me quite reluctant to give up on the life to which I so desperately wanted to cling.”
      Such a simple sentence..but it says so much about how we chumps feel. It’s nearly impossible to give up on that life..the one I think we all desperately cling to at one time or another. I think it’s the betrayal aspect..we would never ever do something like this to our partner, and it seems that it was/is so easy for them to do it to us. And in my case, with not a smidgen of regret or guilt. In fact, he’s happier now than he ever has been, with not a care in the world, because he got rid of the monkey on his back..ME. He truly bops around like King Crap, because he honestly feels that he did nothing wrong. Yet I still cling to that life that I thought I would have until my last day on earth. THAT’S what makes me a world-class chump.

  • Well said, CL.

    I, too, needed to get kicked in the teeth a few times to really understand who he was. In fact, I apparently needed to see him walk out the door into the arms of the current honey to really understand what kind of person he is. I only wish I’d known about this blog when you first started writing it. This blog and the people here are life savers.

  • I’m a unicorn now of 1.5 yrs. why do we have a real chance for reconsiliation. Chumplady! She saved my marriage! 2 yrs ago I started reading this blog. I started the pick me dance and was only loosing myself esteem further and he was in that FOG. I started to see I was not being valued and being used so I filed for divorce and he moved into an apartment. He signed the papers, I went no contact, but he begged me to give him a chance so I sent him CLs 7 things to do to prove it’s really remorse, he signed the postnup , went to individual counseling, blamed himself, and I’m here to say, that is why I could be myself these last 1.5 yrs and be angry and sad and crazy, ect to help heal from that infidelity pain from hell. I read CL every day and I have friends that I have helped by introducing them to CL. I know I’m rare and I thank God for your site and it’s people. CL is the best thing that ever happened to me! Thankyou

    • Living, THIS is what every single chump really wants.

      I have heard, in RL, 3 people who have done this. So you are the fourth. My IC says that of all people he has in therapy, ONE couple has reconciled. That is because for three weeks solid he sat in the room and sobbed about the shitty thing he had done.

      He said to me, Patsy, you and Mr Patsy have taught me a lot about affairs, and about adding insult to injury after affairs.

      (He also loves CL’s writing style, was very animated when I took her essay on ‘why you stay stuck with a cheater’ talked about me finally owning it, and was very interested in the barbed wire monkey thing. So CL has a PhD psychoanalyst’s RESPECT!).

      • I have a friend who spent countless hours consoling me as she too had been through this … the laying on the bathroom floor screaming and crying, unable to get up. She, with the help of counselors and friends, looked like a unicorn. He went to counseling (alone) for over a year. He was “treated” for sex addiction. He signed a post-nup. He literally worked his ass off for two years to be “allowed” to come home.

        When he did, there was much fanfare, it was THE topic of the annual Christmas Letter (God works miracles … The Prodigal has returned), and to outside observers, it looked like she had indeed found one of the elusive Unicorns. They scheduled date nights, she held strict boundaries, they kept separate bank accounts, everything. He jumped through hoops to prove his repentance.

        Fast forward three years, while packing to go on vacation, he reached over, grabbed her plane ticket and told her she “wasn’t going.” He walked out the door (again!) and hasn’t been heard from in over a year. No child support. No nothing.

        She is now back to Square One.

        I know this absolutely beautiful (blonde, thin, attractive) and strong (rises to a challenge, believes in God and miracles). After being such a good friend to me, offering a hand to me when I was crying till I threw up and passed out from grief, she has now gone into hiding, will not answer my communication to her (trying to return the favor and be there for her) … now she is a recluse — no doubt feeling toxic embarrassment and shame (again) of epic proportions.

        While this has been terrible for her, like a permalink on a web page, it’s that one things that is always before me, should my mind ever even start even considering the “R” word.

        Seriously folks, even God, all the religion in the world, and prayers from every sain in the world, won’t override someone’s free will and choice. You can pray and counsel and do all you want, but it’s like pouring peas on cowhide, as the old saying goes. If you’re dealing with a Character Disturbance … well then, you have a … character disturbance.

        Remember the old song The Snake by Al Wilson?

        • I am with you there, me. That is the thing, whoever can ever trust anyone again after this? So many do, and I can’t work out why I can’t – not him, that is understandable – but all the other people who used to be in my life, and all the lovely people who could be, but I don’t trust enough to let through the walls. It is so fucking stupid of me! I was the most trusting partner ever, not a jealous bone in my body, I just never FELT I had anything to worry about. Why were people even like that??? Now I have no friends left, and I don’t trust anyone. I have worked hard to try to, but it ain’t coming easy to this chump! I get your friend, and feel for her, she “did it all the right way” and still got re-chumped. Badly. I am as embarrassed and humiliated, with him or without him. And it is not my shame to own! Stupid fucking cheaters!

          Rant over and out 😉

    • LivingMy Life, this is the hardest thing. When the cheater did it, gave it up, his choice, and is TRULY disgusted and gutted, and remorseful, and transparent, and creates and signs a post-nup far favouring me, and goes to multiple therapists with you, and DOES THE WORK, and apologies sincerely, every day, and holds you as you vomit and cry, and even cries with you (he’s not a crier, never has been but I have seen tears in the aftermath of what he did to us) and listens to you, and answers every single question you ask, for years, and you know they are just so, so sorry for what they did. You want to leave a cheater and gain a life, that is what you always promised yourself, BEFORE he fucked your friend over and over, but you know that they fucked up when in a bad place, with crap fucking emotional coping skills, and have done EVERYTHING, and continue to do EVERYTHING to try to help mend your broken heart, front up to your friends and family, your whole damn community about their crappy-arse behaviour, owing their shit, talks to your children about why Dad did such a disgusting thing, and how sorry he is for hurting them too, and tells them they can ask him anything – and always can if they need to talk. Unicorns sure are bloody rare, but they are not always the total answer to the hurt either. I am so much better in myself, I am even more independent than I was (and I was already pretty damn kick-ass!) but that warmth, “safety” and comfort I had in my (then) wonderful man who truly loved me as much as I totally adored him, my rock, my fabulous partner in life of (then) 21 years is not there anymore. I still love him, very deeply, and I see how much he has done, how much he has learned about himself, about honesty and about speaking up when things are a bit shitty, but I am not quite on that unicorn’s back, riding off over the rainbow, sprinkling sparkles in my wake. Reconciliation is fucking hard! I know divorce is, too. And I salute all here who have overcome shitty, shitty people, and are either at meh, or well on their way to it.

      Hell, this unicorn owner still bought Chump Lady’s book! I agree with the whole concept of this blog, for sure. If he wasn’t totally remorseful, and there was more than one OW, I would FOR SURE be outta here! And I will be lending said book to a chumpy friend as soon as the paper version arrives all the way from the States! Thanks CL x.

      • And that is the sadness and the lie of RIC, you can reconcile but it is not likely to be better, and how long to get trust back, to feel truly safe again?

        • Yep Dat. But you also realise that you take this forward. I would struggle with trust and safety with anyone now. That is the “gift” of infidelity. And I have worked bloody hard to trust people. Not happening here. Don’t think it ever will again. Not the way I did. If it hasn’t after all our hard work these past five years, including eight months of separation when I kicked him out. Like everyone here, this just is. Can’t change a damn thing. Can only try to live as well as possible despite it. With or without him. That is my driving force more than ever. And it doesn’t include forgiveness. Not in the way we traditionally think of it. Just acceptance. It happened. Can’t unfuck her.

  • The affair ended 1/14 and as far as affairs go it was a sad sophmoric EA and I know the woman in this case was looking for her next sugar daddy. It isn’t much a a reconciliation it is more of a we are living in the same house but most of my stuff is packed to go. No apology and I can’t really forgive him because of that. I’m not sure what is going to happen. I know if I leave I will never come back because it is so hard for me to go. I don’t feel like there is some huge rush to go. I wish that I had left as soon as he asked for a divorce. I don’t feel the same way about him.

    • Sorry you are going though this. It just sucks.

      FWIW, most affairs are silly, sad and sophomoric. At least, they not indicative of deep maturity, empathy, and awareness.

      That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

      • <>

        Indeed they are sophomoric and silly. I’m embarrassed for my cheater every time I think of the teeny bopper style bathroom selfies he posted to his Other Woman. Not sexting (that I have seen, I should say), but vain, proud, and silly to the nth degree. Just the look on his face. Ugh.

        And I try to imagine what his grand kids would conclude if they saw them. For sure they would never again be able to take him seriously. Deep maturity? Not exactly.

        • Not just selfies, as well as lots of pictures of himself, by himself, that one of our daughters usually takes, that I’m sure are taken for OW benefit and sent to her. When did he become so effin’ vain?

          • Yes, during his affair my husband would admire himself in every mirror or window we walked by, always jutting out his jaw in this annoying way (to hide his weak chin). I remember watching him admire himself in a mirror while he tried on a jacket just after dday, when he still didn’t know that I was onto him. He was obviously extremely pleased with his appearance. So what do I do? Chumpy me goes back the next day and buys the jacket for his upcoming birthday.

            • My husband was even more creepy. He is a very handsome, and during this time when he caught his reflection in ANY shiny surface, he would smile with satisfaction at himself.
              I would cringe – but not once did I take it up with him. Nor, when he openly gawked and ogled other women.
              Why didn’t I? How well trained had I been, that it was pointless, that for the pain of admitting a truth, it would be denied and I would be savaged. 3 hurts in one assertive protest of self.
              That is totally on me. That I went along with the frank abuse and discard, I did.

              • Hugs, Patsy! Look how far you’ve come . . . you wouldn’t accept that now 🙂

    • Janet, what hard proof do you have that the affair is actually ended?

      I only ask because I was re-chumped with a false reconciliation when I couldn’t believe that he would do it to me again so soon. I was operating on the assumption, still, that his heart and mind were more like mine. I couldn’t take in the reality that he was able to turn right around and re-establish everything with her… a couple of WEEKS after holding me while I sobbed and sobbed, and swearing over and over that “if I have to spend the rest of my life begging your forgiveness, I will do it, gladly, if you will please give me the chance to try to make up for this horrible thing I’ve done to you!” And you didn’t even get an apology? I would be concerned, really.

      My cheater did break things off with his affair partner soon after D Day but only because he thought he was dying (medical emergency) and that, coupled with my heart broken reaction to finding out he was a cheater…temporarily played on his conscience. But he refused to tell her about me and so she didn’t accept the break up and begged him not to leave her.

      The contrast between her eager adoration and my dismay and hurt and anger made it easy for him to play me again. He felt like he had to hang on to me in case things didn’t work out with her, I think. And he hung onto her in case he decided I was too damaged.

      The central theme is him, him, and him. His ego, his need to be in control, and his appetite for cake and those fabulous kibbles.

      I wish that I had really snooped on his activity from the get go after D day but I have been ridiculously respectful of the privacy of others my whole life – well, ever since the day when I was ten and my big sis caught me in the closet reading her diary LOL. I was so ashamed of myself that it became my mantra from then on that I would never invade anyone else’s privacy again. Ironically, if my sis had still been alive when I was going through all this last summer, she would have been the first to urge me to go ahead and invade his shit.

      So, are you absolutely certain that there is NO contact between them? Or with anyone else?

  • I was certainly an Amazon chump, in the beginning. I also stayed up for 3 or 4 days straight haranguing Mr. Cheaterpants–and getting different answers with each barrage–. I simply could not believe that my life had flipped from perfectly OK to a fucking nightmare that made me want to lie down on some traintracks, in about 25 seconds. My ex told me about (one of) his affairs–well, part of it anyway…of course to this day I don’t think I have the whole story, and never will.

    So I also spent the first couple seeks digging up shit…and digging…and digging and finding. It was awful. He kept swearing there was nothing left to find– the first time or two I actually thought I could swallow the shit buffet. By the time I found the Craig’s List ads that went back 4 years, including one that he posted while in Seattle at his mother’s funeral–(I didn’t go), I knew it was a matter of how I would get out and when, not if.

    Then I started playing chess with his head.

    But while I was Amazon-chumping, I even read all kinds of stuff in the scholarly literature, other people’s Ph.D. dissertations. Here’s a story in chumpery: I cut and pasted sections of someone’s diss into a document for Mr. Cheaterpants to read because, you know, I thought he cared enough to read the very best. Awww reallY?

    But, at the time I liked that book about all the things a cheater can do to make his/her chump feel better (How To Help your Spouse Heal from Your Affair..blah blah, by Linda MacDonald et al. ) That was until I realized that MC (Mr. Cheaterpants) had gotten about 10 pages into chapter 1 and it was gathering dust, along with all the other books that I feverishly read. (He’d rather read Samuel Beckett plays, which might say something. Me, I guess I was Waiting for Godot).

    I still think there are useful things in Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (except for the religious part)–it validates that I as a chump was *traumatized*, before anyone else did.

    Similarly, the only parts of the books like More than Just Friends and all that stuff that were of use to me then were the ones that spoke about how badly hurt I as the betrayed partner was. I re-read those almost compulsively–because in the early weeks it was the only place I was getting a reflection of how shitty my experience was.

    What I did not get–and what I needed–was the road map in your materials. So I did some stupid shit, like contacting the OW (mistake!). In addition, with nothing but a great void before me I think I really must have come off as out of my tree to people and they simply didn’t understand why (what’s so bad about a little extramarital sex after all…? forgive and forget, right?). Neither I nor they really understood that what was blowing up was a volcano of years and years of gaslighting, mindfuckery, psychological abuse of all kinds.

    It just culminated in his affair. So to speak.

    The first MC we saw did indicate to me (alone) that it was unfixble (after she told us both it was fixable….). This was within the first week after d-day and I really freaked out. Basically it took me some time to wrap my brain around the idea that I had lost so much–it was like a sudden death.

    So I didn’t walk out right away. I probably ended up with more money the way it worked out (I did a post nup first, including language that it was the basis for a divorce agreement–I’m in a brutally no fault state.)

    Yeesh. it sucks. he’s an asshole. not much more to say. I’ve survived, but I wasted 25 years of my life on an asshole. My kid hates him and she’s depressed. He left a huge damage trail, and I’m slowly, slowly trying to sweep it up.

      • nah–don’t be impressed. It’s just, the training kicks in and takes over when the other brain functions shut down–you know like emergency rescue, only nowhere near as important!

        They put you through such a meat grinder in a Ph.H. program that it rewires you. I had professors tell me that (kind of like Puritan ministers & parents of yore) the intent was to break you down completely and reassemble you. Nice, huh? good chump preparation…or just more of it….. (LOTS of narcs in the Academy).

          • Agreed. Big egos all over the place, climbing that ladder. And people are so corruptible when their egos are outsized. The pure scholars with normal egos can get eaten alive. To say nothing of the prof/ingenue affairs…

    • Yeah. There are only 3 books worth reading:

      Linda J MacDonald
      Dr David Clarke
      Chump Lady.
      maybe Dave Calder, but he assumes cheaters care.

      Yes, I did read the rest. Rona Subotnik, Andrew Marshall of the British teeth, Dave Calder, Relate, THE WHOLE LOT.

      I tried so hard!

      • “Neither I nor they really understood that what was blowing up was a volcano of years and years of gaslighting, mindfuckery, psychological abuse of all kinds.

        It just culminated in his affair. So to speak.” – YES. This.

        The IC said it first: ‘Patsy, don’t you think his affair is the finally unacceptably hurtful part of A PATTERN?’ He clocked his narcissistic ass straight away.

        • Yeah, it sucks when you finally figure out that you are dealing with somebody’s life-long pattern that says more about who they really are than the mask they try to wear and that you bought into and the gaps and cracks you spackled over so that you could have a “relationship” worth of your affection where one never existed (at least not the kind of “relationship” you helped fool yourself into believing you had). Guilty.

          I also read all that Penny Tuppy crap, read Michele Warner Davis mega crap (How to turn yourself into a human pretzel), imbibed briefly at the fountain of “standing” (thankfully, that one didn’t last long–days–because I was into deep research mode and uncovered conclusive studies debunking the popular notion of MLCs), and I got a good bit of the Marriage Builders BS second hand, and all that MWD, and PT did was encourage a soul-crushing codependent, magical thinking pick-me-dance.

          I also read some interesting things. Boy, I read a lot. Read a lot of the Dalai Lama’s ghost-written books and translations, read everything by Philip Zimbardo, read “The Power of Habit”, and “Why We Make Mistakes”, etc, etc. I realized I needed to change too, but I was so far down the rabbit hole that I was trying to interpret everything through a me-focused lens that involved trying to influence things way beyond my control.

          The reading material that had merit and had a real impact didn’t have an impact until I was willing to face the obvious: that this was part of a life-long pattern for my ex-wife, and she wasn’t who I preferred to think of her as being, and the person I was attached to was largely fictional.

          • I think you make a key point here, the codependent thinking at the heart of the RIC. First, there is the attempt to manipulate others into changing their thinking and behaviors. Then there is the attempt to change ourselves–not to become wiser, happier, healthier and more whole, but to manipulate others into changing. The whole relationship dynamic that describes is skewed and doomed to failure (I say, speaking as a recovering codependent raised by an alcohol abuser and a narcissist mother). A committed relationship requires two committed people, not one over-committed person and someone running the show with their flaming dysfunction. On that level, it’s really no different trying to have a marriage with a cheater than trying to be married to an alcoholic or drug addict, at which I am an absolute expert. In the end, you end up sitting alone while your partner is off getting high, altering his or her reality with whiskey or a joint or some cocaine or sex with someone new. On another level, cheaters are not just using sex as their high; they need danger, risk, excitement and power over others. Alcoholics will lie and perhaps cheat on you because their real relationship is the drug of choice; cheaters will lie and cheat and gaslight and humiliate because crushing and controlling and toying with other people is their drug of choice. And nothing gets better until we “face the obvious: that this was part of a life-long pattern for [the cheater], and [he or] she wasn’t who I preferred to think of [him or] her as being, and the person I was attached to was largely fictional.”

            • “A committed relationship requires two committed people, not one over-committed person and someone running the show with their flaming dysfunction.”

              Well, you just summed everything up for me. I have to write that down and stick it on my fridge. The ironic thing is that, prior to the affair, he began to complain that he didn’t feel like I made him feel like he was my “king” – enough. Every thing I did for him, and I was truly devoted to the guy, everything was invisible because apparently the love and effort I brought to the relationship was not of value. My natural efforts on his behalf, and everything I did for him whether researching and cooking for his diabetes and inflammation, to driving two hours to see him nearly every weekend for years, to regular deep massages (with my carpal tunnel syndrome wrists), etc. etc. was done with love in my heart. But evidently those things don’t count in his world.

              He kept going on about a ledger sheet, where he listed all the things he did for me, and then would accuse me, “What have you given me? What have you done for me? I bought you a microwave! I helped you to fix your car! When did you last take me out to eat?” Mind you, I am on Disability, and he owns his own thriving business. But, even so, I DID spend money on him regularly, which always meant doing without something I needed, a sacrifice. And I never mentioned the fact, which should have been obvious, because I don’t roll that way. I give freely, and no one ever in my entire life has ever, ever accused me of being cheap or of not being totally generous.

              And who did he have a two year affair with? A very, very wealthy woman young enough to be my daughter. She was soon devoted to him, too, because when he’s not being an asshole and focusing on the Big Himself, he is a very charming and fun man. It’s like he is two separate people. On the positive side, he has always been my sounding board and can be so thoughtful. I have a child with severe problems, and he has always tried to help me to figure out how to manage with her. And we have such a long history…it’s just that on a regular basis, he would come out of left field with some bullshit and stress me out with uncalled for jealousy. I see now that he was just projecting his unfaithful heart onto me. I never even looked at another man, and I had no shortage of opportunities to do so.

              But I spackled with the notion that those episodes must correlate to spikes in his blood sugar (!) (gads. I embarrass myself now) And I would hang in there and wait for it to blow over, as it always did. WTH.

              “cheaters will lie and cheat and gaslight and humiliate because crushing and controlling and toying with other people is their drug of choice.”

              He was incredibly cruel during our false reconciliation. I couldn’t take it in, really. I was so numb and shocked. It took me months to really, really begin to comprehend and process the things he did during that time and I am having a delayed reaction to it all now. But, I look back and realize that I should have seen the overall pattern, and I was in love for years and years with a fictional person. Manipulative and capable of such breath taking cruelty. And I have been only too willing to spackle and cover his “shortcomings”, always overlooking the bad episodes and telling myself that over all he was such a good man, and just to appreciate the good aspects of him and try to deal with the flip side.

              It has taken me a year to assemble the picture. The online bullshit advice and the forums and the downloadable programs…even down to the pathetic ones about how to win him back…I’m ashamed of how low and lost I became. All of that slowed me down and increased my confusion and suffering exponentially. I so wish I had found CL last May or even last summer, when I was up around the clock, feverishly searching for some kind of advice to hold onto while my reality crumbled underneath me. I was reeling in such terrific pain every damn minute. Well, you all know.

              I still have a ways to go to correct a long lifetime of the wrong approach. I always am so driven to understand people and why they do or don’t do things. And compassion and grace are very important to me, perhaps too much so.

              Anyway, thank you Tracy. So much. Your clarity is so breathtaking for someone like me who is coming from such a place of muddled confusion and pain.

              • he began to complain that he didn’t feel like I made him feel like he was my “king” –

                Suppressing gag reflex; I wonder if he’ll ever figure out marriage is supposed to be a partnership these days.

                I doubt it. Kings need subjects.

              • TimeHeals caught the point you made early on–it wasn’t what you did or didn’t go. HE has to feel like a king and unfortunately, that usually involves conquering a new country or a having whole bunch of subjects to rule. None of that is the stuff of deep, intimate human relationships. When I asked my therapist why she thought the Jackass was attracted to his MOW (who is by objective standards average or below in most categories like education, income, beauty), she said: “She worshipped him.” Huh. Clearly, he has himself confused with Thor or Loki.

                Don’t be hard on yourself for not seeing it. He had good qualities or you wouldn’t have loved him. He’s just not a whole human being, sadly.

              • WOW! Finally realized, your story is erringly similar to mine. I am still back and froth since my codependency tendency is quite severe. I have been taught all my life that the truth is not real and to never trust my own feelings. I have a long way to go but I am taking steps to get there.

              • My husband told me very recently that he wants me to “worship him”. He actually used those exact words. This is after he confessed to 14 years of cheating in our 23 year marriage.

              • “because when he’s not being an asshole and focusing on the Big Himself, he is a very charming and fun man.”
                This..exactly. STBX is a completely different person with the OW! She thinks he’s just wonderful, you know..he’s such a great guy! Why is this? Why do they become a fabulous person with the OW/OM?

  • I found out and asked my cheater to leave. Had him out in under a month. Mind you, he wanted out and didn’t put up a fight which in hindsight, I’m grateful for.

    Hey, if you want to give reconciliation a try, I’m fine with that. It’s ok with me that people can make different choices around cheating. However, it’s my experience that cheaters, as a rule, suck at life. They lack basic compassion and are terribly ego-centric. Sure, there may be the one-off cheater who is undeniable sorry but I don’t see many of those. Most times it’s the Chump who gets blamed for this or that and the cheater just digs in deeper.

    If anyone thinks that leaving a cheater is easy I can speak to how painful and difficult it was for me even when I knew it was the right choice. It’s hard to give up on someone I love. It’s hard to give up on the family that I loved. However, once I got free of him, I looked back and realized just how abusive and sad my marriage had become. He was not the person I married and we didn’t share the same values or goals in life.

    I’m out of the marriage now. I’m free from the abuse that surrounded him having his affair and his second life. It’s been hard won every step of the way but to go back to that shit show? No, thanks. His cheating wasn’t my fault. His choices were his. There were a lot of other ways to end a marriage but his choice to cheat ended the marriage. Period.

    If you want to pay a therapist money to reconcile, go ahead. Read books. Pray. Go to church. Think positive. Chant. I don’t give a shit what you want to do to save your marriage if that’s what you want, so long as you think it’s working for you. But don’t for a second blame yourself for your cheating partner’s choice.

  • Over my journey from separation (really abandonment) to divorce, I read about 20+ books related to my experience and as well as to help me in my theological development.

    My ex-wife is a licensed marriage and family therapist who pretty much successfully triangulated any counselor that we saw or effectively neutralized their ability to confront her for her bad behavior (i.e. she was good keeping the focus on me and not her controlling the “what went wrong” narrative). To this day, I particularly hate the movie: FIREPROOF (and its accompanying book, THE LOVE DARE, which I did not purchase). That was supposed to solve the problem but only fed her entitlement and contempt of me. Looking back, I don’t care for another book, HOPE FOR THE SEPARATED by Gary Chapman all that much either. RIC fodder. Mark Driscoll’s book, REAL MARRIAGE is another I found especially atrocious and far from evangelical in reality (as far as theology is concerned–and I am an ordained evangelical minister; so, I am qualified to say so.)

    In some sense, I don’t regret trying to reconcile. However, I wished I had more people around me encouraging me not to accept infidelity and affirming my anger around that. I read Dr. James Dobson’s LOVE MUST BE TOUGH and that gave me much clarity on my experiences. However, I sense his book edges too close to the shared responsibility assumption than I think is healthy or accurate.

    Personally, I wish more people would see infidelity/adultery as the greater problem than divorce. I think it would save people (cheater and chump alike, actually) much grief! This was not my experience in “Christian” circles nor in the counseling world that I experienced at this time (with a few notable good exceptions).

    Looking at Biblical passages attributed to Jesus, I am struck by how EVERY TIME he condemns divorce it is because it is being used to commit adultery! AND divorce because adultery or sexual perversion took place prior is allowable. (Even God divorces Israel for repeated adulteries in Jeremiah 3:8).

    Do I think reconciliation can take place after adultery? Yes. However, I believe in miracles and see that as a miracle–i.e. something that does not normally happen like someone being raised back to life from the dead. In the natural world, we do not default to assuming a dead body will come back to life; why do we default in the counseling world that a dead marriage after repeated lying and adultery will/can normally come back to life? It’s counseling alchemy in my opinion.

    The best shot I have heard of for reconciliation after adultery is for the chump to get REALLY angry and set major consequences for this bad behavior. Until the counseling and pastoral world gets this, they will continue to sell snake oil to chumps further damaging them and handing cheaters a one-way ticket to hell as well. No one really wins accept maybe the pocket book of the counselors.

    • I hate the love dare, I got it for him, and he was reading it as we moved into our home, and that bastard left me and used the stuff in the love dare for the affair.

    • Furthermore, we would consider it irresponsible for a doctor, nurse, or even chaplain to tell a family that their dead loved one will come back to life. Can we pray? Sure. But the expectation that this will come back to life stunts the grieving process and actually can do significant harm to those left behind–e.g. the chump in a marriage ravaged by adultery.

    • forgive me–I’m not trying to be quarrelsome–but isn’t that Dobson book the one where he talks about beating his dachshund into submission (or some equally small dog)???

      • If he does say that, I don’t remember it. I found it helpful that Dobson lays out the old cheater lines and calls them for what they are. Like I said, I don’t totally agree with the book itself. But I did find it helpful at the time as it gave me the idea to give my cheater choice to continue cheating or stop and work on the marriage. She chose to continue cheating…of course. The book was helpful in getting me to set a healthy boundary…baby steps.

    • I guess I was lucky that, much to my surprise, the overwhelming consensus of church people I know (after hearing what happened) was don’t try to save anything (which wasn’t really possible since he was long gone!), but they also said to not take him back if he ever changed his mind. I am thankful for those (unexpectedly) supportive pro-divorce responses….

      But stories on here show me that my situation most not be representative at all…

    • FSA, this is an absolutely brilliant post. You’ve articulated beautifully the “miracle” of reconciliation. It’s dead — and to bring it back is a resurrection. Lazarus isn’t the norm. It also explains the grief and denial. And why the RIC message can be so damaging.

    • Full Steam
      Scary thought–bringing a dead marriage back to life. We all know what happened in Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery. Yikes!!

    • (Even God divorces Israel for repeated adulteries in Jeremiah 3:8).

      The OT was still being written 🙂 The Deuteronomist(s) had the unsavory job of a re-write because Israel was promised to the Hebrews forever (the covenant). Israel’s patriarchy, however, was split into two factions: one pro-Egypt and one pro-Babylon (Egypt and Babylon were at war). The pro-Egyptian faction prevailed, Egypt lost the war, and many of the Hebrews–especially prominent members of the patriarchy–were enslaved, cities were razed, and many others fled to Persia. The result was Israel–the kingdom–ceased to exist. Now if you have a holy book that says the kingdom of Israel is promised to you forever because God says so, you have an inconvenient circumstance to explain.

      In step the Deuteronomist(s) and Jeremiah et al (the pro-Babylonian faction). The Hebrews of the Babylonian captivity did a lot of soul searching, and once Cyrus of Persia (a Zoroastian who is called a “messiah” and God’s right hand in the Torah/OT) liberated the Hebrews and allowed them to return to Israel, you get the whole divorce/reconciliation story you are familiar with, but things were re-written by cherry picking which particular scribes and “prophets” were “right” and “divinely inspired” only in retrospect and around the 2nd or 3rd century AD, I think.

      • TM,

        I heard that perspective when I was working on my masters at Yale. And I still do not agree with it even hearing it from some of the brightest of minds there. Plus, I do not think even they would place the canonization of the Hebrew Bible so late as you do. The Council of Jamnia took place in 90 AD, which was a council about that very subject. Plus, you have the Septuagint being written/translated around 2nd/3rd Centuries BC making it less likely for such a late editing/canonizing of Hebrew Scripture.

        Anyways, textual criticism and inspiration/authority views aside, I am more interested in just presenting a perspective. I am unapologetically coming at this as an evangelical ordained minister.

        We all come down in different places on what texts or non-texts are authoritative in our lives. The Bible is authoritative in my life and in many others. I am just speaking from my own experience and perspective as such pointing out that one does not have to jettison a high view of Scripture in getting divorced after adultery. The texts support leaving a cheater–especially a remorseless cheater.

    • “In the natural world, we do not default to assuming a dead body will come back to life; why do we default in the counseling world that a dead marriage after repeated lying and adultery will/can normally come back to life? It’s counseling alchemy in my opinion.”


      • And that is WHY some (although not enough of them) MCs will NOT take on infidelity smeared marriages. It is their personal philosophy that they have a right to implement. I think legally they have to give you one or two sessions but then they have the right to refuse treatment and that’s when they usually hear “I’m sorry but I don’t think I can help you, but let me refer you to someone else…” Notyou, can you confirm this? I’ve heard it from my own therapist, whose personal philosophy/belief system isn’t as stringent but who openly says that once narcissism is identified in one of the partners (guess which one that would be: chump or the cheater?), he gently encourages the non-narcissist to recognize it, learn about it, and practice detachment. The very same therapist told me that NPD is extremely difficult to treat, and he no longer “bothers” with treatment either, just focuses on the other person. I guess he thinks it’s about saving the victim at this point. And don’t get me started on the bullshit that some MCs spew. I’ve come to realize, mainly from hearing other people’s stories that marriage counseling is a big pile of shit, too unregulated, too many incompetent people enter the profession, too much to gain financially from hooking a client into treatments, when there’s no hope to be had. On the other hand, counseling can work for minor issues, like the couples who still have respect for each other but want to solve minor conflicts, maybe need an objective opinion on minor issues, like whether to encourage a spouse to take up a sport to lose weight, quit smoking, or be more affectionate. That’s minor to me. Fucking around and NPD will not be aided by therapy.

      • We need to remember the “counseling alchemy” metaphor and the references to bringing back the dead.

    • Dear full steam ahead, this was one of the more refreshing commentaires I have read in quite a long time, I need to speak with you please write to me steppingup @ juno .com


    • Exactly FSA, in a previous post I compared trying to revive my marriage to giving CPR to a rotting corpse. It only gives you a bad taste in the mouth. But I still had to try. I truly believed I possessed biblical powers…

      I Amazoned my way through false reconciliation. Did the MC. Danced the pick-me. All while saying with more and more sarcasm: ‘cheaper than a divorce’… It wasn’t, only financially.

      • FSA- I am so sorry for what you have gone through, but may I say thank you for sharing your insight.
        The religiosity that I have faced since putting my husband out a week before d’day has been baffling. If I thought the elders of my former church (including the minister) would take note of anybodies opinion other than their own, I would print out (with CL’s permission of course) your post and give it to them as a how to guide. The fact that I do not wish for any form of reconciliation at any time, which will lead to divorce as you have to wait 12 months here before you can file, has been likened to his sin of 8yrs of repeated infidelity with multiple others. So in their view my stand creates a two wrongs don’t make a right scenario. I Have been astounded how people with twist scripture to enforce their agenda. I have also had a person I know lampoon me with the notion that as a christian I have taken a vow of marriage and unless my spouse has beat me I should stay true to that vow even if I never see this man again.
        In her view to divorce and remarry is an act of adultery and no different to the actions of my spouse. She and I attended the same bible college so I am confused as to which lectures she attended as I have never read anything like that in my bible.

        FSA – I particularly like this addition to your original post.

        Furthermore, we would consider it irresponsible for a doctor, nurse, or even chaplain to tell a family that their dead loved one will come back to life. Can we pray? Sure. But the expectation that this will come back to life stunts the grieving process and actually can do significant harm to those left behind–e.g. the chump in a marriage ravaged by adultery.

        The only book I read in the beginning of my journey was my bible. The first month was spent being managed by the church and venting my anger on the punching bag hung in the garage lovingly called Bob. The second month was spent feeling like a caged animal at the zoo, as I spent all my time in the hospital with my daughter 24/7 following a diagnoses of cancer, all bar the few nights my STBX stayed. I was too busy getting my head around the diagnoses, medications and side effects to focus on anything. And to know that he and I where done was just one less battle, but I kept being blindsided by those from our church who thought that only they needed to know the truth of the matter, there never ending narrative of “but you do not know what the future holds and or if this marriage will end in divorce so until that time you should not say anything and just seek God on the matter’ Focus on your daughter.

        It was as though I was just expected to enter the endless state of limbo, focus on my daughter and in my spare time work on the issues that contributed to the failing of my relationship. I could not find my feet in order to grieve and move forward. Those first few weeks I was like this anger laden thunder cloud that just hovered.
        I am glad that I sought professional help outside the church. I found great friends that have supported me in ways I would never have thought possible. and I found Chump Nation. I do have to give a nod of credit to ‘notyou’ I imported the book ‘living with the passive aggressive man’ you can’t buy it here. This book has been a game changer for me. It have brought such a clarity, in helping me to understand what I am facing with my STBX.

        Tracy I am teary, I want to share my appreciation for you and your willingness to be a voice in the wilderness. I have not looked back since finding this site and I know others feel the same. Many of us may never have the privilege of meeting you face to face but please know that when we think of you and this site it is with a smile on a our face and knowing in our heart that what you have created is something special.

        • Sammie D,

          If you would like me to write a direct letter on these matters as an ordained minister, I would be happy to do that on your behalf laying out the Scripture concerning divorce and infidelity much as I have done in this comment thread but with more detail. You can use it as you wish. Contact info: fsafromchumpladyblog at g mail . com

          I am sorry that you have had to experience the hurtful rigidity of religion on top of all you have endured with a cheating spouse and sick kid. Know that I am at least one pastor who does not agree with reconciling with a cheater who has demonstrated nothing but a penchant for repeated unfaithfulness. As Chump Lady says, that is abuse and a threat to your life. Only crazy and confused counselors would suggest it is a good idea to stay in a relationship that threatens your physical health–and STDs plus emotional abuse from cheating/lying do both!

  • Holy cow, I think I am shunned at marriage sites, the ones who have wayward and fog a lot. Yes I am a chump, a long long chump in this.

    Let me see, the day I heard we were living apart because of his job and my health, and I surprised him. First thing out of his mouth was I ruined everything.

    Ok, time passes, blah blah, I heard a lot of lies and had no idea, we bought a new home, our dream home. It would have been more of our dream home had his penis not found her ass or whatever it found. So I tried to get over that, we moved, as we unpacked I kept thinking of his affair.

    Then holy shit I go to a doc appt out of town, come back to hear “ow hurt her back at gym she was mad I got you a home”

    So, he pulled off the affair as we looked at homes and all that, it was around thanksgiving, what the hell did he do, break up with her before the holiday?

    And they got back together, so all in all.

    My chumpness I bought while he was fucking her

    1. a home which he deserted me at very far 7 hours on freeway from anyone I know

    2. ow saved enough money to buy herself a ho home

    3. ow also saved enough to buy herself a ho car

    I am sure I bought other things for them.

    For me? I did makeovers, spas, diet, clothes, was doing novenas up the ying yang, going online and doing cyber candles to light for his soul, went to 43 priests, got him a st michaels medal had a priest bless it for him

    I even took him a taco bell meal deal once ow was there he was hungry, I left it as I drove off (too many calories for me to eat, see a stupid chump) I saw the taco bell meal deal fly out of the door onto the cheap carport, which is 4 doors down from a bails bondsman office, and the next door neighbors are bikers

    Ugh, we always lived in the suburbs with a pretty yard, he wants it trashy now

    Naughty trash for my H

    I failed I failed as a chump my cousin said she would have never talked to him again why couldn’t I be like my cousin Peggy?

  • to be clear, him saying I ruined everything wasn’t about himself, it was me, I find out he is boinking her and moved in with her and I me yes chump here ruined everything

    • Four or forty three – you certainly put forth a herculean effort, bless your heart.
      Novenas up the ying yang and the online cyber candles for his soul…made me smile, even as I could cry to see your earnestness. The enormous pain they cause, and the lack of concern for that fact. It’s such a contrast, isn’t it?

        • Beachi – yup, you got me with lighting those incenses of Hopium.
          My Dicko has also moved into a ‘negligible neighborhood’, from a nice home. But, hey – it’s her home so what could be better.

  • I just remembered something, I even bought those candles they have for prayer like the 99 cent store sells, what can I say I would try anything. And burn them and pray before I called him when he got off work.

    Such a mess, I was such a mess.

    • Hahahaaa
      I got a ‘special’ candle from my neighbor, she said I should then write down my deepest hopes and dreams that he would return to loving ONLY ME. Then, I took the letter, went outside on a full Moon night, and burned the letter with the candle, closing my eyes and wishing. So embarrassing. I just loved that cheater, so, so much, and he ruined everything, I thought I could fix it with a candle (well, maybe?).
      Gee, he kept on sneaking her into our house, while I was at work, so candles just suck!

  • I fall into camp 3, with a couple of fear hiccups. I found out my family man husband, who traveled 2 weeks per month, was buying prostitutes at the tune of between $400 and $2,000 per month for the past 10 years of our 13 year marriage. I had absolutely no clue and no warning when I stumbled across his “Red Light Review” page with his multiple reviews for hookers and what they would do, what they were like, etc etc. Disgusting and vomit-worthy. He was very very adept at hiding his double life, and controlled all of our finances (now I know why he was so insistent). He led a fantasy life with his favorites (Juicy Krystal, anyone?) and sexted them thousands of times a month. I trusted him completely and never thought he’d cheat, so I never checked up on his cell phone records.

    Anyway, that night I found out, I confronted him (he at first started with the “I was only curious and never did anything” then it trickled out on what he thought I knew over the next couple weeks. I made him sleep on the couch that first night, and kicked him out the next morning. I met with my lawyer 2 days later and started the divorce papers. I knew in my gut that there was something seriously wrong with him that he could lead a double life and be so morally corrupt – it was like looking at a stranger in my husband’s body. So surreal.

    I did have my fear and hopeful moments, when I desperately wanted my old life and my not-real husband back, and I tried reading a couple of books (Just Friends, being one of them). I tried to have him read them, to no avail. I was scared to death, mostly of financial fear as I had been a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. I knew in my heart, though, that I could not live with someone who was that disgusting and who I knew so little and who respected me so little.

    During that time I went to many infidelity websites, but they all felt WRONG. How could people think like that? It made absolutely no sense to me, as it didn’t mesh with my experience or how I was feeling. I was told he did it because of my co-dependency, and I allowed him to do it. Hard to allow it when I never knew it was happening! It felt like they victimized the betrayed spouses.

    Then I found Chump Lady, and what a godsend and breath of truth. Seriously, she kept me sane in those early months. She honed in on all the stupid things they say, and decoded them all and it was like a light going on. Everything fit, and played out just as Chump Lady said they would. The tricks, the trickle-truths, gaslighting, everything. This blog gave me the strength and backbone to go through with the divorce and demand better for myself and my children.

    I had been separated for a year when my divorce went through. He did not want people to know who he really was, and that helped me get a good settlement (not that it quieted my tongue after it was final!). The kids and I are doing better and moving on with our lives. We are 18 months post divorce, and still go no-contact except for kid and money issues. I am halfway through my degree, and excelling. Yes, there are many days when I still cry and miss my fake life, but this one is authentic and real, and I’m only going up.

    Thanks, Chump Lady, for everything you do. Keep telling the truth to everyone who will listen.

    • Your story is exactly like mine re: the prostitutes and the money, the separate finances, the gaslighting and the trickling out, and the fear and hopeful moments. I’m in the middle of the actual divorce process right now, and it sucks. I’m finding a lot of strength from the stories and support here. It’s encouraging to hear how well you have come through it! Congrats!

    • my story is almost the same. I left my husband 3 years ago.
      I stumbled upon tnaboard.
      He was having affairs with several women including Juicy Krystal.(she would not make him wear a condom.)
      He admitted to having bareback sex with several of the women. He would attend parties and act like a big shot.
      He wound up moving in with one of them.

      I almost threw up when I found out.

  • “Wait, come back! There’s a part of my face you haven’t walked on yet!”

    Cheating X mumbled something along the lines ‘we can make this marriage work’ after I caught him in an affair. At first he denied having sex with her which was a big fat lie. Then he claimed he was ‘confused.’ Yeah, right. My devastation and heart break were terribly inconvenient to him and he would get angry at my tears.

    I went to counselors. I went to some dumb break up group and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I was an internet/Amazon chump looking for ‘answers.’ I tried to unravel the skein and figure out his FOO issues. I read a lot of books, ones that were so helpful I can’t remember the names and have since given to the Goodwill. I made lots of mistakes. Contacting the OW. Groveling. Writing long, epic, letters explaining how much I loved him and how much he hurt me. Like he gave two shits.

    I was subsequently dumped and divorced but he was generous in the settlement. They’re still together and I hope he stays with her because he can’t function on his own because he’s a weak wimp and needs a mommy. She helps him and he helps me. I get maintenance from him and he’s never missed a month. I suspect he’s looking for his next victim as I’m writing this. He always has to triangulate on some new pussy. That’s how he rolls. He’s plowed through lots of women and leaves a slime trail wherever he goes.

      • My husband would triangulate me with the dog. It is what he was taught in FOO. The most upsetting triangulation of all for me, was with my beloved daughter.
        Oh, yeah, and the deal breaker OW.

        • The Jackass has to have those triangles–he likes a primary woman and one in the background (which is why he wouldn’t end the relationship when he took up with his MOW). His preferred triangle is a married woman with a husband who seems disengaged–easy pickings to be the winner there. He’s a guy who will mention the new woman to the one he is getting ready to put on the discard pile, just for fun. His ultimate triangle is one or the other of his siblings, himself and his mother. And at his age, all of that is a house of cards that will eventually collapse, leaving nothing.

          • YEP! Same thing happened to me with the new other women – usually way before anything substantial would even occur between them, just after the initial meeting or soon thereafter. Sadly, after this happening a couple of times, my antenna became hyper-vigilant and I could decode these remarks. It was all good fun for him — not sure if the fun came from seeing if he could fool me or from getting a jealous/suspicious reaction that stroked his ego. He was the master at triangulation – with his sister, his mother, my children, his neighbors, his pets, my pets, women he met at work, sales clerks, etc. etc. (ad nauseum).

            Part of the healing process is reading through all the similar stories and realizing what freaks we were all entranced by – eerie how much alike they all are.

            Triangulation, gaslighting, projection, rages, blame-shifting. Wasn’t it so much fun??

            • Big signal with the Jackass: he would ask “I wonder where the husband is?” He said that about me when I was ending my marriage.

  • Many years ago at the first D Day, there were no online resources. Ok. I am old. There was no online! Lol! So I bought books from a Christian bookstore. It was all about being co dependent or being more of a “woman”. My CH did return after a couple of separations. I am sure he returned because he wanted my income, etc. the books were ok but they did not address our issues.
    This time, I was reading as much as I could online. I did not buy anything from RIC because their advice didn’t seem to fit my problems. In fact, they seemed to be exploiting the pain of betrayed partners. Once I found Chump Lady, I had some real answers. The answers were painful but I knew they were true. No bologna. No fees either!
    I am buying multiple copies of the new book. I want to have them on hand for my friends! As for me, I read CL daily to keep my mind clear. We are in reconciliation but it is no unicorn. At my age, I just figure I can outlive him and save my retirement money for myself rather than dealing with a costly divorce. I have my life and it is a good one. He has moved on from the OW. Now he has a focus for his life… Impeaching the President. Sigh… At least it keeps him busy and pretty much alone. He truly is a grumpy old narcissist.

    • Linda2…
      He only has two more years to try and *impeach* the president though. Then what? Jeebus. Does he spit at the TV? Hopefully you outlive him. Make him heavy cream gravies and serve him lots of butter and ice cream.

      • Yes, and substitute lard for all vegetable oils in cooking. Maybe try whisking up melted lard with balsamic vinegar and garlic for a tasty salad dressing.

  • I was a pathetic serial chump, completely lost in the land of malignant hope and denial.

    I’m so glad that’s over. I’m grateful I learned something from it.

  • I fall somewhere between, but more towards calling it a day and hitting the road.

    In a matter of 40 days, I went from finding the initial Big Red Flag on the cell phone bill and sleuthing the numbers over the next several days to find that they belonged to a woman I didn’t know.. and all of the emotional roller-coaster rides that go along with trying to deal with that drama; to finding hard physical evidence that couldn’t be anything but the result of a sexual affair. I walked out that day and never went back. That was over two years ago.

    Now, to be fair, in the interim I have to admit that I sometimes hoped I would find out that either the cell phone text message woman was somehow legit or that I would catch him in the act with her. Or someone. One way or the other, just so I would have hard core evidence. I got my evidence, but it sure wasn’t what I expected. Even then, he tried to lie and explain it away. Let’s just say that I promptly made an appointment for the full battery of STD testing. So, that’s what I bought.

    • I never saw the evidence, unfortunately that fell to my son, 14 at the time. I acted on his information and only that I kept very calm I managed to get STBX to leave and go to his mothers. During the week that followed he confessed his infidelity to our minister and a church elder, they made him then sit and confess it to me like some how it would help. In the weeks that followed I systematically emptied the house of his personal belongings. I have never regretted the action I took that night.

  • I fell in category 3. I asked once for us to go to counseling the day it came out and he looked me in the face and told me counseling would not work because I did not want to change. Which told me right there that he felt his infidelity was my fault and at that point knew I had to cut my losses for the sake of my 3 children.

      • Yes, it was my fault he cheated. And, there was nothing wrong with him. After all, it was true love. They lived next door to each other until she moved away when he was 10. Then they found each other on Facebook in 2006 and the EA started. But, it is all ok, because she is his true love. I guess him meeting me 4 years later and spending 30 years with me was not true love. *sarcasm* Whatever, he did me a favor. I am way better off and got rid of my 4th child who was never going to grow up.

    • I personally think it’s “easier” to make decision when the cheater just come clean and tell the loyal one that they refuse to change. It’s still very sad but at least you know that it’s NOT you, it’s him
      The worst kind of cheater is the one who pretend to do all the work in reconciliation, goes to MC, admit guilt (sort of, but somehow managed to turned it into “you have part in this too”) and holding the betrayed one when she/he cries and throwing up at 3am because the mindmovies of the cheaters fucking the whore kept running in their head but still continue to cheat and wasting more time from the loyal spouse. Those kind of cheaters, their heart are made of stone

      • Wow, it took me 5 years and my IC getting increasingly blunt and unprofessional (oh yes, and catching him with OW again) to absorb and accept that he didn’t want to change!!!

      • Non A,

        Yes. Holding the chump when she shakes/vomits/sobs in the night with the mindmovies and new realizations, getting angry at her doctor when he balks at giving calming meds, calling around to find her some so her heart will stop beating overtime, …….. and all the while hurrying to the phone to text funny, happy-go-lucky sexual innuendos with the other woman….and emails, and long phone conversations about how much he misses holding her in his arms and all those other fun things she gets up to in bed. And planning happily for all the future rendezvous, and the new things to add to their Bucket List…..Trust that they suck.

  • I fall into category 3. DD was last August, he was out shortly after. Logistically, it took longer to get him out than I initially hoped for, but that part didn’t bother me as much. He was assigned a spare bed and had the privilege of spending addt’l time with his son while he looked for a new place to live. In exchange for money. Every objection was met with “fine, then go to your mother’s house or get a hotel room.” He accused me of manipulating the situation and I said “whatever, fucktard.” I can’t say he gave me every dime he earned during the transitionary period but it was close to it. He paid all the bills while he was allowed to stay. I didn’t get a particular satisfaction out of the last part because frankly, my preference would have been just to get him out on DD, but all in all, it was somewhat satisfying to observe him do a brief remorse thing. 1 therapy session, some I’m sowwwy emails from him, nothing of real value. I don’t even regret meeting all the fuck buddies because it gave me the proper perspective. Seeing all those trashy whores in person made it all that much more real. There was no spackling and no denying.
    Man is dead inside, a pathological liar and sociopath. Hardcore narcissist, raised by cheaters. My only fault in all that was not being perceptive enough to see him for who he really was about 15 years ago. My heart breaks for the naive, impressionable sweet 23 year old I was when I met fucktard. I didn’t have the tools and life experience to know what I was dealing with at that age. I thought he was just a little “spoiled mama’s boy” with a short temper. Speaking of red flags, I glossed over the fact that ex didn’t have any close friends during the entire 15 years we were together. His mask slowly came off about 5 years into the relationship and when DD came around I was more than ready to leave.
    Was I traumatized? You bet your ass I was. I think I still am. But there was this strange sense of relief that came with this whole experience, I can’t quite describe the feeling. It was bitter sweet in a sense.

  • My first marriage…I was a kid. A kid who escaped the two narcissists I was raised by and fled into the arms of another. We were together for 5 years, married a little over 2 years. I met him at 17, married him at 19, divorced him at 21. Shithead cheater hubby # 1 was a serial cheater, and I spackled and did the pick me dance most of the time we were together. I joined Alanon, went to counselling, and got out when he came close to killing me. I knew that if I did not take my baby and run at that point, I was going to die. I gave him a year to get his act together and then, when he didn’t, I divorced his sorry ass.

    Enter shithead cheater hubby # 2. Before we got married I told him to go out and sow any wild oats he had left because once we got married, if he decided to cheat, we were done. He kept it together and was reasonably nice for about 4 years before I started to see his real self. By the time we hit ten years things were really starting to fall apart. We did go to some marriage counselling but there was a disconnect where he was concerned. Of course his attitude was that everything would be just fine if I would go along with his program….namely that he would get to control everything in our lives while treating myself and my boys like shit. Uh….no. When he announced that he was in love with another woman, I was at that point going to nursing school evenings, working full time nights, and trying to keep a household running on 3 hours sleep a day. I knew I had to graduate and pass my boards or I would have no way to support myself and my boys. I kept my head down and plowed along until I did. After he engineered a particularly humiliating public scene involving the OW, I had enough. I gave him the ultimatum…..”You want her….you got her…..lets go home and pack your shit!” He wanted some time to make up his mind. I gave him 3 days. Unfortunately he picked me. He kept getting crazier and crazier. I avoided him as much as possible and we did not sleep together. I left when I was able to get my ducks in a row after he told me he felt like killing me and my boys.

    Sometime during that last crazy year we went to marriage counselling, this was after the OW made her appearance, and I was just disgusted the MC did not call him on having a girlfriend while being married. He of course felt entitled and said so. By the time I left I couldn’t stand the sight of him.

    To make a long story short, I wasn’t anywhere near the chump with shithead cheater hubby # 2 that I was with s.h. hubby # 1. So I did learn something.

    Now I am an unapologetic hard ass who will accept no shit from anyone. I am much better at spotting bullshit when it is flung in my direction and have no problem calling it what it is.

  • Boy, did I try a bunch.

    Mort Fertel: Spent hundreds of dollars on his CDs, books and a couple of individual counseling sessions ($625/hour). He was the worst. He told me I owed my XH an apology for telling his family about his affair, as I had violated his privacy. Also said that the affair was merely a “symptom” of what was wrong in the marriage, that I was responsible for XH’s happiness, that I had neglected him. Urged me to buy XH gifts, put all my energy into being a “better” wife, more attentive, etc.

    Marriage Builders: Again, spent hundreds of dollars on CDs, books, counseling sessions. Have to admit, though, that MB was pretty helpful to a certain extent. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have had suspected that XH was having an affair. Suggested I snoop to find evidence. Recommended I tell family and friends about the affair (which helped me get much needed support). Urged me to go NC when XH wouldn’t meet my conditions for reconciliation (e.g., give me passwords, write a letter to OW, etc.). But MB has this idea that “anyone” can have an affair if their emotional needs aren’t met, and the “wayward” is somehow not responsible for his actions because he is in some temporary “fog” and knows not what he does.

    Homer McDonald: A couple of counseling sessions at $300 per half-hour. Basically told me to start dating other men, as that would be the only way to get XH back. Said that the reason XH was no longer in love with me is because he hated himself and saw me as an extension of himself (there might be some truth to this).

    Divorce Busters: Spent hundreds of dollars on books and counseling sessions. Basically told me to do the 180 and keep my conversations with XH “light and breezy” and not bring up the affair.

    Beyond Affair Network: Bought book, went to some support group of people hanging on to their marriages with generally unrepentant cheaters, some serial cheaters, one with a child with OW.

    Marriage 911: Spoke to some counselor who suggested I write a letter to XH listing all the reasons I was “grateful” for him (XH actually tried to use this letter against me in the divorce proceedings). Urged me to persuade XH to come together to some weekend seminar (for $1000+) and claimed something like an 80% success rate for the seminar (marriage together after something like 7 years).

    Bought a bunch of other books, including Love Must Be Tough (Dobson), How the One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together, The 5 Love Languages, Winning Your Husband Back, Hope for the Separated, The Art of Falling in Love, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, Not Just Friends

    I’m sort of embarrassed by all the stuff I read and money I spent, but, by God, I was going to save this marriage.

    CL, I wish your book was around when D-day hit last year, but better late than never. Although I might not have followed your advice immediately, I think at least I would have read it and have had some “aha” moment after trying reconciliation for a bit. Thank God I did eventually find you–it was actually by way of some post on Marriage Advocates. Someone had linked to your article about cake-eating, and I thought it made a lot of sense.

    • wow – blue. If anybody’s been through it, you have.
      I was lucky enough 9 mos ago to Google ‘change in your husbands personality’. (thought for sure it was a tumor in the brain)
      It took me straight to MLC – Midlife Crises. (still a great site)
      Too many people daily finding out about their ‘new’ world at DDay – it can be so depressing and glad I can help there when possible.
      I found CL there in a link and try to get more to come over from that site.
      MLC does not EVEN come close to what this affair-adultery-lying-cheating-stealing-business is all about. It’s NOT a mid-life-crises folks. SORRY.

      • mid life crisis to this extent (blowing up your family) is about narcissism, and I tell the MLC forum that a lot.

    • Buy him GIFTS? Seriously?! OMG, this could be it’s own post — What gift do you give your cheater? What says “thank you for the STDs”? Golden cufflinks inscribed “fuck you”?

      And the book titles! “Winning Your Husband Back”? “Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”?

      How much did he spend at Amazon learning to woo you?
      What gifts did you get?

      Oh that’s right… the wonderfulness of him. A guy who endangers your health and doesn’t respect you. Winning!

      Sorry, this shit pisses me off! And yet — it’s also humorous in a really sick way.

      • CL I think you have something here:

        1. What did you buy your cheater to try and keep him/her?
        2. (following your greatness) If you wrote a (humorous) book about your cheating spouse–Title and a quick abstract about the book.

        You could choose a winner and cartoon a “book” cover for them. Something to think about.

      • I gave him a car, orchids, TV, dinner – the list goes on and on.

        Want to know when I finally got a clue that gifts WEREN’T the way to go?

        When, after giving him the car, and he didn’t say “thank you,” I prompted him like a 5 year old.

        “What do you say?” I asked.

        “It’s about f*cking time!” he spat, before he got in and drove away to go show OW.

        Ah, yes – entitlement. A bitter, BITTER pill to swallow…

        • after giving him the car, and he didn’t say “thank you,” I prompted him like a 5 year old.

          “What do you say?” I asked.

          “It’s about f*cking time!” he spat, before he got in and drove away to go show OW.

          Good lord. You are much better off without that asshole.

      • Funny you mention cuff links, as I did buy XH a pair, and a nice tie and designer socks (because suddenly he was becoming more “fashionable,” to impress the OW), some books by authors that XH particularly liked, some fancy teas (as XH really liked tea). I admit it’s pretty humiliating, but thank God it lasted for only a couple of months and I found Chump Nation.

        Mort Fertel recommends buying personal gifts that show your spouse you truly know them, about once every week or so. If you listen to his CDs/shows, there are listeners whose spouses have already left them for their APs who are still sending their cheaters gifts to show them their unconditional love!

        I also have to say that Mort is pretty dangerous to the chump, not just psychologically (by encouraging the chump to stay in an abusive situation), but financially as well. His advice could cause a desperate chump to be fleeced in a divorce action. He urges you not to file for divorce, but if your spouse does, to be very conciliatory and to make divorce “easy” on your spouse to show how much you love them. After the affair ends, your spouse will look back at your actions and realize how much you loved and cared about them and eventually come back to you.

        • I’m so lucky that when I googled whatever the hell I googled, it lead me to CL. I didn’t waste my time or money on reconciliation. I told my IC (who had also been our MC & STBX’s therapist, so she knew the history) what was going on & said “I just need to know if, in your experience, if this is something that can be saved”. She told me- I’ve said this probably 5 times in my 20+yrs of counseling…Get out! I love her.

      • I kept buying my cheater his favorite foods from the grocery store. I don’t know why, seems kind of weird now. Guess I was just hoping he’d see that I cared about him and come out of the fog.

    • Wow you sound exactly like my friend, her husband cheated and she’s the one who did the heavylifting. She bought at least 15 infidelity books, join a bunch of forum (TAM, SI, LS, MB), made appointment for MC and that cheating husband of hers do almost NOTHING. She bought him the “How To Help Your Spouse” book, it’s a thin 98 pages book and guess what he didn’t finish it

      Different is she’s completely mindfucked, i don’t know what he told her her but she views him as a victim of a jezebel who kept stalking him. She trashed her churchgoing reputation and to reciprocate the OW sent her their email history, it’s clear that he was the one who pursued her and the first who emailed dirty pic

      • Oooh, yes, they are the pursuers. I know OW would try and break it up, and he would go running after her. It also is the dynamic of affairs, sustained contact would destroy the fantasy.

  • My ex left me. But I think he thought after dday he would still stay in our apartment a while dating OW? He said something about how he wouldn’t bring here to our home. I was not not okay with this idea and told him so and he was gone in two days. Of course, his STUFF lingered for ages because it was just so inconvenient to, you know, pack and move. Ah well. It’s gone now.

    But because I fall into category 2, my late night Google searches only led me to purchase one book: Runaway Husbands. Reading that confirmed what I expected…there was no hope and I would just have to pick up the pieces and move on with my life. I did rent and watch Under the Tuscan Sun (based on positive comments on here) multiple times as a way to encourage myself in those dark months.

    • Oh, I also bought Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly because I realized I did not want what my ex did to make me shut myself off from everyone else and not trust again… Totally not a RIC book, but it is great for those of us who want to be reminded again why it is that we trust other people anyways…

      • I read that and her book on vulnerability during the gaslight period when I thought it was my fault that the cheater was disengaging. Her work became important because I began to see how much of myself I had lost.

    • Hi Northernlight I brought runaway husbands as well. Only I brought it about 6 months after dday when I googled .. ” how to move on from infidelity” . It was like reading my story.

    • I also found Runaway Husbands really helpful. I mean, whether they physically leave or not, aren’t they all runaways? I was lucky not to experience false reconciliation. I told my XWH that he would have to drop his married girlfriend and go to counseling with me if he wanted to keep me as his wife. He refused. I divorced him. End of story.

      • I must scream, “THANK YOU!” This website has been a source of comfort, insight, as well as a sounding board for those of us who have been devastated to the point of low self-esteem, self-worth, traumatized, the list can go on, as we all know. I am grateful for all of these shared stories, as they are inspiring me to “get my bitch back” – as my friends would call it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

        Has anyone here suffered or dealt with Parental Ailenation?

        • I know someone dealing with it. I recommend you look into the book Divorce Poison. It describes parental alienation and gives strategies to try to counter it.

  • I left my X after he said he wanted out of our 28 yr marriage. He had had an affair about 8 yrs previous and I decided to forgive him and we could get through anything. After I left I wound out her had been having another affair. I think deep down I had a gut feeling that there was someone on the sidelines when he said he wanted out. I basically went NC. He wanted to talk quite soon after I left but I said we had nothing to talk about. From there that was it. its been over a yer and because there had been so much hold up on his part we are going to court as soon as we get a date from the court. I too read books in fact there was one book that mad me sick being bias on the cheaters side. I came onto chump lady and others were also complaining of this book. I ripped it up and tossed it into the garbage. No more books for me. They don’t have to tell me its my fault or I failed my X. That is all bull —-. I took him back forgiving him of his discressions before. I was not going to do it again. It was obvious that he had no respect for our marriage vows or me so he’s done cruelly emotionally stripping me of my self respect. I left with my dignity, dignity that he has none of. He definitely has no self respect when he can screw another women while still married.
    I have taken the high road and I don;t regret it at all. Some days I want my old life back and the husband I knew that loved me. Thats all gone and now I’m left to get on with a new alone life. Its been over a year since I left and I’m making my way and keep checking into CL. She’s the only one that will tell you how it is without putting a dam spin on things. She’s right up front. One thing I have learnt is that all this mess takes time to come to terms with and don’t let anyone tell you to just get over it or just move on. It does take time, YOUR TIME, we all go through it differently. Just be honest with yourself, do not deprive yourself of feeling those emotions (thats healing) and eventually you will come out the other side. Thank you CL for not deceiving us chumps.

  • I bought into the reconciliation industry. Web sites and books that catered to saving a marriage. The industry of saving a marriage is lucrative. Marriage counselling, individual counselling and a plethora of books that mainly state that good people cheat is an industry built on the backs of chumps.

    Not only was I chumped by my wife I was chumped by unqualified counselling “professionals” and a book industry that is geared toward straining chumps of dollars. Chumps are buying the self help books, chumps are the ones reading everything they can get their hands on. Cheaters don’t read self help book and seek counselling.

    I believe chump lady is big threat to the status quo. Chump lady has changed the narrative. Cheaters dislike being ridiculed, the counselling and pro cheater new age revisionists, much like the conscious uncoupling genre of the Hollywood narcissistic movement don’t appreciate sites like this.

    It’s even funny how this site has been described as potty mouth site of bitter chumps.

    CL….you are on the right track….you’ve got traction and you are a threat. You’ve given a voice to chumps and you’ve challenged the stereotype of what a chump is.

    Being chumped doesn’t mean remaining a chump. Reading this blog, it’s apparent that the great majority of chumps are articulate, smart, successful, loving people who have a heart.

    Odd, how some trolls are more offended by a chump swearing than cheaters having unprotected sex.

      • Cheaters and cheater sympathizers can wrap their minds around mingling cheater groin juice but they grab their hankies and feign distaste for swear words.

        It’s comically absurd what cheaters lick and swallow but a chump who tells them to fuck off are being crass.

        Cheaters, can fuckidty, fuck off. My potty mouth is std free and perhaps that may offend those who’s mouths have sipped from sewers.

        • Yeah, pick up someone who’s in a relationship at your brother’s funeral while your husband and kids are standing there watching and that’s just another day at the “whatever makes me feel good” cheater buffet. Call those two selfish, immature assholes “fucktards” and you are reprimanded for language.

    • You spoke of us being described by some as “bitter chumps” and that was such a fear of mine. God forbid I be bitter! I frantically tried to figure out how I could get through this without turning into a “bitter woman.” And then, after a few months on CL, I realized I wasn’t bitter, I was angry. And I had every fucking right to be angry. That’s just one of many ah hah moments I’ve had here.

      • Moving liquid… I thought the same too.. If I became bitter, the world would end. I didn’t want to be that bitter ex… I only started to get angry after coming on here… Ah Ha moment 🙂 I had every right to be angry, because of the idiots total selfishness, being so entitled, he not only ripped my heart out and broke every single promise he had made but he also devastated my children which will be a life time thing.

        • Ironically, cheaters are bitter selffish people who believe the world revolves around them. Cheaters are bitter if they don’t get whatever they want when they want it. Cheaters are bitter toward their spouse, their bitterness is a tool they use to justify cheating.

          Cheaters are groin centric attention seekers.

          Funny how when chumps call them out on their crap. These cheaters or cheater sympathizers throw in the word “cult” or label as a site of “yiddishism” as a means to discredit CL’s blog and Book. These folks claim that CL is only doing it for big bucks. Ironic , wouldn’t anyone who writes a book be then labeled as a money grab.

          The message is clear for those who wish to maintain the status quo, that those who are cheated on must not speak out, must own the blame of bring cheated on and god forbid they use a swear word or Yiddish word.

          Cheaters can fuck around, but chumps can’t say fuck.

          • P.F. agreed. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. And if I could I’d buy 100 of CL’s books because there’s no other way to repay her for what she’s done for me.

        • MovingLiquid and Jode, that’s a good distinction. And I think we can have moments when we feel bitter about what we’ve lost and how we were treated by someone we loved. That’s a whole world away from become bitter–a person defined by and controlled by that feeling. We have every right to be angry when people abuse us. That’s our defense mechanisms kicking in to say, “what’s happening is dangerous to your health and survival.” Working on ourselves keeps us from getting stuck in those bitter and angry moments.

          • Agreed, LovedaJackass. I’m having to learn this now after living 56 years thinking I was less deserving.

      • That, in a nutshell, is my greatest fear as well…becoming bitter! It’s hard not to be sometimes. I turned myself upside down and inside out for my cheater and still I could not compare to the fabulousness that is the AP. I guess to compete with her I would have to seriously lower my standards (opening my legs to every Tom, Dick and Harry would have been an asset as well, apparently!) I’ve always been one of the “good girls” and proud of it…but the old saying is starting to feel like the truth: “Good girls finish last” and THAT truly is a bitter pill to swallow!!

        • There are words that are thrown around in our culture that have particular venom when aimed at older women such as bitter, hag, etc. and most of us have a lifetime of training in how not to behave assertively or be very outspoken when we’re wronged. It’s time we not only find our voice, but to do it with confidence and conviction. We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

          • Ah, the bitter statement.
            After I finally mentioned the OW at work (exH worked there was well), a good friend told me that someone else said I was sounding bitter. So ridiculous. I couldn’t say it the way it is without being labeled as “bitter.”
            We really need to revolutionize perspectives on infidelity.

            • I realized a long time ago that the word “bitter” is used as a weapon to denigrate people who have been grievously wronged and changed by the experience.

              • Bitter, is to go to word for cheaters and the and the unimaginative. Some even throw Yiddish bombs and the “cult” word around in their arsenal of stupidity.

                the status quo….is that to have been cheated defers to being less than.

                Cheaters buy into their marvellousness, when the truth is cheating is the easiest thing to do. Cheaters are a computer click from Craig’s list or membership in Ashely Madison, a beer away at a local bar, or a street corner from buying sex. Gosh, some cheaters find it at their church or Boy Scout excursions. Some cheaters get “lucky” with a friends spouse or the cleaning lady at the office…alla George Costanza.

                Cheaters are tripping over themselves with cheating opportunities and yet they are marvellous. To cheat is to be marvellous, despite the comb over hair, pot belly, or the neon yoga pant wearing preying mantras.. sans IQ.

                Cheaters see being called out by a chump as being bitter and not appreciate of their marvellousness. They see getting sex on the side as a testament to their specialness. If anyone has a problem with this, the bitter Yiddish card comes out. If chumps were as special they too would be cruising cheating web sites, or humping the neighbour, or jerking off to porn. Chumps are so biter that they were living a real life while their cheater douse took selfies of their groins in the washroom.

              • zyx321, Violet, and PF below, thanks for validating my feelings about that terrible word “bitter.” It’s just a word, right? We don’t have to give it power.

                And PF, I can’t reply below your comment, but I am in full agreement.

            • “After I finally mentioned the OW at work (exH worked there was well), a good friend told me that someone else said I was sounding bitter.”
              Did your friend actually think he/she was being helpful? I am astounded by some of the things people say, especially those who have not been through this. Don’t get me wrong..there are many well-meaning people giving advice..but sometimes it’s just so far off base. And I too am afraid of being bitter. Most days I feel like I already am.

  • I’m definitely in category 3. I tried everything from the “save your marriage” crap. He left one day while I was at work. Packed his stuff and cleaned out the house. I spent a fortune on trying to save the unsaveable. You know I could single handedly do this!!! He had left in his reality about 18 months before when the affair (one of many) started. If he had every really been a part of our marriage at all. I found out about her about a week later. Bought him gifts, cooked him meals, invited him over for dinner. Did the pick me dance big time. Probably did this for 10 months. It kept me so stuck. I tried harder and harder. It just got thrown back in my face every time. I stopped when the OW starting sending me messages about how I had hurt her man over and over.

    I then found Chump Lady.. It was like a light came on. Everything made so much sense. The total mind fuckery that had been going on for 20 years. I had made myself smaller and smaller.

    I have been totally no contact now for about a year. An occasional text about finances/kids once every few months. Even then, he never answers them or I get an essay of abuse back.

    I would recommend your book to everybody in this situation. I can’t explain how fantastic you are. Time, no contact and Chump Lady have helped me to move forward. Thank you so much CL 🙂

    • I so wish I the day he cleaned out the house and left while I was at work. Just went totally no contact with him. Would have saved myself a fortune as well as my pride!!!

      • Jode70 – I finally went n/c (I hope). I still like to harass him but need to stop that. I stopped it when I just told him I had been tracking his whereabouts for over 14 months. He finally figured out to turn the off button w/in 10 seconds after I said that, on MY iPad that he took. Idiot.
        So, I feel quite freer now.
        Yes, N/C is going to make me happier and since we don’t seem to have the ‘couple dynamics’ to settle our divorce financially between us….it’s going to cost a hell of a lot more money on attorneys. The guy never did figure out how to compromise and I trust him like I would a Scorpion. (which he is astrologically. funny)

  • “Speaking for myself, I had four (yes four — I wear the chump crown) D-Days. I don’t regret the first attempt at reconciliation. I regret the subsequent three. I needed to try and get kicked in the teeth a few times to really understand who he was.”


    This is my fourth D-Day….I’ve been kicked in the teeth, the gut, the vagina….you name it….Hopium is a strong drug–glad I’m finally in rehab and kicking that habit.

      • Same guy. Over the course of a year and a half of R. The first two were very close together, just a couple weeks apart. I threw him out, then he promised to sign a post-nup if I reconciled with him. Tried that, he cheated, two more D-Days in fairly quick succession. Did get the postnup, but when I tried to divorce him, he flew into rages, so I did it on the down low. Just moved out on him.

        Very abridged story. I don’t go into my personal story much in the book. A bit, but it’s not really about me — just enough to let folks know, hey, I lived chumpdom too.

        I consider myself fortunate. I had a D-Day 6 months into my marriage. I spent more time separated from him than I did married. It was brief and awful. Other people have it MUCH worse, far greater sunk costs. Decades and children. I just lost money and a few years. Light sentence, really.

  • I am a cross between 1 and 2.
    D-Day #1: I confronted, he denied (fellow graduate student, just an infatuation ). We went to MC. I truly thought we had dodged a bullet, that he could talk to me about anything.

    D-Day#2, 11 yrs, 2 kids later:, I accused, he denied (work colleague). Said she threw herself at him and asked him to leave the family for her. I basically did the pick me dance: upped the attention, PDA in public, etc.

    D-Day #3: he came home mid-year during a yr long temp position away from home: said he did not want to end up like his parents (could not say he wanted to get a divorce), loved me but not in love with me, etc.
    I insisted on MC again, bought “after the affair” and “just friends.” This is the part I regret.
    Not that tried, at least I did that! But that I had not found Chump Lady at that point (this was 2012). I regret that I engaged in Hopium for three months before then husband admitted to Affair #1, and that there was an OW for #3 (still claims no physical affair, marriage was over, etc). #2 he will never admit to, but it was an EA at the very least.
    I regret the time that I lost with someone who did not care about me. I regret the books and the MC that made be feel that I shouldered some of the blame. I refuse to regret my actions with DDay 1, as if I had trusted my gut my kids would never have been born.

    I do not regret my actions, as I was always honest, and I did the best I could with the information that I was provided.

    The Chump Lady Survival Guide is definitely needed. I could have used it during those 3 D-Days (so there only would have been one!). It would be good to find a way to market it to those who suspect cheating, but are not yet sure. But most people are probably like me… they confront too soon, before enough data, because they truly cannot believe the person they love could behave that way, and treat them so terribly.

  • I wasn’t married to the Jackass but we had lived together and he had pushed for a commitment “for the rest of our lives.” When we were on the verge of making that commitment real in a home that I own, he found reasons to go back to his parents’ home and postpone this new stage in our relationship. I could see and feel that he was disengaging and 3 months later I found out about the affair. Turns out his parents lived 3 short block from the married Schmoopie. As my therapist says, “He likes it convenient.” By the time I discovered the affair, he had put so much distance between us, he had essentially exited the relationship, although he denied that consistently. (He told me the last time I talked to him before D-Day, that I “was in a hurry.” I think he was enjoying the affair, saw it as temporary, and wanted to keep me in limbo in case he wanted to come back in the future. Finding out about his MOW ended that idea; he couldn’t tolerate an “accusation” of infidelity. So there was never any chance of reconciliation and that was his choice.

    On my end, I saw my therapist 4 days after I found out and our session revolved around why I could never take him back. That was my official position. What I did was get on the internet and read about “why men cheat” and what to do if a partner is unfaithful. I got some hopium when I read about the “infidelity fog” and comforted myself that only 4% of affairs end in marriage. So while my brain knew I couldn’t take him back, my heart wanted him to get out of the fog, come back and tell me he was sorry. I read on a site that assumes the cheater will be off in the fog with the AP and my job was to make my position clear and go NC. That advice was useless to me. He was already gone with an account full of my money. Even with therapy and no contact other than about the furniture and other valuable he left at my house, on some level I still didn’t trust that he sucked and was probably just lucky that he didn’t come back. My story won’t help much with your question, but there was no advice for me, either. I didn’t start piecing the narcissist part of the puzzle together until a few weeks ago. I would read people’s posts about narcissist cheaters and it didn’t resonate until…it did. I think it takes people a long time to come to see what’s behind the mask of someone we love. There is no way for ordinary people to explain how someone can love us on Monday, so we think, gaslight us on Tuesday and Wednesday while cheating with an AP, and walk out for good on Thursday.

    Tracy, you make such a good point about the lack of resources that don’t privilege the cheater and/or the marriage at the expense of the chump and the family. We loved the people we thought they were and we had hopes and dreams and memories that were precious to us, and so of course, we want a miracle that will realign the broken marriage with our hopes. But in my case, I was dealing with a full-blown narcissist “discard” but had no way to understand that. My therapist was reluctant to diagnose from a distance but had been quick to say I couldn’t ever go back. Her focus was “move on.” But first I needed to process how someone I trusted for nearly 35 years could just change–not just change his mind or his plans but how he talked and how he treated me. It took Chump Nation to help me trust that he sucks.

    • The power of spackle. While the RIC sites tell chumps about the “love busters” and all the things chumps need to change to win back the cheater (such a prize), CL points to the 2 things we do that keeps us in an abusive relationship: we spackle the cheater’s bad behavior, dysfunction and history and we give up our dignity by pick-me dancing. The unmasked narcissist is an ugly creature without the spackle. And absolutely no site I looked at suggested that my cheater could be wearing a mask, living a double life and gaslighting me.

      • The most helpful book, after the Brene Brown books that focused on my needs, was Aaron James’s “Asshole: A Theory.”

        • That one is on my list of books I’d like to buy! I am glad you got a lot out of it, so I will probably now buy it sooner rather than later…

    • I’m sorry LAJ. 🙁 Being with a narcissist is like climbing a ladder and then having the the building it was leaning against suddenly removed when you’re ten stories up. Although for as long as you knew your ex I suspect it’s more like twenty stories. I think we move on from that mindfuck only once the story of who they are now completely smites the story of who they acted to be. It’s a hell of a lot harder to move on when that person just up and leaves.

  • I’d say after learning a little trickle truth initially I was more of a category one. In denial shock and unfocused. Until I began talking to lots of people. Attorneys, friends and chump nation.

    Was hasn’t worked is the suggestion of a ” narrative shift” by the MC and supported by the cheater. That’s another load of crap =major shit sandwich. It’s fuzzy logic that undermines a chump’s core values. Or mine at least. Values and morals which include things like honesty, respect, loyalty …. To name a few.

    Also not working is the suggested reading of “after the affair”. This assumes your cheater is NOT NPD or character disordered or a sociopath. If your cheater is any of those 3, or a combo, the book is a waste of your time. These people are seriously fucked up to the core. There is no change. Ever. The chump is not even a person in the cheater’s mind. We are tools and objects to them…and so are our kids.

    Not working at all is the notion of being vulnerable with your cheater. You know, like to re establish a foundation of intimacy. Hell the fuck NO! When a cheater can willfully, repeatedly and without remorse throw a chump and their kids away over and over and over again, I think the best course of action is to protect yourself and your kids from such a mother fucking asshole. There will be NO emotional intimacy of such a selfish individual in my head, nor in my body physically.

    So now, after more trickle truth, and each trickle becomes another DDay-like experience, I am more of a category 3, or heading there.

    The big R. I dunno any situation where you’d really want to continue a relationship with someone who absolutely has shown you the most egregious form of disrespect, and this includes also not giving a flying fuck about the kids either.

    • And here is the catch, isn’t it. They assume that your cheater is not a narcissist, BUT…

      cheating is a narcissistic act, and they turn out to be – narcissists! The cheaters described here are the same self-absorbed, uncaring people again and again.

      CL is the ONLY person who points this fact out. Infidelity is narcissistic, that it arises out of entitlement, and so to ask such a person to have the humility to NOT be self-absorbed, and to feel remorse…

      Na-ah. They don’t go together, and this is why these marriages fail. Once our eyes are opened up to how little they care about how much they hurt us, how it still always is about them…. it is SOUL DEATH to stay.

    • Yes, I agree that some of the advice I read basically asks you to make yourself more vulnerable to the cheater’s abuse. It plays right into their hands. I felt like I was laying myself down in front of a truck and asking it to run over me again and again in order to save our marriage. How I wish I’d had the strength and understanding of what was happening to stand up for myself and refuse to put up with his behavior.

  • xyz. Great post. I just want to add…I was never a self-help-book-believer. I was fine with myself. Who buys that stuff? (lots of hopiums – ‘The Secret’ comes to mind) My sister still tries to ‘habilitate me’.
    Suddenly, I was out there wandering around some book store wondering what just happened to me. Just that fast. The light switch went off with my H.
    Well, I picked up my computer and it saved me a lot of years of grief finding CL Nation almost right away.

    Guess I was one that couldn’t accept this ‘thief’ of my life almost immediately. Kicked him to the curb and never want to see him again. He shafted me. He used me for an Alibi. He had no problems cheating on me (and I don’t know how many those are). He had no problem bringing her into my home – my kitchen! where (Godfather talk) MY CHILDREN COME TO PLAY. Left her panties and hair around. In My wonderful Motorhome that was sacred to me that we played in discovering America together…WHERE MY CHILDREN COME TO PLAY. (children in this case is actually dogs, but, you get the point). Yeah, Al Pacino rings in my head all the time..

    I have 4 Ddays written down, all within 30 days of each other. Not sure what took me so long.

  • I dove full-force into untangling the skein of crazy. My X turned so dramatically into someone unrecognizable to me (after 14 yrs), I was certain he was either on drugs or had some sort of brain affliction. So I convinced him to go to a psychiatrist with me. That’s where I first learned about all the Cluster B disorders.

    From there, I read books, found specialists, MCs, became the marriage (or should I say abandoned spouse) police, and sought the support of friends, family, therapists and support groups just to survive.

    None of it worked, at least oh changing him- he is truly disordered, and I learned that I had just uncovered the latest in a long history of scary covert behavior.

    Two interesting things did happen to me though-

    1) I did read one Reconcilation site that advocated focusing on bettering yourself so the cheater could see your changes and grow to miss you (yuck!) but I admit I tried it, and I soon found myself doing it more for me than him. He did notice, did come back to reconcile, but was still playing his games

    2) I went to therapy (best thing I’ve ever done) and joined a support group. The sadness and anger and years of lost life I saw in people there shocked me into stopping the long pick me dance I had done. I didn’t want to be pining for him or feeling alone and miserable for another 10 yrs like so many in the group had. I sprung into action getting happy on my own.

    It was not easy and has taken half a decade to get there but I finally feel close to meh.

      • I contacted her- the head of a mental health dept at a prominent hospital where I live- and begged for her to meet and assess my husband. Multiple friends who knew us both well suggested it sounded like he was having a bipolar episode so I explained to the psychiatrist that I needed an evaluation to see if he needed to be medicated. He was completely out of control in my view.

        She agreed and we had a 1.5 hr session where she asked him a variety of questions. He was in a particularly smug mindset at the time so he was pretty blatant about himself, and even shocked me with some of his answers about remorse, deception, etc and his feelings about his behaviors. He did minimize some things but I stepped in with the truth at those points.

        Anyway, at the end she said, this isn’t bipolar, it’s much more akin to a personality disorder and I’d say in the range of sociopathy. I’ll never forget that moment.

        She said therapy could maybe help a little but this was a very hard disorder to treat or cure- that his brain is wired differently.

        My therapist recommended someone based on that info and she thought he was more borderline personality. Another thinks he’s narcissistic with addiction.

        I thought for a while I could be supportive bc he did have a diagnosed mental illness but he just kept devolving and didn’t care at all how it tore me or our families apart.

  • I do not regret the first attempt at reconciliation. Stbx at the time really appeared to do the right thing – individual counseling – marriage counseling. He SEEMED remorseful. I thought he was. I really thought at the time he understood that pain that he caused me. Apparently no so.

    Fast forward a few years later – same OW – and …no I’m done with that sh*t. I was a good person. I was a good wife…I was a good partner. Him? He sucked at all of it. 18 months out and I realize how lucky I am to be rid of a cheater. Honestly, my life is good..and I’m genuinely happy. I’m living a true and authentic life. It’s all good!!

  • Since I didn’t have a penny at the time to buy a book, I scourged the interweb desperately looking for advice on how to get past the pain of his affair. I saw through the RIC sites right away and steered clear of them. I found a lot of blogs but they seem to be in three categories, 1.) the chumps who primarily blame the other woman and not their husband (or they’ll accuse him of just being stupid or helpless), or 2.) they are stalking the other woman and doing borderline illegal things to her to get even and they are not healing at all, or 3.) they are getting a little bit of attention from Huffington Post and a few other places from writing about healing after an affair and are trying to make this sexy, which it isn’t.

    CL gets that this isn’t pretty or sexy. She writes here with clarity, brevity, and insight based on her own experience and I’m sure her book is written the same way. (Buying it on the 3rd when I get paid.)

    The bottom line is by coming here, I probably speeded up my healing by months if not years. You can’t put a dollar value on that.

    I like many other chumps here visit the site several times a day. I need it to help keep me strong and focussed and to know I’m not alone.

  • I went through several d-days. I needed that experience to finally get the balls to leave (my first reaction was immediate kick-out and then I caved. He welcomed my weak moments and thus enjoyed a few months of cake-eating). I even went through the humiliation of signing us up for a marriage recovery program called Retrovaille, and I endured a misleading but paradoxically beautiful weekend of lies and inspiration-a program that only works for the sincere. Sensing that they were still involved, I said a prayer, and vowed that if they were found together again, I would leave. Point blank. No questions asked. I knew that I had to do so for my emotional and financial safety. I set up a “sting” operation with a workmate, and she caught them together red-handed in his mobile business truck (that I financed). I called him a few minutes later and asked him what he was doing. He said he was finishing up at work and that he would be home soon. I asked him if he was alone, and he said he was. I then informed him that his TWU-WUV just handed my girlfriend a business card and that he was not alone. They both peered out the window and saw that I was parked just a few feet from his truck, cell phone in hand. When he got home later that evening, he grabbed me around the waist while I was vacuuming and asked for forgiveness. I told him to leave me alone and that I was vacuuming because the next day I would call a realtor to come and list the house. The house was sold within a week and new owners took possession 24 days later. I was focused and sure of myself for the first time since the first d-day. So yes, I needed several d-days to finally get the courage to do the best thing I have ever done in my life. No regrets. I did the right thing. God answered my prayer.

    • Shortly after that I discovered Chump Lady, and she validated everything I had been feeling. I KNEW then that I did the right thing……Thank you CL!

  • I would have given anything to reconcile when my husband traded me in for the secretary one week after the birth of our second child. Anything. I begged him to stay, which he did for six weeks until I went back to work. I took this as a sign that our marriage had a chance. In actuality, he was showing out for his mother who was staying with us to help with the baby. During my six week “reconcilation” attempt, I bought:
    — Dr. Laura’s “Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” (Barf). I cried as I read the book and I highlighted in yellow all the things I was doing that Dr. Laura said I shouldn’t be and all the things I wasn’t doing that Dr. Laura said I should be. The whole damn book was glowing yellow and the paper was wavy from my tears falling into it by the time I was done.
    — At my mother-in-law’s suggestion, I bought a sexy nightgown to try to seduce him because the “Our (family name) men like sex.” Keep in mind I had just given birth to a 10-plus baby – natural childbirth – and I was in no shape to be seducing anyone. The first night, I waited up for him wearing the beautiful black nightie but he was out boinking the secretary til wee hours of the morning and he came home to find me asleep in bed with my glasses on drooling on myself. with a book on my tummy. Very seductive indeed.
    — Unfortunately a few weeks later I tried again with the nightgown thing and this time succeeded. But I felt like I had been raped.
    — I arranged a “get away” weekend for our 16th anniversary to go out of town to a blues festival. My parents had agreed to keep the baby and our daughter. Instead, he told me he would rather me go stay with the kids at my parents so he could have the weekend to himself to “think about things.”
    — Some book by Dr. Gary Smalley — I think the 5 promises of marriage. what a crock.
    — I bought a book by Dr. James Dobson called “Love Must be Tough.” While it was for the goal of winning hubby back, the book actually had (compared with other material) some good stuff in it about setting boundaries and not tolerating unacceptable behavior. In fact, it was this book that inspired me to tell him to either stop seeing OW or to leave our home. When I got home that night he skulked out of the house with his duffle bag, never to return.

    • DeltaGirl, I can’t fathom going through all that with a newborn baby to boot.

      There’s a special place in hell for cheaters like your husband.

      Speechless and so sorry he sucks.

    • Of course you wanted to save your marriage. You had a newborn baby. So sorry the baby’s father was a jackass. I also wonder if your mother-in-law has had a D-Day or two in her history, based on her comment and her strategy. She should have smacked her son upside the head.

      The first step out of the nightmare of betrayal and infidelity is to stop “tolerating unacceptable behavior.” That road lead inevitably to fully reclaiming our own lives.

    • Delta, abandoning a brand new mother is the lowest of the low, in my opinion. Glad you are rid of him!

  • I get physically sick just thinking about the 24/7 insanity of being a full tilt #1 for way too long. The worst (if that’s possible) was going to a 12 step meeting for couples dealing with sexual addiction. I listened to a bunch of dick-heads pretend to be remorseful while recounting their upteenth “relapse”. When we left that meeting, I told my STBX that I would never forget the look of perpetual suffering in the eyes of their wives. It was a turning point for me – I got home and tried to scrub the disgust off. I went full tilt – banging into every theory, story, excuse and religious spin along the way. I just thank God it’s finally over.

    • I’m so suspicious of all the people who are suddenly calling themselves “sex addicts.” I feel that in most cases it’s b.s. It’s simply a lack of control, or just not caring.

      People are over stimulated by internet porn and what they are addicted to is having their ego stroked.

      They need to grow the fuck up.

      • indeed! and (IMHO) the support groups are just really places where they give each other permission to continue, because, you know, none of us is perfect, we can only try, sometimes we fail, bullshit, more shit….

        (an aside, the creepiest part of this was that EX told me there were people in the group he attended–briefly– who were into stuff like kiddie porn and god knows what. Even HE was revolted.) What a sewer.

        • In serious addiction circles, relapse is not taken lightly. Days of sobriety are counted and celebrated. Family members are not expected to endure perpetual suffering at the hands of the addict. So it that is what is going on in the “sex addiction” industry, something is pretty far off base.

        • Yuck, namedforvera, I’m sure there’s a certain segment of the population who are “titlated” at sex addicts groups.

          If I were at a group where someone talked about watching “kiddie porn” I’d have to report them — anonymity or not — I volunteer for the DA’s office and am a mandatory reporter.

        • The support group for partners of sex addicts I attended briefly reminded me of some terrifying cross between The Stepford Wives and The Twilight Zone.

          No, no thank you – I do not care to ever hone my detachment skills to the level necessary to endure that kind of chronic bs! Scary!!!!

      • Amen. I have, at times, been extremely promiscuous. I’m not especially proud of that, but you know what? I managed not to cheat when I was actually in a relationship. In fact, it never occurred to me. I think “sex addiction” is a total crock.

  • Can I make a confession to CL and all chumps I brought “I love you but I’m not in love with you” by Andrew Marshall. There it’s out I feel better. I brought this book when the stupid ex said to me just before discovery of the affair with the ow. As this is what the stupid ex literally said… I’m sorry ILYBINILWY.. WTH…
    It has been two years since that day but it is not something you ever forget. I tried to continue with our intact family but it was bloody hard. But now it’s been 15 months and it hurts less and less.
    But it wasn’t until I found CL that I began to get my roar back. Infidelity is abuse. Abuse of power, financial abuse and emotional abuse.
    I chanted many time CL’s mantra ” I am mighty” and “fake it til you make it.”
    What really makes me mad in my case that many friends and acquaintances say “it’s a midlife crisis.. He’s brought a motorbike and had an affair”. That’s crap I didn’t have a midlife crisis and buy a huge sparkly diamond ring and have an affair. It’s just that he felt entitled and did not give a rats arse about me or my lovely girls. I hope he rots… Obviously I’m not at meh (it’s not Tuesday yet)
    Keep on telling it Tracy. As it is only when you decided you cannot do any more of the RiC crap that chumplady begins to make sense.
    Cheers Bellzero xx

    • The male cheaters who chalk their selfish actions up to a midlife crisis really irk me. What makes a man decide at 45 or older that they’ll risk everything for a new vagina? EVERYTHING. It’s appalling and so stupid! I honestly cannot believe we would have a man in that condition in charge of ANYTHING!

    • Ha ha ha ha haaaaa! So did I. I eventually burned it.
      I left a comment on about it. But in those days I believed in Mid Life Crisis and didn’t understand the presence or impact of NPD.

      • My definition of a mid-life crisis is:
        Your [male] partner of X years is having an affair with:
        a) his secretary
        b) his high school girlfriend he hooked up with on FB
        c) one of his students (clients, customers)
        d) your best friend
        e) a married mother of three who had a crush on him 30 years ago
        f) the guy who sells shoes at Nordstrom’s
        g) a random skank who found him on craigslist
        h) all of the above.

        Your crisis is how to survive this person’s selfish behavior without losing your home, all your savings, your health or the happiness of your children.

    • No need to feel embarrassed. I think I bought that book, too! Because that’s what XH told me before I discovered his affair. I think the book can be a one-pager: “I love you but I’m not in love with you” means “I’m having an affair.”

        • Blue you are spot on. When I finally was able to think straight I realised that it was either the stupid ex’s attempt at justifying his stupid shitty behaviour and the affair OR the Skanky OW telling him that.
          Either way they suck.

          • Hi first time poster…long time reader.

            I also brought that book. I got the speech “ILYBNILWY” too. I told my mother. She said “well who does he love then?” I remember saying, huh. Dear old mum had to break it to me. He had someone. She was right.

            I found this wonderful site, and the fantastic people in my early days. I suggested counselling…he said no. He told me that she made the ultimate sacrifice for him. After 25 years being with this guy, and having two beautiful children with him, I then told him to use the door But don’t slam it on the way out.

            Yes….ILYBNILWY…is code for I have someone.

            On a side note thanks to Tracey & the wonderful group of people on this board.

      I got “I’ll always love you because you are the mother of my children.” Well fuck you!

  • My experience is I belong to camp 1. 4 years since D-day. 1 year post separation and currently negotiating a difficult property settlement. Yes, she wants lots of money and the law is going to help her.

    On D day, my immediate thought was “well that’s it, marriage over”. But she pleaded with me to work it out. I just didn’t get that. It’s only after lots of reading I learnt about personality disorders, and then I realised what I was dealing with. That also explained the lack of any real remorse.

    To answer your question Tracy, I spent nearly 2 years giving reconciliation (R) a chance. I don’t think I was ever really convinced. My instincts told me otherwise.

    I started on the internet. Was only bombarded with RIC cons. I will never forget one website with this cheesy couple ” my husband’s affair saved our marriage and made it better. Just buy our book and DVD and we’ll show you how” Vomit!

    Then I progressed to forums, namely “talk about marriage” There were some good people. Most had left their cheaters. Or were stuck in limbo and sad, like me. The rest were brainwashed chumps who could get quite narky if I challenged R. And of course there were reformed (and I use that term very loosely) cheaters who were even narkier.

    I was an amazon chump, bought plenty of books. They varied in quality, but as Tracy said, they all strongly promoted R.

    Yes, they kept me stuck.

    My experience with books and internet is the same as I have had with MC’s and psychologists. The assumption that R is an automatic choice, without looking at all of the evidence. I put the psychology profession under the same umbrella, because their role in this has the same purpose. To help people move on past the horror that is infidelity.

    What I don’t get with the books (written by educated, qualified professionals) and psychologists (also qualified professionals) , is the lack of diagnosis. All other professions, trades etc, whether it be doctor, dentist, lawyer, mechanic , plumber, take your pick, when you present with a problem will do one thing first: diagnose what the real problem is, and then give you the options of what can be done.

    What is it with the psychology profession that they never diagnose anything ? (this is my experience, and the experience of many others if you read forums) It seems the approach taken is, assume the couple are here to R, and ignore obvious psychological issues with the perpetrator (cheater). Any other profession would have their arse sued every day of the week with that approach.

    Tracy, I hope your book makes a huge impact in exposing the RIC obscenity.

    • Hi, Kraft, they don’t diagnose because since Carl Rogers (humanist, person centred therapy) it is assumed that people are inherently good, have an urge towards actualisation (to be genuinely integrated) and possess the skills to improve their own lives, and this can be achieved in the space of unconditional positive regard of the therapist. So to diagnose means to label and pathologise people.
      As you can see, this doesn’t cover character disordered people. Unconditional positive regard doesn’t work with these people, they need challenging which is what Dr George Simon says, that they quickly learn they can manipulate therapists who work this way.
      Apparently the only therapy that ‘might’ work with narcissists etc is CBT.

      • Thanks Patsy, for that explanation. I have heard similar explanations. Surely, it’s glaringly obvious to the psychology profession that a single approach can’t work for every case.

        It’s the cliche ” all they have is a hammer, and everything they see is a nail” mentality. I find it ironic that the profession focused on human emotions and thoughts, seems incapable of thinking laterally.

        • We got diagnoses and half-diagnoses from multiple therapists about my X. They all varied but all were cluster B. The process infuriated me because there never seemed to be any clarity on what the best treatment was, whether it was working and the secrecy of it all. Only one shrink told me directly her diagnosis- the others he told me or I wouldn’t have known- even as a spouse deeply concerned about his abuse of me.

          There are many reasons they handle it the way they do- HIPAA privacy laws, fear of being sued for misdiagnosing and also not wanting to label the person for a whole variety of rationalized reasons.

          But I always felt- if you want people to think of mental illness/disorders as any other physical disorder, then stop the elusiveness. Diagnose, suggest treatment options, track progress and involve the family. It’s infuriating bc that is not how it’s done.

          • Thanks Knight. If they fear being sued for misdiagnosis, why is the rest of us have to “diagnose and treat” in our professions. We can’t escape NOT doing that.

  • I crumbled in a hysterical heap on the floor while he watched tv in the living room. I bought every infidelity book out there. (Amazon chump) I lost 30 pounds and dragged him to useless marriage counseling. Woke him up at night and got no answers. Made excuses for his affair and tried to help him get over her.

    Made him watch this series that showed couples staying together after affairs. Left articles for him about new love and real love. Went to Victoria Secret and picked me danced. Went to a retreat run by a reconciliation organization (myself). Tried to get his family to talk sense into him.

    Was a anxious mess for 8 months, distracted from work and our new baby. He finally said he could not live without OW since he was in love and could not help it.

    Fought me all the way about $$. 4 years since this nightmare started and I almost divorced. Slowly building my self esteem and putting my live back together.

    This site has made me realize that I am not alone nor to blame for this mess. Thank you CL!

    • hey, are you in NYC? join the NYC chumps meetup! i was in a similar situation. my younger child was 6-months old on D-day. now going through a contentious divorce.

  • Reconciliation defined in the dictionary as peace after a quarrel. It’s ‘getting to meh’ in a relationship. It’s where you feel like the silver medal around the neck of your cheater, the runner-up prize because your cheater came back. Yay! Oo-wee! Lucky me! Next time I dragged out on a sucky date night I’m going to climb out the bathroom window of the restaurant or escape via the restaurant kitchen. Cheaters never change, they jjust pretend to do. I am so grateful for CL and all the Nation out there. A blog that keeps me sane

  • Oh I had a library of books. I drove myself mad trying to figure out what I had done or not done right that would make my ex find solace in the arms of another.

    There’s an organisation in the UK called relate. They have a series of books. I can’t remember the title of the one I had (I threw it away), but the focus was on what I had done wrong and how I could make things better by realising my faults and failings. I really did blame myself and this only made things worse!

    I had another book by Paul McKenna called How to Mend a Broken Heart – a sort of self hypnosis guide to stop myself obsessing and while the book meant well it was useless.
    The thing is when you’re desperate and in pain you’d read anything to help yourself. I tried the Buddhist approach by reading Thich Nhat Hahn too but I just wasn’t feeling very Zen back then.

    The only useful thing I remember reading was an article by Kay Rutherford which has recently been referred to on another of your posts. I felt understood when I read that. And later, too late. I read Lundy Bancroft.

    Wish I’d had your book back then. As well as cheering me up I think I’d have felt less alone and isolated.

    • tried the Buddhist approach by reading Thich Nhat Hahn too but I just wasn’t feeling very Zen back then.

      I totally get this. The futility of trying to relate to that when you are traumatized and most of your thoughts, ironically, keep taking you back to your trauma, and you’re just not ready to accept things as they are.

      For me, it was just way easier to take the dogs for a walk in the beginning. Walking two strong-willed dogs demanded that I be present and aware to some extent, so it got me out of my own head and focused on something else for a brief time. I have worn out many pairs of shoes walking dogs 🙂 I wore out the first pair of NB 993s in about 4 months. lol

      • Oh I know what you mean about having to do something athletic if you’re not an athletic person. I’ve never been to the gym and still have no interest in that lifestyle but I sure got into heavy duty hiking with a friend and love it. It’s not necessarily a weight loss thing but keeping your heart rate up and your sanity intact exercise. Also looking into getting a strong big dog to keep me company on those hikes.

        • I’m not a lifelong exerciser myself, but after d-day I began to swim. It’s been the best anti-depressant I’ve ever used.

          • The best things for trauma recovery are the fully mindful things we do for ourselves. Exercise of any kind, especially outdoors or in the water, is great. I also like prayer and meditation. The weirdest thing that helped me was Pinterest, as I worked on thinking about my new life and what I want to manifest for myself–confidence, courage, vulnerability, love and wholeness.

            • Oh Pinterest. Yes, wonderful Pinterest. I spent at least 1k redecorating my house, buying new photo frames, getting more books and more books (ex always complained I had too many books), basically I’ve finally made the house to my liking and stripped it of all ex preferred accents (like his gun safe and gun collection.) I started blogging and a year later I’ve got 40k followers and hundreds of hits daily. No, it is not an infidelity focused blog but I do mention and ironically, those posts get the most comments. Right now I’m looking into upgrading my bmw which ex always considered too extravagant of a car and which he thought I would lose if he cut off the monthly payments. Well, fuck you, I’m keeping the car, Ive found a way to afford the payments by myself. I may even get a shiner newer model. The thing with some of these disordered exes is that they think or hope that we’ll totally drown ourselves in the pool of tears and be nothing without them. I’ve found the opposite to be true, and I’m far from being strong mentally.

              • Good for you! That’s a lot of blog followers. I wanted an American muscle car, power and speed, and I found a way to do it. Every time I look at the flamingoes in my yard, the car, my shiny hardwood floor, the birds sitting on the birdhouse I put up, I think of that Kelly Clarkson song:
                “You think you got the best of me
                You think you’ve had the last laugh
                Bet you think that everything good is gone
                Think you left me broken down
                Think that I’d come running back
                Baby, you don’t know me ’cause you’re dead wrong…
                Thanks to you I got a new thing started
                Thanks to you I’m not the broken-hearted
                Thanks to you I’m finally thinking about me
                You know in the end the day uou left was just my beginning….”

      • Yes! I made a habit of falling asleep to Thich Nhat Hahn on audiobook. It was a several hour long series of talks, because his voice and concepts felt soft next to the jagged edges of everything else that had just fallen down.

        I didn’t see it coming, so I tried to encourage inner peace a lot. My days consisted of distracting myself with work, sobbing so deeply like I’d die, and yoga or zen reading/listening material. Oh, and walking around like a zombie half of the time for weeks, not knowing where “home” was anymore… that was superfun. Crazy days for sure.

        • Me too for the sobbing more intensely than I ever knew was possible and to “not knowing where ‘home’ was anymore”…

    • The Relate book is by Julia Cole. The one useful thing she did was explain just how tremendously GOOD affairs make them feel, and how their self esteem rises. Yup, he was trying to tell me how bad the sex was. Riiiiiiiiight.

      I got the Paul McKenna book too!

  • At first I didn’t realize my ex was having an affair when he announced he’d “fallen out of love with me.” Since I’ve always turned to words for comfort, I immediately started searching everything I could find on male midlife crisis, etc. I remember purchasing something online advertising the secret to turning things around in your marriage for $85. Basically the advice in the document was “do something different.” If your husband is expecting you to react one way, react the other, etc. I also remember purchasing books about male midlife crisis and trying to get my husband to read them. Of course he didn’t. He kept shaking his head and saying his change in feelings had nothing to do with a midlife crisis. Once I discovered his journal and found out what was really going on, I told him to leave and I’d be fine. Of course I really hoped he wouldn’t, and still hoped he’d wake up and realize what he was doing to me and to our family. Eventually he announced that he’d filed for divorce. It was important to me that he be the one that filed if that’s what he wanted, because it’s not what I wanted. I felt at the time that he was trying to force me to “shoot something I loved,” that he wanted me to do his dirty work in destroying our family. After that, I bought the book called “After He Leaves” and since then have scoured bookstores and the internet for every resource I could find on how to survive divorce after a long term marriage. Most everything I read said I should own my part in the demise of my relationship, and being a responsible person I seriously tried to accept that I must have caused him to “fall out of love” with me. Nothing I found helped me to turn my thinking around than Tracy’s site, though. Chumplady helped me realize that what my husband did was abusive, that I wasn’t a victim and I could take my power back. Reading the stories on her site was so eye-opening, just amazing how people who cheat use such similar tactics and manipulations. If it weren’t for I’d probably still be blaming myself and feeling like a failure.

    • Of course we all “play a part” in our relationships. But we did not hold a gun to anyone’s head and say, “go out there and have an affair and break up the family.” Obviously. Someone above pointed out that the books are all aimed at chumps because cheaters aren’t interested in changing. No point writing a book that tells a cheater he or she sucks and should “own his or her own part” in screwing up the family. These books play on chump fears that we are unloveable and have somehow “caused” a spouse to fall in love with someone else (e.g., a married mother of three). Brene Brown’s work helped me right out of the gate see that the problem was his disengagement, that unplugging from the relationship or marriage or family damages what she calls the “roots of love.” I think books that help a chump call out cheating as wrong, says the cheater has to look at his or her own behaviors and beliefs and entitlement, and supports the chump’s growth as an individual first.

      • LovedaJackass, I agree that these books all target chumps because cheaters are seriously not interested in introspection or trying to change. That would mean losing control. Has anyone ever seen a book on how to save your marriage when you’re involved in an affair? Probably not, because someone involved in an affair is already disconnected from their marriage.

  • Excellent post. The two books I bought after D Day were “Too good to leave, too bad to stay” and “I love you but I don’t trust you”. I started reading them and then stopped after being engulfed in the pain of the betrayal. A few months in, I checked out “The Dance of Anger” from the library. I feel stuck – we are in weekly couples and individual counseling.

    • FL, the book I wish I’d read first was “why does he do that”, it may not apply to you but it might, get a copy. There is a link to it on this blog. Also Gift of Fear. These were the only two books I am really glad I read. Jedi hugs!

  • I was married to super liar and cheater. He lied and cheated throughout the entire relationship.

    I had many Ddays. I tried to figure out his “why”. I tried to fix him. I tired to be super wife.

    I bought 2 books, Not Just Friends, and Helping Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair – which only I read. I paid for thousands of dollars worth of MC – which he continued to lie during. I joined two R skewed forums and read daily – while he texted his OW’s. I bought sexy outfits and an expensive pair of thigh high boots – which he ignored me in.

    Oh and the most expensive thing..I wasted nearly a decade of my life that I will never get back.

  • My heart hurts when I read this CL, since there is honestly nothing I would not have done to save my marriage – short of accepting his lack of remorse and complete indifference to the destruction he’d wrecked on our life together. Had his efforts been genuine, I still would have been in R. I have discovered that even I have a limit.

    I’m now in the initial stages of separation after 1.5 years of false reconciliation. I BEGGED him to go to counseling but he said it didn’t help HIM. He blamed me for not respecting his privacy every time I found more inappropriate emails from him to his latest skank. I was just supposed to shut up, blindly trust him, and to move on.

    I was “the worst, most deceptive person ever and a POS” for trying to hold him accountable for his actions while I tried to solve our problems as a couple.

    I only got in his way, prevented him from continuing his affairs, his hooker habit, etc. He called it all my fault, blamed me for my lack of trust (DUH!) and portrayed my inability to move past his decade of cheating as my shortcoming. Hey … he managed to forgive himself three months after DDay so why couldn’t I??!!

    It’s sad when you let go only to discover you were the only one driving this marriage bus for years.

    The grand total spent is:

    • a decade of lost time
    • whatever it costs to pick up the pieces and rebuild a life

    • SiS, your stbx sounds like my ex. That stuff is so abusive! He’s a giant asshat douchecanoe. Sending you much love and many hugs.

      This Was Not Your Fault. I know you know it, but we know it too.

      • Logically, I know it’s not my fault, Kat, but I still wonder, what if he was right? What if I am crazy, a bitch, a fill-in-the-blank, and that’s why it didn’t work?

        What if I drove him to do this to me because it was the only way he could stand coming home to me? That is my worst fear.

        Why is it that nothing I tried worked? I gave it my best shot for a decade, forgave countless indignities, changed for him, and wanted nothing more than to be happy together. Why was that never enough?

        He is the classic example of the hot pocket cheat CL refers to – he’s just stepping over my crumpled corpse to make a snack as everything falls apart. Zero feeling, no remorse. All the while muttering how this was all my fault. That’s a real mind fuck that will take years of therapy to resolve.

        • I can tell you just from the little bit you’ve shared that he’s abusive. If you’re like me that’s going to make you feel bad because you don’t know how you let yourself be treated that way. Especially if you’re a strong woman. So there’s going to be this struggle back and forth about not being the victim yet blaming yourself because at least that empowers you with a bit of control vs being the victim of an abusive relationship which is the truth but makes us feel shitty.

          It was not your fault. We did not “let” these guys do this to us anymore than we “let” a reckless driver crash into us. My guess is he started out being a decent human being. My ex presented like CL’s husband at first. He slowly devalued me but since I’m not a quitter and I put my all into relationships I thought it was a phase that we could work through. Plus there were kids. He got really bad at the end and just terrible when I finally truly caught him cheating.

          Btw, it’s normal to try and save your relationship.

          It gets better with time. You will see him for what he is and that will suck at first because you’ll think that it defines you. But it doesn’t. IT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. Of course I may be just super projecting onto you so please please ignore anything that’s not helpful. But thank you for sharing because it helped with my healing. If I was still in Seattle I’d give you hugs in person

    • Sad,

      I felt much of the same way you do- I was willing to do anything, he was not. And he played those privacy ploys on me too. I also see now that I held the relationship together for many years.

      I really didn’t understand the cold-heartedness that came out of nowhere though. One of our 3 MCs addressed it like this: somewhere inside of him he knows what a cruel person he is being with all of this but he can’t control himself, so he has to demonize you and the marriage to rationalize his behavior even to himself.

      That perspective helped me realize none of it was about me. Hugs to you.

      • MKiSD – this is very helpful! I’ve had a variety of thoughts like this about stbx.
        I feel like the coldness is a result of them rewriting events to rationalize their actions. They’re cowards that can’t function, commit or follow through so they blame us. In the end it all makes sense in THEIR brain.

        • This was true in my situation. He was pretty dismissive of any bonds or good memories we’d shared while he was still seeing her.. Then, after she dumped him, he tried coming back to talk to me all “what you and I had is SO much deeper than what she and I had… etc.”. I also think he truly believed most of his lies and reasons for trying to gaslight and manipulate.

          I fell for it and wasted another several years but he could never confirm that she was out of his heart. Toward the end (very recently) I’ve begun to be able to just KNOW when and what to believe, no matter what he says. And to be able to slowly go back in my thoughts and tell myself the truth about all of those things he’d said and done to make me doubt myself. Especially all of the little criticisms and fights that he’d claimed I’d caused so that he’d have an excuse to leave for a few hours.

          Ridiculous how insidious cheating can become to the chump’s self-worth!! That’s the part that pisses me off the very most. I used to have good self-confidence and trusted my intuition above most else. Now, I’m so insecure and unable to think clearly, that it takes me a solid few minutes to decide which kind of bread I want at the grocery ffs. Grrrr…

          I’d begun to doubt my own intuition completely and uncovering all of the secrets and lies helped me realize that my intuition had been spot on the entire time. I had been gaslighted (gaslit??) and manipulated and called “paranoid” so much over 1.5 years during his secret relationship that I’d honestly thought my intuition was awful!!

    • Are you sure.. REALLY SURE that we did not marry the same man Sad in Seattle?!!! :)…. “The calling me the most deceptive and obsessive person for finding out about his affairs” “my lack of trust” ( despite trusting & believing again & again after 13 years of serial cheating)… The fact that I would have done everything & did everything to save my marriage without an ounce of remorse on his part… The fact that I mourn all the lost years I wasted on “working on myself and the marriage so he could love me” .. The lust goes on.

    • Sad in Seattle – This shit is hard. And even though you’ve been going through it for a while, the beginning of the separation is difficult. I wish you lots of strength. You will get through this. Your life WILL get better in infinite ways. Not at first… at first it kinda sucks. But it will get better. I’m in Seattle too and am happy to chat with you if you ever need some Chump Support. I am happily on the other side…

      Email if you want… chumpdiva at gmail dot com

  • Hmmm let’s see . . . After D-day, the first place I found was Surviving Infidelity. I got a lot of great support there, but the problem was I don’t believe in unicorns. I wasn’t really there to learn how to soothe my poor, scared, confused cheating husband. I was still very sad, very depressed and felt like an exposed nerve, but I was pissed off too. I stopped going there when I felt like it wasn’t really helping anymore. (A lot of the people there were still trying to bait unicorns, and really weren’t in happy place because of it. Since it is pro-reconciliation there, you feel limited as to what you can say to others’ about just putting a bullet in that rabid marriage and get on with it!) I did gain a few email buddies though so that’s good.

    I bought quite a few books; Runaway Husbands, The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, Getting past your Breakup. Those helped in their own way, you just take the parts that really speak to you and leave what doesn’t

    I think I found Chump Lady when I read an article CL did on HuffPo. This was easily the most helpful place I found. (My therapist really loved it too.) I’m naturally a pretty straight forward person, so this site just speaks my language. It’s nice to call out this ridiculous cheater shit for what it is. Empowerment is very important for the recovery of Chumps, and empowered is how you feel when you read posts here and contribute back and forth with Chump Nation.

    And if the trolls don’t like it, fuck ’em.

  • Reconcilliation: What did you try? What did you buy?

    *I spent minimum 2 hours/day working out / exercising…losing a significant amount of weight and whipping my body into shape

    *I bought new clothes and shoes which were flattering, pretty, and sexy (as ‘sexy’ as is appropriate for a 50 year old mother of 3)

    *I started wearing make-up and perfume every day

    *I spent a ridiculous amount of time everyday getting my unruly hair to look as soft, smooth, and shiny as possible

    *I ditched the glasses which I wore about half the time and went to contact lenses 100% of the time (which was irritating to my eyes)

    *I initiated sex frequently (this was, by far, the HARDEST thing to do… pushing through the deep pain and disgust, the mind movies and images; I felt every time like I surely had NO self-respect, dignity, or self-worth)

    *I read every book I could find on marital repair after infidelity (to include the one’s you mentioned, CL, as well as many others). I also read books about strengthening and bettering ‘normal’ marriages which had not been damaged by infidelity.

    *I spent gobs of time online pouring over articles trying to understand what had happened and how to fix it

    *I went to therapy (for the first time in my life)

    *I suffered alone and in silence because I opted to keep his LTA private…telling NO ONE except my 1 best friend, because I believed we would R and thought it best to keep it private

    *I continued to do everything I always did for him (maintain his home and ran the household; did ALL the shopping, cooking, cleaning; washed his clothes; raising his 3 children…doing every last thing with them and for them, as always,…with minimal interest or help from him)

    *I socialized with him…with family, friends, his co-workers, etc…perpetuating the lies that people assumed about us: that I had a good H who was of the highest character, integrity, and morals; that we were very happily M’d; that he was a good family man; a good father; that he loved and regarded me the way a H should his W; that his W and children came first; etc ~ I preserved his stellar image to the ‘world’ for him ~ which caused me such inner pain and distress because I felt like a ‘fake’, which is VERY uncomfortable for me, that I gradually withdrew from family & friends…pretty much dropped off the face of the earth

    *he asked me to be patient and allow him time to slowly let go of OW (emotionally, as the LTA had ended 1 yr prior to my discovering it…but he was still deeply in love with her), so I did. I waited and waited and waited….it hurt like a motherfucker…the days, weeks, months, eventually years went by, and he was never able to assure me that he had extricated OW from his mind and heart

    *I accommodated his wishes to avoid talking about ‘anything’ during the work week because, apparently, it was hard for HIM to ‘talk’ in the evening at the end of a long work day…he was just too spent; so, I sucked up an enormous amount of crippling pain daily as to avoid bothering him during the week. I asked him, in lieu of talking during the week, that we set aside an hour or so each weekend to talk…to which he agreed, but NEVER followed through

    *I remained the ‘good wife’ while tolerating his lack of remorse; I tolerated his indifference to my pain; I tolerated his total lack of empathy and care in the aftermath of d-day

    *I allowed him to get away with breaking his promise to simply inform me if he had any kind of contact with OW (they worked in different buildings, but for the same company, so my days were filled with anxiety that they would have even unintentional contact). He agree to tell me, but then days, weeks, months, etc passed where he reported none; eventually, I figured out that he must have been still keeping secrets from me because, at the very least, they should have passed each other in a hall…or seen each other in the cafeteria…parking lot…etc….at some point! This was crushing because I BELIEVED…I actually trusted that he would do what he promised.

    *I tolerated his desire to keep her as a friend. Of course, I told him that was impossible. But, he did it anyway.

    *I remained respectful, loving, caring, interested, concerned, etc; I was considerate of him in everything; I never used choice words at him or to correctly describe OW; I allowed him to go on with life as usual AND allowed OW, who lives around the corner, to live without ANY kind of consequences for the choices SHE made…for her involvement in harming me and my children

    There is a ton more in the details…but this is a pretty good quick summary hitting some of the main points!

    • Trailgirl, your cheater couldn’t talk on work days? Mine couldn’t either! I thought it was interesting given that he could cheat on work days! Of course mine only works every few years…

    • TrailGirl, thanks for taking the time to share all that! It wore me out just reading about it. And, it brought back so many memories, I did most of that too, for 3 1/2 years, while he kept saying I was the only woman that mattered in his life. Then, he never gave her up. Just WORDS,WORDS,WORDS with no meaning. I finally made a decision- put ME first. It’s about time.
      Your post made me realize how normal, and autonomous, and happy my life is now. Hope yours is, too!

  • Wow, TrailGirl, you deserve a medal of some sort. My husband and I split and only later did I find out there was another woman. I had been doing the “pick me” dance without realizing there was someone else, but I had a suspicion. During the part of the separation when I wanted him back, I controlled my behavior because I was trying so hard to show him that I had “changed.” Then when he finally admitted there was another woman I was in shock. When the dust finally settled I felt ripped off that I didn’t get to have that knock down drag out scene where I scream at him for giving his heart (and body) to someone else. That bugged me for a long time. Eventually we had a smaller version of that fight, but it disappointed me; it was too late.

    Are you still together? Did you ever get mad, as you have a right to?

  • Never had a chance to reconcile. He moved out, left me a Dear Chump note on my desk, refused to tell me why he left or why he wanted a divorce, I did the “pick me dance”, learned the truth through other sources, then got angry and put on the boxing gloves. Now I realize I should have done this fight bare knuckle style. Gloves (by that I mean lawyers) are useless. We are post decree and still in a huge fight over loose ends. The Nex is such a narcissist that there is no way he would ever try to reconcile. I was the one in the fog. He knew exactly what was going on and wanted to keep me in the dark – pure control freak.

    • Mine handled things the same cowardly way. It would be six more months before I caught him with the OW. To this day he keeps the spin up about the marriage being over long before he abandoned the kids and I, and that he and the OW “had only recently begun having feelings for each other”

      Nothing was ever his fault.

      • My husband has told me that too. I finally said, “Please don’t insult my intelligence.” And he shut up about it. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, I could see the very day he suddenly seemed indifferent to me. Makes me shudder to think about it.

        I’m convinced these cheaters believe their own lies. That’s how they live with themselves.

        • I discovered a whole alternate reality that he spun in order to justify himself and make him look hard done by (and get sympathy kibbles) to the OW. He believed it all himself in the end. The biggest whopper was how gracious he was being letting me have half of the proceeds of the sale of our farm since “his income paid for the whole enchilada”, when the truth was the place was mine by inheritance and his income paid for doodly squat.

          You can’t reconcile with someone who is brainwashing themselves in the opposite direction from where you want to go relationally.

        • “Cheaters believe their own lies”
          MovingLiquid that’s my theory as well.
          Stupid exh lies and then follows up with … Yes you guessed it MORE lies. It’s how the control the narrative of the story.
          Sometimes it’s funny to listen to the lies and then it’s sad because … Well when did the lies begin..
          Bellzero xx

  • Yeah, I tried reconciliation. I was sure our marriage could be saved…2x.
    My attempts sound a lot like TrailGirl’s.
    Waiting it out, trying to see HIS pain (what caused him to stray) all the while really believing I had the flaws that needed to be worked out.
    Being asked if they could remain friends. Ugh. Sure let’s bring another woman into our marriage to cause trouble but I’M the bitch b/c I won’t let you stay friends w/ her.

    I also ordered Mort Fertel. That shit actually worked, too.
    The more I gave the more I got. It was true…but it was all based on me being quiet, pushing my anger down and being a good, little wife and not rocking the boat.

    Why are we expected to keep our anger and sadness in for their benefit?!

    I never questioned any of it while I was doing it, either. I tried so hard to put it behind me. I now see this as the height of the “pick me” dance and guess what? He DID. He tossed her aside. Yay me, right? I sure felt like that 5 years ago.
    We did IC and MC and he went to AA and all was “good” – until one day out of no where it wasn’t.

    So I fall under #1 and #2. In the end, he left me last summer when IMO things were going along fine and had been for a few years.
    There was no OW at the time. Just some snap in his 50 year old brain.

    • I hear you when you say, why should we keep our anger and sadness in for their benefit? It makes no sense.

      I, too, have a story similiar to TrailGirl’s. Lately I’ve been thinking about why the Nex seemed only too happy to give me up: a living, breathing dispenser of unlimited kibble (formerly, that is.) That’s when it occurred to me that somewhere in his limited, lizardy brain, he recognized that I wasn’t with a truly great source of kibble because any person who’d function like that was denying their own humanity. So, I think he’s off to find that mythical person who dispenses kibbles, requires no reciprocity AND retains all the magical juiciness of a real, live, fully-functioning human. In other words, he’s off to find a narc’s version of a unicorn.

      Well that, and I think he’s trying to fuck one of his coworkers whom I suspect he had an EA with.

      • It’s amazing how a new supply sends them running so quickly in another direction.

        Mine has discarded me too. Oh yeah … and like you, it happened only after he slept with a co-worker 20-years his junior on a business trip. Hey, why put up with a 36 year old body when you can have a nice, tight 23 year old with no baggage who thinks he’s awesome!

  • Oh boy, well here I go and I expect to get some backlash but that’s ok, I can handle it. And I respect your opinions. I haven’t read all of the posts but I have read many and I find them very helpful. So that said, here I go.

    I’m a Chump who reconciled. It’s been three years since DDay 1. My H has shown nothing but kindness and understanding and transparency. He left for 3 months and the affair was still going on but I filed for divorce during that time with a really bad ass lawyer so I was ready to move on and I was ready for a real down and dirty fight. He asked me to go to MC with him and see if there was anything to save. I really believe he didn’t think there was. Anyway, fast forward and we are still together.

    Is it easy, hell no. Do I have doubts, hell yes. I take nothing for granted even my own decisions to stay. I have empowered myself to get through this mess. Divorce in my case would be very costly and affect way too many peoples lives that I care about. I just haven’t bought into the notion that I will be any “happier” divorced.

    I read about every book out there. Some are helpful some not so much and yes many went in the trash half way through. I agree there are FAR too many encouraging reconciliation. Way too many that encourage the BS to keep their collective mouths shut and buck up. I strongly disagree with that. I do NOT believe you can do it alone as some of the charlatans out there suggest. I truly did not find healing until I found some of these blogs and found I wasn’t alone in this confusing heartbreak of infidelity. And I just found yours about a week ago. I wish I’d have known about it three years ago.

    From what I’ve read I think you do a great job supporting BS and speak strongly about empowering yourself and dealing strongly with the WS. I will read your book. I like to keep an open mind about all choices available. Even though I reconciled I DO NOT believe that is the only way to go for everyone. People can change? Maybe, but I know I will never be that naive wife who ignores the red flags again.

    • No backlash from me, although I find the “wayward spouse” [WS] term not helpful on a board where some cheaters have abandoned wives with newborn babies, impoverished their families, given spouses STDs, invited their APs and the unsuspecting spouses to dinner parties, had sex with the partner’s friends or siblings in marital bed, and murdered (yes) a child. If this is “wayward,” then Ted Bundy was wayward. You may have a wayward spouse; I had a jackass who stole my money, left me almost unable to function, and lied every time he opened his mouth.

      We all make choices. I know many people reconcile, and I am sure that some of them may have their version of a happy ending. My thoughts on the matter? It’s not the support of this blog or finding books about infidelity or going to therapy that makes us “not alone” in repairing a marriage. It’s a fully committed spouse, who isn’t just reconciling because the consequences of divorce are painful, but because he or she truly feels remorse and wants to become someone who wouldn’t think of cheating. Ten months ago, some part of me would have loved it if the cheater had come back, hat in hand, wanting to try again. But that would have just kicked the can down the road, because eventually a narcissist will start to need something a relationship can’t give him or her: narcissistic supply. For people dealing with the disordered, reconciliation is a dead end. Wishing you the best in your circumstance.

      • You are right. WS is too soft a word for the devastation that is wreaked. I used the term for brevity’s sake. And trust me it is too soft a term for my spouse as well!! I’ll do better. I’ve called him every name in the book and some where he had to resort to a dictionary!

        Of course the blogs, books, IC heal a marriage. It does help an individual feel so not alone when in the midst of the trauma. I had limited friends and family to talk to. After a while NO ONE wanted to hear anymore and not that I can blame them. I find the BS (yikes is it ok to use that term?) on the blogs to be very supportive and wise. We share our thoughts and scenarios. We validate each other that we aren’t crazy, stupid, maybe 🙂

        My husband has shown lots of remorse and shame and his actions speak volumes but so DID his actions. I’m gun shy so one loud noise and I run! Life is actually pretty good, except when it isn’t. But I’m getting there and so far it’s working for me. Right or wrong and who’s to say it will or won’t work till the end. NO ONE!

        Let me know what the acceptable moniker for a lying, cheating, SOB is here and I will be more thoughtful in it’s application! I’m new to this site friends.

        • We call them cheaters here. That’s the unvarnished truth. And we get to call our personal cheater things that apply, like “jackass.”

          • LOL, thanks! I’ll remember to use the term Cheater, but in all honesty that sounds a little soft too 🙂 Jackass is good but I think I’ve done better in name calling as well.

            I’ll stick to Cheater on this blog though:) Thanks for the tips!

    • Nobody here will give you grief for reconciling. If you can do it, that’s great. I just knew I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t given a chance at the pick me dance anyway, and now speaking post-divorce, that was a good thing. 🙂

      Good luck to you!

      • I have to really think about whether or not I did a pick me dance. I think I did more of a GIRD YOUR LOINS MOTHER FUCKER war dance!

        I’m sorry you feel you weren’t “given a chance”. Sounds like you are better for it.

        Good Luck to you as well.

        • “Gird your loins Mother Fucker”. Yes. That was my second dance. First was the Pick Me Cha Cha but then I found CL. He picked me, kinda, almost…still texting Skankawhorus ! Then I went into war mode. He broke up with her and gave me “transparency”. I also remained vigilant checking computers, phones, etc. in ways the old fuddy duddy doesn’t understand. (Sad, I know.) We are living together and he is saying a few right things. I am sure he is afraid I will toss him out. But still no remorse. He is however, very sorry I caught him. (Dumb ass didn’t know how texting on a smart phone worked.) I still have my ammunition, copies of texts and emails along with my revised life insurance and retirement plans. My sons are now my beneficiaries and I can’t imagine I will ever put his name on anything of mine again. I even bought a car this year in my name only. He knows I am still humming the Gird Up Your Loins melody.

          • Linda2

            I did the crying/why 1 time. After that my theme song was Flight of the ValKyries. I gave him plenty of chances to leave all while dancing to that little diddy of Gird Your Loins Mother Fucker. Shook him right out of the fog. I did not dwell in denial for long. I went right for in your face, cut throat anger. Playing the desperate little woman never was my schtick. He knew I could be his best friend or his worst fucking nightmare. His choice. Well while I believe he never stopped loving me, just loved have cake, he had a choice to make. I gave him plenty of time and then I drew the line in the sand and lit the campfire! Enough was enough.

            It’s been a hard road and I can’t even say it was the right choice, but I set firm boundaries, actually he can do whatever he likes, I just won’t be around to watch or accept it, he knows what they are and there is NO room for doubt. Actually I think he likes his “short leash” and he’s actually put it on himself. I don’t threaten, but now he knows I’m not the trusting, “oh my husband would nnnnnever cheat” chump I was before. He has been very remorseful and is willing to show it. But I didn’t mince words I told him directly I needed to hear he was remorseful and more than once.

            Has he done every thing right, hell no. But it’s good, sometimes very good, it’s very loving and very attentive. Trust, doesn’t matter. I neither trust nor mistrust him. He’s a big boy. He knows he will get caught. He knows I will not take ANY kind of disrespect. He knows I will leave and take it all! And no one can Gird Their Loins that much!

            LOL, that said, Life Is Good!!!

            • tryinghard, if you really want it I hope you have a unicorn. I thought I had one a long time ago, though I didn’t read anything, my ex did “everything right” according to the RIC books I read the second time I caught him. I forgave, I trusted again, 10 years later I found he was having an affair, investigation shows that despite all that “transparency” for a couple of years, he never stopped cheating, just like he never stopped drinking. He just hid it better. If you are set, get a post up, the only thing is? Nothing will ever give you back years of your life if down thaw road it turns out he sucks.

              As for names to call your cheater, some chumps are incredibly imaginative. You can speak your mind here and not worry about it

              • Thanks Datdamwut

                Oh no I have no Unicorn!! Please don’t put words in my mouth.

                Yep his changes could only be temporary until another sparkly object catches his eye. All I can say is it hasn’t happened yet. I am the one who is permanently changed. No way will I trust and I’m totally ok with that. I am on the lookout for just what happened to you. I also need to bide some time. My options are always open. We have a nice relationship now. We travel a lot, work together, laugh a lot BUT we are all too aware of delicacy of our relationship. I don’t take him for granted and he doesn’t take me for granted. I guess you could say it’s much more mature. I am not blinded by some stupid romantic love. We have a very sexual relationship but it’s also a business relationship. We each know what the other is capable of.

                I’m not even saying he can’t or wouldn’t fall in love with someone else BUT I will never be the one on the outside of the secret. I will know. Heck if I’ve learned anything in the last three years it’s what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m smart, intuitive, tech savvy and now we can add distrusting. There’s no where to hide and well he’s just not that smart! I will never trust anyone the way I did my husband before the affair. It was almost arrogant how trusting I was.

                So no my life and marriage and husband isn’t perfect. It’s not pretend. All the crap has been spread out like a tacky Ponderosa buffet. But we’ve come a long way. I don’t regret anything I did or said during the blow up. I only regret being naive and stupid before DDay. So I guess you could say I did focus on myself and got realllly smart and here I am. My life and marriage is what it is so if it blows up down the road so be it. And I sure as hell won’t look back as these were wasted years.

              • Is cool, if you are happy, it works. I have said I don’t regret my entire relatinnship, there were many good years, and it shaped me. I regret not recognizing when it was over.

      • At the time I would have liked the opportunity to reconcile but he didn’t give it to me. Now I’m glad he didn’t. One of us had to be strong and break up this dysfunctional marriage! I know myself, and I know that if we had reconciled I would have spent the rest of my relationship with him miserable and feeling like there was a ticking time bomb in the bed with us. And I knew that once his dick had been in someone else, I’d never get over that.

        But that said, I do hope that some cheaters are honestly remorseful and have learned from their mistake and never take the risk of losing everything again.

        • Trying Hard kudos and respect to you. Two things I think you two did that are different: 1. you shot him out of the water straight up. That takes self respect, and self respect gets respect and attention. 2. he sounds sorry and he sounds like he respects what he nearly lost.

          I would have loved to have reconciled. I would have faced all the pain and heartache in order to move to a better place, and he did try; he just does not have any inner world in order to do the real emotional stuff. He could cheat because women are interchangeable, and the domestic appliance one just wanted to damn much. I mean, he gave up the sparkly one, get over it already, it’s done!

          I would like to connect a bit deeper than that, and he just can’t.

          • Patsy, I’ve had that realization recently about us women being interchangeable to these cheaters and it makes me so sad. The older I get, the more I see that women’s rights and attitudes about women still pretty much suck.

      • Rumblekitty,
        I wasn’t given a chance at the pick me dance either. And after reading the heartbreak of that I’m glad I wasn’t. Just more sucktitude and shit sandwiches. My cheaterpants found his umpteenth Twu Luv. He’s the guy who had been married multiple times but ‘forgot’ to mention them all to me when we got married. Cheated on all of them. I have no idea what’s wrong with this guy and I don’t care. The OW moved him 3000 away to get him away from me because she knew he wouldn’t stay away from me. She thinks she ‘won.’ Bwahahahahaa.

  • I should have been so lucky to have gotten off with only 4 D-days! Over a 12-year span (and we weren’t even married!), I had a few more than 4 – but honestly stopped keeping track. I guess the hopium haze must have dulled my mind and all ability to count. My name is FinallyDone and I am a chump.

    I also look up with awe and amazement to those few who fled the scene after D-day#1 and never looked back. There must have been some emotional training in their past that enabled them to see the truth for what it was, without the proclivity to spackle and dream of ‘what could be’. They must have also gained an early understanding that such deep-seeded flaws as lying, deception and lack of empathy were there for life – never going to change!

    The truth about reconciliation – that only those who have swam those mirky waters truly understand – is that once the cheater’s truth becomes apparent, there’s really no going back to anywhere that is worth returning to. Trust is lost. Respect is lost. And I dare say that love is also lost, although we chumps are so good at telling ourselves that we still ‘love’ unconditionally. That’s a load of shit. Forget love, I didn’t even LIKE the SOB! What I thought was love was really an addiction to the drama and to a dream that I absolutely couldn’t let go of. After doing several versions of the ‘pick-me dance’, which in my case were more of the ‘love me, approve of me” variety, I somehow found my self-respect hovering in the corner and decided to reclaim it and get out while I had the strength.

    There’s NO DOUBT in my mind that if I had stayed, I would still be doing that dance and feeling miserable and lonely. That adage that ‘when they show who they are – believe them’ is never more true than when in a relationship with a cheater. Why stick around to keep getting shit on?

    Not until you can see yourself as a chump — and own that — will you be able to STOP being a chump and elevate your expectations. Thank God for this blog! LONG OVERDUE in my humble opinion and long live ChumpLady’s battlecry!! I’ll lead the march and carry that flag anyday.

    • FinallyDone…I’m having a really rough day/week today (13 year old daughter is w/ stbx for 2 weeks at the family vacation house on the lake for the first time since this crap went down. Normally I’d be there but in the span of 11 months everything has changed) and THIS helped me today:

      After 26 years together I have grown SO used to going to him, talking things out w/ him and looking for his counsel that not being able to reason this out w/ the one person I could count on (the person that DID this) has me feeling very lost – and I never realized that my self respect is suffering and has been for a LONG time.

      So, thank you for that eye opener today. Maybe today will start to improve now.

      • It was this that didn’t copy:

        What I thought was love was really an addiction to the drama and to a dream that I absolutely couldn’t let go of. After doing several versions of the ‘pick-me dance’, which in my case were more of the ‘love me, approve of me” variety, I somehow found my self-respect hovering in the corner

      • Edie — It makes me very happy that any part of my post has helped someone today! In time — PRECIOUS, LOVELY TIME – you will regain not only your self-confidence but your life force and innate ability to reinvent your life. Be patient with yourself and keep the faith that good things are on their way to you. The trick is to shift your thoughts to yourself and what YOU want for your future. Too much time was devoted to jumping through hoops for the cheater (and probably everyone else) that you’ve simly forgotten how to be happy in YOUR space. I’ve been exactly where you are when my children were gone and I was left alone to think. Try to see this time as a gift — space and silence — that you can devote to recalibrating your internal GPS.

        You’re going to be fine. Stick close to this blog for lots of stories that will make you realize how much better off you are – free of the bullshit!


      • Yes, it’s hard when the cheater has been someone you thought of as your friend and sounding board. What helped me in this regard was realizing that I had to replace that function in my life, and that there are billions of people on the planet who are wise, kind, and helpful. You only need a few to be your friends and your support system. I takes time, and you will often feel your heart is breaking, but you can do it. And someday, you will say to yourself that there is nothing you can’t handle, with a little help from your friends. Blessings as you go through these difficult weeks. Go get a massage or a pedicure! Be kind to you.

      • I relate to the hole in your life that is formed when you lose your sounding board. I’ve written before about how much I have wanted to talk to my X about life’s events, I’ve wanted him to know what has gone on, which means I have wanted him to care…and then, I remember, he does not.

        I have had to remind myself what a shit-bird he became, and shit-birds are not equipped to provide emotional support. Also, I have had to remind myself he no longer deserves to be privvy to my thoughts, emotions, and fears – it’s an honor to hold that spot in someone’s life and he dishonored the position.

        It is a very tough conclusion to have to reach, and one that, until just recently, I still had to keep reminding myself of. I will get better. You will find new wise counsel, who can be trusted with your thoughts. They may appear in different forms, but they will enter your life.

      • Thanks everyone. That IS the trick. Shifting thoughts you’re conditioned to think.
        I know it’s a process.
        It’s a very long time to undo and unthink but I try.
        I have to say every time I read comments from people’s situations I gain a tiny bit more insight, have light bulb moments and it helps to (slowly) drill into my head to trust that he sucks.


        • Edie, it takes a long time for your brain to adjust to the new reality. CL wrote a great post once about “Phantom Spouse Syndrome.” That post made so much sense to me. After all, I’d spent more than 1/3 of my life with my brain organized around the idea that my spouse was central to my life. After he was gone, my brain still looked for him and felt like he was there. It’s just like a person who still feels their foot after they lose a limb. It’s been 3 years since D-day for me and I’m just now getting to the point that my ex isn’t in almost every waking thought I have. We were together 36 years.

          • Thank you Lyn. I’ll have to go look for that post b/c that is how I feel a lot of the time. Good news – share w/ him. Bad news/need advice – share w/ him.
            You count on them and suddenly they’re not there.

            36 years. That’s 10 more than me…I can only imagine. (((HUGS))) to you.
            We’re all so interwoven.

            • Think of it. As breaking a bad habit, one part of your brain says “I love that” the other half says “it’s killing me”. Trust the other half.

              • Dat, that’s so true. That’s how I finally resisted the terrible urges I had to look to the man who was hurting me so terribly for comfort. I’d ask myself “will contacting him help me or hurt me?” The answer every time was “hurt me.” That’s how I began learning how to protect myself.

                I remember hearing a story about a child that was brought to the ER. It had been abused by its mother, but it was crying and asking for its mother. That’s how I felt at the end of my marriage.

    • Agreed. They haven’t read the book. I’m still waiting for my copy. It’s just an attack. Let it pass. They will move on. Truth will win out. Dysfunctional systems will always fight change; it’s to be expected. The more controversy and the meaner the trolls, the saner the good reviews will look. Read the book.Write your good review. Trust that they suck.

  • There was a month of weirdness before I found out he had an EA (I’m sure it was a PA, but I don’t have proof of that), and during that month I bought the “Five Love Languages” and I scoured the Internet trying to figure out what the hell went wrong with my husband. I had my suspicions that there was someone else, but at the time I didn’t have proof and I didn’t want to believe it.

    I found a couple blogs and message boards and they did make me feel not so alone, but CL is what made me devise a plan and put it into action. So thanks to CL I saved a lot of heartache.

  • OMG, I did the same thing, I was on a first name basis with the Amazon people and the public library. Anything I could get my hands on to read and try to understand why my husband who I was so in love with even after 20 years could do this to me and the kids. Everytime I wanted to call it quits I would read something on Divorce Busting and feel guilting for not “really trying” and I would try again. for 5 years I tried…… Anybody want to buy some used realtionship books?

    • LOL I recently told someone that I am SICK of self help books and joked that if I don’t get rid of them before I date again (long time from now!) that the next guy is going to think I’m a total nut job!

      I may have a ceremonial burning w/ some friends sometime soon 🙂

      • GREAT idea!…although, I left most of them in his swingin’ bachelor pad (not!) when I moved out…with nasty post-its. Childish revenge, but what other kind do we get?

        I also found my (worn one time!) wedding shoes, and left those on his kitchen counter with a note. Said I would let him be the one to throw them out.

        Also, all the invitation lists, thank you lists, copies of invitation drafts, all that pre wedding planing junk–I still had the bulging folder, and I left that one for him too. ha ha.

        • The problem w/ the revenge is it has no effect on them. None.
          Nothing does. Pleas, articles, notes, drawn out emails – anything we did to get them out of the fog and to SEE and FEEL our pain – has no effect on them.
          They’re not wired like we are.

          And yet we all have tried in some way or another. I wish I knew earlier.
          Still, I’d like to be a fly on the wall watching them look at the things that remind them of the lives we shared. Is there even a pause of “I miss them” or “what have I done?” or “they must be hurting so badly”

          I’m going to burn my giant Mort Fertel workbook and curse him for suggesting that I had flaws that contributed to him cheating and that if I changed
          I have plenty of flaws but not one of them caused him to cheat.

          • I burned half (including Andrew Marshall [he of the British teeth]’s ‘I love you but Im not in love with you’, and gave half to the charity shop.

          • Agreed, Edie. I too fantasize about being that fly on the wall in a couple years, as he hears a mention of my name, catches my favourite movie on TV, or stumbles on a reminder in a junk drawer. I would pay $1,000 to have him even think for a second, “Gee wiz, I really screwed that up. I wonder how she’s doing now.”

            But I think that even a couple years from now, after everything that’s happened, that’s wishful thinking – he’ll just be mad. My living, breathing, sobbing body had no effect so why should anything else serve to make him feel regret? Why should he feel regret – he never felt anything for me anyway so why now? The screwing around meant nothing to him.

            I do hope that 20 years down the road, that he does experience some sadness at never having kids. That’s a big one for me that I financed – three rounds of IVF due to his sperm problems (the smoking, drinking didn’t help). I wanted us to be a family, to make him dinner and have movie nights and Christmas and a home. He wanted to fuck the next pretty thing that blew a kiss in his direction. I never measured up. And I never will for him, even years into the future.

            • It’s funny how we blame ourselves for THEIR shortcomings.
              You sound like me…we lament the fact that they are gone and feel WE are missing something. It’s hard to do and I’m still trying but we have to realize they are the ones missing out.
              We feel the void – that phantom spouse post was good – but in time we’ll be better off w/o them. I’m not even divorced yet and that’s hard to imagine but I try to hold onto that when I feel low.

              Try to think that HE didn’t measure up for YOU.
              I bet if we say it every day we’ll believe it sooner than later. ((hugs))

              • Edie, he didn’t measure up for me at all. You’re 100% right.

                About 50% of what came out of his mouth – since the day we met – has been lies. He sucks in bed. He doesn’t acknowledge birthdays or anniversaries. He is terrible with money. He can’t resolve problems like an adult without going into a screaming rage. And my cats hate him, as in, he walks in the room and they storm out indignantly, even though they’ve lived with him their entire lives.

                He is missing a chip in his brain – I know that. But I hung on like a dog to a bone, determined I would not fail in making him love me. And he thwarted me at every turn, from screwing hookers four months into our relationship (little did I know), to missing mortgage payments on our home. He was going to prove I am not the boss of him. And I suppose he did. There – you win. Now that I’ve put down the rope, I feel slight better, as if I have preserved a little of my dignity. No more tug of war.

                I have been four days of NC and I feel the anxiety from his toxic spell slowly draining out of my brain. I’m going through our re-imagined past – now all shiny and rose-hued as I mourn the loss of the turd. I’m sure after a few weeks I will see things more clearly.

                So, yes, you are right. He was an entitled narcissistic asshole. But I loved him. That’s why this is hard. I loved and now I have to let go.

              • I wish I could say that about mine.
                The post a few weeks ago about “but he’s a good guy” struck a chord for me.

                Mine is very attractive (IMO), kind, sweet, a good dad, remembers gift occasions and lots of other “good” qualities.
                He is also a liar, a cheat, a narcissist and is missing a chip in his brain.
                I wrestle with these 2 sides of him every day.

                I love(d) mine for 26 years and that’s exactly why this is hard.
                The letting go is very hard.

              • “About 50% of what came out of his mouth – since the day we met – has been lies. He sucks in bed. He doesn’t acknowledge birthdays or anniversaries. He is terrible with money. He can’t resolve problems like an adult without going into a screaming rage.”
                Sounds exactly like my STBX!! Except I’m going to change 50% to 95% of what came out of his mouth was lies. Mine sucked in bed..only think he wanted was BJs..nothing in return. He never acknowledged my birthday and especially not our anniversaries. He’s horrible with money. And he’s completely unapproachable when it comes to resolving problems..he would shut down completely and refuse to talk to me for days. A note about our anniversary: November 8th of this year would have been our 25th anniversary. For several months now, I have been excited about planning’s a special one. Now that I look back, I see the reason he was never excited about it, and didn’t want to make any “specific” plans. Basically everything I mentioned he didn’t want to do. Well duh! 25th anniversary means nothing to him since he’s been with the sparkly white trash ho for 3 years! What a kick in the pants to me. Shame on me for getting excited about our 25th anniversary, since I’m so horrible and all, you know.

  • Dear CL and/or Chump Nation – The following represents the BEST I have found for partner-sensitive treatment of couples where one person has been identified as dealing with sex addiction/compulsivity. This is from the organization that claims to understand the trauma to the spouse of relational betrayal and abuse. Please, somebody, tell me I am not alone in how my head is spinning on my shoulders from reading the quote from “Reichental”. Please please put this through the Universal Bullshit Translator and tell me what you hear!

    “What is Relational Trauma? Dr. Judith Herman calls relational trauma; “trauma, particularly trauma inflicted on one person by another, constitutes relational trauma and is characterized by a “violation of human connection.” (Herman, 1992). Dr. Barbara Steffens has led the way in applying the concept of relational trauma to partners of sex addicts. Dr. Steffens writes “Relational trauma, often called attachment injuries, occurs when one person betrays, abandons, or refuses to provide support for another person with whom he or she has developed an attachment bond.” (Steffens, Means, 2009).
    “When couples who struggle with sexual integrity issues experience is that both partners experience triggers, and the couple then enters a trauma dance. Couples experience this as a very painful cycle of the relational rupture, whereby each partner becomes the source of danger to the other and the relationship becomes unsafe (Reichnetal, 2013).”

    It is this last quote from Reichental that I need run through the UBT. I just NEED some validation that I am not alone in how I am interpreting that. Please help!!!

    • OK, I’ll give it the old college try:

      “When couples who struggle with sexual integrity issues

      OK, unless you are both cheating, molesting children or animals, or having gay sex while passing as a heterosexual or whatever the “sexual integrity issues” are, then “couples” don’t have them. Somebody with low integrity has these issues. Lay that burden down.

      ” both partners experience triggers”

      Traumatized people can’t (and shouldn’t) trust people who aren’t trustworthy. Denying this just perpetuates the trauma, and it is likely to keep happening over and over if you maintain a relationship with somebody who abuses your trust.

      Couples experience this as a very painful cycle of the relational rupture, whereby each partner becomes the source of danger to the other and the relationship becomes unsafe

      Eventually, you should probably get pissed off. If you don’t, you are going to keep getting abused. When you finally express your anger after suppressing it, hopefully you don’t reach for a firearm and consider the bigger picture in terms of what your anger is telling you: this person is going to keep abusing your trust, so cut them loose.

      • In case it wasn’t apparent, I just omitted most of the “couples’ references in the xlation because what the author describes is largely BS, and “couples” don’t do these things usually. Usually, it’s one person doing the stuff the describe, and they other person doing the codependent pick-me dance or beating up/scaring off whoever their partner is cheating with in an effort to maintain the illusion of being a couple.

        • Thank you, TimeHeals, I feel a little better – it is the “couples” reference, the very unsubtle addict-enabling blamesharing that is making my head spin. And I am not kidding, that quote came from someone on the board of the organization of best resources available for partners of sex addicts.

          More UBT please, from anyone else who is willing . . . I just really need the reality check right now!

          • TIT – I just posted below, but just saw your comment. The New Leaf Center in Orlando, FL is supposedly, “the Best” counseling center for sex addiction in my area. I found them to be completely incompetent. My EX started off his counseling with the head of the center and group, a man. He attended a group therapy session lead by an attractive woman. He immediately asked to by transferred to the female counselor (And nobody said, “Hmmmmmm.”??) He had her completely snowed within a verrrry short period of time. My ex (NPD-BPD) is very charming and convincing… So, all this to say… I really don’t put much stock in any of these supposed “experts”. Trust your gut.

          • “Couples experience this as a very painful cycle of the relational rupture, whereby each partner becomes the source of danger to the other and the relationship becomes unsafe”

            The so called sex addicted partner learns therapy terms like “I don’t feel safe” and uses them to con the chump into believing they are the source of the problem, the therapist who taught the cheating partner reinforces this belief. Chump tries harder to understand cheater and make everything safe. Cheater uses this to hurt chump again and blame on chump, rinse, repeat.

            • ^^THIS^^!! Yes, DAT – so true! Ex literally pulled this crap on me. “Really?? What exactly did *I* do to make *YOU* feel unsafe…?” Un-effing-believable!! And again, so completely chapter 6, pg 182 of the cheater playbook.

      • In other words, the cheater/sex addict traumatizes his or her partner by “betraying, abandoning, or refuses to provide support” and then the couple enters the trauma dance where the injured partner explains his or her pain and suffering and the cheater/sex addict adds to the pain by blameshifting and continuing the behavior, leading to more explanations of the new pain and suffering.

        • The syntax of the original makes it appear as if the “suffering” inflicting on the cheater by the chumped partner is an equally painful and avoidable part of the “dance,” when in fact it is a consequence of the cheater’s behavior. The narcissist or addict (or fucktard) is only traumatized by the nerve of anyone questioning his or her behavior, his or her entitlement, his or her sparkly wonderfulness.

    • I’ve read Steffens and thought she was pretty good, net of everything. She the first scholar I know of who identified cheating as causing traumatic symptoms

      However, I missed Riefenstahl, er Reichental…maybe it’s better in the original German?? (jk)….

  • My Cheater is a Sex Addict. 4 of our 5 year marriage he was visiting massage parlors for sexual services. He jumped right into Sex Addict Counseling and SA meetings. I had my own IC, and we tried a few MC – but didn’t really find one that we thought was competent. We spent A LOT of money on counselors, at one time I remarked we could have purchased a vacation home for the amount we were spending and maybe that would do more for us. So the question is what did I buy or try… Most cash spent was on Counselors and books and programs by Patrick Carnes. All of my research when I went to Google was Sex Addict and Sex Addiction Recovery (I did not see Chumplady pop up there, sadly). I spent 18 months trying to save my marriage. My ExH spent 18 months with a great recovery mask on – but I finally figured out that another MASK is all it was. His SA therapist gave him a book and asked me to read it. It was the story of a woman in my situation and she and her husband were UNICORNS! They had “made it” through his sex addiction and their marriage was strong. HA! That is what a Chump was supposed to get out of the story. What *I* read, however, was a sad woman too afraid to give up the cushy lifestyle her successful, handsome Dr. Husband provided her. The “recovered” marriage she described looked sad and pathetic to me. The book had the opposite affect they were looking for. I saw a depiction of life I was certain I did NOT want. And it helped me make the very sad and difficult decision to divorce. Therapists who wanted to explore “my part” didn’t feel right to me. Al-Anon meetings that wanted to cast me as “co-dependent” didn’t feel right to me (Although many GREAT lessons learned about “you can only control you!” and many other aspects were helpful) It wasn’t until a friend sent me a divorce article from HUFPO and there was a link to did I see my thoughts and feelings articulated, confirmed, heralded!

    Stay Strong Chumplady, your voice is exactly what MANY of us needed to hear, and we all know there are many, many others….

    • My ex attended SA meetings many years back, shortly after first admitting he was fucking men. During his time in SA, he went to a gay bath house “to test himself” and got a blow job. He then claimed that his SA sponsor and fellow SA members were fine with this, because it was okay to test himself even if he “failed” the test. He then stopped going to SA altogether. In looking back, I suspect he was fucking other guys in the group, and it is obvious that any real member of such a group would never have approved of ex’s actions in going to the gay bath house.

      I am the biggest chump alive. I stayed married to him for another decade after this, spackling and believing him when he claimed he no longer was doing anything with other men.

      • Glad – I’ve read many of your posts and I’m so so sorry for the pain that you have suffered and all that you have been through. But, I’m SO GLAD that you have finally gotten out, and I hope the day is near when this experience and trauma doesn’t define you. My experience was not anywhere near the scope of yours and even though I’m 18 months out from declaring divorce and almost 1 year exactly from finalizing (July 3rd!) I still find that it is too large a part of my story. I wish you much joy and peace in the days ahead.

      • I’m having a visceral fear response on your behalf just reading that, GIO. So sorry!!! It’s a freaking wonder it’s not US posting dancing sasquatch videos of ourselves! UGH!

    • Hey FL,
      Just wondering if you had any tips for surviving the mindfuckery of the SA therapists and the whole co-addict concept? (your part was that you were either too controlling or not controlling enough to have healthy boundaries- own one! you are half the pathology here!)
      And how did you determine that your husband’s recovery was another mask? I’ve got about the same amount of time invested in my spouse’s recovery as you had. Still dealing with various forms of deception, if not full blown acting out behaviors.

      • TIT – I’ll start with your mask question, ’cause that’s an easy answer. Turn down the volume. Stop listening to ANYTHING he says – do not listen to any kind of talking. You are now deaf. Just watch his actions. In my case, his actions told the whole story and all of the truth.
        * He was angry and defensive
        * He didn’t do his SA homework in the workbook he bought
        * He continued to sign up for and go to events that would take him away from our family every night
        * If I mentioned something was really, really important to me, he would find a way to sabotage

        The list goes on and on… and I had my answer!

        I needed the amount of time it took me to “get there” to feel that I had done everything that I could do. If it had just been an affair, I think that I could have would have kicked him right to the curb, that was deal breaker, but the sex addiction… couching it as an illness that he could “recover” from… I felt I had to try…

        I think you are SOL with SA therapists. I think they will all spew the same drivel.

        I’m sorry you are still in the midst. Let me know if I can help 🙂

          • TIT. What FLB wrote is brilliant and so true. Also check out the married to a sex addict site and sisterhood of support. None of that coaddict bullshit there.

        • From someone who spent a long time living with alcoholics: treatment for those addicted to substances never, in my experience, blames the PARTNER for the drinking or drug abuse. That’s an active addict talking–“I drink because you nag/don’t care/gained weight/lost weight/cook spaghetti wrong/can’t drive….” The first principle I learned about dealing with alcoholics (parents, kids, partners, friends) was that when they are using, they are lying to you about everything, but most particularly about their addiction. “If their lips move, they’re lying.” And the second principle was “You didn’t cause it. You can’t cure it. You can’t control it.” So any “recovery” process that highlights the role of the partner would be asinine and destructive, in my view.

        • ‘* If I mentioned something was really, really important to me, he would find a way to sabotage’

          Wow. I related right away with the other narc actions you described but didn’t even realize he was doing this until you said it.

          From not calling me back for days when away on business because he didn’t want to feel ‘hampered’ to spending $500 at a strip club/brothel and raging when I confronted him…I’m still extricating myself but at least I’ve got him out. Thank you for giving me another reason to know I am doing the right thing.

          • Chumpednomore – So glad you found a light switch there. It’s amazing and wonderful how chumplady’s site works 🙂 The little signs I would get confirming that I was doing the right thing were so important on my journey. Still are. Stay strong 🙂

  • After d-day I cried, begged him to stay and to make an effort with our kids. Wrote long emails to him trying to get something, anything out of him. I was a pretty sad sight. I had such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he cheated on me for years. I got nothing out of him, no remorse, no empathy. He would come home, pack another overnight bag, and stay at the ow house for the next week. By this time her husband had moved out. Before I went no contact he told me that the ow was helping him through this hard time. When in fact she was the reason for his hard time.

  • Ex came back wanting to reconcile six months after Dday. By this time, I had moved out with our son. Ex and I went to a Retrouvaille weekend, the follow up sessions, and dialoguing at home. I actually think for NORMAL people, Retrouvaille is not a bad program. But for a disordered person who is conning their spouse….. wow, it sure lets the mind fuck fly. My ex made full use of the Retrouvaille techniques to con me, to fuck with my mind, to hurt me and to manipulate me.

    As it turns out, the entire “reconciliation” was just ex’s attempt at getting me back into the house so I could work full time and save the house from foreclosure and financially support ex while he “followed his dream and destiny” of becoming a famous actor. The whole thing was a con game. I realize now that he was still in contact with the OW the entire time as well. Thank GOD I did not move back into the house, even though ex started pressuring me to do so within DAYS of our reconciling, and he got pretty abusive about my refusal to do so right away.

    I worked so hard during that reconciliation to make things right. He became more and more abusive, and crazier and crazier. By the end, I was waking up to emails he had sent at 3 AM listing the ways I had “disappointed” him the day before. It was during this time he paid little girls to pretend he was someone famous and ask for his autograph, he came up with the prancing sasquatch insanity and he started writing his book about himself. All this while telling me what a horrible person I was for suggesting he needed to get a day job.

    Looking back, I can’t believe I spent eight months in that nightmare reconciliation. By the end, it was nonstop emotional abuse and mind fuckery. He did absolutely NOTHING to show remorse, to change, to make amends. In fact, he was blaming me for not forgiving him fast enough right up until the end.

    The 20 year marriage, that nightmare reconciliation and his actions in the years since then have left me with PTSD and a deep fear and mistrust of men and relationships. I am still triggered by anything having to do with my ex, a deep, visceral fear response.

    • Someone above talked about the importance of getting a diagnosis of the problem before jumping into a reconciliation. If a marriage between two normal people has gone off the rails, perhaps because of life circumstance (layoffs, family illness, etc.) then putting things right might be possible. But narcissists, active addicts, psychopaths, and other people are (as I learned in therapy) “not available” for relationships. They can’t do reciprocity. But we do the best we can with what we know at the time. Now you know and you can take your recovery a step at a time. I think you are very strong and brave. Many people would have been destroyed by what you went through.

      • That’s what I think — some people don’t even survive this type of trauma. I’ve read of several suicides after spouses find out they’ve been cheated on. I became extremely depressed myself, but luckily recognized that I needed help and got it. We are survivors!

    • Glad,

      My X is diagnosed disordered, but even he can function in life on occasion and in a sick way, is smart enough to lie about the craziest aspects of himself because he knows they’re unacceptable in adult life.

      Forgive me for playing amateur shrink, but yours must be flat out destined for a straight jacket- he sounds literally insane to me in your descriptions.

      I can’t even imagine the trauma of that mind fuck over years- you are a serious survivor.

  • Burn them. Worthless money makers who prey on you at your lowest. Kick (cheaters) their butts to the curb ASAP and know they had a problem not you. Cheaters are wrong always. If you want someone else. Get a divorce. It will be handed to you on a silver platter after you pay big time!

  • Well, I went in a very different direction. I started researching, but I researched how to get evidence. I looked at every website known to man on how to track him, what to watch for in a cheating spouse, how to gather. I knew once he had broken that trust, there was no turning back, but I also knew I wasn’t in a position to leave. Call me scared, lazy, whatever, but I wasn’t giving up what I had or needed until I was in the right position to call it over.

    We went to MC, but it was futile. He wasn’t sorry. Never did apologize. And, even the marriage counselor said it was useless, to get my ducks in a row and plan my exit strategy. So I did.

    While I was planning, he was in and out with old girlfriend #1. And I watched and kept records, copies of emails, etc. He never left home and he was never obvious with his seeing her. I just knew about it through the email they shared, oh, and her contacting me and graciously sending me every email that they had shared. And I grew angry, but I masked it.

    Then girlfriend #1 passed away. And, I grew lax…almost lulling myself into thinking that we might be able to stay together.

    Of course, that was short lived because enter old girlfriend #2. Luckily, I was in a position to call it a day and when he asked for the divorce after I moved out of the bedroom, I exited.

    Yup, did what most would call the pick me dance, but in reality, I slept with him because I could. It gave me great pleasure to know that he was cheating on the “love of his life” with me. Eventually, I grew tired of that game, so I quit and pursued other avenues of pleasure and we divorced. D-day was almost 3 years now and I can’t say I’m sorry that I did any of it .. hanging in there, spying on him or leaving when I did.

  • What a great website… I’ve been married for 24 years, the last year and half completely miserable. Found out December of last year, I forgave, wanted to workon “us”… went through this couple more times. Clearly I am a chump a big CHUMP. I jumped online, and sure enough, it’s all about time heals.. and the best yet.. the affair fog. I was convinced, he was stuck in a fantasy fog, and once he snapped out of it, it would all be over and we could work on “us”. Sad part for me, is I just got tired and was like we are already living apart under the same roof, you sleep on the couch, you pay your portion of the bills etc.. I said, lets just figure out what days you want to see our child, and on those days I will run errands ect.. that lasted two days. He came in said we need to talk, and I got the ‘I know you don’t believe me, but it’s done, it’s over I want what we have. I just left her and ended it without explanation. I got the “I love you more” ect.. So one month later here we are, it appears after the promise to god that he would have no more contact, he has had contact, since he swore to the moon and stars he loves me. This past weekend sucked. We talk to our child, I refuse to interact with him, unless it’s about our child or a bill. What I really don’t get, is WHY WHY WHY, just not move out, can someone answer me that? Please is there a crystal ball with an answer? I calmly confronted him about the contact, and he flipped out, first he says I don’t say anything, but then I bitch all the time. When reality is, I am always cordial and polite, never raise my voice. But I stood up to him and now here we are. Am I some kind of safety net. I bounced around this website, which I love. He’s a cake eater period. I regret after not seeing the photos of them together, telling him to go. I got the, I love you both, but I love you more. This is the first time after I have gone silent, that he hasn’t said, do you want this or not? I think he now knows I will say no. As for the other sources on the web, yeah they suck… it’s not a stupid fog he’s in, he’s in a relationship (over a year) outside our marriage and that’s not ok. Another stupid book said, make yourself a better you, to lure your spouse back WTF?? why must I have to do anything to earn the cheaters love back. Alot, of information out there is twisted, I can see how people suffer, cause you will grasp at anything to make it better. The “it” being married, but when one spouse clearly doesnt care, there is no “it” anymore. Sorry for the long rant.. I am off to read more on your site. LOVE IT!! It has helped me tremendously, really it has. Now if only, he would go, give me space and work out details of how to part, in a calm manner… but no cake eaters love to argue and spin it around. ughh… gonna be a long monday. I am just glad I’m in a better place than 6 months ago, begging for “us”pfffft…

    • One part of the answer to your question, from “The Unified Theory of Cake”: “The goal of cake is not to choose. Chumps often go painful round after painful round as the cheater ‘commits’ to the marriage and then retreats. Swears to be faithful to the spouse, and then is caught again with the AP. Makes promises to both the chump (and the AP), and breaks them. The cheater is NOT trying to decide between two people – the cheater is trying to maintain cake. Cake eaters are NOT confused. They are deliberately trying to maintain an unfair situation at your expense.”

      This is the behavior of an “asshole,” as defined by Aaron James in “Asshole: A Theory,” in which he defines an asshole as a person who, out of a sense of entitlement, systematically gives himself permission to gain advantage over other people.”

    • WHY? Because he feels entitled to have both of you. He thought since you took the shit once you would again, or he thought he’d do better at hiding it. He does not respect your autonomy, he thinks his choices are the only ones that matter, what you want is not important to him. Your pain is not important to him, love hurts when the person you love does not actually love you and the pain is worse when they keep telling you that they do while clearly showing you that they do not.

    • “What I really don’t get, is WHY WHY WHY, just not move out, can someone answer me that?”

      And please share the answer with me when you find out.

  • New to the site, been lurking for about a month. I’ll match just about anybody for cheating and reconciliation horror stories. I’ve been married 30+ years, one child, a 19 year old son who is the absolute light of my life. We got past an affair of hers 7 years into the marriage. She apologized and it seemed like she owned it. About 8 years ago we found out she was Bipolar 2. This seemed to provide insight into why she strayed many years ago. I believed in the unicorn, thought the affair was a long ago “one off”.

    We moved on, but it blew apart a couple of years ago, when she strayed again. I went through just about every dumb thing CL cites as part of the pick me dance and heard lots of the things they say (I still love you, you’ve been a great husnband and father, but the passion has gone out of our marriage, I need more freedom, etc.). We’re now separated but still living together – it’s mainly a financial issue for me at this point. Maybe more on the above later as time passes.

    Anyway, I looked at just about every website and every resource I could find, desparate for something that would click and not make me feel like I was really the problem. Surprisingly, I found a thread on Dr. Phil’s site called “Advice for Cheaters and Their Partners”. Ex. to the cheater: “Have the decency to tell your spouse in all candor that you own your own choices. You’re the one that ran his relationship off in the ditch…” Lots more of the same. A light bulb went off in my head.

    Then a few weeks ago I happened on this site. Unreal. I realize that as a guy, I’m in the minority here, but the stories and reactions I’ve been reading sure do resonate with me.

    Bottom line, besides Dr. Phil and CL, I haven’t found much out there that swims against the current tide of information that seems to favor the edgy cheaters who are just trying to live life to the fullest and be allowed to be themselves.

    • Welcome, Chump Guy! There are many good men here in Chump Nation. As a woman, I’m so grateful for their presence (and yours) because it helps restore my faith in men.

      Crucially, it also helps us focus on the real problem — cheating — instead of getting distracted going down the fruitless (and truly bitter) garden path of “men are just all pigs” or “women are all scheming”.

      You may want to read the great post (and comments) here based on Steve’s letter: Dear Chump Lady, I don’t want to be a bitter misogynist, but…

      • Hi Psyche,

        Thanks so much for sharing this. Read the letter and all the comments. I’m so glad I found this site; I knew there were a lot of us out there – both sexes – and I’m still in the (long) phase of trying to remain sane in an insane situation. It helps to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Psyche – wow, thanks for the Misogynist letter from CL. And, here I thought I’d read them all! I’m currently a man-hater…all of them…so I really needed to read that. Thanks!

    • Chumpguy – Welcome! I cannot tell you how important the male perspective is on this site and how much your experiences are appreciated. I am so sorry that you are going through this. You have found a great resource for your healing here. Keep reading 🙂

    • Welcome, ChumpGuy, and sorry you have to be here. There are quite a few male chumps here, although they don’t always seem to post often. It helps me tremendously to read the posts from the guys here, because it reassures me that not all men are like my ex, and that there are indeed good men out there who care about things like integrity, responsibility, commitment and decency.

      But the really amazing thing is how disordered cheaters are all alike, whether they are male or female.

      • Just want to thank folks for the replys and welcomes. Strangely enough, I have the same reaction reading these threads. There truly are women out there who value those characteristics, and not only that, probably see them as paramount.

        It is so easy to get isolated in the instant situation, and wonder if everyone out there believes integrity, committment, etc. are not stylish anymore, and that what matters most is how hip and edgy one is. It would be easy to go, “They’re all like that.”

        I’m thinking that there is not only some pretty hard (and neccessary) reality here (when I read about some of the stupid things I’ve bought into I have to laugh to keep from getting down), but some comfort too.

        • Welcome Chumpguy! We used to have a wonderful contributor named ChumpSon, who had been raised by a cheating, narcissistic father. His posts were so revealing about what it’s like to be the child of a narcissist. He helped many and was an example of a kind and caring man. We were all so sad when he passed away. We appreciate hearing from you too!

      • Welcome Chumpguy, you are not alone in all this. We’ve got Arnold, Tennis Hack, Nomar, quite a few.

        But whatever sex, it is still the same disrespect and devaluing, still the same shattered families and still the same pain. So welcome, we do understand.

  • I did one thing that I haven’t seen anyone here mention trying, and that is I managed to get the STBX on natural testosterone replacement therapy (transdermal) for about 6 months (the length of his prescription) Wow, what a turn around. After about a week, he bounded into the kitchen one morning, gave me a big hug and said, “Men are hell when they don’t feel good, aren’t they?” All sunshine and smiles — for real — not blowing smoke up my ass. Alas, when the prescription ran out, he lacked the initiative to go through the workup ordeal again (testosterone is a Schedule 3 drug!) and he sunk into his old grumpy self-pitying mindset, from which apparently the only relief to be had was to get a “fresh start” with a bimbo 20 years younger and have another kid. Before he left I asked him if he didn’t remember how much better he felt on the testosterone, and he practically took my head off with the NO he barked. “There you go again, trying to control my life” Fuckit. I gave up, then and there, because I could not win. If I left him to his own devices, I was the uncaring bitch. If I tried to help, I was a controlling bitch. You can’t win — everything from FOO issues to plain old biology is arrayed against you.

    I read a lot more about male menopause than I did about relationship fixing. The most helpful book to me was Jed Diamond’s “The Irritable Male Syndrome”

    • Oh geez, this brought back a memory. Years ago, way before I knew my ex was doing men, I suggested he should get his testosterone level checked to see if that was why he had so little interest in having sex with me. He got all angry, and hissed that there was nothing wrong with his testosterone or his sex drive.

      Yeah, for sure. His sex drive was actually in high gear, just with other men at the gay bath house, not me. I now suspect there were more women than I know about over the years as well. My ex was plenty busy having sex.

      • Interesting Glad. My ex was one of those poorly fathered, friendless American males. He just antagonized everyone he met. About the time I was agitating for him to get his T levels checked, he developed a bromance with a colleague that lived across the pond that he only saw at conferences and conventions. When this man got a divorce, the ex was on hand to console him. For some reason, he felt the need to confess this and then say “but there’s nothing sexual going on, we’re just really, really close”. Uh huh. I’ll believe anything of him now, and since he can’t prove a negative, that’s just how it’s going to be.

        He was running on fumes for testosterone levels —

      • My ex hissed basically THE SAME THING at me in the waiting room of the urologist when I pointed out that this might be an ideal time to bring up the long-standing problem of our non-existent sex life. This was when I realized he was not Not NOT interested in identifying and solving the problem, of which I had yet to discover the true nature.

      • OMG, GIO, mine is into dudes too! He lost interest in sex with me about three months into our relationship. Then he went back to novelty – sex with hookers, one night stands with colleagues – and gravitated to sex with transgendered people (aka shemales).

        I always blamed myself for his lack of interest – if only I was pretty enough, younger, thinner. He happily heaped on the blame, telling me it was my depression, our finances, the fighting, anything but him.

    • I kept trying to get my ex to go to the doctor. He was so depressed, and acting completely out of character. I even called his mom and asked her to encourage him to see a doctor. Nothing worked. He refused to go.

  • “There was no OW at the time. Just some snap in his 50 year old brain.”

    Same thing happened to me. I got a call while wy wife was at a ladies weekend at the beach. “We’re really a bunch of livewires here. Falling asleep on the couch at 10:00 PM, in our PJs. Love you and miss you already, wish I were home with you. I may end up heading how tomorrow.”

    Next afternoon, another call: “OMG, OMG. You will not believe. We were just hanging out about to fall asleep and this guy who is a friend of a friend called us. He heard we were hanging out, and nothing else would do, but he sent a cab to pick us up and take us to this club where he and his friends were. We ended up partying until 3AM. OMG, we had SUCH A BLAST. I had forgotten how much I loved to just drink and dance and party.”

    Never the same,ever, from that day on, for the better part of three years. A 30 year marriage blew apart. Something tweaks in their brain and I question if it can ever be called back.

    • You could be the husband of married woman who hooked up with my cheater. A friend of mine says that people like this are just pretending to be adults. I’ve been on “ladies weekends at the beach,” and nobody got picked up in a cab by “a friend of a friend” who called out of the blue to hang out at a club. There are lots of men who love to pick up married woman because it is no-strings. For people who care most about making themselves feel young, beautiful and sparkly after age 50, this kind of attention makes them feel 25 again. I just read a social media post by the MOW (now dumped by Jackass) talking about how she had forgotten how much she loved to dance. Well, we all love to dance. We can do what my good friend does and take lessons with our partners or join a class or find a club that caters to couples. But drink and dance and party is what college kids do. These folks are living in the past.

      • Yeah, you are certainly partly right. My wife has had cosmetic surgery and has told me she loves the flirtation and how other men tell her how gorgeous she is. She says I’ve always complimented her but “it’s not the same”. She’s seen other men (the latest is a ski instructor – 14 years younger than her and 17 years younger than me – at a resort we’ve all heard of) who are much younger. For many men out there, I guess it’s a no lose proposition from their moral perspective. The older, attractive married woman probably adds a bit of frisson to the mix.

        Sad thing is, I’m a pretty decent dancer, too. I’m not the rakish guy who would sweep her up on the dance floor when no one else was out there, but we used to be pretty much the first ones up and about the last to leave the dance floor.

        • I am so sorry she didn’t appreciate what she had. I would dearly have loved a husband who could dance and was willing. I love to dance but always struggle with relaxing into it and would have loved to learn to do it well.

          I’m 62 and take great care of myself but I am content not to look like I’m 30 or 40 or 50. Cosmetic surgery is a dangerous road. Some people can have a little done and feel better but so many face-lift and Botox themselves into human Barbie dolls who all look oddly alike. (I can barely look at Melanie Griffith when she’s on “Hawaii 5-0.” ) It’s sad that they can’t see the beauty in their changing face, and love the lines that come from a long life of smiles. It’s sad that people believe that only the young are worthy of love or that flirting with younger men and compliments from strangers are important. When the time comes, some grown-up woman will appreciate what you have to offer.

          • One of the most hurtful comments my stbxh said was…you look OLD. Here I was just shattered by the most miserable 6 months of lies I’d ever lived through. Well, HE looks old – but I refrained to get to that level.
            (btw – my g’ma at 57 DID look OLD, so did their husbands)
            I feel and sort of act late 45–ish..

            But, my point, Chumpguy, is the moment than lightbulb got shut off with him.
            I will never forget it.
            I saw him watching my friend one day cooking breakfast for the 4 of us ‘cozy friends’ – her and her hubby. He looked at her in a way I remember – odd.
            Of course, I certainly didn’t *know* that at the time, but – like you, I’m sure you’ve gone back so many times to see what red flags you missed – or yeah, What Did I Do Wrong?

            2 yrs later…after a horrendous monster mode with him; entitlement, emotional cruelty, stingy, mean….I thought he had a brain tumor. I was lucky enough to feel so confused and hurt by all this to find ChumpLady almost right away. I discovered his cheating through my internet skills 😉 and voila! There he sat and admitted everything…well, it dribbled out over 6 wks cuz it made him feel SO much relief to get all those details out….with a smirk.
            Over a 2 yr affair with my best friend and traveling partner. In my home, motorhome, everywhere without boundaries. (sorry for those folks who’ve heard my story so many times)

            No. Don’t take toxic. I’m not at meh but my home is finally rid of the sewer spillage that was living here. (yep, still angry, still married – but working on D)

            • Lots and lots of red flags. I saw them and told myself, “No, we’ve been married over 30 years, we have a pretty incredible life, she couldn’t risk all that. I can’t live on a razor’s edge and analyze everything she does. You have to trust someone in the final analysis, we’ve had each other’s backs for three decades. After all, she is Bipolar 2, give her some space, she’ll come back to earth.”

              Oh yes, the excuses I made for her. And when things came to light, the blame I accepted. But at least I’m coming to understand here that this whole tableau isn’t unusual. Sadly, it seems pretty typical.

        • Chumpguy, someone on this site called the flirting with exes “micro affairs.” My ex acted the same. Loved the attention from other women. I remember once when we took our son to an amusement park. My ex walked ahead of me to flirt with his brother’s new girlfriend. I spent my whole time at the amusement park trailing behind him with our 4 year old.

          • Ugh. I hear you. Trust me, the partner who just loves to flirt with others, would not be nearly so enamored with it if the shoe was on the other foot – if you and someone else were flirting.

  • I did not discover my husband was cheating on me until he walked out with no explanation. He may have left, but I made the decision he would never have the opportunity to come back. I refuse to be in a marriage with a person who is harmful. When a spouse commits adultery, it is not just the bond of monogamy– which is a mutual understanding, contract, and/or covenant– they have vitiated. They also jeopardize the other person’s physical, financial, and spiritual health. I am really surprised I even have to spell that out here, but apparently, there are some naive individuals in the troll community who do not understand the aforementioned concept and feel that I (and others) should just sit back and take it for the sake of being nice.

    There was absolutely no literature I was able to find about recovering from infidelity that did not involve reconciliation. It was insulting. My husband was never coming back and after what he did, I wanted nothing to do with someone so base and pathetic. That does not mean, however, I was not devastated, and it would have been nice to have some help in the literature. I only found two books on abandonment that were remotely helpful.

    Even though ChumpLady was not up during my D-Day, reading her site has been a tremendous help since. Her pep and moxie rubs is passed on to those of us still reeling in the mess we were left to clean up.

    Regarding trolls, I especially love being equated to “negative, aggressive, frenzied hate group” (as one Amazon reviewer wrote, you can thank me for the appropriate addition of commas later). Articles, blogs, books, talk shows, and reader commentary put onus on me and other chumps to shoulder all the dirty work of infidelity. The tip of the iceberg is dealing with legal proceedings, financial matters, asset division, custody arrangements, and the like. Then we have to deal with the shame. Not only are we shamed by our spouses because of their behavior, but then we are shamed by strangers who think it is our responsibility to fix an individual who is inherently flawed and disrespectful. If finding support with individuals with others who were chumped and not playing nice means I am “negative, aggressive, frenzied [sic]”, then yes, I am a hater.

    I offer no apologies.

    • Cleaning up the mess and handling the details of divorce proceedings, etc.,…yeah, that made me angry because I wasn’t the one that wanted all this. He chose his path. But if I hadn’t of done it, it would have dragged on forever, and I did not want to stay married to him while he had a girlfriend. THAT was awful.

      I think I have finally finished cleaning up his mess. I wanted to wrap stuff up before the one year mark of dday, and I think I have. I hope. I guess there is likely to be some surprise something to undo later…

      • Northern Light. ^5. I’m at the exact timing you are. Just waiting hopefully for this to be over by Oct31. (was hoping our 35 yr anniversary on July 7th, but wasn’t poss)
        He also wanted the divorce but I filed right away. From Hour One, I wanted to stay 3 steps ahead of him…and so far, I have. But, it’s now all in the courts hands and this greedy little old man with a paunch belly is trying to deny me what is owed me – but I married him, known him 36 yrs and figure I’m the best one to be him sparring partner through this. Best one to be doing battle with. I digress..

        Yeah – it’s impossible, and should be in the Chump Rule Book, that you cannot continue a marriage while there are 3 people in it. P. Diana said it best.

  • Like CL, it took me 4 d-days too, over a ten year period of time. I read everything I could get my hands on, and bought several books about sex addiction for my now EX, and he never read a single one of them. Very telling how all of these books are aimed at the person who has been cheated on–I guess there isn’t much of a market for writing books aimed at cheaters on how to reconcile, show remorse and basically develop some integrity. Ugh!
    I definitely had to try reconciling the first time, but wish I had given up long before I did. It was never my problem to fix!

  • I just wanna say, this is the saddest thread I’ve ever read on CL… and yet, I still believe we are mighty!

    The amount of abuse, negative shit (for lack of a better catch-all), cruelty, and betrayal is just staggering.

    And the effort, patience, creativity and love–yes, love– we all have put into saving relationships with these monsters; well… I wonder if they’ll ever know what they missed out on. Doubt it.

    Rock on, mighty & ferocious Chump Nation.

  • My story is a little different. After DDay and knowing he was feeling guilty, I booked us a trip to Hawaii and got a ridiculously expensive hotel for 10 days. I knew I was going to leave him so I lived it up. Swam in the swanky pool, ordered insanely priced fancy drinks, we hit all the fancy restaurants – and actually had a pretty good ‘break-up’ vacation. That’s what I called it anyway. When we returned I immediately filed for divorce. By God I’m happy I made that sucker pay!