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Better the Devil You Know?

I’ve noticed time and again when chumps in reconciliation explain themselves, they say some version of this:

“Well, I don’t trust Bob. It won’t be the same, but I’m glad we’re still married. Because after this, I’m not going to trust anyone again anyway. So why start over? If I’m going to be twitchy about infidelity, I’d rather work out my issues here in the marriage. It won’t be the same here, but it won’t be different anywhere else.”

Drives me cra-zy.

Let’s say you got food poisoning.

“Well, the oysters at Bob’s restaurant made me puke for days and land in the emergency room. But I’m going to keep eating at Bob’s. Of course, I won’t trust oysters any more, but why try other oysters? Or food at other restaurants? I’m just going to get poisoned again. So I’ll just eat some bland toast and learn to live with queasiness.”

Look, to be in reconciliation — that rare unicorn — you have to trust. That’s the colossal hurdle, trust is what was destroyed that has to be mended. To say you’re going to live in a marriage without trust is not reconciliation — it’s limbo. It’s an arrangement. Heck, it might be Stockholme Syndrome. But it’s not a marriage. You’re saying the bland toast and the nausea are your new normal and you’re okay with that. Why expect more?

Why? Because there is a WORLD out there with WAFFLES and STEAK and BUTTER and BARBECUE and CHERRIES and SUSHI and CHOCOLATE. There is a cornucopia of goodness you are missing out on because you’re settling. You’ve winnowed down your world to “It’s a good day when I don’t wind up in the ER.” Hey, it’s been eight days since I last puked!

Life isn’t the absence of vomiting. It’s being able to eat and enjoy.

Marriage isn’t the absence of cheating. It’s being able to trust and feel safely loved.

If you’re in reconciliation and you think this way? Just admit that you’re settling, okay? Do not damn the rest of us. Do not assume that WE suck — because we don’t. We are not equivalent to your Bob. There are a bazillion loving, full-hearted people who don’t cheat and lie. You could walk right now into a bar and swing a cat and hit someone who is better than your spouse — because that person hasn’t cheated on you.

“YET” you say.

Okay, live with your cheater who you have 100 percent certainty cheated on you, and whom you will never trust again. You will choose that over the odds of a stranger who has not cheated on you? Who has better odds? What’s worse than 100 percent certainty Bob cheated? Can you do the math? “Oh, there is a 150 percent chance this stranger will cheat…”


Just admit you’re sticking with the Devil you know. You know why everyone else looks like a Devil to you? Because you live in Hell.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Staying and deciding not to trust is a sure fire way to get bitter. True bitterness. Either go for full reconciliation unicorn style or divorce. Staying and deciding never to trust serves no one ultimately.

  • Once you were cheated on you will never trust that individual again!
    I am 100% sure. Staying is believing you cannot do better.

    • I second that! and I am 1000% sure!! You fool me once shame on you, you fool me twice shame on me. Like I said before, my ONLY and BIGGEST regret is that I didn’t dump his worthless ass right away! My life has never been more content, peaceful and happier since I got rid of the pathological lying, cheating fucktard!

    • I trusted again… weeks shy of 10 years later… I guess I shouldn’t have trusted.

      • The hard fact is that we cannot cheater-proof our lives. Getting chumped once is hard enough, I can only imagine how terrible it feels to get chumped again. PAChump and ChumpDad, I am really sorry to hear that your courage was met with more betrayal. You don’t deserve it.

        I am going to try at love again. If I find myself with another cheater, I know exactly what I need to do. Hope I don’t sound cavalier — I am not going to let my first husband’s infidelity derail the rest of my life.

  • My stbxh asked for a second chance at our marriage and I willingly gave him one. I poured my heart and soul into the recovery and reconciliation of our marriage only to be informed by the AP a year later that I was still being duped. My stbxh had the balls to ask for another chance! At that point I told him to take a hike…that I wanted to be his wife and partner not his babysitter! I told him that I would not spend the rest of my life wondering what he was up to every time he was out of my sight. I would rather take my chances divorcing him…if I meet the man if my dreams? Wonderful! If not? At least I won’t spend every minute of every day in a state of anxiety because I am stuck with a man I cannot trust and one who has zero respect for me or our marriage! His response to all of this? “Why are you acting this way? I’ve NEVER wanted to be divorced from you! We can make this work!” Made me want to vomit then…still does : (

    • Good call, LHC.

      “Why are you acting this way? I’ve NEVER wanted to be divorced from you! We can make this work!”

      Classic case of Fucked Up Cheater Thinking (“FUCT”).

      “It’s impossible for you to want to divorce me because I don’t want to divorce you.”

      Er, WHAT???!?!? I don’t think you understand how logic works.

      Examples of the FUCT phenomena abound. For example, “I didn’t intend to hurt you so you weren’t hurt,” “I think my affair partner is sexy/smart/cool, so if you met her/him I’m sure you’d be great friends!” and, “The whole time I was having the affair I never stopped loving you.”

      You know that greasy paste that builds up in the drains of your house, comprised of coagulated fats and hair and dead skin cells and such, to the point that water can’t get through the drain at all? This stuff is the intellectual equivalent. If you let it it’ll clog your brain until sensible thoughts can’t get through at all and you end up with mental toilet overflow.

      Chumplady? She’s the Roto-Rooter woman who runs a verbal drain snake in one of your ears and out the other and churns away until common sense flows freely once again.

        • hey! sometimes it’s really necessary…and then you get your life (plumbing) back. And are so grateful….

        • At least you don’t have that…*ulghggh!…uuuhhhulgh!* drain “paste” in your brain.

        • Dear CL,

          If you have ever had the ‘privilege’ of having a major sewage backup in your basement, a service person with a Rotor Rooter would become your new best friend!!!

          You, my dear, are Chumps best friend! nomar gave you an ultimate compliment! I absolutely love her analogy! Going into my ‘favorite Chumplady comments’ file!

          ForgeOn, ChumpNation!

            • Whoops! My bad….Very, very bad.

              Thanks for the correction, Miss Sunshine!

              And thanks nomar! You are awesome! (Excuse my ‘badness’….. Please?!)


              • Clearly not from Boston, where NOMAHHH is still remembered fondly/not fondly as a former Red Sox. (Nomar Garciaparra, fyi.)

            • I was under the impression that “nomar” is Mr. Chump Lady…am I wrong?

              • I don’t know, but I recall that Mr. Chump Lady is a Red Sox fan (see comment above yours). And they’re both lawyers. But I believe nomar lives in a “small Southern town” — kind of a stretch for Austin.

              • Notyou, So far as I know you. Are wrong, if he is, then he prefers to be anonymous

              • Mr. Chump Lady has posted here before . . . remember? I can’t remember which thread it was.

              • Some of the things that gave me the impression are that “nomar” on here has given law as a career. Also, when I went to Amazon to buy the book, there was this single bad review with lots of comments from other people. One of the commenters was a Paul A. Schorn of Texas. As my cursor passed over that name one of those little mini profiles popped up and there was the word, “nomar” under that name.

                At any rate, ” nomar’s” comments on here are typically dry and funny, so I enjoy them…whoever he or she is.

            • “Nomar is a man.” I just busted laughing when I read that. Don’t worry ForgeOn. There are so many people on here that I’m always trying to file away who is what gender and always forgetting. I just stick with “they” or “you” as those are safe. lol

        • Phhht! Roto-WHAT??? This girl from Down Under is just snorting into her Lemsip (Yes, full of a bad head cold.) Not the done thing here to call anything an anything Rooter – I guess you all know what a rooter is, huh?

          For those who don’t – a fucker, a player, as in “will root anything with a pulse.”

          So a Roto-Rooter in this context is pretty damn snort-making!

          • Hi there from another girl Down Under! You have described it better than I could have. Hope the Lemsip works for you?

          • Yep another Down Under chick here. It must be going around… flu last week yay!! Love the reference to a rooter 🙂

          • …and another chump from down under…I love it when Americans say ‘I’m rooting for you’ and my mind goes WTF?!?

      • I never got the we can make it work but was used as a doormat for 20 years. I was high on hopium.. Worked and worked for my marriage even after multiple EA/PA. A couple of weeks after he ran off with the final OW, I got my act into gear, decided to sell the family home, got child support going, move on with my life (through so much pain and heartache), pushed for everything I could in the settlement (with the help of my wonderful best friend, who happens to be a lawyer) his response, I never thought you would be like this and try to hurt me!!! What am I supposed to do if I want to buy a house in the future with the OW!! Um What… are you seriously joking.. so you can do anything you like, cheat, lie, manipulate, so much mental and emotional abuse over 20 years, you entitled piece of crap and yet when I finally for the first time in 20 years think about me after you abandoned your family, move forward with my life, I have to think about how it would effect you and your new OW… I think NOT!!!

        • I never thought you would be like this and try to hurt me!!!

          I got something similar: “why so aggressive?” When I replied that he doesn’t get to leave me with nothing after me sacrificing my career and living in a foreign country for 15 years, he said
          “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    • My ex told me over and over he never should have married me, felt no passion for me, we were better off not married, blah blah blah. Then once I filed for divorce and he was served, he said, “I’m not even sure I want to get divorced!” Yeah, whatever.

  • Do you think it’s part of the “sunk costs” mentality? The convincing yourself that it’s just not worth “all that work” with no guaranteed return?

    IMHO, it may be something like….control issues. It may seem on the surface that there is the typical chump fear and anxiety–but deeper, perhaps these people have some disordered bone of their own—control of the outcome. They don’t WANT to go out there, not because there is no person to trust. I think any halfway intelligent human being knows that to be ridiculous….but they are so supremely angry at their spouse for cheating, and GODDAMNIT, they are going to force that person back into line if it kills them.

    Isn’t it true with Narcs that “bad attention is better than no attention”? Doesn’t this kind of smack of that? THIS IN NO WAY SUGGESTS THAT THE CHUMP DESERVES WHAT THEY GOT.

    There isn’t any law that says that the cheater is the only disordered one in the pair. Just because the chumped didn’t cheat, doesn’t mean that they don’t have serious mental problems too. I know a couple just like this—a Classic Narcissist and an Inverted Narcissist. Excuses abound, believe me. But when you get down to the brass tacks of it, you can finally get her to admit (after he’s cheated on her for years. discovery. drama. hoovering. honeymoon-sort of in a sick way. rinse. repeat.)—–that she likes the way he treats her when he’s in the “I’m SO SORRY” phase. She craves being with this man. And he is a royal douchebag of the first order.

    Just my opinion. 🙂

    • buttercup!

      You are absolutely ‘spot-on’! I share your ‘humble opinion’……

      My son knows a couple just like that, but they are newlyweds. (5 weeks—No years of ‘sunk costs’ here!) Son’s description of the most recent ‘rinse and repeat’ with said couple is enough to make one vomit! It is totally messed up all the way around!

      And the girl married this guy knowing full well his history. (Lived together for about 2 years) So, it is not always because of ‘sunk costs’ they do the ‘rinse & repeat’, but still is VERY disordered……..

      Son is cutting them out of his ‘circle’! (Finally!)

      Forge on, all……

    • Sometimes the things you are saying, buttercup, might apply. But there are lots of reasons people stick it out too long–fear of financial fall out, fear of how it will affect kids, social stigma of divorce (much higher in some circles than others), abuse and fear that it will increase if she/he leaves.

      I hate to see it all reduced to control issues and the suggestion that the partner who is being cheated on somehow enjoys the drama.

      It is easy to see the benefits of leaving once you’ve left, but they can be much harder to see from the inside.

      • E—-I agree with you completely. I was absolutely NOT saying that the chump enjoys this, or that it boils down to control issues.

        My point was—that sometimes, especially when you try and try and try and try with someone who has been chumped, to get them to “see the light” to value themselves and to DO something about the situation—and you get roadblocks. excuses. oh…they come to you with serious complaints and it’s bad—but every single solution, no matter how big or how small—-is IMPOSSIBLE, just cannot be done. No Way. Nope. Can’t do anything about the situation…because of ______.

        I was pointing out that sometimes…there is the possibility that these people, and you can spot them after awhile, because they sort of have the some of the same characteristics of the cheaters—-circular arguments, especially…..that there is absolutely no hard and fast rule that some people who do not cheat, are disordered themselves.

        I like It describes the different psychological disorders very well. DPD struck a chord for me, in applying it to the pair that I know—The Dysfunctional Duo, I call them. They feed off of each other. She’ll complain and she’ll try to garner sympathy when he does these things over and over to her—-but never, EVER, not even once, have I heard a reasonable response as to why she doesn’t kick his ass out. She just stares off into space when the questions become too specific as to why she allows this to continue.

        In my opinion, if you want to do that dysfunctional dance with someone, then you two go off and do it alone. Please don’t reproduce, and most definitely, please don’t pull family, friends and well wishers into it with you. If you aren’t going to do anything about it, and you are really just not interested in changing anything—-like CL said—admit it, move on and keep your drama to yourself. Don’t patronize ME because I decided that the bullshit isn’t something I’m willing to tolerate.

        I think that the folks here are WANTING HELP….they want to DO SOMETHING about their situations, but they are held back by fear, or abuse, or financial repercussions. They’re normal responses and the self realization that they need help in sorting this out is normal. The ones I am talking about, the ones that will complain and complain and let this go on for eons without any move to do anything, ever—damaging kids and everything around them….are not normal.

        I don’t believe that someone like that—an Inverted Narcissist or any other type of disordered—would last long here, or even come here to begin with.

        • Well-said.

          I really like helping people who try. Not so much those who wallow and/or hoover and/or feel entitled to let/force others to do for them what they could/should do for themselves.

    • Buttercup, I fall under that category. I am going through therapy trying to figure out why I not only turn the other cheek but I insists to be hit harder. “why, this side of my cheek is just not as red as the other, can you please swing your arm back far enough so the impact knocks me off my feet.” I must enjoy being hurt.

      • MG, I don’t think you like it and I don’t think you deserve it. I don’t think you’re disordered whatsoever.

        Why would I say that about someone I don’t know? Because you are here, you know what is happening to you and you are doing everything in your power to change the circumstances of your life.

        Disordered people do not ever look at themselves and say, “What is WRONG with me!” That’s the definition of disordered. It’s all you and never them.

        Big hugs to you….stay strong. Talk to your support people, your reality checks. I was saying this to myself just yesterday. KEEP YOUR REALITY CHECKS. Even when they say things you just cringe to hear. You know the ones who love you, the ones who stick around and listen and bring you soup and watch your kids and give you room to breathe.

  • They like being the “Devil We Know,” the quintessential “Bad Boy.” It’s fun for them!

    It makes me sick to think of all the second chances (a hundred of them) I gave my cheater. Over almost 10 years, he NEVER ever stopped cheating, no matter how I lovingly trusted him. It helped that he worked at various out-of-state jobs all those years. I was pretty easy to fool. Oh yeah, he expected the unconditional love for him. He greatly enjoyed putting one over on me, getting the many second chances and then abusing me with them. But you know what? He never gave ME a second chance. He never cleared out all the soulmate ho’s and focused on how to love me unconditionally. He just continued the cake eating and excess kibble, with a smug smirk on his face. He never hit bottom…until the divorce papers were served. By then it was too late because I had moved on. There is no one new in my life (yet), but I have high hopes!

  • My father cheated on my mother after I was born resulting in a half brother. They separated and were on their way to divorce. Then my mother got pregnant by a co-worker, so, I guess being the times (around 1960) my parents reunited and my dad raised my sister as his own. It’s a huge family secret.

    My mom never trusted dad again, although she loved him very much. At the same time, she became a horribly bitter and unhappy person, making my life miserable in the process.

    Flash forward to around their 27th anniversary and he runs into an old classmate and has an affair. This time he goes to my mom and tells her and they separate and actually divorce. But due to circumstances in their lives, several years later were re-married simply so that my father could give my mother his healthcare benefits. They never shared a bedroom during this second marriage.

    Knowing what I know now, I’d have told my mother not to remarry him. She never trusted him and she threw his infidelity in his face every chance she got, but worst of all is that she became more controlling and obsessive and bitter with every passing year. This did not have to be her life.

    Now they are old and dad is in ill health. Due to my chumping I live with them. In some ways I’m glad they have one another now. In other ways she’s still utterly miserable; I’ve never known such an unhappy person and as much as I love my father, she should have moved on with her life years ago and found someone who cherished her.

    I’d rather find a way to be happy alone than to be in a marriage like they have.

      • Maybe she identifies more with being a chumped woman and doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as her mom, and is pointing out how awful the consequences of choosing reconciliation are? That’s my read.

      • Yes, I am. Is it right that my dad cheated on her? Hell no! But perhaps she would have found actual happiness if she had moved on from him.

      • Wow, that’s a long, long life of resentment! And, not valuing your own needs, just the so-called marriage institution, as if they have to present a ‘family’ to the world, and none of it is real.
        Definitely a story we can learn from. It’s better to cut and run!

        • PattyToo, it truly is. It’s heartbreaking that this was her/their reality.

          • Here’s another way to look at it. He’s a cheater, for sure. But when she needed a father for a baby she had with someone else or health insurance, he stepped up. So whatever his issues are, he was not avoiding that level of Commitment. Both my parents had narcissist tendencies and my dad used alcohol. There was infidelity on both sides, I believe, and I can’t recall them ever being affectionate with each other. I don’t know how much of the “stepping out” was a reaction to how poorly they related or whether it was just 2 narcs looking for kibbles. She left once and went to her dad’s–a serial cheater who abandoned all his wives (3) as soon as the kids hit puberty. But she came back and stayed. She had no education or skills and no inclination to get a job. And he had his own life and they went on. It was in many ways very sad but also typical for the time (they grew up in the Depression). I think a lot of their problems stemmed from her trying to live through him and his career and community standing and his narcissist way of seeing her as having lost her sparkliness once they married. Whatever it was, it was a dynamic that neither was willing to let go of and paid off for them in many ways. My mother could be a martyr and play out her narc games while he put a roof over her head. My dad could do as he pleased. If she objected, he just stayed away more–work, community finctions, drinking. I don’t blame one or the other–it was the two of them as a couple.

            • LAJ, yes, I think my dad may have been a serial cheater, and for that reason alone my mother, a smart working woman (with a low self esteem), should have left him. But he’s my dad, and while I’m disappointed that he chose to cheat, I love him because he’s always been there for me. He may be a jerk to my mom but he stayed in the relationship for us three kids. Was that a good thing? I don’t know. But it’s hard to fathom my life without him in it. And my poor mom just punished him for his infidelity for the rest of their lives — and that’s no way to live. A sad situation.

              • You know, I think you could look at the situation as your mother stayed in the relationship for the sake of her children. It made her unhappy, but it allowed you to have him there. It may have protected your sister from stigma and it surely allowed all the kids to have a better standard of living.

                In return he hurt her and tried to dump her 27 years later after she had stuck with him.

                It’s not surprising that she’s bitter. She gave up a lot for her kids and she went on loving your dad and he just betrayed her again.

                To me it seems like he’s getting to come off as the noble one who took care of his kids and her health insurance while she is bad for being mad at him.
                He’s not really as nice a person as he seems if he treated your mom the way he did.

  • My favourite line from a friend who is in a reconciled relationship: “Half a loaf, is better than no loaf at all”.

        • I don’t know how you all feel but as I told my cheater, I don’t like leftovers. That’s what I felt I was getting and it didn’t sit well with me once I found out he was cheating while with me. He was doing this for the 30years before I ever met him, 20 years to his one and only wife and to both long term girlfriends before me and to the short term ones as well, I am 100% certain he is still doing it to the new Chump since he met her 3 weeks after I dumped him.

          He comes from a cheating father and a cheating uncle so there really is no where else for him to go but cheat.

          So glad to no longer have leftovers, a half a loaf or whatever you want to call it.

          I like appetizers, entrees and every now and then some dessert. Eating well is important to a good life and so is being in a good relationship. I would rather not eat then eat poorly and the same goes for a relationship.

          I prefer to call it trash which I happily threw out despite the pain I had to work through afterward. It’s a great feeling going from victim to victor and getting your self back as well as taking your own power back. Each day really does get better once you get over the hump and get your feet back on the ground and the cheater really no longer matters.

          This has now allowed me to make the changes in my life I have been wanting to make for a long time, a big one is starting my own business which will open on 8/18. I am so excited about that. I really feel the rest will all fall into place with time. It’s great to now know I am fully responsible for all of my decisions, I didn’t really get that until I was with a cheater. That feels very empowering to really know that and it has seeped into all areas of my life. I feel a confidence I haven’t felt in a really long time and I know when I meet someone new, he will be far better than trashcan man because I will not except less.

          I am learning my value each day and looking back at me when I was with trashcan man I don’t really recognize that person anymore but I get who she was then and why and it’s ok. I had to go through that to get where I am going and now it’s starting to get fun again.

          CL and this site has been responsible for 50% of my recovery and my hard work the other 50% and I am forever grateful for that. Having my own feelings validated with love and toughness from everyone here has kept me motivated and focused to get my ass back in gear and get a life! You all helped me realize what a complete waste of time cheaters are and how truly strong, intelligent and ultimately feerless Chumps are. This fact only makes cheaters look even worse, not sure that is possible but Chumps seem to make it so!

          Thank you all for helping to bring back my big smile, I have said it before but it’s true.

          The nice thing about this bunch is there is a lot of anger but not very much bitter here and I like that a lot!!! Anger is good and healthy and motivating after this happens and bitter is just sad, lonely and full of regrets with defeat as the end result.

          Personally, I think all of the chumps here are super sexy and I don’t even have to see any of you to know that.

          • See!? You got this! And congrats on the new business! You are a perfect example of what I’ve been trying to convey . . That yes all this sucks and it was like walking through fire, but then the world opens up. You not only have to trust they suck, you have to trust that things will get better, and you take ACTION to make things better. 🙂

            • Thanks RK! You speak the truth. Life is better then before after this, because you know you went through this fire on your own (with help of course. but the real work and action taken are all you!). This is so empowering and confidence building and removes so many fears that it is impossible for life not to be better. Dante can keep his inferno.

              I don’t feel bitter, I feel so much better! LOL.

              Now I will shut up because I am starting to sound like fucking Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Ha!

          • Deborah, I had to copy and paste most of your post, it was so perfect! I wish you great success in your business! Anyone who learns from life like you do, will ace this for sure!

            • Thanks Patty!
              One thing that wasn’t perfect on my post was the misspelling of except which should have been accept. What doesn’t kill you makes you smarter and stronger. There are now so many smart Divorce Legal advisers here. Everything a Chump Needs is right here!

              CL, job well done!!!

            • Yeah, Deborah–I loved your post!
              Especially the part about us being all sexy and such.
              And ain’t that the God’s honest truth! Or, the gods’ honest truth–your pic.

              It’s a great feeling going from victim to victor and getting your self back as well as taking your own power back.

    • That attitude of, “well, I have to stick with my cheater because otherwise I’ll have no one,” is the attitude that assures you the person will be chumped again. Basically saying, “I’m not good enough to deserve anyone better than a lying cheater.” The cheater smells this attitude like a shark smells blood, and knows s/he is free to cheat with no real repercussions.

      • This is the battle I’m fighting with myself right now GIO, I know that I’ll be happier once I’m out of my marriage, but it’s like I think I don’t deserve that.

        • Thinking I wasn’t good enough is partly what got me into this mess in the first place. I didn’t realize it for a LONG time, because I thought he had changed when we got married (we were so young!). But the truth is, he kind of sucked at first too. My expectations for him were so low, but really high for my own behavior. At sometime I began to feel like I deserve to be with someone who’s at least as honest as I am, with the same values, like maybe that was something I did deserve. “You deserve what you tolerate.” Harsh, but true. When you believe you deserve more, your won’t accept less. And sometimes that takes some work with a good therapist!

          • Yeah — doing that work now. You know my wife kinda sucked at first too, but I expected to be treated badly, I think. Long story.

            • ANR,” ……but I expected to be treated badly…..” I working on my issues too and am so grateful that I now have the opportunity to better myself.

        • I’ve filed (he also initially said he wasn’t sure he wanted a divorce), and am leaving in a couple of days with my kids for summer vacation. When I get back in six weeks, STBX will have moved out and we will meet with our lawyers regarding settlement. I am wondering if maybe I’m making a mistake. Am I better off without him? Why? How? How is a single mom in her mid-40’s with trust and communication issues ever going to find someone else while he gets to waltz off into a new relationship/life, and probably really doesn’t have any regrets?

          • Hello fellow single Mom in her mid-40’s with trust and communication issues. We’re better off because THAT STRESS WILL KILL YOU! I would rather be alone that live with the abuse. I don’t care if I ever find anyone again. OK, sometimes I care. But my focus right now is making sure I can live life on my own. If I find someone else, great. But they better be pretty fucking fantastic. No, he won’t look back, he won’t have as many regrets, but you weren’t putting him through a hell he was desperate to escape, were you? I don’t know you’re particular situation. But when it’s bad enough, you leave. Because you have to, to save yourself and your children. The rest will follow. Good luck!

          • The same way a 57 year old sahm does….you take one step a time. You move forward, you get angry, you scream, but you do something. The last 13 years of my life have been filled with both hellish lows and heavenly highs. They tried to destroy me, but
            I’m still here. God’s not done with me yet. This is the most horrific situation I’ve had in my life yet, but I know that God is grooming me for something special. This marriage and overcoming the truly evil things done for me are only making me stronger. “Watcha my smoke!”

          • If you compare your immediate future as a single parent to his with his AP after divorce, you will of course feel as if you were coming out on the short end. But just because he has a new female in his life doesn’t mean his life will be happy or healthy. He isn’t getting a character transplant. You, however, are getting a do-over, a chance to rebuild your life from the ground up, kids included. I think the most important moment in my recovery so far was when I felt. for the first time, that I don’t need a partner. My life is busy and full, and I am happy with what I have. It would be great to meet someone new, but I am not looking. I am living, one moment and one day at a time. At your age and in your situation, I am sure I would have felt as you do now. But from 20 years up the road, let me tell you that if you work on having the best life you can, every day, you will come out far ahead of where you would be if you reconciled with a guy who is currently planning a life with his Schmoopie.

            • LovedaJackass – you are so right! I really think I reached Tuesday…that perfect day of “meh”…when I realized that I was OK with being a single mom. That I was OK with being alone – not in a relationship – and not even “looking” for a relationship. I am slowly filling my life with more volunteer activities, focusing on my career, getting my oldest son off to college and my youngest through his teen years, and becoming comfortable with doing things by myself. Who knew going to the movies alone is so much fun!?! My Ex and his little schmoopie are still together and to the untrained eye are having with their swinging single life of no responsibility for children and family, but I know that is has to be a hollow life at the core. My life, to the outside observer, may seem quiet and a bit lonely now, but it is a real and authentic life and the bedrock core of it is integrity and strength and peace.

          • I was a single mom in my mid-40s and I found someone.

            It’s not impossible. And I put the odds at happiness a lot better than staying with a cheater you can’t trust and don’t feel safe with.

            The reasons for why you’re better off without him are all over this blog.

          • You wonder if you’re making a mistake? Why wouldn’t you be better off with someone who betrayed you? If you have trust and communication issues, why does staying with a known cheater seem like a better option? And really, what does it matter that he gets to waltz off into a new relationship? He’s still a cheating douche bag and he’ll do it again.

            Instead of asking all the questions you listed, ask those. And find a good therapist to help you sort this out. You don’t want to meet anyone until you’re thinking happy again.

            You’re going to be just fine!

            • My kingdom for an edit button! I meant Why would you be better off . . .

          • As a single mother of two in her 40s, I can assure you that it isn’t easy. But, for me at least, it is much less stressful than my marriage was.

            Most of what I miss, I never had. I didn’t have a husband who went to the zoo with the family or played games around the table with the kids, or went out with me while a babysitter watched the kids. I had the fantasy that family life should look like that and a spouse who did what he wanted when he wanted, and if it wasn’t all about his interests or flattering to him, he wasn’t participating or supportive. Recognizing this has made being alone a lot easier. Leaving my husband wasn’t like leaving my right hand behind, it was like leaving a brain tumor behind. I can see better now and think better now and live a healthier life now.

            It is hard because parenting is hard, but doing it alone isn’t any harder than it was before.

            As for a partner, well, I haven’t made any progress in that direction, but I don’t think I’m ready to, and it is good to have something to look forward to for another day!

            • Eilonwy, I always say there’s one thing my husband did an excellent job preparing me for, and that is being alone.

            • Eilonwy, is that name a reference to a character from my favorite books when I was a kid, or something else?? I haven’t seen it in 30 years!

              • Another Prydain fan! Yes, it is a literary reference to a character I loved.

          • Expat,
            Focus on your own path. Stick with your decision because as others have said, the stress of staying will kill you. The stress of adjusting to single life…will bring many emotions…some extremely positive.

            Work on your trust and comms issues with a professional. Give yourself time to heal, learn and like being single. Don’t necessarily think it’s necessary to rush into a new partnership. And above all, don’t make it a pissing contest with your ex. You know history repeats itself, he’ll be in hot water again given time, so there is no need to envy him.

            I know this sounds like psycho-babble, but having lived it myself, I would say that time and self-examination are the healers. Ignore the distractions, look in the mirror, and focus on loving YOU and your children.

        • ANR, I struggle with this too even though I’m out of my marriage. It’s hard to know what came first — poor self-esteem causing me to pick a cheater, or living with a cheater causing poor self-esteem. Even though I’ve been out of my marriage for a couple of years, I still occasionally struggle with self-esteem. It’s getting better, though, I can feel myself getting stronger.

        • Why not? Why shouldn’t you be happy? What would you say to a son, daughter or friend who said they didn’t deserve to be happy so they were staying with someone who hurt them and cheated with no remorse? Just askin’. Love yourself first. That’s not narcissism; that’s appreciating the gift of your one “wild and precious life.”

          • LAJ, I would fight like a bear to get them to know their worth. I would love them with all my heart until they could see they deserved to love themselves. I find it hard to get that sort of passion about myself though. 🙁

            • ANR, are you familiar with Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”?

              One of the agreements is to Be Impeccable With Your Word.

              It not only pertains to what we say to others, but what we say about ourselves. Be gentle with yourself. Use this time to discover who you are — someone worthy of love and respect.

              • Thanks for the tip, ML. I’ll look it up. I try to be worthy of love and respect, anyway.

            • Then that is your first order of business. If you don’t have that sort of passion about your own life, how will you find a caring partner? Here’s a question: What would you be doing if you did have that kind of passion for yourself? Write it down. Then do those things. If you have to, “fake it till you make it.” And you might ask a good counselor why this is difficult for you. You seem like such a smart and caring person. This lack of self-regard and care might be a result of living with a disordered person. How that lack of self-regard and care manifested in me was gaining 45 pounds and giving up big chunks of myself. All of that can be changed, even in people over 60-.

              • Well hell, I’m only 48! The lack of self-regard and care aren’t a huge mystery — I was raised being alternately belittled and leaned on emotionally by my mother and have lived the past 17 years with a very similar dynamic. In between, I was unfortunate enough to be raped twice, which takes its toll. What I need is strategies for recognizing when I’m being unrealistically hard on myself, and also when I’m being too easy on myself because I think I’m too weak to act. I also gave up huge chunks of myself, and actively hurt myself in a variety of ways (though less in my marriage and much less after my sons were born). I’m not thinking of a caring partner right now — well I am, of course, because I’m lonely as hell, but I have a long way to go until I can trust my picker. Thanks for your encouragement, LAJ. I always enjoy what you have to say, and it’s humbling to think you think of me as smart and caring.

            • Ha ANR – me Too! I was starting a pretty well received (VERY modest numbers of readers) blog, and painting, and officiating weddings. I lost all my drive and it’s hard to get started again. Every time I try to blog I feel too embarrassed to put myself out there, a year and a half later…Oh he did his job on me far too well. Altho’ to the eye I’m very outgoing and confident inside I’m still that frightened little girl my childhood instilled in me. And for a while I felt he had just put the nails in my coffin. I would try to paint and just cry, but I’m starting to stir. After missing a month of work, anemic and with pneumonia I’m starting to feel like myself again, still reading here everyday since right after Dday Jan 2013. Broke and anxious because of him but I’m starting to feel like my old self…

        • Hey–you’re fighting. Something in you realizes you DO deserve better. Listen to THAT guy.

          • I try, Miss Sunshine. I try as hard as I can. And you know, he’s a nicer guy than the the other one.

            • She’s right. Do it ANR. Sometimes you have to fight for what you want. Keep pushing. 🙂

          • We’re on your side, ANR. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want a better life.

      • This has certainly been my struggle. I should have left years ago. Instead I spackled like a demented contractor intent on saving a house that should have been condemned. Everyone thought I had the bestest husband and the bestest marriage, and at times, I actually experienced it – it wasn’t 25 years of hell, to be sure. However, there was way too much that ended up being spackle over cracks and fissures for years – enough for me, in hindsight, if I had not been blinded by the good times (which dwindled more and more as time went on) and the memory of the good times, to have noticed and maybe done a run for the border. And for what did I stay and spackle? To end up where I feared most being.

        People who cheat, I believe, have some type of cognitive processing problem and/or character disorder at their core (or both). If your thinking is fucked up, and you’re using that same brain/thinking in an attempt to resolve whatever you perceive your problem to be, then the solution at which you arrive will almost invariably be fucked up. Thus, the “cheater’s pig-latin” and “stupid shit cheaters say.” (Hat tip to namedforvera and CL.) Of course, I have come to this understanding a little late, but better late than never.

        Sometimes your life can be an example and sometimes it can be a warning. I hope mine can function as both. I’ve provided the warning, now I’d like to live the rest of my life as an example – one worth following. It is a process to be sure.

        • “I spackled like a demented contractor intent on saving a house that should have been condemned.”

          How do you make something so sad make me laugh out loud, Princess? Thank you!

          • Our Chump Princess has a way with words, no doubt. And I am nicking that line. 🙂

  • I still tend to rehash the implosion of my marriage to Asshole here and there, but it’s only been final a little over 4 months so that’s normal. But each time it happens, I always say to myself, “Well, that sucked. But at least now nobody is lying to me, cheating on me, or stabbing me in the back.”

    Divorce has been a great relief for me. There is something so empowering to know that you didn’t curl up and die when the one thing you feared the most came true. I spackled for years with this man, finding things occasionally, but I always ended up shoving it aside, putting on a smile, and carrying on in our fabulous marriage. After all, everybody thought he adored me, but deep down I knew I couldn’t really trust him, not when I caught him fishing for strange on occasion. I just didn’t want to really admit it. I was scared of what would happen if he ever really did cheat on me and guess what – he finally did.

    I didn’t die, although I felt like I did for a while. I’m still upright and breathing and amazingly, when he exited my life, a great many other happy things ran in to fill that void. There is such a sense of relief and gratitude now that I really didn’t have pre-divorce. The only regret I have was not leaving him sooner. But it doesn’t matter, I’m happy now so I’ll take it. 🙂

      • Just know it gets better ML. You might have to fight for it, but it’s worth it. I would never say it if it wasn’t true.

        • RK, I believe you. I still have dark days, but my darkest days are firmly behind me.

    • “I still tend to rehash the implosion of my marriage to Asshole here and there, but it’s only been final a little over 4 months so that’s normal. But each time it happens, I always say to myself, “Well, that sucked. But at least now nobody is lying to me, cheating on me, or stabbing me in the back.” ”

      Rumble, I still occasionally rehash the implosion of my marriage, and it’s been four YEARS. But the memories are faded now, like something that happened to someone else, and I rarely think about it anymore. I still get plenty angry over the craziness my ex is causing our son NOW (he pulled a mind-boggling stunt a couple days ago), but I don’t really feel angry about the marriage anymore. I’m just thankful to be the hell out. You’ll feel that way too soon enough.

    • “There is something so empowering to know that you didn’t curl up and die when the one thing you feared the most came true.”

      I also agree that my husband cheating and leaving was my biggest fear. When I found his journal and discovered he was having an affair with his married coworker I thought “here it is — my biggest fear is coming true!” It was like I’d been waiting for it to happen all my life.

      Sometimes I’ve wondered if my fear of being cheated on (and the insecurity that fed the fear) actually caused it to happen, but I guess that would be just another way of blaming myself for the actions of another person.

      Anyway, I was amazed and surprised in the first few weeks after he left that I somehow managed to get up and keep going forward with my life. I realized there were people I could reach out to for help. I was blessed with wonderful friends and family who rallied around and helped me move forward. I was much less isolated once I was outside of my marriage.

      • When golfers putt or basketball players attempt free throws, they can’t be afraid of making a mistake or they will miss the shot. I don’t think chumps “cause” cheating, but the lack of self confidence that underlies that fear may influence our pickers. We look for something “safe” and maybe that’s not the same thing as looking for character. I wouldn’t relive the 3 months before and after D-Day again for all the world, but I did learn from it. The person I have to trust first is myself. And as you say, you do find out who will stand beside you in the tough times. Hard lessons but life-changing ones.

      • Frankly though, if you think you need a legal contract to keep your wife faithful, maybe you should divorce now.

        Yeah, I don’t think it works that way 🙂 If it did, I would recommend you start being afraid of having a perfect, happy life… and winning the lottery 🙂

      • Well, I never EVER would have thought my then-husband would have done what he did, so I think whether or not we feared it has nothing to do with it. And I am pretty sure there are people who fear it who have completely faithful spouses…

    • “There is something so empowering to know that you didn’t curl up and die when the one thing you feared the most came true.
      I didn’t die, although I felt like I did for a while. I’m still upright and breathing and amazingly, when he exited my life, a great many other happy things ran in to fill that void.”

      Going through the legal issues now. Can’t wait until I have my life back, wherever I land!

    • Yay for you RK. My sister texted me the following when my divorce decree came through, and I will never forget it:

      “You are finally free of the lies.”

      • Yep. I was of course sad that he did such a horrible thing(s) to me, but I know the truth; and that’s I’m not rolling around with a hyena anymore. All you can do is wipe off the grime, stand up straight, and keep heading towards those things that make you happy.

        I have a few friends that remarked that I seem to be doing so well I should consider dating, but I’m not there yet. This is the first time in 22 years I am single. (I was married before this last jackass and had boyfriends in between those two.) I LOVE not having to answer to anybody. I feel like myself again, and nobody is standing behind me tapping their foot wanting to do their shit, or asking things of me, or making me feel like I have to decipher what they want. I don’t have to do any of that shit. If I want to get laid, I can. It’s not like I can’t do that if that’s what I really want. lol

        My rambling point is it’s ME time! I completely reject the notion I need to be paired up and/or dating to be healed or whole. That’s not going to get me to happy. Being single and being grateful for it gets me to happy. If I meet someone later that fits into my life – great, but it’s not my goal. I’ve been married twice to two idiots that I should have left long before I actually did. There is no way in hell I’m going to do that again.

        BBQ at my house this weekend! Everybody’s invited!

        • I’ve been to 2 big social events alone and had a great time with “nobody…standing behind me tapping their foot.” Hyena-free living! I’ve still got a lot of things to restore in my life and until I feel like my own life is rock solid before I try to have a committed relationship again. I’m another one with multiple divorces to men that I shouldn’t have married. And I say this not as a knock on any of them. Just that they weren’t people I should have been involved with. Gratitude for the life we have is really the starting point for everything. I wish I had know this 40 years ago but it’s never too late.

          • Yep I agree . . . Gratitude makes everything so much sweeter. And yay hyena-free living! It almost brings a tear to my eye to see my word got picked up here and YOU GUYS GET IT!! Ha ha!

            I’m sitting on my bed right now, watching my shows, with my doggie by my side and I’ve never been so happy. I wouldn’t wish the shit I’ve been through on anybody, but I almost wouldn’t trade it if it means that without having gone through it, I wouldn’t be so happy right now.

            That’s a weird thing to say, I know.

            • Not weird at all RK, I get it completely! It’s a knowing happy. That is the best kind of happy!!!

            • I love your kick-ass attitude, which is all full of gratitude and being helpful and encouraging of others.

              You’re awesome, with an awesome handle, Miss Rumblekitty.

        • ” I LOVE not having to answer to anybody. I feel like myself again, and nobody is standing behind me tapping their foot wanting to do their shit, or asking things of me, or making me feel like I have to decipher what they want. I don’t have to do any of that shit.”

          I was so scared of being single, but now, I LOVE having my own space. It’s wonderful sleeping in a bed that’s all mine. I can stretch my legs out diagonally, snore, fart, flip around, stay up late reading…. no grief from anyone (my cat and dog don’t care). My bathroom drawer is full of makeup and hair clips, my shower contains only endless containers of curly hair taming products (CL knows what I’m talking about!), my closet is mine alone. It is WONDERFUL!

          I actually am dating a nice man, we just passed the nine-month mark. It’s great… we get together on the weekends, have fun, go out for breakfast and then back to his place for hot action, then later I go home to my own comfortable bed. Perfect! So much better than spending every night sharing a bed with a creepy liar.

          • Glad, I’ve also discovered that the freedom of doing my own thing for the first time in my life is incredibly awesome. I still struggle with missing my kids from time to time, but I do enjoy finally being able to put myself first in my life.

    • Rumblekitty,

      There are so many people who post here with whom I would like to sit outside on a warm night and sip wine, while munching on cheese, crackers and fruit, and you my friend, are one of the people at the top of that list.

      The first major, major d-day (there have been so many of varying degrees that I’ve taken to trying to classify them) I was devastated. This last one I thought would kill me and it almost did. But here I am, alive. I think about the blurb I see occasionally which says, “Remember that person you thought you couldn’t live without? Well, look at you, living and shit.”

      I cannot let his mistreatment of me define me. I will, however, allow the lessons I’ve learned from this experience refine me.

        • That’s a great idea, We could meet up at Syringa’s house in Sandpoint, Idaho. It looks spectacular. 🙂

            • I have a ridiculous vintage camper fetish. That’s my post-divorce goal: refurb an old camper and drag that bitch west. Lol

              • Yes, this! I so, so, so want a 1958 Shasta, with wings! I still have my truck, though obviously the horses and trailers that belonged to my previous life are all long gone ( though somehow he still has TWO Porsches to style around in). I’ve wanted a retro trailer for literally years, and the whole idea was always squashed, mocked, or called stupid…. But no more! Mine if I want one…. And I have all kinds of ideas for incorporating one into a business plan. First things first… we are one week out from mediation day that to my amazement actually produced a settlement, and it will probably take another 30 days for the lawyers to make it official, everybody re- agree and sign off, then send to court…. It’s been a very long and painful 13 months of separation, but then again, the 33 years before that sure didn’t go the way I expected either. I’m scanning and craigslist weekly….

              • I hit that site every day. lol I don’t have the funds yet to buy anything, but I still look. I’m hoping next summer I’ll have enough saved up to buy something and just spend a year making it awesome. Yes the Shasta’s are adorable. 🙂

              • Come on Rumblekitty…I even have a place for you to park it!! We’d have a blast!!!

      • Awe gee! Thanks buddy!! I’m glad my posts don’t make you want to throw up. Sometimes they are ridiculously Pollyanna sounding, as I am one cynical bitch. It’s just, you now, this shit was big! But I don’t have to tell you guys that. Lol.

    • “I didn’t die” I should tattoo that on my forearm, Lots of things have gone wrong in my life, but I have yet to die. You understand the uselessness of so much of our fear, RK. Thanks for posting this.

      • Lol. That would be a good tattoo! 🙂

        I’ve told my daughter this . . . We all gotta die of something, but I’ll be damned if it’s going to be because of this moron.

        None of this is easy or fun or forgettable. I know how HUGE it is for us here. But the good thing is, the pain really does fortify you. Be grateful for that. For me, after all the shit I’ve had to contend with in my life, I really thought losing him would break me. Oddly enough, losing him did the opposite. I can’t say I never feel bad anymore because I’d be lying, but my rational brain always intercedes and says, You’re fine. Relax. You’ve lost nothing. You’re just as worthy now as the day you were born. That’s important, because none of this will matter when we’ve all had a chance to really think about what we’ve “lost” and what we still have. We still have ourselves. That matters more than anything.

  • My story involved one magnificent (barf) D-day, and months and months of finding buried shit that indicated years of either cheating, or trying to cheat (or feather a new nest).

    Ex would claim, with each new revolting discovery, “you can’t make me say I did something I didn’t do! There just ISN’T anything else.”

    And then, of course, there was…

    No way that trust could be re-established. Just no way. It became clear that his speech was like a cheater’s pig-latin: everything he said needed to be reversed. If he said there was nothing more, there was absolutely more. If he said they din’t send dirty pictures, I have had to assume the pix they sent were dirty. et cetera.

    Once I got that clear, it was (relatively) easy. No more untangling or the like.

    Of course, it still hurt like hell, but I knew what I was dealing with.

      • NamedforVera—that is EXACTLY how it happened for me! Now I hear him say something and I do the “mental switch”—he said that OW was never in my house, she was. He said she never met my kids, she did (and he got them to lie about it). He said “it was just once”, it was over 1.5 years, every chance he got. He said he would never jeopardize me or my kids’ safety, he did.

        If he even recounts a story that is benign—that a friend of his said something—I now realize that this is his passive aggressive way of “telling” me. It’s always “the friend” or “someone else said” and it’s really him saying it. COWARDLY and pathetic.

        I have enough shit in my life to take care of with work and outside problems—I simply do not need to come home and wonder if my spouse is trustworthy. There’s enough of those vultures on the OUTSIDE, I don’t need it inside the gates. It’s a simple safety issue—the guy (or girl) didn’t just bring the enemy into your safe place, THEY ARE THE ENEMY.

        • Amen, buttercup. That’s exactly it. I wouldn’t accept that treatment from a stranger. Why, then, from someone who’s supposed to be on my team? He always takes the cowards way out. When I finally told him about the stuff I’d uncovered while in a counseling session, he said he’d “forgotten.” Really??? The MC ate it up. “It’s very common for people to compartmentalize and black out things that are too painful to remember.” But he did it again after everything was out in the open, so he must have remembered something about how to be a lying, cheating dickface.

          Now when he offers up information about anything, it’s so clear to me that it’s a lie. That random text to explain that he tried to come and see the kids, but his boss wouldn’t let him? Bullshit. Random compliment? Bullshit. Anything that he volunteers without me asking is an attempt to see if I’m still buying what he’s selling. It’s so transparent now that I know who he is.

          • “I wouldn’t accept that treatment from a stranger.” Hear, hear – sometimes I think what I’d do if a coworker treated me how my ex did, and it’s so much more clear that his “explanations” and caught-in-lies are absolutely unacceptable!

            • lale, Yes! this. Plus also DoneNow, Buttercup & Ali Rose…. They all read the same damnable book.

          • My best friend said it this way: “He isn’t in your corner any more.” And whatever else, that is the minimum a spouse should be–a person who is always in your corner.

            • That was such a painful realization when I realized on dday that my then-husband’s loyalty belonged to OW. The light switch had been flipped. And it took a while for it to really sink in. I am so thankful to be over a year past dday. Time really does help.

        • Buttercup, I too have to do the “mental switch” when he emails me anything. Email only because I will not talk to him. He has lied to me so much and about so many things he gets his lies mixed up. My stbx needs some serious therapy but will not go because “there is nothing wrong with me.” I will be grateful to finally be rid of my freak.

    • Always remember that with the disordered, whatever they admit to is what they think you already know. You never really get more than the tip of the iceberg.

      • It’s also helpful to remember that whenever their lips are moving they’re lying! My ex would always work around the truth and find every way possible to say stuff without actually saying it. I recognize it now but I didn’t when I trusted him.

      • GIO, spot on comment. Although I got many times from the ex, “I am not guilty of the things you are accusing me of”!! Also, my ex was so weak that I used to say that he “was all tip and no iceberg”. 🙂

    • #My story involved one magnificent (barf) D-day, and months and months of finding buried shit that indicated years of either cheating, or trying to cheat (or feather a new nest).#

      That’s what happened to me. Kept finding new shit and then more new shit. It was astounding and what’s even more astounding is that ex, to this day, says cheating is not why we divorced, it was reason A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J….X, Y, Z. And everyone of those reasons all somehow come back to me being lacking in some way.

      Fuck that noise. When you realise that your partner has been cheating for years there really can’t be any other reason the marriage died, because that means that person was not investing in the marriage for the duration of his/her cheating, except MAYBE in between affairs.

      Like I said, fuck that noise.

      • Raising my hand as a member of a most humiliating club, though proud to count Nord and Namedforvera as my similarly-situated comrades. Horrific DDay was the most shocking and painful day of my life — if you had told me then that I’d discovered just the tip of the iceberg and that the truth (as much of it as I know) was so much worse, I don’t know that I would have survived. But there was always more, including revelations of cheating, secret communications with ex-girlfriends, chronic lying and dating site profiles since the beginning of our dating relationship and through most of our marriage. In other words, there was never a time when his feelings for me — shallow as they are — weren’t diluted by his interest in other women. Once I finally processed this, reconciliation seemed an absurd consideration. If this is how much he valued me when the relationship was fresh and passionate and unencumbered by real life, what kind of treatment could I expect after our marriage was so obscenely polluted by betrayal, humiliation and distrust?

        Cheating aside, you really do get to a point where you start counting the lies you’ve been told and admit that you cannot have a real relationship with this sort of person. If it were a contractor lying about the status of your project, or a customer lying about the status of payment, or a friend lying about gossiping about you, a repeated lie would be grounds for never dealing with that person again – and the stakes in those relationships are much more trivial. Yet so many of our spouses try to convince us that re-investment in the relationship is such a reasonable and safe proposition. To them, it is not their horrible conduct that cripples the marriage, but our anger for being conned, the compulsion to monitor the demonstrably untrustworthy spouse, and our inability to stop searching for clues into our own secret history (particularly when it’s regularly rewarded with a jackpot of new filth).

          • I still am amazed how these cheaters seem to function even somewhat normally with all the crap they have going on simultaneously. Is it some kind of form of creepy ADD or Ego Hyperactivity? It would be kind of fun as a science experiment to just be a fly on the wall inside one of their brains for a day to see how they file each cheating activity away to get to the next one. It is so crazy their capacity for crazy on a daily basis day in and day out.

            Perhaps it’s done all day long in a little snip its. Now is time for pics of tattoed hot chics online, ohh look sextexting time. Now look time to go on Craigslist Casual Encounters. Oops look it’s lunchtime, time to go for a handjob at the local massage parlor.

            Ok, let’s get an hour of work done.

            Now more sexting.

            Dinner time, time for the girlfriend or wife and kids. Sex with the girlfriend and or wife or both? I forgot.

            Going to sleep, but before I do let me check out the Craiglist ads again and maybe get in some flirty sextexting while I look at some sexy pics on line.

            Next day, same thing? WTF???

            No wonder they can’t plan ahead or be organized, LOL.

            • Deborah,

              “Perhaps it’s done all day long in a little snip its. Now is time for pics of tattoed hot chics online, ohh look sextexting time. Now look time to go on Craigslist Casual Encounters. Oops look it’s lunchtime, time to go for a handjob at the local massage parlor.”

              This is hilarious! The crazy thing is I think they just operate on auto-pilot. I believe their only thought is what will make ME feel good right now. ME, ME, ME! What about ME?!!! I don’t think any thought is ever given to the real life consequences to other people of their choices and behavior. That’s why their relationships with the OW/OM appear to us to be so juvenile and, as nomar commented the other day, stuck in some pubescent time warp.

              And thank you, Wastedheart, for so eloquently stating the reality of why I am so often sad and angry all at the same time.

              • This sounds pretty on target to me:
                “I believe their only thought is what will make ME feel good right now.”

      • That is my story too Nord. He keeps saying it was because of me.

        At the beginning he got me so confused at one point that I did ask my therapist (who knows him) if I was crazy, because if I was I wanted to know. I wanted to know how I screwed up so I wouldn’t do it again. It took many sessions for her to convince me that I am fine and he is the messed up one… but boy, he had so much power over me that I believed everything.
        But not any more.
        We will heal.

  • I agree with Moving Liquid, could happily be alone than be in the marriage I have. Let’s have a show of hands who got married while Schmuck-Face was carrying on with the EA/PA/whatever FuckingA. Hope It’s not just me. As I posted before I would rather be hosed with hot effluent than re-experience that hideousNess again. Yeah our wedding anniversary is a real fucking laugh riot. I swear half the wedding guests only showed up to see if I would rip his fucking head off. And that is why dear fellow Chumps, reconciliation sucks like a mother-fucker (I stayed for my daughter btw) Sorry about the swearing xx

    • You mean there was only one lurking in the background when you were married? Wish I were so lucky! 😉

      • And he had at least one dating profile on ok cupid. And he was doing sex chats. There’s nothing like having to confirm that your husband is cheating by identifying his penis in an ad response. I always wondered if I could recognize a significant other just by their junk. Now I know.

    • Oooh Ooooh, me. My ex had another woman and was answering sex ads. Some of them for men. It explains the bloated Dean McDermott sex addict look he had in our wedding pics.

    • My ex was fucking men even in our dating days, and all the way through the entire marriage and most likely during the bogus reconciliation. Plus a few women along the way and the two married women he was fucking at the end of our marriage.

      It was only recently I realized he must have also fucked the drag queen Donna Summer he once gave a ride home from the drag queen nightclub. Not sure how to classify that one. LOL!

  • Because my fear of the “devil I didn’t know” was so great, I threw away 20 years of my life with a man who certainly was a devil. I can never get those years back, the prime of my life. For all those in uncertain reconciliations, or afraid to leave even though you know you should, please don’t be me. Get out and start living. I’ve created a good new life, but it sure would have been easier if I started when I was younger.

    • GladIt’sOver,

      Maybe the prime of your life is right now. I’m not trying to drop cliched platitudes on you or anything, I swear. I just think it’s possible that the “prime” of one’s life is when he/she has the wisdom to enjoy it.

      🙂 -LilyBart

    • I agree wholeheartedly Glad, same with me. I spackled mightily 15 years before D-Day and desperately believed my (then)-husband when he turned cartwheels trying to prove that he was not cheating. He was, and once I believed his lies I slowly lost my emotional stability and my health and happiness, trying to not see what my gut so clearly wanted me to see for so many years. I have created a new life, and I am even (recently) re-married to a wonderful man. But I would love to get back the 25 years of that marriage, or at least the last 15 years when I should have listened to my gut.

      I want to hug my fellow chumps who have that same decision I faced before them, and who still have their best years ahead, and whisper “Please listen to us, run run RUN LIKE THE WIND and be free of the suffocating lies. It WILL be better in the end.”

    • What ifs and regrets do nothing for you right now though. I like to think that what I went through were things I needed to learn.

      One time I went to a card reader that told me I was a womanizing, fighter pilot from WWII. Wouldn’t you know now I’m a woman who hates to fly and have been jerked around by both husbands? Lol. Just chalk it up to things we had to learn and keep the feet moving forward. Be thankful for the good, sweet things in life. :).

      I’m so gross. Insert eye-roll here.

  • Thanks, CL. I struggled with this as well. I was told: Well, your XH is probably less likely to cheat on you again than some random guy because XH has suffered some of the consequences of his cheating, e.g., humiliation upon his family finding out and the realization that he might lose his family (after I filed for divorce), and so probably won’t do it again.

    • Eight years ago I discovered my STBX kissing a supposed EA (now I think it was an OW) in my home, not far from where my toddler daughters were sleeping. I forgave him because he argued that it was the result of a night of drinking and he was confused for that instant. We went to MC (he reluctantly) and I assumed that we had reconciliated and totally convinced myself that he would never, ever do anything like that again because he loved me and knew how much he had to loose. I thought that it was better to work on with someone I had invested so many years on and had two daughters with, than to begin again, with low chances of finding anyone who fit me so well. The new DDay came about five months ago and I immediately kicked him out and filed for divorce. During this time I discovered other supposed EA´s and when I confronted him about it he said that he only cheated with the OW (the last one)…the others: he resisted because he still loved me. He blameshifted and said that I was mean because I only took into account the one time he cheated and did not praise him for the the other times he could have and he didn´t. So CL´s phrase is sooo perfect “Marriage isn’t the absence of cheating. It’s being able to trust and feel safely loved.” It took me 8 years and a terrible DDay to understand that after that first time I was never able to feel the same way with him again, but I was too afraid to end it because it did not seem a good enough excuse then….I wish I had.

      • OK–“It’s your fault I cheated because you didn’t praise me enough when I didn’t cheat.” Bitch cookie.

      • Oh yeah, LAJ, hand that man a bitch cookie!

        Jeez I love that term!

        SA Chump – At an earlier stage in my marriage (during the gambling addiction), STBX told me he was a good husband because he didn’t drink or hit me. My younger, confused self took that as a valid point. Bitch cookie.

        • Yep, mine sincerely told me “I’ve been a gooooooood boy!” because of the kinds of porn he DIDN’T do.

          Bitch cookie.

        • Mine told me she was “very fiscally responsible generally, except for that one time”. That one time involved giving (“lending”) her fuckbuddy $200k. Bitch cookie.

        • Yes, and Jackass was a better man than anyone else because he wasn’t a drunk. Bitch cookie.

        • my Ex said, “I don’t know what you are so upset about? I stayed with you longer than any of the others!” yes, bitch cookie.

      • “I was mean because I only took into account the one time he cheated and did not praise him for the the other times he could have and he didn´t.”

        Just curious…

        Did he ever praise YOU for NOT cheating??????

        Just a wild-ass guess but…probably NOT!

  • I gave my exH more chances than he deserved. Five of them! Yeah, I know, I was a little slow at pulling the plug! CL……..your description above for the excuses to reconcile is exactly the excuses and reasoning I gave to myself. FEAR was my motivating factor to stay in my marriage not LOVE! Sure, I loved my exH for a very long time. The marriage was familiar. But with each and every new discovery of yet another sucker punch to the gut, I loved him less and less. Until really, all I was staying for was the fear of a new unknown future. I went to years of therapy and I got stronger. I knew I wasn’t happy but I was afraid to make the necessary changes to make my life better. Mostly because I didn’t see how it would be better. OMG! Now that he is gone, I am divorced and my daughters and I have a new home, I only wish I had filed for divorce after the first devastating dday. Now I am repairing myself and gaining a life!

    Life truly has so much to offer. It is sometimes hard being alone but I love having myself back. And so do my daughters!!!!

  • This is a very apt analogy for me. My D day came when I was suffering from an extreme form of shellfish food poisoning.
    He was sex texting and arranging a hook up with ho-worker while I was violently puking my guts up in the toilet.
    On the upside I may never have found out for sure if it wasn’t for that pesky mollusc!
    I haven’t gone back to mussels, or him, since. Don’t trust either not to make me sick to my stomach again.
    BTW, great book CL. Kept me strong when I did have a wee wobble last week.

    • What are the odds? You had a D-Day with shellfish poisoning?

      Too bad you couldn’t have puked on him and his cell phone.

      The bad mussel was a sign from God. 🙂

      • I’ve had shellfish poisoning. The worse physical experience of my life. But I can’t fathom that and D-Day in the same year, let alone simultaneously.

  • This quote might help explain it:

    “The Hell of the known is better than the Heaven of the unknown”

    People living with a cheating, crappy partner live in figurative hell- managing, coping, tiptoeing around their troubles. They’ve somehow come to believe that living the way they do is manageable. Don’t rock the cradle. Don’t upset the house of cards. What they fail to realize is that living this way is robbing them- it’s soul sucking and life draining. You get robbed of your hopes that anything will ever change because, after all, the Devil is all you know. You stay because you hope/ pray/ think that things will change, and that all the time you’ve spent must be worth something after all. Leaving somehow means you’ve given up / acknowledged defeat. What a load of crap.

    When you get the courage to leave, to leap, to go- the other side can be glorious. Sure, there will probably be a lot of bumps along the way to Heaven. No one ever said it would be easy, but it sure is worth it! All men are not the “same”. All women are not the “same”. The possibilities for a better life, one free of your cheating, dead weight baggage of a partner are endless.

    • This is like Sartre’s play, “No Exit.” Three people trapped in a room, emotionally torturing each other, but when the door opens at the end, everyone is afraid to leave.

      I was terrified of being alone and could not imagine life without my XH. Now I find life as a single mom not so bad (and not so different from before, as I was the one taking care of the kids anyways), though lonely at times, but way better than living with my XH (and his parents!).

      • Muwahahahaha. I just found out today that my ex (stbxh) is living with his mom right now. I know a bunch of us are staying with parents and I myself had to live with mine during my pregnancy. But damn it if that isn’t the last thing my stbxh ever wanted. Oh how the mightily self involved have fallen. Of course I doubt it will really mess with his dating prospects since his last girlfriend wasn’t all that concerned with life circumstances or class considering she was dating him while I was six months pregnant. Still, living with your mom while in your forties and making six figures…hahahaha. Warms the cockles of my heart!

        • My ex is living in an old RV parked in his sister’s driveway. He’s not a kid, either, he’s almost 49. Still considers himself inspirational, though. Ever see the Chris Farley skits on Saturday Night Live where he plays the motivational speaker living in his van down by the river? LOL!

          • Chris Farley, oh heck yes! I’ve lived in some weird places temporarily. Never considered myself inspirational while doing it though. Ha…I am literally having a glass of wine and some macaroons (which I have renamed bitch cookies) to celebrate. Ok, I’m not at meh. But then, it’s only Monday.

        • It’s strange, my XH is also living with his parents. Or rather his parents are living with him and cooking and cleaning for him, while XH pays for their housing, food, etc. My XH always said that he had an abnormally close relationship with his mom, who never thought that any woman could be as good a wife for him as she could. Maybe there is something about narcissistic men feeling a need to live with their mothers, or overbearing, jealous, controlling, criticizing mothers who make their sons the center of their world raising narcissistic men.

          • My ex’s mom drives him nuts. I bet he’s at the bar all the time when he doesn’t have the kids. Actually, he’s probably got some idiot woman whose house he stays at. Just another way that his outside life accurately reflects the devolution of maturity in his inner life. Can’t wait till our divorce is final and he transfers all his baggage to new gfs lap. Of course what scares me is the possibility that he and his mom are saving up money for a custody fight. Although, my stbxh gets his lack of impulse control from his mother. And his sense of entitlement. So maybe neither one of them can save a penny. I think you’re onto something blue. At least in my narc ex’s case.

  • OMG! This is one of the most prevalent theories with the RIC and it drives me batshit crazy!! I also think it is one of the biggest reasons that chumps stay stuck and I would know because I bought into that theory too!! Cheaters play right into it as well. I got to hear this gem from my ex on more than one occasion-“There are no guarantees that the next person won’t do this to you”

    That might be true but I was 100% sure that he already cheated on me and given what little work he was doing to help me heal after he detonated the affair bomb on our marriage, I was betting the odds that he would cheat again. None of this clarity came to me until I started reading CL unfortunately but better late than never I suppose.

    I think all of chump nation should “pimp” the link to this post on every reconciliation website we can find!

    • You just reminded me that mine said that, too!
      ‘You’ll end up with someone else that will do even worse to you’.
      Like he’s putting a curse on me! Actually, I met someone, we’re serious about each other, and he treats me like a Queen! He has long, heartfelt talks with me, and considers all my requests, and respects me.
      So Jerkface, your little tactic was just another lie. Good thing I didn’t listen to you, anyway.

  • “Life isn’t the absence of vomiting.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  • “Life isn’t the absence of vomiting. It’s being able to eat and enjoy.

    Marriage isn’t the absence of cheating. It’s being able to trust and feel safely loved.”

    This is the part that sums up my final realizations about my relationship and the very reason I decided to end it, finally. Parts of myself that I used to love are finally being uncovered again since ending this fake reconciliation.

    Walking away from wanting things to work out between us felt like leaving behind part of my life that I’d fought so hard for – but after realizing that by staying I was willing to never feel whole and deeply joyful ever again, walking away feels more like a resuscitation that an amputation. I’d say “I wish I’d walked away before trying for reconciliation”, but if I had I’d probably have always looked back and wondered if leaving was the right thing to do. Now I know for sure that I fought hard for “us”. I gave it my whole heart and all of my time. I have no regrets about moving on now. It’s time for me to go rediscover this life and create what I want for the rest of it. I’m excited to be entering a life free from anxiety about someone who is supposed to be my best, most trusted friend on the planet! I wish him well, but the constant anxiety was not me wishing myself well. It was wishing myself unwell, every day and every night. Time to wish myself well, too! Thanks for this article, CL!

    • “I wish him well, but the constant anxiety was not me wishing myself well. It was wishing myself unwell, every day and every night.”

      AMEN and LIKE!!!

  • I didn’t get the chance to reconcile…thank goodness!

    I got the amazing opportunity to find someone new!

  • “You could walk right now into a bar and swing a cat and hit someone who is better than your spouse — because that person hasn’t cheated on you.”

    This made me laugh out loud!

  • During all the false reconciliations, I had a growing sense of dread, of anguish. I think that anguish can kill you. It corrodes you. Divorce sent all that anguish on its way, freeing me to feel good again, happy! From the other side, I can honestly say that limbo, having to be the marriage police, and feeling unloved is hell on earth. And him with his “Devil May Care” attitude!

  • I did entertain the thought that sticking with the devil I knew was better than moving on for a brief time. I even said it to people. Then I realized that I’d be stuck with a snake eyed man sitting on my couch, eating my food and I couldn’t do it.

    • Wow, after my one DDay after seeing a Craigslist Casual encounter ad on his computer, the first words out of my mouth with no filter were, ” I am never going to fuck you again, we had nothing and boy did you fool me!”

      After seeing him shrink, turn pail white and saw his eyes go completely dark and dead while he shook like a leaf taking my keys off of his key ring, I was so repulsed by him and everything about him that I knew 100% I was done.

      He immed. Tried to deny and said he was just looking and I said “what’s the point of that?” He continued by saying how happy he was with me and all I could say was, “Happy people don’t do this!”. Then he admitted to seeing the woman from the ad twice.

      When I realized I knew nothing of what was going on behind my back or how many times or with who or how I went into survival mode. Called a therapist and went to my gyno.

      I had never experienced betrayal like that and I knew with no doubt I could never go back. I couldn’t even look at him.

      I just dealt with the fallout after and struggled through it all until it got better. It hurt like nothing else and yes sometimes I missed him but then realized I didn’t miss HIM at all now that I really saw who he was and just kept reminding myself of that. Then I would get really furious and just start cursing him outloud.

      Couldn’t even imagine sticking with that. It would repulse me and it would be living hell of a kind I couldn’t imagine if I had chosen to stay. All I saw was a pathetic gross empty shell of what looked like a human being on D-Day. I knew that wasn’t for me.

      Can’t even imagine sticking it out with that and seeing it as a comfort.

      All I can say is WOW, just WOW. I can only imagine that you would have to think nothing of yourself to stick with that long term.

      I wasn’t married but I know if I was my reaction would have been much worse as more would have been at stake!

      • What comes out of our mouths when we are shocked on D-Day is amazing. I guess your X did go pale when he saw that there was going to me no more cake from you. It is tougher, I think, when the chump is married because there are so many more entanglements as well as having made those public promises. But as someone who was also not married to the cheater, it still hurts worse than anything that ever happened to me. And I could have never gone back.

      • Good for you Deborah. Everything else aside about the cheating I could never have had sex with my ex again after I knew he’d been with someone else. Seriously. Even if he was really sorry. I think my lady parts would’ve repelled his like reversed magnets. As it is I think skank is contagious.

  • Gads! Have to chime in since the asshole is still in the house.

    I’m not in R, i know I am in planning. And it fucking sucks because I created a situation based upon my lack of boundaries, balls and shock and anything you can think of that I didn’t kick his ass OUT immediately.

    Yeah. He is definitely having lots o cake because he doesn’t have to be burdened with telling his employer/employees a new address, or random aquaintences or his kids. Fuck me.

    Yea, I’m in the slow fucking process of getting it all together while he attends IC, and we go to MC (this dude is not aware I’m heading out) and I get love bombed. The good thing is IC for me and a supportive group of people assisting my exit.

    It’s true, without trust there is no relationship. Choosing to stay with someone you don’t trust is a complete waste of time. And yes, there are millions of other people out there who are infinitely more worthy of us chumps than the assholes who lied, stole, and manipulated us for ANY amount of time. These people suck. No amount of therapy can re weave the fabric of what they ARE. The best you could ever hope for is conscious behavior modification. I am not willing to stick my neck out for an additional 20 yrs with a Hopium pipe in my mouth.

    • ANC, I am waiting too. Once my lying CH has his inheritance , he can pay off some of our debt and he won’t be able to claim poverty to the court. I will be able to move forward without worrying about alimony. But, we just heard that it could be several more months before the funds are available. I am heartbroken. Living with him is ok on some days, he’ll on others and never good.
      In the meantime, I am living through a false reconciliation.

      • You are getting your ducks in a row. You are protecting your future. If it takes 2 months, do one thing every day to get your new life launched. Exercise, go out with friends, find something you put aside that you loved and get it back. Make a secret Pinterest board about your new life. Whatever moves you forward. Good luck!

  • Because a sexual affair is a deal breaker for me, moving on without my husband is really a no brainer. It does not make it any easier, mind you, because I actually still care deeply for him, but at least I’m not flip flopping or begging him to come back.

    There is no way on this earth that I could ever make love to him again, knowing he fucked someone else.

    Maybe that’s really petty of me, but I don’t care. I won’t be like my mom in that regard.

    • ML, you are definitely not being petty but strong and sensible. I haven’t spoken to my ex for over 7 months or seen him for that fact. Knowing that he is still screwing young Asian prostitutes makes me want to vomit and it makes me realise that our 37 year marriage wasn’t worth anything to him. I could not be in the same room as him ever again. There was a song that I used to like, named “Tainted Love” and some of the words that stick in my mind are “once I ran to you, now I run from you”. That is me now.

      • Perhaps that’ll be my song too, Maree! As far as knowing who they screwed, I can’t imagine knowing it was “young Asian prostitutes.” I’ve gone out of my way to ask nothing about her because I’m just too fragile to know. Don’t know if I’ll manage to get through this w/o running into them but that’s my hope!

    • I did that. After a long all night discussion about where W and I stood, I felt a need for intimacy. Under the guise of just FWB, we made love. I was told at the next MC meeting that it scared her because I felt desperate. Yeah, just keep my heart in the blender for a bit longer.

  • I think CL is also hinting on the quality of life. You can choose to have a shitty quality of life, staying with a known cheater, guarantee of cheating–100%–shitty quality. Or you can have a better quality of life, rid of the known cheater, guarantee of cheating–<100%–better quality.
    This is like gambling in Vegas. Staying with a cheater is guaranteeing that you will lose 100% of the time. Slowly, you are gambling bits of your life away knowing you will never get it back. That does not make any sense. At least with other games (life away from cheater) you have a better chance of winning. That is, if you leave your cheater, you have a chance of winning at life. You still may lose a few bits of yourself on a foolish bet or two but everyone does that.
    Okay, so you don't gamble, how about brakes on a car. Your cheater scumbag is a used car salesman. He is telling you to buy the car "CheaterDeVille" because it sparkles but you know the car is a piece of shit and has bad brakes. It doesn't matter because you know this car, it is the same one you drive now. You and your children get in the car, drive down the road, can't stop and wreck. You and your kids spend months/years in recovery. He tells you life is better now and you need a car to continue on with daily living. You head back down to the same used car salesman, because that is what is known. He, again, talks you into buying the same "CheaterDeVille"–the same car that was wrecked. "It is different this time" he (always) said. "It is shiny and I fixed the brakes myself". You know it is a piece of shit and has bad brakes but you buy it anyway because it is the car that you know…………..
    Try a different dealer, try a different car. You may still wreck but that is because you were driving a new car with a new life; used car with a used life; or just taking one out for a "test drive" 😉 ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING is better than the life you have.

  • “There’s no reason to run out of this burning house, because most houses are flammable and who’s to say that the next house I enter might not catch fire, too?”

    • LB—are you being serious? or…..

      Because I can think of any number of excrutiatingly painful and very, very real reasons to “run out of a burning house”.

      STDs, pregnancies with the OW, devastated finances, bunny boilers in your life, reputation shot to hell, emotional devastation for kids and yourself (whether you admit it to yourself or not).

      If none of those serious reasons matter–particularly if you’ve got kids–then….well….see my earlier post about the possibility of sharing some of the cheater’s “issues”.

      Then again, you could be just kidding or being sarcastic 🙂

      • I was hoping it was sarcasm too. LOL! Because hell, all house can go up in flames, just like all marriages can turn to shit. It sure doesn’t mean you stay in the house and burn.

  • No time to read the above comments right now, but I did read your article, and this line is simply throat tighteningly awesome:

    “You know why everyone else looks like a Devil to you? Because you live in Hell.”

    Brava CL, brava!!

  • I never looked back. Never will. There are three things no one ever gets a second chance to to to me: hit me, steal from me or cheat on me.

    Didn’t stop him from trying for a year to stalk & try to gaslight me into reconciliation (even though I was dead silent), behaving like a toddler throwing a tantrum because someone took away his favorite toy. And that is all I was to him…a toy. The lies and denial were laughable.

    He went from denying that he was in any way responsible for his profile being on Match (not sure how his screen name & narrative got changed, and yet still fit him…), to not mentioning it at all, to stating he wished he knew why I ended the relationship without even negotiating a reconciliation.

    It was as if he denied the truth to himself, I might buy it, too. Honestly, I was more incensed that he might think I was stupid enough to believe him than I was about the cheating. The total lack of respect for me as a person…that he’d think I’d think I imagined it, would believe him (ever again), that he thought I couldn’t do better than a man who would cheat on me or that I was so desperate for a man that I’d take a cheater over being alone.

    Reconciliation after cheating, to me, would be the ultimate act of disrespectng myself. That is not an option.

    • Agreed. My husband apparently believes I have no dignity and will go out and fuck the first man who asks which would thereby alleviate his guilt and make us “even.”

      He’s wrong, but I am not concerned about trying to prove it to him. I’m just living my life without him. They think they know us, but they don’t.

  • Until I discovered the cheating, “the devil you know” rationale was EXACTLY why I was still married.

    Overall, X was a zero; mostly unemployed throughout our 18 year marriage, cheap, cranky, cold as a fish and robotic in bed, and very, very self centered. These character traits emerged slowly beginning 3 years into our relationship (18 months married), right at the time I was eight months pregnant with our first child. We tried three separate marriage counselors over the years, but stopped going when it became clear that counseling would only work if we BOTH were invested in making changes. I never made another appointment, and he never once asked why.

    I really fucked up. I was a college-educated, once successful career woman who chose to stay home and raise our three children. I feared I would miss out on their childhood if I was working (in marketing) for 60 hours a week. I looked at daycare providers, but was terrified of choosing the pedophile in the bunch. Then our oldest was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and a mood disorder. From then on, the die was cast. I was his only advocate (X just thought he was fine).

    From that time on, I spackled like mad. I gave every impression that I was the happy homemaker who ran a marketing communications company from my desktop PC. I did all the housework, childcare, gardening, shopping, appointments, etc, AND worked nights and weekends. I was an IDIOT. My part time job paid for mandatory health insurance, but we never had a dime for anything else. Turns out X was squirreling away money for years to fund his new and improved life with his bimbo. He stole tens of thousands of dollars and I never suspected a thing.

    I’ll kick my own ass for the rest of my life for not divorcing him 15 years sooner. I sold myself so, so short, believing my life was just the way things worked out. All those years, I thought he was just who I deserved. Today, I know he wasn’t good enough for me.

    I can do so much better, even if that means being alone for the rest of my life.

    • ChutesandLadders, I worked from my home for years too. I can relate to your story! It sounds like you are much stronger now and have come a long way.

    • Chutes, wow. Something tells me you will shine! You are very inspirational.

  • I think age and remorse have a lot to do with staying or leaving. If you’re in your 60s or 70s or older, and been married for umpteen decades, or even less than umpteen, it’s slim pickins out there if you want to have a companion for your golden years. You never know about the background of “the devil you don’t.” Being older and alone or single limits your chances of meeting someone…to an 80 year old, you might look like a spring chicken, and he might be thinking you’d be a good nurse or caregiver as he ages even more.

    Get a pre nup, or get a post nup. That way, you can kick his ass to the curb if you want.

    • Agreed. I have been willing to wait it out rather than pay alimony because at my husband’s age, 60+, there is no sense in rushing. I am in my mid 50’s and I have learned that I have been deceived! betrayed! and humiliated by an asshat. So, I am taking my time and being certain to make careful moves. It seems it haven’t done myself any favors by winging it in the past!

    • tsk, are you an Aussie? Can I say to you whilst I know my marriage wasn’t perfect and I do not believe that any marriage is, I really loved my husband of 37 years when he pulled the plug. I wasn’t staying or waiting for a particular outcome. My commitment to my ex was to be there until the end of time but that will not happen now. I can’t compete with 20 year old Asian prostitutes, nor do I want to. He always made comments that I was only interested in his Super (Pension Fund). Not true. Had something happened to him whilst we were married, I would have handed the money over to our 2 adult children. They would have needed it more than I did. Suffice to say, the kids now hate me and have sided with their father, so hopefully they will receive their inheritance from him and not some cheap little tramp in Asia.

    • thesparklykangaroo, that’s all well and good if reconciliation is an option. Some of us are not given that option so we must move on no matter our age.

  • I could be poster woman for this. I think I even uttered “Better the Devil you know…” to a friend or two. They all agreed with me. I tried to reconcile for for over ten years while the ex fooled around trying to find whatever he was looking for. Each time he was busted there was pleading to give it another go. I personally think he cheated from the first day of our 34 year marriage. Or the first week, or month. You know. I had 8 kids with this guy. I managed to get a PhD and a part time teaching position by midlife. I didn’t go the full-on career route because I didn’t see how we could both do that and be there for the kids. (I think we could have, if we’d both been as invested in kids and career as I was.) He wanted me to work, but he didn’t want me to spend time away from him working. He got lonely. Believe me, I tried. And in our multitude of reconciliation efforts he lied. I tried and he lied. The story of our marriage. I was 59 when he left. He left with his honey of 4 years (that I thought was “only a friend”) a year after I was flattened by a severely damaged heart from a viral infection. (I’m much better now) He was not any kind of caretaker. My kids helped me out more than he did. He was mean and frustrated to have a sick wife. And so he decided to get happy with his new babe. And then he was angry that I actually had the nerve to divorce him. I wasn’t supposed to do that. The man left me to die and I went against his wishes. He called me the bitch of the world. Three years after he left, a year and a half after finalization, I’m 62. I’m still working part time. I still have one minor kid and a three college kids at home. My finances suck but they are better than when he was here. He was draining the money in ways I never even realized. So even the devil you think you know, you may not know so well! I don’t know what I’m going to do work-wise at my age but it is what it is and I wish I’d been able to think about leaving sooner.

  • I wonder if one issue is that we really don’t know the “devil” at all. It’s one thing to think it’s all about cheating, about whether the cheater can be trusted to go to the supermarket, to a friend’s funeral, to work, to the bathroom with his phone. It’s another to confront the question of “who behaves this way?” In the first few weeks after D-Day, along with the terrible devastation, I was doing a huge pick-me dance in my own head, wondering what the MOW had that I didn’t, what he saw in her, and reassuring myself that I was “just as good.” But in my case, thinking about the red flags I missed, working hard in therapy, finding CL and reading here, and doing an inventory of my relationship with him and what I knew about his other relationships, I came to the conclusion that he has some sort of character disorder, and certainly ticks most of the narcissist boxes.

    Now, the cheating–involving lying, gaslighting, blame-shifting, and keeping secrets—was already a deal breaker, though I did have a box of spackle on hand if he had come back, remorseful, in the early weeks, so I am glad I wasn’t tested. But remorse, forgiveness, and spackle can’t fix narcissism or other character disorders. The cheating was just the first big sign I couldn’t spackle over. Focusing on just the cheating makes staying all about whether the cheater will quit, whether the chump can forgive. Focusing on the cheater’s behavior, from the beginning of the relationship, without the sentimentality about all the “good times,” and with emphasis on how the chump is treated, makes staying or leaving about the character of the cheater and the need for the chump to receive at least what my therapist calls “normal, decent, treatment” from the cheater. So the question after D-Day should be: Who is this person? And should I be married to/living with/committed to this person, based on the track record of how he treats me across the board?

    • I’m so proud of you LovedaJackass! You’ve come such a long way. It seems like the last week or two you’ve made some peace with things. I hope other aspects of your life are going well too.

    • “I wonder if one issue is that we really don’t know the “devil” at all.”

      Once I got away from my ex and had some clearing in my head, I realized I never really knew him at all. He was a total stranger in reality, living a completely double life. It scares me to look back on those two decades.

      • GIO,
        Yes that not knowing part is terrifying.

        The best and worst thing I did 3 months after leaving was contacting him to have dinner. I did this not to reconcile at all but he wouldn’t stop trying to contact me either directly or indirectly via people we knew. Then when that didn’t work, he started sending me customers via work email. I didn’t reply to those emails either but I wanted it to stop. He also sent me an insane letter via mail which I received on April Fools Day 2013, lol, I ripped it up but now I wish I saved it just in case. It was written on a computer then he signed it and had his name typed under the signature like a contract. It was so crazy that when I read it, it made me laugh out loud. It started with him stating he had written several versions of the letter. All I could think was “and this was the version you picked to send?”. In one line it stated how when he was with me he had no desire to cheat, then the very next sentence stated, “The first time I acted out was….”, this transition from one sentence to the next had me laughing. As the letter went on it became crazier and funnier in it’s insanity. It closed with “I think we can work this out and I know that it will take time for you to trust me again but I understand if you don’t want to.” WTF, how weak and completely insincere can you be? He also enclosed a cut out color picture of us and on the back wrote, “You are so beautiful”. Honestly after reading the letter, I felt like I just read something written by someone in a psych ward in a mental hospital.

        Keep in mind this was three month’s out and he was already with new Chump for 2 months and 1 week at this time.

        My thinking was that I was going to have dinner with him, let him get out whatever he still felt he had to get out, I wanted him to see I was fine and then he could stop hoovering and get on with his life and new Chump and leave me the fuck alone.

        At dinner I saw how bad this guy really was…….The fake tears that stopped within seconds of my not reacting to them, the drinking one drink after another and trying to have me drink as well, I stopped at 2 drinks, while he had 4 or 5. Then after I saw him fake cry and told him I was throwing up in my mouth, he stopped instantly and smiled and said lets change the subject, “So what have you been doing for fun?”. WHA? He was testing me the entire time, saying there was a band he wanted to send to me to listen to their music, I said “No”. He wanted to stay friends, “I told him he is not my friend and my friends don’t treat me as he did.”

        Although that dinner set me back in my recovery and one of my friends called me when I was on the way to the dinner screaming at me to abort. I needed to see very clearly that he was nothing but a serial cheating psychopath. Deal sealed. I saw that. He contacted me twice after that. Once to see how I was when recovering from having my thyroid removed. I didn’t reply. Then secondly when seeing me at an industry trade show, telling me how beautiful he thinks I am and that he hopes there are many men pursuing me, via TEXT. Meanwhile, his new Chump was standing outside in front of the exhibition hall, saw her as I went to get lunch. She then followed me. I told him I didn’t like or respect him. That was a year ago and the last time I ever heard from him thankfully.

        That is what sent me reeling into fear. Really seeing and acknowledging to myself how sick this guy is and how bad he is with no remorse or feeling at all! Then, I spiraled down realizing that I was just one of many who had no meaning to him, including his own children and ex wife, sister, mother. It was the reality smack I needed to get back into the land of reality. Since I was 3 months out when I had dinner, it was very easy to see him in all of sickness and total lack of remorse.

        It was a total breaking down and then a slow very painful rebuilding over 1 year and a half.
        1. Realization that you were with someone who really doesn’t give a shit about you and is sadistic in his utter disregard of anyone but himself.
        2. Being Terrified of realizing how bad what just happened really was and not knowing everything that actually happened behind your back while you were together.
        3. Feeling like utter shit and feeling empty and lonely.
        4. Wavering back and forth between furious anger at him and yourself for not leaving sooner and seeing all the red flags from the beginning and not properly protecting yourself.
        5. Feeling like utter shit and feeling empty and lonely.
        6. Slowly getting to the state where you know without question he sucks and that is the fact and will not change.
        7. Starting to work on myself and what it will take to get me “Moved On”.
        8. Taking steps to move on and working hard on my own mental thinking.
        9. Realizing that I am being too hard on myself and that there is no rush or quick way to recover from this.
        10. Coming to the realization that he is a turd, always was and most likely always will be and nothing more. No longer worth another thought as that fact is a fact, doesn’t need to be questioned.
        11. Focusing only on rebuilding me and doing it.
        12. MEH – turning point, VICTIM TO VICTOR, owned.
        13. Smiling and Happy again! Living My Life and feeling love again for myself and others!!!
        14. Knowing that this was just a time in my life and there is so much more to my life than that and much more to follow!

        • Wow. Deborah, the steps you went through being torn down and rebuilt are the same as what I went through. It’s really something when you first see how disordered they are, isn’t it? Heart stopping.

          • Yes indeed GIO! I will never forget any of it. Now the difference is I see how pathetic and sick he is and feel so happy that he is removed from my life. I know I will never sink that low again!

            It’s all on him now and I have completely removed myself. That part feels great.

    • Ding ding ding! “I wonder if one issue is that we really don’t know the “devil” at all.” Yes, this.

    • Hi Jane. There have been many times that I have been going to mention this case on Chump Lady. My heart breaks for this deceased woman Alison, the mother of 3 little girls. She was married to an absolute arse hole, like most of us. The part that really makes me sick is that 60 minutes (the Australian version) gave Gerard’s cheap trampy lay, the time of day and also paid her for her time. The money should have been put in trust for the 3 little girls who have lost their Mum. It isn’t fair.

  • The surest way of avoiding marrying another cheater is to marry someone who’s never cheated. That’s the advantage of life experience: best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Cheesy but in this case true I think.

    I’m a guy. Never cheated in 32 years despite being a chump for (too many years). I had plenty of excuses and opportunities if I wanted: 1. get-even-angry affair; 2. out of town travel; 3. periods of trial separation; etc.

    The stbxw had many affairs during this time but I just couldn’t be like that. Not thru loyalty to her! F’ no! Not thru religious conviction. (Lost religion thru this too because of how our minister tried to council us–turns out it was good advice but I ‘protected’ her). Not from the support of good friends (I kept the fuckupedness to myself).

    I didn’t just because it wasn’t right. I made every other Chump mistake but at least I was true to that part of me.


    Choose someone who is true to themselves first and foremost. Loyalty starts closer to home.

    And don’t be attracted to losers! Lol.
    (Changing your attractions is really really hard but worth it).

    • Dan, I used to tell my son the reason to uphold your marriage vows isn’t as much for your partner as for yourself. Sounds like you had the same philosophy!

      • Yes Lyn…with most things that have lasting value, they reside within us. Hopefully we don’t give them away and throw pearls before swine. 🙂

        You’ve a lucky son.

    • *sigh!* A real man!

      You men who post here are positively dreamy!

      I was married to a coward. And you guys–well, it’s so nice to converse with men (and women, of course) who have intrinsic morals and integrity.

      You’re awesome. You really do deserve better.

      • Yes, I often have to remind myself that men and women cheat about equally as often because here at CL the men are so outnumbered. I don’t want to start generalizing, etc. or have the male chumps feel they are one of the “enemy.”

        • Thx Moving and others, you’re very kind.

          I speak to other guys about this and the guy-chump-situation is just as common but RARELY every discussed. We’re generally not social animals yet we need that social intelligence from group-think to figure out the mess of a cheating spouse. We try to figure it crap out on our own and usually don’t do well. In many ways, men (IMHO) suffer in silence much more often and unnecessarily.

          I was in the Navy for many years, visited many foreign ports, and observed the antics of my fellow shipmates while ‘away’. You’d expect the typical cheating from the majority of men given the common reputation of both men and sailors. I was always impressed that the MOST of guys were faithful even in the face of overwhelming temptations, opportunities, and pent-up desire (there were some long stints at sea). In fact, it was easy to predict who was genuine and who was a player. No real mystery. What was a mystery was how certain women would fall for these guys. Kinda sad actually.

          All men don’t cheat. They don’t. Those that do cheat or wish they could, say that all men cheat!

    • My husband insists that all men cheat, so why leave him and take a chance with another guy.

      • FALSE.

        I think everyone may fantasize and look and wonder if, and I think most people are tempted, sometimes by actual offers and repeated flirtations, but it is FALSE that all men cheat. The men here did not cheat. My father did not cheat. Most men I know have not cheated and will not cheat. Go back and re-read ANR’s post. That’s how non-cheaters think. They know it’s wrong. They have impulse control. They weigh consequences. Immediate gratification is not their guiding principle. They know real love in their hearts. They are mature.

        Cowards believe all men cheat, and they want you to believe it, too. That’s because they are cowards, not people of character.


        • Miss Sunshine, you’re really a ray of light! Thanks.

          It IS about character. Period. What we (guys) have lost in the post-modern world is the boundaries of good character that came from chivalrous mores. (Pls don’t flame me). What I mean is that we really haven’t been taught well… not as overtly as it used to be.

          As I mentioned, I was a naval officer. Part of our military training (before woman were part of the crew… a good thing generally BTW) was in etiquette and gentlemanly behavior. The underpinning principle was one of thoughtfulness and consideration of others. That resonated with many of my compatriots. For us, it was the first time such a concept was formally spoken of and laid out. It was transformative.

  • I ‘reconciled’ for 5 years. What it did was compound my abuse and leave my IC marvelling at my capacity to tolerate insult to injury.

    I pray and hope there is steak and waffles out there, because I am getting out, I am done.

  • I crave the STEAK and WAFFLES but too scared to let go. My problem is that I believe in that unicorn. My husband will say and do the right thing just when I have had enough so I keep doubting myself. I am getting help to sort through my issues and am hoping to finally see him for who he is. I am so grateful for CL. I can’t wait to get up every morning and come on to this site. I love your book and everything you say helps me to better see who I really am. Between you and my therapist I have high hopes for myself. So thank you again and again. I am so grateful for you.

    • Read up on the “cycle of abuse” and you’ll get a clue why he always gets “nice” when you have had enough. Read “why does he do that” book too. Jedi hugs.

  • Oh, love the oyster comparison, very clear.

    I calculated that it was my lot in life with the way his personality started to change from “us” in the marriage to him on a perch and I was to cow tow to him. It was all about him, his job started it and he took it and ran with it, made it his lifestyle.

    So, it seemed strange to me in the marriage, I rationalized it to I had to be true to the vows, and I chose to stay. I chose to stay with a man who was messing with my mind, happiness, being right out there with his attitude, and I felt like I was being used for sex as a ploy to even go to dinner with him, where when done he would nap and we would not go. Yes, I felt like a whore in my own marriage, which no way should I have.

    Anyway, I made a decision to stay, dragging my lot in life with me.

    And when I heard he cheated, it blew me away. Half out of my head he did this huge thing.

    Yes the puking from bad oysters helps very much.


    Also, I did not like being compared to those who “saved their marriages” in some places I found, and I who could not do the so many “plans” correctly was flawed.

    That is just a big fuck no, I see it now, I tried in my marriage he fucked me over and I am starting to see, he was the biggest mistake of my life, he was a project, and he ran away.

    No time to be a big boy in his own life and see his life his marriage and children as what he created and be happy, no that requires growing up.

    I still am amazed at his crass assholeness doing this.

    • Your comment reminded me that shortly after dday, my ex said something like, “this isn’t what I wanted for my future.” It was then that I realized this whole time we were married I had been thinking “our future/life/etc” and I think maybe he had been thinking “my future/life/etc” the whole time…

      • So true! My ex went to a training at work where he listed in numerical order the priorities in his life. 1. Work ($) 2. His sport. (Yeah) 3. 4. Relationship with child # 5. Relationship with # 6. Work related. And last number 7? Spend more time with wife. Barf, barf, triple barf. And that pretty much said it all.

  • I am not interested in “saving” a marriage with the person who did all this behind my back and in my face, this person has no business being in my life at all.

  • Want to add, have been with them over 33 years and they can get the hell out of my life, the threw away the chance themselves at being my husband.

    • Beachi, so true! Can not save something that no longer exists. Lots of Hugs. I have been there too.

  • It’s funny, I didn’t realize my marriage was really bad until I got away from it. The day he told me he wanted a divorce was the day I realized I’d been conned. Not only was he fucking someone else (and probably had been for awhile) but he had just spent the last two years dissipating assets and controlling the narrative (ie some of my son’s college savings actually went to high school graduates in our community in the form of scholarships). Looking back I think I should have paid more attention to my gut. And to those who told me “he’s in this for himself.” There was just so much that didn’t make sense to me, especially those last few years. His behavior towards me changed and he treated me so poorly on one family vacation that I chose to work the following year and not go. Hmmmm… Big clue then. (Thanks go to my ex SIL. For spackling big time especially on those family vacations and keeping all his lies and his skank OW a great big secret.) You know there are some days when I am still angry. About the years I wasted (not with my kids though! ;). ) but more than that the property I lost. If my marriage were a business I could sue. Our local paper actually published an article on my ex, he was so damn Sparkly! On what a great player he was and how since his children are growing up he has so much time to recreate and how “supportive” his wife is. Barf, barf, triple barf. Two weeks before dday. Three weeks earlier the last expensive family outing. To tour colleges my son had been accepted to. Yes, the pieces of the puzzle crashed into place and the truth hit me like a tsunami. Combine that with the stress of fighting for a decent settlement in a small family court with two clueless lawyers and it’s no wonder divorcing a Narc is so stressful. I am thankful for my coworkers, friends, and family for their support but it wasn’t till I stumbled across CL’s blog that I really began to heal. Like, Who Does This?!?! It’s so much easier to deal with the Devil now. I grant him the same respect he granted me in our marriage (same to my ex SIL as well). It’s way healthier to go NC and model good boundaries. I could handle long hours at work, hobby time, and vacations away but Cheating seems to be the deal breaker…Lol. Now I am going to go out and start swinging cats. CL, you are truly a genius with words….

  • You know what makes my sad, knowing that the cheaters didn’t mourn the loss of their spouses and relationships. Many tell of cheaters mourning OP after going NC (or not) or the thought of doing so after DDay. But do they ever mourn the loss of their faithful spouse and that relationship, even the memory of it? Not really on topic but something I struggle with

  • Well 2 months after finding out about the other woman I found out that since I was abruptly moving to another state I lawyered up. I found out I would have to wait a year to file in my new state so I fiiled for divorce that day. At that point I still wanted to reconcile but it was the best thing that happened to me. My ex felt so guilty that I wrote the best settlement for me and I did not have to wait a year wherein he would have had his health insurance paid by me and probably would have tried to screw me financially. He is now engaged by the way and is working his best to get the family to be in the wedding. My son has agreed to be best man but the women in the family have said no. He is totally in debt by the way, $184K is nothing to laugh about, but good luck to him and the skank.

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