Dear Chump Lady,
I recently discovered your site and have been getting a lot of good tips and healing from the sharing of stories, support and advice between the “chumps”. I’d like to share mine because it seems somewhat unusual and I’d like to hear from anyone else out there who has been chumped like this. Basically, unlike most of the things I’ve been reading on your site, my husband didn’t have an affair partner, or even a series of them; rather, he chronically used prostitutes and even kept a woman “on retainer”, paying her a monthly fee for several years. (Before you ask — yes I’ve been tested and I’m clean, thank god).
As backstory, I am 34, my soon-to-be-ex is 48. We have been married almost 6 years. He was married once before and was divorced after having an affair. His prior divorce was bitter given the affair, and had damaged his relationship with his three children and created an understandably hostile situation with his ex. I had little experience in this type of situation and just tried to do my best to build our relationship. Looking back on it, this was a fool’s errand with a person who had a demonstrated history of cheating; but he was “sparkly” and I was not using good judgment. Ultimately, however, I managed to build a strong positive relationship with my stepchildren and a civil and decent relationship with his ex-wife.
There were warning signs of his problems all over the place that I delusionally ignored. He spoke of his ex with nothing but rancor, blaming the affair on her not understanding him, not being sexual, blah blah. He said she forced him to admit he had a gambling problem and go to Gamblers Anonymous, not realizing that he “just liked to gamble for fun.” Early in our relationship, I discovered that he and the AP from the first marriage were still in contact but as she lives thousands of miles away, he said it was just a friendship. I also discovered suspicious emails, computer bookmarks for porn and dating websites, etc. Ultimately, I discovered several Craigslist postings from him looking for a prostitute in a city that he was traveling to for business, and exchanging emails with another prostitute in town trying to set up a meeting. There were several such incidents prior to our marriage. I confronted him, he gaslighted, I believed and reconciled. It was foolish, but I just couldn’t believe that he would actually do something like visit prostitutes. It was not in keeping with my understanding of his personality or character.
Over the marriage I stopped looking for these awful things as sort of an “ostrich” defense; I didn’t want to find them so I didn’t. Again, this was foolish and short-sighted, and I accept that. The physical and emotional intimacy of the marriage deteriorated so significantly, however, that on D-Day I googled some old screen names that he used to use on dating sites. Long story short, I found profiles of his on multiple sites including Ashley Madison and Sugar Daddies that were detailed, graphic, and definitely his. I confronted, him, he gaslighted then admitted, but told me it was limited to the sites and that he hadn’t met anyone in person. I didn’t believe him, but I also had no hard evidence (I’m a lawyer), and so didn’t know what to do. He refused marriage counseling, told me he was committed to the marriage, and eventually told me I just had to get over it. I stayed for a year in an increasingly lonely and desperate situation before I told him I was leaving, found a place, moved out, and filed for divorce.
Filing for the divorce prompted him to come clean to me. He met me in a restaurant and proceeded to tell me that he had a sex addiction, and that he’d been using prostitutes regularly throughout most of his adult life, including both marriages. He admitted to seeing at least 5-10 prostitutes during our marriage (obviously it was more), and to finding a woman through the SugarDaddy website that he paid a monthly salary to for two years until I confronted him on D-day. I’m sure there is much, much more that he hasn’t told me that will eventually come out. He told me that he was getting help and wanted me to hold off on the divorce and let him try to get better. He has come on very strong about how much he loves me, blah blah, doesn’t want a divorce, yada yada.
Long story short, I have refused his attempts at reconciliation. He made several million dollars while we were married, but I was completely financially ostracized during the marriage. He kept me in entirely separate accounts and most of the time I didn’t even know how much money he was making until I saw the tax returns. He repeatedly refused to share our finances despite my requests (now I know why). His initial financial statement for the divorce shows almost nothing left. He is obviously either hiding assets or has dissipated them on prostitutes/women; in either event, my divorce lawyer tells me we are going to look into all of his records in detail and that if that is the case, I should be getting a substantial amount of this back.
He is desperate to avoid producing financial information and routinely cajoles/pleads/threatens me in an attempt to short circuit my investigation into this. While it is hard, I’m pressing forward. I have no access to any marital assets and am living paycheck to paycheck. I am in significant debt because he would not allow me to take anything substantial out of the house and I had to buy all new furniture and everything else I needed to get a new place. We had two big dogs that I love; he said I had to take them or he would put them in a shelter. This required me to rent a house with a yard for them because I would NOT leave them; but obviously it is substantially more expensive. I am extremely fortunate to have a stable, well-paying job; but right now I have dim thoughts about my financial future. But I’m pushing on.
I guess I don’t know why I’m writing this. It just seem significantly different than many other experiences on your site. I am of course feeling guilty, devastated, confused, angry, hurt, etc. I don’t see or talk to my stepchildren whom I love, and God knows what they think of me. He and I work in the same close-knit professional community, and again God knows what he is telling them. He is taking the position that I am not entitled to any of the marital assets because he made so much more money than I did and he kept them separate from my finances.
But most important, I can’t begin to understand the reptile brain that would use people like that; patronizes prostitutes, treats sex as meaningless, betrays people that he supposedly cares about, and lies and lies and lies about everything. My reality is shaken; I feel like I was sharing my bed with a serial killer for the last several years. If there is anyone out there who has shared a similar experience, or can offer any words or support, I’d appreciate it. I feel for all of your pain as well, and am glad you found each other and support each other.
You can sign me (for the Broadway nerds):
DefyingGravity (if you don’t know the song, read the lyrics. They are very healing.)
If it’s any consolation, you aren’t freak of the week. You’re a chump just like the rest of us. Many people here have found their ex-partner using prostitutes. Local hookers, “massage parlors,” Thai sex tourism, Russian prostitutes… I’m probably forgetting some of the stories. All to say, quite horribly, this isn’t that uncommon. I’m sure if you connected with the “sex addiction” support groups, you’d hear stories very similar to yours.
What’s common to cheaters of all stripes, especially the ones who pay for sex, is that there is financial abuse that goes with the emotional abuse. Missing 401Ks, children’s college funds, marital assets of all sorts that are spent on an affair. You got a big roller. More cash to spend, that much more entitlement.
You own your spackling, and that’s good. But you need to take a good, hard unvarnished look at why you fell for Mr. Sparkles — a guy 14 years older than you, waving more red flags than a communist China parade. I’m sure his outwardly worldly success wasn’t lost on you. And with the sparkly people with the failed relationships, there is the sense (just like the affair partners get) of Oh, I’m the Special One They Really Love. All those other lesser people were unworthy — but not me! Mr. Sparkles hurt them, but really they deserved it for being so horrible. But I can save them! I can show them how different I am and how worthy!
In exchange for kibbles, you get reflected sparkles. I am the consort to Mr. Fabulous.
Ugh. From here on out in your life promise me you will only date for character. And not just dating, in ALL relationships look at character and forget the rest.
Because, Girlfriend, you checked your sanity at the door on this guy. He SHOWED you who he was. So many of us don’t get a look that complete. Of course, many of us are epic chumps and we got the red flags too, but moving forward? A guy that admits to cheating on his first wife and demonizes her? GAME OVER. Immediate grounds for dumping. A guy who does horrible things and accepts no responsibility for them? GAME OVER. A guy who stays in contact with his ex affair partner as a “friend”? Is a guy with terrible taste in “friends.” GAME OVER.
What did he have that you wanted so bad? Whatever it was — fix that. You’re a lawyer, you’re accomplished. You’re young and smart. You’ve got all the sparkles and mojo you need. You don’t need assholes like this in your life.
What are YOUR values? Live them.
A note on the money — that was another red flag. A person who isn’t honest and open about their finances is no one you want to build a life with. One of the ways these freaks want you to prove fealty to them is not question their spending. In fact, I bet he probably compared you to his money-grubbing ex, or complained about how much divorce or support was costing him, so that was your cue to do the “I’ll make my needs smaller” dance. I won’t put those kinds of demands on you that those Mean People did. See — I’m worthy!
Until you start to feel a bit… fucked over. And you ask — and yep, sure enough the keys to the Kingdom are closed to you.
I’m glad you’ve got a good lawyer. You might want to consider a forensic accountant too, because creeps like this guy are probably practiced at hiding their assets.
But in the words of my trial lawyer husband “some money is too expensive.” You’re 34. You’ve got a good profession. You can rebuild. Just get a settlement and get the hell away from this wing nut. If going after him for what you’re “entitled” to means years of chasing his gambling debts? IMO, you’ve got better things to do with your time. Just cut your losses and divorce him. Obviously, your lawyer can advise you better on this, but your lawyer is paid by the hour. I’ve got no skin in the game.
It’s not fair, but these narcs usually enjoy the fight. Unless you’ve got some serious leverage on him — and all the evidence of his prostitute use is pretty darn juicy — he’s got resources to fight you that you don’t have. Is he a lawyer too? If so, the illegal activity could fuck with his standing with the bar. Depose those skanks.
I’m sure he would just love to reconcile with you and stop those consequences. He’s just like every other cheater that way. Cake beats divorce. Good for you for not falling for it. Go completely no contact with him and let all communication go through the lawyers.
Last question — what kind of reptile-brained freak uses people like this? A reptile brain you will never understand because you aren’t wired that way. You have empathy and connect. He is disordered. Don’t try to make sense of the crazy, or as I put it don’t “untangle the skein of fuckupedness.” If you want to do some reading on disordered people and how they do the things they do — read over at Dr. George Simon’s site www.manipulative-people.com or the equally excellent www.outofthefog.net
It’s 77 flavors of fucked up. You don’t need to know which flavor it is — you just need to get away from it. DefyingGravity — defy him. Escape the long arm of his abuse and get that divorce. There’s a better life over here waiting for you.