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Dear Chump Lady, She’s having an affair with her boss

Dear Chump Lady,

In May, after awhile of snooping because I suspected something was wrong, I discovered my wife was having an affair with her boss. I saw emails from her to him on her cell phone. When I confronted her in the shower that morning she initially denied it. I left only to return to the shower 5-10 minutes later. She finally admitted to having slept with him twice. I demanded that we not go to work that day to discuss our future. Her immediate knee jerk reaction was to suggest counseling. I was very angry and emotional but after hours of discussion I finally agreed to rehabilitate the marriage and go to counseling.

During that discussion, she only apologized because I told her how hurt I was that she never said “I’m sorry”. Weeks go by and she never looks into counseling, so I made an appointment. We went to 5 sporadic sessions and stopped because it was too expensive and not working. Since then I have tried my best to address everyone of her concerns over the past 4 months. But, she has not moved one inch since D-Day. We talk less now than we ever have, have less sex, and I am fed up!

I believe that she is still sleeping with him, but I have no proof. She says their relationship is “strictly business”, but I don’t believe her. How could I? All of her words speak to wanting to not hurt me. She expresses her desire for more space. She wants a physical separation, nothing legal yet.

We have 4 children that we have raised for the past 13 years. 18 year old girl in college, from my 1st marriage, and 3 young boys 5, 3, and 1. My children are my life and I am fearful that I will lose them. I am afraid of leaving the house because I don’t want to put myself in a legal disadvantage when the inevitable time comes. I want more than anything for this to work so we don’t hurt our children, but she just doesn’t act like she even likes me anymore, nor does she even try. We parent well together, we run the house and day-to-day operations together well. But when 8:00 hits and the boys go to bed everything changes and she just disappears mentally and emotionally.




Dear Marc,

I’m so sorry. You’ve got absolutely nothing here to work with on reconciliation. She’s not sorry, she wants to move out (more cake, free babysitting!), she won’t do counseling, and she still seems deep in her affair.

I know you don’t want to hurt your children and break up the family. You’re not doing that. SHE is. She’s walked away from her marriage and her kids with this affair.

Let’s review what you don’t control, okay? You don’t control her degree of commitment, to you, to her kids, or to the marriage. You don’t control if she sticks around or leaves for the boss (aka “more space.”) You don’t control her fucking around.

You just control YOU, how you are going to react to this shit. I’m sorry your choices suck, because they really truly suck. I know you don’t want your marriage to end, and you want an intact family for your children. But here is the choice she has put before you — you either accept the life of a cuckolded husband OR you divorce her.

Pain behind door #1! And pain behind door #2!

I suggest you choose door #2 for these reasons:

1.) By leaving, you will not be modeling dysfunction to your children. You don’t want three boys to grow up thinking it’s okay to be cuckolded and emotionally abused. You have the chance to rebuild your life and have a healthy relationship some day. And you can be the sane parent, even if that’s only 50% of the time. Kids just need one sane parent, and you can be that person. (But you can’t be sane living the way you’re living now.)

2.) Taking tough measures, being prepared to walk away and mean it, is probably your best bet for saving the marriage (if it can be saved, and you know I’m a skeptic). I sincerely doubt Mr. Bossman wants to date a single mother with three small children. Fuck her on the side? Sure. Love of the ages? I doubt it. Let her look at life from the single parenting side of the aisle. She won’t find it as nice as cake-eating. She’ll find her stock doesn’t trade that high.

Essentially, I’m saying that lawyering up might scare her straight. BUT personally, I would not want to be married to a person to whom I’d have to hold a legal gun to their head to commit to me. Some people can live with that no-aethists-in-fox-holes kind of latter day conversion to monogamy, but I’m not one of them. You might be, so I throw it out there.

Next, some thoughts on lawyering up. (Please note, I’m NOT a lawyer.)

1.) Give a lawyer all the evidence of an affair. You should file for custody. She might be inclined to give it to you if she thinks she’s riding off into a sunset with Mr. Boss. But in any case, the affair into is useful for leverage — your lawyer could threaten to depose her boss if she doesn’t agree to settlement.

2.) You should lawyer up and file SOON. She’s having an affair in the workplace and could be fired for that. You do NOT want to have to pay child support to an unemployed mother of three. Get in front of this thing as soon as possible.

3.) Document how much time she’s spending away from the children as a result of her affair. Again, this could be helpful in custody dispute.

Finally, I want to say — as many letters as I receive and publish about mothers abandoned with small kids, and assholes cheating during chumps’ pregnancies — men get terrible shit sandwiches when it comes to infidelity. Not only do you, the faithful guy, lose time with your children, but you have pay support to the household of a cheater. You should, of course, ALWAYS financially support your children. I’m talking about alimony — I think that shit should be null and void if you cheat.

And the ultimate shit sandwich for men who’ve been cheated on? Paternity testing. You have small kids. If you have any doubts about the time line of her affair, please get your kids paternity tested. Again, talk to a lawyer about this.

Marc, I know this all seems so doom and gloom. I just want you to know we all survive this shit. And the kids survive. And it will work out in the end. It’s terribly unfair. ((((Huge HUGS)))) But please be mighty and serve this bitch divorce papers.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • If I had it to do over again, I absolutely would take CL’S advice! After her affair was out in the open, there were several times when she thought I was either leaving her or having my own affair, and she would leave sobbing voicemail messages that “it’s not the fair”! Instead I led her to believe the truth! The truth? I love her (after 30 years of marriage) and always will! She took that emotional commitment and walked all over me, in order to move out to be with him, and push a divorce through the courts! My opinion? Same as CL’s time to play hardball if you want to preserve your family!

    • Rich…your name is Dan! What a similar story to mine! And the advice to Mark is the same…move with this now. There’s no making lemonade out of this. Time to preserve what’s left of your family.

      Mark, get angry. It’s probably not in your nature to see people (and loved ones) in a negative light but this is necessary in order to deal with the realities of infidelity. She teabagged you man. She pissed on your marital vows. She laughed at you and your honesty, loyalty, and affection. She poked a red-hot iron thru your children’s matrix of family values. And worst of all, she’ll continue to do that until YOU stop her.

      March on brother. We have strong feelings here about what you’re going through and the whole R thing…only because of an overwhelming cache of bad experience with it. Good luck mate.

      • Same here. Once my XW’s (that’s right, 2), started cheating they were gone, forever. They did not give one shit about their kids, and , definitely not about me.
        Based on a lot of reading and talking to other betrayed folks, I am convinced that we are wrong to expect cheaters to have consciences or normal concerns about others. The reason they are able to cheat in the first place is that they lack these things.
        I bet dollars to doughnuts that if you really look into their pasts, you will see behaviors and instances of incredible dishonesty and lack of empathy. These are pre-existing conditions that were , most likely masked and/or overl;ooked during courtship.

      • There is not enough lipstick to slap on this pig of a marriage to make it pretty, man. Know when to fold ’em.

    • Lots of words piled up here (I’ll never get the first post working these hours!) but I hope you scroll down through all these fine responses.

      I’ve lived this, and like most chumps I tried to save it. CL has it right; you can only control you and filing is THE BEST way to move forward. It hurts, it sucks, but it is still a win-win in the long run. If she loves you, she won’t let you go without a fight. If she doesn’t, she wouldn’t and who wants to be married to that? That was my final conclusion; I asked. She wasn’t sure…

      Warning: I filed and she was glad. But even as cold and mean as this ex was, the wall of shit she created came down on her and I was “bitter” for not caring. In time, you will realize this life is no life at all. Sure, you’ll wish it didn’t happen, but that is her choice. It’s on her. Don’t waste life on a cheater.

  • Marc,
    Just want to pipe in to lawyer up and do NOT disclose this to her. Interview all the top firms in your area,if you can,to lock her out of using them.

    My cheater made noises at particular times during our marriage. At one time I tasked him to find a counselor because he was making a lot of noise. This was a passive aggressive move on my part because he’s a TON of talk and ZERO action. I know now that is part of his special NPDness- see, world. I tried but she’s still a shrew! Anyhow, he never contacted anyone and continued with his fuckbuddies, yada yada.

    Do not leave your marital home. I would ask her to leave to get herself together. Counseling is going to be a major waste of money and time for you guys as a couple. Find a therapist for yourself. Make arrangements to find one for your young kids and your 18 yo. Your wife has already emotionally abandoned you and the kids. Her intent is to continue to spend time, energy and your joint asssets on an AP or hookups.

    Document her extramarital activities the best you can. Do not let her beg for reconciliation. She has already shown you and she’s not quality relationship material.

    So sorry.

    • Be very careful about ‘interviewing all the top firms so she can’t use them’. This has been found to be bad faith acts by courts and the party that engaged in ‘blocking out’ was penalized by being forced to pay the other parties costs and fees associated with having to seek an out of town lawyer.

      Play hardball, but don’t play dirty, is my advice. When you get down in the mud with them, it gets hard to tell who is who.

      • In my town, every lawyer I spoke with prior to retaining one, sent me a specific legal disclaimer indicating that we had no legal relationship as a result of the consultation. In other words, my STBX would be free to use any of them if he desired. I knew he wouldn’t, as he spends all his money on Schmoopie and has not even got two dimes to rub together to retain a lawyer.

        • KB, that is what happened to me. I had a consultation with an attorney and disclosed valuable information. Next thing I know, ex hired him. When I mentioned this to my attorney, he said we could go after the conflict of interest. I did not. I just laughed to myself thinking that this is just another thing that dumbass ex could not do himself. Plus, all of it IMO worked to my benefit.

      • I did leave him one…

        Best to talk to many. You are interviewing them. The first firm you meet may not at all click. The others may have ridiculous retainer fees, etc.

    • ANC said, “Do not leave your marital home. I would ask her to leave to get herself together.”

      I agree. I met a man in DivorceCare who asked his wife to move out when he found compelling evidence of her affair. She did, and he eventually got 50/50 custody of their kids. He kept the marital home in the divorce.

      It’s always bad when you don’t have your kids full time, but you don’t have to settle for every other weekend and one evening a week just because you’re the father.

      • Elizabeth, this is me to a tee. I QUADROed her out of the house had it designated as the primary household for the kids (Huge Deal there). I have 50/50 but my kids come home to my place every day. I love that. It feels like home but better because craziness is gone 🙂

      • Absolutely, Elizabeth Lee. That was my situation. I refused to leave (she was the one leaving the marriage, after all). I got the marital home and 50/50 custody.

        Don’t know what state you live in Marc, but this is possible. Some states are still stuck in the ’50s in terms of always awarding primary custody to the mother (unless she is a complete train wreck). Best of luck man!

  • Marc, I know what you’re going through. Some of the details are different, but my wife also had an affair with her boss for which she was not one damn bit sorry, became more and more remote, talked about not wanting to hurt me while doing just that, and did not want a divorce. Well, why should she? She gets everything she wants, including an intact reputation, without one. I feel bad recommending you follow CL’s advice, because I haven’t had the heart (guts?) to follow it myself, but I know this — things haven’t got better for me …. they’ve got worse. I would say, though, that you shouldn’t leave the house until custody is settled. That was pretty much the first thing my lawyer told me. Here’s my story, if you’ re interested.

  • Sorry you had to wind up here, Marc, but you’ve come to the right place.

    I just want to re-iterate the importance of contacting an attorney ASAP (today would be a good day).

    The best-case scenario for you is that this moves to divorce most likely, and if that happens while your wife has whatever hair-brained escape plan she thinks she has.
    Don’t tip your hand. Just go see a lawyer, and then gather any necessary evidence, and then press for your advantage. You’ve also already received some good advice about documenting things in case custody turns squirrely on you. Courts like documentation.

    If you take a passive approach to this or think threatening will do you any good, let me emphasize that legal outcomes will likely be worse if your wife lawyers up before you file. The best possible legal outcome–in a world where your immediate choice suck–is usually had by pressing ahead while the cheater is in full-on “failing to anticipate probable outcomes” mode.

    Think Mark Sanford demanding his ex-wife Jenny “let him fly to Argentina to be with his mistress” while she holds down the fort and takes care of four boys.

    Be Jenny. Play offense now.

    • PS. A word of caution here.

      A lot of pro-reconciliation sites will tell you to expose her boss to his wife. Since your wife will probably lose her job if you do that, I’d caution against that for now because you could wind up more on the hook to legally support her if you go that route right now. And in the end, that route probably leads to OM2 and Dday2, and divorce anyway.

      I think CL’s advice is spot-on for that reason, and I’d urge you do think about any advice you might get from other resources that doesn’t take your financial liability in the event of divorce into full account.

  • If you have any doubts about the time line of her affair, please get your kids paternity tested.

    If you find out one or all of the children aren’t biologically yours, you will still have to pay child support for them. Be prepared for this. This happens. This makes the news sometimes and a google search should pull this up.

  • I agree with a lot of what CL says but if you leave she can play the abandonment card… Even though it is torture, I would stay until you get a lawyer and file. Ask her to leave! Hang in there!!

    • Oh, yeah,

      As a man, it’s better if you get her to leave unless you plan on moving you AND the kids into a new home in the same school district. Whatever you abandon you have to be willing to give up, IMO.

      Go see a lawyer first. Get evidence and document first. Then try kicking her out maybe, or you and the kids go someplace else after you sit them down and explain what is happening.

    • I would just add to use all of your energies (anger, hurt, mortification, horror, caring) in retaining a great lawyer getting a solid case for what YOU want for your kids and start healing. She sounds like a royal fucker, the more time spent away from her and into yourself and how you want your life to be the better. It is hard but you will get there.

      I tried mediation and ex have it his all to again disrespect and manipulate. I cannot tell you how much more space and peace I feel having someone who knows how to deal with this shit represent me my son and our best interests. Let you lawyer deal with her. You can’t.

  • Talking about alimony, I’ve gotten to the age where I have a lot of divorced friends and the majority of the people I know paying alimony to their cheating Xs are women. So that’s what I’ve told men and women friends getting divorced, if you make more than your STBX, be prepared, it’s very likely you’re going to end up paying alimony.

    I agree with everyone’s advice to Mark – see a lawyer ASAP and don’t go anywhere until then.

    • Alimony, thanks for pointing this out Kira. It is bullshit that people act like men are the ones that get stuck paying alimony, that women are rapacious in that. No longer true, my ex tried to pull that on me too, he lost his job due to alcohol and tried to get me to pay alimony. I know women paying alimony to their ex husbands, I don’t know of any men paying their wives…so YMMV but IMO it really depends on which person is an asshole (unless someone has been the stay at home parent for years).

  • Marc,
    Excellent advice here, esp. about interviewing the legal firms in the area, and contracting with the one that you feel can best help. Here’s the tough part: once you’ve paid for it, take their advice.

    There are some strong statements in your post: “I am afraid . . . the children are my life,” “I am fed up,” and “I want more than anything for this to work so we don’t hurt our children”. (By the way, that’s her, not you, hurting the children.) Listen, listen, listen to yourself. Recognize that you tried, and you’re on your own in trying. Recognize that you deeply loved the woman that you thought she was, but she’s as gone as if she was never there in the first place. Recognize that your own emotions right now make you vulnerable to being manipulated.

    There’s no way that this won’t hurt the children. Not your choice. But staying with her vastly increases the likelihood of you being a less effective parent. Give some thought to what the “parenting well together” stuff really looks like. Kids get baths and clean clothes and stories and teeth brushed. Someone does the grocery shopping, writes the checks, pays the bills, cooks the meals. That’s not nothing. But you’re sleepwalking through life to do it. You’re swallowing your emotions and she’s mentally booked a ticket out. Once the kids are in bed, the silences settle in, full of words no-one is saying. Kids’ needs are being met for survival stuff, and that’s a good thing. The routine probably is helping you keep it together for now, so I’d keep it up until you have a plan in place to do better.

    The best advice I ignored from a lawyer was that if I was not sure I wanted a divorce (wanted one? I couldn’t even say the word for years), then we could forge out a legal separation. If we reconciled, it would be irrelevant, but if we/I decided to divorce, it just took a judge’s signature to make it binding.

    The second best advice that I ignored was not to wait for years to do this.

    I’m just putting that out there because it was good advice (I see quite clearly in retrospect), and since it was bought and paid for, someone ought to benefit. I couldn’t stand that it was over, so I wasted almost a decade of my life pretending to myself that there was a chance. But it was over. For your sake, I sincerely hope you’re smarter than I was.

    • Terrific post EnoughAlready,

      so much truth.

      Re: ‘Once the kids are in bed, the silences settle in, full of words no-one is saying’.

      A particular point I’d like to add, My ex learned the tortuous ‘silent treatment’ at the knee of his father, and how effective that was as a method of control and punishment. Whereas, he spoke fairly often of the oppressive silences that typified his childhood environment, nevertheless, it was his very favourite weapon as an ‘adult’. I’m not suggesting for one moment that this is Marc’s doing (if someone won’t talk with you, what can you do)? but, just as blazing, violent rows psychologically harm children, so do these heavy, dead silences that teaches, far too soon, the concept of eggshells and passive aggression.

      • Same with my XW re the silent treatment. It was her mom’s weapon of choice/
        I think of the silent treatment as silent raging, a substitute for the more obvious forms of raging used by the disordered.

    • Ditto AlreadyEnough. I wasted 10 years of my life in painful reconciliation. Should have put a separation agreement in place at day one. Great advice here. Marriage is done the day they cheat. It’s pathetic when they multiply that many times.

    • @ EnoughAlready, thank you. I see the writing on the wall and just don’t want to believe it. Who does this type of thing to their spouse and four children. it’s terrible.
      She has made and will always make much more money than I. My lawyer has already talked to me about receiving maintenance, a.k.a. alimony, but I hate realizing it’s now about the money. It’s never been about money for me, ever. My first marriage ended and I took on all marital debts and gave up my daughter. I realize that I made a silly mistake back then and I luckily got full custody in the end. It’s just so sad that a relationship built on love, trust and respect has been whittled down to money. How pathetic? Only in America…SMH

      • Marc,
        Exposing the affair to the other man’s wife and potentially the Boss’ bosses is crucial in my opinion.

        If you are sure it’s still going on, then it’s time to go NC with her, gather phone bills, credit card reciepts, record time away from home and late nights after. I undeleted all the texts on my wife’s phone, and used a back up program to get them onto my computer and in printable format. I placed voice activated recorders in her car, and in the home where she made calls then left the house with the kids for a while.BAM!
        I tracked her using a gps device in the car that transmitted to a website that stored all travel. I installed keylogger on our computer, got all emails and facebook messages related to affair from conversations from him and her close friends. I Gathered all the evidence and emailed her boss with *some of the proof (not all), and threatened to file a complaint with the board of directors of his company for improper personal relations with subordinate and using company funds to pay for trips and hotels in which they carried on their affair. I told him that any calls or contact without a third party present would initiate workplace exposure, any change in her employment status or retaliation would do the same.
        Then I emailed evidence and details to the boss’ wife and called her.
        He ended it with her in a phone call with me present.
        He went running, dumped her flat, showed her that he was not the awesome man she fell in love with, that she was played and was his whore, nothing more. And she remained employed.
        I filed for separation, took the spare room and focused on being the best dad I could be, and stopped being a husband and friend. I would not talk to her about anything but kids and household matters. I started going to the gym, meeting new people and even put myself on a social site for separated and divorced people…Which surprised her.
        Having taken away her cake, I took away her power and control over our relationship and took care of my kids and me.
        After months of depression on her part, she realized her mistakes and
        expressed remorse, regret,admitted her selfishness and gave me a complete timeline of everything and anything else I wanted to know. (which I recorded)
        We are in our second bout of counselling, in which she blames me for everything that caused her to seek elsewhere and still states that she doesn’t love me and will never be happy as she was with him.
        And that’s ok. I, like yourself, married a woman who after years of loyalty and love on my part, decided to get on her knees and back and have unprotected sex with a married serial cheater, trade our family for fantasy and still blames everyone but herself for engaging in adultery.
        But she still wants to stay married for the kids lol

        Anyway, no matter what remember that your wife is not the person you married, you loved or respected. She is a cheater, liar,manipulator and actor.

        I am still planning divorce, despite her thinking it’s all swept under the rug. I told her last month that I deleted all evidence so I can move on. Last week they had lunch after a meeting and the late night emails (work related lol) have started again. The recorders are in place, the tracker etc…and I still have the evidence bomb ready to go.

  • Dear Marc,

    So sorry you are going through this, and with such ‘no win’ (as you’ll see it right now) options available for you. Four months from having my world shattered I was still in deepest shock and being ambushed at every turn by new information about the affair and new varieties on emotional cruelty from the man.

    From experience I would suggest that if she’s admitted to twice it’s at least six. That the instant idea of counselling she came up was merely a way to get you to shut up about what she’d done, that her idea for separation is for her to be free to continue with the affair without your scrutiny. I agree wholeheartedly with CL – she isn’t sorry she hurt you, not one bit, she’s sorry she got caught and that’s it.

    I agree with Rich, if I could go back and do it all again ….

    If you asked for a show of hands here, of all those of us who went down the reconciliation / Marriage Guidance route, which of us wished we’d have ‘manned up’ and walked away from the sorry excuse for a person we were married to the exact moment we found out about them, well … I’ve pacified myself with saying things like ‘Well, I know I did everything to save the marriage’ but in the end, sticking with it just prolonged the agony … and Marc, you are in pain now – four months on, and she has done nothing to even acknowledge your pain or make you feel any safer with her.

    One more point though – she had / is having an affair with her boss. You know the saying ‘don’t crap where you eat’? Well, the way I see it she’s defecated at home and at work – there’s nowhere she can be that she hasn’t fouled. With Mr Boss – well it’s one of three ways isn’t? Either he’ll be delighted she’s ‘free’ (doubt it to be honest, as CL says, she’s not a bit on the side now, she’s full-time, kids-in-tow potential girlfriend with all the responsibility that comes with that, and if he was wanting a life partner why did he choose his married subordinate? Yes, I know, there’s plenty that do, but I just think this is the unlikeliest scenario). OR, (especially if he too is married /in a committed relationship) he’ll be crapping himself that his partner is going to find out ALL about it, any minute now, or (if he’s not the CEO) that HIS bosses are going to find out all about it and kick is ass out on the street for being unprofessional in the workplace (and leaving them wide open to sexual harrassment charges), OR, well, it’s just not that exciting now the secret’s out and who wants to have to look at the damage that ‘bit of fun’ has caused? (yes, psychos enjoy that flavour of kibble, but generally speaking, her neediness – and she will be needy for him to save her from the misery her betrayal of you is visiting on her – will grow old, very, very fast. She’s screwed herself. she might not realise it fully yet (I suspect she doesn’t given how ‘entitled’ she feels she is to be punishing you right now for having rained on her parade by finding her out).

    The advice you’ve received here re getting a good lawyer ASAP (and definitely try to do it without letting her know you’re doing it) is sound and your best course of action. And, as TimeHeals says, while she’s still in fantasy land where she isn’t thinking of the long-term consequences, or that you’re capable of protecting yourself.

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to join our merry little band, Marc, but welcome and very best wishes to you.


    • She’s crapping where she eats and where she sleeps. I don’t think there’s a saying for that. Two very bad ideas.

    • Hand up, right here!

      But the problem is that you don’t yet ‘trust that she sucks’ (it’s a post here, look it up). That’s what enabled and maintained my abuse. I saw him as someone he was not instead of seeing him clearly as I do now. It rocks your world when you realize that they are not the people you thought they were. It’s hard to leave until you accept that they suck. It’s hard to accept they suck because you were busy seeing the best in them – exactly as you should have been.

  • First, marc I am so sorry that you have to go through this crap. She sounds like a true example of a classic cake eating cheater.

    How is it that the cheater can live in the same household, “parent well” with the betrayed spouse and KNOW that the betrayed spouse is aware of the affair? Isn’t there any sense of shame or embarrassment or even that thing that Nord’s husband and Tracy’s husband did…where it was simply too much for the cheater to be around you when you KNEW and could JUDGE??? Good lord. I know the whole compartmentalization thing, but seriously. You two can “parent well together” and do all of the daily things together and HAVE SEX (still? really? and you suspect she’s still sleeping with her boss? REALLY? do you think that sex with her will bring a return of intimacy/trust/honesty?)—but at 8 p.m. she “checks out”. That’s not a marriage. In her head, this is her job. She goes to it, does what she needs to do (with you and for the kids)–she gets paid, and she “clocks out” and goes off to her own private, compartmentalized life.

    Question. Do you live in a fault state? If you do, not only can the affair evidence be used to threaten her to settle your way–but these states also penalize the cheater–no alimony/palimony and custody arrangements benefit the betrayed spouse.

    Marc it sounds like you aren’t at “trust that she sucks” and are still trying to protect her reputation, her feelings–maybe hoping that if you keep things normal at home, she’ll all of a sudden open her eyes one morning and realize how she fucked it all up and be sorry.

    She won’t. I don’t know her, as we all don’t know each other’s cheaters–but the common threads are there, in all of them. THEY WOULD NOT DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE IF THEY WERE GOOD, FAITHFUL AND HONEST PEOPLE. They didn’t “change”. They aren’t “depressed”. They didn’t get abducted by aliens and replaced.

    She is who she is now and this is who she has always been. The circumstances have simply allowed her to let this side of her reign supreme. And you’re letting her do it.

    Burn this woman to the ground. Don’t do it in a way that will harm your kids, keep it classy—but you can still torch her ass to the point that she will understand that you WILL defend your kids and yourself.

    Would you let a complete stranger harm your kids? You said that they are everything to you, right? Would you let me come to your house and hurt them? NO? Then why would you let someone LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE and hurt them?

    What if she gets involved with a crazy person? Someone jealous and invasive and dangerous? Do you really think her “picker” is on “I only screw really nice men outside of my marriage”? NO! Why in the sam hell would you trust her not to bring true crazy into your life?

    Get rid of her. Lawyer up. Don’t “scare her”. These wingnuts don’t have that button. Don’t say it, DO IT.

    Life is so much better without this stress, Marc.

    • and dont forget as soon as you lawyer up and give her the divorce papers, she is going to try every trick in the book to get you to change your mind. she will cry, beg, plead, promise to be different. she will tell you that you are ruining your childrens lives (she did that when she dropped her panties for another man), she will tell you this is all your fault (because you were not sappose to file for divorce, you are sappose to play the pick me dance and beg her to come back to you)

      you will need to be strong when she does this. do not let your love for this woman interfere with your decisions (i know i did); kick her out and keep her out. visitations will need to be scheduled.

      • Yes, Marc. She is a liar, a cheat, and a con artist, in terms of how she has conducted her end of the marriage. If you go forward with the divorce, you can always remarry if you see someone a year or two down the road who has changed, reformed, found a conscience where her “just wanna have fun” focus resided. But you will need time to heal before you can assess any of that. I’m a year out from the betrayal affair itself and 10 months from D-Day. I knew in my brain that I should never go back but if he had tried the “sorry” routine, I might have caved. But he wasn’t sorry and neither is your wife, or you would see heartfelt differences in her attitude. Even then, a year or two of separate living would help you know who you are and what you want in your life, other than the fantasy you had about marriage to her.

      • Agreed. Kids are not a reason to stay. They need a loving home and parents in which to model their upbringing, not cold, distant and friendly roommates who feed them.
        My dad was a cheating alcoholic. My mom divorced him when I was four, kept three jobs to care for us and finally met my stepdad.
        I loved my stepdad without a doubt. He was good for my mom and us and raised me like his own son. And was loyal and engaged in the family dynamic. He was my father.

  • Marc,

    While your at it finding a lawyer and possibly doing the paternity tests, I encourage you to get tested for STDs. It is the sad reality of being married to a cheater that this is a MUST for us chumps. So, sorry that you have experienced such horrific contempt, man! No one deserves to be treated this way.

    And don’t buy the “shared responsibilities” MC crap! It is a lie. She CHOOSE this affair and CHOOSE to lie to you. It is 100% on her. I played that shared responsibility game with MC while my exW continued to cheat on me. Don’t do it. It just further beats you down and destroys your soul. If you want to work on you, find an individual therapist who is invested in helping YOU.

    I agree with CL about filing for divorce. If anything will wake her up, it is that choice. Up to you, though. She doesn’t seem to have given you much to work with–re: reconciliation.


    • Great advice DM! Marc – like DM, I also accepted part of the blame for my STBXW’s infidelities in MC. Hey, this “professional” was saying I needed to take responsibility for “my part” in the marriage troubles, right? Must be true!?!


      HER choices, HER fault! Don’t accept this BS, Marc. No one is a perfect husband or wife, but choosing to cheat is all on her, man.

  • Marc, I thought I could save my marriage too but the truth is you can’t save something that doesn’t exist. You want a great spouse, and that is what children need to see modeled. My ex and I were awesome parents together, right up to his double life. A marriage is more than that. Your wife’s actions are who she is. She will never put you first and you need to take a hard look at your life. Cheaters are frequently “absent,” I will bet even your youngest child together feels this. Cheaters can never be “present” whether that’s with you or those children you have together. They are, however, great actors. Pay attention to your gut Marc. Cheating was a deal breaker for me. Even after twenty years of married life-and not all of it was bad :)-I recognized that I could no longer put up with the lie that was our life together. Best times were those I spent with my children, I have beautiful memories of them growing up and of spending time with them. You are probably doing all the work in your marriage and this is where narcs are never able to “step up to the plate.” Marriage is about trust, honor, commitment, honesty. If you don’t have this and your life feels like a wreck get out now. You deserve more Marc as do your children.

    • Good point, Drew.

      My STBXH’s father was a cheater. His parents had apparently explored divorce, but had some sort of agreement about staying together for their children. My STBX resented his father for being absent. Of course, STBX is following in his father’s footsteps. Now he, too, is absent.

      It’s only good to stay together if you can model healthy relationships. That’s not going to happen if there’s cheating.

  • Marc

    Nothing makes a cheater more egotistical than a spouse who is contacting a MC instead of a lawyer.

    Nothing makes a cheater more entitled than a cling on spouse who eats shit sandwiches and drags the cheater into “reconciliation”.

    Cheaters are into “sexy” and a clinging spouse who wants to save the family is not sexy.

    It’s never too late to put down that shit sandwich.

    You did what many spouses do when in shock of being cheated on. You agreed to MC instead of filing for divorce. You’ve attempted to keep your marriage and family together with band aids and cheap glue.

    Nothing turns off a cheater more than a clinging spouse. Chumps, band aids and dollar store glue are not “sexy”.

    There’s no use trying to save your marriage or family by yourself. Your cheating wife is in control and she knows it. She knows your fears and this gives her the advantage to manipulate you.

    Stop expressing your emotions, she doesn’t give a shit about how you feel.
    Cheaters love seeing you cry and they despise it at the same time. It’s validation that they are special and justified that they cheated. See, if they were so bad why would you being willing to jump through hoops to keep them.

    If you want respect, it must first be respecting “yourself”.
    Forget about band aids and MC.

    Get legal advice…get started on moving on without her. Do not give her any indication as to your plans.

    Truth is the boss is using her, and she’s fine with that because her chump is right where he belongs.

    There’s nothing sexier than you serving her with divorce papers. Until then she’s going to keep her head up her ass.

    Listen to CL, she’s right on the money!

      • Hear hear,

        Marc, there is not much I can add to the solid advice Chump Nation is giving you, here, apart from to say this there is a wealth of (bitter, awful, traumatic) experience here, and we are all at different stages.

        Get her out of YOUR life. It will not be easy to raise your kids with her in the mix, and every time I have compromised in my daughter’s interests, Mr Fab just rode roughshod over me.

        She has shown you who she really is, I am afraid.

        MASSIVE Chumpy hugs. It sucks, but I promise there will come a point when you realize that the spackling, shit sandwiches and narcy sparkles just. aren’t. worth. it.


  • “Cheaters are into “sexy” and a clinging spouse who wants to save the family is not sexy.”

    100% true. The worse you grovel and beg, the more exciting and important they feel, and the more repulsive you become, to a cheater.

    Another bit of advice: CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT (and HERS!)

    These cheaters sure love to run up the bills. Money (even borrowed and/or stolen) is sexy to a cheater! Living without consequences: sexeh!

    And another risk of not filing for divorce, or at least naming a date of separation (I named bomb-drop day, thank GOD) is you incurring half of debt SHE runs up on dinners and trips and clothes, and visits to the spa, etc. She’s already shown you that she has no integrity, no conscience.

    Trust us, buddy! The sooner you begin the seemingly long and painful journey away from her madness, the sooner you’ll be miles away (emotionally) from it. You will be RELIEVED that you had the balls to walk. You will be proud of yourself for protecting your boys. You will be thankful that you had the clarity and resolve to operate in the TRUTH, not in what you wish for. What you wish for DOES NOT EXIST. That is really, really hard to accept. But you must. Or you will hurt yourself.

    You can do it. Find your self respect, and do what must be done.

    There are so many good women out here who wouldn’t ever think of hurting you the way your wife has done. But you have to find your strength first.

  • Marc,

    When I went through a similar situation with my ex-wife, it just all seemed so overwhelming. There are so many “shit sandwich” aspects to being cheated on, but the main overall one is that you did not ask for this, you were faithful and did the right things, and yet now you have to mobilize and make some hard choices. Your spouse is being adolescent, and now you have to be the adult.

    You might want to curl up in the fetal position now, and you have every right to considering you have been royally mind fucked, lied to, and your for-life marriage may not be lasting much longer. Reach out to friends and family… and by all means hold your cards close to your chest. Your advantage now is in acting and not letting your wife know your plans. She is living a fantasy and you are about to be the needed dose of reality.

    Best to you Marc.

  • Hi, Marc! Firstly, just let me say I am so sorry that this is happening to you. We’ve all been there, and there is no other way to say it – it totally sucks. No one wants to be left with nothing but shit choices, but this is one of those situations where you are forced to choose between really bad options.

    Lawyer up and file for divorce. If you find yourself wavering, something that helped me might help you: Remember that filing for divorce is not the same as “getting” a divorce. I don’t know the laws or time-frames in your state, but (for example), in mine there is a six month wait for divorce to be granted if there are minor children involved. That is a good amount of time to get your ducks in a row, to get your head wrapped around the idea of divorce, to start building a new life, OR for your wife to get her head out of her ass because she knows you are dead serious (I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, though).

    So, get a good lawyer and file. This will at least give you the protection in place which you might need for your assets, your children, and yourself. Then if you want to wait through the waiting period to see if she is going to change or whatnot, you can do so without willfully furthering your chumpiness. You might be a chump, but you would be a chump who is legally calling the shots and protecting your rights!

    Remember, you have the power to continue the divorce, call it off, change your mind, change the agreement…it goes on an on. But you can’t act with agency on any of these things unless you have started the process in the first place. So, start the process. It is a very important step, especially for a father. You may be surprised at how much your fears are allayed when you have the advice of a good attorney. You probably have more power than you think, but you can’t act on it unless you get legal advice.

    Get in front of this thing. If you decide not to go through with it down the line for one reason or another, at least you will know you protected yourself and your family as best you could while you were still reeling. Make the move and put the ball back in her court. She is in the wrong here, and she is the one with everything to lose.

    As is often said around these parts – Jedi hugs! This whole community is behind you!

      • That’s kinda what I’m saying, although I might not be saying it well – lol! Although mandatory waiting periods tend to vary, almost every state has one in place.

        No one wants to admit out loud that they are really fence-sitting because they are stuck – but so many of us do exactly that. The kicker for me was to realize I could *emotionally* fence-sit all I wanted (indulge my inner chump!) while still putting legal protections in place. The mandatory waiting periods allowed me to do this. It allowed me to get a temporary order in place, get a lawyer on it, pay my bills, and figure out what living as a single parent would be like – all while knowing I could stop the process if I wanted or needed to.

        • That’s great Little Mighty Me – excellent advice for stuck chumps – could have done with you about 4 years ago 😀 Still, better late than never! (Me – not you)! 😀 x

    • Great advice, especially if you use that time and find good counseling so you have some armor against being manipulated. Live with your eyes and intuition wide open; that is the onlynway to protect yourself and your kids. Your “wife” in name only will not like what you do, but remind yourself that you are not in the business of getting between anyone and the natural consequences of that person’s bad behavior.

  • Hi, Marc,
    My D-day took place this May, too. Glad that you fairly quickly realized that marriage counseling was a waste of time and money–that could be better spent on enhancing the lives of you and your children. (As a former psychology researcher, I am sad to say that most of the marriage counselors my husband and I met were mediocre at best, frighteningly harmful at worst.)

    I wished that I hadn’t wasted time in false reconciliation. I didn’t start feeling human again until I started consulting lawyers–and finally found a therapist, who heard my husband bash me for nearly an hour, and later told me that he was a selfish, immature $@&!

    I recommend immediately ripping off the Band-aid of your noble attempt at salvaging the marriage. Following the advice of various relatives and people in the marriage reconciliation industry, who said I needed to fix myself to be a better spouse (and thus prevent my husband from straying in the future), I left that Band Aid on (and spackled). Leaving it on, as I did, just allows the cancer to multiply, possibly to the point where the greatest treatment by the greatest experts will do no, or little, good. Be kind to yourself and your kids–putting an end to pseudo-reconciliation sooner rather than later will likely spare you much unnecessary legal, financial, emotional, and physical grief.

    • Hello rockstarwife (and with regrets, of course) welcome!

      I read your post from yesterday, in the early hours of this morning, and have been thinking about you all day.

      First of all – I’m really sorry to hear how crazy things have been for you – May isn’t so long ago at all, and there was so much insanity! What was with this ‘I thought we were divorced already’?!? Bizarre! As for the disease-ridden OW ?!? I guess the only positive that came from that was you got facts from her, instead of playing the gas-lighting, drip-feeding fiasco that cheater might have tried to pull on you (mine did it for 2 years)! So glad to hear you’ve let your anger move you forward and quickly.

      I’ve had some experience of the whole rockstardom / music industry thing and, while there’s no surprise to learn there’s narcissism aplenty (though not all, not by a long chalk – so many I know are really lovely, grounded people) I’ve come to think that the personality disordered ‘star’ (this also applies to the entourage who sparkle from proximity to the ‘stars) ends up hoisted by their own petard. We all know the sociopaths get a kick from fooling everyone with their sparkly falsehoods, but what a nightmare it must be for them to have to worry if people only want to know them because of their ‘sparkliness’. I’ve seen it, up close and personal – they start off impressed with themselves but end up isolated by their shallow connections, and worries about their shallow connections. If that makes sense to you at all. I am sure your STBXH is going to end up this paranoid. You gave him a deeper love, a deeper connection (so few in his life he can be sure are real) and he’s blown it big time.

      Hope you and your babies are safe – sounds like you’re getting ‘your ducks in a row’ as so wisely advised here on the site 🙂

      (Sorry for hijacking the thread a little bit there Marc – was just thinking about rockstarwife today ).

      Best wishes


      • Thanks, Jayne for sharing your thoughts and offering support. (Not many people are familiar with the “sparkly” industries, which are quite a mixed and colorful bag.) Glad to know that I have found kindred spirits.

        • ‘Not many people are familiar with the “sparkly” industries’,


          Not so sure about that TBH. I remember a time at the Royal Albert Hall, looking around at all the AAA badges and wondering ‘how the fuck are you making any money here?!?’ Full house, but still – there’s a lot of crew and friends and family and management and, and, and …. 😀

  • Marc,

    Do NOT move out of the house. Let her. Stay with the house and get any help you can with the kids. Possession of your home is important during this time for your mental health and the kids. Do not uproot them. “Mommy” has no thought for the disruption of their lives. The children need some comfort in continuity of their lives with their room and home and sane dad while mommy runs amok.

    YOU need to get counseling, by yourself, ASAP.

    Lawyer up, read these comments over and over for support. We have all been there. You are not alone.

  • Marc, I did this same thing 3 years ago. It was go gutwrenching I seriously wondered if I would make it through with my Sanity.

    I have a couple things I want to say to you that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself.

    Here are my points:

    Marc, IT IS OVER.
    Say it to yourself as many times a day as needed.

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    When people check out to this point in a marriage they are gone. Really gone. You have to get to a place where on an intellectual level you accept this fact.

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    Do not grovel, I know you are trained to help this person, every grain of you wants to help her… She does not want your help. She wants your absence. Nothing more. Try not to get into the hole of begging for her attention. What she really wants is to replace you. Live that truth.

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    All the things you have read here (Lawyer up, check your credit, verify every car Title, every debt, and Document, document document) Marc do this RIGHT NOW!! Take off of work get a friend to drive you and do these things NOW!! Right now Marc!! Stop reading and do these things.

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    You have said you are fearful of losing your children. Marc, YOU ALREADY HAVE LOST THEM. Get that in your head. You are in a FIGHT to gain back every possible Minute. Today, Right now, you are in this fight. Fight for your parental rights Marc. NOW!

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    Talk to a Lawyer before you EVEN think about leaving that house. On this point I implore you. This is a super critical point. Your brain is in a primal place because your core existance is in peril. You are in react mode. LISTEN to the advice of a Lawyer. Seriously. Like NOW!

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    If you are truely fearful of putting yourself at a “Legal Disadvantage” then does you NOT getting a lawyer make sense? No of course not. Protest yourself Marc. You are a limping Zebra on the Serengeti right now. You need a herd to help potect you from the Big Cats. NOW!

    Marc IT IS OVER.
    Dude I am so sorry it is over. I and sending you waves of emotional support right now. The chump nation cares. There are other men like you and I that have MADE IT THROUGH. It gets ALOT better, Dude it gets an OCEAN BETTER. But you have to protect yourself and your parental rights starting today.

    A great life is out there for you and the kids. Go get it buddy!!!!

    We are Mighty Marc, remember that when you are low. We are Mighty and we can weather this too.

    Bro hug!!!

    • Great post Planocolt.

      Sorry you went through it – glad to see you here speaking wisely and compassionately from hard experience.

    • Every word here is spot-on. I love when the guys post here, it gives a much-needed male perspective and reminds me that there are plenty of great guys out there.

      • GIO – was just thinking exactly the same thing! And I hope Marc (and all the other guys who post /lurk) can take heart that there are lovely women out there too – they don’t have to accept the contemptuous crumbs they are being thrown by these entitled princesses.

        There are so many people (male and female) in Chump Nation who are brimming with compassion, honesty, wit, wisdom, kindness – such a great bunch of folks – I’m honoured to have met you all – I really am 🙂

      • Agreed. It’s not hard to read these pages and think there are no good men in the world, so I’m glad for our male counterparts — they help balance things out in the universe.

    • Well said Planocolt, especially not leaving, there is this thing called desertion. And sending out Jedi hugs, cos I’m not a bro

    • Wow, planocolt – great and powerful post. Marc, please listen to him, and the other men, and all the other chumps on this board. And my very best wishes to you – this does suck, but you will get through it. Take care.

  • Marc,
    I read somewhere, and I believe it, that our cheaters grow to hate and despise us because we are keeping them from their Twu Luv Schmoopies. They see us as the enemy. This is how your cheater wife views you. It’s over honey, as bad as that is.

    When I caught my XH red handed he actually had the balls to say ‘We can make this marriage work.’ Ha! As he continued sneaking off to fuck Skank Woman. He had no such intention of making our marriage work. He wanted cake and kibbles. I wanted to believe him so badly that I tortured myself for months until I made myself physically ill to the point I almost died. Him? He was off gallivanting with Schmoopie carefree as a dang bird. Fuck these people Marc. They have NO conscience. At least where we are concerned.

    • This.

      My STBXH thinks I’m being very hasty in filing for divorce after I let him know that I know of his affair. What I told him was that I’d thought deeply about the matter, and it made sense for me to step out of the way of the love that he and Schmoopie have for each other. What I didn’t tell him was that I’d planned the divorce for nearly two years.

      He likes the kibble aspect of being married just fine, and I’m still keeping him in the kibble until the time I leave. Then BAM! The kibble has left the building!

  • Can we just address Divorce as a death sentence for kids here? My kids are well adjusted and doing great in school. (i dont fight with my x, not that we are buddies, but we aren’t adversaries – much, lol)
    My oldest, a straight A student in HS just made the student council, and not the popular vote kind, this is one chosen by teachers with a whole interview process and teacher recommendations. Of the other kids on the council, all high achievers, 4 out of the 7 are from so called “broken” families. The other 3, i’ve just never asked.

    • The adjustment issues my daughter has had resulted primarily from her father’s (my exH) LIES to her, the secrets her had her keep from me, and due to the way he remarried and started a new family within months of our divorce.

      I think kids can be well adjusted post-divorce. Just takes effort on the part of the parents.
      And for the love of all things sacred…. tell the truth without editorializing, and do not justify the bad behavior (Of course, I am speaking to the choir, as we chumps would never do that…. that is all on the cheaters).

    • My ex left and abandoned our children 3 years ago. They were 23, 19 and 12 at the time. They are all doing well. The oldest just became a lawyer, the middle child is going to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from college next year, and the youngest is doing well socially and academically in his first year of high school.

      These cheaters are so hollow that sometimes when they are gone it is barely noticeable, except for the peace that creeps in when you realize you are done with the lies.

      • Yes kids are resilient and I believe healthy boundaries need to be modeled. Here’s a thought, what happened to any one of us is the last thing we’d want for anyone, let alone any of our children. So the sooner we get out of unhealthy, toxic relationships and show our future what true love really looks like the better off our next generation will be. Kelly One, so glad your children are doing well! 🙂

        • So true. Kids don’t need to grow up with the idea that shit sandwiches are an ordinary part of life. Living with a single parent with healthy boundaries is far better than a disordered hell hole with two of them.

    • A family in which one parent is cheating, whether with a true love Schmoopie or as a serial cheater or with hookers is already broken. The chump spouse is being disrespected, lied to, gaslighted and conned.mThe kids are living in a home based on lies and deception. Separation and divorce restore integrity and honesty to the mix. Of course it’s painful as all hell but when the lies are exposed and integrity restored, healing can follow. And the kids can learn about what marriage really is between loyal partner and about the power of consequences.

    • Thank you Jojo for bringing this up. I’ve been thinking about it a lot too. Like a lot of us here, I tried R primarily because I was just so terrified that divorce would ruin my kids. I finally came to a place where I realized that getting her the fuck out was better for my kids because she would no longer be able to rage (at me at least) and it would (hopefully) reduce the episodes of conflict in front of my kids. Since she moved out, settled out of court, and agreed to 50/50 custody, my kids have been doing just fine in school and otherwise.

      Marc – don’t know if you will come back and read this but think about how being separated (with her moving out!) will have good consequences for your kids.

  • i dont know the specifics of your marriage life or anything about your spouse. but the first thing i thought while reading this is: Why cant you file for custody of your kids, be the primary caretaker and kick your wife out of the house?

    i realize it is harder for a man but if you document everything starting a month ago. how many times she cheated, how many times she wasnt home. how many times she put the children last.

    i agree with dont say anything to her right now. dont say anything, just be passive and non confrontational (cheaters HATE confrontations), let her “THINK” everything is going smoothly, or going her way. but get your ducks in row man!!!

    get a lawyer, get the evidence, get your finances separated from her. get a storage unit and pack all the stuff you do not want to lose (without her knowing of course), line up what you need to do as primary care taker. since she is working and youngest is only a year old, i am guessing there is already child care in place. are you going to continue with the same child care? etc. etc.

    you can do this!! be strong. it hurts knowing that your spouse DID not choose you or the kids over their own satisfaction and wants and fuckedupness. not every one has the same moral compass as you do. CL is absolutely correct, you can not control what she does or how she feels. it is messed up that you gave so much into a marriage, into a woman who doesnt deserve it.

    i wish you luck. please keep us informed. and jedi hugs to you.

  • Sorry Marc, your wife needs to become your ex ASAP. CL is right, there is absolutely nothing there to work with.

    Talk to a lawyer right away. Document EVERYTHING, make sure you have copies of all financial info.
    Fight for as much custody as you can possibly get. If your wife plans on actually going further with the boss, she might be willing to let the kids go.
    Nail her to the wall when it comes to any sort of alimony. She’s not a stay at home mom, she’s a fucking cheater and she can get the boss to support her sorry ass. Ha, yeah, like the boss is going to want her once she’s single and pestering him for a commitment.
    Once the boss dumps her, she’s gonna come sniffing around again, crying and begging you to take her back, saying what a mistake she made and you’re the one she really wants. You can almost bet on this, it’s such a common scenario. DON’T TAKE HER BACK. You will be sorry if you do.

    Best of luck to you, and sorry you have to be here.

    • Great point GIO – it isn’t going to work with the boss and she IS going to try to hoover Marc back. Beware of this Marc and I really, really hope when that happens you’ll be so far down the road to Meh that taking her back will be the last thing you want. x

    • I agree she’ll try to wriggle her way back in. Now….they didn’t pick us, but when it doesn’t work out with the schmoopie (or one night skanks) we are certainly better than nothing (until something else comes along). The question you have to ask yourself Marc, is if you’re a better-than-nothing kind of guy.

      When they can’t say “I’m so, so sorry” when you catch them (regardless of whether they intend to stay), you’ve already lost. That tells you everything you need to know about how the really feel about you. Sorry, Marc. It really sucks.

      • When I told my sister that STBX responded with “And your point is…?” when I told him I knew he was having an affair, she said that the only real response is to beg for forgiveness, go find counseling, and spend the rest of your life trying to atone for the cheating if that’s what it takes to earn back the trust. She has never read Chump Lady, but gets it right.

        If they’re not immediately sorry, and if they don’t do the work to show real remorse, then that tells you the Pick Me dance is over. They didn’t pick you.

  • It boggles the mind that a working mother with kids age 5, 3, and 1 can find the energy or time for an affair. Don’t normal parents with that many little kids lust for things like sleep and uninterrupted meals rather than affairs?

    • It is alot easier when you have a chump at home watching the kids while you “Work Late”. Ug, that is why is is so much better later. You can finally be free of all the doubts and just LIVE!

      • Well said, Planocolt. Life is so peaceful not having to deal with the constant noise of all that doubt. The anxiety, knowing full well I would be disappointed (cheated on) again! It’s heaven….just heaven.

    • Yeah, normal parents feel that way. Disordered narcissistic assholes just feel bored by the lack of excitement and attention. Besides, looking after the kids is what their partner is for.

  • Marc, I think you are, like so many others, trying to stay in a relationship with a person who is abusing you. I note that YOU are the one trying to change while SHE is the one who is cheating. That’s standard blame-shifting, not the response of an adult who values you or her marriage. I read these stories of people who spent decades trying to save a marriage alone, without the other half of that relationship participating. It isn’t possible for one person to save the marriage. It just isn’t. If she’s absent after 8 pm, when it is “couple time,” it’s over. And she clearly thinks it is OK to continue as she had been doing.

    Remember that a divorce isn’t any different than the marriage ceremony. It’s a legal action that severs your legal ties with a marital partner and that sets out guidelines for financial responsibilities, division of assets, and custody. Once you are divorced and living apart, you will have a chance to figure YOU out–who you are, what you want. It is near to impossible to do that while you are living in the same house doing a pick-me dance with her boss. If you get a divorce, you will have a chance to see her in more clear light. I personally think she’s not the kind of “one-time mistake” cheater as she is still cheating after being caught and she has zero remorse. There’s nothing to work with there, as CL says.

    Because both of you work, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go for full legal custody so you don’t lose living with your kids. While most people think small children need their mothers, as CL says what they need is one sane parent. If you decide to do 50/50, make sure it is legal 50/50 so no decision about the kids can be made without you and make sure agrees to keep the kids within reasonable driving distance, as she will likely end up leaving her job or the two of them will go off together. Document everything. While cheating isn’t the “pass Go and collect $200” it was years ago in divorce litigation, at the mediation stage a good attorney can use it. And she will not want her reputation professionally dragged through a contentious divorce. I think she is holding onto cake for dear life. Time to take away the cake you control so you can find someone worthy of your love and devotion.

    • She’s stalling for time, waiting until she can figure out where it’s gonna go with Dream Boss.

      That is why it is SO important to start the legal ball rolling NOW. That bitch is going to drag your heart through the mud, so she can give schmoopie time to make up his mind about their future?!? Throw it right back at her, Marc. Let her wait on her own time, not yours and the kids.

  • It sounds like you still love her, and wish that things were different. OF COURSE YOU DO! But, she has made choices that have effected your family. She is solely responsible for the way things are now, for you and yours. Her feigned apology, and malingering reconciliation, are her choices too. You can’t make her change. But you can recognize how it feels, and how you respond to it. And, it sounds like she wants you to do nothing. You have to wonder why.( I’m projecting a bit here, sorry:) ) it’s not right, or fair, but it is real. I know what ” saving the marriage for the kids” looks and feels like. Not a happy place for anyone. The only thing that comes from it is resentment. Your relationship with your spouse is forever changed. If she doesn’t seem ‘into’ building something new with you, recognize it as your time to get out. You can’t negotiate your dignity for the hollow title of ‘husband’. You deserve better. Every decent human being does.
    Boys aren’t trying to be like their Mothers. They are little men. You are their primary role model. Do not stay in this marriage, “for them”. Do not teach them that it’s ok to negotiate your dignity. Because, it’s just not. Ever. They will learn social responses from you, and one day those boys will be married men, themselves. Please don’t sacrifice yourself for the path of least resistance, or the potential of what ‘might be’. Please don’t teach them that it’s ok to be abused. You are obviously the better person, in your marriage. And, you are stronger than you think. Examine what you tolerate.
    Your wife’s boss-he’s a coward. She needs you to be, too, so she can feel relevant. She needs you to play along, and she clearly doesn’t care who gets hurt. (Again… Projecting… Sorry)
    There’s a special place in hell for people like her. You and yours don’t need to be anywhere near it. I hope you will Consider Tracy’s advise. Good luck to you- I think I can speak collectively and say that we are all here for you.

  • hi marc,
    you say that she does not want to hurt you but she is hurting you, knows it, and is going to go right on doing it if you play chump.
    What she wants to do is keep you sweet so she can go on having the security and family life with you while screwing her boss.
    Even if boss gets tired of the game and it all falls through that leaves you with a woman who does not respect you and whom you cannot trust in.
    The pick me dance is for suckers. Reconciliation is not possible without two willing people and it is mighty hard even then.
    If I could turn back the clock I would not do one step of that dance…you cannot nice them into their marriage if they want out.

  • Marc–

    CL gave you great advice. Unfortunately, you cannot force your wife to reconcile. You’re still in the Hopium stage. We have all been there. This is the stage where you hope that your spouse will emerge from the fog and see how good it is to be with the family.

    Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. Oh, it might. You might “scare her straight” when you serve her with divorce papers after she’s moved out of the family home. At that point, it might hit her that she has so much to lose.

    But you have to ask yourself the tough questions: do you want to be married to someone who needs to be hit by the threat of losing it all before she admits she’s done wrong and begs for a chance at reconciliation? Would this be genuine remorse? Or genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse? And even if she’s remorseful, can you ever trust her again?

    To be honest, I don’t think she’s going to be remorseful. You’ve already confronted her. She admits to having sex twice (yeah, right). In the meantime, your sex life has hit rock bottom and you get the sense that she doesn’t even like you that much. That tells you right there that she’s never stopped seeing Mr. Cheaterboss.

    Look, when you say “all of her words speak to wanting to not hurt me,” you’re repeating cheater bullshit. This is code for “I don’t want to communicate with you.” In a healthy marriage, partners do try to protect each other, but they also practice what one of my long-married friends calls “a radical honesty.” Radical honesty means you respect your spouse enough to tell the truth, no matter how hard the truth is. Radical honesty also means you respect your spouse enough to listen to the truth they have to tell before you respond to it.

    Your wife isn’t protecting you; she’s still trying to hide the fact that she’s a cheater.

    I agree that this sucks on so many levels, and I know that male Chumps get handed a whole different plate of shit sandwiches than their female counterparts.

    This is why you need to lawyer up now, and you need to keep the fact that you’ve lawyered up under wraps. Let her move out of the marital home while you watch the kids. That could help with the custody.

    I’m sorry that you’re here, but at the same time, glad that you have found a supportive community of people who, sadly, have been where you’ve been.

    Big hugs!

    • Oh yeah…..I love it when they talk about not wanting to hurt you. Bullshit. It’s words. When I don’t want to hurt people, I DON’T DO THINGS TO HURT THEM. I certainly don’t KEEP DOING THEM, and I can certainly choke out an “I’m sorry” when I do.

      Remember this, Marc. What they SAY doesn’t mean anything (for example, I’m a millionaire). It’s what people do. If you listen to it, it’ll tell you everything you need to know.

  • Marc- see a lawyer ASAP. Both your wife and her boss have shattered workplace ethics and will probably be fired themselves when it comes to light. And it will come to light. Lawyer up, do it without any loud proclamations to her, let your lawyer serve her the papers etc. They will hang themselves from their own rope once your lawyer is involved and your proof comes out.

  • Here’s the deal. You need to protect yourself. She sure as hell didn’t have your back and she’s not going to. It’s too bad these types of people go on and cheat behind our backs instead of admitting to not being happy and getting out first, then sleeping around or starting another relationship.

    I’m with the majority on here. Do not move out. You file first. You ask for exactly what you want. It’s better to start with your wish list. In most states you have to go to mediation first to show the courts custody and settlements were worked out first. So, make your list. Don’t give her the house and you ask for sole custody. She will still get her parent time. Do make logs about when she was late coming home from work or any work weekends she spent. The courts will want to see who is around for the kids first. Ask for first right of refusal is you don’t get sole custody.

    I wasn’t able to get sole custody so it’s joint and it’s too much on my 4 and 5 year old going over night on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. They don’t like it and they don’t like him.

    Your kids know something is off. They probably don’t know how to express it.

    I’m just randomly writing so sorry if this doesn’t make sense. I just did mediation last year and I’m trying to think of things my smart mediator did for me due to my narcissistic ex.

    Unfortunately in most states, gone are the ‘no visitors in the house after 10pm, no sleep overs with kids are under the same roof’ are allowed anymore – it has to do with parental rights.

    It’s super messy in the beginning. You’ll be fine. It’s a time thing. Good luck to you!

  • Oh and “saving the marriage for the kids” is nothing more than a way to keep you in misery and make everyone else feel less uncomfortable b/c you didn’t break their mold. It’s just a mask. I’m going to assume that “saving the marriage for the kids” means you hang tight until they’re a legal adult. You’re really going to wear the horrific mask and do her filthy dance for another 17 years until your youngest is 18? And then drop a bomb on them that the past 17 years were all fake and have them deal with that when they’re probably heading off to who knows where for work or school? Mix that bomb with a college campus with lots of frats, alcohol readily available and you not present to help them sort through it all….yea. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Help them work through this NOW when turning to alcohol, drugs, sex etc is not even an option or even on their radar for them to fall into. Teach healthy conflict and stress resolution skills NOW. Not potentially 17 years from now when they’re adults and you’re not there to witness it.

    Let them see you thriving, not just surviving. Staying in your current situation would just be surviving. Kids are smart. They know when something is amiss. They know when their parent’s are hiding something. They will visit friend’s houses and see functional families and realize that their own home is different. Being a single parent usually isn’t anyone’s first choice. But you can still have a functional family as single parent. It’s harder yes. But it can work. I was a single mom. I pulled in my support system. My daughter is happy and healthy, she’s okay.

  • In our state the faithful spouse is not required to pay alimony to the cheating spouse. Childsupport, yes. Alimony to cheating spouse, no, even when the cheating spouse has been a SAHM.

  • Marc, I wasted the last year of my life on reconciliation. I’ll never get that year back and now I’m at the beginning all over again. My d day was 9/7/14 by 9/21/14 I had the phone records, hundreds of texts and voice minutes. I saw a lawyer and was ready to roll. But the husband kept saying he was hoping for a better outcome. So I waited for three months, he came home and refused to talk about the OW, refused marriage counseling and cried about how confused he was. He had one foot out the door so I told him to leave. It’s worse now because you get hopeful that it’s going to work, then you run out of emotional energy and the sad and the mad begin again. I did all the things that CL says you do to keep your cheater, truth was, it just made me more of a chump. Do the hard work now…don’t wait. Trust that she sucks and reconciliation is a Unicorn!

  • Marc, if you’re back here re-reading, I thought of something to share with you:

    The first calming thing to happen in my divorce was getting that signed, notarized separation agreement where my wife was finding a new place to live.

    She agreed to everything I demanded because of a couple of things: she didn’t want the divorce to mention cause (adultry), and she had cross filed and part of her impression management streak was that she wanted to be the one who filed.

    I let that happen, and that was a bit of a mistake because she drug it out and delayed the divorce part of it, but an enforceable division of assets in which I have her nothing she had not earned herself or that was not a gift was in place. I felt that was being generous since she came with the opposite of a dowry: she came with a lot of debt that I paid off.

    That separation agreement allowed me to get out of panic-mode, and getting it signed while she was in pursuit of her affair rather than taking time to lawyer up was the only smart thing I did.

    I made lots of mistakes, though.

    I’m hoping you get that signed agreement, and that she agrees to vacate the marital home. Get that lawyer (have you got one on retainer yet? It’s been a full day!), get that agreement.

    Good luck to you.

  • Marc– I have no substantive advice, except to listen to your gut (and ChumpLady!) . The best thing you can do for your kids is help yourself become sane and balanced; I do know from experience, that it’s really freaking hard to do that while you are in frequent contact with, or living with, the spousal unit/partner who just ripped your heart out and spat on it. Really hard.

    So I suggest that you listen to the folks here who’ve tread the path you’re on–they come from all over and there are buckets of good experience here, and support.

    Of course many of the rules that determine your choices of outcomes are state-dependent (not a lawyer either!) but somebody advised talking with the good firms in your area– they all do short ‘can we work together, what’s your issue’ interviews, usually free, and it does make it harder or impossible for your wife to hire from them, as I understand it.

    Mostly though, I’m just sending tons of support–please know that we’ve all got your back. You can do this…whatever “this” you chose for yourself and your kids. Promise–if I can have made it through the last 2 years, after my cheater jackhole Ex blew up our family life–you can too. We all can, You are mighty!! (do remember: that living with one of these entitled folks makes each of feel like a miserable little nothing. ) That’s on them, not us.

    We are way more than nothing: we have integrity, we love, we commit, we are honest, we care more about our children’s welfare that our own choices to screw around. And you can take that to the bank. Or to court. Or both.

    best of luck and stay tuned in.

  • Marc,
    I am so sorry you’re going through this. I agree with everyone here – get rid of her. I was married to a serial cheater and hoping and praying for a “good” marriage never materialized. I had filed for divorce after OW#2 but took back cheater ex because he was, oh, so sorry. I finally got rid of him after OW#3 (well, that was based on my count; heaven knows how many there were which is irrelevant now).

    You know what I got from hanging on? Lost my dignity, self-worth and basically lost myself. I’ve been reclaiming myself since I got rid of him and if I know what I know now, I should have run for the hills after OW#1.

    Marc, you think that saving the marriage is the best option right now and I get that. Unfortunately, I can tell you that is a fairy tale. Instead, you will get stuck in an anxiety, fear-filled life and always be on the edge on when the next affair will happen. And happen it will. Do what you do best – be a wonderful father to your children. You can’t be that if you’re too busy “winning” her love. What chumps don’t see initially is that they are actually fighting for the love of someone who is not worth fighting for.

    • Well said. It’s amazingly difficult to see who these people really are when they are in your face crying or telling you something your usual chumpy self falls for. Part of you really wants to believe it. The truth is, you know that she shit all over you and your beautiful family. She had plenty of opportunities to evaluate what she could lose. Someday you will have to explain to your kids that mommy thought that chasing an orgasm was more important than tucking their sweet heads into bed at night. My cheater had multiple affairs in which he was lying to the affair partners also. Such a level of deceit and selfishness! Pay attention to her actions. Pay attention to her cheater logic. It won’t make any sense to you. All this time, you thought you were so alike, sharing in family, goals, and dreams for the future. Know this! She is NOT like you. She does not think like you and she does not feel the depth of pains like you. You did everything you were supposed to do as a husband and father. You can walk away knowing that you did your best. Your wife has her own issues to fix and she doesn’t seem interested in fixing them. She needs to leave. This is how you can clear your head. The only thing that works is very little contact with her as possible. Big Hugs!!! The betrayal is profound, especially when small kids are involved.

  • Chump Lady said: “She’s having an affair in the workplace and could be fired for that.” 

    Would this be officially called a “workplace violation”? My spouse has exhibited behaviors pointing to cheating over the last 12 years of our marriage. He was fired 6 months ago from a company he was with for 15 years. He told me one thing about why he was fired, but a wife of one of his buddies told me my husband was really fired for repeatedly violating company policy, although the particular violations are unknown.

    • Could be. Could be something else too. Who knows? Best to just keep moving and not look back and try to figure that crap out, IMO.

    • Hey Ann – I’ve been in that boat, too. My STBXH has been repeatedly fired from every job he’s ever held for the last 20 years. And of course lying about the reason why he’s been fired. For at least a few of them, I’ve figured out he’s stolen from his employers (inappropriate expenses and bringing the mistress on business trips and expensing her meals and other expenses when she’s not an employee).

      It’s all part of the same disorder – cheating on spouses, abandoning children, stealing from employers. All NPD/sociopath traits. It’s how you know this shit isn’t curable. You’d be looking back over your shoulder for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. We get one life, and we’ve all spent too much time being abused. We need to ensure we take back what remains of the time we have on this earth.

      • Hi Chris W.,
        Thank you. The expense thing only rattled around in back of my mind as in ‘he must have been eating out too much on the company’, but I never attached the mistress thing. Probably because it’s not something I would do to him or the company I work for. Part of me says let it go, but deep down I want to know what those violations were.

  • Hi Marc,

    Just wanted to say that the advice given above is absolutely fucking golden. It’s basically what I did. I was divorced two years ago, so if you want some evidence that you can come out the other side better off: I got a mortgage on my own place with my share of the equity in the family home, rock-solid 50% custody of our daughter, a great group of friends, a new, loving, non-disordered partner (we’re moving in together soon), a better position at work and a more fun life where I have some freedom to pursue my interests without being punished. I feel like myself again.

    When we split I was determined not to let this situation ruin me or hurt my relationship with my daughter. But I also felt very hopeless, sad, depressed and alone. It takes time, effort and patience to rebuild. It is a very hard time, but you will learn a lot about yourself and what you want out of life.

    Do I still think my ex wife is a psychotic, lying bitch? Yep. I reckon I always will. But she’s someone else’s problem now.

    Take care, dude.

  • Personally as a man who’s wife cheated on me after 20 yrs I would not suggest moving out. Courts are hard enough on us guys. I would hate for you to get stuck with abandonment. I would lawyer up immediately. I know it’s hard to think straight right now but but get mad and lawyer up. Do not let her know you are doing so. Did I mention you must get a lawyer ASAP! My D-Day is coming up on 2 yrs 3 weeks right before Christmas. She’s gone. Figure a way to get her out of the house. Again, get a lawyer! Do it while she might have some guilt.

  • Marc, I can so remember how I felt once I discovered my ex was having an affair. I felt physically sick and can relate to anyone who states they are heartbroken. 🙁 Stay in the home but move out of the bedroom as this may start the clock re date of separation. IMHO your first motion at court should be not only to address children’s custody but assets as well, especially homes in this market(who pays what while case moves through family court, address house/mortgage sooner rather than later!) The faster you can separate your finances and get an agreement (even if only temporary!) in place the better off you will be financially. You have a son heading to college soon so include those expenses as well. Also check to see if your wife hasn’t already “lifted” funds to pursue her rotten lifestyle, it’s common for Cheaters….My ex spent all our savings on his Schmoopie and then started in on our kids’ college funds. He even refinanced house to pull money out so there would be no equity in it once he left us and on dday and after was trying to talk me into refinancing!- red flags to be sure. Narcs spend great deal of money on themselves, and expect everything in a divorce. Mine traveled, he often vacationed alone or went to fitness clubs-it took me a while to figure out he was dating others!-but thousands of dollars were spent on “his” hobby. It is way past time to put that entitled lady in check, Marc. Even from a fetal position you need to fight.

  • Marc, I know how you feel – or at least, I had sort of the same situation, in that…my ex and I had kind of parallel lives – we both cared about the kids, we worked well together in moving the family forward, doing the right thing, shared chores, financial responsibilities, etc., and that made me ‘settle’ for a long, long time. Kind of like, cutting my losses. Paring it down to what I spackled as ‘what was good for the kids’. The false sense of an intact family. He played the game, too – but he was distant, needed his ‘space’ (how independent he was!), and we ‘respected’ that. As long as the house was warm, the bills were paid, the kids were fed and watered ( and I did all of that…) he was free to ‘be himself’. Well…31 years of that, and in the end, he left us anyway, just ‘independent’ ed himself right out of our family – and my now adult kids are left going, What. The. Fuck. They knew Mom and Dad had their own lives and all, but…their hearts longed to see love and intimacy and connection between their parents. Now, they all have commitment issues with their own beloved partners. They are questioning everything, they doubt their feelings and don’t trust their instincts – and I feel so responsible for that.
    You have a lot of stuff to comment to, but just thinking about your kids, and what you might ‘settle’ for… I am just two years since D Day, and in Dec it will be two years since divorce. It’s WAY better. We are recovering, we are getting stronger every day, we are ‘coming clear’. God I know how scary it is. Ugh, it’s just freaky thinking about it….but I am here to tell you, you and your kids will be sooo much better if you take the leap. ChumpLady has great advice here for you on this post – do all of it. Be smart, cover your ass. Don’t settle. You pay now, or you pay later. Your kids are young. Do it now, and avoid the lasting damage on them….Rebuild your lives, and start right now. Peace, and love, Marc. We are all here for you….

  • I’ve really got to go walk the dogs, so I don’t know if anyone already said this, but the first thing I thought when I saw CL’s title today is, “Of course she is! She’s sleeping with MY HUSBAND!!” because of course my narc XH’s OW is a married woman who was cuckolding her own spouse and who also works for XH. Some people are just lying deceitful scumbags and they deserve to be left behind. Take care of your kids. It’s hard but it’s a better example to them than being a doormat.

  • Okay, so the community has spoken. I read through part of this thread this morning, and am back this evening to read the rest of these posts. There’s one possibility that I haven’t seen mentioned that needs saying, and that might galvanize you into action if nothing else does.

    I knew a man who was having marital difficulties. His wife dealt with it by taking the children, driving out of state, and being out of contact for months. He had no idea where she was, and no legal recourse because they were not legally separated and thus she was within her rights. She finally came back, he filed for divorce and got full custody. (I met him because our daughters were in the same ballet class. Special category of cool: Dads Who Braid Hair.) Here’s the punch line: after he got custody, crazy-ex asked if they could get back together again. (Could I make that up?)

    I am guessing you’re thinking, “But she’s not like what you guys think she’s like.” Because yeah. We do that.

    Have you ever taken a collective look at the wives of politicians who standing beside their husbands who are standing in front of their electorate apologizing for skanky behavior? The women all look the same: as if they were up all night crying, and are now heavily medicated and staring into an on-rushing train. That’s you, minus the powder-blue suit and pearls. That’s you.

    Do you have friends whom you trust, have trusted, have known for a long time? Ones you can count on to go that hard mile with you? After you talk with a lawyer, talk with them. Gather a support system around you.

    I’m not saying that any of us can make the decision for you. But I encourage you to ask yourself this: if, twenty-five years from now, one of your sons came to you crying, telling you the story you told, and asking, “Dad, what do I do?”, what would you tell him?

    • And another thing . . . if you haven’t already, suggest you read the “Real Remorse? Or Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse?” article. And the comments that follow that article made by spouses who had to get tested for STD’s because their cheating spouses refused to do so.

  • Wow, I hope im not too late. This happened to me exactly, and I would love to give you some advice.

    Do not play the “pick me dance”.
    Do not arrange or schedule any counseling except maybe some IC for yourself.
    Do not leave the home, or throw her stuff out. Give her space via a separate bedroom.
    Do not keep asking her about the affair, or him or anything . Believe nothing she says and keep track of what she does.
    Do not believe it was only a couple of times, or that it is over, or that getting proof will end the affair.
    Do not let her see you broken, do not tell her how you feel.
    She doesn’t care, she’s not the person you thought she was. She is a manipulative liar who has no remorse or regret for the affair.
    Know this: The affair is underground, especially if she “needs space”

    Do take care of yourself. Excercise, get educated about affairs.
    Do remember it’s not your fault.
    Do take care of the kids, plan for a future without her.
    Do get sleep.

    Now as for catching them or getting proof… has a forum about coping with unfidelity, getting proof for lawyers (and yourself), how to detach from marriage.

    I am fortunate that ~I caught the signs before I exposed the affair, and chumplady and TAM had some great advice, good folks to talk to, and information up the wazoo.

    If you need to chat, Im here

    I’m a year from Dday, and doing better than I have in years.
    You can survive this.

    A Fellow Chump

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