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Chump Kids

Just curious — how many of you chumps are children of chumps? How did your parents’ infidelity inform your experience?

Did you have a mighty parent who modeled self respect?

Did you never understand chump mom or dad’s story, until it happened to you?

Did you buy the narrative that Good People Just Have Affairs Sometimes, and did that enable you to stay in your fucked up marriage?

Did you learn to eat shit sandwiches at an early age?

It seems to me that we probably have a treasure trove of life experience here within Chump Nation of why staying for the kids is bullshit. You just breed another generation of chumps and cheaters.


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  • Nope. My parents are still happily married after nearly 30 years. mutual respect and love is still there. So I’m a chump in my own.

    • Same for me – my parents have been happily married for 58 years and are still in love. I am also a chump all on my own.

      • Me, too…my parents are still happily married after 47 years. They are best friends and still hold hands. I, too, am a chump all on my own.

        • I think that kids of parents of happy marriages just assume that everyone is like that! You dad was nice, so most guys are nice. I think that is how my mom got chumped. Whereas, I grew up with asshat dad, and I know FOR SURE that not everyone is what they seem. You were groomed, forgive yourself. Enjoy your happy parents!

          • Yes Nancy, I agree. My Mom died at 64 but I know that she and my Dad would never have split up. Dad never showed any interest in dating afterwards. This made me very naive and I had no close experience with cheating/divorce. Sister and H married close to fifty years now. They will never split. Caring for each other through illnesses. On the other hand my EH’s father abandoned the family when my EH was in grade school, and all siblings but one divorced, and now us. Should have told me something right there.

          • Nancy, I definitely agree. My parents were happily married for over 50 years until my father passed away. I just “assumed” all marriages were happy. Any exposure I had to infidelity (friends’ parents, neighbors, etc) was filed under “that only happens to other people.” Little did I know … and both my sisters have also been chumped. They are still with their cheaters. Yuck. I can’t convince them enough to read Chump Lady and dump their stupid, a-hole husbands.

            • I can’t count the times I’ve updated that file of “that only happens to other people.” Right next to “that only happens in fiction.” I think these may be catchphrases for chumps and chump-in-training.

    • Me, too. Parents married over 50 yrs. They had eachother’s back always (really sucks as a teenager trying to get away with something!). Dad is the salt of the earth, mom is the female version of that. Brother and sister happily married for many years (not to eachother). What happened to me? Our relationship has disintegrated, they cannot wrap their heads around my going back for more pain.

      • My parents hold hands and are all in love and have celebrated 50 years…

        As I was telling my sister about my cheating wife, she told me about how my father cheated on my mother and then my mother had a revenge affair…

        I guess back in the day, you just swept those things under the rug and carried on with the farce of your marriage…

        I’m in farce mode, ‘for my kids’ right now, but really it’s because I’m frightened of change and I’ve been with this person since I was 16 and now I’m 50… Yea, my childhood sweatheart stabbed me in the back for one fifth of our 30 year relationship and I’m still with her. She’s playing the role of unicorn well.. has been for almost two years.

        • Me too! My parents have been married 46+ years and seemingly have a rock-solid marriage. They are blue-collar, salt of the earth, Catholics and we had a very happy childhood. My Mom definitely “wears the pants” in the relationship but I long-ago learned that dynamic works well for them. My Dad had a fucked-up upbringing (I don’t even know the half of it) so my Mom has been a steady & stable force & provided that love & support he didn’t have growing up. My sister and I (long before my D-Days) had often commented that their “perfect” marriage had a somewhat negative impact on us b/c we never saw them fight and therefore didn’t learn how to resolve conflicts or how to deal with confrontation. (Interestingly, I’m the only of the three siblings to divorce but my marriage had always been considered the “good” one – until they learned of his affairs – and my sibling’s are in relationships that seem more for convenience than love & mutual respect.) My STBX’s parents were married for 52 years before his Mom’s death a few years ago and from everything I witnessed, they were as much in love as my parents are. His bro is a Narc (imho) so not sure what happened with the kids but as far as I could see, they were raised well. In fact, the only reason I’m grateful for his Mom’s death is that it would have killed her to see how terrifically he blew up our family. Goes to show that FOO issues (or seemingly lack thereof) can only account for so much.

    • My parents will have 45 years together next month. It’s not a perfect marriage, but they love each other. I do know my father was tempted by a few women, and that things got a little strange (not that kind of strange) with the widow of one of his best friends/colleagues, but in the end, I’m certain my parents were 100% faithful to each other, even through some pretty serious shit, like my mother’s disfiguring cancer. My parents love and mostly respect each other. They are good to each other.

      I was so proud of meeting a man who was seemingly less demanding and needy than my own father is. I smirked when my parents wondered why he and I didn’t have a shared bank account (my ex referred to our money as “my money” and “your money.”)

      I was very afraid of being cheated on, and shied away from flaming narcissists when I was a single girl. I never thought I measured up, certainly not in looks nor in spontaneity, anyway. It took infidelity in my own marriage for me to learn of the other narcissist–the passive-aggressive covert, coward narcissist, like the flop I was married to.

      Live and learn.

  • Oh yes. I’m a Chump of a Chump of a sailor. They eventually split but Mom never got over it. Which made HER physically abusive. Yet he was always there for me regardless of how crazy he was making everyone’s life. So. Very. Confusing. My father was actually celebrated for his conquests and I was always in the middle. One thing for sure I can guarantee you that shit sandwiches for lunch were a hell of a lot more common than PB&J. Didn’t always taste good but I was a growning girl and hungry. A very tangled skein indeed. But I’m learning more here every day, Thank you CL and CL nation.

  • My parents were married for nearly 50 years and after my father died, my mom said she’d never find another man like him. My in-laws have been married for 50 years but I’m not so sure it’s all be happy. My FIL is sweet and lovely; my MIL is obnoxious, opinionated, bossy (and I’m being kind). I’ve always disliked her. My STBX used to model his father, but now I’m seeing his mother’s side rearing after all these years. Never thought I’d be a chump but here we are…

  • My parents have been married for 60 years, no affairs that I know of, but it is a toxic and abusive relationship. They both were abusive and I am sure mom is a narcissist. I think that the abusive and toxic marriage I chose was because of the way I grew up. It was my normal. I was the scape goat of my mom’s demons, just like I am for my STBX. At one point, while I was elementary school, I told mom that I was going to get her a punching bag so she could use it instead of me when she got angry. We all got a good laugh out of it. I had no idea that families weren’t supposed to be that way. Fast forward to my marriage, I had no idea I was worth of love and respect or that my husband should adore me, not constantly try to avoid me and scream at me when he had a bad day. The affairs, those were my fault of course, just like all my mom’s issues were my fault too. For me, healing is now dealing with the trauma of my childhood as well as the toxic, abusive, cheater that I have been married to for over 20 years. Finally figured out I can’t fix him, like I could never fix mom so I am just fixing me.

  • My parents never had this issue. They were loyal to each other. Same with my in-laws.
    I am dealing with this on my own. I do not want my children thinking this is an acceptable way to live.
    However, I really don’t think my mother could understand this if I told her about it. She is limited. I have heard her comments before about infidelity and believe me, she does not get it. Sometimes I get angry with her when I think about it. Of course, she doesn’t —know why I am divorcing my husband and the extent of misery.
    This is just another thing that makes me feel alone–there’s a lack of support. This and other things make me feel on some days that all I have are assholes in my life.

  • I believe I learned to spackle from my Mother. There was talk of one woman – but I think it was more of an attraction than an affair when my Dad was in his 40’s.

    My Dad was not a bad man, but he was self centred. He did what he wanted when he wanted and it was all about him for the most part. He was either working or golfing. Or with his Brother or friends.

    My Mother ran everything and raised us pretty much on her own. When Mom died if cancer Dad was at a complete loss.
    I don ‘t think he even knew how to use the microwave !

    My stbx is a lot like my Dad in that sense. entitled to do as he wished. I was the stay at home wife appliance and I did not get bonus points for that!

    My Mom was always active, volunteered and worked as well. But I think she was lonely too. Hard to say – but the fact that my work a holic narc H and I had no connection never dawned on me. It was how I was raised and didn’t know anything different.

    I have put down the spackle and now see what a relationship should look like!!

    • Lisah,

      This is my story, too. My mother was a child of an alcoholic father and a workhorse mother. She learned how to enable and “take it” all the time. Her response to Dad’s selfish behavior was to smile and let it be. I don’t think I ever saw her speak up. My father was physically and verbally abused by his mother, so he learned to hate women. I am one of six girls. My father had his favorites and I wasn’t one of them. We actually got into a fist fight one night when I was 16 because I came home drunk and said my peace. He won.

      I learned how to do everything and be a doormat, hoping I wouldn’t piss off my husband. He ended up repeating what he grew up with; the doormat “appliance” (love that!) mother who hated her husband, and the entitled, explosive father who treated and used his wife to service his needs.

      Looking back, I realize I didn’t stand a chance. It is amazing how we replicate our childhood dynamic as adults.

  • My mom and dad were married 46 years. My mom was kind of emotionally unstable and my dad, between his physically exhausting job and mom’s mood swings just didn’t have a lot of time for us kids.

    They always struggled financially, but paid bills on time. By the time they both became ill and passed away within 8 months of one another, they had grown to a peaceable and genuine caring for one another.

    My mom (the unstable one) became unglued and self destructive after Dad died. No one could do things right for her, she was mean and resentful and entitled. She took poor care of herself, verbally abused anyone who helped her, and told anyone who would listen what terrible daughters she had. My sister was a saint during this time supporting her medically and financially. I offered to move in and help her and she told me she didn’t need her peace ruined.

    Deep down, she knew how cruel she had been when we were small. Looking back I think she was terrified at being physically helpless before grown children she so mercilessly verbally rejected and abused.

    When she died, my sister gleefully gave me all ownership of her modest house. It’s sort of twisted that she “didn’t want another baby” and didn’t want me to live here. Now I do for free. It’s a giant FU to her in hell I’m sure.

    I just read an article this morning that one of the more common PTSD manifestations of living with a Narcissist is OCD and compulsive cleaning. In the last year with WASBAND, I was full fledged. Obsessive couponing, stockpiling and organizing groceries, cleaning, cooking elaborate meals from scratch, taking on more and more a percentage of the household budget from my salary (80% by the end) in a flailing response to his complaints trying to earn back the idealizing phase of attention and stop the devaluing. Earning love from someone incapable of it.

    Nope, I don’t have any FOO issues at all!

    • Hahahaha, Just remembered how friend characterized this desperate period of Pick Me Polka: “You were the Black Swan of Homemakers.”

    • Luziana,
      Do you have that article on OCD and compulsive cleaning? Sounds interesting and familiar.

      • Here you go:

        He said one of the reasons he picked Schmoopie was because she is so ‘laid back.’ She laid back, all right.

        I just was so anxious all the time. During the devaluing, I was convinced if I just made our home perfect he would go back to idealizing again.

        I’m still very neat but I don’t nag any more, and I don’t push myself to exhaustion. Meditation and acceptance of self tell me I am awesome, my kids pick up after themselves and are interested in cooking, and cross words are just not often had. Our home is quite peaceful.

        • Great link, Luz. I’ll check it out tomorrow when I’m not exhausted. It looks like an interesting website. I wish we lived closer to one another!

          • Me, too! I’m in the Midwest. But heck. Two of my best friends live far, and distance ain’t nothing but a number. 🙂

    • “I just read an article this morning that one of the more common PTSD manifestations of living with a Narcissist is OCD and compulsive cleaning”
      I look back at my entire marriage and see all kinds of OCD…couponing, living frugally, thrift shopping, gardening, cooking from scratch; even my hobbies became obsessive! I never thought about it like this before! But I’m realizing that as soon as filed for divorce, all of those obsessions fell away! Not only have I not done any of them, I haven’t even thought of any of them! Wow! Thanks for posting that!

      • My H started OCD behavior during my second pregnancy and it continues to this day, he even cleaned my house the first time he visited and follows the littles around with a wet cloth wiping up crumbs. He walked out when baby2 was 6 months old with shark eyes and full of blame. Does that make me the bad guy?

        • Nope, not at all. there’s kind of a difference between OCD as a form of power and control and OCD as an anxiety measure. I never cared what others did. I just reenacted the same futile scenario with my mom as my husband. I sensed I was not properly loved, that I was not good enough, and I obsessively tried to tap dance my way into their hearts by any means necessary.

          • Thanks for the link. I was just really struck by the connection between cleaning and PTSD. Hadn’t heard that before. I was always cleaning at home growing up, then trying to make household things perfect when married. I just hadn’t really made the connection to OCD in my marriage. I sensed it was a little weird of me growing up and that I was trying to be a pleaser but thought what I was doing in my marriage was just what one lovingly did. I am so glad to be free of that now. Things don’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to try to please someone else in my own home.

    • Luz,
      you made me giggle alittle about the ocd while living with NARC.
      everyone knew when narc was in the house, and shit was happening,
      EVERYTHING I could get my hands on got washed, dried and meticulously
      folded! LOL I would get sheets, curtains, rugs and things that were not
      even dirty had to be washed! Not so crazy about the laundry with him
      out of the house these days…

      • It keeps your mind busy, and it’s sort of a nesting behavior. All that stuff about rearranging furniture and painting? I did it. I remembered he got mad when I bought a red microwave. So I threw out his dishes and cookery wares and bought screaming red everything, top of the line Kitchen Aid. It made me feel my home was mine and mighty.

        • In my darkest days before d-day I would make pretty vignettes all over the house with vases, knick knacks, etc, and just sit and stare at how they balanced one another with size, shape, or color. I could just zone out and stare at them, I had never done that before!

        • Whats wrong with a red microwave, I’m curious. I recently bought one in the same color after the one I’ve had for years crapped out and I wanted a color I normally wouldn’t purchase because I like white/ stainless steel combo. However, I’m attempting to redesign my interior for the purpose of changing/ rearranging the physical environment to reflect our inner changes- something we reference on here often. Again, what’s wrong with a bold red microwave, lol

          • Nothing, obviously. I gues he didn’t like red. But when your husband is a sociopath any decision made with one’s own money and without his all knowing approval is an insult to his bloated ego.

            When we moved in together, his microwave was all filthy and peeling inside. It was gross and not safe. I asked if we could keep mine instead and he agreed enthusiastically. he never once mentioned it bothered him.

            When he was moving out, and taking thousands of dollars of furniture purchased only with my salary, he shed not one tear nor extended one gesture of compassion over the loss of our family.

            But he did sob over the new things he would have to buy, and I will always remember one of the last things he said to me. Blubbering uncontrollably. That I had thrown away his good microwave.

    • Omg – compulsive cleaning?!?
      That is me. When I am stressed, angry, hurt or confused I clean!!!
      Now that I live on my own I am not so compulsive 🙂

      • omg my stepmother cleaned constantly! Possibly my dad was cheating on her…one day we all awoke expectantly for a planned family trip to Disneyland, and she declared we all must get the house clean before we left. It was late afternoon before we got out of there and all I remember now about that day is the frenzied cleaning–and of course my father deciding moments before we got in the car that HE needed a steak sandwich before we could go. She cooked it and cleaned up the mess while we waited, then waited some more for him to eat.

  • Mum and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. No cheating that I know of, they’ve always been very close, so can’t imagine there ever was. They have been together since they were children themselves and mum had me when she was only sixteen, They would be the first to admit they made a lot of mistakes bringing up us kids. I feel disloyal saying it, because I love them both very much and have come to terms with the abuses, but there was a lot of physical and emotional abuse when we were children. I have to say, beating your children was the norm those days (not thrashing your kids was frowned upon – the days when cartoon comics had father giving his kids ‘the slipper’ and the bobby on the beat was said to clip kids around the ear for any cheek). However, I do believe it set me (and my siblings) up for accepting abuse in relationships – so, trained to be a chump from birth.

  • My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. Mom was 6 months pregnant with my oldest sister when they got married, they struggled financially for many years and had many ups and downs but they WORKED on their marriage. I saw love between them every day. My dad would pat my mom on the behind and wink at her and she would do little things for him when he was tired. It was a give and take. They drive each other crazy sometimes but at the end of the day…….I still see them look at each other with love.

    I am the only one in my family who is divorced. I never thought it would be me. NEVER. I wanted what my parents had and more. The man I married really lost out, I had so much to give and I valued marriage. I learned from the best!

  • My Mom and Dad were married over 60 years. In my 20’s there was an incident involving him watering the neighbor’s flowers/houseplants while she was out of town. Dad didn’t tell Mom. Mom hated this neighbor. All hell broke loose and Dad sat in the living room silent for 6 months until she forgave him. Mom was the center of attention in the family. Dad adored her to the point that he fought to live until after she died. She made him promise and even though he was so tired and ready to die he fought to stay alive for her benefit. Today is her birthday.

    Dad’s father on the other hand I was told was a notorious cheater. He drank and was abusive to the point of bringing whoever he slept with home for Grandma to cook breakfast for them. Dad took his Mom to the courthouse and helped her get a divorce. Dad was her witness to the infidelity and cruelty. This was back in the day when divorce was taboo. He was on the outs with his dad for decades.
    Finally, Grandpa had a girlfriend. We called her Aunt. She didn’t live with him, just stayed with during the day. In Junior High at a New Years Eve party a drunken man came up and introduced himself to me. He told me he was Aunt’s husband. He told me my Grandpa was a “damn fine man”. Turned out everyone but me knew about Aunt being married, including her grandchildren that were my age.
    I’ve never been with a man who loved me or was as loyal as my Dad. I do suffer from low self esteem. I found out later in life that I was an accident and after I was born my Dad had a vasectomy. It’s the reason why I have spent my life doing the “pick me dance” with whoever I’ve been with. GAAAH!!

  • My parents will be married 50 years this year too. Well, that poses another question. I wonder if chumps just get played out of no idea that people behave like this?

    I’m just curious how growing up with infidelity informs your own infidelity experience.

    • It kind of early yet with the responses I have read so far but I would say that it seems that most chumps just don’t think people/spouses would be disloyal.

      I also have long thought that affairs are just the sign of the times. It’s a hell of a lot easier to conduct an affair these days with cellphones and computers and both spouses working outside of the home. The value of marriage has changed. We, as a society, have stopped working hard at it.

      • Or in my case, I grew up thinking that love was scarce and could disappear, and that people had short romantic attention spans. So I got chumped by someone I had known for 30 years and trusted. Never saw it coming until he was in gaslighting stage.

    • I’ll never forget a story by a friend. She said her parents were storybook examples of love, honor, and cherish. She never saw them struggle, which left her with the idea that relationships were easy. So she went into her marriage with none of the tools she felt she needed to resolve conflict, pick battles, make compromises, etc.

      • I’m the child of a 50+ year marriage made in heaven… My parents worked on communication, always have had a date night, and felt nothing was more important than presenting a unified front to the four children. We never saw them fight – they always worked it out privately and spoke respectfully to and about each other. They still enjoy each other. I never saw the effort, just the ease. Around my mid-twenties I began to doubt that I’d ever have such a match…and I let the settling begin.

    • Loyalty and commitment were completely modeled in my family. I knew my great-grandfather (my great-grandmother died just before I was born, I was named after her) – he didn’t remarry. Both sets of grandparents, and all aunts and uncles (5 on one side, 6 on the other) married for life. Once you join the family, you are family!

      ‘The Great I Am now’ … well, his father was his mother’s second husband (her first husband was physically abusive) and she was a chump expert. His father was a huge gambler, huge liar, huge stone-waller, huge ‘abandoner’, huge gas-lighter, Huge kibble eater. No talk of any cheating, but it would not surprise me at all, I just think it more likely those things weren’t revealed to his children. He once told STBX’s sister (when she asked him if he loved her) that he didn’t feel the same way about her as he did about her two brothers. She had big FOO issues about that, and, as she was also a cheater, used that as her excuse for needing kibbles in abundance from her many, many EA’s throughout her 23 year marriage.

    • I think in most cases, it may be more about the cheater´s parents. My parents have been together for 53 years and though my mom is the dominating one, it feels like a compliment to my dad´s passive but good nature. They take care of each other and have each other´s back, and I can´t remember much fighting or any recollection of cheating. I always thought my marriage would last as long.

      My STBX cheater, on the other hand, has the father-of-all-Narcs as his dad and though he may have never been caught at cheating, he is very mean, stingy and abusive. His first wife died of cancer and his second wife is a doormat who tends to his every need. My cheater is also a narc and hates his dad who never showed him love, so my theory is that his adult life has been focused on proving to his dad that he is not a loser and that he can be loved: “I am so loveable and not a loser, that I can get as many hard-working-smart-loveable wives as I want AND have lovers on the side. Everyone loves me…so there…”

      • I believe you are right, Susan. One of the creepiest things to come out of Cheater’s mouth was the comment that “love is supposed to hurt “. wtf ??????

    • My wife got a good education.. Her grandmother always bragged about how her boyfriend was the love of her life (not the grandpa that paid the bills and took care of her and the family).. Of course her boyfriends love was his wife he went home to every night. My wife’s mother ended up cheating with a coworker and marrying him, so that one had a happy ending. Her aunt used to bring the married boyfriend to our family functions. He went with her to the moms wedding.

      When I caught my wife cheating, of course I got the ‘everybody does it’ line.. she even listed off everyone that’s ever cheated or was cheating. I’m sure she even made a few up.

      • “everybody does it” Then listed the people she knows that cheat.

        You should have handed her a blank piece of paper and told her this was your list of people who live in this house that cheat.

    • CL –so glad you asked this question today. the social scientist in me drools over the empirical data in the replies 🙂 however my reply is for the chump in me..

      my parents were married 50 years, no affairs. my therapist once wondered the same as you: did i assume my X was as good and honest as my dad (yes. i did.)

      right now i am less concerned about my young adult daughters turning into chumps because i was chumped…and more concerned about how sending them back into “the burning building” alone with their dad – and how it affects them now.

      the passive (and important) modeling a sane and authentic life or trusting they will figure out their relationship with cheater dad/mom on their own doesn’t seem to be nearly enough. we recovering chumps get constant reality reinforcement about NPD/BPD by reading this blog. Where is same for chump teen/young adult chump children?

      i educated my daughters on how to prevent date rape and create boundaries with “mean girls” and narcissistic bosses. seems a direct and didactic approach to help them identify and protect themselves from current danger (i.e., dad’s continued gaslighting, blameshifting and kibble seeking with THEM) is needed to not only to prevent possible future chumpdom but for their current emotional well being.

      would love to hear if chumps educate their young adult children (bio of cheater) about this. mine had a very bad experience with a therapist and won’t go back.

      sending much gratitude to chump nation.

      • I love/Hate/Fear this subject, how do we prepare our kids for THIS big bad world? My take is similar to yours, they have to grow up sooner so I try to impart coping skills and the idea of hard boundaries.

        Mine is but a single voice…. I hope it is heard.

    • My parents were married for 50 years before my father’s untimely death about 13 years ago. My mother is an attractive and active woman, and the older widowers all want to date her. She has told them that she likes going out to dinner, concerts, and dancing, but she’s not going to play house. She was married to the best, and that’s that.

      My home life was not dysfunctional. My parents believed that children needed to work out their own sibling issues. The result is that all of their many children not only love each other, but also like each other. Family get-togethers are positive events.

      However, my younger sister made a disastrous first marriage at age 18 to an abusive asshole. It lasted not quite a year. My older sister has never married, and seems almost leery of non-gay men. I thought I was the normal one, but look what happened there. Both my brothers are married in solid partnerships. My younger sister has remarried, this time with a solid guy, though a bit patriarchal for my taste.

      I think that if I had to lay some FOO issue at the door, it would be that we were always encouraged to take the larger picture. In a large family, you can’t squabble each time someone does some minor thing wrong. Now, we communicated that there was an issue, but without drama.

      I think that works when you’re dealing in good faith with other people who also deal in good faith. My error was in readjusting my boundaries of what was acceptable–spackling–so that the bigger red flags were seen as idiosyncrasies. Did I mention that my siblings are all fairly independent people? We are used to dealing with idiosyncrasies.

      But the big flag I ignored was how STBX dealt with conflict. In my family, we never were permitted to go on the personal offensive. We were instructed to work it out, to find out that yes, sibling A pushed sibling B’s buttons, and while sibling B was in the wrong to react in an inappropriate fashion, sibling A needed to back off when sibling B first said that buttons were being pushed.

      STBX would never, ever apologize. Never, ever accept that he’d done anything wrong, pushed buttons, etc. At the same time, he could be very hurtful, very insensitive. He has been the only person who’s reduced me to absolute tears of frustration because he just didn’t seem to get that what he was doing/saying was hurtful.

      And like a chump, I spackled over that–giving him the excuse of whacked-out brain chemistry (which is true)–and some emotional maturity issues.

      I now see that as a major red flag about his inability to deal with life in general, and I will require decent conflict resolution skills from anyone else that I may date in the future.

  • Nope, my parents are still happily married (as far as I know – that’s what this whole thing has taught me, you truly never know. All of our friends thought we were happy. I thought we were happy. I digress.) Both sets of grandparents were married until one of them died. My grandpa’s sperm donor (oh I’m wording it like that for a reason) kicked him and my great-grandma out of the house when my grandpa was a little child so that he could be with his secretary. Never had anything to do with my grandpa again. My great-grandma never remarried and raised my grandpa on her own. When I got divorced, I went back to my maiden name because I didn’t want cheating scumbag’s last name, but I guess I still have A cheating scumbag’s last name. :/

    My ex, however, his parents divorced when he was young amid allegations of his mom’s cheating. NO idea if that’s true or not, but I definitely see his mom’s Narc behaviors in him. Ironically enough, he never got along that well with her. Maybe two Narcs can’t be in a room together?

    • I think they sniff each other out. Narcs have good narc-dar IMO. Only so many kibbles…. gotta understand the competition.

      • I think you are right… I think they see themselves coming from a long way off and chumps like me look like easy pickens.

  • My parents were married for 55 years and I would say that 30 of them were truly happy. Something happened when I was very young (6-10) that resulted in my dad sleeping in a separate room for what seemed like a long time. So long that it came to seem normal to me. My mom never spoke of it, and after a time he was back in their bedroom. My mom was a complex woman, and raising my sister and I was taxing on her emotionally, I think. My sister was tough – pure 60s/70s pot smoking rebellion. I was the “good girl” – so much so that no man was ever going to be good enough for me in her eyes, and so I essentially ran away from home and all the luxuries it provided to marry Shit-for-brains when I was 23. He was the first man who had ever really pursued me and the first to stand up to my mom – so I was mesmerized and hooked for life…until D-day exposed him and you know the rest.

    My mom and dad did what was right – they didn’t bail, Dad didn’t get fed up and abandon us with no money and marry a 20 year old – he stayed true to his vows because – well – they were VOWS. You didn’t take things like that lightly back in the greatest generation days. My dad had enormous character, and my mom was exquisitely beautiful, talented, passionate and emotionally fragile. So no – I didn’t come from a chump background in the long term – but that time in the middle when I was small….it would not be hard to connect the dots and draw a conclusion. But in the last 20 years of their marriage – with all the responsibilities of children past and stresses diminished…I think they were as happy as when they first were married and life stretched out before them. They were proof that sometimes you can get past things, that a great relationship and marital equity isn’t always disposable – that it is worth keeping because it will get better when you are in a rough spot. That sounds chumpy, I know – but in their case it was true.

  • My parents split when I was 8. ExH parents have been together for 37 years. I thought if anything, I would be the one to leave. Before engagement we completed a book entitled 1500 questions before you get married. Wouldn’t you know we agreed on almost everything?! We did 6 months od premarital counseling too, requirement. Thought I had found the opposite of my dad, but nope, found the same. Funny thing, during a counseling session, we had a fight the night before and I remember saying “it feels like I’m marrying a liar”. The counselor told me I needed to be less rigid and realize that not everyone is perfect…
    As a kid, I wasn’t close with my dad and stopped talking to him eventually at age 11. He was married to mistress by then and I couldn’t stand her or his attitude around her. From mom, I always heard “he’s your father and her loves you” so I had a very low standard for what love was.
    Spackeling was definitely inherited from my mom.

    • Oh, this is a scary comment for me, Ashley. I have been saying to my kids that there father loves them even though he is very angry and strict with them. He has his nice moments but is usually on the tense-depressed side, especially now that he is losing his life as he once enjoyed it. I am nervous if the kids ever meet the OW because the little one already tells me that she hates her for ruining our family. I hope they are not also developing low standards, as you say….though I always tell them they should not be with anyone who doesn´t respect them or treats them badly.

        • Susan,

          Stop lying to your kids. Their dad doesn’t love them, or, rather, he loves himself more. The cognitive dissonance between what Mom day, ‘Dad loves you’ and his actions will fuck.them.up. It can come out sideways all sorts of nasty ways-self-harm, drugs, promiscuity, etc.

          Put the spackle down. When it comes to Mr Fab’s actions and words that hurt my DD, I make no comment, beyond addressing daughter’s pain. You are righ, they should not be with any one who hurts or treats them badly. Not anyone, even their dad.

          Post DDay, my cheater just became more of what he already was-a sperm donor with a Napoleon complex. I am NC with him, DD pretty much ditto. And it is so. much. better.

  • My mom spackeled, but pretty clear dad cheated and quit his job when he was demoted for it. Learned this later.
    He literally abandoned the family. Cops in our smalltown thought she killed him, or it was an insurance scam.
    Mom was undiagnosed bipolar. Life was very tough. She was ill and could not make good decisions; no one recognized it. We moved a lot. Dad re-appeared a few years later, but really only to get married to the girlfriend met during those years.

    My exH was my high school sweetheart. It was extra devastating when I realized I had married my father (exH sorta abandoned the family when he took a job in another state, claiming it was work he was unhappy with… He found a fellow cheater there, and ended the marriage… Did not return.
    My kids were devastated.

    In hindsight, what did I learn:
    I was the daughter who took care of younger siblings… You do the work without complaint. Always think of others.
    My parents never really talked about relationship stuff, so I never learned how to bring things up non confrontational. At the end, parents were arguing over money, loudly… So I never got angry with ex. We NEVER once had a fight… But I guess resentment (and entitlement) built up.

    My goal is that my kids break the cycle! (Grandfathers and great grandather on both sides were all cheaters, too).

  • My parents are also still happily married. Both sets of grandparents stayed together in what appeared to be very loving relationships until one died. In fact, in my whole extended family there is no divorce and no (known) affairs. I always assumed I became a chump because of the GOOD examples I had … made me believe that marriage was a blessing to be cherished and made it hard to really believe that people behaved the way cheaters do, even with the evidence right in front of me.

  • Parents were happily married until my fathers untimely death at a young age. My mother never remarried or even dated. My three older siblings have great long term marriages and i have one sister who is a cheater and a user. I got chumped. My ex though was the conductor at dysfunction junction. Her parents were just a pile of crap. So she came by it honestly.

    • “Dysfunction junction, what’s my function” (channeling Grammar Rock).

  • Yes!! I am Child of Chump and learned how to eat shit sandwiches early on! My mom found out about my dad’s girlfriend when I was 2, so she got pregnant to convince him to stay. He was still planning to leave until my brother was born — HIS FIRST SON!! — so he decided to “stay” — kind of. He had us upstate and girlfriend (now wife) in the city. So during the week he would stay in the city “working” (such a good provider) and on the weekends he would come home and play “happy family.” Except dad always slept on the couch. During the week my mom would drink, pop pills binge eat, rage constantly, and beat the shit out of me and my sister – I guess she blamed us for losing her prize of a husband.

    The legacy of those lies and that kind of fucked up deception is still with me in my 50s.


    Oh I still dream of that!!

  • Parents divorced when I was three due to fathers adultery. They got back together a short time after that we lived as a family until I was about 8 or 9 until he cheated again and was given the boot. Can anyone say confusing for a child? A year or so after that Mom remarried (a wonderful man, who sadly just passed away) and a year after that dad remarried.
    dad was never on time for anything except his own funeral. My brother and I would spend hours looking out the front window waiting for him to pick us up on on scheduled visitation days, or calling him because he was always late (by hours not minutes). We were often left in cars, and one time even left in a hotel when I was about 4 and brother was 7. I joke with my brother about it now because it was the Playboy Hotel in NY and a kind “bunny” housekeeper came to clean our room and since I was scared and crying, she was nice enough to stay with us until dad got back to the room. So, I got him a playboy bunny. LOL
    Sad thing is I just found out that dumbmotherfucker ex, just recently left my elementary age son in a car for 6 hours while taking older son and himself shooting….. Fucking piece of shit jackass.
    With that being said, I see now how parts of my childhood did affect me. My parents fought and couldn’t stand to be around each other (I do feel NC is the right thing to do and I embrace that), and I feel my father never made us kids a priority, unless it suited him. I also see (after having to go through so many documents after all parents have passed, how he tried to antagonize my mother). I finally told him when I was 14 that I will only visit when I want to. My mother would fight for herself however, he had attorney friends and it became not even worth the fight after a while because shit would just drag on….
    I have so much admiration for my mother and stepdad for all that they did for me and for being those role models. For my father, I am thankful for the lessons on what not to do and how to mingle with all types.
    I tried to stay for the kids thinking to myself, I love the kids more than I hate ex. But in the end, what kind of role model would I be and how could I respect myself being someone elses doormat lying a lie…..

  • Hmm… My parents have been married 52 years. Well, 53 in 12 days, I think,

    No infidelity, but there was an incident when my paternal grandmother was in a nursing home, and my dad was spending time chatting up one of the nurses. I was already out of the house, so I learned about this post-my-dday when Mom core dumped on me.

    Apparently she heard about this, confronted the woman, contacted a divorce attorney, and that was that. Dad used to drink too much too, and part of the “avoid divorce deal” was giving up drinking. He hasn’t drank in about 30 years.

    They’re far from perfect parents, and they have their issues, other than that above, though. My mom’s a hopeless codependent “here let me do this, and then you will appreciate me” type of person, and after 67 years on the planet, she hasn’t quite managed to figure out this doesn’t work out like she expects every single time, and she eventually winds up affronted by being taken for granted or not appreciated. It’s a bit tiresome.

    My dad is, to put it kindly, compulsive. Yeah, he gave up drinking, but he replaced that with a war on disorder. For example, it’s Fall, and that means leaves will be falling. He will be at war to keep every single leaf off his lawn. And by war, I mean he will be angry they keep winding up on his lawn, and he will curse his and the neighbors’ trees and talk about how they need to be removed.

    This war on disorder is not confined to yard work. It is wages on water spots in sinks, trash cans that aren’t completely empty, carpet with foot prints (must be brushed one direction), and so on. On the one hand, he does all the housework, yardwork, etc. On the other hand, he gets very upset over things like you putting something in the trash can because “he just emptied that”.


  • I am the only child of a malignant narcissist father and a covert narcissist mother. Nobody ever sat down and discussed problems, they were just ignored, or denied, until they came up and bit someone in the ass. There were lots of lies and secrets. My father was a cheater, once that I know of but judging from his behavior, it was probably many times. Dear ol’ dad actually could not stand me and made no bones about it. I was competition for mom’s attention. It was warfare between them for all the years they were together. I was in the middle. Took a long time to see narc mom for what she was, she was a lot more sneaky with the abuse, where narc father was much more in-your-face with his abuse.

    It was no accident I married the two cheaters, having absolutely no idea what was normal and healthy. Two things have saved my bacon so to speak. I spent 3 out of my first 5 years living with my grandparents who were loving towards me so I had a sense that someone loved me and that I mattered to my grandparents. And I have always been plucky which earned me a lot of beatings as a child. I bought into some of their disordered narc BS but rejected a lot of it too. Growing up with them. I decided at age 8 that they were crazy, and kind of adopted a prisoner of war attitude toward them. I got the hell out as soon as I could.

    I am working diligently to unlearn all the FOO crap I did believe. It has been a journey, that’s for sure.

    • I had a similar situation with my mom, competing with her for my father’s attention, so she ended up hating me. I can dig the POW feeling. I had 2 lives going from age 12 to 24, then eloped with someone to get out of the dysfunctional house. I am paying for that now, the past 10 years have sucked, and now the marriage is ending. It helps to know that I am not alone.

  • My parents marriage sucked, complicated by my brother dying in a car accident when I was 12, my mother attempting suicide and my father becoming a highly functioning alcoholic who used to threaten me if I left my mother alone…..yes, I have consumed ample shit sandwiches in this lifetime, all in the name of preserving “normal”, whatever the fuck normal was. Still doing it…..I have mad coping skills but basically am ready only for disappointment with everything and everyone. It begets bad choices. My husbands continual torch bearing for the OW in his emotional affair is just collapsing me. I would rather live the rest of my life alone than take care of anyone else and their shitty needs anymore. Sorry for the long comment.

    • Yeah Smart, I totally get not wanting to put up with anyone else’s BS anymore. Today there is freedom in my life. Alanon has much to teach about healthy detachment, which translates into healthy boundaries. Helped me bunches.

  • Both of my parents married young due to unplanned pregnancies. My Mom’s first husband abandoned her and my half sister within months and my Dad abandoned his young wife and son within months. So these two got together and had a disastrous marriage. I think I was about 10 or 11 when my mom told me all about the affair my Dad was having and how she couldn’t leave (I think she actually used the words “am stuck here”) because of me and my brother. My grandparents raised my half-sister, who has had three failed marriages due to infidelity. My brother is on his third marriage, though he has never been unfaithful.

    So I am the only one who has never been divorced even though my husband had an affair 15 years ago. We worked hard to stay together and it has worked out very well for us. I really wanted my children to have a different life than my siblings and me.

  • My parents have been married for 52 years. No infidelity that I am aware of. They seem happy in their golden years, but as a child there was a lot of dysfunction. Both were children of alcoholics, but my parents never drank. My mom experienced a mental breakdown was I was in my early teens & became very withdrawn. She often took her emotions out on me & I was left in a constant state of confusion, as I did not know what was coming next. My dad had a bad temper back in the day. My mom always told me she cried the day I was born because she wanted a boy for my fathers sake & that she kept saying she was sorry to him. My dad use to tell friends and family members in a joking manner (yeah right) that I was an accident and I should of been swimming in the toilet instead of towards an egg. Ouch right? My sister was literally a beauty pageant & dancing queen. Competitions all over the US. Clothes from expensive department stores, costumes, etc., while I had to wear discount store clothing. So that is where my chumpiness comes from. Always wanted acceptance, but always in the shadows. My parents realize their mistakes and have apologized and have made up for my childhood. And for that I am thankful for. But as a kid, the feeling of being told you were an accident or a disappointment by your mere gender sticks with you for years. Total mind fuck. But in the end all of the bullshit that made us chumps, will make us stronger, more empathic and more understanding. This I am certain of. I am not a victim. I am a warrior with a few scars to prove it 😉

  • My parents separated when I was a teenager and later divorced. I was told it was not due to infidelity. I had thought my parents marriage was good. They argued sometimes, but nothing bad. I had a great childhood (I think!). So their divorce was really hard on me. I even thought for a while they might get back together, and that’s what I wanted – even as someone in my twenties. I will admit that affected how I viewed marriage. As in like “What’s the point. Love doesn’t last anyhow”. This baggage did cause some issues early on in my marriage until I realized I couldn’t push my husband away on purpose. This happened before counseling was popular. I probably should have gone to address this, but I didn’t. My parents never understood how much that affected me and my relationships were not necessarily the same as they had been before. And at that time, I didn’t talk to anyone about my problems and kept everything bottled up. So even “just” a divorce did affect me.

    As for how we viewed someone being a chump: My father’s father had abandon his mother and siblings when he was young. He was an alcholic and allegedly had girlfriends. My grandmother never remarried or even dated from what I was told. I remember even thinkng shortly before my husband left that, gee, my grandmother didn’t seem like that bad of a person to have her husband abandon her, BUT SHE MUST HAVE BEEN A REALLY AWFUL PERSON TO LIVE WITH IF HE DID THIS TO HER. Obviously my thoughts on that have changed, because I do not believe I am an awful person to live with. But I DO believe that OTHERS I know (from comments made) do, in fact, have that same mindset that I had. You always felt “bad” for someone who went through this, but you don’t really understand it until you go through it yourself.

  • No! I come from an intact family, stable background, well-adjusted, educated, middle class, looks great from the outside.
    Through this horrific experience I’ve come to realiZe that I was raised by a covert narcissist (mother), hence it explains why my boundaries are off (well, have been, I’ve worked really hard in therapy to change that.) it’s always been about pleasing mother and succumbing to her controlling ways, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me how gradually I’ve turned into a chump.

  • Not me, but a former cheater friend had a cheater dad. She grew up furious with her mom for failing to stand up for herself, and very resentful of her father for his philanderings. I don’t know all the details, but I believe that when she started to feel the slightest bit dissatisfied with her marriage, she was afraid to become her mother by accepting what she perceived to be an unhappy marriage. So she followed in her dad’s shoes and cheated. Her husband left her, never looked back, and remarried a lovely fellow chump about 2 years later. I stopped being friends with her after that, too. I’m no longer friends with her, either.

    • It’s the weirdest thing when people become exactly what they are trying to avoid by trying to avoid it, and they don’t even seem to realize that they are doing exactly the same thing and probably using the same or similar rationalizations.

  • My parents were married for 55 years and never spent a night apart. They did not model any touchy-feely affection and my mother confided in me that she didn’t really love my father when they got married. I witnessed a few sharp words, but never any screaming matches or outright abuse. My excuse for staying in this fucked up mess of a relationship is that I was brutally bullied and teased as a young girl by some classmates. I believed what they said about me and never confided in my parents about what was going on. My self-esteem has been in the tiolet for years and I used to struggle almost daily with negative self talk. What has helped me stop that is blogs like this one, where I can see that I am not the only dumbass that stays too long, mediation and a good friend.

  • I’m a chump of a chump of a chump. Yep…three generations of chumpiness. I’ll be damned if my daughter is going to be the 4th. I never knew about my grandfather’s infidelity until after my mom decided to share after DDay#2. My mom also shared that my father had been previously unfaithful to her early in their marriage. They married young, she was pregnant etc and excuse, excuse. My father reverted to his old coping mechanism of cheating when I left for college. He ended up marrying a woman half his age from another country and then he got cancer and died.

    There is no history of infidelity on my EH side of the family. He’s the first. He’s a classic workaholic and alcoholic who “changed” as his addictions worsened. He was a completely unselfish giver when we married and now he’s so selfish he can’t see straight. It’s sad. That really great first 8 years kept me chumping for a while, but once I realized that he had no intention of really changing or really wanting to be in our lives I got out. As in moved across the country out. I just went NC except for kids and finances about 2 weeks ago and it’s so awesome. I cannot recommend it enough.

    My kids are young 5 & 7 and I struggle about what to tell them. On the advice of my counselor, I told them that mommy and daddy have big kid problems that we can’t solve and so we are divorcing. She said to emphasize it’s not their fault…which it’s not because they are totally awesome. BUT I will tell them eventually. I do not want either of them to become future chumps. I clearly learned something from my family’s past chumpiness…

  • Wow, so many sad stories. I’m lucky, other than the whole secret adoption thing, my childhood was very good. Parents married 42 years, until he got cancer and died. She was heartbroken and died less than a year later.

    My cheater, on the other hand, comes from a fucked up mess. Parents continuously fighting, splitting up, reuniting, etc. Divorced when he was 16. Of all four siblings, he is the least fucked up. One is schizophrenic, other two have multiple divorces.

  • In a word, yes. Mr Fab is a carbon copy of my cheating, alcoholic, abusive father. Mom spackled and stayed together for the kids. Results not good.

    Feel free to ignore the final line, but in honor of poetry day, here is some Philip Larkin. Nails it.

    This be the verse:

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

  • Raises hand. Yup. My parents were married in ’54. In ’55 they had my brother and in ’57 they had me. Less than a year later there was a knock on the door. It was my dad’s other woman who came to say she was pregnant. The whole family scraped together about $150 and she went away to have her baby never to be heard of again. My mom kicked dad out and began divorce proceedings.

    It gets blurry after that, but it would appear that during their separation my mom had a fling with a married man at her work. She found herself pregnant and so my dad came back to us and raised my sister as his own.

    My mother NEVER came close to getting over his initial cheating and there were a few more in later years. The house was toxic with huge fights between them. My mom took all her anger and frustration about what my dad did out on me. She later apologized for her emotional and physical abuse of me when I was roughly 1-3 years old. I don’t remember it, of course, but I’ve never liked her and never felt close to her my entire life. (We fought constantly).

    She shouldn’t have taken him back and she never trusted him again. Yet I can’t imagine my childhood without my dad around.

    THEN, flash forward thirty years and my mom and dad see that his H.S. class reunion is taking place at a nearby hotel. She says, “You want to go in? Let’s go in?” He said no, he didn’t want to.

    They get home and she draws a bath and is in the bath when he comes in to say he’s just going to pop over to that reunion to see what’s up.

    Sure enough a fling with his high school sweetheart, the red-headed Rosemary we’ve all heard about all our lives soon followed. Dad left mom and they proceeded to divorce. Rosemary, however, was too frightened to leave her husband and so she and my dad broke up. He had a one year affair after that with this woman he called the love of his life, but she was borderline, weird, and would not commit to him while he ran her baths and lit candles and massaged her. She was 20 years younger than him.

    Flash forward another few years, my mother who had always been a good bread winner had the bottom drop out financially and now was having trouble getting hired due to her age. My father meanwhile had gone through all his marital assets and was doing his best to help my sister financially so to help them both, he moved into a spare bedroom in my mom’s house to pay her rent, and to be able to help my sister more.

    In another couple of years they remarried simply so that my dad could give my mom health insurance. They never shared a bed or were intimate again. My mom always tries to pretend it is a marriage and my dad scratches his head wondering why she thinks it is a marriage. He claims he made it clear to her that he married her only to help her have insurance.

    Now my dad is 80 with COPD and my mom is 78. They pretty much despise one another and I feel bad that this is their reality at this stage of their lives. I can see that dad would rather be alone than have this bitter woman attempt to take care of him when the time comes but money prevents that. I can see my mom still being resentful and cruel with her hurtful remarks. I’d much rather live alone than end up in a relationship like they have.

    I think my father’s cheating made all of us feel insecure that he’d leave again at any moment. It did cause all of us to do the pick me dance all our lives. I feared my mother would remarry some weird ultra religious person whom I had already convinced myself would molest me so I didn’t want dad to go.

    Now I’ll soon be divorcing my fourth husband, so you tell me if my volatile and abusive childhood has anything to do with that!

  • Wow! I’ve yet to tell my story, but this question begged a response. I have been surrounded by cheaters my whole life. It goes back generations. My family members have openly flaunted mistresses. They’ve come to family outings. It was just something that was accepted. The norm was to stay married and deal with it. When my great grandmother was alive and my STBX cheated the first time, she wanted to know why we were separated. ‘Just let him do what he wants–if he comes home’. My parents divorced because of it. Dad married and eventually divorced his OW. I think my mom would have stayed. One aunt left her husband. Everyone else accepts it. Sadly, I think it’s a cultural thing for us…which is why when my husband confessed, sort of, and said he didn’t want a divorce, he assumed it would be that sort of arrangement. He knew I would do anything to keep our family ‘together’. He also knew that his behavior of lying, cheating and ‘gas lighting’ over the years had left me with no self esteem or confidence. I thought I’d be better off with half a marriage than divorced. Fast forward 18 months and lots of therapy and I’m about to be done with it. I have two boys who I’ll be damned will put another woman through this sh*t. Yay for trying to break the cycle.

  • Nope, parents just celebrated their 45th anniversary. Never a hint of anything close to infidelity or divorce, we grew up Catholic, which sometimes brings along it’s own issues of chumpiness. They weren’t overly affectionate and never had date nights, but they always provided for my sister and I and did the best they knew how.

    My Ex, on the other hand grew up with an alcoholic chump father and a mom who had several affairs before they divorced. I sometimes wonder if my ex isn’t emotionally stuck at the age she was when they divorced. She professed how much she despised her mother’s affairs, only to repeat them.

    • I think my cheater is stuck at 16, for sure. He got no morals from his passive agressive victim mother and even fewer from his abusive ocd father. When I told her he’d been kicked out of the house for cheating she said “I’ve been accused of things I didnt do too .” Hello, lady, he admitted it. I’m sure she never doubted babyboy was innocent. She never corrects his behavior on anything and I doubt she ever did. Hence, he thinks he can do no wrong.

      • I told her he’d been kicked out of the house for cheating she said “I’ve been accused of things I didnt do too .” Hello, lady, he admitted it.

        How’s that for and example of expert-level, accomplished use of persistent denial as a coping mechanism?

      • No wonder he turned out the way he did.

        She may have been traumatized prior to the divorce, though, because she wasn’t even adult enough to confess, even when I found pretty strong evidence. All I got was more lies and manipulation until I found the smoking gun. Then she couldn’t get away fast enough.

        But after reading all of the heartbreaking childhoods on here, I’m very thankful for the childhood I had, and my heart goes out to all the rest. It’s sad to read how common abuse and infidelity is.

      • Not Juliet, your mother-in-law and mine are the same person. When I was told about the affair I sent a letter to my sister and brother-in-law and father-in-law explaining why I was divorcing cheater’s lying ass. I then get an email from mother-in-law. She included ex. The email stated that she is so sorry that we are both hurting so much and she wishes us the very best. I emailed her back and told her to never contact me again.

        I detest her kind of denial. Some kinds of denials are needed to survive, but that kind of gaslighting–you-must-be-stupid-so-I-will enact-wide-eyed-innocence-in-your face-with-my-bloody-hands-behind-my-back—is so insulting. But of course they are so disconnected they don;t even realize they are seen as idiots themselves.

  • Honestly, not that I am aware of.

    But NOTHING was ever talked about, EVER. Apparently no one ever had s – e – x or got a d – i – v – o – r – c – e.

    With my adult eyes, I can definitely see the patterns of dysfunction.

    My Dad’s parents fought constantly – so he vowed never to fight. My Mother’s parents never fought because my Grandmother’s parents fought constantly – so she vowed never to fight.

    Women were meant to be angels or saints. And, add to this fairy tales of ‘you’ll meet your Prince Charming, fall in love and live happily ever after’.

    I honestly didn’t know what to do when the exH had his first affair. I was frozen and then went into denial. I didn’t know that Prince Charming might or could stray… and when caught, would lie and continue to lie.

    I didn’t have any tools in my tool box to know that I deserved better.

    My exH was shocked when I found out his 2nd affair (but God really only knows how many there were) and said enough. (To give context, at that point he had temporarily moved out to clear his head which he was doing while living with the OW. He had had not told me but was comfortable telling all of his friends.) He was genuinely shocked when I started the divorce proceedings. This speaks to the dysfunction on his part.

    Anger is a powerful way to break old family patterns, lol.

  • I over heard my dad talking about being with a woman while he was away on vacation, I was probably 7 or so. I remember feeling sad, and I don’t think I ever looked at him the same way. We had a pretty rough relationship growing up. I wanted to move out when I was 16 just to get away from him.I don’t know if my mom ever knew about his cheating. They are divorced now but not because of his cheating. To this day we still don’t have much of a relationship, we only see each other a couple times a year and we live in the same small town. I don’t think my parents marriage was the reason I stayed after the first DDay, I just thought you were supposed to work through things, and he was extremely remorseful. Oh and I was pregnant with our first child (we had 3 miscarriages previously) so I thought I owed it to my baby to give him another chance. 2 years later he tells me about hoodr latest affair with a 19 year old girl, then receive a fb message from her saying she was 4 months pregnant. As of Tuesday he was served with divorce papers. He had the nerve to ask me what it meant! And if I was still willing to make our marriage work. I told him that he was served for a reason, because I want a divorce. I told him he needed lots of counseling. He finally admitted the reason he wouldn’t let me have access to any money was so I couldn’t leave him. He has put spyware on my phone, emailed my therapist telling her I was suicidal (she laughed as she read it to me), stranded me and our daughter at a gas station for 40 minutes because he wouldn’t transfer money over so I could get gas. And a whole slew of other things that have nothing to do with the questions you asked. Sorry, got heated up for a second lol. Anyway, I don’t think my parents relationship affected me so much as what I thought marriage meant in general and that divorce is a very bad thing that will screw your child up forever. That’s what hung me up for a long time. But I know now that staying will be far worse for my 3 year old.
    Thanks for everything you do! You will never know how much you have helped me! I always recommend your blog to people on fb, providing links to your posts. As soon as I get my first paycheck (just got a job at a state prison as an RN!) and I buy new tires (stbx wouldn’t) I am going to buy some of your merchandise, my small way of saying thanks so much for all the time you spend helping us chumps. Thanks again!

  • Yep…..Dad cheated on Mom and it almost destroyed her.
    She spackled even when we all encouraged her to leave him.
    She was a lifetime SAHM and so had nothing to fall back on.
    She started drinking more to numb the pain.
    I essentially became her 15 years ago on the first D day.
    Minus the drinking.
    I stayed with him to protect my girls.
    Long story short, if I had left him I didn’t trust his alone time with them.
    Feared custody and visitation time. I cant’ go into that here. But there were reasons.
    I spackled and protected and we moved our asses to the burbs to start over.
    15 years later find out, that he never stopped the perverse behavior, he just buried it really deep. He spackled like crazy himself. If I knew then, what I know now…..
    Lets just say, his ass would probably be in jail!
    I don’t know if my mother had left my father whether I would have found myself in the same boat I am in now or not.
    I do think that most women rely on Men for financial support especially after children are in the picture and it plays a big factor in the end. I too was a SAHM for most of my marriage. And I also have some pretty debilitating health issues that are keeping me stuck in limbo right now. I am incapable of holding down a fulltime job. So I do before and after school care for my daughter. We are supporting each other through divorces. When hers is complete, than I shall move forward with mine.
    There is no good excuse for cheating…..
    But there may be good excuses for chumpiness.
    Not that it’s healthy or sane mind you…..

  • Yes, I am a chump daughter. My mother had an affair and it blew our family to smithereens. No one told us kids what happened. I didn’t find out until I was in my 20’s. What happened to us kids? My older brother went and lived with relatives and now is a raging alcoholic who is going to die soon. My older sister’s hand shook and trembled for years. She died at a young age of cancer. My younger brother has had his troubles too with alcohol, like I have. I’ve been married three times…all to abusive men. I grew up with no sense of self, it took me years to figure out who I was. I thought eating shit sandwiches was the normal fare. Years of therapy has helped but I know I missed out on some of life’s precious moments because all I knew how to do was deal with misery. At this point in time I’m quite happy for the most part.

    What’s going on now is my precious and beautiful 34 year old God Child is dying of cancer. They called in Hospice today.
    Today my heart is breaking.

  • Parents had a long term marriage. I was from a very large, I mean very large family. They lost a son and my father had an illness. My mother took care of him. Finances went through the floor. It was crazy, really crazy, but I always saw them work through their problems. They had a profound faith in God.

    She was engaged several times before she met my father, but she always broke them off. I asked her why? She told me because she knew my father would never leave her and take care of her. Her father died when she was young and obviously had a keen sense of a loyal, faithful man.

    Until the end of his life, he always called her his bride. If he ever had an affair, none of us ever knew.

    I thought everyone was like this. You marry, have kids, and work it out. You’re his bride.

    “Richer, poorer, sickness and health until death do you part”.


  • I grew up with an alcoholic father. My mother married him young (16) and moved away from her family to where his family lived. She had no education and we eventually ended up living in a house with a widowed aunt, her sister (never married), their brother (also an alcoholic). They were my dad’s family. My mother stayed because going back to her family wouldn’t have been any better and she had nowhere else to go with 6 kids. My XH’s father was a cheater. Many times my XH would blame his wandering ways on his dad, “I grew up this way and thought this is how I should behave.” “My dad did it, so I thought it was right.” Of course, we all know that cheaters NEVER take responsibility for their own actions .. it’s always someone else’s fault, never theirs. I grew up watching people enable my father, my uncle and my aunt in their alcoholic ways. So, I enabled my XH to cheat because I turned a blind eye to it trying to keep the tattered pieces of my life together. You know what they say, “Sometimes the unknown is scary than that which I know.” Eventually, one tires of eating shit and pretending everything is ok. Sometimes it is just hard to keep smiling. Best thing I ever did was divorce the piece of shit that I found myself hooked to. Sometimes I wish my mom would have done the same so that she could have been happy, but I often wonder where we would have been if we had gone back to her family … living in a car? So, I am grateful that my aunt took us in and gave us some semblance of normalcy, a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in and food in our bellies. All 6 kids grew up to be contributing members of society, so, all in all, we fared well. All are in stable long-term relationships. I was the only chump of the group, but that all worked out in the end and I am now in a very loving marriage. Took the long way to get here, but I have arrived!

  • My cheating husband’s father is a cheater. I think he learned that cheating behavior is acceptable because his mother stayed. One of the first things I said to him was “I am NOT your door mat Mother.” I honestly think he thought it would be OK since his mother forgave the behavior. My mother on the other hand is a very strong woman. She left my Dad with two small children ages 3 and 6 and got her education and started a career. I will tell you right now my husband and his sister have absolutely no respect for their mother to this day. 40 years later. She is STILL with him. So, if you are thinking of staying be prepared for your children to think of you as a weakling. The second I consider forgiving my husband I remind myself that it is most important for me to be a positive role model for my daughter. So FUCK HIM I AM DONE AND GONE. I think if you stay you are in essence sending the message to your children that its okay to let someone treat you like shit.

  • This post is so timely for me. My narc mother died a month ago, so FOO issues are front and center for me right now. Mom cheated on her first husband, to end up pregnant with my dad’s child. She divorces number one to marry my dad. They have three children while both are flirting, cheating, and bedding others continuously, until dad gets another woman pregnant. True to form, he divorces mom and marries OW. I lost track of dad, while he and OW raised four more children, and when I was eight, I heard he had died.

    Mom went on to marry number three, a charmer who physically abused us kids, until he left us to marry his OW. Mom’s last victim, number four, widowed her.

    How did that history affect me? Besides making me codependent, my first husband was physically abusive, like dear old step-dad, and my second husband is a serial cheater, like mom and dad. I’ve finally got a clue, and “Boundaries” is my new middle name. Oh yeah, chumpiness is my legacy.

  • Mine were married until the death of one of them. No, they weren’t deliriously 100% happy through each of their 40 years together but, like life, their marriage was up, down, all around – and they were in it for the long haul.

    Ex, on the other hand, comes from a hornet’s nest of cheaters.

  • My parents were the prototype of a loving, depression era couple who were happily married for 50 + years. My W always said my dad reminded her of Jummy Stewart. Great guy and solid as a rock. Mom was too.

    OTOH, W’s mom carried on a 10+ year affair with another man. They stayed together and ended up basically hating each other till FIL died about 15 years ago. Pre marriage and early marriage my MIL always use to say stuff like, “Men are basically crap, you better screw them over before they get a chance to screw you over.”

    Now she’s told me my wife is crazy and that she loves me (very sincerely). Last night she was over for dinner with my W, son, and I. My son said he would come up and take MIL to dinner soon. She accepted and said, “We have to include (yours truly, Chumpguy).” Don’t know if W heard or not, but MIL wasn’t hiding it.

    Go figure.

  • My parents have been married 54 years. They are happy now BUT my childhood was a mess. No one has ever talked about it but I am fairly certain my father had an affair(s). My parents fought – big, loud, screaming fights – all of the time. I used to hide under the bed with my hands over my ears to try to keep from hearing it. Actually no one ever talked about anything and my brother and I were not allowed to express any negative feelings at all. Both parents smacked us, whipped us with belts, and were verbally abusive. My mother hated me for being my father’s favorite and she adored my brother and clearly favored him over me. I spent my early years knowing that I was not the daughter my mother wanted, expecting the worst, dancing like a monkey for their approval, and believing that people who love you, hurt you. But my parents also tried really hard to give us a better life than they had and when it was good, it was really good. So I learned not to trust anyone or anything and to accept the weird dance of “I will give you things and be good to you until I’m not and you will never know what’s going to happen next.”

    I got pregnant as a teen and married to get away from them. Too bad that I chose a guy who thought punching his wife was acceptable behavior. I got out of that marriage only to fall for a man who was exactly like my parents. Alternately loving and so into me – then he was cold and witholding and punishing. I remember clearly thinking that I loved him so much more than he loved me and deciding that that was acceptable – all I should expect as I was such a disappointment to everyone. It makes me sick to read those words right now.

    I have been in therapy for almost two years and am now 4 months out from the separation/move into my own home. My relationship with my parents is the best it’s ever been because I told them how I felt growing up and they were so sorry, so remoreseful, they took responsibility and we have talked about it a lot. They have been there for me every step of the way while my life was disintegrating. That’s been a very unexpected but deeply appreciated gift. Therapy has helped me unravel a lot of this and to start valuing myself and understanding that I am not what bad people reflect back to me. I have boundaries that grow stronger every day. I have found the words and the courage to speak my truth and to be truly authentic. I am still uncomfortable with conflict and confrontations but I am learning.

    I don’t think the infidelity (suspected, anyway) is what made me so willing to tolerate horrible treatment by my partners. It’s all of it, the totality of what I grew up seeing and believing about love – and about my own worth (or lack of worth, rather) – that did it.

  • My father was a Narcissistic Sociopath. Literally. He beat us daily – physically and verbally. My mother was a chump insofar as staying around him for 24 years (she had to become my father’s religion when she married him). Though my mother was angry all the time, she was a hard worker and supported our family (6 kids) financially throughout most of those years. My father had woman after woman – even eventually moving in with one of them and coming occasionally to see us. My mother went to the religious group they were involved with – at times black and blue – to talk with them about leaving – they always told her to stay. Eventually, when I was 17, my mother divorced my father. He died at 56 of cancer from smoking/drinking incessantly. He was unrepentant, unapologetic – except for wanting (on his deathbed) to “read us” the 12 step program “step” he was on …. wave his hands around in the air (from his hospital bed) and tell us how “sorry he was for all that stuff”.

    Anyway…. When I was 24 I met a man…. I converted to his religion (!), thought he was SO different from my father (my father was overt, this man was covert) and promptly had 3 kids in a row – all 18 mos apart. Lived for 21 years with a man with no conscience and no empathy who was high up in the church. I was reduced to an opinionless – ill woman. I was on 5 prescription drugs to get through a day – exhusband told me how much I needed them. I started with Fibromyalgia, then Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,,,, lupus, MS and eventually breast cancer. THEN I woke up. I left. I found out later that my exhusband cheated – oh yes – with men. Now THAT might have been why he was never attracted to me???? I lived in SILENT TREATMENT…. for many many years. The last 11 years of the marriage he never touched me…. But I digress….

    Interestingly – my youngest daughter was 17, just like me. After getting out of all the religiosity and moving into town – (and living in the middle of nowhere all the time – isolation was a biggie with him) – myself and my kids kinda went hog-wild for a few years. Now my son is 29, daughter 27 and 25 year old youngest. I left 10 years ago now. Son I am very concerned is like father – seems to be without conscience? uses young women – lives with each of them in ‘days’ after meeting them. He had a child with an escort girl… (*sigh*… that one broke my heart), and I’ve never met the child – though he would be about 5 by now. My two daughters…. the youngest is the strong one in relationships – she pretty much lords it over the boyfriends and she’s had many of them. My middle daughter I fear will be a chump. She has a bleeding heart for her father, and desires guys who are pretty much narcissistic idiots. Anyway – none of my 3 kids are married – nor do they want to be. After how they grew up. I have been completely single now about 5 years and I will never again be in relationships like I have known all my life. I’m 55 and figure I have about 20 years left of being really active – and I plan on living my life. I am off all prescription drugs…. I got rid of the cancer naturally (no chemo or radiation) – actually – I named the Breast Lump “Dean”…. which was great when it disappeared…. that man was truly a CANCER in my life. I went back to school for Alternative (Natural) health…. started my own business about 10 years ago – Nutrition/coaching, etc…. I’ve been free of FM, CFS, Lupus, MS and Cancer for 10 years. Thank God…. and NEVER AGAIN will I allow that shit in my life. NO CHUMP HERE. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

  • My parents are still together after 42 years. Happily… probably not. I know my mom wants more couple time. My dad is content though in his garage. I do think they are very influential on my passive-agressive nature. My family is very passive and in being so not a lot of things bother us. If they do we tend to keep them bottled up until… BOOM! Can’t stand it any more.

    I can see growing up that way as being MY part of being a chump. I didn’t stand up for myself when he displayed stupid behavior or I’d let him talk his way out of it even though I wasn’t fully satisfied with the resolution (if there ever was one). I let it eat away at me until BOOM… another incident of his wanting kibbles and cake to which I gave into… again.

  • I forgot to mention that my cheater was the son of a cheater. So the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. My FIL ran off with his 17 years younger secretary who was also married at the time. They actually had a very nice life, wintering in Hawaii, traveling the world. Had money and lived in a nice house while my chumped MIL died alone in a nursing home of a brain tumor at 51. I did see some Karma though. On my FIL’s death bed all he could do was cry out for his ex wife, calling her name over and over. Telling her that he was finally coming to be with her. My current MIL had to go to counseling for that one.

    • That is sad about your mil.

      I do love to hear about the Karma Bus hitting a whore in the ass though. Especially after all those years. Bet she didn’t see that one coming. Still laughing over that one.

      • Yeah, I laughed as well, mainly because I’ve heard about that happening quite a few times.

    • “On my FIL’s death bed all he could do was cry out for his ex wife, calling her name over and over. Telling her that he was finally coming to be with her.”

      Syringa, I’ll bet your Chumped MIL was somewhere going, “No. No, you’re not.”

      • “Syringa, I’ll bet your Chumped MIL was somewhere going, “No. No, you’re not.”

        Good one, I can only hope to haunt my ex with that knowledge, should I happen to go first…

  • Both his and my parents are long term married. His are well over fifty years of visible Roman Catholic classic lifestyle, and mine were married 56 years before my father passed away. However, I can see now this is not all it appears to be. My in laws, who have shut me out after their prize winning first born son walked out on our 33 year marriage, are oblivious to reality and all his faults, and apparently don’t know about some really nuclear holocost type stuff he’s done, starting (that I now know of directly from the victim) when he was only 13 years old. Finding out about this stuff, while making me ill, did help me understand this man was fucked up long before I met him, and this was written in the stars. . I’ve gone from the much appreciated DIL to persona non grata in an instant.
    And I can now see my own family part in this… I am a classic middle child cliche, the pleaser, the peacekeeper, blah, blah… For example, my older brother regularly screwed up big time, would disappear for a couple weeks, then call in for a ride home. I was sent along to be a buffer, “so your father doesn’t kill him before he gets home” so I learned how to spackle and compensate and make my needs smaller from the get go. My parents also never fought in front of us, so I never learned to fight fairly and not be afraid of conflict, and no teasing of any kind was ever allowed in my home, so when my STBX would lob those nasty barbs, followed by the classic “just kidding”, and the inevitable “you’re too sensitive”. I had no idea what was going on. I just tried to follow the tried and true formula: work harder, be better, be sweeter, don’t make waves, blah, blah.
    I had no idea there was so much nastiness in the world, let alone the pure manipulative evil of a narcissistic, entitled, and deeply flawed spouse.

  • My Mother and I are “Poster Chumps” for the RIC !

    They told us we would forget. They lied!

    My Mother found her peace. It came from the gift of diminished capacity.

    Maybe it’s hereditary !

  • My bio dad was a disordered cheater. He left my mom for one of his OW when I was six. He eventually married the OW and they remained married until he died many years later.

    My mom really didn’t talk about the cheating, she actually didn’t talk about my bio dad much. Her focus was always on herself and her desperate need to find another man as quickly as possible. She was very neglectful of us kids during this time. This was the early 1970s, not as easy to be single back then, but still. She was lucky enough to meet a wonderful man a couple years later, they were married 30 years.

    I did not understand that my dad was a cheater and my step-mother an OW until it happened to me. I KNEW the situation, of course, but I absolutely did not really get it on a gut level until my own experience.

    I stopped seeing my bio dad when I was 13, not because I knew he was a cheater, but because he was a cold man and I did not enjoy spending time with him. The step-mother/OW was a cold, unloving woman as well who greatly resented my existence.

  • I’m a Chump kid and a Chump wife. My parent’s were married 45 years prior to my Dad’s death. He was a Serial cheater and even had children with other women. My mother stayed and never strayed. I loved her intensely but I was resentful that she never valued herself enough to put her foot down. She had five daughters and three sons. I guess it was it was a lot of children to parent on her own. All of the girls married cheaters. My husband and I are currently separated. It’s almost 8 months now. He lives with his mistress of ten years and I live with the kids. Sometimes I wondered if I would have invested 25 years in a toxic marriage if Chumpness wasn’t my marital example.

  • My family history is a trainwreck. I naively thought I could move away and build my own normal (which I did) and leave that behind… but I was not at all unscathed. I was clueless about that part of the equation until I landed in therapy when X went off the rails and his double life came to light.

    I’ve since learned so much about how FOO issues follow you until you face and deal with them. In my case, I’m told I learned to spackle/compartmentalize as a defensive mechanism to make sense of all the inconsistencies in the way my family behaved. My mom was the stable, intelligent parent who made sure we were well-educated, well-fed, etc…but she has a deep well of emotional issues that make her easy to trigger and become abusive. My dad on the other hand was a ton of fun, carefree and validating (the parent I gravitated to, and the one like my X) but was about as unreliable as every other alcoholic and equally as selfish in prioritizing his impulses over responsibilities, including cheating (also like my X).

    Fast forward, I actually felt relieved by how ‘normal’ my then prospective in-law family seemed to be. They looked and acted picture perfect but…. again came the inconsistencies. I’ve since learned the father is a cheater/likely narc, the mom is the master of all things spackling and denial, and the kids have resentment/entitlement issues and in the case of my X, a true disorder.

    So yea, I’m an unknowing poster child for FOO chump issues I’d guess you say.

  • Yup, chump daughter – my mum spackled, had many d-days and finally divorced my serial cheater dad, to the exhausted relief of my sister and me. There never seemed to be a good moment – she had waited until we were both in college. But the last years were horrible, we all knew something was very, very wrong. But no one spoke of it, to protect the others. Something that made my hair stand on end when reading yesterdays post…

    I didn’t understand (or really supported 🙁 )my mother. Not getting why she stayed on so long, took so much. I knew nothing about the utter devastatation of feeling like you’re the only one holding the family together. The fear of loss. One big comfort: she knows, really knows what I’m going through. Though she tried to keep her experiences on the background during my false reconciliation, hoping it would turn out differently for me, she now is my biggest supporter. We’re closer than ever.

    I thought I picked the exact opposite of my flamboyant, center of attention loving dad. My ex is no ‘ladies man’, more the ‘honest’ type, non-threatening – I always trusted him with female friends, I was so convinced he was loyal and ‘just friends’ (like I would be with men I know). Women trusted him, confided in him, counted on him. I fully trusted his bounderies were solid, like mine.

    I had grown up with one type of cheater, the stereotypical overt and agressive ladies hunter, little did I know there is a whole other type: the passive agressive stealth type. That blew me away!

    • That is my cheater, exactly! In 14 years I never once saw him act inappropriately or flirt or gawk or anything at ANY woman in my presence. I actually wondered a couple of times if he was gay, lol. I think some of these guys of this type cheat because they aren’t real “sexual” and think a new whore will turn them into a Sex God, or something.

      • That’s odd you say that….my XH was NOT a ‘ladies man’ either…in the least. Never spent a second being jealous of him. He never flirted or gave off any vibes towards women. I kind of wondered too if he wasn’t a latent homosexual gay guy. I was the only girly girl he had been with, always choosing very plain women with short hair, one’s that wore no makeup, etc. One of his wives was from Germany and didn’t shave her legs or armpits. He confided in me that it turned him on (??) Yes….I think he thinks new whores will turn him into something he isn’t.

  • There was definitely dysfunction in my family – alcoholism-narcissism-philandering,…. Although there were women in the fifties who divorced after episodes of cheating by their husbands, I don’t think my mother had the constitution for it. She is an intelligent and articulate woman but I get she felt she had few options based on her own FOO issues and she preferred liquid courage and to follow the mantra of “more good days than bad….” My father’s on again-off again moodiness and detachment sure had us all walking on eggshells and we all felt a sense of unworthiness that carried into our adulthood – more drinking, overcompensating behaviors, anxiety. Whether I married a man even more problematic than my father because of my mother’s lack of modeling strength and because an NPD male was my normal and I understood it- yes, probably to a point. Into my adulthood, I often think I also harbored some resentment that my mother would check out on us too by drinking herself into oblivion. Later on our family life got better – maybe my father’s libido and ego wound down? And my mother kept alcohol out of the house for the most part. But also I felt a keen sense as a child and an adult that I was responsible to keep them happy, be a source of their happiness even , and keep their spirits animated so we wouldn’t all go into the badlands. So yes, while I recognize my own agency in all this, I do think those early influences are ones that I continue to war against to this day.

    When my father died 20 years ago, my mother had no desire to date. Although she was lonely at times, she told me she felt a sense of liberation. She traveled, enjoyed friends, and family and got a little pup who brought her great joy.

  • I would have sworn that my parents were faithful during their 40 year marriage, but the when Mom was dying of cancer in 1988, she tearfully told me Dad was carrying on an affair with a woman they had befriended on holiday. The OW was a jesus cheater…very self righteous. I was a chicken shit about it since (as therapy since has taught me) I was terrified of my Narc father. I see it all so clearly in hindsight. My sister, however, did confront the OW and threatened her with public humiliation (and likely violence, knowing sis) so that OW went NC with Dad. Was he ever pissed off at Sis!

    I have always felt guilt at not defending my mother at the time, poor little thing on her deathbed. I had not yet experienced infidelity and had no idea how she must have felt. Dad lived another 25 years, married a goldigger who has only mercifully just left the planet. Only Karma was SHE died a painful death.

  • Father joined Army and was supposed to reunite family of my mother and two brothers all under 5 years old at the time. He met young girl, divorced mom from Germany and didn’t see him until they reunited when I was 10. It was brief, he was jealous of mom and was constantly accusing her of cheating when he was away on duty. When me and my bros saw him beating her with a belt one night, he left the house and mom promptly packed our things, got us into the car and drove two states to live with family.

    Found out later that his second wife and three kids lived on base about a mile from us and he was going between two families.

    Also found out from my mom that he left us because he caught her cheating with his best friend when he came home early from work, thats why he joined Army.

    So, two cheaters. Yay.

    My wife and I have been together 19 years, married 10 and one year out from her affair. I have been loyal and understanding as I can, having been a cheater with a few short relationships in my twenties, before we married…

    Her parents married 41 years, mom just died and her dad related that he was a chump but stayed for my wife (his kid)

    Fuckupedness abounds.

  • My parents have been married for 44 years; father having multiple affairs and my mother never left! My mother gave us no love, was cold and was never “motherly” while my sisters and I were growing up. She resented my father’s behaviors and took it out on us kids. YET, never divorced. Now they’re older, have serious health issues and my mother could care less if my father drops dead. Just last summer, I met (by accident) his love child…the most awkward moment ever. My mother found out and her rage toward all of us has sky rocketed…no words.

    My exH came from a similar scenario, multiplied by 1,000. ExFIL is an alcoholic, abused the family to the n’th degree in every way, shape and form. He eventually (years and years later) left exMIL to be with the OW, a “reformed” prostitute (yeah, ok, sure). He’s since had multiple affairs on her…more kids from each affair keep coming out of the woodwork.

    I was married for 20 years, had two dday’s, 6 years apart. First dday, total devastation with an 8 and 3 y/o girls AND pregnant…I stayed. My oldest daughter, on that second dday, took my hand, looked me in the eye and didn’t stutter while she said: KICK HIM OUT, break the cycle!!! She recounted to me how she knew about the first dday and always wondered why I didn’t leave then.

    She hit me with that 2×4. Googled how to leave a cheater and found CL. We’ve never looked back!

  • I was adopted at an early age (abandonment issues much?) and my adoptive parents had a horrible marriage. Physical abuse was constant – dad would scream/hit/throw/punch/whatever over the smallest things. I think he was undiagnosed bi-polar as he could be the most charming, calm, happy person in the room and then the next day a raving lunatic. My earliest childhood memory is my mother screaming in pain and blood dripping off her arm where he had thrown a heavy glass water pitcher at her and it had smashed into her forearm. I learned how to hide in the closet when I saw his face turn red, or run outside and hide in the woods until things calmed down – but I didn’t always escape his wrath. My brother got the worst of it – I think in my dad’s reptile brain he knew he would kill me if he really unleashed (I was very small/petite little girl and my brother was a big kid). He calmed down and changed quite a bit after having a massive heart attack and open heart surgery in his early 40’s. I think he may have sustained some mild brain damage because he was much more docile (but easily confused) after that and eventually became disabled. My mother stepped into the breadwinner role and basically “took command” of him and he never abused her again (that I witnessed anyway). He died when I was in my mid-twenties and I never got the chance to really reconcile with him or have any sort of closure for the way he treated me and my brother/mother. Is it any wonder that I married a disordered, cold, narcissist/possible sociopath??

    • Yeah… I was adopted too which is a whole other wad of dysfunction. I’m going to leave it at that, but you’re not alone in thinking/knowing that it didn’t help things.

      • Me, too. It sure didn’t help me with all that insecurity and fear of abandonment.

  • I’ve been lurking here for months. This site has an incredible pull on me. I have not been chumped, as far as I know. (One thing I’ve learned here–one reality can change into another between heartbeats!)
    But my husband was a chump, and two of my sisters, and my nieces, and many of my friends. I’ve urged all of them to read the words of wisdom here. (By the way, I remember reading about picking different words for cheaters and unicorns, but I didn’t see the one that occurred to me: Uni-tard.)(Maybe it’s there and I missed it. Anyway, that’s my nomination.)

    To the topic at hand: my mother was a cheater. My story has a slightly different angle, I think. She got custody of the three of us still at home, and for most of my life I had her on a pedestal. I didn’t know why they split, but I always assumed it was my father’s fault. Neither my mom nor my grandmother bad-mouthed him to us, but I know she was stressed about money all the time, and sometimes I would hear her crying in her bedroom. And she frequently said she wished she was dead, or talked about just getting in the car and driving away. He was the disciplinarian, a big scary cop who worked nights and hollered at us for disturbing his sleep in the daytime. I will always have the image of this big hairy guy in his underwear, charging out of the bedroom to yell at us while we were playing in the living room with two other girls. I’m sure they had fun telling their folks about it. Anyway, I had no problem seeing him as the villain, and I was never told otherwise.

    My mother married my stepfather (a co-worker) when I was fourteen, as soon as the divorce was final. He divorced his wife and left her with their four sons to marry my mother. I found out later that my little sister was his child, and they had been having an affair for at least five years, since that’s how old she was when the divorce was finalized.
    My dad told me about it decades later. He had left the state and remarried also. We had heard nothing from him in all this time, but apparently my oldest sister had contacted him through his cop friends, they had been corresponding, and eventually I told her, yeah he could call me if he wanted to.
    When he did, he said I could ask him anything, and from there it all came out. She had asked him for a divorce years before, but he convinced her to stay and work out their problems. He told me he thought things were going well, until while they were out for an anniversary dinner she asked him if he was ready to give her her divorce yet. This was when you needed grounds for a divorce, and she told him she didn’t have any grounds, but he did! And she told him about the affair.

    My mom had already died of cancer when my dad told me about it, so I know I’m only getting his side, but I believe him. There had been little indications through the years, but mostly it was just from listening to him. He didn’t say anything insulting about her, but his story didn’t sound like a lie you repeat until you convince yourself it’s true. It sounded like a hurt you can’t forget, even if now it’s all matter of fact and meh. It sounded like the stories I read here. During the call I did hear his wife say in the background, “Are you talking about that again?” Not in a snotty tone. Loving exasperation, maybe. It had happened more than thirty years before, so I can see it.

    Most of the people involved are dead now. Mom, Dad, Step-dad, his chumped wife, even my younger sister. I don’t know if she was ever told the truth. There’s so much I’ll never know. I do know I had blinders on, or I would have seen the resemblance between my sister and my step-dad a lot earlier. It’s really pretty freakin’ obvious.
    As to it’s impact: I don’t know. I do know I felt like I never had a dad. While I do have good memories of my childhood, once he started working nights that disintegrated. And he started working nights because of the tension at home. So mom worked days, and my grandmother took care of us while Dad slept. My stepfather knew nothing about dealing with girls, and at 14, I wouldn’t have let him try anyway. But a good father figure would have helped. I was running wild, and I got raped. I never told her.

    I really don’t know what to think of my mom. She didn’t fit the mold. I have the mother that I adored. She worked hard, sighed a lot, and seemed to be doing her best. Didn’t hold back when one of us needed money. She did tell me she wished she hadn’t married again. So did I, I was quite content with our house of women. But she told me that remarrying is what women of her generation did. Divorcees were frowned upon. This was all just before the women’s liberation movement kicked in.

    But she carried on with my stepfather for years, and the two of them broke up two families to get their way. I don’t think there was any remorse from either of them. And my little sister was messed up. She was a narcissist for sure. Almost like the original. A little Barbie Doll who changed her clothes constantly. Who once said to me, after being a total bitch, “If I ever do anything wrong, then I’ll apologize.” Of course, she never did anything wrong.
    My oldest sister married abusive men, twice. The second one once held a loaded gun to her head, and said he didn’t remember it after he sobered up. He got drunk and beat her on a regular basis. She has three children, all adults, who seem to have escaped the cycle.
    I’ve been divorced once, my oldest sister twice. Little sister had been married for 33 years when she died of skin cancer. She died on the first day of summer. She died from a lifetime of tanning. I was told that her husband is a hopeless drunk and a cheater.
    My brother and my other sister both have good solid marriages that lasted for a long time. Centuries, I think. I have seven nieces and nephews, all who have gone through divorce, most of which involved cheating.

    As my ex used to say, It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken.

  • My father was married to mom 23 yrs, and then we all found out he’d been living a lie. He’s gay. We were always at church, and there was always a “male friend,” with my dad all those years. My dad was a major in the army too, so we moved a lot, and thus he would find a new “friend.”After we found out, it was almost mind blowing putting the pieces together with all the men that had been part of our lives.
    I have handled their divorce of 24 years ago much better than my 2 sibling brothers, But I will say, my dad is definately a narc, and my mom has NEVER been the same. She’s a martyr, and is still extremely depressed even though she has been married to the nicest man for 15 yrs. Dad has been in the same relationship for 16 yrs now, and his partner is super nice too. The strange thing for me is I prefer my parents significant others over my parents. I feel my parents treat their partners horribly, and the partners just stay because they are chumps.
    I’m the only one in my family that has a relationship with dad at all, he’s been disowned by my brothers, and has never seen any of their kids.
    Dad manipulates me to find out info on my brothers. He has snuck pictures of my brothers kids from my house to make copies, and is always asking my questions about them, but my sibs(who I adore) don’t want him to know anything. It really puts me in a difficult situation, because he’s my dad.
    My mom has let herself go completely. She rarely showers, yells at her H to get everything g for her so she won’t have to leave her couch, and no longer cooks, cleans, or even does laundry. My stepdad is her slave.
    It’s weird writing this post, because it makes me understand why I am a chump. The oldest child taking care of her parents from my earliest recollection. My mom was always sad and I had to “cheer” her up. She constantly criticized my father and was always “so tired.” I was always trying to help her on multiple levels, clean, cook, yard work, laundry, and her personal crying bag. My dad always had us doing his projects. Every weekend he had a legal pad of jobs that had to get done specifically to his standards. One of my favorite stories is I had my boyfriend over for dinner one night. After dinner, my dad brought a roll of toilet paper to the table, and proceeded to explain how to properly wipe our asses, so we won’t plug the commode. I was mortified, but just laughed about it with my boyfriend.
    After all my many issues I grew up with, I finally thought I would find a H that wouldn’t hurt me. Well he did and it hurt like a Motherf….er,but I will survive. And thanks to CL, and her brilliant blog,I’m making it!

    • Oh, wow. About the toilet paper! Thanks for the laugh. Me, the product of Mr. & Mrs. Squeeky Clean and Nice (seriously, not a put down), just had no idea what other people went through. I thought that stuff was for movies.

      Until I met my ex in college. His parents managed a cattle ranch about 60 miles away. When I finally went with him one weekend to help after his Dad had a heart attack, I sure got my eyes opened. Everyone was on their best behavior during dinner and afterward. I was given a bed in the little room right above his folks, who went at like cats and dogs for an hour before settling down. Then, all through the night, just as I was relaxing to the night sounds of the ranch, his Dad would get up when a dog barked and yell “SHUT UP YOU SONOFABITCH”. Every.damn.time. The ex really didn’t like spending time with his folks and after we moved further away to another college town, we hardly ever did. FOO issues? Damn straight. We were an old married couple before we got married with the understanding that I didn’t want anything to do with his parents kind of marriage. Worked pretty well for a while.

      What gets me is how they totally lose connection with how they felt growing up in that environment. My ex went from being a wonderful caring father who wouldn’t hurt his kids for the world, to a callous, mean, SOB who thought acting that way towards your kids was the way to toughen them up, cuz it’s a mean world out there.

  • My background has a little bit of everything. My mom and dad have been married for nearly 40 years. Mom was horrifically abused (bad, bad stuff) as a child. Dad had the ideal 1940’s upbringing with a close multi-generational household. My mom has Borderline personality traits, but tries desparately to curtail them. Dad worked hard to support us and has always loved my mom deeply. He’s driven to protect her and care for her. She tries to support him, but ends up stifling him a lot of the time leading to a spiral of self hatred on her part.

    So, my parents were both close (maybe too close) and dysfunctional. My dad was a great model of codependence, but my mom was always one to try to change her behavior patterns for the better. It set me up to be super comtted and always look for the slightest glimmer of change from my husband. The idea that someone would knowingly abuse me was just beyond my comprehension. I’m stuck waiting for a change that may never happen.

    It’s intersting to note that, as my parents have aged, they continue a dynamic where my mom remains forever a child. By that I mean she has a hard time making any decisions, even when my dad encourages her to. He had a stroke this year and she’s had to take on the caregiver role. I frequently have to help her think through decisions that involve his health because he’s not yet able to make well-reasoned choices. If I didn’t intervene, she would let him engage in completely compulsive decisions with their money and future just because “that’s what your dad wants”. Sad.

  • I think I married my dad. My parents divorced when I was a baby so I never lived with my dad. It was very clear to me from a young age that my dad was very self centered and hedonistic. My mother reported that he cheated on her numerous times, but she didn’t divorce him for that. If he had been nice to her she said she would have stayed. She divorced him because he was emotionally abusive. To this day however, my mom calls my dad the love of her life. Can you see my confusion? No doubt I had “daddy issues”.

    So I think when I met my ex I was ripe for the picking. He exuded confidence and told me everything I wanted to hear, classic love bombing. I believed him to be a man of integrity and faith. Over our almost 27 year marriage I spackled over his selfishness and emotional distance because I so wanted him to be the “love of my Life”. When he admitted to the serial cheating/double life I was so devastated and I realized he was like my dad but worse because he pretended to be religious which my atheist father never did. I didn’t kick him out, but did the pick me dance for several years. Classic chump behavior I likely learned from my mom. But, like my mom the abuse finally registered and I got out.

  • My parents stayed together for 45 years until my mom died–but during their marriage, my dad travelled and had multiple affairs. He gave my mom STD’s to which they now attribute to her cervical cancer and ultimate death. I would hear my dad talking to the OW’s on the phone throughout my teen age years. It ripped my heart out–but as the only daughter, I was always “daddy’s little girl” so became peacemaker between them.
    I was married to an alcoholic and then spent 14 years with a narc…I think my childhood affected me! Good news is I’m dealing with it all with a great therapist!

  • My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. I wouldn’t say they have always been happily married. My mother is borderline and my father has tolerated years of emotional abuse from her. They have never endured infidelity in their marriage. That being said, I think that my upbringing taught me to endure abuse- and I DID endure emotional abuse for years. I could have stayed in my unhappy marriage if my husband had ONLY been abusive. The infidelity was the deal breaker.

  • I guess I’m one of the group of people in the 50 year club…my parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary tomorrow in fact. My father moves heaven and earth to take care of my mom as she did for him when they were both younger. My mom’s health has not been too good the last 5 years or so. I smile when I see them as they look so cute.

    My ex on the other hand, his father cheated on his mother and there is a OC from the affair. They don’t know that I know this and keep insisting that nothing like this has ever happened in their marriage, but I recognize that she is a true spackle- master. Meanwhile, my ex expected me to sweep his garbage under the rug like his mother did…I told him he should have married her instead.

    • I can completely relate! I think part of my problem is that my father was such a good man. He taught me that men are honest and kind and trustworthy. It didn’t prepare me for a narcissistic mindfuck like my Ex.

  • Wow, thanks everyone for sharing your stories!

    My parents have a rock solid marriage. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, long term affairs, two love children, death of child… they are still together. Unbelievable.

    What I see from other stories, when you grow up with the drama of your parents terrible choices, you are not a child anymore. You don’t use your energy to find out about yourself, understand your own feelings or emotions, figure out what you are good at, and build a future to live your dreams. No, you are cooking dinner for other siblings because Mom is in the bedroom crying because drunk dad is mad because his life would be so much better if he was with his fantasy lover instead of stuck at home with squiggly mom and the loud kids. You run out of the house with anyone who asks you out because you just can’t stand to be home. You don’t join any clubs at school, because there is no way you would get a ride home. You are told that you do not feel what you claim to feel.

    This is my reader digest version of growing up with a narcissistist long term cheating father and a long suffering, kind, religious, mother of five living without any resources.

    My parents do not take the responsibility of making themselves happy. They are miserable, and do not do anything to make it better in the future. Growing up was chaos repeated over and over. Drama. Yelling. Every day.

    I had no idea what happened to me for the longest time. Ironically, I was at my parents house and my mom had a book by Christiane Northup and she wrote about the effects on girls who grow up with narcissistic parents. I did tons and tons of research and it was like a fog had lifted. When I was 33, I got the phone call that my father had a long term affair, with two more children, and all his crazy behavior started to make sense.

    I resent all of it. It is so unnecessary. We never had money, enough food, we didn’t know if we would get presents at Christmas, don’t ask for anything your father might lose his job, the cars always breaking down, make no demands on them, pay for everything yourself, find your own rides, no help with school, forced to work for everything since age 14, etc. Double lives are expensive. We were “parentized” children, there to meet our parents emotional needs, with no demands on them. Later, my mother started drinking heavily, which is very common for spouses of narcissists to become addicts themselves, as it is very depressing to be married to people that don’t care about anyone.

    I learned to be a very good judge of character. I watch very carefully that what people say and do match up. Look at the little lies. Do they cheat the waitress? Lie on their taxes? Sneak into movies? Justify not doing the right thing? Never plan for the future? Blame others?

    There were five kids, and we all acted out in different ways. My older sister suffered from bulimia, I have depression, my younger sister secrecy issues, one brother drinks too much, and my youngest brother was my mother’s emotional support, which was really unhealthy. He passed suddenly from a brain aneurism and I think it was the stress my mother put on him about her ass hat husband.

    My parents refer to each other as “where’s your mother?” and “Where’s your father”… no ownership. Like I had something to do with it. How about “where is your husband?” They love to involve the kids in their crappy marriage drama and it still continues to this day. My father yelled at me last summer because I let him down because I did not plan a 50th wedding anniversary for them. ????

    I have been happily married for 19 years. My husband has a narcissistic mother. Weirdly, both my sisters and I married men with extremely narcissistic mothers, because I think they know we will stand up to them. I realized that I get along with everyone, except manipulative people. Then I just let it rip. If you lie to me twice, that is the end. I have zero tolerance.

    I’m not going to let a crummy childhood ruin my life. the only thing I really own is my integrity, and having a father that didn’t have any made me look for that in a husband. My husband is a good man.

    Big hugs to everyone who struggles with the crazy parents. You can break the cycle!

    • Nancy, I think my Cheater was Parentized as well. Became his mothers source of emotional support at six years of age. his parentsdivorced ten years later. Thirty four years later, she has never had another romantic relationship. They talk everyday and he does all her shit for her, and she still plays the victim.

    • Thanks, Nancy-seems we had the same childhood, which made me accept flaming narkly turds as normal. I have a daughter with my cheater and we have ended up thousands of miles away, I am ‘between jobs’ and Christmas will be homemade this year, and probably better for it. That, at least is poverty in a good cause.


  • Both my parents and my ex’s parents have been married more than 60 years. Both sides got married at 18 and have been together ever since. That’s why it never occurred to me that we would end up divorced.

    My mother’s father abandoned her family when she was born, leaving my grandmother with 6 kids. When I was growing up she was very angry because of a difficult childhood where she felt unloved. Her mom was too busy trying to support the family to spend any time with her. Still, my dad stuck it out with my mom through thick and thin. I saw them struggle through some really rough stuff but they stayed together. Dad said that’s just what you do when you make a promise. That’s what I expected to do in my own marriage.

    My dad was a workaholic, though, and I chose a spouse who was ambitious and driven like he was. Then I spent the next 36 years trying to get my husband to pay attention to me more than his job/female coworkers, etc. That part of our relationship felt familiar and was part of a puzzle I wanted to solve.

    It just blew me away when my ex left without every really voicing unhappiness, or offering to work on it, or changing any of his own behaviors. He told me at one time he looked for answers on how to improve our relationship on the internet, tried those things, but they didn’t work so he gave up. WTF? IMO he tried to solve our relationship problems by looking outside our marriage for what he wanted. He never had to look very far.

    Now that I’m divorced I’m closer to my dad, who is retired and has become appreciative of family. He had to be forced into retirement to see that a job was never going to be there for him like his family would, though. I’d always hoped my husband would also get to the point that he’d value his wife and kids as much as he did his own ambition. If it ever happens, guess I won’t be there to see it.

    • “Then I spent the next 36 years trying to get my husband to pay attention to me more than his job/female coworkers, etc. That part of our relationship felt familiar and was part of a puzzle I wanted to solve.

      It just blew me away when my ex left without every really voicing unhappiness, or offering to work on it, or changing any of his own behaviors. He told me at one time he looked for answers on how to improve our relationship on the internet, tried those things, but they didn’t work so he gave up. WTF? IMO he tried to solve our relationship problems by looking outside our marriage for what he wanted. He never had to look very far.”
      They never have to “look very far” do they…. I went through the same thing for 22 years. Always looking for the day that x would see me, would see us, his family and choose us. But luckily he just decided that he was done one day and that I wasn’t trying hard enough to win him back, I never knew that I was on the clock. It’s been heartbreaking but at the same time freeing that he left without looking back. It’s just taken me a long time to figure out that he did me a favor in the end, I’m sure that was not his intention, but I’m not going to tell him otherwise.

  • My mother: Narcissist. Thought my father had multiple affairs and told kids all about it, well into adulthood. Most notably thought he was having an affair with the next-door neighbor, who was (indeed) a tramp. Told me about 6 weeks after his funeral that he had fathered a child with a high school classmate of mine. That, of course, was not true. No evidence of Schmoopies at the funeral. No kids applying for Social Security or pension rights. So who knows whether he cheated or not? He did a lot of drinking and carousing with his male buddies, for sure.

    Caught my mother holding hands in the yard with a neighbor, so I am pretty sure she cheated, at some level. Either way, they stayed married until my dad died and she wore her wedding ring for 20 years after he died and she never dated, although she was about my age when she was widowed and she was still lovely to look at. Observing their marriage was the worst possible preparation for my own life; I wish I had been provided Mystery Science Theatre 3000 commentary to explain it in ironic terms.

    • -I wish I had been provided Mystery Science Theatre 3000 commentary to explain it in ironic terms.-

      Ha! Me too. MST3K rawks.

  • A child of happily married parents here. What this experience taught me was that a marriage should be saved with all means and under all circumstances. Now I realize how wrong that was. I should have been out of my marriage many years ago. In fact, I should have never married the man I did.

  • Cheating (and rape possibly) was the bread and butter of my island and culture. I am a pale skinned, red haired woman, who has the DNA of West African roots. Some how, a great, great, great grandmother of mine who started this family went from being a slave to a family today of blonds and redheads and I am betting it is not a pretty story.

    Every single man in my family has cheated for as far back in our genealogy as I can go. My great grand father, bastard son, cheated on my great grand mother. My grand father cheated on my grand mother. My mother’s first husband was a serial philanderer (and flaming narc) and her second husband perhaps didn’t cheat but was and remains a mean old SOB monster.

    My mother’s sisters all had cheater alcoholic and abusive husbands. My mother spackled and taught me to spackle that she and especially me made crunchy noises when we walked… I am sure that my STBX heard me coming before he saw me. I was taught to Spackle, but I was taught to Spackle under the guise of compassion and forgiveness. Jesus got some ‘splaining to do.

    I believe for us it is a cultural thing… I believe it came from women’s position in the church, from men who sailed, were pirates, plunders and salt rakers and FLAMING alcoholics, rum donchaknow. The women in my family are STRONG and loving and kind and each of them are forgiven and loved for how they stayed the course while the men around them were shits. It is part of our family narrative. We have all learned to Spackle and are co-dependent. I didn’t set out to marry a man like my SOB stepfather, but I did. Amazingly, he has the same coloring and the same basically selfish personality.

    My STBX came from a family even worse than mine if that can be imagined. They stayed married until my MIL died. She never, ever was a complete person as near as I can tell, and what corporeal body and mind she did possess had long been replaced with spackle by the time of her death. She was an utter waste of space and skin. Her husband my FIL was the meanest old SOB on the planet. Hate filled, horrible but very charming to the outside world. So from this sick, sick family, my STBX came. He swore he didn’t want to be like them and he tried really hard, but fundamentally, when no one fills you up with love as a baby, you grow up to be an empty shell with anger issues, cheating issues, because you are always trying to fill up yourself with something.

    I think that some of this stuff is inherited… Sadly I do and the research tends to support that. (my yesterday was spent looking at heritability of Cluster B in NIHM) Both my stepfather and STBX are primarily Irish and have what I jokingly call the ‘Irish Misery Gene’ which in our family seems to be highly correlated with academic smarts.’ I believe my oldest daughter got the Irish Misery Gene as well. She was always a very difficult child and I wonder if she has some borderline/narc traits… but she is functional though and productive. She is married and seems very happy with her husband.

    I pray every day for my kids… my son knows that his dad is an empty shell. My daughters are more forgiving and compassionate about him. I taught them to spackle didn’t I? I am learning about setting boundaries, going to give my self a spackle enema one of these days. ☺ and do some sort of spackle smudge ceremony to get rid of it. I am teaching my kids, that they are lovely people just as they are and that NO ONE should ever disrespect them. That is a red flag and they should get away from that person as much as they can. I couldn’t have identified a red flag if it had bit me on the ass growing up.

    So there you have it my mighty chumpies. Excuse me while I scratch this itchy spackly spot on my arm.

    • Ringing….My best friend is Irish and always told me how the Irish love to suffer.

      • Swear it is genetic and that is why Irish self medicated so much with booze.

  • Chump kid here. Lots of trauma, looking back, country in civil war, moving leaving everything, at this time my narc Dad has an affair abandoning us and leaving narc Mom to ‘care’ for us. He did come back and they were married a long time. But she always had to be careful (walk on eggshells) with him and took it out on me. Bitter when she was old.
    I was completely devastated when the same happened to me. It is frightening how much stuff gets replayed. Country move, he is on his own, cheats etc…
    But I did not do to my kids what my parents did to me, and so they are surprisingly level headed, sane, and don’t seem to resent their parents.

  • Put me in the camp of “Grew Up In s Solid Family.” Parents celebrating 58 years of marriage this Spring. They had their issues. For instance, Dad went through a bad drinking phase that lasted a decade and a half, and the way Mom hung in there when reasonable people might’ve left probably made me too comfortable with spackle.

    But I’d echo what another poster said above: Chumps are often easy to dupe for years of lifetimes because we are so completely UNABLE to imagine hurtfulness and duplicity on the scale that our spouses inflict it on us. I thought lunchtime blow jobs and secret lives and flying cross-country for Internet hookups was for the stuff of the Jerry Springer set, women with huge implants and men with chest hair crowding out through unbuttoned polyester shirt collars.

    Boy, was I smug!

    • No–not smug, like me, just thought that fiction was one realm–and all that BS belonged there…and real life was people struggling to get with demon and what not, but basically honest and in it for the long run.

      If I feel like a dummy for anything, it’s for really not getting that all that “fiction’ was based on other peoples’ lives. That people really lived like that. No Way! Yes Way!

      Point driven home, remembering before D-day, sitting on the couch next to Ex watching the George Clooney movie, the Descendants, that turn in part on an infidelity plot…he was in the midst of his heady affair with Dr. Hoe. I was just watching a movie. I never could–and never will–get how he could just sit there with me and watch that. That, my friends, is the Narc brain at work.

      • Here’s another similar look into a Narc brain:

        a couple of nights after D Day, with me utterly traumatised, ‘The Great I Am’ and I were watching ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ (if you don’t know the movie – girlfriend arrives home from a ‘business trip’ to eager, in love boyfriend, to tell him that the relationship is over and she has been cheating on him. A big chunk of the movie is about how devastated he is) and throughout the movie I was really hoping he was taking in the pain the boyfriend was going through. At the end of the movie, ‘The Great I Am’ tearily told me that he really related to the movie because it was how HE felt (devastated apparently, because I was wanting to end our marriage over HIS cheating)!! WTF???? I was completely blown away by that!

  • Yes. My dad cheated on my mom when I was in middle school. They’re still together (20+ yrs later). Yes, that was a factor in why I stayed for as long as I did post DDay (4 years) and why I attempted reconciliation even after a few more DDays. I have a good relationship with my dad despite the past, so yes I subscribed to the “sometimes good people just do bad things” mentality. Then I experienced a sociopath. I told my Ex how upsetting that time in my life was, told him I would NEVER tolerate it. He still cheated. I still gave him too many chances. So happy I finally came to my senses and can now call him my EX husband!

  • Chump kid here. Both of my parents are disordered wing nuts of the alcoholic/addict, narcissistic, cheating variety. I worked really hard on myself in my twenties and I thought I’d left all that behind….and then I married a covert narcissist. Oy vey!

  • My husbands father was a cheater-cheated on and fathered another child while they were married. Then abandoned his wife and rejected my husband as his son (Saying it wasn’t his child) He met his father maybe twice in his childhood and attended his funeral. Being the child of a cheater and knowing the pain of being abandoned and watching his mom struggle I thought he would never cheat and risk losing his family. But he did and now he is having hard time accepting that I want out. I feel guilty while I know I shouldn’t.

  • Dad was chumped by Mom with his best friend. She was actually remorseful. But I always felt like she chose the affair over her kids happiness. Best friend was also my best friends father-it was a mess and a small town scandal. Dad stayed for 6 more years but was very unhappy and angry during that time. He stayed for us because his Dad left him. Not happy years, but as a child I was equally angry at both of them for not putting us first and the end of our family. I swore I would never live like that again, and that my children would have a happy family. Still having a hard time coping with that. Everyone tells me kids are resilient, and that my sister and I turned out fine. But I don’t think I’ve every felt “fine.” Lonely with some happiness, but never relaxed.

  • Like many who have commented here, my parents have been married for nearly 50 years, and have a respectful, warm relationship that I envy. HOWEVER, my mom is also a chump. I learned when I was in my 20s that my dad cheated on her with a much younger woman that he worked with. My mom chose to stay married for the money and the kids, and they both hid it so well that we kids never really knew what had happened. It wasn’t until I became a chump myself that I realized the hell she must have gone through, how much of herself she must have sacrificed, and how much shit she must have eaten.

    Mom says she was angry at him for many years, until after they attended “Marriage Encounter,” a series of marriage counseling seminars promoted by the Catholic church, and after my youngest brother was born. But she also says that she is glad she stayed, because now they have a relationship “really worth having.” My dad is totally devoted to her, dotes on her, and neither can imagine life without the other.

    So where does that leave me? I’ve got a remorseful cheater, but he is also someone who has proven that he has no problem “pushing me down the stairs” to meet his own selfish needs. I’ve got family and friends who have never experienced infidelity telling me TDMFA, and a parent who has survived it telling to at least consider staying. I don’t feel like my chumpy family led me to become a chump myself. But I do feel a strong temptation to remain mired in chumpdom. My parents are unicorns! FML…

  • My parents were married until the day my mother died from metastatic breast cancer. Were there affairs? Not that I know of. My father was incredibly selfish and lacking in empathy/sympathy esp when my mother was ill. Since her death, he chases after 20something Asian women (he had a preference for that type of porn while married). My X came from a very loving couple that were married for 50+years (they died a year apart) BUT everyone of their children (9 in total) are divorced, save for the one brother that left as a teenager and the other that is in an extremely dysfunctional/toxic relationship. Go figure!

  • I don’t know for sure. My parents had a very unhappy marriage, for several reasons that I won’t go into here. Mum took a coach trip interstate to visit her brother, his wife and their new baby one day. A week later she came back and broke up with Dad, the reason being that she had met someone else (the coach driver, who is still my stepdad today).

    Dad was devastated, blindsided, like we all were. But I did not have a good relationship with him. He was abusive to Mum and I (physically and verbally). I can’t blame Mum for wanting to get out, and she has been with my stepdad for 30 years now. Dad went on to remarry and, eventually, his old bad habits returned. This resulted in a second divorce.

    Not sure if this scenario fits neatly into the category of cheating.

  • My parents were devoted to each other until the day my father passed away (57 year marriage). As somone else posted, it formed my view of marriage – enduring and loving, working together through the hard times and always supporting each other. I was naive enough to think that was ‘normal’ and what other people desire. My STBX on the other hand, came from a family of criminals and con men. His father was the ultimate narc. Movie star handsome and charismatic. He cheated on all his wives (apparently daily) and loved huge grand gestures (buying cars for mistresses, etc). He ultimately ran away with a total piece of trash 35 years younger than him. I believe STBX is emulating him. Ironically, he used to talk constantly about the chaotic childhood his father’s cheating caused. He hated it so much that I never thought he would do it himself.

  • My own parents– nope, no way. In fact, no shenanigans in my extended family…making me prime grade A chump material. My mother was a textbook overt narcissist, so I was just sitting like a bump on a log, waiting for predators I didn’t really know existed….

    MY Ex? his father; his brother; most likely his paternal g-father. His maternal g-father was a gen-u-ine bigamist (when the 1940 census came out I confirmed it–he has uncles in another part of the country he’s never me. But their mother–a French-Canadian Catholic, no less, divorced this biga-creep “for excessive cruelty”. So grand-pere must have been a really sadistic piece of Type B work…).

    Basically everywhere you look in Exs family is sexual abuse, bigamy, cheating, infidelity, secrets, secrets and more secrets. Eww. Big red flag, like the size they put in front of Federal buildings! but I didn’t know–and, actually, neither did he. It unspooled when I untangled the skein, such as.

    You know, “If I knew now, etc etc etc”

  • Oh, Hi Live&Learn…yep , yep and yep. so, it’s probably another common story….

  • No, not a chump kid. I ate other shit sandwiches though. No cheating but severe physical abuse, my Dad to my Mom.

  • You know, Syringa, I was never jealous either. I’ve finally realized I have never been jealous in my life except when someone intentionally causes me to be.

    Anyway, this guy was never really that interested in sex. Even when we first met, & I wa sskinny and wore cute little outfits. so it really is him. Not me. it kinda weirded me out but I figured I would just be in a relationship with a more mature guy. My bad.

    • I was married to my first husband, before the Cheater, and it was just sex, sex, sex all the time. For about 20 years. So when I got with the Cheater he really was a disappointment sexually although he seems to think hes Mr. Stud.

      Of course, first husband was also abusive alcoholic. Everything has a downside…..

      Does anyone else notice that all the RIC sites emphasize sex a lot in infidelity recovery? Like if they have sex with you a lot they “really ” love you?

  • My entire life was a brick by brick building of a Chump.

    I was raised at the intersection of Dysfunction Boulevard and Insanity Avenue. I lived in a small, extended family environment. We didn’t have a lot of money but I was never hungry and I was nurtured and cared for by my maternal grandmother and my great aunt (both of their husbands predeceased them by many years – my grandfather an alcoholic and a cheater). My mother was the baby of her sibling family and spoiled. She was the cheater. My father finally moved out when I was about five, but they didn’t get divorced until I was about 21, even though they both had other relationships. My older sister and I were both molested by the gross person with whom my mother was cheating when my father moved out. The Molester was also married and never divorced his wife but he and my mother got an apartment together until it was revealed that he had molested us. My mother was an attractive woman and she liked the attention she received from men. My mother’s older sister married young, and her husband died a few years after they married. She dated, but never remarried. My mother’s brother cheated on his significantly older wife, divorced her, and married the woman I knew as my aunt who was the woman with whom he had cheated. After being married to my aunt for well over 30 years, he eventually cheated on her with a woman 25 years his junior and when he realized he’d made a mistake (it took about a year or two), tried to get my aunt to take him back. She said no thanks but they ended up maintaining a close friendship until she died. She and my mother had retained their sisterly friendship through it all.

    My older sister was fathered by a different man years before my mother met my father and had an inherited mental illness from him. She exhibited all sorts of undiagnosed acting out behavior to this day, including trying to have me killed (car) when I was barely past the toddler stage (my father intervened). Talk about taking sibling rivalry to an entirely new level. My sister was considered the “beautiful and talented” child and I was considered the “easy, good and obedient” child, but not particularly beautiful. My sister’s mental illness and my mother’s strident way of attempting to deal with, not the illness, but the behavior associated with the illness, (no one spoke of mental illness, she was just “bad” or “crazy-acting”) created a lot of chaos at home, which was my normal. Even though my parents were separated, my grandmother adored my father and always treated him as a member of the family and as if he were her son. She couldn’t stand The Molester. After the initial separation and ill-will associated therewith, aside from constant battles about money (my father was a compulsive gambler), my parents fell into an easy and supportive friendship (they actually co-parented pretty well) that lasted until my father died, even after he finally remarried a personality-disordered woman who NO ONE LIKED, but everyone tolerated, except me. The fly in the ointment between my parents was my father bad-mouthing my mother whenever she was demanding the support payments on which he was ALWAYS behind (compulsive gambling). As a girl, and knowing my mother cheated, at the time I was sympathetic to my father’s point of view. I realize now this set me up to view a man being upset about being expected to be held accountable for his responsibility to his family as normative .

    Through all of this chaos, I was told by all of the adults, in relation to the chaotic behavior of everyone else, that I should understand and be the bigger person. In other words, as a child and the youngest person in the equation, I was constantly being told to tolerate (not only tolerate but ACCEPT) and overlook crazy behavior and chaotic and inappropriate adult behavior. And this is only part of the the story.

    I came out of all of this chaos limping, but a loving compassionate and caring human being (Chump Degree Magna Cum Laude) (religious training and grandmother’s example). So when I saw the chaos of Cheater McFlamingDevilTurd’s family (father a serial cheater; parents divorced when he was 3 or 4 because father got one of the women pregnant; father an alcoholic; mother emotionally absent after the divorce; mother dating only married men after the divorce; father cheating on second wife, with whom he had several children; at least one other child fathered by a different woman who appeared later; a couple of father’s children the same age, etc.) I believed him when he said, much like Michael Corleone, “that’s my family, that’s not me.” And me, having been trained not to see the forest, but Oooh! look at all the pretty trees, was the perfect foil for this narcissistic baboon.

    So yes, I was raised and conditioned to be a Chump and I am going to stay in therapy (and keep coming back to this space) until I throw that monkey off of my back and beat it to death.

    • Chump Princess, this is an awesome piece of prose. You’ve got the chops and you’ve got the attitude. You rock.

    • Chump Princess, you are a funny & talented writer, but a sad twisted story to be sure.
      When you said “It was the perfect foil for this narcissistic baboon,” I read “the perfect foil for this narcissistic balloon” and my mind went to that Narc that sent up a foil balloon supposedly with his kid in it to get his own reality show-remember that shit some years ago!! OMG, and his wife seemed to think there was nothing wrong with that. Maybe it is a distant relative of one of us.
      Banjoes should never be background music for a child’s life.
      Chump Princess you are obviously a very savvy woman with a great sense of humor, & I’ll bet that monkey is losing his grip!
      McFlamingDevilTurd’s Family LOL!

      • Regina,

        I have considered that the Baboon has a balloon for a head as it seems to be filled with nothing but colorful thoughts of his wonderfulness and hot air to be sure. Perhaps one day I can turn it into a children’s book – The Baboon With the Balloon Head. ;0

  • I was 15 on mother’s first d-day. Her second was a couple of years later. She stayed. She keeps trying to talk me into staying.

    My father was not a good man. His first affair was with a student who attempted suicide, left school, and then left the country. The second was a friend of my mother’s. She became a drunk and came to our house, car horn blasting in the driveway, more than once. He took her to Vegas (for closure) and bought my mom a mink.

    My mother believes that the shithead is the one who is resisting reconciliation. She can’t believe I sincerely don’t want him in my life anymore. “What are you going to do for money? ” So not a good example…

  • Hmm, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation with being chumped and our parents’ marriage. Just goes to show that it still boils down to character. Some had very challenging childhoods and yet cheating never even occurred to them.

  • So what I’m seeing is that people who grow up in happy families with loyal parents are chumps because they are unprepared for dealing with a cheater because they can’t process that kind of behaviour, and people who grow up in dysfunctional families with abusive/cheating parents are chumps because that’s the kind of behaviour that was modeled for them and they think it’s acceptable.

  • My parents were married 57 years. They were not openly affectionate with each other but my dad always had a card and present for my mom on special occasions and she would always thank him with a kiss on the cheek. My mom was legally blind in her later years. My dad would get up every Sunday morning, drive her to church, make sure she made it in ok, then have coffee at McDonalds. When she walked out of church, he was there waiting for her. He knew church was important to her so it was important to him to get her there.
    My STBXs father left his wife after the kids were grown for long time OW who just happened to be her ‘best’ friend in their small town. MIL had no clue and was devastated. She fell into a deep depression and has been on meds ever since – 20 years. All his siblings have lots of dysfunction in their lives – I used to say that ‘I got the good one of the bunch’ and we’d laugh about how he came out unscathed. Ha! joke’s on me.
    But here’s the really ironic part – in counseling I had to ask STBX to tell the counselor about his mom and dad. At first, he just said they were divorced. So I said I think you should tell him why. He responded because my dad cheated on my mom then proceeded to justify his dad’s cheating by saying that his mom wasn’t very social and his dad was….made me furious! The reality was that this OW had a bunch of money from when her husband died in an accident and his dad left his mom for a better financial situation. The OW was a real bitch too but for some reason, none of kids ever took a side. They acted like all was fine and swept it under the rug. True fuckedupness.

  • My now elderly mother has been married four times, divorced three times, widowed a few months ago. Adultery was involved in all three of the divorces. Cheated on and left her first husband (my father) when I was around 3 or 4 years old. She cheated on the second and third husbands too, and they on her. To this day the attention must always be on her or there’s hell to pay. She lives across the country from me but as she gets older she mentions more and more wanting to move back to the area in which I live. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen but if it does, I can always enter the Witness Protection Program, right? Her selfish behavior regularly served me shit sandwiches, made me the perfect chump.

  • I am the product of infidelity. That is the strangest sentence I have ever written, but it’s the truth. My mom had an affair and that’s how I came along. I wouldn’t dream of cheating maybe because of the weirdness I experienced growing up (bio-dad used to come visit me believe it or not as my mom did not leave my dad who raised me and in fact stayed with him and had another kid). The whole thing was f’d up as he used to come around and take my mother and I on outings. Very weird but my moral compass against infidelity is very strong but also ironic that it happened to me (my therapist says it’s recapitulation) which makes me wonder a little because I certainly did not consciously set out to marry a NPD individual, as my ex is definitely defined.

  • Not only did I eat the shit sandwiches….I had to fix them myself! My parents luckily were seemingly normal for the first few years of my life, but by the age of five or so (had brother 2 years older) when BOTH parents went rapidly down the alcoholism path, it was downright frightening and horrifying for us children to witness this fast decline. We made our own meals 90% of the time, bologna & ham sandwiches & hotdogs. My father was a 3rd generation West Point graduate, and his two brothers died in WWII before he graduated. His sister died of scarlet fever at 3, and his father (a Col at 28 years old) gave up advancing in his career to divorce my Dad’s Mom & marry his secretary. My Dad’s Mom never remarried and even though a tough lady, I am sure had a broken heart from all life’s tragedies. My Dad’s parents were drinkers too, especially his Dad. (Officers were big drinkers I have heard) My Dad was very depressed but in a third generation West Point family you do not snivel about ANYTHING. My Dad was an unhappy drunk who did not seem to be pleased with my Mom, especially after she became a drunk.

    He later told me when he came home from West Point about a year after his 2 brothers died in the war as pilots about 9 months apart (& one body never found to this day), he came home on the train to meet his fiancé, and she wasn’t there, she had taken up with someone else. My Mom was Plan B. My Mom was a creative & artistic woman who got little for her soul from my Dad. My Mother became a RAGING alcoholic and was someone who lost her mind on it-psychotic episodes, hallucinations, up all night, slept all day while I was at school. People (other parents) who knew about the drinking thought I would be a bad influence because my folks were so out of it & I had “no supervision.” Funny I was the one who did not do drugs or have sex early, in fact late. Anyhow, my Dad started an affair with a flight attendant who was a divorcee in town who was also an alcoholic who was hitting the town as well as my Dad was to stay away from home.

    My brother went away to private school when he was 13, and this saved his ass. He was delaminating in the psyche dept. My Dad offered this to me before he left me with my crazy psycho Mother by myself, and I made my first codependent decision, which was “who will take care or look after Mom?” She was drop down drunk every day. Two years later, I had to choose her or myself. I was anorexic (5’6 and 92 lbs.) and there was no end in sight to the abuse from my Mom. She HATED me for some reason, and my brother could do no wrong. When I came home from school when she was up, she shouted hateful vitriol at me. She blamed me for her divorce because when we had a “family council” and my father asked how my brother & I would feel if they separated, I said I didn’t feel it could get worse, and maybe we should try it. I was 11.

    My Mom would yell & cry outside the bedroom door until 3,4, 5 or in the morning, where she would pass out in the hall & I would step over her body to try to get myself ready for school for that 2 years we were alone. I moved to the guest room where I could have a door lock & push a highboy (piece of large furniture) in front of the door.
    I remember writing her Mother a letter (grandma) telling her of all the things I am going through & how sick my Mom was, etc. I could barely wait for the letter to get there & get her response, I was sure she would help. About 10 days later, I ripped her letter open to find out when she was coming to save me & my Mom, and she totally ignored my pleas, and said “the weather is great,” played Bridge on Monday, nice to hear from you. That was my introduction to mindfuckery from someone I thought was sane. Then I knew I was alone. Rumor had it my Mom’s Dad was a gambler & a cheater, but successful in the ways of the world.

    When my brother went away to school and my dad moved out, I had not even heard from my Dad in 9 months. I noticed a letter from my Dad’s attorney so I called him & said where is my Dad? He then invited me to live in Hell with his new alcoholic stewardess girlfriend who became his wife. She was violent and hit me, even though I was only 92 lbs when I got there. I started losing my hair, I lost about 2/3rds of it. She burned my Dad’s family things and made everyone’s life a living hell. I found out her 3 own kid were also terrified of her, 2 older than me, one younger.
    My Dad divorced her & married alcoholic wife #3 who cheated on him & pretty much wiped him out of everything he had left. He had gotten throat cancer, and she did not find it sexy. By now I was 23, I had left the are at 17.

    I have heard/read that most alcoholics are narcs, and I tend to agree with this-reason being it is such a selfish disease…and everyone has a problem but you if you are a drinker. You just try to drink away your problems & wake up with them the next day year after year. I think I got way too used to mindfuckery. Forget what you are seeing & feeling, none of it is true. Having dinner with your Mom laying on the floor nearby & talking with my brother like nothing was wrong. It teaches you to ignore your gut. And of course the code of silence. Tell NO-ONE, get no support or sanity in your life.
    Someone was talking about a Narc that wasn’t interested in sex. I have read there are two kinds, and one is called somatic who I believe like to be attractive and worship that image, but once in a relationship can have little interest in sex, but will use it to reel you in.
    Sorry so long, but cathartic, do not really want people in my real world to know all this, they might doubt my sanity.
    I guess in my case, how did I not end up a complete loser? My integrity has been the key to my sanity. I try to do what is right. However, I now realize I have to do what is right for ME & when a story doesn’t add up, it is because of lies, whether of commission, omission or outright mindfuckery.
    God Bless Chump Nation!

  • I have read that Narcs are made by severe early childhood abuse where the child can never express who he is or what he feels & perceives no one cares, or the opposite which is spoiling a child to where they don’t think the sun rises until they get up in the morning.

  • Wanted to also say I think the main reason Chumps are Chumps is because they project who they are onto the other person. Since they don’t lie, cheat or steal, they don’t suspect it in others….and even if they do, if the person keeps lying & they trusted them, they do their best to believe it. They can’t imagine this lying & cheating, they don’t understand how others could do it. Chumps are good honest people, and users I guess can spot them a mile away.
    That is why many Cheaters who Cheat with other Narcs find out it is a “mistake.” It is a mistake because they suspect all the shit in each other & there is no one to take advantage of! Bummer! It is so much easier to foo, a Chump. And although fooling people would make a Chump feel badly, with a Narc, they thrive on “getting away” with things, pulling one over, disrespecting others-hey! What fun!!

  • Had seriously in love parents. They divorced because my Dad was gay. In a sheltered community, he never understood. Until he’d been married to my Mum for over fifteen years. Lightbulb moment, then he tried to hide it – and when she found out around eighteen years into a lovely marriage – and he was acting on it – she lived with it for another year or so. She asked him to leave, and was the sane parent to the four of us – my sister and I had left home by this stage, she brought up my teen brothers alone – Dad was always distant, and he ran for ten years, “experimenting,” finding himself – much to his embarrassment and regret. Mum was IMMENSE! I ran my life with this at the front of my mind. I was fine. But I was NEVER going to deal with a cheat. Fuck no! And I was never going to put myself in the way of STIs. Fuck no! Guess what? My love, the man I adored and was joined at the hip to – we were AWESOME – of 26 years had unprotected sex with his AP, I have had chlamydia, HPV and CIN3. ANd my biggest fear is that this will carry on to make my kids unhappy. I have long-term married grandparents on both sides – one set thrillingly happy (until he died) and the other, mmmm, but no cheating that I am aware of. My parents would have been – had my father’s sexual preference been women, I am sure. My dad still mourns my Mum – thirteen years after her death – and my boy’s parents have just passed and celebrated 55 years married. Interestingly, my sister’s marriage disintegrated around the 27 year mark – no overt cheating – who knows? And my younger brother’s partnership of more than ten years – two kids – died a few years back. My youngest brother, is still married, two pre-schoolers – to a ten year, younger woman – didn’t marry until nearly 40 – 2 crashed engagements. Mmmm. What do you say, it fucked us up far more than we ever realised at the time. I felt cool with the divorce, sad, but understood, felt okay, felt like it wan’t a fuck up, just a phase in life, no biggie. For sure. But look now. Disaster and sad people all scattered around us.


  • I truly believe:
    adultery is a narcissistic act
    Chumps are co-dependents of narcissists who have been trained in a previous life to not exist/have very small needs.

      • Yes. I grew up doing that, and still do that with my mom. There’s been no cheating in my families’ past (that I know of, but it would shock me), but there’s a lot of sacrifice to keep the peace when I am around my mom. My parents have an unhealthy dynamic in their relationship, but they seem to love each other (in their own ways). I felt loved though, growing up (and now), and somehow ended up as a confident adult. I was single for a long time (when almost all my friends were married and having kids) because I was convinced it was better to be single than be with the wrong person. Then I met my ex and fell in love. I never saw any warning signs and was totally happy until until dday. Only recently in the last months did I make some connections between the childish behavior of my mom (when she does not get her way) and my ex’s refusal to do the unfun things of adulthood. They are not alike in most ways and I never saw it before, but there is some similarity in the tendancy to be narcisstic. And I guess I tended to do what it takes, above and behind, to make sure the unfun things got done (by me). So, I guess I learned that from my dad’s catering to my mom’s desires? With my ex is was nowhere near as clear as the dynamic in my parent’s relationship, but it turns out it was there anyways. Sigh.

  • My entire life experience has been shaped by my father’s cheating, arrogance, and alcoholism.
    Dad impregnated OW who became narc stepmom; stole all us kids away in the night from Biomom, moved across country. I was 4. Never saw her again till adulthood.
    Dad’s final words to me, before he died of cancer, were an apology for peeing all over me as I slept in my bed, then falling asleep on top of me. I was 14 at the time and remember walking around school the next day feeling that the sight of me was making people wretch. He sobered up just months later.
    I still get that feeling some days.
    He did not apologize for the years of drunken groping.
    My first brief marriage: cheater alcoholic drug abuser. Only found out after he died he was also a paranoid schizophrenic.
    Second, briefer marriage: sociopath narc alcoholic drug abuser.
    Most recent relationship, 6 years with serial cheater. Broke my heart like never before. His mom was serial cheater who left for one of OM; she lies relentlessly. His dad is a chump like me.
    Apple doesn’t seem to fall far from tree.
    I am educated and have a great job, maintain decent relations with coworkers, family, and a very close relationship with my adult disabled daughter. Have never taken antidepressants, never been arrested nor institutionalized. Had therapy for years, but one day my sister screamed at me “All these years and you aren’t getting better!”.
    I quit shortly after the cheater discarded me.
    I do not trust myself to become involved with anyone again, although I have considered appointing a search committee to find me someone suitable

    • I have considered appointing a search committee to find me someone suitable

      I don’t think it works that way 😉 First, I think, you need to get to “happy to be single”, and then you won’t have that flashing neon “I’m just happy to be here and will tolerate a lot of shit” sign flashing on your forehead that comforts the worst offenders and convinces them to put in the minimal effort requires to woo you 🙂

      If you make pairing up the goal with your history of spackling, what chance do you think there is that you won’t spackle to achieve that goal.

      Desperation will disable judgment every time.

      • Please note the “I don’t trust myself” part. I don’t feel desperate to be paired up but IF I ever decide to attempt pairbonding again, someone other than me needs to vet the person. We all say “fix your picker” but I have clearly been unable to do so; my judgement seems to be impaired with /without desperation. I don’t think a committee would do any worse than I have done, and I could probably get friends and family to do it free, as opposed to, say, paying to computer-match me.
        Also, it was partially a joke. In my field when we hire it is always done by committee with legally specified parameters.

  • Dad cheated, mom cheated , but they stayed together until my dad passed away 2 years ago and my mom a month ago. He was 91 and she 86. They lived in opposite ends of the house. I never saw any affection towards each other from either of them. My mom never covered up any of my dad’s imperfections, if anything we were always bombarded by dad’s “badness” . She would tell us about his infidelities and say how much she hated him. She herself had many affairs. I remember seeing different men. One of them stayed around for a very long time and there was talk of her divorcing dad. That never happened and I later found out that dad’s wealth had a lot to do with my mom staying with him.
    My childhood story would be a Hollywood box office hit. So many lies and drama.

  • I started to write a response the day CL posted this, but got overwhelmed and had to stop. My parents first met when my mom was an adolescent and my dad dated her older sister (5 years older) for a short while. Years later, when my mother was a sophomore in college, she was home for the summer and got falling down drunk at a party. She ended up being gang-raped in the back yard of the home where the party was being held. My father found her, recognized her, cleaned her up and took her home. No one spoke of the incident for fear that my grandfather would start killing people. And since Mama didn’t remember who had done it, she was scared her father would go after the wrong people. Back then, counseling was not an option. But this tragic and odd reunion and rescue kindled a relationship (????) between my parents and two months later they eloped. Mama later said she didn’t think anyone would want her after what had happened. Shortly after they married, my mother found a love letter — a poem of sorts — in the glove box of Daddy’s truck. The problem was, it was written to his high school flame, for whom he evidently still carried a torch. By this time Mama was newly pregnant with me. The cheating had already started and never stopped throughout their 21 years of marriage. Later, when she was further along in her pregnancy, my father — an avid outdoorsman and hunter — aimed a loaded gun at her pregnant belly and “pretended” to shoot. He was showing out in front of his friends. He laughed and laughed. Terrified, my mother tried to go home to her parents but my grandmother told her “You’ve made your bed. Now lie in it.” So my mom resigned herself to a marriage with a cheating, abusive, alcoholic husband. Daddy traveled a lot on business and was gone much of the time. The little bit he was home he belittled mother and did whatever he wanted to do without regard to how it affected our family. I remember one time when I was about 9, I told my mother: “When I grow up, I’m not going to get married. I’m just going to have affairs.” (I didn’t yet know about the Birds and the Bees and didn’t realize exactly what the word “affair” truly meant.) My mom started trying to convince me about the merits of marriage, specifically how “Marriage is sharing your life with another person.” Even at that young age, she didn’t sound very convincing to me. Despite her efforts to sell me on the idea of marriage, my own observations of my parents marriage caused me to seriously doubt her. If what she and my dad had was what marriage is, than I was not interested. I lost a lot of respect for her that day. Fast forward to my college years and immediately after graduation, I started dating my first husband. He was so different from my father, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. My (now ex) hubby was introverted, quiet, career-focused, helpful around the house. He abstained from alcohol and had a gentle manner about him. In our 18 years together, I can count on two hands the number of times he raised his voice! When D-day came, just a month prior to our 16th wedding anniversary, I was stunned! Everything I had thought to be true was a lie. My hubby had an entire secret life filled with porn, OW, even bank accounts, and had maintained this secret life since very early in our relationship. I realized that I had mistaken his quietness for acceptance, his gentleness for love, his helpfulness for true partnership. But I realized that silence can be a form of violence. After he left me I learned from his college friends that he had always been very secretive and seemed to thrive on keeping secrets about odd things that were common knowledge (like which classmate he was dating.). Even though his outward personality was the polar opposite of my cheating, abusive father, the underlying traits of selfishness, addiction (X’s was to porn), disconnectedness (Daddy was gone physically; X mentally), entitlement, etc. were ALL THERE, hidden underneath his “nice” persona. In some subconscious way, these things felt COMPLETELY NORMAL to me. Now that I have some distance from it (he left 9 years ago) and I have been happily remarried to an emotionally healthy guy for 6 years I can totally see how my chump kid upbringing influenced my marriage.

  • Chiming in late here. My parents divorced when I was 8, after a really acrimonious 14-year marriage. I don’t actually remember a time when they were ever *not* fighting, so the divorce mostly came as a relief to me and my sibs. That relief didn’t last long since my mom is batshit crazy (bipolar, NPD, alcoholic) and got full custody. Many fun times ensued.

    Here’s the thing, though, and I’ve never thought about this until today’s post. My mom had an “exit affair” that lasted many years after the divorce. At the time, she told us kids that she was super unhappy in the marriage (we certainly had daily proof of that), and that my dad refused to divorce her unless she had an affair. Hence, the affair. In fact her AP was a good man who wanted to marry her (Lord only knows what she told him to inveigle him into the relationship), and he took care of us kids long after my mom broke up with him. But the really sad thing is that my dad never really stopped loving my mom, and when I was a junior in high school, they had a short-lived reconciliation and were even talking about getting remarried. During this time, she showed me a letter he’d written to her (horribly inappropriate of her to do this), and reading it, I felt so sorry that my dad had wasted his beautiful, elegant words on such a woman. I don’t think she cared at all for him and his feelings, but hey! Lookee me! See how irresistible I am that I get this 10-page love letter!

    So, yeah. I guess it’s no big surprise that I would wind up being chumped myself. We all did the “pick me” dance with my mom for years, so when my ex-cheater showed up, I knew all the moves by heart. Thanks for asking this question, CL. I honestly hadn’t thought about this before or how this particular aspect of my history affected my relationship trajectory.

  • Great question and after a yr of peeling the layers off of my onion as to why the heck would I even permit someone to abuse me here’s what I learned:

    My FOO- parents married 50+ yrs. No cheating as afar as I know of, but they never modeled how to disagree and fight fair without passive aggressive tactics. Never modeled how to express your needs and talk about how to have those needs met or not.
    So I learned to be quiet. To do my own thing and have my own back and rely on people only when absolutely necessary. Not such a bad thing to be independent, but not realistic in a committed relationship. There are other things, big family, limited resources, fight for resources, etc…. Nothing horrific or abusive, just lots of siblings, not a lot of money. So, if I wanted to do something, I had to find a way to finance it and make it happen. Not saying what I wanted, just doing it because I knew there would be no support.

    Cheater’s FOO: mom codependent. Bio dad is a diagnosed NPD cheater and currently on marriage #6 or 7. Stepdad was self absorbed cheater and alcoholic. His mom rug sweeps. Eats shit sandwiches at every meal. Has produced cheating sons. Cheater’s sister married a cheater and does the codependent thing like her mom modeled for her.

    BINGO! And the cycle continued. BUT it stops with me and I told his mother and siblings that.

    The only good thing about this past year has been my IC. I have never invested in myself like that before. It’s been the best thing in understanding my personal whys and breaking those habits and learning better coping skills.

  • Third generation chump. Grandma Chump was Italian and told me all men do. Dad cheated on Mom, Mom had revenge affair.

    I pretty much think they all suck.

  • Third generation chump. Grandma Chump was Italian and told me all men do. Dad cheated on Mom, Mom had revenge affair. Mom was very supportive of me forgiving and forgetting on the emotional affair he had. When we realized my assband was a serial cheater, Mom then said she should have dispensed with the affair and just divorced my father. I guess when you see your daughter suffering from your piss pour advice the first go round and you’ve been spackling with her father for forty years, you feel guilty or something.

    I pretty much think they all suck. I think I have to put the bullet in my marriage (working towards that) and then pretty much cutting off the clusterfuck of my family.

    My parents also told me my cousin molesting me when I was elevenwasn’t a big deal. Intellectually I know why I’m still stuck. I was forced as a child to spackle my sex abuse. OF COURSE I am spackling my marriage. Some of us chumps KNOW we got to put down the spackle trowel. It’s hard when you have NOBODY On your side.

  • Wow – this is the most fascinating thread of responses. It’s at times heartbreakingly sad but also inspiring to hear the stories of resilience, despite the incredibly shitty FOOs or other life circumstances thrown our way. What strikes me the most is that, as another posted alluded to, we’re damned either way! You either grown up in a healthy, stable environment and assume all marriages are like the ones that were modeled to you and therefore are completely blindsided that someone may not take marriage vows seriously and lie, cheat, manipulate, etc. OR you have a completely fucked-up upbringing and FOO and you learned to spackle at an early age so doing that in your marriage is your normal.

  • My 13yr old is having a very very hard time coping with the separation from her father. It’s been 3 weeks now. I have told her the truth of why we left our home, dad is a SERIAL LYING CHEATING ASS for 14 years. Dad however fills D head that I am lying. He is not a cheat and everything is my fault ie, the fighting, separation. Durrrr dad, there wouldn’t be any fighting and conflicts in the family home if you weren’t a lying cheat!!

    Therapy for my daughter is not affordable right now, but I want to know what else can I do for her besides loving her, being honest with her etc. I believe the situation becomes worse because her dad will call daily to D and the rest of our 3 kids. The only time I see my daughter “light” up is when her dad calls. I have been a super chump for so long, my D the other day mention her childhood has mostly been sad, remembering all the shit her fathers cheating caused ie, me crying a lot, sadness and depression. have I made the mistake of walking out on the SOB too late? Should I limit the phonecalls so my D is given time to adjust to our new life? When I walked out with the kids, we moved to a different state because I knew I needed the distance to help me heal but the X daily calls is not helping.

    Please any advice

    • Your daughter should have a counselor at school. It would benefit you both to pursue counseling; attend first appointment 🙂 so you can address concerns. They may also refer you to other local resources. Keep your children involved in extracurricular activities as well. My children’s lives were great until their father blew up their world, but I recognized that my moving forward was a greater influence on how they coped. I don’t lie about anything now and know that eventually they will come out of this stronger.

  • Like many others, I didn’t experience any cheating on my parent’s part growing up. Quite the contrary. My parents were best friends. My mom was a type 1 diabetic and quite sickly. She died at 38. My father, almost 20 years later, has still not gone out on a single date. She was it for him. I remember when they would fight, which would be about once per year over money, I would get so scared and assumed they were divorcing because our family life was so blissful and drama-free.

    My parents weren’t perfect by any means. But they were in love and provided a good home for me. They modeled affection and how to express emotions. They hugged and were hugged.

    I’m married to a man who couldn’t express his feelings if you offered him a million bucks. He won’t give me a hug if I ask for one. And has likely physically cheated on me, and definitely had an emotional affair.

    I think I’m in denial due to my good upbringing. I never thought I’d be living this way. Foolishly I had the impression he was a good man like my father is.

  • Dysfunctional family all around, nobody in our two families knew how to be honest. Recognized I had my challenges but was confident in my ability to choose better and change/control my future although I was very young when I met my ex. I did everything the opposite of my Mom. Did not want to follow in my family’s footsteps. Bio dad a walking nightmare: verbally, physically, and sexually abusive, in my life till sis and I put a stop to our sexual abuse during visitation. A violent man. Sis screwed up for life. Alcoholic Mom (a favorite Sparkle-y child of her doting father cheat who left my grandmother, a checked out cold religious woman with six kids she didn’t know how to parent, when she became institutionalized with early Alzheimer’s and then married his secret OW), a serial party girl and not the best parent who had many partners dating others during my youth, who escaped her first abusive violent marriage, and then jumped into her next marriage not because she loved him but because he was safe and a good provider (and a Chump). Years of cheating on my stepdad, the wonderful sane parent, who didn’t measure up in giving her KIBBLES 24/7 and had the audacity to gain a few pounds. Mom fucked a neighbor (my friends’ married father whom I liked), then men at work, and ruined her relationship with my father because of her Narc me me me! behavior. Stepdad clueless (the best dad I have ever known though) is a workaholic perfectionist who comes from a long line of FOO issues and to this day stays married to my Mom (my brother, their only child together and who died tragically young binds them together) but is not happy. He deserves to be. He says he loves her, is critical though, and is never home. He lives a separate life much like my ex did. Mom shows up but doesn’t participate or talk about anything of importance. She does her own thing. Dad busts his ass. I keep their secrets, always have. They never talk about anything meaningful…. And both are “absent” but in different ways. I married someone with all these qualities. Charismatic, a hard worker, a perfectionist, checked out, a passive aggressive busy entitled Narc. Twenty eight years together but the last three were a nightmare. His parents died when we were dating so I was missing great clues. Live and learn. If nothing else I am resilient.

  • My parents have been happily married for 50 years. I never knew that people could treat their spouses so badly. My fil was an epic cheater just like his son my stbx. My mil continues to stay with my fil even though he treats her like s***My mil modeled to her children that cheating was OK. She was married to and raised a cheater.

  • My mum and dad separated when I was 5 due to a lack of love and a lot of anger. But at least they were both honest and not cheaters

    My step dad however who I grew up with from age 5 – I’m almost certain he cheated on my mum. Their relationship taught me to spackle and accept. And not fight. And make the best of things. Damn them…

    Raised it with my mum once post divorce and she was hysterical. It hurt her so badly I’ve never raised it again

    Interestingly, as a family lawyer I was more terrified of the impact of staying with my cheater ex on the kids when I found out post d day than I was on the impact on leaving him.

    I stayed for me when I thought it was a one night stand. Then I left for me when I found out it was a never ending continuous pattern our entire relationship.

    I hope to model healthy relationships for my kids who are almost 3 now and 5 years old. But I’m still single – so god knows if I can meet someone to model a good relationship with.

    By the sounds of the above that’s no protection anyway.

    My ex’s dad left his mum for an OW when he was 3 (same age my son was at separation) and he hasn’t spoken to the man since he was 11 and doesn’t acknowledge him as a father – only his step dad.

    I do fear creating a shitty pattern for my beautiful kids.

    It keeps me holding out for a non-narc. If he comes along. If not i’ll stay single.

  • My parents divorced after 40 years together and definitely stayed together for the kids at my mother’s insistence. At one point when they were holding it together, she told me they had seriously discussed divorce years before. I was shocked because they didn’t fight in front of us, even though they had different religious views.
    Dad is not what I would call a flaming narcissist, but always made it clear that he was superior to her. He has few real friends and my siblings and I are all much closer to Mom than we are to him. They stayed together modeling dysfunction another ten years after discussing divorce and we were less surprised when they finally split.
    My dad explained to me at that time that he had never been in love with my mother and he wanted to see if he could find happiness now (sound familiar?) I believed and supported him. He partnered up with a coworker a year later. They’ve been together ever since.
    Recently, Dad’s wife made a point of indicating to me that they we’re having intimate conversations about our family long before we knew of her existence (she claimed to have told him to stay together with my mom for the kids, ’til my younger sister graduated–did she want my gratitude?)
    Also, my sister just told me that she asked Dad point blank when they were splitting if he had been faithful and he said no. I never knew this so some details of their relationship breakdown have only recently come to light.

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