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Dear Chump Lady, He “can’t remember”

cakemanDear Chump Lady,

I’ve been reading your site for some time and have found it extremely helpful. I love how you don’t “beat around the shrubbery”, and that kind of directness is what I need now.

I discovered last year, within a weeks time, that my husband was having an emotional affair (EA) with a co-worker for 5 years (they both are government) and a serious porn addiction, of which I had zero knowledge. Boy, I was full of not knowing, wasn’t I? We have been married for 17 years and have known each other for over 20.

After I discovered the EA, I asked him to send a no contact letter and he did. Well, I found out 5 days later that they had set up secret email accounts. I gathered this info and sent it to her husband and that pretty much curtailed the EA.

The porn addiction is a result of PTSD during war time. It still doesn’t stop the blow to your self esteem when your husband is turning you down for sex constantly. I started keeping a calendar and we would generally have sex, if I was lucky, every 60 to 90 days. I had NO idea he was using porn for self gratification and therefore that is why he wouldn’t touch me. Didn’t help when I found out though as my self esteem was way in the sh*tter by now.

Not only did I not have any intimacy in my marriage due to his EA, I also had no intimacy in my marriage due the porn use. Both of these things I had NO IDEA of until I discovered them myself.

Fast forward. We went to marriage counseling which was a flop. I became resentful because I felt like I was doing all the work to “fix” something I didn’t do. He let me do it and that made me even more resentful. After reading your site I lost it one evening and told him I was tired of the trickle truth, the no effort, and the fact that not one fact he has come forward with on his own. I’ve found out EVERYTHING on my own and he won’t own up to it unless I have him dead to rights. 

I let him know the other day that I couldn’t stand not being able to trust him. When I ask him a question about the affair, most likely I already have the answer, and I’m just looking for a hint of truthfulness from him.

Let us fast forward again to this evening. I asked him, point blank, WHO set up the secret email accounts? Was it YOU or was it HER. Now this is not a tough question but he still answered with his coined “I don’t remember”. This does not fly with me anymore so I said, “Well did you log in to the website and use YOUR fingers to create both accounts? If the answer is NO, then she created the account. If the answer is YES then it was you.” Now let us take in to mind that this was last year so the “I don’t remember” is not flying.

My question to you is, Why does he continue to not answer a direct question, even when he knows I know the answer? Again part of the healing comes from not the details but the knowledge that the truth is being told. It is not like I don’t know that he had an affair and the porn addiction. I’m the one who found out for crimminy sake.

He is in counseling now and so am I. I am in it more for my sanity and I hope he gets the help he needs to battle his demons. I don’t think I can stay in this marriage anymore but I keep taking puffs off the hopium pipe. I need someone to tell me, in laymans terms, how I can explain to him why it is I’m really leaving. I’ve told him that I can’t handle anymore trickletruth and I can’t keep digging as I always find something. I need him to come forward with some information of his own before I find it. I know that won’t happen but I’m so sad and frustrated. Please kick some sense in to me.

Thank you and buffering up my backside for the kicking I need. 


Dear Angi,

You wanted direct, so here it is — your husband is still in his affair.

You can stick your finger in the dyke all you want to —  intercepting his latest secret email addresses, monitoring his porn, calling the OW’s husband — but so long as your husband is doing the You’re Not the Boss of Me tango of entitlement, this “reconciliation” is a non-starter.

He’s going to therapy as the price of admission to eat cake. And he’s sullen and resentful about it, happy to let you do all the heavy lifting on this save the marriage shit.

He’s not having sex with you, most likely, because he’s been getting it somewhere else — the OW. I’m sorry, but people don’t have EAs for FIVE YEARS when they have direct access to one another daily. And continue to have access. They still work together, correct? I didn’t see anything in your letter where he’s found a new job or she left hers. Grown-ups don’t flirt for five years — they have sex. Sex, especially if the guy is a porn freak, is the preferred form of kibbles.

Look, even in the highly unlikely event that this is “just” an EA, your marriage sucks. Ask yourself if this relationship is acceptable to YOU. It sure doesn’t sound like it, Angi. You’re begging for scraps of dignity from a guy who is clearly checked out emotionally and physically. What’s left to be married to? His military pension? You can get that in the divorce.

My question to you is, Why does he continue to not answer a direct question, even when he knows I know the answer?

Simple. Because he prefers to keep you in the dark.

You know that, it just frustrates the hell out of you and you’d prefer to not listen to his ACTIONS.

His actions are communicating a very clear message — CAKE.

He makes a weak reconciliation gesture and immediately undoes it each and every time, Angi.

Send a NC letter? Okay, and the next day he sets up new secret email accounts.

Go to marriage counseling? Okay, but he won’t do any of the work.

Go to individual counseling? Hey, you don’t get to monitor that and he could be anywhere that afternoon. (“I was at therapy!”) Anyway, whatever he’s doing, he’s still an asshole who “doesn’t remember.” Perhaps he should try past life regression therapy, where he can recall the details of his various double lives under hypnosis.WTFever.

I need someone to tell me, in laymans terms, how I can explain to him why it is I’m really leaving.

You don’t explain it to him. You just DO. You leave. You see a lawyer and don’t tell him boo about that. You line up your ducks and you divorce his ass.

Time to trot out the old Dr. Simon axiom — it’s not that he doesn’t see, he disagrees. He doesn’t need insight that you’re unhappy — HE DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT. His actions clearly demonstrate that. So you need to wake up and act accordingly. No marriage here to save, he’s not in it, time to lawyer up.

Do NOT lawyer up to make him “come to his senses” and do the pick me dance for you. He might well do that — to maintain cake. No, divorce him. If he wants to reconcile after you’ve been awarded a settlement and half his military pension, he can demonstrate his sorry then. I could recommend a post-nup to you, but the guy is having a work place affair in a government job. He may well be fired for it, or subject to a lawsuit. You need to get out and secure that settlement before the worst happens, and if he gets uppity about it, your lawyer deposes his workplace. Get out NOW before the OW’s husband complains to her boss or human resources. Save yourself, Angi!

Why doesn’t he tell you the truth? I can’t keep digging as I always find something. 

You answered yourself. The truth is worse than you know, and he’s going to be goddamned if he tells you that. He’d prefer to avoid the consequences and continue to eat cake at your expense.

Fuck that, Angi. Take back your power today. Call a lawyer.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • ETA — I gave short shrift to the porn addiction thing, and I know others will weigh in. If PTSD causes men to be horn dogs, I have no idea, just add it to the slag heap of Unacceptable Shit Going On In My Marriage.

    IMO, “I don’t remember” and continuing contact with the OW is enough to lawyer up.

    But I don’t believe in this hold their hands through their scary sex/porn addiction nonsense. It’s the sex addiction unicorn.

    • Spot on. That line was attempted on me. There is no such thing as sex addiction. There is only an ENTITLEMENT to get it on with anyone or anything as their whim desires.

      Addiction-pfffft! That’s rationalizing their wandering dicks, vaginas and orifices, eyeballs on FaceTime, porn sites, friend finders.

      • Ha Ha! Good one ANC-‘wandering genitals, orrifices, and eyes. I’m on a break at my new job (yay) laughing my ass off! Working my way to meh

    • I dont remember is the same as admitting to everything. I got “i dont remember” a million times from my ex and every single time i knew the answer and i knew she was lying. I told her, “funny you cant remember anything but you remember the address of OM and you remember everything about him, right? Guess we remember whats important. You know, like your kids teacher conferences.” Looking back i realize i was both funny and mean. I like that!

      • I had every email, note,text,fb message,credit statement, bank statement, telephone and mobile bill/call log and viber log. I had flight info,hotel names and dates, work diaries, travel and mileage reports, their fav restaurant and recordings of her chatting in car and home.

        She couldn’t remember where they stayed (always the same hotels) when it started, who ended it, how many times penetration occured, `and what the content of late night texts could be…
        So I reminded her with hard copies.
        And Emailed the POS/Boss’s wife the details,dates,scanned docs and a detailed timeline of affair..(you know, just in case she needed to jog his memory as well)

        and yeah, you bet your ass your husband is and has been in a full on PA. for quite some time, porn is not the problem…HE is the problem and you need to get wise and lawyer up. And don’t tell him or threaten him with divorce. Go dark, get your finances sorted and realize he is just doing the bare minimum “work” because he knows its temporary and affair is underground. Screw the questions and investigation. His apathy and disrespect along with being in contact with her says it all.
        Shoot that horse, he’s lame.

        • Love you Mr Krassdaddy for saying it from a man!s point of view! 🙂
          Your presenting your wife with hard copies to “jog her memory” made me laugh out loud!

        • Ha, Krassdaddy, I too have scanned copies of a months worth of texts that lead me to believe if it wasn’t more than an emotional affair he wanted it to be! I am getting my finances in order and trying very hard not to say things,. I’ve lost my composure a few times and he knows I know more than he thinks I know….he says he isn’t talking to her anymore they were friends but since it bothered me he stopped contact, he has no idea how much it bothered me but will as soon as I get enough money to file, plus getting the ducks in a row, he’s worried now but its a little too late! It is amazing what i found out when I started looking, the porn, videos he took of the girls at the bar dirty dancing, ….

          • Outofdenial,

            Well done to you for coming ‘out of denial’! Excellent! I hope your ducks are lining up well, and that your loss of composure (and who could blame you, crikey, it would take the patience of angels to be able to listen to their lies, and know they think they’ve pulled it off with their lies, and know that shit isn’t what you signed up for when you went into this relationship) is enough under control for you to still have the initiative.
            Best regards, and best wishes,

            Jayne x

    • My horn dog was career Navy, and shortly after D-day, he was sent to Baltimore for a couple of months for a ship refitting sort of thing, and I always suspected he was in treatment at Bathesda, but I never knew for sure. I suspected he got the baby sitter pregnant, but I never knew for sure. I suspected he had sex with my best friend, but I never knew for sure. I suspected he was having nasty anonomous sex with men in public johns, but never knew for sure. I only knew I found a note from somebody, not sure who, that asked if he would still respect her, because, after all she’d only been with 3 married men. She told him she was writing this in study hall. After breaking into his brief case I found a note from a young boy, telling him that even though he knew it was strange for a boy to love a man, he did. well…..I couldn’t even process all this at one time. I only processed the affair I was sure of. This happened 25 years ago, and am only now assimilating the truth. I stayed for 6 years in the dark, listening to, “I can’t remember” and “let it go…it’s in the past”…….ah, no.
      The worst part is the self betrayal.

      • the self betrayal, you are right, looking back over the last 24 years when I was suspicious and would confront him about things, then I believed what he said, now though seeing over 20 text messages that I reread to remind myself he is not who he acts like he is!

      • Oh Bluemoon, that’s some seriously fucked up shit, right there! Look I understand that in less enlightened times it was difficult for anyone gay to live an authentic life, but honestly, I always feel infuriated when I hear of someone gay marrying and living a lie ( and most importantly, forcing their chump to live a lie with them, without respecting them enough to let them find ‘real love’ in the very short space of time we have on this planet – because their need for a beard was so much more important than the despicable theft of another’s life). I can see your ex didn’t care if it came from a male or female, so long as it was kibbles aplenty, and ensnaring a poor young boy? Despicable. I hope you’ve
        had a karma sighting with regards to your ex, what a complete bastard! x

  • I have a similar set of circumstances-porn, EA’s, Craigslist ads for sexting, blah blah blah. 29 1/2 years of marriage. Also binge drinking, for which the marriage counselor suggested he attend substance abuse counselling. All the while he he rationalizes his behavior as “controllable” and owns up to the minimum as far as what he’s done and how it’s wrecked the marriage. And resents me bitterly for bringing it all to light, making him “the bad guy”. Ugh. The therapist doesn’t believe him, I don’t believe him, but I am continually counseled to give him time. I grew up with a manic depressive mother and an alcoholic dad, so have mad spackling skills, but when I’m done, I’m done. The odd thing is, I married him to get out of my dysfunctional family home…..there must be some kind of innate homing mechanism that picks the same shit, even though it’s in a different plate.
    Be careful how you go forward-it’s your life, and the quality of it, that you are responsible for. Not anyone else’s (children excepted). Know that you are not alone and take strength from that. Peace.

    • “there must be some kind of innate homing mechanism that picks the same shit, even though it’s in a different plate.”
      Definitely – we look for people who treat us like what we think of ourselves, and that self-perception comes from our (mine’s dysfunctional too) families.

      • I have to say this came to me during a period of furious self-examination when I suspected something was up, but had no concrete evidence. And I take this as my responsibility in the failure of the marriage. Therapy has helped me a bit, but my underlying sense is that it’s a time suck. I’m not a terribly religious person, but when this all came out in my life I recognized it as a gift, even though it’s an ugly one. Sometimes you need a punch in the throat to reset the system : ). Had I not seen “what can not be unseen” ( you haven’t really lived til you’ve seen someone else’s flabby ass in their underwear, and the text from your husband indicating that they are, indeed, hot) I would probably continue on in my marriage, figuring that everybody’s unhappy, right? Why would I think that I deserve better? A moment of clarity is truly priceless.

        • You are right on Smart is Hard, I have a lovely picture of a headless naked freckled body (she is a freckled redhead) that she obviously sent him as a selfie, forget the smile, lets just show some tits~! I too would have continued on as I have for the last 25 years because I too thought everyones unhappy, but my moment of clarity and God showing me the reality of it all. It felt like a punch in the throat when I found it all. and yes that clarity is priceless!!!

      • Yes, it’s only since going through this that I’ve fully realised that I was always content with the crumbs someone deigned to throw me. Yes, my EH love bombed me at first but as the years went by it became less and less, then crumbs, then nothing after he fell for OW. I need to work on that so I will never settle for it again. Hard for me to accept it is better to be alone. I still have’t fully accepted it yet. I don’t want to be alone.

        • Nobody has to be alone forever. Choices, choices. That said, I agree, the prospect is daunting, however, I am more concerned with my ability to choose wisely based on my history……So alone, for however long it takes for me, is going to be beneficial. Gets ya in touch with listening to your gut, rather than throwing down another Zantac : )
          Smile at people, talk to people, put it out there – your self esteem will recover. PS I am over 50, reason tells me that no one is going to be interested in an old bag such as myself…..and I couldn’t care less.

        • Don’t think of your life as “being alone.” Instead, think of this phase of your life as learning to be comfortable in your own skin.

          I believe that once you can be comfortable in your own skin, you’re better able to open up to the world. You know who you are, and where your boundaries are. You’re less likely to accept a bad relationship simply to be in a relationship.

          I am still in the divorce process, but I have known about my husband’s infidelity for two years. I know that I have some healing to do, but over these past two years, as I’ve made a conscious effort to disengage from his crazy and embrace my own mighty, I feel much more confident in my abilities than I did before.

          Hang in there!

            • Lina, I am working on my issues too. I have learned to take this as an opportunity to think about who I was that accepted the crumbs for so long and why I didn´t want to see the red flags, and who I am now. I know I have to reach that place where I will be absolutely in love with my new self again (not in a narcissistic way) and take care of the inner-child who has been hurting so long. As soon as you are happy with the fact that you can ENJOY being alone and doing what you love, you won´t “need” anyone but someone who sees you in that authentic way will want to be with you. But it takes work and time…and that is OK. I am not completely there yet, but so enjoying the process…!

            • Lina, it is much better to get out while feeling scared of ‘being alone’ rather than you are soooo worn down that ‘ being alone forever’ sounds like paradise. Best of luck!

        • I have found tremendous freedom in its better to be alone. Now I am not needy… I don’t think I am as much of a target…and some guy wants to love bomb me… or anthing else that makes the hair on my neck stand up… not going to spackle it way… having a bad day, blah blah blah… I simply don’t need this shit any more. If I am going to adore you… I need for you to adore me too. For real.

        • Thank you everyone. I’m working on it. Not even thinking of meeting anyone even though I’m struggling. I do know I will never settle for crumbs again or being made to feel that my needs and wants don’t matter.

      • Not at all. I think they look for those who have been compromised in the past. When you meet someone you feel comfortable with like you have known them your entire life, well, maybe you have. They may be similar enough to your dysfunctional parent or other mentoring person. You won’t see that at first about them, but they will have sized you up before you have any idea that you’ve been chosen as a person to be used. We never choose to be used. Users choose us. Never blame yourself for being victimized. Ever.

    • We have no children together, save for a retired racing Greyhound named Nigel and 4 cats. I have a feeling I will have custody of those. 🙂

      My husband also rationalizes his porn as controllable as he hasn’t looked at it since I found out about it due to the “shame”. Whatever. He hasn’t looked at it because I’m the marriage police…but where there is a will, there is a way..

      Alas, he does a high clearance so looking at porn at work is a no-go.

      • Angi,

        I don’t know whether this is relevant to you but I spent 12 years with my first husband. He didn’t want sex often (once every 3 months or so) and couldn’t ejaculate when we did have sex. Despite that fact, I did have 2 miscarriages and one still-birth (If you’d have told me I’d been inseminated by aliens I’d have believed you)! However, I really wanted to have a family but felt unable to pursue this any further because it was proven we were fertile and the facts of life are the facts of life, y’know. I wanted OUR children, so sperm donor wasn’t considered and well, with the lack of sex and the retarded ejaculation, it just wasn’t going to happen! I’m now 51 and childless. I met ‘The Great I Am’ (cheater bastardface) when I was 37 and was into my 40’s before I was convinced I should consider a future with him. So pretty much, I wasted my child-bearing years on a man I loved (first husband) who, passively aggressively denied me the right to have children (doctor had suggested the ‘turkey baster’ method – he did this exactly ONCE, woke me up at 6 am and was angry at me for not being wide awake and thrilled by his offering)! If you want children and have the time left, there is another reason to give up on this marriage. I’ve come to terms with not having children, but it was the great tragedy in my life for a very long time. x

          • That’s really kind Nicolette, thank you 🙂

            Husband number one was a drongo, bless him. In the end, the responsibility lies with me for not getting out when I still had time. Mind you, hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It was hard for me to leave him because I loved him, and despite his refusal to take on board how important this was for me, I do believe he loved me as well as he could. Ultimately, it shouldn’t have taken me 12 years to face facts – but it did. Ho Hum 🙂

        • As sad as you are that you did not have children of your own… there are lots of ways to make a huge difference to children who were born into families of fucktards… Those kids are every where. Every drop of love and empathy you can give them, can change a life for real, for ever and for the good. It didn’t work out for you to have your own bio kids… but find others and love them. Much love to you.

          • Thank you ringinonmyownbell, you are quite right!

            Funnily enough, I don’t feel like I can relate to children anymore (so little experience now) whereas I was the eldest of a whole bunch of siblings and cousins at my best years 😀

            My ex- husband (the one relevant to this story 😉 ) worked with children in care, and was extremely good at it. I remember one time when he was feeling particularly disheartened and me telling him pretty much what you’ve said to me, that while he might not be able to affect the system, he would never really know when something he’d said or done (however small) had a positive affect on any of the children’s lives (despite it all, I think fondly of him and know he was a positive influence in his career, bless him – he was just a drongo, what can I tell you! 🙂 ). I don’t have much to do with children now, apart from my aging niece and nephews, but my job is as a support worker for an elderly, disabled lady and my career has been pretty much centred around working as a support worker for people with special needs. 🙂

      • Oh, he will find ways to access porn…my cheater looked at it repeatedly on MY computer while I was away at work, on his laptop as well, this continued even after several confrontations about it. I don’t believe porn is an addiction, it’s just one more manifestation of the entitlement and non-caring attitude that just oozes out of their cheating pores. Just wait till the erectile problems start…and then it’s YOUR fault, naturally.
        I finally gave up on even fighting the porn thing, it was the drinking and second (known) episode of cheating that did me in. At that point I was like “Stick me with a fork, I’m done”. You need to kick his butt to the curb toot suite in my opinion.

        • Porn freaks always find a way to watch… and it’s easier than ever with modern technology. Years back, my ex went to SA for around a year — what a bunch of bullshit that was. Anyway, he told me about a guy in the group who watched porn videos on a portable DVD player in his car, beating off WHILE DRIVING. These freaks have no limits, no boundaries, no care about any other person.

          • OMG THIS! Especially with smart phones…….my stbx is a pro at iphone fucking “on the go” There are thousands of free porn, massage parlor, hook-up, escort sites etc for these scumbags to troll on. Oh, and I forgot all the secret apps to hide/go underground what they are doing AFTER YOU CATCH THEM THE FIRST TIME.

            I used to be hurt & angry but now I have put down the spackle and thanks to CL (and therapy) I see him as he really is-a pathetic middle aged loser who hides at work or in his car to beat off to porn and pays barely legal asian hookers to screw. Be glad you didn’t have kids with your cheater………..I am trying to figure out how I am going to raise my son that his dad is not a role model for how a good, strong man should be

    • I recommend reading IMAGO books to understand why you end up with the very same dysfunctional people. It’s helpful.

    • totally agree – My mother also a suicidal manic depressant, emotionally distant father – so in my adult life I also spackled like a boss … I think we look for something that feels familiar and when we are young we often are blind to the patterns we repeat – after 30 years of a ‘happy’ marriage I found out my ‘respectable’ husband had been visiting brothels for at least half of our marriage and was addicted to porn & all sorts of deviant behaviours – FUCK what a lying hypocrite. I’ve now learnt to look at behaviours rather than listen to words – functional addicts are great at telling us what we want to hear – but now I watch what they actually do – no excuses.
      You are not alone, you are mighty and you will be happy again when he is out of your life

  • Angi – Angi – Angi….You belong to the club of the logical. Most of us are part of this club. You want to be honest, say this is why I’m doing this and please explain to me why you are doing that. He does not speak your language, he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to.

    Long story short – pay attention to you and your needs, focus on you, not him, not you (plural / couple), just you. Do what is best for you – it’s the only way.

    All the best

  • I call bullshit on the porn narrative!
    He just got caught up exploring “new moves” to try with OW.

    No sex with you? His porn narrative also plays into his “how he did without sex” from you without cheating with OW!

    He just didn’t want to cheat on his OW!

    • Eww, I just had a flash back of my x introducing a few new (weird!) positions during sex with me. I actually joked that he must be watching porn (he’s never been into porn, save for a few playboy mags from his college days). Now I know that he’d already been banging his AP for a few months at that time. She must have taught him the new positions. Barf. Unprotected, as she kindly told me later. Disturbing. Feels like such a violation!

      • The very last time I ever had sex with my ex, he did something different, just a slight change, but certainly not something we had ever done before. And it immediately flashed through my mind, “He learned this with someone else.” I never knew 100% for sure, but pretty positive that he was still cheating through that bogus reconciliation.

  • Hey, folks! Try this. How often does he think about porn? How often do you think about him thinking about porn? Same number of hours? His porn owns you.

    He does not need to be married. His ow makes no emotional demands on him because she is married. He can have sex with her, or himself and his computer. You don’t come into the picture at all except for feeding him and doing his laundry. He needs a motel with maid service.

    I hope he is not looking at porn at work unless he has his own device…..but I am guessing he is.

  • Angi,

    If you walked up to a vending machine, put a dollar in for a soda and nothing came out, would you continue to insert more money hoping for that soda to pop out? Clearly the machine is broken. You walk away! You are not getting a return on your investment Angi. You are feeding that broken machine.

    I did this too! Until I had nothing left. Save yourself now. Even if he does “fix” what is broken you will NEVER trust him again.

    • Kimmy,
      Wow…This analogy really hit home and makes complete sense to me, which is sad….but true….Thank you!

    • Anji, you say, “I need someone to tell me, in laymans terms, how I can explain to him why it is I’m really leaving.” You don’t need to explain it to him, you need to explain to yourself why you are staying and why you shouldn’t be:
      1. He cheated on me.
      2. He is a sex/porn addict but ignores me
      3. There is no intimacy in our marriage.
      4. Marriage counseling didn’t work.
      5, He lies, obfuscates, shifts blame and generally has none of the capacity for collaboration and commitment required to make marriage work.
      6. He is not doing either the work of marriage or the work of reconciliation.
      7. I deserve a loving, loyal, engage partner.

      I am quite sure he knows exactly why you should leave him, or he wouldn’t be lying and covering stuff up and still hiding the truth. The person who thinks you don’t have a reason to leave is you–or you would have left months ago.

  • I will second that emotion on the “sex addiction”. Angi – Please do not fall into the “I need to stay and *help* him with his porn addiction” because I promised in “sickness and in health”. My marriage ended because I found out my Ex was frequenting massage parlors 3 times a week for sexual services. I stayed for 18 months because it was “addiction”. I no longer believe in “sex addiction” I think it’s bull. And frankly, if you DO believe in “sex addiction” stats are NOT GOOD for “recovery” – so RUN, get out.

    And Tracy is right (of course) you don’t explain it to him, you just GO. He lost the right to know/understand/get an explanation when he spent years lying to you about so. many. things.

    But… I almost wonder if who you really want to explain it to is yourself? I remember very well the shell-shocked days of looking around at my life and asking “What the HELL just happened here???” I wanted explanations. I was desperate for REASON. This is what Chump Lady refers to as untangling the skein of fuckedupness. She has excellent articles on this topic, read them, they will help you.
    In the end, the tether that I grabbed onto was this: “Listen to his ACTIONS, not his words.” I stayed focused on that ONE THING. Turn down the volume and just watch what he does. I found all of my answers there.
    I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s a tough process, but you know from reading this site, life is really good on the other side. Big Hugs and Best of luck.

    • ((hugs)) FLBright.

      My STBXH also liked the sex workers. Through recent divorce discovery I found twice a month reservations in crappy hotel rooms that were within a 20 minute drive from work and home. Corresponding with $500 cash withdrawals on the same days in the same places. Throughout our entire marriage, yes even right in the beginning. He had previously “trickle” admitted to a hooker/sex addiction following D-day, but I am only now learning about the extent of it. The sociopathy and lies are chilling.

      You are 100% right about listening to his actions. It is so hard though when someone pulls the addiction card, especially for us empath chumps. I had incredible guilt over not staying and helping him with the “addiction” (which I also do not believe exists). But it was destroying me.

      Angi, don’t let it destroy you. Get moving, get out, get on with your life. You will never trust or love this person again, even if he does indeed get help and get better (which is unlikely; FL said, recovery rates on sex addiction even if it is real are abysmal).

      You can’t have a marriage with him anymore. He broke the cookie jar and it can’t be repaired. It’s OK to mourn that, you lost something that was important to you. But the “whys” don’t matter anymore. Whether it’s addiction or he’s just an asshole, you can’t have a healthy marriage under these conditions no matter what.

      • I agree Angi – its so difficult when you first try to understand what happened and why – because the story of our life is stolen by them – and we have to rewrite that story but we have to try to sort out what was real and what was BS etc…I was given the same addiction BS line by my husband -He took 4 months to come up with that after weekly psych visits and MC. The addiction is a model he understood well – his father was an alcoholic, his nephew was a drug addict his, SIL was a gambler – his family often spoken in terms of addiction as a disease – there is a certain detachment in claiming your behaviour was all the result of an addiction – you don’t really have to own it …because its an ‘illness’ ….an ‘affliction’ rather than their actual fucked up behaviour. I called BS on his addiction as blanket explanation of his unfaithfulness – we have adult children who know only a limited amount about what he has done which I am OK with but I told him that if his explanation of his destructive and uncontrollable sexual behaviour and his hidden gambling was actually one of addiction then we both needed to discuss it in detail with a counselor and our children because it may be genetic (another one of his explanations) and our adult children may need to arm themselves with skills and awareness in case they repeated the cycle ….. oohhh he didn’t like that ….it damages his image – and yet he’s happy to use it to explain its to himself as that because he yet again get to avoid any real self examination of his behaviour because if he did that it might reveal that he is not actually a very nice human….so he’s rethinking his explanation to me …directed by our MC he has said he’s going to write me a rough draft …..I think that something on paper is the least I’m owed as compensation for having sex with approx 40 women during our marriage …. the good thing is I get to keep that written note and if he tries to deny any of it when I walk out the door next month … I have it there beauffully penned in his own grimmy little hand

      • I agree Angi – its so difficult when you first try to understand what happened and why – because the story of our life is stolen by them – and we have to rewrite that story but we have to try to sort out what was real and what was BS etc…I was given the same addiction BS line by my husband -He took 4 months to come up with that after weekly psych visits and MC. The addiction is a model he understood well – his father was an alcoholic, his nephew was a drug addict his, SIL was a gambler – his family often spoken in terms of addiction as a disease – there is a certain detachment in claiming your behaviour was all the result of an addiction – you don’t really have to own it …because its an ‘illness’ ….an ‘affliction’ rather than their actual fucked up behaviour. I called BS on his addiction as blanket explanation of his unfaithfulness – we have adult children who know only a limited amount about what he has done which I am OK with but I told him that if his explanation of his destructive and uncontrollable sexual behaviour and his hidden gambling was actually one of addiction then we both needed to discuss it in detail with a counselor and our children because it may be genetic (another one of his explanations) and our adult children may need to arm themselves with skills and awareness in case they repeated the cycle ….. oohhh he didn’t like that ….it damages his image – and yet he’s happy to use it to explain its to himself as that because he yet again get to avoid any real self examination of his behaviour because if he did that it might reveal that he is not actually a very nice human….so he’s rethinking his explanation to me …directed by our MC he has said he’s going to write me a rough draft …..I think that something on paper is the least I’m owed as compensation for having sex with approx 40 women during our marriage …. the good thing is I get to keep that written note and if he tries to deny any of it when I walk out the door next month … I have it there beautifully penned in his own grimmy little hand

    • I so agree with FLB. We NEED the truth….we expect that somehow it will give us some relief. The frustration of emotionally begging for some honesty only to be met with “don’t remember” (which is bullshit, btw), leads us to imagine all sorts of neurosis they may have which prevents them from coming clean (i.e., doing right by us for once).

      They don’t have a neurotic bone in their bodies. They have a don’t-give-a-shit problem. They don’t give a shit about you, your pain, your suffering, your closure, nothing. They have the power to give you some measure of comfort, and they deny it to you! They have no conscience and no remorse. Stop looking for answers he can’t be bothered to explain. See with your eyes what his actions are YELLING at you.

      As difficult as it is to absorb this hideously painful truth, it is THE first step toward healing. You release the hope and the futile quest for answers that keeps you stuck.

  • I got “I can’t remember” either when I asked whether OW had asked to come to my house while I was at work so they could fuck there, or whether he had invited her. “I can’t remember” is a lie usually. But even if it isn’t, what difference would it make? My cheating X claimed that he “tried to fend off” OW and she was “all over him like a train wreck.” Blame shifting. It was her fault, it was my fault, anyone but his. “I can’t remember” is a form of compartmentalization that cheaters seem to do very well. If he can’t remember, then he didn’t consciously do it, right? I call word salad on that.

    Much later I realized it didn’t matter whether X or OW had instigated the fucking-in-the-house-I-was-paying-for-while-I-was-at-work-earning-the-mortgage-payment, though at the time it stung like a knife piercing my heart. Now a year plus later, I am looking forward to not remembering either one of them. I still grieve the sixteen years I wasted with a liar, but not kicking the liar out.

    • “I can’t remember” is the twin to “I don’t know why I did it.” Yes, you CAN remember, and yes, you DO know why you did it. You just don’t want to admit to it because it’s bad and you’d have to take responsibility for that.

          • Let’s not forget “I already told you!!” when you ask about something you’ve never asked about, but his guilty conscience pools them all together. smh.

            • Oh i hated that! i already told you but you never listen to me. that is what he would tell me when he came home late. i told you i was goin ______ you never listen. ugh!!!

              the fuckers can say it with a straight face while you stand there, mouth open, eyes glazed, actually trying to remember because of course you dont think a normal person would lie about that.

              i bet my XH had a bunch of laughs at my guliblity. fucker. it pissesz me off that i believe him and he took advantage.

        • I cannot believe I forgot about “It just happened,” because that’s what my Narc ex said to me! Actually, what he said was, “I don’t know why I did it, it just happened.” He really should have worked in a “I don’t remember” and made that sentence extra spicy evil.

          • Kira, I got “it is something that just happened” after he went to Vietnam and Cambodia with a pocket full of condoms specifically for him to have sex with the young women over there and he is 62. I apologise to any Asian Chumps on this site as I hold my ex husband completely responsible for his actions but it is a terrible trigger for me now. He is a predator, pure and simple.

            • Yes my husband did the same thing, kept going to Thailand for his ‘golf trip’ with his buddies and I found out that he had been with numerous women and he said he did nothing wrong, oh he is 68 years old and going again to Thailand in March 2015, that will be his 5th trip. he still wont admit to doing anything wrong, we have been separated for 18 months.

              • alex 55, I hope you are divorcing the bum and also, that you have been tested for STDs? We are/were married to sickos. I am so glad to be free of the games now.

              • I hate to ask this…..are you sure he is seeing women? Lots of pedophiles go to Thailand.

        • Yep! He just slipped on the banana peel and poor dude, every time he tried to get up he kept slipping back and forth into her! So you know, it just happened… Man, I do feel so bad for him. LOL!

    • “I can’t remember.” I can’t believe those words came out of his mouth the first time I confronted him. I had proof of prostitutes and affairs from one of his phones. He was supposedly “fessing up” in a counseling session to meeting a “friend” for lunches, but that he didn’t have an affair. I said I couldn’t believe him because of A, B, and C. He looked dumbfounded and said, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.” REALLY!! Then the counselor backed him up saying it was very possible to black things out that are traumatic and that he didn’t want to face. I don’t know how that’s possible, but even if it is, did I want to be married to someone who could order up prostitutes and then “forget” about it? Um, no. Do you want someone who can “forget” the details of him indiscretions so easily? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could rob a bank and forget all about it. That’s too messed up. But honestly, I don’t believe it for a second. He just got unmasked.

      • Donenow,

        That was absolute shite from that counselor! I hope they lose their licence! Yes, blanking traumatic events might occur, but unless his dick fell off during the act, I can’t see what terrible trauma his psyche was protecting him from!

      • Srsly fucked up MC, the cheater is not traumatized by his own fucking actions, and in this case pun intended. Yes you can black out traumatic episodes, I had to see a hypnotherapist to remember an episode where I literally lost time to a blackout. That was because the man I loved was about to punch my head through the headboard of my bed. That’s a traumatic episode. Cheating is not. Most MCs suck, they suck bad.

      • Geez I had no idea that meeting someone behind your partners back, making plans, continue having sex with one or more people in secrecy is so traumatic (because obviously it wasn’t a one time thing), yet he kept doing it over and over and over….this guy must be seriously traumatized for the rest of his life! tsk tsk tsk.

        as far as the counselor goes, I would like to know what he has been smoking, it must be some pretty good shit lol!

        • Well, you know, I had been cold and withholding for so long that he was left with no choice but to do what he did. That was very traumatic as well, according to MC. And just because I said it wasn’t true, didn’t mean it wasn’t TRUE FOR HIM. She seriously sucked. DDW, I’m sorry about your real trauma!

  • Oh……………..and you don’t owe him an explanation as to why you are leaving!!!! He would be stupid to even ask you that question.

    • If he does ask why she is leaving, she should say I don’t know, I don’t remember …. What’s good for the goose….. LOL

      • I used that line on my ExH. Every question I asked him, he answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. When I filed 6 months after D-day, he asked me “when did you find time to go see a lawyer??” I replied, “I don’t remember”. This is NPD- they demand answers from you but provide you with none. Because the rules don’t apply to them. Only to you

        • Mine would rage when I finally began to keep things to myself. He become literally unhinged.

          “You are withholding information that I NEED!” yeah asshole?

          It didn’t bother you when I asked you for the truth and had to spend countless hours grilling people and following you and going through your shit to find the truth—and when confronted, he actually would say things like, “It was always HER IDEA.” (in response to getting blowjobs in the same seat where he puts our daughter for school each morning). This MATTERS? It MATTERS that it was “all her idea”???? Who gives a shit! You invited this woman into our vehicle just after dropping our daughter off to school—and got a blowjob. ALL. I. NEEDED.TO.KNOW.

          Now it’s MY TURN. I didn’t tell him anything–or I made things up (nothing important. just stupid shit.)—then I let him question me and I would change the story or use the trickletruth method.

          Unglued. It was awesome.

          • I did that to my cheating asswipe ex for at least 6 months and it drove him nuts, so nuts that he put a voice activated recorder in my house to find out what I was up to, who I was talking to etc. Every time he would call and ask what I was doing, my answer would be “nothing” it really started to get to him. I started withholding anything and everything, kept things all to myself and it was great! This is the same asshole who withhold info, lied to me repeatedly for years but he wanted to know exactly where I was, what I was doing etc etc. I just gave him back his own fucking medicine! of course it was nothing compare to what he did to me for years but nevertheless, It was awesome! 🙂

        • Exactly. They in their special wonderfulness never should have to answer to anyone. Even as they demand compliance to arbitrary rules they create to control you. Do not comply. Grow a spine and say no. Then go on your own terms, and take what is important with you. Primarily your self, your dignity, and your values.

  • I got the “stay out of my shit, we are just friends” in March 2013. I got the ea story – it was 5 months long, I’m so sorry, in December 2013. We go to bullshit counselling for a few months but I’m not feeling sincerity. Fast forward to September 2014, my 19th anniversary, and he writes out the whole story of the sexual affair. Every date, hotel, where the money came from. Trust me, it hurts to read it, even though it ended over a year before. I’m still shocked, I’ve had to rewind the last 2 years and question everything. I obsessed over the ow since she worked for him. I kicked him out, but he’s back helping with the kids as I’ve grabbed a lot more work (so I can get showered and dressed and off the floor). I sent all the info to the other husband to compare stories (boy, did that piss people off), even artistically embellishing because I wanted her to fucking suffer (“you’re wife went to work gave blow jobs and got paid in $ and hockey tix – that makes her a whore”. Wow, she didn’t tell me all that. “She couldn’t tell you – my husbands dick was in her mouth”. “A 50 yr old blowing and fucking her boss isn’t sexy, it’s pathetic”. That kind of shit). In the last 2 days, we’ve been to mc, ic, he deposited a shitload of money into my personal account (all the sham counselling and $ for hotels) and he wrote a post nup. Due to legal shit involving a border, I’m where I’ll be for 8 more months, and he wrote a document saying I can leave the country with the kids legally then (end of school). I’m numb. I could have been 15mos further along in my healing if he had respected me and manned up. He’s humiliated and embarrassed and the kids are disgusted with him, but he was afraid of the consequences so he thought he could make it go away. But like the tell tale heart, it gives itself away at some point. I’m hurting and numb. And seeing a lawyer and playing my hand very carefully.

    Angi, he’s fucked her and he may still be doing it. Period. I hated when people said that to me, but they were all spot on. He’s saving his own ass, and he’s making you do the work, and when you kick his ass out, you’ll look like the bitch who stormed out because of your batshit crazy paranoia, not because of cheating, because he never said he cheated. My h was with his idiot for a grand total of 5 months and they were in bed within a few weeks. It’s gross. I’m trying to view myself not as a wife but as an individual going forward – what’s best for me? Fuck him. Take care of yourself. And I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this crap.

    • Wish I would have said this to the OW Howorker who reported directly to my XH. “a 50 year old blowing and fucking her boss isn’t sexy, it’s pathetic.” Love it!

  • My first husband wasn’t that interested in sex either. It was about 60-90 days, if I was lucky, too. The thing is, he didn’t cheat (as far as I know, we chumps will always have to add this caveat, now, won’t we)? but he wasn’t interested in porn either. I guess he had a very low libido / or was too invested in his passive aggressive hostility.

    I am absolutely certain that, far from sating his sexual urges, his consummation of porn will be making him more interested in sex, not less. If he is not having sex with you I can’t help believe he is indulging his interest elsewhere, and not by self-gratification, sorry to have to tell you. The other thing that strikes me about this is that you say his interest in porn is a direct result of PTSD. You don’t occupy his mind (nor does anyone else) so you cannot possibly deduce a ‘poor sausage’ reason for this habit. He has told you this, and he is a liar and a coward. Stop buying that rubbish – it’s not true! Most chumps here would testify they suffered from PTSD post D’Day, but you’ll not hear anyone here trying to justify pornography addiction because of it! It’s just another version of ‘I don’t remember’ with ‘you can’t confront me, I was a military hero and was wounded in war, you are evil if you won’t buy this crap coming out of my mouth’. But, Angi, it’s methane loaded bullshit!

    I agree with CL – no adult has a five year EA without having sex. He’s not Sir Lancelot, and he’s got the porn fantasy life he leads in his head justifying and encouraging him to ‘go for it’. But even if it is ‘just’ an EA – for five years he’s emotionally invested in another woman. He’s lied to you for five years, he’s led a secret life for five years. You were not his equal and respected by him for five years. If you were a nation, he’s committed treason, for five years!

    ‘I don’t remember’ I think, is cheater speak for ‘stop asking me, if I say I don’t remember, you can’t do anything about that’ – notice the link to the ‘poor sausage – his brain is faulty, his short term memory is broken – must be his PTSD, and God, he fought a war, he must get a pass for every shitty thing he does, or that makes me evil’! And I think another part of that is him not wanting to say something you’d be able to flag as incongruous to his other lies – best way of dealing with that? Say nothing!

    I hated the ‘I don’t remember’ shit. It does basically cut you off from the truth and turns the perspective around so that you are the unreasonable nag and he is the victim – it’s a shit’s trick, but Angi – he’s a shit!

    I hope you can take CL’s advice and get out as fast as you possibly can. This man is admitting nothing, he’s quite prepared to throw you to the wolves, anything to avoid having to tell you the truth, face consequences, and admit to himself he is an arsehole. You, to him, are collateral damage and he doesn’t give a damn.

    So sorry,


    Jayne x

    • Jayne,
      Wow…I see many similarities in our situation. The part about he should of been more interested in sex is dead on. He didn’t stop watching porn and downloading pictures every day to his laptop. He just wasn’t interested in me.
      Thank you for insight!

      • My second husband was the lying, conniving, back-stabbing scum-bag cheater – and he was addicted to porn too! He was the one who claimed EA (although he even objected to that – as, apparently, it didn’t involve his emotions) for 2 years, then finally, finally fessed up to the sex when it looked like I’d happily moved on without him (groan, and Angi – I danced with him for another f’ing 3 years after that because he faked remorse so well)! Please save yourself the heartache and call it dead now, you’ll get no kudos from him for staying, please believe me on this!

        Jayne x

        • …. Actually it was another 2 years, but what does that matter – another 2 seconds, was two seconds too long! x

  • Oh, I’ve posted the chronology before; EAs, porn, prostitutes, OW. It’s probably not as neat a time line as this. This shit isn’t neat and tidy. I’ve also said before how I met XH in AA recovery and fell for Mr Sparkles’ words not actions. I really wasn’t listening when I heard recovery is for those who want it not need it. I wanted it and I guess for the kind of FOO issues mentioned above (alcoholic, depressive mother) I was spackling over XH’s clear resistance to living a sober life – which includes emotional and sexual sobriety.

    I guess it’s back to not untangling that skein- (addiction, not addiction) but I did some training on recovery and a very experienced tutor said that sex addiction is the most lethal because of the complete devastation it can cause to user and abused alike. The ‘only sick as your secrets’ line is so horribly true for those who are drowning in the dark sexual arts. Lying and mind numbing dishonesty are an absolute pre-requisite to live this life. I used to have arguments with XH about the liberty issues of pornography. I know and have experienced how destructive this misogynistic crap is- yes I would destroy it all if I could. As a shadenfreude aside, post D-Day and when XH was drunk – he told me how OW had noticed the same thing as me- i.e. that he couldn’t ejaculate during sex- a direct consequence of his lust for porn.

    Angi- there is no cure for this, you have to bail. The longer you stay in this very unhealthy relationship the unhealthier you yourself become and the longer your own healing will take. I’ve taken so much strength myself from this site and from reading others similar stories and comments (not unlike an AA meeting….!) It helped me with my decision to divorce and move forward, I hope you can do the same.

  • Angi,

    A Dr. Phil-ism comes to mind in your situation. To paraphrase: If you see one rat, there’s many, many more. It sounds like your marriage has hit the iceberg…you see the EA and the porn addiction but I suspect with CL that even more is under the surface. You seem to believe this as well since you note how you keep finding dirt whenever you look.

    Listen to CL. How many more D-Day’s do you want? No one deserves to be treated like this!

    Blessings upon you as you leaving this sinking Titanic!

  • Angi, like CL said, please listen to her and dump his worthless sorry ass as soon as you can! He is a lying POS cheater and I am sure he gets off that you keep asking him questions (even though you know the answer) by not being truthful or with *I don’t remember*s. He is a mindfuck, he remembers everything and by doing that to you, besides gaslighting, he is in a power trip mode. Take your power back. What you know so far is probably just tip of the iceberg, 100 % probability you only know about 5% and 95% that you don’t know about. There is nothing to save here and 5 years of just EA? hell fucking no!! That means 5 years he has been fucking her behind your back thus you are not getting any sex. Cut him loose, this guy doesn’t worth shit! If you are married for 17 years and that’s over lapping his military career, get a lawyer, file, get a separation and drag it until you hit 20 year mark, this way you wont lose any of the benefits, since most military spouses give up their career/life in support for the military member and in the end they always get the short end of the stick. This way you protect you, since he seems to only care for his own ass. Also you don’t need to explain shit to him, he is not stupid, he is just a manipulative fucktard. Take control of your life and kick this idiot to the curb! Do NOT even waste another second of your precious time on this loser!

  • “He’s going to therapy as the price of admission to eat cake. And he’s sullen and resentful about it”

    Then why stay? If you’re so in love with her and miserable with me, why mope around? Why not just take your a** to the OW and live happily ever after?

    • Why stay? Cake. Not having to give half of everything you have in a divorce. Because chumps are still usually of USE to a cheater. And because OW is happily unavailable as she’s married (for now). He doesn’t want commitment, he wants CAKE. Using and abusing.

  • Why do you need your husband to confirm the truth? You know it. YOU found it. The truth is absolute and stands whether he agrees with it or not. Stop making yourself crazy! Listen and do all that CL told you to do. Now!

    My H won’t admit he cheated but I don’t need that from him. I know the truth. Him not admitting it won’t change that. Ever.

    I kicked him out quick. Ripped that Band-aid off. Clean and quick. My healing has already started and I am in a great place thanks to CL and all the advice here.

  • My H won’t admit he cheated but I don’t need that from him. I know the truth. Him not admitting it won’t change that. Ever.

    I kicked him out quick. Ripped that Band-aid off. Clean and quick. My healing has already started and I am in a great place thanks to CL and all the advice here.

  • Saying “I don’t know” when you do know is just plain vanilla dishonesty. And
    that’s reason enough to know your marriage is toast.

    • This is exactly right. Sometimes the right answer is so obvious that we miss it altogether. He’s a cheater and a liar – you can stop untangling the skein and running a full-time investigation. That’s all there is to know.

  • Angi it is time to admit defeat.

    You want answers to an unsolvable mystery.

    When I was in the ‘discovery’ phase I wanted to know how many women my exH had been with. He wouldn’t tell me. His friends wouldn’t tell me. I knew of two. At that point – what was the difference if it was two or two hundred? He cheated. He had unprotected sex. He used our money to entertain the OW(s). They were not one night stands.

    I can clearly see there many personal issues and some kind of mental illness. The EA and the porn addiction are only symptoms.

    As always, CL gives sound advice but is missing something – your personal safety.

    Make your plan. Go to your lawyer. Talk with selected family/friends about it. Have someone safe, even the police, escort you out of your house when you tell him. I can not stress this enough. I am sorry to be alarmist but I suspect there is much more to your story.

    Be safe.

  • “…how I can explain to him why it is I’m really leaving.”

    Darling, I do not trust you and I need trust in a marriage. Good bye.

    • He already knows perfectly well why you are leaving. He just “doesn’t remember.”

      And yes, trust is absolutely essential in a marriage. Not only has he destroyed your trust in him, he is COMPLETELY disinterested in earning it back.

  • I’m going to be blunt.

    He is still involved with her, he likely has other people he is sleeping with, he is also likely sleeping with her.

    He’s not putting in any effort, he won’t. He will simply exist in your world until you kick his ass to the curb.

    How do I know? Because I just went through this myself.

    Every minute you spend on him and this relationship is wasted. Spend that time and effort on yourself.

    Get out now. Run like hell. Start a new life for yourself. It is better to be alone than to drown slowly in a relationship like the one you are describing.

    How do I know? Because I just went through this.

    Hang in there, take care of yourself and kick him out.

  • I too had a Husband who stopped sexual relations with me.

    I didn’t know about the OW for the six years of their sad little relationship and during that time we had a normal sex life for the first four years. Then he stopped wanting sex with me which made me feel so rejected. That is emotional abuse that destroys your self esteem.

    Be strong and know that like others before us, we too will survive this and find peace.

    • seenthelight,
      I tried explaining that to him, about the self esteem. I’m an extremely vibrant person, who slipped in to depression because I felt like I wasn’t wanted or valued. It is emotional abuse and it is painful.

      • Hi Angi–

        Cheating is a very narcissistic act. Even if your particular cheater is not a Cluster B personality disorder, it still takes a lot of narcissism to cheat. Cheating says they don’t give a flying fuck about your pain because it’s all about what they want. Think about a toddler. That toddler wants the shiny object. No matter how you explain that the object is sharp and dangerous, the child wants it. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

        Yes, what you’re experiencing is emotional abuse, and it saps your self-esteem, but that is something you can work on with your therapist. Your husband won’t come–cannot come to an understanding.

        I think a lot of us would like to explain to our cheaters that we’re divorcing them because of how much pain their betrayal puts us through. We’re looking, at the very least, for an “I’m sorry.”

        Unfortunately, they’re not capable of feeling sorry.

  • I, and I think many others, have received something similar to the ” I don’t remember” deal. But, I think it has a different twist.
    If you were married to a cluster B , they , often, use the DARVO technique vs the not remembering. This will drive you nuts if you persist in trying to get information or an explanation.
    I think CL wrote about DARVO. I know Tara Palmatier at http://www.shrink4men has.

  • Angi, I don’t have much I can add to the insight and advice others have offered. I would like to share something that helped me to get off that hamster wheel and stop chasing after the “why” and “when” and “who” of it all.

    I realized that it didn’t matter. There is no reason he could possibly offer me that would make sense or be acceptable. If he actually had sat down and answered my tearful, “how could you do this?” What difference would it make? If he said to me that he did it because he was lonely, depressed, anxious, not getting what he needed in an intimate partner from me, overwhelmed with the stress of living with a disabled child – are any of those justifiable reasons to get involved with another woman? To withdraw from the marriage without telling me and then pretend that’s not what he was doing? To lie and treat me like garbage?

    No. There are no justifiable reasons. He had choices. He could have told me that he was unhappy and made a reasonable effort to save our marriage OR he could have said he wanted a divorce and left. Instead he chose to be an abusive, manipulative, punishing, deceitful asshole with zero integrity. Your husband has done the same. He has betrayed you in the worst way. How would knowing any more about it than you already do change that? It’s done and he did it. The “why” and the details are now irrelevant.

    You know what you need to do but are not yet prepared to do it. That’s where you need to focus your energy and your questions. Why are you willing to tolerate this for one more second? What are you afraid of that is keeping you stuck in this horrible situation? What’s it going to take for you to start caring more about yourself and your own well-being than his? When are you going to take action?

    Forget him, Angi. He’s long gone.

  • Angi–It looks as if you have decided that you need to divorce him. You ask the question about how to tell him why you’re really leaving.

    The answer is that you don’t owe him this explanation. He already knows why you should divorce him. He just wants you to stick around so that he gets that cook and cleaning lady.

    You line your ducks in a row (find a good lawyer, save up the retainer fee, get a handle on the family financials, etc.), and then tell your lawyer you want to file. Depending on the laws in your state, you can figure out how you want to serve your spouse. In my case, I did so in my lawyer’s office.

    I let my STBX know that I knew of his affair, and that I was bowing out of the marriage to let him be with his Twu Wuv. In your case, you could tell your STBX that you’re bowing out because it’s clear that you’re not able to meet his needs. After that, and perhaps judging by his reactions, you can either spend a couple of days in a motel while he mulls over the issue and then move into the spare bedroom, or move into the spare bedroom immediately.

    Then let your lawyer handle the business side of things.

    In my case, I am still living with STBX, but I don’t talk about the divorce and I’m trying to keep the routine as it was prior to filing. On the couple of occasions when STBX mentioned that “all this”–i.e. filing for divorce–seemed to be hasty, I told him that he was having an affair. He was clearly unhappy in the marriage, and that “this” would free him to pursue his happiness with the woman he loves.

    In other words, I haven’t felt the need to justify my actions. I just did them. On the rare occasion he’s mentioned something, I shift the conversation to his situation. If you are leery about how your husband will react, you could say that you know that it’s best to divorce because you’re clearly not able to meet his needs, and he’s obviously unhappy in the marriage. This way, he can find someone who will make him happy.

    Of course, what you’re really saying is that you’ll be free. 🙂

  • Angi-I had the same experience, and the same prognosis. EA lead me to learn of SO MUCH MORE, and to understand the adage, “For every rat you see, there’s 50 you dont.” Digging took me to find people and places that I never needed to know even existed. I learned that my husband lived his secret life in the bowels of the internet, and real life trash that never even considered the existence of. I wish I could give it all back to him now. Poke out my mind’s eye. I wish I had the courage, and strength to have followed ChumpLady’s advice 2 years ago, (and the American Visa Status-I am a legal alien SAHM, living as a “dependent under his US work visa:( currently stuck, for the moment) and gotten out when he was still gainfully employed. I dont know exactly what happened, but against my advice, he quit his job where he worked with her, and walked away from a nice bonus to do so. Then he blamed me! He ‘suffers’ from ‘Sexual Compulsion Disorder’, and likes to use his SA meetings as his proven effort to save our dead marriage. He gets angry with me when I speak truth about his “relapses” and making out with his best friend’s GF…Its all my fault. I wonder if this sounds familiar to you. He intimidates me, and makes jokes to others about the fact that I am unable to obtain a US Visa on my own. Meanwhile, life goes on for his EA. She’s still gainfully employed, and enjoying travel and hobbies as a food blogger. My husband sent his NC letter, too. When she realized that I was not playing, she hacked his FB page, and changed my status to him-“unfriended me as his wife”. Then she started to steal brokerage from him-money from my family’s table. smh It probably funded her trip to Europe with her new boyfriend! (He’s a foodie too, also gainfully employed-(In fact, Tracy, I think you probably know him-he is involved in the Organic Farmers Market Assoc in Houston/Austin area-small world.) ) Anyway, I am rambling-sorry- my point is, please SAVE YOURSELF!!! It does not get better! Get into a group, stay in therapy, and heal from this. Get away from the toxic disrespectful life he has offered you. Unfortunately, it does not get better-it gets so much worse.Your self esteem, and your heart will heal, in time, when your dignity is preserved. Save yourself.

    • Bliss — can you speak with an immigration attorney? Or a women’s center? I hope there is a work around on your visa situation. Or just move back to your home country without this fuckwit? Take the kids for a “vacation” to see family?


      • I am looking into my options now-was too scared to a year ago-he has threatened and said things like “I wonder what you will do, when my Visa needs to be renewed, and your not my spouse anymore, hmmm.” I was terrified. He told me that I would have 90 days to leave the US, or he would report me as an illegal immigrant. This sounds so crazy now, but at the time, I was so overwhelmed. He told me that I had better tell him if and when I do talk to a lawyer, because it could effect us all in a negative way, (as far as status is concerned). Im not an idiot, and I see how desperate this statement is, now. With the shock of learning about his secret life, the feelings of abandonment, and the thought of being torn away from my babies, I was petrified. I don’t have much of a family left-my Dad passed away in 2008, and my Mother is a Borderline, (BDP) so we dont have a relationship. (ha-you think I would have recognized the manipulation traits, right? LOL) It makes me so angry that I invested my entire life in this man. I decided not to finish my degree, and moved to Texas with him. My children are born and raised Texans 🙂 and I have made this my home. I really do not want to move back to Canada. It just makes me so mad that I have to uproot my family because he stepped out of our life. Grrr!
        I am making contacts, and am looking into my options to obtain some status, (EAC, Student Visa etc) right now, to gain some security. I have contacted some immigration lawyers, but am surprised by how many have not returned my calls. The ones that I have connected with online are out of state. I am going to an free immigration info seminar next weekend, and spending time at the library, and online to learn my rights. Its probably best this way, anyway, so I know the questions to ask. Its been quite a process, as you can imagine. I suppose the worst case scenario, would be that we ALL have to move back to Canada, and I am (just now) surrendering to the idea that this might have to be the way it goes. Anything is better than a life with a malignant narcissist. Thanks for asking Tracy, and thank you for your blog. It has been such a blessing to me. Because of you, and everyone here, I grew a backbone! Now I just have to find a way, and use it. xo

        • There is this meme going around on fb that says… ‘Never grow a wishbone daughter, where a backbone is meant to be.’ Clemintine Paddleford. She said that in the 1920’s. How many of us were trained to believe this happy ever after shit… that makes up a wishbone.

        • Bliss. I’m a bit confused on your Legal Alien Green Card. I assume you acquired this after 3 mos of being married. I understand it is a legal card allowing you Permanent Alien Status. Whether you stay married or not. The only way they can deport you is, say; you hit a kid on a bike, killed him and it goes to trial. If the jury hates you, it’s deportation time.
          But a divorce? No way, unless the 3 first months weren’t up yet. (I think to prevent visa-marriages)

          • Please disregard last question, Bliss. I missed where you said your H was here on a work visa, so he’s not a citizen.
            Sorry, it doesn’t look good but I’m afraid you may have to move back to Canada. If you chose American citizenship for your childen. over Canadian, I assume they’ll have to apply for citizenship there and they will be dual citizens until they’re 18.

  • Angi, so many of us chumps have cheaters who won’t admit to all that they’ve done. After seeking answers and not getting them from the liars we have no choice but to move on. We will most likely never know.

    Your husband is too cowardly to tell you the truth because he’s too cowardly to face the consequences. Let the details go, Angi, release them into the universe. You already know all you need to know.

    His “I don’t know” answers are not only lies, they are him not caring. He doesn’t care. He’d rather you leave him than he leave you. And, like others here, I don’t even believe in sex addiction. He’s escaped into another world, that’s all, and it feels too good for him to give up.

    Get the hell out of there, Angie. You deserve so much more than this. As far as what you should tell him, you don’t owe him an explanation.

    • Well said, Moving Liquid! You don’t owe him an explanation, Angi. You owe him nothing.
      “The only people you owe your loyalty to are those who never made you question theirs.” unknown

  • When I hear this all too common thread, what I think of is a teenager.

    Your husband, and many of the other cheaters (both men and women) have arrested development–they’re stuck at some teen age–probably around 15-16, where they’re hormones are raging and they are trying to break away from the rules that are set by their parents, but not able to actually go out and make it on their own.

    So what do they do. They will take everything that their know nothing, clueless, idiot parents will provide for them (expensive toys, best education, room/board, car/insurance)—at the same time bad mouth the parents to their friends—and then sneak around to get the “naughty” things that the idiot parents won’t allow. Sex in the bedroom when mommy and daddy are work. Downloading internet porn on the laptop that Mom got them for Christmas. Telling Dad they’re on a sleepover at Jane’s when they’re really at Joe’s.

    He’s nothing but a teenager, Angi—living at Mom’s house, taking what Mom offers him, balking at the rules—doing the contemptuous “fuck you” behind your back to his friends—but never, EVER, taking it upon himself to MOVE OUT and take responsibility for his choices.

    Why not move out? I mean, he clearly doesn’t see you as a woman and a wife—he sees you as a parent, a provider of life’s necessities and nothing more. You okay with that?

    Also, let’s follow the logic that you get the answers that you want—EVEN IF YOU COULD BE 100% SURE THE ANSWERS ARE THE TRUTH—what then? So he says, “Yeah, Angi, it was me who created the secret email accounts.” and “Yeah, Angi, we screwed in our marital bed.”
    After what he’s already admitted to doing, a double life for 5 years, lying to your face each and every single day while stealing from you—not allowing you the option of making informed decisions—you really need the gory details to know he is a worthless douchebag?

    Bury his not sorry ass. Make Junior there move out and see what it’s really like out there, where women expect dinner and flowers and EFFORT. I was separated once before the final D-Day and my husband lasted 3 months “out there”. He came crawling back saying that he didn’t want to have to “try” with anybody, that he just wanted things given to him…and these women just weren’t playing along.

    He’s a little boy with mommy issues—and I think you want to be married to a MAN.

  • Great advice, kb, but…

    “… and then move into the spare bedroom, or move into the spare bedroom immediately.”

    Why the F*&% doesn’t this twit move into the spare bedroom, or garage, or wherever as opposed to Angi having to uproot herself?

    Never mind, never mind, it’s a rhetorical question. Just grumbling about the state of cheater nation.

    • The reason Chumps uproot themselves is that the Cheater is too damn lazy to move–at least Angi’s cheater seems too lazy.

      • Also, I should say that I think that Angi should consider her personal safety. If her cheater has any kind of anger issues, she needs to leave and then file. My attorney advised a short-term sublet, but this isn’t workable because of the stringent anti-pet clauses in my area. I’m able to co-habitate with my cheater because his FOO issues allow him to see the kind of minimal interaction we have as normal.

    • Don’t leave your home, hopefully he will run to shedick. You are now fired from doing his laundry, making his food, his life there will be sparse from now on. You have now quit, he needs to feel it.

    • I had this set of neighbors some years ago. They were both, as far as I could tell, clinically insane. They started out as besties, both couples–until the one guy would let his dog run around without a leash, unattended. It was okay at first, the dog was super friendly–but we all worried he’d get hit by a car or something.
      Then one night the dog turns up shot and dying a slow death. Lots of drama, speculation as to “whodunnit”–and of course, the besties were “there for each other” thru the investigation.
      Fast forward a couple years of escalating insanity. A fight between them. Not speaking. A “fuck you” fence goes up so one doesn’t have to see the others’ property. Facebook posting every day about crazy things they’re supposedly doing to each other. ANOTHER dog of 1st guy gets shot, but this time, it’s the ex-bestie neighbor who did it in broad daylight with witnesses. Threats ensued. I’ll kill your dog. And your goats. And won’t call the fire department “just in case” your house catches fire.
      This went on for FIVE YEARS.
      I asked, quite often….why don’t you just move (to each of them)?

      Because I shouldn’t HAVE TO. I should be able to live here in peace. If someone needs to move, THEY DO.

      Well…at the end of the day? I wouldn’t have gotten past the 1st shot dog before I threw a for sale sign up in my yard. I am not playing with crazy.

      It did turn out that one neighbor moved away, after things had escalated to the point that the police were getting seriously annoyed–and started fining each of them for different reasons.

      The point being…Angi’s husband is in a pissing contest with her. With NPDs, as we all know, they aren’t going to allow you to “make them” do anything. As long as it’s your idea, it is NOT getting done.

      If Angi gets lawyered up and is shows douchebag that she’s 110% serious as a fucking heart attack, that she is not going to listen to his bullshit anymore and is about to level consequences—he might move into the other bedroom in order to drag this out.

      I wouldn’t even want that. Get a lawyer, get a separation agreement, figure out who stays in the house and who goes—-and GET IT DONE. He is NOT going to be reasonable…and she’s put up with enough shit from this asshole to last a lifetime.

      Pull in the authorities. It’s the only thing that “cured” my neighbors of their “rightness” in the situation.

  • Agreeing with CL, there is NO WAY an EA went on for five years between coworkers. They are fucking and it has not stopped — he’s just making a barely concealed effort to hide it now.

    PLEASE stop wasting your time on this horrid man and call an attorney ASAP. DO NOT explain anything to your husband, DO NOT tell him you are leaving, DO NOT tell him you are contacting an attorney. Do any of those things, and he will move quickly to take the advantage in the divorce… that is, if he hasn’t already hidden money.

    You are worth more than you are getting in that dead marriage. Let Mr Porn Freak go to his OW. They deserve each other, and you deserve better.

    • That’s good advice. He wouldn’t be the first prick to clean out the accounts once he got wind of an impending divorce. It’s happened to just about everybody here.

      And don’t bother to explain anything ever. The problem isn’t that you just haven’t been able to find the right words to express how you feel. I mean, most people are born to “get” shit like: “you cheated on me.” It isn’t rocket science, and he isn’t a being from another planet who doesn’t understand the language. He gets it. He understands perfectly. He doesn’t care.

      Accept that he doesn’t care, and stop driving yourself cazy trying to get him to understand you. Your communication skills aren’t the problem.

    • You don’t want him do not leave the home, file, let him be thrown out. Heaven knows if you have been exposed to who knows what in all this time, and what money has been spent.

      Stand your ground, do not leave the home.

  • So sorry you are going through all of this. One thing that would keep me centered on leaving was the fact that after sending the NC letter to the OW, they both secretly joined up again with secret accounts. Even if she created them, he could have not responded to one email from her and completely ignored her. He participated with her no matter who set those accounts up. He could have respected your request and ignored her. This demonstrates that your husband is not honoring and respecting your request and he also lied to you and kept secrets and didn’t take responsibility. His loyalty is to the OW and not you and a reconciliation with you. Sure, there are a whole lot of other things that he is doing that are worthy of walking away from him. But, I keep thinking about when he was discovered and when he requested that he stop, he didn’t. He is selfish and you would be better off alone. He shows total disrespect for your needs. He shows that he does not care to give anything up to get the honorable marriage relationship back with you. There is no future with a spouse who can not even do the first steps that were asked of him. And, you don’t need to say anything to him as to why you left him. You know about his EA, the re-start of the accounts, and the porn. Why say anything and get caught in an argument with him? He will try to make you pinpoint one thing and then, will try and defend or justify that one thing. But, really, it is about who he is as a person. His character and commitment is not normal. His actions are not honorable for a spouse to engage in no matter what. The excuses don’t matter. His choices were made and he can deal with the reasons why on his own after you leave.

    I was married to a man who served in the military and I put up with tons of things because he served and his job was stressful. What happened though was that I started seeing other men who were under similar stressful conditions and they were handling it in more mature ways and more healthy ways. Mine just used his stress as an excuse to do what he wanted. Took me a long time to see that. He blamed the downfall of our marriage on one of his commanders. He did not even take responsibility for his actions; it was his commander who stressed him out and this made him angry and rage so it was his commander’s fault. Ugh.

    I think that you deserve an honest partner who will be in the relationship. Your husband seems checked out in a number of ways and is not present to have a relationship with you. It doesn’t matter how he got there (PTSD or childhood issues or work stress or other things). It matters that once he made mistakes, he has not shown that he is choosing you as a valued person in his life. He does not value you or your relationship together. Sucks to realize that but once you do, it is worthwhile to choose to value yourself enough to get out. I was so much better alone than dealing with him and his issues that he would not get help for.

    • You couldn’t have been anymore correct-your first paragraph nails it. My situation was the same, isolating the one “in-person” EA that I am aware of, with no knowledge of the concept of a NC letter I immediately sat with my husband and typed a NC email to the OW (who I know personally) in very benign language indicating that I bore her no ill will but that there would be no further contact on my husband’s part as it would be detrimental to our marriage. It has been almost 5 months and he still tells me how bitter and resentful he is that I sent it, and told him what to do……even after the NC email they were still in touch, both through secret email accounts and texting. During counseling-still in touch. During “reconciliation”-still in touch. During the impassioned pleas to trust him again and appreciate his efforts-still in touch. Finally I emailed her again, because the trickle truth was wearing me down. I didn’t tell him-she responded that she had ceased all contact with him, and was sorry for breaking her word to me, and that if I wanted to meet her in person to talk she would be open to it (why would I? No more confirmation of douchebaggery needed) …. 2 weeks later I dropped the bomb in conversation that I had been in touch with her…..the frenzy to get into my email by “backing up my phone”on the PC to see what she said was entertaining. (Had he asked me to show him the note I would have- I don’t know who’s a bigger douchebag at this point, she or he, and I don’t especially care-I got the sense from her that he was sorta hounding/stalking her and she was getting sick of it. That’s ironic.). The point of this excessively long story is-people like this are completely self-absorbed, disrespectful and disinterested in anyone else’s needs but their own. These qualities are incompatible with any sort of committed relationship. When he throws me a crumb I have to spend an hour reminding myself what a dick he is. I can’t wait for this to be over and to be FREE.

  • Bottom line. How can anyone who ENJOYED lying to you for this long suddenly stop and start telling the truth? Its impossible.

    • Yes, a reason for everything. What do you suppose? I suppose he knows about the 20 20 20 and wants you to bolt. This is news to you for his own purposes.

      Get a lawyer. This guy is so long gone, too far gone, you have been flapping in the wind holding on mentally somehow so long. Time to let go and think of you.

  • I feel so sad each time I read of chumps trying to make sense of their cheater’s craziness. Whenever someone gets into describing the “he said, she said” of a cheater’s behaviour, I know they are still spackling, guzzling hopium, and generally in the bargaining stage of their grief.

    I know, I went through it too. Bought the keylogger, tracked his treachery, found the OW’s name, etc. Despite all that expense, and having seen every gory detail of the cheating…at the end of the day…they are still a cheater who is NEVER going to change. It is their nature. So…why waste one more moment of one’s life wondering why they do it / if they will ever change into an honest person / if they could ever be a good partner? You already know the answer.

    Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life. Get out and start on the project of YOU. Make a plan to be happy. NO need whatever to tell him why.

    • Marci – I agree. It’s so difficult when you’re in the thick of it to see a way out but the only way through is by getting out. I just want to save any chump from having to deal with this shit for one more second and sadly, so many write to CL b/c they just cannot see with such clarity what we, as outsiders who have been there, can. But, Angi, you wrote here so that’s a great first step. Second step, read Dr. Simon’s “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” – that is where the quote CL referenced about “they know the rules, they just disagree” comes from. I swear that book saved my life b/c it finally allowed me to see what he was doing (the gaslighting, the deflection, the minimization, etc.) as manipulation tactics. It also provides a way to not get sucked in my someone’s manipulation and while difficult to put into practice, so worth it to stop the cycle.

      I would echo what others have said – get your ducks in a row & go see a lawyer pronto. And use the fact that he has a high-level clearance to your full advantage – he cannot have anything on his record about an affair, sexual misconduct, etc. so he may be more willing to settle more quickly because of that. And sadly, I’d add one more thing to your to-do list – get yourself tested for STDs. A full panel. You cannot take any chances that this affair (or others) didn’t get physical.

      So sorry for what you are going through but just as we should “trust that he sucks”, you can trust that your life will get better once you’re out of this hellish situation. You can’t begin to know until you are away from it how much of a tool it takes on your emotional well-being. “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life”

      • how much a “toll” it takes on your well-being but he’s a “tool” so I guess it’s a Freudian-slip! 😉

      • I’m going to second that. Please get Dr. Simon’s book and check out his website at

        He really opened up my eyes to who and what I was dealing with. Knowledge is powerful, and he imparts it so clearly.

    • yes I agree, once they have done something like this, it won’t be so bad to do it again, just be a bit more careful, what is the big deal the harm has already happened, can’t everyone stop nagging about it all?

      Even if they don’t cheat again, they have, all you had is now smeared with this. That is what they thought of it, to do this. So, you think you may want that in your life? Think again, chose another option.

  • On Porn: So in 2000 when my ex convinced me he didn’t actually go through with the physical part of cheating on me (I know, I was a sucka), he did everything right to prove he loved me. I forgave and trusted him again. At that time he did ask me if it was OK for him to continue to look at porn and I said I didn’t care. Nothing wrong with it so far as I’m concerned. But I had no idea what he really meant…I mean once in a while is pretty normal…

    Fast forward 5 years and he has issues “finishing” sex, so that drops off. In fact pretty soon it’s gone and the only thing he tries to fix it? pills. I asked him about the porn because I realize he was getting off to it and leaving me alone, I urge therapy, he refuses. 5 years later I haven’t had any sex and am really considering divorce. Then my Mom died, several months later I come out of deep depression with no help from him…

    At this point I catch him cheating (btw, she didn’t get him off until a year had gone by, yeah, gross that I know that). But it goes back to the porn. Turns out he’s been looking at porn every single morning for hours a day for all those years. Hard core porn fucks with the brain, no wonder the asshole couldn’t have sex with a real person. Fuck the addiction BS, no such thing and if it exists it is his problem just like it’s an alcoholics problem to stop drinking (except that’s a true physical addiction)

    Yeah, he went to therapy after I busted him, he didn’t actually DO therapy, just a ploy to keep me there. Yeah, he came to me begging to take him back and said he’d never had sex with her and gave me an STI. Yeah, he went to MC sessions that I had to set up, and manipulated the MC until the MC asked if he’d ever been tested for BPD. Hah, then no more. Yeah, he escalated his emotional abuse to the physical and got me arrested. Yeah, he went on a drunken binge (Martyr Man) and I staged an intervention, he walked out on rehab. Yeah, he nearly killed me before I finally realized there was no fixing us or him. Yeah, I literally wasted years with his sorry Martyr Man ass. Poor fucked up dude but I loved him. BULLSHIT. I can love again, I can love someone who loves me. So can you.

    Angi, don’t be me. Fuck his porn habit, fuck figuring out what or why he did what he did. Let.him.go. Oh, and make sure you get and retain every damn financial record somewhere he cannot access before you tell him you are divorcing him. And if there is even a whiff of abuse about him, make sure you tell him and go somewhere for a few days. Jedi Hugs!

    • Datdamwuf: This sounds a lot like my husband. I think there is such a thing as porn addiction or disorder. Kind of like an eating disorder. Some men can use porn occaisionally and not have a problem. Some end up psychologically (and maybe physiologically??) addicted to it. Just like some people can have a drink once and awhile and not become an alcoholic or eat the occaisional Big Mac and stick with their healthy diet the rest of the time.

      My husband recently asked me if I was okay with him watching porn. (He does it anyway and lies to me, but that’s a different story.) I thought about it and ended up saying “no”. When I was first with him, I had moral issues with it. (Still do to some extent because of the level of exploitation, but that’s a different story.) Today, I wouldn’t be very concerned with occaisional use except for the fact that I know the role it plays in his life. He’s not even 30 yet and he has trouble “finishing” during sex. I’m not bad looking at all, but even when I was at my most attractive (19 years old and really into pilates-I was smokin’) he had trouble. In fact, the first time we had sex (first time ever for both of us), he couldn’t finish. It’s the damn porn. Even when he tries to do without it, he just can’t get into sex with a real person. Too much reciprocity and it can’t compare to flipping from one hard core video/image to the next.

      Sorry to write a novel… Just know that you’re not alone in dealing with this and it has nothing to do with how desirable you are. They’ve screwed up their own brain chemistry.

      • There are instructional sex videos that can teach him how to have real life physical sex, and he might leave the fantasy porn once he gets over his anxiety (cant finish)

      • Holy crow! As many of you may know, a lot of anti-depressants have the “unable to finish” side effect. It’s really, really unpleasant and I can’t imagine bringing this on yourself for the sake of …. hell, for the sake of what?

        • To be fair… He started watching online porn when he was 10 years old. It’s a brain wiring problem by this point I think. (At least that’s what I tell myself, because it’s really frustrating and sad.)
          Also, it’s not every time. He can get off if we’re fantasizing about something he’s into or if everything is completely stress free. I don’t have a problem with the fantasizing, but I sometimes feel like my sexual interests necessarily have to take a complete back seat to his. Most of the time, I have to take care of his pleasure and mine because it would totally throw him off to do anything for me.

          Sorry if that was too detailed. If you have young sons please, please, please don’t let them have unlimited internet access until they’re adults. It really ruins things for everyone.

          • Oh KT, that sounds like hell. I do have young sons, as it turns out (9 and 12, almost) and I don’t let them have unlimited internet access. Guess I’m sorta lucky — no internet when I was a boy — as in, it didn’t exist — but I’m still youthful 🙂

            • You might be right (on the lucky part). Apparently this issue isn’t unheard of among my peers (late Millenials). This is my first and only fully-sexual relationship, but I’ve known several couples that had this problem. Not to say that all men in my age bracket are like this.

              We were the first generation that had access to the internet from an early age. Way too many parents essentially turned us into tiny IT admins without realizing what dark corners of the internet we were exploring. Most of us turned out okay, but those that didn’t… Maybe our generation will take a more balanced approach with our kids. (I know I plan to with my two little girls.)

              • You deserve a man who want to have a relationship with a flesh-and-blood woman. I hope you are thinking about separating because this is no way to live.

  • Trust they suck. mine told me one story then later on changed the details and when I questionedhim gaslighted me. As for having a conversation forget it. I would LOVE to have one adult conversation where I could say “you are unhappy’ I am unhappy we should divorce without the drama, the hysterics the binge drinking afterwards. I would like to be adult about this but am starting to feel I am going to have to pull the get out of Dodge move while he is at work. SO don’t want to do that but…

  • Angi, it sounds to me like you want to leave him, but feel guilty about it. (I mean, you knew nobody on this site is going to recommend staying or working things out, right?)

    May I suggest that in addition to seeing a lawyer, you look into a private investigator. It might help you figure out what you want to do.

    I would be concerned that a guy with a porn addiction might also be going to strip clubs and prostitutes or using on-line dating, etc. You need to find out what’s going on with your money and if there’s a the possibility of STDs.

    A couple of thoughts related to guilt.

    I do believe that sex addictions exist, although I have no idea if your husband has one. I have sympathy for anyone with PTSD and I can imagine it making it hard for someone to have a normal intimate relationship.

    But the solution to an addiction isn’t necessarily for you to stay. You have to look first at whether his addiction is endangering you in any way (if it goes beyond porn, it definitely is). You have to look at whether or not he’s getting better or even trying. It might even help him if you leave. You might want to try a meeting of an Al-Anon family group or talk to a therapist about this.

    I think we also are supposed to believe that if it’s just an emotional affair, it doesn’t count. (Who knows, with all that porn, maybe he couldn’t get it up for her either?) I would say it depends. A five-year long emotional affair sounds pretty serious to me. Sending romantic e-mails is cheating. Setting up secret accounts after you found out is pretty bad too. This is not just a mistake or something you slid into like flirting with someone and then discovering you have feelings for them. This is a planned, ongoing romance. So even if there is no sex involved, it’s betrayal and you’re justified if you want to leave.

    Anyhow, I think you might feel better if you knew more and a private investigator might help.

  • Angi, why do you even bother to get the truth out of a seasoned liar? You may not even know if what he says is true even if it is the truth. It’s a lose, lose situation. Time to bail out. It’s hard, I know, but it’s even harder to be constantly feeling emotionally unsafe. Time to take care of yourself. Initially, it will be very, very difficult. Right now, you keep on asking the same questions over and over again, hoping that somehow that the next question will magically give you answers that will give you peace.

    Unfortunately, here are the facts:
    1) He doesn’t love you.
    2) He’s emotionally and physically long gone.
    3) He doesn’t value nor respect you.

    Why would you want to stay? Who cares if he remembers or not? Asking these questions about who set up the email account is a waste of time. It is completely irrelevant because even if the OW set it up, he wouldn’t engage if he didn’t want to. Does it matter that the OW initiated it? What matters is that your husband made the choice to use it. If someone flirted with you and you didn’t respond, who cares if they flirted. Now if you did, it doesn’t matter who started the flirting.

    Be strong, Angi, get out. Now.

  • There needs to be a Google Translate for cheater-speak, so we can run through the words we are hearing to get to the real meaning behind them.

    I don’t remember => I don’t want to tell you
    I don’t know => I don’t want to tell you
    It just happened => I made it happen
    Stop invading my privacy => there’s bad stuff I don’t want you to know about


    • We only did it one time -> We did it many many times
      We only kissed -> We had sex
      We are just friends -> We are having a long term affair
      It was only an EA -> It was a full blown PA long term affair
      I’m sorry I hurt you -> I’m sorry I wasn’t more careful and got caught
      You were never there for me -> When I needed a quickie at a motel with a co-worker I’d been flirting with for months..

      Etc.. I can help Google with the translations

    • I love you, but I’m not in love with you -> I love to do things behind your back and play you for a fool, it makes me feel good. I’m sleeping with someone that’s not you. I’m going to blame it on you if you ever catch on.

        • I should get a domain, make a ‘stupid shit..’ generator app. Help chumps translate the bullcrap.

          You were too controlling => You expected me to have boundaries and act like a mature adult and not a horny 15 year old.

          I didn’t enjoy the sex => I loved the sex, I love sex, sex is fun, especially forbidden sex with someone that’s not you.

    • that is exactly what i was thinking. the “I dont remeber” is actually “i dont want to tell you” with a spinkle of “i am not sure HOW much you know and dont want to come clean with something you dont know already”

      my XH would also tell me the truth if i said it first but would bet around the bush for DAYS if i didnt. he would then tell me he didnt want to tell me because “you would get mad”!!!! HELL YES I WOULD GET MAD!!

      trust that HE sucks. he is not telling you because he flat out doesnt want you to know wht a shithead he reaaly is. and is hoping you would ever clearly see that you desrve better.

  • I want to say right off call legal if he is in the military or calls deers and get info on the 20 20 20, you need to know what you are facing money and benefits wise and make a decision that is best for you. Separation will give you benefits still I believe. Anyway check into this.

    How nice he writes a nc letter and you are made a joke of as they set up “secret” emails, how quaint. This is almost by some book, maybe their are dog eared pages in the cheating manual.

    He is lying, he remembers, if he was so far gone he had thinking issues he would be on military retirement on a medical.

    Don’t ask him anything, don’t lower yourself asking him anything.


  • He must be into bondage also he has you totally screwed over and could care less how this is affecting you. He wants fun, he wants a shedick who likes to screw over her husband.

    Sorry you wasted 17 years with this guy.

  • We understand. It’s scary to begin again when we chumps signed up for the long haul. All of us wanted to believe our spouse or partner were honest with us and wanted us as mates to the end of time. We all had the “fuck me, is this really happening or am I in a full blown nightmare?”

    Your guy is trained to be evasive if he works for the government. You will never get a straight answer from a crooked man.

    We were all afraid for our future when we kicked the POS, FKTRD, MF’R, whether it was the night of discovery or later on down the road, OUT. Our hearts ached. Our feelings flew all over the place and raged. Our sorrow was sometimes unbearable.

    But slowly, slowly, those of us on the other side of the marriage death dance are telling you, you are going to be OK. You are going to make it out alive. It really does get better and flowers are growing and birds are singing, again. The coffee smells great and my friends are real and my family still loves me.

    There is life after leaving a cheater. There is no life staying with them.

    Stick around, we are here for you.

    • CalamityJane, Very well said. I just have to differ with your assertion, “Your guy is trained to be evasive if he works for the government. You will never get a straight answer from a crooked man.”

      Maybe a few government jobs include training in evasiveness (intelligence? some military jobs?), but it’s a very small percentage. Also, her husband is obviously a liar, but that has nothing to do with his being a government employee. Just trying to clarify, thanks…

      • sunshine,
        Alas we both were military intelligence (worlds biggest oxymoron), and he works still in the field for the government and I work in the private sector now. So yes, he is highly skilled in the art of evasiveness, but so am I. That is why I get so angry as I have the facts in black and white, it’s been over a year since D-Day, and he still won’t admit to anything unless I have it in black and white, or I get the I don’t remember. It is just frustrating… Thank you for your response. 🙂

      • I agree Sunshine, his lying has nothing to do with being a government employee. I felt he was in intelligence or military by the way he responded to her questions because they are trained to be evasive.

        He’s crooked because of his dishonesty with Angi, not because of his job with the government.

        I hope this clarifies my comment.

  • Five words to live by from today on…

    Go where you are valued.

    Marriage,family,friendships,workplace….We dont have unlimited time here, so time is valuable. Spend it wisely and go where you are not an optional part of someone’s life. Write a new ending for your life story. 🙂

  • Statement analysis is a tool used by law enforcement and other interested parties to sniff out deception in spoken and written language. In spoken language, it helps to have a tape, since the exact words are often significant, but you can still get a pretty good idea about whether language is straightforward or intended to deceive.

    The “I can’t remember” statement in response to a query about misdeeds is deceptive. We tend to hear that statement as “I have no memory of what you are asking about, which means I can’t confirm or deny” or
    “I don’t know the answer to your question.” But the structure of that sentence has “can not” as auxiliaries and negative markers. The verb is “remember.” The sentence “I can’t drive,” for example, might point to the total inability to drive OR to some condition that makes you unable to drive in a situation: because I was drinking or because my car is in the shop or because my spouse has the car…etc.

    When liars say “I can’t remember,” they are not talking about whether they have a working memory or even a memory of an event. They are telling you that they cannot undertake action of remembering without bad consequences. So it is not, “I have not memory” but “I can’t allow myself to remember that without consequences I don’t want.” The word “can” is not just about the ability to do something (“I can drive”) but also about having permission or authority or the will to do something (“I can buy that dress.”) So I hear those kind of statements as statements that are essentially lied of misdirection and omission, a total unwillingness to cooperate with the other person in that relationship. I hear/read “I don’t remember” in the same way–not as “I have no memory” but I do not do the cognitive work of remembering this thing you want to know.

    The slipperiness of the language makes it all the more infuriating, since everyone in the room well knows that the cheater has the information and is hiding behind a linguistic smokescreen.

    As to “sex addiction,” I see addiction as using substances or habitual behavior to manage negative emotions or experiences, to numb uncomfortable feelings, to create distance and control in relationships, or to alter states of consciousness to achieve pleasure. That puts the emphasis on how the substance or behavior is being used. People can eat addictively, use drugs addictively or use sex addictively. What has to be learned is how to live without numbing or altering consciousness in destructive ways. That doesn’t mean a “sex addict” can stop looking at porn. It means the sex addict (or cheaterpants masturbating porn watcher) has to stop abusing sex and thereby the people around him or her. There is an addiction center in the brain that no doubt lights up when people carry out addictive behaviors. But think of how many AA people shift from using drugs to medicate to using coffee and sugar and cigarettes. The problem is in the escape and disengagement, first, and then the massive lying and denial that covers up that escape and disengagement. We know that true substances create chemical reactions that can lead to physical dependency, but for the sake of Chump Nation, the big issue is that people claiming to be sex addicts are actually proclaiming that they have unplugged from real life and disengagement from relationship to live primarily in an altered emotional and physical state, making them UNAVAILABLE for relationships. As someone who was married to an active alcoholic that I truly loved and cared about, there came a moment when I realized he was in a relationship with booze and I was in a relationship with him, and no one was in a relationship with me. A marriage requires two people, all in. You can’t have a real marriage with an active addict. Once the addict has a year or two of sobriety and some experience in managing emotions without medicating, then perhaps there is hope for the marriage. So a separation might be in order, but it is better for both parties to get real and heal and then see what might be rebuilt. But a sex addict? That’s just a person who uses sex with others as a way to alter consciousness and escape the real world. Sound a whole lot like a garden variety cheater. In either case, I don’t see any hope for reciprocity or fidelity with someone whose default is “pick up a skank.”

    • Well said, LAJ. Well said. Bravo.

      I would prefer “sex for hire” for default instead of skank only because I feel sorry for anyone in that industry. What a fucked up life trying to stay afloat dog paddling in a cesspool looking for love.

      The SOB found me on the outside when he had to get food.

    • i read somewhere that emotional abuse was the same as physical abuse only the bruises are on the inside of your body instead of showing outside on your body.

      i truly believe this. if your husband were to slap you every time you asked a question that he didnt want to answer instead of saying “I dont know” or “I dont remember” . would you put up with that? HELL NO you wouldnt. you would leave. run. and wouldnt need to tell him anything.

      but really it is the same thing. your husband is abusing you. abusing your love for him and using your trust as a weapon against you. he is emotionally and mentally abusing you. think of it the same way as if he was physically abusing you.

      abuse is still abuse and it is just flat out wrong. especially from the man who is suppose to love, homor and pretect you.

  • Knowing the details changes nothing, It only makes you feel bad. You have a choice to make…you are ready to forgive and forget and actually work to make YOUR marriage better and that includes moving on, or you continue to badger the husband who you are pushing into the arms of the other woman (who is NOT badgering and very accepting of his behavior), or just get the divorce and start working on YOUR happiness. I speak from experience, nobody feels bad about the details you feel you must have except for you. You don’t need details, you know he lied, you win though because you are the better person. Let them keep their crappy details, who cares? Now the liar has to live with his lies.

  • Lying is a character flaw. It’s a form of manipulation because what you don’t know you can’t use to form a reasoned judgment. Chronic liars will always lie. And some are very gifted liars. My cheating ex was a brilliant liar. A virtuoso. When I finally caught on to his shenanigans, he lied about everything while I quietly gathered the evidence to the contrary. A lot of work. Then I gave myself a special dispensation to tell a big fat white one, just this once. I looked him straight in the eye and told him that I could tell when he was lying because his pupils dilated when he did. He believed me because I never, ever lie. From that moment forward, he always looked away when telling tall tales. Giving him that “tell” saved me the trouble of fact-checking his lies. And I totally loved the visual of him standing in front of the bathroom mirror lying to himself to see what I was talking about.

    Run, Angi, run. He’s not going to straighten up and fly right. He’s not going to grow up and take responsibility. He is a lying sack of shit who will always be a lying sack of shit. He wants to do stuff you would leave if you knew about, so he’s just not going to tell you. Problem solved, right? Better to stop beating your head against the sidewalk and focus your energy on minimizing the damage to yourself. You can’t fix him.

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