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Dear Chump Lady, I cheated on my husband

Dear Chump Lady,

I stumbled upon your site while looking for help, thought you might be able to give me some useful advice and now I’ve come to humbly ask for some. Yet I’m not quite sure my question’s welcome, or that you’d want to help me, since I can see you don’t usually publish questions from the cheater. And that’s who I am in my marriage. I’m the cheater. I’m not cheating anymore, and I’m remorseful, but I did it. And I think I might have broken my marriage.

I won’t bore you with the details of the affair because I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it all. The basic facts: less than a year into my marriage (yes, I’m that much of a piece of shit) I cheated on my husband with a guy from work. I had never cheated before. The affair lasted for about a month, then it was broken off very painfully. I had fallen hard for the OM, and had a few horrible months feeling heartbroken, guilty and sullied. During this time, adding insult to injury, I neglected my husband, and our emotional and physical intimacy took a nosedive. While my husband is not perfect, and definitely has some issues that need addressing, I take full responsibility for what happened and I know quite well that my behaviour is inexcusable, and I won’t try to explain it away. I cheated because I was immature, selfish and vain. I overestimated my self control as an excuse to continue the flirting and, after the fact, tried to drown the guilt I felt in self-serving explanations. I deserve all the pain I caused myself.

As a consequence of this whole mess, I lost attraction, started getting short-tempered and distanced myself from him and the marriage. He reacted to that by also shutting me out, neglecting the house and himself. What had once been good became a crappy, cold marriage between two people who never fought, but also barely talked; were never abusive, or even rude to each other, but also didn’t touch one another lovingly and rarely had sex. This all culminated a couple of months ago when husband sat me down to say he is unhappy and, while he loves me very much, he has no intention to continue to live like this forever, and we either fix things soon or get a divorce.

We’re now trying to fix it, and I do want to save my marriage. Even while deep in the shit, I never wanted to hurt my husband (and I know I did, very much). He doesn’t know about the affair, and I can’t stand the thought of telling him and making him hurt even worse from my shitty choices – it would feel like sacrificing him to make myself feel less guilty, and I don’t deserve not to feel guilty. I want to make things better, and get back the intimacy, the mutual admiration, the shared plans and the commitment we once had.

I’m trying, and have taken steps. I have cut all contact with the OM and got my ass in therapy to try to get my shit together and understand how I got us into this mess. I’m trying to be a better wife, and control my temper. I’m trying to spend a little more time with husband and encourage him. He’s also made some changes, and is taking better care of himself and the house. Things are, overall, a bit better.

Still, the feelings are not coming back, and I’m at a loss. It feels as if we had this thing, which was precious to both of us, and we’re both trying to fix it, him scratching his head as to why it isn’t working anymore when it used to work so well, me trying to help and fix it while shutting my mouth, filled with guilt, knowing damn well that it’s broken because I broke it. We’ve given ourselves a deadline, and when it comes we’ll sit down and see how far things will have improved, and if it is enough – or at least enough to keep trying.

Part of me desperately wants things to just go back to what they were; part of me wants only to believe that we really can get over this and come out with a much better marriage, and never ever cheat again; and part of me feels that I just don’t deserve him anymore, and that the most decent thing I can do is divorce him and allow him to find another wife who’s not a whore.

What should I do? Any help (even a smack to the head, which I fully deserve) will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Dear Leticia,

The most decent thing you can do is tell him the truth.

Things are not going to go back to the way they were. That’s a fantasy thought, like “Gee, I wish I had my 18-year-old body back.”  “We can come out with a much better marriage” is just unicorn bullshit. That’s the hopium they sell over at the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Grievous betrayal does not make for better marriages any more than bullets to your head improves your cognitive functioning.

But he doesn’t have to know! You can take this to your grave!

I’m sure there are some people who would advise that, but I’m not one of them. This isn’t some episode in your long ago past. This isn’t something that happened in another relationship. This is about NOW. You betrayed your husband just months into your first year of marriage. Your husband knows the marriage is broken too, he just doesn’t know why. YOU know why.

I argue here that cheating is based in entitlement. If you want to stop being a cheater, it’s not enough to give up the OM or do therapy. You have to stop acting entitled. You have to lead with humility. Having all the knowledge of what’s wrong is holding on to power. Let that shit go. You need to stop making unilateral decisions for other people. Let your husband decide if the marriage is worth saving. If he were writing to me, I’d tell him it isn’t.

I think you know that, which is why you’re trying to prevent that outcome by holding on to the truth. You think you’re protecting him from further harm — and yes, when he finds out, it’s going to hurt like a motherfucker — but the fact is, you’re covering your own ass. Not telling him is about you maintaining the vestiges of power. This isn’t about guilt. It’s about you not wanting to do that painful, difficult thing. Is he suffering? Well, you’ll just try to shore it all up!

That’s not sustainable. This is a terrible foundation with which to build a relationship, so please just tell him.

You need to stop lying to yourself.

You wrote: we had this thing, which was precious to both of us…

It wasn’t precious to you. That’s the truth. If it were precious to you, you wouldn’t have cheated on him. We ACT our values.

Your actions showed that you didn’t value so much that you wouldn’t indulge in some cake-eating at his expense. Apparently, he didn’t take your lack of affection and attraction to him very well — he shut down. His reaction is totally understandable under the circumstances. But then you used that shut down as further pretense to not be attracted to him. God, things have gone to shit and surprise! The feelings aren’t coming back!

Leticia, I’m sorry but you broke your marriage. The compassionate thing to do is to let this man go. As Dat eloquently pointed out in yesterday’s post — “once a cheater, always a cheater” is not true. But “once a cheater in this marriage, ALWAYS a cheater in this marriage.” This relationship will always be tarred by your infidelity, and my advice to you — for your husband’s happiness and your own — is to let this marriage go.

Some people can do the mental gymnastics to reconcile, but a) they need to know there is infidelity and b) I don’t recommend that life. He’d have to live with never really trusting you, pained by your affair, and you’d have to live this marriage as the perpetual fuck up trying to get back in his good graces. It’s a crap dynamic. Just admit the thing is dead and move on.

Here are some pointers on remorse for when you tell him.

1.) Don’t make this about your pain. Don’t say how hard this is for you, or how difficult it was to carry this secret.

2.) Don’t expect him to comfort you. Expect him to be righteously pissed.

3.) Give him a very fair and generous divorce settlement. You sound young, there’s probably not much to settle. Accept responsibility. Pay his share of the lawyer bill. Whatever you have, don’t burden him economically. The emotional weight of this shit is hard enough.

4.) Get STD tested and show him the results.

5.) Remember that sorry is as sorry does. It’s not enough to say you are sorry, you have to keep behaving sorry. Don’t gaslight, don’t blame shift (i.e., “You let yourself go, you didn’t clean the apartment…” etc.)

This is a failure, Leticia, but you can learn from failure and you can act with dignity even in failure. Try out that new improved character  today. Stay in therapy. Straighten out your head. Chuck entitlement thinking. Once you figure out your values and the kind of person you want to be, LIVE that. Ending this marriage the right way is a good start.


Ask Chump Lady

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  • “Chuck entitlement thinking. Once you figure out your values and the kind of person you want to be, LIVE that”. Amazing Advice Chump Lady!!

    • Dear Leticia,

      I think you should let him. He deserves better than to seat rest of his days wondering if it who truly is at fault for no reason. Poor guy.
      And you, I think you should go get a rope and hang yourself.


  • Everything CL said. It’s cruel enough to cheat on someone, but 1000X more cruel to keep it from them, and leave them thinking it’s something they’ve done (or not done) that has ruined the marriage *they* hold so dear.

    • Mine even went so far as to BLAME it on me. Isn’t that lovely?? I was simply thrilled. And like a good little chump I ate it all up and asked for more. What a fuqwad (him, not me).

      • Blaming the chump is so cliche, isn’t it? All the cheaters do it, it seems. To get him to leave, I finally gave mine a note to show his friends saying “Chump (me) admits the demise of the relationship is all her fault. Because she didn’t keep a clean enough house, I fucked a grad student. Because [fill in fault X], I dented her car. Because [fill in fault Y], I was rude and criticized her a lot. Because….”

        You get the message–the cheaters blame all of their crappy actions on us. Funny, I didn’t get the rule book when we were married, that if I burn dinner he gets to give someone oral sex; or if I don’t clean the house enough, he gets to bang younger women….

  • Damn, less than a year ? Wow !! Why did you get marry to begin with ?

    I agree with CL 100% here, clearly it wasn’t that precious too you because you crapped all over it, months after saying the vow. Anyway, how do you expect him to fix it if he doesn’t know which part is broken ? How will he fix the unknown ? All he knows is that suddenly you became moody, short tempered and distance, but why ? You’re keeping a big piece of information here, worse you dragged him to the mud of bad marriage without knowing why he’s in it.

    If i were you i’d tell him and walk, you’re right he deserves better. Maybe you’ll never cheat again but in his eyes once you tell him, your images will be shattered to pieces and nothing will be the same. Either stagnant or sliding down from that point. No kids, straight to divorce

    • As they say, Trust is like a mirror. You can try to fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in the reflection.

      I don’t know how anyone ever goes about fixing trust in a relationship after it’s broken. I honestly don’t know if you can. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it happen IRL. All I know is I have a hard time trusting anyone 100 percent now, and we are talking about people that haven’t betrayed me in the past.

      • Exactly, trust is security in relationship. Relationship without trust is like cell phone with no signal, no point at all.

        • Agreed Java, like I said before, a relationship without trust is like a car without gas in it. You can sit in it all you want, but its not going anywhere…

      • I no longer give my trust to anyone. They may earn it – but it is never assumed.

    • I found out mine was cheating on me from day one with that married ho-worker, the nasty white trash, the butterfaced yeast factory as I like to call her. This was happening when he kept chasing me, begging me to give him a chance and if given the chance that he will treat me and my family with the love and respect that we deserve. My ass!! and he continued to fuck her for over 3 1/2 years while declaring his undying love to me daily and while he even proposed to me on his fucking knees, the whole.fucking. time. He stopped fucking her after she stopped working there, so I guess if she continued working there he would’ve kept going, but alas after she left, he moved on to the next skank while playing the good guy role really really well. One of his excuses was to why he kept lying, because he didn’t want me to think he was just like the rest lol!! What a disgusting loser!!

      AND as far as your husband goes Leticia, tell him the fucking truth! He deserves to know the truth, you tarnished that marriage with your own hands and he deserves someone who would be loyal and trustworthy. If you cheated on him less than a year in your marriage when it was in honeymoon stage, when everything was good, so that, right there tells me when things get tough you will cheat again and justify. DO NOT steal his years with your lies, do not take his right to choose…just don’t!

      • I understand why you are angry yet you need to remember that every situation is different. Good people make bad choices sometimes. Most affairs do not eventuate because someone, on a whim, decided they felt like a little on the side. I am not giving anyone permission to lie and cheat and hurt their partners yet I do believe that if it happens, you need to really look at how it happened to learn more about yourself. Usually, people that are happy and fulfilled in their marriage would be flattered yet won’t act. .. And yes, I have had my now ex husband cheat, hurt and devastate me with his affair.

  • Chump Lady…you had me at motherfucker!!! Haven’t read your blog in awhile…but you are the most real straight-shooter out there on this topic! Preach girl. Preach!

  • Please tell your husband about your affair. As hard as it might be to admit this to him, to see his very hurt reaction and to take the verbal punishment he will no doubt give you……you need to tell him the truth. You are only protecting yourself by holding on to this nugget of information.

    I am here to tell you that your marriage WILL NEVER BE THE SAME! He will never completely trust you again and you will know it. Sadly, the relationship (even IF it can be repaired) will have an entirely different dynamic. I am one who THOUGHT marriages could be repaired from the affair. I am a pretty damn good forgiver but I could just never get past it. And I tried for five years. (exH continued his affair while I thought we were fixing it….LONG story!). My point is, I now believe it is very rare that marriages can be saved from this kind of betrayal. You are early in your marriage as well, you should still be in the honeymoon phase, instead you are scratching an itch! This is hardly a good start.

    Tell your husband, stay in therapy and move on. If nothing else, learn from your mistake and do better next time.

    Good luck to you.

  • Leticia, please give your husband a chance to find someone who values and respects him. I wish my ex did. Instead, he would never divorce me and I always won the pick me dances. Until I didn’t do the dance anymore. Please tell him. Then he can decide what to do with ALL available information. I hope you continue with therapy and do the hard work. As a chump, I did and am still doing the hard work of why I stayed with a serial cheater. During your husband’s weakest moments, please don’t take advantage of him. When he is angry, don’t use it against him. When he is weeping, don’t think of him as a weak man. When he is distant, don’t blame shift. I wish you well and hope that you won’t knowingly inflict harm ever again on another human being and that includes yourself.

  • Great advice. Be truthful. If you love him, he deserves the truth. Realize this… the marriage as you know it, is dead. Maybe it can be revived, maybe, but I doubt it. You’ve basically killed yourself in his eyes. He will never look at you the same ever again.

    If you ever really loved him, give him the truth.

    • If she ever truly loved him she wouldn’t have cheated on him in the first place. How could you claim to love someone, yet have sex with someone else and with all the lies for all that time? You couldn’t..enough said…

      • YES!!! This!!! THIS!!! THis!!!!

        if she really truly loved him she wouldnt have cheated on him and couldnt have had sex with someone else!!!

        SERIOUSLY!!! Do these loser cheaters actually THINK that not ever did your spouse (me and the rest of the chumps) find someone else in the whole world that we dont find attractive or just get turned on by someone sexiness? or do they think nobody ever hits on us or tries to get into OUR pants? the difference is WE TOOK OUR VOWS SERIOUSLY and never thought of having sex with someone other then our spouses. and our spouses are SELFISH CHEATER DICKHEADS who couldnt or WOULDNT say NO!!!!

  • …”we had this thing, it was precious…”

    CL: “It wasn’t precious to you. That’s the truth. If it were precious to you, you wouldn’t have cheated on him. We ACT our values.”

    This is real exposure and valid, face-value truth. Proof that told often enough, people begin to believe their own lies. Bravo CL! Bravo real healing!!

    • Critical Defect, you just wrote down the SAME sentence I was going to say!!!! 🙂
      Totally agree, the best advice as always CL!

  • This one really hits home today – similar situation, XW already had a boyfriend before our first anniversary, did the whole distancing/neglect/withdrawal thing, and I also reacted by shutting down (DENIAL).

    My advice, which echoes CL: Come clean. All of it. He deserves to know. Most likely in the back of his mind, he already suspects it, since newlyweds don’t usually completely withdraw and neglect their new spouse out of nowhere. Confirm it for him – you owe him the dignity of making his own decisions in his life with ALL the pertinent information. Had I not started looking for answers and playing detective, I might have never known. She didn’t respect me enough to be honest with me, and to this day I never got the whole truth. I accept that I never will, but it has taken years. NOT knowing is so much worse than knowing.

    Hearing the truth, you get to make a down payment on that pain up front. And it sucks. However, left to wonder (and blame himself), that pain will eat away at his soul for years to come, like a credit card you keep making the minimum payments on and can’t seem to get ahead on. As said many times on here, it’s not so much the P in the V aspect of cheating that hurts worst – it’s the lies and betrayal from the one person who PROMISED to have your back. It’s probably too late for your marriage, but you can still do right by him.

    People fuck up. We’re all imperfect humans here. Learn, and do better next time.

    • Yeah, and respect him enough to confirm his suspicions and remove any self-doubt he is struggling with. THAT’s called crazy-making. He will feel so much better once he realizes that you were the problem all along and he can stop questioning himself and restore his faith in himself – well, after he reels from the decision to marry you (no offense).

      • Thing is SHE DIDNT RESPECT HIM ENOUGH to keep her legs closed. i honestly do not think she is going to respect him enough to tell him the truth.

        all she cares about is what SHE wants, how SHE feels and who makes HER feel better and good. she could care less about this poor man she married!!

        • Maybe they dated for 10 years before they got married. The honeymoon period would then be long gone. Why do people think life is so black and white. To me it seems that she loved her husband, yet there are many different kinds of love, yet maybe the mistake was marrying him. Maybe she felt pressured to marry him., maybe she was unsure herself. Who knows? The issue is that she did not deal with what was happening in her marriage, or in her own head and her feelings about her marriage, in an appropriate way. Why do you all just want to attack her? Not everyone understands why they are acting in ways they do until they get to reflect on it. I know my x and I had problems I couldn’t articulate at the time. Now I can.

  • Based on my experience, cheaters aren’t usually as slick as they think they are. It’s likely your husband already suspects or even knows. Come clean and follow CL’s pointers if you want to do it right.

  • The most entitled thinking of all – “I don’t have to tell him, I’ll work on the marriage and take my ‘mistake’ to the grave.”

    You’re denying your partner the opportunity to make a choice. In effect, you *decided for him* that it’s in his best interest to stay married to someone that betrayed him.

    You went behind his back to meet your own needs. That’s the fundamental promise that relationships are built on, and you broke it. Repeatedly. Game over.

    The guilt about your selfishness is an indulgence. It allows you not to do the hard work of actual *changing* and is a trivial self-punishment at best. It’s no substitute for doing better.

    • When I asked my ex why he didn’t just tell me that he wanted to be with other women, his response was “because I knew you’d leave”. That response infuriated me but it wasn’t until this very moment that I could put a word to what I was feeling. Entitlement. He removed any opportunity for me to decide my own fate based on the facts. HE made the decision for me by lying to me thereby keeping me around. He had (has?) absolutely no respect for my right to make my own decisions, it was what he wanted/wants and nothing else. After I found out all the sordid secrets, I dropped-kicked him to the curb. He responded by stalking me. When I blocked him via email/phone etc. –> he found ways around the block. When I refused to respond anyway –> he drove by my house, physically stalking me. When I *still* did not respond –> he threatened to show up at one of my work events…can you imagine that?! A fucking workshop that I am responsible for and he’s going to show up! All of this behavior can be summed up in one word…Entitlement. He is entitled to what he wants regardless of what I want/need/makes me feel safe etc. It makes me want to vomit.

  • I was listening to an ‘agony aunt’ on the radio yesterday. It had nothing to do with infidelity, and I didn’t necessarily agree with everything she said, but one thing that really chimed with me was this: ‘People always know they are being lied to’. They may not actually be able to put their finger on what is going on, they may not even consciously know they are being lied to, but there is always something inauthentic (of course) that makes them feel like something isn’t quite right, something is wrong. There is also a saying that 90% of human communication is non-verbal: Body language, eye contact, even the way we smell, and when the words coming out of the mouth don’t match with the other ways of communication, it makes every one feel uneasy, unsafe. Your husband will always know there is something unsaid between you. Your non-verbal communication will tell him.

    Even if you did manage to salvage your marriage and make it to your deathbed without revealing the truth to your husband, he will always know there was something wrong between you. He might spend the rest of his life putting it down to the ‘difficult first year of marriage’ between you. An element of this is trying to find the fault in himself, you’ll be amazed how angry that will make your husband should he ever find out the true reason why things went wrong during your honeymoon (the first year of marriage is actually the honeymoon).

    Your infidelity will cast shadows on your marriage because your body language will always communicate you are withholding something, and your husband will never feel completely happy because he’ll pick up on your body language. If you want a happy marriage, if you love your husband and want him to have the love he deserves, you can’t hope lying by omission will promote this – it simply won’t.

    Don’t kid yourself that your husband will never find out the truth if you don’t tell him. It’s a lie cheaters tell themselves all the time, you have no idea what the future contains and at least one other person knows the truth, don’t they? And you don’t get to control him. If the truth comes out by some other means than you, your husbands’ hurt is going to be worsened by your cowardice. Any chance at all you might hope for saving your marriage will be long gone, because he’ll know you chose to lie to him every day.

    You have to tell him.

    My husband cheated on me within 6 months of us marrying. It still hurts me. I still wonder what the hell he married me for if his vows had the shelf-life of less than a packet of biscuits. I think your husband will feel the same way, but you are going to have to face that, and you are going to have to work out why your vows meant so little to you. Sexuality starts in the brain, and you allowed your brain to fantasise about the OM, why? You are going to need to figure that out, because your husband is going to ask it. Try not to answer with ‘I don’t know’ – it’s not a good enough answer.

    I hope you can find the courage to do the right thing for your husband (and yourself) believe us when we tell you, the truth is less painful than the continued ‘gaslighting and blameshifting’ which have to come to sustain a lie. And, as HM said above, point him here for support and understanding when you finally do tell him.



    • “if you love your husband and want him to have the love he deserves”…then tell him the truth, let him go/leave him and give him what he wants in the divorce, never bother him again and make your mission to heal yourself as atonement for what you have done.

    • As someone said once upon a time, one small spark of truth will burn the whole forest of lies eventually.

      • “one small spark of truth will burn the whole forest of lies…”

        Yes that is it.

    • “I don’t know” as an answer as to why someone did something is the phrase that sincerely makes me want to punch the person that uttered it. Because if YOU don’t know why YOU did something, then who does? If you sincerely don’t know why you do things, you have major problems. But the truth is, it’s a lie. You DO know why, you just don’t want to admit to it.

      When my ex was trying to pretend to be a unicorn after the divorce and after the AP left him, I said I might give him another chance if he’d get some therapy (which I knew he wouldn’t do) AND if he could tell me why he said the hateful things he did to me that he claimed now to not mean, and why he had the affair, because if he didn’t know why he did it, there was no way of knowing whether or not he’d do it again. His answer to both? “I don’t know.” I swear to God, if you’d ask him now, that would still be his answer. And it’s such bullshit. The truth is, it’s an ugly answer, and he doesn’t want to admit that. “Why? Because I wanted to.”

      • Kira, that was one of the things that used to drive me up to wall! I, just like you wanted to punch him when he said “I don’t know.” My answer to him was, ” Einstein, why do you go to work everyday? why do you lock your vehicle in a bad neighborhood? You know why.” Like you said, the truth is they did it because they wanted to, its that simple!

      • Kira, I got the exact answers in his first two affairs. On the final one, he said he thought it was the right thing to do since we were having problems. Both answers clearly pointed to a messed up person. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d like to live the rest of my life with someone who knows who he is, or alone in peace. No more drama and confusion. Just authenticity.

      • I swear – if anyone ever says “I don’t know ” to me in a relationship again I will crack.

        It was stbx’s response to the entire fiasco .

        He couldn’t make a decision about the marriage, why he did what he did or the future of our family.

        Of course the shark eyes and the snarling grin didn’t help either.

        It was like trying to reason with a zombie!

        I think we should send all if the lobotomised spouses to the island of I Don’t Know.

  • Tell him. He deserves the chance to make the choice whether to stay and try to work on things. Give your husband that gift (that most of us here where not given) especially if you care about him.

    You need to for yourself, as well.
    My exH cheated the first time less than 5 yrs into our marriage (maybe 4, never learned the start date ). He suffered from nightmares for months; subconscious couldn’t take the lies I guess. I confronted, he denied, marital counseling (where he lied). Chump that I am, I believed his lies (infatuation, woman in his grad program pursued him, etc).

    Years later… He suffered from insomnia for the last 6 years of the marriage. He drifted away and I tried desperately to figure out what was wrong with the marriage. He denied again and again that it was me/us; it was work related.
    He finally left me for a woman 12 yrs younger, after at least one other EA. This occurred 13 yrs after the first affair.
    Apparently his insomnia stopped once he left me. He takes it as a sign of how unhappy he was in the marriage (yup, me, it was my fault). I take it as a sign that he couldn’t take the guilt of knowing he betrayed me. Now that he is gone, he can tell himself fairy tales to alleviate his guilt. I won’t get into the trauma for the kids.

    You need to tell, for both your sakes.

    • zyx321,

      Interesting about the nightmares your husband had. I remember us both having a nightmare, I can’t be sure, but I think now it was around the time ‘The Great I Am’ had his affair. I had a dream that he was having an affair and was being really, really cold and horrible to me (wow, prophetic) and he had a dream that he crashed his car with his daughter in it. Of course, at the time I had no idea the honeymoon was over and he was being who he really is, and I suppose some sort of (I wouldn’t call it guilt) self-preservation in him was trying to warn him he was heading towards disaster. I think my dream must have been as a result of the non-verbal communication I was talking about in my post above.

      • Jayne & zyx321 ….So interesting…my exH was having night sweats for years. Obviously, this was very disturbing for me and I kept urging him to go to the doctor because his sister had had the same symptoms before she was diagnosed with cancer. I still feel like a chump because I was worried he was sick.

        In retrospect, I was seeing all of the non verbal signs of communication too – but not knowing how to interpret them.

        • Aha! Yes there are clues. Once I’d walked into our bedroom and noticed my x glued to the TV where a cheesy lifetime movie was on. I thought “how odd” because he’s not a TV watcher, and it was a cheesy lifetime film. Lol. BUT, I walked in at the point in the movie where a guy and his apparent affair partner were having sex in the front seat of a car and the guy looks at the rearview mirror and sees an image of his wife’s face like she’s sitting in the backseat.. his guilty conscience, she wasn’t really in the car. And my x had this look on his face like he was really taking notes and learning or something! It was such an odd moment. I was only in the room for that few seconds and only caught those few seconds of the movie and my x’s reaction to it… but it always stuck in my mind. Fast forward a year, I realized that he’d been in his affair for a month or so when he was watching that movie. I didn’t find out about his affair until they’d been at it for 1.5 years. 🙁

          There really are always clues. I just trusted him way too much to be able to see them I guess.

    • insomnia with me rubbing his back for years with my gentle, caring chumpy hands. uh huh. i was in that movie too.

      leading up to divorce, my X was very apologetic to me and our daughters saying it was his fault, he has character problems, i/they didn’t deserve this trauma. i think he did this in part because OW was still keeping it secret from her husband (long story there).

      1 year post divorce, a public couple with his OW, his story NOW is: he was never happy in the (24 year) marriage, he only stayed for the kids, and he never felt safe with me. this is the story he tells our daughters, his family, and our friends.

      at first, this further crushed my chumpy heart. but now i see reality. thank God. and thank Chump Nation.

      • Chumpette, similar story here. Ex was telling his family it was all his fault. Since I went contact immediately after finding out about the final OW and I wouldn’t take him back after the divorce, his story is now he stayed because of our son, he wasn’t happy, etc. He’s even going so far as telling people he met the OW after we split up. Interestingly, my counselor warned me that this might happen. Like you, I see it now exactly for who he is and I am so glad I am not in the OW’s shoes.

        • Am curious…what do you do or say in response to his revisionist history tales? What have you told your children (ages?) if they have been given the Big Lie too? I have given myself a lot of space to decide what i want to say to friends and in laws. The silence feels powerful. But i also do want to say something.

          • Chumpette, our son is an adult so he’s not buying his father’s BS and he’s gone NC also. When people tell me what he’s saying, I just say, “That’s not exactly how it happened” and leave it at that. People don’t believe him because I found out a lot of people already knew he was a serial cheater – and I didn’t tell them. I don’t really care how they knew.

    • In our case, it was me who was having the nightmares even before he cheated…looking back I think I could sense he was looking for an exit or I was starting to “discover” his true self…but in those dreams I felt bad for not accepting his “transformation”…

  • knowing damn well that it’s broken because I broke it. We’ve given ourselves a deadline, and when it comes we’ll sit down and see how far things will have improved, and if it is enough – or at least enough to keep trying.

    I have a problem with these sort of half-admissions, half-taking-responsibility type of statements, especially when they are followed up by a lot of “we” statements.

    Only one person knows the truth. There is no “we” when there’s this sort of asymmetric information imbalance in what should be one of the most intimate relationships in your life. You aren’t really partners when there is this sort of imbalance. There is no honest intimacy when there is this level of deception. How can you be intimate when you cannot even be honest about something so important and relevant to the partnership? I don’t think it’s possible.

    It’s sort of like saying, “I will not make myself vulnerable by letting you in”, and then following up with “Why can’t WE be intimate?”. It isn’t WE. It’s YOU.

    • Amen, TimeHeals, amen. My ex kept telling me he never felt close to me and he didn’t know why. He knew exactly why. I, on the other hand, thought it was me. In the end, the repeated apologies meant absolutely nothing to me. I saw it for what it was – an attempt to make himself feel better. Those apologies were not for my well-being because if he were really sorry, he would not have cheated in the marriage like he was practicing for an Olympic event.

    • Exactly. You have no idea what this is doing to his self-esteem. Maybe he’s really strong in that area and knows what to own and what’s not his responsibility. Knowing the emotional intimacy is gone in your relationship, but not knowing why, can drive you crazy. He’s trying to fix it, and probably turning himself inside out to figure out what’s wrong. But you know what’s wrong. It’s not affecting you the same way. You don’t have the questions and self-doubt. I considered everything possible that I could change in my own behavior to improve my marriage. All that work, and all that agonizing to find out that, hey, my gut was right all along. Something was off, and it wasn’t me. It was the lies and the distance between us that kept everything I tried from having an effect . What a horrible, futile feeling being kept in the dark is.

    • She knows it’s broken, he has no idea what is really going on… so this deadline will be filled with more bullcrap and confusion for the poor man. More lies…

  • Good relationships are based on openness and honesty.

    You cannot fix your marriage until you are 100% transparent with your husband about what has been going on the marriage you share.

    He may want to reconcile. He may want to pull the plug.

    At least give him all the information, without any excuses and let him decide if he wants to continue.

    Don’t suggest you fell for OM because of something he did or didn’t do. You fell for OM because you didn’t put proper boundaries in place. You didn’t go to your husband when you were falling and say that you were wavering and needed something from him.

    You just scratched your itch in secret, behind his back.

    Tell him 100% of the truth, without excuses and give him the benefit of being on equal footing with respect to the facts in your marriage.

  • CL is right (as usual). You have to tell him, he needs to know. It is so unfair to expect a person to make a decision with less than all of the information needed to make it.

  • Leticia, was your OM married? If so, there’s a whole other web to untangle.

  • One of the kinder things you could do is to bring up this website with your letter and CL’s response and allow your husband to read and digest it. Let him begin with the tools for his own recovery and validate his feelings BEFORE you, family, friends, or the RIC get a hold of him and mess him up further.

  • It’s time to rip the metaphorical bandaid off and tell him the truth. If you’re young enough and idealistic enough you might actually get a second chance.(Please don’t skin me here, folks.) Just don’t count on it. My husband and I were 19 when we met and 20 when we married. He messed around with another woman about 6 months into the marriage. It devistated me, but I can honestly say I completely moved past it and forgave him. Nearly a decade in with two children, financial obligations, and a fully-adult perspective later, his latest EAs (probably a PA in one case) nearly destroyed me. I don’t know that we can come back from this, at least not as we were.

    As others have already said, you’re controlling the narrative when you tell lies. It’s about HIS right to choose. Tell him now and let him figure out what he wants to do. Contrary to what our culture tells us, some actions really do have irreversable consequences. Figure out why you did it and learn from your mistakes.

    • I am sorry KT but with your story, you just proved why second chances are unwarranted and undeserved…

      • i TOTALLY forgave my XH of his FIRST affair. i think we all do. we hope they are actually sorry and believe that they “realize” how good we are to them, for them, how much we love them and stupidly believe they love us just as much as we love them.

        i forgave so much that i actually forgot and put it past me. however now i dont believe HE could ever put it past him. HE couldnt forget that he betrayed my. He couldnt get over that he was a piece of shit and was forever THINKING that i thought of him the way he was thinking of himself. he would even try to put those words in my mouth, saying how i thought he was a loser, or how i was blaming him for cheating or i thought he was cheating.

        He just couldnt believe that i loved him so much that i let it go. and so i think that was part of the dynamic that started the last affair. And i had totally and completely forgave and forgot and BELIEVED he was a good honest loving man that i was shell shocked about this MOW he was with. Literally stunned. and crushed.

        second chances are not worth it. and they do not deserve it

  • “He doesn’t know about the affair, and I can’t stand the thought of telling him and making him hurt even worse from my shitty choices – it would feel like sacrificing him to make myself feel less guilty, and I don’t deserve not to feel guilty.”

    That is some really convoluted thinking there. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell him because I’d be making myself feel less guilty by telling him?” WTF? It’s what you did that will hurt him, not that you told him. The damage is done. You’re doing some amazing mental gymnastics to find a way out of this. Please, just tell him. And feel guilty. You can do both.

  • Leticia, your letter sounds a lot like what I suspect my exH said to everyone who would listen to him including our couples therapist. Except he never said it to the person that should hear it – in my case, me – the spouse. To this day, I struggle to understand why.

    This is the same question you need to ask yourself. Why aren’t you telling him?

    Would you go to a surgeon and say ‘please operate on me because I don’t feel well’. How can you fix something that is not disclosed?

    My exH lied during couples counseling. He went to the therapist on his own to tell her the truth. Her advice was to tell the truth or therapy won’t work. He never did.

    My exH continued on — like you — under the guise that we were working on it. It took a tremendous toil on me and put my life in limbo for over 2.5 years.

    The reality is — you are intentionally hurting and manipulating your spouse to your benefit.

    If you really cared about your spouse you would tell him. But you don’t. The truth sucks.

    I agree with CL. It is time to be truthful. You owe it to your spouse.

  • I’m a firm believer that if you have lied to someone and you continue to hide that lie from them, it’s easier for you to lie to them again. In other words, you are hiding something from them which means you have a place to continue to hide more stuff. It grows from there.

  • You absolutely have to tell him.

    My cheater did not. He’s been out of our “marriage” 17 out of the 20 years that I know of. I busted his ass last year. And it was his decade long affair. If he had been honest in the beginning my choice , MY LIFE, would be so different.

    Yea. I’m very angry with the asshole who decided for me-unilateral decisions- to not tell me anything and continue in a sham marriage producing four children, etc… His statement now is to “not throw the baby out with the bath water.” My declaration to him is ” you murdered the baby in the bath AND continued to manipulate me into caring for a corpse for your own benefit”.

    See, Leticia? Get over your immature self. No emotionally healthy person needs to be held hostage by entitled assholes.

  • Leticia,

    I give you credit, you are self aware about what you did and you feel remorse and empathy. For the record, you are miles ahead of my ex-wife and many other cheater stories shared by friends and on this website.

    Let me echo most people here; for goodness sake tell him. Aside it from being the decent and respectful thing to do, attempting to continue a marriage without him being able to put your behavior in any context is cruel. Despite your awareness that you fucked up, he cannot make any kind of intelligent and informed decision about this most important part of his life without knowing this. You are feeling bad…AND playing him otherwise. He is the injured party, knowledge is power, give him some of that.

  • Sorry to hijack, but, CL, why do you think “once a cheater, not always a cheater”? Do you think it’s possible for a former cheater to find happiness with a new person? What would that take? Or maybe I shouldn’t care, but just curious.

    • young,

      CL’s take is that most cheaters will keep on cheating because cheating is a narcissistic act. However, there is a difference between cheaters who have a personality disorder (Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality or some Cluster B) and those who do not.

      Those who simply have poor boundaries and felt entitled to cheat (and I think that Leticia falls in this category) can reform. They go into therapy, they learn how to set and enforce boundaries, they learn better communications skills, etc. Whether or not their marriage survives is beside the point. What is important is that they own their cheating, face it full on, and get the therapy that gives them the tools they need to make sure they never, ever get in the same position where cheating becomes an option.

      These people can move onto another relationship and be happy and faithful. CL believes these are rare instances.

      However, we Chumps shouldn’t worry about what happens with our cheaters. The state of “meh” is understanding that what they do with their lives is up to them. In the state of “meh,” we let of any intense feeling we have about our cheaters. We don’t control them. We control only us.

      So, whether or not our cheaters find happiness is irrelevant. What matters is that we take charge of our own lives and our own happiness.

    • Young, to add to what others have said, I think what CL’s referring to is whether they cheat again or not in the current relationship they still have the title of cheater, because they cheated. Now if the cheater moves on, learns, is remorseful, and realize how wrong they were, there is a chance that they may not cheat on the next person. So they may not always be a cheater, but they were in the last relationship.

    • young, the issue with believing that the cheater can reform is that you have to wait around to find out. I did that. I really believed my ex was truly sorry and would reform. He appeared to do so for a few years and then he could not sustain it when we were met with problems and challenges. He could not deal with whatever pain he was feeling and reverted back to what he knew best – feeling better (temporarily) by cheating. He has been with the OW (I actually am not sure if they are still together) for nearly two years now, but a year after they started the affair, my ex wanted to come back (we were already divorced) because he was facing a difficult problem. So in essence, he cheated on the OW when he tried to come back. I’m sure she doesn’t know. A few months ago, he contacted me hours after a major tragedy in his family of origin, seeking comfort from me. It was the weirdest thing. The players were different but the pattern remained intact. I stepped out of that dance a long time ago and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t drag me back in that burning building.

      • Uniquelyme–You’ve touched on a major factor in why I opted to divorce instead of to try reconciliation. When I discovered that STBX was having an affair, I knew that he was very likely suffering from depression caused by the stress of both the death of his father–a man who’d cheated on his mother and whom he both hero-worshipped and despised–and work place stress.

        However, Personal Tragedy + Work Place Stress does not equal Have an Affair.

        If it did, then everyone would be having affairs.

        I knew then, that he had “Have an Affair” as a tool in his toolbox, and that any time he would be stressed out, he would think about an affair. I knew that I didn’t want that to be a factor in any marriage of mine.

    • I do believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.” That has been my experience in real life (seeing friends, co-workers, etc.) and from the research I’ve done on behavior. The only way it wouldn’t happen again is if there isn’t the opportunity (some cheaters won’t go all-out on Ashley Madison or get hookers if an opportunity doesn’t arise.) But, I do believe that if presented with the right opportunity, every cheater will cheat again, no matter how much “work” they’ve done on themselves.

      Also, they typically have other undesirable personality traits that make them bad romantic partners. Cheating is not the only thing that can make a relationship bad!

  • I would guess this marriage is unfixable. You have a taste for other men. You’ve been drilled deeper than your H knows and are a potential incubator for STDs.
    If you cheated this early in the marriage, a marriage you describe as decent, I see no way you will not continue this down the road.
    I am not saying you are a horrible person, but, it looks like you just do not have it in you to be in a committed relationship.
    Get out of the marriage and then you can bone as many other guys as you want to.
    Ask yourself this : If I got all the pleasure and excitement of a fresh dick, is it fair that my husband has to be satisfied with the same vagina for the rest of his life? Perhaps he would like to upgrade in that regard, like you attempted to do.

  • Hate to be cynical here, but I don’t think Leticia will tell her husband, because then he might leave her, and she doesn’t want to let that option go. I think she was hoping that CL give her another justification not to tell him, e.g., to spare him the pain.

    She says she is remorseful, but she isn’t doing anything to show remorse. The only reason the affair is over is because the OM dumped her, after which she said she suffered months of heartache, during which time I’m sure she wasn’t pleasant to be around. She even says she has “temper” that she needs to control. Her H was probably like, “WTF is going on here? Why is she so depressed/angry when this is supposed to be our honeymoon phase? Did I do anything wrong?”

    • I would avoid mine and wonder if she was having her period.. I had no idea she was fighting with her OM or picking a fight with me to justify going out with the OM that weekend.. It sucks fighting about stuff you have no idea about why or what you’re fighting about… it sucks getting the cold shoulder and trying to guess what is wrong.. I feel so bad for this guy, years of his life being taken from him by a selfish person that promised to have his back and instead is stabbing him in it.

  • As the betrayed spouse who CHOSE to stay, knowing I could leave, I could NOT live without knowing. The overall issue and each and every fact I wanted to know. You owe your husband honesty now, regardless of what he does. Once he gets past the initial shock, he may consider reconciliation. Maybe. The deception and outright lies are many times worse than the fact that he had sex with her. The ONLY fair way is to be upfront, take your lumps and learn, whether he stays or goes.

  • Please tell him what happened.

    Your story is very similar to what happened with my wife many years ago. She had an affair and became very distant, withdrawn, irritable, losing her temper over nothing, the whole works.

    Meanwhile, I knew something was very wrong, but had no idea what had happened to what I thought was a great marriage. Somehow, everything was my fault, and I didn’t even know what “everything” even was.

    When her affair partner’s wife called me late one night to inform me that my wife was with her husband, and my wife owned up…well, in a way it was as horrible as you might imagine for me. But in a more important way, it was a huge sense of relief that came over me as I realized that I had not literally been going crazy.

    Let him know and let the chips fall.

    • Same here. I had a sense of euphoria when my PI called and let me know he had busted her. It was a relief to know this was not all in my head.

      • I sort of wish I had hired a PI because my husband will never admit he started w/ the OW while we were together. He’s starting to believe his own lies. He can’t even give me that one truth.

      • You know Arnold, for a long time I felt something was off, my gut feeling kept telling me something wasn’t right, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it and he kept telling me it was “all in my head”, my gut feeling was wrong and he would never do anything to hurt me or risk what we had because he loved me more than life blah blah blah and you know what? my gut feeling was right and it wasn’t all in my head, disgusting SOB was cheating and lying all along. Now he can go jump off a cliff and I don’t give a shit.

        • The gas lighting like that, while they watch you struggle and doubt your perception s , is one of the reasons I say these folks are personality disordered. It is cruel beyond belief, yet they continue and sleep like babies.

          • Me too. I was on an ecstatic high when it all finally made sense and I WASN’T CRAZY.
            Lying to a person and telling them they are the problem when you KNOW what you are doing, is cruelty. Most of these people wouldn’t kick a dog, why are they doing this to you?

        • I was like “wow, so all those fights we had over the past few years.. I won them all, you were totally wrong and I was totally right.. you were cheating, you were telling me lies, you weren’t going where you said you were going.. You were being cold, you were treating me cruel, you were the problem, not me… It all makes sense now”

  • I know I may suffer a very public crucifixion for this but I don’t entirely agree with CL view on this. Sorry Tracy.

    Let me say this site literally saved my sanity and brought me joy again. Today is the my first wedding anniversary since I filed for divorce from serial cheating STBEX {I would have become a 14YEARCHUMP TODAY! :)}…
    & it is because of the awareness and wisdom and support I received from this site and the grace of a God & great people that I’m not crawled up in bed crying but out having a normal & very good day.. Grateful to God that I had the courage to end my marriage and out the train wreck behind me.

    I’m the betrayed spouse, I never cheated on my STBEX and WOULD NEVER CHEAT AS IT IS AGAINST ALL THAT I BELIEVE IN but most importantly I never put myself in situations where cheating can occur.

    HOWEVER.. if my STBEX like Letecia here had cheated once, was truly sorry about it, was taking steps to make the marriage work again and did not blame me for cheating. Maybe our marriage would have had a chance.

    I still believe marriage should not be given up on that easily, she appears truly sorry. Many here thinks he deserves to know, but what would the truth do but hurt him more if this marriage has any chance and if she truly has no intention of cheating again?
    The only reason I think he needs to know is so he does not blame himself for the initial distance between them or if she intends to end the marriage . Will it do any good to tell him? I truly don’t know…

    I don’t agree THAT all marriages should be doomed with only ONE instance of cheating.. If there is genuine repentance and steps taking to avoid it happening again , if the cheater is aware like Letecia is that it is all on her or him… Is marriage not worth giving a try?

    I’m a great believer in forgiveness ( & I know it did not do me much good) but I know marriages can be salvaged if the betrayer is willing to do the work

    Yes she did wrong but yes she’s also taking responsibility. I believe she should only give up on her marriage if she knows she will continue cheating or feels nothing for her husband anymore.
    She appears to be on the right track. I for one hope and pray that they can salvage their marriage.

    • 13Years — here’s the thing — she’s not taking responsibility because she hasn’t told him.

      If she tells him and wants to work on the marriage and do all the right things? She doesn’t CONTROL THAT. Her husband would have to be on board with it.

      Not telling is a way of maintaining control (entitlement). So long as she’s doing that, there is no real remorse and ergo, no chance at reconciliation.

      There is a chance if she tells her husband would want to reconcile. If so, I wish them the best. But they asked my opinion, and my opinion is — you’re young. BAIL now. Before kids, before greater sunk costs.

      These people don’t have a long relationship to look back on, shared history, children. There’s no glue there — she did this months in. And IMO, that’s pretty unsalvageable.

      She didn’t end the affair — she was dumped, and heartbroken. And let him think it was HIM. How long would she have eaten cake if he hadn’t dumped her? Just one of the many torturous thoughts her husband will be left with.

      IMO, if everyone makes the hard decisions now, there’s a greater chance at them both being happier later in new relationships.

      Also, my D-Day was 6 months into a new marriage. It’s very hard to shake the feeling that you’ve been defrauded, and nothing was ever real. There is no foundation to the relationship — especially when betrayal is so soon. This is when things are supposed to be the best, the honeymoon. How could he EVER trust that she’ll be there for the hard shit, like child rearing or the death of a parent, or job loss?

      Like I said, IMO, better to fold your hand. Admit the infidelity killed it. Accept the consequences and learn from it.

      • Thank you Tracy and MovingLiquid! I have to apologize that I did not really read the part that said the affair ended only because she was dumped!.. So maybe there is no real genuine repentance and husband is the rebound?..I’m sure Letecia knows what the truth is and hopefully all she reads here will give her the courage to do what is right.

        After reading each message here I have to say I agree it is better for the BS to have the chance to make his or her own decision based on the truth.. It may also save the BS years of therapy bills wondering what did I do wrong or like in my case constantly trying to
        to be a “better wife” when nothing I did could have made any difference.

        In retrospect I realize now that if last year I did not know that my husband had began yet another affair and had even brought a married ex for a weekend at my home while I was away.. I would still have stayed.. “Working hard to save the marriage” ugh!…

    • I respect your opinion and it is possible that the marriage can be salvaged but by not telling him there’s a huge elephant in the room that is skewing everything and he doesn’t know why. I feel that if she had had a drunken one night stand perhaps keeping the secret would work. But she cheated for a full month and felt pain and sadness from their breakup, further confusing her husband.

    • You know, 13YEARCHUMP, if I didn’t live it, I would agree with you. Unfortunately, my experience tells me not telling is not he solution. I got gave my ex for his first two affairs because he was truly sorry. He really was. But it was NOT sustainable. He did all the right things to show remorse. Individual counseling, accountability, the whole nine yards. And then a major challenge would come up and guess when he finds in his coping skills toolbox? Ah, cheating makes me feel better, so he’s off to the races. I have no idea if Leticia has truly changed her character and I’m not judging her. I really just believe that her husband should make his own decision about the marriage with ALL information. When I finally divorced my ex last year, he never confessed to the final affair. I found out. He was sorry all over again. I simply refuse to stick around any longer for all the apologies that are sure to come for more affairs in the future. Would he finally grow up? I’m not sticking around to find out.

      • 13YEARCHUMP and CL,

        I think both of you have good points. However, I am firmly in the camp that Letecia MUST tell her husband about her adultery! It like having a rotting body in the living room with a carpet over it. The smell will not just go away. It is obviously STILL impacting the marriage.

        As long as it remains a secret, Letecia is more bound to the OM than she is to her husband. That bound has to be severed by telling the truth. In my opinion, Letecia is still lying by omission in keeping this secret. She has not corrected the marriage narrative by giving her husband vital information about what has destroyed the intimacy between them.

        Any reconciliation where the secret is kept means building a relationship on lies. The body is still rotting in the living room even if we do not look at it. The truth sets us free. If the marriage cannot withstand the truth of her adulterous past, then it is already dead.

        Also, I think disclosing the truth adds further incentive NOT to cheat again if the husband decides to stay. By not telling him, she is also avoiding accountability from him.

        Those are my thoughts. I always hope a marriage can be resurrected from adultery. However, I view that as a miracle–i.e. dead bodies do not NORMALLY come back to life.


  • During your brief marriage you “barely talked” and “didn’t touch one another lovingly and rarely had sex”? This was your relationship with your husband before the cheating?

    I agree with CL and most the commenters. Tell him the truth and don’t be surprised if he doesn’t want to work on the marriage. But honestly, don’t let your guilt talk you into working on a marriage that is destined to fail anyway. Who is that serving?

    By being honest with him and taking 100% blame for the affair you are taking the first step to healing and hopefully bettering yourself as a person.

    I feel the marriage is probably irretrievably broken and you know that deep in your heart. If you’ve spent anytime here on CL website you’ll see that for all of us, the pain of betrayal was the worst experience of our lives. You need to understand how much it hurts. You need to witness it and feel it and not get into a committed, monogamous relationship until you can be monogamous.

    But I have to repeat, don’t add insult to injury by trying to work on this broken marriage just to assuage your guilt. Picture yourself divorcing in five years with two kids and assets to divide. Don’t go there. Fix yourself and then find a new relationship.

    Look, you’re young and you’ll recover from this and move on. But in a way you’re lucky that you now get to spend time getting to know yourself and bettering yourself. You’ll make a much better partner after that.

    • “During your brief marriage you “barely talked” and “didn’t touch one another lovingly and rarely had sex”? This was your relationship with your husband before the cheating? ”

      No, that is what she says happened AFTER her affair ended. Prior to her cheating, she said it was a good marriage.

  • Leticia, let me echo what others have said here today. Knowledge is power, and you have all of the knowledge and all of the power. Your reasons for withholding this essential information from your husband are self-deluding. Either you want the power to try to control his image of you or you want to try to prevent him leaving you, or both. This is not about his feelings — it’s about yours, just like it has been all along. You have only been married a short time, it sounds like there are no children involved yet (and don’t you dare get pregnant to try to save this marriage!) so let him go. Do him that one favor, so that he can see the situation for what it is, without the gas lighting and “it takes two” crap that you will get in marriage counseling. Then invest in growing up, cuz you have a hell of a lot of that to do.

    • I suspect that another reason that she will not tell is to leave access to other men in the future open. If she tells, she will be scrutinized. Not fun for a woman who craves strange dick.
      Sounds cynical, I know. But, after studying this stuff and reading literally thousands of stories, I have seen these folks revert way more than they change )like 25:1 .

  • So Leticia can’t even make it through ONE YEAR of a marriage she describes as good without balling some other guy? And the affair only ended because she was painfully dumped, which left her in a funk for months? And she’s STILL lying to her husband, because she KNOWS why the marriage is broken, but she is letting him think it is partly his fault?

    Leticia is nothing but a POS, and needs to let her husband go find a decent, honest woman who has some integrity, because if Leticia can’t even make it through the honeymoon when things are going great without cheating, she sure as hell isn’t going to be faithful down the road when it gets a little more hohum or difficult.

    • I agree. My XH used to get mad at me because I was so finicky about language. In particular, the passive verb tense never ceases to amaze me. A child will say, “the vase was broken,” instead of “I broke the vase.”

      Same here. The only indication we have that the relationship ended with OM is the statement that “it was terminated.” Soooooo, not by HER, then, but my OM? What if, right? What if OM hadn’t terminated? I doubt she’d be here asking advice how to woo back a chump, especially a chump who doesn’t yet know he’s a chump. No cake, I say. And no marriage, either. Go get your shit together, THEN try to build a relationship with another human being who has feelings.

    • Agree. She is a POS. SUCCINCT. I like that, Glad.
      It should be the standard default response to all cheaters: yes, your needs were unmet, but, you are a POS. so, who gives a shit about your needs?

  • So you feel bad and you are both trying to fix this? No you aren’t, your husband thinks you are both trying to fix this as he tries to figure out what happened, why the marriage and relationship changed. You know very well more details than he. You are shortchanging yourself but mostly not even respecting your husband by choosing to not tell him about the affair. He deserves to know so he can decide if he wants to be by your side still.

    What are you planning on doing, never telling him? This can haunt him his lifetime not ever knowing what went wrong. Are you enjoying yourself watching him jump through hoops for you?

    How about tell him what happened and if you want to start fixing your marriage a good step is truth. Then you respect him as your husband and partner and let him decide if he still wants you.

    How about try this. You are not in a marriage if you can’t tell the truth. This is really crappy if you don’t tell him you had an affair. If you let this continue, you are a piece of shit.

    • This.
      This is what my exH did to me. Cheated, lied in therapy, and I futilely spent another 13 years with him. In the end, when he wanted out, it took 3.5 months of martial counseling for him to admit to the cheating (as I desperately tried to save the marriage)! I was smoking the Hopium pipe; if marital counseling helped the first time, it should help again!
      Wrong. The deck was stacked, I just did not know it.

  • Also, get a therapist so you can figure out why you did this, go alone.

    Tell your husband TODAY, this is such bullshit if you don’t.

    Wow, partners and married TRUTH it is a nice concept in a marriage. It isn’t that hard to do, children know all about it, ask one.

    Tell your husband now even, call him. Let him know he should get std tested, let him have choices for his health and personal life aka marriage, let him know today.

  • You are too still cheating, you haven’t told your husband what happened in his married, that is cheating your husband of choices he should have in his life.

    Tell him right now.

  • I actually think you are more of a piece of shit for not telling your husband now and you are letting him think you are “both” fixing the marriage. That is so cruel to do to your husband, I feel worse than the affair itself. This lying now, is going to really mess with his head, and it is so unfair of you to do.

    But wait, you decided to cheat and it would be good for him to not know. And now you again are playing god and deciding what is good for him by not telling him you had and hot and steamy affair.

    You let him sit there like a fool not knowing, AND YOU ARE CONTINUING THIS SHIT NOW.

    How about tell him today, I am a little angry at you.


  • Hey Leticia, have you fully got and absorbed that OM USED YOU? Once the exciting new tw* wasn’t new anymore, you weren’t exciting any more and time to move on to the next exciting.
    So: you turned away from a decent person who cared about you, to a sparkly turd who didn’t.
    I hope you aren’t an economist.
    Good luck in your therapy, I don’t think you should tell. Why? Because betrayal is annihilating, can never be got over and you should carry this guilt about your shitty, shallow choices yourself. To this day, 7 years after being betrayed, if I was offered the option of being seriously stabbed and a person I really, really loved cheating on me, I would choose being stabbed.
    I think you should work extremely hard on why you found sparkly more valuable than decency.

  • The reason you won’t tell him is he’s still your backup plan. He’s second best to your needs. It’s all about your pain and your guilt. Not to mention you got dumped. Poor you.

    • You nailed that one LivingMyLife. As long as the husband doesn’t know about the affair he’s still Plan B, and the cake supply is insured. Meanwhile, poor husband is probably bewildered and depressed at the poor state of the marriage, wondering what he did to ruin things.

    • My thoughts exactly. If the OM did not dump her she would have left her husband. She sucks big time. Letitia, you think you control this? Who else knows? Wait until your husband finds out by someone else.

  • I agree with CL that the most important thing you can do is tell your husband.

    Your letter disturbs me because while it makes some appropriate gestures in terms of claiming responsibility, it still seems to signal that you see the solution as something your husband–perhaps even more than you–should be working toward. You say, ” I’m trying to spend a little more time with husband and encourage him. He’s also made some changes, and is taking better care of himself and the house.”

    Why only “a little” more time with him? Why isn’t he the entire focus of your life right now if saving your marriage is so important to you? Why should we care if he is taking better care of the himself and the house now–by your own admission, these were never the original problems? It sounds to me like he’s treading water in the deep end of your marriage trying to stay afloat, and you are standing at the shallow end dipping your toes in the water and squealing that the pool might be too cold for you today.

    What are you willing to do to save your marriage? Sign a post-nup giving him more than half your assests? Quit your job so as to be far away from your tempting co-worker (or even if he’s left, a situation in which flirting with co-workers is apparently easy to do)? Take up more of the home care (we all know that having an affair takes–steals–time from the marriage; it sounds pretty shitty to us that you have the nerve to hold him accountable for not doing enough around the house while you had the time to have an affair)?

    The subtext of your letter is just a request to have a free pass from some other cheated on spouses rather than asking your own for forgiveness and doing the work that shows you mean it.

    As you can see from almost all the responses, we don’t believe in free passes. If you want to be forgiven, you need to tell your husband the truth. If you want to improve your marriage, you need to give up the things that you valued more than your marriage, and this includes your reputation in your husband’s eyes. He might be willing to be your partner in improving the marriage. Chump Nation can’t–and won’t–pretend to stand in for your spouse and absolve you.

    • Great points, Eilowny! Especially the pool analogy.

      As for upping his game (the husband), this is the phenomena of when the cheater wants you to do to the hard work, sits from the sidelines, and says “Hey, you missed a spot.”

  • Hi Leticia–

    I’m going to be blunt, but not as blunt as some. I think that you should gracefully grant your husband the divorce, and that you should start to rebuild your integrity by telling him about the affair.

    Here’s the thing. You’re still lying about the affair and still trying to excuse it. How can I say this? Because you told us that:
    1) You haven’t told the marriage counselor that you cheated. –Marriage counseling is supposed to address relationship issues. This is where you address how not to push each other’s buttons, how to communicate that buttons are being pushed, and generally how each of you can help make it easier for the other to be a caring spouse.

    Cheating isn’t about shared blame. If you are really unhappy with your marriage, you have two ethical choices: marriage counseling, if you think the marriage is salvageable; or divorce, if you think it’s not. In other words, there are a lot of good reasons for a divorce, and no good reason for cheating.

    When you don’t tell the marriage counselor about your cheating, you’re lying about your marriage problems.

    2) You haven’t told your husband about the cheating.–This is lying by omission. You treated your husband poorly. Your husband? He pulls away, too. He knows something is very wrong, but until you confess what that something is, then neither of you can heal.

    When you don’t tell your husband about the affair, you’re lying about the reason your marriage blew up.

    3) You say you never cheated before.–This is lying to yourself. You never get a free pass in cheating. You have either cheated or you haven’t. That this is the first time doesn’t make you better than someone who’s cheated several times. You don’t get to claim any moral high ground here.

    4) You have, in your own words, “lost the attraction.”–This is lying to yourself again. What you’re really saying is that you no longer love him. That’s okay, but be honest about it. Then get a divorce and the both of you should move on.

    I agree that if you are truly remorseful, you need to be totally honest with your husband. You’re still trying to control the narrative here by withholding this information. You say you don’t want to hurt him, but again, this is lying to yourself. Right now, you feel guilt. Guilt comes from within. It is how you feel about yourself. Once you tell him, you will be ashamed. Shame comes from without. It is how you feel about how others see you, and you know that your spouse will see you as a smaller person.

    If you are truly remorseful, you will own both the guilt and the shame. You will come clean, and refrain from talking about his issues or anything that he may have done.

    If you are truly remorseful, you will come clean with your therapist, and then work on setting and enforcing boundaries.

    If you are truly remorseful, you will get yourself tested for STDs and let him know the results, even if he still wants a divorce.

    If you are truly remorseful, you will be generous in your settlement, and if he wants to try to reconcile, you will sign a generous post-nupt.

    Good luck.

    If you are truly remorseful,

    • Great comments, KB. And might I add another reason for telling her husband? That is because if/when this marriage breaks up, he needs to have the truth so that he can honestly address his trauma from this brief and ill-fated marriage, and not carry that baggage with him into his next relationship. If he doesn’t know about the affair, he may put his energy into “fixing” something about himself that is not broken! If he doesn’t know the truth, his narrative about the demise of his first marriage will be a false narrative, and any attempts he may make to ensure that he doesn’t make those mistakes again will be fruitless, because he will have an incorrect diagnosis about what the problem was.

      • I agree. Not telling her husband is another lie because not telling allows him to believe that he had some share of blame in the marriage break-up. This fits into the whole issue of Leticia’s lying to herself. She is lying to herself in maintaining that telling him the truth will hurt him more than he already is. Yes, he will be hurt, but this will be the pain that comes from lancing the boil. Leaving the secret to fester will ultimately cause more pain.

      • Yep. My XH kept telling me there was no one else, but I suspected, stalked his phone (seriously, change the password, dude), and he eventually admitted it. Initially, I told him I suspected, but that “it probably doesn’t even matter anymore” whether he did or didn’t. But when he confirmed that it did, I couldn’t believe (still can’t) the difference between being 99% sure and 100% sure. In my own marriage, I do believe the affair was only part, but an important part to know about.

  • I’m a firm believer in once a cheater always a cheater. To me it doesn’t mean you cheat in every relationship, though I wouldn’t put it past a cheater. It does mean the world is fully aware of your character, the depths of depravity you will sink to, your unwillingness to keep commitments or hold anything sacred, other than your own selfishness. It means you’re so weak a person that harming others is meaningless to you as long as you coddle your own needs. It means you’re unwilling to sacrifice for something greater than your own selfishness. Cheaters are the new ageists, the proponents of self-interest above all else, objectivists run amuck, hell bent on their own needs being met before their family. If you cheat, you own your cheating, but you also own what comes with it. There are certain actions we take in our life that define us, whether some people think that’s fair or not, is irrelevant. We are not the culmination of our greatest acts but rather we are the image of our worst moments. People view us completely on the one or two or three things we did at our worst, which is why respect is so rarely given by the masses. It’s a fine mind like Einstein or a political charisma like Kennedy that is so rare it overcomes weaknesses in the minds of most. Though admittedly, I still define Kennedy and Einstein and others by being cheating bastards first, and then a hat tip to the other accomplishments.
    Clinton is known for…
    Sanford is known for…
    Woody Allen is known for…

    Come on, play this game with me…once you do something like cheat, ruin your family, people are naturally wary of you, and most hold it against you. You lose friends. You lose respectability. You are the vision of someone who cheats, not someone who did one bad thing but is sorry you didn’t handle it better and realizes the agony wasn’t worth it. No one goes to those extremes to excuse a past wrong. People look at cheaters as cheaters. We do so for the same reason we look at wife beaters as wife beaters, murderers as murderers, felons as felons and so forth. It’s not the cruelty of labelling, it’s the prudence of the label. It’s a cliffnotes insight into their character, right wrong or otherwise. Perhaps some cheaters learn their lesson. I don’t know, I’m not a cheater. I have my doubts. I think most of them will do it again and again and there will always be an excuse. But even if they did learn their lesson, so what? What other shortcuts have they taken? What other weak character points do they exhibit? What other issues do they bring to the table that no one knows about until it’s too late…after they’ve been hired for a job, or said their vows, or became the best friend. Then you find out they cheated. Are you not wary?

    I noticed Leticia did my favorite ‘cheater’ speak line. I’ve yet to read a so called remorseful cheater that didn’t try to equivocate their brutality and abuse by minimizing it with the old canard, “he has his issues too”. It’s an argument from misdirection. I’ve decided a remorseful cheater is so rare we haven’t actually seen one. When we see a note that says, “my faithful spouse did nothing wrong. It was me.” I might believe it. But it’s always qualified with, ‘there’s some stuff wrong with him too’ as if that’s in any way shape or form relevant to the cheating. Hey, he sleeps late on Saturday, farts in the shower, and watches too many Marx brothers movies. Plus he doesn’t do dishes, just vacuums and mows the yard. Plus he isn’t always in a great mood, and sometimes when we have sex he just satisfies himself.

    Well there you go, gotta cheat then. It’s a moronic, pointless, idiotic, selfish, mean spirited, and underhanded way of saying, “if we were both better I wouldn’t have had to screw around”. Which is NOT ownership. It’s blameshifting, and it’s wrong. This woman has way too much wrong with HER to be pointing the fingers at ANYONE let alone her husband who is fumbling in the dark for a reason why his life has collapsed. It’s another form of cruelty inflicted by her onto an innocent man who chose to stay faithful even when she was out cheating. Fix yourself. And since you’re screwed up enough to cheat, that means you should never point out anyone’s faults again. EVER. Self-righteousness from a cheater even worded with kindness still sounds like disgusting blameshifting to anyone who has ears.

    IF you want to take ownership, then do it. “I did it. I was wrong. He didn’t do anything wrong. I have issues. He was a good husband. I am broken. I need help.” Nothing in there says you point the finger at him. Quit saying he has issues. He doesn’t. He’s not perfect. Duh. He’s not a saint. Duh. What he didn’t do is cheat. You work on your issues. Quit blaming him, even nicely blaming him. Own your own crap. I think she is looking for someone to tell her, hey, it’s okay, he has issues, so no problem, you cheated but you feel bad, so all is forgiven. Not gonna happen. You’re a cheater now. You can spend the rest of your life telling yourself you made a “mistake” but you will always know you ruined your marriage and were so weak minded you couldn’t keep your vows. No matter what he did, no matter what his imperfections you pointed out, he didn’t deserve to be cheated on. Go tell him. End your marriage. Pay the attorney. Take nothing from him. Leave him good financially. Own your crap. And don’t pester the man for forgiveness. Leave him alone now.

    • Yes, “He has issues” — so what? If the issues are deal breakers, divorce. If they aren’t deal breakers, so what? You can’t excuse the cheating, and to deflect attention to his issues, as you rightly point out, is subtle blameshifting.

    • I don’t agree; I think cheaters *can* change but not always and not instantly and it’s definitely not worth waiting for – in fact, they may not be able to change while they are with you. But I don’t think cheaters are unwilling “to keep commitments or hold anything sacred, other than their own selfishness….that they are so weak a person that harming others is meaningless to them as long as they coddle their own needs. It means they’re unwilling to sacrifice for something greater than their own selfishness.”
      Yes, at the time that they cheat I think all of this is true. But I do believe with real therapy and introspection and a dedication to fix the underlying problems, they can change. At that point when they become “normal”, “healthy” individuals they will look back upon the cheating (and all that goes with it: lying, gaslighting etc.) with a newfound horror at what they had done, one like what their ex-chumps endured. I’ve seen it happen but we are talking SERIOUS self-work like 10 years or more of therapy. That said, I am not saying that they wouldn’t return to the old behavior in a bad situation – old coping mechanisms as someone else mentioned.

      As a side note, has anyone here read “This is how you lose her” by Junot Diaz? I’ve been meaning to post it. I absolutely DO NOT recommend it for those who are even remotely close to Dday, it is way too raw, real and vulgar for that. It ripped my fucking heart out at times and at others I had to put the book down and do some deep breathing. But the last chapter absolutely makes the book worth it. I can only hope that someday my cheater will mature to the point that he really, truly, honestly ‘gets’ what he did to me.

      • Even if youre right, what percentage are we realistically talking about? 20%? 10? And even if they fully realize the horror they inflict, does that mean they address their depression, narcissism, or whatever ism they live with? You can learn as a human, of that i have no doubt, but we engage these labels as a means of understanding and reconciling, its a safety precaution. So when you hire the cheater in your town to fix your roof and he fails to do a quality job, will his poor professionalism get a pass because he didnt mean to hurt his wife 5 years ago? Taking pride in maintaining standards for yourself and others doesnt mean you are doomed to fall but failing as cheaters do, does indicate a weakness of character beyond the norm. Thats truth, and why i believe once a cheater doesnt mean they will sleep around but does mean their character is what it is. Just like the alcoholic. You may never drink again but you have that weakness. It is what it is.

        • Realizing the horror they’ve inflicted? Not ever going to happen.
          Addressing their narcissism? Not ever going to happen.

          I can’t even get mine to admit he cheated before we separated. Lying motherfucking asshole. No, he kept his dick in his pants when he was gone 7 nights a week for two months straight getting home at 2 pm. Yes, he’s an angel. How dare I doubt him!

          • Didn’t know for whether my asswipe physically cheated in the last few weeks before I walked out. I do know he was talking, sexting. The week after I walked out I was still trying to get him to admit he was cheating, denies EVERYTHING. I no longer need for him to admit, my gut instinct and everything I saw him did in the last weeks ie, that pining faraway look while he listened to lovesongs, getting home late after work, forgetting to make his phone number visible before calling me (had to hide number while on those illicit calls eh) and everything else is enough for me to validate my leaving. Why wait for the house to completely burn down to leave when the fire alarm was already going berserk. He can take his lies and shove it up his shaft.

        • I so agree with this.

          I firmly believe that cheating in a marriage is an extreme symptom of other character flaws. Long before the infidelity I bet there were other issues, selfishness, lying, unnecessary secrets, entitlement etc.

          One is not a morally upright person with good boundaries one day and a craigs list cheater the next. A cheater likely has always had a touch of “the rules don’t apply to me” in other areas in their life.

          So, yes. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

      • “That said, I am not saying that they wouldn’t return to the old behavior in a bad situation – old coping mechanisms as someone else mentioned. ”

        So in other words, they really have not changed.

        • One of the excuses my cheating ex used was, (the poor fucker was feeling so sad and so sorry for himself that he got dumped, because of his cheating–insert rolling eyes here–), that he regretted he let his *old habits* get the best of him to ruin and tarnish the truest and most pure love he has ever known. BARF!!!

          PS: Old coping mechanism? Old habits? or it is who they just are?

          • I wanted so badly to believe my ex changed but he didn’t. Would I feel awful if I find out twenty years later that he remained faithful to the final OW? Nope, because his relationship to the OW is irrelevant to me. What is true and relevant is that he emotionally abused me knowingly for years.

        • Cheating ways never really go away. It just lies in dormant for sometime a few weeks, months or years. Waiting, watching….

    • Scott, I love your comments and LovedAJackass comments below in agreement. It deserves a special Chump Lady post because this is what we chumps need to understand: cheaters are cheaters because we are our actions. Because there is a point of no return for them when they make the choice to cheat because they know they don’t love or respect us. And they might struggle with that fact but they’ll never be able to put the broken pieces and a “complete and beautiful picture of us” back in their minds…

    • Nice, Scott. Last I checked my vow of fidelity was not contingent on my spouse being perfect.
      Why the fuck do cheaters think we take vows in the first place? Someone must have figured out that all people have imperfections, therefore vows were supposed to bind us regardless of the imperfections every one of us has and also encounters in our spouse.
      Also, you mention wife beaters. Let’s not forget that many studies are finding that women beat males at least as frequently.
      So, let’s include “husband beaters” in the list of those defined by their actions, as well.
      Still cannot figure out why, in this country, there is only one of the roughly 1800 shelters that accepts male victims of violence.

      • Good point, i was taunted, threatened, verbally abused and like many other men simply took it and didnt react. Had i reacted the courts certainly would have sided with my ex because of the dominent thought process that men dont get abused they are only the abuser. In the end not acting violently was my best weapon. That said i have great empathy for men who are physically abused. If you admit to it youre weak. If you react youre the problem. Always best to just walk away. Theres plenty of women that wouldnt dream of doing that to a man.

  • I’m in the middle of the work day, and have only read about 1/3 of the comments. But I wanted to point out that the current state of Leticia’s marriage is the direct result of what cheaters have to do in their own minds to justify the cheating. They have to devalue their spouse or committed partner. They have to find fault, diminish, and weigh the spouse against the AP (affair partner) and find their spouse on the short end. So–he doesn’t pick his underwear up off the floor. She only cooks once a week. He whines about cutting the grass. She has gained weight and wears sweatpants. He snores….Blah blah blah blah.

    Brene Brown writes about the damage done by disengagement in a relationship: “I’m talking about the betrayal of disengagement. Of not caring. Of letting the connection go. Of not being willing to devote time and effort to the relationship. ….When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing and fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in.” Leticia, in order to carry out your affair, you had to stop caring about your husband–“stop paying attention, stop investing and fighting for the relationship.” So the betrayal starts here, when you put your focus on another man. when you allowed yourself to diminish your husband’s worth as a person, when you put the whole marriage and your husband’s heart at risk for a fling.

    Now the affair didn’t work out. Either your AP got some sense or he got tired of you and sneaking around. But clearly he broke it off because you spent months mourning the affair. So you want to go back and fix things with a man whom you’ve torn down in your mind, whom you cheated on and betrayed sexually, and whom you expected to sit around and wait for you to get out of your post-affair funk.

    Leticia, I don’t think you have a single tool in your womanly toolbox with which to build a successful marriage with anyone. And let’s face it–you didn’t write here telling us how great your husband is and how much you love him. Once you do the “degrade, diminish, dismiss” routine in a relationship, you’ve found out that it is hard to recover the loving feelings and the esteem for your spouse that is the foundation for successful marriage. Your husband deserves a chance to be loved, truly and deeply, by an honest partner.

    And you do no one a service by calling yourself a whore. You cheated on your husband, which is despicable. The question before you is whether YOU are capable of a deep, honest, faithful committed relationship. The answer right now, I think, is “no.” If you work on yourself, you might get there. But the moment you start to look at another man, start to flirt, start to compare, well–you are driving a stake into the heart of whatever love you feel for your spouse. And that is an inherently disrespectful act. Once you act on your disrespect for another person, it is hard to resurrect the respectful attitude required for faithful marriage. So the betrayal started the first time you said, “Joe AP is more exciting/handsome/intelligent/ well off financially (etc.) than my husband.”

    • LAJ – that excerpt about the betrayal of disengagement was a life changer for me. I read it at exactly the right time, and it helped me stop untangling the skein and stop the detective routine. He disengaged and wasn’t coming around any time soon, and the other details lost much of their relevance.

    • Often Joe AP is actually less exciting, less handsome, less intelligent and broke, but he’s different and even though he’s saying all the same things the husband says, it’s from a new person so it’s more exciting. She gets a rush and wants Joe AP, and still wants her husband, just wants to torture him secretly because now she has power and TWO men who are showering her with attention. Husband is fighting to save the marriage, AP is fighting to keep his free sex flow.. she’s getting a rush from sneaking telling lies and the power of manipulating two men with lies (not caring that the AP is doing the same, they know it but don’t care). Thinking she’s all powerful and smart and slick and desired… If she gets caught, then she loses all power and it shifts to the betrayed spouse. Cheaters are great at telling themselves lies just like they lie to other people.. they think they are wonderful and sparkly for example and they are usually just chrome turds.

  • Hi Leticia,

    I’m going to reiterate what so many others have said: You need to tell your husband the truth. For him, so he can have a full-picture of what happened in the marriage and move forward with his life without this giant unknown keeping him in place. And for you, because it is step 1 in getting yourself and your humanity on track.

    It will not be an easy or a happy conversation, obviously. It may very well end the marriage. But keeping this giant secret will eat away at the marriage slowly and insidiously anyway. You made terrible choices. Pull off the band-aid and tell your husband the truth so that you can start to move forward.

  • I am not going to get into all the moral implications of adultery.

    Please tell your husband.

    He deserves to know why the marriage failed. That is, you owe it to him to set him free with the truth that he did not fail it. Let him off the hook. It is really the kindest thing to do.

    More importantly, he needs to know so he can make decisions about his health, such as getting tested for STDs and HIV. His health is a more critical consideration than either of your feelings. Do the responsible thing.

  • Leticia- I echo CL and the other comments. You will get no where with dishonesty and you won’t learn from your past when you keep denying it exists in the first place. If you’re really going to pull the card that you’re truly remorseful you will do full disclosure. You will come clean (and you better do it now and of your own free will since you wrote into here of all places). You will answer every question he throws at you without batting an eye. You will tell your husband about this blog so he can find us. (Watch the movie Spanglish, you might actually learn from the crazy mother).

    You’re right, there aren’t a lot of cheaters emails for help that come to this site. I’m glad you’re here and it looks like you might be trying (sorry, I can’t fully back you b/c I don’t know you). Writing here does not make you any different than other cheaters though. That’s not enough. By witholding the truth you’re keeping power in your court that is not yours. That power needs to be returned to the rightful owners. You’re in this mess in the first place b/c you got power hungry and you let it get to your head. You thought you were invincible.

    You built a house of cards and are in turn upset when the wind blows it over. Is that really the life you want to live? Playing card by card hoping and praying that the card that holds this dirty little secret of yours never gets discovered? How many cards are then going to fall down when it does get discovered? (it will be found out, believe me). While having a cave-in sucks either way, I can guarantee it’s far worse when it’s a 13+ story building caving in then a two story one. You have a chance to actually have a house with a cement foundation but you first have to dig the trenches so it can be laid in the first place. Your husband needs to have a solid foundation for his own story moving forward, whether you’re in it in the future or not.

    The power you do have is in your story moving forward. You say you want redemption yet redemption means you have to own your shit, no matter how miniscule. You cannot know what true redemption really is unless you are there baring everything in the open. When redemption really happens it changes everything about you, you’re no longer on a selfish power quest. You LIVE it, you don’t just rent it off the bookshelf. You are robbing yourself of a powerful story when you deny your role, both good and bad, in your own life. If you can’t own your own life what on earth do you possibly have to begin with? You will never be able to connect with another human being at the level you need to have and maintain healthy, solid, strong relationships if you can’t even own your own skin and all it entails. Connecting with others, being honest with others, starts by being honest with yourself. I encourage you to listen to William Paul Young’s story (author of The Shack). If you want to know what a remorseful cheater does/who they are, listen to his story of how he cheated and found redemption).

    Your marriage is probably lost and it is your own doing. It is up to your husband to decide if anything moves forward, not you. Even if he initially says he wants to fight and then later changes his mind, HE is the one to make that choice, not you.

    If you come clean, you own everything and your marriage does survive, that is a powerful story. You get to be a unicorn. If it ends then you still own every single action/thought/word etc no matter how miniscule, you learn from it, you grown up and you change yourself for the better moving on so that if/when you get a second chance, you don’t blow it this time.

    I regularly attended church, had premarital sex, a child out of wedlock, was a single mom for 3 years and everyone knew it. I cheated on my ex fiance before I called off the wedding. You better believe that I own my story down to the very last detail. My power is in my story. My rags of shame fell off every time I owned my own choices, both and good and bad. I grew up and learned from my mistakes and my story is now being used for good. Quit robbing yourself and your husband of the powerful testimonies you could both have moving forward.

    • Feistypants, thank you for sharing your story. I went to DM’s website and read it. Honesty brings healing and yet so many choose otherwise. I, too, want to live my life with integrity. Only way to live.

  • Leticia,

    Let me tell you what happened when my STBX decided it was ok to withhold his affair from me.

    One day my then husband came home from a therapy appointment and told me “My therapist told me we needed to separate.” Now, we’d been having issues with his drinking and hanging out with loser friends in bars and it did cause arguments in the relationship. I felt like we were last on a list of priorities and I did my best to let him know I wasn’t pleased with that. It didn’t seem to matter. Eventually the binge drinking continued and it caused more problems and I asked many many times what was going on,” was it me? was it us? was it this or that???” I got various excuses but none that indicated he was hugely unhappy in the relationship.

    After a month of two of WTF???, he became increasingly distant, hostile and dismissive. There was no change in the drinking. Having had enough of this I asked him to choose between working on the marriage or leaving to separate and decide what he wanted to do. He left. And thank god he did because it showed me many cracks in his behaviour, things I wouldn’t have seen had I kept “dancing” the pick me dance.

    Anyway we finally went to MC and were both in IC during the separation and yes I got the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” talk. Being the chump that I was, I figured that it was all about how I had failed him as a wife and it made me very sad. I continued to ask if there was anyone else. He was emphatic that there was not, offended even that I ask.

    After a few months I must have won the pick me dance because he came home. I did not beg him or plead for him to return. When he decided to come home I asked again if there was anyone else. Again, he said no. (He was also asked in MC and again he said no.)

    A few weeks into the false reconciliation after he’d returned home, I found sexually explicit texts. He denied a physical relationship. I begged him again and again to come clean and let me know if in fact they had sex. Chump that I was, I held out hope to the very last. Finally, in the final moment he confessed.

    He had. Unprotected. In our home.

    I ended the marriage the next day.

    If my husband had admitted to me in the beginning of the separation that there was someone else I would have been devastated. I would have ended the marriage then, but at least it would have been with some amount of honesty. But there was absolutely none. And it has caused nothing but anguish and pain. There is no way to recover from that kind of betrayal and deceit. It’s a painful and cowardly way to end a relationship. It’s cruel.

    Don’t do that. Own up to your shit. You ran the marriage over. Give your husband the chance to start again, with or without you. He deserves at least that much, every spouse does.

    • Thensome, these cheaters say they’re saving us more grief by hiding the truth from us when in fact the truth is they are all just cowards and too afraid to face the consequences.

      • ML- word. When exH admitted the first affair 13 yrs later, he told me he did not want to “hurt me.” He was a coward, pure and simple.
        After he finally told me (some of) the truth, I told him “you are a lazy, lying, selfish, coward.” He agreed.
        Until he didn’t. Now revisitionist history has taken over , and our marriage was “long over.”

    • Nice straight talk, “Thensome”. You showed incredible strength throwing the a-hole out. I often wonder why they straddle the fence and don’t come clean. It galls me to think it’s because they want their cake and eat it too, at our and their family’s expense. I can’t fathom the absolute selfishness in this behavior.

      My father told me once, “There are some people who are born without a conscience, just like eyesight and hearing.” Damn if this isn’t the truth.

      • I think your Dad was correct CJ. It really is hard to believe but there are really destructive people out there.

  • You’ve not done a single thing right – NOT ONE THING – until you tell your husband the truth. This thing you tell yourself, that you’re sparing him hurt & somehow doing him a favor by keeping this a secret, is COMPLETE bullshit. It is NOT your husband you’re thinking of, nor does he benefit in ANY way from your lies. The power this secret gives you over your husband’s life doesn’t belong to you. . . you STOLE IT & it’s time to give it back. And you know what hurts worse than having the person you love fuck somebody else? Having them fuck with your head. So STOP IT.

  • Tell him about the affair and end your marriage. It’s the decent thing to do.

    My ex has never really owned up to the affair that ended our marriage. I had to find out by other means. There may have been others, but I’ll never know. The hardest part is knowing that 15 years of my life could have been based on a massive lie. That’s a long time. If you own up to it now, and move on, at least he won’t be put in the position of having a huge question mark over a chunk of his life.

    Don’t ruin this guy’s life any more.

  • In other words, don’t play the “whore” card with us, Leticia. We don’t feel sorry for you.

    If you are looking for forgiveness, woman up and tell the man you cheated on him, never do it to him or another person again, and take the consequences for your completely self serving action.

  • Leticia, we have been in your husband’s shoes and let me tell you, IT SUCKS! Here he is thinking something is wrong with him, when all along you KNOW it’s you! And you don’t say shit! You threw a match to start the fire and your poor husband is trying to put the fire out with nothing more than a 3.4 oz spray bottle that he is having to refill often.

    He is working on “himself”…WTF?!? He never had to work on himself in the first place, dumbass! It’s been you all along.

    Tell him about the affair. The truth will confirm and make him realize that he is not the crazy one. It did for me and no doubt many others who read CL.

    Give him the space he needs after your disclosure along with this website. He will need it! And we will be here for him.

    Send him our way and I am sure that Chump Nation will love him more than you ever did, or will, in your short marriage.

  • The ex blamed me, I had gotten old, wanted to be settled. Translation: I wouldn’t surround every activity around booze. I didn’t think the definition of an evening out was getting so loaded that the next day I didn’t know where my car was. I thought falling twice in the shower and sustaining injuries both time was a sign I had a drinking problem.

    Yeah, I got old all right but what I don’t have is an arrest record for a DUI and another for domestic violence and living with my elderly mother.

  • Yeah, me, too. I found it in the gaslighting period, before I knew about the OW. I was reading Brown to “fix” myself because I was experiencing the same horrible stuff that Leticia’s husband did. But what happened was that she validated my sense that his behavior was doing the damage, not me. And while I was too hurt and raw to be vulnerable to anything else, she linked vulnerability and courage for me and that was key to my recovery after D-day. This quotation includes the speculation that disengagement is the most painful form of betrayal, but that for me is like asking whether you want to be tortured slowly or run over by a train. You never get to infidelity without going through that disengagement, even with the cheaters who put up a good fromt. In my case, I look back and see the falseness in a lot of what I took for “comnection” in the first place. she also makes the point that any breaches of trust or disengagement have to be acknowledged and rare for a relationship to survive. Long affairs wouldn’t cut it.

  • ARRGHHH. This is supposed to be a response to what Dr. Doop said above about Brene Brown’s view of disengagement as (in her view) one of the most painful forms of betrayal. Have no idea how it ended up at the bottom…except it’s raining and Mercury is retrograde, astrologically speaking.

  • I was totally a “leave a cheater” person. Absofuckinglutely. Then my love cheated, during a breakdown, after 22 years of awesome partnership, “came to his senses” (choke) ended it and for some Godforsaken reason, when his OW told me six weeks later, I didn’t immediately kick him out. God, I was so bloody surprised! I thought I would pack his shit and shove him out the door, phone the lawyer that night (it was 1am when I told him I knew) – I found a lawyer that week, and we got a post nup signed tight. Then I went through the whole, “if she hadn’t told me, we would have been fine” – our relationship felt great, I had no idea! Then I realised that no way, I needed to know this shit, this was important information about his character (I was shown who he is – or at least WAS for fifteen months – same thing). I struggled with that, not that I could change it, but often wondered in the beginning if I never knew, would we still be awesome, the same awesome we were before? The same in love couple our friends admired, and asked how we did it? And then I finally heard a person who was is utter distress raging at the world, because his wife of twenty years had an affair with a friend of his thirteen years earlier. He had kind of suspected, but they had denied. It ended, the guy moved away, and apparently this unicorn changed and never cheated again. They added two more children to the family they already had of one son. He was livid. Livid that he didn’t have the truth, didn’t really know he had the option to end the marriage after the affair, and felt he had been “tricked” into happy-father-of-three. Not that he didn’t love his kids, but felt that he now was trapped into more years of parenthood with a cheater, with her or without her. The moral of this is, even if you think you’ve “got away” with the lies, it never undoes, you never get a do-over. You always have cheating there, and that sucks. And you are always in danger of discovery, even decades later. My cheater said when he managed to scrape the OW off he was so relieved, and totally disgusted in himself and he was convinced he could take it to his grave, “to protect me, the innocent party.” Yep, that innocent party that only slept with him ever, got screened – had chlamydia and HPV, followed up by CIN3 cervical cancer at 43, caused by the HPV – no cancer in my family anywhere for four generations (thankfully beaten) – yep, best I didn’t know, huh? Even before I got tested he said he is glad I know the truth – that shit can kill you. Nearly killed me. And not just the cancer, the broken heart is far harder to bear.

    • I think that almost everyone thinks: if he/she had an affair, I’d kick him/her out immediately. That’s before the partner is having an affair.

  • Why am I not surprised that she hasn’t responded to anyone’s posts?
    Just a bunch of ‘I, I, I’ narcissistic bullshit smeared with lies of omissions and blameshifting.
    If you wanted to fuck strange, DON’T GET FUCKING MARRIED.
    Grow the fuck up.
    Wish I had your husband’s contact details so that I could let him down gently with the truth – because he deserves that so he can make an informed decision to divorce a ‘whore’ like you said. 🙂

  • Cynical me, I think Leticia is the product of an overindulged life. She probably had the wedding of the century with 45 bridesmaids and a very expensive reception. She was probably a beloved child who was never told “no”. Getting married, oh how wonderful. I will be the center of attention, I will have the most beautiful wedding ever. My husband will worship me. He will never have bad breath, fart at the breakfast table, or leave out his dirty socks, or get in a bad mood. Wait a minute he does all those things and sometimes I get on his nerves and sometimes he gets on mine. This sparkly marriage isn’t so sparkly anymore. It’s real life. What do I do with this real life? Nobody ever said no to me. Nobody has ever made me to do things I don’t want to do. Oh! The man at the office who is sparkly and twinkly thinks I will be good for some fun! And I love him, I love him and I love him because he thinks I’m wonderful. I know he loves me. NOOOOOO he dumped meeeee! Well if my marriage is over before the year is out I will look like a fool. So maybe I can go back and put up with that man I married for a couple of years and then when we divorce it will look like he was the bad one, not me. Leticia, tell your husband and grow up!

  • Well, Lania and others have pointed out the intense focus on “I, I, I” in this letter. But with CL’s indulgence, we can haul out the Universal Bullshit Translator on a few of these sentences to show why this is Genuine Naugahyde Remorse:

    1. “I deserve all the pain I caused myself.” She caused herself pain. Not a word about the pain she has caused her husband with her disengagement, her devaluing, her deception, her lies. And what is the pain she says she has felt? The suffering she went through when the OM dumped her. Enough said.
    2. “As a consequence of this whole mess, I lost attraction, started getting short-tempered and distanced myself from him and the marriage.” This one is very revealing. The consequence of her cheating? She “lost attraction.” Like she might lose her purse or a pencil. It’s an odd construction as the sentence actually erases the husband altogether. She doesn’t say “I lost attraction FOR MY HUSBAND” and goes nowhere near the cause of that “loss,” which is that she took a baseball bat to those feelings of attraction when she devalued him in the run-up to the affair, disrespecting both the person she married and the vows she took. And the consequences of her affair? She gets mean and short-tempered with the victim. Because, you know, it’s his fault that the OM dumped her. And her distancing from the marriage? Not the cause of the affair, or the pre-condition for it, or the nature of betrayal and infidelity–it’s a result! A consequence! She cheated and the “mess” caused her to distance from her husband. No way it is her fault. No sir.
    4. “I want to make things better, and get back the intimacy, the mutual admiration, the shared plans and the commitment we once had.” Having betrayed her husband, destroyed the marital intimacy, dismissed their mutual plans, and broken the commitment, she now wants to get it all back. But she “wants” to “try.” That isn’t even “trying.” That is “wants” to try. And as Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” And so, to the last example:
    5. “I’m trying, and have taken steps….I’m trying to spend a little more time with husband and encourage him.” Here, she’s trying, in general. To what? Tolerate her husband? Put on a good front? “Get back” what she thinks she “lost” but she actually destroyed? And how patronizing. She’s “trying” to spend a “little more time with husband [not even “my husband”] and encourage him.” Encourage him? In what way? And to what end? And why is she, Ms. Honeymoon Cheaterpants, the chief “encourager” in this marriage? How fucking patronizing. The sentence smirks.

    I think chumps on the fence should have their supposedly remorseful cheaters write a letter to CL so we can deconstruct their supposed remorse. Their words in print reveal a lot of what goes on in their minds, conscious and subconscious, because syntax and semantics (the science of word meanings in relation to syntax) don’t lie. Cheaters lie.

    We had a power outage last night and no internet, so I had a while to mull this letter over. What occurred to me is something that CL no doubt knows, but it strikes me as a clear reason why reconciliation rarely works, as currently conceived. Cheaters take the same crappy life tools (gaslighting; blameshifting; provocation; their sense of superiority to others, especially the chump; their lack of empathy; and their inability to actually grasp the concept of “consequences” as linked to their actions (e.g., the “consequence of this whole mess,” as if the “mess” was a thing that caused the cheater problems, not a mess that the cheaters actions created). So when a cheater gets caught and wants reconciliation, there are no life tools in place to carry it out. They are what they are. The only way to get “real” reconciliation would be for the cheater to go off, experience the consequences, and then re-court the chump. Start over after doing the work on his or her ownself (as an old sportswriter use to say). There is ZERO chance that Leticia’s husband will ever be in a reciprocal relationship with this woman he married. He appears to have some vestige of self-respect, having sat down and told her that the marriage wasn’t working for him, INSTEAD OF PICKING UP A SKANK AT WORK AND CHEATING. He is way too good for you, Leticia.

  • Wow, I get quoted in a blog post on the one day I didn’t have time to drop in. Thanks for the hat tip CL!

  • ‘I cheated because I was immature, selfish and vain.”

    The advice you have been given will turn that around to mature, unselfish, and humble. Tell your parents and his the truth if you are confronted about it. I’m going to venture there have been other “entitlements” in your personal repertoire prior to cheating. Be willing to dig to that core. Learn from this lesson. I want to believe that by being willing to put yourself in a position to be called out then you have what it takes to do the RIGHT thing.
    It’s weaseling out otherwise which is akin to throwing glitter on a turd. This is not about your husband, CL, or Chump Nation. This is about YOU.

  • Leticia, for alllll of the reasons above, do the right thing and tell your husband the truth. He’s probably in a torturous place right now and you’re being so incredibly selfish.

    One thing I’ll add to all of the great advice given here – DO NOT use the excuse of “It just happened.” when you tell your husband. Cheating doesn’t “just happen”. Own your role when you’re telling him. YOU chose to cheat, lie, withhold truths. He gets to choose how he reacts.

  • Leticia, I commend you for writing in and trying to figure out how you need to handle things with your husband. I can tell you that he probably already knows in his gut what’s happened, it just hasn’t reached his brain yet. I lived for 31 years with a man who broke my trust early in our relationship and although I tried like hell to believe I could trust him again, I really couldn’t. I was lying to myself by thinking I could. In that way I betrayed myself as much as he betrayed me.

    Anyway, relationships suffocate without the truth. It’s like trying to breathe when the oxygen has been removed from the room. Put the truth out there and let the chips fall where they may.

    Also, love yourself and believe that you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person. Pain is a great teacher, listen to it.

  • Ever consider doing a blurb on the Greg Norman/Chris Evert deal, CL?
    She claims that she is remorseful, despite having done this in previous relationships. And , if Greg Norman is not the poster boy for NPD, I don’t know who is.

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