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Dear Chump Lady, Am I looking at this the wrong way?

Dear Chump Lady,

I need you to talk some sense into me.

I married my first husband way back in the 70s and we were married for 8 years. In retrospect I made the mistake of not getting to know him well enough before we married (it was a long-distance relationship and I moved to be with him). I gave up a good business, good social life and all my friends to be with him. For most of the marriage I earned more than he did and paid for most things. I also did most of the domestic duties and looked after the pets. He was lazy and blamed it on his shifts at work. He was conflict avoident so nothing ever got addressed. I found being married to him very hard work as he tended to sulk and could be non-communicative.

He started getting promotions at work and we were just starting to enjoy things when hey-ho he had an affair with a girl at work 10 years younger than him. She packed goods in boxes, earned not a lot and had a brain the size of a pea. ( I am university educated and so was he.) Fortunately we had no children so I was able to divorce him without any problems. He married the OW.

Fast forward 25 years. They now live in a house bigger than I can afford, go on foreign holidays every year, have 2 kids over 21 living at home (no doubt contributing to the “pot”) and seem to want for nothing.

I sometimes still feel resentful that I supported him all those years ago to get his career going, and now she is reaping the benefits. (She only works part time and I have had to work full-time to make ends meet).

I also feel aggrieved that my brains, intelligence and other skills meant nothing to him as he was happy to throw me over for a thick-piece trollop, who is now capitalising on my hard work.

I am remarried to a wonderful man who is everything that my first husband wasn’t, so please tell me I’m looking at this the wrong way.

Thank you.


Dear Juliet,

Not only are you looking at this the wrong way, you’re looking back at something that happened 25 years ago. You left the cheater and gained a life. Not just a life, but also a wonderful man who loves you and is faithful to you.

What exactly here are you missing? The ability to take a European vacation? More square footage? The pleasure of having two kids in their 20s living with you? Have you lived with young people? As a demographic, they’re pretty dreadful roommates. Failure to launch is not one of those things people brag about in their Christmas newsletters.

What do you know about this guy anyway? You don’t know if his house is mortgaged to the hilt. You don’t know if his wife had to cash out her inheritance to pay for their European vacations. You don’t know if he’s happy or unhappy, or if he still cheats. Twenty-five years later, this guy should be a stranger to you.

It was an 8 year marriage. You served a short sentence. You didn’t have kids with him. You got out with your heart intact and married a much better man. You WIN! Why are you in competition with this creep? Why are you pick me dancing for who has the better life? Because to declare a winner, you have to know what you’re valuing here. Who wins for house square footage? He does! Who wins for  personal integrity? You do!

What matters to you?

I also feel aggrieved that my brains, intelligence and other skills meant nothing to him as he was happy to throw me over for a thick-piece trollop, who is now capitalising on my hard work.

Let’s reframe that. I found a relationship with someone who appreciates my brains, intelligence, and hard work. 

He threw you over? No, Juliet — YOU LEFT HIM. If I’m reading you right, you wrote “I was able to divorce him.” You divorced HIM. Either way, being cheated on was not acceptable to you, so you ended the marriage.

Oh, but gee, if you were still together, and he hadn’t cheated, you’d reap the rewards of all that hard work. You’d have a big house and fancy holidays.

… And you’d still be married to a lazy, uncommunicative, sulky man.

You’re suffering from the very common fear that he’s better for someone else. Chances are, he’s not better. Chances are, he didn’t have a character transplant. Chances are, he still gets other people to do the hard work for him and extract benefits from that.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that he is Mr. Dreamy now. He’s generous and lovely and hard-working! Well, that doesn’t change who he was for YOU — a cheater. He destroyed that marriage with who he was then. It had to end. He was never going to be Mr. Dreamy for you. That’s sad and unjust. But Juliet, there are sadder injustices in the world every day and much sadder ones on this site. He didn’t leave you while pregnant. He didn’t give you an incurable STD. He didn’t waste 36 years of your life.

He’s just a guy who is your shitty ex-husband.

We don’t get justice. My ex hasn’t fallen into a vat of acid. Last I heard he remains employed. People are still stupid enough to sleep with him. Whatever. He’s the past. He exists insofar as he’s fodder for me to be Chump Lady today. He’s my badge of chump street cred. Who he actually is? I have no idea. Maybe he found Jesus and has devoted himself to good works. However, if his Cheaterville profile is anything to go by, I doubt he’s a quality human being.  I still trust that he sucks.

We don’t get to mete out punishment. We don’t get to say who gets which earthly blessings. The world is chock full of undeserving idiots. (Insert obvious Kardashian joke here.) We only controls ourselves. We get to captain our own ships and live our lives set by our own values. You’ve been given SO MANY BLESSINGS. A job, a loving partner, a quick escape from a cheater. Practice gratitude.

So what that some idiot 25 years didn’t know what he had? That guy next to you does. Give your husband a hug from us here at Chump Nation.

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  • CL, this is an excellent article. Like all Chumps (me included), we have a tendency to look back at the door that has closed and we don’t see the door that has opened in front of us!! I have to visit your site at least once a day to remain on the right path and to be strong. Do we Chumps ever really recover from the betrayal, rejection and abandonment? I am starting to think we don’t but I hope we do because I still have so much living to do.

    • I come here at least once a day, too. I’m just four months after D-day and it’s still burning like a summabitch. Thanks to CL and Chump Nation, the fire will burn out eventually.

      • KE, it does and will get better. My wounds are still very open and raw after the collapse of my 37 year marriage because ‘my’ not our 2 adult kids have taken his side. Without going into details, I actually caught up with my 32 year old son this week for dinner and it did not go well. Suffice to say, a lot of tears have been shed by me since and I know for sure now that I am completely on my own and alone but I will prevail, because I owe it to myself to do so.

          • Marlee I found it very helpful to read the literature on triangulation. My stbx was a master of that. It has taken 8 years to undo just some of the damage from my oldest. She was his main target for this. The secret is to never ever talk about the x. Bet true to your natural and sweet self and be loving and supportive and Johnny on the spot with them. Your ex can do none of those things. Eventually they will see who was really the parent and who is all for show. I feel your pain. I am sorry.

            • I agree that any bad mouthing of the X makes the children very uncomfortable and needs to be avoided but when blatant lies or a reimagined past is told to your kids and your X controls the narrative it is easy to be painted as the bad person. I was lucky in that my kids saw some things they shouldn’t have and when new boyfriend tells a fairy tale of how he and my wife met they just ask him to stop and remind him of what they saw. Without that I am sure my X and her equally sparkly boyfriend (2 affairs for him) would have turned the kids. Most of us Chumps aren’t wired towards heavy manipulation. When you hear things that aren’t true I think it is ok to factually point out what really happened without sounding vindictive.

              • I do agree with this. For a long time I told myself that my ex was a good man, a good husband, a good father. But the truth is he wasn’t and it’s not my job to spackle. I did enough of that when I was married. My ex actually solicits journalists to rewrite his whole history because he’s a selfish piece of shit. Nobody stays in a relationship for twenty eight years “because of the kids.” He could have manned up and told me the truth, whatever the fuck that was, but In reality I think he was tickled he had two women for five years. Barf, barf, triple barf. There’s a whole side to this man that is truly unhealthy. I think it’s important to speak about it, especially to those he “loved” and hurt.

        • Maree, I remember you saying that you were going to have dinner with your son. I’m sorry it went badly. You totally don’t deserve that. I don’t know what to say because I don’t have kids, but I think the advice to keep your ex off-limits when talking to your kids sounds wise. Hopefully there’s still time to regain a relationship with your kids.

        • This probably sounds terrible to say, given I know you think the world of your kids, but what a narcissistic brat. No guesses where he picked that up from.
          Anyone who thinks that fucking teenaged Asian prostitutes whilst married is anything except for the most baseless of evil – seriously has some screws loose.
          He’s poison. And I’m really sorry to say that, Maree. Sending hugs your way.

    • Thanks to all of you for your supportive comments. I don’t feel so alone now. I never bad mouthed my ex husband and I never get the chance to as my son acts like his protector. You must remember that my ex husband sent our son in to tell me that I was leaving and what I would get money wise from him. Sadly putting my son in this position has caused enormous grief not only for me but I think for my son also but he is an adult now and he knows what he is saying and doing. My heart finally and completely broke the other night and now I know I just have to accept my reality. If any good has come from this, it is that I am free completely and that is a nice feeling. Thank you all again.

      • Maree, keep your head up. You were a good parent to your son, and as you say, he is now fully an adult, and in charge of his decisions (no matter how wrong they may be!).
        I bet he’ll come around some day, and until then, take this time to enhance your own life! Do anything that makes you happy, no matter how simple it may be. Even a great cup of tea, a walk with a friend in the fall leaves, or clean sheets are sources of happiness for lonely Chumps, especially with a Liar no longer lurking around you!
        Sending you love, from one Mom to another.

  • This is an utterly classic and genius response from CL and I could not agree more. (Spit out my coffee at the “vat of acid” remark.

    That said, I know the feeling. My first husband, who frankly is just an idiot who impregnated me when I was 17 years old, is now retired and he and his ugly loud drunk wife own a lovely home near the beach in Southern California. He’s still a lazy pothead, but she was a ball breaker and she pushed him out to work at his union job and now they’re sitting pretty. Do those obnoxious and frankly stupid and uninteresting people deserve so much!? Hah… well, I don’t think so, but then I’ve fucked my life up a few times since we divorced a zillion years ago. So yeah, I resent what he has, but I sure wouldn’t trade even my fucked up life to be back with him. Shudder.

    Now with my current ex of course I think about how he’s reinventing himself for his early 20s girlfriend. His hair is dorky and he’s wearing this really atrocious leather wrist band that does not suit him. Yeah, he’s trying to not be 48. I’m envious that she is being love bombed because I know how good he is at that. That’s why women support him — he thinks he makes it up in physical attention and doting. Until the strain gets so bad that we see his real side, which is ugly and violent.

    So Juliet, I get it and we can’t really help what we feel, but we can control how much time we waste on it, and this topic is not worth too much of your time. Remember how envious those of us are who would love to be in a loving relationship like you are right now. Sigh.

      • I would love to be in a loving relationship. i never did care about all the materialist shit. i mean ya, i want a house and for my house to be taken care of and upkept. i want to pay all my bills and put food on the table. i enjoy to travel on day trips. but for the most part i just wanted to have someone love me. and take care of me when i was down, to stay by my side and love me no matter what.

    • Agreed, Moving Liquid. It is not worth wasting “head time” on these people. We can’t choose our feelings but we can choose what we dwell upon mentally.

      When I was just freshly divorced from my cheating ex, I was given some sound advice at a prophetic conference. This person saw a two ships disembarking from the pier. The advice was to toss the rope over to the pier and sail off on my own. I was warned that Satan would mess with my head if I did not toss the rope and go my own way.

      That’s what it does when we dwell on thoughts about our ex’s having it “better” than us. Who cares? Sail your ship in the beautiful sunset God’s given to you!

      • DM, I really appreciate this comment and how all of your comments -though coming squarely from a religious context, reach my church-jaded heart.

      • i totally wish God would send me something like that. sometimes i still dream of asshat being involved in my life still. or i will dream that we are doing something and he is with us. lately i have been seeing a lot of inspirational posts from the bible with his name (ya, he had a biblical name)

        it used to confuse the hell out of me. now i am in the BE STILL stage of my life.

  • Juliet, I get where you’re coming from. I would feel so much better about the whole business if my ex had had an affair with a woman who didn’t have to sell herself using sex. Someone with brains that my children could actually have an intelligent conversation with when they visited him in his lovely upscale house (it’s not a home) I am so disappointed in my ex as a human being and a father. The irony of who and where he is compared my conception of him over more than 30 years is beyond articulation. What an idiot.

    This also plays to women’s secret fear that men really only want a Stepford wife and given half the chance, will prove that fear justified.

    “I’m going to get me one of those gals who can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch” Willie Nelson is some movie or another. Electric Horseman I think.

  • Juliet, my theory of human behaviour is that we’re motivated by either jealousy or guilt. (Well, Ok, and kibbles and cake in the case of cheaters.) It’s perfectly natural to be jealous of what the OW has, but you need to move beyond that. Yes, you simply must look at this from the right way, which is what CL outlined. Like Moving Liquid said, there are many of us, myself included, who are envious of your current loving relationship. It’s hard for me not to be jealous of you, but then I remember how much I have to be thankful for, and remember that I’m mighty and my ex is a POS. So I’m happy for you, and hope you can take CL’s advice to heart and not look back.

  • I think this is a classic case of social media envy. I find that everyone is posting all over the show about their fab lives, their wonderful holidays, their talented progeny. But worse, most of these people would not even be on our radar if social media did not exist. They would be stashed away in the dusty spaces of our past. I could be wrong, but when a friend of a friend is in touch with someone from your past, the fabulousness tends to show up from time to time. It certainly takes a brain reboot to look at the now, the future and take those vaseline-d glasses off about the woulda, coulda, shouldas.

    Believe it or not, although this site is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC for chumps, and pointing out the recidivist actions of the majority of cheaters, some of us just did meet “the wrong person at the wrong time” and even the hideous cheaters can sometimes go on to be faithful, loving partners to the next. He wanted an idiot. Box checked. You probably challenged him intellectually, and she no doubt doesn’t. That is what he wanted. Not your fault. I admit, these people are close relatives of the unicorn, but occasionally, VERY occasionally, it was just a mismatch. But this doesn’t mean you would have been okay together, absolutely not. As CL said, he was YOUR cheater, and that is enough information to keep him filed where he belongs, in your long distant past, Juliet. Focus on the now, the partnership you have now, the one that works.

    • Fuck social media – theres a reason I don’t subscribe to that trash, and this is it.
      I don’t need to prove shit to randoms about how great my life is – I just live it.
      And I’m in the age bracket where people think you’re odd or weird for not having a Facebook account (late 20s)

    • Horsesarecumin, I agree with you on that meeting the “wrong person at the wrong time bit.” I think my ex never had a thought in his head that was his own. He married me, the exact opposite of his whore. She has no boundaries, will fuck anyone married, is an absent parent, and has no integrity. A way better match for my ex than I ever was.

    • Horsearecumin, I just wanted to let you know that I stayed up last night and read your blog. I felt your pain and wanted to send you lots of love and hugs. I admire your honesty and vulnerability.

  • Juliet, you are comparing your inside to someone’s outside. You are creating a story that you believe to be true and yet you have absolutely no clue if it is. You see the outside evidence: big home, lasting marriage, European vacations, seemingly happy children. Guess what? A lot of us chumps had those, too, except that we were not the OWs.

    Please look into yourself why you believe that if you had all these things you would be happier. They may, but only temporarily. Please don’t get get mesmerized by a life that you literally created in your mind. You have no idea what their life truly is because it isn’t yours. Instead, please focus on your life exactly as it is. You have a wonderful husband who makes you feel emotionally safe. Please don’t take that gift for granted.

  • 1970s


    30 some years in the past.

    Juliet, why do you waste any of your time thinking about that guy at all? Maybe you need to explore that in therapy, if you’ve tried and failed, please consider EMDR therapy to work through any unresolved shit in your mind. By now, I would think you’d have put the bad shit away, kept the good memories and stopped really thinking about him much at all. horsescummin may have a point, social media allows us to find people in our past and sometimes that’s a bad thing. Maybe I should be thankful I can’t remember the last name of most people I knew in 1978, 1979, 1990…

  • It was 18 months of feeling I had lost my very identity when I discovered his true identity. Now, I’m so much better off. If given the choice, I would never trade today’s truth for yesterday’s lies. I am a stronger me, hopeful again after stuck in a lonely, 20-year marriage to a selfish, cowardly, always seething dick.


    His choice to cheat with Scarol was the action that finally freed me. It was the catalyst that forced me to give up the belief that I had to endure an affection-less relationship with an ice-cold man. He treated marriage as a free pass out of making any kind of effort to be kind, caring, affectionate and engaged.

    When I finally said “No fucking way!” to his proposal that I move out of our home and he’d get me a condo for me and the kids, X demonstrated the first honest emotion he had for me in 20 years; unequivocal disgust and a deliberate desire to inflict emotional and financial pain. It was validation that he had hated me all along.

    I don’t miss him at all.

    But I do have regrets. I regret how much time I wasted with him. I regret I had my children WITH HIM. I know that’s pretty harsh, but it’s true. I love my sons, but deeply regret that they have to continue to endure his bullshit all under the ruse of shared custody and “parenting.” He is a selfish, evil fucktard to the core, getting his jollies by making them dance for his disingenuous, tit-for-tat scraps affection.

    My kids would be better off if he had just died.

    I also regret that I thought staying married to an asshole and for “the sake of the children” was preferable to going it alone. At 53, I realize I was always parenting alone, even while married. The boys are teens, so it’s no picnic. But at least it’s finally a “home” filled with love and truth.

    Still, if a tornado blows the love shack to kingdom come with those two in it, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. 😉

    • ChutesAndLadders, but tell us how you REALLY feel!

      All kidding aside, I loved this comment. I know someday I’ll get passed the hurt to the point where I realize how lucky I am to be rid of my narcissistic asshole cheater. The day is not here yet, but it will come.

      • 🙂 ML, clearly, I’m nowhere near meh yet, but inching closer every day.

        Right now, it’s freaking exhausting and painful to have X disagree and fuck up every parenting decision – whether it’s what his kids need or want – just because he can. Our sons overstate their needs now, knowing their cheapskate father is going to stiff them for the full amount. Need $100 for a textbook? Tell dad you need $130. You might get the $100. Ugh.


        I visualize the day when my youngest son is starting college and I am no longer obligated to have to consult with his loser father ever again. It’s warm and sunny, and I’ve just dropped my “baby” off at his dorm with hugs and hope. I’m smiling through tears, knowing he is better than okay, and I’m going to see him in a few weeks at our neighborhood Octoberfest. I start the car, open the sunroof, wave goodbye, crank MY music up loud, and head toward the NH coastline, where a beach chair, our dog, and a cold drink is waiting for me.

        The water is blue, the coast is clear, and the sand still holds some warmth from the late afternoon sun. I am finally free of X’s controlling bullshit once and for all. I let my sweet dog off of his leash and watch him run toward the jetty, laughing while he doubles back to make sure I’m catching up with him. He is in heaven, and so am I.

        ML, you and any Chump here is welcome to join me! We’ll toast to our freedom and our future! 🙂

            • We need a Chump Retreat! That would be so fun! And to find friends that truly understand this process – I’ve lost friends to “we don’t want to take sides” bullshit. That would be really wonderful.

              This doesn’t have to be a whine fest but we could do some that too -we’ve EARNED that.

        • ChutesandLadders, Re your first post… I love this!!!! The truth does set you free. I could not figure out why I was so unhappy married but when you discover the POS you married has been telling lies for years it all just makes perfect sense. When I was married I thought I had everything I ever wanted…. My biggest regret is that it wasn’t with someone who cared about the things I valued. I still wish he were a better person because our children need that, but my wishing is never going to make it happen. FIL said it best in regards to my ex, “A hard dick has no conscience.” That pretty much sums up my relationship with him. In matters big and small.

    • Sadly, so many of us have lived in abusive relationships with people who show no affection, blame us for everything that’s wrong with life, and tell us that WE are the reason for the cheating. Often, they have gone out of their way to make us look bad to our children, friends and even strangers in an attempt to validate the bad behavior. When we get the strength to move on and start our lives over and gain back who we are, it’s time for a celebration. Doesn’t mean it won’t hurt like a dagger to the heart, doesn’t mean we still won’t wonder if there is such a thing as karma because on the outside it seems as if the cheater is doing so much better than we are. For all we know the cheater is cheating on the other woman, and she’s going through the same thing. Getting back to who we are is a healing process, and takes time. For some it takes months, for others, years, but it will NEVER mean that you didn’t do the right thing by leaving to find the joy in your life that you deserve. As I read some of these posts, I find myself tearing up because of the pain you’ve been through, and laughing out loud at witty comebacks. I admire everyone who has been able to move on and start over, because it is NEVER easy, but it is a way to find the smiles you thought you lost. Continue to stay strong and beautiful. Hugs…

  • I feel envy that my stbx has a good relationship with his ex (of long before I met him) because I cant see that ever happening with us and we have young children. So YEARS ahead of the hard road of trying to reach consensus and him attempting to bully me.
    Chutesandladders I think we are in a similar situation and it sucks

  • Juliet –

    There was NOTHING you could have done to have had that lifestyle with your cheater. It was not meant to be. He cheated, you left. Are you regretting leaving your cheater? Do you think he magically changed for his new whosy pot and became the man you wanted him to be? I seriously doubt it. She could tolerate the non communicative sulk. Do you regret that you couldn’t? Even if it meant a house, 2 kids and vacations with a cheating, non communicative sulk?

    You were only with him 8 years. Do you really think the additional 30 years with Mr. Cheaterpants would have been easy and worth your life considering he was a non communicative, sulking, Mr. Cheaterpants?

    You are with someone you love and he loves you. That is real. These intrusive thoughts are holograms of something that NEVER existed. Never could have existed, never would have existed.

    Fortunately, a forum exists now, that didn’t exist when you left Mr. CP, where you can vent your feelings and regrets and wonderings and we’ll all listen. Sometimes chime in,

    My 2 cents – Love the one your with.

  • I just wanted to say thanks to CL and all the chumps that have given their $2 – but I’m not sure my last post worked !

  • You probably don’t know everything that’s going on. I came to Chump Nation just under 3 months ago feeling despair over having found out that my (admittedly estranged) husband had cheated. I’d found pictures of him and OW in my daughter’s FB feed. They had gone to a glamorous formal event the day after I found out about the cheating, and damn, did they look glamorous. My XH is very handsome and OW was a gorgeous redhead and he was dipping her back dramatically, kissing her, and they looked enviously perfect in their formal attire. They seemed so happy, so in love.

    6 weeks later, she dumped him–and wrote a hilariously narcissistic blog post about dumping him in which she proved that there isn’t an original thought in her pretty, empty head.

    Then his car (which he had just registered and repaired) died completely. He junked our 2007 Saturn Ion for a 2004 Pontiac Grand AM.

    Last weekend, his roommate (who was paying half his rent) moved out.

    And this past Wednesday, he got fired. The last one sucks for me because I needed his child support, but it sucks far worse for him. New (old) car payment, higher rent payment, no job no schmoopie to comfort him with her well-traveled vagina. Just in time for the holidays.

    (Oh, and then he called me today to ask for a jump start on his new-old car, saying he thinks he killed the battery by leaving a light on in the cab. Apparently none of his fabulous friends who convinced him that he was miserable with his wife were willing to come give him a jump.)

    The man was broke-ass-broke at our divorce on Oct. 29th, and his November commissions were crap, so I suspect he’s been living off a sizeable hand-out from Mommy and Daddy.

    Look, OP, you just don’t know what’s going on or when the karma bus is going to hit. I know now that I “did everything” for my husband throughout our marriage, but at the time I didn’t realize how miserable it was making me, and I made our marriage look fabulous. And that went on for 10 years. Maybe what’s keeping your XH and the OW is (as Marge Simpson would say) HER ability to overlook every thing that he does. HER ability to pick up his lazy slack.

  • It looks like my original post got lost in cyberland so here we go again.

    CL – your very erudite response has given me the metaphorical smack round the head I needed.

    A bit of background. I was fine until last year when I had to clear out an elderly relative’s house and found they had kept photos of my first wedding. I felt quite odd when I looked at them. That’s what started the “what if’s” intruding into my head. Fortunately the property had an open fire, so I gave them a ‘Viking funeral’.

    Also. I agree I am suffering from “media envy” as horsesrcumin says. About the same time I allowed a friend to talk me into a FB a/c – big mistake +++. I was able to find OW’s a/c and that’s where I saw all the posts about the swanky house and the hols abroad. I’ve cancelled the a/c now…..

    For those that are envious of my present situation – take heart.

    I was single for 15+ years before I met my present husband. In that time I had several relationships that didn’t work out. I was lied to and cheated on twice ( again ! ) and both times dumped the cheaters so fast they didn’t know what happened. My BS meter was finally tuned. I learned to cut my losses and wasn’t afraid to walk away from any situation where I was being disrespected. I even walked out on guys at parties/dinners/functions because they didn’t treat me right. Some so-called “friends” said I would never find anyone because I was “too fussy” – whaaaat? I should settle for a cr@ppy relationship rather than be alone ? No way.

    I finally have a good man now, and I AM very grateful – and I tell him so !

    • And that is when we need a like button. Loved that we had this discussion, Juliet. Makes sense. Glad you can see the wistful moment for the brain fart it was! Love your husband the way you both deserve.

    • Good for you, Juliet! I, too, would rather be single for the rest of my life than settle for a crappy relationship. Who needs a sequel to this pain?

    • Juliet:
      I have 40 days left on my waiting-period-to-divorce, and am finally being spoken to like I deserve to be by my soon-to-be-X. *I* am the wife giving up the European vacations and nice-lifestyle to divorce my cheater because in the grand scale of things, European-vacations+heartbreak is WORSE than living-frugally-with-integrity.

      If you read enough stories on CL, you will realize that living with a cheater, even one who provides an upscale lifestyle, is soul-sucking. I didn’t even know my husband was a cheater until 2 months ago; his affair was 8 years ago (he ended it to work on the marriage, unbeknownst to me at the time), and I don’t have any evidence that he has had other affairs. BUT, the personality traits (entitlement, lack of empathy, inability to solve relationship problems with maturity) that led him to the affair have caused me untold grief throughout the years. Your first husband sounds like he was a real a**hole during the marriage, separate from the cheating. Is that REALLY how you would have wanted to live for 25 years to have a Paris vacation? Trust me–I used to dread those vacations because I knew hubby would act like an ass on them at some point, and it’s hard to escape when you’re holed up in a nice resort thousands of miles from home. Not worth it, trust me.

      • I cannot begin to count the vacations that were spoiled by a sudden blow-up on the STBX’s part. Drinking brought on the unexpected rages, usually triggered by something inconsequential but always, ALWAYS “my” fault. To this day I cannot see a picture of the south rim of the Grand Canyon without thinking of one particularly ugly outburst.

        • So true, Ringinonmyownbell–and perhaps soul-sucking in Venice is WORSE than soul-sucking at home. No escape route, cut off from support systems, and your internal emotions of hell contrast with the beautiful setting. After the divorce, I may not get to all the destinations we had planned to go after retirement, and travelogue DVDs will have to suffice. But at least I won’t be having dreams about silently screaming, or scratching myself when the pain of constant criticism has nowhere to go.

    • Awesome Juliet! I too am very sensitive to boundary crossings and people who are not kind. You give me hope that my BS meter won’t keep me alone forever!

  • Two points to bear in mind when pondering the “new life” of a cheating ex:

    1. Cheaters are liars. Whatever you think you know is likely a lie or at least less than “the whole truth.” The beautiful partner is a PD with a gambling addiction, the fabulous home is under threat of foreclosure, the week in Rio was ruined by binge drinking and ED. These people lived Facebook lives before Facebook existed.

    2. Whatever is good in their lives is tangled up with what is unbearable. To get the fantastics holiday you’d have to go . . . with him. And there’s a reason you left. Namely, being around these people crushes your spirit and steals your joy. I would far rather be snowed in at a Holiday Inn in Buffalo with my thoughtful, affectionate, faithful second wife than touring the capitals of Europe with my cheating ex. Not. Even. Close.

    Life is for the living. To be a cheater I’m convinced your soul has to die. Such folks are emotional zombies with whom you never could have made a life together anyway. So enjoy the world of affection and connection with your true-hearted spouse and count yourself lucky.

    • Nomar, I agree 100%! We traveled extensively and there was a sense of emptiness within me. I couldn’t fully enjoy the vacations. I was more worried he was checking out other women even when he wasn’t. You nailed it about cheaters – I know my ex’s soul died a long time ago and he doesn’t know it. He just thinks that’s the norm. Ever since I gained a life, traveling with my son has been fun and relaxed. Hey, we actually are having real vacations!

      • I think it really is true that all the money in the world, the fantastic trips, the expensive clothing, mean nothing if you’re constantly miserable, wishing for something better from a person who professes to love you. Even though it hurts emotionally to leave, it’s far worse to stay in a relationship where you’re not respected or treated the way you should be , and the constant lies make it even worse. They are the ones who lose in the long run. Kudos to those who have managed to get away, and stay strong to those who are still working through how to gain peace. Hugs…

  • Right on Nomar. I know you nailed that one. Sometimes I get upset thinking about XH and OW’s ‘fabulous’ new life. Great jobs at a prestigious Ivy League college, a home with ocean views. He’s helping her do all the things at her house that I now have to pay someone to help me with. I eat dinner alone every night.
    But I know for a fact he’s still a cheater and OW knows it too but she’s desperate and pathetic and will overlook ANYTHING to have a man. He gets shit house drunk at least three times a week and you couldn’t find a more obnoxious one if you tried. He used to pass out in the chair, head slumped over with his bald spot staring at me. She gets to look at that now. Lucky girl.

    I can’t imagine snagging a man like she did. As in fucking someone else’s husband and blowing up a few lives and thinking that’s going to turn out well. I could add a lot more to what he’s up to these days that I know about but she could be lurking here so I won’t. Suffice it to say she’s a fool and she deserves all the future shit that undoubtedly is going to rain down on her ugly head.

  • Juliet-

    It’s easy to get mired down in the losses and look back and wonder if we’re missing out. I went on exotic vacations with my ex even during our three years of faux reconciliation but I was miserable even when I posted pictures on social media or spoke about it with friends.

    We have no idea what’s going on in the house next door no matter what it looks like. Remember the movie “American Beauty?” Perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood. It was surrounded by a white picket fence and beautiful roses, but step inside that shit show and it’s exactly the opposite of what it looked like from the outside.

    If you have the love of a man whom is everything your ex is not then you win! Everything else is just stuff. I went from a two income, very comfortable lifestyle to having to watch every penny. I get that frustration. My ex lives with the OW and together they make a ton of money, take trips and spend their money like it’s growing on the trees outside the house I imagine (I don’t really know but that’s how my ex rolls and I can’t imagine that it’s gotten any different especially if there is more of it to spend).

    Point is-I’d rather live on the streets than have anything to do with him again.

  • I would like to share a story a friend of mine has told me over the years about a couple she knew. After over 40 yrs of marriage the wife died and then not too long after he died. Simple obit, right? Not even close. He treated her like dirt. They constantly argued. He lied all the time. He cheated on her almost their whole marriage. Sure, there were trips, lots of money spent and she was miserable. He left three mistresses that did not know about each other and were grief stricken over their loss. Why didn’t she leave him? No one can figure it out? There was money, she had a college degree. There were children but they were grown. You don’t get do overs in this life. If you live in the States or Canada there are free or inexpensive places to visit close by. State parks, national parks, open countryside. McMansions? Who dusts and vacuums those places? Not me. Thank goodness! Unless you live in a hovel there really is no place like home. Especially if you share it with a trustworthy person.

    • Well-said, Let Go. Part of why I have been so adamant about leaving my narcissist (it will be only 4 months from D-day to Divorce) is to avenge my mother. She put up with my narcissistic father for over 40 years of hell, and died prematurely never knowing what respectful love could feel like.

      Not me.

  • I too had a very good lifestyle; travel and lots of income. However, as he made more and more money I was less and less happy. He was hardly around towards the end of the marriage. So I know that despite all the nice vacations and homes, that stuff doesn’t make you happy. The price is simply too high to be with a cheater. I can’t imagine a holiday that would make it ok to be with someone as disrespectful and unkind as cheaters are.

    Don’t look back. I know that’s hard to do but what’s the point? You have no idea what goes in that home. Cheaters are great at lying and playing off as happy but I seriously doubt that they are capable of real happiness and an authentic life.

  • I wrote a long post but Capcha ate it. This week is my one-year anniversary of D-Day and I’ve been up and down, not because I would ever go back or want to go back, but I’m in that hole in time where I am remembering how much it hurt in the weeks before D-Day and how much it REALLY hurt when I found out what we going on.

    None of my hurt has to do with Jackass as he actually exists. He is literally incapable of having a healthy relationship. I didn’t need to unravel the skein of his fuckededness to learn that: I just needed to stop spackling and bang on the walls a bit to let years of spackling crumble away. thensome is right: don’t look back. Live in the present moment. Work on your own great big happy life. A new love may come along, or for some of us who are older, maybe not. I’m holding out for awesome so maybe it will be just occasional dating for me and then go home to my snug house and my felines. Life isn’t all about being paired up like animals marching into Noah’s Arc. And it isn’t about the granite countertops and open concept floor plan and the three weeks in Paris. It’s about finding your authentic life path, even if that path is uphill and rugged. It’s about being mighty where you are, with what you have. Sending out lots of love and respect to Chump Nation, all you brave hearts starting over, rebuilding, and getting mightier by the day.

    • LAJ, thanks for your pep talk. I’m sorry you’re struggling with the anniversary of D-day. I’m just four months past my D-day and I haven’t passed any anniversaries yet, but I know they’re coming: my birthday, his birthday, our anniversary, the D-day anniversary. Thanks for your very helpful framing of where I need to go. Because of the split, I got screwed out of my vacation this year but I know in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter. I’m planning some awesome travels next year that will make me even mightier. Hugs to Chump Nation.

      • That was supposed to go under my post.

        As for Karma: we all want the cheaters and the APs in our lives to feel immediate and painful consequences for the pain they have caused us and others. But it’s important not to miss the point. The Karma bus doesn’t need to race to anyone’s house. It’s already there. They can stick the knife in the back of wives, husbands, children. They lie, they cheat, they steal, they betray. And they have to live with what they are.

  • My first liar, cheater faker was so good at being the first to leave that he didn’t feel pain until his third wife left him, 3o years after he left me. She was JUST LIKE HIM. He was devastated. Completely heartbroken. But guess what, HE STILL DOESN’T GET IT. He is now engaged to #4 before he was even divorced by #3. His only concern is about HIS HAPPINESS.

    I can actually have dinner with the fool and the children I had with him and see him for who he is, CLEARLY. He is like a hamster on a wheel. Petrified of being alone and aging, will choose ANYONE to keep him from feeling alone or old. He has NO empathy for anyone but himself, maiming and destroying everything in his path without a second thought.

    Now, do you REALLY want to be with someone like this?

    What is so great about the cheater leaving, is that as the months and then years go by, the more insight you have into the bullshit that was your life.

    I no longer have to verbally masturbate the asshole to have peace. I have time to take care of myself. I visit and see things without begging or feeling guilty for being so selfish to want something. I can see past the nose on my face honestly and without blinders. The elephant is off my back and out of the room.

    I can breathe and smell, see and hear without anyone telling me I am imagining it.

  • This conversation was so needed. Thank you all for great reminders. I don’t ever look up the OW or my stbx on the web, but I did tonight—feeling paranoid and scared— before reading these responses.

    On the web, OW is smiling happily with her kid (arching a bit away from her–I know reading into things), This child was felt up when she was a fetus by my stbx through her mother’s stomach—willingly—as during this married OW’s pregnancy she was involved in an EI/PA with my then cheating husband (how sickening especially for this psycho who puts herself as a leader in birth and doula work “birth matters” as a fetish for these perfidious rapists—but I digress)

    My doula put this OW up as the community liaison to respond to complaints for the Association of Midwives in Indiana State no doubt so she can learn what to do when the complaints come in about her. No one knows what she has done, and those who do, do not care. So crazy.

    My heart still burns with the injustice, (I have complained, with some of my colleagues distancing themselves from these shitheads) and yet, it still burns to see them get away with it–smiling in nature scenes.

    Yet, as everyone here has so beautifully stated, I would rather have my life than theirs any day.

    Tonight, my sweet beautiful child asleep, my prayers for better days to keep us safe and sound, to help me back on my feet financially, my freelance grant writing work to bolster my income, my loving family and friends….all honest…all kind…all with real intelligence. That is what I want to grow in my life.

    The injustice and travesties of the world will soon be hit by their own actions. Hopefully, one day I will be so invested in my life and be in the present, that I will no longer care about the karma bus hitting. I am still scared that these rapists will come back into my life since stbx has half custody, a fear that grips my heart, but hopefully less so, hopefully less so. I related well to the post that wished her stbx dead. Sometimes I comfort myself by thinking of him as already dead. He is dead to me.

  • Just my own reality slap here, quit looking at things. Bigger house? Who cares? We are weighted down by the physical, not freed by things. Be happy today and tomorrow, make that choice to smile. We will all die and i hope all will answer for how we treated others. To be jealous of a person with such lousy character is not only a waste, it is beneath you.

  • This resonated with me today because my story was very similar – young and long distance. That alone prolonged the sparkly nature of our relationship until seven and a half years in when I was at the receiving end of a devastating devaluation from my boyfriend like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since – and perhaps most sickening of all was that I saw how much he enjoyed it. I returned home feeling like I’d been kicked in the stomach and never, ever could figure what I did to deserve what I got. I now realize I came between him and his self-image, so he attacked with meanness. I would not have called him a cheater at the time but then I realized all the signs were there – the ex-girlfriend who never completely went away, clues to other relationships I spackled over…why wouldn’t he love a long distance relationship? The spin was all his! After that week, I never saw him again, except for the last time, when he invited himself to my wedding. Whatever – I had a new life to get on with and ignored him.

    The man I married is funny and true and real. He has loved and cherished me for 25 years and has been a wonderful father to our child. The X found me on the interwebs and we caught up briefly (with my husband’s knowledge – we are both okay with talking to X’s within certain limits). My X is selfish, entitled, and rotten on the inside. I realize (with the help of CN) what a train wreck (or skein wreck) I narrowly missed, saved by the twisting in my gut and the unwillingness to risk a repeat performance. He found his second wife while she was still married, so even if my picker was wrong at the time, the cheater raddar was on. She can have him and all the plastic surgery he can talk her into, just so he can continue to feel young. Ugh. I am convinced that I have the life now that I would otherwise fantasize about, had things worked out differently. Love the good people in your life and move on.

  • I would look at your last experience as a lesson learned..Did you ever get monetary or material compensation for the time and money/energy you put into this guy’s career..Sometimes a spouse can recover some of these expenses to help in the rebuilding of a new life..I just finished commenting on another thread that has the same underlying feelings..That life has to march on whether or not justice is served..

  • Lisa, sorry to take a while to get back to you, I was having a few problems with CAPCHA
    Yes, I feel I was fairly treated in the divorce settlement, I have no complaints about that !

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