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Dear Chump Lady, My sister blames me for my husband’s affair

bitterbunny_lowrezDear Chump Lady,

I just had a conversation with my sister about my cheating husband. I can’t seem to get it through her head that his cheating wasn’t because there were marital problems. Nothing pisses me off more than having to listen to people say, “Well, he cheated because he wasn’t getting what he needed at home and you were having problems in your marriage anyway.”

How do I deal with this bullshit?

The conversation goes back and forth for about ten minutes while I really want to hang up on her because I am so pissed. I don’t see how she and others don’t get it. Especially my sister who’s husband cheated on her!

My cheaters mother also said to me: “It could’ve been you who did this too because there were marital problems.” REALLY!!!!! What words can I use to get these people to GET IT? They make me more angry than my cheater does at times.

Pissed Off

Dear Pissed Off,

How do you speak truth to stupid? Wouldn’t we all like to know. If we had that kind of superpower imagine the good we could do in the world. We could have meaningful conversations with world leaders and end global warming! We could persuade the dimwitted public to raise minimum wage! Protect women’s reproductive freedoms! End childhood poverty!

We could just put on our capes and use our Super Sense Powers and they would all see reason!

But as a chump, apparently, the only super power you possess is to compel others to cheat on you.

It’s kind of like being Sabrina the Teenage Witch, you know when she’s just learning she’s a witch and accidentally turns her best friend into a frog? Or she wrinkles her nose and makes her mother disappear? When you’re a chump, you don’t know you’re a chump until you discover that you accidentally made your husband create Ashley Madison dating profiles. I did that? Why yes you did! With your Super Chump Power!

It’s no surprise your sister believes that chumps are responsible for cheating — because she’s still with her husband. That’s the price of admission — eat the shit sandwich that this is her fault, and she can win the pick me dance. She made that trade, so your narrative, that this is NOT your fault, it’s completely on your cheater, is very threatening to her.

If responsibility for cheating is completely on the cheater, then she has no control over this at all! She can’t feel secure that she’s a Better Her (always striving!) and the marriage is Better Thanks to the Wake-Up of Infidelity. Instead, she’d have to trust that her husband has changed character and ultimately she has no control over whether or not he cheats again. That’s a scary thought… trusting a person who gutted you.  Much easier to imagine, however painfully, that she had some part in the Misfortunate Event That Does Not Define Us. If we just do everything right and don’t upset the apple cart, then we’re safe!

The fact that she has a spouse who lets her think cheating is the fault of the marriage demonstrates she’s not living with a truly remorseful person, which means she’s not in a true reconciliation and lives in some kind of limbo plane of existence.

Your pain, fresh and new and very real, threatens her. Brings all this shit back into focus. So she needs to shut you up because it underscores the tenuousness of her position.

My advice to you is just go on being your bad ass self. Don’t accept the blame for your cheater’s shitty conduct and protect yourself with a lawyer. Post-nup and credit report if you’re attempting to reconcile, retainer for the divorce if you’re not.

As for your mother-in-law’s “You could’ve done this too” — the answer is you DIDN’T.

Yes, the “crappy” marriage could’ve made me cheat too, but I didn’t. So the only difference between me and him is character.

Don’t expect it to sink in, however.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I also think people want to think you did something wrong, because if you didn’t and you still got cheated on then it could happen to them.

    Much like crime… we always ask the victim things like “Did you have an alarm system?” “Were you vigilant?” etc… like they could have prevented the crime if only they hadn’t done something wrong.

    The breakdown of the marriage… yes I take my responsibility for my part in that… his cheating… NO WAY… that is all on him!

    • YOU taking the blame is what an abuser thrives on in an attempt to control you, so the cheating and mistreatment can continue and there is NO remorse. Each of us is responsible for our own actions, so the blame for cheating no matter what the circumstance, lies solely on the cheater. I agree with Shared Marriage, that we take responsibility for the “breakdown of the marriage”, but the cheating as ChumpLady so eloquently put it, is based is on the cheater’s lack of character. Continue to be the wonderful woman you are, and be prepared to be the major support system for your sister, who ironically will seek your guidance sooner than you think. Hugs…

      • I take zero responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage. No 50/50 here.
        As evidenced by her past cheating and the cheating during the marriage, my XW is a disordered asshole who caused all the problems.

        • I agree. How can I be responsible for a problem that I am not aware of? I was being told ILY each and every day and had no knowledge of any “issues” in the marriage. I am not a mind reader, nor claim to be. If XH cannot communicate any issues that he has with me that how is that on me? Or how can I even try to fix something that I don’t know is broken?

          • Amen to that. That was my situation too. He said ILY everyday. Cleaned the kitchen. Never once told me that his was unhappy….until I got suspicious. I am not 50% responsible for his lack of communication and his lying to my face. That is all on him.

          • I guess I shouldn’t say he cannot communicate, more like he chose to not communicate because that was his choice. Also, anytime I asked if anything was wrong, I was told that he was just “tired” which made sense to me….he was working third shift and some days did not get a whole lot of sleep (although I seemed to function fine with a lack of sleep but that didn’t matter to him. And I came to find out that maybe some of that lack of sleep was due to all the time he was putting in with mugshot.) He had plenty of opportunities to address any issues but chose not to. That is all on him.
            Bottom line is GOOD RIDDANCE. 🙂

          • Yes! Yes! Yes! — And, THANK YOU! On days when I’m not so strong, I wonder if somehow put across a vibe that I was unwilling to discuss problems in our marriage, and I really honestly think I did not. Yet he never broached the subject of his unhappiness until he’d already moved on. How is it not HIS responsibility to say, “Hey, look, I know this is a hard conversation, but I’m unhappy”?

            As for the sister, I have also found some friends who seem to not want to blame him because what just happened to me is pretty f-ing scary — came out of nowhere — so, terrifying to think, yep, next time, it could be you.

        • See this is how I feel. I didn’t always respond well to his abuse, so no, I wasn’t a perfect marriage partner. Most of our problems were the result of his disordered crazy ass and need for control and domination.

        • I´m with you Arnold. I have been thinking about this a lot. I used to take 50% responsibility for the marital problems and 0% for the cheating. But I recently realized that I did the work when I felt that we had “communication problems”: I outlined the books, got the therapist, went on a diet, was nicer, looked prettier, had more sex. Result: I ended up in therapy by myself and things only got worse. Now I realize that there can never be a good marriage with a cheater because they are not committed to the relationship! And this all went on for at least 7 years before I found out about the OW(s). So, there is no way to “fix” a marriage or prevent its collapse with a disordered person and by this I mean anyone who is capable of causing extreme harm to the person they once promised to be the love of their life by marrying them. Only a disordered person can knowingly cause unreparable harm to their spouse and children. So the fault of the failed marriage and the cheating is 100% on the cheater.

          • I would also add that this argument makes no sense when we know that people in so called “perfect marriages”, who are great parents, smart, good looking, devoted and sexually active are also cheated on. Latest very sad example: Camille Cosby, Bill Cosby´s wife of 50 years….

            • I agree. I never realised there was any reason he would walk away. All he did was complain that he could lose his job. So I picked up another and saved every cent of my pay check in case we needed it, only to be told I was lazy and didn’t care about him when he made his announcement. I NEVER saw it coming in a million years. Ironically, I ended up using all the emergency money I’d saved for legal costs due to his wanting a divorce. This has absolutely floored me emotionally and I have chronic depression. I feel like I lost my last friend in the world.

              • Lina, I’m so sorry. I understand your chronic depression and pain. Keep holding on. It’s all we can do. xox

              • Lina – depression is a normal initial response to the trauma you experienced. Keep taking caring of your deepest needs and be your own best friend right now. Remember you are never alone. Chump Nation has your back. Keep coming back.

                I would never have believed I would be happy or hopeful again after a similar traumatic end to my marriage and “best friend” of 26 years. But I am happy and hopeful again. And it has nothing to do with him. It’s about me.

                And your recovery and happiness are about you <3

              • Thank you ML and Chumpette. So glad that I found you guys. I’m doing therapy and on meds. Trying to do all the right things but the depression won’t quit. I live in hope. Hugs to both of you.

            • Wow, Susan, this , a thousand times, this: “Result: I ended up in therapy by myself and things only got worse. Now I realize that there can never be a good marriage with a cheater because they are not committed to the relationship! ”

              As the time is going on since I (1) lived with (2) was married to (3) still was mentally enmeshed with Ex, I’ve realized more and more, that from the very beginning there was ONE set of shoulders holding up my marriage. He would stop in to warm his toes and have coffee (metaphorically speaking)…but his heart, or where his heart ought to be, was never really in it for us. Just him.

              I could have been a career all-star, private belly dancer, 24/7 mom, and house & Garden level gardener…it would never have mattered, or been enough. Because it was never about me in the first place.

              Yeah, I wish I had known that a few decades ago, buy hey, at least I know it now!

              Dear Pissed-off, I’m so sorry your sister doesn’t get it. I doubt mine would either, except she’s a chump so we swap stories. None of my former friends got it, so they are out of my life–by their choice, but I’m mostly at peace with it. Much harder with a sister. Maybe you can ask her not to talk about it with you or others, and just find others for support, for now? And maybe in time, offer her some reading material? It must really feel sore that a sister is so contrary. For me, it was all Ex’s family who were that way, so it was easy to cut them off. It’s so hard, we lose so much–there are so many ripple in the pond, that others do not see.

              • “I could have been a career all-star, private belly dancer, 24/7 mom, and house & Garden level gardener…it would never have mattered, or been enough. Because it was never about me in the first place.”

                YES, exactly!!! Like many chumps here, who would be considered a great partner material by decent people standards, are just kibble food to cheaters!

        • I think in the case of cheaters the breakdown of the marriage is pretty much all on them too. At least at the point they have their affair. Our marriage was horrible when I found out about my ex cheating. Of course I was being gas lighted and lied to on a fairly consistent basis so that might have something to do with it. I felt like I was going nuts because I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. There were a lot of external stresses at the time so I wrote it off to that.

          Did he tell me how he was feeling? Did he tell me that he felt like the marriage was bad or that he felt like I didn’t love him? No!!!! He saved that information as reasons why his affair was OK. We even went on a vacation to St. Thomas a month before I found out about his affair. I was completely blindsided because I was getting all the “I love you’s” at the end of every phone conversation and most everything else was going along as usual.

          Was our marriage perfect all the time? No it definitely was not but what marriage is? Nope, I’m not even taking the blame for the break down of our marriage at that point. I’m happy to heap all that shit on him. I may not have been the best spouse in the world, but neither was he.

          Difference? I didn’t cheat.

          • this is my story too. All i know was that i was trying, and trying and trying to fix my marriage. it wasnt until later that i find out i was the only one trying to save it and i was never aware of what the problem was so how could i fix it. But damn i gave it my all, my best anyways. how could i fix it when he never told me what was wrong, what he was feeling, what he was thinking….even thou i asked him over and over. how could i fix it when he lied to me, never told me the WHOLE truth about anything, hiding things from me, spending money behind my back and sneaking around? . I didnt notice either because there was so many outside factors, i could use for excuses for his behavior and mine.

            did he tell me? no!! he was too busy telling his enablers, his supporters and his drinking partners. THEY know how he was feeling, what he was thinking, and what was wrong. i on the other hand STILL do not have a clue on wtf was going on with him. instead of telling me, his wife and owning up for his part of the shit drama that was going on, he turned to them so he could claim to be the victim and put all the blame on me. and of course the MOW understands him soooOOOOooo much better then i ever did, she respects him and loves him soooOOOOoooo much more then i ever did. and of course she NEVER makes him feel bad for his crappy and fucked up choices.

            so how was i going to fix it when i didnt even know what was going on. it wasnt that i wasnt willing to work on our marriage if i had know all the details in order to work on it, he was the one who didnt want to work on the marriage and was too busy hiding, lying, stealing and sneaking to work on it. how it THAT my fault? or even 50% my fault?

            yes, we were having trouble. Doesnt every married couple have trouble or issues or problems or whatever the fuck you want to call them. even the picture perfect couple have some kind of issues. the difference is i thought our issues were normal and we could deal with them and work them out. HE on the other hand thought that it was easier to stick his dick in some MOW instead of TALKING to his wife. HE thought it was easier to throw a 14 year relationship out the window and in the trash, then to actually have to put some effort into it and fight for our marriage. it is so much easier for him to tell his people that it is my fault, i didnt treat him right, i didnt trust him (huh i wonder why), i got boring, it is all my fault then to even admit or own up to HIS part of what made me that way.

            i dont understand crazy. and i am actually glad i dont understand crazy. when i hear people say it was my fault. i just say yes, it was my fault. i dont like to share my husband with other woman, i could deal with all the other bullshit. the drinking, the lying, the not coming how. but i just cant deal with having some random woman know what my husband does in our bed. so yep its all my fault. i am just a bitch like that.

            but i am lucky because not too many people come up and tell me that. i actually do not see nor talk to his people. his enablers and is sad that he doesnt have the type of people that i do, the ones that tell you to fight for what you believe in and to fight for what you want. the people that tell you that you are messing up and try to help you get back on the right path. it would have been nice if he had someone to tell him that i was a good woman and he was a fool for doing what he was doing, instead of telling him shit that it was ok, you have to do what you need to do so you can be happy, as much as it bugs me that XH gets away with saying those things and his people think it is all okay to cheat on your wife and abandon your kids. they all tell him he is a good man and believe that it is all my fault. i would have to lower my standards to even come in contact with those people. so it is not that i care what they think anyway. i never cared for those people when i was married to him and i dont care now.

            • Mine just expected me just to “know” since “he told me so many times and nothing changed” – however the list of what i did wrong somehow seemed to be ever shifting. It was exhausting and i tired and failed. I was so demoralized that I was such an awful wife. Took a long time to forgive myself for not being perfect. He easily found a new victim – makes me SMH

              • same here. the list was never the same. so i would work on one thing and find something else later. in the end, all he could find was shit i did 10 years ago. i said before i was so busy putting out all the little fires that i never saw that i was surrounded by the colossal mother of a fire all around me. so i am pretty sure it wasnt me

                but yes, XH found a new victim easily. i was so easily replaced. that is what bothers me. all that i did for him, all that i went thru, stood by his side thru his many fuck ups and how hard i tried to make him feel like a man, the children we brought into the world, all the good times we had together. and for what, he just scraped us off the soul of his shoe like shit and walked away. i cant believe i was soooOOOOOooo easily replaced and forgotten.

            • My ex had a friend really tell him that he was making a mistake and give a hold-nothing-back opinion. My ex decided that the friend wasn’t willing to hear his side of the story, and my ex didn’t listen at all. He dismissed everything. And the friend stepped in at a moment where it could have made a difference, had my ex listened. But….my ex did not let ANYTHING that was not supportive (and there was some other questioning by a couple other people too, at the same crucial time) stop him. And my ex’s friend that spoke out? Well, I think my ex cut that friend out of his life. It’s sad. They were long-time friends, and I would have thought that would have earned him the right to speak honestly and be listened to. I guess it comes down to “My way or the highway”?

        • Oh , God , don’t get me started on that ridiculous 50/50 cliche and how stupid some people are.
          Here I’d the extent of their analysis: Gee, there were two
          People in the marriage. So 100% divided by 2 equals 50%.
          Did it never occur to these drones that , by definition, a cheater lacks integrity, empathy, problem solving skills, communication skills etc and has a huge sense if entitlement.
          Ever consider that a person with those deficiencies , as demonstrated by being a cheater, just maybe was not the ideal partner to begin with and was the cause of all the problems?
          Like so many things said about infidelity by folks who have never been through it, the cliche sounds good so they just accept it without analyzing.
          Studies have shown tha, invariably, cheaters are the source of the vast majority of problems in the marriage. There is no debate on this. It is widely accepted but we still here this50/50 bullshit because it rolls off the tongue.

          • Couldn’t agree more. “It takes two to tango.” “Two good people just grew apart.” “There are always two sides to any story.” “No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors or in a marriage.” “No one is perfect, there is always enough blame to go around.” “Well, maybe having an affair isn’t the answer, but I can see how there might be problems; he/she can be difficult at times.” “Who really knows what may have driven him/her to cheat?”

            The prevailing narrative goes on and on, and the cheaters know well how to use the narrative in their favor.

            It is very frustrating, and my solution thus far has been to limit discussion (as much as possible) to the few people who I know pretty much have my back. With others who inquire, I tend to deflect questions and try to grit my teeth and take the high road.

            I do believe most people mean well. I also believe that unless it has happened to you, you cannot possibly understand what it feels like, so their waffling and not wanting to choose sides is somewhat understandable (mostly).

            • This thread of conversation is extremely helpful to read.

              I worked so hard on my marriage and asked daily for stbx to talk with me. He always lied. I believed him that he loved me and wanted to work things out. Then the cycle of ignoring me, making no eye contact, looking at his phone obsessively, undermining any idea or reflection I had, lying in MC, drinking, picking fights about things I cannot even remember just to storm out and fuck around—such hell. I was not living with a partner, I was living with an abuser. I would have enough and tell him so and he would become all “understanding” the cycle would begin again.

              There was nobody to work on our marriage with. I asked for us to divorce with amicability—that was before D-day. He would give me lines about how he did not want to divorce and wanted to be with me—all to keep trying while he went along his double and triple lives.

              It is a relief not to take responsibility anymore. Of course I had nothing to do with my horrible marriage. I was the only one in it. A weight off my shoulders.

              When we were cleaning the apartment we shared to move into two different places, he started to cry, saying, “now this is over and I did not even try” Another doozy for me. He just admitted that he did not even try! After all my efforts and honesty…he just played God with my life…like I was worth nothing….here is where the rage sets in. But I am not going there tonight.

              I just listened to The Moth….a very hopeful story about Cynthia Riggs, an 81 year old writer (started in her 60s, published her first book at 70 years of age) divorced from an abuser and then found a beautiful love…take a listen on Such a good story. I hope all of our stories end in love.

            • And, if you try to respond to those types of remarks by asserting that you were not at fault of less at fault, it plays right into people’s perception that you take no ownership of your faults or that you have no perspective.
              But , the truth Bout living with a disordered wing nut is that they really do create most, if not all, of the problems.
              You can be just going along, acting normally, doing a good job at being a decent spouse, and they still go ballistic on you. It comes out of the blue. You trigger one of their irrational fears , inadvertently with some innocuous remark or action and yhey rage or give you the silent treatment for a long time. You are in a minefield.
              So, I agree. Do not try to defend yourself. Best to not advocate on your own behalf .

              • You’re right, Arnold. There is no way to win an argument with a narcissist because they keep changing the goal posts. And trying to reform them is like trying to straighten out a spring–as soon as you relax your grip even a little, they bounce back to their usual, twisted selves.

                Disengagement is the only strategy for dealing with such people.

  • PO,

    It sounds like you want their agreement and support. I doubt they will give it to you as CL explains. I suspect your anger is in part because they won’t agree and support you. I encourage you to look elsewhere for that.

    Armed with all this knowledge, you can deal with them by stating you disagree and will not accept their explanation for what happened. You may have to leve it that and change the subject.


    • Oops. Don’t know why that posted under my other identity. Ought to be Divorce Minister.

    • Yeah, what DM says… The collateral damage is sometimes even harder to accept. Somehow, for me, I could sort of accept the odds of having mistakenly chosen one nutjob in my life (as a husband, no less), but coming to understand that our best friend/couple are still friends with him and “respect that he made a choice and did what he thought was the right thing” by leaving me without working on our marriage because he had already made up his mind? Well, that just seemed impossible to me. — Over the past few months, I’ve tried to see if I can repair that friendship, at least, but it doesn’t look like I can. The final blow was a couple days ago on my 50th birthday when the friend told me, sadly, that XH wanted me to know he was thinking of me on my birthday and “wishes you well.”

      So, clearly they’re falling for his, “Oh, I feel SO bad for what I did, but look at me having the time of my life screwing this woman who’s half her age! How could I be expected to give THAT up?!?” Maybe that’s WHAT he was thinking of on my birthday: thank god I’m screwing a chick who’s half the age of my wife today! I mean, really, he didn’t specify WHAT he was thinking, right?

      Some friends just won’t be friends anymore, sadly, post-divorce. Best to accept it and move on.

      • Yep…
        NWB I cut a childhood friend out because three decades later he says “Oh, I thought you knew”

  • A former friend of Ex and I (who is no longer my friend), upon being told that Ex was cheating on me and that I threw him out, promptly replied, “Well, he must have his reasons.” Lots of people think this way. You cannot be friends with them anymore if they believe that lying and betrayal are justifiable. Unfortunately for you this is your own sister, so you cannot just cut off ties with her, but certainly you should pull back and stop confiding in her and talking to her for a while just for your own sanity. NOTHING excuses cheating! If your marriage had problems he could have suggested counseling and if he didn’t want to stay he should left. Anything other than that as CL says, is abuse of you – of your trust, of your love, of your commitment to each other. You deserve to be respected. By your sister as well as your H though it’s too late for him. Yes, she ate the shit sandwich and knows she should have stood up for herself, so she isn’t going to defend your showing the backbone she lacked. Consider this a chance to set an example for her that she may choose to follow and be brave like you!

    • Well said Margaret. The other thing that REALLY annoys me about people’s comments is they say oh you just have to get over it!! Oh I wish it was that easy. My ex MIL was chatting to my mother the other day about what her son had done and justifying how he was “entitled” to do whatever he liked (they still talk and are in the same tennis club together). My mum said do you realise what this has done to me and my kids. She turns around and says oh I just need to get over it. My mum (God love her) turns around and says yes it very easy to “just get over things” isn’t it when you have no feelings. Oh how true that is.

      I think this another example of people not wanting to face what these cheaters/abandoners have done. It is all put back on the Chumps to just get over.

    • I disagree about not cutting off ties with your sister. Yes, it’s more problematic especially at family functions. One of my sisters was behaving in manipulative, narcissistic ways for years (at least sporadically) and I finally cut most ties with her except for civilities at reunions, etc.

      Toxic is toxic. One thing dumping my cheater has taught me is that people who are unhealthy do not belong in one’s life.

  • Dear P.O.
    What words can you use?! How about: “This subject is off-limits.” or similar.

    Tracy is right, as usual. There are no words in all the Universe that can get through a closed off mind or heart.

    No Contact may be in order, as both of these people are hurting you, not helping. You need all the strength you can muster to deal with the adultery. Do not waste another breath on these 2! Instead, find people who imbue you with strength, love and support!

    Please, read Mr. William ‘Bill’ Eddy’s books, ‘B.I.F.F.’ and ‘It’s All Your Fault!’ He teaches how to keep yourself out of brain-sucking conversations. His insight & the skills he teaches sound like what you need in this situation.

    Also, check out this article. It is for you, as I do not believe your sister or M-I-L will benefit from it:


  • Sadly, this topic resonates with me 🙁
    My brother was 100% supportive and cut off cheater out of his life entirely (much to ex’s dismay! “How dare he stop speaking to me! I didn’t do anything to him”- narcissistic delusional response.)
    My parents on the other hand were not and also blamed me for ex’s multiple affairs. It was really heartbreaking to me to hear my own mother telling me that if only I didn’t have problems with depression, I wouldn’t be cheated on. She threw in other reasons into that pot: my weight gain, my unemployment, my difficult personality (worse feeling hearing it from your own mother, people.) I’ve spent countless nights crying myself to sleep in trying to understand why my mother blamed me entirely and not the cheater. i questioned myself a lot in the process: was she right? Am I the delusional one? Either way, I felt so betrayed by her when she decided to invite ex MIL to her summer house “just because” and “because she didn’t do anything to me so why not continue the relationship?” Even worse is the fact that she couldn’t understand why I was so upset about it. She basically told me to get over it because she’s a grown woman and makes her own decisions. I was just overreacting out of bitterness. Can you believe that my own mother uttered these things?
    I keep saying my mother because my father doesn’t say much about it but in my view, not saying anything was supporting my mother’s views. Y’all agree?

    • Yes, my mother said some stupid crap. Well really when I was talking to her about it, it must have been too much because she wanted me to help her fix her printer. Turned the conversation around to her and her problems rather than my cheating now-ex-wife.

      • 2 years later and it still hurts very much to know your mother is not in your corner. Maybe I’m overly sensitive but to me the lack of support from my own family feels more traumatizing than the affairs. I’ve been questioning my sanity a lot. Ex saw I bought CL’s book by spotting it in my car when we were doing child exchange, and I guess he went to google it because a day later I got a vicious email stating that I’ve been brainwashed by this blog and CL is in the business of converting people into bitter angry people. My own insecurity and being conditioned by my own parents to think there’s sowmthing wrong with me and not the other way around, I spent a lot of time wondering whether ex’s accusations were even true. This is how fucked up this experience has made me.
        I envy all of you with supportive families. Am I surprised that I have frequent episodes of anxiety and depression? I guess Not. Come to think about it, I am a perfect candidate for any type of gaslighting.

        • MB,
          You are not alone. I had similar reactions from my father, stepmother, mother and sister. The whole effing family!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are right, the realization that I had absolutely no support system was more devastating to me than losing my hubby of 16 years (and me with a 1-wk-old baby and a toddler in tow). My father even helped “advise” my now-ex during the divorce process. My sister babysat for the STBX on his few little weekends when he had the kids so he could go F*&% his mistress. And here I was, the single mom, having to go back to work 6 wks post delivery (instead of taking 3 mo maternity leave as planned) and having to be up all hours of the night nursing the little one, suddenly having to support myself, the two kids, plus pay for STBX’s car (in my name what a dummy I was). Not only did these family members tell me it was my fault but they talked about me behind my back about how I deserved for this to happen and they aided and abetted the x. I realized that things they new about the divorce proceedings/child custody proceedings and just my personal life in general that were none of STBX’s business were getting back to him!!!!!! They were telling him my business behind my back? And the ones that weren’t telling him directly were talking to each other and then one or the other would end up telling him. You are right to pull back from these folks and from anyone who ever talks to these folks about you. Find other sources for support, like here, and maybe one or two trusted friends. Hell be your own best friend if you have to. It’s better than being f’d over by your family. Don’t try to figure these do do birds out it will just make you sicker. Sending hugs your way.

          • My mother said much of the same things…Said that, had I changed my last name to his last name when we got married, he wouldn’t have cheated. I can’t tell you all of the unbelievably stupid stuff my mother said.

            He had an affair while I was in graduate school away from him. Silly me, I thought I could do that because he went to gschool away from me and I didn’t cheat… found out, the rules are different for women. So 27 years later when I can’t stand another minute with this hostile angry mean person, who may or may not have been cheating. I will never know. I say to her. “YOu know I have been ‘setting a good example, I have been turning the other cheek. Okay, so he came from a shit family but how long do I have to put up with this. He has been part of our family since he was 17. I said, I want you to be MY mother, not his in this and I need your support. (Fortunately, she had just witnessed one of his biggest and most humiliating rages ever so she couldn’t look away and say yet again, it was my fault.)

            She finally relented and said, you don’t have to put up with this any more… and that dear friends was the chickenshit way I finally got out of that marriage. I had to get my mother’s permission. Actually, I had been planning my escape for a while, the time was right. Getting her buy in was the last thing I needed to put in place.

        • MB–I’m going to borrow ideas from my therapist. You don’t know the origin of your mother’s views. It may be that she was cheated on (or perhaps cheated herself) and finds it comforting to think either that (a) she is in control of whether her spouse cheats again (if she was a chump), or (b) if she cheated, has a world view that gets to blame the person she chumped for her behavior.

          I am so sorry your mother is gaslighting you, too. But refuse to listen–walk away, tell her she is out of line, and keep your distance from her.

        • MB–think of us as your family now. Yes, we can’t share picnics or Christmas with you in person. But we’ll always be supportive & value you, and really, isn’t that what a family is supposed to be/do?

    • MB being raised by a mother like that, no wonder you suffer from depression. Life is telling you to put those pieces of the puzzle together and draw some conclusions. Your mother is toxic and it’s killing you. Take care of yourself.

    • That kind of talk is just more abuse, MB. And if you wonder why your “picker” gravitated toward an abuser, take a look at your mother, who raised you to listen to stupid, soul-crushing criticism. Maybe you wouldn’t gain weight and struggle with depression if you hadn’t spent your whole life in an abusive environment. So there are two issues here: One is that we chumps should use these idiots to help us hone our pickers and to practice building boundaries. “So, Mom, you think it’s my fault that XH lied to me over and over, had an affair with a married woman with kids, spent our marital assets on hotels and dinners out for another woman, etc.? How interesting. I would have thought your response would be to condemn the person who hurt me so badly. So until you’ve decided that you are going to be in my corner when someone lies to me and betrays me, I’m going to concentrate on rebuilding my life. Would have loved your support but I can move on without that.” End of story. It’s not just getting away from one abusive cheater–it’s deciding that our lives have no room for abusers, even if they are blood relations. I put a lot of distance between myself and my narcissist mother until she learned that being abusive meant that I would stay away for a long time.

      The second issue is figuring out how to get your life in line with your vision for yourself, which means marshaling all your resources to take on depression–therapy, exercise, diet, yoga, meditation, gratitude journal and/or medication. Many times, depression is biochemical or has other biologically based roots. Sometimes, the brain just needs to be reset. Medication worked for me, as a survivor of childhood emotional abuse. After 6 months, I didn’t need it. I’ve also developed a way of life that centers around brain, mood and emotional health. It may be that your depression is situational, and getting rid of the abusers in your life will help a lot toward managing that depression. A good primary care doctor and a very, very good psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in depression can help you get a clear picture and develop a treatment plan. And the simple act of walking outdoors can help manage both weight and depression–double bonus.

      My heart goes out to you. I hope you have other people in your life who are not clueless, careless, abusers. There are many good people in the world who need what you have to offer. Blessings.

      • LovedaJackass: How long did it take for your mother to realize that you were going to stay away because of her abuse? Months, years? Just curious, because I have a similiar scenario in my life.

      • In the aftermath of his first affair my mother told me that I was a statistic. Not long afterward she said n front of me that . any woman worth her salt would know that her man was cheating.
        She raised me on a diet of critisism and rejection andI learned the pick me dance as . a child by my parents open favouritism of my siblings.
        I still keep in touch but have taken back the power and set some boundaries.

        • This brings back memories of 10 years ago when my ex decided he would go out and not bother coming home and say with a work “colleague” female of course, because he was too drunk to come home. He even came home with a big love bite on his neck and back one after a night out drinking again. I was so distraught. Didn’t know what to do, I had two very young children at the time. I rang my mother and told her and all she said to me was “you are just behaving like a jealous wife, deal with it”.

    • MB, I feel your pain. Is it any wonder that we married jackholes when we were clearly raised by them?? My father is dead now but when I was dating my H, I was telling my dad he was having trouble committing to me after SIX years of dating (did the pick me dance early on). My father looked me in the eye and said, “I think he’s too good for you”. Yep. My H and I almost had a sibling rivalry over my parents. Sick, I know. You know what is sicker?? He won! They liked him better than they liked me.

      When the fucktard cheated on me, not one person – not my mother, my siblings, anyone – read him the riot act. My brother actually said to him, “well, you’ve always been nice to me”. As in, I could care less what you did to my sister, just keep the free football tickets coming.

      When the chips are down and you need someone to have your back, you find out who people really are. These are the people who shaped your world and told you by word and deed that you don’t deserve the best. Then we end up marrying carbon copies of them.

      I used to make excuses for my family being a little too self-involved, but no more. My eyes are wide open and I’m way honest with myself. I know I’m alone in this world and that I can only trust me. And you know what? That’s enough for me.

    • MB, ask your mother if she would be so welcoming to him if she knew he beat you. Because his abuse of you is just as bad as any physical beating, and some would say even more so. Cheating is severe abuse. Your mother is supporting an abuser. Tell her that.

  • As for your mother-in-law’s “You could’ve done this too” — to go in line with yesterday’s topic, an appropriate response would be my parents raised me to know better 🙂

  • “the marriage is Better Thanks to the Wake-Up of Infidelity”! Love it! That was my mantra during my “reconciliation”… ah, memories! 😉 Glad I didn’t stay in that place for long.

  • Oh PO, I think derksend is right. We want agreement and support. I am getting the silent treatment from my in-laws and it is deafening. My MIL knows that my husband cheated on me and that i kicked him out. But with the silence, I think she holds me responsible in some way for us not reconciling. I got too angry. I gave him ultimatums. Well Damn straight I did. 1. show some remorse and apologize. 2. leave your job immediately. 3. unfriend her on facebook. He did none of those things. So what am I left with? A cheating husband who doesn’t wish to stop cheating and reconcile with me. I didn’t do anything wrong. He did! But she won’t see that. It hurts so bad. She can’t even send a card that shows she is worried about me or remind me to stay strong or just to say she loves me. I AM the mother of her first grandchild. Guess that isn’t enough.

    • ” the silent treatment from my in-laws and it is deafening.”

      conniered, I’d say that’s a lost cause. It doesn’t matter how right you are–families who have raised disordered people won’t see the light of day when those disordered people are clearly wrong. Instead, they’ll make the same excuses and leaps of logic that the cheater does.

      My in-laws did the same.

      (1) I exposed the affair to them with a well-timed move-out when they came to visit; didn’t hear from them.
      (2) Two months later, I wrote them and warned that divorce was likely, given the cheating hadn’t stopped; didn’t hear from them.
      (3) When I told my ex we were getting divorced, the first thing she did was call her family…and they proceeded to call me mere minutes later (in the middle of the “we’re getting divorced” conversation!) to tell me that I was making a mistake and should “try harder.”

      It’s entirely ironic, but many cheaters have the benefit of absolute loyalty of their families.

      • Well, in my experience that’s because Cheating Ex’s family was riddled with cheaters. So, yeah, they did see much wrong with it. Uh-hun. Ewww. Glad they are history. Sad for my kid to lose 1/2 her family that way, but you really have to scrape the dog poop off the bottom of your shoe, or you’ll traipse it all over the house (I have a 120lb Newfy…) . Just sayin’….

        Also–the truly sad part of this story: in this case the men were the cheaters (going back to great grandpa a real live bigamist, yikes(. To be clear, I do understand that both genders can and do cheat!

        But the women in this family? My former MIL basically starved herself to death from depression…while at home her H was supposed to care for her–she ended up hospitalized with 3 inch deep bedsores. Dear God! He wouldn’t bathe her (he was the cheater.) How awful. And my former SIL slowly, quietly, drank herself into a state of almost total liver shutdown (she’s my age, mid 50s), and is now in a care facility, probably for the rest of her life. Both of them, slow suicides, if you ask me. So incredibly sad. And illustrates the toxicity of multiple cheaters, the gaslighting and all that across multiple generations of a family.

      • One of my ex’s sisters just told my 18-year-old son that basically everyone cheats, so it is no big deal. No surprise, this woman is a huge cheater and so is her husband. Actually, pretty much ALL of my ex’s family cheat. What’s really pathetic is that this particular sister’s own daughter is getting married next week. I wonder if the sister will be fine with her own daughter being cheated on.

      • Fortunately , both of my XWS families encouraged me to divorce and told me what assholes both had always been.

        I know how unusual this is.

    • derksend (AKA Divorce Minister) here,

      I’d add to my earlier comment that we are vulnerable when we want something from someone. They have the power to give it to us or not. One way to achieve “Meh” is to recognize that we may have to give up seeking to have a family member or former family (like an ex MIL) to agree and support us. Invest in the relationships that build us up. It is still angering to get one’s request for support and understanding rejected by family, though. But that says a lot about THEM not you.


    • NO support from my former in laws. Exposed the affair to them. Did my part to try to restore the marriage. Asked for their support.

      They showed it by having the OM over for the holidays. They knew he was married, knew she was still married. Didn’t really care.

      I reminded them they were in the church and the pastor (a friend of mine) asked the entire congregation of witnesses to pledge their support for the marriage.

      Funny, having the OM over for dinner with your family while your daughter is still married and her husband is NOT invited is an odd means of support.

      Fortunately, those in-laws are not a part of my life. Tpday, I have a far better bride and I even think her mom is pretty awesome.

  • The skein is often multilayered with these apologists!
    Maybe sis cheated and blamed her husband, maybe when her husband cheated she had to take that shit on the chin rather than give up the belief system that allows her to sleep at night. She sure as hell can’t untangle that shit for your benefit.
    Birds of a feather flock together, so just get the flock away from them !

  • PO- First, I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do about your sister. That is a tough one. As for your mother-in-law…..fuck that noise! Don’t even pay attention to this. I know it is hard…been there. But really she HAS to think that way because the alternative is to admit that her son is a loser. She raised him and secretly looks at this as a failing on her part and it will take her time to process this. But she will likely NEVER admit to anyone what she really thinks of the disaster she knows he has created by cheating on you. Your sister cannot agree with you simply because that makes her choice to stay with her cheater look like a mistake.

    Second, please realize that nothing you say, no specific words, are going to make anyone think or feel differently about the shit storm cheaters create with their behavior. Simply stop trying. You will only exhaust yourself. And…..though it may feel like it, their beliefs on this topic have absolutely nothing to do with you! Their beliefs have EVERYTHING to do with themselves. Lean on those people who understand you and give you the support you need!!!

    Stay strong. Chin up. Ignore!!!!!

  • Blaming-the-Deceived-Spouse and lack of understanding that cheating is abuse and a violation, like rape, is the dominant attitude in our culture. That is why Chump Lady is so important. People who write here have accurate knowledge and understanding of what being cheated on does and how random this intimate violation really is.

    Most everyone who is not a chump thinks like your sister, PO, of course your doubly pissed! Some chumps are shamed into silence and self blame, but being violated creates anger and many of us chumps NEED to speak out until there is some kind understanding or justice.

    Until she feels this injustice herself, you sister will remain in her stupid scared state of mind. It is, like CL, states, easier that way because the truth is, there cannot really be justice. No one deserves to be deceived and used in ways that destroyed them by people they loved and trusted—No One. And there is nothing outside of divorce, No Contact and creating a better life that can be done about it. And those things do not give one a sense of order or closure or sense of the past. It’s rough being a chump.

    I never blamed myself for stbx’s affair because he was a pathological liar, denying all of my perceptions, however gently posed, and brought his girlfriend into our home for me to serve so brazenly that I feel raped. This OW was a leader in my birth and childcare group, I actually also feel physically gang raped, in fact. It is my job to heal myself by not taking my pain to people who will violate me further.

    Another difficulty is that it is so very hard to live in a state of anger. I have for a year and a half, and am continually working to release the rage because it is hurting me and not allowing me to live well. Being violated creates rage. No one can give me back what he stole from me. I have to re-create myself, and get back to who I am outside of the disordered dynamic with cheater. It is hard to do this alone. Finding people who understand is so important for healing—and there are few places to go for that. When you find that community or person, allow it to help you heal—be careful not to bang your head against the wall trying to convince, even loved ones, of your pain, when they are hell bent on blaming you. Move toward healing.

    • Goodmazel, what an excellent reply and incredible insight. It is a profound violation (my ex too brought his AP’s into our home and my life as well as the lives of our children) for many years. I am still at times (3 years down the road and re-married) struggling with the anger. I credit this site with all of the healing and strength I had after D-Day and to the present. I come here periodically to shore myself up still, especially when I feel sad or angry. I thank you and all the wonderful chumps, and CL, for the continued strength, intelligence, concern and support.

  • My thought on the topic is that people who haven’t personally experienced a cheating partner cannot truly understand what you are going through – i.e. they can’t relate. Those that have experienced a cheating partner either don’t want re-live their pain or they are still in chump mode.

    About 6 years ago, my neighbor asked me over to tell me that she and her husband had split because of his cheating. I remember walking back home thinking – wow, I’m so lucky to have a great husband who would never do that to me. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know he was already cheating on me. I didn’t really know what to say to my neighbor so I basically didn’t talk to her about it again. Boy did I I feel terrible after I found out about my husband! She was one of the first people I told after we split and I profusely apologized to her.

    As far as in-laws are concerned, mine have ceased all communication with me. I feel certain that my STBX is behind this – if he can keep them from talking to me, then they won’t know the extent of his affairs or issues and they will continue to believe the blame he has put on me. They live many states away from us so that makes it easy for him. They’re a disordered bunch but still good people and I will always love them as my family. Yes, I wish they new the real truth but whatever – not my circus any more.

  • I have several sisters. I am pretty sure I am not alone having an unfaithful spouse and I am pretty sure some have chose to stay with their husbands.

    Like Kimmy said, I think they need to justify their own decision on staying with their husband. That way they have control, “It’s something I did.”

    Don’t go to your sister for empathy. She doesn’t even have it for herself.

    You have a whole community here for warmth and caring and raw, open, honest communication.

    I think we should be called Faithful Anonymous.

  • More blame-the-victim, blame-the-marriage BS. It’s ubiquitous! Check out Reddit’s infidelity stories, and there is advice galore from people saying that the chump should consider how he/she “contributed” to the problem.

    Answer: I contributed to the problem by thinking that after I told the cheater how hurt I was, that she actually gave a S***!

  • In my case, the support I hoped to have from my mother and younger sister did not happen when I told them about my then-husband’s cheating. Their few comments to me afterward felt like they were minimizing. Mostly, they seemed uncomfortable with my anger and judgment of what my husband had done. Their dismissal of it really hurt me. I have had to make my peace with it, because I want to have a relationship with them.

    I didn’t have to look far to understand their reaction. My mother was a long-time, multiple cheater on my father. And my sister is having a long-term affair on her husband. For them to support my outrage about my ex-husband would be to have to take a hard look at their own behavior. To fully see my anguish about all this would mean that they would be put into the same category as my ex-husband.

    For them, denial is self-protection.

  • Dear PO,

    I also found that it was difficult dealing with people’s responses: some were very kind, some very insensitive, and many extraordinarily infuriating. My exH cast a huge web of lies that, even today, I have don’t know what people were led to believe (open marriage, purely financial, were over for years, I was frigid, etc).

    Honestly, it really stopped everyone when I said, ‘What is really hard to deal with…is the fact that everyone – everyone in my life – except for my best friend and my immediate family – lied to me’.

    What is it you want from the people in your life right now: do you need support, a bitch session, a drinking buddy? Be clear to them. They should know but they don’t.

    What helped me was to frame the conversation. What I mean by this — it might go like this ‘I know our marriage was a disaster and I was miserable, but no one deserves to be treated like a bag of dirt and exposed to STDs or even AIDs. I am really struggling and need your patience.’

    Don’t worry. Everyone knows the true character of your EX.

    Best of luck!

  • PO, it is very hard to be told by outsiders that you are responsible for your cheaters behaviour or at least partially to blame! But when the comment comes from a sister or a family member it hurts more. My sister has been married for 42 years to a terrific bloke who has been a wonderful husband and father. On the other hand, I was married to a scammer for 35 years (45 years of so-called friendship). There have been times when I have been in tears speaking to my sister and she has asked me more than once, “why did you stay so long”. The same reason she stayed so long, because I loved the cheater. She lucked out and I didn’t. I actually put her back in her box just the other day when she repeated that comment. I asked her how would she feel had her husband done all the things to her that I have had done to me and she couldn’t answer. t am finding now that the more people who back or side with my ex husband and it is nearly everyone, the more I pull away and eventually stop all contact because the hurt is just too much and it will slowly kill me if I allow it to. So, do not allow other people to have a say if they are not going to be supportive of you or have a constructive comment to make, because you are wasting your time with them. They do not have any empathy for you and won’t have any. All the very best to you.

  • So many people have already said this, but it is true. People are scared so they look to blame the victim, then they can say to themselves, “Well, it won’t happen to me because I do this or I don’t do that……… fill in the blank.” They have to be holier than thou or face the truth, it could happen to them. People do it with homeless people, if they just got a job, if they had an education, they must be drug addicts, as long as they can come up with some reason the victim is at fault then it can’t happen to them. Forget about the working homeless that blow their theory all to hell. Or victims of abuse are weak, co-dependent and that is why they got abused, a self sufficient, attractive, confident woman would never be abused so they feel safe. That does not take into account all the women lawyers, CEO’s, and celebrities that get abused daily.
    Your sister is scared and wants to feel superior, because if she takes your side that means maybe she made a mistake.
    My ex mother in law tried to tell me I had to pack my share of the blame for the relationship failing, she said it is never just one person’s fault.
    My response to her was, “I refuse to take responsibility for a relationship based on lies. How can a person be blamed for a relationship failing when they didn’t know what they were dealing with?” You can’t.
    Had he come to you and said, “Look I am unhappy about this and this and we need to work on the relationship because I am very unhappy.” THEN if you did nothing, ignored the problem you would be responsible for the relationship dying. He would still be wrong to cheat but at least he did try to work it out with you. How can you take responsibility for something you didn’t even know was happening?
    Like my ex used to say my suspicious mind drove him to cheat…….aahhh!! So if I trust you, you won’t cheat. Not taking into account the 5 years I trusted him explicitly while he fed me bullshit sandwiches while he ate cake.

    • This is so true. My EH admitted to me he was snowing me by acting like we were okay while he was planning his exit. His sick reason was that he “wanted to give me a few more times of happiness” before dropping the bomb. When I think of him sitting there watching me being blissfully unaware of what he was planning…. It was just evil.

      • Lina, my ex husband did exactly the same to me. We had been married for 37 years and he was always wanting to renew our vows and I was told by him daily how much he loved me and couldn’t live without me!! He is living without me quite happily as if I never existed and I was also blissfully unaware of what he was planning.

        • There has to be something seriously wrong with them. Even after dropping the bomb he came crying to me three days later claiming he didn’t know why he’d done it.

  • I have always wondered why the victim gets blamed for the crime. It is a judgement that goes against all of our other standards of guilty/innocent behavior. Did the person who was assaulted get asked “did you run and force your face against his fist?” Is it about beauty? Who could be more beautiful than Christie Brinkley or Sandra Bullock? Does the person who is hurt/killed by a drunk driver get held responsible for the driver’s drinking? It just defy’s logic that you did something to drive your spouse into the arms of another. Why in the world would the affair partner knowingly start an affair with a married person? How can you expect fidelity when you do not practice it?

    I think it is all about entitlement. The person(s) who starts an affair says “I want/desire to feel good” and “I don’t deserve to have to give up all the good things I have in the relationship just for having a little fun on the side”. Maybe they delude themselves, “I can get away with this because I am so much smarter than everyone else” ??? The families and friends and co-workers tell themselves — “It is none of my business.” or “I don’t want to get involved.” No one wants to confront the cheater and say “what you did was selfish and morally wrong” or even ask “what amends are you willing to make to show how sorry you are, and to address the destructive actions you did to your spouse and family?”

    In addition to all of the blame shifting — what are you supposed to do with your anger? An angry or bitter person may not be pleasant to be around — especially if you are the cheater who is responsible for the source of the anger or bitterness. But if you had a ceremony where you agreed to marry this person, and you did not live up to the promises you made, wouldn’t it be logical that you would be the one who has to talk to the angry spouse? That an agreement should be made to end the relationship and make amends for the damages? If you wreck the marriage, do you really expect the other person to pay the cost for your carelessness and disregard?

    I am tired of entitlement, and I am tired of others not being willing to take responsibility for their actions. No relationship is perfect, no person is perfect either — but two imperfect people entered an agreement, and there were performance expectations on both sides. If there is no fault in what you have done, why would have to lie and cheat? If you are sneaking around — admit you should be ashamed of what you are doing. Don’t deny the obvious, and/or try to make me take the blame for your behavior!

    It is nice to have the support of family and friends — the unfortunate truth is that you cannot expect the support. If you have someone who tries to blame you for the behavior choices another person makes — they are as toxic as the offender. It hurts when it is a close family member or someone you thought was your friend. It happens, though, and the best thing you can do is get away from someone who does this to you as quickly as possible. A good friend told me once that true friendship is like a well cultivated garden, and like any garden, it takes a lot of time and effort to keep the weeds out. Don’t let the weeds destroy your garden!

    • Entitlement is running rampant in our society. And it goes right along with “do whatever makes YOU feel good. I’ve lost friends to this bs. It hurts to know that cheater and Schmoopie have been so accepted by former friends – whatever happened to shame?
      I’m only nine months into this but my advice to anyone who finds a friend or relative that isn’t supportive of a chump – cut them out of your life and move on. Easier said than done. But absolutely necessary to healing. This is where we get to decide who we allow into our hearts and lives.

      Thanks to Chump Nation – I finally feel like I can get through this. It still hurts, I’m still mad as hell but I spent years propping up an utter failure of a man, spackling the shit out of him, only to be tossed out like garbage. In no way am I responsible for his cheating. And neither is anyone here.

  • You could stop talking to your sister, not answer her calls. It doesn’t sound like you’re gaining anything other than anger from them. If you talk and the topic comes up, you change the subject. If she still brings it back up, then hang up. You don’t gain anything by ending the conversation pissed off and sadly there isn’t much you can do to get sense knocked into them. I’m very blunt/direct. Knowing myself, if I’m constantly getting “you should own up to your part of all this,” I’d be very likely to just directly tell her “I don’t want to be you,” “I’m not a doormat like you,” “I’m not playing the pathetic, rigged “pick me!” dance that I will never win like you are,” or “I don’t want to be like you and wake up every morning scrutinizing all my actions because my husband will cheat on me if I don’t clean the dishes right.” Or something else along those lines. I have a limit as to how long I’m willing to play nice. If I’m pushed to my breaking point I would be fighting very hard at the temptation to poke her mid section and say “oh, you’ve put on weight. Better lose it or your husband will cheat again.” That would probably be really mean and I don’t necessarily recommend that particular action. I’ll be honest though that it’s awfully tempting, seems like it might wake her up and I know I’d really be using a lot of personal restraint fighting the urge not to do it.

  • Problems in the marriage? Gah! I never would have guessed because my XH had just insisted we renew our wedding vows because he was so madly in love with me and had just recovered from a life threatening bout of cancer where he called me his ‘Nurse Angel.’ Four months later I caught him sneaking off to fuck The Ankle in a sleaze bag motel. Can you spell disordered and entitled? I found out AFTER we were married that he had lied about how many times he had been married. And yes, he had cheated on all of his wives and girlfriends. He left me for The Ankle. But she’s Special….she’s ‘The One.’ In reality she’s so pathetically desperate she puts up with his lying and cheating because she believes she’s so old and ugly no one else will have her. If ya all could see her, you just might agree. Hahaha~!

  • PO, your sister sucks, and it is just fine to hang up on her and just tell her you need some time away from her stupidity to heal. If she doesn’t get that adultery in on the same list of 10 commandments as “don’t kill people, don’t steal, etc,” that’s her problem for willingly gluing her brain shut.

    At least you won’t regret jettisoning the MIL, dumping the trash is a great way to lighten your burden. I have a supportive FIL that I really like and have been trying to work out how to keep a relationship with him without having his asinine son involved.

  • The answer to the ‘you could have done this to’ is to tell them about the exact times when you had opportunities to cross boundaries, and how you kept them up because you respected your marriage vows and you respected your spouse and you respected yourself and you respected the person making advances towards you and their family and wouldn’t want to hurt people or do something that’s beyond your character, such as lying to people you’ve built memories with and sneaking around to be with someone else. You also wouldn’t tell lies to your family about how bad your marriage was, you’d only speak well of your marriage because you don’t need to set up a backup plan for when you get caught cheating.

    This pisses me off because I always go through the ‘I should have boffed every one of women that made it clear they were available.. so many missed opportunities’.. Then I realize WHY I didn’t go to the apartment, or why I didn’t meet for drinks. Because I could never do that to my wife. Even while she was cheating on me the whole time and my needs weren’t being met. I got no hugs, no ‘i love you’.. just an ILYBINILWY that made no sense at the time… Of course that talk gets spun into “I tried to talk to you”, and they make sure the family knows that they kept trying to reach out, but you kept playing Warcraft or going to School nights… of course they leave out the part about the boyfriend, or that they have bailed on the marriage and what is really wrong is that they are no longer invested. They’ve found someone new, they just forgot to tell you.

    Done with my rant… F the idiots that blame you for trusting someone that claimed to love you and vowed to be faithful to you. F them for thinking that all people are alike and that just because they make excuses for poor behavior, we all should.

    • A-to the MEN, raging! I had plenty of signals from lots of better-looking, kinder, and waaaaaaaaay more intelligent men while I was with Mr Fab. But I didn’t, because I am not a hobag. Simple matter of not adjusting my ethics to what I want at the time.

      Now that I am single, of course, not a bloke in sight, LOL!

      Love to all Chump Nation!

  • Boy do I have a few things to say here. First may I say boy oh boy, how do I wish I could twitch my nose and make my ex disappear!

    1st – Your sister and mother in law. They say this out of fear. What they say has no reflection of who you are or you period. It says mountains about them. It’s like a woman I work with. She is brilliant. But not street smart so much. I asked her if she gets the flu shot every year. She says she does because ‘the news said it was a good idea’. Women like your sister, your mother in law and my sweet co worker, in my opinion, have no opinions. Or not many. It’s really sad.

    A girlfriend who I because close with started telling me about her marriage. Her husband, a well known architect, was drinking. Drinking a lot. My friend had let herself go. She was a stay at home mom. Lucky her. However, she was the type of Mom that slept in. Her small kids had to get up and get themselves ready. She slept most of the day. Thought it was too much work to take her toddler to the Library for their free baby book library sing-a-long class (2 blocks away). And all of this started to unfold when I got to know her a little better.

    Then, when I found out my now ex was sleeping with men and I had a 1 year old and a 3 month old, and that I was going to leave the relationship, she told me…… are you sitting down? You promise? Seat belt on ya? She told me I was my thoughts were due to ‘Post Partum Depression’.

    No – this is what she conjured up because she has to do this everyday of her life to stay in an awful marriage. Talking to her more and more about her problem, it’s all fear based. She hadn’t worked since she was 16. She has always been taken care of my men, in and out of drug rehabs.

    Well, I had to end the relationship. I couldn’t surround myself with a life changing event with people like that now could I?

    2nd – This is the time to listen to your gut and go back to the basics. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. I am assuming now it doesn’t feel good to talk to your sister about this anymore. So don’t. If she asks about it, don’t entertain her, but have a few one liners that are polite that you can use over and over again.

    My ex’s mom. When I told her her son sleeps with men, she told me (double seat belt) ‘I know, sorry you found out. I always thought you’d be the one to make him straight. I always thought he was a sociopath. If you learned how to be in his world, it is full of all kinds of fantasy, no threats and childhood ways – you’d love to be there with him – I have to do it when I’m with him’. Yes, Chump Nation. SHE EXISTS! AND she just retired as the Director of Nursing for a well known retirement/assisted living center.

    When you find people with other nimrod comments, walk the other way if you can. Doesn’t matter who they are or what role they play in your life. Protect yourself.

  • “She made that trade, so your narrative, that this is NOT your fault, it’s completely on your cheater, is very threatening to her.”

    Damn, that is so very true.

    Like when people who’ve never had kids try and pass judgement on the mother in the supermarket and her two “out of control” toddlers. Those people are threatened by this scene because they fear that they’re looking into their own future.

    A former good friend of mine stopped talking to me completely once I told him I was divorced. Never asked if I was OK, or how things were going, just shut down completely.

    It hurts, but you have to move on for your own good. You can’t control what other people think. The pain comes from trying. Let them have their thoughts – you know the truth.

    • kendoll – what you said rang so true for me right now! “Let them have their thoughts – you know the truth.” It took me soon long to learn that I knew the truth and didn’t matter what my nut ex was saying about me to keep making himself look good in front of others or the new girlfriends he would take on to cover up his downlow cover lifestyle.

      Because I knew and know the truth, I sure was able to clean house very fast with my house of friends. Out of a few dozen I thought I had, I only kept 2. The rest of them can go to hell and I feel so sorry for them because they are being chumped and they don’t even know it.

      • Yep. Affairs and divorces expose a lot about our friends.

        Glad to hear that you had a couple of good ones to hold on to.

  • I cut toxic people out of my life, I’d rather talk to my cats than talk to an asshole. That’s just me. If you want a relationship with sister and mil, tell them this topic is completely off limits. I’ll bet they will crash through that boundary over and over though. FWIW, I cut my little sister out of my life years ago, a great poisonous weight was lifted when I stopped dealing with her.

  • Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

  • There is a great quote that is attributed to Katharine Hepburn:

    “Never explain. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.”

  • On an unrelated note: Anyone want to be the 100th reviewer of Chumplady’s book? (US) is currently stuck at 99 reviews.

  • Hear, hear, Arnold! I was totally offended by this 50/50 crap as well. After thinking about it, I think it is something that marriage counselors just say so as to not alienate either party. They have such a strong interest in being “neutral” that they can’t call a cheater out on their BS. My cheater was so reluctant to go to MC that both the MC and I were treating him with kid gloves, being careful not to blame or condemn him, lest he refuse to keep coming.

    Needless to say, I’m over that now.

    How in the world can I be 50% responsible for the state of my marriage when key information (like…for example…who my husband loves) is being withheld from me? And I am actually being fed disinformation? I mean, seriously, how can I make a good choice with bad information?

  • The narrative that the chump can somehow influence the cheater’s behavior is very tempting. I know I believed it that’s why I stayed as long as I did. A perfect me or a perfect marriage would not have prevented my ex to cheat again and again. I know that now without a shadow of a doubt.

    Pissed off, look at it from a different perspective. Your sister is terrified so she has to blame you. So’s your exMIL. She can’t face the truth that her son is a total jerk. Your sister and exMIL need to overcome their own turbulent emotions, so they need to practice self-deception. Otherwise, they’ll be forced to take action that terrify them. You know the truth and you’re living your life according to that truth. That’s all that matters. Just look at their opinions as opinions and see how life will unfold. Keep a copy of this blog post and look back a few years later and see where everyone is. I have a feeling your sister may not be singing the same tune. Your exMIL may still be saying the same thing but I honestly doubt if she believes it. She’s not stupid.

  • I am not perfect and nor was my marriage. We both got plenty of things wrong and some things right. Yes, our marriage had problems but so does every other marriage in world.
    It took therapy to make me realise that I am nowhere near powerful enough to be the root cause of another persons choice to live a complete double life for several years and to make them stay with me for decades.
    A liar is a liar is a liar and it takes an accomplished one to pull that off. My husband was a liar when I met him and is probably still one now.
    Perhaps his new woman has given him the incentive to undergo a change of character…or maybe she is all that he wants so the cheating bug lies dormant unless she lapses in some way.
    Even if our marriage totally sucked I am not responsible for the choices and behaviour of another adult.

    • Last I checked, my marriage vows did not include an exception if one of us was less than perfect in every way.
      Why the hell do folks think vows came about? It is because it was recognized that neither party would be perfect and that all marriages have challenges. So, we VOW to overcome them.
      I know I am not perfect by any stretch. But, I also know that someone who cheats created way more of the pre-affair issues in a marriage due to his or her character and lack of coping skills.
      Most cheaters, IMO, are disordered and you cannot have a peaceful relationship with them.

  • I experienced similar with my family. Of course when I kicked him out, he didn’t run to his parent’s house, he ran to my parent’s house and to my brother’s house – to control the narrative. I was so horrible. I drove him to do it. Funny I couldn’t make him take out the trash, but I sure was great at making him cheat on me for a whole year.

    • you gave me a chuckle ChumpedTwice, about the only thing my ex did was take out the trash…hahaha

  • Many years ago I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. I was baffled by some people’s responses. They wanted to know what I ‘had done’ to cause it. Several asked me if I had ever smoked. Like a couple of puffs on a cigarette at 21 would have done it. They all wanted me to say I had ‘done’ something so they could rest assured that they would NEVER be afflicted by something like that. Same with adultery. People want to believe that cheating and cancer only happen to people that somehow did something to DESERVE it. Luck is when the guy sitting next to you gets hit by the arrow.

  • Syringa – Wow, how true is that! Even breast cancer got the question about whether I smoked or not. Yes, people do want to see it’s something you caused, and while they have you there, they’re trying to figure out if they’ll also contact ‘that disease’. My friend was terrified when she heard my news and I could tell she thought I was contagious. Quickly asked her husband if that could possible happen to her. The fear was interesting. I don’t think she wants anything to do with me now, just in case . .

    • That’s true for a lot of things. My eldest son is deaf but he wasn’t born that way. He contracted spinal meningitis when he was 16 months old back in the days when they didn’t give the HIB vaccine series until they were anywhere from 18 months- 2 years old. The class of antibiotics used to treat meningitis was also toxic to the ear back in the day as well; but the only alternative to that was death so it wasn’t even a consideration not to give him the life saving drugs.

      People assumed he was born deaf and most were horrified to learn he ‘got a disease’ and would ask me 20 questions to make sure ‘they were safe’. It was rather annoying being a young mother, of a newly handicapped child, trying to figure out what was best for him and dealing with the stupidity of strangers. Everyone has to believe that you’ve done something wrong; no matter what it is so they can go back to their bubble and believe that particular horror would never descend upon their household. It sucks.

      • Yep, got that type of crap with my handicapped son, too.
        Same dynamic: folks need to believe you fucked up so they can feel safe.

  • Psychologist David Clarke in his “When he says I don’t love you anymore” book, is very clear on the fact that we should never accept guilt for our husbands affairs and adultery. He says “One of the adulterous husband’s most diabolically clever rationalizations is to blame his affair on hiw wife. He’ll say, with a straight face and tone dripping with just the right amount of fake sadness and sincerity, “If you’d been a better wife, if you’d met my needs, I wouldn’t have had an affair.” Instead of laughing in his face, his wife takes this monstrous lie to heart and believes it! By accepting the guilt you play right inot his sinful hands. If he can get you to take any part of the blame for his affair, he’s sitting pretty. He believes he’s in the clear. He’s gotten your seal of justification. He doesn’t have to be sorry. He doesn’t have to stop the affair. He doesn’t have to change. He doesn’t even have to feel bad about divorcing you.”

    Sadly, by the time we read advice like this or Chumplady’s, we have already been gaslighted and blame shifted. It’s hard to get out of the quicksand. But we can do it.

    • Just switch the genders and it is the same for betrayed men. They are all the same, cheating men, cheating women. Same fucking script. Same justifications and blame shifting.

      • True, Arnold. Doesn’t matter what kind of package it comes in, narcissism, entitlement, and cheating all follow the same rule book.

  • You could have ”yes, but I didn’t and wouldn’t because cheating is a choice to lie and deceive and work against the marriage”. There. Okay, so you had marital problems, fine, I get that it’s tempting to find a new sparkly kibble source, I do. Of course it is. But it’s a choice to do something about it, several choices actually. If your marriage is on the rocks, go to therapy and work out if you want to stay or go. Have that painful honest conversation and make sure everyone knows precisely what is happening. Then my friend, have at it! Screw your way through Ashley Madison, Tinder and so on. Really. Go all out. Till then, no, sorry, you’re married because you choose to be and you are deceiving and lying to the person you promised to be committed to ”in good times and in bad” and that’s the end of the matter.

  • “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” Maya Angelou. You know when my marriage blew up, and it did very spectacularly, it was due to my husband’s choices alone. Those decisions he made daily, minute by minute, hour by hour, week by week, to sabatoge our marriage, the lies he told, the money he stole, the kids he abandoned, the assets he wasted, the sneaking around, all to be with his true love (snort!), because Hey what the fuck ever have you got to tell yourself, right!?!? And here’s the truth: we were all married to STUPID. To people who had crap life skills. It’s WHO they ARE. My marriage was a lesson in futility. My ex had great qualities but underneath it all were many hidden secrets and choosing to CHEAT in our marriage was what defined him. And yes that will be the legacy he’s left his family. He has done horrible things rand truth be told he always fucked up anything meaningful. Looking back that pattern existed from day one. The only thing I own was that I chose a man who put his needs before everyone else’s, he was consistent in that. Cheating is a deal breaker. That is the worst kind of betrayal and it was that choice that finally told me our marriage was no longer in my best interest. My ex is a miserable person, and however hard I tried I could not save him. So, Pissed Off, cut those toxic people out of your life. People who cheat are wired differently and they are incapable of behaving courageously. Their lives will be one lie after another. That, you know, is no way to live.

    • Thank you, Drew. I need to remember every powerful thing you just wrote. Because right now, all I see is how it seems like my incredibly sparkly cheater ex’s life seems to be peaking, despite his lies, his crap life skills and his “make it all about me” self-absorption.

      It may be all impression management on his part, but his life seems great now. He’s suffering no obvious consequences of his shitty choices. His relationship with our 18-year-old daughter seems to be the best its ever been (it appears she’s given him a total pass for his cheating). His career is apparently gangbusters. He just bought a sporty 2015 car with great fucking gas mileage. He walks around bulletproof, making people laugh, being the life of every party.

      I wouldn’t know most of this except we had our final family trip last weekend to celebrate our daughter’s entry into adulthood. I got to hear and see him do the full performance of “I’m awesome” for her and her girlfriends. And everybody else eats it up, because when he turns it on, he has megawatt charisma, charm and entertainment value.

      It can be hard to remember to trust that he sucks when his life seems golden. Clearly, it ain’t Tuesday yet.

      • I totally get this, Rally Squirrel. My ex has a great job, he makes over 120k/year, has a new home, new wife, travels, is doing well at his sport (this was how they met!) and is featured in an article online as having met his truest love (and ditching his family of nineteen years because he “stayed for the kids!” Lol) and they have so much in common! (Because having spent the last 26 years with me didn’t matter!) Right down to their shit green trucks! One thing these people do well is lie. And I don’t think this was either’s first affair. The narrative though makes me sick because you ought to see the article which preceded that, it talked about his family and how supportive his wife was (me, gag!). I do believe he deserves his new life though because I sure as hell deserve better. Being with someone like that was like looking at a life I could never have, of course I had the perfect life but the one thing wrong? Yeah, you guessed it. Him.

        • I don’t care about what either of your exs’ have. They are both cheaters and all that means (liars, abusers, manipulators, immoral, disloyal, selfish, greedy, cowards, vain, et cetera, et cetera). They are pathetic losers despite their desperate attempts to disguise their true nature.

          Fuck them.

          Being a chump is life’s most important lesson — being true to oneself and those that you love is the greatest reward of all.

          Cheers to all.

  • My mil chose the ow over me, after the affair had ended. The ow worked for her for 6 years, I have been in her life for 26yrs. But I didn’t kiss her ass or worship her, I couldn’t be manipulated so she chose the weak little mouse. I was devastated, I haven’t heard from her in 11 mos – mil is a marriage therapist. In classic narc behavior, she of course is telling people that I have misunderstood her altruism.

    My h and sister in law, for the first time in their lives, have confronted her and told her that they’ve chosen to support me – my h desperately wNting to reconcile, my sil being there for me. They’re both saying they will severely limit contact with her forever if necessary, she will lose her shit. The validation from them is a bit of comfort. Amazing who lets you down.

    However, I haven’t told my parents about the cheating – I will be blamed. I was always blamed. I was raped by a family member at 16 and knew instantly that I had to keep my mouth shut, that I would never be believed. So my goal at that moment was to get out of the house, get the best education and build my own family. And I did, supporting my h in building his businesses, and being his partner in all things for 24 yrs. the mow saw my life, she’s trailer shit breadwinner, and decided she could have my life via blow jobs and adulation. regardless of what happens, I will continue to make a good life for myself, even if I’m surrounded by people who actively disrespect me. We are spending $500 wk on therapy to sort through this shit, throw in my traumatized teenager, that’s a lovely mortgage on a home far away from all these jackasses….

    • Nic, we do the best we can. There is one difference. Aside from resilience and integrity, you and I are very intentional. Every day we do the hard work. We know what we want and we place our families first. We work hard at not having lives that are chaotic but shit still happens. My past heavily influences what I do today, just as yours did. I am proud of who I am. I worked hard to have a good marriage, to be a good person, like many of us here, and it makes me angry that any person could do the things my ex did to me and our children and walk away thinking he is in any way decent. I sit back and watch my ex deal with his crap life choices while his entire family spackles like mad. Who DOES this, right!?!? I respect myself, went no contact, and cut toxic out. I spent half my life with this man, loved him with my whole Chumpy heart, and I struggle still. CL has this right though, my ex is a piece of shit covered in glitter. I can’t change that and neither can our children. Nic, you deserve the best and I am sending warm thoughts your way.

      • Thanks Drew. Knowing I maintained my integrity and morals and priorities, even if I ignored my gut, is why I can get out of bed every day, shower, make lunches, do laundry, put on makeup and face the world with a bit of confidence. Having that as our base is a very solid thing on which to build the rest of our lives and show courage and strength to our children. I’d rather be in my shoes than in my h’s position.

  • This sort of taking sides is precisely why I chose to move 3000 miles away and start a new life. I live in a beautiful place, and those who can afford to visit do just that. The ones who can’t, stay in touch and if they want to be friends with the ex, so be it. I don’t need any approval from any of them. Life is too short for that.

    I say, if you can, move on, go no contact, and then carefully manage your public / social media face so that nothing private is revealed. I post photos of the countryside on facebook, but never pics of myself or my lovers. That is private. My outlaws, and ex friends…they can see that the best revenge is a life well lived.

    My outlaws turned on me and closed ranks at first. One donkey ex BIL, no angel himself, even tried to blame me for the split. I showed the email to my loyal son who went around and told the nutter to STFU which he has. The solution is to just not care too much. Why expect anything at all from people?

    • Wow, Marci, your choice to move away speaks to greatness. I hope one day to be braver still and strike out on my own but for now I feel a little like the fox in the corner licking her wounds. I am Mama bird too to three who are licking their wounds as well and recognize we just need a little time. You are right though one bad day on my own is way better than one day spent with a liar.

      • I would love to move away but I would be leaving my kids behind, with a cheater.
        Sucks- she cheats- she gets the kids.

  • Did anyone else feel extremely anxious around their cheating spouse before they actually filed for divorce? When I’m home with my kids with my wife absent I’m fine, but when she returns I become an anxious wreck. I begin to feel like I’m completely inadequate, like whatever I do is somehow awkward or not enough to make her happy. This is all part of a larger issue I suppose, but one of the reasons my wife had an affair, she said, was that her home life was stifling to her. She’s afraid to go back to that because it made her feel dead inside.

    • Charles–YES, yes, yes. I was often nervous or aflutter when home because the harsh look or outright criticism from my husband was often over the smallest thing. I was a poorer parent because of it, got less done because of it, and eventually lapsed into a 3-year depression where I tried to convince myself I should get used to being unhappy for the sake of keeping the family together. When I would finally call him out on his behavior, he would sometimes alter it, or get even more aggressive back.

      Then, he said he had an affair with a sweet young thing because “she was sweet to me, and you were aggressive.”

      These f***ers will say anything to justify their behavior. It’s them; it’s not us. They make us feel dead inside, am I right?

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