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Dear Chump Lady, Lack of melatonin made him cheat

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catblameDear Chump Lady,

Today I found another secret phone line that my husband has been contacting the OW with. We have an initial appointment for mediation in one week. I think I have finally decided after 7 months of back and forth that divorce is the right choice.

I have found numerous evidence over the past 5 years that points to physical and emotional cheating. He had admitted to one incident of cheating on Craigslist 5 years ago, but the doozy was discovered 2 years ago, when he began an emotional/physical affair with a woman he met while working. He admits to kissing her but still denies everything else.

We tried reconciling, she got pissed and called me, telling me he was a scumbag and they had sex. He almost lost his job due to a conflict they had. I stuck with him until last spring when I realized this relationship was causing me to feel depressed. I discovered a secret google phone line with months of calls and just today found another phone line with magic jack that he has been talking to her on. When I confronted him today, he said, “Well, what am I suppose to do when you keep telling me you want a divorce?” And then he launched again into how much he loves me and that our family is all he wants — and that if I told him I would work on it then he wouldn’t talk to her.

Why does he do this and why can’t he clearly see that he is messed up? He continues to say what a good guy he is and that everyone makes mistakes. He has blamed his behavior on everything from PTSD to lack of melatonin. (He works nights in a high-stress police job). I know I need to step away from the craziness, but I feel guilty because of our two boys. Why do I feel gulity for moving forward in divorce when I haven’t done anything wrong? Thanks for your guidance.

MomGuilt

Dear MomGuilt,

Gee, I can’t imagine why you feel guilty being married to Mr. Blameshift there.

Did you find a secret cell phone? Oh hey, well it’s only your talk of divorce that Drove Him to It! He wouldn’t talk to her if only you would work on the marriage!

Is he a serial cheater? He has PTSD! No hang on, he has a bad case of insomnia! No, no… or was that gout? Malaria? Palsy? Male-pattern baldness? Post-nasal drip? Freckles?

The point is, MG — It’s Not His FAULT!

Dimmer people might construe screwing a coworker (and multiple other women) and concealing one’s activities with the purchase of secret cell phones as decision-making. Many, many decisions. And agency. And purpose…

But those people would be WRONG!

He is but a child. Blameless. A lily in the field that blows whichever way the wind blows.

You Make Him Do Bad Things! You Brought This On Yourself! Only YOU Can Prevent Fucktards!

And you wonder why you feel guilty for divorcing him? Because you’ve been living with a steady barrage of gaslighting and blameshifting, that’s why. Also, you’re a chump. Good people tend to question themselves and reflect on decisions as major as divorcing their partners. We ask ourselves how we could improve, how might we save this, what might we do differently to avoid this painful outcome. And that distinguishes us from disordered people, who don’t do those things, but exploit that quality in their chumps.

He’s pushing your guilt buttons, MG. Don’t let him.

Fact is, life has deal breakers. You gave him several chances to save this marriage, and he repaid your generosity and self-abasement with more cheating. And then, adding insult to injury — he tells you your reaction to his infidelity (considering divorce) is the pretext for his continued cheating. It’s the classic mindfuck: The Problem Is Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction to It.

It was never your job to save this marriage — it was his. He broke it. Your gift to him was the opportunity to try. He doesn’t get to hedge his bets and keep a couple OW stashed in his pockets, just in case. He doesn’t get to shove all the risk on to you, and line up Plan B, C, and D on the side. No, if he wanted to save this marriage and that family he purports to love so well — he would’ve been all in.

He wasn’t and that is on HIM.

He launched again into how much he loves me and that our family is all he wants…

That’s a lie, MG. I’m so sorry. But people who love us don’t cheat on us and make unilateral decisions about our health and welfare. They don’t gamble their children’s home lives for a sidedish fuck. They don’t disrespect us and emotionally abuse us with gaslighting and blameshifting.

Whatever “love” this man has to offer you isn’t a healthy one and shouldn’t be modeled to your kids.

— and that if I told him I would work on it then he wouldn’t talk to her.

You already told him you’d work on it. How many attempts at reconciliation is this now? How many times have YOU been all in only to discover he’s still cheating?

He wants you to think you control this.

That is SOooooOOOOOoooo tempting to a chump. OMG, it’s the secret of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex — this belief that you can control cheaters through your behavior. It’s false hope. It’s voodoo. But we want it so bad. We so want this cup of pain to pass us by. We want to save our children the pain of divorce. We want to save ourselves from that pain. We don’t want to levy consequences on this person we still (despite ourselves) idiotically love.

So we fall for the idea that if we just Worked On It, just tried harder! we could save it. He’d STOP! He’d recommit!

But the entire notion is offensive, MG. It implies that his cheating is YOUR failure. It’s NOT your failure. It’s HIS failure. He must do the work to repair what he broke, and he’s just not doing that.

Ergo, you’ve got nothing to work with, my friend. (((Hugs))) Do not feel one bit guilty because there is no other outcome but divorce. Okay, I suppose you could stick around and keep getting cheated on and blamed for it. But assuming you’re not a total masochist, divorce is the only sane path here. You’ve got a serial cheater and not a shred of remorse.

So get on with your life right now. See a lawyer (don’t tell him) and get those ducks in a row. Expect more Hail Mary plays for sympathy. Expect him to cycle through rage, charm, and self-pity — but just keep marching forward toward your new life.

No contact will help you heal faster, and those feelings of guilt will lessen. Also some good therapy for yourself can help with that too. But as long as you live with this man and his assault of blameshifting, it’s going to be hard to clear your head. He’d prefer you down on the ropes, confused, exhausted… so he can continue to eat cake.

Don’t let him. We’re here for you, MG. Leave the cheater, gain a life.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I should add, that asking yourself why he doesn’t see this would be Untangling the Skein of Fuckupedness. Don’t go there. Understanding him is pointless. Understand yourself and what is and is not acceptable to you in a relationship.

  • MG,

    And the truth will set you free….

    Truth: He cheated on you multiple times.

    Truth: Only he controls his behavior, not you.

    Truth: Adultery came out of HIS heart, not yours or even the marriage. Adultery is 100% on him.

    Truth: You graciously and mercifully gave him second chances, and he contemptuously blew them by committing more adultery.

    Truth: Divorce is difficult and hard but staying in a relationship where more adultery is likely (as the saying goes…past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior…especially if there’s no change as you have written) is far worse for all involved–emotionally, physically (STD risks), financially, and relationship-wise.

    I am sure you can add more. It is important in the midst of the mind-bending stuff that you write out the truth of the situation. Writing out what what done to me helped me to clear my head of my chumpy ways. I encourage it to you in helping you get free from the guilt.

    Hugs and blessings!
    DM

  • “It was never your job to save this marriage — it was his. He broke it. Your gift to him was the opportunity to try. He doesn’t get to hedge his bets and keep a couple OW stashed in his pockets, just in case. He doesn’t get to shove all the risk on to you, and line up Plan B, C, and D on the side. No, if he wanted to save this marriage and that family he purports to love so well — he would’ve been all in.

    He wasn’t and that is on HIM.”

    That may be the single most important thing I have ever read about cheating. I’m on my way out of the marriage, but every once in a while I feel those chumpy twinges of “if only I’d…”. I’m going to print that out and put it on my bulletin board to read when I feel a chump moment coming on. Thanks CL!

    • I agree DDNM… for me too. I love the CL can articulate what we understand in our heart of hearts but cannot express.

  • Ex lied during MC. The counselor did not like him by the way. Even today, he proclaims his “love” for me. This word for that man meant years of infidelity and disrespect! This is what you do to someone you love? My understanding of the word means honesty, concern, kindness, compassion respect and fear! The fear comes in when the party who loves you decides (s)he does not want to do anything to hurt you for fear of losing you because you mean that much! That keeping you happy by honoring the vows you both took are more important than the momentary excitement of experiencing new flesh! Sadly, I never ever had this but God willing, I will before I die.

  • Me too DaisyDupedNoMore. I have been struggling with my chumpiness lately and praying about what to do.

    My STBXH has my one and only asset free and clear. A car. He has left me with the mortgage, all other household bills, credit card, personal loan, car payment. He hasn’t offered a dime. Nothing. He has given me money 3 times in 4 months because I asked. He hasn’t even given money to me to get groceries.

    My sister and best friend say I should get the car back. I own it outright. Getting it back would involved the sheriff department. I would sell it to pay down debt. So why do I feel guilty about it? Because I am a chump that’s why. He moved out and into an apartment 4 miles from OW house, he won’t take my calls so I learned to email him about our son. And again, why do I feel guilty taking back what’s mine? My priority now is taking care of myself and my son. Selling that car would allow me to pay off a debt and give myself some breathing room. He doesn’t make much but he can afford a modest car payment.

    Perhaps this blog post was an answer to that prayer.

    Now to pray about filing for alienation of affection on her. I will still have some debts to pay down. I can’t afford a lawyer right now so I am doing what I can on my own (pro se). WIsh me luck and if you pray, send one up for me.

    • Praying and sending (((hugs))). Lord how I wish I could file an alienation of affection action against the OW. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like she’s getting off Scott free while my and my kids lives have been decimated.

      • Expatchump – she isn’t getting off Scott free – she got herself a cheater. Would you wish that on anyone? Whatsmore – unlike you, she knows she got a cheater – will she truly ever be able to live with peace of mind? Maybe, if she kids herself she is ‘special’ but, you know, the honeymoon ends eventually, reality crashes in, paying bills, taking care of kids, cleaning the loo, putting up with the snoring, etc etc – eventually …. nah, she hasn’t got off Scott free – believe it!

        • Expat, Jayne’s spot on! I know it hurts right now, but all any OW gets is a cheater.

          My XH’s OW questioned his fidelity to her so often that he kicked her to the curb because yes, he WAS cheating on her, and no, he didn’t like being questioned about it.

          So he started fresh and married a new woman whom he hasn’t introduced to the kids or me because he doesn’t want any of us to tell her about his past. Apparently, wife #2 is so smitten with him, she doesn’t think it the least bit strange that she married a man without meeting his school age children who live around the corner from him.

          Yet ANOTHER relationship based on lies and deception. Any bets on how long THAT’S going to last?

          • Yep. I have never thought that STBXH would have a happy life with OW. I’ve said it before, but if I were ever berated in the same way that she berates him, I’d break off the relationship. The two of them could get married, which would be a huge mistake because his life would be more miserable than it is now. Once she bleeds him dry, she’ll look for someone with more disposable income. Once he gets tired of her drama, he’ll find some other woman to cheat with!

            Me? I’m going to live an authentic life. I just read the engagement section of today’s newspaper. Lots of people in their 40s, 50s, and even 70s are getting married, so yes! There is potential for love later in life!

    • Get that car back and sell it. I don’t think what you are feeling is “guilt.” I think what you are feeling is “fear of upsetting your STBX.” Chumps are so great at minimizing themselves–ignoring their own needs to cate to some fucktard cheater’s “wants.” He has some nerve taking your car. He can walk to see his OW or to work. Be your mighty self and take back what belongs to you. And so what if he can or can’t afford a car or food or a roof over his cheating head? He is not your responsibility. You have every right to take care of you. Love and (((hugs))).

      • Busted. You got me LovedAJackass. I AM afraid of upsetting him. Why? He wasn’t afraid of upsetting me and leaving his son. I have been struggling with this so bad. I am afraid I will look vindictive. And how will I explain to my 7-yo son…because I won’t lie. I will tell him in a way he understands if he asks or if my STBXH mentions it to him.

        I am waiting until after our custody mediation on Tuesday to do it. I don’t want him upset during that. I don’t need the hostility. Before Christmas? Or wait? Ugh.

        • Now THAT is a smart, strategic decision, conniered. And SO WHAT if you “look” vindictive? Tell anyone who judges, including Mr. Cheaterpants Car Thief, that y they can send a check every month, since your STBX has so far declined to meet his obligations. These sideline judges are a lot like sports talk show callers. They have a lot of opinions, most of them stupid and based on no actual knowledge. People who actually know anything find those folks laughable. So laugh like hell and take your car back, Mighty Conniered.

        • Tell your son “Dad hasn’t been sending us money, so we need to sell the car to pay bills.” The simple truth. If he is upset about dad not having a car, say, “Your dad made some bad choices when he left us. When people make bad choices, they have to live with the consequences. It’s OK to feel bad about that, but we can’t protect people from their consequences. It’s normal and for you to feel empathy for someone who needs a car and doesn’t have one. But that doesn’t make it your fault or mine that dad is in that situation. We have to take care of our own responsibilities. And my responsibility is to do what needs to be done to keep us safe and healthy. “

            • I thought of that. I could do it if I had a set of keys. He took both. So, now the sheriff has to get involved. Can’t get a new key programmed without the car either. I thought about that too. Sigh.

              • Connierd, If it’s a 2007 (I think) or newer model, you can take your proof of ownership and the vin number to the dealership and they may be able to cut you a key. I had to do this a couple of months ago and it worked!! Hope it works for you, too!!!

        • Don’t worry about looking vindictive. Your STBX will complain that you are vindictive whenever the mood suits him. There is nothing vindictive about doing your best to provide for yourself and your child. If anyone asks how you could do such a horrible thing as take the car STBX was using, explain that you need the money for your child and to help pay off debts the STBX helped run up while he was spending money on another woman. But the likelihood that anyone you value will think you are vindictive for having a backbone is pretty slim. If you say you asked for the car back because he is a (#^($&#O, then you are vindictive. If you say you asked for the car back because you need to sell it to keep a roof over your child’s head now that your child’s father is no longer making any regular contribution to his upkeep, then you are a good citizen and mother.

          Steel yourself for STBX’s hostility. He’ll keep aiming at you for as long as he thinks it makes you uncomfortable or nets him something and then for a good while longer out of habit. Mine is still at it 3 and 1/2 years down the road, though it gets less frequent with each passing year.

      • LAJ – you’re on fire this evening! 🙂 conniered -bless you, I recognise this not wanting to be caught as anything but divinely perfect when dealing with our STBX’s – which frankly means we do ourselves out of so much. If your experience is anything like mine, my reaction to D Day has been the total justification he has given for everything that has happened to me ever since – including homelessness. My crime? Castrating him? Nope Financially annihilating him? Nope. Ruining his reputation in the county we live? Nope (he’s done that very well on his own)! No, apparently, calling him out on his shit was my BIG CRIME. I’ve wrestled deeply with everything I could have done to retaliate – I’ve not done anything (I could make his life very difficult) but not wanting to appear vindictive and ‘bitter’ has held me back (huh). Now, I just couldn’t give a fuck, I don’t want to invest any thought or emotion into getting even. You are not getting even in getting back your own car conniered! When the fog of grief clears, years from now maybe, you really are going to wonder why the fuck you let him steal this from you – you really are! You need what that car represents, you are NOT being vindictive or bitter by getting it back. Why must you worry about explaining why you needed to get the car back to your son? If your STBXH mentions it to your 7 year old then he is a complete fucker, what a horrible thing to do to him! You need the cash babe, altruism is lovely, but it has NO CASH VALUE! I could try paying my phone bill with good intentions – but it’s not going to work! 😀

        • Jayne you are awesome. I probably will look back and wonder why I felt so hesitant. With the holidays approaching and money being tight, I am just on cruise control. Sometimes these things feel so incredibly debilitating. Thanks for the smack on the ass. (((HUGS)))

          • Yeah – I get it. It seems like a fight we don’t want to have to take on. Hell, if they had any character at all, they’d be making sure we didn’t have anything we had to fight for, post D Day – just another reality check for us, unfortunately. Yet another shit sandwich. Conniered, I get you honey, Get the car back. Put it in the ‘for sale ads’ – he ain’t ‘gonna do what a man gotta do’ – in the meantime, you’ve still got to live. Hugs xxx

            • I agree about the hesitancy as an obstacle to really drawing boundaries and taking a stand. I let my EX take a lot of stuff on the grounds that custody was all I really wanted to fight about. Now, I don’t so much regret that position as realize how much it was founded in fear. And stupidity. Why did I believe that someone who lied about everything in our marriage would suddenly start telling the truth and honoring his word after the marriage ?!?

              If I had to do it again, I’d go the pit bull route, but that’s because with 20/20 hindsight I realize how little being nice netted me; of course, with 20/20 hindsight I’d never have been a chump in the first place!

    • Conniered, please get that first divorce hearing done ASAP. Address community property issues (who pays for what, pro rata!), child support, and the car. If it is your personal property then ask to get it back. You should have a clear idea of what you want and address it. IE car back, mortgage split pro rata, bills divided accordingly. Judge should make a decision re support (temporary) and if legal fees are needed and STBX makes money ask for those. Do not allow time to pass because he will dissipate assets. (The court will also ask you why you did not address it sooner. Or assume you don’t need it.). Do your research. Read everything you can to educate yourself and when you do talk to a lawyer ask what your settlement will look like in your particular circumstances. Incompetent lawyers will drag this out. If available seek out free legal aid and be persistent. Good luck!

      • In my state, a married couple must be living separate for one year and then you can file for divorce. I can’t do anything about that yet. I could file a separation agreement…make it all official. But the most important thing to me right now is to get the custody mediation complete and then I can focus on the financial picture which would include getting the car and selling it, filing for child support and possibly filing an alienation of affection complaint against OW.

        He has no money. He won’t contest the divorce either. All marital debt is in my name so he walked away. I have no recourse other than him signing an indemnity agreement with me without hiring an expensive lawyer who will get me a pocket full of change from him. Maybe one day. He does have interest in a small buisness but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why they haven’t closed shop. It’s not turning a profit.

        • Where’s your lawyer? all marital debt is joint, doesn’t matter who’s name is on the credit card or loan. That’s why the first thing I did was make sure my husband was off my cards and I was off his. I made sure I had witnesses that we were separated. I kept my ex’ sorry ass on my medical plan until the separation agreement was signed because if he ran up medical debt before the divorce was final they could come after me. Good thing too, he had a heart attack and took a fucking helicopter ride during negotiations…

          Seriously, all marital debt and assets are jointly held until you have a separation agreement no one is holding the ball.

            • Ok. Good to know. I will do that. Here in NC, the separation typically includes custody arrangements but we are taking care of that this week. Once that court order is in place, I am going for a formal separation agreement and file for child support.

              I know that marital debt is held jointly, but I guess without the separation agreement, he doesn’t have to pay and if I wait too long, I could be shooting myself in the foot.

              • you need a decent lawyer conniered, and you do need to check your own state laws cos even the good lawyers miss stuff, plus YOU are the one that has to live with what happens. I wish you good luck! and JEDI HUGS!

              • conniered, I’m in NC too. I think our court date was scheduled when my attorney filed but we pushed it out in order to schedule everything on one day – custody, child support, court, etc. We did visitation mediation first. Then my attorney set the financial mediation date about 2 weeks before the court date. MY STBX’s attorney tried to say that date didn’t work for them so my attorney responded that we’d just go to court instead. I knew my STBX didn’t want that. Of course, all of a sudden the mediation date was fine with them. We didn’t cancel the court date until after the financial mediation. All of that happened in October and it was a whirlwind but I’m so glad it’s over. My attorney hasn’t filed the divorce papers yet though – still waiting for that to happen.

                The whole thing sucks but you have to play the game and schedule the dates with how they best work for you and for your situation. I hope all goes well for you on Tuesday. I’ll be thinking about you.

              • Conniered, I am familiar with your state’s laws. You can and should get a property settlement before the divorce. You need this to protect yourself financially and legally from any other problems your STBX generates during the year of separation. If he doesn’t want you to contest the divorce or file for alienation of affection, then you’ve got bargaining chips to force him to make a fair property settlement now.

    • Dear God woman — call the sheriff! AND get a separation agreement and IMMEDIATE support orders for you kid! Call your local child support enforcement office on how to make that happen.

  • This might be one of the best (of many great) CL responses. And let me point out the point that is so obvious, it is often overlooked. MG, your husband has lied at every turn. He lied about his affair with the main OW, and you know that both from her call to you (ick, ick, ice) as well as the repercussions he has had at work from their conflict. You know he lies by omission because he has multiple technologies for staying in contact with the OW–and you are still married to him. So he is also necessarily lying directly about where he is when he is spending time with her, as well as the current status of the relationship. He lies, lies, lies.

    It is impossible to have any meaningful partnership with someone who is lying about the most fundamental commitment in the partnership. He lies, he cheats, he risks his job and thus the economic viability of the family, he diverts precious assets in the marriage and family to a woman bold enough to be up front TO MG and IN THE WORKPLACE about fighting with and for him. So MG–your so-called partner has left the building. Any talk of the marriage, reconciliation, etc. is necessary just another lie, part of the con job he’s been engaged in all along.

    Now, onto the question of “why he can’t see he’s messed up.” Well, first, he want what he wants when he wants it. His worldview is not your worldview, MG. He thinks it’s just fine to have a wife and an OW. You are in a monogamous marriage. He has a wife at home to take care of the kids, make him appear respectable, cook, clean and perhaps bring in a second income to raise the unit’s standard of living, and serve some of his sexual needs; he has one or more OWs to add the elements that some cheaters, at least, seem to need. That “falling in love feeling,” minus the pesky details of actual life. Secrecy. Sneaking around. Planning assignations. The assertion of superiority and control–“you are not the boss of me.” That delicious superior feeling that comes from the very act of deceiving people. It’s all both very adolescent and “faux adult”; it’s “faux” because he takes on the posture of an adult–“but I love you and want to stay married”–while steadfastly refusing the adult role of taking responsibility for his own action. He is only “messed up” from the perspective that expects him to have integrity and be a responsible adult, which he has rejected for at least the past five years.

    A great psychologist taught me that many people offload their inconvenient emotions (pain, grief, sadness, guilt, disappointment) onto others. For me, learning this was a major part of recovering from being raised by a narcissist mother who projected her feelings on me. This offloading is one way kids learn, wrongly, that they are responsible for their parents’ happiness. Blameshifting is just one type of this emotional offloading. He has shifted the blame–and the responsibility and guilt–for the failure of the marriage to you.

    Put that burden down, MG. It’s his to carry. Get your ducks in a row and lose this guy. He won’t change.

    • And to be clear, I mean, above, that you are still practicing monogamy in the relationship and expecting that in return. He expects you to be monogamous but will not reciprocate. So you are operating AS IF you were in a monogamous relationship. He gets both the benefits of your monogamous commitment and his own commitment to cheating.

        • Maree -is it possible that you feel you don’t want to stoop to his level? Sometimes we cut our noses to spite our faces. If you are still with your cheater, then ‘tit for tat’ is never going to work, but if you are moving to the divorce completion / or are actually divorced now, you don’t owe him any loyalty, but I’m sure you know this 🙂

          • Jayne, we are now divorced but something in me prevents me from wanting to be with anyone else. I think it is just who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad now that I am free and I can’t believe I put up with so much for so long. I suppose that is what being a Chump is all about but I come back to CL everyday just to reinforce that I have done the right thing. I am my own worst enemy sometimes but it is getting better. I sound like a real Chump don’t I or just a plain old fool.

            • Ah Maree – I feel sad that you are still ‘tied’ to your ex 🙁 It does say something wonderful and lovely about you and your character that divorce didn’t absolve your vows in your heart and mind, but, you know … even God would never expect you to bind yourself to a user /abuser like your ex. You made a terrible mistake when you stood and made vows to a man who you believed echoed that commitment to you. We all make mistakes, we are all allowed to rectify those mistakes. Don’t keep yourself tied to your mistake, you have the right to make it good on earth now – you could even be denying someone the benefit of your good loving! Now that would be a sin! 😀

            • I agree with Jayne, Maree. You were all in. He wasn’t. Now comes the hard work of letting go of the illusions you had about him and your marriage. None of that reflects on you at all, other than to point out that as chumps we have to fix our pickers if we have any thought of moving on to a new relationship.

              But, Maree, think of this: being a chump is also a bad way to live in general. After DDay, I began to make changes in how I relate to other people. Last summer, a friend pressured me to arrange weekend plans around a brunch she had planned. I had a major event the night before with people I hadn’t seen in years. I just wasn’t sure how late that would go or if, at the end of it, I would have the money to splurge on a brunch. She is STILL mad about that and has, twice in the past several months, send text messages that are either full-on aggressive or passive-aggressive. I have long know she has narcissist tendencies, but we have had lots of fun in the past and she can be a great, loyal friend. Right now though, I am in the process of making it clear that I won’t accept treatment like that. So this “loyalty” you feel may be masking some work you need to do on what you will and will not tolerate from other people.

              • LOL LAJ 🙂 I have a similar thing going on here, this very evening! I have a good friend who is pretty narcissistic, but hey, I know this and so I give what I can give and resist the pressure to give more than I can! In times gone by (pre – ‘the fall’) I’d have fretted away and resentfully given in to her demands for attention, despite what it cost me, but, hurrah (OMG – I HATE to give any kudos to the experience of being cheated on and dealing with the shite thereafter – but I must do)! I am able to say to her, no, I can’t do that right now – and, whatsmore, recognise that’s her’s to deal with – not mine! Yay! It’s not rocket science, but hallelujah – I get it now! If I can’t and I must disappoint – then I can’t and I must disappoint – I needn’t engage in the ‘please me’ dance! It wouldn’t get me extra brownie points because she wouldn’t understand the sacrifice it had cost me and I needn’t build up the resentment for having been pressured into giving more than I could give – so she gains there (albeit unknown to her) too! Wow, this boundary setting thing is a marvel to behold!

                LAJ – you’re friend (I get it, she thinks her priorities should be your priorities and hell, are you going to pay if you don’t agree 🙂 ) is gonna have to accept ‘no, can’t do’ and get over herself – and that’s on her, not you 🙂

            • Maree, I relate to a lot of your comments you post, perhaps because I was also married for over 30 years to cheatin’ X. And, I am also super duper Chumpy, giving and giving til I am on empty!
              I feel like you may be experiencing withdrawal from addiction to your husband, and pleasing him only (not yourself) for DECADES! It’s very hard to get over. If you can focus on loving yourself for now, and spend your energy on that, someday you will be able to let another lover into your life. By practicing self love, you can change your beliefs into positive ones, and you may attract a partner. In the meantime you will be enjoying being all about you for a change!
              This worked for me, and sooner than I expected. Much Love to you!

              • Maree, one thing I learned thru therapy is chumps usually have more chumpy relationships other than their marriage. I had a few! Even my teenage and young adult kids knew they could pull my strings. Change takes time and is often painful and it was for me too but my relationships have changed now after 4 years. No One chumps me now cause I don’t let them those relationships are happier and respectful .

            • i was and am the same way. just because we are divorced, i still dont want anyone else except my XH. i am just not sexually attracted to any other man and they dont appeal to me. maybe it takes me just longer to “get over it”, obviously it didnt take him long to “get over me”.

              when i give my love and i fall in love, it is forever. not just during the good times. i love him even during the bad times and the poor choices. part of me STILL loves him and is thinking this is just a bad choice on his part, but the other part will not take him back either.

              so i am stuck. for now and i am fine with that.

    • If I may, there’s another often over-looked aspect about cheaters that bears examining further still: chumps give cheaters an appearance of respectability. We chumps tend to greatly undervalue this asset because it comes naturally to us. We aren’t focused appearing respectable because we ARE respectable! Some people would rather work 1000 times harder at hiding their flaws in order to maintain their shitty character and keep mucking about in filth. Even if they can see the benefits of being a good person…they just can’t or won’t stretch themselves.

  • At the risk of a little ‘untangling the skein’. D day should have been his 2 by 4 to the head wake up call, it wasn’t.

    This OW almost cost him his job. She almost cost him his marriage. How does he deal? He puts in the effort to invest / install a secret phone line so he can continue his affair with her – even though he has learned she’s as much of a back-stabbing, cheating, lying bastard as he is – she blew him up to YOU!

    There’s you, feeling guilty (for what)?, going to mediation, seeking advice via anonymous blogs on what to do, being appealed to, to consider his PTSD, night shifts, expected forgiveness for the first time he cheated, crocodile tears for his ‘broken family’ and his ‘heartfelt’ wish to keep his family together, and when you discover yet another secret, yet another lie, you are expected to give him a pass on him having a ‘back up plan’.

    NO! NO! NO!

    He’s a police officer – do you think he’d have much sympathy for a thief continuing to thieve whilst on bail? When said thief appears in court, continued thieving isn’t going to do his defence much good is it? (to push an analogy). Why does he think you’d be such a mug to shrug off this ‘secret’ phone line? This continued affair?

    Listen, if you choose not to end this relationship, there is nothing at all you could be sure he wouldn’t do to you. I mean no abuse at all. He’s created a narrative whereby his behaviour towards you is entirely acceptable. Somehow his crocodile tears absolve him from any duty of care for you and your boys – I don’t know how they manage to do this, these cheaters, but they do. As far as they are concerned saying ‘I love you’ gives them a pass on actually being loving. You deserve better than this. Yes you, with ‘warts and all’ – you are a living, breathing, loving human being and that gives you the right to be treated with respect, at the very, very least. This man is not treating you with respect.

    Cut loose, he’s a liability (nearly lost his job for his kibbles – remember)?

    Hugs

    Jayne x

    • Well, brilliant: “As far as they are concerned saying ‘I love you’ gives them a pass on actually being loving. You deserve better than this. Yes you, with ‘warts and all’ – you are a living, breathing, loving human being and that gives you the right to be treated with respect, at the very, very least. This man is not treating you with respect.”

  • I am so sorry I don’t know where you live. I do not want to be on the mean streets if he is patrolling. What An idiot! Lake of melatonin. Is it ok if I hit my husband? I didn’t have any celery today. Bugs Bunny would say, “What an Ultra Maroon!” he is.

  • MG,
    I love the replies here. If I could add one thing:

    I noticed that you asked, “Why does he do this and why can’t he see…? “.
    I think “why” is the wrong question. A much better question is “What can I learn from this?”
    Tigers don’t change their stripes. The only thing to do for this man is to leave. Right now, it may seem that you can bare his abuse… Eventually the brain washing will leave you unable to care for your children… And yourself.
    Many women learn this the hard way.
    Xoxo

  • MG your husband is unfortunately a standard cheater. These cheaters like to think that they are so “complex” and special with all kinds of “issues.” Ugh, yeah they have “issues” alright but that’s not up to you to solve for them. They are straight up losers at life and untangling your life from a cheating loser is a rough go but it can be done.

    Cheaters love to play you. Mine did. Oh sure he was sorry and it was so hard on him, blah blah but inside a minute they have a new source and they can’t remember your name. Once you impose consequences, watch the rage and ridiculous behaviour escalate. Protect yourself.

    I’m sorry you have to make this tough decision. Once I got out of the relationship with my cheater my health has improved and now, from a safe distance, I watch him to try to blame me for all kinds of things and continue his passive-aggressive poor me behaviour. It’s pitiful. All the while he tries to maintain this image that he’s a “great guy” and a super Dad to his kid. It must be exhausting for him because these cheaters, they are frauds. Yours is too.

    I’m sorry but CL is right; people who love you do not put you through this kind of abuse.

  • MG, Lack of character made mine cheat. And there is no saving a marriage when only one of you is committed to doing the hard work. Peace officer? Go after his retirement. IMHO, that is the only thing worth saving. I want you to take off those rose colored glasses and ask yourself: What do I want my life to be!?!? You deserve a loving, truthful, committed, honest spouse. Your children deserve an engaged father. Modeling healthy supportive relationships is what great parents do. Your husband is working nights and chasing tail, I will bet this choice takes up a lot of his time. Is this really how you want to spend yours?Divorce is a healthy choice, staying with a cheater is not. Your family, you and your children, will have a shot at true happiness only when you break free of your manipulative disordered spouse.

  • MG, it’s time for you to make your “Magic Jack” do a disappearing act. He’s all smoke and mirrors but probably has more tricks up his sleeve if you stay with him. Hugs.

  • Hi MomGuilt, I think you feel guilty because you could not fix it. You are a fixer, you are a positive person, there is nothing you cannot fix. Except there is, you cannot fix other people. I’m sorry, I know it hurts. You asked: “Why does he do this and why can’t he clearly see that he is messed up?” Because he does not think he is messed up. He thinks you are the problem. Don’t try to convince him or understand why he thinks that. Trust that he sucks. He understands what he did, he just does not think it is wrong. He might say it’s wrong if someone else did it, but he has REASONS, he has RATIONALIZATIONS, chief among those reasons is that YOUR behavior forced him to do these things. Nothing you did made him do anything, you took him back and he still cheated. The whole “if you’d commit I wouldn’t cheat” thing is sickening coming from this person who completely betrayed your initial commitment and betrayed your trust again after you were willing to reconcile.

    He will keep doing this, you will keep getting hurt by him. Give it up, move on. He does not deserve you. Jedi Hugs!

    • Dat – wise, succinct and to the point, as ever. Poor MomGuilt, caught in the trap that hopes to see a person who cares like she does, despite evidence showing he couldn’t care less. It’s horrible, nightmarish but reality – the reality none of us wanted to have to accept. Absolutely, he doesn’t deserve the faith, commitment, forgiveness and benefit of doubt she’s trying to extend to him, Oh, he expects it, demands it even, but he couldn’t even spell reciprocity, never mind live it. My heart goes out.

    • Wow Dat, your comment really speaks to me. I keep asking “will he realize and regret all that he has lost? ” Nope. The more I reflect the more I realize he was always this guy. I just didnt see him for who he really was, i was 19 when I met him, he was 27. I am working with an amazing coach now who deals with adult children of alcoholics and codependency. She is giving me great tools to learn how to set boundaries, to learn that I matter, and how to honor my feelings. I am now seeing how the emotional abuse I suffered as a child tuned me up perfectly for my narcissist. These guys dont change. I forgave, didn’t see the covert abuse, the passive aggression, and he just took more and more advantage. I cant believe what I endured. i settled for so little. The more you try to fix them, the more they gaslight and up the level of bs. They really dont think they are doing anything wrong. They love getting away with it. They minimize it, and devalue us so they can feel like it is our fault. We can’t understand it, because we are good loving hones real people. It hurts like hell to morn the loss of a dream and a family. If you forgive him, he will just go more underground, but it wont stop. I had no idea mine was cheating throught our 36 year marriage. We were in a false reconcilliation when I discovered an affair going on over a year. I wasted decades on this scumbag.
      I will not let him take the rest of my life.

  • Here’s the take home lesson post-infidelity: Once a chump, does not mean forever a chump. The only way to battle through a painful divorce with a cheater who blames, gaslights, lies, and abuses, is to throw off and forever discard all the bits that made you a chump. No more wringing of hands, no more trying desperately to understand, no more second guessing, no more giving the benefit of the doubt, no more forgiving. Be assertive, be aggressive, be a downright mean bitch if you have to. Fight for your children. Fight for your property. Fight and fight hard. Stiff consequences are the only things that cheaters understand. Enforce them.

    • Exactly Tflan, you have to go full Monty, take no prisoners, anger will get you through the first steps, clarity will let you get free

  • It’s the classic mindfuck: The Problem Is Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction to It.

    I have heard this so often both prior and post D’day it makes me made. I just wanted to throw my phone when I read this.
    STBX wants to blame it all on me. Initially he claimed that his cheating had nothing to do with me ( as his partner of choice were random males) but because I did not buckle to the preasure that it was in my control to prevent a divorce and take him back. He is now trying to validate our seperation by blaming me. The lies are endless. His own brother is concerned that he will try and take our kids 10,12&16. Not because he really wants they as they would cramp his lifestyle. But as proof to the world that I am the wrong doer in all of this.
    I think I need to save this one and reread. Thanks CL.

    • OMG Thankful. First of all, and from a very personal point of view – in this day and age, I have absolutely no tolerance for closet gays who marry for a respectable ‘beard’. No! Not anymore! Fuck you – even in times less liberated. Fuck You! So you have a secret identity? Well, whoop de do! That doesn’t give you a free pass on fucking over another human being -ever- under any circumstances. Damn you all to hell! You could have lived pretend celibate lives. You could have discussed the truth about who you were with your partner and let her choose. Fuck you if you didn’t do that. What right did you have to go ruin the lives of women who believed your lies? You tried to be straight? Still – fuck you. You know you’re own heart, so fuck you for pretending otherwise. I despise you for the lies you told, in my opinion, being homosexual is no reason to be imprisoned, being a liar and a ruiner of lies, you should spend the rest of your life imprisoned and chastised for your abuse of another human being.

  • My STBX husband is also a law enforcement officer. I know a lot of honorable, upstanding men and women in the field. But it also draws people like my husband, who are scared wet noodles in the inside and seek the gun and badge as an emotional exoskeleton. I think there is a high incidence of cheating among officers not because any particular element of the job makes them into cheaters, but because some people who like wielding power over others and are likely to cheat are drawn to the profession. So don’t buy his BS that anything about his job made him do it. He would have cheated if he worked as a kitten cuddler, because it is in HIM.

    (As an aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to marry another officer, as long as I knew that he went into the field for the right reasons and not to cover up his own fearfulness. Lesson learned.)

    • Good to hear from another law enforcement spouse! I do think the job/lack of sleep changed some aspects of his personality…moodier, short fuse etc. But I don’t accept it as an excuse for cheating. I know there are many good officers out there but I could never see myself dating or marrying another. The schedule alone created a lot added stress in the marriage.

      • It’s hard, for sure. I noticed similar changes in my husband the longer he was in a patrol position. (Luckily he never worked night shift….I can’t imagine how much more stress that would have added.) He became very detached from me, from his family, from friends, and from himself. It intensified elements of his personality that were already a problem. But like you said, those things are not a reason to cheat or to destroy those around him. You could argue that giving birth and experiencing postpartum depression changed my personality and mood, and yet I did not cheat, because it’s not in me. Your husband had all kinds of opportunities to deal with his melatonin deficiency and PTSD in a healthy way, and instead he chose the path of destruction. It is SO hard to watch them self destruct. But I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that self destruction is part of my husband’s path. Maybe he’ll become a better person for it. Maybe not. I still love and adore him, but I’ll be damned if he’s going to take me down with him. I hate that this is my new reality, and I hate that it’s his. But I can’t change it. (I’ve tried.)

        I think CL has enabled private messages. If you want to talk more, feel free to message me. BIG hugs to you. You’ll both make it through this, and your boys will come to see you as their bad-ass mom who doesn’t take shit from anyone. 🙂

  • Dear Chumplady…
    this is so timely for me! After NC for 5 months he texted me this week with long word salads but he said that I dd not appreciate him anymore and that’s the reason why he strayed. What a LIE. I loved him as only a CHUMP can love and after the first DDay, he just wanted everything to go back like it was the past 15 years to he could keep on eating CAKE / CHEATING. Yes, my love died a slow and agonizing death with each (5) ddays and after 3.5 years I AM DONE.

    He could NOT break the cheating cycle (exactly like you write MomGuilt) because I could not stop seeing him as an adulterer. I did not appreciate him anymore and THAT’s why he went back to craigslist, dating sites, other Facebook Profiles and CHEATING.

    This reminds me (satirically) of the scene in Much Ado About Nothing where Michael Keaton is AN ASS.
    So brilliant.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82dYxF3sA8o

    This is what I think about when I read his stupid words. hehehe.

  • One last note because FreeVixen reminded me; if your husband is emotionally abusive, has rages or anything like that, if you are afraid of him – even if you do not know why. Be careful. Your stbx is a cop and his job puts him in a position where he can really hurt you AND put you in a pretty powerless place. I’ve met too many women who’s cop husbands left them with no one to help them. Hell, my ex wasn’t a cop but knew a lot of them and he was able to work the system against me. I hope this is not a problem for you, just a warning in case there might be signs. Jedi Hugs!

    • I think in the back of my mind I do have concerns over how he will react. His behavior has been all over the place from overly loving to raging and threatening, He is walking on eggshells with his job so I don’t know how much support he would get, but just the access to a weapon kind of scares me. we are both still in the house together as well which has been an emotional roller coaster.

      • Be so careful MomGuilt, I let myself damp down my fear of my ex and that fear was justified, I made bad mistakes. He ended up 1) attacking me then getting me arrested by lying to the cops about it. 2) pulling a gun, threatening suicide and to kill me. I came very close to being a statistic. The thing is, if my husband could get the good old boy cops on his side, how much easier for someone who IS a cop. It’s not just about getting hurt by him personally (or getting dead), he could set you up for arrest too.

        Irish knows, her stbx was a cop and they closed ranks when he screwed with her, gave her no protection, I hope she stops by today.

        Abusers escalate when they lose control over you, so believe your gut when it whispers to you. I hope this warning is not needed!

        • I too was married to a peace officer who self destructed. When he left me for his OW it was as if he was on drugs. He wanted me out of his life as quickly as possible and something about the way he was acting made me careful. (He had been running our finances into the ground for the last two years of our marriage and sent our house into foreclosure in the two years it took our family court to grant us a divorce.) I was afraid, isolated (a cops wife in a small good lo’ boys town), hundreds of miles away from family, living where he had a great influence on the community. I used that info to negotiate my settlement, but he still fucks with me and the children. I was the last to know about his affair but I paid attention to my gut and warned him NOT to do anything rash. I emailed him. Written proof. While there were plenty of red flags, five years out I don’t recognize him. I am still wary.

  • Wow…excellent one today CL and responses from Chump Nation. You are all so Mighty! This is my daily dose of empowerment and some days I log off feeling like “Zena, the Warrior Princess”.

  • Dear Mom Guilt,
    Listen to the words he uses and watch his actions. People who are truly sorry use the right words to accept their responsibility and make plans to change their behavior. Meaning, “I am so extremely sorry for what I have done to you and our family, here are all of my pass codes, you have full access, I want you to read the letter I wrote to the other woman telling her that I will not see her anymore and I want you to mail it so you know it actually was sent, I have made an appointment with Dr. Whoever to teach me how to fix the mess I have created. I hope at some point we can work through this and you can someday forgiven me”.

    And then actually do those things. But they never do. They twist and turn the conversation until you feel like everything that is wrong is your fault. It’s not. You didn’t chose to cheat, he did.

    Sometimes divorce isn’t the right choice, it’s the only choice. It is the only way to climb out of the hole of pain that betrayal and infidelity causes. Someday you will look back at the hole and wonder why it took you so long to climb out.

  • Don’t feel guilty for divorcing a cheating spouse. The guilt is on him.

    Frankly, I think you have a responsibility to your children to get yourself out of an abusive marriage. If you don’t, you can feel guilty about that. Deal?

  • MG.

    You asked why your husband does what he does and why you feel guilty. Your husband may have Borderline Personality or Narcissistic Personality or both. (The possession of personality disorders does not justify cheating. People with these disorders have agency and know that they are breaking promises.) He may have neither disorder; he may be just a plain unethical manipulator. No matter what the cause of his behavior, he has conditioned you to feel guilty and take responsibility for his misconduct.

    I understand wanting to stay married for the kids’ sake. After a couple of D-days, I realized that I could not fully protect my kids by trying to save my marriage. (We cannot ‘protect’ them from the truth–and perhaps we shouldn’t.) Realizing that gave me the courage to refuse to beg Cheater to come back. Marriages like ours are rarely tenable. I hope that you feel better soon.

  • One of the reasons my ex gave for cheating and leaving the marriage was that I didn’t trust him enough after the first time I found out he was a serial cheater. As CL wrote, it’s a classic disordered cheater move to blame the chump for their reaction, not to look at the cheater’s own ACTIONS.

    The real question, of course, is why I stayed so long after finding out my ex was a huge cheater, and was cheating with other men. That’s the only really important question for any chump. Why a cheater does the things s/he does is really unimportant because the answer is obvious: they do it because they CAN and because they WANT to.

  • OMG…my mouth has hit the floor….my Idiot is a cop as well. And he didnt hesitant to use all of his cop tactics to frighten me…and finally get physical. He put me in a sling for 6 weeks because I wouldnt sign the divorce papers outside of court.
    I petitioned for an emergency hearing for custody and was able to negotiate the final settlement at that time. Lucky for me. It took 4 months to get to that emergency hearing and he used every minute to frighten me…walking into the house at 630 am and 1130 at night.unannounced…brandishing paperwork and his fists inches from my face. Then the threats of ‘taking” our child. and the constant threat of” I know how the system works. You dont think I dont know how to twist words.I sit in front of a judge 3-4 times a week. I know what to say”
    I thought post divorce he would let up…but it seems to have ramped up his rage. Constantly challenging the custody arrangement. Not sure what he wants. He wanted out …he is out. But its not good enough…and thats when I relaized…he is fucking crazy

    • TC,

      Story sounds sadly familiar. I sympathize and hope that hostile cheater ex calms down or is forced to calm down soon.

  • I never pressed the necessary charges…for a lot of reasons. I could only imagine what he would be like without a job…I would most certainly be dead.
    I realize it has sent the wrong message to our child. it was a missed opportunity and it wont happen again. He pushes and threatens enough to stay under the radar. I live on egg shells. He lives only 10 blocks away…with his tweeny booper and never fails to ‘drive by” at night to make sure no one is at my house.
    Our child doesnt necessarily side with him…but she cant unerstand why I wont be friends with him..after all everyone in his camp has accepted tweeny booper and views me as “stuck” and unable to move on. It me who has the problem. Tweeny bopper is unaware of the violence and threats. He prevents us from meeting even tho I must release my child to “them” twice a week. I can not meet her. I have tried to explain this to my child…that “friends” dont threaten friends, or hurt them,and it aint about moving on.It difficult for my child,as her life,our lives were never this way. He woke up one day and totally went nuts…and we have been living in his hell since.

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