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Dear Chump Lady, Is there a statute of limitations on this chump thing?

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assunicornDear Chump Lady,

Love your website and your no bullshit approach to this nightmare. I am currently an attempted unicorn, (although sometimes I feel like an ass with a carrot glued to its head).

Short story is the cliche — wife of 15 years has affair with smooth-talking older boss. Lasted 12 to 18 months, sex about 12 times with no protection (if they are to be believed with regard to the number of times). Classic “we have a connection/he understands me” bullshit. I stayed and tried to “move forward” with her for our family, and did everything in the most painful way possible in the process.

This included:

– Letting her choose to remain with the company, because she loved her job and I thought “forcing” her to quit would make her resent me.
– Not reporting him to spare her the humiliation and career damage
– “Respecting her privacy” by not looking at her phone
– Buying a home

This pick me dance lasted about 8 months. The pain and frustration ate at my soul like an acid. I began drinking more, and frankly began unravelling mentally. I finally reported him, anonymously, to try and get him out of our lives. I was up front with my wife, and even warned the creep, asking that he do the right thing and just accept responsibility for his actions and leave. Of course he didn’t.

This led to a total freeze out emotionally from my spouse. Eventually an attempt at self harm on my part, and a 9-month separation. My wife and I were very slowly building a relationship (spending some evenings/dinners together) with nothing physical and her flat out saying she had no idea what she wanted, when another woman began showing SERIOUS interest in me (it was mutual, to be fair). My wife then “confessed” she still loved me, wanted me to move home, wanted to be a family again — everything I had begged for, presented all at once, basically out of the blue.

I felt I had to take the chance. We have four children, a home, and by that point 17 years of marriage. So I moved home. I wasn’t proud of how it looked — I never intended to use another person to make my wife jealous — but there it was.

My wife has been fantastic for the last year. No contact with the other man, totally loving and devoted, and open book, etc. I have no reason to doubt this is what she wants. I know this has been a disaster for her and really believe she would never cheat again. Frankly I think she would do just about anything for me.

So that’s it — I am (we are) a unicorn… Except I still wrestle with the sheer magnitude of the lies, the omissions, the betrayal. It still consumes me at times. It affects my ability to enjoy sex — hell it affected my ability to HAVE sex for a time. Her behaviour still baffles the shit out of me and makes me wonder who she really is at times. I frankly question if I made a mistake going home.

I feel guilty though even thinking these thoughts. I feel like I am betraying her perfect conduct and sincere intentions by even considering the question of whether I will ever be able to let it go.

Any thoughts? Is there a statute of limitations for choosing a path when the stakes are SO HIGH? I am a father. I have responsibilities. My dad totally abandoned us when I was 2 — we had a very rough life as a result. I feel selfish and shitty for my doubts.

Jobin

Dear Jobin,

When someone shows you flagrantly toxic narcissism, it’s rather a tall order to forget it ever happened and feel safe again.

Also factor in that your wife was a good manipulator, because she maintained her affair for 18 months (at least, the self-reporting of cheaters is suspect). You’re wondering, like every chump in reconciliation wonders, she fooled me then — how do I know she’s not fooling me now?

Well, you don’t. That’s the dilemma of reconciliation. You don’t trust this person. You can either do the mental gymnastics of remaining married to someone you don’t trust or you can’t.

Oh but you’ll learn to trust again! Well, that’s what the RIC unicorns says. Through Great Courage and Honest Reckonings Your Marriage Will Be Stronger For This!

I don’t know any of these stronger marriage unicorns Thanks to the Wake Up Call of Infidelity. What I see are a bunch of twitchy, sad people on reconciliation boards “triggering” years after the fact. Of course, everyone hopes to be a real live unicorn some day! (It’s a process!) So they choke down their fears and take another toke on the hopium pipe.

How do you know she’s not fooling you now? Through years of the trust-but-verify lifestyle. Being the Marriage Police. And as any wily cheater knows, it’s pretty easy to get around that. You get a secret cell phone. You get a P.O. box. You set up a fake Facebook profile. You conduct your affair at work. By throwing your chump off with your goodness and devotion. By being hurt and wounded when they don’t trust you — “Aren’t you over this YET? I’m doing everything right!”

Oh, Chump Lady, you’re so cynical. Maybe she’s really Changed! 

Okay, so just confer trust without verification and learn to live with your twitchy doubts, for the good of the family.

And maybe she has changed. Still doesn’t change who she was and how she treated you in the affair.

What exactly has she done to earn back her marriage?

My wife has been fantastic for the last year.

How exactly?

No contact with the other man,

Does she still work with him? See my workaround above.

totally loving and devoted,

Devoted to who? Her good impression? Does anyone KNOW about her affair? Has she had to admit it to anyone in your life, in your family, in therapy? In her job?

and open book, etc. I have no reason to doubt this is what she wants.

You have every reason to doubt this is what she wants. She had a good life and four children and chose to throw it all away for an affair with her boss. She’s not exactly the poster child for gratitude. Besides which, fuck what she wants — what do YOU want? Is this marriage — with its fractures and lack of trust now, however loving on the surface — ACCEPTABLE to YOU? Is this who you want to grow old with? Have sex with? Commit yourself to?

I know this has been a disaster for her

How exactly has it been a disaster? She still has her family and zero consequences. Did she lose her job? Someone’s fine opinion of her? How exactly has she suffered as compared to how you have suffered? You know who this has been a disaster for? YOU. Do you think your wife writes to advice columnists and asks “Boy, my affair has really been a disaster for Jobin. It’s been so unfair to him. What should I do?”

No. She felt entitled to her affair. And she felt entitled to reconciliation.

and really believe she would never cheat again. Frankly I think she would do just about anything for me.

Based on what evidence? Apparently, she was quite happy to have a front row seat to your nervous breakdown, so long as it didn’t interfere with her affair. You’re GUESSING she would be there for you, and when TESTED she was NOT there for you. She ate 8 months of cake. That is who she IS. That is her character on display. “Thinking” she would be there for is, is just that — a thought.

Your wife ate cake until you stopped pick me dancing. You diverted your attention to another woman, and that was a threat to her kibble supply. So, she reeled you back playing the guilt card of fatherhood.

Where was the concern for her four children when she was fucking her boss for 18 months?

Now you’re the Bad Parent for considering divorce? Don’t feel “shitty and selfish” — you’re reacting to what SHE did. The problem isn’t your reaction, the problem is WHAT SHE DID. She broke this marriage, not you. Don’t forget it.

 I have responsibilities. My dad totally abandoned us when I was 2 — we had a very rough life as a result. 

You absolutely can be (and should be!) a responsible father when divorced. Divorce is not abandonment. It’s a legal severing of a marital relationship.

You want to test your wife’s commitment to reconciliation? Here’s an exercise in shit-owning — have her sign a postnup. Work out a fair custody arrangement and financial settlement in the advent of a divorce. If you want to try harder at reconciliation, do it with the support of a fully worked out divorce agreement. You said she’d “do anything” for you. See if she’ll do that. She won’t do it? There’s your answer.

Or you can skip that step entirely and just face that her affair was a deal breaker for you. And it doesn’t matter how sorry she is now — you want a new 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.
  • Yeah, she didn’t like the thought of you finding happiness with someone else so she played nice to win you back.

    I don’t think it’s possible to reconcile after a lengthy affair. She was capable of choosing to betray and hurt you repeatedly for 18 months. How can someone truly turn on a dime and decide to be faithful? I have seen “Waywards” on other boards who call themselves names like “I’m a good guy now” or “I’ll adore my spouse for all eternity” and I have to chuckle. They get caught and immediately change? Do they really think anyone should buy it?

    Think about how it will be to live with this uncertainty forever. Even if she never cheats again, the damage has been done.

    • I love this whole blog entry from CL. This is IT in a nutshell–she sees right through the fluff and fog that our cheaters love to throw into the mix to confuse and manipulate.

      Jobin, what your wife is doing is called “compartmentalization”. It’s how they can continue to destroy people in their paths with the lies and deceit. “This is my work life. I do in my work life things that I would never do at home. I keep my work life completely separate.” Sometimes it can be a good thing, but in these cases, it’s horrifying.

      I would ask your wife a few more things, on top of that pre-nup…such as, “So tell me your thought processes when you were planning your trysts.” Precise planning, elaborate lies, crazy behavior to hide the affair–are there letters/emails/texts? Pictures? Did she spend any family funds on her affair?

      Why I think you should ask is because you will get a glimpse into how deep this deceit actually goes. You are willing to see it as a shallow mistake, something that “just can’t happen again” because she’s being so nice.

      Do you remember her being a raging lunatic bitch for the “18 months (*cough* bullshit *cough*) that she was screwing her boss? No? Well then. Perhaps the Nice Wife isn’t exactly what she seems.

      She wants something. Your silence and support. The advantage financially of an “intact family unit”. You won’t embarrass her to your kids. Or to the family.

      How about this–when the woman who showed interest in you triggered your wife to start ACTING like the devoted wife—did you think that perhaps she went to her Affair Partner and said, “OK. We’re caught. Time for you to get me out of this situation and marry me. I’ll leave my husband for you.” And the AP said….”Uh…..no….you were a free piece of ass sweetheart. Not gonna happen.”???

      Another thing is her toddler mentality. Her immature and irresponsible behavior. Just like a child, she thinks that if you put a toy down, it’ll still be sitting there when she wants to play with it again.

      What happens when she gets bored with her toy again—and now she knows just how to conduct an affair on a more discreet level.

      Deceitful behavior isn’t an accident, it’s an on purpose. You observed her in her lies for those 18 months…compare how she’s acting NOW to how she acted at the time of the affair. Similar? Or over the top?

      You’ve got all the cards, dude. First I would tell everyone. It’s for YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. Explain it to your kids in age appropriate ways. Why are you keeping her secret for her…you did nothing wrong.

  • Jobin – I KNOW how you feel! I anguished over filing for divorce because of my children for 18 long, painful months of my STBXW living in our home and pretending to be “working on our marriage” in MC while at the same time continuing her affair(s). Do you know for sure your wife isn’t still maintaining a relationship with her boss? I must agree with CL. If you want to remain a unicorn, get a postnup. If your wife is REALLY devoted to you and to making your marriage work, she will agree to (at least) equal, joint custody of your children (I know that is painful to hear) and should be willing to be very generous to you financially (after all, she is going to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work, right?) Best of luck, Jobin

  • Jobin……

    Like you, I tried to save my marriage and spare my children being from a “broken” family.I tried to reconcile and forgive. He continued with his affair even while we were attending marriage counseling. I was blown away by his lack of respect for me over and over again. The entire time I was trying to make it work I doubted my ability to ever forgive and feel the same about him. I didn’t feel the deep love and companionship anymore. THAT broke my heart too. I WANTED to feel deeply in love again. I wanted to be able to pick out anniversary cards and valentine cards that were true words for me. I recall countless times I stood in front of racks of cards and cried because I couldn’t find ONE card that matched how I felt!!!

    After 5 years of trying…..and one final dday……I quit! I told him I was done. While walking along the beach on vacation with my teenage daughters I realized that I never was going to fully heal from his affair and be able to fully trust him again. And because of that I was never going to open my heart fully to him. This was not acceptable to me and I doubt that would have worked for him either. Sometimes the betrayal is just too much! Do yourself a favor and take some time to really think about your future and what you want for YOU! If you are not ALL IN and then you should consider divorce. And that is ok!!!!

    Good luck!

    • Thanks – really sorry to read what you went through – i thought I was the only one that actually did that with cards haha!

      I am going to start doing what I need to do – beginning with being honest with myself about what I can and can’t get over, and frankly what some her actions really meant.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write.

      Jobin

      • I’m 8 years and another child post discovery (we have 2 kids). I wish I would have left right when I found out. The further away I get from that day, the harder it is to leave. I couldn’t imagine myself being a single mom with an infant. (yes, he had an affair while I was pregnant and with my best friend at the time.She was also his business partner’s GF. I think the affair lasted somewhere around 18 months to maybe 2 years. They were really sketchy about the length. )

        I don’t know all the details about the affair. We went to counseling and the counselor suggested that the details do more harm than good. I protested but he didn’t budge and still hasn’t. So because of that I don’t know how, when, and where each tryst took place. But a few years ago I realized I will never trust him again. Now, I’m trying to find a way out. We’ve done counseling, with three different therapists, joined a church and found a marriage workshop. We attended the workshop 2 different times.

        I also wonder about a statute of limitation. Am I too far into this to just walk away?

  • I agree.

    She saw someone else had an interest in you, and all of a sudden “Oops! WOW I better shape up and toe the line before I lose this good situation I’ve got”. It sounds like you are a really nice guy and she took you for granted – big time. Make sure you are not being “too nice”. I was/am still like that, and I have to learn not to be (it’s getting better!). Read about being “too nice’; boundaries, and setting them. My X had no respect for me because I was too tolerant of his abusive bullshit, for too many years. It’s for YOUR health – NOT her’s.

    A postnup is a great idea. You will ALWAYS have SOME doubt. Different folks have different tolerance levels, and it will be up to you to decide how much tolerance you are willing to have with this. Like CL says – if she’s genuine about changing – the idea of a postnup should not be an issue for her.

    Willing to bet you though – in time she will be tempted to fall into that behavior again when she thinks things are comfy (a little too comfy) again.

  • Well, you really feel stupid when Dday #2 rolls around, and it probably will because it usually does. Not always, but usually. And even if that doesn’t happen, the behavior tells you something very telling about the power-dynamic in your relationship: she’s in charge no matter what you think. You aren’t a partner, IMO; you’re a subordinate (or a preferred source of kibbles).

    You can’t get the time you “wasted” back, but that’s potentially OK too. I put “wasted” in quotes because it doesn’t mean to me what it means to people who are freshly going through betrayal who are still very angry (and rightfully so) at having “invested” in their cheater.

    I consider the waste, in retrospect, the time and energy you spend being inauthentic and projecting what you want somebody to be–as opposed to who they really are–onto them.

    Like a lot of things involving great mental feats often involving faulty coping strategies, that can be very exausting stuff. Nothing worse than pretending to trust somebody you can’t really trust, pretending to be happy when you’re not, pretending not to be jealous when you are, projecting your feelings onto somebody else and doing what folks here call “spackling”.

    So now onto why I say this is all potentially OK even though I obviously skewed against doing exactly what you are doing? Because… if that’s what it takes to get you to eventually and finally own who you are and let her own her stuff and start being more authentic, then that’s just what it took for you to get there.

    I know I was a slow student in the school or hard knocks, so I’m not going to beat up on you hoping you figure it out because I managed to push the right button that sends the right cog to egage the right gear which will then turn and have it all click into place. I don’t even think it’s possible for me to do that 🙂

    Good luck. Hope it all goes well, but hope and 5 bucks might buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

  • Jobin, here is w hat I get from your letter…You are staying for your children and truly want to be a great father…I was the same way, but I am here to tell you that you can be a great father post divorce, even better because when you are with your kids you can focus solely on them.

  • Fell for her smooth talking boss?
    Get rid of that narrative, no one can be seduced unless they want to be seduced.

    She took you back when you were getting close to another woman?
    More like OM was going to, or did, kick her ass to the curb for a new hide !

    Trust me, you will never forget and the triggers will always be there. I can testify to 3 decades of that shit. And don’t let anyone, especially her, tell you that you have poor character because you don’t trust her and can’t forget about what she did. Your wife will always remember her special time with the boss and so will you. ALWAYS ! Expect it!

    • Good catch. His narrative has her as the victim of a smooth talker. BTDT. She’s no victim, and that’s pure projection. He’s the victim, and she’s the perpetrator.

      • Jobin, I was with my ex for 28 years and when he allowed someone else into our marriage he pretty much ruined it. It was over the day he made conversation with her. And was available. It happened because he was open to it. Cheaters actively pursue each other. It happened when he stopped paying attention to his family (to his wife and three beautiful children). It happened because minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, we choose what we want, what we do, and who we are going to be. His affair was my wake up call. Our life together? Pretty typical and what looked like a great marriage. Looking back a lot was missing and it may be this that is giving you pause. Was she an attentive, respectful, reciprocal spouse? Are you a priority? Are her children a priority? Or was she withholding, Sparkly, and disengaged? In the last two years of my marriage I knew something was wrong and I was the only one working on our marriage. On Dday the puzzle fell into place and I realized that he had made decisions long ago that will affect me and our children. It’s not a great legacy, Jobin.
        One another note, my parents had a great marriage until my mother had her affairs (my father only knew about one) but they stayed together. He loves her. But ask me if he’s happy now. 🙁 ask me if the relationship ever got better…. She is still the self absorbed person she has always been and is just as disengaged as she ever was. Not a great model for marriage either. My Dad deserves better and so do you. (Also do be careful about hooking up with others too soon….)

        • “Cheaters actively pursue each other”. Truer words, never written!

          When my Ex made contact with Dr Hoe (an old HS person, whom he hardly even knew…she was trolling for fresh dick amongst her HS acquaintances), his response when she asked if he was married:

          “Yes, unfortunately.”

          Kind of says it all, right?

          His “I’m a poor widdle sausage” act was that it was a joke. Ha ha, sez me, very funny. End of marriage, boom!

          I won’t bore the list with the rest of the fall out. Just that cheating has intentionality on both sides, planning, forethought and willingness on both sides. Both cheaters, that is. They set out to steal from you, the trusting honest person, the one with integrity.

          • YES!! this is well said. and drew too.

            “It happened because minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, we choose what we want, what we do, and who we are going to be.” my XH HAD a CHOICE the minute he met her, the second he started talking to her….. some where in the time he spent with her he decided that SHE was MORE then his family, his wife and his kids. HE MADE THAT CHOICE to allow it to be MORE then a friendship even thou he was committed to me and his kids. Its not like i didnt have men hit on me, ask me out while i was married. its not like in the whole 14 years i was with my XH that i didnt find some man sexually attractive.

            the difference is that i valued my marriage. i meant my marriage vows. i made the choice to NOT jump that sexy man and to go home and make love to the man i chosen.

            when they make the decision to cheat, they do not value their marriage, their family, their wives/husband or their kids.

            i also panicked the first time (first time i saw not the first time he cheated) my XH was running off with the hoodrat. i begged my husband to come back to me so scare to “LOSE” him. i forgave him 100% for his cheating and betrayal. in fact, the day i found out about this new hood rat, i was super shocked. AND i got those same feeling. like i HAD to FIGHT for him. that was MY husband…..it is a natural feeling i think but this time i recognized that it couldnt have happened if my husband didnt allow it to happen. i realized THAT was what he wanted. either to cheat and fuck other women whenever he got “bored” or for me to chase after him and drag him back home to his family making him feel like he was “wanted”…..and either way. it was NOT HOW I WANTED TO LIVE….

            so this time i let him go. second hardest thing i had to do in my life!!!! i let the shitty hateful mean and evil MOW “WIN” the fight over him and of course she just HAD to throw it in my face making it even that much harder. and i walked away from that deception and pain. although i am still struggling with “did i make the right choice” and “should i have fought for him Again!” and the pain is heart shattering, breathe stopping sometimes. i have to keep reminding myself that THIS WAS HIS CHOICE AND I DID NOT WANT TO LIVE LIKE THAT….

            • Excellent explanation of events that occur in these marriages. Thank you, it truly makes sense to continue and live a life without all the drama!

    • It’s not a true or healthy reconciliation until she owns her actions. As long as she plays victim to the smooth talker, she is vulnerable to falling again. She gets to choose. And she chose him…covering for OVER a YEAR!!! It didn’t just happen. She needs to accept her agency and responsibility in this. If not, I think it’s just a matter of time before it happens again.

        • What is your definition of “owning their actions”? What is acceptable “owning”?

          I think you might need to spend a little time going through the past 2 years of blog posts and comments in order to get the answer to this–because us just telling you that “all cheaters play from the same book” isn’t going to get traction. You’re looking for hopium.

          Your situation may be different in some ways, but the cheaters very, very rarely do any thing ORIGINAL. Just read others’ stories here.

          My question to you is, what is your cheater doing to change things for the better? Therapy? Post-nup? Allowing you to tell family, friends? No contact with AP? Complete transparency (cellphone, laptop)? Any attitude like “you need to forgive me or else I can’t stay with you”?

          Even then, 2012Chump….it’s still what is inside of YOU. Your mental and physical well being was put in harm’s way by this person—and you trust someone who would do that? Someone who would bring disease or danger or financial ruin to you and your family—did they just up and one day confess or were they caught red handed? Did they try to cover for themselves with more lies until you had them dead to rights?

          You’ve heard the saying…”He’s not sorry for what he did, he’s sorry he got caught.” This is pretty much true for ALL OF THEM, particularly anything beyond a drunken one night stand with someone that they can’t even name.

          Some here have had YEARS of deception piled on. Resources diverted and destroyed from their family–not just money, but TIME and REPUTATION.

          Hopium is a strong drug, 2012. You need to see this not in terms of what your cheater is or is not doing, it’s what YOU can get REALISTICALLY from this relationship. You need to see the marriage for what it IS, not what you “want” it to be. Potential does not make a marriage.

  • There are people who have affairs and just walk away from the marriage and family, having evidently decided that the the gig offered more than the old one (which almost certainly proves not to be the case once the new gig becomes the everyday reality of bills, mowing the lawn, and supposed commitment). Then there are cheaters who want to maintain their home base while having the excitement of cheating. Your wife falls into this category. She gets to compare you to someone else, unfavorably, while guilting you into staying in the marriage. She has a father for her kids that she controls. She has a lover and all of the fun and thrill of secret meetings, secret calls and messages, secret plans. Secrets, kept from you. If she and the OM get off on triangulation, they have 2 of those going if he is married. They both get to be the sultry desired and desirable AP AND the person at the center of the pick-me dance between the spouse and an AP. They are awash in kibbles.

    You, on the other hand, have to listen to “we have a connection” BS, which implicitly degrades your marriage. That wasn’t a connection, eh? The four kids? The 17 years? You report her boss and YOU get the freeze out? Then someone is interested in you and “out of the blue” she changes her mind? This is one seriously manipulative woman.

    You are having trouble with being vulnerable enough to have sex with this person? Well, that’s just your body and your unconscious mind telling you that you aren’t safe. You “wonder who she is.” Of course you do, and that gets in the way of your belief that her turn-around is sincere. The facts that she punished you for blowing the whistle on the boss and only reeled you in when you started looking elsewhere are key to understanding who she is. She’s the boss of you. She doesn’t want to raise 4 kids as a single mother because no doubt her AP was married too and neither of them wanted to give up ANYTHING.

    You think you put her into the pick-me dance and she picked you. It’s just as likely that she was protecting a situation she didn’t want to lose–intact home with the 4 kids and your stability as her “base.” She and her boss (or some other person she gets connected to) can start up again any time. And unless you have done the work of marriage policing, you really have no idea. I like CL’s advice. Pull out the post-nip and see what she does. You might also think about individual counseling to sort out your family of origin (FOO) issue with your father. He cost you a family in your childhood with his selfishness and now you are married to someone who walked out on you in every way but changing her address. So I’m thinking you need to figure out why you are repeating THAT pattern–not the one where you are “abandoning” people by setting some boundaries for what you expect for yourself in your marriage. I think people have affairs and sometimes kill the real love their partner feels for them. It’s OK for you to feel that she broke it and you can’t stay married to her. There are plenty of women who would love a nice, faithful guy like you. Trust me on that.

    • Thanks so much for this analysis – I can’t believe how people I don’t even know are willing to take the time to read my story and respond so thoughtfully.

      NOW – tell me why I felt the need to share how many times they had sex, and that it was unprotected? (I just noticed I did that and thought ‘why the hell would I feel the need to include THAT info?’ hahaha

      • Jobin, why would you tell people how many times they had sex/that it was unprotected? Because it shows her willingness to put your health at risk through STDs, and how many times (that you know of) she did just that. That she couldn’t be bothered to even try to have safe sex and keep that possible health harm from you.

        At least that’s why I told people when my ex admitted to it.

      • Well, I do not understand why she would want her tissue marinated by semen. Why not use protection?
        One guy on another site told me that semen has chemicals that give women a high. Perhaps the women can comment.
        Why risk STDs and pregnancy? These folks are just nuts.
        I’d steer cleat of her vagina, as who knows what microbes have infested it.

        • From a woman’s perspective, not using protection is just… insane. But I’m not a narc either so who knows what gets some folks off. (They’re like their own species.)

          Also from a woman’s perspective, there’s no chemical high from semen. (At least not that I’ve noticed.) Nothing bad about it either. I believe women are turned on by men climaxing for much the same reason as men are turned on when a woman is clearly enjoying the sexual experience. Jobin’s wife has zero respect for his health. Using protection was the absolute least she could have done.

        • It’s not the obsession with how many times, how many ho’s, it’s the absolute DISBELIEF that your spouse would:

          1. Engage in sex with others while married to you-broken vows
          2. Lie about it all- in my case, old HS GFs, co workers, decade long fuck buddy, prostitutes, porn, cheatingwebsite profiles
          3. Not even consider the health ramifications of fucking these people who themselves are also cheaters- my husband NEVER used condoms with anyone and his decade long fuckbuddy is a MOW who is a swinger and has had multiple affairs. The topper was finding all this out and connecting the timeline to my pregnancies and nursing my infants. I had had unprotected sex via my cheater with ALL of his special friends.

          It’s not the how many. It’s the unbelievable realization of How Could You, You Selfish Asshole!

          • He risked my health and my children’s health all because of his entitled needs.

            Last November I had the worst 48hrs of my life waiting for my STD panel results, and wrapping my head around what to do with my kids should anything come up positive. I was just tested again this yr and thankfully it’s still negative. The STD check is now an annual routine for a while.

            Please get checked.

      • I think that sharing that information comes because we really, truly have a hard time believing that our spouses could betray us not only by having sex once, but repeatedly, AND that they were so wrapped up in themselves that they never thought about how their actions could expose us to disease.

        I know that some people say that sex is just sex, but it isn’t. It’s also an assumption of risk, and thus a trust that the person you’re with will not knowingly endanger you. When someone has unprotected sex outside the marriage relationship, they’re endangering you and affecting your future sex life. After all, many STDs will hang around long after the marriage has been dissolved.

        So repeating the information is just one way to wrap your head around the fact that you were so intimately betrayed–and not just once, but several times!

        • Sadly, I wasn’t as lucky. My husband of then 22 years and the only one I have EVER been with had a year long affair with a coworker. I was diagnosed with HPV 16 and later cervical cancer. After undergoing a full radical hysterectomy, and 15 rounds of chemo, I still don’t know if I’ll make it to the 5 year mark where the doctors consider me a survivor

          • I am so sorry you are going through this. I send you all my wishes for getting to the 5-year mark and making a full recovery.

      • I think it’s an intimacy thing–there is “nothing between them.” And certainly not you. Again–you see the obvious skeevy aspects of it, but that other part of you is seeing that it’s another level of betrayal. (I’m convinced that our bodies and unconscious minds tell us the truth while our regular brain specialize in spackle.)

    • Yep. Marriage policing. THAT will give you a nervous breakdown. And let’s them practice their manipulative, lying, covering up dogshit schtick. Drives the little weasels underground further. And makes YOU crazy. BTDT. Trying to stay on watch at all times is g, crazymaking, bullshit. And you will try to manage what they are up to. With that sick knot in your stomach. And when you find ing, and you will, you will questionnyourself. Is this real? Am I just overreacting? Maybe I’m wrong? Don’t do it. Serious mindfuckery. Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

  • Jobin–I’m so sorry you are in this position. We would all do anything for our children, but trust me, what Cletus & others say is true–you will be a much better parent when you are emotionally stable at not having to mistrust your wife. Your children should have the chance to see what a healthy relationship looks like (and your current marriage is not that).

    [Wow, CL, just wow–these letters are like blocks of ice that you carve into sculptures of ice swans. Impressed, again.]

  • Jobin, When you’re cruising along in your life and you feel like you have a solid marriage and family life, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Bam! It blows up in front of your face; you feel upended, upside down. Nothing is as it seemed, as you believed, had known in your heart how it was. It’s awful! Our initial reaction is to fight for what is ours. We can’t see the truth as it is. That our spouse really is a lying cheating, scumbag. It’s normal. She had a secret life for at least 8 months (that you know of), so she’s way ahead of you by having knowledge you don’t have. For you, it was one way one day and entirely different the next. That takes time to wrap your head around. I think you’re there now. You’ve had enough time to digest the situation, but now what? You’ve had your initial reaction, which was expected. What will your next move be now that you know what you know? What do YOU really want? I can tell you that if she loved you, she would not have had an affair. She would not turn on you for anonymously selling out her boss. She would not have waited until you were interested in someone new to come running back. Where was she during your breakdown? Was she by your side proclaiming her love and devotion, nursing you back to health? I wish you the best, Jobin. Do what is right for you.

  • Jobin – go with your gut. If all you can think about when you’re with her is the betrayal, your future holds a LONG stretch of unhappiness. One you may resent, in time.

    I didn’t want to pull the plug on my marriage, either. XH filed for divorce without discussing it with me or saying one word to the children. We were all just kicked to the curb. That was that.

    It was rough. But now, nearly four years later, the kids and I have regrouped and are moving forward. XH continues to put himself first. He hasn’t changed. I doubt he ever will. But at least I’m not involved with his day-to-day drama anymore. It’s MUCH better to watch from afar.

    I suspect that may be the same case with you, Jobin. Were you happier when you were separated than you are now? If so, that’s your answer.

    Yes, divorce is hard on the kids, no, we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of our parents. But her infidelity wasn’t your mistake – it was HERS. Don’t take the blame for her destroying your marriage.

  • I, simply, could not go back with someone who cheated on me, anymore than I could go back to someone who beat the crap out of me , or harmed my kids, or killed my dog or similar atrocities.
    I know this may sound petty. maybe it is. But, I have always felt that someone who lets another person treat them like shit and goes back lacks a decent sense of self esteem.
    I think I am a pretty nice guy. I forgive people for a of shit, all the time (when they apologize). But, not this type of thing. It is dramatically worse than most transgressions.
    Your wife watched as you came unraveled, nearly ending your life. Mine watched while I lost 4olbs in 2 months off a reasonably fit body. My XW watched as I almost lost my job, could not sleep or eat, got PTSd etc.
    It takes a special kind of evil person to do that.
    My kids lives were turned upside down. Our finances went to hell and I will never recover as I am too old(she was spending out of control).
    I think, in the long run, it is always best to get the hell away from these fucking monsters.
    I think you are wrestling with the concept of having to go through the rest of your life knowing that your wife got over on you. She played you for a fool. She did not give a shit about you and she must think you are a lesser being than she is.
    That is the imbalance of power CL refers to. You are a subordinate, not an equal.
    Show her that you can do better without her. She has contempt for you and sees you as a weakling. You are not her pawn. Do not let people treat you like dirt and get a free pass.

    • There’s something very unsettling about the whole “self harm” (anger turned inward and not valuing self) thing, and then “another woman” being interested in him thing.

      It’s like his sense of self-value comes from others (see another woman liked me), and that gave him some false sense that he might be in control and have value when the wife reacted to the kibble supply threat.

      • Time Heals–I don’t think it is conclusive that the “self harm” is indicative of low self-esteem (nor does the psychological evidence support that). My therapist described it as socially acceptable way to express hurt & helplessness–the person is not assaulting someone else, not damaging property. They have a deep well of pain that has nowhere else to go. There is also some physiological evidence that self-harm can release endorphins that minimize that pain.

        Jobin seems to me to have a pretty clear identity, and mainly to think worse of himself for staying with his wife. Don’t we all? I’ve had moments of self-loathing at how much I was willing to put up with from my STBX (even before I discovered his cheating). But most of the chumps on here don’t strike me as having low self-esteem in general. People who keep giving emotionally are typically in better psychological shape than those who take, take, take. Our psyches take a blow because we can’t wrap our head around the pain of discovering that a person to whom we have entrusted our hearts has instead stabbed us in the heart.

        • Well, I can only speak for myself when I say, any time I ever thought I had some control over somebody else because they reacted to a kibble-supply threat, I was deeply deluded and not owning something that often gets labeled as co-dependent behavior: trying to exert control over things I had not control over and not controlling things I had control over (namely myself and my own choices).

          So I am suspicous.

          Plus, I am from the school that says if you are angry, you need to carefully consider what are you angry about. Aggression towards yourself leads me to suspect it’s about something you are doing, not doing (same thing really) and maybe even a new reality you don’t want to adapt to or deal with. For example, I can totally see somebody in shock and denial obsessing over their spouse’s behavior, thoughts of the future, etc, all while not getting enough rest or taking care of themself, and I understand that happens (and have done it myself), but ideally… the thing to do is rest, take care of yourself, adapt, and overcome. And it was something he brought up in the letter, so I am thinking he attaches some significance to that, but I’m just not sure what to think other than… that’s not healthy, and that’s something to think about.

          • Hey, Time and Tempest-

            Both of you are kind of right about self-harm issues-like some eating disorders, it is a means of controlling pain and cognitive dissonance, sometimes the only means there is. An understandable reaction to an un-understandable situation (especially if you are a Chump, or a kid). The physical pain actualizes the mental trauma. But it can be managed….like all the other ‘gifts’ the Cheaters leave.

            Jobin-I can’t really add much more to what fellow Chumps have said-I come from anabusive FOO as well, and I know what it means to have invested so much in making your life NOT turn out like your childhood, only to have it turn out the same. Overcoming that is a lifelong goal, and as far as making sure your kids don’t take that forward, it is literally a moment by moment thing. YOU get to choose integrity, in all those little ways. YOU get to choose modelling what self-respect is. YOU get to raise your kids your way when you are with them. And YOU (eventually) will be able to find a partner worthy of you. Says the Cat Lady in tarining, LOL.

            I have to add to the ‘very much doubt it’ pile as far as post-nup goes-you are well putting the effort into a parenting agreement which benefits your kids.

            It gets better. Love to you, and all in Chump Nation!

            x-Meh.

          • Absolutely–much better to take action against a threat to one’s well-being (the cheater) than to hurt yourself. But you have to distinguish between short- and long-term action. Many of these cheaters are emotionally manipulative to the nth degree, and subtle & insidious in the damage they cause. A person can self-harm at the time of intense emotional pain because short-term relief is absolutely necessary, while still taking steps to problem-solve long-term (such as Jobin’s writing to CL–no one writes to CL who, in their heart of hearts, doesn’t know they have to leave the situation).

            This “X-syndrome/behavior is due to low self-esteem” is one of the biggest (and most damaging) psychological myths ever perpetrated on clinicians and an unsuspecting public. It was initially thought that bullies just had low self-esteem. Nope, research does not support that; the opposite is true. As CL points out, the “poor little sausage” syndrome assumes that Cheaters and narcissists and those with character disorder deep down have low self-esteem. Nope (read George Simon, who is very articulate on this). In educational circles, it was thought promoting self-esteem, even in the face of no real achievement, would improve academic scores and behavior. Nope–it just created more entitled children.

            I also know a number of posters on CL who have self-harmed or attempted suicide, and having read hundreds of their posts, know that they do not have low self-esteem–they were merely in horrific pain that led to not being able to see other options at that moment. They had also been in insidiously-damaging relationships, often for years, that eroded their other social support (the character disordered know that they have the most strength if they can isolate their victims). Self-harm is a temporary admission that you feel helpless and don’t have control over a situation at that moment; it is not indicative of the ability to take charge of the situation long-term (as many chumps on here have done).

            • Right on the money as usual, Tempest. Self-harm is, fortunately, usually temporary. I only know it as a witness-I dealt with my PTSD by undereating. Since then, DD and I have found much better options, namely No Contact and Limited Contact. Good reminder about the long game.

              And, boy do I hear you about self-esteem! I love George Simon, he has been really helpful to me. I think I was in denial about narcissism and evil even existing. I’ll never be that smug again. Occam’s razor (or here, Schorn’s Two-by-Four) works every time!

              x-Meh.

              • Mehphista–Tis hard to wrap one’s head around the degree of selfishness that these cheaters exhibit, and the pleasure they take from damaging others because they have power. I still have trouble with it after 25 years with a narcissist.

            • If you have been in a long term relationship with the type of person that jobin describes his wife as, I think there is a very good chance that you are depleted not just by the cheating, but, also by the type of relationship ypu were in before the cheating.
              I like myself enough. I am reasonably good at a number of things. After years of criticism, derision, silent treatments etc, I was pretty low, as well.
              A person capable of a long term affair, fucking with no protection, lying her ass off, could not have been a decent person to begin with. I imagine life with her was a living hell.
              Bet she slept like a baby while it was going on, right, jobin? Think a normal person could function like that with all the lying and all the damage she was doing?

              • What you said about sleeping like a baby struck a nerve with me. After DDay, I could not sleep. After the first 2 and a half days, I crashed and finally got about 3 hours of sleep. This continued until I decided I better get some help or my health was really going to suffer. Along with little to no sleep, I was vomiting daily, sometimes 2-3 times a day, and could only eat a small snack daily. I was prescribed Ambien and started sleeping a few hours each night. What I noticed, is that my now XH didn’t seem to care. He would hop in bed and be sound asleep by 9:30, while I laid there wide awake and completely miserable, hour after hour. Did he stay up late and tell me how concerned he was or suggest I get some medicine to help with this situation that HE created? Nope! Did he do or say anything of genuine concern? Not once! Why? Because he wasn’t suffering. I was. And he was perfectly okay with that. That’s the difference between narcissistic types and others. If someone I love is suffering, I’ll do anything I can to ease that or make it better. And of course, not causing them pain in the first place. But that was definitely a tell for me. Anyone who can just go about life as usual, sleep like a baby every night, etc, after dropping a bomb seems to me to be a sick individual.

              • This is an excellent point. It would be useful for Jobin to think about if he experienced signs of the narcissistic “devaluing” stage. It’s very, very hard to have an affair if the cheater hasn’t devalued the spouse, openly or covertly. That’s what the whole “we’ve got a connection” comment is about. We are such good sparklers that when cheaters abuse us verbally, we think we’ve done something wrong. Jobin–how was she treating you before and during the affair? While it makes no sense to untangle the skein of her fuckedupedness, we all need to reconstruct what happened to us. You also went through a kind of breakdown, so you’ve had your hands full just getting through the day. But think hard about how your were treated. In my own situation, I had no idea he was cheating, but he was mean, short-tempered with me. Like any couple, we had established routines about keeping in contact throughout the day, and he started breaking all of them and then criticizing me for asking him about it. Hw would promise to do things and then get angry when I asked him about it. (I’m still trying to get his “promised” stuff finished on my own.) He smirked a lot. So how did she treat you, Tobin, before you found out?

          • Yeah, obviously self-harm isn’t healthy, but I wouldn’t leap to the conclusion that Jobin derives his sense of worth from others, or that he’s angry at something he did or didn’t do. I say this as someone who has self-harmed in a fairly major way in the past. I was angry at myself, but unjustly angry.But I was also angry at others, and unable to deal with that anger. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say I was being emotionally abused in a way related to sex, which along with memories of prior sexual abuse left me (it seemed at the time) with no other way to deal with the situation. There are lots of reasons people self-harm, but I think the big one is that they need make the psychic pain they’re in real in the physical world.

      • I can tell you there was a tonne of introspection after this. At times my self esteem was zero – I was frankly convinced that I was not worthy of love, and that the best thing for everyone would be for me to be gone – because I was not fit to be a father either and would only be an embarrassing ‘weekend dad’… (I KNOW how twisted this thinking is now, have no fear)

        I am usually a very rational, logical person. I think if you asked people what my best quality was, they would say sense of humour (so I am trying to say I am not a vulcan). Right or wrong, I think my sense of self is pretty good now. Although yes, I think it is an open question whether I have an unhealthy need of approval (especially from women) – I certainly found it to be a huge genuine shock when the other relationship developed, and I know it gave my confidence a big boost… So was that a symptom of something to be worried about? I don’t know, but I am really thinking about it.

        I think I am ready to start taking an honest tally of things. I believe I will be re-reading CL’s words a LOT…

        Thanks again,

        • Jobin–after what you have been through with your wife, someone else being kind to you had to have had a HUGE pull. At the worst times in my marriage, I often teared up if someone was kind to me. After the pain of D-day, I once got emotional when the young kid in the fast-food drive through complimented me on my hair! Just to get a positive word about anything meant so much (and I do not suffer from low self-esteem or a poor sense of self).

          Let yourself off the hook on that one.

          • Oh yes Tempest, someone treating me kindly and with understanding can completely undo me. The first times with her, I had to tell my EMDR therapist to STOP looking at me with such compassion because it made me freaking cry.

          • I hear that, Tempest. Any kind word affected me greatly, as my home life was devoid of anything resembling love and affection.

            • Ditto that everyone. I would have a cup of coffee with a colleague who was nice, and then rush out into the parking lot, where no one could see me, and cry like a baby…..

          • I cried when the charter bus driver used to pull my bag out from the bay under the bus. It was such a kind thing to do.

            • Yes, here too. I was – and still am – hugely grateful when anyone is kind to me. I also self-harmed in the depth of his affair/discard/abuse. Thank you for describing it as a deep well of pain that has nowhere to go.

        • Jobim-First off, sorry you’re in this shithole. Sadly, you don’t have a unicorn. Unicorns have marriages that not only survive infidelity but thrive. It’s both people all in, both doing the heavy lifting etc. What you described is not that. It’s lopsided. You gave it a try, you can’t just heal overnight from her affairs. You can walk away.

          Secondly, I noticed some things and so far I think I’m the only one to mention them. Take it or leave it, either is fine.

          You wrote, “Although yes, I think it is an open question whether I have an unhealthy need of approval (especially from women) – I certainly found it to be a huge genuine shock when the other relationship developed, and I know it gave my confidence a big boost… So was that a symptom of something to be worried about? I don’t know, but I am really thinking about it.”

          I think it could be something to be worried about. This sounds different than just liking getting a compliment from someone at the drive-thru. You said a relationship developed, it caught you by surprise (sounds like it “just happened?”), she was “SERIOUSLY” into you and you said it was mutual. And you got a huge boost from it, aka kibbles. Going from what you wrote about it, honestly, it sounds like you had an emotional affair yourself. You were married and wanted someone other than your wife. If you’re married, the only one you should be pining for is your spouse. Plain and simple. Other people don’t become options until a divorce is final. The logic of “oh it must have been nice to feel understood” goes both ways. If cheaters can’t use that to excuse/justify their affairs you can’t use it either. You had an inappropriate relationship and you need to do the introspection and heavy lifting necessary to prevent it from happening again in the future when you’re in turmoil. I do find it interesting that you didn’t include more details of what happened with that woman. How did your wife find out about her? If your wife hadn’t gotten jealous what would have happened? How much time did you spend with her? How did it start? What are your boundaries? When do you determine when you’ve crossed a line? Your wife’s cheating is 100% on her. How you handled yourself with this other woman is 100% on you. Maybe I misunderstood something, but from what you wrote that’s what I got.

          You wrote “I never intended to use another person to make my wife jealous — but there it was.” But you did. A repeated message here is that intentions mean nothing, it’s the actions that count. You used another woman to make your wife jealous. You’re no better than the cheaters when you’re playing the same game, using the same pawn of the “pick me dance.” All it becomes is a game of revenge and who started what first. What separates the faithful spouse from the cheater is that the faithful spouse recognizes when they’re vulnerable, sets healthy boundaries, stays out of the danger zones with opposite sex relationships, doesn’t act on anything and holds strong to their character. To me, it sounds like you still have work to do in those areas (understandable) and it would be a good idea to spend time introspecting on them further.

          • This seems harsh, since the wife had cheated and they were separated but considering reconciliation. I don’t think cheaters get to assume that the chump will just sit there through an affair, a freeze-out because the chump blew the whistle, and a separation. In my state, once a couple separates, they are free to go there own way. I think Jobin shows a lot of insight into the way the woman he was involved with experienced the situation–not at all the way a narcissist would think or behave.

            Years ago, I dated a guy in Jobin’s situation for a while. I really liked him and it hurt when he just disappeared. A long while after he dropped off my radar, I got an email apology out of the blue. I told him them that I understood his situation and he probably did the right thing, even if in a sort of painful way. I realize now (having been chumped myself) what he was going through and why his behavior was so erratic. He was doing the best he could at the time, and God bless him, he recovered and found a great woman who helped him raise his kids.

            • I’m not going to sit by and condone and emotional affair on his part if that’s indeed what it was. From what he wrote it sounds like it was. If his wife hadn’t been cheating, his letter would still be the same and I would still call him on it. If you’re going to reconcile the requirement is you stop/don’t start cheating. That applies to both parties. There are columns here on how EAs are just as bad as PAs. They’re both affairs, both cheating. I’m not going to say it’s okay for one person to cheat b/c their spouse is cheating, that’d be a double standard. Nor will I say it’s okay to cheat b/c “they’re in a shitty relationship.” Those are the same lines cheaters use to justify their actions, the door swings both ways. If I don’t condone it one way I won’t condone it the other way either. That’s poor character on both ends and it’s a shitty action of revenge that doesn’t get either party anywhere favorable. Then they both become cheaters with entitlement issues. He didn’t say anything about what the laws in his state are. Many states, as well as many values/moral codes, hold that you’re either married or you’re not. If you’re married it’s cheating. My stance is character often times goes above and beyond state laws on what you can and cannot do. The character of the faithful spouse is NOT cheating, emotionally or physically to begin with, even when presented with an opportunity. If he’s in a place where the law is if in separation it’s not cheating, and that’s what he wants to believe, then fine. That’s his choice to believe that. My answer still stays the same and he can leave it instead of take it. He already said he’s thinking about what he did and he wanted to know if it was something to be worried about. I say it is something that needs to be addressed. It’s a red flag when you’re married and wanting somebody else.

              • Feisty pants- I have to say, Honestly I was disappointed I felt the same way as you did when I read this post. Sadly, it seems Joblin is having a hard time getting over his partner during the separation as well.

              • fiestypants,
                I felt the same way when I came to that part of the letter. If I were in the situation of the woman who was interested in Jobin, I would feel used. However, I will never date someone until my divorce and their divorce is final. I just witnessed a similar situation with someone I know who’s husband was having an affair and had moved out. My friend and I reconnected because we are both going through a divorce. When we went out she always flirted and had several men interested. One turned serious with another two waiting in the wings. As soon as the husband found out, he dumped the OW and told my friend he wanted to reconcile. She immediately dumped the guy(s) she was seeing and ran back to him, after swearing for months that she would never take him back (this was his third affair). I feel like my friend was using these men until her husband came back and always had the intention of going back. She’s no different than her husband in my eyes. I’m no contact with my stbx, except for business matters. The last thing I said to him was that I would stay faithful to him until the divorce was final and that until we are divorced, we are married. This isn’t about him…it’s about me and my morals. I’m still married and even though the state says I am free to do as I please, this marriage is not over and I will behave in a way that brings honor to myself and to my marriage, even though my stbx does the opposite.

  • If you can’t get over it, you can’t get over it. She is the one who broke the contract, not you, so it really is on her if things don’t work out. The risk you take is that the next time, she will be smarter or more vindictive. This just does not sound like a quality of life.

    • True, Dr. ICBIC–there is no getting over infidelity. The best one can hope for it is to drive it down deeply enough that you don’t think about it, but your body betrays you–stress, inability to enjoy sex, lack of appetite (or eating too much).

      Healing only comes with leaving.

      • “Healing only comes from leaving.” That is true, Tempest. Jobin, please don’t allow others the power to define you. Each of us comes into this world with greatness, but it is uniquely ours, and you are meant to share that gift with others. You have the power to write your story and your children will play a big part in it. Life will always throw us challenges, it is what we do with those that will define us. And life is way too short not to be enjoying every day we have.

      • That is the truth people aren’t willing to acknowledge…there is NO getting over infidelity.

        He said I was the One And Only for him. And I believed him. And then he changed his mind. That’s not supposed to happen. We’re supposed to have a good marriage and beautiful children and a Golden Anniversary.

      • It feels so much like failing – my kids firstly, marriage second – but I have to be honest, I have wondered even in the best days since if it is REALLY possible to ever get over infidelity…

        The damage is SPECTACULAR to behold. And all this for what?

        • So you can have a better life, and so can your kids. As Bruce Lee said, “Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.” Co-parenting with a narcissist is hellish, but a worthy mission. I had to educate myself pretty quick-see all the resources in the forum. And Chump Nation is a strong, honest community-come here for your oxytocin fix!

          You’re a good person, and a good father, Jobin. The fact you are agonizing over what is best for your kids instead of curling into a ball, and coming here for guidance speaks volumes.

          Big hug.

          Meh.

        • Jobin, the best advice I can give is to read EVERYTHING here and do it over and over. It truly helps you in moving forward. I say moving forward and not “getting over it”. You don’t get over it. But it does become easier with time. Maybe those triggers no longer work. Maybe you can think about what happened and not feel emotional. I’m two years out from dday – one year divorced and most days are pretty darn good. It doesn’t go away, you just learn to deal with it differently. My 94 year old grandmother still has disdain in her voice if she brings up that my grandfather cheated on her when he was in Europe for WWII. They remained married for 70 years before he passed. The cheating is not a daily part of her life, but she never got “over” it, it just no longer ruled her life and made her react.

          The hardest part is to stop thinking about the “and all this for what”. Because I feel the same way. I did not deserve this punishment of a lifetime. It’s taken a while but you have to know it has NOTHING to do with you . Cheating is a choice. When EX was having his affair and I suspected but could not prove it, I was sooo beyond miserable. But did I cheat? NO! Because I have better character and judgement than that.

          I am more fortunate than most, My EX has been doing the work to figure out why he turned on everything he ever was and believed in and did what he did. He’s not doing it to get me back or to gain anything that I can see because he’s not asked for anything, he rarely mentions anything about it and he knows I’d never come back or give him a pat on the back for doing anything at all. I’m as no contact as I can be but we have a son that we actually co-parent well together and what others have said, I have found myself being a better, more focused more attentive parent because it’s just me and him when I have him. My son says “did you ever think what this does to me?” and I say to him, Everyday baby, every day! But I want you to know, he’s thriving, he is OK. He’s 10 so old enough to sort of understand but plenty he doesn’t. The main thing is that it makes him sad, he gets teary eyed when we discuss it but he is doing well.

          From everything you’ve said, you are not staying in your marriage for the right reasons. You may think you love your wife, but in reality you love the person you thought she was – she has shown you who she truly is and that’s why you have that persistent nagging. When you know, you know.

          I am sorry that you have to go through this. As someone who has lived it and has mostly come out on the other side, i’m telling you, save yourself. Saving yourself will save you AND your children.

  • That Esther Perolt drone ( highly credentialed- art history from a second rate diploma mill) would be shaking her head at us. poor little , unevolved types.
    I think a good rule of thumb would be to ask yourself WWEPD?( What Would Esther Perolt Do?). Then, do the opposite.
    I still , to this day, remember every single cruel thing my XWs said and did during their affairs. I am the first to admit that I hate them and would pay them back in spades if I got the chance and could get away with it.
    Yeah, that is right. I am a primitive cretin.
    Do not eat this shit sandwich, Jobin. You will rot from the inside.
    What happens down the road if you get sick or lose your job or have an accident. You will be warehoused somewhere, probably abused.
    This woman does not have your back.

  • “Except I still wrestle with the sheer magnitude of the lies, the omissions, the betrayal. It still consumes me at times. It affects my ability to enjoy sex — hell it affected my ability to HAVE sex for a time. Her behaviour still baffles the shit out of me and makes me wonder who she really is at times.”

    This is the thought that you will have to deal with for the rest of your marriage with your wife. You have to ask yourself if you can overcome it.

    I know I couldn’t. I know I would have tortured him the rest of my days no matter how much he wanted me. This is not the lifestyle I wanted for me or my kids.

    The Catch 22: She will bring another asshole into her life with you out of the house. He will be part of your children’s life.

    Infidelity is the cancer of a family and our spouses part take in it with no thought to the consequences. Because they “feel” a connection. What selfish bullshit.

  • CL – I absolutely LOVE the cartoon. I am putting it on my refrigerator right next to my OPUS cartoon by Berk Breathed.

  • Jobin, your situation is just one more example of how in the game of infidelity nobody wins. If you divorce her you have a long painful road ahead of you and many things to sort out. If you stay with her you have a long painful road ahead of you and many things to sort out.

    Something in your letter that stood out to me is that she really had control of the situation from start to finish. It’s okay for you to have some control in this decision, Jobin. Tell her to find another job. Tell her to sign the post nup. Then both of you go to individual and marriage counseling.

    Keep visiting this site and LEARN from other chumps who took their spouse back after a long affair only to be devastated by infidelity again in 2 years or 5 years or 10 years. They divorce then feeling as though they “wasted” a decade of their lives.

    Jobin, her affair was not a short fling or one night stand. It was a long and serious betrayal consisting of thousands and thousands of lies during those eight months. Like CL says, what were the ramifications for your wife? Nothing that I can see.

    I’m really sorry this is your reality. We’ll be here as you forge your way though the mire.

  • Ugh. Thanks for the fair evaluation CL – and the comments everyone. I don’t agree with all of them, but most are, sadly, spot on with what the little nagging voice in my head has been saying when I do try and honestly think about things…

    I was in an accident one time – motorcycle vs. truck. As I came over the crest of the hill on the highway and realized there was a truck stopped in my lane and I had no where to go, things went in to slow motion (I had never experienced that before but can confirm, yes, this happens.) I actually watched my hand slloooowwly reaching for the brake lever and had time to think ‘this is going to hurt!’

    That’s how this feels…

    But hey, like the song says, life is a highway!

    Thanks again everyone,

    jobin

    • Yeah, time distortion is normal. I remember wondering how days could be so long and wondering if I could make it through another one.

      Now weeks go by every time I blink.

      Best of luck.

    • I went through that when I flipped my car years ago Jobin. In those instances you actually do the right things, the options may be limited, but you have those slowed down moments to make decisions which cannot be changed at all after the fact. You follow your gut, your immediate awareness of the right and only things you can do. And you do them. What you are going through now is nothing like that, plenty of time to second guess your gut when you shouldn’t, no adrenaline and immediate danger that causes all your mental faculties to focus on the one right thing to do. Our physiology is not so good with cheating situations as it is with physical danger situations.

  • Jobin, thanks for sharing your story. Even though your circumstances are different, your story line and your expression of feelings mirror my own – I can write the same thing! Except my wife told me in therapy 9 months ago that her affair lasted 6 years, rather than the much shorter time she had previously admitted to. This after nearly 15 years of reconcilliation. Reconcilliation is a heavy, heavy cross to bear. You will never feel good about your relationship with your wife. She threw you under the bus for another man. She was willing to destroy your marriage, your kids, your life for someone else. You can never believe her version.

    I appreciate what I read here. I’m gaining traction in forging my own way out of reconcilliation hell. Hope you do too!

    • I’m sorry Thomas, I hope she isn’t also in another affair, that’s how my relationship played out 10 years after reconciliation. Jedi Hugs!

  • Hey Jobin: Your story and mine sound a lot alike. I’ve been married 13 years and 9.5 years into it my wife started an affair with her boss, who yeah, is a smooth, manipulative con artist. So much so that she lent (“lent”) him $200k out of her mother’s inheritance that he has yet to pay back. She’s now suing him.The affair lasted …. I don’t know. She’s told me 3 months. She’s told me 5 months. Former colleagues of hers speculate more like a year and a half. It all came out during a fight — she told me, and has been patting herself on her back for her “honesty” ever since, But there are lies she has told about it since, and I have suspicions about when she told me when she did. I also suspect she has a secret bank account.

    Anyway, like you I came close to a total mental collapse, which my wife watched with very little sympathy — her main concern was the effect on our family revenue (I own my own one-person business, so being too low to work is a bit of a disaster money-wise). She displayed no remorse, ditched marriage counselling, and felt (and feels) entitled to my income, my interest and my unpaid work around the house. I knew there was no chance for a happy marriage but, like you, stuck it out for the sake of my sons, who are 9 and 12.

    That was a bad choice, which I am now rectifying. I need a life that doesn’t make me feel like killing myself, and my sons need a father who is able to engage with them fully. I don’t minimize the pain the separation and divorce will cause them, but on balance it’s a better solution than letting them watch me effectively destroy myself while modeling the most pathetic, unhealthy relationship imaginable.

    You can only do what you’re capable of, but I urge you to a) get yourself to a counsellor to build up your sense of yourself as a person who can do what he needs to do for himself and his children and b) have at least an initial consultation with a lawyer to find out your options. You won’t regret doing either of these things.

    Good luck, and hang in there. Every person on the board is rooting for you — not for your marriage, for YOU.

  • Jobin,

    My situation didn’t exactly mirror yours in that I didn’t have any kids in the mix — but I am definitely familiar with the deep feeling of unease that you’re experiencing, and the guilt for even having those thoughts. You’re a good person who wants to be fair with other people – I can sense that from the way that you describe your wife and the situation that you are currently in. From the guilt you feel for even contemplating leaving her for another woman. From the concern you have for your children. You are a decent person, but you are looking out for everyone but yourself.

    What she did to you was abusive. It’s hard for a good person to register on a conscious level that there are people in this world who thrill to deceive and harm those they claim to love. So it eats away at you on a subconscious level until you feel like a shell of a human being. It is a special form of torture, impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t lived it. (So you get questions like “Why don’t you just leave?” or stupid statements like “Stop holding onto this, you need to forgive and forget.”

    I can’t tell you what to do, but ChumpLady’s advice is dead-on. You can take care of your children AND yourself. Those are your priorities. You are not obliged to stay with your abuser forever.

  • Jobin,

    FYI, I don’t think you can negotiate for child custody in pre-nups, at least in my state, as child custody is determined by what’s in the best interest of the children (which can’t be negotiated about beforehand).

    Also, why did you leave the home because of her affairs? Why should you be the one to leave? If she is unfaithful again, I would advise from a legal and moral standpoint for you to stay with your daughters and somehow get her to leave.

    Also, if we’re spinning the best story here, it looks like she came back because she was jealous that some other woman showed interest in you (not that she was dumped by her OM or anything like that). It wasn’t your emotional pain and nervous breakdown that caused her to come running back, but her selfish desire to have you all to herself (while she can be shared). Also, if she is unfaithful again, I would advise no-contact as much as possible to protect your emotional health. Evidence of psychological breakdowns may hurt you if there is a custody fight.

    • Short answer – I left because after I REALLY fell apart I was in the hospital for a little bit, and my family felt I shouldn’t go back to a toxic environment. I was so exhausted I just did as I was told. I think it was for the best at the time – I wasn’t welcome home anyway, my wife wasn’t leaving, kids were there, and lets face it – at that moment SHE wasn’t the one who’d just done something so stupid.

      The change of lifestyle was comical (well I can laugh now!). I was the absolute cliche – think Milhouse’s dad in the crappy aptmnt, except with more angst.

      I can confidently say, I will NEVER lose it like that again. I know this is going to sound contradictory on my part, given my battle to stay – but I did realize she is not worth falling apart over. I won’t do that ever again.

      • Jobin, I have a lifetime history of depression and suicide attempts and when my husband cheated and told me to get out I did collapse and spend time in the hospital. After so many years of repeating this pattern of harming myself because the painful emotions were too much to bear, I somehow decided that I would never again use suicide or self harm as an option to escape my pain. I swore to myself that my daughter deserved more. My parents deserved more. And even I deserved more. So even though I got started on my new life in a very rocky way, I have now gone over 13 months as a new me. The stubborn part of me deep inside knew that all I was doing was letting him win. He’s not going to win. My point is, I believe you when you say you feel confident that you will never lose it like that again. I feel the same. I have discovered in this year that I can withstand pain after all. Something I wish I had learned long ago. Hold your head high. They cannot take away our dignity.

      • Hi Jobin,

        When I was living with stbx, I thought of suicide daily. He was out two and three nights a week “working” and I knew this was a lie, but he would be aghast that I would even question his whereabouts.

        I had dreams that I knew stbx was in a room up a flight of stairs with another woman making out, but I could not get up the stairs to open the door to see because I was slipping on masses of snakes. On top of the snakes where a group of orthodox Jewish men (a symbol for me of ‘being trusting and always giving the benefit of the doubt). I was raised to be kind, to sacrifice, to not jump to judgments about someone else’s behavior–to work on myself. So, I internalized my distrust and pointed it toward myself. It was ME that must have a problem, why was I so obsessed and questioning?

        WHY? because I knew. Deep inside me, without a confession, without hard proof.

        STBX was an actor playing out a “good guy” and making me the “crazy.” Such a disaster.

        After D-day, I no longer felt suicidal because I was back in touch. My perceptions were right. I could trust myself. I knew, and I know.

        STBX begged for me to stay. That he would do anything. I was not EVEN TEMPTED. For him, to speak is to deceive.

        It seems to me that you are not giving enough valuable weight to your doubts, feelings, perceptions and inner knowledge. You will do anything to make it right. Unfortunately, that is the path to self-destruction. Perseverance is a great quality to use for healing OUTSIDE of the relationship with that woman who looked on as you fell apart and DID NOTHING THEN. How can you heal with that poison acting all loving. I really feel that it is only a matter of time before such individuals find something better, someone they will leave you for, and then what? More suffering for you.

        Believe me, there were grave consequences for me in leaving him. I have to now share custody each week. I cannot tell you how this pains me and worries me and angers me. I often wish he were dead just so I can have my child back in my care and in my home. It is not a good life to walk in the streets imagining a truck running him over or someone beating him to death or imagining him getting thrown onto the subway tracks. It is not easy. But I would not have it any other way. I am working through this rage. This is telling me about ME. I can work with that.

        I am actually dealing with my issues rather than trying to externally fix them. I am sitting with myself.. I am a great mom. I am beginning to make sense of what kept me with that fool, when I had passed such fools over before. I get it now, and am envisioning a better present.

        Good luck with your decisions and transitions. Listen to your doubts.

  • Hi Jobin, the first time my ex cheated he convinced me he hadn’t actually been physical “because he loved me too much and couldn’t go through with it”. I forgave, I believed. He was loving and did everything right. After about 1.5 years I trusted him again, completely. He did the right things for a long time after that, then things changed, very slowly. Reciprocation in our relationship wasn’t really there, my needs became smaller, eventually they nearly disappeared. I didn’t really notice how little intimacy and caring there was from him because it was such a slow change, so gradual it became normal. The only real obvious bit was sex went away, but he said it was physical, his problem…and I stayed because I loved him. years of no sex, I really regret…

    10 years later I found he was cheating, had been for at least 9 months when I discovered it. Looking back I can see that he lied the first time, and that he cheated between then and the last time I caught him. How many times did he cheat during all those years after we reconciled? I’ll never know for sure. What I do know is that he never wanted to divorce me, he wanted to stay with me and cheat, period. He went insane when I refused to stay with him, I won’t go into what he did here. Point is, first time he he got caught, he did everything the RIC says a cheater should do, he did it perfectly. Then 10 years of my life later, I caught him again. Shit, your wife didn’t even manage that, when you self harmed, she didn’t care. But loose her power over you? that was a big deal to her, it wasn’t until another woman found you interesting that she bothered to reconcile. Telling point, cheaters don’t give up their toys easily.

  • Jobin,

    I think you already know or you wouldn’t have written chump lady. I remember feeling damned if I do, damned if I dont. My stbx would never have gotten up the courage to leave me. I took the two kids and left him and it’s not easy. BUT the day I decided to divorce I got my self respect back.

    Good luck!

  • Dear Jobin,

    On and after my first D-Day, I heard some of the things your wife told you after your D-Day. ‘He (OM) understands me,’ and ‘I’m not sure what I want,’ after an 18-month long affair show a disturbing lack of respect and investment in your marriage. Those doubts you harbor are signs of healthy self-preservation mechanisms. I hope that your wife reforms but wouldn’t count on it.

    I suggest interviewing a few lawyers–just in case. (I did after months of abuse following my first D-Day–just in time to prevent me from being completely financially, emotionally, and physically destroyed.) This type of preparation might serve you and your kids well and costs little to nothing.

    Regarding losing time with the kids in divorce, I tried to hang on to a terrible marriage for a long time out of fear of losing a major portion of time with the kids. I lost some time with the kids. The day my cheater moved out and took the kids with him (for several days, without warning them or me that he was taking them), I felt as though I had died. I didn’t know how divorced parents who loved and ‘lost’ their kids could function. Two months later, the loss (of time with the kids) still hurts. However, the quality of time with (and without) my kids has increased tremendously.

  • Jobin, please, please take care of yourself. Protect your mental health. Your kids need you; God knows their mother has a weak foundation. I know it’s hard for some of us to leave, even when we know we should. Just know that they need you, and you’ve got to protect your sanity for their sake. When you find yourself in a dark place, and having thoughts of hurting yourself, GET OUT. It’s mind-blowing, that these pos cheaters arrogantly stand witness to this kind of human suffering, and remain emotionless, and cold. Mind-blowing.

    Like you, I am still baffled, as to why my spouse would cheat. We have a wonderful family, great kids, and a warm and inviting home. I find myself asking, “How is this not enough. Who would risk losing this?” Cheaters are self centered narcissists, so I really don’t think it matters how much you do, or how much you sacrifice for your wife. She was willing to risk it all once; unless she’s thrown herself at your feet sobbing for mercy, and professing her sincere appreciation for all you’ve done to hold things together while she fucked around, and laying every aspect of her life open in complete transparency to rebuild trust, she will do it again.

    And FYI, I’m 2 years into Dday. The triggers haven’t stopped, or even lessened. I plan on getting out for my own sanity, and for the good of my kids. All the time I’ve spent depressed, or dwelling on my joke of a marriage is time I could have spent with my kids. What your WIFE did is selfish and shitty. She has no right to demand anything from you, and should be grateful for any grace you’ve shown her. Don’t allow yourself to feel responsible for her lack of moral character. Time spent worrying about the shit-storm she caused is time away from other things you value (kids, friends etc)… In economics this would be considered opportunity costs, or “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen”. What opportunities are you willing to forgo?

    • After D-day i lost 25 lbs in 2 months ,my blood pressure went through the roof and he could have cared less. I was so stressed out did the pick me dance for 9 months, almost got in a car reck. All this time he was not working on our marriage, still seeing the smooppie and eating lots and lots of CAKE. A month after I filled for divorce ( he was still in the house) I had a hysterectomy and I was going to be off from work for 2 weeks. He told me since I am not going to be working, where the Money is going to come from to pay for the bills. We are not poor, but Its just shows you that these people don’t care. They are so self-absorbed,

      • Jobin,
        Please please be careful, don’t trust what she says but look what she does.
        The affair probably continious at work. They are just laying low for a while. My Ex met his smoppie at a running club she was married as well. After I found out not even a month later he kept asking me to go back to the running club and I would ask him if she was in there still. He would say yes and and I would tell him I don’t feel comfortable. He kept asking every month for 3 moths, trying to wear me down. They are just friends he would tell me. Don’t believe what they say.
        I would hire a private investigator and put some spyware on her phone and computer.
        I don’t think she has changed.

  • Your wife continuing to work for her boss, the man with whom she had a long term affair, is a deal breaker. My ex-husband also had an affair with a work colleague. In my mind, one or the other had to leave that place of employment. Neither left. During our short-lived attempt at reconciliation, he would see her at work and knowing that happened everyday ate me up alive. Under these circumstances, the odds of your wife and her boss getting back together (or perhaps continuing their affair?) are high.

  • Hi there Jobin,

    We have very similar stories. My wife cheated on me for 2 years (2010-2012) with an SOB who lived in Europe and traveled for work to the California 1-2 times per year. Lots of phone & internet contact as well. We have three sons, oldest at Harvard & other two in high school & junior high school. I am a lawyer & I thought I had life mastered — financial security, family-oriented, & always tried to be a great husband & father. Always thought as well my wife shared those values.

    Her cheating was a complete shock. First year was in total denial despite obvious signs; for the first time in my life i was an emotional wreck. Did all the “dance” moves described in yesterday’s post. Did not make a difference.

    Second year, shit changed. Called OM’s employer. He got fired & no more trips to the US. Told my wife’s mother & father about her cheating & my desire to end the marriage. A couple of short separations but we stayed together. All three kids know in age appropriate ways. Some of my close friends know what happened. Looking back now, I see this was the beginning of my “being honest with myself” phase. Didn’t lie to myself or believe her lies anymore.

    Third year (first after affair ended) was probably where you are at now. An emotional understanding of what you wife did and who she is. Same thing applies to you (and me BTW); e.g., too nice, too accommodating, too understanding. Discussions with my wife about what happened, the lies, deception, meanness, gas-lighting, blame-shifting, etc. This was probably necessary but in the end not really enlightening about the actual cheating. This is the phase where you just get emotionally exhausted. It did produce one valuable thing though — 1. Your wife knew what she was doing and did it on purpose. 2. Your wife knew she was devastating you and the kids and did not care. I told my wife this when I could do it without being raging angry. A couple of corollary lessons — you did not cause your wife to cheat. She did it all on her own. As Divorce Minister says, let her own that shit. As for your self-respect, your wife’s actions do not affect it. If you have acted with honesty and integrity throughout a bullshit situation, then you have nothing to question yourself about.

    This year is different. It is hard to articulate but the difference is that I know myself better and I know my wife better. Do not worry about her. Think about yourself in a non-selfish way. Do what you want in a non-selfish way. Like CL says, if this is not the marriage you want, then divorce. And be honest with yourself as you answer this question over the next several months. If you decide divorce, you will survive and so will your kids. If you stay married, then two things…like I said above, be yourself first, and second let your wife be herself. This includes any baggage over her cheating. I do not help her with it or try to “make it better” for her. If I have any litmus test for her, I have tried to use CL’s advice, and measure for reciprocity and mutuality. So far, so good.

    I do think about the comments of Chump Nation. If she cheats again, I would immediately divorce her. We have had that discussion between us. If I could go back in time, I probably would divorce her immediately. But I hope I would not consider my reconciliation “wasted” time because I made the decision deliberately. I do not have amnesia about what happened.

    It took me a long time to get over the fact that I don’t have a fairy tale marriage and that my wife abused me. It may be that I never did. But at least now I have a purposeful one in the sense that I have made my choices based on what I want and who my wife is daily. And I have my boundaries.

    CL, thanks for all the great advice and service you provide. It has been truly wonderful. Jobin, the most important thing CL gives us Chumps is “What do you want?” Divorce or reconciled, don’t outsource your life anymore.

    • Wow, Matt, you are a courageous and determined man. I could not have suffered through what you have suffered and sound as sane as you sound. I hope the rest of your life is more peaceful.

    • “A couple of corollary lessons — you did not cause your wife to cheat. She did it all on her own. As Divorce Minister says, let her own that shit.”

      Hi Matt,

      I would say that your wife has not been given the opportunity to take ownership of her actions because, after three or so years, her family remains intact. You, on the other hand, are left with a permanent question mark in your mind as to her trustworthiness.

      Divorce can be very hard because it feels like you’re walking away from your family. This has not been the case for me. I have 50% custody and I believe I’m a better father, in some ways, than I was before. Still getting over the guilt of having broken up my daughter’s family, but I’d choose this scenario over being my cheating ex-wife’s lap dog any day.

      “If I could go back in time, I probably would divorce her immediately”

      I don’t know, man. This comment is a bit worrying, but it sounds like you know where you are, for the most part, and are following the reconciliation path consciously.

      All the best.

  • Jobin, my ex had a long term EA with a coworker too. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was his first. There were always “too close” relationships between him and the women he worked with, IMO. Anyway, I do remember being at a similar place that you are now, knowing that he would never choose to change his job or his relationship with married OW for the good of our marriage.

    I really do want to believe that people can see the error of their ways and change. I wish for you that your marriage could be healed. However, I agree with CL that putting some things in writing will show you how serious she is about making amends. If she continues working with her boss you will end up stuffing your emotions to cope, and that’s not healthy.

  • The problem with being a chump and with being in a relationship, and finding you have been cheated on — for the first time, for all you know — is that you never had any way to prepare for that situation. Chumps just don’t believe that will ever happen to them. Then they get caught up in the “Should I forgive?” You want to treat others the way you would like to be treated, and you know that everyone can make a mistake. Do you throw away all the good for this bit of bad? Chumps think this way.

    Cheaters don’t. Cheaters see something new and shiny and say “MINE, MINE, ALL MINE!!!” They only think about ways to cover their actions, and hide their antics, so that they can continue to do whatever it is they want to do, with no consideration for anyone else’s feelings.

    A reconciliation donkey who attaches a carrot to his forehead, and thinks he is a unicorn, is only spending time in the Pasture of Delusion. He may be trying very hard to be a unicorn, but sooner or later that carrot will rot, and the ass he is trying to reconcile with will jump the fence and go into the next pasture. Chumps are everywhere.

    The ass might tell the unicorn(donkey) that there are conditions which must be met in order for them to stay in the Pasture of Delusion — but no matter how hard that unicorn/donkey tries, that ass just won’t be satisfied.

    The truth is that unicorn wanna be’s have to learn to stop trying to please the ass. You cannot spend your life being an Ass Pleaser. The hours and the pay are awful, and there is absolutely no retirement plan in pleasing an Ass. Instead of attaching that carrot to your head and trying to be something you are not to please someone who doesn’t give a damn what you do, really — eat that carrot for strength, and plan your escape to another pasture, far, far away from the ass. Learn to do what is pleasing to you, and choose another chumpy donkey to hang out with if you need a friend. You will be amazed how much happier you will be with your real donkey self, when you stop trying to be a unicorn.

    Seriously, folks — sometimes I read about the things done in the name of keeping the relationship, and it makes me sad! If you are in a relationship with an Ass who disrespects you and selfishly tells you to “worship” his genitals and “perform” to please him — and that is not what YOU want to do — tell him to go bray himself, Ass’s bray, then they stray — but they never really did you any good in the first place. If you think about the things you want in a mate, I really doubt that “liar” “cheater” or “user” would be on that list. Concentrate on what you need and what you deserve, and stop deluding yourself. Eventually someone will Kick that Ass and it will be too late for the Ass to find a good chumpy donkey to take care of him. Trust that karma happens — you don’t have to be there to see it. No one gets away with being an Ass all his life.

    • “Cheaters see something new and shiny and say “MINE, MINE, ALL MINE!!!” They only think about ways to cover their actions, and hide their antics, so that they can continue to do whatever it is they want to do, with no consideration for anyone else’s feelings.”

      Follow your “gut” feelings, don’t second guess yourself. If it sounds stupid coming out of her mouth then believe your gut. It is stupid. She has given you “everything” you wanted…reconciliation. Why are you not at ease with that…could be that your gut knows that she is lying to you. Cheaters take their shit underground faster than you can blink at them. Deep down you know this Jobin. It sucks that chumps are left behind, who wants to be fooled. What sucks more is that we stay in a relationship way longer than we should.

  • I started dating my STBX in 1996. In 1997, I went about four hours away to grad school, thinking we’d have a long distance relationship. I was wrong, and he started cheating immediately when I left, but led me on and lied until late 1998 when we broke up. Four months later he came groveling back, and I foolishly took him back. In 2002, we had gotten engaged and bought a house together, and a friend of mine found his profile on online dating sites. I confronted him and he apologized and seemed contrite. We got married and had two boys together. Fast forward to 2013 and I had known something was wrong for the last year, but couldn’t prove any cheating until July, 2013 when I found his OW Facebook page, and it had 2000 pictures of my husband on it. (It was like one of those scenes in the movies where the cops go into the basement of the serial killer and the murderer has hundreds of pictures of their victims pasted on the wall, I kid you not.) Again, being the super chump that I am, I tried MC and pick me dancing, until he moved out 4 months later. I knew within the first week he was gone that I didn’t want him back. Once he was out of the house, I started to see things clearer. Sure enough, 4 months later he comes knocking that he “broke it off and wants to come home.” I told him to GFY and “I’m done looking over my shoulder.” While I have two wonderful boys I wouldn’t trade the world for, I had TWO great, awesome, decent men that were interested in me in grad school, that I turned away because I (foolishly) thought I was in a committed relationship. Looking back on that still haunts me. But, now I’m moving forward, looking younger than I have since 1995 and have no regrets. Even my boys notice I’m happier, because I’m not living under the cloud of lies, gas lighting and marriage policing. These Narcissistic Sociopaths just get WORSE with age.

    • “Even my boys notice I’m happier, because I’m not living under the cloud of lies, gas lighting and marriage policing.”

      Amen to that.

    • Exactly!!! Similar story of that “on again and off again” garbage. My first date with my ex was in 1996. We can stop looking back together! Yay, to moving on and looking better!!

  • “My wife and I were very slowly building a relationship (spending some evenings/dinners together) with nothing physical and her flat out saying she had no idea what she wanted, when another woman began showing SERIOUS interest in me (it was mutual, to be fair). My wife then “confessed” she still loved me, wanted me to move home, wanted to be a family again — everything I had begged for, presented all at once, basically out of the blue.”

    Hi Jorbin,

    Your wife got scared when she thought she might lose the normal-ness in her life.

    You’re her key to “safety”; a home base where she can lick her wounds for a little while before she moves into the next phase of toxic behaviour. Without that, she’s just got the cheating, which wouldn’t be cheating anymore (and therefore, maybe, less appealing).

    “Except I still wrestle with the sheer magnitude of the lies, the omissions, the betrayal. It still consumes me at times…I frankly question if I made a mistake going home.”

    I had to leave my wfe – she cheated on me and abused me emotionally for many years. There’s no way I could forget it and I never will. Walking away from that marriage has taught me so many positive, useful lessons that I would never otherwise have learned and I can live, finally, without a sword hanging over my head.

    Your comments above could be the start of a new wave of resentment that will poison your marriage again. If you can’t let it go, then I believe you need to end things and start healing yourself.

    Whatever you do, I hope it works out for the best.

  • Jobin,
    Bless your heart!

    Do not trust that woman. People who are truly sorry do not behave like that.

    Change is possible, but it is hinged on choices. She is not being accountable. Accountable people own their mistakes.

    The only advice I have is for your to affirmatively and proactively analyze how you can change…

    …. And by this I mean make resolutions when your head is totally clear about how your will handle her selfishness.

    For example, after my ex and I split, I recalled how on an occasion early in the relationship he pressured me into meeting his mother without my makeup on because he did not want to stop at a restaurant.
    He disregarded my feelings and desires completely.
    I let it go and met my future mother in law in genuine discomfort. I did not think about this again for years.
    Many years later, I set a boundary: “If this small thing ever happens again with another potential mate, I will ask to get out of the car. I will state my position and get a taxi home if need be.”
    I stuck by that, and I feel stronger. I learned that patterns of selfishness escalate. Some people will not learn empathy so long as one enabler is in their life. Do not enable this selfish narcassist. She will never grow up under your protective wing.

    Well, I stayed until there was no hope, so I am not one to talk, but I hope your at least profit from my bad experience… which let to some good resolutions for me.

  • I kind of think that infidelity and the crap that goes along with it is like the poor trusting frog in the pot of water. We climb in the pot full of hope that this person who has really shown us their true colors have changed. We sit in that pot while we deny our fears, blame ourselves, ignore good advice and try to resolve emotions that have no resolution. All the while the heat is being turned up.

    And low and behold the water always begins to boil. Simple things like; he starts working out, she changes her hairstyle, he spends more time at work, she goes out more often with her friends, he puts a lock on his cell phone, she has a new email account. All explainable you un-trusting spouse. How could you possibly think they would be hiding something from you? Bubble bubble. “God, won’t you ever get over this?”, “How many more times do we have to talk about it?”, “You know where I am all the time?”, “It’s been long enough and I have proven myself”. Bubble, bubble, bubble.

    And then it happens, the truth about their actions comes out. And here we are, back in that fucking pot astounded that we are getting burned again. Cheaters are masters at the slow boil! Get out of the pot!!!

    • Stayin Strong, I needed to really hear this today as yesterday was my first d-day with my second cheating husband. With #1, I stayed, tried to reconcile, did lists, counseling, jumped through hoops, everything to no avail. This time, I’m only staying until I can get the paperwork in order — and I’m not letting #2 know that *I know* until I do. In the words of Aretha Franklin, whose gamin’ who?

  • I think a lot of these personality types love control, she treats you like rubbish but dosent want anyone else to have you, you are her possession. She knows you are loyal and are a man of good character, all she has to do is show remorse for awhile and you will go back to her. I’m sure in her own head she means it when she says she is going to be faithful , but here is the problem she has shown you who she is, what she is capable of, she comes first!! Next time she needs an ego stroke, her needs come first, not you, not the kids, her!! I think you should question yourself why you think you deserve this? My therapist asked me this very question into our third session, it was like a slap in the face that woke me up, I came out of a fog!! Why do I think I deserve this ? Why do I let this person treat me this way? You deserve better realise this and your half way there x

    • Jobin’s wife’s behavior reminded me of a small child who doesn’t want to share their toys. Another child comes along and picks up some toy the child was not interested in before that moment, and the child suddenly becomes interested and throws a complete tantrum that the other child dared play with one of their previously ignored toys. The child may not want to play with that toy…but the child doesn’t want anyone else to play with their toy either.

  • Jobin,

    Repeater Chump here… first time I became a Chump was 2002 while pregnant with one of our children (he just left me sick in the hospital and didn’t bother to care while he was with his OW). I finally quit the “pick me game” and he came crying back home, literally begging (hind sight: his lawyer said that the divorce would not be final until after the baby was born). Second time was 2005 (he never left). Then again in 2009, he left again, I started to move on… then he came back again. And YOU WILL NEVER GUESS in 2012!!?! Yep… you guessed… another OW. All different women but that really doesn’t matter. Could have been the same, could be different… it still makes me a Chump for believing “he would never do it again!”

    We are now divorced because when he asked to come back home… I said “nope not happening!” Do you get the drift? If they get away with it once… they will, again, become “not content” with you with what they have at home. There will always be someone else who comes along. Always a temptation to cheat and most times they will fall for it… especially if you are NOT PERFECT (which no on ever can be). They just can’t stop the cycle. And these new Chumps (OW/OM) think, “oh he’s so charming and would never cheat on me.” Drunk from “Love Bombing”… and what happens… they get treated the same way we did… they become Chumps too.

    I seriously wish I could go back in time, with what I have learned from this blog and others about narcissism… and smack myself in the face with that pie (sorry Arnold it’s not warm here otherwise I’d hire you). But no I wasted another 12 years thinking he would change. Has he? NO! And I’m sorry… but it doesn’t sound like your wife has either. My ex narc is a serial cheater… which made me a Serial Chump. He has never been fully committed to anyone.

    The question that helps to to quit the dance… how do you want your children to treat their wives or husbands? What would you tell your child who was in either situation? Whether you know it or like it… your kids are watching you and your wife on how life is supposed to look. And what are they seeing… “mommy has a boyfriend while she’s married to daddy… but daddy is a doormat and just allows it…” and that’s just how their adulthood will look. They will either have major emotional problems and probably be doormats (like a couple of my kids) or they will become narcs just like their other parent (like my other child). Is that the legacy that you want to leave for your family? Future generations are depending on us to lead by example!

  • So sorry to hear about this Jobin. All I can is that it sucks. She fell prey to what is known as “Dread.” See here for some samples:

    https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/dread/
    https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/studies-provide-support-for-dread-game/
    http://therationalmale.com/2012/03/27/dread-games/

    Basically she saw you as having lower value than her lover, he was the alpha to your beta. But then as soon as another woman came into the picture, you became the alpha, and she had to reconsider her entire world. I agree with CL, she wanted to have her cake and eat it too. Basically, what you are doing has risk. You have the following choices:

    A) Continue to stay with her, or
    B) leave her.

    If you pick A, there’s the risk of her doing this again. Or you just living your married life wondering if she’ll do this again, and be miserable. But the upside is you get to keep the family intact.
    – You also have to add in, is she more sexually available to you than before?
    – Even if she is not verbalizing it, is she showing remorse or acting/trying to show that she made a mistake?

    If you pick A, best case scenario is her being more faithful, the children growing up with a mom and dad, and you become closer again. If you pick A, the worst case scenario is that she does this again and you eat crow.

    If you pick B, best case scenario is you find someone else + your kids adjust fairly well. (Or you just don’t get married). If you pick B, the worst case scenario is you end up being attracted to the same type of woman and this happens to you again – with another woman, or your kids end up becoming like you, and also end up getting divorced, etc.

    Clearly, the prospects are better for you. A middle aged divorced man does pretty well in terms of remarriage. A middle aged divorced woman, well has a lot more challenges.

    If I were to pick, I would counsel you to pick A). Yes, she can do this again. You will be hurt and devastated. BUT, you will be wiser and know how to game her. Start here (I do not agree with all of this, but the principles are worth looking at):

    http://www.rooshv.com/top-15-game-tips-for-long-term-relationships

    Also, your kids will have a fighting chance at having a normal life. Frankly in our current political climate, the man has almost no power in a divorce. She will get the house, get the kids, and probably come up with some thinly veiled justification that you abused her. (I’ve known at least 3 divorces, where the woman got all the cash and prizes by just bringing up the fact that the husband showed anger and was about to abuse her – when in fact, he was just angry and had never hurt her, etc. !!!) So my counsel would be IF she is willing to stay with you, that you stay with her for the sake of the kids and for your future. However, things have to change. While you are not to blame for the affair, they do not happen in a vacuum. Sounds like she was taking advantage of someone who was sick, sick with nice guy syndrome. (Google no more mr nice guy).

    Still, I believe this marriage can be saved. Just that from now on, you have to go with your eyes open. There is risk in anything worthwhile. ANYTHING worthwhile has risk. I believe you have good grounds for divorce, so I’m not saying that you shouldn’t divorce but since she did respond to Dread, I think she will respond to your leadership in other areas. I have seen, though it hasn’t happened much, couples get over infidelity and the relationship actually improves. There is always room for forgiveness I believe, when the other party is repentant and open to change/remorseful. Of course she may not do this, but either way it’s a risk. You are risking something BIG whether you choose A or B. Nobody can tell you which one is better for you, and frankly nobody knows which will be better in the long run for you – BUT I would say that 99% of the time, maybe 99.999% of the time, it’s better for the kids to grow up with two parents – even if they have been through an affair.

    Whatever you choose, I pray you’ll be a better man for coming out of this situation. I counsel my friends to look here for advice on saving their marriage:

    http://marriedmansexlife.com/blog/

    • Noooo–you are not too far into the relationship to leave. I just left a 24+ year relationship with two kids once I found out about infidelity. Plenty of chumps on this site have left after 35 years or more.

      You’re thinking in terms of what economists call “sunken costs”–you reason that you have to stick it out because you’ve already invested so much. Economists would tell you that is a bad reasoning heuristic–if it’s a bad investment, get out!! And life with a serial cheater is a bad investment. Not just because of trust issues, but because the ability to cheat repeatedly on someone is due to a whole host of selfish, self-absorbed personality traits that do not leave room for respect for their marital partner. Chances are, the infidelity is not the only problem, am I right?

      It’s scary, but take baby steps toward extricating yourself from a bad marriage (when one partner has so little respect or empathy for the other, that’s what it is). Start with a lawyer.

      Good luck & keep us posted on what happens.

    • TakenOutofMan–I appreciate your detailed advice to Jobin to determine what he most wants to do.

      However, I’m going to take issue with your “99.999% of the time, its’ better for the kids to grow up with two parents.” The research does not even come close to supporting that. When there is a lot of conflict/tension, or clearly no love, when one parent is depressed because of the other one’s selfish actions (read infidelity), and in a whole host of other circumstances, children may be BETTER not having two parents in the house (and yes, I am a developmental psychologist).

      It is just not ethical to urge someone to stay in a marriage where blatant infidelity has occurred “for the sake of the children.”

  • If you decide to stay, you need to stop being generous about her “freedom” and her privacy…those days are OVER so grow a pair and do not budge.

    1. She MUST quit the job she has with that boss NOW. Her reaction to that demand will speak volumes.
    2. Put a tracking device on/under her car.
    3. Put a voice activated recorder under her car seat and check it once a week.
    4. Cancel all credit cards and pay them off. Get her a debit card to her own personal account and put
    grocery/spending money in as you see fit. Close all joint accounts.
    5. Run a credit check on her every six months to see if she has opened any NEW accounts. Financial
    faithfulness runs neck and neck with marital faithfulness…especially if YOU are calling the shots.
    6. Install a key logger on her computer.
    7. Stay out of debt and refrain from buying any big ticket items that you would not want to have to sell or
    hand over to her in the event of a divorce.
    8. Save money (hide cash) in the event that you may need to quickly lawyer-up in the
    future.
    9. Do not talk about the affair anymore except to someone you truly trust. Just watch what she does when
    she is feeling like all is “clear”.
    10. No “girls” nights out, classes, or gym memberships for her…if she asks why, tell her you do not trust her.
    11. Get out for an hour daily and go for a walk/jog…you can even take the kids if they are interested.
    12. Do this until your children are grown and out of the house.
    13. Insist that she keep employed (elsewhere), unless you relish the idea of paying her spousal support for
    a long time.
    14. Make her pay a fair share of the household bills.

    Middle aged good men are ALWAYS in high demand…so don’t worry about THAT aspect if should you find yourself single again after years of trying to figure out where you stand in her heart. You recently bought a house…do not get too attached to it, and do not dump a ton of money into it…just keep it nice looking, but “as is”.

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