Dear Chump Lady,
Ugh 24 year marriage and she left after an affair with our daughter’s boyfriend’s dad. I actually BBQ’ed for the motherfucker on my deck. How the holy hell does this happen?
10 months post breakup and while I am better and can feel myself healing, I’m still kind of stuck. I would never ever get back with her, but the memories of what was are pretty damn painful. We had 20 or so great years, but the last few were horrendous and I’m feeling guilty for not seeing the reality and trying to fix shit.
She left me and our 17 year old daughter for her new awesome existence and we are picking up the pieces. Anyone who tries to justify cheaters has obviously never been cheated on. It’s fucking earth shattering. It’s worse than dealing with my own mother’s death 4 months later and I’m so ashamed to say that. I don’t get that shit at all. My mom dies unexpectedly at 67 and I lay awake thinking about my cheating wife. That’s so unfair to her awesome memory. I feel terrible thinking about that.
That’s a hell of a lot of loss in 10 months — the end of a 24-year marriage and the death of your mother. Please don’t feel terrible about the hierarchy of your grief. Your mother died naturally, if unexpectedly. Your ex-wife cheated. We expect the death of our parents at some point. (Although 67 is awfully young, and I can’t imagine anyone ever feels ready for it. I’m so sorry.) We don’t expect to be betrayed.
Death is natural, chumpdom is freakish. You don’t expect the guy you’re grilling pork chops for to fuck your wife. It’s a most intimate and humiliating kind of offense. It feels utterly surreal. Most of us have experience with death. We never think we’ll be chumped. Who would contemplate such a thing?
So when the unimaginable happens, it’s very normal to ask yourself what you did to bring about this terrible thing.
We had 20 or so great years, but the last few were horrendous and I’m feeling guilty for not seeing the reality and trying to fix shit.
Kent, you didn’t make your wife cheat. You didn’t make her abandon her 17-year-old daughter. Whatever shit you didn’t “fix” — okay, own that, fix it, take it into your next relationship and do better — but please know this — that shit didn’t make your wife cheat. That is completely on her. There were a lot of options on the decision tree that weren’t betrayal and abandonment. Counseling, honest conversations, divorce lawyers. Her unhappiness, whatever its causes, was HER responsibility to address. And if she sincerely thought she could not exist another day in the “misery” of her marriage, she could have respected you with an honest break up. You didn’t have to barbecue for the motherfucker.
Cheating is about lousy character and entitlement. Qualities your ex-wife possessed that you could control no more than death. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. So chumps stay awake nights stuck on the what-ifs. This thought that we could compel people to Do Better or Love Us Again keeps us chasing unicorns. The illusion of control is the genesis of the pick me dance. I CAN WIN THIS!
And the flip side — I LOST and IT’S ALL MY FAULT!
Well, Kent, who did you cheat on? Who gets up and takes care of that 17-year-old kid each day? You’re THERE and she isn’t. And that says more about your character than anything else you could write me.
So next time you’re up late and can’t sleep, tell yourself hey, you did the best you could. You didn’t deserve to be cheated on. And if you want to honor the memory of your late mother who didn’t get enough years on this earth — make the most of yours. Love your daughter, do your job, and gain that cheater-free life.
And no more grilling for cheaters. Only quality people at your table. Happy New Year, Kent.