In October, I discovered my husband was trolling for men online while on business trips. This isn’t new — I had a D-Day December 2010 discovering that for years he was meeting guys for “just sex. It’s equivalent to meeting a friend for a beer. I’m bisexual and need to explore this side of myself because I didn’t experiment in college”.
We did the marriage counseling route because I felt that I owed my young children married parents if at all possible. It worked enough that I could stay married to him. But no longer. I consider us separated even though he won’t discuss a timeline for moving out. It may take longer than I’d like, but I will divorce him.
The reason I’m writing is that tonight he dropped the bombshell that the reason he cheated is because he doesn’t respect me. SHOCKER!!! But then he went on to say that he doesn’t respect me because of my personality: 1) I don’t like to go out as much as he does, 2) I don’t like music playing in the kitchen while cooking 3) When we’re in a crowd I always lag behind 4) I don’t have a career path (I stay home with the kids because daycare cost more than my pay as an administrative assistant and he makes 200K). He finished the conversation by getting exasperated that I was crying. He “knew I was going to take it the wrong way and he’s so fucking sick of everything being sad and depressive around the house.”
The conversation tore through me as someone who has a history of being shamed by my parents for being introverted. It’s not like I’m anti-social or a hermit, I just don’t dance on bars or am on my way to being a CEO any time soon. But it hurts soooo bad. I know intellectually that he’s creating reasons to have a story as to why HE ended the marriage, but emotionally I am back to the little girl being told she’s not worthwhile because she’s too quiet. He knew how to cut to the most painful part of my life and use it against me.
Please, Chump Lady, slap some sense into me. We’ve recently moved across the country for his work and I don’t have any friends here. I feel so alone going through this. How do chumps find the inner strength to survive the pain and mind games?
You’re asking the wrong question, friend. We don’t want the strength to survive pain and mind games, we find the strength to LEAVE abuse!
When you get away, go no contact, and cut off the mindfuckery — then the healing starts. So long as you’re staying there putting up with his shit, no, it’s not going to get better. You may as well ask me, how do you treat burns with gasoline? You put down the matches, Holly. Get away from this asshole. Take your power back.
He’s got you isolated, financially dependent, and questioning your worth. So let’s attack that problem by breaking it into little pieces. I’ll respond to his mindfuckery later.
1. Isolation — Do what you’re doing right now. Reach out. Find help. Okay, you’re not in the frame of mind to make new friends as you’re in a strange place and your marriage is falling apart. (BTDT, Lancaster County, Pa.) This can be overcome. You’re welcome here at Chump Nation. You get on the forum, share your story, get support from other folks going through the same shit at the same time (you’re not alone!), and some other saints who are further ahead in their journey who can hold you up. There are other online resource too, of course.
I know when I went through it, I would not have survived had it not been for the kindness of countless strangers I met online, and the 24/7 therapy from articles I found on www.drirene.com, outofthefog.net, Romeo’s Bleeding, and elsewhere. I needed a million reality checks, and I’m sure you do too. It sounds like you’ve already tried the Save Your Marriage Single-Handedly crap, so hopefully you know to steer clear of unicorns.
So, shore up some support online. Next, find a therapist for YOU. Forget marriage counseling. Get yourself some professional help to combat those FOO issues.
2. Financial dependence. See a lawyer immediately. You’re a SAHM, he earns a huge salary, don’t pull any punches. You absolutely should go back to work, but talk to a lawyer first. Probably best to divorce him while you have no income, and enter the workforce after you’ve got your settlement. But meanwhile, bone up on your job skills. Fuck this, “I’m only an administrative assistant” shit. I know a woman who started out as a secretary and rose to run the Nigerian oil division of the World Bank. Volunteer, take online classes, start a degree. Nothing will boost your self-esteem more and get you out of isolation than a job. You don’t need this fuckwit.
And don’t let him know you’re seeing a lawyer, just DO IT. Get an attorney experienced at high-conflict divorce, because you’ve got kids and he could get ugly. You’ve got power, Holly. Don’t pull your punches. He likes to have bisexual affairs on business trips? I’m sure your lawyer would love to depose those people, and wouldn’t it be crazy if he was using company resources (phone, email, business dinners) to conceal his affairs? Wouldn’t his employer just be so interested to know that? You’ve got leverage — let a professional wield it for you if he gets uppity about settlement.
3. Questioning your worth. Holly, the reason he cheated is that he’s an asshole who likes cock. I’m sorry, your introversion has nothing to do with his bisexuality. And his bisexuality has nothing to do with him being an asshole. His “curiosity” doesn’t excuse his risking your health. And his minimizing his betrayals as nothing more significant than “grabbing a beer” is abusive.
You’re quiet? So what! He must’ve known who you are when he married you. He’s just blameshifting, it’s what cheaters do. Don’t internalize the judgment. Have you read the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say? It’s full of the excuses cheaters make on why their chumps Drove Them To It. You don’t cook with music on. Other people hear they don’t play board games, are too liberal, make pasta wrong…
Cheating is about entitlement and shitty character. That’s on HIM. Not you.
You didn’t make him cheat. I trotted out my sweater cartoon again because it was based on Holly Petraeus (another Holly chump). All that crap on how she was so frumpy, of course her husband had to cheat. Of course, the frumpiness is the Real Problem. It’s all victim-blaming bullshit.
Holly, if you don’t like who you are — work on you for you. Don’t look to change for an un-pleasable fuckwit. Take a long, hard look at codependency. Ask yourself why the hell you thought you could stay in a marriage with a guy who was open about his “need” for casual bisexual sex. That wasn’t an immediate deal breaker? Why did you think you could work with that? Intact home for your kids… yeah, at what price? Being a SAHM isn’t worth the price of your dignity, Holly. You get a say in this marriage too — and I’m glad you’ve decided it’s not acceptable to you.
You’re not a vulnerable little girl any more. You’re a grown woman. A mother. It’s time to be MIGHTY. Don’t listen to his shit. Don’t let him see you cry. Go call a lawyer today and take your life back.
Where do you find the strength? It’s there inside you. When you ACT in the knowledge that you have worth, you FEEL stronger. But the feelings don’t come without the actions. You can’t just wait around waiting for the magic moment when you feel invincible. The more steps you take in the right direction, the stronger you feel. You have to take it on faith at first. (If I call this lawyer, my world will not fall apart….) Baby step, larger step, stride… until pretty soon you’re wearing a cape, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
You can do this, Holly. We’ve got your back.