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Why Did You Stay?

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desperate_hand

So yesterday we were theorizing about why Beyonce stays in her marriage — what was your reason? Fear of failure? Living alone with cats? You still loved the idiot after 17 D-Days?

Most of ran with the unicorn herd for awhile. Some of us are still working it out, either hanging in there to see if the remorse is real, or lining up the ducks in case it isn’t.

I’ve outlined why folks stay with cheaters before, but I don’t think I’ve ever directly asked Chump Nation what kept you there?

For myself, I’d say it was a big morass of disbelief (I still loved the jerk, it was 6 months after my wedding), hopium, not wanting the OW to “win” (cringe!), skein untangling (his, not mine), misdirected loyalty (failure is NOT an option!), and later Machiavellian attempts to “reconcile” while trying to get a post-nup. Every moment completely soul crushing. If I’d paid better attention, I would’ve seen from the start he wasn’t One Bit Sorry, despite his spasmodic “remorse.”

But my idiocy and his mindfuckery brought you Chump Lady. So, hey, it wasn’t a total loss.

So tell me chumps — what kept you stuck with a cheater?

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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.
  • Fear! Fear of failure. Fear of being like my mother. Fear of my children being raised the way I had been, from a broken home. Fear of being less than lovable. Fear of financial distress. Fear that others would not blame the cheater, but me…. For not being enough of a wife. You name the fear and I most likely experienced it. The first affair that I knew about was after six years of marriage. The second one that I found out about was after the death of one child and two additional children, some ten to twelve years later. Both were discovered by husbands calling me on the phone.

    I had to get the fear in a place where I could manage it after my children were grown, after thirty two years of marriage. I still struggle but my life has changed. My new husband is the greatest blessing! But so much damage has gripped my soul and the triggers pop up.

    Oh how I could have done things differently had it not been for my fears.

  • It was a matter of personal integrity, love for a spouse, bad counsel, mixed up religious understanding, financial dependence, and seriously low self-esteem that kept me stuck.

    1) I am the type of person who keeps his word or at least, tries to make it better if I fail. It never occurred to me that people exist who do not care about their word (like my xw). That was the integrity piece.

    2) And I genuinely loved my now ex-wife. Thankfully, I am now free, and that love is directed at a more worthy person–Ms. Fiestypants (and Munchkin).

    3) Bad counsel. That’s a post or multiple posts in itself. Wish the “professionals” had been more attuned to how damaging and dangerous her emotional affair(s) were as well as less easily triangulated by her.

    4) Mixed up religious understanding. I did not feel free to divorce. It took the adulterous revelation to feel that freedom in the end. Even then, I was hoping it did not end in divorce not wanting her ‘to win’ making her file, not me. In retrospect, I wish I would have filed in some ways. But I am somewhat ambivalent on the matter still.

    5) Financial dependence. My (now ex) wife left me at one of my most vulnerable times professionally in my life. I was just getting started. I share a little about that on my post yesterday (http://www.divorceminister.com/one-day-at-a-time/)

    6) I was very discouraged and needy struggling to self-support. I probably was depressed at that time. Needed some serious work in my life spiritually and emotionally to reground myself in my eternal worth and identity. This healing and work gave me strength to move forward (that and God opening some amazing doors to fulfilling work).

    • I made my ex file, too. I didn’t want to actually pay for it and I didn’t want to be the one who “gave up” for other people to judge me. I thought it would make me look like the good person, haha! I wish I would have filed and I still regret it to this day. My ex now uses the fact that he filed to prove that he wanted out so bad and he made the decision to leave me. In real life, he was screwing his co worker but he doesn’t tell people that.

      • I made my ex file, too. He had left my house 11/13, and I consulted with a couple of attorneys who all said the same thing: “He’s going to quit (or get intentionally fired from) his $200K+ job, take a job for $70k, and then you’re going to be stuck paying HIM alimony”. I said something along Irish ‘ s infamous line, “HELL to the NO. FUCK THAT SHIT” and said, “I’ll just stay married forever and he won’t be free to marry OW”. Sure enough, when he did file, he did EXACTLY what those initial attorneys said he was going to do. Got intentionally fired so he could move 2000 miles away to live off of OW and claimed to the court “I estimate I’ll only be able to get a job making $70k”. (It was eerie that he chose the exact number cited by those initial attorneys.) I fought to not pay him alimony, and I won. In the end, I got most everything I wanted, so it didn’t matter that he filed first. Almost none of his family speaks to him any longer, they know he’s a liar, so I don’t care if he uses the “I filed first card”.

        I didn’t do the pick me dance or stay very long after this last DDay. Over 20 years and 10 years married to him, he cheated on me three times (that I know of) and cheated on his first wife 4 times (that we know of), so I knew I didn’t want to do his serial cheating for the rest of my life. But I initially tried to work it out as my boys were only 6 and 2 at the time, and wanted them to have both parents. I don’t regret it. I can look my boys in their eyes both now and in 30 years to say, “I didn’t cause the family to break up and I gave him every opportunity to come back and be remorseful”. The EH is not capable of remorse, and I know now he’s a narcissist sociopath. But I can sleep at night, knowing I did what I could.

        • Wow, what a dick head he was.

          Good for you. Way to stick up for yourself. Your boys are better off.

          Still, it all sucks, but that is why we are here. Else we’d be watching cat videos on you tube.

        • Don’t be surprised that your lawyer nailed that scenario and number, if they were your ec’s attorney, that’s what they would have advised. Part of chump healing is shedding our stubborn naïveté and accepting ugly truths. I’m still working on it three years later.

          • That story shows why anyone who has discovered infidelity, and especially if a spouse has left, ought to think about filing right away, to establish the economic status quo in a legal sense. It was just as likely that Chris W’s story could have turned out the other way, with her struggling to pay alimony to a hyena living with an OW while supporting the kids. Either way, her X got out of supporting the kids at the level he had previously established.

            • I’m a HUGE advocate for that!

              Tracy, I wonder if you should have a whole chapter on what to do after D-day, or at least a page to link to here. We have all put our heads together on some really great advice that any chump should follow immediately. There is plenty of time for mourning after all the papers are signed. But a chump has to shake the chumpness off for a second, and stand up for once, and take charge.

              D-day is when the cheater is riding HIGHEST on infatuation and mania. I remember the ex stating proudly and excitedly and confidently, “There will be PLENTY of money.”

              Wah-wah! For me, maybe, but not for him. The dude was blinded by true love. THAT is when you put the papers in front of them–they will sign anything, because they don’t care about anything else. The idiot had NO idea what he was in for, hadn’t really thought through consequences. The heart wants what it wants, you know?

              It was just dumb luck, I guess, that I was so outraged and indignant. He can call it vindictive if he wants–in the end, I won, because I reacted swiftly and with surety.

              • I don’t think anyone can get through the pain immediately. It’s a process. And situations vary.

                I would love to “eternal sunshine on a spotless mind” be rid of all this, but at the end of the movie, even that didn’t work. I hate it, but we have to process the pain. And we think they aren’t in pain, but it’s a different, “why don’t I have any character?” kind of pain. It presents like anger or indifference, but it’s really, “why am I not feeling anything when people around me are.” It’s pyschopathy or narcissism. Either way it’s dysfunctional, and I don’t think that they are in bliss while we are in hell.

                But it probably is easier for them to move on, while we are stuck. So what can we do to unstick ourselves is the real question.

            • I know. There is so much I’m sure we could all contribute to an entire “Divorce” section on CL. I wonder if he would have just signed anything after DDAY to be with OW. My inclination says “no”, knowing him like I do, but it’s an interesting proposition.

              My parents went through a horrific divorce 25 years ago. They literally were like the Roses in the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner War of the Roses movie. They fought over everything, like $5 coffee tables they bought in 1968 at flea markets. It was like what the Billy Crystal character said in “When Harry Met Sally”: “put your names in your books, because in 20 years, you’re going to spend $1000 for this dish at the law firm of ‘That’s Yours, This Is Mine'” My mom was a SAHM and the lawyers convinced her they could run up her legal bills, because the court would make my father pay them all. This was 25 years ago and NOT TRUE. My mom ended up with $300,000 in legal fees and lost 5 properties due to liens on all of them by the lawyers. I knew in my own divorce, once I rounded close to $15,000 in legal fees, I could fight him to pay child support at a $200K level, but at what cost? Would I have $50,000 in legal fees and even if I won, 6 months later he’d go back to court and have it reduced. And I’d still have a monster legal bill.

              I’m not an athlete, but you hear great athletes say all the time, “give me the ball”. I know I’m like that in my job/career. I’d rather have my destiny in my hands. I know I can provide for my boys, and now I’m not saddled with monstrous debt. Which lawyers are all too happy to wrack up, as you’re hurting and you want the EH to pay. I know he’s going to pay, whether that’s karma or the burny place in the after life.

              Everyone is different, and I’d love to hear stories of chumps who made the EX pay their legal fees. I just wanted to be free of not only the pathological, disordered EX, but also of debt from lawyers. Total freedom to be with my babies.

      • I refused to file too even though he was trying to make me. I kept telling him I didn’t want a divorce and I wasn’t willing to do his dirty work for him.

        • Lynn, x filed twice and cancelled. The third time I filed and I wish I had a video of his veins popping and the anger he had when he got the papers. He screamed, I wanted to file. HaHA what a sick man. It doesn’t really matter who files, so they say. It was the best money I ever spent in my life!!

    • you just explained my reason so much better then i could have. so i am using yours to go off of.

      It was a matter of personal integrity, love for a spouse, bad counsel, mixed up religious understanding, financial dependence, and seriously low self-esteem that kept me stuck.

      1) I am the type of person who keeps her word or at least, tries to make it better if I fail. It never occurred to me that people exist who do not care about their word. It took me YEARS AND YEARS to figure out that i was the only person trying to save our marriage. And even thou he was saying all the right things, his actions were proven otherwise. i was taught to keep your promises, and if you want something bad enough you keep fighting for it (and i wanted my marriage and boyman) and most that you do not give up on someone you love just because they make a bad decision. (took me a while to figure out that he was doing it on purpose). i also did not want to be one of the losers that couldnt stay married (sorry chump nation) That was the integrity piece.

      2) I loved my XH unconditionally. i soon figured out that he was a follower, couldnt think for himself, was weak and spineless, and couldnt handle “normal”. who made very bad decisions that effected the whole family and that i would be the one to hold my family together, that i would be forever cleaning up his f*ck up and messes. and i loved him anyways. i believe he never really understood that, how could i still love him after he did _____. no matter how much i tried to tell him, explain to him he never could “get it”. And of course it was not reciprocal. his love did have conditions, ones that i just couldnt met apparently.

      3) Bad counsel. mainly people who have spent years married. who knew what our “issues” were and realized that our “problems” really were not that bad. i was told that “everyone goes thru that”, “you are fighting over the stupidest things”, “its not that bad, it could be worse” and “you just need to work it out”. So i kept trying to fix it, and if i was married to a “normal” person we could have fixed it. but you cant fix a problem if the other person refuses to acknowledge it, will not admit to doing any wrong and tries to hide every stupid little thing he did. you cant fix it if the other person, purposely lies to you and continues to do the same damn things behind your back. our problems were the same as any other married couple had, aggravated by his drinking episodes. but like i have said before. i would have stayed by his side thru it all, i just couldnt hand the having sex with some random hoodrat.

      4) Mixed up religious understanding. I did not believe in divorce. It took the adulterous revelation to free me since even the church believes it is an acceptable reason to divorce. we got married in the catholic church, it is one of the 7 sacraments. dont get me wrong, i have sinned many others ways, i do not go to church EVERY sunday. i dont follow all the rules but this was important. very important. And i took it as a promise to God. i take promises very seriously and how in the world can you break a promise you made to God!?!?! it was just unimaginable for me. I even went to the priest hoping for some magically, spiritually fix for XH, only the priest himself told me i needed to divorce this man, and that divorce is not a sin in the catholic religion, (only remarriage is a sin….YAY forever single because of XH wondering dick), that given the reasons i told him, he believes it would be in the best interest for me to divorce XH.

      5) Financial dependence. i can not pay the monthly mortgage payment plus the utilities on this house. my paycheck just does not cover the month fees. when he was giving me money we were doing really really good. was able to go on vacations and buy things like 4 wheelers and jet skis. now he is not even paying child support and i am struggling to keep what i have. of course things are breaking because boyman never kept up the maintenance on anything (including our marriage), he would buy stuff and then let it fall apart, it was like he couldnt get enough stuff (like a small child hordes candy or toys) but he never took the effort to keep the stuff going or in good condition. so not only do i not get paid enough to pay the monthly bills, i have zero money to fix all this other stuff that needs attention. it makes me very sad to see all our hard work go to shits. i would probably be doing ok if boyman would pay half of his child support but he seems to have forgotten all about me and the boys i gave him.

      6) I was very discouraged and needy struggling to self-support. I probably was depressed at that time. i was still going thru the pain of losing my eldest child. i still wasnt thinking “Straight”. i was struggling on paying the bills, taking care of the children, laundry, house, yard, vehicles. working mostly on auto pilot (and did a damn good job of it too), trying to figure out “what was wrong with XH” and “WTF is going on”. i talked and talked and talked and talked to him, asking what was going on, even so far as asking him what i was doing wrong and what he wanted me to do to change it. mostly got stonewalled or gaslighted and being as my head wasnt on right, it blew right past me. honestly, i never thought he would leave us, i just thought we were going thru some hard times. we really never did communicate well as boyman didnt like to talk about emotions and feelings. probably because he is shallow and doesnt have any and drinks away any little feelings he has. in the end, he told me i got “BORING”. i dont think he wanted to stay with the hoodrat, i dont think he really wanted a divorce, he just wanted me to run after him and beg him to stay. i could have him back if i lowered my values and morals AGAIN….i couldnt do it. i loved him more then anything but i could do it again. i couldnt live like that anymore. i am still struggling with that even to this day but i feel i made the right choice. now all this other behavior came after the divorce and he abandoned us. never thought he would, but i guess it really is a blessing in disguise. now i am just trying to move forward.

      • Mrsvain, don’t misunderstand the Catholic thing. Remarriage is fine for you, you just have to get an annulment if you want to get remarried in the church, which you can get because he invalidated the marriage. it’s not a sin to divorce an adulterous spouse. It’s a sin in the eyes of the church for him to divorce you in order to keep committing adultery with the OW.

        • In Catholicism, even adultery does not invalidate a sacramental marriage. Theoretically and ideally, annulments are not granted based on what happened in the marriage, they are based on circumstances at the time of the marriage. Was it valid on that day? My husband told me dozens of times that our marriage was invalid because he was so reluctant that day, he claims he never “gave consent” (I dont remember putting a gun to his head) but it was a ready excuse as to why he was a crappy husband.

          Early in our unicorny reconciliation (at about 19 yrs of marriage) I asked him to renew our vows since he had convince me they weren’t valid. He promised to renew at our 25th anniversary then he backed out.

          When I found him dead on the floor, the thought that we would never follow through with that broke my heart…it meant the world to me and he simply refused…it was a good indicator of just how crappy our reconciliation was.

          I stayed and stayed and now living life without him, I wish I had divorced him years ago…I would have experienced financial devastation but I wish now that he would have lived to see the back of my head leaving him. Even the big pile of money I got when he died didnt make this worth it.

          • Unicorn, I will never ever understand ‘why’ they are so flipping horrible and how they can annihilate another person like that. I know it is narcissism, but I can’t actually go into those shoes and understand destroying another person like that. That is just some abusive stuff you wrote there, like he pissed on it ONLY because it was important to you.

          • Okay unicornomore you are being silly. He’s dead, and therefore not able to cheat anymore. You have his money. You won. The kharma bus got him and you didn’t need to bankrupt yourself.

            He didn’t give you what you want because he’s a narcissist. If you hadn’t wanted it, he would’ve been all over it. Disordered is the perfect word because these people think they can’t achieve anything, be anything, unless they win/steal it away from someone else. They don’t know how to love or why they should.

            Stop beating yourself up and enjoy his money. I have no money, it’s fucking hard. Indulge in what you like, get an awesome pet and you might eventually meet someone you enjoy sharing company with. Do not believe you need what he purposely withheld to torture you. I mean really. What an asshole. And now that asshole is dead. Carry on.

        • I divorced him. and it is a lot harder to get an annulment. you need witnesses on both side. i doubt i will find anyone on his side that actually thinks what he did was a bad thing. and then more then one witness. smh. i am not worried about it right now. i am finally just getting to the point where i am ok with what i did and sometimes seeing how much better off i and the kids are.

    • Pretty much the same reasons as DM, except I didn’t need him financially. I am very grateful I am no longer that person who was imprisoned by her fears. They all proved to be groundless.

  • It was fear in the beginning, but eventually that subsided and I had a choice to make. I realized the marriage of 25 yrs had burned to the ground (PA during MLC). The question was: Do I build a new relationship with this woman? We negotiated terms/needs for the new relationship and I gave her the opportunity to demonstrate true remorse and atonement. She chose to make amends in the manner which I required. We are 2.5 yrs post DDay, and I did not make it easy. I’ve also spent that entire time in psychotherapy, and I am a very different person. The big difference is the emotional strength to demand and offer very clear boundaries … and a post-nup should she chose to violate those boundaries in a any significant way. Is it perfect? No. I don’t think it’s a unicorn, but I am happier than I have ever been. Kindest Regards-

    • It’s good to hear that you’re happy. Question: how are you managing the trust issues? I’m certain my XBF would like to get back together with me, but I have a laundry list of terms that I’m pretty sure he can’t or won’t fulfill. But, let’s suppose could/would. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as the boyfriend police. I want to be peaceful. Have you achieved that? If so, how?

      • Trust only improves over time as he respects your laundry list (boundaries).Trust will never improve to the pre-betrayal level, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I had my W on a pedestal, extending an absolute trust that was naive and unwise. I refuse to be the marriage police, but it did take me a while to understand how to achieve peace. Consider this: You know how it feels to be connected emotionally to your partner. The best indication of a potential problem is unexplained emotional detachment/withholding. This is what I am very sensitive to now … Is my partner engaging me? Is she vulnerable? Is she transparent?

        • I agree. I believe my H s emotionally detached. And withholding. Literally makes me sick to my stomach. Can’t eat or sleep and it’s almost a year. Still losing weight. No trust and no guts to confront the issues.

          • Jung, cheaters don’t have respect. They look for partners who are vulnerable. I did find a way to find peace, I divorced the asshole. It feels a whole lot more peaceful trusting myself. So we have to use our emotional connection to our cheater to detect future abuse? Narcissists/cheaters are not connected to their spouses emotional needs. Its like digging a hole and waiting for the bomb to hit. Its better in my opinion to climb out of the hole keep your dignity.

              • Sure there are boundaries defined by marriage, but our marriage needed some more specific boundaries. No opposite sex friends, no social events with opposite sex colleagues, communicate once a day during the workday, advise of all former partner communication, privacy but no secrecy in communication… These are just some of the details that aren’t addressed in marriage vows.

        • Willowchump, it is so hard to get past the discard. They become part of us because we love them too much. We believed we had something and it was gone. It reminds me of someone taking a video of a violent crime. I want to scream, put the camera down and call 911 or help the person. They lived outside the relationship. Mine did for 41 years. We can’t apply logic to sick individuals. I was devastated because he initiated no contact. His ho wouldn’t allow him to speak to me. That was initially when I wanted to at least talk to him. It rips us apart when we wonder first how we thought they loved us and then have to come to terms that they cant really love anyone but themselves. It takes time to heal. It does take a lot of energy. You will get there I am sure. Finding the right therapist and taking medication helps me the most. Hopefully you are seeing someone who understands Narcissistic Relationships. I had to learn to set boundaries in all my relationships. Just today I had a thought I wanted to share with him and caught myself. I have dreams of running through a house with hundreds of rooms calling out his name and I cant find him. We have to accept they are gone and we cant fix them. When you think of all the energy you put into him over the years know you have the strength. We have it, we just have to learn to put that energy into ourselves. We have to learn to be selfish.

          • willowchump–When Jackass pulled the discard, I felt physically sick. I panicked because I pretty much had known exactly where he was and what he was doing every day. We talked and texted and saw each other every day, even when we didn’t live together. Then–nothing. Not a word. I wasn’t married to the Jackass and it has been almost 19 months for me. I am far more functional–I can eat and exercise and work and enjoy life. But–I am still healing and not at all ready to do more than work on myself.

            I take it you are still living with this guy? That is what you mean by “no trust and no guts to confront the issues”? willow chump, I hope you are getting some therapy for the trauma you are experiencing. You will get the “guts” by rebuilding yourself because clearly something is amiss if you are this unhappy and too paralyzed to save yourself. Because that is what I hope you do–save yourself. Enlist some help. Tell someone–a therapist, a family member, a friend–what is going on and move from there. Hugs, hugs, hugs. You can do it.

        • Jung, feeling the change in the connection w/my partner was what cued me to the first affair, even before he had screwed her. And so I trusted that I would feel it again if he screwed around again, didn’t have to do the marriage police. Worked just fine! I think he’s still wondering how I figured it out so fast, when the affair was occurring in another city!

          But my ex was transparent to me in that way – I know a lot of cheaters hide their affairs much better. NOT a good sign of ANYTHING that they lie so well!

    • Fear. I had a disabled son and a toddler at the time I found out about my first wife cheAting. And despite all the abuse ( which I did not recognize as abuse) , I still loved her. I was in so much pain that I did not know what to do.
      it took my wife’s sister urging me to divorce her to get me going on divorce.
      in my second marriage , I saw a lawyer and filed right away.

  • My children weren’t young… 16 and 14 at the time D day imploded our family. He made me complicit in his destruction by telling them that “Your Mother and I are having problems and we may separate or divorce” instead of telling them the truth and saying ” I am fucking another woman and your Mother is having difficulty accepting this”. I eventually had long talks with both of them and was honest…. but that day… that day my 14 year old son fell to pieces and literally crumbled into the fetal position on the sofa and cried and shook. I put my hand on the back of his head and and told him how completely sorry I was. I made him a promise… I promised him that I would do whatever it took to keep him going to the high school we had planned. That I would work two jobs if I had to so that we could still live near enough.

    Eventually I told my spouse he had to leave the home. He did. But has so many do, in less than 6 months after moving out things fizzled with his Schmoopie Poo and he wanted to “work on us”. If I had not had the responsibilities of kids or I had been making much more money, I would have said no to a reconciliation. It has been 2 years since he has moved back. To say I have had a difficult time would be the world’s greatest understatement. I have not spackled his behavior. I have drowned myself in work and filled each minute of everyday with activity to attempt to stop my brain from thinking. I truly am not trying to be a Martyr, honestly. I have learned there are far worse things than not being happy. Fear. I was so fucking afraid that my babies would bear the brunt of his midlife fuck up. My daughter I knew would be fine but I wasn’t done raising my son… he was so vulnerable…I made a decision based on fear. I own that. I continue coming here and reading all the posts. I use to be a confident, articulate, witty woman. I am now far stronger than I ever thought possible but I have a whole new slew of insecurities and I no longer laugh.
    My son… my beautiful 6’5″ Varsity Basketball and Varsity Volleyball Scholar athlete… he is doing well. My gut hopes I made the right decision

    • Wow, that must be hard. it sounds like your son is close to being independent now. Are you considering leaving now?

      • No. He is a Jr in High School. I want him to graduate without the drama my poor daughter had to endure during her Sr. year (it so sucked for her). Until then, my house continues grow in equity by leaps and bounds (I live in so. cali). I am working full time in a new career field. And I am lining my ducks up.

    • Hello, Brinn.

      This is from a mom of two, girl three years older than boy. Separated but did not divorce (in process now, seven years after I moved out). She’s out on her own w/a degree and a job-ish; he’s trending. Just saying that I’m speaking from the trenches, and I look back and shake my head in befuddlement at how hard it was. I apologized to my daughter once for having stayed so long and then for having left, and laughed at myself for the double-bind I put myself in. It doesn’t seem to matter what I did; I still felt guilt. So just trying to say here I can appreciate your position and your decision. It was kid-centric, and you paid a price. You would have paid a price for leaving, too. You made the best choice you knew how to make under the circumstances.

      I respectfully disagree with Jen that your son, at 16.5, is far from being independent. I found with my children that home is not some kind of foster care that they age out of at 18. They are just as much in need of a support system for awhile longer; it’s just a different kind of space that you create so that they can be the ones to lead the process of separating and establishing independence. This didn’t come with a guidebook for me, and as a single parent with a critical father putting his .02 in from a safe distance, it was rough. Empty nest? Boy howdy, bring it!

      One suggestion I have is that you consider getting your beautiful son into counseling. Just as it was your job to take care of him, it may be the case that it’s been his job to be okay. That’s a pretty heavy load for kids; I’m the reason that my family is still together and my mother has become a hollow shell of who she was (don’t think he hasn’t noticed). I’d damned well better be okay, be happy, achieve. Most teenage sons would rather gargle with bleach then go to a counselor, but my recommendation is that you bully/cajole/bribe/explain/whatever him into going to short-term counseling, as in “I promise if you go six weeks and don’t want to continue after that, you don’t have to”. Show him your stretch marks or something. Talk about the elephant in the living-room, and say, “I know you look okay, and you’re doing great, and I love you, and I’m proud of you. But I need to know that you are making it through this. Do it for me.” Find a counselor (preferably male) who specializes in adolescent males, and explain the situation. He’ll probably go, hate it, and quit when his minimum agreed-upon time is up. But at least by then he’ll a) know someone he can turn to, b) understand that the process can help, and c) understand that the process feels fairly normal and non-scary. Then if a crisis comes along later, he’ll have that in his tool-bag, and hopefully a few other tools as well picked up from the counselor. He can learn that it’s okay to not be okay.

      Don’t take this as criticism of you, please. It sounds like you’ve been incredible. But sometimes we’re too close to the trees to see the forest, so to speak. Speaking mom-to-mom, I hope you consider this.

      • My son is close to 20, but has high functioning autism, so he is far from being independent. By comparison, my father died when I was 21, my sister 17. I was in college, leaving her to deal with my narcissist mother alone. She worked, saved money, bought her own car, and was out of the house by 19. When you have to, you do it, and you just need to be old enough to work and drive.

        But of course we don’t want them to have to do it. I am crying reading about your children and thinking about mine. Maybe we should consider that they are stronger than we realize.

    • Brinn, I feel for you. After 3 years of living with my cheater, I’ve peeled away layers of excuses for staying: financial dependence, fear of being alone, fear that I won’t be able to manage my household. I’ve done a LOT of personal work, and I’m down to what I truly feel is the core of my staying; fear of losing my family unit, and especially of putting my two teenage (14/16) boys into an emotional tail spin.

      Like you, I can hardly stomach the thought of, what feels like, dropping a bomb on their (supposedly happy) world. Things are good. Life is good. My kids have been happy and successful. My older 4 are out of the house, and doing wonderfully. I want the same for my teenage boys as well. For the life of me, I can’t comprehend why this wasn’t enough for my serial-cheater husband.

      I had originally planned to stay until the boys graduated from high school. It’s a long time, I know, but I’ve been in this F’d up relationship for nearly 30 years, and 3 years since D-day, so what’s another 4? I thought it would be easier for my boys if they were transitioning into college, and out of the house.

      But guess what? Recently, somebody here at CL gave me a new perspective. I can’t remember who it was, but their response to my “leaving after they graduate” plan was, “what makes you think it will be easier after they graduate?” I gave it a lot of thought… I now realize that I’ve got to deal with this crappy situation BEFORE they graduate. I want to be WITH them. I want to be able to get them into counseling, to deal with the fallout, to give them a sense of safety, and solid foundation as they move into the next stage of their life.

      I wish you the best Brinn.

      On a side note… It makes me spitting mad to think that these serial cheating, narcissistic pigs have ZERO concern for how their behavior affects their families. They just do what they want, and take what they want while everybody around them deals with the fallout.

      • I would just like to agree with whoever said “What makes you think it will be easier after they graduate.” For me, D-day and separation occured while my daughter was a freshman in college, less than 2 months after she moved out. There is nothing worse than getting a phone call from a child who is crying so hard she can’t talk… you can’t hold her, you can’t look her in the eye and tell her it will be OK. It is never easy so don’t wait. Like ItsAJourney said, you want to be WITH them.

        • Speaking as a college teacher, I agree that it never gets easier for kids to navigate the break up of a family. In the meantime, they can learn some pretty crippling lessons about pretending that the family is OK, about tolerating abuse and infidelity, and about sacrificing self-respect for “the sake of the children.” Kids at all ages can be amazingly resilient. And if a kid is not resilient–if a kid is fragile–it’s possible to support him or her with good counseling and perhaps therapy that includes all the kids and the Chump.

          Brinn, your son has need of a mother who is happy and vibrant, who can take a few minutes for a hot cup of coffee to think about the day, who feels confident and loved, who can laugh. He has far more need of that mother than any artificially re-constructed “home.” I think you know that but you are scared to risk change. What will your son feel when he leaves home and you divorce? That the divorce is his fault because he grew up and reached for his own life? When cheaters blow up the family, none of the choices are good.

          • I do not disagree with a single word you’ve said. I weighed my options… at the time (over 2 years ago) I chose financial stability over personal happiness. I did the research (tons) and read so many stories of how so many women struggle through financial ruin after a divorce- the kids suffering the most. I was afraid that my son watching me face these daunting obstacles would spin him into depression and he would turn to drugs, sex — and ultimately falling through the cracks with low grades etc.
            I was seeing a therapist at the time and I retained a attorney, their advice given my financial situation, was to keep it together. I am not ignoring any of the stories I’ve read here, or even Tracy’s own life story– but for me, financial stability was a bigger fear that trumped everything else.

            • Thanks for responding to what we wrote. You did the research and you’re following advice. You sound like your eyes are wide open.

              I get the financial decision and the concern for your son, although I think you would be surprised at the value of struggle in a child’s–that’s the real purpose of sports and music physics and other tough activities. They teach kids that things can be hard and it’s important to persevere. They teach struggle and disappointment and the satisfaction of achievement. In 30 years of teaching, I have NEVER seen a kid fall into alcohol, drugs, sex or leave school because a caring parent was struggling financially. And I taught in inner-city Pittsburgh during the collapse of the steel industry, so there was a lot of massive struggle going on–people losing jobs, homes. Whole neighborhoods in turmoil, churches and schools closing. Just something to think about if you ever change your mind. Your son might be a lot stronger and more resilient than you think.

              But if you’re going to stay for your son, why not make a commitment to your own mental health? What would it take to make you happy in this situation? Dinner out with the girls once a week? A room in the house for yourself? A garden? A hobby like photography or baking? Yoga or zumba or a collie class? Instead of not thinking, why not think in a journal? Or make a vision board? Or spend an hour a week thinking with a therapist or with your best friend over coffee? If you’re going to stay, give yourself and your son the gift of learning how to be happy, even in the toughest of circumstances.

              • *smiles*… Well funny you should mention that. What gives me a sense of purpose now (has been for the last three years actually) is the Basketball Boosters. I began as Vice President and am now President. And my new career that I began after D day… my company manufactures and exports rc racing tires. Did you know that there is an entire industry devoted to rc racing all over the globe? People actually make a substantial living at it!

                Thank you so much for your advice. Each and every word you’ve expressed has not fallen on deaf ears.

            • Sounds like you made the best decision you could make. Sometimes none of the options are glorious, and you have to puck the one that you can live with.

      • I also third that comment. Waiting until they graduate doesn’t make it any easier. There’s no magic button that suddenly turns on at 18. There’s no “good time” to go through this shit, plain and simple. It’s shit when they’re 2 and it’s still a rotting pile of shit when they’re 24. It doesn’t grow in equity, there’s no interest or return on the “investment.” You’re only fooling yourself if you play that game.

      • My parents spent my high school years miserable. My mom was depressed and almost suicidal, but rather than divorcing they stuck it out. Then the second I hit the college campus she filed. My siblings all agree they should have done it sooner. I understand her reasoning and it would have been difficult either way. My boys are 8 and 10 and I can’t wait any longer. I should have done it 5 years ago but I was not ready.

    • i would have stayed for my children too. i never wanted them to have a broken family. never wanted to split holidays and have them shuffle between 2 houses. like Itsajourney said, i was unhappy and stuck in the marriage for 12.5 years, whats another 12.5 years? i would have done anything to keep my children happy, safe and secure (even if it was an illusion) but in my case XH didnt want to do it. he wanted whatever the fuck it was he wanted, since he didnt talk to me i could only guess…..but he wanted to drink. to drink whenever, however, whatever he wanted. he didnt want to have to choice between doing the right thing for your family, wife and kids, he didnt want to be made to “Feel bad” for not coming home after another all nighter out with whoever accepts his drinking. even thou i wasnt saying much towards the end, he still felt bad because he knew he was fucking up…..

      but he just didnt want to try to fix our problems or our marriage. it is beyond my understanding but i could do it alone. believe me i tried. now a year later, a few issues at first with anger and the littlest crying at a drop of a hat, both boys are doing good. in fact they are better then i am doing (only i dont show my damage to them) they are both doing well in school, if not better then before. they have both handled the disappearance of dear old daddy better then i am. they had done counseling and are well on their way.

      i cant say it is “Better” for them but they are doing good. my worries for them were needless because they learned to deal with it themselves. although i am still sad that they have a broken family, that boyman burned his bridges with his own children, and i still worry about the future (mainly when boyman remembers he has boys and wants to visit with them),,,, we are all doing fine. taking one day at a time.

      • I, too, stayed for my son, who is now an adult. First cheating was when I was pregnant, and the ex confessed after I gave birth. I kicked him out but forgave him. Fast forward 10 years, and he cheated once again. I filed for divorce this time and he begs and begs for forgiveness and I took him back. Another 13 years and the final OW. Son is now an adult and I kicked out the cheater as fast as I could. Divorce was final within 3 months from the final DDay. Do I regret staying? Yes, I absolutely do. My son turned out to be a wonderful person and I believe he would have turned out the same if I left the cheater sooner. But this is a tough one to “know”. Who truly knows what would happen in our lives had we chosen a different path? There’s no way to play that game and get the “right” answer, so I don’t go there. But whenever I hear about a newly minted chump, I am quick to advise to run because for me, living with a cheater was constantly keeping the outside pretty so I can ignore that my life was actually a living hell.

  • I stayed because he was such a good guy! Never mind that gnawing at my innards.
    Everyone loved him. What was my problem? (this is a guy who strangled his pet monkey with his bare hands because he wanted to taste monkey)… Red flag? (tmi, I know… And yes, he did eat the monkey… And he said it was like killing a small child. )
    🙁

    • What?!!!???

      That is probably the most fucked up thing I have read on all the infidelity sites. And let’s face it cheaters do alot of fucked up things. But that is just insane!

      That must have scared the beejeezus out of you!

    • Oh Friend…I wonder why these sociopaths tell us these things, when they are so carefully crafting their “good guy” image to the outside world? Is it because they need the added thrill of seeing the shock and horror on our faces?

    • One of the first signs of a psychopath is animal cruelty. (and no two ways around it, Friend, your X is a psychopath)

      • Tempest,
        You are so right. I think I was a fool when I met him. I think that the predominate thought in my primitive, young prefrontal-cortex, shit for brains 😉 days was: “I’m gonna get married! I’m gonna have babies.”
        It should have been… “Who does that?” & “Keep me far away from him.”
        On a positive note: Since then, I have found some pretty cool people, like you 🙂

    • That sounds like a serial killer. Wow. WOW. Your ex makes Glad’s ex look normal! Wow!

      Oh, Friend. My heart just aches for what you’ve gone through, but you are being super strong. You are so much better off without this evil presence in your life!

        • Monkey-Strangler isn’t even in the same psychopath camp as Dancing Yeti (and poor Friend’s story bears this out).

          • Mine, on the long side of 20+ years into our marriage, once said to me, “You don’t know everything about me”.

            Believe me, that statement stuck with me – along with, “I like to keep people off balance”.

            He only said these things once – but – he didn’t need to say them any more.

    • Friend – I asked ‘The Great I Am’ to open tin cans fully and not halfway because I’d been deeply impressed with a public infomercial put out when I was a kid about how half opened cans could inflict serious injuries on scavenging animals (such as dogs). ‘The Great I Am’ scoffed at me with ‘that’ll teach them for scavenging in my bins’. I have always thought that was a despicable attitude and, in hindsight, have seen his attitude there as a major red flag. Strangling his pet monkey though – that, well, I’m horrified. Truly, truly red flags flying everywhere. I’m sure, like me, friend … you’d heard of people like this but simply couldn’t believe that ‘charmer’ (so capable of appearing loving, caring etc) was indeed a cold-blooded psychopath. IMHO – anyone who could have killed their ‘pet’ – and so ‘up close and personal’ (with the exception of necessary euthanasia – i.e. the poor animal is suffering and needs the inevitable death brought forward) is a psychopath. Thank God you got out of there with your life, Friend! xxx

    • I’m pretty sure one of the big red flags that you have a serial killer on your hands is the willingness to kill cute furry animals. The experts say it’s not much of a leap to killing people once they have been killing animals.

      Yikes! I’m glad you’re away from him, Friend!

      • Yeah. And he *ate* the monkey. With or without fava beans, that sounds like Hannibal Lecter. Worst of all, this creature has custody of children!! Friend, I really feel compelled to help in any way I can. Surely this knowledge needs to go in front of a judge?!

        • Everyone,
          Thanks. You validate me. I came from a small county. Ex has the cops, the judge, CPS, a few wacko psychiatrists, church, school, daycare, pediatrician and his work (a big company) backing him up. If he left a gap the size of a crack in his system, I would be trying still.
          When we formal that chump militia complete with snipers I will go back to that town. Last time I was illegally thrown in jail for 29 days on charges of: swearing. No joke. 🙁
          Tempest, are you sure he doesn’t deserve the Haldol?

          • I don’t know the right thing to say here, but… Do whatever you can to protect your children from this monster. Strangling a small child? I was having a hard enough time processing that the monkey died this way, let alone what he said about it. It literally made me cry, and, if he could do this to a monkey while thinking that he could do it to a human. I’m not saying he will, because maybe it doesn’t suit him to do so, but he’s capable (scary). My thoughts are with you.

    • ThatGirl, ItIsWhatItis, Kimmy, Stronger Everyday, FreeVixen, Super_chump, Lyn, FoolMeTwice, Jayne, CheatersSuck, KT, CL, CN,

      This psychopath is a creep. What he has done is scary. Worse than the poor monkey (R.I.P.) is the way that he can con all those people. And my friends who see Ex for what he is, the best they can do is keep me going. So long as I live, I will be fighting for justice and what is right. Some days, like today, the best of my strength is in my pen. I write the truth, and I treasure my life. If I can do something good, then it is time well spent. (My words will be valuable to my children). I learned a lesson the hard way. He told me the monkey story early on in the marriage. Only recently did I get it.
      I am actually sad to share this crap with you. Knowledge can be a heavy burden. I hope we use this knowledge for some good. I cannot change the past. I can only control myself.

  • I was cheated on for at least half of my 15 year marriage. He was a serial cheater, and for many years I thought the OW I found out about were *only* EAs. With emotional affairs there is that particularly dreadful space for hopeful chumps, and I stayed. But that was only part of it.

    At first, there were the practical matters: I didn’t have a job, my kids were quite little (the youngest was under 1), and I had stalled out on my dissertation writing. I felt stuck financially. Even after I had a job I still felt stuck; I just couldn’t figure out how I could support my kids on my meager income.

    Then there was my pride. Before the affairs, I already knew my life hadn’t turned out exactly as I had planned, but I knew that my marriage was the one thing I had done that was right. When that rug got swept out from under me, I was desperate to lay it back down and sweep all the affairs under it, just so I could cling to the image that I had at least one part of my life together.

    One other huge part of the reason I stayed for so long is that my parents have a high conflict marriage (what a euphemism!), and I had always vowed that I was going to give my children the example of two parents that loved and respected each other. It took a long time for me realize that I was only maintaining a facade, and the personal price was too high.

    I am so grateful that I was finally hit by the lightning bolt of clarity. It rushed at me all at once, and I knew then that nothing–NOTHING!–was more important than getting away from this toxic cheater. Not public humiliation, not financial devastation, not even the pain I knew my children would feel. I haven’t had a single doubt since that moment. After all the years of pain, it was such a relief.

  • I stayed because he wouldn’t leave the house. He was having an affair with an old college gf 35 years later and she lived hours away. The kids were off at college and we pretended for nearly a year. We didn’t want word to get out when we were selling the house because it would have amounted to a fire sale. Finally told the kids during summer break and they cried for days. It was heart-wrenching but I knew it was over. He was the type of man that once he made a decision, he wouldn’t admit to failure (even thought he has now failed at the biggest thing in his life!) We’ve now been separated for over a year and he filed two years ago this month. The divorce should be signed later this month and I am happy to be free of him.

    I think what made me stay and try to work it out was the disbelief from all our friends and neighbors. I had so many people say to me that they didn’t think he’d go through with it and he’d return. Some still say that but my marriage counselor was one of the best, and he, without being totally direct, asked me what MY plans were for MY future. MC’s message got through to me loud and clear and I bought an apartment and started my life without x. I love my new life and my daughters have recovered and see their dad for the NARC he truly is!

    • “He was the type of man that once he made a decision, he wouldn’t admit to failure (even thought he has now failed at the biggest thing in his life!)”

      My ex is an engineer. There are no failures in engineering or planes would drop from the sky, buildings would crumble, bridges would snap, factory production lines would shut down, etc. Engineers draw up plans, double plans & even back-up plans. There is no black & white – it is done correctly or not at all. In hindsight his “plan” to leave was drawn up without me knowing. I came across an outline/list of his “to-dos” on leaving the marriage – one bullet point was “Other woman – who needs to know right away?” His decision was to leave was FINAL – even renting an apartment 2 weeks after dday – again with out my knowledge. He’ll never, ever admit what he did was wrong because engineers are never wrong.

      I didn’t have time to “stay” as he was gone 3 weeks after dday

      • Wow- what you describe is my X as well. He is a professor in an applied physics field and we met in graduate school when we had math and physics classes together. He has NEVER been able to admit he has made a mistake in anything in the 25 years I have known him – even stupid tiny things, and like your X , he completely planned his exit. He announced the marriage was over a few days before we were supposed to leave for Europe for a month, and walked out the door two days later – moving in with OW (very young divorced woman with young kid) and my daughter and aka essentially never saw or heard from him again – he completely abandoned his teenage daughter and replaced her with OW young son. He claims he “only” had an emotional affair with OW and yet what woman would kick her parents out and invite a married man she supposedly barely knew to come live in her house with her and her young child? Something is rotten in Denmark with that story.

        In addition to never admitting he was wrong, he could never loose at anything and is super competitive about everything. He could t even let our daughter occasion win at a game when she was very little and I always wondered what kind of person derived satisfaction from beating a 4 year old at a board game.

        • OMG! Mine used to do that! He would even CHEAT to win at “Ca ndyLand” or “Go Fish”!

          What grown ass man cheats to beat little kids at a GAME that is supposed to be fun?!?!

          What do kids learn if they NEVER win? They learn IT WILL ALWAYS SUCK to hang out with you!

          And to think he’s probably lamenting this very minute to some pair of panties that his ex wife never lets him see his kids.

          ****sigh****

          • That is really weird. I thought it was weird that my ex was jealous of my dogs. He even called one of them “a little asshole.” When a man feels competitive with a pet he has a serious ego problem.

      • My ex is not an engineer but a remodeling contractor, who also happens to be very OCD. I found a similar checklist during the awful days Post D-Day. There was a pie chart showing where he was going to move his personal possessions to, one of which said the name of a city 150 miles away. Later he said OW was interviewing for a job there. There was a bullet pointed list with things crossed off as already done (rent P.O. box, copy files) and at the end of the list it said “Clip toenails.” I found that downright amusing.

      • hurt1, your story is very similar to mine. Ex had everything planned out, had already seen a lawyer and had list of assets thought out, etc. He kept pressing me to hurry up and negotiate within days of dropping the bomb on me. I was so incredibly traumatized I couldn’t think straight. The cold calculations were truly mind boggling.

        • Lyn, yes he kept pressing me too! The only contact we had was his insistent email lists of who gets what – lopsided to benefit him of course. My IC had me once reply saying that I had loved him for so long & was still too in shock to make such decisions. He then berated me about accepting the fact that I needed to get on with my own life & let him live his. His coldness is still traumatizing to think about. When I had a nervous breakdown & was hospitalized 3 months after dday I never heard from him or his family ever again.

      • My cheater is an engineer!!! Plans everything! Even sex. Everything is super organized. This is what is so scary. I don’t know what he is planning at any given moment. Am I going to get blind sided? This is why I am getting all my ducks in a row and gathering all docs on his affair spending. It is frightening to think he is stashing money into secret accts so he can make a great escape leaving me in the lurch. I know it all boils down to money with this guy. Money and image. For as long as I can remember he is always counting it, figuring out ways to better increase his net worth. Always. And never fails at anything (his perception of himself).

    • No failure for him either. He is very competitive and a ‘winner’ in his business, always at the top across the US for what he does.
      He said to me a few times in the 10 years (about his ex’s) when I’m done, I’m done! Little did I realize that it would apply to me too!

      • Mine says the same thing too! When he is done with friends, colleagues, or family, he never looks back. Cuts them off. If you cross him or are no longer useful you get cut off. Many many years ago I told him he must be emotionally detached to be able to do that. How prophetic my words were. Wish I would have payed closer attention to what that meant.

  • Love, disbelief, fear, humiliation and guilt. I loved my stbx, i meant every word of those marriage vows.like the good chumps before me, i couldn’t believe he could do these things to someone he loved. But he did. I’m a new chump at 32 and a 12 years relationship (a baby compared to the strong chumps that survived 20 plus years!) so it is truely scary to deal with divorce when my friends were dealing with their first born children. I am also humiliated… I should have seen the signs but didn’t. He was cheating with a graduate co worker, so it wasn’t just his family that knew before me, but coworkers too. What a joke. But, i haven’t shaken the guilt completely yet… By the time my Stbx confessed he’d well and truely passed the buck to me for his cheating and shifted his own responsibility to his “depression”. CL Nation is so amazing to make me realise this is all mindfuckery. It makes having to do all the paperwork to undo our marriage and sell our house more bearable even though i’m not the one that wanted out. 6 weeks to go until I can divorce his sorry arse and start over from scratch. Hanging in there!

    • Chump-ness – I feel you completely! I am 31 and a 14 year relationship. All of my friends are married with little ones or little ones on the way. I have a 5 year old with him. We were actually going through infertility treatments to have another baby right around Dday #1. I was in complete denial, ashamed, scared…. He was cheating with a co-worker 10 years younger (he was her boss- she has since switched locations at my insistence after Dday #1) but the humiliation that all of the co-workers knew my marriage was over before I even knew there was a problem. After Dday..I don’t know maybe #5… i know right… he also claimed depression. Started taking supplements, made a Dr appt, thanked me endlessly for sticking by him while he figured out his “illness”… basically used it as a get out of jail free card that I happily took and ran with because of my need to “get him healthy” (barf). Next Dday there wasn’t a choice… on anyones part. I printed out screen shots of his cute little lovey conversation (quoting song lyrics and saying how their “true love can conquer all- again BARF) threw said screen shots on the counter and asked when he was moving out.

      • Oh erbrown83, that sounds awful 🙁 I think it’s particularly hard when cheaterpants shift responsibility onto serious illness. At least you were decisive when you had hard evidence! I regret not unequivocally throwing him out at the begining. He did more damage in false reconciliations afterwards. All the best… stay strong, you deserve every happiness 🙂

        • Yes, chump-ness…..”I think it’s particularly hard when cheaterpants shift responsibility onto serious illness”. And like the XPOS shifted to blaming depression because of the death of his son when I asked many times what was wrong.(this was BEFORE any DDay!)

          • Mine told me I had been selfish for the past 20 years. Coincidentally that’s when I had my first child. Yeah, selfishly caring for a child while he continued to travel the world and enjoy business trips with private jets and all that partying. Yep, I was selfish and tired and haggard. But I never begrudged him his fun. Always happy for him, wishing him safety and a good time. I was such an idiot.

    • “i couldn’t believe he could do these things to someone he loved.”–That’s at the core of much chump paralysis. Shock and disbelief because we believed them when they said they loved us. But clearly that word–and the vows, the promises, the memories, the responsibilities, the hoped-for future–did not mean the same thing to them. It’s hard to believe that we loved someone with our whole hearts who in essence has no heart.

  • Fear. He was all I knew. We were high school sweethearts. I was afraid of what my life would become. Would I be able to handle seeing him with this OW at our kids school events? Would I be able to handle dating again? I feared ever trusting anyone ever again. Best to stay with him and know what I was dealing with than eventually date and perhaps find someone far worse than him. After all…….all the good ones are taken!! WRONG!!!! Mostly, I worried about our two daughters having a normal childhood. My parents are still married after fifty years and I couldn’t imagine what my life would have been like had they been divorced when I was my daughters ages. I wanted so much for my girls. I still do.

    It took me a while but I realized I was not happy. I was not the “mom” I should have been for my kids because I was too busy worrying about what fucktard was doing behind our backs. In the end, it was because of them that I made my final move and forced the divorce. And I have never been happier! I fully intend for my girls to have the very best life has to offer and I know they can have it even without their dad under the same roof as us.

    • Kimmy, you were very wise. I wasted so much time on him that I could have spent on myself and kids. That took a lot of courage. We are much better off being alone than alone in a relationship.

    • Your kids will be better off with a strong, happy mother who isn’t teaching them to live a lie. My parents stayed together for over 40 years and it’s taken me a lifetime to unlearn the crazy stuff I learned in childhood.

  • I never got the chance to stay. He was no contact from the get go and looking back now I am thankful. But the morning after DDay, I emailed him with requirements (just 3) to save our marriage. He didn’t bite. But I sent the email to begin with because I was stunned. I wondered if it was real. I couldn’t understand why, now that I knew the truth, he wasn’t apologizing. I was angry and devastated after that. Angry for our son and my heart was completely broken. I blamed myself for a short time. Then I found Chump Lady. It’s now been about 8 months and he has not even dared to ask to come back. He knows better. I made my boundaries clear I think. But, deep down, I also know he doesn’t want to come back. Ever. So. I move on. Find happiness.

    • That is my story – I had no chance to stay either. He secretly made all the choices and then one day announced he was going. I too had a list of a few things that would have to happen if he were to come back but he also never bit. In retrospect it was the best thing for me and my daughter. No chance for multiple d-days, unicorns, or the reconciliation complex. since he also abandoned his child there was no custody battle. I am so much happier 2 years later and divorced of that ass. But I certainly do have issues – I am not at a point where I have any desire for a relationship with another adult that involves intimate trust. I know great chumps are out there and maybe someday I will meet one. But for now I want to be the crazy cat lady (two dogs, cat, 5 horses and would like some Silkie bantams too 🙂 who lives on my small farm surrounded by sentient creatures I know I can trust and who really love me – this includes my amazing teenage daughter. I enjoy teaching and being around people by day, but I also love the freedom to live life on my terms.

      • Mommy Chump, your story (including cats!) resonates with me. I don’t have kids, and Jackass didn’t even announce he was going. He just slid slowly out the door. I didn’t find out about the MOW until he was pretty well totally gone. And then of course no apology–just a shitload of blame shifting. When I read your post, I wondered if that kind of “discard” leaves chumps in a place where any desire for another relationship that involved “Intimate trust.” I’ve got my 2 cats, the wild critters on my 2 acres, including the turkeys who show up every night as I pull into the driveway after yoga wanting a little critter crunch. I am a teacher, too, and that keeps me plugged into a life that’s rich with energy, love and learning. But in my case, I think this encounter with someone who so clearly showed me that I didn’t matter to him was what it took to get me to focus on my own life and development instead of always looking to be part of a couple.

        • MommyC & LAJ……..but I want to be with someone and trust etc again! I don’t like being alone! I love companionship. BUT the ever nagging STD that XPOS left me with has me feeling that I have no other option but solo and that’s a WOW factor for me. Disbelief and VERY hard to accept.

          • I’m thinking that trusting someone again will involve first trusting yourself to make better judgments (fixing that picker, knowing about character disorder, changing the patterns that left you vulnerable to a cheater). Then it will mean managing your boundaries as you get to know a person and refusing to spackle or deny what you learn about him. And if he left you with an STD maybe you’ve got a little PTSD going on so perhaps some therapy willl get you over the stuck point.

            Now in my case, I need to find a guy around 60 ( + or – a year or two), smart, funny, strong, healthy….

  • I stayed for another 3 years after the first D-day because I just couldn’t believe this “good guy” wasn’t the good guy that I so believed, so wanted to believe…He was extremely good at denying, lying, incredible at gaslighting. Looking back I cant believe I still tried to work it out, because he seemed so remorseful, but I found out later, in reality, while he was being “remorseful” with real tears, he never stopped his cheating, lying. I loved the mask, the man he presented himself to be and I so wanted to believe this good guy I cared for so much couldn’t be that kind of a low life scum…But he was/is the low life scum, parasite all along, the truth was incredibly hurtful and the good guy I loved so much didn’t exist and when I stopped listening to his words, looked at his actions, the proof and judged him with his actions, the truth was there all along, it took me a while to come to grips with the reality, that’s what kept me there for another 3 years…

    • I think I stayed mostly due to sleep deprivation and not thinking clearly. I loved this man so deeply and completely that I just knew he’d ‘wake’ up from the fog and do the right thing if I was patient enough with him. It took six months of mini-d-days before his ongoing deception finally got through to me and I realized that the man I had loved had always been a facade. I was the one who had to wake up.

    • Many chumps believed as I did that they were “good guys”. X always said what a good guy he was. And his bar whore said you lost a good guy. The truth is that he lost a GOOD WOMAN. I gained my life back. What I lost was my ability to tolerate an asshole.

  • I am still trying to figure out why I stayed, even before the cheating. He is an abusive, manipulative asshole and I am mostly grateful to be out now. It does still hurt though. I don’t miss him but I am grieving for the lost years I suppose.

    After the cheating, I was so broken, I was in pieces, totally isolated. I suppose the classic symptoms of abuse. He walked out within minutes of my discovering and I was a walking zombie.

    He sleazed his way back home before I was strong enough to protect myself. Once the anger hit, after about 3 months, I was not the same woman he left. If I was going to remain married to him the bar was raised. I needed, demanded better than it had ever been. He was still an abusive asshole. The first time I stood up to him, he beat me.

    I still stayed!!!

    The second affair, I found a text and again he was out in minutes. I had learned though. I took his keys off his ring before I confronted him. Then every single thing he owned went out the front door in the snow and mud, no garbage bags. I even carried a bureau from the second floor and threw it out the door.

    So why did I stay??? I was holding on to hope. I was hoping that the man I fell in love with was still in there. The man that treated me like gold for 2 years and then turned into Jekyll and Hyde. I did not want to accept that the horror of him was the real him. This was my second marriage, in the beginning I felt like finally I had met someone that really loved me.

    Many issues from childhood for me. Alcoholic parent, abuse, you name it. I used to tell x “if I had to go through all of that to get to this life with you, then it was worth it”. Honestly, I think he used my history to manipulate me and worse, I allowed it. I forgave things I never should have forgiven, I failed to protect myself.

    I guess it all comes down to not valuing myself enough.

    • I am sorry ChumpN, I also failed to protect myself, well at least I did in the end, especially financially. He didn’t get to con me out of my home and anything else I owned as he had planned. He just got to live a very good life for free off my back for a while, but I smile to myself now, knowing he never will again.. Big hugs!

    • This sentence belongs in the Chump Nation sentence hall of fame: ” I did not want to accept that the horror of him was the real him.”

      • Thanks LAJ! I just used this in my final letter to the XPOS going out to him on my bday!!! Setting myself free!!! (I hope!).

  • Why did I stay? What a fantastic question. Thankfully, I stayed only 6 months after Dday, but of course it took Dday2 to realize that it was over.

    Why did I stay? Looking back, I know that I shouldn’t have and wish I hadn’t. But don’t we all love the gift of hindsight?

    I stayed for many different reasons:

    1. I loved him. The man I married and spent most of my life with was a fun, loving husband for many years.

    2. Financial dependence. I didn’t think I would be able to make it on my own.

    3. The children. I didn’t want this to define them.

    4. I didn’t want to be “one of those people”. Most of my friends and co-workers are married.

    5. I am a fixer. I fix situations. I fix problems. I could fix him!

    6. Excuses. “He was going through a mid-life crisis.” “She seduced him and he just made a mistake.” “I didn’t pay enough attention to him.” “I didn’t make him happy enough.”

    7. Fear. What would happen to me? What would my future be? I couldn’t picture my life without my marriage and my family intact.

    8. Embarrassment. How would I tell people? Would people think it was my fault? Would people think less of me?

    Having some time to contemplate the reasons, I know that none of them were important enough to make me stay with a cheater. One reason I did stay was because I was so embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone after Dday. I finally shared with friends after Dday2. I didn’t have the wise counsel of friends or the wonderful advice of CL and ChumpNation to tell me “Hell to the NO! FUCK that shit!”

    I keep moving forward because there is no going back!!

    • Totally agree with your reasons – even though he walked out and never looked back, I certainly experienced everything in your list. Within a week of his departure, while he was trying to get me to agree to give our teenager the story “that we just grew apart” I put my foot down and told the ass “no way”. If he was walking out for his affaire partner then that was the story our daughter was hearing. I wasn’t going to take blame for his poor choices. I also gave him 1 week to tell her or she would hear my version of his bad behavior. My biggest advice to chumps is to make sure the kids know the truth about the dog turd’s cheating ways – don’t spackle. Your kids will respect you for your morality and strength and will quickly see the cheater for what they are. Also, don’t let the cheater control the narrative to your kids and rewrite trying to put themselves in a good light and you as the awful person. Keep in front of the cheater as they try to rewrite your history.

      • i totally remember telling Xh that we need to tell the kids together. in my mind, i was thinking he would have to face the pain he was causing the children. i wanted him to see their faces when we told them that “daddy” was leaving. maybe i was hoping that he would change his mind and finally do the right thing to fix it, i dont know. i wasnt thinking of telling the children “reasons” but i knew i didnt want to face them alone. boyman said after i told him that….”ya, so they can hear MY side of the story” and “So the kids know my reasons too not just what you are telling them”

        i was thinking WTF do you mean YOUR side of the story. i didnt realize we had two different stories to tell the kids. i actually hadnt told the children ANYTHING, but was still spackling for him. in fact, i hadnt even told the kids that i kicked XH out, i was still telling them that dear old daddy was working late, coming home after they fell asleep and leaving before they woke up. i finally ended up telling them the truth later, without boyman because he couldnt face his children pains (or mine either).

        the boys know about dear old dads girlfriend and that it is not ok to have a girlfriend when you are married. they know it was not the first time he has cheated. and now that he has disappeared, we dont have to worry about HIS side of the story.

      • My Xh wanted to tell the kids the reason we were divorcing was a stupid shit story of “growing apart”, “finding happiness”, or some other bullshit. There was NO way I was going to abide by the “grew apart” narrative. “Your father is a lying, cheater” is not the narrative your children want to hear, but they deserved the truth however unpleasant! Our children were old enough to figure it out anyway, and I wasn’t going to be the liar. If he was so “opposed” to them knowing about him cheating with Howorker, it sure didn’t take long him after that to bring her into their lives. What a dick!!!

    • One Step, that shame we feel at the end of a marriage keeps chumps from getting the help they need to end the marriage. Telling our stories to family members and friends (but only those we can trust will have our backs) can give us the perspective on behavior that we have experienced in the privacy of marriage, in secret, behind closed doors. Last night I was talking to my best friend about my marriage to the drinker (not Jackass the cheater). She said, “You weren’t imagining things. I was there. I saw it. You were right to leave.” Even though I know in my head I tried with my whole heart and did my best, it’s my friend who can reflect back the reality of a situation, rather than my guilt or self-blame. It’s hard when a bad marriage leaves a chump isolated. That’s when a good therapist can help us sort of the truth about the life we are living.

      • The first time I confronted him, he said, “you’re crazy.” I was shocked at the tone because he had never spoken to me that way before. Never been disrespectful or cold. We had never fought or raised voices to each other. I debated whether or not I was really, in fact crazy. The facts would seem to indicate otherwise, but I wasn’t sure. He was such a terrific guy, and I am not always a terrific girl.

        So I called his friend who had accompanied him on his business trip. This friend was always kind of made fun of in our social circle at work. He was a more moral version of Micheal Scott, if you will. He really wanted people to like him and that was off putting to the cool kids. I told friend, “I know I’m putting you in a very awkward position, but I think that L cheated on me. He is telling me I’m crazy.”

        He paused and said three words. “You’re not crazy.” I thanked him and said that was all I needed to know. This guy should’ve lied for his friend who was very popular at work where he was not. This is the kind of guy I should’ve been with. He is a chump too. Why are we chumps only attracted to people who seem somewhat disinterested in us?

        • I got “you’re crazy” quite a bit, and like that lobster in the pot, you’re so removed from normal by that time, you think, “maybe I AM crazy…” instead of “what kind of shitty husband calls their wife crazy?”

          I knew there was something very, very wrong. I even had this crazy re-curring dream that was my sub-consicous’ way of trying to tell me that. But I stayed for many of the same reasons: I wanted to be married; I wanted to believe that he could be the man he was on the good days; I had such a hard time becoming a mom, and I didn’t want to leave my 2 pre-schoolers (I was at home FT with them); I didn’t have a job and was scared financially; I’d made vows before God; he had demonstrated some scary signs that he was mentally ill (or just evil or both), and I thought mentally ill was covered under “in sickness and in health” – but I guess most of all, I was scared. He was from another country, and would make comments about how connected his family was, and how he could do anything/have anything/make anything happen and nobody could stop him. I thought that if I left him, he’d take the kids and I’d never see them again.

          So, in retrospect, it was a complete blessing when the primary OW got tired of waiting, and threatened to dump his ass if he didn’t get back over to her. Oh, and since he failed to mention he had our second child, and had told her that our oldest “probably wasn’t his” in an attempt to minimize/cover up the fact we were still married, he left us without a backward glance. Like other cheaters on here, he didn’t take any pictures or mementos of a 10+ year marraige or his kids. Nothing. So I got to file a “missing spouse” divorce and pay for everything; and he still owes over 6 figures in court costs and back child support – but the kids and I have our freedom, our safety, and each other. The kids have not seen him since, and we’re on our second protective order to assure that it stays that way. So, fear – dark, cold fear – kept me stuck. I still feel that way sometimes when things don’t go his way in his shiny, new life, and he tried to blame me. I still look over my shoulder often; and probably always will. I hate that my kids are/were in daycare so much – but they only have a few, blurry memories of him and the crazy, evil stuff – so I’ll take it. I used to pray and pray and pray that God would save my family – and it turns out He did. He saved us by letting the exH leave.

  • I have been with the asshole since I was 17. Married at 18, first child at 19. My 16th wedding anniversary is in two weeks. I have been cheated on since the first year and every year since. 4 kids later, numerous separations throughout the marriage the emotional and pychological abuse registered on the terrifying end of the scale. The most terrifying was not knowing i was being abused emotionally and pychologically and what i was feeling and thinking for 15yrs had a name! I clung to him because I loved him more than I loved myself and children. I never let go because I honestly believed no one can love him better than I could. I stayed because I didn’t want the 50+ whores he’s brought into the sanctuary of my sacred vows to win. I stayed because he had near destroyed every ounce of my self-esteem that I believed no one will ever want a woman with 4 young children. I stayed because it was terrifying thinking of a future without him in it.Its almost 6months since I took flight. I am off the crazy train and I’m still reeling and trying to wrap my head around the fact “this is it” “its over”. I know in my heart I.AM.DONE.

    • YES!! and good job to you!! i remember feeling everything you just said. i honestly thought nobody could love him better then i did. well apparently i am easily replaced by a married, ghetto, no values, no morals, no integrity, oompa loompa hood rat who didnt keep her own marriage vows nor take care of her own children. i am still trying to figure that one out, well not anymore because It. Just. Doesnt. Matter. Now…..

      wishing you well on your journey
      hugs

      • Thanks MrsVain, have missed seeing your posts in the forum.

        Our assholes might wake up one day with a A-HA! Moment and realise what they discarded in pursuit of strange pussies or they might not. I fantasize mine having this aha moment when hes a wrinkling sack of shit and finally realised how GOOD he had it. Or they might go the rest of their lives being the shallow narcisstic asshole that they are selfishly unaware of the destruction they’ve caused.

  • Fear – and refusing to fail. I honestly thought I could tell him to get rid of OW, he would, and all would go back to normal. But it didn’t work out that way. He had a three year head start in emotionally leaving the marriage, and the war was lost before I even realized there was a problem. The two years between DDay and him leaving were among the hardest of my life. I totally bought into the reconciliation industry hopium, and spent so much time, money, and energy trying to resuscitate my marriage. Total waste of time.

    If I knew then what I know now, I would have followed my gut instinct in the wee hours of that July morning as I sat there staring at the phone records showing his thousands of text messages to OW: put his sh*t on the lawn, change the locks, and file for divorce. Because he didn’t deserve five more minutes of my time, let alone two more years. His every action since has proved it.

    • “He had a three year head start in emotionally leaving the marriage, and the war was lost before I even realized there was a problem.” PERFECT STATEMENT!

    • “He had a three year head start in emotionally leaving the marriage, and the war was lost before I even realized there was a problem.”

      This! ^^^^^^^

      • Ditto ^^^^ THIS!!!^^^^ only my time frame was about two years for the final withdrawal, he never allowed himself to truly commit emotionally. My opinion looking back on 8 years. Now after 7 months he finally admitted (what I already knew) that he “should” have ended us before beginning something new, and of course because he has admitted and said sorry (with all of the remorse of behaving as though he stepped on my toe) I’m supposed to be able to just “move on” and pretend the last 7 months never happened. The betrayal, neglect, disrespect, lies, cheating, gaslighting, blaming, tormenting….. etc. Stupid dick.

        • yep yep yep!! my time frame was a year. but holy cow!! how can a man disengage from aa commitment that was was 14.5 years in just ONE YEAR!!! well, a man that never allowed himself to truly commit emotionally in the first place.

          and after the divorce was final on March 20, 2014, i was also expected to “get over it” in a matter of months. his hood rat told me over and over to “get over it” (and he let her). but i never got an “i’m sorry” or anything. i am still not sure WTF happened on HIS side. all he ever told me was “it was all my fault”

    • Echoing the rest. In my case in was only eight months that she was evaluating my worthiness, during which time she had me buy an electric car for her to drive. She left me and I was left with a car that doesn’t go anywhere.

        • Cause you HAVE to make it up the next hill. He might have dragged me and our life down a slippery slope of lies and deceit… coasting all the way down…he didnt plan on me having back up engines to fire up.
          I am fired up. He can stay at the bottom. I got places to go.

  • If I were just making the decision for me alone, I would never stay with a cheater. I ended my first marriage, of 10 years (no kids), because first WH cheated.

    On Dday (current & 2nd marriage) —–which was 3 years,10 mos,& 3 days ago— I asked him to leave. He moved in with his mother, a few blocks away. We were separated for 4 mos because he would not stop seeing the coworker Slunt.

    When I started Divorce mediation, he asked me to give us another chance—stated it was over with COW.
    OW has since moved across the country.
    I stayed because I wanted our 4 kids to grow up in a 2 parent home. Also, I didn’t want our kids around that lowlife Slunt.
    Meanwhile, I guess I am untangling the skein for both of us. It has come to light that WH’s narcissistic mother is responsible for a lot of the damage in our marriage, & I have gone no contact with her.
    We are still in MC.

    In 2 1/2 years, we will have an empty nest—–then I will re-evaluate.

    • Matilda, I never wanted to have a whore raising my children. I couldn’t imagine having to live with that. His picker this time gave him an abusive woman who has anger issues, and was arrested for domestic assault and various other charges. Her son is just like her. They are violent. My children are all adults and while I regret staying I sacrificed my dignity and sanity. I should have left much sooner. He just got worse over time.

  • Fear of loss.
    Serious FOO issues- loss of a father through death, loss of the man who raised me through divorce.
    The desire to be a good Christian wife, understanding love is a choice.
    Fear of judgment.
    Of not being supportive or submissive enough.
    Fear of loosing my children.
    Hope.
    That my marriage would improve.
    That if I just tried hard enough to be the wife I am suppose to be he would love me as a husband should.
    If I fixed me then things would get better.
    That I was the problem – I should be grateful that he had not left me.
    I should be grateful that he was willing to put up with my moodiness, my depression, my angry default setting, my endless desire for us to get ahead as a family.
    That he would one day be the husband I saw glimps of and hoped he would fully become.

    Why did I stay? To quote a banner my mother had in our kitchen when I was a child.
    Because I was a mushroom!
    I was kept in the dark and fed nothing but bullshit.

    • “Hope.
      That my marriage would improve.
      That if I just tried hard enough to be the wife I am suppose to be he would love me as a husband should.”

      i think we all felt this one. i was doing all the right things. i invested so much into our marriage. Hell, i forgave him for ALL THE SHIT he did in the past, that has to account for SOMETHING. it was completely beyond me that he would never love me as a husband should.

    • I, too, stayed (primarily) because I was afraid to lose my children. I was afraid that my STBX would physically hurt them. I also did not want to experience the pain of not getting to see our children every day, as I had for several years. (Cheating STBX was gone for most of our children’s lives.) After STBX filed and moved out, he got to have the kids for every other weekend and some weekdays. I miss our kids and worry about them, but I can’t protect them when they are out of my presence. I hope that they will be OK.

      Furthermore, I stayed because I was a grad student who had hoped to finish a doctorate and had no income.

      The good news about being dumped by cheating narcissistic STBX was an old friend (also a chump) gladly took STBX’s place. New guy is a tremendous upgrade! Being loved is strange but wonderful.

  • I didn’t stay with the Cheater; the very night I realized he was cheating, and confronted him about it when he got home from his “date,” which he at first denied then blameshifted –> after asking him to try counseling (he refused), begging him to stay (yeah, I know) then listening to hours of garbage and blame emanating from his mouth, I told him he had to leave. He initially protested that too, then left. He never came back but for 6 mos. tried getting me to play pick me but only so he could manipulate me to give him $$ (which I had in my initial trauma, offered to do to ‘help’ him, the poor sausage). When I went NC with him at 6 mos. out, and told him I’d lawyered up he was livid, then commenced smear campaign against me w/our former friends (some chose him, god bless their attempts at Switzerland);

    Looking back, and having done therapy for seven months, I realize and acknowledge that the relationship itself was abusive and unhealthy because he is arguably very high on the narcissism spectrum, has sexual deviance and anger issues, to say the least; post DDay I found out he was a serial cheater, had at least one prior OW and never stopped being involved with his prior GF to me, for the first 7-9 years he lived with me and my kids. I am so very relieved and glad that this man is out of my life and that my children were not damaged by him.

    I realized he was abusive during the relationship, but always excused it. I chose to stay with him anyway…. just like you keep wearing an old pair of shoes till it falls apart perhaps. I am a loyal, faithful and trusting person. Generous and giving, as well. This made me a perfect target for a man who is willing to use someone else, lie to them, cheat on them, mooch off them and laugh it all off in the end with “hey, you didn’t object!” Lesson learned. Boundaries are my challenge now.

    I have been rebuilding my life with my dignity intact. It hasn’t been easy or inexpensive. It’s been 100x harder than my first divorce 20 years ago when I left with 3 kids under the age of 12 in the middle of my 2nd yr in grad school. Cheater now lives with OW. We weren’t married but were together 16 years during which I was breadwinner, Mommy, sextoy you name it, he asked and he got it from me. But I’m a doormat NO MORE. There is only one legal tie left binding us (a shared asset) and sooner or letter something’s going to give and that will get resolved as well. I’m much older than I was when I went through a divorce 20 years ago… it’s been tough, painful, lonely and crazymaking. But I’m getting there. And ultimately SO GLAD I kicked that cheater to the curb! So very grateful for Chump Lady and all the members of Chump Nation. My recovery has been speeded up and kicked into hyperdrive by reading this site daily and using the forum.

    • I’m with you,TheMuse. In the pit of my stomach, I knew there was no returning from an affair (even just an EA, as he claimed at first). I had already recognized that there was emotional abuse taking place in the relationship, and wondered how much self-respect I had to eat to stay in the marriage. My answer? “no more”

      Pulled all my clothes out of the master bedroom & moved upstairs, started looking for sublets within 2 days of D-day. At first, I kept contact to find out answers (but no marital contact). Then gave him 1.5 months to run through most of the indicators of faux remorse before filing, backing myself out of the relationship each step of the way. Most of ‘reconciliation’ attempts, such as they were, emanated from my asking for a divorce, him freaking out, and then FINALLY offering to read a book, FINALLY making a marital therapy appointment. His attempts were always in response to dire urgency of losing me (rather than any real willingness to change), and thus doomed to failure.

  • I went through different phases. He was controlling and verbally and emotionally abusive from the beginning, but I spackled. I believed his narrative that he was trying to be a better person and that I could help him get there with my love. I went through ten years of marriage, doing everything, paying for everything, believing that he cared about me, despite what his actions said. Then during one of our many fights, I told him how lonely and scared and overwhelmed I felt, and he told me he didn’t care. Finally, I believed him. It was true, and that day I knew I had to leave him.

    Then I stayed for the kids. I tried several times to get him to leave, but he would go to the kids and tell them they had to convince me to let them stay. It made them hysterical and I always gave in. I just couldn’t bear to see my children so upset and begging me to let him stay.

    Then he threatened me and I stayed out of fear of him hurting our children. He threatened to kill himself, to destroy me, to shoot our entire family. I was terrified of him. I would do anything, even live with a monster, to protect my kids. But it didn’t protect them at all. It exposed them to some horrible abuse and they started showing symptoms of stress and anxiety. I was so afraid to get a restraining order. I didn’t know if that would be the thing to trigger him to kill us.

    I did finally file. I got support from a domestic violence agency, and I got courage from Chump Lady. It has taken me three years to get away. My divorce will be final in days, and he is moving out in two weeks. I am looking forward to freedom.

    • I’m glad you got out quicksilver, getting away from an abuser can be very hard and is very scary. I am so glad my ex is afraid of jail so he respects the protective order. I am a lucky one.

            • Quicksilver… I am sure the DV agency told you this is the most dangerous time for you and your children… Filing and post divorce. Restraining orders are just paper. I think in a lot of way they give you false reassurance. when they are hell bent on getting you they will. I think most restraining orders work for the loud mouth schnooks who want to scare you but have way too much to lose( work, reputation) those people love love to lip off and tell you all the crazy shit they are gonna do to u.. Might even toss you around…break some stuff… Follow you.
              Then there is the pyscho… Who will plan this shit out…. And doesnt care about the consequences. My Idiot teeters on the pyscho line. And unfortunately is a cop.
              Please becareful. Ask the agency for as much help as you can get. Dont underestimate what he can do.

            • Dat, I hope you get the renewal. It gives some comfort having one in place. My stbx however, does not respect the order. He skates right to the edge. As a former cop, he knows that the police will not enforce I’m a public place, unless he makes a threat. I know, because I called and had an officer come to my house to make a report. He looked at the pictures I took of assclown (sorry, I was trying to make it through without a cuss word ) way closer than 75ft to my car, and asked me if he said anything to me. I said no, but he was waving at me. He then said he could not tell exactly how close he was to me, and he did not threaten me, so……….

              I’m glad your X reads the order enough to respect it. I have no choice but to move far,far away and start over. If the judge decides in my favor. 🙁

              • Quicksilver I totally agree with Clip. Underestimating the threat is what gets people killed. If you can get a copy, Amazon has it in kindle too, get “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin Becker. It really educated you on what you are dealing with. I found that because a lot of people knew X, they did not think he was threat to me. WRONG!! He was and still is. Be careful, Clip is right on the money about it being just a price of paper. Women get killed even with a restraining order in place. If he is a psycho, he will continue. Mine has broken into my home, taken things from my yard, gets way too close when we exchange the 2 children that will go visitation. Be very, very careful. Good luck. Hugs

              • My ex violated the order in small ways to test me, I reported every single one and he got a sort of probationary period. He really is VERY afraid of jail, he’s been there several times, so for me it’s more than a piece of paper.

                I’m sorry Irish, cop abusers put you in the worst position. My ex was very chummy with the cops, he set me up as you know and they never arrested him for anything. Your cop knows exactly how to skirt and he’s got friends on the force so you do have to move, no choice. Crossing my fingers for you!

        • Dat – I’ll be sending prayers your way for the renewal. I remember your kindess when I was back in court. First order was for 5 years; the current one for only 2, so I get to be the f’ing rat in a cage again this coming winter. Ugh.

          You are very right – the orders only work if they have something to lose by getting caught. My exH has ignored his up until I called the police and filed a report EVERY TIME he phoned or texted. He even texted me to find out what time the court appontment was for the violation of the CPO! Nutters.

          I still believe that he could snap at any time, and kill the kids and me. I’ve had to almost make peace with that possiblity, which is crazy in itself. We have pepper spray guns in the car, purse, and each room in our house. I sleep with a shotgun next to the bed. The kids are both well on their way to becoming black belts. I don’t leave them alone, or allow photos to be published. But this is our normal, and we do our best to just live and laugh every day. I remember my ex’s cold, black eyes once when I commented about being suspicious of him. I remember how excited he was to follow that Chandra Levy case – he thought it was funny that whoever killed her got away with it. He loved crime stories on TV where they didn’t catch the bad guy – he would always comment on how he could get away with murder and nobody would ever catch him. There are still some days I cannot believe that this is my life. I pray that God will protect us, and grant us peace. Some days are just tougher than others.

    • I am so happy for you quicksilver! Life is truly better without the abusive cheating assholes! Yes, the freedom, you will enjoy it, because I know I am, immensely! 🙂

    • quicksilver, you be careful. Glad you are moving forward with good advice. That takes a lot of courage. But keep your eyes open and be careful.

  • In my case it’s doubt. I am not sure that my H has had an affair (don’t think it’s physical, if it’s anything, it’s emotional), he completely denies it. I do know there is a “friendship” that got too cozy based on phone/text records (increased frequency) but I have no other evidence, other than him distancing from me and checking many of the boxes of how guys act when they are cheating (obsessive workouts, on the Iphone all the time and secretive about it, critical of me, all of a sudden into appearance, etc), however he continues to maintain he wants to work on things and there is no one else. So right now, I don’t know if I am coming or going. None of these things by themselves are concerning but sort of taking as a whole, it makes me feel uneasy. I keep praying that things will come clear.

    • I’m so sorry you’re in this space. I can truly relate, because my very-soon-to-be–EX-cheater has never admitted to anything I didn’t have hard evidence on already. I too dealt with those dastardly phone records, with hundreds of texts to same number, the death grip and password protection on the iPhone, and several of those other cheating benchmarks you mention. It’s such bullshit for your H to contend that nothing is happening. Detective mode is exhausting. I hope you can get some clarity soon in the form of concrete evidence that proves your gut feeling.

    • newchump: I understand the doubt thing. I went through it as well because I also had very little “evidence” of an actual affair, although plenty of warning signs. I stayed a year because I didn’t think I knew enough to leave and that I shouldn’t break up a marriage on suspicion alone. I finally left even without the evidence because my gut was screaming at me that something was really wrong, and I couldn’t stand the slow soul death of the relationship any more. It was killing me.

      After I filed for divorce I got my evidence but good; hard, clear evidence (including his admission of it) of hundreds of encounters with prostitutes throughout the whole marriage. It was way worse than I dreamed.

      Bottom line is, I understand the confusion. Even though I and probably most chumps here want you to run run run, because we’ve all been there and we know that your gut feelings are almost 100% of the time exactly right; so don’t waste any more time and get started on the healing. But you need to feel secure in your decision, and if you’re unsure, you’re not ready yet.

      At some point, though, trust your gut and move on for YOU, so YOU can be happy, regardless of any evidence or what you can prove he’s done or not done. Your gut already knows he’s cheating, because you’re here. You just aren’t ready to admit it and take action yet. But you will be. You’ll know when you’re ready. Being here is a great first step. Hugs and best of luck, you can do it.

          • I have 10 years of his records. It’s unbelievable when you see how many texts they send. That is how I know he sees three at a time. No wonder he didn’t want to pay the bills and brags his ow buy him gifts and pay the bill. Records show he is still hooking up with ow while with his latest. I am so happy to be divorced. They never change.

    • Newchumpatl, I was in the exact same boat about a year ago. I told him he was getting way too chummy with the woman he taught Sunday School with (nice,right?) and he apologized and said he would distance himself, etc. Two months later my husband became abusive and horrible to me and the kids, it was literally traumatic to all of us and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. I kicked him out once the abuse continued. To this day I have no proof of a physical affair but he behaves just like someone in an affair and there is is no doubt in my mind that he had every intention to have an affair. I’m so glad I’m away from him now and have been able to see through the “good guy” I loved and really thought he was. Please be careful with this man. Mine had me fooled for 19 years. One of the big things that woke me up was that I got his credit report without him knowing and it had thousands and thousands of hidden debt on it. It was just another clue to the man he really is and I knew kicking him out was the best thing I could have done.

    • newchump, he’s cheating. If he’s having an emotional affair and you are concerned and he’s distancing, that’s big trouble. Is there any evidence that he has turned away from the OW, the workouts, the criticism and distancing? Is he just saying “he wants to work on things”? That would be my guess.

      That’s cake, newchump. The distancing and criticism is happening because he has to justify is disgusting behavior. He wants his new emotional affair (or worse) and his intact family. He thinks you will be satisfied with the shit sandwich buffet table and the after-dinner hopium pipe while he eats cake.

      Get your ducks in a row. See a badass attorney. Find out your options. If he isn’t really working on the marriage–working hard in counseling, spending time with you, supporting your dreams–you need to protect yourself and the kids. If he really values the marriage, there’s nothing like seriously filing for divorce to find that out. You don’t want that moment when “things become clear” to be the moment he files or moves out or has transferred all the family assets to Schmoopie’s account. Get clear about who you are, what you want, and what you expect from marriage.

  • Naivete and youthful belief that he just needed to mature. That we were growing together and he wasn’t a sociopath. Because how could he be? If he was as broken as I suspected, then it would reflect on my choices and I couldn’t handle that.

    The thing is that all of these years on, now that I’m married to a great guy with a fantastic child, I am still incredibly wounded by the way I was used for close to a decade. That he didn’t respect me enough to be monogamous. And for years afterwards, I kept learning of other women he had duped, because the world is small.

  • Trauma-induced paralysis. Once I broke through that, I started duck-lining-up, and then got out. It took a while, since sale of the big old house was in the works anyway (required a fair amount of fixing up, and 200 year old houses don’t fix cheap…or you do it yourself (that would be me, not crapweasel.)) I did boot him to a hotel for a couple of days, then to a sort of boarding house arrangement for a few months–which I had actually forgotten about until yesterday.

    Again, trauma-induced haze.

    Then, incredibly painfully, we moved to a shared apartment while I maintained a fiction–mostly to him and partly to me–that we were moving forward, but it was so exquisitely painful that I pretty much had a complete breakdown. There is only so much social fiction you can maintain. I lost my job (I resigned), since my boss was a shark-narc (and I was totally blind to that). Once she smelled the blood in the water, work life became hell too.

    I did get a post-nup in place during that time, and it saved all the bacon. Crapweasel was feeling guilty, and I was becoming ruthless.

    Finally, the old house sold, I bought another one, moved away, and we divorced.

    More breakdown as I realized I lived totally alone in the middle of nowhere and most of my old friends slammed the door in my face. Exactly one visitor in more than two years. Yup. Needless to say, I’ve stopped inviting people, it’s obviously pointless.

    Oh, and my daughter came home for 2 weeks, and then left the country for good. Ran way from her parents, in my view (although she & I remain very close electronically).

    My dog really saved my life, in so many ways.

      • NFV
        I feel for you. The inertia is very hard. Like dragging a dead body. I too feel very isolated. My family and friends … My old life are in another country. I moved to the USA when I was 33 years old… Now 47. Its never felt truely like home and I am now stuck here until my daughter can consent to move with me. I really dont want to disrrupt her life anymore than it has already… So i will wait until she enters college. We have wonderful friends who have been apart of our lives since her birth… The mom squad. But they are all married with 2.5 children and now i dont quite fit in. I spend long hours looking at the phone… No texts… No one calls. I do my best to keep busy. My child is very busy… So most days are consumed with the ‘ routine’ of school , home work, ballet, music…
        I find my spot on the bench and do my best at small talk.
        I understand why people jump into relationships again… Its something to fill the gap. Is that wrong… Hard to say. I really have had to look inward to find my happiness. Its been on a shelf somewhere back there. I will make myself crazy making excuses on why i cant live a full life. I try everyday to find a positive… Even if its only a cup of coffee warming my hands. I breath unaided. I walk unaided. I have so much more than a lot of people on the planet. I know… I have worked in third world contries. I know have to unchained my heart and mind so they too can be free.
        You find solace in your dogs… Start walking. Force your self to a dog park. Better yet… Pack yourself in the car and bring your dog site seeing. Go somewhere new… New grocery store. Try a new brand of yogurt. Seriously. One tiny act change change a lot. But you have to act. Drag your sorry ass out the door.

        • Great post. Brought me to tears, the loneliness chumpdom brings to us. It’s so hard to make the tough decisions. And to live with the consequences out upon us.

          Dragging our ass out the door. Yep it’s tough. Being isolated in our sadness, brief and hopeless anger. I agree that the small things, like a warm cup of coffee, or a nice hot bath become precious mind savers.

          • Yes! I have been. When this present little Ice Age recedes, Dog & I will return to the wonderful parks we found last fall. Also, this morning, I did a volunteer orientation at a great place that provides household goods of all kinds to families in need: refugees, burned house victims, domestic violence life-remakers, It’s a great organization, and I can do a lot of back office non-profit-y stuff for them that won’t tax my back. Also get to know more folk in my new community–nice, like minded, giving type people (I hope.)

            So that’s an idea. But it’s taken me 2 years to get stable enough for this kind of thing…

            Best of luck & bon courage to you all.

            • namedforvera, I’m so glad to hear about the volunteer organization. That’s exactly the place where you belong, with all of your compassion, intelligence, and wit. You can be productive and the world will benefit, plus, you will make good friends.

        • TheClip……….No phone calls, no texts, no visits……ditto. Though I have a great set of very few trusted friends, I’ve worn them out and they simply act as if I’m all good and back to normal; no more discussions about it, as if it never happenedl! I’M NOT GOOD & BACK TO NORMAL !!!!!! Thats why I love it here too. EVERYONE understands and listens. Nice.

          • IHaveHate, I feel like this sometimes; like friends see your caller ID and must think, “oh, boy what now?” That is another reason I find this blog particularly helpful, because you can check it and participate at any time and it helps to give healthy perspective.

          • Yes yes yes!! Agreed. My jackass has only been gone 4 months… everyone says those SAME two irritating fucking words…. “Move On”. REALLY?? It’s SO easy to say that when it isn’t YOUR life and YOUR child’s lives that have been completely dismantled with ZERO warning.

            I am SO thankful for CL and my fellow Chumps. If it hasn’t happened to you…. you just WON’T get it!! Ever.

            • I understand this. One friend sang that stupid “Frozen” song to me the day after it ended for good. “Let it Go…” crap. My heart was throbbing and I wanted to die, and she thought I should just let it go.

              But I get that she doesn’t get it, because while I thought he was the bee’s knees, it was obvious to her he is a jerk, and she couldn’t understand why I was with him to begin with. Did I mention she is a lesbian?

              So when you can get your heart to stop throbbing, there is a little comfort in pretending it wasn’t Armageddon. He really was a jerk, and I really am going to be so much better off. I don’t need to make it my identity. There is more to me than this man who I made the mistake of loving.

              I am using this blog to help me understand that no matter how much I wanted it to be different, it was what it was. A person I wanted to be my partner, instead used me for kibble while he scoped out his best possible senario. And he didn’t think that I was his best possible senario.

              This time, I am not going to jump through hoops to prove myself worthy. This time I am going to walk away and hopefully meet someone who really does love me, flaws and all. This time I am not sacrificing what I enjoy to fit what he enjoys. This time I am not buying that I’m not worthy.

              • Jen, your friend who sang the Frozen song to you was insensitive at best and shallow at worst. Just to clarify though, my daughter is a lesbian and some narcissistic user of a girlfriend of hers broke her heart very deeply, and it took my daughter 3 years to ‘get over’ it. I doubt being gay was the reason your friend lacked understanding of your heartbreak. Just sayin. ~~ Proud mom of gay daughter with a heart <3

      • how lovely…that would be fun. But first, I have about 2 ft of snow that needs to melt out in the yard….hahhaah. and it’s supposed to rain this weekend. wheeee. One of the upsides of all this is learning to (try) and laugh at things like incredibly crappy weather, eh?

  • I also stayed out of fear. Fear of never meeting anyone else, fear of meeting another narc, fear of opening myself up to someone again and getting hurt, fear of trusting guys, fear of not being pretty or good enough.

    We’ve been dating on/off for over 6 years. I’m 29 and I’m terrified of moving on with my life. We are now broken up again, but continue to communicate. He tells me I’m overreacting and he’s done nothing wrong. His “p*ssy fetish” are normal because everyone has some type of fetish. It’s private and he has all the right to alone time and I should appreciate the fact that he does not go to strip clubs or pay hookers for sex. (His words)

    He spends hours (up to 9 hours a day sometimes) serving the net for porn, has a browsing history of Local Hotels, Craig’s list, Ashley Madison and teen porn on his computer. The younger the better – Google searches have revealed “very young tight p*ssy”.

    I’ve tried to move on, but I am very insecure because of him. He’s been working on my self esteem since the very beginning. Always telling me, “if you weren’t so narrow minded in the bedroom, if you would only mastrubate in front of me, if you weren’t so boring and selfcontious, then obviously I would have no need to look at these thousands of naked girls behind your back and hiding it”.

    I’ve done all of the above and more in the hope to salvage the relationship even though I hated every second of every act I performed, and guess what? None of that made him stop – it only made him hide it better and be more careful of me finding out. God only knows what else he’s been up to behind my back that I have no proof of.

    • Honestly, his actions are totally outrageous. And he is almost surely actually paying hookers for sex and god knows what else. That’s why people go to Craigslist, hotels, AM, etc. My XH did it, and when I learned the truth it was unbelievable how many prostitutes and random people he had been with. I honestly could not have even imagined it.

      Your ex has most certainly done “something wrong”. By any standard. He is sick. And you are young, and not married to him. You should go completely no contact with this person immediately, to save your own life; and I’m not just being dramatic. If you haven’t been tested for a full panel of STDs, please please do that.

      Please get some counseling. Your statement that “Ive done all of the above and more in the hope to salvage the relationship even though I hated every second of every act I performed” is very troubling. I did this too, literally HATING myself for trying to save the marriage but doing it anyway over and over. The effects of this are emotionally traumatizing and have the effect of completely depleting your self worth and your ability to trust yourself in the future. This may have long term consequences for you. Please try to get away from it now and see a professional to help you. He has emotionally abused you.

      I’m sorry to be so direct, but your story scares me and is very familiar. I lost ten years of my life to a person exactly like this; ages 25 to 35. My first d day came when I was almost exactly your age. I wish to god someone had stopped me before I married him. There is no good outcome from this. Please save yourself.

      Much hugs and strength. Keep reading here.

      • Dear DefyingGravity, thank you so much for your honesty.

        I agree with you, if he is so dependent on porn, why wouldn’t he meet these horrible girls in real live, even just to satisfy his ever increasing need.

        As you said, the proof is in the websites he’s visited. He’s so good at manipulating me and I think going NC will be the only thing that will save me, but it’s lonely – all my friends are married and have children.

        I can’t even imagine having children with this guy, never mind having girls with him, imagine! I was pregnant with his baby in 2012, and horrible as it was for me to deal with the miscarriage, I thank God that it happened the way it did.

        I am seeing a counselor and dealing with my insecurities but I’m still in desperate need to escape these feelings of no worth.

        Thank you for your encouragement and your story. I too wish you had someone then to tell you to walk away before you had to go through all you went through.

        You are in my thoughts. Hugs to you too.

        • Please look up “narcisstic abuse” and get therapy from someone who knows what that means, or do it online, but treat it as such. You have a co-dependancy with this person and very low self-esteem. You need to get out of this before you jump back in. It is very addictive! Or else you wouldn´t keep coming back for more even though you know how much it will hurt you! These people NEVER change …no matter what you do. But you do need to get back to your true self before this person sucks up all the life out of you. That is what he wants to do. Be brave…you can do it.

          • Thank you for your kind words Susan. I will make immediate work of looking up Narcissistic abuse and take things from there. I am co-dependent and know this. I also realize if I have such a hard time breaking the habit of returning, what are the chances of him breaking his habits. Thank you so much for your reply.

            • Lientjie, stinks that you have to be here but glad you found your way here. You will find a ton of helpful insight and information as well as support here. Everyone is right… you are young…. educate yourself and find the path to healing that works for you and do it while you are still young. Parenting with these disordered crapweasels absolutely stinks.

              I wanted to share a link with you…. good source for info on Narcissism 😀

              http://www.angriesout.com/grown17.htm

        • Lientijie,

          I am divorcing a porn addict similar to yours. Teen porn, the whole tight p@ssy stuff and on and on. The difference is, I’m 54 and spent 8 of 13 years ( dday at year 6) trying to fix this. And I had 4 beautiful children with him, who are suffering horribly because of his choice to continue with the porn. And God knows what else. The dysfunctional family he comes from includes a father who molested 4 of his granddaughters. I had to file the police report because the entire family refused to. They only wanted him to get help. I wanted him to go to jail.

          You aren’t married to this guy, leave . Leave while you can. You are young and have a whole beautiful, wonderful, exciting life ahead. Don’t squander your wonderful self on him. Really. You are worth so much more.

          Good luck!!

      • Lientjie, please listen to SphinxMoth, and get away from this sick man ASAP and get yourself some supportive counseling. Listen, I too, made the same mistake of thinking if I did what he demanded, it would please him and make him happy, and keep him “loving” me. His fetishes just got weirder and more extreme over the years until he killed something deep inside me.

        After 16 years of trying to be something I’m not, I later learned he was a serial cheater all along. I wasted my time and efforts sacrificing myself for him! I never got the proof of the child porn and hookers and same sex acts that I suspect him of, but I am now menopausal and wasted 16 years of my life with a pervert. He was getting it from me, and from all those strangers too. PLEASE, don’t waste another single second with someone who treats you like an object.

        It’s not normal for anyone to spend 9 hours a day searching for teen porn. It’s only a matter of time before he does something criminal. Please, run and keep running from this guy!

        • … lientje, and PLEASE, listen to Defyinggravity!! you do NOT want to be where we older women are, decades later, after wasting your precious sexuality and love on a man who is just using you, and exposing you to STDs.

        • Dear TheMuse, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through. You say “until he killed something deep inside me”, which I can totally relate. I no longer cry (I try, but can’t), I’ve lost my compassion for people and their problems and I feel like I just don’t care about anything anymore. I keep telling myself, “if someone who ‘loves’ me with all he is, (like he kept telling me), can do this to me, who’s to say someone else won’t do worse”.

          I’ve lost all trust in men and I’ve been exposed to things I could never have imagined. I agree with you, his daily ‘me-time’, is totally abnormal and what’s even worse, is that he works for himself and has all the time in the world to make the porn his priority above anyone and anything else.

          I am getting my ducks in a row and I will get away from this sickness that’s consuming my life. I know I can do it. Thank you for your story and support, it means the world to me.

    • Unfortunately Lientje, disturbed people like your partner are attracted to women they can blame for their insecurities. They wear you down. You are here where many of us chumps did not recognize the disrespect of an abusive partner. That is what he is ABUSIVE. He belittles his partner and has a fantasy life which will only become more destructive. Your working from HIS point of view. You know a lot about yourself and you recognize the pain of loving someone who is NOT worthy of your love. My serial cheater kept the porn a secret as many of them do. Something that has helped me immensely is knowing that my cheater was lucky to have ME. I was loving, compassionate, and forgiving. I am hopeful you will have no contact with him in the future and as we all know HE will not get help because he thinks his shit is normal. You should seek support to end this relationship because he is TOXIC. You deserve respect!!!!

      • Dear Donna, you’ve hit the nail on the head! You are so right, I do deserve better (anyone does!) and will start with getting to know myself again and going no contact. Thank you for your support and for reminding me that I do deserve respect.

    • Lientje, please do NOT waste your pretty! The only “issue” you have is that you’re in a relationship with an abusive assclown. If sex makes you feel degraded or you’re getting strong-armed into stuff that isn’t for you, then he is definitely not the right guy. From what you’ve shared, he’s probably not the right guy for anybody unless he gets help, and maybe not even then. Believe me, you will be AMAZED how fast your self-esteem returns once you give this guy the heave-ho.

      Huge chumpy hugs speeding their way to you. You have no idea how many of us would give to be 29 again with the knowledge we have now. Save yourself!

      • Dear FoolMeTwice, thank you for the hugs and your kindness. I’ve been a member of ChumpNation for longer than I can remember but I’ve never had the courage to share my story. I’ve always just read the articles and comments and thought to myself, I could be that person or that could be me, looking back on my life in 10 years and saying “what the hell was wrong with me for not getting out when I was in my 20’s”.

        Thank you so much for the encouragement.

    • Dear God in Heaven, Lientje, you are 29! You have a whole world ahead of you. Go no contact with this creep. And tell that counselor you need a lot of support and tough love to kick the bad habit that is staying connected to this totally disgusting creep. Tell your friends! Tell everyone who loves you that you need help staying clear of this guy.

      Then go buy a book called “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. Get started on learning that you are indeed good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. If I had one wish (other than world peace and honoring human rights) it would be that young people would understand that before they can love another person in a healthy way, they have to value and love and respect themselves.

      • Dear LovedAJackass, you are so right! Thank you. I will buy the book, just Googled it and found multiple sites which sells it (thank you for the referral) and learn how to love, value and respect myself again as I have, before I ever allowed this creep into my life.

        • And let us know how that goes. When you are my age (63) you will realize how beautiful you are now, what a young and precious person you are. I just gave you the advice I needed at 29, seriously.

    • Lientjie,

      I found myself in your position at the age of 36, and thought that my best bet would be to rehabilitate our marriage, because who would want me at my advanced age? Clearly, ‘desirable’ men only wanted women aged 18 to 34. I knew this for a fact because that is the age range that my dinosaur (Peekalottapuss) looked for on his first discovered date site.

      And I knew that I didn’t have much to offer, because Dinosaur had publicly announced it to the world in his Adult Friend Finder profile – ‘married, but sadly lacking.’ I was 36, in the prime of my game, and still was ‘sadly lacking’. What hope was there for me to do better? So instead of leaving then, I internalized the situation as my own failure, and clung tighter to the hope that Dino and I would get past this.

      Years passed. The evidence of the many flirtations, date sites, and women who were ‘like a sister’ floated up like a turd in a punchbowl with what I later saw to be a distinct pattern. Ooh, it’s been six months, better set up new date site profiles! Honestly, if the man had used the creative bent he displayed in thinking up screen names in his professed passions of art and music, he would have made his mark in the world.

      So, fast forward – through the times I left, the times I made him leave, the short periods when he was ‘there’, the endless protestations of love and fake remorse that were snuffed out by my refusal to believe in words instead of actions, to the final assault that crossed the line from unrecognized emotional/financial/verbal abuse into actual physical abuse – and where are we now?

      Dino is still on date sites, still on porn sites, still thinking up creative screen names, still sending ridiculous selfies to “women” who want to leave Russia or China and come be his everything, or most recently spending time and money on a user/boozer/loser whose only concern is their next tattoo or what kind of kool kool Harley the Dino plans to buy. Only now he does it from a continent away. He is still chasing that elusive perfect young pussy, and deludes himself that women ages 18 to 23 (see, he has changed! his expectations have risen!) want a 53 year old blue-collar worker, with no savings or ability to buy even a used Harley without my FICO, for his awesomeness alone. The selfies show his wrinkled face, and his badly aging body, and his vicissitude. He can’t maintain an erection with a real person because of his many years of masturbating while looking at ever-younger airbrushed perfection. But hey, that’s what the latex cock ring featured on his recent Craigslist ad is for, right?

      And where am I? Alone and struggling to maintain that FICO at 58, regretting the time and effort I poured into helping someone who repeatedly chose not to help himself, chose not to evolve, chose not to mature, chose to put his self-gratification ahead of literally every other consideration of life. I have strung him along at times through my own fake online profiles, and at one point found myself being triangulated with my own alter ego! He was so damned sparkly the night he was texting with “two” women at the same time.

      It has taken awhile, but I have finally learned an important lesson. If I had instead focused my efforts on myself over the years there would be no struggle now. I have flirted with the idea of a last reconciliation with a pre-nup in place, if only for the potential of future security, but money isn’t everything. I don’t want to play marriage police anymore. I virtually made it my life work, and it’s time for a career change.

      Please accept my story, and the stories of the other older chumps here on CL, for the cautionary tales that they are. The narcs never change, or they only get worse with age. Their refusal to grow up can only make you grow old faster. Take your bad-assed not-even-30 self away from the chump life now. Your fifty-something self will thank you later.

  • I believed his bullshit…because I wanted to believe it. Plain and simple for me. Denial is a very, very strong and effective coping mechanism. Until it’s not.

    Like when you are given solid proof that your husband invited his whore into your house, getting a blowjob on the patio furniture, with your kids just feet away sleeping (OW described my kitchen, my garage and my livingroom furniture for me. how nice.).

    I believed that the thousands of hours to his “male friends” (they were saved as men’s names in his cell) really was because he had tons of friends and he was a popular guy. Made him all the more attractive to me.

    I WANTED to believe that all of the things were explainable and this was some crazy person who took his generosity and kindness and twisted it into something disgusting in her mind. Because that is what he told me was going on. A group of people he’d met simply didn’t like him and with this one mentally unstable woman…concocted this fantastical story that he was fucking her for a year, had an openly romantic relationship with her—and that they were actually planning on getting married soon.

    My husband simply was not capable of that kind of deception. He said so. He is a church going man, his family is solid, we all come from the same small town, he loves our kids with a passion that I’ve never seen in any other Dad—we may not always have had the perfect relationship, but he simply could not have done anything akin to what he was being accused of doing. He told me that. Over and over.

    Besides. He didn’t have time to do that sort of thing. He was busy with work, caring for our kids and me, out saving drowning puppies from drainpipes, consulting on US Foreign Policy and flying back and forth from an orphanage in India each weekend to help the homeless street children, DONTCHAKNOW!

    At least, that’s what he was telling me. I trusted him, I loved him and I believed in him. Now I know better.

    My best advice to anyone going through this—and it seems that there are quite a few lurker/unicorns posting here today—don’t wait until you get an STD, or an email attachment with dick picks, or a neighbor telling you a strange car drove into your garage one night when you were out of town (and your husband tells you there was no one visiting)—protect yourselves, even if you want to believe the stories they’re telling you. I don’t believe that there is a way back, you can’t glue those pieces back together, but at the end of the day, it is the Chump who must decide what kind of life they are okay with living.

    • SphinxMoth, you were married to a psychopath. I am hoping there is a special place in hell for people like this who lead not just a double but a triple quadruple secret life while keeping the Nice Guy Family Man image intact and snickering behind your back every time they succeed in telling you one more lie.

      • Thank you, Muse. I have been having a few bad days here, actually got that old panicked feeling yesterday that he was “having a good life” and “having fun”—basically, being better for his slew of OW and I am going this alone. It helps to read here every day. Recall stories and remind myself, having others remind me.

        • SphinxMoth–cheaters don’t really do “happy.” They are always out looking for external sources of validation. They may even get that for a while, but then they habituate to it, and start looking elsewhere.

          I highly doubt your X is having a good life, free of complications. Your best revenge is living well yourself.

          I’m sorry you’re having bad days lately; this, too, shall pass. Just pick at least one thing to look forward to to keep you grounded.

        • It is hard when for our own safety and sanity we end relationships with these cowards.
          They highly disrespect us then defend themselves by claiming to be the victim of our devistation.
          We can only live one day at a time. Some will be good others not so good. These not so good days may even range on a sliding scale. But as already said live your best life.
          My ex confessed to eight years of adultery. Stated right from the outset that it was all behind him and refused to allow me the right to be upset or even process. He now claims to be healed of what caused him to cheat. All it took was prayer and not being with me. As it all unfolded it ripped my heart out, but now I just laugh at it. He has moved on to another relationship, he is living the happy life, happier now than he has ever been, if your no sure just ask him or better still check out his Facebook page it is all there for everyone to see and validate for him.
          Me, I canned my Facebook page I know he sucks, and I don’t need multiple likes to know my life is ok. He has dealt with nothing and the new relationship is just a smoke screen(not that she realises it, she is too busy basking in the ever sparkly orbit of the deceptacon). It is encouraged by people around him in the hope that if he is in a relationship with someone who ‘really’ loves him he won’t slip up again and go looking for blowjobs in public toilets.
          Their outward lives can only validate them so far before their needing a new sorce of kibble,we know many of us have endured and made poor decisions to be that for them. No more! Now we live for us, be the best we can be. And on our bad days, we read CL, pump up our favourite music and say FUCKEM tomorrow is another day.

        • Oh, SphinxMoth, alone is better than “alone with a narcissist cheater.” You are alone now because you need to heal. ((((Hugs))))

    • SphinMoth, I ask myself how there are human beings like our cheaters. Reading about the lies upon lies they can spew out with a loving smile. I told my therapist I wanted to know how to STOP loving this person. After 10 months of therapy he disgusts me to the core. I keep thinking my whole life was a fucking lie. That is the hardest thing to come to terms with. I want you to know how helpful it is to not feel alone in the aftermath of being discarded. I think you unfortunately have to have lived it to understand. Sharing your experiences strengthens my determination to heal. Thank you!

  • I stayed because I did love my ex husband and I loved and valued our family. I came from such an appalling upbringing, I was going to succeed at all costs and I just loved him and our kids and I thought my love would be enough, together with my hard work. He never had to do a thing except go to work and on the weekends wash the car and mow the lawns. I did everything literally as I was a stay at home Mum for 16 years and felt that he needed to rest went he came home so therefore there wasn’t any interaction with me apart from wanting sex and very little with our kids. It wasn’t enough though and he detonated our life together and I wear the blame for that.

    • The simplicity of your statement brought tears to my eyes. That’s what us chumps do we love people with all of our hearts.

  • The first time, I didn’t stay–we actually broke up. But I missed hanging out with him, missed going to shows and restaurants and other things I didn’t really do by myself because I was too young to know how to take care of myself properly. So we got back together. Then we went to the health center at our university for a session of couples counseling, and the counselor told me, “If you don’t want to have sex with him, you can’t stop him from doing what he wants on the Internet.” I stayed because a professional told me it was my problem.

    Then I went to grad school back in his home state, while he worked on the east coast. He visited me when he visited his parents, and I flew out here a couple times a semester to see him. There were D-days–a memorable one was when I wrote him an e-mail with the subject line, “Guess what I found…?” and then linked to his publicly available dick-pics/dating profiles/chat logs. He blamed me for “how I brought it [the subject of his Internet infidelities] up” with him–how mean my tone was. I stayed because he convinced me that I was in the wrong.

    Then we moved in together. I was freaky as all get-out, and before I got a job, I was even home for nooners. But he didn’t want me. He wanted the computer. I stayed because if he didn’t want me, who would? I stayed because I was afraid of being alone in a place where all “our” friends were his friends first.

    Then we got married because he promised me that our wedding date was his deadline to stop. I stayed because I believed him.

    The discoveries got worse and worse, until I found that he was back on the same kinds of teen sites he used to use in college–only now, because he was in his late 20’s, he had to lie about his name and age in order to get an account. He did it on a work laptop, on “our” laptop, and on the phone that I was paying the bill for. Minors were my limit, but I stayed because I had a friend whose husband literally did time for this, and she didn’t get divorced. So what kind of a failure would I be if I left? I did give him the ultimatum that time, though…you fix this, or I leave.

    Two and a half years later, I discovered that he was at it again. At home, at work. I took a few months to toy with the idea of standing by him through counseling and treatment for his mood disorders, but he didn’t seem particularly interested in convincing me that he was actually getting help. (Like, he’d go to an occasional SA meeting…and *maybe* tell me about it afterward. Then he’d watch smut on my Netflix account.) So I just couldn’t stay anymore. He got “our” friends (luckily, I had a few of my own by then) in the divorce, and that’s been tough for me. He lost his job (a fine “I told you so” moment for me, but it complicated my life because I had to hire another lawyer to enforce our property agreement).

    But finally being free of that constant mindf*ck is worth all the hassle.

    • To clarify–I didn’t need him to tell me about the meeting. I just needed him to say that he was planning to go, and that he’d gone.

  • I stayed because I kept wanting to believe that my wife was somehow sick — or mentally not right — or damaged from something I did. And the first thing I did was begin obsessively reading about how to reconcile after an affair, which is about all you find on the internet. So I wanted to help her “heal” and make her way back to a happy life. In retrospect I was a misguided moron.

    So I guess I put up with my wife’s cheating because it freaked me out so much that I HAD to believe it was a result of some sort of temporary insanity — not a core aspect of who she was/is. I now see, in retrospect, that she was always narcissistic and capable of the most convincing lies.

    And of course I also tried to make it work because we have three children under 10.

    • Lying. How does one become capable of it?

      When I was a small child I lied to my mother about where I had been and who I was with. It was the seventies and she was a narcissist. Kids could be gone all day and no one checked on them. Surreal now that I think back on it.

      I knew I had done sonething wrong, so I told her something else. She believed me. I was amazed that she believed me. I was amazed that I got away with it.

      Then I lied about having brushed my teeth. She felt my toothbrush and determined it wasn’t wet, therefore I could not have brushed my teeth. The guilt and punishment she threw at me was incredible. You would have thought I had killed a person, not just lied about brushing my teeth. After that, it became very hard to lie. If I tried to do it, I could feel the words, “you are lying” being tattooed to my face as I spoke them. I had to just abandon the concept because it was too hard and even wanting to do it filled me with self loathing.

      My son is autistic and was incapable of lying for much longer than is developmentally appropriate. It turns out “lying” is a cognitive milestone. I was actually happy when he made the jump, but he is horrible at it. Not convincing at all.

      I was pretty good at seeing the lies on my exes face. It surprised me that he had the courage to even attemp them. Also, it seemed like more work than just telling the truth. Why not just tell me you want to sleep elsewhere, then I could leave you be? I just don’t get cake. It really is impossible to eat it and have it too.

      So our cheaters are just immature. While I can accept that in a child, I want more from an adult. I want an equal.

      Also. for whatever pain it causes me, I am glad I cannot lie. I Like me better that way.

      • I was the same way Jen. I seem to have the capacity to feel guilty in equal measure to my ex wife’s capacity to feel entitled.

  • I didn’t file papers immediately mostly for the same reasons as you: love, disbelief, untangling the skein, our small child, failure was not an option (having just gotten married and given up my life/job/house to be with him). I’ll just add “stock market thinking.” I was in it for the long-haul, and I expected the ups and downs along the way to lead to turn a profit in the end. I kept thinking my investment was going to rebound any day, profits would start to go up again, and we’d be back on the path to prosperity. But no. I just kept losing and losing and losing, and I finally realized it was a Ponzi scheme. I was set up to lose from the beginning, and I never knew.

    • I love that stock market analogy. You keep investing — throwing good money after bad. It’s like you can’t give up before it gets better because if you do all of that previous effort will have been for naught. That’s why I had to start thinking of bracketing the good parts of my marriage, packing them away somewhere in the attic of my brain, and moving on. I also had to force myself to see my life without a cheater with optimism. That’s very hard still because my brain keeps slipping back to old, comfortable patterns.

    • What you and the rest of us here experienced that because of “the slot machine syndrome” that’s why we couldn’t just walk away from the relationship right away.

      By Dr George Simon, PhD;

      The “slot machine syndrome.” This is the syndrome in which a person puts in a substantial emotional investment over time, only to episodically get some small yet significant apparent rewards. That hooks the person into repeated investment. By the time they realize they’ve invested far too much for too little, it’s too late. It’s also difficult to simply walk away because walking away also means parting with a substantial investment and having nothing to show for it.

      http://counsellingresource.com/features/2011/09/08/moving-on-after-toxic-relationship/

      • Wow. I was going to reply to Charles directly, because I’m grateful for his analogy of packing off the good memories of the marriage and storing them somewhere. It seems a shame if the whole 16 year relationship gets destroyed by the fire, y’know?

        But, Nicolette, this analogy … THIS! … This is all of me in a nutshell. XH left me about three years into our relationship, and I was sad but not devastated. He said some pretty things and I took him back [Aside: I asked him why he came back if, as he claimed, he never “felt that way” about me, from the very beginning. He said he didn’t like having to keep his dog on a chain in the yard of his new place, so he wanted to come back “home.”]. — I would’ve been OK then; in fact, I remember jeering at him that he would never find anyone as cool as I was!

        Now it’s 12-13 years later, and where did that confidence go? I’ve become a smear of my formal personna, gnashing my teeth and thinking thinking thinking about him & OW….

        I haven’t yet read the article, but if it’s not mentioned, I would also add there’s a component of women aging in (esp American) culture. XH can spin on a dime and, at 40, pick up a 25 year old and essentially start over as a 25 year old. I, OTOH, at 50, am not regarded in the same way and cannot simply reboot to my early 30s, when all of my body parts were toned & smooth and in their proper anatomic locations 😉

        No matter. It’s done. My head always knows it’s for the best, though my heart sometimes still stumbles.

        • You are NOT old at 50! you are a catch – a veterinarian, an outdoorsy dog lover, a wine and whiskey aficionado, a woman who has made something of herself whereas your Ex is a lazy, “kept man” who was just fine with sucking off of your success. I would love to know the name of his restaurant so I could give him a crappy review on Yelp. LOL. JK alert. NWBiblio, with that screen name you are a book lover too. You live in Alaska. You are cool!! stop giving him any cred. and stop making me feel old because i’m 59. LOL. My ex cheated on me with an ugly older woman with legs like tree trunks. I’m a sexy older lady lawyer, it makes NO effing difference what any Cheater’s age is, or any OW slut’s age is. Really. Seriously. You rock.

          • Awww, Muse — you’re so sweet! I KNOW I’m not old, truly, it’s just that (ugh) to be back out in the morass of male Americans, I know they don’t look at me the way they used to… Even those guys who are over 50 themselves post to online dating sites that they’re looking for someone 30 or younger (ewwww). Well, I suppose the up-side is that, if I ever DO find a good guy and he accepts me for my true age, I won’t have to worry (as much) that he’ll flake out on me later… maybe??

            Whatever. As each day passes, I remember “That’s right, I forgot — I’m actually OK being by myself!” so it gets a little easier.

            Who knows, ultimately, what’s in their heads. Nothing, probably.

          • NWBiblio, I am with Muse… I will be sixty this year, I don’t fucking feel it, and I dont’ give a shit if I look it. (I don’t) You know what I am doing… I am going to get myself a life. With CN help, I finally have the power of discernment, only great, kind people will be allowed in and bugger to the rest of them. I have another 30 years to go and I was with Dr. Demento for 32. There is a lot that can happen in 30 years, not just getting old and dying.

            I have a friend who sails around the south pacific on a sail boat. I am going to write him and say, Hey xxx, where are you going to be on this date… and are you still taking people on your boat. I don’t f’ing care where that boat is…there will be something to see, and experience. It might be New Caledonia or the Andaman Islands, doesn’t matter… I am going. I am going to see the world, in my weird ass way. There is so much you can do with out your dipshit sidekick. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? You were living a really lonely life with your dipshit anyway, but you were tied to him. Now you are alone, but perhaps not lonely.

            As for, “I know they don’t look at me the way they used to…” time to stop defining your attractiveness by how men view you. Define your attractiveness by how you view you. Let us live by the immortal words of Audrey Hepburn. “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” You are not alone, for you have CN at your back.

            As you can see I have found my big girl panties, after this weeks little crash and burn with my DD.

            I would offer all of us chumps a book called Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney. It is a children’s book with a message that has shaped my life and guided my children’s aspirations. In it Miss Rumphius tells her little niece that what she wanted to do in her life was:
            Travel the world
            Live by the sea
            and make the world more beautiful. The seminal question of the book is, What are you going to do to make the world beautiful.

            NWBiblio, with every animal you touch, with all the love and kindness you provide them, you are making the world more beautiful. That in the end is a successful life.

            Sorry for the lecture, but much love.

            • Lecture appreciated, much love. Tied to an obligation to make my two dogs’ lives as full as possible, I’m just a bit restricted from some of my big dreams (living in France or New Zealand, traveling the world). It’s not just obligation — I love them and would miss them if I were away for months & months.

              But I can find a middle ground, a goal or life that is more fulfilling than this past year of torture has been (much of it, sadly, self-inflicted), without compromising their happiness, either. I’m working on a plan right now for an online job (part-time, but EXTREMELY portable!) that would free me up to travel more, with the dogs of course.

              Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. Self-esteem is not my strong suit, Obvi (as they say on Girls), but I know in my heart that I’m a good person and so I try to contribute to the world in that way. All you can do is try, right?

              Peace.

        • NWBiblio, I would have to disagree with you on that. The women aging in (yes esp. American) culture, it’s not true a man in his forties can pick up a 25 year old and can start over just like that. Because the most 25 year olds in this culture, who are willing to be with men in their forties and up looking to be wined, dined and be financially taken care of, and lets be real, the most forty year old males can’t keep up in the sex department with women in their forties, let alone keep up with 25 year olds, unless they double their Viagra prescriptions. (sorry male chumps, please don’t attack me ok, I said most) I am in my forties and not far from your age and I have guys asking me out on dates from 25 to 60 year olds, though some guys from forties up to 60 sometimes trying to impress me with their $$ which is annoying. So just imagine, if they are doing that with me what they have to do with 25 year olds? AND Age 50 is not old at all!! We don’t need to be perfectly toned and smooth etc. all over the place lol, however men do notice when you take care of yourself, dress nicely, your hair is fixed etc. and the way you carry yourself. I know this idiot robbed you of your confidence, for now, but the more time passes, with enough distance it will be back. You need to learn to love and appreciate yourself more, if you don’t who else will? You know? You are unique in your own way, each and every one of us is, just try to remember that. This asswipe ex of yours mooched off of you right? Well, good luck to him trying to mooch off of any 25 year old lol, he won’t be able to, for many reasons we all know! Your ex is an idiot like all cheaters are and he didn’t get a character transplant with the OW, he will eventually show his true colors to her, but lucky for you he is no longer your problem, he is OW’s problem now! Count your blessings! 🙂

          • Preach it, Nicolette14! “Well, good luck to him trying to mooch off of any 25 year old lol, he won’t be able to, for many reasons we all know! Your ex is an idiot like all cheaters are and he didn’t get a character transplant with the OW, he will eventually show his true colors to her, but lucky for you he is no longer your problem, he is OW’s problem now! Count your blessings!”

            • I am in my early forties. I have had men in their sixties with money try to woo me, and I just don’t find them attractive. I will let them buy me dinner, and enjoy the conversation, but can’t imagine sleeping with them. I have always made that clear, but I guess they hope, and I stopped doing it because that seemed unfair to them.

              I also have had very nice looking men in their early twenties try. That was extremely flattering, but once again, I just can’t see myself sleeping with them. I won’t even let them buy me dinner. It’s too Mrs. Robinson for my tastes.

              So I just don’t see how a woman in her twenties would feel attracted to a much older man. I guess I could go as far as five years younger or ten years older. Anything else is kind of gross. How did Anna Nicole Smith do it and not vommit?

        • NW, I’m 63 and not smooth all over any more either. But I still see myself as a catch. And now I am smart enough to know that there aren’t many men my age who can keep up with me. So be it. There are plenty of people and animals in the world who will appreciate my brand of awesomeness.

  • Fear of failure. Having to admit we made a mistake ever getting married to begin with. I did not know about his infidelity until after he dumped me but we had been circling the drain for years. He was an alcoholic, I was the good little wife who propped him up, disengaged from my family and friends to support him after he lost jobs, went back to school and built up a career.
    Years of feeling inadequate and alone in a house full of boisterous kids and a gregarious husband that everybody loved. I felt like the nanny and housekeeper for so long and was afraid to venture out away from my identity as wife to this POS and mother (thank you for these kids).
    Still trying to get my kick ass self together but now I not some asshole’s facade of normal.

  • I needed a dog sitter. Well really it was because we had such a long history together. I felt like I would be losing my best friend too. I wasn’t ready to part ways but knew deep down I would have to for my own sanity. He was in bad health due to his vices and passed away so the decision was made for me. In the end I stayed for love but my feelings were changing.

    • I felt as though I would be losing my best friend as well. Crazy isn’t it? I originally just suffered through Dday alone, which I think caused my deepest depression. I felt like a child turning to him for comfort, and really began to worry about my sanity. It was all so sick. All the while he was reestablishing contacts with former affair partners.

      I’ve moved on past all that. Now I mostly see him objectively; as if I’m observing a subject for research, but it took me 2 years to get here.

  • A few things. Numero Uno: Fear of being alone.

    We were married for 23 years when I found out about his affair so it was also a sunk costs thing.

    Plus (and this might sound crazy) but our early years were lean in the money department, plus the struggles of juggling kids, daycare, careers. When he had his affair we were finally in a good place -or so I thought. We had money to travel; we bought our house at a good time and had really paid down the mortgage. I thought we were headed into the golden years of our lives.

    I couldn’t even handle the thought of just letting the other woman slip into the life that I worked so hard for so I stayed for another 3 torturous years after dday. I pretty much knew from day one that things weren’t right though. I listened to all the so called experts but there was a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I just couldn’t get rid of to save my life.

    I was miserable the whole time and eventually I didn’t care if the OW slipped into my old life because the longer I stayed, the more I realized it was not such a great life after all. Thanks to CL and CN I finally came to my senses.

    Going to court today to revert back to my maiden name too! woot woot

    • Congrats on going back to your maiden name! I’m counting down the days until I reclaim mine. And I will never change it again. 🙂

      • Never changed my maiden name – best thing I ever did. No one will ever make the connection between us. By the way, his last name is very close to the word “coward.” Fitting huh?

      • Gotta agree on the keeping up sexualized deal. 40 year old man is no match for a 40 year old woman. And, the disparity grows even more as we age.
        most of my male friends in their 60 ‘s have little interest or ability left. Thank God for golf.

        • Oh my goodness, he loves golf! He plays Tiger Woods golf on the PLAYSTATION with his OW and roomate.

          I really don’t think the cheating is about sex. We had a lot of sex and it was mostly pretty good. I think he was addicted to making me an enemy, getting one over on his enemy, and having women find him attractive. Oh and drugs. That too.

    • I reverted back to my birth name roughly 12 months ago and it is lovely when I hear my name called. I was born with my wonderful name and I will die with it!! 🙂

    • that is my next step, changing my name back to my maiden name but also changing my 2 youngest last name to my maiden name. i have struggled with this decision for a year now, knowing in doing so i am the one burning the bridges and XH will never forgive me. BUT seriously!!! he cheats, betrays, lies and mindfucks me over and over. HE walked out on our marriage and our family, our children!! HE chooses a married hood rat that belongs to another man and doesnt take care of her own kids over a loving, supportive wife and wonderful, trusting, loving and believing boys? finally he abandons those boys because it was too hard for him to face their anger, pain and hurt during visitations, not to mention the hood rat is giving him grief over it, doesnt want to share him and cant give him 4 hours every other sunday to spend with his own children (but she RESPECTS him so much more then i ever did, gag), so the boys (his flesh and blook) have not seen him since Fathers day last year……..

      in other words, if i am doing all the work, if i had to deal with all their anger, pain and hurt, if i am the person who is supporting them financially, emotionally, and physically, if i am the one who is teaching them morals, values and intergrity and guiding them into their adult years …………………….then WHY shouldnt they have MY last name. who said the boys had to keep HIS last name just because he popped a nut and got me knocked up? it takes more then that to be a daddy. If he cant stick to it until the bitter end, i dont see why my 2 boys should carry his name. a name of a loser, betrayer, liar, and cheater. beside XH was always throwing it in MY FACE how i was “keeping” him for his family, how i wasnt “letting” him see his sisters (crackwhores. literally) and cousins (drug dealers, literally). now a year later, not a single one of his family has came to me, has asked how the boys are, has called to see if they can visit the boys or to invite the boys to a birthday party or bbq or anything….and that is when it dawned on me. i never kept him from his family, his family NEVER invited us to a damn thing!!! how was i sappose to invite myself and 5 kids to someones house that i didnt even know!!! on the other hand, my side of the family have all been very supportive, have called to ask how i and the boys are doing and if we need anything, have always included me and the boys to everything that is going on.

      so since niether HE nor HIS FAMILY want, care or love these boys and MY FAMILY does, then i dont see any reason NOT to change their name to my maiden name!!!! (and yes, it was on the divorce papers so i can, the only thing that was holding me back was hurting boyman, now i dont care)

      • It’s funny, we agreed when I got pregnant that girls would have my last name, and boys would have his… of course I had fibroids, silent endometriosis and all kinds of plumbing stuff that led to secondary infertility. (Another thing that Crapweasel said made me “not good enough” to be married to…sheesh…).

        Anyhoo, after daughter was born, neither love nor money (so to speak) brought us a second. So per the arrangement, she has my name–I never stopped using my own name, personally or professionally. Daughter has his last name as one middle, but she wants to legally remove it.

        A red flag of sorts–his family refused to recognize her legal name, constantly referring to her by the wrong name. Such disrespect.

    • I am still here because of fear. Fear of the unknown. Of my kids having to choose between us and the emotional duress that would cause them. Fear Of the loss of my identity which has been tied to his for more than half my life. Who am I? Fear Of being ripped to shreds financially. Of having to divide my life up based on material things. Of having to erase all the years of memories. Of not having future memories to make. Fear Of him still having to be in my life to share the kids. Of having to meet the OW. Of my kids having to meet the OW. Of throwing away everything I have known and held dear. Fear of never being attractive enough to for someone else. Fear Of making it easy for him to blow us off and giving him the out he wants. Afraid of his temper and the major volcanic eruption. Caldera Yellowstone park size eruption. (Not ever physical but I am sure I will pay a heavy price) I cannot tel you how many times I have thought that it would be better if he had died than for me and the kids to have to live with this. At least with death there is closure and an end. There is no end to this infidelity. Ever. We now have this (me and the kids) to live with. This is my children’s legacy. As soon as they are mature and strong enough I plan to tell them how sick he is.

      • BTW I am still here staying for now, but getting ALL my ducks in a row. Sleuthing and slinking and copying every and any financials that smell corrupt. It’s amazing that after ten months I am still finding money/trips/gifts that was spent on oh ho’s and/or AP

        • Make sure your name is not on credit cards. Have your own. Your children will be relieved when you leave him. Save money plan your exit.

        • Go see a badass attorney. Now. Right now you think that nothing will change. But there is no guarantee that he won’t leave or file first or give you an STD. You are already paying a terrible price for living with this stuff. Don’t let fear hold you prisoner. It’s hard to see, in the middle of the pain of betrayal and marital debris, that life can be better when you commit to being happy and healthy without the cheater.

          • You don’t need to file, but the attorney will be able to tell you more about what you can expect going forward to protect yourself in every way.

  • My stupidity is why I stayed!!! I didn’t protect myself financially in case of this sort of thing! I didn’t leave myself an out. My husband was becoming more and more unhappy with his corporate job and more and more unhappy with me for quitting my job. I quit my very good job due to favoritism. After being on the job for 2 years they gave the girl I had trained, the day shift after just being there for 4 months. I couldn’t take the slap in the face. I told my husband I would get a new job just as soon as he stopped drinking. I was being childish I know but my frustration with his growing drinking problem was immense. I wasn’t going to work just to see him spend it on booze. Months later after becoming very angry at me and his employer for screwing him over financially on a long term project in Russia, he hooked up with a prostitute younger than his and my daughters. He saw her over a period of six weeks, 3 times in all so he says. It took him 3 months to confess to the first time and nearly seven more before he admitted to seeing her a third time. He said he did it because he just didn’t care anymore. Entitlement played a big part here. He was bragging about flying first class, going to the crown room with other million mile flyers . If I hadn’t been so financially vulnerable, I really would have walked out the door. It’s been 2.5 years now, the hurt is still very much apart of my every day life. He has stopped drinking, taken a new job and moved to Texas. His depression has lifted. No traveling any more except to come here to help with repairs and such on the house. I’m still in Ohio trying to sell the house for the past 10 months. Besides the trickle truth in the beginning , he has been trying really hard to keep us together. He is very transparent, very generous,remorseful, and accountable. He begs me to move down with him when the house sells….I just can’t get over the shit he put me through though. My anger is still threw the roof! I was depressed so long I got really skinny and now I’m just plain fat.Forgiveness is not going to happen for a long time if at all.So virtually I’m still in limbo. I’m 60 years old and don’t want to be divorced for a third time. The hardest thing to get over is the deception. He was so fucking brave when an ocean was separating us and my back was turned. I’m pissed that he let some little street urchin come between us, up in his expensive penthouse suite. So the reason i’m still here is $$$$$. I do still love him but fuck that…and yes , i’m fucking bitter!!!!!

    • Paula…….I hear ya on the ‘fucking bitter’ part! Me too! Hate that son of a bitch with everything I got! We are no longer together.

  • I’m currently running with the Unicorn herd. What keeps me with him? Well, I guess I’ve weighed the pros and cons, and currently the pros of staying are beating the pros of leaving:

    Pros for leaving:
    – Not having to deal with his shenanigans every year or two
    – A clear mind. No more playing marriage police and living in fear, waiting for the next “gotcha”
    – Overall, a healthier me

    Pros for staying:
    – Family – 3 little kids – I don’t want to ruin their childhood and he is a good dad.
    – Money – we live in a 50/50 no fault state. He makes substantially more than I do. I’d suffer financially.
    – Friendship – I really do like being around him most of the time and I’d miss him.
    – The support of marriage – having a teammate for the childcare, house, etc.
    – Traditions – never thought I’d get a divorce and want to tough it out
    last but not least
    – The man is very good in bed and I’m still very much attracted to him.

    So. That’s it. Basically my head is a little screwed up now while I continue to smoke Hopium, but it’d be just as screwed up, if not more, if I left him. This could change though. There’s only so much one person can take. I’ll have to wait and see.

    • You are giving your kids a horrible example. Is that how you would want your son to treat a wife? Is that what you would tell a daughter to do if she was cheated on? Children are resilient, and the younger they are the easier it is on them, but the older they get, it’s a whole other ball game, when they find out he cheated on you, and they will, they will loose all respect for you. Sorry to be harsh, just being honest.

      You are the victim of abuse, and that is not the example your kids need.

      Nobody has ever regretted leaving a cheater, talk to any chump and the only regret you will hear is not leaving sooner.

      Sorry, but the sooner you step up and do it, the happier you will be with yourself. Best of Luck.

    • OTA, I could have written your list some years ago. Please, please go now. The children were number one on my list – and then I finally realized I had to LEAVE for them, not stay. He is not a good dad. He does not act in their best interest. If he did, he wouldn’t have cheated. You no longer have the option of a truly intact family: he destroyed that. Your only options now are a sham marriage or an honest separation.

      Children *know* when you are suffering: they know something is wrong. Right now, they are being forced to live a lie (gas lighting). It is corrosive for them to grow up this way. Please, all of you chumps who are “staying for the kids” – please, reconsider. We had several poignant comments on this on another thread from people who wished their parents had not done that. LEAVE FOR THE KIDS. They need you to be strong, looking out for them; they need truth on which to ground their lives; they need to have healthy behavior, healthy boundaries, and healthy relationships modeled for them.

      (As for the other items on your list, you can later find friendship, support, and great sex from someone else who actually loves you. Financially, you are safer untying your boat from a person of demonstrably poor character – plus of course no amount of money is worth giving up your self-respect or modeling that to your kids. Traditions? We also had a great post here the other day: in essence, *because* you value marriage, you should put an end to this sham.)

      Please don’t wait. If you wait till you can’t take any more, you’ll just be weaker and there will be more damage to fix.

      • Thanks for the advice, I know I probably should leave. Another thing that keeps me around is that I don’t have actual proof of his cheating. First incident was a so-called porn addiction that included Craiglist emails, dating sites, etc. Second incident is an emotional affair that I haven’t been able to confirm went physical with a ho-worker. I know he loved her though, and that’s enough to break me.

        I really am in limbo. If he was out there physically cheating on me it’d be a lot easier. I certainly don’t want to get any std’s. It’s mentally exhausting.

        • How much proof do you need? He is emailing on craiglists, he is on dating sites, he is LOOKING!! Maybe he found what he was looking for maybe he didn’t, but he sure will eventually and I don’t buy one second it was an EA with that ho-worker! Men don’t waste their time on a woman if he wasn’t hoping to get lucky and get between her legs and don’t love a woman before he gets between her legs. Do you honestly think he will tell you if they had sex? Neither him nor the ho-worker will admit to anything. I think you are being gaslighted. Even if there was a sex tape ( solid proof )he will gaslight the fuck out of you and make you believe what you saw wasn’t real, like my ex would.

          Let me be blunt, if he walks like a duck, looks like a duck, the motherfucker is a quack!

            • Men who cheat are amazing at covering their tracks. Some leave the evidence you described to control you. Mine left evidence every time. A man who is indifferent to the pain they inflict on their wife is very disturbed. It took me years of lies and Ow to figure it out. my x wasn’t good in bed, he was a bed wetter,alcoholic,drug abusing, serial cheater. I too thought he was a good father but my children lost respect for him when they SAW the OW and know he is cheating on her. They do it again and again.

        • OTA, I totally sympathize. I spent years in limbo, and it’s a painful place to be. Shortly after I decided to leave, but while I was still lining up ducks, mine physically attacked me – again. That was the night I called the police, and I never saw him again (I pressed charges, got a protective order, and filed for divorce). I just don’t want to see you painfully forced out of limbo the way I was — or as others have been, by another D-day or a sudden abandonment. Trust your gut and step out of limbo. Porn addiction and loving someone else are good enough reasons to go.

          One thing I found helpful as I tried to work my way out of limbo was to do my homework (lots of good reads recommended here in Tracy’s list) and to start taking steps to strengthen myself (Lundy Bancroft refers to these as your no-matter-what goals). Move the marriage off the front burner, and think about what you want to do to grow as a person, to become a better mother and a stronger human being – regardless of whether you stay in the marriage or leave it. Then start taking those steps. (Might be in regards to finances, education, career, physical fitness, individual counseling for you, cultivating a strong network of friendships, finding sources of personal joy like art/music, etc.).

          Hint: a spouse who truly loves you will want to support your growth wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. One who doesn’t will get jealous/panicky and try to interfere. Don’t ask for or wait on his approval. Just do what you need to do. (I eventually realized that mine used to deliberately distract me with his crises and tantrums, so all my attention and energy would be focused on him.)

          And line up your ducks, OTA: gather financial records, inform yourself about community resources, talk to a lawyer. Tell supportive people what you are going through and find out how they can help you. Information is power.

        • I’m not sure why a porn addiction, Craig’s list ads, and a ho-worker aren’t enough. Surely that is not what you thought marriage or fidelity would be. What do YOU want? What do YOU need to be happy and safe?

        • In case you’re still reading, here’s one more thing to add to your lists: My mother tolerated years of abuse from my dad but wouldn’t divorce him for a lot of the reasons you listed here. This fucked me up, as her daughter in many ways that I’m still paying for:
          1. As a child, I felt like it was MY FAULT Mom & Dad stayed together — were it not for me, my mom would’ve been able to get away from him sooner. Guilt!
          2. Watching a woman tolerate abuse from her husband, I knew it was wrong but here I am the victim of just as much (if a different sort) abuse in my OWN marriage, but I stayed with it because “Hey, it could be worse! At least better than Mom & Dad’s!”, instead of convincing myself I deserve better than ANY sort of abuse!

          Is that what you want to teach your kids? Set them up to develop their own fucked up relationships? I SO much wish my mom would’ve left my dad earlier! I don’t care how poor we would’ve been — it would’ve been so much better for me, in the long run, to see a strong woman role model. Instead I, like my father, regarded her (wrongly) as weak and I also resented her for a long long time.

          Doing it for yourself *IS* doing it for your kids. You learn what you live.

        • No, it’s not easier if you have proof of something physical.
          Because your endurance is getting higher and higher. With every discovery. With every time you stay “in spite of”.
          And if you are now tolerating an emotional affair, you are raising this bar of tolerance even more.
          When you find out it’s been physical, you will try and find SOMETHING ELSE to grasp on so you don’t leave him.
          It could be as ridiculous as “okay, it’s been physical but ONE TIME. If I find out it’s been MORE than one time, I will then leave”

          Do you get what I’m saying?

          I realize this is from 2015.
          And I’m late to the party.
          But I hope you read this.
          And if you are free and strong now, if you are happy and alone or happy and in a relationship, I salute you!

          If you are not, I still salute you, because I get it.
          But you need to find your balls.

    • Good dad?! Not cheating on the kids mom is a big prerequisite to being called a good parent. Not threatening to destroy their little lives. So he takes them to soccer practice and tucks them into bed, who cares. Give the mother some respect too or hit the bricks, dad.

    • Ohthisagain, that describes the pattern. This again! More cheating. Friends respect and trust. Rather than pushing the repeat button I hope you find the stop button.

  • Fear. Not for me, but for my kids. We already live a financially difficult life. I’m staying in in-house separation still for their sake. I would have left right away if it was just me. I’ve been on my own before. I know I would have been fine.
    It’s going to be a long 2 years while I go back to school. I’m very excited about it though! I spent years wondering what I should be doing with my life. I knew it was time to do something and didn’t want to be a SAHM forever. But I felt stuck. At least one good thing has come out of this trauma. It has forced me to make choices for myself.

    • Congratulations on going back to school. A friend of mine made a vision board for the new life she is trying to build. I did a little “altar” with all the things I am grateful for and want to build in my life and I kept a gratitude journal. You might try something like that to help you focus while you are enduring in-house separation. Two years will go fast if you have big goals and support from those who love you. Good luck.

  • I stayed out of fear:
    fear of losing the life I had imagined (holidays together, aging together)
    fear of damaging my children’s lives
    fear of failing
    fear that I wasn’t being compassionate enough
    fear that people would be disappointed in me

    I left out of fear too:
    fear that I would lose the life I had worked for through his financial excesses
    fear that he would damage our children’s lives through his anger and raging
    fear that I was becoming a stereotypical abuse victim through my own in action

  • I tried to save the relationship cos he lied and gaslighted, it would have been all over in less than 4 months even with the one false reconciliation if he hadn’t escalated to real violence when I told him we were divorcing. March 23 confrontation, chooses me, 3 days, still lying, put him in a hotel. He gets an apartment. I call lawyers but no appointment cos he shows up June 4 begging me to take him back, I do. He gives me an STI, MC convinces me to try and overcome that. July 4 I find he is still seeing OW, tell him we are divorcing. He attacks me, I call cops, he convinces them that I attacked him and gets me arrested. He convinces me he did everything to stop them, I believe him right up until I hear him on the 911 tape telling the lie that I attacked him. During that time he’s going to MC with me, but he’s getting scarier. Now I know he set me up, it’s October and I tell him divorce. But I am trapped with him on probation for a “deferred dismissal” of the charges he set me up for. Now he feels in complete control, he won’t leave, he doesn’t pay bills, he isn’t working. He gets crazier, I can’t report abuse because he’s not leaving a mark and I can’t trust the cops anyway, they arrested me when I called for help before. He won’t leave the house, he lost job, in/out of rehab, then he’s drunk every single day. I can’t afford to pay for my house and another place to live so I don’t leave. Eventually he agrees to mediation then brings a gun in the house, threatens to kill himself, me. I finally get away, call cops, he convinces the cops I made the shit up about the gun (even with the loaded gun sliding around in the trunk). Only luck is he went for more liquor so they get him in his car, arrest him for DUI. My chance, while he’s still in jail, I get emergency protective order, I get him committed to a hospital, he talks his way out of hospital in 3 days. I spend a full day in court and am granted 2 year protective order. FEAR, fear of him getting me arrested again, fear of losing my house after 20+ years. And, NOT enough fear to walk away from my home, never thought he’d really kill me, I was wrong.

    Triggering post because right now I am working on getting my PO renewed again, I’m told it’s unlikely because it works (he hasn’t done anything to me in the last 2 years). Apparently if he violated the PO it’s no problem to get it renewed. So if it works, you lose the PO, if it doesn’t work the court is happy to give it to you.

    • Guy is nuts, Dat. But, in reality, those orders for protection are worthless, anyway, if someone really wants to hurt you.
      I would get a big dog.

      • And read or re-read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker (link posted on the site). Good luck and take good care of yourself. Your fellow chumps love and value you.

    • I had the same issue Dat – he was out of the country for all 5 years of the first CPO, so hadn’t physically violated it. I was pretty worried -attorney said it was a long shot. ExH even got cocky, and called and told me that WHEN the CPO expired and i was dead, that he was coming for the kids. I documented that, and showed up in court. He did too (no attorney) and asked for a continuance to get an attorney. Showed up late for the next time (without an attorney) and lied to the judge, saying his attorney was late…no, his attorney couldn’t come because of the weather…but couldn’t remember the name of the attorney. Asked for another continuance, judge denied. ExH gets to cross-examine me – only the second time I’d seen him in 7 years (the other time being the first court appearance). Asked me if I remembered how much he loved me. Seriously. Then he “didn’t remember” the instances of abuse that happened during the marriage. All in all, he looked like a fool, but I at least got another 2 years worth. I had nightmares for months. But at least it was so very apparent that he is completely and totally crazy. And a liar. Really hoping for the best for you. Hugs.

  • Somehow, I was adamant that the unicorn was real. I had lassoed it, had it in a pen, and I refused to let it go. Hell, I resigned from a job, moved three states, brought three little kids with me, a dog and a cat. That damn unicorn was real, I tell you!!

    Once I started loosening the reins on the unicorn, I started to see the reality of my screwed up situation. Yes, every day no contact is tough, but now we’re four months and and 25 days from D-day and I don’t know why I waited so long to send the unicorn on its way. Guess deep down inside letting go of the dream means accepting that it was a hologram.

  • I stayed initially because I thought it was a “one time thing”. He appeared remorseful…he wanted to “work on us” and he still loved me..joke is on me. I stayed because I loved our life and our family that we built together over the years. But as time has gone on, I have found the secret emails, phones, receipts and pretty concrete proof that my gut feeling was and has been spot on. In fact, I have pretty much figured out that this type of behavior has gone on since the beginning of our relationship, and only in discovering have I put the pieces together of serial cheating..one night hook ups while traveling, prostitutes, massage parlors etc. He claims he had an EA with a stripper and that they only kissed bc he could not get it up..yeah right lol..Claims it happened bc I didn’t trust him and always accused him of cheating so he figured why not do it..turns out my accusations have always been true. I finally admitted to myself that this is who he is. I have been able to admit that no matter how shiny things appear and how much he buys my love, it is a lost cause. I swept abuse, lies and pain and spackled the shit out this son of a bitch. I am no longer confronting him. I am being an amazing and perfect wife and he is so reciprocating (surface only). I am lining everything up so that when the end comes, he will be the chump and won’t see it coming. Tit for tat you dirty mother f’er. Who is the chump now? Yes, I am bitter but getting better.

    • Its pretty damn pathetic when they claim that EA’s = only a kiss.
      Kissing implies its physical, you fucktard. And like thats any less henious.

  • DENIAL. That was my modus operundi. The marriage was so bad, I was already planning my exit strategy. But when I noticed strange phone numbers and contacts in his phone, when he’d hide his facebook when I came around, when he changed all his passwords after 10 years of openly sharing them, THAT’S when I stuck my head in the sand and pretended that none of it was happening. I asked for a divorce a couple of months later. He seemed sad but relieved.

    • Looking back, it’s plain to me that the evidence was there for years, but I just wouldn’t allow myself to see it. I threw myself into full-on chump mode instead for so many reasons…..trying to keep the family together, “I can fix this” mentality, fear of failure, a misplaced sense of loyalty and duty. UGH.

  • I never had a chance to stay but I probably would have if I did. But I know me. I would have tortured the shit out of him every day of his life and he knew that. I also knew him well enough by then and had found out about his history by then to know that when he left he was gone for good. This was a man who was never faithful to anyone. A guy who was addicted to falling in love and incapable of maintaining it. A guy who was missing something so essential to the whole.

    I hate that he’s still with the OW and it appears that they are doing so ‘well.’ I still feel like she won. And I know…I know…..She won someone’s cheating, lying husband. But the fact remains…I’m the ONE that sleeps alone every night and spends every weekend alone. However, he was very generous to me in the divorce settlement and continues to be generous every month. He makes sure I have everything I want or need. I continue to be a guilt in his life. He knows I didn’t deserve the shit he rubbed in my face. This betrayal still remains the biggest hurt in my life and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. I’ve been to counseling and I’ve come to terms with it as well as I can but I just think I’m one of those people that doesn’t get over things very well. I’m still single after all these years and haven’t even come close to loving another man. Oh the damage these people do!!

    • “This betrayal still remains the biggest hurt in my life and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get over it”.
      syringa, I know I will never get over the betrayal and hurt but I am getting beyond it. I have to or it will kill me. I cannot hold onto what I never really had. Sad as it is, it is better than living make believe.

  • Something is bothering me.

    I am beginning to wonder if human beings are just a huge pool of selfishness. I mean Cheaters and Chumps both. Now wait before you jump all over me. Hear me out.

    I know why I stayed–I wanted to believe him. I wanted it. I selfishly wanted none of this bullshit to be real because if it was, that shit was going to fuck up my life in a way that I simply didn’t WANT to have to handle. It was going to be fucking hard! Inconvenient, humiliating, boring, lonely—and just plain old sucky.

    It was all about what I didn’t want to have to deal with if this were true.

    The reality of it is—someone said this above as to why they stay—I was hugely attracted to my XH…but he has indiscriminate sex with other people, unprotected…and who in their right mind, in this day and age of HIV/Hepatitis/HPV….would continue to have sexual relations with a person who is sexually promiscuous? This has nothing to do with fidelity at this point. Where is the survival instinct–I’m not allowing that asshole to touch me with that thing! I have no idea where it’s been–and he’s proven that he can’t tell the truth about that, or respect me enough to use protection. Does he interview APs and get their health histories and know for sure that THEY aren’t fucking everyone in town too? I mean….cheaters LIE, and the AP is a fucking cheater right there with the spouse! FFS!

    My XH was a “good dad” too–protective, spent all kinds of time with them. But he LIES and CHEATS–he did it to me, why would I think that he stops right there, that he wouldn’t do that to THEM (now or eventually)?

    I lost respect and faith in him—and I’m going to allow my kids to see that and learn that? How selfish is THAT? This isn’t about just the BS, when there are kids involved.

    Ugh. This is scaring me.

    • You are spot on. I have always and still am attracted to my husband. But now I cringe when he touches me. Eww.

    • I think your major premise — that humans are selfish — is correct. Biologically, we’re driven to maximize our own condition (resources, happiness, girl scout cookies, you name it) to maximize our reproductive potential, and after that maybe it’s hard to let those drives go. Have you seen the Friends episode where Phoebe is trying to commit a completely selfless act, and she can’t do it because even things that look selfless she realizes she’s doing them because they make HER feel better? Genius.

      HOWEVER, I would argue that your motives are not entirely selfish (see my post on laziness below). For one thing, I think allowing your kids to witness you losing respect in XH is not selfish but instead provides them a learning opportunity about how they might better their own futures in the way they treat their own future partners. Maybe it’s a selfish motivation but the end result is to the benefit of a new generation of humans.

      The cheaters? Yes, they’re selfish. We chumps? I don’t see it so much as selfishness as all the other things described here, mostly fear, sadness, depression, low self-esteem (I score high points on that one — HA! I have high self-esteem about my low self-esteem! How F-ed up is that??).

      As my therapist reminds me when I get on the tangent of How Awful the World Is, there are people who rush into burning buildings to save people, there are doctors who travel to war-torn countries to provide medical care, …. All around us, there are people who are NOT selfish, who are almost entirely selfLESS, and were it not for my dogs (whom I adore and refuse to compromise about), I might join them. Chuck it all and go vaccinate kids in the Sudan or something. — No, I’m not selfish. I’m not perfect. But I’m not selfish, either. XH? He’s just an asshole.

      • Girl Scout Cookie Maximization. Guilty. 🙂

        I love this reply—except for maybe I don’t understand what you’re saying about staying with a cheater in order to allow your kids to see you lose respect for them…so that they may learn from it?

        I’m not sure about that. I don’t want my kids traumatized in any way….learning experience or not. And them seeing me and asshole hating on each other silently is something I can spare them from. I think showing them a POSITIVE response to disrespect…i.e. filing for divorce the microsecond I had hard evidence (I didn’t do that)…is a better thing?

        I know that there are selfless people. I do. I am just discouraged today by reading that comment about staying and having sex with a man who fucks around, because “he’s good at it”. That bothered the shit out of me.

        FTR, I also would leave the country and do something like work in an elephant sanctuary in Africa or sign on to the Sea Shephard…if it wasn’t for my kids and my responsibilities here. I don’t need much…sacrificing a little time from my own selfish desires and dreams in order to launch them properly is okay with me.

        • Sorry, I was vague. I think what I meant was that, sure, it’s not healthy for your kids to see Mommy & Daddy hating each other. But I just spent an hour in my therapist’s office this morning, crying about my 9-month-old divorce (today would’ve been our wedding anniversary), and tracing at least some of it back to my own Mom/Dad role models: Dad’s an alcoholic, so Mom does all the parenting and meanwhile we all walk on eggshells to avoid setting Dad off, etc., etc., etc. — Would it have been better for me (as a child) to have raised by a single parent? How the hell do I know? But I *DO* know that seeing my mother eat shit for 16 years did absolutely nothing to teach ME not to eat XH’s shit when my own time came along. I always compared my marriage to that of my parents and thought, well, at least it’s not THAT bad, and so I stayed, instead of standing up and saying “I DESERVE BETTER!” I learned that from Mom & Dad.
          So there are worse lessons you could be teaching your kid, that’s all I’m trying to say.

          • Hey NW, I am sorry about your anniversary today. What a f*cking trigger. You are so way better than that guy. He just sucked off of your success and your drive to overcome your past. You loved him though and he wasn’t worth it. That totally sucks, I’m right there with you on that because like our friend LAJ whose user name says it All, i totally loved my loser as well. Pure, unselfish love. When I woke up this morning, well before checking here to see CL’s post for the day, I opened my eyes and looked at my old dresser in my bedroom and I suddenly thought, “I’m the kind of person who just accepts what life hands me. I’ll keep using the same old furniture till it falls apart. I don’t crave material possessions” and seriously, I was that way with Cheater. I was loyal to him and even though I now admit he was an abuser, if I didn’t find out about OW I would have stayed with him forever.

            He was in my will, my life insurance, everything. He would have gotten half of my estate, and my kids only half. He was so abusive to me but I’m a chump. So I was faithful and loyal to him and he was a “kept man” who I gladly supported in exchange for him playing the role of Man in my house. TBH, life is now telling me what my little feminist 20something self believed all those years ago, I don’t NEED a man to be a whole, complete person and a success. I just WANTED that. But the randomness of life made me vulnerable to a user. Your guy was also a user. I am so impressed by your success and hope you believe in yourself, on your journey to Meh.

          • NWBiblio,

            Sorry about the anniversary day! I know that was extremely difficult. Hugs to you!!! That time is quickly approaching for me (first one since divorce), and I really don’t know how I will be able to deal!

            • thanks guys. It’s my first anniversary as a divorced woman, so I imagine next year will be easier and the year after, easier still. It didn’t help that, first thing this morning, I saw a photo on FB of XH at the San Diego Zoo with his (previously our) nephews, and I know POW (prev OW) was there, too. So, basically, he used our previous anniversary weekend to introduce the New Girl to his family. Classy!! — I even mentioned it to my therapist today, that maybe XH was also in pain and that’s WHY he chose this weekend to visit his family, but my therapist said, “Honestly, he’s probably just thinking about himself.” Truth.

              OSAAT, it’ll be OK. It sometimes feels like it’s not OK, but it turns out the world keeps spinning, and the stuff that wasn’t deeply rooted just flies off.

              And, Muse, I have to laugh, because I’m the same way. I was griping at work the other day because one of my scrub tops is falling apart and I was like “I’ve only had this thing for … [calculating]…. Oh, never mind, twenty years…. I guess I could buy a new one!” Same thing with my furniture; I have an old bookshelf I found on a loading dock at Purdue University when I graduated from college — which means that bookshelf is older than XH’s girlfriend, by nearly five years! 🙂

              • I’ve been finding things in my kitchen as I ready it for the renovation, that are 30 and 40 yrs old, gaaah

          • First, I want to echo what’s been said before, NWBiblio – you ROCK! The stuff you do in your life – I could only dream about. A vet?!? In the Last Frontier?!? The adventure! And knowing that that you can be proud of what you do and how you’re helping people and animals (anyone who has or has had a pet in their lives knows that when you help a pet, you’re helping their person too).

            I know you’ll get through the whole anniversary thing.

            Today would have been my anniversary too. And yes, I actually got married on Friday the 13th.

            Last year, when my first “anniversary” after the divorce (finalized two months prior) came by, it was unsettling. I felt like I couldn’t just ignore the day, but how do you acknowledge it? What do you do with it?

            So another year goes by. And here’s the day again, but that’s just what it was. A day. Something happened on that day a long time ago. Okay.

            I had my tax prep appointment today. You know how at the end, you have to sign/date your tax forms? So there I was, writing that date, and I just laughed. It looked so weird. As in “this date seems familiar – why is that?”

            So my tax preparer asked me what I was laughing about. I told her it would have been my 17th anniversary. Now, she’s just finished going through all my financials, so she knows what’s up (I got the house, and make all the payments on it; my business is doing well, getting a nice refund!) and she’s a take-no-crap-from-anyone woman. I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “He shouldn’t have cheated on me.”

            She said right back, “Yeah, you can’t date you’re girlfriend when you’re married.”

            HAHAHAHAHA!

            3.5 years ago, when dday occurred, I could never have imagined I’d be laughing and having a good time (doing taxes, no less). And don’t get me wrong – after dday I couldn’t even image living.

            To answer today’s post, I stayed because he was my everything. I didn’t know I was completely disposable to him.

            But I have things to do. Like raise my kids and make sure they’re getting though this with the support they need so they thrive. Like work at my business and take care of it so it can take care of me. Like do what I want to do without first having to go through all the scenarios to make sure someone won’t be upset. So time keeps going by, and every day gets a bit easier. And fuller. And better.

          • NW, so sorry you are going through a trigger episode. My old therapist called that “falling though a hole in time,” when something in the present (your anniversary) triggers all the shit that’s piled up from the past. He called that piled-up past debris a “blivet.” (hoping i spelled that right, if it’s not a made-up word). What he taught me is that the more I cleaned up the blivet–all that accumulated, unprocessed fear and pain from the past, the less things would trigger me. Since then, I’ve also learned that being aware that we are triggered starts to diminish the likelihood of that happening and the time we spend inside the hole in time.

            So good for you to be working on clearing up that blivet! And for being smart enough to know that you’ve been triggered and that all this stuff is connected.

            It’s very very hard work to look at the past. It takes a lot of courage. It takes the capacity to face failure and pain and shame. But the rewards….There is another way to live life that I never imagined and am just starting to see and work for. And it’s a life that is based on honest and holding myself accountable for maintain standards and boundaries so that I don’t invite, accept, tolerate and perpetuate abuse in my life. And because relationships by definition involved a dynamic, I am not feeding myself poison by thinking it is my job to fix the abuser and maintain a relationship single-handedly.

            Once we dig out from these dangerous and false assumptions about life, we can rebuild on solid ground without a blivet under us. But holy heck, it’s a lot of work! Which is why narcissist cheaters are never willing to do it.

  • I think, now in hindsight, for me there was a component of laziness. — I don’t think it was the driving force that kept me in a bad marriage (and, like Muse, I didn’t stay after I found out about OW — the day he told me he “had feelings for her” (incidentally, trying to gaslight me a bit, “I TOLD you I had feelings for her!” — Ummm, no, I’m PRETTY sure I’d’ve remembered that little tidbit….) and that she was “important” (cue the voice cracking on the word “important,” he was so fraught with emotion!), I told him he had to move out by the end of the day.

    But why did I stay, before that? In truth, I too was unhappy — I’d been writing it in my journal, I now see, for at least the last ten years — but I thought I was unhappy because — ta daaaaahhh!! — I’m a depressed person. I’m not always depressed, but I struggle with it (have since I was about 16), am in therapy, etc., so I thought it was all me, making a big deal out of nothing. Being ignored at social gatherings, being moved to a back burner for any little thing that came along, not being taken care of sexually, … all these things (and more!) I attributed to anything but his core personality: his youth (he was 22 when I met him), his ascension in the work world, then his role as a small business owner (which, incidentally, I regard as his first mistress, the thing that really ruined our marriage, because he got such a big head over it, with all those little waitress girls fawning all over him, telling him how amazing he was just because he could pair a nice wine with a nice steak)…

    Anyway, the laziness: I think I thought when I married him, I was “done.” I could stop trying to answer the question of whether I’d grow old alone or have a partner. I had a partner! I loved him and he loved me, and, yeah, there were some problems, but in the cost:benefit, I felt like we came out ahead: enjoyed doing the same things, were respectful and (mostly) kind, did stuff together but also allowed time apart, … you know, sharing life. So I felt I could move my attentions to making sure the rest of OUR lives (how fun to have someone to plan my life and future with!) would be as awesome as possible: a sheep farm in Oregon where I could learn to make cheese, maybe another shop/bistro for him, saving saving saving our money (my money — have I not mentioned he was contributing nothing to our household or savings? Oh, right, you’ve all BTDT so you already knew that part) to make that happen.

    But then, poof, here comes Schmoopie with her “twu wuv”, and boring old responsible me never stood a chance. So now here I am again, and if I want to go find another person, I have to make an EFFORT again. Ugh!

    So this is all a roundabout way of saying “laziness.” For me, it was a component of laziness. Not proud of it, but there you go.
    (and of course, in spite of all things, I loved the shit out of that guy. I really did.)

    • NWB, is this what CL means by “inertia”? I wondered about that since reading the 5 Reasons You Stay Stuck With a Cheater.

      Laziness. Wow what a raw word. That’s a hard idea to swallow, when it’s self directed. I might have to do some reevaluating. I know I didn’t cause his cheating. I know I am not responsible for his behavior. But I am responsible for my reaction to all of that.

      • Maybe it is a bit harsh, but as my therapist reminded me just this morning: As an ACOA (Adult Child of Alcoholics), I am especially skilled at assuming more than my own share of responsibility. It’s how I feel I have some control, without allowing myself to admit I have absolutely no control over what is in other people’s hearts. I keep thinking that with just a little effort, XH & I could’ve fixed us — I really do think that’s true. But was XH ever going to make that effort? We’ll never know because he certainly didn’t want to at the end.

        • NW, everything you post today resonates with me. ACOA here. Hyper responsible. Fixing life, other people….but we can’t fix marriage without a partner who is all-in. And when we are living with someone who isn’t contributing on multiple fronts, that person is not all in. (And I don’t mean SAH parents here or simply not earning a paycheck). When the chump is the one doing the planning, saving, devoting–then the marriage can’t be fixed.

    • NWBiblio. I hate this guy for how he used you. I hope you aren’t offended I am focusing in on your posts. There is something about you being a vet and me being a lawyer, and these younger men who just sucked off of our success. What you (and I) are missing right now is NOT those two guys. It was illusory and that is painful but the strength in you that created your dream is still alive. Whether it’s a sheep farm in Oregon where you make craft cheese, or me renovating my kitchen, we do NOT need those assholes to do it. I have a very strong intuitive GUT feeling that you are going to be discovered by someone else who will make that mohawk-sporting restaurateur poseur a dim memory for you when you finally tell your life story.

      • I love it that you remember he had a mohawk for a while — I think that phase has passed, but he still rides a skateboard to work. He’ll turn 40 in about two weeks — really kinda pathetic, IMHO.

        You’ve probably heard this, too, Muse, as an attorney. But so many of my friends & family really attack him for all the resources (especially money) I gave him. He never paid any rent/mortgage, or the utilities, or groceries (unless he wanted something special). He would pick up assorted costs of travel together sometimes. He paid for his own truck…. The dog food? Nope. The kitchen remodel (nearly $50K)? Umm, no.

        But that was never a thing for me. Never. I really didn’t care because I thought we were IN IT TOGETHER!!! So any investment I made was for both of us together. Improving his condition just improved my own. Besides, I loved him and wanted him to be happy. But, boy, you should’ve seen his face whenever I’d joke about him being a “kept man” — He wasn’t often angry, but that would get his dander up in a heartbeat!

        I don’t know if I ever will find anyone. I confess I *have* felt heartened (that’s a word, right?) by having met a couple guys. One I had a chance to get to know better didn’t really interest me, and he lives 400 miles away, so .. probably not. But there was a chance encounter at a Trader Joe’s in Oregon and I thought, I would totally go out with that guy (also a chump, thus the quick bond)! So, maybe….. Anything is possible, right? I mean, look what happened in this last year alone that I didn’t see coming! My ability to predict the future is evidently very very poor!! 🙂

        I wish I could come help you with your kitchen. Picking out the paint at the end is the best part!

          • I agree. I’m all for staying current, but that’s actually sort of embarrassing. NWB, I’m sorry you’re having a crap day, but you’re in the right place and among friends. Hope you don’t let the FB postings get to you; it’s all for show. This has been a huge year for you and you’ve had to process so much, but from tomorrow you turn the page. Big hugs.

            • Thanks, guys — It actually wasn’t such a bad day. And the FB thing was truly an accidental post by a distant ex-relative’s husband, who I’ve sort of tried to remain friends with. He was oblivious, I think, just posting photos of his cute grandsons sitting in front of the Orangutan cage, but it was XH who was holding up the younger grandson — the photo was from behind them, but obviously I recognized XH right away…. It wasn’t malicious, but I’ve unfriended them for these couple of weeks surrounding our ex-anniversary, XH’s upcoming birthday, … lots of potential triggers, best just not to see.

              And, yeah, the skateboard thing. Sometimes I think that should’ve been the biggest red flag that shit was coming unraveled in his head. Maybe should’ve had him institutionalized right then! Nowadays, every time I pass a skateboarder, I look at them and try to guess their age — so far no one has come close to 30, much less 40.

              Anyway, gotta stop wasting time inside his head and get into my own. Peace, friends!

          • I think skateboarding to work would keep one in shape and is environmentally sound.
            As for carrying the brunt of financial burden, men have, stupidly,bought into that model for generations.
            if a relationship is lopsided from the standpoint of finances or some substitute for bringing in money, it is a recipe for disaster.

            • he’s not riding the skateboard to be eco-friendly or for fitness. He has a bike (several) and he rides the skateboard in flip-flops. Also, he’s already skinny as a rail.

              as for the financial thing, it’s funny: As a young child in the 1960s, I saw all these men coming home from work, being handed martinis by their SAH wives at the end of their hard workday, and I thought, “Oh, *I* get it! The one who makes the money gets the posh life! Cool!” So I set on a path for a career that made a lot of money thinking (naively) that maybe *I* would be greeted with a martini at the end of the day! — yet another myth busted….

              My sister always insisted I should MAKE him chip in his portion, and sometimes I wonder if that would’ve actually strengthened our marriage. But mostly I’m tired of guessing at what he thought went wrong, if he’s even thought about it at all.

  • Very interesting topic and replies.

    I didn’t really have the chance to stay, since husband left… but oh, those rationalizing emotions to cover all the fears! All the convoluted thinking about ‘why I drove him into the arms of another woman.’ All the self-doubt and self-criticism. And now? I worry about me and my kid, and not the damaged man I married.

    Truly, getting to a good and ‘meh’ place here, just wishing the legal entanglements were simpler. I am now paying child support to him, even though I pay for everything for my kid… and I’ll have to pay him quite a bit to settle the divorce.

    But you know what? It’s worth it to never, ever have to consider the counterfeit, weak, dishonest man I married going forward. He will lose his power over me when he is off my payroll.

    Thanks to all for this fascinating place… and thanks CL!

  • Summing it up pretty well for me, … *”my idiocy and his mindfuckery”* …

    In more detail – it was: 1) Failure was NOT an option, 2) Toddler at the time, along with elderly parent. I was advised to pack up and get out by a county women’s group, but, could NOT leave her. 3) Literally no other family (on my side) to depend on (for me or my mother). His family was worse than him, 4) Could not depend on my mother because she was, at the time, in her mid 80s – so I did not feel I could handle it alone with a toddler AND an octogenarian (who might as well be nearly a toddler). 5) Broke – constantly. 6) My now X was quite artful at playing the co-dependency mindfuck dance.

    Once our child reached teenage and things were getting worse, not better, I couldn’t take it anymore (the abuse). I do not know if my X had a PA – I know for sure he had an EA.

  • My first D-Day came less than one year into our marriage. In hindsight, I should have ended it right then… no kids, no real monetary assets, not much time invested. Man, imagine the simplicity of that divorce. But it didn’t happen… I was just a young chump.

    We were both very young (18) when we got married. We spent our honeymoon in Germany, where I was stationed at the time and our first six months together were wonderful. But she soon became homesick and wanted to return to the states. When I finally returned stateside a few months later, she revealed that “because of her loneliness” she had been cheating on me. I was devastated of course, but I still loved her and I felt responsible for not being there for her. So I forgave her and we moved on.

    We continued to build our life together… college, careers, three kids, a home and over 26 years of marriage. It was a good marriage, until out of nowhere, she reveals that she “was not happy” and had been cheating with three different guys over a six month period. It was like a tsunami, no warning signs, just a tranquil beach one minute and a living nightmarish hell the next. Being the chump I am, I forgave her AGAIN and we agreed to work on reconciliation. That lasted all of 10 days, when I caught her in the act with douchebag number three. Her excuse was “I just can’t control myself.” I got an attorney that afternoon and filed three days later.

    I didn’t experience the years of abuse or constant fighting. It went from cruising at 70 miles per hour to slamming into a brick wall in the blink of an eye. I think the suddenness of it all has left me a little shell-shocked. I’m two and a half years past the divorce now and still trying to find my path to “meh” (Not a term I like to use, since that is the ex’s initials…lucky me. Think I’ll call it “Apathy Acres” instead.)

    • hahaha, “Apathy Acres”! How about “don’t give a shit city”, or forgettaboutit town”. Now I have the Green Acres theme song running in my head, damn you Chumpty Dumpty, I hate that song.

    • “I didn’t experience the years of abuse or constant fighting. It went from cruising at 70 miles per hour to slamming into a brick wall in the blink of an eye. I think the suddenness of it all has left me a little shell-shocked.”

      Chumpty Dumpty, you just expressed EXACTLY how I felt on DDay!!

      • One Step, it just amazes me how someone you’ve known and trusted your entire adult life can betray you at the drop of a stranger’s zipper.

        • Chumpty Dumpty,

          So much of your story is like mine. Married young, built a life together, college, careers, 2 kids, a home, and 30 years of marriage. Our stories are also like many of the other chumps here. But what is different from some of the other chumps is that my Xh (for approximately 29 years) was not a cheater, or abusive, or mean, or etc. But there IS something lacking in his character in order to flip that switch and decide cheating with his Howorker is better than loving me and all the wonderful things we had together. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and as you stated so well…”It was like a tsunami, no warning signs, just a tranquil beach one minute and a living nightmarish hell the next.” You just stand there, look around, and wonder what the HELL just happened!?!

          • Yes my first ex was abusive and my second ex was the opposite. He wouldn’t even argue with me. Instead he cheated. I’m not sure which is worse. I was definately more scared of the abuse and it made first ex repulsive to me. I wish I could be repulsed by second ex. I don’t want to care anymore. I have achieved meh with first ex and that was the best thing that could gave happened.

            I think I will not be completely over it until I meet the next man. But I am so bad at picking the idea scares me.

        • X was constantly telling me how bad I made him feel for having such trust issues. While he hadn’t cheated till the end, he had done some other things that did make me wary. BUT I believe now, every time he made tht comment, what he was really saying was “watch out, you shouldn’t trust me”, he knew something I didn’t know! It occurs to me now I trusted him much more than he deserved. I won’t make that mistake again with anyone in the world!

  • This is the first time admitting this…
    I never had a D day, just 4 years of ever increasing abuse on every level and then the discard.
    I stayed because I truly loved the man and thought he was very sick (alcoholic, substance abuse, endocrine issues, depression etc. internet porn addiction) I would not want to be thrown out because of my health issues, so I did not do it to him, yet he did the very thing to me in the end.
    We had a fight December 2009 when I asked why he never bought me a diamond. His response was I ruined everything and he was making a LONG TERM PLAN TO DIVORCE ME. My health issues became so acute, I was hospitalized for a week and he picked me up and never mentioned the subject again until the last two years of our marriage where every demand he made was contingent upon me completing the task or he would file for divorce.
    I became so sick leading up to the final discard… had dozens of surgeries and was under the care of the visiting nurse when he finally left.
    I stayed because of love, honoring my vows, and fear. Fear of being so sick and disabled that I would never recover my life or old self.
    In hind site, I should have packed his shit and put it on the front lawn in 12/2009 and started over when I still had a chance, because all that happened was worsening abuse and my self esteem had eroded to the point that I was nothing but a physically and mentally destroyed husk of my former self. I had tried so hard for so long to fix me to save us, when he was the one who could have cared less.
    It has been almost two years now and I am still “crashing” on my sick mother’s sofa and being abused by the sick FOO shit here. I am still not well mentally or physically and these fuckers are costing me money and I stay here out of fear for what will happen to my mother…
    I gotta bust a move and just take a chance but everything I have tried to fix things for me has only resulted in a worse situation for me. I know I am my own responsibility but I really just want a break from the universe, I have been hammered enough.

    • EchoNoMorr, Hang in there. Life may look shitty now but one day you are going to turn a corner. Baby steps, right?!? In the meantime just do what you need to do, a little every day, and be kind to yourself. So many of us are taking care of parents at the same time we’re trying to empty that nest. A challenge to be sure. Just look for community resources. My small town has fresh produce available to anyone. It is a godsend and helps me to pay bills. I have learned to ask for help, it’s a great skill. Hugs.

    • EchoNoMorr–You also need to be nicer to yourself! Almost all of us should have drawn lines in the sand, seen a lawyer, or hauled his or her stuff out onto the street a lot earlier. Don’t be mad at yourself for loving or even staying out of a sense of honor. Take pride in your character (sometimes that is about all we have left in the aftermath). I hope you can find a friend or therapist to help you set goals and make plans for building a new life. We all know it isn’t easy (and that it is often 2 steps back for every 3 forward). I don’t know what fears you have for your mother, but you may need to apply the oxygen mask principle and work on saving yourself first in order to have the resources to help her. I wish you hope and more confidence in your own strength.

  • I am 2 months out from D-day. I found out the day after Christmas that my husband was involved in a emotional affair with his new whore secretary. He started shaving and showering every morning and just sang her praises. They even went out one night to play Bingo (stupid yes) with me only agreeing because he was so cranky that I wouldn’t let him go. That night they shared a kiss and some ass grabbing…ugh!
    On our way to MC..he just could not live with the guilt anymore mind you, that he also revealed that he slept with my BF about 5 years ago. Right after our third child was born. So MANY excuses from both of them why it happened..as if it even fucking matters!!! My husband is SO shiny and puts on such a good show BUT the truth Is that he is a serial cheater. I am hoping to move out this summer after our oldest graduates from 8th grade and then they will have the summer to get use to their new lives.
    How do I know that I am doing the right thing? He says that he is sorry and he will change. I will be the first person in my family to divorce. What about the kids? How will it be for me since we have no family remotely close by to help? I want to leave but still have nagging feelings if I am really doing the right thing. I blame this on being a new chump.
    Thank you everyone though because without your stories I think I would still be crying everyday. I don’t think he will ever be the husband that I fell in love with again and I certainly don’t think I can over this ultimate betrayal.

    • Lisa, You want an honest, loyal, trustworthy and faithful husband right? And you are wondering if you are doing the right thing and if he will change? He already showed you that he is dishonest, a liar and a serial cheater, like they say, when someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time… Let me ask you a simple question. Say you want red color shoes, would you buy brown color shoes and hope, in time they will change into the red color? To answer your question, if you want red color shoes buy red color shoes, don’t buy brown color shoes and hope in time it will change into the color red….

      • No, Nicolette 14, I would want the red shoes. In my marriage I would have taken the brown if it met making my husband happy. I guess maybe I always knew that those brown shoes would not change but I was hopeful. I thought I could accept the things that I didn’t like about him because we we’re married and because we have 3 amazing kids. Because….because…because….
        What really happened is that I gave him more trust then he deserved. I believed he would change and that once we raised the kids that would be able to have more in common and would be happier. I guess really what I was doing was making excuses for why he couldn’t be the husband I always wanted him to be.
        Really people ask me when did my marriage start to feel strained …4 or 5 years ago. Of course I didn’t know about the affair but I am realizing that some part of me must have realized life wasn’t right. In those years, I told my BF everything and now feel like such a fool. I not only lost my husband but my BF of 25 years and for what?!? I guess it made them feel so secretive and so forbidden…ohhhhh. Whatever it so freaking pathetic!
        What I want is what you said trust, loyalty, honesty and faithfulness. I have to tell my heart to let go and realize that I would rather be alone then endure living like this.

    • He’s a piece of shit. And what a prince to take his ho-secretary out for a night of ass-grab bingo. You are mighty to have you ducks lined up and ready to go.

  • True story…
    One night, while bullying me for sex, my stbx-hole told me “You’re so f****d-up in the head about sex! I’m going to start leaving porn around the house when (kids, who were 3 & 4 at the time) are a little older so I can show them what sex is really like and they learn to love it as much as I do and so they won’t grow up to be so f****d up like you!”
    By that time, you could say that his mask had completely slipped off and I knew what kind of deranged monster I was dealing with. I no longer loved him and didn’t like him at all, though I did have the hopium dreams that I could help him. My #1 motivation for staying was my children…not to keep them in an “intact’ home, but to stay physically present to protect them from him. After that night I decided I would never leave them alone with him. I knew if I divorced my chances of being able to keep my kids from having to spend visitation time alone with him was probably zero and that was not an option. So I stayed. Then, when the kiddos were older teenagers (and wanting me to leave him, too), I told him it was over. And then found out I was being chumped. Working really hard to get my divorce settled so me and beloved children will finally be free!

    • Bullying me for sex…..Oh man Mighty Mite, I’m sure so many of us could say the same about our ex’s. For a while I felt it was my fault for not giving him enough sex. The reality of it is that I absolutely love sex but he treated me like such garbage that I never wanted to have sex with him. Now, I’m in such a normal, loving, safe relationship that my sex drive is through the roof. Amazing how treatment of me goes hand in hand with getting laid. 😉

      • Me, too! I really do love sex…just not with him!!! I always felt so used and that it was all about him trying to fill an endless black hole. And the things he would say to me to try to get sex…yeah, like I’m really going to want to jump into bed when you say such horrifying things to me!! Duh!!

        • I can raise my hand too. My X told a (court ordered through DYFS) psychiatrist that he was “never” satisfied with his sex life with me. And that was true. I felt used the majority of the time. We (now I) have a picture window in the living room. He sometimes wanted to have sex in front of it, hoping someone would see us. He’d get pissed if I didn’t want to do I, and then sulk for days or weeks.

          And sometimes when I was just so stiff, sore, and tired – I just wanted a damn back and neck rub. He ALWAYS had to reach around for a feel. I just wanted to kick him.

          • OntheHill,
            My stbx-hole also liked to want to do it in front of a window, outside, with the bedroom door open, etc. And yes, all physical touching led to groping and pressure for sex. It got to the point that I no longer hugged or kissed him because it could never be just that. Then, I had to stop saying goodnight when he went to bed because even that simple thing was enough to make him bully me for sex. Ugh!!

            • Wow! I really relate to very single word of this. It really helps to hear all of you went through this too and were so turned off by it like I was. He made me feel so inadequate in the bedroom and bullied and groped me constantly. Mine asked me to let him film us and take pictures. So glad I refused. Can you imagine where those would be now? My STBX thought if he brought me flowers and chocolate a lot then it would excuse all of his behavior. Sorry you two went through this too.

        • My first wife told me she wanted me to talk dirty to her during sex. I was a little weirded out but gave it a try. Read some Penthouse forum letters to try to get the vocabulary etc.
          Tried some mild stuff. She was enraged and disgusted.
          hell, it was all her idea, not mine. She denied ever requesting it.
          only time I would get auditory hallucinations was with my 2 BPD XWs. They were excellent gaslihters.

  • With #1, I was twelve weeks pregnant on the first of many d-days. I stayed for the baby, religious and family pressures (very traditional family), and fear of the unknown. It was eighteen months of sheer torture, spackling and single-handedly trying to save a dead marriage with an alcoholic cheat. The best thing I could say at the end of it all was I gave it my best effort.

    I did get some validation from one of our most conservative, Jehovah Witness family friends, who knows the Bible backwards and forwards. It was she that pointed out that Jesus taught that adultery is the only reason one can leave a marriage. She was incensed on my behalf when all the OW became public knowledge.

    Now, I’m here with #2 who swears it’s over. We’ve had two severe blow outs since d-day, with the second just last Sunday night. He knows I was thisclose to filing, had all the paperwork, appointment with the lawyer, etc. I presented him the evidence that his supposed EA was continuing. We’ve had three serious chats this week and he’s answered all my questions. However, he also agreed to go totally no contact with OW and the bike club that fostered the affair, along with some other changes. I am staying, for now, under these new conditions. I told him I’m not going to be the marriage police, but if anything else happens, it’s over. No quarter and I don’t care if he loses his business, we both end up living in tents or whatever. I honestly scared the crap out of him that I was ready to pull the plug.

    I can’t tell you what will happen in two months, or half a year, or eighteen months down the line, but I know CN has my back.

    • Her Blondeness–I can’t believe your strength in tackling this latest debacle. You have your plan in place; I’m hoping for a unicorn (it would be nice now & again). But you know where to come if the unicorn is just a donkey with a carrot affixed to its forehead.

    • But all of us here at Chump Nation *can* tell you what will happen. You’ll find out that he really didn’t end it with the OW after all. It’s only a matter of time before he has a careless moment and you find what you’re looking for. Suze Orman says it’s better to leave a job on your own terms when it’s not working out, even though it feels scary, because if you stick around too long your exit will probably not be on your own terms and therefore not favorable to you. You’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you had enough grounds to go forward with a lawyer and file, go ahead and do so now. It’s not going to get any better. I think you know this deep, deep down inside. Trust this chump who’s been through it twice. Sending you long-distance Jedi hugs… You can do this. You are mighty.

    • You should get a post nup agreement now so you know where you will stand with the business and other assets you have.

  • I filed for divorce a few weeks after Dday. It took more than a year to finalize. Partly due to me not pressing it forward. Lawyers are busy and if you don’t press them, things naturally take longer. I know bc I am an attorney. I was hoping by giving it time, my x would see the light and fall in love with me again. She faked remorse but I could tell. She still mourns the loss of her affair partner, who threw her under the bus when I contacted his wife. I was awarded the house in the divorce but never told her to go. She says she is still here bc she hopes we can work it out. I know it is bc her affair partner won’t leave his wife.

    I let her stay bc my income dropped 40% between when I filed and the divorce was finalized. If she left or I forced her out, I’d have to pay so much in spousal and child support that I’d lose the house, the kids would no longer be able to play the sports they do and would be put out of their school. I could see myself even homeless. Where I live, I know the law does not allow reductions in spousal support. Child support yes but it is very hard to negotiate that and unlikely to be granted, before one does become homeless.

    So until my income recovers or I can reduce my debt (amassed in a futile attempt to keep x happy before discovery of the affair) until then I feel trapped. I very much look forward to the day I can tell her to pack up and get out. Until then I pretend I believe her fake remorse, for the most part. Every once in a while it gets to be too obvious and I call her on the bullshit. Its a pretty miserable life right now.

  • I loved my ex very much and I loved our family. When I asked him to leave I saw my kids literally fall to pieces and struggle so much so I didn’t completely shut the door on him. Seeing one of my kids literally cry a puddle of tears nearly broke me. A lot of things that impacted my kids nearly broke me and oddly enough it was that that made me finally shut the door on my ex. If he could do that to his kids then he was a nasty individual whom I could never trust again. He has not proven that assessment wrong in the ensuing years. He’s an absolute dick.

  • Did I “stay”?

    That’s hard for me to clearly answer. According to my friends and family, I stayed longer than I should have.

    But…it all happened so fast. I realized my wife was having an affair in April. I confronted her in May. By the end of June, she hadn’t stopped (and her lies were becoming increasingly obvious). So, I moved out and told her to prepare for divorce.

    After 1 month away, and a slew of lies from her, I moved back in, although I was beginning to accept that I’d married a loser. Two months later, none of her lies had stopped, and neither had the affair. That’s when I left for good and filed for divorce.

    So…you could say that I “stayed” for 6 months.

    But did I “stay”? Or did I, instead, prepare to leave?

    I wish that I were more able to accept change, but I know that I needed those 6 months. It’s not easy to re-wire your brain to accept your new reality. It takes time. The person who swore to protect you more than anyone is suddenly your worst enemy. That takes time to process…and to internally say goodbye to the life you made…from the big things like in-laws and shared friends, to the small things like shared belongings and routines.

    My answer: I stayed in my marriage so I could mentally process the end of it.

    • JC…I completely feel like this is what I am doing now. I found out at Christmas and I am trying to leave in June. I need time to financially stand on my own two feet, I am collecting all the pictures and separating them…etc. I want to believe that my husband could change and I was desperate when I first found out to save my marriage. Now I realize that I was just scared of letting go of my life as I have known it and I worry about our kids. None of this is a reason to stay.

      • Lisa, you are right. From what I understand, none of this is a reason to say. I don’t have kids, so I can’t speak about what that is like. However, I do know it took me time. Yes, I was chumpy and wanted to believe my wife would “come back.” But, as I know now, that’s not possible. My wife always the same person–it was just her actions that changed. And even if she eventually stopped, I’d never look at her the same way again. I used to adore her; best thing that ever happened to me. Crazy to think that she’s also the worst thing that ever happened to me.

        I’m 2 years now from D-day #1, 1.5 years from filing, and approx. 9 months from finalization. I can say that it does get better. The sheer surreal quality of it all is still there. (I moved across the county for my wife; so now I live 3,000 miles from my family in a city with no family nearby, and just one cousin in the same time zone.) But, the pain is gone.

        I wish you the best. It’s a terrible journey, but it is a worthwhile journey at the same time…if that makes any sense.

    • That is such a good way of looking at it! The delay is nothing more than processing time…some of us need more than others.

  • I am still untangling my own skein. closing in on 2 years post divorce, here is what i understand about why i agreed to a reconciliation of 5 months before he walked out ( with MOW)

    i loved him and beleived in our…”us”
    i did not know he sucked this much…thought he was essentially a good man…like my dad!
    i did not think evil would win

    ultimately, i think i agreed to reconcile because i cannot tell when people i trust(ed) and love are being deceitful or have bad character…which probably succinctly defines chumphood

    i have been NC except necessary emails for almost a year. i am healing. my daughters are healing and figuring out their relationship with him. i am learning better discernment. i have more Meh days as time goes one. i also experience more joy and less anxiety on a regular basis.

    i beleive God can bring good out of any horror. even this. Amen.

      • Mrsvain, I’m totally sure God has a plan for you and for all of us, and being here and healing together is part of it. You are sounding mighty these days!

  • These are the reasons I wanted to at least try to stay together:

    1) Kids. Call me super old-fashioned, but I used to think any marriage with kids (and without physical abuse) was worth fighting for. After D-Day 1, I would have done ANYTHING to spare them the emotional blood bath that we inflicted.

    2) I loved that stupid fucker. Really loved him. I now know what that says about me… but I did. There was no one I would rather hang out with, talk to or grow old with. No one looked better to me. Today, there is nothing appealing about him, physically or otherwise. When I have to be around him, I sometimes get a little slippery shudder down my back if he stands too close.

    3) I never believed in happily-ever-after marriage. I think there’s just a point where you decide to be fucked up together. So when I found out the first dose of how messed up he was (singular office affair), I still wanted to be messed up together. My calculus was: 20 years, 2 kids, smart cute ME vs. tacky office affair with dim, drunk blond? Easy question! Guess not… The second and third doses of f’d uppedness did me in… It was so shocking, it short-circuited the grief. And sadly, that level of horror was necessary for me to finally “step away from the ass clown” (to use another great phrase from another chump) – at least emotionally.

    4) I’m a data junkie. The data on happiness in second marriages is not good. The 30-year meta-data on the impact of divorce on kids is not good. But I’m happy to report that even being alone I am happier than before and freedom from him has allowed me to be the best parent I have ever been. I’m not going to pretend that the kids are unscathed. But I’m closer to them than ever right now.

    5) After years of being the breadwinner and a confident professional woman, I was at my most financially dependent and most personally insecure. My identity dissolved into him, into being a full-time mom and almost nothing of the real me was left over. That’s a small, scary place from which to take a stand. But I did it.

    • Number 3 is how I always felt about marriage. Not that I expected it to be perfect but I knew it would be ups and downs and that was part of the joy of it -getting through the rough patches and making it to the other side. My ex, on the other hand, told me point blank after I kicked him out that he didn’t think marriage should have ups and downs, that it should all be perfect and there shouldn’t be any troubles. He also thought the butterflies stage would last forever ‘with the right person’.

      Naturally, when we argued or he felt a lack of butterflies he felt it perfectly ok to cheat. I think maybe we should have had this chat before we ever got serious but it never occurred to me that anyone could be that unrealistic.

      • The x told me the same thing about marriage and the butterfly stage. I’m thinking that this is what the dimwits discuss with the affair partners. It sounds like the dreams of a 14 year old girl.

  • Stupidity … shock …. stupidity …. disbelief …. stupidity ….. trickle truth ….. stupidity ….. love ….. stupidity …. did I mention shock …. stupidity …. misplaced integrity (mine) ….. stupidity …. financial dependence ,,,,, stupidity …. fear of failure ….. stupidity …. fear of loneliness …. stupidity ….. hpium …. severe stupidity. There’s a theme here – have you spotted it?

    • PS … because he is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing and, in almost 40 years I’d never met one of those, so I needed an awful lot of convincing that these people existed.

      • PPS … bizarrely, consensus. I needed him to agree that the way he’d treated me was wrong. Does anyone know why I needed that? I think it was the lack of consensus that kept me stuck the most! I don’t understand – even though I do understand that he had to buy his own justifications, I STILL really needed for him to see how his behaviour was so shite – why did that keep me so stuck!?!

        • He already knew his behavior was shitty, he just wouldn’t admitted that to you, thus that would’ve meant accepting he was the true asshole he really was/is and he knew you needed a closure, and knew it was torturing you, so being the true fuckwit he is, he wouldn’t give you the closure you so needed, his admission, thus that kept you stuck.

        • I don’t know why, but I have it, too. I want so much for their to be justice and the first step would be XH admitting it himself. It’s funny to me that in his final emails to me he skates right up to the edge of admitting it…. then scoots away without actually doing so. “Was I unfaithful? Probably.” — Probably? PROBABLY???? Umm, the word you’re looking for here is “Yes.” Not “probably.”

          But I’ve learned to accept that’s never coming. He’s not going to send me a letter or knock on my door six years from now & tell me how sorry he is for how he behaved…. Nope, none of that. This morning in therapy, I told my therapist I was upset that XH & OW are visiting his family in SoCal right this very minute, on the day that would’ve been our wedding anniversary, and how could he?, and maybe it means that he, too, is having pain in seeing this date go past… And my therapist said, “He’s probably just thinking about himself, honestly.” — Ouch, but probably accurate.

          No justice, no admission. Just the moving on part.

          • The closest Dr. Demento has ever come was saying he treated me pretty rough and a lot of the time to his sister. Barely covers it. Now he has CFMily, and they are sort of in twu lub, he feels like it was just me that provoked it. He He CFMily… I am sorry darlin’ your life is going to be shit. He can’t keep his moods together for very long and definitely not a lifetime. I give it 12 weeks of living together, if they ever do, and she is going to wonder what sort of creature she has in her house.

            • “she is going to wonder what sort of creature she has in her house.”

              OMG! this gave me a such a chuckle!!! same here. I don’t know if he has anyone new but if he has, she will be so annoyed with his lions roaring in the den, freight trains crashing snoring, his spoiled, unruly kids in summers, his entitled family with their open hands, and his hands never going into his pocket to pay for anything, while depleting her groceries faster than she can buy it. Then his ED etc. no one will ever put up with that as I had, that long LOL!

              That was pretty funny, thanks for the chuckle! :))))

              • Ringin and Nicolette,
                DDay is five months ago for me and today I went by the old house (where STBX lives) to get another load of “stuff.” Sure enough, that OW that he swore to never see again five months ago, had her stuff in the bathroom and the bedroom. But I made it through the hour of loading up the kids’ things and household items. I admit I did imagine taking her coconut straightening oil and smearing it all over the lace pillow cases on the bed, and then using her straightening iron to burn all her accessories, but I was a mature adult and instead, flipped everything off with my middle finger and drove awayl. I knew it, I knew it. And the unicorn has left the building.

              • malbecrioja, wow, just wow! They couldn’t even wait for you to get your and your kids stuff out of the place first and she had her shit in there already? Well that in a nutshell should tell you they truly deserve each other. Look what a great prize she won, a low life, disgusting lying cheater and he got a woman who is willing to be with a known cheater (DUH!) and even had the nerve to move her stuff there while you still had your stuff there. She is a really classy one, NOT. Well, I have a STRONG feeling she will be in your exact shoes in the future, actually I can guarantee that and she can bet her ass that she will be reminded of what was done to you, in time…