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Reconciliation Stories

unicornsamplerSo, riffing on yesterday’s Renegade Sex Therapist post, I thought Chump Nation could do its own data mining. (Of course critics will say I’m drawing from a sample of bitter bunnies…) According to Esther Perel, recovery from affairs brings marriages back to life and makes families stronger and more resilient.

“An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” Ms. Perel said in an interview. “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime. The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

So, how’s that working for everyone? I know many of you have shared your stories here before, but for the newbies, or anyone else who might be googling “Reconciliation Stories” and stumbles on this page — tell me, what was the result of your reconciliation? Any words of advice?

My advice to anyone set on reconciliation is ironclad boundaries, a credit check, and a post-nup. If the cheater can’t get behind that, there’s the depth of the “sorry.” I’d add that any cheater who assumes you will reconcile with them is still an entitled POS and not worth your time.

But hey, my bias is clear on the banner — leave a cheater, gain a life. Expansion, growth, and resilience? That comes after you refuse to be abused any longer — and exit the scene.

*A big shout out to chump Monika who sent me this awesome graphic.*

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  • I was married for ten years, then stbx had an affair that resulted in a child. I tried to make it work, but there were affair footprints all over my life. So, after a year I left. I had no job, no work experience, all I had was a small mutual fund. I left everything behind, including my three children. I just didn’t have the energy to fight.

    We were divorced on July 1st, and ended up being remarried a year and a half later…Oh, CL, where were you in 2003?!?!?

    So, up until 3 years ago, I thought we were those lucky unicorns. Then I started noticing I was nervous and anxious around him all the time. I am pretty positive he is not cheating, that being said he is heavy into porn (because I withhold). I have been in therapy since our original break-up, and one day my therapist commented on my devotion to marriage counseling without a partner.

    Anyhow, I wish I ditched this cheater and embraced my own life (with my kids) ten years ago, because now the mistress is borderline personality disorder, and there is nothing I can do about her. My nerves are shot, my reserves are spent. Worst thing is, I tried to pull out again a few nights ago, and I now I’m stuck living in my daughter’s bedroom. He is swearing loyalty and devotion. He is pursuing therapy, but the remorse and neediness is sickening…

    What a waste of ten years.

    • It’s never too late. Even your therapist pointed out you’re in a marriage without a partner. 🙁 Since 10 years ago, have you worked towards some independence of him? If not, why not start with a job or go back to school for some training? You’ll feel better if you have more options and a plan.

      • I did start working on a 5 year plan a few years ago, with the help of my therapist, this included getting all my shit straightened out. I have gone back to school, and have been working. I’m at year three, but unfortunately had to jump the gun, because I just reached my limit.

        My biggest hurdle right now, is trying to convince my family what is actually going on, because on the outside he provides very well for us, I mean I drive my dream car, we have a beautiful home. The family just refuses to accept my stbx is a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde because of the Borderline.

        • // , Proof of the whole secret “other” family may put a dent in the Jekyll part.

          Even if no one acts like it, might it not raise (Heh, so to speak.) some doubts?

        • Judith, why does it matter at all what your family thinks? I understand that it feels better when there are more people on your side, but it feels best when you are free. It sounds like you’re caught up in a fools errand (convincing your family that you should leave and divorce him), but the only one who needs to be convinced is you. POW- I just blew yor major obstacle up- you are now FREE! 😉

          And I wouldn’t disregard a porn problem- it can be a serious problem in a marriage and can be a “trigger” for some cheaters to cheat or a sign that they already are cheating.

    • Jet, I was married for over 30. 10+ years ago, my X had an emotional affair. He swears up and down he never went outside our marriage for sex. After I announced I was divorcing him, he made statements to everyone who would listen, that I was “unceremoniously dumping her devoted husband”. Yeah, devoted to controlling and screwing me into the ground – emotionally and financially.

      My X had always been emotionally and verbally abusive. But it was the insidious kind. The kind you don’t realize until you are almost a shell of your former self. I recall about 8 years ago or so, contacting a womens’ shelter. They gave me steps in how to take my son and disappear. I couldn’t though, because I had (and still do) an elderly mother with no other family. So I hunkered down and ate his shit for the next 8+ years until I couldn’t take it anymore.

      I kicked him out. I was/am nearly broke, in my mid 50s, with no degree or significant job history. And the court system banned my X from even contacting our son. Although my situation would terrify some (and at times, me) – I wouldn’t trade it for another DAY with the kind of shit I lived with all those years.

      DON’T waste any more years. Find a therapist ON YOUR OWN. One who not only specializes in marriage – but DIVORCE too. YOU NEED HELP. Do this on YOUR terms, not his. Don’t let him dictate the narrative, starting NOW.

      • You are very strong indeed, on the hill!
        Ditto everything you wrote!!

        Your post gave me flashbacks of emotional and secretive “connections” my STBX had with other women in the past. He gave me such a hard time for being uncomfortable with those “connections” when I found out about different things that happened. Something was WRONG WITH ME because I was upset when my husband would go on bike rides and out to our favorite beach and pizza place while I was in a class on Saturdays. He took our 4-6 year old along! My son TOLD on his Dad, about the outings with Bicycle Girl. (albeit innocently) Chump Lady is helping me see that I was RIGHT to be concerned.

        I have knowledge that before my STBX moved back east, he dated Bicycle Girl the month before he left – so he has already cheated on his affair partner – with one of these old “emotional connections”. We are still married but we haven’t been living together almost all year now. So, I cringe at what I don’t know….and don’t WANT to know.

    • How horrible, Jet fuel only. I just honest to God don’t see how anyone could reconcile with a spouse who has a child with another person during the marriage. We had the whore’s dog and that was really pushing the limit.

    • GET OUT. Heavily into porn screams CHEATER. Ask me how I know. Just go with your plan to leave. You can do this. If I can do it so can you!!! Porn is an an insidious monster. It will if it already hasn’t taken him over. Porn becomes who they are. Not what they DO, but WHO they ARE. And they don’t change. They just get better at hiding it. And if he’s doing that I wouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt that he’s not getting some on the side. Save yourself. Please. You are mighty and you are worth it.

      GOOD LUCK. keep reading here. The people here are so smart and compassionate.

      Hugs

  • Feeling sorry for the newbies reading those reconciliation blogs! An affair not only kills a marriage, it kills souls. When someone rewrites your history and your children’s history it is not growth… it is a deep despair.

  • I found CL the night I found out about the affair so I didn’t have high hopes for reconciliation. I did, however agree to marriage counseling, because I thought it would look really bad if I didn’t go. Part of the blame the victims “she wouldn’t even go to counseling.” I now realize it was a missed opportunity to set a boundary.

    During the second couples session the counselor began telling me all the things I would have to do and all the changes I would have to make to get him comfortable to talk to me and tell me the truth. It was all on me, the faithful partner, to make what I now know is the “timid forest creature” feel safe being vulnerable. My response was that I had my own pain to deal with and I didn’t have the capacity to deal with his problems too.

    I had him served within 48 hours.
    Thank you CN for being my guiding light on my “Trek to Meh!”

    • HECK YEAH, AllOutofKibble!! You kick bootay!!

      I wish I could go back to smack myself, and shake myself to “WAKE UP!” and not have been so traumatized to the point of immobility. I was patient and did nothing for 8 months thinking that he’d “come to his senses,” or that “surely he won’t trash 23 years of investment for a whore,” but no. Eight months after DDay is when I finally remembered who I am, and got angry with his continued destruction of my family and marriage before filing against him. If I had done like you and just kicked his ass from the beginning (which is what he expected me to do!), I’d be 8 months further out from the BS of that hell he put us through. Proud of you, girl. (((hugs!)))

    • Thanks DDW and KFMM. I wish it felt as good as it sounds. Much thanks to you both for the encouragement. I still can’t get him to leave the house. As my attorney says “It’s a control issue” and not likely to end any time soon. I think the worst of it is the more time I spend separated from him the more I see the psychological abuse, and destruction. I can’t believe I let myself get to the point I did. I can’t believe I was so wrapped up in taking care of the kids and working to put food on the table while he traveled about 100 days a year, that I didn’t notice I was the victim of abuse. The realization is staggering. Hugs to all who make this a wonderful place to learn, grow, and self reflect.

      • Assemble, Chump Nation Vigilantes!

        We need to turn our attention away from body disposal for a bit, and concentrate on encouraging foot-dragging STBX’s to vacate the premises.
        A few suggestions:
        “Before you leave today, please bag up all your belongings, seal them, and leave them in the sun for a few days. We have bedbugs and the exterminator is coming.” If he doesn’t do it, bag his stuff up for him and leave them on the lawn. Bedbugs, right?
        A hearty dose of laxatives inserted in the evening meal for a day or two, then stop, then start up again. Repeat this cycle until he packs and departs.
        Paint the bedroom he’s sleeping in. One wall at a time. Move all the contents from one side of the room to the other with each wall painted. Don’t be too particular about how you move them, or about what you dribble paint on. Once you’re done, change your mind about the color and repeat.
        Drive-way oops on his car.
        Park your car blocking his. Each time.
        Do his laundry, especially his whites. Oops again.
        Drop off his dry-cleaning, give the wrong name and address, and lose the ticket.
        Temporarily switch from DSL to dial-up.
        Let the milk go bad. Ask him if he wants cereal for breakfast.
        Get a new puppy. Oh, were those your alligator shoes? Wait, let me get the camera–isn’t he cute?
        Host out-of-town relatives for extended visits.

        Helpful hints, anyone?

        • Lol, EA. I personally had no problem getting mine out, he was happy to run back to his mommy & daddy. His mommy was equally happy to have a kid back home to distract from her own live-in narc for a husband. Until she perhaps realized there were then 2 narcs under her roof? Insert college aged OW I o the rescue with money she’s happy to share and an apartment she will supply for him to get out of his parents house.

          He exterminated himself. 🙂

      • Alloutofkibble,maim so sorry to hear this. My ex would not leave enter and I couldn’t afford to move out and pay the mortgage so I stuck it out. Ex became Frantic to reconcile and the longer I said no the crazier he got, the more he drank, the more aggressive he got. I thought he’d never *really* hurt me, I was wrong. End result, he nearly shot me. then I got him out with a protective order. I should have left long before that, my house is a house, my life was not worth the risk. You have kid so think hard about whether staying there is safe. It is a hard thing to deal with, listen to your gut on this. Jedi hugs and be careful!

        • Thanks DDW. I feel like I’m walking the line right now. Would that I felt I could paint the room or vacuum at 2am, but I’m not about to chance it. (It is fun to read those things though) He took some of my property and when I ask for it back he gets really angry. I’ve gone from walking on eggshells to almost not being able to breathe when he is home, which is every day since he doesn’t have any work right now. I am trying so hard to be careful. He’d never let me take the kids so I stay close and I try to be home every second I can to monitor and stay on top of things. I am strong. I can get through this. I feel it in my soul, but yes I am being very careful.

    • I tried to get my now ex into marriage counseling long before I ever knew of his affairs. He was narcissistic and controlling and I was unhappy. He refused to go. I went alone. My therapist told me that without my husband participating, I would be the only one trying to mend things. The advice I got was to not rock the boat, don’t nag – accept that he won’t change. (Worst advice ever!!)

      We had a new baby at that time and I wanted the marriage to work. So I walked on eggshells for 20 more years. At times I would again suggest we go to counseling, but he always refused. I had the problem, not him.

      I stayed for the kids. He was verbally and emotionally abusive to me (behind closed doors – no one knew the vile things he said or the threats he made), but at least he wasn’t physically abusing me… (That’s how screwed up my thinking was!!) I was determined to stick it out until the kids were grown. They had not asked to be brought into the world and as long as I was able to maintain the peace with him we lead a somewhat “normal” life in appearance. The kids weren’t aware of the really bad stuff.

      When I discovered he was fooling around, however, I was finished. I had deal with his bullshit for far too long and was a good mother and wife in spite of it. I didn’t step out of the marriage like he did! My kids were teenagers. One in high school, the other in college. I decided I couldn’t wait another few years.

      He and I had a blowout one night and he threatened to leave me. Instead of crying and begging him to stay I told him that I thought it was a good idea if he did. He packed a bag and walked out. I felt SO RELIEVED. A weight had lifted.

      After a few days on his own he asked for one last chance to make things right with me. I stood my ground. He then said he would go to marriage counseling with me. I told him it was too late. I had been there, done that. He went to a therapist on his own and was so proud of himself…

      However, whatever he told the therapist focused on me – not my husband’s drinking problem, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, superiority complex. I was coined “The Runaway Wife” and he even emailed an article about it for me to read. It was all the things I needed to change… I couldn’t even read the whole thing. Blame the victim. I told him that I did not want to reconcile and it was over. Of course that declaration made “Bitch Enemy #1” and a very nasty divorce ensued. BUT I got out!!

      It has been 5 years now and I am still dealing with the emotional scars and re-wiring my thinking. However, my life now is 1000 times better than it was.

  • I tried reconciling for about 2 years – the same amount of time he devoted to cake-eating. When I had a really good sales month, bought him a car, and the first thing he did was go show his girlfriend, I FINALLY accepted the fact that he wasn’t going to give her up any time soon.

    Looking back, I should have gone with my gut instinct on D-day: put his sh*t on the lawn, change the locks, and file for divorce. Because he didn’t deserve 5 more minutes of my time at that point, let alone 2 more years. Expensive lesson.

    • Yes, Red…I feel ya on the two years. Hindsight is 20/20 though. Actually, I should have left him when I discovered he was trying to meet people online when we were married only 3 mo. But I was young, stupid, and in love. He had the audacity to commit himself for a few days and I had to attend a session with him & a quack who said he was a sex addict. Our subsequent counselor that I chose, undiagnosed him and said simply he was horny & immature. I should’ve ran then…
      Fast forward a few years and two kids later, and the fuckwit decides to start banging a buck toothed midget he worked with. He wanted to reconcile and so did I for the kids sake. After the pick me dance that I guess I “won”, it was a rocky, distrustful, bitter road for 2 years of separating and “trying again”. I finally realized that the mental movies, constant suspicion, and always knowing that he CHOSE to fuck another woman & lie to my face repeatedly, would never leave my psyche if I stayed with him.
      Divorce was filed, a few financial matters to clear up, and it’s done.
      I have to say, I am soooo excited to go back to my maiden name. Aside from our children, I want nothing from him attached to me.

      • Love the reference to the fuckwit banging a buck toothed midget! What always strikes me reading Chump Nation blogs is the humour, intelligence and erudite language everyone uses! It’s as though you have to be bright, talented and witty to be chumped!

        This blog has truly kept me sane. I bought Tracy’s books days after I’d thrown him out (punching him whilst my dad and brother “restrained” me) straight after DDay with stuff bagged in garage and locks changed. I’ve kept going with the divorce despite the pity, rage, charm attacks since April last year. Couldn’t have had the insight and strength of mind without CL otherwise. That and my obsession with exercise now!

        • Thanks, Lotusblossom:) I agree, the CL and all of the candid posts from the other chumps of the world truly keep me off the ledge…and the rusty ax in my garage out of the fuckwit’s skull.

  • My reconciliation consisted of jumping through every hoop imaginable to schedule us for couples therapy, having my heart break as he continued to text her (right in front of me!) while lying about it, deflecting the therapist’s request that he stop seeing the OW, and then finally catching him at 2am at her house.

    In short, it was delightful.

      • Mine would hide out in our children’s bathroom for 40 minutes at a time 4-5 times each evening. Stupid Chump that I am – I was worried about his bowles and ass falling out of his body. SOMETHING had to be wrong, huh?? Only to learn that he was being a whore, but hiding it from our eyes. What a fucking DOUCHEBAG. ALL of them.

        • Mine did the same , reckoned he had bad bowels lol he even took to taking the dog out for a walk on a evening , he never walked him , found out later he was talking to her, he worked shifts the first time in years and he had a responsible job, so would tell me he was working long hours and weekends ect, all the time I was worrying about his stress levels lol what a chump

          • Sounds like “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Only, the main (cheating) character was looking for a phone booth to make his call. that novel was published in 1989. My, has the world changed in such a short time.

        • “…worried about his ass falling out…” KibbleFree-MightyMe thank you for making me laugh! And just ew on these furtive phone obsessed porn poopers. I hope you disinfected the girl’s bathroom.

          • “these furtive phone obsessed porn poopers”

            LOL, Sara! That phrasing gave me a chuckle. I had one of those “porn poopers,” and when I think of the many months he spent gaslighting me and blameshifting about it, I feel sick inside. Even now, the sound of someone snapping open a box of Wet Wipes is a trigger.

      • Yeah, I remember X texting, posting porn to one of his many twatter/g+/dating/linkedin/dailymtn/ porn sites right in front of me – his screen facing the wall. All part of the degradation that delights his sociopathic ass.

  • I admit I have not left or separated since DDay 6 months ago. My daughter has one more year of school and I really want to be at home for her senior year. The concept of affairs making a marriage better baffles me. I have constant visuals and disgust when I look at her. The years of lying and deception (and sex) do not seem to be a great foundation for the next 25 years. There is no false hope on my end, just going to see if I can make it through one more year. What I find, is that all cheaters seem to be the same. They look for validation for their actions. I will never validate or take blame for her actions. As far as R, I have been to a few marriage counselor sessions. The lady is pretty good. Christian based and will put the cheater in their place. That being said, I dont see how anyone could ever get past the effects of the betrayal……. nor do I feel the urge to do so!

      • I do….. I have plenty of rock solid proof… not that it matters in Texas…. Who knows what a year may bring, 6 months has not made anything better!

        • David
          My admiration for staying for your daughter’s sake.

          A good friend of mine did similar while his Cheater was screwing the kids’ tennis coach and openly parading her affair. He slept on the couch for a year, but then that turned into three years, because there was never a good time to leave, apparently. It finally ended when wife asked if lover could stay over (sleep in their bedroom while chump was in the rec room!).

          Now, I have gotten acquainted well enough with the now-adult daughter and asked her if her Dad’s staying around before she left for university held any benefit for her. Her reply? “No, I hated seeing my Dad humiliated and often wished he would just take control and do what was best for him. I had a lot,of respect for him when he just told my Cheater mother where to stuff her games”

          I guess it depends on how much your daughter knows about the situation. It may be important for her to see YOU valuing yourself enough to take a stand. When you do leave, it is healthier for her to be told the facts about why, just the facts, no judgment of her mother.

          My sympathies, I know that grinding feeling. I hold the world record for stupid chump behaviour. My fiance cheated (four month affair during our engagement) but I forgave him and was married to him for 29 years. He never apologized and even “stayed friends” with the OW. Honestly, sex with him made me queasy every single time over the years. I too thought I was “doing it for the kids”

          • Before I announced my intention to divorce my now-X, I read up on whether it was better to wait until kids are off to college. The answer was a resounding “No”. There never *is* a “good” or “better” time to divorce someone, and adult children can be hit just as hard. At the time I read about this, my son was in the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I decided not to wait. My son even eventually told me he was praying we’d get divorced!!

            The fact that your daughter only has a year, I can see the point of waiting – but – I hope that she isn’t being led to believe that your marriage is in tact. I hope that she has the idea that you are staying there for HER and her only; to see her to the end of high school. She should be prepared for the fact that you will not be staying with your wife – if in fact that is what you intend.

            • I understand the cut and go option would be best in many ways. I also know that one year is just a blink….. What I will not do is sleep on couch and be humiliated!!! My wife understands and does have some fear….. that if she farts in the wrong direction I will be gone and never look back. She is actually trying to R…. I just dont care anymore. And she knows it. But, I know being out is difficult to be there as you should for my child….. so I will stay and then I will go.

              • David, I respect your decision, but a year is a long time for your mental and emotional health though I can imagine that you are considering you might not get custody and that is your greatest fear. That shows you are an awesome Dad! But I forgave a Dday 8 years before the final one, and I did it for the children because they were so young. But in hindsight, it would have been better to have divorced him then because the children would have learned very early on to live with separated parents as a “normal” situation. Now they are 9 and 12 years old and have to deal with the grief and disappointment of their cheater father and their parents divorce. However, kids are more resilient than you imagine, especially if you tell them the truth. If you lie to them, they will alway resent the disfunctionality. I am sure that the sooner you leave, the more your kid will respect you. Since she is older, you can have a good heart to heart talk of why you are leaving. It is important that you model a good parent as well and not show her that you should stay with a cheater for the sake of the kids. When I told my 12 year old the truth 6 months after Dday, she thanked me and I felt a big relief from her because she had been blaming herself! Now it is really easy to teach them that you should never stay with a friend, boyfriend, husband or any person that abuses, lies or treats you badly. They understand perfectly well.

              • Well a year sounds like a long time at this moment. But by summer of next year my daughter will be off to college and then I can do what is best for my mental health. They will know the why and see the outcome of soon enough. I could not do years….. but one yes.

              • David, I just did what you are planning on doing. It really can suck the life out of you. Please make sure you have a therapist for yourself. There will be mindfuckery, blameshifting and the whole bag of the “we” statements, as in “we created this situation whereby I was forced to cheat” scenarios.

                Don’t talk with your cheater about yourself. Stick to logistics. Get your financial house in order. Retain your attorney. Get your will and trusts in order. This is an exciting time for your daughter. Help her have a great year and also find a family therapist to help her thru your transition next summer.

                Good luck!

    • Graduation years are tough under the best of circumstances. As you said, it will pass very quickly, and there’s so much to do: college and scholarship applications, campus visits, senior trip, activities. It’s also an expensive year. In retrospect, it’s amazing we don’t try to sell juniors on dropping out and getting a GED.

      Spend as many of your weekends with her as you can: camping, traveling, fishing, shopping. whatever you both enjoy. Freeze your stbx out of these activities. Plan a mid-winter vacation with your daughter, and another one for spring break if she’s not doing a senior trip. Invite her out to dinner a couple of times a month.

      Find that balance where you’re getting maximum time with her, and making sure she gets the time she needs for finishing up college decisions and preparing for it financially. And somewhere along the line, have the frank talks with her about the marriage, and that you will be leaving her mother after graduation. Let her have some warning, and go through the grieving process.

      Recognize that she’s going to want to spend time with friends, and during weekends when she has other plans, you make other plans, too. Go fishing with friends, travel, whatever. Get a dog if your life will accommodate that and you roll that way. It will help to have a friend, and give you a good excuse to get out of the house regularly.

      I think you have a very clear vision of how you see this playing out, and I think it will work out fine. You’ve lost hope for any reconciliation, and in a way, it will be easier because of that.

      I was separated for several years before I filed for divorce. I was close to pulling the trigger a couple of years ago, but stopped and considered that my son was gong into his senior year of HS and my daughter was wrapping up her senior year of college. Even with the multi-year separation, I knew that the divorce would add more stress to an already full year, and made the decision to wait. In retrospect, I’m very glad I did. It would have simply been too much. It was especially hard on my son (his dad is manipulative, and did his best to work on me through him once I finally filed. He couldn’t see or didn’t care how much it hurt our child), so waiting until my son had a life-after-school escape from the drama was absolutely the right choice. My daughter later thanked me for waiting as well. It also allowed us to go through the travel-for-graduation together without the extra tension of the divorce hanging over our heads.

      Ultimately, you’re the one who will be making the choice and you and your daughter will have to live with the consequences. I just wanted to be a voice for the possibility that your plan can work just fine. Be proactive, defend your boundaries, and stay busy planning your future happiness.

    • I just knew that I could not lie to myself enough to ever let this go. We all deserve so much more than staying with someone who , obviously, must hate our guts. These fucktards that claim they “never stopped loving you” are warped beyond belief.

      • It’s just a pathetic attempt at damage control. I was told afterward that during the entire two years of his affair, it was really me he wanted. Huh?

        Maybe the fact that we were so easy to lie to for so long because of the trust we had for them makes them think that we’re actually stupid.

        Or maybe they’ve become lying machines incapable of truth.

  • I’m not clear how sleeping with someone else makes a relationship stronger. Probably easier to tell your partner how you’re feeling and spare everyone a lot of pain, including your children.

    I was a chump, because I believed the initial cover story of “We’re only friends, I haven’t slept with him”
    We went to MC, where I was told she is “frozen” and doesn’t know what she feels for me. How’s that for a sucker punch. And then discovering the full extent of the affair two months later — weekend in Paris, dinners around town, and shipping my kids out on sleepovers when I was out of town for work.

    Once you lose trust, in my opinion, you can never rebuild it. I remember scouring the house for her Underground travel pass to get proof that she was, where she said she was going to be. And my life imploding when it was just another lie….
    Don’t stay – you’ll drive yourself crazy and become a paranoid detective tracing leads.

    I”m better off without her, and her lies. And I found someone who appreciates the things I do and provide.

    • The MC got to give you the news that she’s “frozen” and doesn’t know what she feels? Wow. Cowardly to the end, there.

      That was probably your cue to do the pick me dance. I can unfreeze you! Watch me try!

      • You said it… so text-book…I went straight into the pick me dance, until I realised that you can’t make someone love you. That was a really painful lesson.

        18 months post D-day, and a year after divorce, and she’s shacked up with the affair partner. So in love, and yet not an engagement ring or wedding bell in sight. Guess it’s hard to trust a cheater.
        I hope that whenever their “soulmate” is late coming home, they’re always wondering if they are off sleeping with someone else…

      • “Frozen”? What a crock.

        I’m imagining Elsa singing “Let It Go” LOL.
        Maybe we all need to take a cue from the one Disney princess that didn’t need an assclown prince to save her.

      • I got that too! He was like an empty shell! Emotionless, in a trance of sorts. Just awful! So much for affairs “making you feel alive”! He was and still is like a zombie, totally devoid of his former self!

        • Tempest……my personal feel is that they “melt” real fast in hell! 🙂 Ah yes, just my take.

  • Based on my experience, I would advise against marriage counseling, unless the cheater is remorseful, asks what you want, sets it up, and it is all about owning up to the affair and the damage it has done. I was in marriage counseling for a year and a half. We went through three counselors. Each time the counseling sessions started out being about what was wrong with me that caused her to have her affair. Once we started trying to talk about her issues and the damage her deceit had done, it was time to find a new counselor (“she isn’t helping”, “keeps going over the same stuff”, “I feel like she is blaming me for everything”). Meanwhile, she is continuing to hide new affairs WHILE WE WERE IN COUNSELING TO, SUPPOSEDLY, FIX OUR MARRIAGE! Sorry about the yelling. I then went through utter hell for another year and a half while she continued to stay in the guest bedroom while we went through the divorce process. I am so very much with CL and her advice on reconciliation. Get a post-nup that is very generous to you. She/he won’t go along…there’s your answer.

    • Twins Dad.. I also had a MC that made our sessions 100% about how much I sucked as a wife. Once he eve said “Wow Mr. Newchumpatl, this is a beautiful woman here- it must have really sucked not to get sexual satisfaction from her”. Compliment? Insult? Completely inappropriate thing to say? I was so dumbfounded at the time, I didn’t say anything.. but later I thought, I should have said:

      Well maybe if Mr. Newchumpatl would say, empty the dishwasher, or put the baby to bed, or hang out with me at night instead of retreating to the basement to “work out” and “play video games”… I’d be in the mood for love.

      Sheesh! I had the same experience. MC downplayed all of STBX’s obviously flagrant activities with MOW while concentrating what was wrong with me, even encouraging me to get on Anxiety drugs!!!!! What a WASTE of time and energy!

      • After my first DDay and reconciliation therapy I ended up in therapy by myself for postpartum depression…I caused his affair because I had a baby and was not feeling like my old happy sexy self anymore! I was depressed! The worst thing is , I actually believed it was my fault !

      • I have heard these stories about these MCs who focus , almost exclusively, on the BS’s deficiencies etc. makes me wonder what type of training MCs go through. I know it must vary, and there may be good ones out there, but it seems very few want to zero in on the cheater.
        Besides the profit motive ( if they come down to hard, the cheater bolts, hence no fee), I suspect they sense that the BS is in a vulnerable/suggestible state and more willing to keep coming back, despite the blame being heaped on the BS.

        • Arnold that is the only thing I’ve ever read about MC doing this to BS that actually makes sense. Of course if they come down too hard on the cheater they’ll bolt. Cheaters are just like timid forest creatures after all.

          What a crock of shit!

        • Arnold, that’s a good point. In my experience the MC almost sucked up to the cheater and I got the feeling he was just trying to keep him from bailing out. As it turns out, my ex only went to two session and then claimed years later that MC didn’t work.

    • TwinsDad,
      I agree. I know many people who’ve gone to couples counseling only to have their spouse lie through the whole freaking thing. They sit through every single session acting as if they’re trying to save the relationship while they are leaving it to go meet their AP. It’s all bullshit and it’s all image management. Two of the people I’m speaking of are my ex AND his older brother, both narcs.

      My personal experience was that my ex did just fine during his individual counseling, because he could bullshit & project for the entire hour. Then I’d come in for my hour and tell our therapist the same story, except the roles were reversed and my emotions & affect were realistic. Imagine our therapists awkward position there…yikes.

      Now I’ll say in my therapists defense that he actually warned me ahead of time that in order to gain STBX’s trust in the process that he might be a little hard on me in the beginning. Perhaps this is what some of the therapists you guys have seen that blame the victim are trying to establish, but they just didn’t have the opportunity to earn you ahead of time? Or maybe they’re doing this to gauge who really IS at fault? Just a thought. I digress…
      And during that first session he did point out a few things about me that were trivial in comparison to the stuff STBX was doing, but, had he not warned me, would’ve really upset me and made me think he was going to be blaming shifting on me. STBX had ONE fault pointed out to him during that hour and all it was was that I needed his help and that I was doing so many things by myself and managing it well that he needed to be more receptive to me asking for his assistance. THAT’S the extent of the blame he had to assume during that session….and guess what…he never went back. He decided that that therapist (our 2nd therapist at this point that he said this about) wasn’t helping him anymore. He wasn’t even capable of accepting any type of responsibility…the only way he was going to attend therapy was if the entire thing was dictated by his narrative and placed all the blame on me.

      Moral of this rambling post is that 1. Typically they’re lying in therapy in the first place and 2. Once they have to assume ANY blame whatsoever they check out.

      In my experience, it’s a waste of time I could’ve spent healing or packing up his shit.

      • I should add, though, that I still see this therapist and I adore him. He’s been a Godsend in my recovery from all this and it wasn’t until after the divorce was underway that he began to tell me that he was trying to uncover the extent of STBX’s “illness” back then. He explained to me that we would tell the same stories but the roles were always reversed and that he knew STBX was the one lying because his body language, affect, facial expressions never changed, they were always “un”. He also said that in the 3 months they had weekly appointments they never reached any level measurable level of depth in their conversations; if STBX would complain about something I’d done and the therapist would try to go deeper or get more info STBX would ramble, get confused, gloss over it, etc.

        Then when I came in I’d tell these stories and I’d cry or fidget from the anxiety they were giving me or even sugar coat them so that I didn’t have to admit my husband was an abusive prick. It didn’t take our therapist long to figure out who was authentic and who wasn’t.

        I wish all therapists were like him. It sounds like some of you have had some awful experiences. I’m sorry for that.

        • I also have a great counseling experience. We started MC before D-Day, though he was already cheating. We started because of his sudden “unhappiness” (saying that makes me laugh now- huh maybe closer to Meh than I thought). So we went for 3 or 4 sessions before D-day. Those sessions were hell! All the blame on me. Him never owning up to anything, doing any of the reading (Yes 5 love languages which I read in two days and highlighted parts I found useful for us- while he was reading some teenager romance novel because “everyone” at work was reading it when in all actuality STBX and Howorker wanted to go see the movie together so he was reading it for OW. Yes, I am sitting next to him on the couch reading marriage self help books and he is reading for her- so sick). When we went to the next session after D-Day – yes he showed- she immediately separated us saying Marriage Counseling isn’t for couples going through an affair. Sent him to a male therapist to work on his issues and I am still seeing her to work through mine. She is a strong Christian but never pushed the “Godly wife” card on him. Just kept asking me if I can walk away saying I did everything I could. Finally 6 months ago when asked I said yes. She immediately flipped a switch and got on the Leave a Cheater Gain a Life side and has been a godsend to me!

        • A friend went to counseling with her husband (self-centered the point of ridiculousness) and she got very frustrated with the tone of the first few sessions. Husband was very into sports and in the first session, the (male) therapist chatted with him about basketball for almost thirty of the sixty minutes before finally settling down to talk about the issues in the marriage. The next session was the same, sports, sports, sports, and then let’s talk a little about the marriage and how my friend was “nagging” husband too much with her requests that he help parent their child and maybe participate in the relationship. Finally in the third session, about twenty minutes into the sports talk, she finally exploded, “Hey, do you think maybe we could talk about our problems instead of spending half of the session talking about fucking basketball?” Husband was MORTALLY offended and looked at the therapist with this, “See what I put up with?” look on his face.

          The therapist called my friend later and told her, “Just so you know, there was a method to letting him chat about sports and lay some guilt at your feet. I was trying to get your husband to relax and trust me and feel in control of the situation so he would open up. If I started in on him right away, he would have walked out immediately. Trust me, I see his faults.”

          Eventually, the therapist came to suspect that the husband had NarcPD. Therapy didn’t do him much good, but it gave my friend the strength to leave him eventually.

          • Pucksmuse, this is so good to hear. Thank GOD there are therapists that see through this shit.

            • The bummer is that they see through it and have a plan but don’t let us in on it until we push. Same thing happened to me with two MC’s. First one letting him be the joke teller in sessions diverting the serious conversation and attempts at solving problems into laughter. I called her on it years later because it kept me thinking that something was wrong with me for not wanting to waste my time with joking around. I wanted to get something done. Party pooper! Thus confirming my role as bummer, drag Mom to my fun XH. She said she thought he would bolt and had to earn his trust, but how did that help me? It didn’t. It sucked. She took the criticism well. The second one was not able to get him to admit to the affair. She let him spew his BS about being a Passenger in our lives (which he must have concocted with his own short term therapist) even though he loved me and knew I loved him. She did not press to ask why I thought he was having an affair and just took him at his word when he said he was not. To this day he has not admitted it. I called that MC too and told her that I was very disappointed in how she handled it. That’s great that she wanted to take it easy on the Narc so that he’d come back, but how did that help me and my truth? He gets away with it all again and again. She also listened to my criticism and I hope she will give another chump some strength and support the next time around.

    • Wow, TwinsDad, I thought I was one of the few and NOT proud that was stuck under the same roof for a year and a half after the emotional end of the marriage. Yeah, that was fun.

      We had a brief foray into marriage counseling, and he would unleash his anger after the session when he felt the focus was too finely narrowed on him. Poor muffin. I will say this, though: I told him he had to find the therapist and schedule it, and if he could manage all that, I’d go. He STILL didn’t take it seriously and he STILL lied throughout. I had my finally moment of clarity when I found messages between ex and OW making fun of the counseling and talking about just how soon they could meet up after one of our sessions. Ain’t love grand?

  • Reconciliation was pretty short lived. Shall I talk about the part where he rewrote our history and never loved me? How about when he needed to stay in touch with the OW? The promise to cut her off that was broken as soon as it was made, 4 times in a row? No? Seeing his car parked in front of her house on Google Earth? Hahahaha, fun times. Maybe the time he came begging me to take him back, coerced me into sex and gave me an STI, all the while swearing he’d never had sex with OW? Or afterward when he insisted I must have cheated because OW was a saint who couldn’t possibly have an STI? Shall we talk about the marriage retreat where he wrote down the thing that upset him the most about me, how it was really awful when I called his OW a whore? Or shall we fast forward to giving up, and asking for a divorce? Cos that’s when he assaulted me, set me up and got ME arrested for DV, and later pulled a gun, threatened suicide and threatened me. Because you see, he really wanted to reconcile and keep the OW, he called me evil because I wouldn’t let him have his “friend”. Of course at the same time, I couldn’t have a “friend”. When I refused to play any more he wouldn’t leave. Cheaters often want reconciliation because they’ll loose control over you, they’ll loose money, they’ll loose face. They want you there taking care of them, while they fuck around. Warning, if your spouse goes into rages be careful playing the pick me dance, be even more careful when you stop. When they find the rage no longer keeps you in check, they escalate.

        • Oh, looky! The Downgrade…..

          I expanded my self-worth and grew the hell out of there.

          ‘Reconciliation’ after cheating was just another form of abuse. The Perels of this world are just like the Vichy French.

        • Love those old loony tunes . Ever watch “The Dover Boys”? Good Ol’ P.U. :P.U,P.U., we’re all for you. Yeaaaaah, team.”

        • That mine shaft scene was so cathartic! I played it a few times more than was perhaps necessary.

    • how it was really awful when I called his OW a whore

      Yeah, mine says “She’s not a whore”. I said.. really.. PROVE IT. I have a right to call that skank whatever I want to!

      • I called my XH girlfriend a F…Whore and he never said anything. Didn’t even defend it. I thought what a coward doesn’t even stand up for her behind her back. I wish she knew this. lol

        • These people are something else! My XH told me I was being mean and judgmental when I called the OW a whore who had no problem sleeping with a married man with a family. Losers!

          • Mine called OW (who he’s still with) a rotten cancer whore who ruins everything she attaches herself to. He said this after he found out that she had screwed around with his friend. When I found out he needed to call his friend to confirm whether or not it was true during reconciliation, that’s when the divorce was filed. Guess who he went back to for a soft place to land during the divorce? Calling her a rotten cancer was the only true thing he said during that whole wasted year.

          • Yes, seacurlz. I got the “you don’t know him” line from my ex-wife when I told her that I didn’t respect her AP, that he was a sleaze who couldn’t land an unmarried woman, etc.

            Why do cheaters think that defending their APs is a good strategy for maintaining the marriage? All it does is show how invested they are in the AP, and how little they care about you.

            • My wife has mentioned r AP name but that’s about it. She hasn’t told me the finer details. I don’t know if that means shes still protecting him or not?

              • Iceman, it means she’s keeping control over everything, just like narcs love to do. Hope you’re OUT of there!

        • Yeah, when I called the assorted other women ‘ugly whores’, I was told they were ‘nice girls’ and ‘attractive’. I was told was evil.

          It’s not too hard to figure out why he’s at the curb–alone. Those particular ‘nice attractive girls’ will have nothing to do with him and he can’t find any new ones to take their place….maybe that’s because he’s not driving around in my Mercedes and unable to pull of the delusional illusion of living the high life anymore.

          He’s reaping what he’s sown his entire serial cheater alcoholic life.

          • Yeah, XH didn’t like when I called his skank a Whore. She complained, you know, because she’s a woman of high morals? So, he took me off of the Costco membership. (I’m busting up reading this – really? I’m taken off of the Costco membership! Wow!).

        • Literary genius OWhore wrote to my advocate, who was chiding her for lying about attempts to cause me trouble after Ducktard threw HER under the bus:

          “I used to be as blameless in these matters as Chchchchump herself. Now you could call me skamk, whore, slut, tramp,harlot, adultress, and many other unpleasant things with impunity”

          (she missed a few. Probably wanted to beat us to the punch)

          “You are free to pour your vituperation on me at will. Go ahead. Cast hot coals on the path I’m walking barefoot.”

          ( self-pity is so unattractive)

      • When my teenaged daughter called his MOW a whore, he kicked her. He actually kicked his child in defense of his whore. I’m well rid of him indeed.

      • I too was called judgemental when I said that I didn’t think the OW was acting ethically..

    • Holy shit, Dat. I had no idea the extent of your story. My God I am glad you survived that and are here giving your perspective. Very powerful stuff. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mine used actual whores. I thought I was being polite calling them “prostitutes”. He thought that was harsh and referred to them as “professionals”. Are you a doctor? a lawyer? Be careful about calling yourself a “professional woman”, someone might get the wrong idea.

      • Mines are “providers” and he’s a “hobbiest”… sigh. I just garden and paint for my hobbies.

        • Those are two of the most absurd euphemisms I’ve ever heard. He says that with a straight face?
          He makes it sound like such a sweet, innocuous matter.

  • I tried R. Did the pick me dance. All he did was lie to me, to the MC, to his IC, to his family and continued to pursue the OW. He continues to this day to deny it.. says they are “just friends” and I’m ” blowing it all out of proportion”. Going to her apartment, hanging for hours, lying to me about where he was apparently doesn’t qualify as a “red flag”. Neither do the mean comments, the ILYBNILWY speech, the coldness, the fitness craze, the calorie counting, the new clothes/cologne, the manscaping, the odd phone number on his cell phone. All of these are easily explainable and not “necessarily cheating”.. his words.

    The sad thing is I would have done most anything to hold my family together. I have young kids and that makes it so much harder. But I can not swallow what’s left of my dignity. If he could be honest with me, come clean, express remorse, maybe I could get past it. Be he continues to defend his relationship with the slut, and minimize what he’s done to me. It is what it is. No unicorn here.

    • newchumpatl – yes, it sounds like we went through a lot of the same shit. I too would have done just about anything (and did) to hold my family together. I couldn’t even bear to say the “D” word for a long time. I’d think about it and putting my kids through it and would sob like I did at the side of my mother’s deathbed. Also sounds like our ex’s had a lot in common! Mine was all into “Jazzercise”. Was an instructor for a while – all that did was cost money. Used this as an excuse to postpone our MC, BTW. Low carb diets, woman-scaping, piercings that should only be done by 20 year olds. Then the drinking. God I’m so glad to be rid of her for all but a few minutes twice per week!

  • I was given a stone cold abandonment cheater who walked out on me and our special needs daughter who was five at the time. He moved in with the OW shortly after. I stood for the marriage for almost 2 years. I was completely brain washed by the reconciliation Christian websites (stopdivorce.org in particular). They prey on your devotion to God, that you must forgive and remind you how God hates divorce. My time spent trying to reconcile with a hologram cost me my farm, horses, 60,000 and I’m still fighting in court for child support. False reconciliation put me in the hospital twice. To all the newbies out there. I beg you!! Lawyer up right away!!! Do not waste your time and risk your health. Especially if you have children. Don’t chase the unicorn.

    • I am so sorry you went through that. There is a girl in my DivorceCare support group in a similar spot. She is “standing”. I feel for her. She’s young, has no kids.. I want to say to her “RUN”!!!!! Claim your LIFE sister. Serve that fucker papers like YESTERDAY but she won’t do it. It’s against her beliefs. But he’s using and abusing her! She comes to these meetings like a hologram herself. I worry about her.

      I like DivorceCare, I’ve met some good people there, but sometimes the “Christian” answers are a bit off. Being a Christian wife is all good and fine when the husband lives up to his end of the bargain. But if he doesn’t, it’s much much harder and I feel sometimes they can be judgmental. I think the women get the short end of the stick at times if you follow their beliefs to the letter. A guy at one of my social clubs told me when I explained what I was going through “God hates divorce”.. I said, maybe, but he loves me. He wouldn’t want me to be treated this way.

      I am glad you saw the light and claimed your life. Good for YOU! You are mighty.

      • “God hates divorce”

        I would like to remind the people who say this that it appears that God hates ADULTERY even more than He hates divorce, as he made a commandment against adultery!

        He also made a commandment against LYING and COVETING THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE (SPOUSE).

        • Exactly Gypsy57. Like I say, DivorceCare in on balance a good thing and I think it varies from church to church.. but I take some of it with a huge grain of salt.

        • God does hate divorce. But take note, that one of the very few biblical reasons for divorce is???? You guessed it! Adultery! God also in old testimate days, allowed for stoning of the adulterer!

      • Thanks NC. It took a while but I’m working toward MEH. Divorceminister is a much better site for a Christian perspective, which I found here at CL. I also went to Divorce Care but was “standing” at the time so not really listening. It saddens me to see people try and reconcile when it’s obvious there’s no hope, because they’re listening to such nonsense. My stbx repeadly said he wasn’t coming back but there’s a false reconciliation excuse for that too: he’s in the fog, the devil has taken over, blah, blah, mindfuck, blah.

        • Yes, the devil. That very well may be but you can’t make someone do the right thing. You can’t ruin your life trying to save someone in the “fog”. You can’t make sense out of the senseless or expect reason from unreasonable people.

      • There is a Christian counselor who is featured in the Divorce Care videos (Leslie Vernick) who has a website and several books. In one of them, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, there is a part where she makes the point that while God does want you to LOVE people unconditionally, he does not want nor does he expect for you to RELATIONSHIP with people unconditionally. She then gives the example of Jesus and the scribes and the Pharisees, that while he loved them and tried to lead them in the way they should go, he did not relationship with them because they preached one thing and lived another. If Jesus did not relationship unconditionally, I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t expect any of the rest of us to do so.

  • No reconciliation here, fortunately. Our marriage was pretty much over before I even found out about the cheating. I found out about the affair 4 days after divorce papers were filed…and with that information coming to light, most of his abusive, erratic behaviors made sense.

    I spent my pregnancy and the first year of our daughters life in a spouse inflicted abuse hurricane & did all I could to navigate that storm while he offered no explanations for his withdrawal and constant abuse. I believe the planned (by him) pregnancy triggered some fear within him and cued the mask to begin to slip, he didn’t have the time, the patience or the desire to keep up the loving husband act any more. I got the memo a year too late.

    BUT I knew that once I kicked him out I couldn’t handle any more of the abuse I had been dealing with. The only way I couldn’t reconciled with him is if he were another person without any narcissism or sociopathy. And that’s obviously not possible. So….reconciliation wasn’t really an option for either of us; he knew I figured him out and I knew he was damaged beyond repair.

    God bless all of you out there trying reconciliation. I pray that you have that rare unicorn cheater who does a complete 180 for your marriage.

    • TBJ, you sound like you were married to someone a lot like Scott Peterson. Fortunately yours wanted a divorce instead of killing you and the baby. Has he given up his parental rights yet. You were lucky. He sounds dangerous.
      I know of 7 cheaters. None of them reconciled. I know one who did and his wife dumped him later. He was a drunk pos. who makes up these stats about reconciliation anyway?

  • I truly believed I could make reconciliation work, and having been raised and married in the Catholic church I felt obligated to try. Of course, I did all the work to research therapists, presented candidates to my cheating wife for her choice, and scheduled the appointments. She attended a few times but participated only minimally. We were supposed to make lists and write heartfelt letters to each other of different sorts. Things we felt were missing from the marriage that “caused her to look outside of the marriage for fulfillment,” things we would be willing to give up to make the marriage work, additional things we would be willing to do to make the marriage work, etc. I went overboard, as if there was counseling extra-credit. Thinking now of the drivel I wrote makes me cringe. She never put pen to paper, not even in response to what I wrote to her. We were supposed to get separate counseling as well. I did. She went once and then no more. Which is understandable given that she was continuing an affair at the time, though one different from the one I knew about. Looking back, I’m pretty sure she was loving the attention from all directions and the fact that she knew more than everyone else in her sophisticated romance heptagon.

    The two weeks I suffered in reconciliation were the longest and most painful of my life. By far. I would have died of a heart attack induced by sleep deprivation and stress had I not discovered Ambien. The farce only ended when our counselor told my cheating wife, “You need to look at your husband and tell him the affair is absolutely over so he will have a safe place to stand and work on your marriage.” She said it in a perfunctory manner, as if it was a mere formality, and was stunned when my ex replied, “I am committed to reconciliation but I can’t guarantee the other relationship is over because I don’t know what I’ll do if the marriage doesn’t work out.” The counselor just stared, obviously confused that my ex *would just play along for Christ sake*. At which point the counsel said the only reasonable thing I heard from her in in half a dozen visits, which was that we couldn’t continue with joint counseling until she figured out what she wanted. Thank God a day or two later I discovered the ongoing affair and filed for divorce the same day.

    I believe reconciliation is theoretically possible, but I also believe anyone who can cheat for an extended period of time lacks what it takes (e.g., remorse, self-reflection, empathy, and the ability to defer gratification) to make that happen. I also believe the great majority of professional therapists have no clue how to handle infidelity and simply repeat tired old saws that usually keep people stuck in bad relationships and sometimes even blame the victim. I truly believe that in the majority of cases joint marriage counseling for infidelity causes more pain and mental trauma than it alleviates.

    Mme. Perel writes that “OFTEN an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.” Often? Really? Where are all these people? I have personally known at least two dozen people who have been the victims of infidelity, and every single one of them was devastated by it. Every. Single. One. I have frequented several infidelity boards since early 2009, and the handful of “successfully” reconciled victims of infidelity there seem miserable, members of the Marriage Police with a fragile and inflexible outlook on life who go through spackle by the barrel and have lost all sense of humor about love and families and life in general. I have never met a single victim of infidelity who convincingly conveyed that reconciliation gave them a better relationship. Not once. OFTEN? C’est merde, Ms. Perel.

    • Nomar,

      That is truly awful! Been there on the sappy letters trying to get the cheater back. Wrote a few of my own cringe-worthy epistles.

      You would think a MC who supposedly has “specialized” in such matters would be able to grasp what cheaters are actually saying. “…I can’t guarantee the other relationship is over..” AKA she is still cheating. Crazy these counselors can’t see it is not a matter of them figuring out what they do or do not want. Either she did not see it or lacked the intestinal fortitude to confront.

      • Yeah, I think anyone in the healing arts has an ethical duty to warn people that they are doing something that will hurt them. “No, Mr. Smith, you definitely should NOT drink lye. It won’t cleanse you of the evil spirits that you imagine live inside you. In fact, it will cause esophageal stricture and may dissolve your internal organs burn you to death from the inside out.” An ethical therapist ought to say something similar to a chump trying to reconcile with an unremorseful cheater.

      • Letters – yep. MyHero asked why I wanted to be married to him. I wrote out a heart felt 2 page letter outlining the reasons that I wanted this to work and my commitment to the “better we”. He took the letter and when I asked if he read it, he said yes, and “oh, do you want to talk about it now?” with a snarly and mean tone…I said, no, I guess not. (I didn’t know that he was already likely involved in an EA at the time). I wrote more letters and apologies that he either read and ignored or refused to even read as “he didn’t want to feel bad”. WTF?

        I did the pick me dance before I even knew I was dancing.

    • Wow. You had one of those rare marriage counselors who knew how to flush the cheater out into the open. We had one that knew the score, even though my wife and I didn’t, but was unable to convey that in any meaningful way. She simply told us that she was suspending our sessions indefinitely “because you’re not on the same page.” Unfortunately, my wife took that to mean that *I* wasn’t getting it.

    • Nomar, I am so sorry you’ve had these terrible experiences, but I’m glad you’ve come out with some sense of humor intact. Your line about doing reconciliation work like there was “extra credit” made me laugh out loud in recognition. I think so many of us recognize ourselves in your description–all the ways we went the extra mile in the hope that the universe would reward our extra hard work. And maybe it does, but the EXes certainly never do!

    • Ditto on the letters here–MC asked us each to write a list of qualities in the other person that we valued, admired, or appreciated. When asked to produce his list, STBX said, “Oh I didn’t write one, I believe such statements can’t be forced, they must come organically.” And of course as others here have experienced, we went on to explore all of the reasons my “trust issues” were the reason the marriage was falling apart, not the fact that STBX was cheating, which of course he lied about. I too have often wondered why so many MCs seem utterly clueless when it comes to recognizing partners with NPD. Of course, it didn’t help that I was still utterly codependent and didn’t call him out in front of the MC for fear he’d vanish into the forest, never to be seen again.

  • Reconciliation is like living in the toxic radioactive aftermath of a nuclear blast. EVERYTHING is tainted – and if you stay, it is a lifetime of dealing with the fallout. Your life is never the same, your relationship is haunted by the ghost(s) of the affair partner(s), and your view of your wife is forever downgraded from lifetime partner to slut. The mind movies are nightmarish. Children are impacted negativlly, being caught in the crossfire, (how about losing your sense of security), and families often choose sides and treat the offending party with open contempt, hatred, or polite disdain. It’s awkward.

    How do you reconcile with the fact that you were thrown over for someone else? That you are now “plan B”? That your life with your wife was a sham? You are putting your all on the table supporting your family and they are giving their love, affection and emotions to someone else?

    I admit that I was poorly prepared to deal with the revelation of her affair, years after the fact. I smoked the hopium pipe. I got ill-advised counseling. Now that I am wiser and learned a lot from Chumplady, I would advise: RUN for the nearest exit. Reconciliation is really not worth it.

    • The RIC websites will tell you that reconciliation is hard, but worth it if it succeeds. Mine was hard, and life is reasonably good, but more in spite of the fact that I’m still married, not because of it.

    • Wow, Thomas…well said! You hit the nail on the head. Perfectly describes the last 2 years of my life. I know deep in my heart that brighter days are coming now that the divorce finalization is in sight.

  • My experience with reconciliation was soul stealing! My exH and I were married for 17 years when his cheating began. I discovered his cheating almost immediately based on his weird behavior although he would never own up to it. I had to get the proof to corner him so he would admit to it. I tried to stick with my marriage for five years after that. I went to individual counseling. We went to marriage counseling. My first clue that he wasn’t into the couples therapy was his inability to leave work early to make our sessions. I constantly had to change the appointment. After two sessions……the therapist hit a nerve with him and he told me he was never going back to see her. I told him to find another therapist. He wasted time playing ANGRY BIRDS on the computer every night after work and told me did not have time to find a new therapist. I should have walked then! He continued to see the OW the entire time. He wasn’t that remorseful. He wasn’t THAT in love.

    Side note: I thought that reconciliation was the best thing for my two teenage daughters. I wanted them to have an intact family unit. They both saw the dysfunction and they are both happy that I did what I had to to fix myself and become a better mom for them. (Detective work is exhausting!!) My oldest daughter told me she secretly wished I divorced him a LONG time ago!!!! Kids are pretty smart!

    In short……………reconciliation is a complete waste of time! Even if he stopped seeing OW and really tried to fix things……the trust would never return and I no longer thought of him the same way!

  • It’s trashy TV, but does anyone else watch the Real Housewives of Orange County? I’m not one for reality tv, but one particular episode caught my eye. The husband of one of the show’s character’s had an affair. They’ve been going through “marriage bootcamp” on the show- what a joke! The “counselor” seems to be as delusioned as this Esther character, believing the affair will actually make them stronger as a couple. In one exercise, she had the couple pretending one spouse had died, and made the other read a tribute to the “dead” spouse. GAG. All the while, I can’t help but feel really sorry for this lady. She’s being mislead by everyone around her, and no one seems to have the balls to tell her to flee this marriage. Her husband actually said his biggest fear was that “she would never get over” his affair. So, she tiptoes around, not wanting to express her hurt, just so he won’t get angry that she brings up the affair. I’ve caught myself screaming at the tv. Of course he doesn’t want her to bring up the affair- he wants to sail along like nothing ever happened. Allowing her to express her pain means he’d have to acknowledge he caused it. The sad thing is, my ex said pretty much the exact same thing. I did what she did- all before CL of course! No more chumpiness for me!

    • Yes. I watched the episode last night and all I could think was, “how can I get her CL’s site info?’ That was so hard to watch.

      • Raises hand sheepishly….Yes, I love my trash TV. I feel so sad seeing Shannon’s anguish and how she is trying to pretzel herself into some form of acceptance. Been there done that. She’s only six months from DDay and they keep referencing a two-year timeline for her to “get over it.” I know that they got that time frame from Peggy Vaughan of “Dear Peggy” fame. What Peggy actually states is that she has never seen a couple recover from an affair in less than two years. I feel terrible that Shannon has to do this on TV (even though she signed up for it) with a stop-watch ticking. Her husband seems totally checked-out to me. The onus seems to be all on Shannon “to get over it” and not on the hubby to step up to the plate and be part of the recovery. The couple’s retreat was so very tired…going sraight to what’s wrong with the marrige and glossing over the affair. I agree laurabb2001, how do we get her to Chump Lady? Although, she states that “divorce is not an option”, I still think she could benefit from the wisdom and humor of Chump Nation.

        • What Peggy actually states is that she has never seen a couple recover from an affair in less than two years.”

          That sounds about right. My ex was enraged that I wasn’t 100% recovered from his staggering level of infidelity in just two months. He started up the usual cheater blame shift: If I couldn’t get over his adultery, then how could our marriage survive?

    • Poor Shannon. CL would certainly help strengthen her while she is trying to make it work. I can see in some of her interviews that she is on the verge of tears. I know how she feels. How do we get over someone else being put before us? How do we ever trust them again? Betrayal hurts so bad.

  • I tried for almost two years to reconcile. Each time he came back to me with promises that she was gone for good, he was “over” her, he promised to sign a post-nup, anything I wanted to stay together because he “really loved me and not her”! Right! The minute he got his damn foot in the door ALL promises evaporated. This went on for about six times. Finally he came back and I could see it was just to be sure he could secure some personal benefit, such as, getting taxes done jointly and his mail to see if his “fancy” PhD had arrived! I was DONE! I told him to get the hell out and never come back! He was floored. Divorce was final in March. He came and got his crap in May and moved to Florida to live with his Schmoopie! Good Bye and Good Riddance! I wasted so much time. If I had to do it over again, his shit would have been on the front lawn five minutes after I got the ILYBINILWY bullshit and I would have filed immediately! My advice to anyone who finds out they are married to a cheater is to skip all the questions, MC, false reconciliation, pick me dancing etc. just get your pencil and calculator out and start deciding what this fucker is going to give you for the years you put up with their bullshit! Consequences are a bitch for these folks and they are counting on your poor broken heart and chumpiness to take advantage of you! Don’t do it! It plays into their narrative.

  • I never expected marriage, or life, to be easy. I expected bumps in the road, like illness, financial problems, child rearing difficulties — normal stresses and problems. I thought marriage meant I would have a partner and we would help each other through this stuff.

    Then I found out about an affair — who knows whether it was the first, and really what does it matter? It certainly was not the last. There was just an awful feeling, like I was asleep and having a bad dream. I didn’t want to believe it, but the evidence was right there. Then the faux remorse, and pleading, and promises to do better. Some slithering about trying to find fault in the marriage that “caused” his wandering. Poor sausage stuff — he was out of town, had too much to drink, was lonely and missing me. Such drivel. But I tried, really tried to get over it and move on. The marriage counselor tried, too, but I don’t believe they can really help you unless they are trained in Cluster B behaviors, and familiar with the whole saga of sex addiction excuses.

    What I discovered was actually more about my character than his lack of character. That became evident. Once I accepted the truth and got past the initial shock and horror, I started evaluating the whole marriage. Why was I drawn to him in the first place? What had we accomplished together? Was he really a help-mate? Why should I stay married? The answer was always the same — the whole relationship was built on a foundation of lies and wishes. I had no help, the accomplishments were not joint. The only good thing that happened was I have two fine sons. I worried about what would happen to them — but it turns out they were fine then, and have grown into fine men now. They anticipated the divorce, and understood that I could not continue to live with their dad. Once I was sure my children would be ok — I was gone.

    I have no regrets about that decision. It was the best thing to do. I wish I could say that I learned enough to protect myself then from future problems, but that was not the case. I still had many things to learn, about other people, and mostly about myself. It was a process, and there were times I felt despair, and times I felt great joy. There were bumps in the road, and I survived without a partner. I discovered I am very strong, and very self reliant. I discovered that no matter how strong and self reliant I was, I still needed the help of a few good friends and family members.

    The life I have built for myself while I was traveling to MEH is not a remarkable life, but it is, for the most part, a good life. Much more peaceful, much more enjoyable. Fewer bumps. I am so glad I left the drama and angst of trying to build a life with someone who was never really there. I only regret that I wasted so much of my time trying to figure it out. Time is too short and sweet to waste. If you must try to chase the reconciliation unicorn, do it in your dreams. While you are awake, use your time more wisely. Unicorns are too delicate to survive in the real world.

    • I think by your prose that you are remarkable Portia, plus it seems you have fine children which is another remarkable accomplishment.

      Plus, do cheaters dream of electric unicorns?

      • I’m not sure about electric unicorns (?) or if cheaters even dream. They do plot, which may be a form of day dreaming. If I had to guess, I would guess their dreams would be more like nightmares, a kaleidoscope of mirrors and colored glass, and pulsing light and vulgar images. Somehow they would be “conducting” the swirl of light and parts, and thinking that they were a great maestro. Sadly, when they wake up, they will only be a shadow of a person, suffering from a hangover of overindulgence and broken promises.

        Thanks for the remarkable observation — I hope I don’t brag about my sons too much! I can hardly believe they are as “normal” as they appear to be when they saw so much dysfunction when they were small. It gives me hope for tomorrow, and allows me to believe in the resilience of the human spirit. Forgive me, I am a proud mother. .

        • I read that book two weeks ago. Brilliant.

          Cheaters are androids. Devoid of empathy. If only chumps had a voight-kampff test when we first met them. Would have saved ourselves so much pain and misery.

  • My reconciliation ended in divorce.

    A few months into my wife’s affair, she insisted on MC, so I went. But, during the first MC session, she made clear that she was *having* (read, “ongoing”) an affair. The MC told us BOTH not to make any sudden moves. In other words, wife could keep cheating while we worked on things. That’s like going to an AA meeting 1 hour per week and then binge drinking the remaining 6 days and 23 hours.

    So I moved out.

    Then wife said the affair was over, went to therapy on her own, etc. I moved back in weeks later and re-attended therapy (with a new MC). The second MC also offered terrible advice (such as, “You should have an open marriage.”) I suspected my wife was still cheating. A few months later, I confirmed. The entire purpose of MC, in my wife’s eyes, was to trick me, family, and friends into believing she was “trying” to fix things.

    So I filed for divorce and never looked back.

    It’s been two years since then. My wife is *still* with her AP. After I left her for good, she helped her AP cheat on his girlfriend–>fiance–>wife–>stbx (who, like me, quit her job and moved across the country to be with her spouse). Together, my wife and her AP destroyed 2 marriages, each of which were the culmination of 10-year relationships.

    Look, maybe your marriage wasn’t running smoothly. Maybe it was like a car that needed an oil change, and you could take it to the MC to get that oil change. But…instead of telling you that the car needed an oil change, your cheater purposefully rammed it into an oak tree at 70 mph. Then did it again. Then again. And again. The entire time you were in the passenger seat. Without a seat belt on.

    Now the car is totaled, and you’re maimed and in need of emergency medical care. Yes, the car technically still needs that oil change from MC, but your gaping wounds and lacerations are more pressing, as is the fact that the car is a pile of twisted metal that can barely sputter down the street. And yet…your cheater keeps on driving that car…taking out mailboxes at 10 mph…insisting that the oil change will fix everything.

    See a doctor. Get bandaged up. Ditch the car. Ditch the driver.

    • A great analogy. I think my H would stay with me if I could just “forget” about it and “shut up” about it and move on. Buy his lame story about “they are just friends”.. without offering any proof (for example, if that were true, why not have the slut call me and reassure me? I mean, if they ARE just friends, what woman wouldn’t do that? I would. If I had a male friend whose wife thought I was banging him, I would make that right PRONTO. Not only for my friend, but for myself)- yet this doesn’t happen, despite me suggesting it over and over.

      He wants me to get back in the car without a seatbelt, without any care of my wounds. I am supposed to say that I was wrong to HAVE any wounds at all. No… my heart WASN’T ripped from my chest!

      He cannot and will not face the pain he’s caused me because he won’t admit he’s done anything. So convenient. It’s all in your head newchumpatl.. you are making a big deal out of nothing.. why can’t I have friends that are women.. why are you telling me who I can be friends with (translation- you aren’t the boss of me)?

      It’s exhausting. At least your XW admitted the affair, granted her behavior afterwords was horrible but at least you got an admission. Many of us never get the satisfaction of our partners of DECADES telling us to our FACE what they’ve done. Too cowardly.

      • Oh hell no.
        The slut in my particular story did precisely that: “You and him are great together! He’s not my type!” – while she was fucking my then-boyfriend.
        Nearly got homicidal when I found out what was REALLY happening though! (And this was through detective work, not by their fucking admission!)

    • I should add that both my wife and her AP are serial cheaters, having cheated on every significant other they ever had. Their current “relationship” will last as long as it takes for one of them to wander. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of “when.”

      • What a pitiful way to live your life. It’s one thing when you are 20 something and inexperienced, I could almost forgive OW if she were young and stupid.. but she’s over 40- and really, she ought to know better. She DOES know better, she just doesn’t care.

        Neither of them thought of anything but themselves. Not me, not my two sons, not extended family (H has family members not speaking to each other over this). They do not think of collateral damage at all because they are so self absorbed.

  • When my (now) ex-wife left the home, I was desparate to have her back. She had already coped to an EA with indications of another minimally EA present as well on top of that one. I knew she was going to cheat on me when she left and even pleaded with her NOT to do so. As I remember, she tearfully promised me she wouldn’t…and promptly broke that promise…surprise, surprise.

    We went through four MCs before the end. My ex-wife is a professional Marriage Counselor herself and ascribed to the school of Perel as far as affairs helping a relationship (“A cry for help” idea). It helped/helps me to remember her actions of ripping into me during multiple MC sessions then calling her lover who was hidden from me and the MC at the time. Pretty coldblooded.

    I am not anti-reconciliation. But I am anti-false reconciliation. Cheaters need to own their cheating 100% and need to come to reconcilation recognizing it is an extravagant gift they are getting from their spouse…nolt something they are owed.

  • Married 32 years, 27 years of reconciliation with a monster. I will never know if he was cheating during those years. It doesn’t matter. I was doing the two step pick me the whole time double time. Slowly but surely, the scales on my eyes fell as I realized, I was in a marriage alone with a guy who was lazy, only interested in his kids when there were kudos to be had, and abusive when anything rocked his little world. He has gone back to the original schmoopie and moving to eNVy. I count myself so lucky to have survived it, with a decent settlement, and another 30 years to go. (I am nearly 60). Just think of the life I can have.

    ps Here I thought the embroidery was done by Chump Lady, expanding her vast and mad skillz.

  • Best analogy I read about reconciliation is the plate theory. If you break a place and shatter it, you can try gluing it back together, but it will always just be a broken plate. I took that analogy and ran with it. There is not enough glue, therapy, or transparency that would ever allow me to trust my ex-h again. And as much as I hate the OW I feel like I should send her flowers for taking that asshole out of my life.

    Divorce hasn’t been easy and the kids and I struggle to this day, but now we struggle on our own terms. Had you told me 5 years ago that divorce would be the best thing that ever happened to me I would have said that you were nuts. Now I am frustrated at myself for hanging in there for so long. I realize that my fear kept me locked in a place of depression and anxiety. That is no way to live.

    To the new chumps, I’m sorry you are going through this, but try keeping the broken plate in mind. It will always be a broken and cracked.

    • I like this analogy! Only I’m going to pretend the plate broke because I winged it at his bald fucking head and then it bounced off and slammed into Florence Sluntingale’s old lady mushroom hairdo. Part of the reason I haven’t taken Asshat up on some of his (fake) sad offers to do *anything* is because I simply don’t believe or trust him anymore. And while we’re at it, I will pull a Homer Simpson and ask for glass plates, not so I can see the TV while licking the plate, but so we have some sort of transparency in this freaking house.

        • I rechristened her ‘Florence’ after months of being beyond pissed knowing the anger he took out on me and (very minimally, mostly just by not being present) our special needs 7 y.o. probably stemmed from his double life. Asshat is incapable of multitasking (literally cannot hear/answer a simple yes/no question while he’s texting away like a teenager) so why would he be able to handle the added stress of multiple lives? Taking the high road and eschewing the snark where she is concerned isn’t doing it for me. Awesome (“Patients love me!”) doctor banging a private/discreet (read: sneaky/deceitful) nurse – sigh.

          • I bet we all have “pet names” for our spouse’s affair partners, none of them nice. but that’s a whole other column.

            • In the first few days post D-Day when I was actually speaking to him about the REAL issue at hand. HIS cheating and imploding our family, not my complete failure as a gold-star issuing wife, I tried out ‘Whore’ and ‘Bendypornstar’ a few times but they didn’t work for me 😉 In the middle of night a couple of months ago, I read a funny post on here so that’s when I added the word ‘slunt’ to my already colourful vocabulary.

  • May I also add the fact that I became obsessed and turned into a snooping, marriage police fool. And of course, it was obvious that the affair was still going on, but the OW was more than willing to accept a second seat for a while. Then the OW would apparently get impatient and pull a shitty that would upset the whole delicate balance of our reconciliation! GAG! Then he would try to deny the nasty little bitch was still waiting in the wings! It was awful! These idiots do not give a damn about the betrayed spouse or the family that they are systematically destroying! It’s “fun” for them! Trust me, just get rid of the dead weight and let it go! Life is much better on the other side of their warped fantasy!

  • After a year of separation, things were finally looking up. We reconnected over the holidays(2013). My doctor’s office called me in January(2014) to let me know I had the clap.

    It STILL took me 6 months to ask for a divorce. Slow learner…

    • Well that sucks! WTF? Some sort of fucked up Happy New Year chump gift! These assholes should be shot or tortured till WE feel good too! So sorry this happened to you!

      • It was even more thoughtful. I was on a really strong immune suppressant at the time. He spent about an hour and a half trying to convince me he had no idea how it could have happened. I think that was what finally emptied my spackle bucket.

        • I’m so sorry! Like this stuff isn’t frightening enough. I, too, am on a powerful immunosuppressant and a second ‘weaker’ one. Asshat’s a physician, who prescribes these meds to his own patients, but he has never ONCE acknowledged the added danger he put me in. Gah!

  • I’m not sure I ever entered a “reconciliation” phase. Once the first cat was out of the bag, it was like a stream of cats. I was shell shocked to find out that what I thought was one emotional affair, was actually much bigger. Every time he told me “that’s all… that’s everything” I’d find out about another affair, and more sordid details.

    We may have had a chance if he had been honest, but I’ve come to learn that honesty is impossible for him. He loves the lie. He loves the secrets. It’s all very sickening.

    • Trickle truth sucks. Mine did that too. And each time he vowed that was all of it. Until the next time he spewed out more info. I actually think he got a thrill out of it. The therapist told him to stop doing it because each time, it reset me back to DDay. He told cheater he would work with him to document everything and they would present it to me at one time. But cheater lied to him and told him there was nothing more to tell. And then I found out about the prostitutes. The end. oh, and the therapist apologized to me.

      • Yup, trickle truth Sucks with a capital S.
        During (false) marriage counseling, exH told me, in consecutive weeks:
        Yes, there was an affair 13 yrs before as suspected, just an EA, but he loved her
        He has feelings for a woman at the new workplace
        By feelings, he loves her more than the first one, 13 yrs before, but it is not an affair; they have not done anything wrong, but the marriage was over years ago
        Finally, yeah, affair from 13 yrs ago was physical, but only 1x (uh, huh.).

        • It is disheartening to see so many horrible stories about trickle truth. I know virtually nothing about the (one and only if you believe it) affair and unless it is going to help the postnup/divorce, I don’t much care at this point. But I do wonder if and when I will hear more and worry that it will get to me. Asshat’s dad was also a much beloved doctor who liked nurses and had no concept of boundaries.

          ItsAJourney, the image of a ‘stream of cats’ this morning made me snort fluoride rinse out my nose. Maybe it was because I was operating on four hours’ sleep.

  • May 2014: out of the blue, says he wants out. Shocked, I negociate, and learn about his holiday schmoopie, but view it as a single mistake in 15 years, which I can accept. New arrangement: he gets an appartment close to work, and comes home on weekends and days off, he expects us now to travel around, he wants pictures of every city.

    The reconciliation year that follows:
    – I go to beauty parlors, hair salons, buy new clothes, but never get a compliment
    – I take care of everything as usual, but I am on my own all week, and very miserable
    – I have to use Skype to chat with him every night (he likes to show that he can be trusted)
    – My heart beats and I hold my breath till I’m blue while I do research on the Internet, and I find a lot of clues
    – I discover that it was a 3-year affair, with a middle-aged plain Russian woman
    – it was twu luw, she dumped him for another (Russian women have several preys in parallel)
    – He expects me to help him recover from heartbreak
    – He gets up during the night and hides to *%rbate with his phone in the other hand
    – I find a letter written to his rival, where he says he intended to marry the woman in May 2015
    – He checks his phone all the time, wants me to believe he checks the news / the weather / the time
    – Weekends are frustrating, it’s drive, walk, drive, walk…
    – I cannot find free time to do what I want
    – Sometimes he says mean things to me, gets aggressive

    May 2015: he asks me to take a 2-week vacation to help a single Russian lady discover our area !!!! Turns out he lured her with the photos we took on weekends, she bought a plane ticket from Moscow thinking he was single, they talked on Skype behind my back.He warned her of my existence only a week before she arrived. Weirdest moment: picking her at the airport, where she was wearing 12cm stilettos.

    Year wasted. On another hand, it was easy to push him out, this reconciliation year was so disgusting.

    • Wow… what a story. And what a POS!!!!! I think we chumps are usually good people who want to live our marriage vows and who are forgiving, and often, that means we get taken MORE advantage of. You are mighty!!!

  • Here’s what reconciliation will get you:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3149877/Nobel-prize-winning-novelist-Mario-Vargas-Llosa-leaves-wife-Patricia-Enrique-Iglesias-mother-Isabel-Preysler.html

    In April he reportedly told his spouse of half a century: ‘It’s not a fling like the other times, Patricia, this time it’s for real, and when I get back to Madrid, I’ll be leaving our house.’ He is said to have added: ‘I’m done. Now I feel what happiness is. I don’t have much time left.’

    • “a fling like the other times”… reminds me of my Cheater saying in high melodramatic voice, “I don’t even know if it’s REAL with her, Muse, or just, just just… just another THING!” That should have been a clue to the truth I discovered six months after D-Day that this wasn’t his first affair.

  • Esther Perel is an idiot who would say/do anything to get published and make a few bucks. Same with those other “better marriage after infidelity” shysters.

    But that said, my husband had an affair fifteen years ago and we are still together. It took a lot of work to get to where we are now, and he did almost all of it. We are happy, and I would say our marriage is good considering the adultery that nearly destroyed it. But not better than it would have been without the cheating. It wasn’t perfect before the affair and it certainly isn’t perfect now. Our family, especially our two children, was emotionally damaged in a way that can never be completely healed. Once betrayal happens it changes things forever. There is no going back to what you had before.

    Every single time I read that “better marriage after adultery” crap I wonder how bad would it have to be to be IMPROVED by infidelity? And if it WAS that bad why on earth would anybody stay in that kind of marriage long enough to be cheated on?

    • Wow, Patty…. I think you are me 9 years in the future. We are 4 years into reconciliation, and I wholeheartedly agree with you that betrayal changes things forever, and that hearing the “better marriage after adultery” makes me totally enraged. My husband also did/had done/is doing most of the work to repair our marriage, as he was mostly responsible for destroying it. I don’t yet know how this will play out for our 3 children, now 10-14-16. I hope by getting them into therapy up front, and being honest with them about the reason dad didn’t live with us for a while, and why he was permitted to move back in, will provide them with some resiliency, and understanding of boundaries and consequences, but that is still a hope for now. We are content and get along for the most part, although there are still days and triggers that set me off. I do not celebrate our wedding anniversary any more, as it is too painful to me.

      For those that are interested, the work my husband did included: initiating MC for us and IC for him, including a psychiatrist. We saw the MC for 3 years!! and he saw 2 different ICs for a total of 3.5 years. Still seeing the psychiatrist quarterly for med management. Part of this process has been a diagnosis of bipolar, and medication, which has made a huge difference. He did not want to take the meds at first. I said he could be unmedicated and divorced, or medicated and possibly still married, and I began speaking to divorce attorneys. He took the meds and now says he wishes he had used medication for years. He is now 100% responsible for maintaining his mental health, as I am not his mommy, his therapist, or his boss. On the home front, I drew firm boundaries about his equal participation in the life of our children, and in the management and maintenance of our house and family life, and he is now participating as an equal partner, something he did not do for the 17 years of our marriage prior to DDay. He has left social media and has no locks on any electronics, which I may choose to pick up from time to time to peruse (I don’t do this much as I resent being marriage police, but need to remind him every now and then that I will do it.) He lived out of our house for several months, and had to earn his way back home, which included apologies to me, our children, and my family (parents and siblings). He got a vasectomy, something he had resisted for years. (To be clear, I didn’t require a vasectomy — just said that I was through with chemical birth control forever. He could have chosen condoms.) He got regular STD tests. I set up a separate bank account for myself that he is aware of but does not have access to, while retaining my name on all of our joint accounts. He has greatly reduced his fitness and workout schedule, and scaled back on running races, which used to dominate all of our family free time. I now claim time to work out or go to yoga several times a week, something I was never able to do bc I was always holding down the fort. And he understands that this is the only reconciliation opportunity he will ever get. One more EA or AP, and he’s out the door, with immediate NC.

      So CL, you asked what does real reconciliation look like? Well at least my case, it looks like that. Doubt Esther would be pestered for glamorous TED talks and NYT interviews on that narrative.

      • I imagine that if reconciliation could work at all, it would look something like this. Still A Chump, I wish you the best. Hold those boundaries! You’ve given him more than he deserves.

  • Oh, reconciliation!!! Does it count as reconciliation when you are the only one working to reconcile?

    My reconciliation consisted of feeling that the unicorn was attainable and putting every ounce of my soul in trying to save a marriage that wasn’t salvageable. Reconciliation consisted of giving in to his every whim, breaking my back trying to please him, doing the pick me dance, and giving up my soul for someone who had nothing to give in return.

    When I realized the unicorn was really dead, reconciliation became the fun times of crying in the bathroom each night, checking phone records, wondering who he was texting on the phone, trying to sneak a peek at the phone that was locked down, rethinking and reframing every action and word from his mouth, and becoming a person I did not want to be.

    One of the biggest regrets and one of the things I hate him for the most is the false reconciliation time. I know he enjoyed my dancing and loved the kibbles while still enjoying the affair with the OW. If I could take it back, I would have thrown him out the day I found out about the affair. Thankfully I wasted less time than many other chumps, but the hit to my self-esteem by “auditioning” to see if I still deserved the role of wife was a dagger to my heart.

    I wish I had found CL a little sooner, but thankfully after DDay2, I found this site and started to realize my worth. It is not easy, but nothing good in life ever is…and I consider it good that I “left a cheater, and gained a life.”

  • As a chump, this is my perspective on Ester’s statements:

    “An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth”

    Agreed. I have learned a lot since discovering that my now-ex is a serial cheater, masterful liar, and manipulator, among other things. My knowledge has expanded to the extent that I now recognize his attempts to further manipulate me and triangulate me and my daughter. I ignore these attempts by turning the conversation elsewhere if I engage in conversation with him at all. I have ‘grown’ as a person and am much closer to being mentally healthy since his destructive behavior and abusive treatment is gone from my daily life.

    “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime”

    It’s certainly not murder but it is one of the worst types of betrayal. Unless someone has personally experienced it, they certainly cannot claim to understand it and frankly shouldn’t attempt to speak as if they do.

    “The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

    My daughter and I are getting stronger every day and we are much happier than we were when cheater’s toxic lifestyle was present in our daily lives. She spends time with her dad but it’s on her terms, when she wants and for how long she wants. As for me, I don’t know what my future holds but it’s certainly better than if I had stayed in that relationship. I didn’t know that then but I do now. I agree that am coming out of this a much stronger and resilient person.

    One last comment – I’m glad I attempted reconciliation with cheater. I knew I was willing to do whatever was needed for our relationship and family, just as I had always been. But in doing so, I realized the type of person he really was simply by noticing the huge discrepancy between his actions and words. I was able to walk away from him knowing that I had done what I could and not feel guilty at all.

    • Byebyecheater,
      You say it very well -although an incredibly painful and disappointing process, if we chumps make our journey a true learning process, then it sets us up for better future relationships and healthy boundaries. Sounds like you set a great example for your daughter of how to approach such a situation.

  • I tried to R. Never was able to get past the sex act of him w his lover. Could never put myself in “her” place. He never could understand it. When his answers are, “We each had sexual partners before we married and it wasn’t a problem.” OMG!!!

    He protected her to the nines when I first found out. He played the”victim” role sooo well, and his answers to me, “I didn’t know how or what to do, or how toget thu this mess.”

    My marriage was good, I was blindsided , it was a 30 yr marriage. He and anyone who knows us, knew we were good. It was he who went into midlife crises telling me I just don’t understand where he was coming from when he was so vulnerable.

    All he wants is the marriage back. He’s is doing everything humanly possible to do so that he knows how to in his way, but it the betrayal that can never be taken back.

    Sadly, we both still love each other, and when I ask him when we are “discussing” our situation what do you want from me? Your OW was crying on your shoulder bc her hubby had cheated on her!! What about me??? Did you think I was made of steel? Do you think it wouldn’t effect me? His answers, “I thought our love for each other would get us thurough, you can even ask her, she’ll tell you how much I loved you. She was jealous of you, and the love I have for you.”
    My response, OMG!! Was that before you fucked horror after?

    His affair was for a yr and half. We stayed together for 6 months, my anger couldn’t take it anymore and I asked him to move away to I could heal without looking at him always. It’s been 4 yrs and we are still living apart but in limbo hell.

    Meanwhile I met another man and started to see him. Hubby does not know, no one does, as I am fearful financially as I am completely depended on my husband and am afraid he’ll turn on me. I feel very guilty now as if I am now the cheater .., it’s all so fucked up…
    What was once I good life is anything but.

    • “Did you think I was made of steel ?” Good question, they do behave as if we are not hurt, it doesn’t make sense.

    • ‘fucked horror’ lol. That is what they both are – a complete horror. I am worried Asshat will not be as generous as he has promised all along and fear that battling it out will mean I will be alone for more of what’s left of my non-limping days. I feel totally superficial but I admit it, I want to be in a (functional) relationship with a (functional, ie no cocktail of Viagra and Cialis required) nice guy. Adultery is a felony here so I guess I share my bed with an old, snoring cat (who held down Asshat’s ankle and chomped down hard on his Achilles’ tendon the first time he stayed over all those years ago) until things are final. And what is it with these creeps who think that once they say sorry a dozen times you can unsee the ‘horrors’ they were up to. Gross! Reconciliation is so not for me so I am choosing to leave him to the awesome bed he made with whoever he has in it as long as said person gets nowhere near my vulnerable child. May you find peace with the slimeball soon 🙂

  • Well, since my XH refused MC (read: I-will-have-to-give-up-cake-eating-if-I-go), I didn’t have that experience. Instead, I turned into a Super-Amazon-Chump! (I just checked my Kindle, and I have 40+ downloaded books/book samples that pertained to his behavior. Fortunately, one of them was CL’s book.)

    Later, after I moved out, I was encouraged to attend something known as Beyond Betrayal. I may be wrong, but when I asked what the format was about, I was under the impression that they looked at the cheating spouse as someone who has a sickness (ala Poor-Sad-Timid-Forest…..). I was still in that awful process of waiting for the divorce to go through, and I felt that going into the program at the time would be akin to being strapped into a seat that was about to go into the Haunted Mansion ride, but not the entertaining one at Disneyland. Also, I didn’t agree with the philosophy that was offered to me about BB. The cheater is not “poor-sad-sick”. They are “entitled” to throw their wedding vows and marriage under the bus (or logging truck in my neck-of-the-woods), so they can continue to scarf down kibbles (or whatever) at the all-you-can-eat-Strange-buffet.

  • My D-Day was the most nightmarish thing I’ve ever been through. That morning, the X holds my face in his hands, looks into my eyes and says, “I love you so much, baby” and kisses me. Two hours later, I find him in a hotel room with the butter-faced whore.

    And that’s what these “therapists” don’t understand. This shit is soul-crushing. Yeah, yeah, it’s just a little betrayal, you’ll get over it. But no really . . . my D-Day was worse than when my mother died. I feel funny saying that, but I couldn’t control that, and neither could she. But that betrayal? That was a carefully orchestrated series of lies and duplicity so that this man, who I considered my best friend in the world and love of my life, could buy more time to fuck me over emotionally AND financially. You don’t get past that overnight. And God help you if you don’t find a decent therapist.

    I got lucky there. I found one within two weeks that was fully supportive and never once suggested reconciliation, not that I had that option in the first place. He told me, once you break trust, you can’t get that back. That guy saved me years of anguish by just calling a betrayal a betrayal and helped me concentrate on looking forward. This site really saved me as well. I remember after I found it, I went skipping to the therapists office with a couple printouts of particularly fun posts. He loved it.

    Fuck reconciliation. In my opinion, it’s better to just rip the band-aid off and deal with the burn. I can’t reconcile with someone who wanted to destroy me. That would destroy me.

    Good luck to the new chumps. Don’t waste any of your precious time on this planet trying to fix something you had no control over breaking.

    • Oh I know exactly what you mean… My mom died 8 weeks before my DDay. I couldn’t even moure my mom death, before I was hit w hubby affair.
      I could deal better w losing my mom, as she suffered so much, and there is closure and support, and help… Family support to get through. With infidelity, until you go through it yourself, no one truely understand how much it sucks, hurts, and so painful to go through.

      I wish now I put in my marriage vows,”if you cheat, don’t ask to come back as it is way to painful.”

  • My two attempts at fixing my marriage, were of pretty short duration. I guess they could be called attempts at reconciliation.

    The first was when I gave him three days to make up his mind, who he wanted, me or the OW. We had a special Alanon meeting we went to. It was sort of like a date. Once a week, it was our one special time. That day I was due to chair the meeting. He knew this. That was when Schmoopie showed up. She plunked her skank butt down next to him and proceeded to snuggle, and pat his thigh….all through the meeting. All of the people there knew he and I were married. They kept looking at them, and then at me. As I watched the show, I decided I was going to hang on to whatever shreds of dignity I had left, and chair the goddamn meeting to the best of my ability. Well I did, and afterwards I went into the ladies room to cry for a few minutes. Then I splashed some cold water on my face, and went out to meet the enemy. They were saying their fond goodbyes on the porch as I walked by, ignoring them, and got into the car. When cheater ex got in beside me, I turned to him, and told him…..”You want her, you’ve got her. Let’s go home and pack your shit!” He was all….”Wait a minute, wait a minute, you have to give me some time to make up my mind.” I told him…Fine, you’ve got three days.” Unfortunately he picked me. Of course he didn’t stop seeing the OW skank, and she later dumped him because he was not making enough money to support her in a style she would like to become accustomed to. Yep, true wuv at it’s finest. That was when I knew it was time to start laying the groundwork to get my boys and I the hell out of there.

    The second was a one time visit to an MC. The MC refused to address the issue of his girlfriend. It was the standard of what I could do to make cheater ex happy in our marriage. I kept saying “What about his girlfriend? He is cheating.” The MC refused to even comment on cheater ex’s infidelity. ” We’re not discussing that now.” I was so angry and traumatized that to this day I don’t remember much of that session. I just remember that cheater ex spun it so everything was all MY fault, and he was as pure as the driven snow. Of course his take was that I was the one abusing him. And he told everyone who would listen. When I refused to go back to that MC, he told everyone that I was the one cheating and wasn’t even trying to save the marriage. All behind my back, naturally, controlling the narrative. Asshole.

    At that point I was done, in every way possible. I was just trying to finish nursing school, and get my nursing license so I could support my boys. We coexisted in the same house, but that was about all. I refused to sleep in the same bed with him, or even talk to him much at all that except for daily family business.

    Eventually cheater ex alluded to the fact he was thinking about killing me and my sons and then killing himself. That’s when I got a restraining order and left with my boys, after some feverishly desperate preparation on my part to be able to rent a place for us and move. I faithfully followed every recommendation of my women’s advocate to try to keep us all safe. Cheater ex’s equally disordered family got into the act. They wanted him to divorce me for the longest time. He filed. I got the best lawyer I could afford through the women’s center. She was a pit bull, thankfully. I got physical and legal custody of my boys and a little bit of child support. I also got the house. The judge refused to grant supervised visitation. That enabled cheater ex to kidnap an murder my youngest son five months later. True to his word he also killed himself.

    Reconciliation is just giving them more time to screw you over in my book. Cheaters actions prove their poor character. Poor character is much more about what they are, the basis of what they do. Shitty actions are fixable, shitty character is not. Especially if the bearer of said shitty character sees nothing wrong with it. Reconciliation is a waste of the chumps valuable time and gives the cheater more time to abuse you. My opinion is that reconciliation is a farce and a huge waste of time and money.

    • OH my gosh Tessie, I am so sorry for your loss and pain. I can’t even imagine. You are a mighty woman and I am in you awe.

    • Tessie that is a level of abuse that is just awful – did you know he was capable of that and did that judge get to know about what happened?
      You are completely right that shitty actions are fixed but shitty character cannot be.
      I wasted 5 years ‘reconciling’. It was a whole other level of humiliation and abuse, and I did it to myself – despite reading CL faithfully. Some Chumps just take a lot of time to get over the fear and drop the hopium pipe.
      One day at a time, Tessie x

    • Tessie, you’ve been through so much. What a nightmare! You are a pillar of strength. (((big hug)))

  • Tessie, I have read your story before, but that still doesn’t prepare me for the almost physical slap in the face feeling I get when I read it. It’s just truly beyond words how evil this guy was. Prayers and hugs to you. Thank you for sharing.

      • Yes, Tessie, Everytime I read your story, I am amazed that you are still standing. That you can even write about that incubus (need more words in the English language to describe this guy). All I can do is send you love and blessings. How long ago did this happen? Much love

        • It will have been 24 years this month. A lot of time, yes, but some things change your life forever. I’m doing OK, except anniversary time, which will be July 26th or there about. (My son’s body wasn’t found for almost 2 weeks so I don’t know the exact date he was killed.) A few weeks around that date are still hard, and I find myself a bit raw this time of year.

          I cant tell you how much it means to me to be able to share. First it gives me hope that my story can save someone some measure of pain, or perhaps even save a life. Secondly, it lets me say to someone that yes, there was once a beautiful, handsome fourteen year old boy who was smart, and funny, who loved pancakes and coke,who pestered the living daylights out of his older brother. A handsome fourteen year old boy who grew tall and lanky in his last year, who had hair the color of caramel and eyes the color of milk chocolate, and who was loved, oh, so loved.

          I miss him every day.

          Thank you for letting me share, and thank you for your compassionate support. Hugs right back atcha.

          • Your live for him still shines through. I wish you love and support as you go through the grief of this upcoming month.
            It helps me to keep in mind that my paranoia may not be irrational, and that it’s okay to check the locks twice.

          • What a tribute to your son, Tessie. Thanks to the power of your beautiful words, many other people will now remember him as well. Thank you for that, and God bless.

            • There are no words, Tessie, I am so very sorry. I am in awe of your strength and willingness to share your story.

          • Tessie, your description of your beloved son brought tears to my eyes. I have lived through the pain of betrayal twice, but I cannot even imagine losing a child like that. That you can talk about it so sweetly and compassionately leaves me in awe. Hugs and kind thoughts to you, especially as this dreadful anniversary approaches.

          • I’m reading this years later and it makes my heart break.
            I’m so sorry for your loss…he sounds like he was a special kid.

  • Several people have mentioned that, although reconciliation was painful and failed to save their marriage, they are glad they went through it, with which I agree. Anyone feeling this way might be interested in an amazing TED talk by author Andrew Solomon titled,

    “How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Make Us Who We Are” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiM5a-vaNkg

    20 minutes but very much worth every bit of it. He does an amazing job of explaining how we often overcome abuse not by denying it or running away from it but by weaving it into a new identity. That’s how I feel now about infidelity, seven years after my first D-day. I am a better person, a better husband in my second marriage, a better father, a better friend. I never would have picked this path, but I now wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Nomar, that is how I feel as well. Although the bogus reconciliation was a huge mistake and a nightmare, I cannot say I am sorry that I did it, as the whole experience was necessary for my growth and my new life.

    • I have to agree with this post. I needed to try so I could look myself in the mirror, and my kids in the eyes, and know I gave our marriage my best shot. I learned, however, that you cannot save a marriage singelhandedly. I do not regret the year I took to set boundaries, observe and process before deciding I was done. I needed time to absorb the extent of the betrayal, see the pattern of behavior which did not match the words, and assess from the distance why I didn’t feel any different when he moved out.

      To this day, I know I could have found it in my heart to forgive him, if he has shown humility, consistent remorse, any sort of empathy for my feelings and a willingness to work hard to get me back. I never saw any of that so I felt, after 1 year of trying, that I could honestly say I tried but it wasn’t to be. After reading CL for the last several months, I see that I am not alone and that people who cheat seem to all be cut from the same cloth…People who are capable of affairs are not capable of humility, remorse, empathy and/or hard work.

      I am happier than I have been in years now that I am not longer married, but I still mourn the loss of my innocence, in believing that people are innately good and to be trusted. 17+ years is a long time to trust that someone is one person, and then find out you were married to a hologram. I did learn a lot during that ‘reconciliation’ year, and since..I learned how to stand up for myself, trust my gut, hold my head up high and show my 3 boys what a strong woman looks and acts like. Lessons learned indeed.

    • At the time, I thanked God for my reconciliation and was so glad to have a shot. I was willing to do ANYTHING to save my marriage. I thought that we were in “reconciliation” for 7 years between Dday and his death but shit I found in my house seems to indicate that the first 18 months of what I thought was our recon were quite likely a time of intense cake eating for him.

      He did a really crappy job of working towards real healing…there were excuses and more lies and blame and avoidance and refusal to go to counseling and very little remorse communicated to me. Him acting like nothing happened hurt 90% as bad as when he did it in the first place. It was a horrible reconciliation and I came to learn after his death that he was a serial cheater.

      The person I was then was not willing to “give up with out a fight”…the person I am today is amazed that I fought so hard to stay with a man who didn’t want me.

      I now fight with myself trying to figure out what I regret about the whole thing…the irony is that being married at the time of his death gave me everything free and clear (and a big life insurance pay out) and the suckness of our marriage taught me things about life and love that I was too shallow and immature to understand before.

      30 yrs ago I dated a great guy who I would have made a terrible wife to because his sweetness seemed dull and predictable. I would never have really appreciated him and taken everything he gave for granted. Im totally different now and Im going to marry this same sweet guy in 11 days and I will be a great wife to him now that I understand the real value of kindness and real true decency.

      My horrible experiences brought me to where I am now which is a really great place…I may need to watch that Ted talk

      • Congratulations! I think the big thing about chumps is that we can learn and grow. I wish you happiness and joy in your upcoming nuptials.

      • Congrats on your upcoming marriage! I wish you much joy and happiness in your life together!

  • By ‘Deadness” did she happen to mean …you may end up dead. That has been my experience with reconciling and his affair. We attempted to reconcile…he continued to screw around,take mutaul funds and live duplicitiously…he left again…he insisted on settling out of court…when I refused because he was acting irrational and extremely hostile… he beat the crap outa me and threatened to kill me in front of our child. So what grew? His hostility. What became stronger and resilient? My resolve in ending this fucking cluster.
    SHOVE. IT. UP. YOUR. ASS. ESTHER.

    • Agreed, also, I object to overwrought, flowery word usage as a method to sound smarter than she is and dress up her ideas as somehow intellectual.

    • Esther is an ass, “and often it will draw a couple out of a place of deadness”, if by that she means the chump gets away alive and suffering from PTSD, then yeah. But she doesn’t, cheating is a form of abuse and goes hand in hand with others, this the idiocy doesn’t get at all.

  • Well, the pros –

    Life is ‘back on track’ for my family. Kids are happy and secure.
    WIfe and I communicate very well. Total transparency. She is at home (her choice) having left the company she and her former affair partner/boss worked at (he was fired, eventually)…
    Day to day we are happy. I do believe she would never do anything like this again – if for no other reason than she saw the absolute catastrophe it created for so many people – herself included.
    She is honestly committed to us ‘growing old together’. Feels like we are best friends again, and our marriage comes first.

    But….

    I am still prone to bouts of internal questioning. Mostly ‘who is this person, really?’…
    Still on the rollercoaster questioning what I am doing, what should I be striving for, how many roads must a man walk down…

    This ‘experience’ has been hell. I still have dark times. I am forever changed. My kids were hurt. Many relationships have been damaged -some destroyed. BUT I also feel those relationships only suffered the consequence of me seeing some true colours and deciding I wouldn’t ‘play nice’ now that we are a couple again.

    Personally I am much more assertive now, and committed to being honest with myself (and then acting in a way that respects my own feelings). It has created some challenges but I wouldn’t change that aspect of the ‘new me’.

    So…. Being honest.

    I am doing well. My kids and family are doing great. This is what I want to do – be a good father and husband – and I am doing it. I will never look at my wife like I did pre-affair. She has been consistently ‘perfect’ since we decided to try again. But that can’t erase what I know she did. I still have issues to deal with.

    Yes we have grown. Yes I have changed for the better in some ways. I believe my wife has too. NO an affair was NOT necessary to accomplish any of this. NO I would not handle things exactly the same if I could do it again.

    The one certainty with affairs, whether you reconcile or divorce, seems to be PAIN. Lots and lots of pain. I think the best thing you can do is decide who you want to be and what you want to do going forward and then put your head down and do the work to get there. There will be pain no matter what, but it does seem to ease off with time – barring any surprises of course. Reconcilliation increases the risk of nasty surprises (I have had a few). That is the reality of trying that route.

    I know I am a bit all over the place – but that is a true reflection of me right now too!

    • Disclosure of affairs cause change – ripples or tsunamis. Please continue to go to counseling and take care of yourself and your kids. I can’t comment on your wife’s character but there are always reasons for cheating…sort of like the iceberg analogy.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Jobin. I want to believe reconciliation is possible. I want to believe people can change and grow. So your story gives me hope for human nature generally. But my heart goes out to you because I would never have the strength to walk the path you’ve chosen. I wish you peace and resilience and hope your spouse is grateful for the tremendous gift you have given her.

    • Jobin, thank you for that post. It expresses much of the same thoughts I have but with your unique perspective and eloquence.

    • You have stated what I was struggling to come up with. I haven’t had enough time to truly say that we are back on track. I know that I have been forever changed. Counseling is ongoing. And he understands that he is the beneficiary of grace and mercy. What I understand is that I have the absolute right to walk away. At the end of the day, however it works out, I will have a clear conscience.

    • I hope you have the Unicorn, I really do. Once upon a time I thought I did, 7 years into our relationship Saddam cheated, we worked through it and within 3 years I had regained my trust in him. 10 years later I found he was cheating again, and as a consequence discovered he’d never really stopped. the second time I realized I had wasted years believing in him when I should have quit the first time. And honestly? I never really felt safe with him after the first time, I convinced myself for a time that I was OK but I wasn’t, I stuffed all that for an amorphous “love” when there were so many other people in the world more deserving of that love that I so freely gave to a person who could not return it.

  • I will add to the chorus here…for those reading who might be newbies…that reconciliation does not work.

    After DDay 1, which on his part, was a sort of confession that the ExH was going through some stuff and that he was struggling and was damaged…and needed counseling. (There was no confession that he had cheated but I knew.) I supported that decision. Years go by and no counseling. In retrospect, the toll on me and my self esteem grows as he becomes a real pro at gas lighting and lying and cheating.

    Fast forward 6 years when he decided that he wasn’t happy and needed space to think. He said he would move out temporarily — right after my 40th birthday — because he couldn’t possibly leave me before my birthday. (I don’t know this but he moves into a house he bought with the OW.) Within 6 months, he wants to come back and work on things because he can’t imagine a life without me — and what a terrible time he has had living in a basement apartment. I agreed on the condition that we go for counseling together and I made that happen. During that time my stomach was in knots and his weird behaviour gets ratcheted up (almost like taunting) including increased times of being naked and refusing to have sex. (Meanwhile he is still fucking the the OW and being with her at parties with our mutual friends, etc. but comes back home to eat and sleep.)

    DDay 2 came 6 months later — forced by the OW who had had enough of his waffling and wanted him to commit to her.

    I continued to go the MC on my own — where the MC disclosed that the ExH came to see her and confessed (her advice to him was to tell me or counseling wasn’t going to work). I thank god for the MC. She was excellent and helped me navigate the waters after the divorce and the nut job that my ExH is.

    I will never ever understand why he wanted reconciliation.

  • There’s a lot of material in this small quote:

    “An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” Ms. Perel said in an interview.”

    1. Yes, an affair is an act of betrayal
    2. An experience of expansion and growth for whom? The cheater? Their brains are too soaked in chemicals to think straight, much less expand or grow. The cheatee? They have to expand and grow – they don’t get a choice.

    But it’s a stupid statement from the get go.

    “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime.”

    1. Of course it’s relational trauma.
    2. Yes, it’s not a crime (stricktly legally speaking, that is. Morally, of course it’s a crime)

    “The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient,”

    1. In the sense that everyone has to come out of the experience of having an affair or having a spouse or parent cheat, we all need to stay in one piece, okay. But it’s the individual’s involved (cheater, chump, any kids) who have to find their own strength to recover themselves. The family is destroyed by the “experience,” not made stronger by it. Her statement makes it sound like cheating can be a rewarding growth experience for all. So cheat! This isn’t the first “professional” to make such an idiotic rationalization for cheating. Some professionals are really not very bright, should quit, and probably do something like weave baskets at the bottom of swimming pools instead, where they can do little additional harm.

    2. What the hell does “more resilient” mean? More accepting of marital transgressions? Maybe welcoming of them??

    “and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

    Absolutely not. Absolutely never. Affairs are the cause of the deadness. And reconciliation is a cause of a slow, insidious deadness. Let me try to explain why I feel that way:

    I discovered my wife’s 11-year affair in early 2002. Hers was one of those mostly long-distance, on and off affairs that was “low key” enough that she never wanted to leave the marriage or spend long periods of time with her AP. When it started, they shared an office together, and so it was pretty intense over the first 4 years. Unbeknownst to me, the AP’s wife found out around late 1994 or 1995 and made him move with their kids 1000 miles away. So the affair was dormant for about 5 years until she hired him as a consultant in 2000. They were together twice in 2000-2001. After d-day, I found one of the RIC’s prominent websites and joined their forum, eager to find out what I’d done wrong and how I could win my wife back. There wasn’t that much talk of divorce on that forum, though there was some. But I thought I wanted reconciliation, so I worked at that for several years. I really think that it would have been far easier for me to make a decision if my wife had run off to live with the AP or her affair was otherwise more “in my face” than it was. So, in the end we recovered (the marriage, to make an important distinction between personal and marital recovery – and that we all have to recover personally). “Success” was probably about 4-5 years ago, or a good 8 years after d-day.

    And here’s where the deadness comes in. I’m reasonably content now, not because of the work I put into reconciling the marriage, or because it’s a really bitchen’ marriage, but because of the personal recovery I had to do anyway (well, I suppose going bonkers would have been an option, however undesirable that would be). I’m an individual (well, I always was, but now I prioritize my values and my own emotional health before my marriage), and would like to believe I’m reasonably healthy emotionally now. But my wife’s affair didn’t make me stronger, I did. And it certainly didn’t make our marriage stronger. Now, if I believed that romance could restore the giddy honeymoon phase from 40 years ago and keep us drooling and giggling hysterically for the rest of our lives, I suppose I could self-soak my brain in natural chemicals and try to sustain that for while. But realistically? Being an emotionally healthy individual is much more rewarding to me. I can treat my wife like I do everybody else – with the kind of respect I would like in return. But she can never un-cheat. Who I thought she was all those years never existed. What I have instead is someone who wanted to have an affair and did. That fact will never go away. Do I have a good marriage now? Most people think so. But what they’re seeing in me (at least, I won’t speak for my wife) is someone who does the things he does for his wife because he wants to. The marriage is pretty different for me now. In many ways, it’s more a friendship than a marriage. We support one another’s carreer and hobby goals, and enjoy time together.

    …but that deadness will never go away.

    I should have divorced 13 years ago, but I didn’t. So I make the best of my life as it is now, and that’s not as bad as this narrative might imply to someone in the trenches now. It’s actually a pretty good life for me, but I have the advantage of the perspective of looking back on the things I’ve learned and the values I’ve lived by. I’m not interested in starting over. If I had divorced, I don’t think I’d be interested in remarrying, though early post d-day I thought I would have wanted to.

    -ol’ 2long

    • Like a cardiac patient, you survived and decided it’s OK, even if you are living with half a heart. You should have posted this to begin with 2long. It doesn’t sound like happy but we all have different levels, it really doesn’t sound like you are content, but maybe you do belong with Chump Nation, maybe you’ll get help here too. Jedi hugs.

      • Thanks for the kind words, Datdamwuf. I get my greatest rewards from knowing who I am and how I relate to important people around me – kids, extended family, friends. That includes my wife, though it isn’t the marriage I thought I wanted. It’s not quite like we’re starting a relationship after she had another one, either, because of that cheating thing. More like I retracted my boundaries a lot. Perhaps “living with half a heart” describes it well enough, I suppose.

  • My ex wanted to reconcile after six months of separation. It was pretty much out of the blue, he said he didn’t want to be like the doctor in the movie Fire Proof. I stupidly took him back, even though he didn’t even bother to say he loved me and really wanted to be with me, nothing like that. He just thought it was the “Christian thing to do.”

    Anyway, it turned out that he was pulling a con game on me. He wanted to reconcile because I was training for a new career, and he intended for me to work full time and support him while he tried to become an actor, and also I was supposed to save our house from foreclosure. The whole bogus reconciliation was about $$$, he saw a chance to have me support his deadbeat ass and I am positive he was still cheating throughout that awful time as well.

    The emotional abuse ramped up steadily through the eight months I stuck it out, and included some genuinely bizarre scenes. I finally had enough and told my attorney to continue with the divorce when ex said that he saw no reason to work on marriage if I wouldn’t accept him without a job.

    It’s been three years since our divorce was final. I thank God I am no longer married to that man, he is a pathological liar and cheater with no hope of ever changing or becoming normal.

  • Esther the Emotional Molester writes: “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime.”

    As if “crime” is the only reason to leave a spouse? I guess I misheard my wedding vows. I thought there were promises to love, honor, and cherish, and forsake all others. But I guess we actually promised to stay together unless the other was charged, tried, and convicted of a crime against us. Wow. My bad.

    Straw man much, Ester?

  • I reconciled with Mr. Cheaterpants for what seemed like good logical reasons…We had a daughter in college and a teen son with developmental disablitities… I had stopped working outside of the home when it became evident that our son was going to need more help and because Mr. Cheaterpants kept getting fired and made geographic moves to escape his own reputation. 6 major geographic moves in 25 years of marriage.

    He also had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, one that statistically should have killed him in under two year, but as luck would have it, a new targeted therapy put him in remission for about 10 years. When he was fired from his last job that was actually located close to our families and world class oncological care, he sought a job 1500 miles away. I asked him to keep looking for a better job that was closer to family and the services I knew he would need. Instead, he decided that he needed a new girlfriend and to party.

    Cancer is weird. Some people gather strength from family and loved ones, my Cheaterpants decided he wanted to go out in a blaze of debauchery. The drug that was extending his life did not mix well with alcohol, but he convinced himself otherwise. His shiny new girlfriend had told him that she had herself routinely checked for STD’s so it was ok to have unprotected sex with her. He was out every weekday evening gambling and drinking with shiny new girlfriend, despite the fact that he had a compromised immune system.

    My immediate reaction was to dump him and get on with my life. Then I tried to be cold and calculating and figured that the Cancer would kill him sooner than later and that I’d be damned if I’d share any marital assets with the shiny new girlfriend.

    So I put on my bitchpants and bellied up to the shit sandwich buffet and ‘reconciled’ with Mr. Cheaterpants. Who, poor sausage, was cranky with me because I didn’t pull the plug on our marriage. As much as he said he would ‘return’ to the marriage if I wanted to, he was there only as a place holder…..He continued to sneak around and write really bad poetry to shiny new girlfriend and moon and sigh about her wonderfulness. He lasted another 7 years… had the crystal ball been working and I had known it would be that long and that I would have to put up with him mourning for his schmoopie for all that time I would have ditched his sorry ass before I got to nurse him through a very messy end…4 surgeries in 12 months, 2 months on hospice at home.

    The only thing that saved this mess for me, was that our daughter was able to spend time with her dad without the presence of the bimbo from hell, and that my financial assets did not have to be shared with her either.

    I hope she takes a nice long vacation on the North Carolina Coast and takes a big swim while she’s there.

    • Don’t count on that making any difference. I live in Wisconsin,and the lawyer I consulted actually laughed when I asked him about the possibility of charging my wife and one of her lovers with adultery. Hell, the city of Milwaukee police chief had an affair with a reporter several years ago. They both admitted the affair publicly when caught,but as far as I know, there was never any thought about charging them. This yahoo also just got reappointed police chief recently. Character just doesn’t matter anymore.

      • I, too, am in one of the states where adultery is illegal. It was stricken from the books in ’71 and brought back in ’72. Every once in awhile you read about it being enforced. My lawyer didn’t laugh but steered the conversation away from it because it will be waste of time for me to pursue that. Just because the law may be on your side doesn’t mean much. So when I’m unable to sleep, I sometimes read the statute and laugh at how embarrassing it would be for him for everyone to read in the paper that he was being fined and/or sent to the hoosegow for up to three years. If only….

        • Adultery laws are not enforced, I included it in my filing because the one thing it does in my state is ensure you do not have to pay alimony, at least usually. Worked for me. The bitch kitty is that you can’t get that out for abuse, only for adultery, it’s left over from the days when only men could file for that.

          • That’s great that it kept you from having to pay alimony! My lawyer made sure I am citing it as the reason in order to bolster demands re: support but as far as the fines and jail time are concerned, it’s no biggie in the eyes of the law here.

  • I did “reconciliation” for 2.5 years. Wasted years spent reading relationship books, etc.

    What can I say? I am too stubborn and hard-headed for my own good sometimes, and I fell for the same schtick most fall for if they do the “reconciliation” zombie dance.

    I really do blame myself for not placing a higher value on myself in my ex-marriage. That’s my bad. Not ever going to do that again.

  • Our reconciliation might have stood a chance had he stopped screwing other women. Cheaters don’t want to stop cheating; they want to stop *being held accountable for* cheating.

    • “Our reconciliation might have stood a chance had he stopped screwing other women.”

      I think about my failed reconciliation in the same way (replacing he with she and women with men), Vixen, and yet really isn’t this like saying, “Our circus juggling act might have been a great success if only that snake could’ve grown arms and learned to handle bowling pins.”

      Most of the time reconciliation is doomed because the cheater isn’t constituted in a way that allows them to do the hard work of remorse, empathy, and re-building trust. At some point, we are unreasonable for expecting them to be other than their nature.

      • Yes, exactly. My statement was meant to be tongue in cheek, like “I might have stood a chance of not drowning, if I only I had gills.” Or “He might have stood a chance of not crashing the car, if only he knew how to drive.” Cheating is like that. You might have a chance of surviving infidelity, if only infidelity does not exist.

        • I hear you. I’m just wary of that trap of thinking we were “this close” pulling off reconciliation, playing the “if only” game, imagining that your life turned upside down over some freakish anomaly. When in fact it was never close and it just took us chumps way too long to recognize what should’ve been obvious.

  • I’m one of the unicorn reconsilers. It’s been 2.5 yrs and one difficult road for both of us. It really shocks me that people say the marriage is better than ever since the affair. I completely disagree, except for the fact he’s totally engaged in our marriage again. The OW still works at our hospital, but after several awkward moments of seeing her, the head of the department told her to stay away from our area. It is hard to see her car, and occasionally her, but my H has been very supportive. She really scared and angered him when he decided to break it off with her and stop our divorse, so now he’s just ashamed for ever being with her, because he saw her true ugly side. The postnup is a must. My friend calls it my insurance policy that if he cheats again I’m out no more chances. ‘m trusting more, but it will never be like before. IVe lost the googlely love feelings that I had before the affair, and I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that way about him again. We have been enjoying our lives, families, and friends and he seems so happy. I may be one of the chumps who in a few more years are sorry I stayedinmy marriage, but for me now I’m happy with my choice and continue my journey with Chumplady by my side.

    • LivingMyLife, I was wondering about you, haven’t seen you on the forums in a while. I hope you got the unicorn, I me gals you have the postnup if you don’t. Jedi hugs girl!

  • I entertained reconciliation for less than a week after DDay. Thankfully, I walked away. I have absolutely no regrets, and I have no doubt that my ex would have put me through hell if I had attempted to reconcile (not to mention either take his A underground or resume it at some point in the future).

    I don’t really see much point in it. We have so many options these days, divorce being one of them. I once saw an article that talked about how affairs were about acting as though the betrayed partner doesn’t even exist. My ex certainly treated me as though I were nothing– that he couldn’t even be bothered to use a condom when he slept with his Ashley Madison special spoke volumes to me about how little I meant to him. I had no desire to stay with that.

  • I did reconciliation for almost 3 years. I was lucky enough to have our pastor as a MC, and he in no uncertain terms told us both that this was in no way my fault, this was ALL on him, X agreed, and we stayed in MC for a year. Pastor told us that adultery was the only crime punishable by death in the Bible. Even some murders are handled by paying people off. I’m not saying that’s right, but amusing non-the-less. He also told us the root sin of adultery is the same root sin of child-molestation (which he considers the worst possible thing you can ever do to a person-even death can be kinder)—which is selfishness! You want what you want and you don’t care who you hurt in the process. I love my Pastor!

    To be honest, though I think he was sincere in his initial attempts, I don’t think he has it in him to be honest and put the work in that was needed to make me feel secure and loved, and he didn’t try very hard for very long. I once told him (truthfully) that since the initial affair I did not have a single 5 minutes of security, or real happiness. He said he didn’t know what to do about that and didn’t try. He made me feel horribly guilty any time I brought up the affair or my insecurities because of it.

    I am not sorry I tried it however. I showed my kids that you don’t give up, how to forgive, and that I, as a christian, was willing to give 100% to the marriage. I agree however that God in no way wants us to live in a marriage of lies and deceit,

    Second affair? Your done. Then I showed my kids that I am no doormat, and that standing up for what you deserve is also important. I think if I hadn’t tried I would always wonder if I should have, and now I don’t question my decisions at all.
    On 2nd Dday I threw him out, 3 weeks later I retained a lawyer, and I just scheduled mediation for this Friday! If it goes smoothly I hope to be divorced by fall, and the locks changed before the ink is dry on the papers..

    • Carry, I too am a Christian. When I found out that my (Christian?) husband was entertaining and having lunches with a woman in the back room of his store seven months ago, I wanted to file for divorce. I had already put up with his porn off and on for 9 years and flirting with his female customers. He had a history of adultery during his first 20yr marriage that I found out about shortly after our marriage.

      I went to the Lord and this is what I got: Luke Ch 13…Parable of the “unfruitful fig tree” which basically says; There was a landowner who had a fig tree in the middle of his vineyard. He went for three years in a row to get fruit, but found none. Being angry, he told the vine keeper to cut it down being it was just taking up space. But the vine keeper suggested that he fertilize it and wait until the next harvest season to see if that would produce fruit before giving it the axe.” Paraphrased.

      So my understanding was that the Lord wanted me to wait one year before filing. I also had another problem…I did not want to have sex with this man when I had no idea of what he had actually done with that woman….plus, I never liked having sex with a mechanical porn sucking robot in the first place. So again, I went to the Lord to ask if I could just stop having sex while waiting the year out. He said: “the rain falls on the Just and the Unjust”. Which meant that He understood, but I was supposed to continue putting out regardless. I did not like that or understand…but I went along with it regardless.

      Then two weeks later, my husband suggested we start doing “fun things” and brought home board games for us to play in the evenings (we never had a TV). But I figured that having “fun” was not what would keep him from straying or to repenting…it never did a thing to prevent his cheating on his ex wife…nor from spending the wee hours of the morning on porn in our marriage either. I declined the offer and suggested we “reacquaint” ourselves with the Bible…something we never did during the entire marriage. Every night we read…starting from the beginning. We read aloud taking turns and discussing each chapter as we go along. My husband started to get an idea about the character of God that he never had seen before. He has become very concerned about HIS character for the first time since I have known him.

      After 5 months of reading the Bible however, I caught my husband trying to get me to have sex with him after viewing a rather risque video…twice. He figured it did not qualify as being anything near porn…so therefore okay. But the effects of him suddenly wanting sex with me after viewing it made me feel USED and insulted. So I went back to the Lord and asked AGAIN if I could stop having sex until this whole thing is settled one way or another. The Lord said: “there is a time for everything under the sun…a time to embrace, and a time to withhold from embracing”. Ecclesiastes. OH YEAH!!! So this is where we are now…separate bedrooms for the last two months…me storing up cash for my possible “exit” and yet still reading the Bible each night together. We get along very well in spite of no sex. This is probably why the Lord had me wait to pull the plug on sex…because my husband had to have a renewed fear of God already firmly in place FIRST.

      This is the best I can do as far as MY part. My husband however, will need to confess and do much more. If the Lord can have His way with him, then that remains to be seen. Six months left to go.

      • Interesting perspective Sweetz. I too am a Christian and while my Christian counselor advised me to wait for my ex-wife, I knew that God was telling me to leave her. I struggled, because I know God hates divorce but he also does not want us to be the gum on someone’s shoe. Divorce is not a sin. God hates it because he knows what it does to us. And he gives us conditions when divorce is permitted, that is Adultery, and when a believer leaves a non-believer. At the end of my marriage my ex-wife cheated and also renounced her faith. So she met both conditions and I dumped her. Moses allowed divorce because people hardened their hearts but it’s not necessarily the divorcer’s heart. It only takes one.

        The most recent verse I got was this from Matthew 5:30 – And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

        Jesus does not expect us to literally cut off a limb. And since this verse is surrounded by the context of adultery and marriage, I take that the right hand is your spouse, as Jesus sits at the right hand of God. And when we’re married we are one flesh in His eyes. So if your spouse sins, they also cause you to sin. Cut it off.

        • Good to know Michael, that each individual “case” brought before the Lord will net what is appropriate and needed. I am glad for you that you were able to clearly discern what God wanted you to do in spite of what others said. THAT is where the rubber meets the road.

          I think that the Lord actually WANTS to give it a go to “restore” my husband and possibly our marriage in my case…time will tell and I am not suffering. Keep in mind that he is 62yrs old and has had a biblical background…but that was three decades ago…but I see it was simply “head knowledge (intellectual) rather than embraced from the heart. It appears that my husband has wandered so far away…but this issue may be the wake up call to bring him back into the fold if possible. I keep my mouth shut, and watch it all unfold.

          It seems that “reconciliation” is the “new shame” for some of us who are “called” to go that route…because divorce is sometimes easier and at everyone’s finger tips. So it is important for each of us to find our own way…sometimes it is more obvious what we need to do, other times we need the guidance from God to lead us to know what He wants us to do…or to figure it out the hard way.

          The way I figure it is that for me…it is “win win”. If the Lord wants me to divorce at the end of this year, seeing no true repentance…I win. If the Lord can get this man on a firm foundation and teachable…then I win, as does he. I do not resent the time…it is not a waste for me to stand by and wait. I have not degraded myself doing pick me dances or believing any of his lies. And I will not prop up the marriage by myself or do my husband’s repentance for him.

          And yes, while divorce does do serious damage to families…adultery is/was far worse, during the Old Testament it was quickly punishable by death…netting so to speak, an “instant divorce” where the family was also at loss. Shucks, at least death would mean that chumps would not be drug through additional knot holes and suffer the financial and child custody nightmares. But I digress…

          Best wishes for your future ahead!

          • Funny you said, “…that is where the rubber meets the road.” That is exactly what I said at the beginning of my ordeal when I decided on who’s advise to follow. And I also said that it’s going to be a win win with the Lord on my side. Also funny is that my wife is a renegade Christian who left the faith, all her Christian friends and her husband to reunite with an ex by the nickname of ‘Little Devil:.

            I pray that your situation draws you closer to Christ.

  • I found out my husband had been unfaithful 15 years ago after 12 years of marriage. I thought that because it was happening while he was travelling for work it would never happen again because he was so remorseful and because he gave up the overseas work. We endured couples therapy and I thought we had got through yet another hurdle. If I just kept on loving him and working at our relationship we would enjoy the each others love and companionship into old age. Fast forward to last year and a woman walks into my house and says she’s been having an affair with him for 5 years and that he’s having an affair with yet another woman. At that point I threw him out. I loved him through his alcoholism, hoarding, mess, financial instability, meanness to me and the children, selfishness and inability to stick with a secure job. I just never worked out that the only person he loved was himself.

    • Jedi hugs Julioakley! I’m sorry you are going through this, if you need an ear come on the forums. What has happened to you is not unusual, it’s the reason I caution against trying for the unicorn, I had similar experience, 7 years in cheating and reconciled, 10 years later fucked over again. the wasted life cannot be regained, the pain should not have to be repeated.

  • When I realized that my stbx ‘s emotional affair was getting deeper and deeper, I asked him to sit down so we could discuss it. I suggested that we go to marriage counseling and he looked straight at me and said NO. When I asked why he said NO. When I said we really need to work on our marriage he calmly said there was nothing wrong with our marriage. HA! In retrospect, I realize as far as he was concerned nothing was wrong. How could it be when you are getting cake, kibbles and the pick me dance from your wife and getting cake and kibbles from your co worker who is “just a friend”. I decided that I would secretly go to marriage counseling by myself and figure out how to make it better. How naive! After the second session it was clear that he was a raging Narcissist who emotionally, verbally and mentally abused me. He had been doing it so long that I felt like a spec of dust in the corner of the room. Marriage counseling soon turned into counseling for me. A year and a half later I had saved enough to get out. I served him with divorce papers. He looked at me and asked “Why didn’t you talk to me about this first?” Too late now asshole. Too late now. Four and a half years later we still don’t have everything finalized because he he is the Great Oz who doesn’t have to follow any rules. Fortunately I have shared custody of my sons and they live with me. I can see the whole narcissistic thing come out in the older one and am thankful that I can steer him in the right direction. I’m grateful that we didn’t do marriage counseling – it would have dragged everything on much longer than it was needed and my kids would have spent more time with their loser dad.

    For those of you who think that counseling will work, think again. In my opinion all it really would have done for me was to prolong the agony I was already living in. Because once you lose that trust, it can’t be restored.

    • Margo, I have this too. Six years after he walked out and his lawyer still hasn’t gotten the financial paperwork done.

  • Just a quick note; ex always negative, critical and often mean, plus of course lazy about child-care, selfish in bed, etc. After affair #1, 7 years in, I did reconciliation just as recommended by the RIC: waited until he was ready to give up the AP, gave him space to grieve the AP, danced the ‘pick-me dance’ SO pretty, fed him kibbles like crazy, went to MC that was pretty good (although some focus on his ‘unmet needs’), but of course he refused to continue past 5 sessions, put up with his rage and threats whenever I requested any reassurance or trust-building steps. I even took full responsibility for putting some zing back in our sex life!

    After a year or two, I realized he was NOT going to do his part in that reconciliation. I wasn’t ready to leave, and we had two kids in a 50-50 custody jurisdiction. I started to accept who he was, and what our lives would be like, and worked to make things as good as possible, while not accepting abuse.

    7 years later, our relationship was actually going better than it had in a long time (still not great, but hey …). He gets sent out of town for work, 4 days a week for months. Decides it’s the perfect opportunity for a little cake eating – KarenE will never know, right?

    Took me a few weeks to figure it out, one more to kick his ass out, two months to actually GET him out, and a couple of years to get his drama out of our lives.

    I don’t think I could have left him after Affair #1, I was too in love, and stupid and optimistic, and there was no CL and CN with 2 x 4’s around! The info on Genuine Naugahyde Reconciliation would have woken me up, I think! But I sure regret not having left around year 10, when he threatened me physically, very convincingly, or year 13, when I told him I wanted to separate, just because of his negative crabby meanness …..

    In the end, the cheating did me a favour. I do wish I had left far earlier, though. And I see that I did my kids no favours by staying with their difficult father for so long.

  • My now ex husband got busted at work. He was sending sexually inappropriate emails to an underage intern that her father discovered and turned in. He called me at work crying to tell me he had been fired and why. But hey, he didn’t know she was under 18. He thought if she was working there, she had to be legally an adult. And it wasn’t actual sex. We had barely been married and had a new baby. I went to him and said, “listen. Obviously you don’t want to be married. If you are just sticking with me cause you fear I’ll keep your child from you, hey, I’m not that kinda girl. We can split up and share custody.” I got the whole, “NO NO. I LOVE YOU! I love our family. Ijust made a terrible mistake. Now that I am fired and unemployed, I’ll be a stay at home dad.” And we went on a lovely trip to a costal town and “worked” things out. Had another child. I worked a full time job and a part time job since he was now fired and staying at home with the kids. I gave him the car so he could take the kids to the park and rode my bike to work four miles there and four miles back everyday. PREGNANT. Only to discover three years later he was up to it again, but this time there were multiple women and not just failed attempts. So now.. I have three kids with him and am divorced. And I live in a no fault state who said he stayed at home with the kids so why don’t I pay him child support! He used that car to conduct his affairs and while I was at work and there was no chance of me coming home to catch him, he’d have AP over to change my baby’s diapers and hold up my pregnancy panties from the laundry and laugh at me. It was all in their emails I found.

    • Your ex is slimy, gutter dwelling, lizardy piece of shit. However tough it is, you are better off without him. You will outlast the hurricane of hurt that was your connection to him. You are mighty.

    • Jedi hugs Nowire, i am so sorry you are going through this, come on the forums if you need to vent or shoulders. I hate it he’s trying to get alimony, what annastard

    • NoWire, I echo what the others have said. Your ex and his AP are scum. Stay strong, and like Dat said, come on the forums if you need extra support. You deserve to be as far away as possible from these pathetic excuses for people!

  • Mine isn’t exactly a traditional reconciliation story because my first “D-day” was when I was engaged. We were young (19 and 20), and within about 6 months of our wedding my ex started acting strange. One day burst into tears and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, so I suggested we drive straight to our minister’s house and talk to him. I remember so clearly sitting on the couch as our minister asked us questions. He looked at my fiancee and said, “so tell me, is there someone else?” I was so sure the answer was no (we’d been dating 4 years), that I was shaking my head no. I turned to look at my fiancee and he was shaking his head yes! Needless to say I was devastated and flew home, canceling our wedding plans.

    After a long weekend at home, my parents convinced me to return to school and finish my degree. As soon as I got back, I got a call from him and he wanted to talk. I didn’t know what he was going to say, but was extremely surprised that he apologized profusely, and said he loved me and that he’d had cold feet. He implored me not to make him beg to take my engagement ring back. There was something in me that said “don’t do it,” but I really wanted to believe him. We’d been dating for so long (it seemed at the time), and I still loved him, so I agreed and took his ring back. We postponed the wedding and went to a few more counseling sessions that in hindsight were inadequate. Basically we swept the incident under under the rug and never talked about it again. We were married 31 years.

    Throughout our long marriage I was insecure and suspicious of my husband’s relationships with other women. I’m sure the original break up during our engagement had a lot to do with that, because it had come out of the blue. Plus, little things happened throughout our marriage. When the kids were born I found a love note in his pocket. Around that same time I got a strange call from an unidentified man who said my husband wasn’t where he claimed to be. My husband always had plausible explanations for these incidents. There I was with two small children, so I convinced myself I was just overly suspicious.

    It turns out that my husband did want a different kind of woman all those years ago, and he kept looking until he found someone who fit the bill. She was exactly what he had in mind, even though she was married, had kids, and was his employee. Once again, 31 years later, he burst into tears out of the blue and said he wanted out of our relationship. It was THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO as when he broke it off before our wedding.

    What I want to kick myself for is taking him back when we were engaged. I should have followed my gut, but it was in such conflict with my heart. I really think once the trust is gone, it’s gone. I would never wish on any young woman what I’ve been through. I would advise her that a cheater is always a cheater. I’d tell her to end it early and save herself a lot of heartache.

  • Mine had an affair of a few months with a 17 year old while I was pregnant with our first child about 5 years ago. When I discovered it, he swore he never touched her and gave me contact information to call her and confirm it myself with her. The girl said they “hung out” a few times but never had sex. Of course as a newly minted chump I fell for it all and resumed our family life and our Disney vacation the very same week. He swore to cut off all contact with the girl. A few weeks later I was reviewing our phone records and found he was calling and texting with her the whole time we were at Disney. I look at her Myspace page (remember those?) And see a picture of them together with the caption “me and my sexy boyfriend”. Again I confronted and he swore up and down that she was a crazy and confused little girl. However since I believed him and never for a second thought he would cheat while I was having our first child, I accepted his stupid gaslighting.

    Then, about 5 months ago, I discovered affair #2 (at least as far as I know but haveva gut feeling there have been more) that had also been going on for a few months. Of course he swore he never touched that one either, which I once again asked the girl directly for confirmation. However, this time I was completely devastated having experienced this already in the past with him. As usual, he swore up and down he would cut off all contact. He gave me some poor sausage story about how he never really wanted her in a sexual way but she made him feel good by feeding his ego. He also said “I just enjoyed her company and having someone to talk to because she wasn’t you.” Again, he swore up and down he loved me and our family so much and would do anything in the world not to lose us. He swore he immediately cut off all communication with her.

    We entered marriage counseling and he appeared to be on his absolute best behavior and was showing me more love attention and affection than ever. Then, about a month later he asked if I would mind if he went on a ride with his brother while he made a delivery in New York City (we are in NE PA). I dropped him off at his brothers apartment and went out to the casino with some girlfriends. However, I tried calling him on the way home about 3 hours later and got no answer. Suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head as I was at a red light near his brothers apartment. I turned left and drove to the apartment and find a unusual car parked out front. Luckily (or unluckily) the door was unlocked. I walked inside when I saw lights on (they were supposed to be in NYC), and found my husband balls deep in pig he had been dating.

    Then once I wised up to how fucked up he really was I contacted pig #1 on fb and asked if they really did have sex years ago while I was pregnant and she says yes…. a lot! Then she apologized about what a pig she was and blamed it on being young and dumb anf only said they didn’t a few years earlier because he told her I WAS THE CRAZY ONE and would kill her if I found out.

    Lastly, I also found as part of my after discovery number 2 investigation that he had plenty of ads on Craigslist Casual Encounters spanning a little over a year (the same year of affair #2) looking for a discrete cross dressing of transexual man! As usual he gave me some bullshit story about it being a prank on his cousin but thankfully all his other behavior wised me up by then.

    Ugggh I hate that fucktard with all my soul! I long to achieve indifference!!!!!

    Btw… on the topic of pregnancy cheating. It breaks my heart all over again that it now absolutely pains me emotionally to think back on my sweet 5 year old boys pregnancy and birth because of his monster fucktard father. Will I ever regain the rightful feelings of pure joy related to his birth again?

    • I’m so sorry, Codependent. It is awful when the feelings of joy are turned into sour memories. It was not what you deserved, and it was not your fault!

    • Codependent, I feel your pain. I was 12 weeks pregnant when I found out about Cheater #1’s (then) current infidelity and had several more painful discoveries about past and ongoing infidelities during the pregnancy and Jr.’s early few months. Cheater #1 even left the hospital a few hours after Jr. was born “to have drinks with friends”. More like “fuck fest with heifer woman”. He spent most of the pregnancy and the first five years of Jr.’s life drunk as a skunk.

      I finally got my head together and left when Jr. was nine months old, in spite of my religious, conservative family, including my uncle the priest, who urged me to stay because “the baby would turn his head” (Cheater #1’s head). It took every ounce of self control not to ask, “Which head, Father Bill?” Anyway, in retrospect, I’m not sorry I tried to work on the marriage during my pregnancy because I can now look twelve year old Jr. dead in the eye and tell him I tried to stay married to his dad, but couldn’t be in a marriage where only one of us gave a flying rat’s ass. I’m also glad I left when Jr. was so young so he doesn’t have any memories of us living together and harbor some fantasy that we’ll all be together again some day.

      Like you, I do still harbor some anger and resentment at Cheater #1 because he carelessly, selfishly and callously trod on what was supposed to be a joyous time – and as it turned out – my one and only pregnancy. I’m glad I have Jr., but I’m not glad I have to deal with a lying, drinking fucktard for (count ’em….) six more years.

    • Codependent I can’t say about the pregnancy but my ex also told his OW I was dangerous and would kill her, it’s thei way of ensuring the OW won’t rat them out. It’s pretty sad that it’s so predictable. Jedi hugs!

  • Here’s my story:

    First off, for all the “newbies”, take heed to our counsel, and listen to your gut!!!

    For the last year, at least up until STBXH moved out in May, he would disappear for 12+ hours at a time— he wouldn’t answer my texts, calls, he wouldn’t call or text either and his Facebook page was blank- no postings of where he was or who he was with, unless it was somewhere “legit” (i.e. not out cheating). When he would return, he would be broke, pissy that I was upset, defensive, and wouldn’t have anything to say for himself. That happened about 10 – 12 times between last year-April and up until March of this year.

    That alone was enough for me to be upset, should have thrown him out, but since I didn’t have any proof for sure, I couldn’t. From January through April- he would be sitting right next to me on the couch CONSTANTLY on his phone- texting, Instagramming, Snap Chatting, Facebooking, but would get annoyed if I was playing Candy Crush or Pet Rescue.

    Also, for the past two years, he would constantly suggest if I were going out with friend without him to find “a stud to bang and call me so I can listen in, or better yet, bring him home and let me watch!” I would tell him that I was a married woman and committed to him and only him and would say it “wasn’t cheating if you have your husband’s permission!” Plus, the porn, and such. I once told him that it felt like he was setting me up for adultery and file for divorce against me- he go t really pissed at me for that!!!

    This past March, he allowed me to read a Facebook private message between him(he was out) and a woman where he practically offered her money to sex him, telling her that he would be getting his own place soon, that we hadn’t been happy for a along time, that we were on the outs, etc.- of course, I knew NOTHING about this!!!. He was laying it on thick, too- I was actually laughing at it saying out loud, “Boy you have NO game!” The one good thing I could say about her was that she didn’t respond to any of his comments- never once did she tell him she thought he was sexy, good-looking, etc.

    I did NOT confront him about this conversation, or that I was able to go through his email and found that just the day before he had sent out about 5 messages to Craigslist ads with his picture and phone number asking for hook-ups.

    For the following week, after I changed all of my insurance beneficiaries from him to a friend, I said NOTHING, but he knew I was upset, and would question me repeatedly, “What’s wrong? You seem upset? You OK?” I didn’t say anything, but I just said that I was upset/worried about my upcoming surgeries.

    That next Saturday- the night before Easter in fact, he got into my Facebook and read some things that I had told a friend of mine about him cheating, etc. He blew up my phone (I was out), so I came home. That’s when I told him I knew about his conversation, the Craigslist ads, etc. I offered counseling, trial separation, etc. He refused any and all and said that he was “done”.

    That month of April was just about pure torture- we did have sex a few times prior to my surgeries (total hysterectomy & hernia repair at the same time), he was actively looking for a new house to move into, he really didn’t do much around the house, or with our child- just worried about himself and what he needed to do to get out on his own, but still expected me to do his laundry and cook for him, and he moved out exactly two weeks after my surgeries- before I was really back on my feet, but he didn’t care.

    He moved out May 2nd- he was back in my house that Thursday, May 7th crying, telling me that he did still love me and that he was sorry he had hurt me. He also mentioned that he didn’t have the money to turn the gas on for his water heater, so he would have to deal with cold showers and wash in cold water. In the back of my mind, I felt/knew that that was why .he was telling me he loved me and that he was sorry he hurt me- because he could schmooze me for a hot shower for a while, but I wanted so much to believe him that I allowed him to come back. He slept in my bed, we had relations within reason due to my surgery recovery limitations, ate my food, contributed NOTHING to the household- didn’t buy groceries, didn’t take our child to school/pick her up, nothing. He admitted to me then that he “allowed” me to “catch” his Facebook conversation with that girl that time— he even admitted to me that he was WATCHING me read it on his web cam!!!! He wanted me to “find” that conversation and the CraigsList ads so that he could get my attention and “fight” for him— the fuck?!?!? Who does that!!!!

    About two weeks of this “working things out”, he went off with a friend to tow his broke down car- no text, no call telling me he was doing this. I called him to find out where he was and his first question to me was, “Why are you out running the roads looking for me?”

    Needless to say, I was pissed at this point, so I called him out that I was still blocked from his Facebook page, he still wouldn’t let me go through his phone, he blocked me from his Instagram, Twitter, etc. and that he was living two different lives and he needed to choose! His answer was “I’m just going to come get my clothes and shit out of your house and go back to mine- is that what you want?” To which I replied that it was clearly what he wanted so that he wanted to live two different lives and tell me all the time he loved me, but online he was acting single. He came and got his stuff, told me it was a mistake and he peeled out of my front yard- the skid marks are still in my front yard!!!!

    That was May 21st. We went no contact- at least I didn’t contact him at all, but then he contacted me on May 31st telling me he was “…still hung up on me…” that “…no one wants my fat ass…” etc. Even though we met up every day, even had sexual encounters-within limitations, I was still healing, he didn’t care, I could tell something was a little different- subtle, not as obviously an attempt to work things out. On his birthday, he found my calendar where I was documenting his visits and his NC’s….he was LIVID and cut off any and all attempts at “reconciliation” after that.

    Just after his birthday last month, I found out of his current Schmoopie- I knew something was off those couple weeks in June- he had just started talking to her, seeing her all the while telling me he loved me, and wanted to work things out.

    After I discovered about Schmoopie, he blew up on me in front of my house asking, “Why won’t you let me be happy!?!?!” Schmoopie’s MOTHER contacted a mutual friend of mine asking her for information about my STBXH- and I exposed him for all the lies he’s told Schmoopie and her mom about me, and our marriage- he accused me of setting him up with Schmoopie to find out all he’s told people, but then had the NERVE to tell me that I have violated his trust by telling anyone and everyone “his business” to which I responded, “Don’t tell lies about me and I won’t have to tell the truth about you!!!”

    Not long after finding out about Schmoopie, I have since found out that between January and April of this year, he was actively engaged in a long-distance love affair with his high school sweetheart- he even swore on his child’s LIFE to her that he was going to marry her and they were going to raise our child together….he told her so many lies about me that I was beyond angry!!!! He cut ties with her just before moving out from me in May- apparently that was his plan all along, to have this “affair” with her, then when push came to shove, he’d dump her!!!!

    He admits to telling her lies- “I told her whatever I needed to convince her that I was serious about her” Apparently, he has held a grudge against her for about 20 years now over a “pregnancy” that did/didn’t happen, depending on who you ask…total mind-fuckery, but to swear on your child’s life on a LIE knowlingly? That’s just deranged!!!!!

    About two days after the confrontation over Schmoopie, he went to a lawyer and has agreed to my terms. We should be signing/filing within the next few weeks, IF he agrees to some of my new demands that since all this has come to light, I feel like he owes me a lot more than he agrees.

    I was sincere and true in my attempts at reconciling with him- he wasn’t- both of those times, I kept my eyes and heart wide open, but it still hurt like a mother fuck to get used and discarded so easily!!!!

    I have never chased him, I don’t text him, I don’t call him, I don’t email him- all of the contact is initiated by him. I would pray all night, I would cry, I would hope, but I have yet to beg, threaten, or try to coerce him in any way to come back and work things out. I may not have a husband, but I still have my pride and I will not lower myself to try to beg for someone that clearly doesn’t want to be with me.

    From Easter, I have given myself, him 90 days to work this out or file- I never told him that, but from the beginning, that has been my mind-set. 90 days are up, and he will be filing within the next few weeks.

    Ironically, I went through almost the EXACT same things with EXH#1- except for the reconciliations, EXH#1 told me, “I don’t see our divorce as a break-up, I see it as a break!!!” He actually thought that I would date him after our divorce was final- the fuck?!?!?! I told him he had one-shot with me, and that was all he would get. Never went back even though he’s tried over the years!!!

    Good luck to all of you fellow Chumps!!! My story is mild compared to the time and anguish some of you have gone through, going through, but it’s still been a fucked up mess for me nonetheless. Keep the faith, stay strong, keep yourself focused, I know it’s mind-boggling some times, but it will get better!!!!

  • Well…if anyone has scrolled all the way down, I’ll add my voice to the chorus. I won’t include the years of rug-sweeping I did as I discovered a series of OW (all only “emotional,” he said at the time, and I wanted to believe that so badly that I did) and I’ll cut straight to The Worst OW Yet, as I thought of her on Dday. I knew this OW was an animal of a different stripe. It seemed they had a serious relationship.

    So:

    1. Told him he finally had to make a choice–her or me.

    2. Told him that if HE found the marriage counselor and made the appts, I’d go.

    3. Told him he had to take the passcode off his phone and install “Find my iPhone” so I could track him.

    The results?

    1. He said he chose me, and on the surface he was making a real effort. A couple of months into this process he said, “I just don’t think you’re giving us a chance,” and I replied, “My gut tells me you’re still involved with her.” He swore to my face for the umpteenth time that it was over.

    2. We went to counseling. At the first session, the counselor asked each of us what we needed to continue in the marriage. I said, “I need full transparency.” He said, “She needs to finish her dissertation.” The counselor said he couldn’t ask for that, and funny enough, he never came up with anything else. Red flag much? I was so consumed by pain that I couldn’t even see how ridiculous this was at the time.

    3. About that transparency thing: his messages and email were so lily-white-clean that it defied logic. Who empties their trash folder everyday? Eventually, he slipped up. I found out that he never ended the relationship with OW, they joked between each other about our counseling sessions, and he never, ever, intended to end things with her.

    My advice? Never underestimate a cheater’s ability to lie about anything. Anything. Never trust that you have transparency. In the digital age, there are countless ways a cheater can hide; you’ll never find all their tools, and cheater-enabling-tools are improving all the time. Value yourself enough to realize you are better than your recent promotion to Detective Chump. It turns out that it’s a soul-destroying, dead-end job. The benefits never pan out.

  • Chump4Bolero

    Dear CL & CN:
    I have been following (lurking) since a few days after D day: Dec 31 2014. New Year’s Eve was the day of infamy that he (my now X) confessed to seeing someone else for the last 4 years – What? The OW is married to someone we both know. And, he’s a really nice guy…. Last I heard the OW and her husband moved out west. Only after she decided to leave her husband and return east did he confess to the ongoing affair– because he was picking her up at the airport… We had just celebrated Christmas with his parents 3 days before… I was completely blindsided.

    Four years ago, in 2010, he confessed that he was a sperm donor to a very close friend of his – her marriage had dissolved when we first got together. She was supposedly trying to get pregnant in-vitro as a single woman at the “sperm bank”. I was a part of his circle of friends and was told how she chose a tall, athletic type (X is not). I was a part of the child’s life, visits, birthday parties, etc… The big confession happened because SHE needed to tell her son where he came from when he reached almost 5 years old. My X was having a nervous breakdown when he told me, and also told me that he “loved me and didn’t want to lose me” as his reason for keeping me in the dark. I was stupid to believe that he actually went to a sperm bank to donate sperm. I should have listened to my inner voice of horror and humiliation then. But I thought, maybe he needs forgiveness, and the child is beautiful, like all children are. BUT, while my X confessed to having a child with someone, and lived with himself in the wake of forgiveness, he neglected to tell me about having an affair with yet another woman. Maybe he thought I would fall apart four years ago and do him the favor of ending it when he didn’t have the guts… Even though the generation I grew up in redefined all kinds of boundaries, this second time around, on New Year’s Eve, I woke up, like a bolt of lightning, and I kicked his sorry ass out way beyond the curb.

    I knew my X for years before we became a couple 15 years ago – in midlife for the both of us. We were both part of a lively arts and literary community with many mutual friends, and our own separate circle of friends, too. I had been living on my own for years and our romance began when he became single. I always knew he liked me. I liked him, too. And in the beginning I do believe he loved me. It was a magical romance in midlife for a couple of 70’s people from the “free love generation”. After reading some of the situations here I am counting myself as lucky that we did not marry. We did buy and renovate a house together 7 years ago. And I put my heart and soul into the project. I recently closed (like last week) on refi-ing the mortgage with a payout to him for his share of the house. I don’t even know if I want to stay here but I DID want to part ways quickly, and did not want to uproot myself right now because I need time to sort myself out.

    I feel pretty duped by living with someone who chose to live a deceitful life for at least 7 (or more?…) out of the 15 years we lived together–for forgiving someone who didn’t deserve it, and most of all for losing myself in the process. I am in pieces, fractured, but thank heavens I have some stability in my work, and some mega-sweet loving pets to keep me company in the lonely hours. I took custody of our rescue cats – something we both shared and loved.

    I am posting my first post to the reconciliation topic, because I think forgiveness is at the core of trying to move beyond the hurt and try again when you love someone. Thing is, I could just as easily post this to the “Can’t forgive myself”; Can’t evict him out of my head” ( thank you Eve); Can’t do the ‘therapists pick me hustle’ way (someone put that guy out if his misery!). They are all a part of the puzzle.

    This site, CL & CN has been a life line! – A place of refuge! –A hope for the future! This website, and the vision of Chump Lady for starting the website, and all the amazing and eloquent chumps, provide a place to put the experiences, feelings and observations down on the page. And I really appreciate having “this place” to check in, and read about it, and feel validated. It is also very liberating to get the thoughts and words out of the head, out of the body, onto the page, and give them wings!

    For the “I can’t forgive myself” page – I heard this song at the convenience store yesterday – and it has prompted me to finally sign up and share it with this wonderful group… Lol! And, Joan Jett really knows how to rock it. Love her!

    Joan Jett – I Hate Myself For Loving You [ Original HQ ]

    • Hey Chump4Bolero, good you are moving on, the pain will recede little by little. You might want to visit the forums, top of the page if you need to vent or get some support. Jedi Hugs!

      • Thank you Datdamwuf – love those Jedi Hugs! Moving on is starting to feel more real – CL & CN is a very grounding place. -Will check out top of the page, too-.

  • “Often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

    If an affair is happening guess what the relationship is already dead. Any work you do to try to save the relationship after the affair is the equivalent of resuscitating a corpse. Slap a DNR order on that mess and save your time, dignity and sanity. Keep it moving. Save yourself.

  • Like most folks, my attempt at “reconciliation” (ptooie) ended badly.

    I think the absolute, best piece of reconciliation advice I ever got was “File for divorce right off the bat, and if they’re serious about reconciliation, they can do it on their own time while you’re free to move on.” Maybe even Chump Lady herself said it, I don’t remember, but it sure makes a helluva lot of sense in retrospect.

    • Babushka,
      I had originally thought about doing that also…filing when I first found out. But for some (depending on their psychological make up), doing that will produce a panicked false reconciliation because a cheater feels that he must quickly do something in order to stabilize his OWN interests…regrouping himself if you will. Even a cheater wants time to put together his/her own exit plan.

      If a cheater cannot show true repentance/remorse especially while he does not believe any immediate impending doom is hovering overhead (other than his having been exposed as a cheat), then pushing them into a corner by filing right off the bat could likely net a “false positive”. This false positive is more painful than just waiting out a year or two and seeing what time and giving him more rope will produce. If HE starts doing the pick me dances, making appointments for counsel, cutting of social media on his own, and all the other things that he should have done prior to disclosure…and without demands from us, then “maybe” there is hope.

      I rather like the idea of seeing what my husband does when NOT under the pressure of a pending divorce. If his repentance is REAL and from the heart, then it is more likely to show up over the course of a year or so… without being given any ultimatums other than getting rid of the OW. And if I run into even more of his escapades while patiently waiting to see what he will do after being merely exposed, then I have my answer and file without looking back. Done.

      But that is just me.

      • I’m sorry, Sweetz, I meant to say actually going through with the divorce, not simply filing for it. I didn’t state that in my post, but I meant to.

        My apologies.

        • No need for apologies sweetheart. There are some cheaters who upon being exposed, react with such hatred, blame shifting, gas lighting and entitlement that they really OUGHT to be divorced straight away. Then there are others who actually might feel the shame and guilt that they OUGHT to feel and “might” repent given the opportunity. Either way, I think we should observe HOW they act a good while after being exposed and then decide what WE want to do regardless.

          For me, I also removed sex. Yep…let’s see how he takes THAT consequence over time.

          I WANTED to file for divorce (as in a permanent thing) w/o the possibility of reconciliation because I had had enough of other kinds of issues. But his response to being exposed made me go to the Lord instead. I sensed that he did not feel entitled or arrogant about it…did not make excuses, did not try and blame me EVER.

          There are couples who actually get remarried after divorcing. But then I personally would feel like he was just scraping the bottom of the barrel after sowing his wild oats at my expense…so if he does not make a mighty effort while he still has me the first time around…Bye.

          Again, that is just me.

          • Sweetz, it’s just me of course, but this rationalization sounds delusional, the first time ex cheated he was the soul of redemption, 10 years later he was blaming me. YMMV. If your spouse comes to you and confesses that’s one thing, if you caught him and then do this thinking that not threatening him is going to make a difference? that’s a whole other thing, it’s a whole lot of pain. To me it sounds like the pick me dance on steroids, and you are making him dance too. I hope it works out for you, but I think you are prolonging the pain while playing his game.

            • I appreciate your perspective Dat…but the time is not wasted. I have been saving cash and getting my things in order. 🙂 I think that whether we “catch” them or they confess makes little difference. Many confess simply because they “think” you may be close to catching them (or their OW is threatening to expose it) and they want to control the narrative and come off as being “noble” for confessing.

              The cat is out of the bag either way. I am looking to see what he DOES with knowing that I now know regardless of how I found out. Meanwhile, I am getting my ducks in a row for my possible exit if I do not see true remorse in his actions without my demanding it from him. He is good at rules…but these things are of the heart. No heart? Screw the rules because I do not want to spend my life enforcing them.

              And yes, they CAN and do “fall” even years later, and become evil enough to blame shift…so can a man who never fell before, fall. There are no guarantees. I’d rather be alone after this to be honest.

  • Well I’m a new chump. Whilst I do not have a child with my ex, I will say what a load of rubbish that is. I did my best to forgive and move on even though he broke every promise, lied, was disrespectful and hurt me terribly. I realised that me doing that was using all of my good energy on a person that was OKAY with hurting me. He didn’t think twice about my feelings. I gave him the best of me and he stomped all over me. How does a relationship improve from lies, lack of emotional awareness on their part yet do much soul searching and trying to be better from my part? No way. Fuck off. He led the relationship to its demise and to put pressure on us chumps to recreate our relationship after such acts is so highly insulting… just my personal opinion 😉

    Love your work Chump Lady

  • To all of the new chumps out in the world: I am sorry you are in this boat. It sucks. I have a message for you and you should pay attention.

    Here is the ugly truth that no one but the souls of chump nation dare to say out loud: When someone you are married to sleeps with someone that is not you; they are just not that into you anymore. They don’t love you plain and simple.

    The moment they make that unilateral decision to sacrifice your health, your children, your finances and your life for a piece of strange;it is over. Your marriage is officially dead. What you have is a corpse and it is exhausting and a total waste of time to carry around a corpse. Corpses need to be buried. Only then can you truly mourn the end of your marriage and move on to something better.

    I would take this analogy one step further and say that reconciling in a marriage after infidelity is like a much less funny, more heart wrenching version of Weekend at Bernie’s. You spend all your energy dragging around the corpse and trying to make it look like it’s alive to the outside world but it’s a waste of time. Eventually rigamortis and decay of your self esteem sets in and you are a shell of your former self.

    In the end the only thing you will accomplish is wasting your time and energy on someone who is not worthy of another moment of your precious life. It doesn’t matter how pretty you dance, it will not be appreciated; it will be expected. They will hold your fear of losing them over your head and they will make sure you know that they will bolt at the first sign you assert your worth.

    Ask me how I know. I spent three years in wreck-con-ciliation and everything I say above is what I experienced personally. Thank God for Chump lady and chump nation or I’d probably still be dragging the corpse around.

  • Cheaterssuck:

    “Here is the ugly truth that no one but the souls of chump nation dare to say out loud: When someone you are married to sleeps with someone that is not you; they are just not that into you anymore. They don’t love you plain and simple.

    The moment they make that unilateral decision to sacrifice your health, your children, your finances and your life for a piece of strange;it is over. Your marriage is officially dead. What you have is a corpse and it is exhausting and a total waste of time to carry around a corpse. Corpses need to be buried. Only then can you truly mourn the end of your marriage and move on to something better.”

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^IS^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TRUTH!!!!!!

  • What a day for this post. I was double chumped before noon and my hopes of reconciliation went down the tubes. I unexpectedly saw my husband’s Jeep parked outside the OWs house. What to do? Ring the bell, leave a note? Wait for him to come out? Instead, I texted a pic of his car in the driveway and said ” I never knew I could be this sad.” It’s true. I never knew I could be this sad. I was shaking and crying so hard I could barely drive. We’ve been pursuing marriage counseling since mid-January d-day and I was full of hope: It was going to work – for us at least. I wouldn’t have to admit defeat, my life as I knew it wouldn’t be over, and most importantly, my children, 17, 20 and 22 wouldn’t have the bottom fall out of their world when they realized their own parent had callously betrayed our family. This was a two-year affair, a 54-year old boss, with his 29-year old assistant who was 6 months old when we got married?!? Amazingly, I was made to feel crazy for being suspicious – locked phone, late nights, defensive responses about going out for drinks after work and flat out rudeness when asking why his personal credit cards were so high. I even overlooked the fact my husband put several thousand dollars from a bonus into an account i didn’t know about . Crazy or what? Every detail uncovered was worse than the last, but I was willing to accept anything. Did reconciliation help – yes and no? I feel proud of trying and doing absolutely everything possible to preserve my family. And I feel confident I stayed in control and took high road. The counselor helped : She clearly told my husband you can not work on a marriage until you are 100% no contact with the OW. But he lied to the counselor. Further, counseling enabled me to say that any future contact – beyond the break up/make up with the OW that characterized the first few months – was going to be going beyond my bottom line. I could not be thinking about checking phones, emails or spying – that is not what I signed up for.

    So as of noon today, I told my husband to move out for a few days while I process – and figure out next steps? But when he came back to get one more thing I realized I still would want it to work if it could.

    So sad and tired… what is wrong with me…why would I accept this treatment?

    also, will separation and divorce destroy my kids? I would never get divorced. so they will know something is up but the counselor says you can not tell them of affair without shatttering them.

    confused and looking for chump support.

    • Separation and divorce will not destroy you or your kids. Lies, disrespect, modeling dysfunction does that. There are many, many people here who have walked this path and gotten to the other side, and are saner and happier for it. But it’s a struggle. Believe it or not, the way you’ve been living since D-Day and today is the real pain. We’re just asking you to lay that burden down and start protecting yourself. I’m glad you asked him to move out. Next, start protecting yourself financially and make copies of EVERYTHING. Check your accounts. He’s already been stealing money from your family. Tomorrow, call a lawyer. You’ll feel MUCH better after speaking with a lawyer (perhaps you did this after the first D-Day?)

      Fight paralysis. You must act in your own best interests now.

      Get on the forums (see Log In on top nav bar) for 24/7 support from other chumps. Not everyone checks today’s posts this far into the thread.

      I’m so glad you found us! Welcome! We’ve got your back! You can DO THIS.

      • Yes, I agree with everything CL shared. It’s what I needed to hear on my Dday but none of my friends had any good advice. Stay here, TiredChump, we absolutely have your back. My children were 17, 18, and 20 when their lives changed, but you can not ignore the truth. My ex stole money from their college funds, walked out on our mortgage, dumped his 401k, and went scorched earth on us. You have to save your family (you and your children now); be strong and take your power back. My children and I survived and it’s really important to tell them the truth. You will all need to baby yourselves. I strongly encouraged my children to be selfish and to place their own needs first. They needed to focus on their own happiness. We do new things together, spent our first Christmas in New York. Make your own beautiful way. Anything is better than a life with someone toxic. Do address finances ASAP.

        • Tired Chump–Address finances, shop lawyers so that he can’t use them, you have to remember that your husband has a running start on EVERYTHING…emotional distancing from you and your marriage, from your children, from finances. He prob has been contemplating it all for a long time. I know mine would have divorced me after our youngest graduated high school, I caught him mid stride…but he had already started hiding shit….at a time when you are at your absolute lowest, you need your brain to kick into high gear and to learn to separate your emotions from the business aspect of a marriage. Whether or not you choose to end it, it is a business in the eye of the state and that means it is imperative to protect your hard earned assists either with a post nupt or divorce papers and a freezing of all assets. Come to chump lady for support when the world is crashing down, the advice here is so spot on. On my low days I came to CL and I read and read and read. I gathered my strength and my pride…..CL is the gift of sanity. Hold tight. Big hugs!

    • Tired Chump, I know this sounds very trite right now, but believe me… today is the first day of the rest of your life. I know, as do all the rest of the old timers here, that you are going through hell right now, and I am not going to lie — it’s going to hurt for a while. But believe me, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and one day not so very long from now, you will reach meh (it’ll be a Tuesday like today) and you’ll be SO GLAD you are free.

    • TiredChump, you’ve had a huge blow today, but CL is bang on as usual. The real pain isn’t the divorce; it’s what you’re going through now and have been going through since D-day. I’m not saying divorce doesn’t suck and that it won’t hurt–it does suck, and it will hurt. But you will have your peace of mind and your dignity back, and nothing on earth is worth what staying with him would cost you. You’ve already tried MC, and you know where that got you. As for your kids, IMO they are more than old enough to cope with this, and you will likely be surprised to learn just how much they already are aware of. I hope and pray you will show them what class and self-respect look like, because it seems you are the only one in the family who can teach them.

      Please come onto the forums. You will be supported by lots of chumps who know exactly what you’re going through. HUGE hugs to you.

    • Tired Chump,

      You have found a community of support that will help you every step of the way. This group has saved my life.

      You can do this. There is nothing worse than realizing you have been chumped. It is a life changing event, but it either keeps you from moving forward or it can propel you into action.

      There is a wealth of wisdom and advice from some amazing people on this site. Please know that we all know your pain and understand your feelings. The forums are a great place to get some input.

      I wish there was a way to take away the pain and tell you that it will be easy. But this will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to do, but the time comes when you have to save yourself when you can’t save the marriage.

      One thing I would like to address is the children. My children were about the age of your two oldest when all of this went down. They had two parents who got along, talked about the future, and were happy for most of 30 years…until he checked out of the marriage and into the the life of the howorker. There was no way I was going to blow apart my children’s world with the news of divorce and then add dishonesty about the cause. They had the right to know and it would have been an insult to their intelligence and their value to the family to keep that secret. Cheater x had to own his actions to the children. Were they shattered? You better believe it. But they are doing ok and will be fine in time. Will they ever be the same? NO, but none of us will. It takes time to heal. But I know they would not be ok with being deceived.

      Big hugs to you. You can do this. Best wishes.

    • Tired Chump – that’s a perfect name – tired…. Don’t let fear stop you from making the best decision of your life. You have been so disappointed and consistently hurt, why on earth would you want to live like that anymore. Get your ducks in a row. Like CL says – make copies of everything and contact a good lawyer and a good therapist – you are going to need both of them.

      It makes me sick that this is happening to good women (and men) over and over and over again – what the hell do people want? It’s disgusting.

      You found a great place and once again not to take away from CL’s AWESOME site. When I started this journey I found a place called Daily Strength and got lots and lots of support there before I found CL. http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/divorceaftertwentyyearstogether – try that out too, when you need a bit of extra support. Lots of us stayed too long, but sounds to me like you found your voice and your strength – now is not the time to let go of it! Xxoo

    • Tired Chump, I am so sorry you are going through this. It really is like walking through hell. But you can do it. And you will make it to the other side. And for me, divorce felt like freedom after the hell I had been through before. Being married to someone that loves someone else was torture and the divorce being finalized was the moment that it felt like I had finally stopped plummeting downwards and had hit solid ground. I knew from there, it would be an upward road. And it has been… Eventually the raw pain subsides and slowly you start building a new life not built on a life with a hologram. And eventually the pain is in the rearview mirror. You can do this.

  • Chiming in late to share with the newbie Chunmos:
    Trust your gut! Reconciliation is less likely than a snowball in hell.
    My story, in brief: ex and I were high school sweethearts, but attended colleges in different locations. I figured, if we made it through that, we can make it through anything.
    Less than 5 years of marriage, I suspect ex is having an affair and confronted hiim. He denied it, just a grad school friend, she was pursuing him, etc. she had a breakdown, we went into marriage counseling, this was before emotional affairs were recognized. Silly me, writing poetry in French to someone else is not “nothing.” I thought we nipped things in the bud, and that cnseling taught us to open up and communicate.
    Next 11 years, occasional insecurity about our relationship, ex continually denies. I accused ex of cheating with a colleague, he denies, she is crazy, pursuing him, etc. she was unstable. I will never know if something happened, her stories change.
    Ex kept insisting his obvious unhappiness was work related, so I encourage ex to take a leave from work and mo e to another city to try out s new career option. I stayed home and was a single parent to our kids,ex came home every 4-5 weeks.
    You all know where this is going… 7 months in, I am exhausted from my full time job and keeping life somewhat normal for the kids, and ex comes home and hints that he does not want to be married anymore, but cannot say the word divorce, etc.
    3 months later, during marital counseling, admitted to the first affair, finally admitted there was a woman in current workplace, but that they had not had an affair… Our marriage was over long before.
    Really? Then why am I home alone with the kids and we are not divorced?

    Like many folks, I do not regret the intervening years since I have two wonderful children, but finding out years later that I was correct, and that ex had lied all those years, risked my health (and my unborn child’s; cheated before I got pregnant… Assume it was before I got pregnant, but maybe not) ,etc… It was like a knife twisting in my gut.
    There is the vindication for all the gas lighting, but also the realization that more than half my life was spent with the lying cheat: it was horrific.

    Newbie chumps, and those suspecting cheating– if you suspect it, it is almost certainly true.
    Emotional affairs are just as bad as physical ones, and deserve better.
    My advice: file for divorce, and if the cheater truly wants to work on things, then they can do it after the divorce is over.

    And the postscript… Ex married the OWife, they moved far way, and he has now recreated our life with woman more than a decade ynger than me (down to two kids, same birth order). She is by all reports even more controlling than his mother. Karma there, as he told me he did not want to end up like his parents. Ha!

  • Yes, Cheatersuck, Twenty eight years together, three beautiful children, all the work and happiness through good times and challenging times, growing up together, building a house, vacations, holidays, all that time …all that meant nothing the moment my ex chose to cheat. As soon as I pieced this truth together, I was DONE. Hard, yes, but my Best Decision Ever.

    • IMHO, life can not be fully embraced when you are living with a Cheater. It isn’t a marriage. I felt that for years. My soul died a little every day I was with my dishonest ex and that is no way to live. Chumps, We weren’t meant to just exist. To put crazy before truth and beauty. We were meant to live out loud, to share our one precious self, and our unique beautiful gifts with others. You can not do that with a partner who is sharing his worst self and clouding your life with crap. IMHO the disordered spend every minute sucking out happiness. Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life. Life is too short, indeed.

  • I have a question. How did the term “emotional affair” come into popularity? It just seriously makes my skin crawl. The word “affair” is bad enough. It sounds kind of quaint, old fashioned , and harmless. I never use it, I prefer adultery, cheating, or whoring.

    Anyway, back to the Emotional Affair. That sounds really nice. What “emotions ” is it that they are sharing. ? Lust, immaturity, selfishness, deceit? My ex and the whore specialized in Negativity. That’s an emotion, I guess. Dick pictures, parking lot blow jobs, Skype masturbation. It’s just all so EMOTIONAL. I think a better term would be “Egotistical Affair”cause that is what it really is all about. King Ego. Queen Ego. These people and their ” dressing up a pig” terminology make me want to vomit. Whoring is still whoring no matter what you call it.

    • In a romantic sense, an emotional affair is when the cheating partner is giving a part of themselves to someone other than the one they should have entrusted it to more than anyone else.
      Reality: it’s a ploy for them to get ego kibbles. Da*n straight.

      • Right, it’s still Cheating. I just hear a lot of people act like it’s not a big deal. It really did everyone a disservice, I think.

  • I didn’t try. I knew in my heart it would be a waste of time. His antics as we have proceeded through divorce have proven me right. He’s character flawed, all the way through….I haven’t been to Chump Lady lately, feeling sorry for myself….boy was this a good night to read all the craziness and how bad ass we all are!

  • It amazes me that people regularly throw a fit and hold a grudge when a clerk acts rudely (if you’ve ever worked in retail or the service industry, you know what I mean), but it’s considered BITTER to be angry after someone betrays you.

    My wreconciliation lasted only a matter of days as he refused to break up with his little bitch. Said he was “still getting something out of that relationship.” He found a rent house in our neighborhood because he “needed time and space alone to figure out what he really wanted” and totally assumed I would stick around for that. I couldn’t take the pain of uncertainty and his complete lack of remorse and something gave me the strength to walk away. Thankfully I found CL days later and my strength was fortified for the long haul. I’m soooooo much more stable emotionally (and financially) now and divorce will be final soon!

  • My “Reconciliation” story:

    Wonderful marriage (or so I thought!), complicated pregnancy, lack of intimacy, d-day, affair went underground, pick-me dancing, blah blah, typical cheating stuff.

    Failed marriage counselling because I wanted the counsellor to make my husband give up his mistress, and my husband wanted the counsellor to make me accept an open marriage.

    Endured pick-me dancing, unpleasant hysterical bonding, all the typical stuff for a few months, waiting for my once-wonderful man to come to his senses. Many mini-d-days as I snooped and watched him be unable to give her up. I learned that the mistress would be leaving town for a new job and thought that would end the problem. He was predictably mopey like a drug addict going through withdrawal, but a few months later, I found his secret email account for cybering with her.

    I insisted on trying a second round of counselling with a different counsellor, who told my husband he was a coward and ought to just tell me he didn’t want to be with me any more. He said “yeah, that.” Then he drove me to work and said “how about one last kiss?”

    During later discussions, he told me things like he’d only married me because he thought he couldn’t do any better, that he’d secretly resented me for years for marriage issues I thought we’d reached amicable compromise on, that he liked his mistress better because foreplay with her wasn’t so much work and she didn’t want orgasms, and other crap that made me realize that he’d never been a good husband to me. I knew all along he was self-centred and manipulative, I just never thought he’d turn that against me.

    I’m much better off alone.

    • Wow, HC. Your ex is a real prince among men, and sounds like OW got exactly what she deserves. “Didn’t want orgasms.” Are you freaking kidding me? Was he paying her for her services or something? Are there women out there–hell, are there humans out there–who don’t want foreplay and orgasms? smdh

      I sincerely hope you got a really great financial settlement from this loser. Wow!

      • No financial settlement. I’m actually lucky he left me my pension and didn’t go after support FROM me, but he had her arms and income to fall into so he didn’t care.

        But it turns out that everything I did for him, most of the income, housework and childcare, didn’t mean anything compared to a woman who was ready for sex whenever he was and happy to stop when he was finished.

        I forgot to mention above that the one thing that helped me most was learning that he was lying and manipulating HER just as much as had with me. Despite her ‘specialness’ she still isn’t worth being honest with.

  • My Reconciliation Story. Giving a lying, cheating creep multiple chances he did not deserve. I ended it when I realized I was pretending (even to myself) to love a guy I could not even stand to look at.

  • Piping in late here but having gone through two false reconciliations over a period of 23 years, I can sum up my experience as:

    “Even if you think reconciliation is working, it actually isn’t.”

    It’s a fool’s errand. Leave a cheater and gain a life now.

  • Having gone through two long-term reconciliations over a period of 23 years, I can sum up my experience as:

    “Even if you think reconciliation is working, it actually isn’t.”

    It’s a fool’s errand. Best to leave a cheater and gain a life … NOW.

    • That’s okay, Uniquelyme – it’s a fantastic message that deserves repeating (a few times!)

      🙂

  • Anyone who is in a committed relationship and who unilaterally and secretly decides that the relationship is over is both a coward and an asshole.

    So… reconcile with an asshole coward? Uhm… No, thanks anyway!

  • Yes, we are in reconciliation. It has been almost 3 years. It is not easy. I have the poly whenever wanted, post-nup with infidelity clause and also he got a vasectomy at my request. We’ve been in counseling and had some very good counselors along the way, never have any tried to lay his crap on me. f

    I think the pain would be with me whether I stay or divorce. I see the introspection and work. I certainly don’t think he is a unicorn, more like before d-day he thought he was a mythical unicorn that could fly his way out of anything, but has now come to terms with the fact that he was a donkey (aka ass) all along and has a long walk up on the path out of hell’s canyon.

    My eyes are open. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t have a crystal ball. But, I want to try, I want to try.

    • TigerLily, I’m glad to know there is another potential couple trying to make it work. I’m 2.5 yrs out. I will never say things are better since the affair, but my H seems to be completely focused on our future together, and is supportive during my occasional sad spells. The anger is gone, but I feel sad and disheartened at times. If I didnt have CL to guide me through, I would have never gotten a postnup and kept him in check with individual counseling.

      • LML,

        Me too. It is good to see another couple out there with a similar perspective. CL gives a perspective that is very hard to find elsewhere, a perspective that has helped me define what remorse and safety should look like moving forward, a perspective that has guided me in protecting myself and my children, even though I am trying to reconcile. It has been so helpful!

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