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How to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity

savemarriage(No, not really. I’m just trying to mess with Google Analytics today.)

Many people tell me they wish they’d found Chump Lady sooner, before their ex inflicted another affair/ran off with the 401K/impregnated the schmoopie —  but alas they were googling “How to save my marriage” instead of “How to leave a cheater.”

So, all you sleepless 2 a.m. chumps, who just got pummeled by a D-Day, who want to save their marriages after infidelity? Rest here awhile. I know you’re not ready to hear it, I know it’s not the message you were hoping to find, but hey, I’m not going to charge you $399 to “affair proof” your marriage or bullshit you.

Here’s some real advice about How to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity:

Recognize that it’s dead. No! It’s all a terrible mistake and they’re really sorry! I hear you. You’re just going to try harder and be stalwart, and it’s all going to turn around. Sorry. That’s not how it works. When someone betrays you, in the most intimate and humiliating fashion, you cannot trust them. You cannot feel safe or intimate with someone you don’t trust. Sure, you can stay married to such a person, but you won’t feel connected to them. You know that movie Gravity, where Sandra Bullock is floating in space, untethered from the obliterated space station? Millions of miles from years from earth and the oxygen is running out? That’s your marriage.

But you DO feel connected! You have all this shared history! And you’re going to fling yourself at the cheater and FORCE the goddamn connection. LOVE ME, YOU BASTARD! That’s the Humiliating Dance of Pick Me. Stop it. You don’t control dead things.

Don’t I have some secret recipe to give you control of dead things? What, do I look like a wizard? No. And anyone who promises you such a recipe is a fraud. WE DON’T CONTROL OTHER PEOPLE. What other people do and how they feel is utterly beyond our control.

I’m sorry. I know the powerlessness sucks.

Realize it’s not your fault. Pay no attention to the blame-shifting. You didn’t hold a gun to their head and force them to create dating profiles. You might actually suck, but you did not make your cheater cheat. That’s completely on them. People have agency and many options including therapy, divorce lawyers, and honest conversations. They cheated because they wanted to. It’s that simple.

If you have any hope of saving it (assuming you think resurrection of dead things is a desirable outcome), you have to be prepared to enforce your boundaries, even if that means leaving.

Yes, that’s totally counterintuitive — to save this thing you want so badly, you have to be prepared to walk away from it cold. But that’s exactly what you have to do — you have to love and respect yourself enough to have deal breakers. If you won’t enforce your boundaries (such as “break up with Schmoopie,” or “show me a credit report,” or “get an STD test”), then you’re sending the message that you and your boundaries can be trampled on without consequence. Let it ride? That’s essentially sticking a sign on your forehead that says, “ABUSE ME.”

But they would never do that! 

They already did.

Finally, know this — you’ll survive. You’re more than the stupidity and appalling judgment of your partner. Infidelity is no measure of your worth. Whatever some fuckwit dished out, you’re still you. Don’t internalize their crazy.

I’d also suggest not staying married to it either.

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  • Recognize that it’s dead, believe it, and the sooner that you accept that it’s dead the better. This was one of many downfalls of my Chumpdom. I spent countless hours coming up with solutions and excuses for glaring betrayal without remorse of my cheater. I reenacted every conversation we had in the days leading to my discovery and wondered if it was something I said. I was going to fix this because we were special, had shared so many special memories, we were married 20 years and gone through so much together, etc, etc.., I treasured the special memories, I thought we were special, 20 years of marriage meant something, to me, to the cheater obviously not so much or he wouldn’t have been cheating. Once a cheater always a cheater, once a liar always a liar.
    I would never want anyone to waste as much time as I have trying to fix something that can’t be fixed.

    • Brit, I went through the same emotions. Thinking we were special, we can navigate through this, we are not like other couples, we love each other, our commitment and love will push us through this hardship, and so on…….. But the truth of the matter was that these were my feelings and my emotions, my commitment, my strength, my courage, my integrity, my love, all of which he lacked in considerably. As with everything else in life there is a birth and there is a death, this is the inevitable truth, ” (assuming you think resurrection of dead things is a desirable outcome),” when it’s dead you have to put it to rest.

      • Picturing the x as a zombie – reserection of the “lost” partner is similar!

        Scarey as hell I would say. Don’t want that version of my marriage thank you very much!!!

        • In my marriage I had grave suspicions, I snooped, I caught ex doing outings with AP, I knew, but didn’t know, didn’t really want to know, too much house, kids, investment in 25 years. He escalated in serious narc abuse in the last 4 years via name calling, some physical, but still I denied it in full chump glory: the lies, the abuse (it’s not really him), the abandonment (he loves his family, he’ll never do anything to hurt us). My biggest regret? Not following my intuition and leaving and living for years in a state of numb and confusion, believing that staying was the right thing for the kids. It was never okay that I allowed the dysfunction to go on for so long and I worry and wonder every day what I have now done to my kids. I thought staying was right, now I know not leaving was wrong. Oh, this cheater stuff….

          • I noticed an escalation of the verbal abuse, sudden angry outbursts and his distancing himself in the last four years of our marriage too. I also lived in denial, making excuses, for his behavior, it’s not really him, he has things on his mind.., his knee hurts.
            I had a few red flag moments when he’d tell me a story of something that happened on a business trip then hours later tell the same story of the same event but the stories weren’t quite the same. I told myself he’s just tired, it’s easy to get things mixed up when your tired he just told the story wrong the first time..
            I also was convinced he’d never abandon our family he loves us too much. That sort of thing happens to other people, who aren’t as close as we are. He’s a family guy. He has integrity, (something he made a point of telling me almost every other day). I chose to ignore my intuition, although I did ask him a couple times and he was appalled I’d ask such an absurd question. “Who me? you know me better than that.., do I seem like that kind of guy to you?” I always had a nagging doubt he wasn’t telling the truth.
            Migrontree, I felt the same way as you, our commitment was special, different than other couples, we were closer, bonded, we had overcome other hardships over the years which made us closer than other people. I was a devoted wife and mother surely he appreciated all I do and had done over the last 20+ years.
            It’s heartbreaking when you realize memories we made and thought were treasured between the two of us and with our son meant nothing and he not only doesn’t appreciate your devotion and the huge sacrifices you have made over the years for him and our family, he doesn’t care.

            I mentioned some of these things to him as he was leaving. He didn’t respond, it was clear by the look in his reptilian eyes he didn’t value me, us, or any of our life together.
            Narcissistic and sociopathic is my only explanation after spending far too much time analyzing his disturbingly cold hearted and cruel behavior.

            • You’re singing my song. Escalation of verbal abuse, angry outbursts, contempt oozing from every pore, anger over stupid things like, I’d unplug some fans in the house but not others, before leaving for work. He was disconnecting for years while I tried to save the marriage that was already dead. Wish I’d found this site then. Maybe I wouldn’t have been blindsided when he finally found a crapwhore to give him the faux courage to dump me. Oh hell, now I’m sad. I need a Brian Regan video, stat.

              • 26 years in. I’d had my suspicions before, but nothing solid, and he gaslighted like crazy if I ever brought it up. I stopped saying anything about other women, but if I broke my poker face and showed the slightest distress about how he interacted with another woman, he’d pre-emptively pick a fight and gaslight. I didn’t even have to say anything…

                The last few years got especially brutal with the emotional abuse and gaslighting. I couldn’t do anything right. Everything was a no-win situation. I was increasingly belittled and insulted. When he was speaking to me, anyway. Often, he’d just get angry and freeze me out, days, weeks, months at a time.

                Depression was once a minor issue for me, and it intensified. I drank to numb the day in day out pain, leading me into a downward spiral of alcohol abuse and depression that nearly killed me.

                Somehow, I managed to ignore his actions or lack thereof and thought he still had a shred of respect for our marriage, so I kept fighting for it.

                Until I followed my suspicions he was hiding something from me (I didn’t know what) and found he was engaged in what was clearly an EA. Might have been more, might not have been, but the betrayal was the same.

                The caring, the compliments, the attention, the sympathy he expressed for her were the anti-thesis of how he’d been treating me. He had obviously used the impact of his treatment on me, the pain I was in that HE caused, as fodder to make her think he was a dedicated, loyal and loving man, sacrificing himself to not abandon the albatross I’d become. He shared personal issues he swore would stay between us. And he flattered her, almost word for word, with the phrases he used when he was in hot pursuit of ME, decades ago.

                And I thought, what would happen if I brought it up? I knew I would only be opening myself up to even more abuse. More lies. More gaslighting.

                And I said fuck it.

                Within a couple of weeks, when I had a window of opportunity to pack up a few things and my dogs, I left. I pulled out enough money to survive for a while and pay attorney fees. I finally reached out to friends and family, who basically told me it was about fucking time I got out of there.

                Filing for divorce Friday, the first day I can. (Relocated and had to meet residency requirement.)

                Having irrefutable evidence, finally, was what I needed to pull the trigger. Oddly, it almost seemed like a relief, that I could somehow justify leaving him, despite the years of emotional abuse. I was so beaten down, so broken, so miserable, I couldn’t imagine life without the few crumbs of affection he occasionally threw my way.

                He can shove those crumbs up his ass like a Thanksgiving turkey, with some broken drumsticks for good measure. I’m done with him now.

                Funny thing, after a little over a month, I weaned off one of my anti-depressants, and I’m still okay! No pharmaceutical concoction could benefit me more than hauling ass out of there (although I remained on one, let’s not be stupid here.)

                The divorce will be hard to go through, because of what limited communication I will have to have with him. I have to get the rest of my things and so forth. But I’m in a much better position now to return to that house, do what I need to do, without giving him the time of day. Anything he has to say, he can say to my lawyer.

                I have advantages many do not. No kids at home, no career to worry about, and access to enough funds to carry me through until things are settled. Maybe strategically, I should have kicked his ass out, but I wasn’t quite strong enough yet. Getting out has done wonders for my soul, in just the short time I’ve been out… Looking forward to the future now, not dreading the emptiness of a dead marriage day in and day out.

                Reaching that point where I had clearly been betrayed, but knew it would do no good to mention it to him, was the catalyst. I’d been through enough to know he can’t take criticism, he has an excuse for everything, and he never expresses any real remorse. No conception of what he puts me through, and if he did, it didn’t matter… He’s just not that into me. So adios, motherfucker.

              • The abuse during the affair made it much easier for me to leave. By the time I uncovered the cheating, my XW had been so mean and nasty for such a long time, I was relieved that I had it right and now had an out that all would accept as valid.
                Try divorcing someone because shd is emotionally abusive. Folks fo not get it and blsme you.
                Infidelity or physical abuse, they accept as valid reasons to divorce.
                On the issue of resuurecting and having a ddceng marriage after cheating, I am firmly convinced that people making these claims are almost all lying to themselves and others.

              • Aren’t we so fortunate that the emotional abuse and cheating go together, so other people accept our reason for leaving? (eyeroll)

              • Escalation of verbal abuse, angry outbursts, distancing, that would sum up the last five yesrs of my forty plus years of marriage, to a man I never doubted was faithful, and it turns out, he never was, ever. Dday I kicked his ass to the curb. I have been alone now for 15 months, living in my home, he has an apartment. No OW, just a serial cheater. And now he wants our relationship back.

                I just finished reading Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist – I can’t remember who recommended it, but thank you. It has given me the understanding of what I have been dealing with all these years. A turning point for me I hope.

                Thank you CL and CN, for your great posts, and for making me laugh out loud, which I really love to do.

            • Same for me. I knew she was withdrawing 5 years before the actual split. Just like all of you, I had 20 years invested in the relationship. So, I fought like hell those years trying to work on our marriage. I just didn’t know she was already gone. We had always agreed that we didn’t believe in divorce. She loved me so much (love bombing). I wish I had left then. She had the easy life and took advantage of me. Stayed at home and screwed around the last 3 years that I know of. It is over and it hurts like hell. Was I a great husband? No, i’m not going to lie. But I gave her my all, especially in the end. Did everything I could to make her and my kids life better. To be rejected in the end, to be made to feel worthless, and to be left is cruel. Like all of you, I now am just trying to rebuild some type of life. Yeah, I thought we were different and special. Turns out only she is.

              • lostntx, I’ll accept she’s “different” but not special, not at all! Maybe in her own alleged mind, but not in the real world. She’s just a common, garden-variety self-worshipper. You’re right though, what they did is cruel, so cruel. As time passes, we begin to see that we’re better off. Some days it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s true nonetheless. We shall overcome, damn it.

              • See, this is the crap we ard left thinking, tx: questioning if we were “great” spouses. Look, we ard not expected to be”great”. Our vows did not include the qualifier that we be “great”, without flaws and deficiencies in order to deserve fidelity.
                I know that if a spouse cheats, that spouse,despite all his or her claims, was , almost invariably, the more flawed one of the pair. I have seen it time and again in the “wayward” forums (and these cheaters who, actually, post to forums are, probabky, the cream of .)yhe cheater crop in terms of some modicum of remorse and taking responsibility.) The narcissism oozes from their posts.

              • Hey, Arnold: first rule of organizing–don’t alienate your supporters or people on your side.

                Eyerolling is also a way to indicate sarcasm; I typed something counter to what I actually think, and used the (eyeroll) to indicate that since you can’t see my facial expression on a blog. Nothing passive/aggressive about me.

      • The reasons I thought our love was so special was because he repeatedly told me through poems,cards,and promises that he loved me. I wasnt aware he recycled the same bulkshit for all those other special women he never stopped dating and screwing.

        Cheaters love only themselves. They have no respect for their spouse. They live by their own rules. The final pick me dance came after the damage he inflicted nearly destroyed me. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your financial situation is because living with someone who is toxic is soul sucking. Denial? Yes, they are the ones who distort our reality and pull the rug out without notice. We want to believe or can’t believe anyone could tell you they love you fucking strange the next hour. How can we save ourselves from this abuse? Recognize it as such and doccument everything. Divorce the entitled asshole and take care of yourself.

        • Tempest, the eye roll, to me, signified that you felt my concern with others perceptions re the accetabikty of divorce was not a valid concern. You know almost nothing of my family background. I did not wznt my famiky or friends thinking I divorced for some frivolous reason. My concern about this was perfectly valid.
          Your rolloing your eyes re that concern was uncalled for.

          • Then you completely misunderstood me, which is surprising since we are both frequent contributors. I apologize if you took it that way–I was indicating solidarity with you. I agree, people don’t think emotional abuse is a sufficient reason to divorce, but many think infidelity is. Unfortunately, they often go together, so we then seem “justified” in leaving. I agree with you 100% that the emotional abuse itself warrants divorce. the (eyeroll) was to indicate that I was being sarcastic about how ‘fortunate’ it is that the two go together to avoid the opprobrium of other people.

            We are on the same side, you know.

  • I looked at my old text messages the other day and cringed, I really wish I hadn’t bothered begging and feeling sorry for myself, instead that I had just recognised what a price of shit he actually was.

    I’m glad I kicked him out imediately and did all the actions I was supposed to, even though I kept saying stupid things and my heart took a while to catch up.

    I also looked for role models, women who had done the same in the past, strong women who had done well since they kicked their cheaters out of their lives, it encouraged me and made me stronger.

      • To Snakebitnomore, thank you for posting your story (or part of it at least). You are really MIGHTY. I got a lot out of reading what you wrote here.

        • Thank you… it’s sad/scary to see how often the same pattern repeats itself with others…. I wasn’t feeling very mighty when I was with the snake… Getting out has made a world of difference.

          • I loved it too. And when I think of that clickbait horseshit out there, I would love to see yours as a standalone article!

  • Once someone blatantly conspires to have an affair they betray you in the worst possible way, your own love for them is never the same and deteriorates with time until all you feel is embittered. You cannot trust them and live in a state of angst. I had it happen to me, I thought we were in love? He told me he stopped buying me things because I did not seem to appreciate all the money he spent. Sorry but I did not appreciate him cavorting with other women, big difference!!! All the designer purses in the world won’t make the sadness I felt go away! He really thought spoiling me made it better, like a type of repentance. Why do some men think that buying you off will make cheating ok?

    • Fbi, you are so right about being bought off just does not work. My ex bought me so many things after his first affair and in the end was a disaster. He had two other affairs and one night stands included. There was no sincerity whatsoever. Sure I felt spoiled, but he only repeated cheating over and over.

      • I can’t begin to understand the mentality of a cheater, but I think trying to buy us off is more for the cheater than for us. Although void of guilt, it somehow makes them feel better about what they are doing. Narcs do it for appearances. After a condom came out of CheaterPant’s pocket in the wash after a business trip (yes, he was with ho-worker), he didn’t confess or take responsibility or show remorse… he planned a family vacation to an exotic island! Two weeks before “there is going to be no family vacation this year”. This was a great PR stunt on his part. Mr. Sparkly convincing the world everything is fine. He believes I had a great time on this vacation – too self-absorbed to notice I was sick to my stomach. Still working on getting to the other side…

        • Hi Walkingthruhell and Carmen… yes buying expensive gifts makes them feel like they have been absolved from all wrong doings, what’s the matter with you? Are you not happy with all the money I spent, you’re so ungrateful! He seemed to have a clear conscious after buying me a 175$ flower arrangement when I found out the first time. Now I wonder if every impromptu gift had been laced with a hiden agenda. Very sad indeed!

          • “He told me he stopped buying me things because I did not seem to appreciate all the money he spent. Sorry but I did not appreciate him cavorting with other women, big difference!!!”
            Dear FBI, your cheater is cut from the same cloth as mine. It’s all part of the mindfuckery to keep us second guessing ourselves. After a year of lining up ducks, I let the SWAT team out the morning he left for a 2-country business trip. He had meetings lined up with ho-worker in the 2nd country. This was the first time I mentioned I wanted a divorce, and first time I really confronted him after D-day. “Thanks for ruining my business trip to Country #1.” “No, my intentions were to ruin your fuckfest in Country #2.” “But I took you to Exotic Island!” WTF?!

            • Yes how dare you get between his well earned fuckfest after he treated you to an exotic trip, you re just no fun at all, so nosy and invasive. And why should a divorce ruin his plans, he should embrace it , more time to spend with ho worker. I don t get cheaters, if I had to resort to cheating I would end it with that person, why string them along…so useless!

          • The only time I ever received roses from cheater-ass during 20 years of marriage was after Dday#1. I forgave him, not because of the flowers but because of this stupid idea that we were so “special” and he had made a “mistake”. (of course, I hate red roses now…) Fast forward seven years later Dday#2 I kicked him out immediately and regretted so much having not done so the first time. Cheaters don´t care about everything you´ve gone through, children, what you built together…they just want what they want and don´t care about any consequences or hurting you, or going into financial distress. Its part of the excitement they need. I think they are attracted to chaos and like to see how far they can go and how much they can get away with. If you forgive them, it is like giving them a free ticket to do it again, except they will be more careful the second (or third, fourth…) time…

        • My ex gave me a ridiculous number of gifts to me during our last Christmas together with the kids. Did he think they compensated for all the lies and cheating?

          • The short answer is YES.

            And that’s all you will ever need to know about them. It’s all right there in that little nutshell.

    • After D-day, mine asked why I didn’t just ask for a big diamond ring and tell him not to do it again. What do I look like, a housewife of New Jersey? Glad to be rid of the shallow dumbass.

        • At least they offered something to you guys…

          He stopped buying me gifts altogether a few years ago. Hates shopping. Stopped the flowers too. He would take me out to eat, but hey, it was a nice meal in it for him too. Once I was so isolated no one would hear about how good he was to me, he stopped doing nice things.

      • I’m a chump from NJ.
        I ain’t got no big-ass diamond ring. Exit 16E on the NJ turnpike is far far away from the NJ shore.
        This state always gets maligned in movies & on TV. Now on blogs too?!

        To all new chumps: get out while you still have your sanity. Don’t waste precious time with someone who isn’t worthy of you! Read CL & read some more. Much wisdom can be found here.
        Except for the NJ bashing.??

        • I like the area up by the Delaware Water Gap. 🙂 (The long-term OW in my story was from the Jersey Shore… but really she could’ve been from anywhere.)

          And Jersey gets bashed? Hey, stand in line behind Detroit.

        • Thanks fbi–you’re right, I was talking about the show Housewives of NJ, (or NYC or Beverly Hills or Atlanta–wherever those atrocious shows are set), not all wives in NJ. [I actually worked in NJ for a decade and still have close friends there.]

          • I knew you couldn’t really be bashing NJ, Tempest. You do bash things but only if they really, really deserve it.

            • I envy those of you with no direct knowledge of the Housewives of ____ (fill in the locale) shows. There is not enough bleach for one’s eyeballs to unsee the shallow pursuit of wealth & status for its own sake, at the expense of any substance. I never willingly watched them, but some members of my family thought the shows were amusing. About as amusing as a trainwreck, IMHO.

              • I’ll admit it. RH is a guilty pleasure for me. Last night A RH admitted she had broken up her long term (she was the bigger earner ) marriage to be with someone she had a ‘deep connection with. ‘
                And now 3 seasons later, her soul mate was just outed for pretending he has cancer, even producing fake dr’s reports, when he doesn’t, for the umpteenth time. What kind of person fakes cancer 3 times for pity and financial gain? We all know that answer. It’s right out of CN

                The most famous Real Housewife of NJ is in jail reinforcing my message that everyone need to understand the tax return they sign.

              • The Housewives of ___x___ shows remind me of the adage, “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”

                You raise an interesting point about tax returns though–my X day-traded in the stock market. Our tax files were 2 inches thick, and I would have needed a year of economics classes/accounting to understand them. How liable are spouses if they couldn’t be expected to understand the tax returns (I always insisted we have an accountant just to be safe)? Did the Housewife in jail knowingly participate in fraud? How much would being clueless have protected her from prosecution?

              • I think in ‘that’ housewives legal case it had more to do with the fraudulent loan applications w a following fraudulent bankruptcy. Justice may be blind but you could see the mansion they built and their lifestyle from outer space.

                The tax returns were just the Cherry on the cake.

                I always advise spouses to go the accountant or financial advisor to ask questions about the return. They will explain it to you. I’m not certain it’s 100 percent understandable but at least you have an idea of the amounts of money that went through that trading account and that alone has value.

      • I think Tempest was refering to the show Wives of New Jersey whom are renowned for their outlandish tastes lol not people from N.J in general.

      • “What do I look like, a housewife of New Jersey? Glad to be rid of the shallow dumbass.”

        Oh Tempest, you constantly make my day.

    • I guess not-soon-enough-tbx thought he could placate me with food. I could tell when he was feeling guilty by when he would come home with filet mignon, shrimp, cheesecake, fancy pastries, etc. I’m like, motherfucker, I haven’t been able to keep crackers down for a week, wtf am I going to do with a rack of ribs.

      • Oh wow lol, my ex went on a cooking spree after she hooked up with her AP, making all these new Hawaiian dishes we never had. Little did I realize she was perfecting the recipes for his future enjoyment and my daughter and I were the “taste testers”..sickening. Glad to be rid of the skank, my daughter and I are doing much better.

        • Wow that’s gross kbchump!!! The nerve of her using you as tasters for her meals meant to impress some douchbag. Cooking is an expression of love, in that situation it certainly was tainted

  • I spent 30 years and countless affairs trying to change things. CL your right – they don’t change – if you don’t end up leaving the situation, they do. Devalue and discard. Wasted all those years for what? To walk on egg shells, give up my identity, lose my self respect and to be filled with hurt and disappointment only to be left for someone else? I wish I would have found you sooner, but better late than never! Thanks for helping me understand the truth. It’s hard to see, but necessary. You my dear are a leader in what you do and I for one can’t thank you enough for putting it out there for others. CL and CN have helped me get back to me! Yeay!!!!

    • I think cheaters CAN change. I do. Even I believe in unicorns. However, I think that they destroy the relationship they’re in, and I’m not convinced by the RIC arguments that marriage post-affair(s) is “better” or “stronger” than before. Why I think deep character transformation is an iffy proposition is all over this blog.

      I think reconciling doesn’t levy the kind of meaningful consequence a cheater would need to turn it around. I think a post-nup is a kind of mock divorce, and it’s a start. If they won’t do that — there’s the sorry. But the cheaters willing to take a financial risk, or do the hard work to repair what they broke, IMO are rare.

      • ETA, I think they’ve got a better chance of changing if they lose their chumps and life kicks them around a bit. But generally, IMO, I think they find it easier to find a new chump, or new sparkly whatever.

        Loving away their brokenness doesn’t tend to get you respect or better treatment, in my experience. (Let the “bitter” comments begin!) 🙂

        • Personally I think loving away their brokenness is the worst thing you can do. From my own experience cheaters are already feeling superior and the more love you give to their brokenness the less they respect you.
          Your “loving” gives them the feeling of superiority and entitlement to abuse you while giving them more time to carefully plan their inevitable exit.
          You have better chance of reconciliation if you make their lives miserable.

          • Maybe make their lives miserable was the wrong choice of words.., I do believe if you ignore the cheater, take care of yourself, and set boundaries you are more likely to have the cheater reconcile and respect you.
            If a reconciliation were to happen I know I wouldn’t be able to fully trust the cheater again.
            My cheater was also verbally and emotionally abusive which escalated in the last year of our marriage. As time goes on and I see our relationship more objectively I realize how abusive he was and still is. If I had known he was capable of being so cruel, verbally abusive and such a pathological liar I would have never had anything to do with him.

          • So true, Brit–you can’t love away someone’s brokenness. It’s like trying to appease a bully. For years it was thought that bullies have low self esteem. But then numerous studies showed that bullies have very HIGH self esteem (most of them). So pouring goodies into that is like trying to fill a cup with a hole in it…the cup gets stronger and stronger somehow and you end up flowing through the hole (right into the garbage pit). Most cheaters probably feel pretty good about their situation–at least until they get caught!

        • It’s easier for them to find a new victim then to try to work on the marriage.
          It’s easier to get a new smoopie, kibbles are easier to get. Working on your marriage for these guys just means I have to share the kibbles and that’s a Big no no for cheaters!!!

          • So true!

            My ex is married to who appears to be a very good woman, a very successful and intelligent person who does her best by the kids they have together. But, he used to whine to me about her supposed lack of maternal instincts, which I figured out actually meant that she expected him to help parent them. Imagine the nerve of her!

            I happened to have found out via a very reliable source that he cheats on her with several different women. He did it to me, he does it to her, and he’d do it to the next one in line if his current wife were to wise up and leave.

        • Definitely MUCH easier for them to move on with the AP, who has already been painted the picture that you were neglectful and crazy and is completely on the cheater’s side, than for them to admit what they did was wrong and spend a lifetime making it up to the one person they vowed to be faithful to. Especially if your cheater is the personality disordered variety – their true selves are ‘bruised and damaged’, so why would they want to live with someone who makes them feel ashamed and guilty every time they look at him or her versus someone who looks at them they way their betrayed spouse used to – full of love, hope, and like they could do no wrong. That is the prime difference between these fucktards and chumps. They want the easy way out, while we are willing to sacrifice our self-respect, even if it means we look like terrible role models for our children to make it work. THAT was my ah-ha moment – I would never want my daughter thinking that it would be okay for her to be treated this way – and I would never want my son to think that it’s okay to treat women this way. I want to be the role model for them that their father will never be.

          • “Definitely MUCH easier for them to move on with the AP, who has already been painted the picture that you were neglectful and crazy and is completely on the cheater’s side, than for them to admit what they did was wrong and spend a lifetime making it up to the one person they vowed to be faithful to.”

            Yes, yes, yes!!!! Ex told me just last week that he was brave for leaving and getting a happier life. And that I need to move on…blah blah blah. It will be a year next month since divorce…and why do you keep bringing it up??

        • Here’s bitter: I put the probability of a cheater changing at less than 2 in 100. Any gambler looking at that is going to realize the better odds are had by leaving. Will some sincere cheaters (2 out of every 100) get lost, then? Sure, but too bad, so sad–shouldn’t have cheated in the first place.

        • He’s becoming the husband he should have been all along, but there is no doubt my marriage is dead.

          I stay because of my age, and if we split, I’m the one who would have to settle hundreds of thousands of dollars on him because even though I earned and invested the money (and he only worked in a low paying job for 30 hours a week), he’s legally entitled to half of everything, plus part of my pension.

          Financially, I’m better off with him than without him. He’s older than I, easy going and rather “simple” and he is now functioning as my handyman, gardener, and housekeeper, and a companion to an extent, but he’s not a husband, and he accepts that sex is off the table for ever. We’re going on 2 years and 2 months post DDAY #2, been in IC, MC, he continues to do the reading, etc. He’s effectively shown me that he can change, but I won’t ever trust him again. As I said, I stay because it’s to my benefit.

          • BTW, I never did the Pick Me Dance, nor did I do any hysterical bonding. There’s not enough bleach, acid, kerosene or fire in the world to clean the stench of the long time affair with the hooker off him.

            • Hi Stella-my cheater used prostitutes as well and was “grooming” one to become his “girlfriend” He thought he was such a stud that she would actually “date” him for no charge versus $300 a pop. Because what 25 year old wouldn’t want to scuk some 60 year old paunchy moony bald creep with ear hair like a Furby? I was curious how the money exchange worked for your cheater and how long he saw the one particular whore–no doubt she specialized in the “girlfriend experience” the “escorts” (whores) advertise.

              • Hi, Listing,

                Yes, the old, fat, bald, micro-penis man with ED and PE since his late 30s, began his A at Year 25 of our M. He had the same hooker the whole time of his YEARS of having a secret life, and he fooled himself into believing he was “helping” her and she was just a gal down on her luck. She gave him the belief he must have desperately wanted–that he was young and stud-ly and satisfied her, and he was so special his sh*t didn’t stink.

                He met her almost a decade ago when she was “working” a party that he crashed (thinking himself the cool older guy who can crash parties he’s heard about at bowling), & she was flirting and handing out her fake business card.

                There is no way in real life that he could have had his “ideal” woman who was tall, blonde, fake boobs, pretty beach babe. He believed he was the only one she was seeing…for 7 plus years–he *wanted* to believe that crap.

                He always gave her cash …sometimes, when he called, she’d say she needed a specific amount of money for her rent, her cell phone, for gas, and other times, he’d ask if she was available for him going over to visit, and she’d ask what he’d like to do, and he’d tell her what he wanted (blow job, lap dance & stripping followed by sex, different positions, etc) and she would tell him how much cash to bring.

                The cheater and I always had separate bank accounts, which is MEANINGLESS in a community property state without a pre-nup, so I never was aware of the bundles of money he was spending on her every month.

                I’m sorry you and I both have to deal with this. The ED/PE micro-penis cheater is now 66 going on 67. Older, fatter, still bald, still hairy front and back, and I wonder how often his mind turns to those oh-so-special days when he was Mr. I Am So Awesome. He was always very “open” to tell me the sex was really great! Well, of course it was! For the prostitute, it was the easiest money she ever made…that 3 to 5 seconds of thrusting when she had sex with the cheater. He spent over $25K total. That’s a great deal of money to throw away on years of a fantasy. He admits he would not have stopped if he hadn’t been caught.

                Here’s hoping 2016 is going to be a good year for us, better than ever before. Happy New Year. :O)
                Stella

          • ‘He’s effectively shown me he can change, but I won’t ever trust him again.’

            And that is the great contradiction at the heart of the RIC. Like the military industrial complex after which it is named, it sells one thing disguised as another.

            Stella, I hear you. It’s so hard, but at least you are facing reality. Well done.

          • My spouse, like yours, Stella, seems to be doing everything right, really trying to change himself, and reconcie. Problem is, I feel dead inside, and unable to trust him. This has changed the way I feel about him, and our 21 year marriage, irrevocably! I don’t know how to recover those good feelings.

            • Pauline, you are preaching to the choir.

              My marriage is dead, I feel dead inside when I think of him, I barely trust him to go pick up groceries by himself. I know I’ll NEVER recapture the devotion and love I used to feel for him, back when I was loving him even with all his bedroom issues because I felt the person he was and the qualities I believe him to have (character integrity, honesty, respect etc), were more important than his ability or inability in the bedroom. I would have marched into the fires of a volcano to bring him back out, I loved him so much. Not any more.

              I doubt I will recover feelings of love for him. I feel that we are “acceptably” compatible to live with one another under the same roof. I don’t feel friendship, and certainly don’t feel the love of a wife for a husband. He thinks we can rebuild a new marriage. I know that’s not going to happen.

              Stella

  • There were just so many things I couldn’t wrap my mind around:
    1. Just how chumpy I was: I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I’d been missing red flags for 20+ years. It made me question my psychological health and intelligence.
    2. That stbx had been living a double life: Once I started digging into his activities, I was afraid to sleep in the same bed with him. I felt as though I was living with a complete stranger. It was as if I had been transported to the Twilight Zone.
    3. That stbx was such an accomplished liar: Even when confronted with evidence, Cheater would lie. Before I heard about gas lighting I thought I was just going crazy. It didn’t make sense that Cheater would lie about something I had proof of, so I would question the validity of my “proof”.
    4. That what we had together; our beautiful family, our home, our business, wasn’t enough, and would never be enough for Cheater.

    2 years after Dday his behavior still hadn’t changed, and I was slowly able to observe him objectively. That’s when I finally realized that it was dead… it was all dead; I was a chump married to an accomplished liar, living a double life, and he would never value what we had together. It was one of my lowest points, but also the beginning of my recovery. I had been in a free-fall, and now I see light at the end of the tunnel.

    • I could have written your comment, these cheaters really all play from the same rule book! Especially “it was all dead; I was a chump married to an accomplished liar, living a double life, and he would never value what we had together. It was one of my lowest points, but also the beginning of my recovery. I had been in a free-fall, and now I see light at the end of the tunnel.”

      I have a nagging thought on the subject – Did they fess up and come clean or did the chump find out? If they came clean and are doing all the therapy and post-nup steps CL recommends (http://www.chumplady.com/2013/07/real-remorse-or-genuine-imitation-naugahyde-remorse/), maybe there is a possible change.

      But I found out about my STBX’s affair, and after being confronted with evidence, he lied and used intimidation and try to guilt me to weasel his way out of any responsibility.

      I knew when I found out about the affair that he had put me in the worse possible situation. Either I sacrificed my self-esteem and stayed married to him, or I had to leave and end my kid’s family unit. Three weeks later I was moved out and had put together a visitation schedule as I initiated my divorce.

      When you find out that the person you trust stab you in the back, you realize that the person you are living with is a fraud. They feel entitled to have a double life, they feel superior to you, and think you are too dumb to find out.

      The burn and size of the mental wound is so intense it will stop you from functioning for weeks. My remedy was to read all I could about Cluster Bs and controlling men. CL in daily doses, along with all the blogs and books I could find on Cluster Bs (Sandra Brown on “Women who love sociopaths”, Lundy Bancroft’s “Why does he do that” and his book on how to help your kids). Page after page, I read about the dynamics of my life, and I knew I was a convenient appliance to him, and that was awful to let it sink in, but liberating as well.

      Curiously, one of the things that also helped me in my recovery was to read the adultery section on reddit. Reading how twisted and entitled the cheaters are on that site turned my stomach, and also gave me the absolute certainty that there was no time in my life for a cheater as my spouse.

      I am a bit over a year out, my sleep is getting better, I am trying to learn new stress management and relation techniques to best digest the continued shit sandwiches that come with having married and bred with a cheater… But my quality of life is better, my divorce is hopefully going to be done before Xmas, I know thanks to CL and the generous CN community that my life will be getting better and better, and that I will reach Meh, on a Tuesday!

      So newly chumped, read as much as you can about Cluster Bs, and yes, the person you loves was only a facade, I hope you will avoid the Pick-me-Dance, and seek support here on CN. Onto Meh!

      • This is my quandary. If he’s just going to gaslight, do I bother getting DNA comparison on the panties? Because I can’t prove to anyone else that they came out of his pants. So DNA testing proves they aren’t mine, but they don’t prove he had them, and so it’s just… Me being weird. Proving something which still leaves other holes in the story. Proving that I am willing to spend 500 bucks on panties.

      • Aren’t the fine folks over there on Reddit Adultery just precious?

        When I’m bored, I will sometimes create throwaway accounts and troll them. Step parents is another interesting subreddit. Many of the step parents are in their current relationships due to adultery, and a more disordered bunch I have never seen. They love bashing the mothers of the poor step kids, and obviously have no interests or hobbies outside of doing anything they can to hold onto that man, and live some pretend fantasy life in which they are heroes who “rescue” those kids from the invariably “horrible” real mothers. It’s almost worst than the adultery board, as far as numbers of the delusional and disordered.

  • Hi all! Letting you know that despite doing the shameful pick me dance for 15 months I have finally turned the corner. Any feelings I had for the cheater and bullshit artist are gone. He found a fuckbuddy, a university student from overseas, 25 years his junior, who brazenly walked into his office and announced she’d sleep with anyone of them if they gave her a job. Nice piece of work! He must have been beside himself at this hottie offering herself up to the highest bidder. She wants a visa and a sponsor so she can remain here. Stupid can’t see he’s being manipulated so he’s moved in with her and we are now selling our home.

    He’s desperate for money after running up his credit cards and borrowing $5000 off his sister. I’m happy to sell, this house (ex home) he used as a brothel when I was at work or away visiting my daughter. I can’t get rid of the smell, of that cat marking her territory! I will never forgive him or forget. They deserve each other, pieces of work that they are. It does take time, for your mind to see things clearly, and it takes time to heal from the multiple cuts and stab wounds to your soul! Now I can say, I’m glad he did what he did, it woke me up and I finally saw the monster rear his ugly head. Too bad she’ll use him and drop him into the gutter, but couldn’t happen to a more deserving bastard. And amazingly I’m happier now than I have been for the past 25 years. Btw the old fool is 59 shortly but thinks he’s 30 again!

    Go figure why I wanted this useless piece of garbage back. Must have been temporarily insane. So if you are thinking about reconciling with a cheater and liar, remember what you see is what you’ll get……and it ain’t pretty!

    • Stupid CAN see that he’s being manipulated. And he is just fine with that. And that should confirm that you are in fact 1000% better off now.

      • You are right Lola Granola, he does see he’s being manipulated but hey the sex is worth it! As he said he’s having fun and enjoying himself. She’s got her hands in one pocket playing with him and lifting his wallet out of the other one. For someone having so much fun he looks terrible, aged five years in 15 months. Jumping through hoops for her is obviously taking its toll, poor thing!

        • Yeah, he knows he is being chumped but deep down he has a glimmer of hope that OW will have some sort of epiphany and see what catch he is:) OW won’t of course and will dump his sorry ass when he can no longer provide “stuff”. If you think your ex has aged now, wait a few more months, he’ll look 90. Please do not feel sorry for him and take him back-this happens far too often.

  • Ex was also an accomplished liar and manipulator, so I know the feeling when “Cheater would lie about things I had proof of, so I would question my “proof,” I thought I was losing my mind.

    One of the most painful things is realizing that our 20+ years of our memories I treasured meant absolutely
    nothing to him. As if those memories never happened, meaningless.

    I married to an imposter, a fraud, a manipulator.
    My life as I knew it didn’t exist. I had to grieve for a life I never had, a husband that wasn’t the person I
    thought he was. For 20 years I thought we had a good marriage and we were building a future together to find out there was no such thing is devastating.

    • Yes, Brit, ex was a grifter, my life for 25 years was a fraud, my past was a lie. What a legacy to leave for me and our children, no wonder we flounder down that dark unfamiliar hallway. Even when things are better than we ever could have imagined post -divorce and abandonment by ex, we still often feel like we are on shifting sand.

    • Brit, I understand. One of the hardest things to deal with the story of your past. They take that away from you because nothing was ever real. Old pictures brings anger instead of memories that you though you shared. The story changes, you look at old pictures of them and wonder which whore occupied their thoughts, what is behind that smile that now looks more like a smirk. They take away your past, its unforgivable.

      • The rewrite of history is one of the hardest things to deal with. 1 1/2 years after divorcing my cheater my life is better than I would have thought, and I’ve worked through many loads of grief. But I keep wondering: was any of it real? It never occurred to me once in 26 years of marriage that he would cheat. But he did, and is now married to Schmoopie ( also a cheater). The speed at which I was replaced (she left her husband and moved in with mine a few weeks after I left) makes me think that all was to him was an Ego Kibble Supplier, nothing more.

        • I also wonder if it was real? Any of it? It sure seemed like it in the beginning. The love bombing was over the top. Kept it up for about 15 years. Then it all changed in an instant. I guess she realized I would never fill up her tank. I was replaced promptly after she left. Not the ap, but another guy that she had been texting for almost a year. I will never know what I was to her. I do my best to not try to linger on those questions. In the end, it just doesn’t matter. The are different than us and even if they gave a logical excuse, I don’t think it would be the truth. I don’t think they realize they are broken.

      • There is a cluster of widows who were all married to classmates at the same Univ and we have a closed FB page. Last night I PM’d one of them and told her the truth…that I learned that he was a serial cheater and had numerous OWs. i told her “I can’t even tell myself that ‘he loved me to the end”‘when I know now that he lied to me to the end”. Yes, he has stolen my past.

        I toiled and scrambled and danced and speckled for 2-3 years before e D day and 7 years after. What a fucking waste. What amazes me is how I thought I could tell when he was lying…he was SUCH a better liar than I EVER guessed. He told me that his big trip with Susan if Seattle was happenstance, finding himself at an odd place/circumstance…except I found his meticulous military travel documents that included ORDERS which included the planned time off he would have on the trip and where he would be (not even the same city he told me he was in.

        So while he admitted to something the size of a pingpong ball, I was reacting to something I thought was the size of a softball, I learn much later was actually the size of a basketball. He was NEVER going to come clean or tell the truth because it was SO BIG and spanned YEARS.

        When I was in about 3rd grade. we all learned cuss words from our friends…it was the first I remember seeing the letters F-U-C-K….and its companion F-U-C-K-E-R and I didn’t really know what the second one meant…I later learned of sex but that didn’t exactly fit with that naughty word. When I was 50 and learned that my dead H was a serial cheater, it opened my eyes to what that word meant…he was a FUCKER.

        • Your story resonates with me. I think of all the years and tears and trying to live on crumbs & imagine those crumbs are a croissant! Now, he’s toast! But I wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent. My next love affair is with myself.

  • It is just about impossible to put the genie back in the bottle after D-Day. It just takes a while to catch up. My husband’s affair took place over a year and I found out at the end of July. He’s had all that time to dis-connect and re-write the past as a way to justify his shitty behavior. I am giving myself time to come to terms with my new reality.

    I wanted to believe the reconciliation industry’s advice that I could wait out my cheater’s affair “fog”. I’ve more recently realized that I’M IN THE FOG! I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE FOG! He doesn’t want to be married, but he doesn’t want to be divorced- because of all the practical disadvantages that accrue from that- moving out, selling property. I don’t want to deal with any of that either- but once it’s done, it’s done.

    This blog sure has helped me find my way forward, slowly, but surely.

  • The reference to the film “Gravity” really hit home. That is EXACTLY how it feels after DDay. At first, I went back in my mind to when the affair started, looking for clues, sometimes smacking my forehead at the realization that I should have know. After that horrible little journey was over, I went further down into the abyss that was my marriage and I came to the stunning conclusion that this began way before his ridiculous affair.

    I believe now that I became the “enemy” the day we said our vows. Due to his insane mother and all the issues with her (her nickname should have been Cluster B), I now was the target for all of the rage he felt toward her. Lying was a way of life for him. He lied about everything and lied about nothing. He had to have secrets from me to prove to himself that I wasn’t controlling him. It was a sick, twisted little dance that I didn’t even know the steps to.

    So, the affair – as excruciating as that was to find out about – was nothing compared to realizing that my entire marriage was a sort of pick me dance. Though I would have sworn we had a good marriage, I now know that it was all a game to him. One that he intended to win as he devoured my choices and my chance for a happy partnership with someone who could truly love me.

    As you can see, I spent way too much time unraveling his skein. And I’m now in my space capsule, like Sandra Bullock, and I really like the view from here. It’s very cozy.

    • Wow UEB, I could have written this pretty much word for word. As I now say, “we were never on the same side, I just never knew it.” All that passive-aggressive rage. Why didn’t he just leave and leave me in peace to build my own life with someone else if he resented me and did not want me? For some reason, and I’ll probably never understand why, he needed me to be there to be the person he did not want.

      He convinced me for decades he was not cheating on me, although 12 years before D-Day I had very serious suspicions and he had the perfect opportunity to tell me the truth and get out. And then when I fully trusted him he abandoned us all.

        • And summed up mine! D-day was one month ago. I’ve been married 22 years to a professor who took liberties all over the world for the past 16 years. His current affair partner, age 30, is now the love of his life, and judging by their text messages (which I figured out how to monitor), she is beside herself with giddiness that he’s on the road to divorce. And there is whipped cream involved in her ongoing sealing of the deal. I thought we had a happy marriage, two great sons, common interests…. I have a PhD and consider myself not oblivious–but I was a complete and utter chump. Stayed home to raise the kids and made it possible for his career to flourish. Still in the losing sleep, crying myself to sleep and awake, but determined to leave this turd in my wake. Hoping to manage the situation so that my sons are not damaged by the utter lack of integrity of their father.

          • Take really good care of yourself! We have all been through this shit & in the dead of night, remember you are not alone. One day you will wake up and the anguish will be over! I promise! Keep reading Chump Lady and know that Meh is not so far off once you get past the fog.

            • Sionara, my ex is an airline pilot who also travels the world. I’m sure he took liberties during his travels. I’m almost certain that is how he met AP #1, on a “layover.”
              His current love interest he met on Match.com.
              I too thought we had a happy marriage, I was a devoted wife and mother, we had common interests and a son. Never thought he’d abandoned our family.
              He would tell me I was his best friend and I was the only one he wanted to spend time with. I stayed home to raise our son, moved to a different state to for his career or as he would say “our career” since I sacrificed my career to build his since his would be the most lucrative. It does get better.
              Unfortunately ex alienated our son from me and taught him to be dishonest.
              My suggestion is monitor their relationship with their father. Liars, manipulators and cheaters don’t make good role models for our sons. I’m afraid I’ve lost mine but still hold out hope. My ex is extremely vindictive and unusually cruel.
              It’s devastating to find out that the person who you trusted with your life and to spend the rest of your life with after all your sacrifices can throw you away like trash for trash..,I wish I had found it when I began my journey into divorce. Lots of great honest information and advice on this site ..,

          • Hang in there Sionara, these are tough times for you. I am a litigation attorney and missed it all those years (so much for my skills of observation and discernment). Hilariously, I can tell when a witness is lying from a mile away but never used those same “powers” on my ex until D-Day. Once I watched him the way I watched witnesses I was examining, I knew his swearing up and down that he had not cheated was simply…..lies…. and I was able to make him admit the affairs, finally. (15 year affairs with two co-workers, group sex, unprotected of course, he now loved one of them more than he loved me and was going to marry her).

            Remember it will get better, slowly, cyclically, and once you are truly and surely as far away from the cheater as possible. If you can, stop reading their texts unless you have to, it’ll drive you bonkers.

            Remember, NO CONTACT NO CONTACT NO CONTACT. Chant it, use it, it’ll work for you. (((HUGS)))

            • Lol, if we could only bring our hard-earned work skills to bear on the cheaters, how much easier/faster we could get on with things…
              I’m an analytical chemist, responsible for QA/QC at my lab, but I didn’t pay any attention to his failures and discrepancies, not to mention all-around shoddy performance, for 20 years. He pretty much had to hit me over the head with it before I opened my eyes.
              Can’t un-see it now. Even if he did by some miracle change himself back into a decent human being (which he won’t), he’ll never not be the person who did those things to me. Can’t ever go back to the way (I thought) it was, never.

            • “He needed me to be there to be the person he didn’t want”. Kelly, there are no truths greater than this! This is by far one of the saddest truths, being part of a twisted sociopaths game. Why? Because they are this sick. For X the kill was as exciting as the thrill. I’m burning my wedding dress this weekend to celebrate my freedom.

              • Good for you Donna, there’s truly no way to fully understand them because they are not actually human.

          • Sionara, I am SO sorry to hear your story. It touched me when you mentioned that you have a PhD and are not oblivious. I have an MD and did psychotherapy full time for 15 years, and I was only oblivious because I totally and completely LOVED and TRUSTED my life partner at all times. Even though he was a bit odd.

            As it has been said here before, even a moron can deceive a person who trusts them absolutely!

            So, we trusted. I’d rather that as my ’embarrassing’ legacy than that I conspired, devalued, lied, used-for-ego-kibbles, cheated.

            Use every available source of help ~~ Crisis/Help lines, therapy, good people. But especially enforce No CONTACT. It is essential. And keep in close touch with this forum. It has literally saved my life.

          • Big bear hugs to you, Sionara! It’s so rough at first, I feel for you. You are doing all the right things, just be kind to yourself and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It will get better. Time and truth are your allies. Many blessings to you and your sons.

          • Sionara, your story also resonates w/me. My STBX and I were both professors in related fields. He’s a college administrator now and I currently work in industry. We were such a special couple b/c we related to each other in every way: intellectually, emotionally, physically. I found out 6 weeks ago that (at least) the last 5 years of our 18 year marriage were a lie. He’d been having affair after affair w/students, waitresses, colleagues, etc. He’s out of the house now and I’ve filed for divorce. I’m working on “no contact” but it’s been difficult.

            I’ve always thought of myself as a smart, observant person. I notice when the milk carton is put away on the wrong shelf in the fridge. How could I have missed the signs of my husband’s affairs for so many years?

          • Sionara: You are in the worst of it. Mine, too, was a Univ professor screwing students, colleagues, and strangers picked up on adult websites (while I, also a Ph.D. gave up tenure and a higher salary for a lecturer position so that he could advance his career). And his dalliances took place both under my nose and abroad.

            It stings, and the pain is unbearable for several months. Then, the rage is unbearable (but is the sign you can move on). Use every resource you have, cycle among your friends for support, visit this site daily. And practice self-care in every way (though eating full meals may not be possible for months).

            Upcoming joys: You’ll need to forgive yourself. Being smart or well-educated is no antidote to the betrayal of people well-versed in deception. And student-whore is in for a real treat. She thinks she’s just advanced her marital potential and her career in one fell swoop, but he won’t stay faithful to her for long, either.

              • Sionara,
                You are doing the right things. I will just add that “self care” is important. I started getting massages and pedicures. I did yoga and pilates. I still couldn’t eat for months but I did whatever I could to soothe myself that was legal (!) I still go for a massage when I can afford it…having that touch is so important!
                This web site is fantastic and doesn’t sell you a load of crap about “reconciliation.”

      • I am reading this an thinking I could have written this myself. My ex and his wing nut family tortured me for years. It all was based on control. I chose to go to college and have a good career and did not work for the family business. He found someone old and not sparkly but was able to be controlled!

        My whole marriage was a pick me dance not only for him, but his crazy family also. They are a cult in themselves.

  • We all did it….”Pick me….Pick me”….or the beating up of ourselves…”WHY…didn’t he pick me”. I’m 3 years out from DDay…still not divorced, but with every pre trial, every settlement offer I see so clearly what had blinded me for so long. It was never about me. Ever. It was always about him, for him. I was the trophy wife…made a beautiful home, presentation, 2 beautiful daughters…..now that I have exposed him and his smoochie….him now being super dad to her 3 sons, him going to football games and practices…. it all is creepy and scary. He NEVER bothered to put in the effort for his own kids. He didn’t have to….I made the excuses…I made concessions. He has to “perform” now. So he is not looked upon like the lying cheating fraud he is. I know….his daughters know….and at the end of his life when he is on his deathbed…alone….he’ll know.
    I laughed reading the $399…affair proof snake oil pitch. Hand up….I went to those pages too.
    I cannot wait to be free of him. I feel like we’ve been in a war…and there are dead bodies everywhere. I am under these bodies in a trench trying to get out.

    I posted the other day how my trial went….continued until January 28. He still wants my Pyrex dishes…..the trial was a joke…I am cannot believe these people get elected into these positions. I have to jump thru the hoops.
    It’s all the making of a good Lifetime movie or stand up comedy routine.

    • Tracy-
      I have a similar story as you. It’s been about 2 1/2 years post DDay for me and still not divorced. I was really hoping I would be by the end of the year, but unless I cave, I don’t see that happening. I can absolutely relate to the other things you said – especially stating it was always about him – noone else (including his kids). I’m sorry your trial was a waste of time. I have a feeling mine will be too. :-(. January 28th? That’s crazy….3 months?

  • Trust that they lie, even if like bbbhore they weren’t very good liars. They fool you for awhile because they are the person you are suppositories trust above all others. But they will continue to lie, they believe their own lies. You are the enemy and don’t deserve better in their twisted view. For anyone considering the pick me dance or reconciliation, DON’T!!! You have worth and you don’t need a life of looking over your shoulder and checking up on them every 5 seconds. They will continue to lie forever, once you are away from them you can see that there will never truly be repentance or even full acknowledgement. Even when you aren’t with them anymore they will continue to lie. Fuck them and SITH FARTS on them

    • accubonded, often the cheaters trick our sleep-deprived chumpy minds by throwing us a little bone now and again. I made up my mind to kick Asshat to curb on D-Day but I spent many weeks doubting my decision.

      That is the funniest autocorrect typo I’ve seen in awhile….

  • He walked out. While he was through the door, I told him “I love you but I don’t want to be hurt any longer”.

    I thought he would either:
    – stop contact with me for good and marry a Russian,
    – or come back at some point to apologize (I did let him know that I wasn’t seeing anyone yet)

    Instead of that, he:
    – remains totally silent during the week
    – responds by texting the ridiculous minimum amount of words if I ask something
    – lets me know that he abandoned the contact with Russian ladies (wtf ?)
    – messages me before the weekend to ask whether he can take our dog on a hike
    – arrives/leaves abruptly, forgets the “hello”, “thank you”, “goodbye”
    – ends up hiking with me and the dogs, is really nice, calls me “girlfriend” (huh ?)
    – often sends messages that are supposed to upset me, like a job interview 300 miles away

    I play it cool, I never react emotionally

    This is sooo, sooo weird… I’m beginning to think it’s like uneffingbelievable above, the guy has a psychological issue with his family and sees me as the symbol of family to hurt

  • Run this title *everyday.* That way, poor broken chumps looking to save their marriage and googling “how to save marriage” will know there is an alternative to marital humiliation (and the rest of us will know to ignore the title and keep reading your wisdom).

    • Fully agree with that Tempest. Please also hi light that DDay#1 is NEVER just that. This belief held me hostage to taking a leap of faith in reconciling … Until 3days after my honeymoon I found out I was privy to only the tip of the nightmare iceberg!!! Please CL bring this fact to fore … that it’s never a cheaters first rodeo … This information could have saved me 3 years of excruciating pain in pick me dancing 🙁

    • I am totally with you tempest!! It would be awesome if newly anointed chumps wound up here instead of a RIC site. Do it CL!! Everyone here will know!

  • How I wish I had read this in 1984! Better late than never though. 2011 was my liberation. It has been the most difficult thing in my life, but the fog has been clearing and I have a new life based on trust and fidelity.

  • No matter how long it takes for you to get to the realization that the horse (marriage) is dead and to quit fucking beating it, know that every choice , decision and lie they make and tell is the ultimate FuckYou in your relationship. What hurts even worse is that they did that to their own kids as well.

    My advice is be very very careful in how they want to frame their “narrative” for the dissolution of the marriage. This is NOT a time for WE statements. It’s all on them. The message I am sending loud and clear to my kids is that marriage is hard and it is work. No partner deserves to be disrespected by infidelity. Anyone who chooses to deceitful, better be prepared to own it.

    • My biggest fuck you moment was him bringing her into our house and the tramp leaving her bra behind. His excuse she forgot to put it on. The dog found it it and brought it to me, and honestly although I was very upset I managed to have a laugh!

  • Great column, but Sandra Bullock made it back to Earth in Gravity, she was only a few miles away…

    Maybe say the space ship has been obliterated, you’re not getting it back, and it’s time to head back to Earth?

      • Gravity – the movie – does feel a lot like this fight. Sandra Bullock faces obstacle after obstacle to save herself. And each time she thiinks it’s over, up pops another problem. But she preservers, even with the sadness of her daughter’s death, she chooses to try to live. That’s what I always see in the movie.

  • Its hard to accept something is dead… When its walking around with its pants around its ankles fucking a teenager. Thats why dead is hard for me. I think its hard for anyone. Cause dead is dead. No pulse. No reflexes. No brain activity. Start the autopsy, call the morge…. Dead. Funneral plans and we move on. Dead doesnt text you a thousand times, threaten you and take you to court. Fucking Zombies is what they are. Ya think its dead. Ya hope its dead…kick kick… Looks dead. Up it rises ready to take your life. Where is Daryll when u need him?
    Thats why dead doesnt work for me.
    Then there is the word ‘ broken.’ Broken implies it possibly can be fixed. ‘ Our relationship is broken’ .. And whatever magic glue they are selling on QVC , RIC and walmart…. Aint gonna fix it. But you try. You empty the bank trying.
    Terminated. I like terminated. Kinda like Donald Trumps TV show The apprentice. You didnt cut it. You let us down. The numbers dont add up. You are fucking fired. Collect your shit and get out. Here is a box for your things. HR will contact you for your pay out and severence. Bye Felicia. Dont let the door hit you in the ass. Terminated.

      • Because the writings come from truth and true compassion. Thank you everyone, you all give me such wonderful insight, breathing room, compassion, life lessons, wonderful wit , puns and laughter. Love it!

      • I saw the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ this weekend. It parallels my marriage to abusive STBX. My old friend/new partner is my Daryl, defender from zombies, including STBX. I know that STBX is a zombie and that my marriage unofficially died years ago. (Unwilling to drive a stake through his head until I was SURE beyond any doubt that my ‘husband’ was ‘dead,’ I just hung around until I saw STBX’s eyes flutter open in zombie state.)

        Unfortunately, some of the relatives (STBX’s and even some of mine, even the ones who work in the mental health field (!)) refuse to believe that STBX is a zombie and instead try to view him as a normal living human being who deserves sympathy (poor timid forest creature). They want to invite him to parties honoring relatives (e.g., birthday parties for cousins, not for our children). I feel as though inviting him to these events shows acceptance of STBX’s abominable behavior or sends the message that the relatives don’t believe that STBX chronically commits crimes and immoral acts (even though tomes in the courthouse show irrefutable evidence, presented by STBX and attorneys, that STBX does these things). (I wonder if they would invite someone who raped me to one of these events just because the rapist was the father of my children.) Sadly, I think that they will still invite him to these events even though he is now preventing our children from seeing some of my relatives who are on the brink of death on Thanksgiving Day. (He complains that our children haven’t had a chance to see his relatives for a few holidays now, even though I took our children to his parents’ house weekly for months while he was away, screwing prostitutes and affair partners, his mother told me return to her abusive son because I couldn’t financially survive without him, and I sometimes, out of compassion, let him see our children on my custodial time. Out of concern for our children and me, I will stop letting him see our children on my custodial time.) My STBX looks at me in such a creepy way that sometimes my skin crawls. I am still amazed that these relatives I have described and many other people do not see the flashing red lights over STBX and the sirens screaming ‘Narcissist’ and ‘Sociopath.’

    • I say my X is an emotional zombie. He walks and talks like a real human being, but he will surely suck the life out of me if I allow it. Maybe emotional vampire is a better description. Whatever he is, he’s not human, because he simply does not experience human emotions, especially empathy, like a regular human being does.

    • “Its hard to accept something is dead… When its walking around with its pants around its ankles fucking a teenager.”

      HAHAHAHAHAHA…. Clip, I love you.

      P.S. Do you write for a living? If not, you should 🙂

    • Perfect Post TheClip. The zombie reference brought to my warped mind the television series from AMC: The Walking Dead, except we could call our cheaters The F-ing Dead.
      Oh, on termination? Fantastic idea, I would love to see the dynamics on THAT exit interview. And don’t forget to have them turn in their keys (or change the locks). You certainly don’t want them trying to weasel back in after hours. 😉

    • Great comment TheClip, how about Sarah Connor escaping the asylum in Terminator 2 as the ultimate Chump escape from a toxic marriage?

      • Aw yeah, she’s such a badass, I love Sarah Conner. The last part of the scene where she sees the terminator gives me goosebumps every time

      • When I think about reviving a dead marriage, I think of Pet Sematary…. Sure, it’s tempting to bring what you loved back from the dead, but not only is it not the same, it kills everyone around it…

  • Good idea to use that title….I sure as heck was Googling this after my dday.

    The visual of this made me crack up: “You didn’t hold a gun to their head and force them to create dating profiles.”

  • You know CL, brilliant! Let’s write some titles our google searches would have found: “He cheated, how to find a Marriage Counselor”, “My husband (or wife) had an affair, can I trust again?”, “Can marriage survive infidelity?”.

    I wonder where it would come in the search results if you wrote a column titled: “My husband’s affair was not the best thing that ever happened to me”

      • Oh, yah. Do “It only takes one to make a marriage work” or “How to win back your cheating spouse” too.

        Followed by the reasonable disclaimers like “You know what they call a marriage with only one person? Wake up, you’re single already” and “If getting back a cheating spouse is ‘winning’, what the heck is ‘losing’?”.

          • Thanks for this today, CL. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wrote you about Google hits and not finding your site until months later … so this is great to read today!

        • and “If getting back a cheating spouse is ‘winning’, what the heck is ‘losing’?”

          This^^^

          I have a friend that will not see her husband for the asswipe he is. She is all about winning. I sometimes want to ask her what the hell does she think she is winning. A man who disrespects her and doesn’t value one damn thing that she is trying to save. He must be in heaven. Can you imagine getting caught in the most obvious way, the ow had a child. And then your wife has a baby herself to keep him? The crazy is all around us I suspect and it’s frightening.

    • Midlife crisis or affair, is he really having an affair? 10 signs you have been chumped, what to do when he says ilybinilwu, how to crack the code of a secret/hidden cellphone, manscaping: sudden changes in spousal appearance down there, can you ever win your spouse back?, why can’t I seem to do anything right, what more does he need to love me like he used to

      • Prior to D-Day, before I had an inkling of an affair, my Google searches were mostly “marriage of convenience,” “married but more like roommates,” and of course, the dreaded “i love you but i’m not in love with you.” Because these are the things he said to justify/explain his growing distance from our family and from me.

        It was that last one (ILYBINILWY) which opened my eyes and set me on the path to Discovery. When I read it is a common phrase used by someone who is cheating, the clues started falling in to place.

        I believe that phrase and its ilk are almost always indicators that he or she is having an affair. You should definitely run that headline for Google Analytics, CL, if you haven’t already!

    • My Google search history was a truly bizarre spectrum of anger, horror, and ultra-chumpiness. I had to wipe the whole computer recently out of fear my son would stumble onto it. Some of that shit just cannot/should not be explained to a kid.

  • After the grief and feeling like I was a bag of garbage he disposed of somehow I recovered part of me. After some counseling and I found out he was still chatting with OW, I said you know everyone deserves to be happy. He starts crying. He cries more than any other man I have ever met. Fights like a girl too, according to my son in law. So the fact that I was ready to divorce, kind of shocked him. I think he thought I would play the pick me dance, but I wouldn’t.

    Statistically, a cheater is 75% more likely to cheat again. So once they cross that line, it just gets easier. So when I found that, it made me not want to be with him any more.

    I am not afraid of being alone. I was more concerned about the adult kids and others this would hurt. Because of who he picked to cheat with, I lost all feelings for him. She is undesirable to say the least. Men marry up (me) and cheat down (her) or so they say.

    So I filed. He from that point on, decides game on and tries to hurt me any way he can via the divorce process. His atty treated me horribly. Violated my rights etc. But I was still standing.

    He looks like hell too. Loves to drink and do drugs, so does she. Me, not so much, so clearly I was a deficient partner.

    Two years later, I am divorced, own my home, happy, content at peace. Taking care of myself, reinventing my life and grateful, so grateful for the grace of God that has helped me get through this nightmare.

    Him? Angry as ever. Still fighting like a mad man about everything. Still contesting things in the settlement agreement he signed off on.

    Tried to withhold spousal support? I had a wage garnishment processed.

    He just can’t accept it is over and he lost. Don’t get me wrong, he got some of my retirement, but I got a bigger chunk of his and he spent six figures on divorce attys to no avail. Living in a rental close to OW for those all important booty calls. Her two small children must just ‘love’ him.

    My kids? Can’t stand her. Can’t figure out who their father has become. Me, just keeping on.

    Thanks to CN and CL, I have found a place where people get it.

    This last third of my life will be the Best.

    • “Statistically, a cheater is 75% more likely to cheat again. So once they cross that line, it just gets easier. So when I found that, it made me not want to be with him any more.”

      This was how I thought about it too. In my case, I just couldn’t reconcile the fact that he was super-awesome attentive husband the whole time he was cheating on me. Flowers, jewelry, always told me he loved me, sex life was fantastic. This psycho played with my hair every night before bed, made dinner all the time, was Mr. Fab to my kid . . . but once I realized he was capable of being these two completely separate people, there was no way I could ever go back to him. I don’t try to figure it out now, I’m thoroughly to Meh, but I can’t say it still doesn’t puzzle me. How someone can be one way at home, and still actively betraying you behind your back at the same time . . . makes no sense to me.

      PS: I have no doubt this last third of your life will be your best. xoxo

    • Maybe what bothers me most about the EA is that STBX was treating her like he treated me, when he was pursuing me, to “marry up”.

      He’s not “cheating down”, although he may have done so before. He’s actively looking to replace me, to “marry up” yet again.

      I am not a fucking appliance! And if I was, HE fucking broke me.

      Almost… Like a fucking Phoenix, I am coming back from near dead.

      • Repeat after me:

        Cheaters never trade up.

        Ever.

        Have a think about this statement. It’s partly about the cheater, but it is also partly about you.

  • Or a personal terminator. Actually the predetor from that movie. Think I could train him to hunt what I wanted especially since he goes stealth and invisable. Oh nice fantasy dreams.

  • Don’t leave. Run!!!!!!! I so wish I had done that. Run and do not look back! Lesson I have painfully learned.

  • I literally could have written every one of these posts. I cling to the “hopeium” offered by all of the marriage reconciliation/surviving infidelity sites. I even read evangelical books advising me to forgive, be an even better wife, stand by “my” husband and marriage– and I’m not even a Christian! I was desperate for the magic advice that would “return” my 23-year husband to who I thought he was: my best friend, my law partner, my lover, my 24/7 companion, my protector, my biggest fan and champion, the best father ever to our 4 kids, one totally and completely devoted to me and our marriage and family. I used my legal research skills to look everywhere for the advice that would work and made the most compelling oral and written arguments to STBX everyday for 9 months about why I was the wife for him and why our 4 kids and our marriage and life was worth staying for. It was all in vain. He re-wrote our entire past to be something horrendous. Nothing I could say or do, including showing him his own FB posts for past 5 years where he said how happy he was/we were made any difference. He abandoned.

    We blamed 32 yo live at home minimum wage working OW for putting a spell on husband. The kids actually thought she had witches’ powers (nonsense of course! I don’t believe in the supernatural). Still….. I blamed HER! I thought she stole my husband, her youth and innocence and sweetness took him from us. I wasted 10 months thinking like this. Two weeks ago I find out about the year-long earlier love affair with the 45 year old client! And she said there were others before her! STBX is a serial cheater after all! It was never about young OW. It was never “because I make him feel unappreciated and inadequate.” It was never about how I “never accepted him!” These were all pounded on me in the 2 months of failed MC! I felt so guilty for so long… For nothing! What a waste!

    I’m now (6 months post abandonment and 11 months post DDay) finally seeing that my new life without him holds such promise. It took going as no-contact as possible and getting some space from his abuse gave me perspective and the fog I was in cleared a bit. I now am certain of the following; Someone WILL cherish me (starting with myself!). Someone will be loyal and faithful to me (or I will run for the hills! Never again will I beg any cheater to stay). I will know joy and love and happiness… I’m already feeling some of those emotions again. Life is worth living, more than that, I know my life isn’t as I thought it would be, but it will be even better if I keep moving away from disorder/chaos/abuse and towards what I deserve.

    Thank you CHumplady (Tracy) and to all you lovely souls in ChumpNation! You literally have saved my life!

    • Wow, motherchumper! What an inspirational post. Although horrendous, I am really glad you found out the truth. It makes it a bit easier to move forward, knowing how pathological they are and how it really has nothing at all to do with us.

  • Great post.

    “Accept that it is dead.” Wow, this is the most challenging thing in the world because 1) you need to believe it deep in your bones, 2) you need to acknowledge in yourself that you’ve made a mistake, and 3) you need to believe that you deserve so much better.

    After DD#1, I was frozen. Honestly, I was stunned that my EX was having an affair and in such an obvious way. After it was over, we never talked about it other than my EX saying that he would get counseling. That was the closest admission of guilt I would ever get. He has never said he was sorry.

    At that time, I knew: 1) the respect was gone, 2) the trust was gone, 3) I had no empathy for him, and 4) I knew he had no empathy for me. In retrospect, I stayed because I did not believe that I deserved better. I am the King and Queen of denial.

    Sure, he did a few token things right after to show he cared. I tried my best to try to trust him and act like nothing had happened. The only person I told was my DR because I requested STD testing.

    My EX got more entitled, the lying increased, he was sneakier, and there was a boatload of gaslighting. By the time I got to DD#2, I was exhausted, my self esteem was nil and I felt like I was losing my mind (from all of the gaslighting). Right after DD#2 I told him to move out and was the one to start the paperwork.

    My EX has never gone to counseling. I am a million times happier.

  • If there are any newly discovered chumps reading this, I would never advise anyone to stay. I “won” the pick me dance and 5 years later there is no unicorn. It doesn’t matter that he now shows remorse, that he treats me well, that he outwardly is doing the right things. The trust is gone. It will never be alright that he could lie to me so easily. I will never believe he will be faithful in the long run and as hard as it may be to leave the marriage quickly, it doesn’t seem to me to get any easier with time (unless I suppose you are being treated horribly.) If I leave the marriage now, I will be viewed by everyone as the “bad guy” since he covered his tracks so well and is not currently cheating (I think.) I am not bitter – I am like Sandra Bullock – disconnected from my own life. I know the right thing to do would be to leave, because it would be the advise I would give to my own children if this every happened to them.

    I did find group of really nice unicorn chasers when I googled “cheating spouse” 5 years ago, but no one who was smart enough to be honest like CL and CN to tell me to get out.

    The other issue I have run into with staying is that the isolation is more severe. I only told two friends IRL what happened and even though they both know every gory detail, they both still believe I should stay since “he loves you so much – look how much he wants to do everything with you.” That isn’t love, it’s control and manipulation. Like CL’s analogy to Sandra Bullock, I am disconnected in my marriage.

    • Lake, read my post. You need to do what is right for you — not what other people think. Who cares if you are the bad guy? Also, why are the the bad guy?

      I was surprised that – after DD#2/divorce — the people closest to me said – “thank god” and “finally!”. They also said – “Wow. You are a whole different person now”. I really had no idea how much my EX and that relationship were affecting me.

      People are so polite. Not one person said – “you are no yourself” or “you deserve much better”.

    • Since I didn’t have the courage to leave on Dday, I now really wish that I would have left him right after OW got married and pregnant…the timing would have seemed utterly tragic to them (but ha ha!) but even then I didn’t know the full extent of his betrayal so I didn’t leave (DANG IT!) What I wish I could have seen was his realization of overplaying his hand….but alas I will never have any chance to hold his feet to the fire over his betrayal.

    • That is the loneliest kind of marriage to be in. Ask me how I know. Lived it for the last 15 yrs (!!!!!!) of the 35 yrs marriage. I’m not saying I’m dancing in fields of daisies right now but at least I’m living authentically.

    • Wow. You can’t punish yourself by staying because your hindsight is 20/20 and then you thought you could get past it. It’s not your JOBto get over it. It was his JOB not to cheat. You should leave. Not the bad guy. The one who
      Tried, for way too long, and can’t have her soul eaten anymore.

    • Count me as skeptical. The vast majority of cheaters have such fundamental flaws they would need gene therapy and a brain transplant to change (and then they wouldn’t really be themselves).

      • Alas I am with Tempest, all of the research says that there is something wrong with their brains… its not chemical, or emotional, it is structural. Synapses that should be there are not, whether that comes from genetics or from lack of nurturing. Either way they are badly licked rats. The only thing that I disagree with regarding the research is the prevelance of this in the general population. They say 1 to 4%. I think it is more like 25% when you take all of the permutations of shittiness into account. So new chumps, DO NOT do the pick me dance for 30 years like I did. My IRC was ‘Can this Marriage Be Saved’ the monthly column in Ladies Home Journal. How is that for old? Walk! Run! grab your kids and make tracks… So give up all hope, ye who enter here. But know there is a wonderful life awaiting you when you enter the great State of Meh.

  • Oh chump lady – how I wish I had found your site in 2009 after D day (first of several). I bought all the hopium and $399 courses on saving your marriage. I got the husband to move to another state only to have the whore and her spineless husband move to the same state. The two remained in touch and saw one another off and on and I can’t believe I didn’t place firm boundaries from the beginning. The only couples who have survived infidelity are the ones in which the chump says s/he’s not going to be a chump and tells the lying cheat to shape up or ship out.

  • Today, I will create my vision board entitled “Gain a life.” CL’s picture at the top. Advice from my CN homies distilled down to simple words and pictures. This is my whole new world!

    • I did almost the same! I put the good quotes from CL and CN, and there are soooooooo many, on my bathroom mirror. Such a help for me every day.

    • I posted pictures in my cubicle of what I wanted in my new life. My girls were #1. Then some material things, then the state of Meh. I’ve written a date across each as I feel I’ve achieved it. I’m still waiting for the right Tuesday to give Meh a date.

  • The best advice I never got (until I read it here, way after my second D-day) was:

    1. Get tested for STDs.
    2. Run a credit check on yourself. (Hello, 2nd mortgage I knew nothing about.)
    3. Get a post-nup.

  • Brilliant column! I raise my hand as a chump who did all the google searches to “save the day” for our family. Why didn’t I see, until my IC pointed it out…that I was the one DOING ALL THE WORK TO FIX WHAT HE BROKE?? HE need spent an extra minute trying to “fix” our relationship, he just gaslighted, blamed, denied, downplayed all he had done. This has been a five year battle. Funny, once I kicked him out and it was mandated in the temporary divorce orders that he HAD to get IC for all the fucked up crap he did to me and the kids…he made the phone calls but it still took months. Now that he has been going, i am not sure it is doing any good but he claims he is “a new man, changed.” The 5 month separation is finally allowing me to see that no, he is not changed. The same lies spill out of his mouth. He just gets better at it…until the real beast that lies within shows it’s ugly head because he has just “had enough.” He got furious at me that I told “everybody” what he did, but you know what…. when he decided to get caught for a THIRD time (meaning he saw whores multiple times, but I had actual discoveries three times!!) and still fed me a bunch of BS about it, I decided the facade was done. The game is over. The truth comes out. He doesn’t like how that feels. He lost his “good dad, husband” gig that so many believed. But, he blames me. This is enough for me to see the reality. Even if he miraculously stopped fucking hookers from Craigslist…he will never stop the other behavior, which might be worse in my book. The lying, gas lighting, blaming others, downplaying, re-writing history. No thank you!

  • I agree with Teri in VA.

    People can change, reconciliation is possible, but realize the odds are against it. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it’s unlikely. Most cheaters lack the self control, discipline and frankly the integrity to do the hard work and introspection it takes. They eventually have to face demons and the cheating is literally all about escaping the demons.

    My advice is just like Teri’s above. STD test. Credit check. Full disclosure on finances. Post Nup. And I would add counseling. If the cheater refuses professional help, I’d be gone. I believe professional help (the right help) is literally the only way a person can heal.. both the cheater and the betrayed. Watch out for MIC (marriage industrial complex) counselors. Look for ones who’s aim is to save the PEOPLE not the marriage. If the marriage survives, great, but it’s more about saving the individuals.

    I’ve known couples who’ve survived this but I think the thing is BOTH people have to be really committed. Usually, by the time cheating is happening, one person is already gone and the other is so hurt, it’s a hard hole to fill. Possible, but difficult.

    • “They eventually have to face demons and the cheating is literally all about escaping the demons.”

      My X wasn’t escaping any demons. My X wanted strange and took it because he thought I’d never find out. Cheaters typically don’t need therapy to “heal”. They just didn’t give a fuck in the first place. If they did, they wouldn’t of had the affair in the first place.

      When going down that poor, timid, forest creature route, I’d be careful. I have yet to meet one person who admitted to cheating on their spouse and blamed it on being broken. They did it because they could, felt entitled, or just don’t love the person they married and are too chicken-shit to get out honorably.

  • CL’s post today brought back some memories. Toward the end, when I was already lining up ducks and getting ready for my secret move-out.

    “No one held a gun to your head to make you behave this way” were my exact words when I finally held my then-husband’s feet to the fire. “So, why did you do it?” I inquired with steel in my voice, but devastation just below the surface.

    He looked down. This was different from the other times, when he tried to lie his way out of something with a cold, defiant gaze directly into my eyes, as if to challenge me to disprove him. No, this time, I had him up against the proverbial wall, and he knew it.

    “I don’t know”, was his response.

    Dumb Ass!

    • “Because I am a lowly, life-sucking scumbag who preys on vulnerable women and delights in the power that deception brings, as well as the luscious feeling of an O from a stranger.”

      There, he doesn’t need to be tongue-tied when the next woman asks him the same thing (and it will happen).

      • Oh, it already has at least once Tempest.Just about a month ago, a total stranger (female) viewed my Linkedin profile, and her profession was in no way related to my profession. Also, in her profile, she was listed only by her first name and a couple of initials for her surname – hardly the professional image one would want to present on the “business facebook”. I in turn looked at her profile, which listed only the minimal requirements to post, and had no endorsements, recommendations, nothing. She did feature a photo of herself (or that could have been bogus as well, who the hell knows). It was taken down after a week. Though I was tempted to send her a private message along the lines of: “I know why you’re here, and I understand your curiosity. Please be very careful for your sake, and remember two phrases: Confirmation Bias, and Cognitive Dissonance.”

        However, I was pretty certain that if he was staging a full-court love-bombing campaign on her, she wouldn’t heed my words anyway. After all, I’m just “the crazy ex”.

        If she comes around again (or anyone else), should I respond?

        • I know you’re like me, Boudica and wish we could have tattooed a warning sign on our X’s foreheads to save other women the grief we went through. However, they have portrayed us as the crazy Xs (in my case, it might even be true!). I’d wait for the woman/women to contact you; that illustrates that they will be open to what you have to say. Then spill all you want.

    • Similarly, I got: “There is no explanation that would make sense now.” (Said in a dejected and weary tone of voice, of course).

      My response: “Was there ever an explanation that made sense??”

      ………..crickets chirping……………

      • Don’t they all sound pathetic and sad when caught? Or just angry at the “injustice” of us spying or sleuthing in order to catch them. It is all pathetic. Rarely do they truly own up and show remorse. Always an excuse, and plenty of blaming.

  • This is the best summation anyone can ask for! All wrapped up in a pretty little package! Thanks CL. Every word is complete perfection!

  • Thanks for messing with the Google analytics today. I hope it will be well worth it to at least one other person in need.

    And if you are finding this fresh after finding out about the affair, please stick around and read more. I count myself as a very fortunate soul because I landed here the same night I found out about the affair. Somewhere between the nausea and vomiting, the crying and panic I found “The Unified Theory of Cake” which lead to “The Humiliating Dance of Pick Me” and eventually “Ego Kibbles” and they all made sense, each and every word of them.

    This community can help you through the darkest hours, so come on in and start your journey.

  • I’m going to comment, just to help chumplady beat Google Analytics. I’m so grateful that I found this website early on. I can’t imagine. I login every day, just to read the forums and feel less alone.

  • It is such a long, hard fight to break the addiction to hope. Many of us believed we could turn our marriages around if we just tried harder, read the right books, did the 180, etc. Maybe some of us had to go through all that crap to come to the conclusion that saving our marriage was truly is beyond our control. No one can save a marriage alone.

    Two things I wish someone had told me before I put down the hopium pipe:

    1. Trust your gut. If it’s telling you there’s more to the story than your spouse is admitting, believe your gut over your spouse.

    2. Once the trust is gone, it’s not coming back. Your marriage is forever altered.

    Unfortunately I was willing to lay down and let a truck run back and forth over me to keep my family together. It’s been 4 years since D-day for me, and I’m now much stronger than I was back then. It’s been a long hard fight to heal, but I’m glad to be out of that very dysfunctional relationship. It was literally killing me.

  • There is no saving a marriage post affair. I dont care how much they claim to fix/change. Even if all they say and do is real, I myself, constantly see her boytoy on top of her doing disgusting sex acts. You cant get past the lies and the disgust you have related to that person. You can live with them but it will never be a good marriage….. just a shell.

  • Please someone give me some advice. I’m in the pit of a custody battle. My STBXH is fighting me for 50/50 after we already sat down and devised our own parenting plan (currently a 70/30 split that works very well with out three young sons). Our settlement conference is in two weeks and I’m just drowning in stress and heartache and then today I get a text from the OW. I feel like I might vomit, I’m sick over all of this. I don’t know what to do, reply, ignore, text him to tell OW to stop?

    Here it is verbatim:
    “I am certain you do not want to hear from me, but we are connected whether we want to be or not. I am reaching out to apologize for the hurt and pain I have been a part of causing. I will forever regret that. You will likely not give me a chance, but I am not a horrible person. I am flawed, maybe more than some, but I have all of the same capacity for love and pain that you do. You may think that this has all been easy or that J and I are off in fairytale land. We are not and never have been. We are reminded of the price of our love on a daily basis. If not by an external party, certainly by our own hearts and psyches. We both love our children and mourn the loss of our families. I wish that somehow things were different. I know people stay together even when the love is gone or maybe when things were never really right from the beginning, but I cannot imagine that is what any of us really want. We should have had the courage and integrity to leave or make changes in our marriages earlier. I own that completely. Our actions were not truthful or in integrity. J is broken, he never chose me over his children. His love for his boys is evident in everything he does. I know you are hurt and want to make him hurt just as much. Make him feel what him and I have made you feel. I understand that. And I guess I am letting you know he feels it. He is a good father. Your children deserve both parents, even if it’s not on the terms you had hoped for. I am not being dramatic or exaggerating when I say, I don’t think Jeremiah will make it without his children. That may be what you ultimately want, but since I am also a parent and I love J I feel like you should know the price of not sharing your children. None of us can know the ultimate price the children will pay. I know J has told you he will leave me, if he can see his kids more. That is not an easy choice for him. To choose one love over another. But he will do it. He means it.”

    I know this isn’t closely related to the post today but I need Chump nation as I’m drowning in heartache. I hate all of this so much. I’m just so fucking sad this is my life and now there is some skanky Ho-worker bitch thinking she knows anything about me, my kids or what it is to love. Now she’s trying to manipulate me and act as though her love for my husband should be valuable in all this mess. She has never (as far as I know) been around my kids and him but knows he’s a great father? Ha, while he chose her over and over, screwing each other behind my back for 4 years. She also was married with kids. I’m devestated, appalled and heartbroken. Can’t seem to move forward….

    • I’d be happy to put it through the UBT for you.

      Oh the drama. The current situation is working out. Document that. Talk to your lawyer. You don’t control what she thinks or how he feels. Just keep being the sane parent.

      The 50/50 thing is to weasel out of child support, most likely. It’s a really common ploy. I promise you, Ms. Understanding will not enjoy having your kids around 50/50. Judging by her actions, she doesn’t like her own children that much.

      • CL, I’d love to know what the UBT would translate this into. My head can’t wrap my head around any of this. I am 10 months post DDAY and this is the first she’s attempted to contact me. I’m literally sick to my stomach. The heartache consumes me. I will be contacting my lawyer. I’m praying with all my might that the judge at the settlement sees through his bullshit. I don’t know if I’ll be able to accept that this disordered, dysfunctional, piece of shit will be around my children…

        • Do not respond to that email, it could be used against you no matter how carefully you word your response.

          Jedi hugs LemonSqueezy! Stay strong!

          • I agree, definitely don’t respond but make sure your attorney sees it. Talk about blameshifting and sad sausage by proxy. I don’t even know where to begin it’s so freaking crazy–add in blackmail to the mix, as if a judge would award placement based on the fact that your STBX has pledged to stop screwing the OW. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this and would also love to see how UBT processes this because it is a classic, but not in a good way 🙁

          • Don’t respond to that bhore, LemonSqueezy!

            Instead, I would suggest that you spend your next few days putting together a good picture of your STBX’s involvement with the kids.

            I put together a spreadsheet of the # of nights my STBX was out of the home, vs the number of nights I was out of the home for as long as I could trace back. I put 4 years together, and showed that my STBX was on average 37% out of the home, and I was 5% of the nights. I also added the # of medical, dentist appointments as well as the # of times I had met with teachers, volunteered at school etc, vs the number of times he did participate. I also reviewed all the birthday parties I attended and the playdates I organized, vs how many he was involved in.

            As most chumps, I would anticipate that the data will look in your favor. Just bring teh spreadsheet, and just state “past behavior predicts future behaviors” right after asking for a 70/30.

            Good luck!

          • I agree. Do NOT RESPOND, LemonS! Give it to your lawyer, this is neither here nor there to be honest with you. It’s got nothing to do with what is in the best interests of YOUR CHILDREN which is the only thing the court cares about. Just document how well the current arrangement has been and is working for the children. That’s all. Their supposed angst is irrelevant.

            Oh and she can keep J. I mean what is that, a promise or a threat that he will “leave her” for the kids. Fuck that, again, irrelevant. Where is the stable home now, who has had the bigger hand in raising the kids so far, where are they most secure, stable, appropriately supervised, and comfortable now? Remember what the factors are for custody, it has nothing to do with what this weirdo is trying to talk to you about, this is a red herring to distract you. Don’t fall for it.

      • Yes, good one for the UBT- what utter bullshit and manipulation and self pity and mental illness all rolled into one.

    • LemonSqueezy,

      Sorry you had to read that. I would be traumatized by that note too, but then you must consider the source. Layers upon layers of narcissism and entitlement and manipulation posing as empathy.

      Unless your lawyer advises differently, I would stick to your original plan. This could easily just be a ploy to get out of child support. Perhaps you could finalize a deal based on 65/35, but only if your lawyers thinks that would work.

    • Lemon, just my .02 here, but howorker doesn’t even deserve any recognition, any reply, any anger sent to him from you PERIOD. She is counting on your reaction to stir up even more trouble than her 4 year screw fest has already caused. Do not give her the satisfaction. Carry onward with the 70/30 custody battle, which you know in your heart is best for your 3 boys. ((Hugs))

        • Agreed. The OM is a total lying fucktard.

          If she was so self-righteous, she’d never have betrayed her own wedding vows, blown up her own family, or had a hand in blowing up someone else’s family. Instead, she’d have divorced her spouse, then waited for your own divorce to finalize, etc.

          Amazing how disordered people always seem to “suffer” at the hands of external forces, and never realizing that it all can be traced back to their own choices and how poorly they themselves handled things.

          Lemon, please ignore that ow garbage for what it is – garbage!

    • Lemon, Really these people are unbelievable. I mean ‘the price of their love’. Bloody hell. Not a price paid by them. A price they made their innocent spouses and children pay. These people have no idea what actual love is. I would recommend you completely ignore that message. It’s not worth a response. She’s trying to manipulate you so the best thing you can do is blank her. It’s outrageous that she has had the gall to contact you and it’s absolutely none of her business what arrangement you come to re your kids. The well-being of your husband is completely irrelevant – he’s a grown-up and has brought this mess on himself. It’s all about the well-being of you and your kids now and that’s all you need to focus on. I’d block her number on your phone so she has no means to contact you again but otherwise just ignore it completely. Keep strong lovey – you can get through this and come out the other side strong and well to live a happy life. Trust in that. I never thought I would live through the pain but it really does get better.

      • LemonSqueezy, this just breaks my heart to read this. This woman has balls the size of cantaloupes to have the nerve to reach out to you in any way. NC is the best way, but if you feel a need to respond, there is a great line from “Terms of Endearment” that Flap says to Aurora that I think might shut her up. It goes like this: “You have no right, nor any invitation, to discuss where and how my children will live.” Dismiss her as the scuzzy skank that she is.

    • Lemon,

      She is trying to “nice” you to get their way – fuck that! There are so many contradictions in what she has written – but the UBT will explain it all. And don’t reply to her – she doesn’t deserve it.

      Regarding the kids, when I spoke to my lawyer and asked what the “starting point” for custody was (i.e. start at 100% for mom or 50/50 etc) he stated that there is no starting point “only what is in the best interest of the children”. He also stated that it is hard to change a custody schedule unless it is shown to be better for the kids to change. So if your schedule has been working be ready to explain how – in theory, he needs to convince a court why it is in the kids best interest to be away from you more (and he cannot argue that he needs to see the kids or he will be sad – nobody gives a shit about him – all arguments must be “kid-centric”). In my case, I could state historical time I spent with kids (ie keep routine the same); during separation we agreed on a schedule and it was working (ie. why change it for the sake of change alone) and if a change were to be made, it would likely be in my favour as I started meeting the kids at the bus stop each day (even with a Dad drop off) because my 5 YO would be upset in school if “he couldn’t see my face each morning”.

      Now, I did give my STBXH 45% (2 days + every other weekend) right off the bat, but I did that for my kids (they do love him). I still think he will argue for 50/50 just on principle – still waiting on that. But he doesn’t have a hope in hell.

      And despite the “touching words”, it IS all about the money – I know it was the first advice my STBXH got from people in his situation. Your STBXH was just a little slower out the gate, what with being trapped in fantasy land.

      • Thank you all for your encouragement and hope. I’m so lost in this chaos and I can’t seem to silence the noise in my head. I refuse to respond to her. It’s taking all I have not to spew hate (or tell her I can’t possibly take her serious after seeing pictures of every square inch of her body. Yes that includes the exit too. Disgusting)..but I know that won’t help my healing or do any good with keeping my kids. The heartache is intense though….reconciling 4 years (and 12+ years of marriage) after it literally blew up in my face is incredibly painful. Trying to be mighty.

        • She’s a fucking sanctimonious whore with a serious emotional disorder. She’s a fucking home-wrecking, clueless piece of shit.

          I am so proud of you for not responding to her. That’s the best reply. Because she’s holding her breath for one. Let her turn blue with anticipation–she is not worthy. She wouldn’t understand what you are saying, anyway, for you and she are nothing alike. She is so far beneath you, so under-developed emotionally and spiritually, that she cannot possibly register what you would/could say to her.

          Give yourself permission to grieve all of this. Your reaction is normal. Your pain will heal you–I promise.

          You’re a fierce mama bear.

          She has the nerve to call herself a parent–that’s not her priority. How dare she suppose that she understands you. She does not. She is a selfish twat who does not care for her children’s hearts, let alone yours. I think the end of her e-mail is very telling–she is also threatened by your husband’s treatment of her as a pawn in his custody game. Well, she should be.

          PpppppppTT! “…the price of our love” Love, my ass. You know what the price of their fucking is? Your kids’ happiness, her kids’ happiness. And she and he chose to sacrifice them to base physical impulses. That’s not love. That’s opportunism. That’s masturbatory soothing, with a side of nonsense. She hears poetry, I smell shit.

          Ugh. These idiots make me sick.

          • I replied to Lemonsqueezy before I read your reply. So on target! OW skank seems to be a little nervous and insecure with her “true love”. Not replying to her will make her even more nervous/insecure-time to turn the tables on this piece of trash.

        • Lemonsqueezy, good job in not responding to this text from OW. She has absolutely no right to contact you or any part in your child custody arrangements with your STBX. Block her number and show the message to your lawyer. Hang in there, I promise you there are better days ahead even though you can’t see them right now. We are all behind you!

          • oops … I meant “she has absolutely no right to contact you or HAVE any part in your child custody arrangements…”

            It really still amazes me that cheaters blow up your world and then expect you to have compassion for “their pain.” They don’t understand that you are the last person they should look to for comfort. I remember sobbing and telling my husband that I only had 30 seconds of peace a day. They happened in the moments after I woke up in the morning until I remembered what had happened. My ex sobbed even louder “I don’t even have THAT much peace.” I should have told him to call the waaaambulance but I was too busy having a breakdown.

    • Damn honey, lemon squeezy, that SUCKS.

      UBT will help- it helps soooo much to have a little laugh after the shit that makes you cry, but damn. If that isn’t a convincing argument for strict no contact, I don’t know what is. Send it to your lawyer, and block that bitch’s number.

    • @LemonSqueezy…….In the words of Patsy Cline, when her husband was trying to explain why he was with another woman……”Let me look around and see if I can find anyone that gives a shit what you think”……Send your husband’s whore that in a text. The audacity of her contacting you is beyond words.

    • “I, I, I” – count the number of those I’s – what a narcissistic slut. Just deserves a block on your phone, really.
      You haven’t responded, which is great. Ten bucks says she sends another text, full of expletives, within the next day or few days. “I REACHED OUT TO YOU IN THE GOODNESS OF MY OWN HEART, AND YOU BLEW ME OFF, BITCH! FUCK YOU” blah blah shit. Its all about her and always will be.

    • This skank is rubbing the affair in your face! She wants to keep you off balance so you will become a shrew or have a raging fit so your idiot husband will think she is the better option. DO NOT RESPOND!! I would not even mention this to your stbx. She is also letting you know that if he says he’ll come back to you that it is not real and he really wants to be with her. She is a nasty piece of work and could care less about the “children” and the effect of the divorce.

  • I’ve watched Gravity lots of times. Love that film…. I watched it again recently and it totally got me, I totally got that film and connected with it. I sobbed through that film as you’re so right CL, that is totally how it feels ……
    Right now I’m out of the water gasping for breath, I can finally breathe. Ive made it this far and it’s gonna be ok

  • This is a brilliant post and unfortunately, sums up my experience with 100% accuracy.

    Right now is a precious moment to use to make your life better by taking action to divorce the cheater and to love your self. Right now may suck, but the sooner you take action to leave a cheater and to improve your own life, the sooner the sucky moments will be in the past. Don’t dilly dally – accept the truth, learn from others, and move forward, harnessing every moment to invest in yourself.

    • >>>Don’t dilly dally – accept the truth, learn from others, and move forward, harnessing every moment to invest in yourself.

      ^^^^^This is the real take-away for me right here. Once you know, don’t waste a minute. I feel like I’ve been able to crowdsource my recovery with CN. Like walking double time on one of those people movers at the airport. Breathtakingly efficient, when I don’t trip over my own dumb feet..

      • “I feel like I’ve been able to crowdsource my recovery with CN. Like walking double time on one of those people movers at the airport.”
        I agree completely, Arlo! I have no idea where I would be in my process without Chump Lady and Chump Nation! I am so incredibly thankful folr this community and the collective wisdom and I feel like what I have learned here has so helped my healing process.

  • I spent a lot of time, too much time in fact, thinking about why serial cheaters do what they do. I think they actually start a pattern of cheating early in life. I think they bend the rules, then break the rules when they discover they can get away with it, and get bolder as they age. They also get better at concealing what they are doing. They cheat at all kinds of things, but they excel at cheating on the Significant Others in their life. They have several SO’s at a time, always have a new one lined up before they break up with one that they have lost interest in. No one can keep them satisfied, because they always need a SO that is new, different. They may even like to experiment with different types — a petite blond this week, a green eyed curvy redhead next. The variety of sizes and shapes, the variety of boundaries, all of it is interesting at first, but all of it gets boring as time goes on. They also learn very early that an excellent cover life allows them to get away with outrageous things, because people who think they know them would not even conceive they would be so devious and selfish. So they get better and better at conning others, and they always think of themselves, first.

    I think that cheaters have always been among us, but post WWII technology has made cheating much easier. I think having “role models” on TV and movies, makes it easier to rationalize their actions. They are The Entitled Ones. Chumps are not entitled to anything — chumps are there to serve needs.

    Chumps need to fight the culture which encourages us to do the Pick Me dance. We are only being used to see how far we will stretch our boundaries, humiliate ourselves, and to find out how much more we will do for them. I would think it is impossible to out-slut a slut, anyway — aren’t there just some things you do not have the stomach to do? If you know anything about porn use, you find out they have to escalate the demeaning activity in order to stay interested. It is a downward spiral into depravity — if you have low self esteem now, or feel like you are not attractive or sexy now, how do you think you will feel when the cheater leaves AFTER you have fulfilled all the sick fantasies?

    Maybe there is a slight chance that someone who has not previously been a cheater gets really messed up and cheats and experiences great remorse, and vows to change and NEVER do that again. But I doubt that anyone who has cheated successfully, and serially, will ever stop. It is just too ingrained in their personalities. They may even lie to themselves, and lay all the blame on you, but really, do you think any sane person should believe that the cheater did no wrong? Only another chump will believe that — because the new chump WANTS to believe that the love bomb is real, and they will ride off to Nirvana on the back of a perfect unicorn, and will live happily ever after.

    It is hard to examine evidence and face the truth. The things you will learn when you do so will change you for ever. You lose the ability to trust, because of what you see and hear and read when you gather the evidence. It is easier to face the entire truth when you have separated your life from the cheater, when you stop listening to what they say, stop believing your memories of the past, stop believing in your dreams of the future. Trust that cheater reality sucks — but your life doesn’t have to. You don’t have to live in Cheater World, you have the choice to leave and your life will have to be better when you no longer share it with a cheater.

  • Awesome!!! Hope the article title helps more people find you when they need it. They might not be ready to really hear it, but maybe it’ll at least plant a seed in their minds of another path through the mess that is infidelity

  • I’m trying to think what would have helped me get out at the beginning, not after an additional 7 years.

    That crazy, free fall feeling you have where it’s just so unbelievable you think maybe he’s had a breakdown? That is kind and caring but cheating doesn’t happen by accident. Think about all the deliberate steps he had to take to find affair partners, groom them, work out the logistics to contact them secretly, meet them secretly, the dozens or hundreds of lies required. This is purposeful. He knows exactly what he is doing. Think about what that means. Think about how well you are going to fare being honest with a practiced liar.

    That funny feeling like something is off in his reactions, that he shouldn’t need a therapist to tell him the words “I’m sorry” are in order? That feeling is right. Remember that cold look in his eyes when you told him you knew. That calculation, the stiff jaw, the silence. Notice how upset he is that you aren’t over it yet and still don’t trust him…after three weeks. That dizzying feeling that the person you married is a stranger? That dizzying feeling is right, too.

    Think about why you’re so worried about how he’s handling it. Think about how often you censor yourself because you have to catch him at just the right time. Think about why you’re so proud of being strong and able to keep on, despite the agonizing pain. You may not understand today, but there’s a reason why you are second place in your own life. Don’t some of his criticisms seem inaccurate? But he’s so sure about it, you wonder and think you must be wrong. Remember that one of the first things he taught you to say (as a joke) was that he is always right. Cheating hasn’t been his only campaign. Undoing you has been one, too. How many more times do you want to clean the kitchen, take out the garbage, do laundry while he relaxes and complains he’s been waiting for you to come spend some time with him? How much longer do you want to feel like an appliance?

    Know that there is a hidden population among us that can act like you, appear as if they love and care, and yet take actions that are utterly inconsistent with love. The cheating probably isn’t the only inconsistency. Please, please don’t cling to the good times thinking they are what is real. No, the nightmare is real, but you can get out. If you stay, the damage to your soul will go so much deeper. And God is fine with adultery as a reason for divorce.

    • Ohana, this made me suck in my breath, “Cheating hasn’t been his only campaign. Undoing you has been one, too.”

      And that is why I can never forgive my X; he had to dismantle me slowly and surely, in addition to the cheating. Leave me believing my main flaw (in his eyes) was more powerful than the 10 wonderful things I did to create a warm home. If I overcome the damage he did, it will only be by sheer force of will on my part.

    • Ohana that made me cry, yes he definitely was “undoing” me over the years till I attempted at taking my own life one night last year. That’s how bad a shape I was in. 🙁

      • Kate50, I’m thankful you are here in our Chump Nation community, where we are on this journey togther to re-“do” ourselves by gaining a life after all the “undoing” our ex’es have tried to do to us. I hope this coming year is a much better year for you as you continue in your healing from all the pain.

      • Ohana

        Every word you wrote was exact and true! When it’s happening and a chump is deep in the mindfuck of abuse it’s hard if not impossible to see. “He had to dismantle me slowly and surely”. Yes yes, Tempest, it’s much more than cheating, as if that’s not enough, it’s pervasive.
        No “if” just “when” they no longer have the power or control we start mending. They underestimate our resolve as strong intelligent creative human beings and the strength we have had all along. It’s ours alone to nurture and feed with self care to overcome abuse.

  • If you’ve wandered here by ‘accident’, please take the time to read through everything CL has written and every comment in reply. You may not be ready to hear it but it will resonate. It will make you think. It will be the voice in your head that points out why reconciliation doesn’t feel right and all the reasons it doesn’t. Eventually you’ll understand that your marriage is over. Eventually you’ll say that enough times that you’ll want to act on it.

    I found this site a couple of years ago which was approximately 3 years after my dday and it took about 8 months for it to sink in but eventually I made the move. Time (especially yours) is a terrible thing to waste.

  • Yep. I wondered why XH was always buying food we didn’t need. Initially I thought it was because he knew I liked sausages from that butcher, but he was lousy at inventory (i.e. we didn’t need more, and besides, I like other meats more than sausages).

    About 5 months later, when I discovered the cheating, I realized that the sausages were a kind of pay back. He was buying Schmoopie brunch at a really nice place about 3 doors down from the butcher’s, so he would go in and buy some sausages for me.

    Sausages, right….

  • This site has been immensely helpful, in making me feel “heard” as well as clarifying some things for me.Third-party validation can do wonders for one’s sanity. I am at a crossroads and very unsure what to do. I have seen enough counselors to know that they all have their own little pet projects and baggage, so I never really feel like I’m getting the best advice for ME. Husband had 4 week email EA (soon to be PA, plane ticket was purchased, hotel res made) with a 21-year old ex student (super cliche). I discovered it–he did not offer up. We have a young daughter.

    Our marriage was sucking–both of us were making sure of that. Prior to affair I had been googling things like “divorce” and “can you fall in love again with spouse.” Basically, I had one foot out the door. Had a health crisis, epiphany, and began trying real hard to be better, make it better. Begged on multiple occasions to get him into couples counseling. Nada. And then at some point, he appeared to be making more efforts too, then BAM. It was an opportunity–she came onto him via email (I know cause he eventually showed me some email strings but by then I had tracked that shit down like a fucking psycho PI–I am a professional researcher so it was not that hard). He was all too willing to up the ante with her.

    Since then and in the beginning there has been some denial, gas lighting, trickle truth, lack of accountability, projection, crappy therapy, etc. There has also been numerous apologies, contrition, remorse, concerted and obvious efforts to be better, and ultimately (after 10 months) a complete acceptance of responsibility. He is trying, but he is damaged goods at this point. This was the first and only thing that could be considered an affair, he is a wonderful contributor to the household and child raising, supportive of my choices, a good listener, etc. He ain’t perfect but neither am I–I can be a real self righteous, bossy asshole sometimes. I just don’t know what to do, Can someone who has exhibited SUCH BAD CHOICES really change? Could this have been a one off? I mean, I DID NOT CHEAT but I was NOT participating in the marriage in any positive way, for a long time. Can I EVER get over the fact that he was set to nail some girl young enough to be our daughter?? Despite her initial advance, it seems very exploitative for someone in his position to escalate a mild flirtation of someone in her position. Is it possible to trust again, ever?

    Thoughts? Humor welcome, but don’t be a dick. This is some serious gray area shit and a young kid is involved. I need advice. Thank you.

    • I do not have all the details, but… Humans are prone to temptation, and if the marriage was unpleasant as you seem to say, and some escape is readily available, many people would seize the opportunity: some good time, no harm done, the partner will never know. With a secret thought in the back of their minds: who knows, this could be so extraordinary, that it could turn into a final escape, with no need to return. The age of the person is irrelevant, it is merely a mental / emotional escape, that can take any form (a former sweetheart, a colleague of the past, etc.)
      Your description of your marriage is extremely honest, this is something really hard to do, we all tend to deny what was wrong, and focus on the efforts we put into it. You are a strong and honest person !
      The big question is, can your marriage change enough so that you both find renewed satisfaction in it ?
      In my case, changing anything was too much to ask. I was already “in charge of everything” and he was detached. Every non-natural change that I was requested to make felt like humiliation. I had been wanting to stay in our nice home to draw, and I was requested to travel every weekend to visit places; I missed drawing, I resented the expenses, and he was still thinking about the other women anyway, always checking his phone. I chose the pain of letting go, over the pain of clinging to a dead relationship. Since then, he’s been considering so many changes of job, of city, of home, that I understand he is never satisfied and it’s never been on me.

    • KC, only you can really answer whether it is possible to trust again. If you can then maybe you go for the Unicorn, if you really believe it might work. Be sure to get a postnup as the first step, if he won’t give you that then it’s no good.

      IMO, the only possibility for a Unicorn is if the cheating spouse comes to you and confesses in full contrition. I just don’t see how you get there if you caught the cheater and they continued to lie to you. Then there is the months (years?) of deception in order to carry on an EA/PA that preceded your catching them.

      My story is not your story. FWIW, In 2000 I took spouse back under similar conditions to yours, 10 years later I caught him cheating again. What a waste of my life that was.

      • And this is one of my main concerns–that a decade from now we’ll be right back here. Since he’s done it once he can do it again. Right now I feel like I would much rather be alone than partnered with someone who would be so disloyal. I love the idea of growing old together but not at the risk of this again. I will never go through this again and I think that because I may never trust him again then we will never be “good couple” again, and then it just doesn’t make sense to stay, except for that sweet little girl who deserves to grow up with both parents in her home. He’s not one of these compulsive raging narcissistic abusive assholes I read about. I mean, he’s a selfish liar, but he’s other non-terrible things as well.

        • Except for the friends and family I love. Love and trust to me is a joke. I’ve had trust issues my whole life asswipe only male I ever trusted. Silly me. There are lots of good people out there I’m sure would be great spouses. Me, I’m 60, I’m done. No love, no trust, no relationships for this girl ever again. I’m too old for this bull shit drama from people who claim to be adults, but use I was stressed, I needed a diversion!!!! Adults who can’t or won’t face their problems with honesty and head on. Who hide in other woman’s lady parts and wallets. Who jump from the frying pan into the fire and are damn right alpha male proud of the hurt and destruction they cause. These types are barely human. FUCK THEM ALL!!

          Two quotes I chant when stressed:

          What matters most is how well we walk through the fire.

          I should have that tattooed on my ass. Written by a drunken cheater bastard writer but good words.

          The other:

          She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. Elizabeth Edwards.

          My divorce final is Nov 16. I will adjust my sails.

    • Kc,

      https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/1b/6c/a8/1b6ca840550fe6b92a4c1f13d2bb578f.jpg

      Your suckiness as a spouse entities your spouse to demand counseling, or to file for divorce, or a hundred other things that don’t involve betraying your trust and emotionally destroying the family of his own young daughter.

      Did you cheat despite his suckiness? No? Then your suckiness had nothing to do with him taking a dump on his marriage vows. That’s all on him alone. There are literally hundreds of ways to dissolve the marriage that are ethically superior to weeks what your spouse choose to do. Think about that for a bit.

      Also, while your suckiness is on you, your spouse’s epic suckiness probably wasn’t helping to bring out your best, note was it? I’m sure in his mind he was a saint who sinned never, but you don’t live in his mind, you live in reality.

      I was a sucky spouse, but I’ll never, ever own my stbxw’s cheating, because cheating is an abusive choice, the end.

      You are well within your rights to ditch that a-hole and run from the wreckage of the marriage that his choices caused.

    • Kc, scroll up a little and read Ohana’s post.

      Your spouse didn’t make one little mistake. He made a whole series of calculated choices, and kept them all concealed from you.

      At no point did he come to you and say, ‘Honey, this really young girl is hitting on to me, and I don’t know what to do about it.’

      Nuh-huh. He saw an opportunity, and a pretty unethical one to boot, just from a work perspective.

      And I am betting that if the trip was booked and the hotel reservation made, that this may well not be his first time. Chumps often report that what they expose turns out to be only 10% of what has been going on, not 100%.

      Your marriage sounds miserable, and what you say about gaslighting, trickle truths etc seems to indicate that your gut is screaming at you to get out.

      My 2 cents worth.

      • Thank you for your response. I tend to agree with you and my early paranoia led me to an exhaustive search of everything (finances, emails, etc) dating back years, but I never did find anything. And he was so freakin obvious (used a shared checking account) that I thought “either this is a one time deal, obviously, cause he’s so crappy at it, or he’s done it a bunch and just got cocky.” I will admit that I’ve had inklings in the distant past that he’s been unfaithful–just gut feelings–that I’ve looked into extensively and found nothing. Basically, to have done more than he did he’d have to be the sneakiest mother fucker cause I left no stone unturned. Yet, I tend to agree with you. Still figuring out what to do when my gut tells me something that my mind cannot verify.

  • I’m gathering the paperwork to file and I did try to save what I thought was a marriage. First, he laid it out that he started with videochat a couple years ago when I had serious job stress. And I was angry. Then well, it was chatting online making women MB for him. 5 years ago. 8 years ago. I can’t keep the main APs straight there were so many. I asked for a timeline – he doesn’t deliver, doesn’t deliver, gets angry that I’m making him do this awful thing. Stays up all night reading some stupid poly woman’s blog instead of the timeline and when I lose my shit the next morning and slam doors, he emails me about how he isn’t sorry to have wasted 5 hours reading a NON-monogamous woman’s guide to sexy times and communication. The only thing he was sorry about was throwing it in my face when I saw there was no progress on the timeline. He doesn’t even mention what the timeline is FOR — him cataloging how long he had been cheating online and what the fuck he did.

    Three months of pressure later I get names and years for about a dozen. He starts them as 2007. Fucking liar. He hit up an ex-GF within months of our wedding, chatting in email about how much our wedding ceremony meant to him and then asking her about how awesome the sex was between them, did they want to chat sex fantasies in email. The woman at least had the sense to make noises about being careful. He was just an entitled selfish immature ass.

    I had to sit in MC while he berated me for being angry (hm, anger is telling you something, all those years it was telling me something was wrong and all I could do was trust my husband would tell me if he had problems. stupid stupid me). While he said *I* betrayed out vows — WTF! He and i were two sides o the poor marriage communication coin. He stonewalled and avoided responsibilities and I was a complaining with harsh startup and anger. Ok, fine, he FUCKED WOMEN IN CHAT. And later, video.

    He lied and lied to me to maintain control over the narrative of his cheating, rather than even now grant me the grace of honestly laying it all out there, owning his complete brokenness as a husband or intimate partner of any sort, and letting me decide if I wanted to see if he could show me he would work to be a better person than someone who did … all that he did, all the years he did it.

    Ironically the ex-GF FB messaged him earlier this year and he showed it to me immediately. He didn’t at that time mention WHY they had a close sexual connection and when I asked he lied. He did tell her off. Everything he did was half-assed so that we were both frustrated. Like with the failure to do the timeline where he did make a document, he wanted seriously big credit for even thinking about this hard shit. I want him to be a decent man NOW. Big gap. Too big. I wasted my life loving him and feeling unloved. All those years, if he had just told me he was poly then he would have been honest.

    I’m proud of myself in laying down what I needed for R – and he was honest that he felt it was selfish of me to want him to focus on repairing the whatever affairs that happened in the past and can’t we just focus on being better married people NOW. Um, no. No that is not acceptable to me.

    He did that to me for 18 years. Why should I save that? If he love bombed me and apologized daily and showed serious effort to improve him self and make amends … he would not be the man capable of such base cruelty. He wanted to be a better man in all areas except cherishing me. That was going to be a lot of work — *because of what he did cheating*.

  • As usual you deliver the goods CL. Ahh the bitching truth. The dead relationship is like a crusty band aid- you got to rip that sucker off before it festers- oh and toss it out, keeping it is the first sign of hording problem.

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