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The Myth of the 50-50 Marriage

nofaultA trope of reconciliation sites is the line that you brought 50 percent of the problems to the marriage, but the affair is “100 percent” on the cheater.

On the face of it, this looks like a decent observation — hey, I might not be perfect, I own half the problems here, but I did not cheat. That’s on you.

On the other hand, why mention the marriage at all, if it’s not somehow relevant to the cheating?

“I own 50 percent of the problems in our marriage, but the decision to rob senior citizens at gun point is entirely on you.”

Huh? It’s like that Doug Stanhope joke —  “Jesus died for your sins. How does one affect the other? I fucking hit myself in the foot with a shovel for your mortgage.”

The 50-50 fault thing is a subtle blameshift. Or as the teenagers would say “Just sayin’!” You have a lot of issues! Did it make me cheat? Just sayin!

The 50-50 comes up again in therapy. The whole I’m okay, you’re okay, approach to warm fuzzy enlightenment. What the Everyone Is At Fault Here spackle fails to acknowledge is that yes, sometimes there is fault. Someone does a Bad Thing. It’s bad. They did it. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with me, or Jesus, or Bernie Sanders, or your eighth grade algebra teacher, or your pet iguana. It just belongs to the Bad Person who did the Bad Thing.

That’s so black and white of you, Chump Lady. I think you’re failing to recognize your responsibility for other people’s actions here. Like chumps are some sainted minority of flawless people. You and your chorus of victims!

Oh, I think chumps have faults. We’ll get to that in a minute. What the 50-50 doesn’t get is that sometimes one person in the marriage is a fucking train wreck. Addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, entitled. They’re manufacturing chaos faster than you can book therapy appointments. Their disordered shittiness, yes, is lopsided and unfair.

And — it should be noted as well — that sometimes chumps suck. Yes they do. You might be addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, and entitled. But those things don’t compel another to cheat. They’re just another crappy way to handle life. People who suck should be divorced honestly and openly.

The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.

Now then, chumps — you do have a problem. You put up with this shit. I read the litany of emotional abuse, withholding, sexlessness, lopsided responsibilities, grandiosity, financial mismanagement complaints in your marriages, and I think “Why the hell did you TOLERATE that?!” (I yell it to myself as well, when I review my earlier marriages.) I’ve explored it in 5 Things That Keep You Stuck With Cheaters. We have to own our spackle and trying to control things over which we have no control. Some of those efforts are noble (saving marriages good!), some of them are downright codependent and whackadoodle.

Many of us tried to work with our partners, but at some point you have to get the message that the other person isn’t invested. You can’t spackle over addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, and entitled. You have to buy a clue and take control of your life.

Find your boundaries, know your self-worth, fix the picker. (You know the drill.)

You were a chump? Okay. Fix that. But the cheating? That was never on you.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I have had multiple people ask me why I stayed with her as long as I did, why I put up with the shit I did. And I guess because I took my vows seriously, but also I just plain didn’t see the problems. When the gaslighting and blameshifting has been going on for so long it just becomes the norm. And second if you could see it why the fuck didn’t you say something to me?
    I know I have lots of work to do on myself, but I won’t take any shit about the affair onto my shoulders. Fuck that noise, that was her plain and simple. I have now set those boundaries and the taking of shit isn’t amongst them. Harsh but fair CL.

    • ^^^THIS!!!^^^

      Same here, bro, same here.

      When I explain to people that my STBXW racked up around $100K in debts and penalties in secret, before I even knew about the affair, most of them respond with, “dude, why didn’t you dump her **then**?!??”

      Same reasons why you stayed, but in my case I’d add one more: I never knew a functional, reciprocal relationship. I thought this crazy shit was just somehow normal! Thank god for IC to show me that I don’t need to put up with that noise.

      • Guys, I didn’t know a functional, reciprocal relationship either — that was romantic. (I have a great bunch of friends.) Now I do. And the difference is astounding, and makes what I tolerated before just that much sadder. Thus the blog. It’s really quite difficult to believe when you’re trying to kick the barbed wire monkey that better monkeys exist, but they do.

        • Barb wire monkey hahahaha, I am imagining a sock monkey made out of barb wire. Great Christmas present idea for the ex. Hope I find one of those better monkeys someday, the barb wire one was no fun to sleep or cuddle with.

        • Barbed wire Monkey…. PRICKly little SOB isn’t he…. I got the PRICKLY monkey and his primate relatives who blame his shittiness all on me. Yes…it was me who made him whip out his banana in the Motel 6 in Chicago. We live in Pennsylvania….so it must have been my fault he drove to Chicago, 7 hours away to get his banana peeled. Hmmmmm…. yup…it am the all powerful, all controlling Wife of a thousand powers.
          I stayed….we had children…I tried….I spackled.
          He cheated….he lied….he violated my children on so many levels. He did a smear campaign….he framed me…..he had me put in jail to get rid of me……
          I’m still here…. and I am wiping out his finances and enjoying every dollar of it.
          He wasn’t happy??? Some 30 year old whore made him happy….. ok….
          Check please.

        • Barbed wire monkey. HAHAHA!!! So funny and yet so fucked up at the same time in hindsight.

          I look forward to meeting a new monkey sans barbed wire.

        • And having grown up only seeing very non-functional relationships I really appreciate how you point out,”hey chump-o, that a f’ing barbed wire monkey you are trying to hug there!” It was a real wake-up call for me.

        • “The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.”

          I just love you so much, CL!! I really needed to read this, exactly as you wrote it. Perfect! Two years post DDay, and 11 mos post divorce = a blessed, sane, and chaos-free life. All the difficulties associated with the trauma of the betrayal and divorce? Nothing compared to being lied to and schemed against in my own home. Never again.

          Thanks for all you do to help move us Chumps forward, CL. xoxoxo

          • “The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.” Screen shot, going on fridge, go truth!!!! Also, love how you said, “…addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, and entitled.” YES, says it all! I too love you CL! Thanks for helping me become free of my own intrusive negative thoughts about myself, thoughts that still churn deep in my soul (and yes, that is my work to do, that work created my need to stay with someone so dysfunctional). But thank you for helping me to rid myself of my need to beat myself up by putting things in such wise perspective. I love the truth!

          • “The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.”

            This is an empowering statement that resonated with me too! I have been divorced for one week! Here’s to better days!

      • Sephage wrote, “In my case I’d add one more: I never knew a functional, reciprocal relationship.”

        My story is the same. My sense is a disproportionate number of chumps are the children of narcissistic or addicted parents. My father is an alcoholic, and it left me with the impression that non-reciprocal relationships are normal. So a marriage to a woman who was withholding, uncommunicative, and made me a low priority felt . . . familiar. Now years later, I’m re-married now to a wonderful woman and there are moments (say, when she does something extremely generous or thoughtful or even something small like paying a compliment or a spontaneous kiss or hug) that feel almost otherworldly.

        When you’re raised with bad relationships around you, familiar-feeling is a red flag.

        • My asswipe cheater is an alcoholic. Before I knew about the fuck phone and Yahoo chats, I confided in people about the alcoholism. I got mixed suggestions: “Leave the shithead, you don’t deserve this,” or “You stay with him no matter what! He has a disease and he needs you. Unless he utterly disgusts you, you need to stay with him.” I stayed because I loved him and put up with the belittling, controlling, manipulation. I really really prayed that he would FINALLY get a DWI, pancreatitis, chirrosis, SOMETHING to wake the asshole up! (Not the pre-diabetes or the high triglycerides or the metabolic syndrome….those aren’t severe enough) Because you see he ‘doesn’t have a problem’ – what the hell do I know? (Umm when you buy beer by the pallet, that’s a little bit of a red flag, I could mention more, but not now). When I found out about the cheating, THAT is when the utter DISGUST finally set in. He DID utterly disgust me and that was when I said enough is enough. I don’t really give a shit anymore about your ‘disease,’ you piece of shit.
          Nope – I will NOT take any responsibility for his cheating alcoholic loser ass.

          • I get it, LadyStrange. My ex wasn’t an alcoholic, but he had own special brand of issues that created havoc in my life. As the years wore on, I spent more and more time sad and worried and struggling to keep it all together while putting on a happy face to the world. When I found out about the cheating, it made me step back and realize that I had won the biggest booby prize on the planet. He has terrible issues x, y, and z…AND he cheats?!

            By the time the cheating came to light, I was already deeply ashamed about everything I had already been putting up with, and this made it that much worse. Shame and fear kept me locked in place for much longer than I like to admit.

            • “He has terrible issues x, y, and z…AND he cheats?! ” Lol, tears in my eyes right now, so funny and sad at the same time.

            • That last paragraph…so true. I wasn’t aware of the cheating until 6 months after we had separated. I wasstill trying to maintain a supportive friendship due to his health issues and lack of family nearby. Once I figured out there were actual labels for the behavior that is associated with cheating I had to see it as not thoughtless but abuse. As someone who former domestic violence victims have named as someone who helped them on their path out I felt like a total fraud. The only good that came from this is having more tools in my box to offer the next generation of sisters that cross my path. I am educated.

              • “The only good that came from this is having more tools in my box to offer the next generation of sisters that cross my path. I am educated.” This is lovely, Chumpy.

              • Oh Chumpy, same! I found the proof of the affair after we split, after we sold my big beautiful house, after I agreed that he could just pay me child support on what I billed him, after I gave up alimony, after I was in my new place. I was actually trying to be civil and maintain some sense of family for my kids (we live in a small town: let’s go to the 4th of July parade together [as we had for my girl’s entire lives], let’s maybe have a meal together as a family, let’s be as healthy as we can for our teenage girls). And then as I was hooking up my internet from our shared laptop [on the second day of move in to my cozy condo] and there was his gmail [he thinks I ‘hacked’ his email] with a plethora of love bombs and unbelievable expressions of deep soulmate bonding, “When I see your car go by, I feel bliss,” “I love you so much, I want to be you.” “I love how you washed those windows today [ex had a window washing business] it makes me so full of respect for you.” “When I think of you I just want to be with you so much and hold you so close.” “I learn so much from you every single day, you have given my life such meaning.” All of this going on for the last 4 years of my marriage, which ramped up his crazy making abusive monster-like treatment excessively in the last year (love love love you dear new one, hate hate hate you old one hence his many temper tantrums, elevated verbal abuse, and utter emotional dysregulation).

                I have struggled so much with feeling discarded, replaced, that he just traded me in, truly deeply loves another (how great how his life worked out, he finally found his one true love). So, when CL writes as she did today, it helps me immensely: “…addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, and entitled,” describes ex so absolutely perfectly. He manipulated me out of what was legally mine: home, alimony, child support.

                But CN, I want to say here: THANK YOU. A few posts back after hearing of the financial hell most of us go through, I did hire a lawyer and feel such tremendous peace about finding and scraping money together for his help. It’s weird to try to trust even just my lawyer as I am damaged and broken (can’t trust another living soul), except my group of people (friends of 20 plus years, family, though not his family, they dropped me like a hot potato, I am too angry, too emotional, too confrontative).

                We are going back to court for the latest thing because, of course, ex used the tax deduction for our college child (she goes to Brown, yes proud mama) despite the order of the divorce decree which designated that we switch even and odd years. So Brown says, “You both can’t claim her, work it out or she will not get any financial aid.” And ex is claiming I didn’t support our daughter, that he was the custodial parent, though she was at school the majority of the time and I did in fact provide much support to her while he was paying for AP to live in his apartment, in which he spent the majority of his time. He even got my daughter to write a letter to the court stating that I only paid her $50. What? (That’s a whole other thing). And when I saw that he had claimed her I did go back to court to try to get ex to amend his return but the commissioner said, “The court does not allocate the tax deduction for adult children.” What? It’s a court order. So lawyer is going to help me and fight for me and it’s worth every penny I could scrape together. Thank you CN. Thank you for putting me on the right course to get help, thought It’s weird to give this over because I am used to a maladaptive state of fighting ex on my own. But I love my lawyer. Thank you!

          • Hi lady strange I totally get what you’re saying about being there for him since he’s sick until u find out he back stabbed u by fucking some bitch. I had all the patience in the world for his borderline but when I knew for sure he was a self entitled cheater I couldn’t stand his bpd quirks and temper tantrums. I m not a psychiatrist, I couldn’t help him nor is he worth the trouble. All I can say is good luck to the next girl he is with!!

            • I put up with my Narcissist for 36 years of hell… I sensed he would make my life and my children’s lives even more miserable if I left, what’s unfortunatel is the county we live in favors the borderline in th court atmosphere. The judges and lawyers are cruel and unfair to the women and their share of settlements! The city I live in was was just sued when an angry husband going through a divorce entered the family home despite having a restraint order and stabbed his wife who multiple times before turning the knife on himself stabbing himself to death just before the 4 kids got off the school bus to find their parents in violent scene. The husband was a cop the wife was a nurse and he was having an affair with a co-worker (female cop) when he became enraged during the court hearings over child support and other assets, There was a even a restraining order and his gun was taken away just prior to the murder. My point being a Narcissist can murder a spouse! The fears of living with them are real! My ex tried to kill 3 of my pets, he would hold my son underwater in the pool, he faked illnesses on a daily basis! I was 20 years old when I married him and it was too late when I started to figure it out,

              • I could not leave my marriage for 36 years..I was literally held as a prisoner in that relationship… He lied and gaslighted me through the years to cover his affairs! He wouldn’t let me work, he moved far away from our families and was abusive right from the start! When I realized how crazy he was I could not get out without fearing mine and children’s life! At age 55 he decided to dump me (a blessing in disguise)! He wrote me a letter asking for a divorce without any lawyers! I filed and fought him for 2 years in court! He made me spend thousands of dollars to get half my house and at 57 I am still involved with the courts over his pension! He stole everything else as far as possessions! We are divorced and I am no contact with him after him and his mistress stalked me during the divorce! I am just glad he didn’t kill me because they want 100 percent of the assets! I just wonder how many spouses are killed so the narcissist wins everything!

              • Gail
                I feel your pain. I really do. Violence and abuse paralyze you. Always living one step ahead and sleeping with one eye open. My situation turned violent during the separation and since the divorce. I dont forget for one min that he promised to kill me. That I will live to regret ever knowing him.
                I sit thru lectures from well intended firneds and family about ‘ he wasnt always like this. It must be the job. You should try for your daughter’ because when they see him he is still wearing the 100 watt smile playing mr Good Cop. I have a couple of really close friends that no longer associate with him anymore and are on guard.They have witnessed the Dr Jekell , Mr Hyde transformation and i dont need to pitch the ‘ but he is crazy ‘ story to them. They believe me. The can see thru the fake smile… And that makes them question everything they new to be true about him.
                I dont need to be right. I dont need to have the upper hand. I dont poke the bear. I maintain boundaries. He thinks my behavior is related to me ‘ not gettiing over it’ I let him believe what he wants. If that what keeps me and my child outa harms way.
                I do tire. I do breakdown. But there is a beautiful child who looks at me every day for direction.. i wont fail her.

              • Thank you for discussing the fear the threats the deliberate messages they give you when you spend intimate time alone with them! They convey I will take our children, I will make your life miserable, I will lie and smear you to the courts and our family and friends, I will secretly control all our assets so you will be broke and defenseless if you leave, I will kill our pets so you know I will make good on my promise, I will turn our children against you and then I will kill you and replace you with my new supply so that I that I will lose nothing! And guess what it works, thecourtsbeleive him, families believe them, kid believe them and domestic violent groups can only give you shelter! There is no penalities for crime committed against a spouse! I ashamed of the courts, judges and lawyers as they are contributing to the suffering that goes on in these fsmilies! I was able to leave one time in the 36 years! That’s when he thought he was in love with a co-worker! But he still fought me and denied all in court to steal our assets and it worked! I am poor but have never been happier! Is this being chi led or is this abuse??????

              • Gail, the Clip, your insight is profoundly right on. What they present to the world is so discrepant to who they really are. Infuriating! AP thinks, obviously, from my upper long post, he is a saint, that he is kind, intelligent, understanding, sensitive. It’s all a crock and I know, and most of my support team, know who he really is. The sad part is how my children are trying to sort through who their dad really is. My youngest really truly gets it and has very minimal contact, but oldest (my Brownie, see above) still believes he is a good guy. I hate that but CL has taught me to focus on what I can control: being the sane stable parent.

        • For me, it wasn’t that I was shown bad relationships, it was that I was just never shown good ones. I literally had zero idea of how romantic relationships should work when they are healthy. None. Never had inside access to any of those growing up (my mom is great, but she divorced my cheating father before I was old enough to know the guy, and he then disappeared from our lives entirely). Just unfortunate ignorance in my case.

          • Wow. This place takes my breath away. The fact that chumps pour their hearts out in order to help other chumps, complete strangers to them is so touching.

            Sephage, when I read your post I just felt like I wanted to give you the biggest, tightest hug you’ve ever had.

            Sending big hugs to all fellow chumps.

            Do not fuck with us barbed wire monkeys.

            WE. ARE. MIGHTY!!!!

          • Yep…same here. Zero healthy relationships in my family, total “shit show” is what I call it. My mother, who never drank, spent her entire life with one alcoholic after another. I steered clear of drinkers my whole life, even with 15 years working as a bartender, until X-hole. He stayed drunk the first 4 years, I attributed his selfishness to his alcoholism. Little did I know the alcoholism masked an even darker truth. I actually told him the day he left “I liked you better when you were fuckin drunk all the time!”

        • Ooh, ooh, raising my hand so fast I fell over backwards. My father was a narcissistic, porn-addicted, control freak who constantly belittled my wonderful mother. And who did I marry? A narcissistic, porn-addicted control freak who belittled me.

          I thought I was doing better than my mother because I at least fought back, called him on his nonsense (and in fact, everyone else, including his own family, thought I had improved the jackass greatly). But all he did was take it further underground, and become more pathological while improving his impression management under my tutelage.

          This also raises the interesting issue of our explicit vs. implicit decision making processes: My father was a rough guy, not great social skills, smart but not well-educated. By choosing a polished, charming, well-dressed, Oxford-accent husband, I assumed I was marrying the complete opposite of my father. Nope–serial cheater X was even worse in many ways. It taught me to pay attention to the undercurrents of decisions. (And now my picker is very fixated on two nutty schnauzer/shepherd mixes who are much easier to reform & decidedly more loyal than X ever was.)

          • Yes, me too. I thought I was improving my chances of a good marriage, because my father was an angry alcoholic, who couldn’t relate or converse with anybody, but X was a happy alcoholic, who could entertain a room with his stories, and could express his love. The same, but different! They were both cheaters. I feel like I went for the familiar, being young and naive, but I really wish I had gone straight into years of singledom and intensive therapy! I wasn’t even ready to fall for anyone, much less pick a life partner!

          • “This also raises the interesting issue of our explicit vs. implicit decision making processes: My father was a rough guy, not great social skills, smart but not well-educated. By choosing a polished, charming, well-dressed, Oxford-accent husband, I assumed I was marrying the complete opposite of my father. Nope. . . .”

            Similar story here, Tempest. My father is a highly educated scientist prone to towering rages. My cheating ex wife comes from a family of hillbillies and never shows any emotion. I took that flat affect (no yelling or screaming or swearing, no throwing things) as indicative of how well-adjusted she was. Spackle much? In fact it was evidence of my ex’s deep sociopathy (no empathy, no remorse, and I think possibly no soul). So, the window dressing was different, but the relationship in window was same in both cases: imbalanced, unhealthy, and waaaaaay f*cked up.

            • This all really hits home tonight. My father was a selfish alcoholic who disappeared for days at a time, drank the family business away, and physically and emotionally abused my mother. She was extremely controlling of me, always yelling and impossible to please. She s really trapped in a horrible situation and a victim herself though. I swore none of that would ever happen to me. I would never put up with anything like that. I was lucky to be of a different generation, I went to college, I worked, I had my own money. Nosiree, no one would ever trap me. So how did I end up here?
              Well, I married The Nicest Guy In The World. Someone who would never hurt me. He was sooooo nice. His family was soooo nice. They didn’t fight or yell. They seemed so…..good. It didn’t take long to figure out though that they are a dysfunctional, disordered bunch who cannot process emotions. They have no reaction to anything until things build up and then a little thing will set them off and they react in a completely irrational way. Example: My FIL wanted to take down a tree in his front yard. My H suggested that FIL let his cousin take some of the top off with the bucket truck he has access to through work. FIL took that to mean that he thought he was too old and incapable of climbing the tree and didn’t speak to H for two years. Fucked. Up. That’s the stock H comes from. Did we ever stand a chance at communication? At working through problems? It was over before it began. Not making excuses for him His dad was a cheater and he swore he would never do that. I swore I would never marry (let alone become dependent upon) a selfish cheater. Maybe we’re all just lemmings to the sea.

              • “It was over before it began.”

                ^^^THIS^^^ This is it in a nutshell, the absolute truth, it was only a matter of time. Thank you Carmella1722, that one goes up on my daily reminder board 😉

            • There was so much fighting and drama in my family of origin that my ex’s cool, calm exterior was extremely attractive to me. He was so peaceful. Never got upset, always steady. I just had no idea that he was emotionally repressed, no ability to empathize. What at first seemed like a peaceful relationship became a prison in which I had no power.

          • I hope they are giant or at least standard schnauzer mixes, Tempest. Our schnauzer once mated with a Golden retriever. She had one, giant puppy.

            • The schn/shepherds are most likely brother & sister, so even thinking about their mating activates incest taboos. No more mating in my house; both are spayed/neutered. Plus, I have enough trouble corralling the two schn/shepherds themselves.

        • Isn’t that the double whammy though? To be subjected to this shit as a child only to go in search of it as an adult. Smh.

        • Wow, so much truth to that though. I’m the daughter of a narcissistic mother and an alcoholic father who literally told me “I don’t know what kind of man is ever going to want to marry you” so when I did meet a guy who wanted to marry me (a seemingly great one at that!) I was like HA! Proved you WRONG. And then he was a shitty spouse. And then he cheated. Obviously. Because I was so used to loving people who don’t love me because they are incapable of it. My ex was so emotionally unattached that he simply tossed me aside when he was done with me and didn’t give it a second thought, just like my mom and dad did. It was the extra salt in the wound that he knew of this history and he did the same thing to me. He never cared. He used my family history and my vulnerabilities to hit me where he knew it would hurt me the most, and then walked away so he wouldn’t have to see the damage he created.

          Uhhhg. Such a shitty person. They deserve each other.

        • Nomars post about Chumps being the children of narcs and addicts – yes. Mom is an alcoholic with Borderline Personality Disorder…I read a book about Borderline Mothers and it said that Borderline Queens are often married to Narc Kings – OMG ding ding ding !!! Now I know what was wrong with my life !!

          I knew my dad had odd traits that got him fired from jobs all the time (no one seemed to truly appreciate him amazingness and he seriously expected homage when he told people where he went to college) but I never realized he was a narc until then.

          Deadhusband was a covert narc but compared to them, he looked so well functioning. During the middle murky parts of the marriage, one reason I never left him is that I woudl rather live with Jack the RIpper than my parents and I didnt know how I could raise 3 little kids alone.

        • nomar — Diablo was raised in a very dysfunctional family, both his parents were alcoholics, his mother was narcissistic, she would disappear months at a time, emotionally neglectful , and i believe there were many times he and his siblings had to fend for themselves.

          you say My father is an alcoholic, and it left me with the impression that non-reciprocal relationships are normal. So a marriage to a woman who was withholding, uncommunicative, and made me a low priority felt . . . familiar. Now years later, I’m re-married now to a wonderful woman and there are moments (say, when she does something extremely generous or thoughtful or even something small like paying a compliment or a spontaneous kiss or hug) that feel almost otherworldly.

          i was the first and only person who stood by his side. i supported, cared and loved him longer then anyone in his family or friends. 14.5 years with him, even his parents did not stay that long with him consecutively. and yet HE treated me like shit. i did think that he could or would recognize the difference between his abusive parents and the goodness and trueness of the love that i gave him. but it was not enough for him.

          *shrugs* maybe his borderline personality order had something to do with how he acted and the things he did. maybe it was his alcohol and drug abuse (i suspect he is on meth but no proof). i always thought his alcoholism was the cause but now i believe it was only a symptom. doesnt matter thou, i dont understand that or BPD or anything like that.

          all i do know is that he treated me horribly even after all the good things i did for him. yes, i know i made mistakes but for most of the time, i was doing good things, loving things, trying to fix it, trying to fix him, make him happy. i dont think he ever really tried to make me happy even with the explanations i gave him (with examples even). it took me a long long time, years really, to realize that it WASNT because he COULDNT but because he WOULDNT and did not want to treat me better, be nice to me, do nice things for me.

          if you find yourself explaining to someone HOW to be a decent human being, you already lost the fight. i used to think it was because of how he was raised but now i realize that it is much more then that and i am not strong enough to help him.

          • OMG! “If you find yourself explaining to someone HOW to be a decent human being, you already lost the fight.” I have done that with my Mother and both my marriages — I’ve been married twice to cheating abusive alcoholic/drug addicted men. I thought that because my STBX was smart and going to law school on a scholarship he was different than XH #1. I never saw how STBX was just like my mother until all this happened. She is a narcissist alcoholic, serial cheater, rager, emotionally abusive, chronic liar, who threw me out on the streets in a jealous alcohol fueled rage when I was 16 — just months after my dad dropped dead in front of me. She didn’t like how her latest fuck buddy (55!) was making “eyes” at me (I was 16!). I was completely disposable. Just like STBX disposed of me and our 4 kids in May when he devalued and abandoned after 25 years. No remorse whatsoever. No warning. He was “confused” about what he wanted: Me, our 25 year marriage, best friendship and our 4 kids, OR the 32 year old homewrecking, dopesmoking, live-at-home lying slut. He informed me outside a Starbucks that he wanted to “see” AP #2 (who knows, might be #100 for all I really know) openly. Then he never came back. Never even came and got his stuff. Didn’t contact his kids for weeks. They are little. WTF????? Just like my mom! I keep saying “who does this?” They do!

          • “if you find yourself explaining to someone HOW to be a decent human being, you already lost the fight.”

            Yes! Brilliantly stated.

            And, as you pointed out, the reason why the fight is already lost is because he WOULDN’T change. No matter what ills befell him in his childhood, no matter what addictions he has acquired, he must make the choice to change if a chump’s loving support is ever to have a chance at helping.

            My STBX asshat ENJOYS being a snake. He likes the power over people; he gets an inordinate thrill from the convincing random women to sleep with him; he prefers lazy to responsible … etc. Does he intellectually understand the benefits of mutually-giving relationships? Yep. Does he understand how irresponsible, hurtful, and degrading it is toward his wife and kids that he sleeps around while married? Yep. Does he know that being mature and self-responsible allows for long-term planning to achieve goals and even happiness? Yep. He GETS IT. He just doesn’t think any of it is worth the trade-off. He gets too much pleasure from being an asshole. There is no “fixing” that kind of reckless dysfunctionality.

          • “if you find yourself explaining to someone HOW to be a decent human being, you already lost the fight. i used to think it was because of how he was raised but now i realize that it is much more then that and i am not strong enough to help him.”

            Thank you MrsVain, another one for the reminder board. I told X-hole “I can’t save you from yourself, you are your own worst enemy.”

          • “if you find yourself explaining to someone HOW to be a decent human being, you already lost the fight.” Yes, well stated MrsVain. Looks like a lot of us were pushing the same rope.

        • “it left me with the impression that non-reciprocal relationships are normal. So a marriage to a woman who was withholding, uncommunicative, and made me a low priority felt . . . familiar.”

          This is me too Nomar.. I never had a reciprocal, kind relationship. My ex took and took. Discarded me, I was the lowest priority on his list along with our children. It kind of felt normal. And I stayed and stayed and stayed… I was pretty much a single mum for 20 years while he prioritised every other aspect of his life, his hobbies, his ‘female friends’, his work and would give me and our kids a snippet of love every once in a while. I thought this was my lot and just dealt with it. He eventually left for his final affair. By the time he left (while I was at work), I was a shell. He took everything he could from me and then totally discarded.. nearly 5 years on and I can honestly say I am truly happy. I can live my life. I have two incredible adult children whom I am incredibly proud of. There is a much better life without these narcs in our lives.

          • Same here JABT. When my stbxh left for his AP I was a shell. People said it would be tough looking after the children on my own. Nope, I too was a single mom for 20 years. It became easier because all the energy I was directiing towards the Fucktard & the marriage could now be redirected to the children and (gasp) myself. Thank you for the line “if you have to tell someone how to be a decent human being ….” Spot on. After all, I can change the cat litter by myself ?

        • Thank you all for such an insightful thread!

          Learning how to build reciprocal relationships is indeed a must to unchump myself. This also sheds light on how important it is for chumps to model reciprocal relationships for their kids, because we all know they ain’t gonna get any of that from cheaters.

      • I can also relate. I didn’t understand boundaries. My mother meddles in my life and I guess I just thought her control was normal. She is somewhat narcissistic. Then when my H did the same thing to me, I thought it was normal.

        There is no doubt we repeat patterns we learn in childhood. All of us do it. We are all broken people.

    • Oh yes, exactly!!!! The Evil One stole hundreds, if not thousands of dollars from our joint account, couldn’t keep a njob for long/bounced around from job to job, constantly lied about even the most stupid shit, but when I found oiut about the cheating!?!?! D- O-N-E.
      I know that at the ripe old age of 44, I still have a lot of wisdom to gain, knowledge to acquire, and a whole lot of love to give, whole lit of life to live, but one thing I will never say is that I drove him to cheat—/Fuck that.
      I too did not grow up in a Braady Bunch household, and I cut ties with my narcissistic mother and her flying monkey/my sister years ago for the same reasons I have no contact with TEO now. However, no matter what shit I put up with him, no matter shat he did, I never thought, “Hey, let go out and fuck another dude!!! That will make it all better!!!!”

  • As soon as I had confirmation my ex was a cheater, I got out of the marriage. Having said that I put up with an awful amount of crap before that. Why? Good question. I think I thought that, in time, he’d come back around. I thought he would realize that he loved me and our daughter. I’d invested years. I didn’t think I could cope with losing time with my child. Frankly I was hopeful (and a chump.) I believed him when he said he wasn’t cheating, that he did love me, blah blah blah….

    However, I also think I was delusional. All the signs were there. And really, I had zero control of how he felt or what he thought and more importantly how he chose to behave. I could try to suggest, and I did. Therapy for me? Check. Therapy for him? Check. (He learned more about manipulation there though.) It’s through reading here and more individual therapy that I realized I’d been waiting around for a guy who checked out long ago. I didn’t value myself. I didn’t believe in myself. I was being manipulated by a jerk.

    Once I got rid of my cheater, life slowly started to fall back into place. I got a job where people value my input and think I’m fun to be around. I’m a better parent without my ex micromanaging that. I don’t have to wait around to see if he’ll come home drunk – I KNOW he’s out there drunk somewhere. I travelled to places I wanted to go to. I manage my income on my own and I do well. And I fought hard to get my life back.

    I thought it was partly my fault he cheated but I don’t think that way now. That shit is all on him. He had a voice and he could have used it. He didn’t want to. Once he got caught he moved on in a heartbeat and he continues to be reckless. Cheaters lack something fundamental about being human, being kind and being honest. I don’t know why that is but I sure do not take responsibility for it.

  • “The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.”

    THIS here. ^^^^^^^^^

    • What a brilliant line.

      My ex told me that I made her feel so bad about herself, that she cheated to make herself feel better. Frankly, I could have thought of better things to do.

      Did your cheater also retell history to suit their narrative? Mine went back all the way to 1989, when she was all dressed for her work Christmas Party, and I didn’t tell her how beautiful she looked. I can’t remember if I did or didn’t, but clearly that forced her to cheat…

      • Too funny and so similar, I have heard numerous times that I yelled at him in an airport in front of total strangers. I have been told that it was humiliating, and apparently scarred him for life. After an experience like that who could blame him for cheating. I do not remember yelling but it was 20 years ago, and I very possibly did. Just as the flight started boarding I left him with two toddlers to take a quick trip to the bathroom. When I returned he only had one toddler and was checking his email. We missed that flight searching for the missing child.

      • Oh yes! I was told we had a party one time (probably guessing 2004?) and I didn’t go to bed with him. He was pissed that I stayed up WITH THE PEOPLE WE INVITED into our basement while he went to bed. (I honestly don’t remember this particular event, but he sure does….)
        FOR SURE a reason to cheat!

      • My ex claimed that I prevented him from becoming a famous movie star back in the 90s, that’s why our marriage ended. Umm, yeah.

      • NorthLondon–if that was a basis for cheating, I should have screwed half of the population in my city. My X was stingy with compliments, even when I was in an evening gown & full makeup. Your X just sucks.

        • Yes, mine too! He didn’t even tell me I looked beautiful on our wedding day. (Of course, he was probably thinking about his fuck buddy instead of me.) Did I cheat? Nope.

        • Hand raised here too. Never ever complimented me (only during the initial love bombing stage), no matter how dressed up or nice I looked. I’ve tried to figure out for a long time exactly when he stopped really even looking at me. Such an asshole.

      • Apparently I prevented my ex from moving to a glorious city like NYC or LA where he always really wanted to live. Never mind that I had a job offer in NYC after college that I turned down twice in order to move to Cincinnati with him. Yeah. I’m holding him back from all his glory.

      • I got one North London. I did not go to a wedding with her during our first year of marriage, so she never felt like she had a partner. Wanna know why I did not go with her?…I was in Nicaragua finishing you my Ph.D. field work!…Paid extra so she could leave early for the wedding…the rationalizing they do is head spinning!

        • This blaming for the past sound so familiar! Here are some of my ex´s: I asked for more sauce on shrimp he made for the first dinner he prepared for me. My asking for more sauce was taken as a rejection to his cooking. The sauce incident kept coming up for two decades. I now think he tests his lovers when he cooks for them to see if they ask for more sauce or not. The other big blame is that I didn´t wear miniskirts all the time like at the beginning when we were dating (duh!!!), and the third one was that I never took him to live in Paris (seriously???).

          • Not enough shrimp sauce? My god!
            Miniskirts? LOL – Were you married in the 80’s? I got something like that too – I didn’t wear sundresses often enough. Well – since then, I have a whole wardrobe of sundresses that I wear ALL THE TIME. Just not for him.

      • Apparently my great sin was that I told him one day I didn’t want to listen to him complain about his job at that moment. It was stressful. There was always some big conflict at work and he’d bring it home where I was taking care of infant twins all day. So he decided that I didn’t love him and the marriage was over, which meant it was OK to stay, but have affairs and hire prostitutes. He seriously said that was the cause, not that there were other things, or that it was the last straw, but THAT was the cause. He practically shrieked about it in therapy as if I had killed a puppy or something. Nut job.

      • Yes, I didn’t praise H enough for losing weight. Truth is, I preferred the fatter guy. He was nicer.. and a better husband. The skinny dude got real self involved, and frankly, is an asshole.

        • Deadhusband said that I prevented him from becoming a professional mountain climber (golly I dont remember him being offered that job, ever).

          He was told to go to anger management classes in the Marine Corps (he never told me why – red flag) and he told the other collected angry men that it was my fault that he never pursued his long standing dream to drive a bulldozer (if he wanted to do that why did he get a Bachelors & Masters Degrees?)

          And Major Angry Cheaterpants was mad that I “refused” to have 7 children for him (one of the few connections I made between his OWS is that the 3 I know of never had kids, so he seemed to like nulliparous vaginas …yet I was supposed to push out 7 people to carry his genetic material into the future…I stopped at 3.

        • I’m guilty of not praising his physique and complementing him on how devoted he is to his workouts. He wasn’t heavy to begin with and lost a lot of weight at that time. I mentioned to him that he was getting too thin. He was beginning to look skeletal.
          I also noticed how much happier he seemed to be when he was heavier.

          Newchumptal, like yours the skinnier he got the more time he spent in the mirror and more self involved he became, an angry, uptight, asshole.

          • Yes, ex started living in front of the mirror. I guess he had to impress the whore with his wonderful looks. So immature.

            I know on the RIC sites they are always saying your spouse cheated cause you didn’t ” look your best ” and “let yourself go.”. May I just say Fuck That. I’m clean and neat but I’ll be damn if I’m going to dress like a whore every day to ” keep my Man. “. Whores can have him.

      • Three things I did: Dishes weren’t done when he would come home from work exhausted; I was negative because I was concerned about his job BECAUSE he acted like things were bad there and like someone had it out for him; he got tired of “chasing” it. In addition to what I did wrong, I was blessed with being told what SHE did right: They have passion and he connects with her. And then I was told…there are things I love about you, but I’m not in love with you. Well, if we’re going to get technical, there were some major things not to love about him:

        1989…week before New Year’s, I go with him on a trip. We have an amazing time. We arrive home New Year’s Eve, just in time for a midnight you know what. Awesome. On New Year’s Day, he sends me home. Bye, bye…call you later. Why? Guess he didn’t want to watch football with me there. In 1990, I had spent a weekend with him doing something he loved. It was my birthday on the day we were coming home. I wanted to go to an antique show. He did not. I had to coerce him into it. 1991, our honeymoon..we take a low-key, cheap approach. Go to a beach for a week. Nothing fancy. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m okay with this. What bothered me…he had his head in a book for a good portion of the week. Back then, I wasn’t much of a reader. We sat on the beach in silence mostly. We did other things that were fun, don’t get me wrong, but in a way, I felt slightly neglected….. on my honeymoon. How sad is that? 1992…in our new house. I purchased a plant. He got upset that I spent $10 on a plant (I made decent money). When he noticed my shock at his reaction, he pulled back (to his credit) and tried to re-group. That would lead to many years of me hiding certain purchases that I didn’t think he’d approve of, because basically, it wasn’t about the money. If he thought it was important, we bought it. If he didn’t, it wasn’t worth the money. If I went on through the years, this post would be too long. Fast forward to the end…just one example. We lived in this house for 17 years. I wanted a new shower head. Yes, in 17 years, I still had the same shower head. Couldn’t keep it clean anymore. Went out and bought one. He didn’t like it. It wasn’t “good” enough. I needed to buy a better one. Well, I didn’t buy a better one and I tried to install it myself. I couldn’t muscle the old one off. I asked him to do it. He wouldn’t. I thought I was being funny by placing the shower head and a wrench on his nightstand as a reminder. I even laughed about it to him. Six months later, he left and guess what? The shower head was still on his night stand. Our son helped me put it on. I take amazing showers now, without him.

        No one’s marriage is perfect. I have friends with their own issues and ups and downs. But I would sometimes look in awe as their husbands would happily do things they asked or just be agreeable in general. With my husband, no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. That’s why I never packed the car when we were going on a trip. It wasn’t the way he wanted it. No matter what I asked of him, it was a chore for him to do. Yet, I’d arrive at work in the morning to an email from him with a honey-do list. Just like the purchases, if it was on his agenda, it mattered. If it wasn’t, it didn’t. I guess we didn’t have the same agendas. And maybe that was more of a problem than I realized.

        We did not fight. We have amazing kids, who are now young adults. We parented well together. We shared some of the BEST times together as a family. And even as a couple, we had a lot of laughs. I always felt like the good stuff outweighed the bad. I know I was not perfect and for sure, he could probably make a post just like this if he wanted to.

        But I didn’t cheat.

        The outstanding truth in all of this…The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.

        Thank you CL.

        • 2kids – My son moved out. I decided to re-do his room and wanted to replace the bent vents. My stbx SCREAMED at me! “WHY DO YOU NEED TO REPLACE THE VENTS? IT’S A GOD DAMN SPARE BEDROOM!” Needless to say, I never spent (it was always ME who spent the money on ANY ‘home improvement’) the $15 to replace the vents for a “Spare Bedroom.” Dick.

      • Here are the reasons I got for his affair related to DDay #1 (also screamed at me in MC when he was also throwing things!) (he lied, of course, and said it was his first affair (it wasn’t!) and it wasn’t physical (it was!):
        * I made him feel inadequate (yes, I guess having sex with him 3x a week, taking care of every single aspect of our family life, writing a book with him, training for and running races together, dating each other several times a week would “make” someone feel inadequate — huh?);
        * I never appreciated him (for 25 years and he never said a word? BS! see above)
        * I didn’t like some of the gifts he bought me (yes, the cheap plastic cuckoo clock from China with the recorded tinny sound was not what I showed him when we saw one I admired from Bavaria)
        * I wanted a nice home (he agreed to it in 2006 and never complained until his affair was discovered)
        * I wanted to send our DD to a good university (again, this was in 2004 and he never complained until the affair was discovered 11 years later . . . WTH???).

        • My former fiance, 25 years ago, once got drunk late one night and staged a screaming fit that led to him barricading himself in his flat and hiding under a table, threatening suicide. I and all his friends stood round outside the locked door, wondering what to do next.

          Once I got in, I found out the reason. Turns out I had failed to give him enough sympathy when his elderly cat had been put down a few weeks earlier.

          Uh huh. Didn’t see a red flag there at all.

          Oh, the joys of being 22. Oh, the even greater joys of being 46 and COMPLETELY OVER THIS KIND OF SHIT.

  • Truer words were never spoken. I came into my
    marriage with an “all in” mentality. The “forsaking all others” part of the vows isn’t speaking of just the physical, IMO. I think it’s saying grow up, this person is supposed to be the most important person in your life from this day forward. Frat brothers, work friends, clingy mothers? They take a back seat now. Cheaters just don’t get that. Even before they become cheaters.

    I would watch that dillhole be noble and kindhearted and giving to everyone else – even complete strangers – but somehow, he couldn’t muster up that energy for me and our family. I didn’t create that defect in him, he just liked the kibble he got by controlling the narrative of who he was to people who didn’t know him very well. That behavior was the root of all of our problems. No 50% there at all. My biggest sin is that I knew who he REALLY was and he decided that I needed to be punished for it.

    I was lucky in that our MC never tried to pin any of the blame on me. And, of course, that’s why we only made it to four sessions after which the dillhole decided our MC was a fraud and refused to continue. Coincidence? I think not.

    • “clingy mothers? They take a back seat now. Cheaters just don’t get that. Even before they become cheaters.

      I would watch that dillhole be noble and kindhearted and giving to everyone else – even complete strangers – but somehow, he couldn’t muster up that energy for me and our family. I didn’t create that defect in him, he just liked the kibble he got by controlling the narrative of who he was to people who didn’t know him very well. That behavior was the root of all of our problems. No 50% there at all. My biggest sin is that I knew who he REALLY was and he decided that I needed to be punished for it.”

      Here! Here! Being punished for being loyal, competent, trustworthy, dedicated and reliable. Of course, the punishment is all in secret because the offense is so ridiculous even cheaters know that!

        • “My biggest sin is that I knew who he REALLY was and he decided that I needed to be punished for it.”

          BINGO, this explains so many of my STBX’s action once he realized that I was serious about divorcing him.

          • “[T]his explains so many of my STBX’s action once he realized that I was serious about divorcing him.”

            So sorry. Same situation for me. Pull the mask off and the fangs come out.

      • That is satan all over again SarBear! Yep. Kinder to strangers. Called himself ‘your favorite neighbor’ to all the neighbors…pretty sure he was sleeping with some of them now that I am out of the fog…

        And yes 2kids2love I got chased around the house over a $12.00 tank set…he was furious! I returned it and gave him the cash…made that monster smile.

        …conditioning…he was conditioning me for the day I would find the super secret cell phone and find out about his hos…said he wanted a divorce till he got served…

        Unbelievable…all of em…

        Also…my father is a raging alcoholic and my mother was unavailable…poor woman was abused by him for 21 years…

          • I have a question about those “secret” cell phones. DDay was May 20th, the following month there was a bill sent to the house from Verizon ( we use Sprint), I thought it was junk mail but it was a bill showing that he had bought the phone and opened the account on June 3rd. Why get a secret phone after the fact? A few weeks later came another bill that showed he had made 43 calls to Jamaica an hour after our first hearing totaling over $400!! All of the calls were to different numbers and almost all of them were for only 1 minute. I called the one that lasted 30 min. but some man just answered the phone and when asked, he said the number wasn’t a business. I’m confused on this one.

    • ^^^EVERY WORD OF THAT^^^ Almost as if you are inside my head….. kinder to strangers….. couldn’t muster up that energy for me and our family….. That behavior was the root of all of our problems.

      Thank you, thank you Uneffingbelievable!! This is why I come here day after day, for support, grounding and validation. To remind myself that I didn’t imagine or conjure this shit up. X-hole always twisted it around on me, that I didn’t aappreciate his nniceness. They are so much alike it’s disturbing.

  • For myself I thought the good outweighed the bad. It did in the beginning. I thought marriage was compromise and that everyone had their “ways”. I had my own. I wasn’t perfect. I know my low self esteem and fear of being alone is why I stayed when things went seriously lop sided. I guess I hoped things would change.

    • Lina, I felt the same way. I was far from perfect and accepted him with his idiosyncrasies. The good did outweigh the bad. For SO long, we had an unbelievable partnership (I thought). When I entered the relationship, I worked and earned enough money to support myself and him and own a home. He helped with managing my rental property and was working on getting his music to make money (which it did). We had a wonderful relationship that nurtured and benefited us BOTH. I did not have self esteem or co dependency issues then. Things started going horribly wrong when I became more physically ill and needed him to step up more… he slowly started turning up the volume on mean.
      I felt so worthless that my body was failing me and making it harder to earn money and all he could do was agree that this was the issue and berate me making me feel more useless in every way.
      I stayed because I loved him, had hope and faith that he would eventually see how much he was hurting me and stop. That is what a normal loving spouse does for their partner…
      Back then, I took ALL the blame for things imploding.
      Today, thanks to Chump Lady, I realize that true healthy love would never have abandoned or abused me like that. He could not handle my being sick, OK it sucks but just leave. I actually see the sociopathy now… He didn’t just leave, he created a secret life with porn. He actually took a big boy job but cultivated inappropriate friendships with any one he could and pled his case to said strangers on how horrible I was to him. No one defended me. He then abused me physically and mentally until I was crippled and started diverting his earnings and emptied ALL of my savings.
      ‘Cause that is how a normal adult leaves a marriage, NOT.
      Today, that entitled behavior is 100% on him. No one even his worst enemy deserved that kind of treatment, but he did it to me…

      • (((HUGS))) Echo.

        Yup, after my cancer it was never the same and he also couldn’t deal with my Dad’s Alzheimer’s. I read somewhere that narcs hate sick people. He pulled some real sneaky shit towards the end.

        • Narcs hate when the focus is not on them. My X did one of the cruelest things imaginable the day after our second daughter was born. Why? He was about to lose more kibbles. Wish I’d left that day, but somehow being hormonal 30 hours after giving birth, with episiotomy stitches clouds your judgment.

          • Pregnancy and birth were the worst times with my STBX as well. One of the things that I hate him the most for (and will never forgive) is that he screwed up the most beautiful moments of my life.

            • Count me in here too. Wedding day. Wedding night. Birth of 1, 2, 3 beautiful babies. Pregnancy. Holidays. Birthdays. Anniversaries. What a complete waste of 20 years.

          • You are absolutely right Tempest, they can’t stand not being the center of attention. X-hole changed drastically after our son was born. His ex-wife also noticed this odd behavior when their children were born, she later asked me if I noticed him sulking when the baby came home from the hospital. Ummmmm…. that’s a definite yes.

  • “On the other hand, why mention the marriage at all, if it’s not somehow relevant to the cheating?” Yes! Spot on! We had all the ingredients for a lovely, amazing life together: wonderful kids, financial security, a business we built together, a home in the country, a dog, 2 cats, blah blah blah. Oh, and he had a wife that scheduled numerous counseling appointments for him to deal with his alcohol abuse, and marital disconnect. I was ALL IN! The details that came raining down after Dday were so sordid, and just plain crazy that there was no way I could figure out how I was responsible. Believe me, I tried to figure out “my part”. He tried to make me “own my part” in our failed marriage, but it was all too crazy. All I knew for sure in the early days was that I didn’t know him… he had somehow led a secret double life for over 20 years, and 3 years later, that is what I’m still trying to wrap my brain around.

    • Do you think you need to wrap your brain around it? I would respectfully suggest NOT doing that. Why care about their fuckeduppedness and just be the best you? You definitely deserve that!

      • I’d have to say it’s not that easy. I loved, and still love the person I thought she was. After 30 yrs, in a matter moments, I found that she was a complete stranger. That is tough to get past. I’m 2 years after finding out, and I’m still having trouble getting my brain around it. I’m living the best life I can (and it’s really great), but still don’t get how I didn’t see it for so many years. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not easy.

        • I really hear that, and I understand that it’s hard to do. It takes time. I have found that I don’t need to know why. That doesn’t matter. It’s that it was a choice that was made. Character. I cannot understand that deficiency in character – it’s not mine. So, not worth worrying about. I’m worth worrying about. My kids are worth worrying about. His character issues? Whatever.

          • It does take time. 28 years together. Two years to divorce. Six years to “normal.” That POS man was our life. My kids and I were devastated.

        • Raising my hand too… I believe it will take me years of hard work to reach acceptance about the fact that the person I thought I was married to never existed, he had been fronting all along.

    • You can’t wrap your head around it. Their reasoning and their behavior is too foreign to us.

      I’ve recently learned that my X’s post-divorce live-in GF was probably his last AP right before D-day. I think he’d fallen for her, but refused to leave the marriage (even though I initiated several conversations, and was showing physical symptoms from the stress of how he was treating me) because he didn’t want to give up half his $$ and retirement. What kind of person knows they are driving the mother of their children to an emotional breakdown, but is willing to do so to hang onto the family savings? That’s just f’ed up. What kind of sense can you make of that? None, unless you’re a sociopath.

      • What kind of person? My ex did the same as well Tempest, didn’t want to give up the income I brought to the family. He admitted he just planned to keep doing what he was doing forever if not caught. And when caught, he just shrugged his shoulders and moved on. He has now married one of his long term AP’s, lives off of her like the parasite he is, although I think now he is with someone he deserves.

  • So spot on. CL, you hit the core of what was my healing start. I did everything I could. He cheated. When I realized that he committed the deal breaker I walked away without the 300 lb gorilla.

    He never talked about his unhappiness, never mentioned he was ‘looking’, never shared his feelings with me – just went ‘shopping’. So I have no guilt about the Divorce. For an overly responsible chump, that is a big thing.

  • I think it was someone here on this board that used this analogy.

    Many of our marriages were like old cars that maybe needed an oil change, new tires, maybe new brake pads.. but they were still running. And they got us from here to there, maybe the paint was a little worn, but they were reliable cars.

    The cheating spouse takes that car and crashes it into a tree. Yes, the car still needs the oil change, brake pads, tires, new paint.. but the BIGGER problem now is that the car is busted into a million pieces. So in order to address the maintenance issues with the car, first you have to FIX the MAJOR crash repairs.

    Many cheaters and the RIC therapists want to go right to the oil change, right to the tires, or old paint.. ignoring the big crash. That’s the problem. Chumps can’t even THINK about the marital issues (every marriage has issues) unless the infidelity is acknowledged, dealt with and addressed. Unfortunately, most therapists get it dead wrong.

    • Right! You have to go back to before they were cheating in order to get a clear look at relationship issues. After they’ve cheated it makes no sense, because they’ve mentally checked out. If stbxh had told me he didn’t feel loved and respected before he cheated, I would’ve had something to work with. However, he gave me nothing, and it only got worse from there.

      • Mine was like a toddler in many ways. You’ve got to use your words or mommy dearest won’t know what’s wrong. He also had the habit of crossing his arms over his chest and sticking his lower lip out. Laughable now.

      • You loved and supported him, probably like many of us here with our exes. That is just another crap excuse (#356) from The Cheater’s Handbook. What you weren’t was new pussy/dick. Bottom line.

    • The car analogy is really accurate. I wonder at what point my stbx said “fuck it…I don’t care anymore.” He felt unloved, I’m sure. I did, too. We weren’t a fully healthy relationship. I was never ready to say “I don’t care anymore.”

  • The other day, an acquaintance posed a question to a group I’m in – when you’re dating, do you ask the other person, assuming they are divorced, what they believe their role was in the demise of the marriage. I thought that was a good question to ask someone when I eventually start dating again. But then I put myself in the role of being asked that question. I had a hard time answering it because, even though I know there were things I did wrong or could have been better at, it seemed that they were all related to the fact that I was being lied to, deceived, gaslighted, cheated on, blamed, dumped on, or based on the passive-aggressive behavior I was receiving. I even felt like a ‘bad’ person for not being able to come up with something that wasn’t related to his actions that I had done wrong. So I reached out to a friend that knows my story and was present when this question was posed for her opinion. CL’s post above is spot on with my friend’s response. She suggested that if I am ever asked this question, that I respond with ‘I could have communicated my needs better than I did’, which is very true. And, I could have been firmer with my boundaries – but that’s certainly not something I want to share with someone new in my life.

      • I knew what my needs were. I didn’t feel like it was always okay to have those needs. This thread is giving me some stuff to take to IC next week!

        • This is a good thread. I have dated a few times since my divorce. Nothing at all serious as I’m only a year out passed Discovery and 8 moths since divorce (IC-doesn’t want me dating and I understand – but it helps talking and learning about me and what I have to offer)

          What are my needs?
          What was my contribution to the failure of my marriage?
          Certainly many of the decisions I made over the last few years were based on lies, deception, gaslighting, cheated on, blamed, devalued and I was helping my now x wife with her sick mother: Reality now, she was really off having an affair with a co-worker.

          Certainly this has been an eye-opening experience at 51… getting closer to MEH:)

      • That was my role Gypsy. When he told me “you have to accept your part…” I told him, “my part was not leaving you… leading you to believe that your behavior was acceptable”. He must have felt inviceable cheating for all those years. Looking back, I’m amazed at some of the explanations I bought into.

    • Personally, I do not like that sort of a question. Maybe it is just my bad experiences speaking…but I would prefer something that did not assume a role/blame. E.g. What did you learn from your divorce experience?

    • Demise? Role? Is this therapy? Unless you are seriously dating someone, I did not believe you need to talk in terms of “contribution to the demise of the relationship”.

      I do ask a broader question in dating — especially on-line dating (e.g. how long was your last relationship? what happened?) For me, I am looking to hear their tone and explanation as it is very telling (e.g. that bitch is bat-shit crazy and has stolen all of my money, she is just too old for me).

      My suggestion is to keep it light and focus on what you are looking for.

      • Early on in my dating experience with cheater, I asked him about his first marriage and why they divorced. Wouldn’t you know that his answers at the time seemed pitch perfect. He had just the right level of remorse, BLAMED HIMSELF for being a pot-head, going on unemployment all the time even though he was in a good profession, wasn’t ready to parent, yada, yada. His first spouse left him yet he had nothing but words of admiration to the point where I felt perhaps he was still carrying a torch for her. In retrospect, maybe I began pick me dancing alongside the ghost of wife past which set up a weird dynamic of always feeling I was falling short of this paragon. Oooh, the mind-fuckery of it all!
        When I met him he was five years post divorce, super ambitious, and owned his own business. I thought his attitude about his Ex was a mark of his maturity. When I realized how I got skunked, and probably still would to this day, I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable re-enter the dating pool!

        • Bottom line: Cheater knew what he had to say to appeal to sweet old me: take 100% of the blame for the former marriage. Lord knows what crap he actually dished to the first Mrs Cheater as she left. Judging by our MC and his faux remorse, I am sure he would only accept the 50-50 blame shift as an act of noteworthy benevolence to impress the counselor.

  • The irony is cheaters cheat with people who are seriously lacking compared to their spouse.

    I see that cheaters cheat with people who are at their own level of fuckupedness. Birds of a feather, that strange attracts strange.

  • It was, as I found out almost a year into R, our whole marriage. I don’t know what a committed marriage with him was. When I asked him to stop on DDay he did, but by then the damage was done. Damage he refused to take responsibility for. I don’t see how those 15 years of marriage were 50/50 when I was being lied to and deflected and avoided. He has some serious self esteem issues that I didn’t understand — him not telling me (I got ‘stress’ a lot, as did the online chat buddies, but those women didn’t care if he was failing himself, his family and job, because fun sexy times!!)

    I tried MC in 2009 but only scheduled 3 sessions because he was just as withdrawn there as anywhere else. He did not ask for more, he did not buy a relationship book, he was NOT 50% of the solution. At all.

    I tried MC in 2013 and we had a family tragedy almost immediately. But we kept on with the MC, because I wanted to support him in his grief and I know I was too pissed about his avoiding and disengaging and feeling like I was the least important (and least interesting! apparently he liked 20 something year old women as ‘friends’ because they had time for books! and play! and they didn’t give him shit about college planning or the kids’ needs…).

    In the end I think I have been a better person understanding how I was angry and confused, what with being lied to about the online fuckery but feeling in my gut something was seriously wrong. I took responsibility for my 50%, damn straight. I looked at my anger not to manage it (that was a stupid class) but as WTF is going on — being angry at it hasn’t solved shit. Understanding what I needed and assuring my boundaries — compassionately because hey, these are my needs. He may not want to meet them, if he ran away from them our whole marriage.

    To have him sit in MC and demand we talk about marriage issues ad my faults, while last fall I still didn’t even know what he had done? That was so selfish and cruel, it was even worse than the cheating — because I was *right there* looking at him, appalled. Then he got scared/angry that I didn’t support him in wanting to work on my 50%.

  • My cheater told me and everyone including kids that I was just as much at fault with divorce as he was because his affair had nothing to do with divorce. Lmfao!! I said no I am just as much at fault with us “drifting apart” but divorce was 100% his fault! He cheated, refused to work on marriage and even filed because I told our adult kids of his deceit!
    Amazing how they think!

    • They really are insane. That’s why I divorced my cheater. He was already abusive, then i discovered the cheating, gave him multiple chances to stop. Nothing. I filed. He still doesn’t think I filed because of what he did. I’d been there through it ALL with him ( abuse, job losses, bankruptcy, death of a child, foreclosure), but I wasn’t going to stick it out with cheating.

      • I’ve decided they are completely insane. I did another session of family counseling with my 15 year old son and my stbx last night. Every single thing the ex said was either in efforts to charm the counselor or was completely delusional. It came off as downright crazy. After the session, my son got in the car with me and said, “Mom, it seems dad is not capable of telling the truth at all.” Yep. We discussed it and we are done with counseling. You cannot counsel with someone who refuses to be honest and truthful. There is no hope there.

        No spouse is perfect. We mess up sometimes. We say insensitive things or forget to iron their shirt like we said we would. But in my experience, the chumps I know are generally loyal, faithful, kind, hard working, frugal and considerate people who are willing to work on their relationships and do almost anything (to a fault) to keep their children’s family together. Chumps are usually the kind of people who honestly divorce their disordered spouses after working their butts off for years to make things better. Cheaters just aren’t these kind of people. They just aren’t, so to expect a cheater to divorce us honestly is a waste of emotional energy. I genuinely think most cheaters them enjoy the lying, deceiving factor of all it. It asserts power over us and they love that- that is mentally unhealthy behavior, period.

    • Jenn, my ex also insisted — still tells our son, in fact — that his nonstop sex with other men as well as married women throughout our entire marriage had nothing to do with our eventual divorce. His stated reasons for the divorce vary, but he’s always insistent that I am at least 50% to blame.

  • One of many things I love about this board is that it has not only helped me to wade through the fucked-up-ness of the cheater’s mindset, but the advice is applicable in NON-cheating situations as well!

    I am a chump who tends to FORGIVE people too easily. Religious upbringing and all. But after I left my ex-cheating-boyfriend, I took a sabbatical from relationships for 2.5 years. I started reading the bible more and learned a few things…

    …such as, that I had NO CLUE how incomplete my religious upbringing was. While forgiveness is wonderful, it doesn’t mean that we are called to continue to extend the same amount of TRUST to someone who has betrayed and/or deceived you. The bible speaks extensively about guarding our hearts and being cautious about who we trust.

    Like many other chumps, I put too much faith in someone’s personality instead of their character. I realized that in every major relationship I had, I discovered a lie that they told me by the 3 month mark of dating them. What did I do? I forgave them. Because after all, how “mature” and/or “Christian” would I be if I didn’t?

    I even had a marriage counselor once tell me that I had a “part” in my (late)husband’s lying! Another (religious) counselor told me that my husband’s lying was a “marital issue”, and that once you’re married, ALL issues are “marital” issues. Needless to say, I didn’t stay with either counselor.

    The state of a cheater’s marriage doesn’t cause him or her to cheat any more than the state of a thief’s personal finances causes him or her to steal. The cheater and the thief BOTH had other options available.

    I was lucky enough to have learned long ago NOT accept responsibility for his decision to cheat.


  • I took the cheating narc bullshit because I didn’t know any better.

    Having been raised by a malignant narc father and a covert narc mother, my relationship skillsets were crap. That being said, a wise friend once told me “You are what your parents make you, but you don’t have to that way.” She was right.

    I had no Idea what was normal and healthy. In the beginning I mostly tried to do the opposite of what my parents did. I went to counseling, joined Alanon, read lots of self help books…. It all helped me untangle the skein of my own fuckupedness. I found there was as much to unlearn as learn. Things like the basics…l had a right to exist, I had value just because I was here, I didn’t have to go through life tap dancing for everyone just to have the right to life, I had the right to say no… It even took a while to discover I had a right not to be beaten. No wonder I picked the husbands I did….two profoundly damaged guys who were some of the best manipulators I have ever met. But I still picked them. That’s on me. Didn’t stay with them though. As Oprah said, “When we learn better, we do better.”

    It’s been a lot of hard work over the years, and there is still a ways to go to change the unhealthy skillset and underlying suppositions about me and life. The growing part is nowhere near done, but life is a process. With what I know today, both of them (cheater ex’s) would have been kicked to the curb in a heartbeat. Today I put up with very little bullshit. I tend to be straightforward in my dealings with others. What you see is what you get. If someone has a problem with me, they are invited to sit down and talk it over. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and take responsibility. If we disagree there will be a discussion like adults do. Try to manipulate me ….I’m outta here.

    The difference between chumps and cheaters is that we are willing to learn and grow. They can’t or won’t. We have empathy, they don’t. We have integrity, they don’t. We can love, they can’t or won’t. We shoulder our duties in life, they refuse to. We know we have to live by rules, they think they are exempt. We are truthful, they lie their collective asses off. They rig the game, we play fair and get royally screwed over.

    50/50? Bullshit!

    • “The difference between chumps and cheaters is that we are willing to learn and grow. They can’t or won’t. We have empathy, they don’t. We have integrity, they don’t. We can love, they can’t or won’t. We shoulder our duties in life, they refuse to. We know we have to live by rules, they think they are exempt. We are truthful, they lie their collective asses off. They rig the game, we play fair and get royally screwed over.”

      Absolutely correct Tessie!! Well said!

      • That’s a profound statement for me also. I didn’t realize how many others dealt with this until I found CN. They are so alike whether male or female that it’s scary.

  • I was raised by an extremely narcissistic mother and basically learned that love is sacrifice. The more you love someone, the more you sacrifice your own wants and needs. I thought my wants and needs came last. Couple that point of view with children I loved dearly and a marriage that was pretty good for many years. If my X cheated on me before the affair that tore my marriage apart, he did a damn good job of hiding it. He worked hard, we were financially secure, and he had no addiction issues. Yes, he was a workaholic, but he was there for all our kids’ functions and he was a good provider, didn’t squander our money. I am not sure what it is I am supposed to have seen or done differently or how I am somehow responsible for his cheating. I thought we were going to cruise into our “golden years” and begin to enjoy the fruits of all of our hard work and was completely crushed on Dday. I still wish someone would tell me what my 50% share of fault is. Because to this day, I cannot understand how anything I did caused him to fuck another woman outside our marriage!

    • “I …basically learned that love is sacrifice.” Me, too, Violet, though I learned it by modeling my chump mother, who sacrificed everything (even her health) for my father and her 6 children. The trick, I guess, is to realize who is worthy of sacrifice, and to make sure we are not the only ones in the relationship sacrificing. Reciprocity is key.

      • Fifty, fifty is quite lopsided. If I give him an extra percent for every OW, add in some more fir all the lies, money he spent on them, time away from his family, and all the clothes I picked out to make him look good it totals 100% . I’ll own my shit for tollerating his abuse. Regardless, he used his family and behind all the lies he was a slimy creature from hell.

  • I didn’t bring 50 percent of the “problems.” I brought a more staid, reasonable, less fun view of life. Was it a “problem”? No. I’m not some boring recluse. But my ex did try to claim that it was a “problem” once she found the excitement of cheating.

    My ex brought a more exciting, carefree, spendthrift view of life. Was it a “problem”? No. She wasn’t totally irresponsible, getting arrested, or going into debt. But again, once she started cheating and really embraced the irresponsible/carefree side (flaking on obligations, drinking way too much, claiming she wanted an open marriage), it did become a “problem.” It became 100 percent of the “problem.”

    Could I have been a better spouse? Of course!

    Was I already a damn good one? Yes. Hands down.

    It took me reading CL and talking with friends and family to realize that the “problems” I brought to my marriage were not at all related to my wife’s cheating. Life lesson that I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way, but there it is.

    • “I didn’t bring 50 percent of the “problems.” I brought a more staid, reasonable, less fun view of life. Was it a “problem”? No. I’m not some boring recluse. But my ex did try to claim that it was a “problem” once she found the excitement of cheating.”

      JC, this was my exact experience as well. My ex went on and on about how boring, stick-in-the-mud, old lady I was once he dumped me for the excitement of not one, but two simultaneous affairs with married women. I’m not a bore or a stick in the mud, but I could never hope — or want — to meet my ex’s need for constant excitement, activity, danger and attention.

      In reality I was stuck being the grownup in the marriage, trying to keep our bills paid and our son cared for.

      However, it took me years to get over viewing myself as my ex described me, and I still sometimes struggle with thinking I’m a bore or a nothing.

      • Me too. Seems to be a common denominator for us chumps! Reminds me of the CL post about us being the parent in the relationship.

  • Very well put Chump Lady.

    Somehow Chumps are made to feel they carry more than 50. I felt like it was 90 at the end/close to DD#2 when the gaslighting and blameshifting was at its peak and my self esteem was at the bottom (because I did not know the scale of the cheating at that point). About 6 months after DD#2, a close friend mentioned to me that my EX was a trainwreck. She said: “wow, you really helped anchor him. I didn’t see that before. I understand that now”. And yet, I was still made to feel that “the truth is somewhere in the middle”. (I detest that statement.)

    Getting divorced, being single in my 40s and also a bit of therapy has helped me to understand what a healthy relationship is and that I can have it. I understand why I stayed. I own ‘my shit’. Coming here has helped in that process. Today, I wonder how I lasted for 17 years with my EX.

  • Well said. I’m newly chumped and spent the first couple of weeks post D-Day mulling through my 50-50 responsibility for his cheating – something he was glad to let me do while he continued the affair. My “blame” really boiled down to birthing his child a couple of months prior to his affair. How selfish of me – and his daughter.

    Today, about 6 weeks later, we are actually attempting reconciliation, but only after realizing that his cheating wasn’t on me, stopping the pick me dance (thanks CL!), talking to a lawyer and issuing the ultimatum of his family or divorce – he seems to now realize that this is all on his character, or lack thereof and wants to fix things. At least this is what he says.

    Will it work? Who knows. But in the meantime I’m willing to give him a second chance, with boundaries, which gives me time to prepare for the worst (or best) case scenario for my daughter and I, should he continue the affair or cheat with a new partner.

    • Be prepared for him to be unable to do the work to reconcile (repair really, what he broke). I tried for a year and he did no cheating that year. We connected in a lot of areas but. But he continued to lie, TT ,blame shift and his lack of apologies was very telling. He wanted ME to apologize to him, for the 50/50 marriage stuff. I couldn’t even think about that as I found more and more women and photos, and him recording shit and that it ran the course of our whole marriage. He got tangled up in his shame and his already low self esteem (who else cheats in chatrooms?). Pity and contempt are pretty close and I worked my ass off to address any feelings like that and in the end he was a little ball of fear and pain and selfishness anyway. He refused to continue working on R if he had to give me all his passwords and have no secrets, address his procrastination (like, really get a full day of work done even if it isn’t as ‘fun’), show selflessness and remorse to me and the kids. Our needs had to be more important than his. At least for long enough for me to see he had addressed the selfishness and entitlement that drove his ability to cheat. From his comments though, doing this was awful suffering cruelty from me.

      The thing about 50/50 marital issues is that normal folks feel better when making amends and being a better person. I was told over and over again that asking for support when he didn’t want to give it was hurtful to him, a negative thing that blew up all the good from his day. (I’m not sorry I’m crying about your fucking some woman on your laptop sitting in our bed and since YOU did that I need YOU to make it up to me, right now.)

      He did not have the self-esteem to be proud of doing better. Or, maybe he didn’t see it as doing better to be selfless towards me. He resented me all those years he was online cheating, as best as I can tell. He wanted to have a good positive future now that he stopped being an ass and cheating, I get that. I was not going to immediately forgive all that fucking around and his sense of entitlement to just move forward since it was hard to confront his old self/actions did not show the emotional growth I needed.

      I discourage you from viewing this as a second chance. He blew it. He broke your marriage. He broke his vows, his promises to you.

      He has ONE chance, now, to show you who he wants to be and the work and work and work he is putting into fixing his shit and making remorseful amends to you.

      I hope your H can do that.

      • My super false R was much like this … continued lies, blameshifting, only the thinnest of overtures of “owning his shit” — usually directly followed by the “but YOU” whatever insane thing he could think of at that moment. He also had this really annoying way of acting as if he deserved a huge pat on the back for doing NORMAL things. He put his socks in the dirty clothes … HERO! He remembered to put his glass in the sink … HERO! He gave one of our kids a compliment … HERO! He asked me how my day was … HERO! And, if he didn’t receive accolades for his “Herculean Efforts,” he turned into a massively sad sausage. It was so screwed up. And nauseating. Very nauseating.

        • For a long time I believed we were reconciling as long as he wasn’t cheating. My IC pointed out that with alcoholics not drinking doesn’t mean recovery. For someone capable of cheating and lying, why they were that selfish and entitled — in my case sadly I feel it was deep fear/shame of not being good enough. Then to go and keep being a person who cheats/lies was a self-fulfilling prophecy that completely fucked up our lives. Nothing like keeping out the people who most want to help you. You get to have lots of hot sex online with pretty women though, and they’ll send you photos you can keep in your stash…

          I don’t think he intentionally used his fears to try to manipulate the conversation such that I couldn’t address that his cheating was in fact failing as a husband. I was still there! Which .. I think to him meant I wasn’t worthy since I saw him as worthy? Or he resented my self-love?

          I was still loving him and asking him to address these weaknesses. He would only talk about working on them *for himself* which to me smacked of the same selfishness as the cheating. When I asked for that work to also include making amends (read. a. book. about. infidelity.), he got very upset and I think he viewed that request as selfish!

          That’s why when people who were cheated on talk about R, I highlight asking — is the betrayer committed to actions of amends? Are they managing their shame about being someone who cheated, so that they focus on fixing rather than blaming/avoiding?

          And know they can buy the books and work on them with you and still be lying. Trust your gut.

    • AustinChump

      Beware, the cheaters who cheat “because” your pregnant are the WORST. They are the ones who are not meeting your emotional needs. Think about having a child, the most wonderful event in your life and all he could think about was HIMSELF. Fucking strange when you needed him!
      X brought his whore to the hospital and home to see our child. His excuse will be I can’t leave her now (image control).

      They are typically serial cheaters and hide. You will spend time in rebuilding your life and he will continue. Put a tracker in his car. Watch to see if he guards his phone or takes it into the bathroom. Have seperate accounts for everything including vehiicke. Check internet options to see what sites he’s on daily to check for porn.

      While your with him develop skills for employment unless you already have exoerience or a degree.

  • Probably covered already, but I’ll drop my $0.02 in the pot.

    Up until the point of an affair, I would agree that both contribute to the state of the marriage good or bad.

    But it’s like you were in a conventional war. Then all the sudden, someone decides to “go-nuclear” and have an affair.

    No one made them. No one forced them. They chose to do that.

    They 100% own that. And until that mess is cleaned up, everything else is minutiae. If they don’t own it or clean it up, well then yeah, what marriage?

    • I do not think that one can own 50% of the marital problems when dealing with a Cluster B. One could be the most normal, sane, kind, giving etc person, and a Cluster B will cause problems, a lot of them. These, usually , appear, well after enmenshment, having been masked before commitment.
      Not much one can do once the mask is off.
      Generally, if you have access to their histories, you will find that he or she had left a trail of destruction involving others and things like job history, credit, chemical abuse and prior cheating, well before you arrived on the scene.

      • Agree; the “marital problems” that led them to have affairs (as they claim) were also caused largely by the Cluster B. Most of our marriages were doomed from the start; there is NOTHING we could have done to make them happy.

        • Tempest. ding dingding. Certainly reads true to me. Narc-ism is very difficult to identify during the courting period, but once married – ho boy, did I get reduced to #2 in 2-4 instances. I felt SURE I married the wrong guy! And, went on to live with that for far too long.

        • This article was a lifesaver for me, I have it bookmarked and I share it often. Every single one of the “core features” listed on the 2nd page applied to X-hole. That’s when I knew for sure. I still haven’t figured out exactly WHAT he is (he has APD, NPD and BPD features) and this article made complete sense in that it states (if I’m not mistaken) that all Cluster B’s can share core features, they can have symptoms of more than just one disorder?

          He’s just one giant clusterfuck in other words.

      • Agree Arnold, I seriously busted my ass dancing circles around him to keep him happy…I gave 95% of what constituted our marriage – he sort of barely showed up.

        • Cluster B’s are actors, performing to gain control and once they have it they use their power to destroy the person they professed to liove. Unfortunately they hide until we are hooked and they use our strengths against us with twisted toxic pain they inflict effortlessly.

          This is why I fight every day to live better. Otherwise they win. It’s not a game, it’s MY life and no one has a right to control me, my emotions, or my future. I’m not that powerful to fix anyone but myself. That is my mission. Truthfully, finding the whore who wanted what he offered saved my life. I got out.

      • Having a happy, fulfilling marriage was the thing I wanted most in life – more than career, success, children, money even health so I threw myself into it 100%…I was reading Christian “how to be a good wife” books when the ink was barely dry on our marriage license. I did everything imaginable to make/keep him happy yet nothing ever worked, he was such a malcontent.

        When he was caught in his affair, he said “I didn’t get to this place alone” (meaning I held 50% accountability for his behavior) I actually and uncharacteristically refused to accept responsibility for his decision to cheat. He had blamed me for him being nasty and abusive for years, but I flat out told him that he chose that all on his own.

        I am an imperfect person but I busted my ass to be a good wife…his shit was on him. the end

  • I have been told in no uncertain terms that I am 100% responsible for the demise of my marriage and my family. You only have to have a word with my ex husband and 2 adult children. Their treachery and betrayal of me I am sure is not unique to me and me alone. I was a strong, solid, hardworking, reliable, trusting, honest and loving person when I married and I still am that same person today but without the innocence. I made decisions for my family based on the lies that my ex husband was telling me on a daily basis only for me to be totally blamed for the failure of everything. However, yesterday my own sister scolded me for ‘holding on’ to the anger and the hurt and not moving on from my ex husband and his 3rd world acquisition. She said ‘you are choosing this for yourself’. She doesn’t get it and never will but I certainly made sure she knew what she said was crap and that not one decent person I know, which does include her has called my ex out for what he has done or is now doing. How do some people fool so many intelligent and good people? I am definitely not a victim because I am lucky that I have a wonderful strength of character which gets me through bad times. As the song says, ‘the winner takes it all” and I suppose my ex is the winner because I have so little left to show for being a decent human being.

    • Maree

      Throughout my marriage I accepted 100% of the blame and my chikdren witnessed this pattern for years. He was the guy who laughed and charmed, telling horrible lies to family and friends. By the time I figured it out the damage was done.

      They can’t wear the mask forever. And some day they will see him for the toxic asshole he has always been. X was a covert narc and he did show himself in the end. The loss is theirs. Being a decent human being trumps the illusion of happiness they prefer over the truth. You get to take your love, compassion, and loyalty with you into a much better future. It’s yours, let nothing hold you back from seeking out the same. It is out there.

    • It’s called sociopathy, Maree. They are skilled manipulators and liars, and they slither out of one life and into another just like the snakes they are.

  • New hypothesis for why we tolerated so much nonsense: Chumps, by and large, are a conscientious lot, used to accomplishing things, being the go-to girl/guy. We have a strong sense of agency–that we CAN change the world, make our families happy, succeed in our careers. And then we run smack-dab into the disordered. You can’t change them, but oh how we try!

    For us to stop tolerating the subtle (and not-so-subtle) abuse from cheaters, we need to admit We.Are.Powerless. Damn, that hurts! “What? Admit I can’t move a mountain? Who says I can’t?” But we can’t. Actually attain power over our lives means we first need to relinquish it, and that is hard to do.

    • Yes, it is a complete waste of time and effort, Tempest. But, most of us, I bet, probably never heard of these Cluster B disorders before researching infidelity on the internet. It was an eye opener for me, the prevalence and the exact fit.

      • My ex was actually diagnosed with NPD about halfway through our marriage. At the time, I really had no idea about personality disorders, I just thought it meant he was self-absorbed and needed a lot of attention. I actually laughed and told him I could have diagnosed him for free.

        It wasn’t until the marriage fell apart and I started to do a lot of reading and research about NPD that my eyes truly opened to what this disorder means. It goes way, way beyond self-absorbed or attention whore. Unless you’ve been through the nightmare of a relationship with a Cluster B, it’s hard to grasp how evil these people can be, how manipulative, how extremely skilled they are at fooling others.

    • I totally agree, Tempest; admitting we can’t change this other person or the ways they behave is such a challenge.

      But I think often we are also sucked in by the narc appearing to want us to help bring about change. My ex was a super poor-sausage type, who made it seem that my love, caring and support actually COULD make him happier, help him reach a better place in his life, etc. Turns out he really, really wanted the love, caring and support (with no desire to reciprocate, of course). But NOTHING could make him happier, or less dysfunctional. because the unhappiness and dysfunction were internal, not situational. And of course, the poor-sausage facade hid the arrogance, selfishness and entitlement for quite a while. And his not being any happier turned out to be all my fault, like everything else.

      • KarenE, I don’t know if you’ve read “The Sociopath Next Door” but the tell-tale sign of a sociopath is that they want you to pity them, to feel badly for them that you just want to help them. When I read this, a lot of things came together for me. An AHA moment. The ex still continues to do it – he keeps on telling people, in the most poor-me tone he could muster, that our son and I hate him (duh). He also tells people that he stayed in the marriage for as long as he did because he felt it was the right thing to do. Hero – score! Of course, the truth is that I’ve thrown him out a few times and kept taking him back because this freakin’ sociopath was/is very, very good at playing the poor, remorseful husband who took 100% blame of the marital problems. It was simply one more of his moves. He was/is not capable of emotional connection. He is not a fully developed human being and will never be, and thank heavens he is out of my life.

  • I have dumped countless friends and classes and self help books that somehow expect ME to take responsibility for HIS unilateral solution for our somewhat ordinary mid life, empty nester problems. The final straw was a recovery class where I posed with an instructor to give a visual of our marriage. As I am on my knees below the instructor, he waves and winks and blows kisses to the adoring people around. All while I am humbled and seeking attention beneath him. It was pretty enlightening…until the instructor observed that I anchored my husband by my constant presence at his feet. It’s a new age world view where everyone shares the blame for bad decisions. No personal responsibility anymore. I refuse to surround myself with people who think this was a net neutral life event.

    • I’m sorry Michelle,mthat sounds like a pretty fucked up class. Go to a personal therapist where you are respected. Jedi higs

    • Michelle–I don’t know how the therapist intended his/her remarks, and you should certainly not stay with a therapist who makes you feel invalidated. I just wonder if we DIDN’T keep the fucktards anchored by our stability? By themselves, they appear not to be able to survive well on their own, and they require our victimhood to stand tall themselves. Once we release ourselves, we release their moorings, and so many of them start to unravel. Could this be what the therapist meant?

  • We all suck in one way or the other….. but our spouses also sucked. Did not give her the right to go suck someone else!

  • Actually, I figure my marriage was about 80% – 80%. I did 80% of the work and the caring, he created 80% of the problems.

    The cheating actually did me a favour, by pushing me to kick him out.

  • Honestly, the 50/50 thing is just another Red Herring. “Your spouse committed adultery…HEY! Look over there!!!” It takes the focus off the uncomfortable truth that a spouse can unilaterally decimate the marriage through his/her choices to lie and cheat. And it takes the focus off our vulnerability–i.e. it can happen to ANYONE.

  • While I’m by no means perfect, I don’t accept any of the blame for my marriage’s disastrous end, nor for my ex’s constant infidelity, double life or various insane hi-jinks carried on during the marriage, afterwards or to this day. I operated in good faith that my husband wanted the best for the both of us, as I did. I was honest and expected that he was as well. I was faithful and devoted to our family. He was none of those things, although he put on a very, very good act.

    The burden for what happened is 100% on him. The fact that he continues to do his best to hurt me years after our divorce only shows how disordered and beyond repair he is.

    The only “blame” I personally carry is my weakness in staying with him for so long, my weakness in giving him far too many chances to reconcile and my weakness in giving him too much head space. I’ve worked on forgiving myself for that weakness, and worked on becoming stronger.

    There was NOTHING I could have done to change my ex or save that marriage. And that is true for pretty much every single person here.

  • I almost lost it with this one

    “Oh, I think chumps have faults. We’ll get to that in a minute. What the 50-50 doesn’t get is that sometimes one person in the marriage is a fucking train wreck. Addicted, impulsive, irresponsible, entitled. They’re manufacturing chaos faster than you can book therapy appointments. Their disordered shittiness, yes, is lopsided and unfair.”

    That was so funny, it is so true! They manufacture the Chaos out of thin air. My x-wife could not tolerate the fact that there were no problems to argue about. The bills were all paid, financial we were secure and I never left the house to go drinking with the guys (I was always home). So since she had no issues she would always invent new ones just so she can tell her friends she was not happy and would have a fake reason to have an affair!

  • The state of your marriage doesn’t cause cheating, the state of your character does.

    This all you need to know.

    We all have weaknesses and some ugly traits. Marriage is stressful and there is work involved.

    I don’t recall in the 17-18yrs that asshat cheated (this is what I know concretely) that I was beside him holding a gun to his head while he was disrespecting me.

  • My STBX had his Schmoopie move in with him — from Iowa to NY (farmland to apartment; job to no job; friends to no friends). So he now has to show her off and tries to find things to keep her busy. So this past Sunday I went to our church to help out a friend who needed someone to tend to his mom during service. In true NARC fashion, my choirboy husband has convinced GF to sing with him in the choir! I noticed the new face as they came down the aisle but I would never have put it together if there wasn’t a kerfuffle as they went to take their seats. He needed her to sit next to him and someone had to move. He always begged me to join the choir but I told him that I wasn’t interested (preferred teaching the little ones) and someone had to be in the congregation. Just the start for her as she loses her identity to keep him. Guess he got what he wanted with the GF!

  • Interestingly enough, my parents had a long and happy marriage that ended only upon the untimely death of my father. 50 years was not long enough, and my mother, while still going strong 14 years later, misses my father in subtle ways. She doesn’t actively grieve his death, but in a lot of ways, my parents together were better than the sum of their parts.

    So why, given the strong model of marriage, did I put up with shit? Well, once I found out about the cheating, I saw a lawyer and spent the next year and a half lining up my ducks (better job, improved credit rating, better finances, etc.). But I realized that even before the cheating, my marriage was very lopsided. It hadn’t always been that way, but I did allow my boundaries to be eroded, and I didn’t stand up for my self worth. I also didn’t recognize red flags early in the relationship that turned out to be really huge banners.

    Part of this was that I was fairly inexperienced. I’d not had a lot of relationships. But the other part is that I consistently failed to realize that XH’s poor conflict management skills revealed his lack of empathy, his inability to compromise, and his poor communications skills.

    My family is large. We were all taught conflict management at an early age. Rather than lock ourselves into zero-sum games where Sibling X got the toy and Sibling Y got nothing, we learned that we could look for different values in the toy, such that Sibling X could build cars with the Lego while Sibling Y built helicopters with Lego. By looking for ways that everyone could win, we ended up with very few fights, and strong emotional bonds that have lasted decades.

    XH saw any difference of opinion–even if we fundamentally agreed–as a zero-sum conflict. I remember once being in tears during an argument, and trying to tell him that we shouldn’t be fighting because we actually agreed that X was the case, but that I was saying that X was the case, and that was interesting because it shed light on Y situation, while he was also interested in Z.

    He could not see that we agreed. In retrospect, this illustrates a lack of empathy as well as poor communication skills. We didn’t fight a lot, as I quickly learned that he did not know how to do so in any productive fashion. I should have realized that by squelching my own feelings, I was making myself small.

    What I’m trying to say is that I think that Chumps–or at least my own Chumpyness–tried to use techniques that would have worked in a normal relationship, but when they didn’t work, I assumed that it was something that I could fix unilaterally. That is a chumpy thing to do.

    That’s not something I’ll do in the future, but I want to decompress from my chumpyness first. 🙂

    • Phew kb. You have given me a lot to think about here. Poor conflict management skills reveal a lack of empathy, inability to compromise and poor communication skills. My husband avoided conflict. He couldn’t handle my emotions. We didn’t fight a lot either. At one point, I realized you can’t fight with someone who won’t talk. But you sure do *feel* their disapproval. I tried time and time again to talk about things that bothered me or that I thought were issues, and sometimes, he listened and agreed to try. But he never talked to ME about what bothered HIM. I just *felt* his disapproval. And then if I asked him about it, he denied feeling that way. I started to believe I was overreacting. To this day, as we go through this divorce process and I worry about his relationship with our kids, I feel I’m a bit crazy and overreacting. He never shared during our marriage, so I can’t expect him to share now. What am I left with? Gauging what is going on with my gut and wondering if I’m right, if I’m over-thinking, if I’m losing it. As I type this, I realize his lack of communication makes me feel crazy. He is right. We should not be together. But what if he communicates with her and they have a wonderful relationship and I end up…alone and distrusting? Geez, I said it in a post above. This thread has given me MUCH to work on in IC.

  • Marriage is not supposed to be a sport with a scoreboard. There are many reasons a marriage might go bad — from unrealistic expectations and immaturity at the beginning to outright abuse and criminal activity. It seems unrealistic to me to assign percentages of blame. What you have are deal breakers. We made a specific agreement in an official ceremony and agreed to certain terms. The deal was broken when the terms were broken. Now, do we renegotiate the deal and move forward, or walk away?

    It doesn’t matter if I make lumpy gravy or pet my cat more than I pet his dog. Those are not deal breakers. Those things don’t “cause” someone to jump into an affair. For me — the affair is the deal breaker. We agreed on monogamy. It is too bad we don’t have 3rd party negotiators to help solve the more trivial problems of marriage — but when we go to marriage counseling to deal with infidelity and hear something ridiculous like I had an affair because you left your socks in the living room, or you are more at fault for grieving your mother’s death than I am for having an affair with office ho-worker — I have to “throw a flag” on that play and call for a review of the contract. No one ever told me marriage would be easy or fun all the time. I knew that there would be good times and bad going in — but when someone who is supposed to be on my team and working toward the same goals suddenly and unilaterally stops playing by the rules — deal breaker, game over.

    Who said things should be 50/50 anyway? Who assigns the values? Who cares if I am 60% grumpy to his 40% grumpy or I made coffee 5 days and he only made it 2. Seriously? Are we trying to have exactly equal pieces of the birthday cake? Are we feuding children? When it came to slicing the cake in my house I let one of my children slice and the other child choose which of the two slices they wanted. Avoided many arguments that way. If they acted like imbeciles, I took away the cake and no one got a slice.

    If you are married to an idiot who wants to assign 99.9% of the blame for HIS/HER decisions on YOUR actions — my advice is stop playing the game. You are never going to win — your game official is asleep and blind, if that is allowed.

    You could be the Greatest Enabler Ever, and you could have made 1001 errors and poor decisions. You didn’t make your partner cheat. Just because your partner WANTS to keep score doesn’t mean you have to play that game.

    • I always saw marriage as “you and me against the world” where we would be a team to deal with whatever came our way. He saw a wife as a ready ruler that he could forever line himself up against to prove he was “right” by endlessly telling me I was “wrong”. His self image was so weak, he needed to bolster himself by the minute and proving me “wrong” was how he did it…in the biggest and the smallest things…I was wrong , I was wrong, I was wrong.

      I grew up in a family where my parents and older sibling forever told me I was wrong, so I just went along…trouble was – as he used that as his only coping skill, he failed to grow, mature and allow what would have been his real coping skills to come into being. The more he blamed, the weaker he got…i couldnt see it at the time – it was all cloaked in massive heaps of male bravado. By the time we were married 5 years he was well on his way to destroying himself with his total absence of coping skills.

  • I think that the biggest mistake that I made and have to own in the marriage is that I was willing to accept someone who, frankly, should not have been worth my attention. I should have friend zoned him immediately, but I thought so little of myself (for what reason, I’m not sure– I can’t blame that on my parents at all, though I have a sibling who made me feel pretty worthless fairly often, so maybe it stems from that) that I was willing to accept someone with so many negative qualities. I told myself that I needed to accept the good with the bad and that I wasn’t perfect either, but… I deserved better than my ex. Long before he cheated, he showed me that he wasn’t a nice person and that he expected me to change to fit his needs. When I didn’t change, he started cheating, but I was too… blind, stupid, chumpy, down on myself, whatever… to see it coming.

    The writing on the wall was there. After everything I’ve been through, I will never accept someone like that as a romantic partner again. Hell, I won’t even be friends with people like that these days. It only took me several decades to figure it out, but I’m worth more than someone who is always “glass half empty” (no matter how much he had to be grateful for, and it was a lot), entitled, impatient, and immature.

    So, I’ll own that. I won’t own anything else. That moron lived on Easy Street with me. All the shitty stuff that happened is 100% his fault because he has zero character.

  • I just bristle at this idea. I hear it on Dr. Phil (yes, I catch the show once in a while)…”You created a mess, you cheated, you gotta fix that. But you ain’t no prize either.” This to me is just more excuse making for the cheater. I’ve seen these poor heartbroken people (don’t we know what that’s like, right?) sitting across from this so called expert and being told they have to improve themselves, when their spouse is the elephant in the room. Makes no sense. I’m not perfect, but I didn’t cheat. I’m not perfect, but I didn’t rape that woman, or shoot that person. Why do I need to make such dramatic changes when I am not the person that did it, nor am I the person who had any knowledge it was happening? Makes no sense.

    I often use this example when I discuss the issue with other people. You’re driving into a convenience store and your spouse says, “Park in the first space.” You park in the second, for whatever reason (maybe there was too much oil on the ground, or a big hole in the blacktop). Your spouse then walks into the convenience store, pulls out a shotgun, and kills the clerk. When the police arrest him/her, your spouse says, “I wouldn’t have done it if my spouse had parked in the first space.” At which point the police interrogate you. “Why did you park in the second space?” “Why didn’t you listen?” “Why did you dismiss your spouses request so easily?”

    If anything, it’s the cheating spouse that has control issues. Control over the innocent spouse, or “faithful” spouse, and lack of control over their own actions. We do not cause people to act in irresponsible ways. People choose to do so. And yet there is a horrible rush to judge the person that had NOTHING to do with the issue.

  • My stbx definitely had the 50/50 mindset. After a DDay in which I discovered that he was secretly visiting bdsm dungeons at lunchtime, and I moved out, he called me with this “offer”: ” I’ll stop lying and make sure you always know where I am. You will keep our apartment cleaner and not worry if I get home late.”


    • Mine issued me an ultimatum, and listed things I had to change before he would go to therapy after D-day. I threw him out instead.

        • What’s funny is that after I kicked him out, he pulled the sad sausage & suggested therapy again. I texted him a therapist’s number, and he called me up and ISSUED THE SAME ULTIMATUMS! Talk about not learning from experience; he has an IQ over 140 and still stupider than a lab rat who learns from consequences. (I think he thought my willingness to text him the therapist’s number was a sign that I couldn’t live without his wonderfulnessj, when really it was my way of testing for naugahyde remorse.)

    • Wow, what an offer! At least you were smart enough not to take it. When my ex wanted bogus reconciliation, I stupidly agreed and suffered through eight months of steadily increasing abuse. I had conditions for reconciling, he barely met any of them. He had conditions for me, I jumped through hoops to meet them and then he denied that I had tried. And his big concession to me, for the privilege of being with him? He claimed he wouldn’t lie anymore. That was his big sacrifice. Of course, he continued to lie and cheat anyway.

  • Even his GF wanted me to take responsibility for HER years of pursuit of him. She asked why I never fought for him, or why I let him keep talking to her. I put it for her like this: Just because I left my keys in the car, doesn’t mean you are free to take it. That makes you a thief.

  • I apparently didn’t take a walk with my cheater one time, we hiked almost every night. I skipped one night. Really? We were together for 27 years!! Oh yeah, no one in the family made HIM happy anymore!!! We have all scattered out of his life and he doesn’t look happy when I see him even though he got rid of me and the children. Guess that affair partner is not making him happy! Awwww! It is so wonderful to be out of a marriage in which I did acrobatics to make work daily. I was pure image management. The socially acceptable corporate wife for his corporate climb. He comes out of the closet and tells me he’s having an ongoing affair with some NYC socialite in the same 3 minute conversation, smirking at me. He tells me this on our first night on vacation in a bar. Stunning. He was proud of himself. I was hurt, heartbroken and in shock. What a vacation. These days, four years later, he’s jobless, bitter, and lonely. The children, grandchildren and I have moved on without him. He got what he wanted. Oh and the NYC socialite, well she might have found out he also dates men. She doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

  • My cheating Ex blamed himself for 0% of our “problems” in our LT relationship. He blamed me 100%, except for the little bit of blame he carved out for OW, see, “she was all over me like a train wreck! I tried to stop her! I was defending US, Muse! against her!” LOLOLOL. Poor little narc. Never his fault. Ever.

  • I had this exact conversation with one of the leaders of my divorce support group. We went in circles for over an hour as she continued to repeat “Yes, he cheated but you HAVE to be responsible for YOUR part. It takes two people.” And so I repeated – “It doesn’t take two people. It took one person. Him.”

    She then suggested my part in it could have been simply saying “yes” to his marriage proposal. I found this extremely condescending and I actually stopped going to group for a couple of weeks. Luckily, one other person runs it as well so I just go when he’s there.

    What I completely can’t stand about this 50/50 idea is that in the end, I feel like I’m still getting blamed. Of course I’m not perfect. Never claimed to be. So I wasn’t as attentive or complimentary as his boss — therefore he started an affair? I suppose I should have made sure his needs were met. But I didn’t know. BECAUSE HE DIDN’T TELL ME. F*ck off. I’m tired of it.

  • this is a pretty interesting topic. i behaved badly in response to confusing and crazy-making behaviour, no doubt about it. i raged, swore, slammed doors and acted like someone who’d lost their sense of self control. it was horrible and i still occasionally have painful flashbacks to those times. the whole time i was certain that this was all me. i justified all of her behaviour to myself and others. i helped to make her look like the sane, blameless one.

    i ignored the comments of friends and family who told me that she was nasty, who couldn’t believe the way she spoke to me, undermined me etc…just told them that they didn’t know her well enough. she was having a tough day. i’m difficult to live with. blah blah blah.

    i have had people-pleasing tendencies and i struggle to talk about my feelings if i think they might cause friction or upset someone. these two things lead to me feeling resentful and was the basis for my bad behaviour. the crazy-making stuff from her was triggering. this was at the root of my contribution to the problems in our marriage.i should’ve left a long time before we were married and properly dealt with my issues.

    anyway, more than three years down the line, things are quite different. not a lot of resentment left and i find it much easier to talk about how i’m feeling with my current partner, she doesn’t judge or attack me for being “crazy” just because i’m bothered, stressed or upset. i’ve got the people-pleasing under control. life is just a lot better.

    so my experience is that i brought some problems into the marriage, i reacted badly because i didn’t know any better. i didn’t know any better because i hadn’t taken the time to really examine myself and try to work on these problems. but i’m not at all responsible for my ex-wife’s behaviour.

  • My stbx is a master in blame shifting. I was blamed for things that had absolutely nothing to do with me! So I was pretty well conditioned to be the scapegoat.

    I finally left and was just a mess, hardly able to function after years of his emotional abuse. I managed to get it together enough to go to a therapist. I told him that I owned my part in the marriage problems and he asked me what I had done. I sat and thought, I had been a loyal and good spouse. I finally answered that I didn’t know.

    It took awhile before I was able to quit reflexively blaming myself for everything. He cheated for many years and told me untold lies but he’s unable to own any part in the end of our marriage. A very disordered person who has gotten worse with age.

    • It took me a couple of years to get out of the habit of apologizing for almost everything I did after our separation. Seems so weird now to remember how incompetent and stupid I felt by the end of our relationship.

  • I remember at my cousin’s wedding, the minister talked about this very topic. He said ” You have heard that marriage is 50/50. That is wrong. It’s 100/100.” But he also said that many times the balance would be off, maybe 60/40, 80/20, whatever but it should never be one person always giving the most. I thought that was good advice, except when dealing with sociopaths, obviously.

  • My STBXH has lost touch with all of “our” friends that live in the neighborhood…a couple of the men knew of his cheating (he bragged) and were disgusted by it but didn’t say anything to me until after I kicked him out. Everyone was disgusted at him being such a douche-bag. For 4+ years that I know of when he was but had no real proof, he refused to discuss separating when I brought it up…instead he berated me constantly for everything I did wrong in his opinion, my weight, my hair, etc., in addition to refusing to have sex with me (we were intimate twice in the last 10 years and both times not even to completion, he had performance issues – go figure…not shocking for a person that’s emotionally constipated). At one point I told him, “you wouldn’t screw me if I weighed 85 pounds.” He just wanted to hang onto my paycheck. What a loser! Divorce will be final in January – I can’t wait!! Thanks CL and CN for the encouragement to leave a cheater, gain a life.

  • “What the 50-50 doesn’t get is that sometimes one person in the marriage is a fucking train wreck.”

    Yes! Good god, yes. My ex had become such a disaster by the time I discovered the affair that I would have had to open fire in a crowded square to compete. 50-50? More like 97-3, and my 3% blame was due to such crimes as defending myself in an argument and going to grad school (emasculating for him, you see).

    The first MC we saw didn’t say much of use, but I do remember her describing relationships as a see-saw. When partner A is acting crazy, Partner B steps up and and takes responsibility to keep a balance. When A is down, B is up, and vice-versa. Great system, I should think, in a normal, healthy relationship. But in my marriage for many years, I was working my ass off to be the sane balance to a see-saw partner who was completely batshit. It was exhausting and pointless.

    I own none of that shit. None of it. I am 100% responsible for myself, and I would expect that of anybody that I let into my life from here on out.

  • I guess I feel rather lucky that I didn’t experience these awful scenarios you have all revealed and it’s heartbreaking to read them. If my cheating spouse had of blamed me for any of my short comings to justify it, I think I really would have fallen apart. Instead, he was extremely sorry, blamed me for nothing, except that he was in love with somebody else and just left.

    I guess I’ll respect him for that.

    What was the end of that last Cate Blanchett movie review? ‘Carol’ (and also similar to ‘Far from Heaven’)…
    ‘They mine a society’s narrow-mindedness and the dangers of living a double life. But what was true more than half a century ago remains true now: The heart wants what it wants, society and propriety be damned’.

    But, boy – did I ever yell, scream and throw things during his toss-me-off period that I feel stupid for all that now. But, the rage. Well, sorry, but I get RAGE when my life has been torn apart.
    He took all my (mostly) email rants because I kicked him out right away and never actually spoke my rage, but wrote it out.
    I wrote a new dictionary of words for his horse-faced cupie doll . . and got it all out.
    Of course, he never retaliated my anger, just said – he wished I’d get some help on ‘that’ anger. snort

    I’m much better now.

    He really was a good guy the whole time I was married to him.
    I still believe he was a good guy – except with a huge 3 yr history of lies, deception, stealing and outright cruelty during the mean stage when the A started.

    I’m not sure what my point is other than I feel so lucky I didn’t get dissed too badly in this ugly battle.
    But, he suffered a lot more.
    No friends, his family has distanced themselves, and mine, who he was very close to, will no longer talk about him.

    What a life – I hope he’s happy with her. IF he still is.

    My life? Getting better everyday now that I put into full perspective the dishonesty he brought into our honest lives and I think he will live with guilt forever. Or, he won’t. I no longer care.

    I am not bitter but I have lost all innocence for life I held dear before, and I am hardened to meeting new people and rather distrustful. Yeah, no harm he did there, huh?
    Even through his silence.

    • He said he was in love with somebody else and just left. If THAT does not make you angry, I don’t know what will. He was supposed to put you first in his life and forsake all others, not enjoy your company and good service until someone more exciting comes along.
      My cheater did not blame me either, except maybe for being “distant”, confusing cause with consequence. He even love-bombed me in writing, saying that I always took good care of him and we had so many wonderful moments. But the hard fact is that he was about to walk out on me while I was unsuspecting of his full blown affair that his shmoopiskaia had stopped abruptly, and the separation happened for good a year leater, after I had endured much mean, cruel and careless behavior.
      I still feel grief now and then, and I am about to see a new therapist to finish the process. However, I believe my situation is far better than my cheater’s. I keep our beautiful house, my good salary, the affection of my family as well as his family, our cute hounds, our neighbors, and I make new friends. While he is alone, not able to connect with people, socially impaired, not well fed, salary too low to buy his own place, etc. He really shot himself in the foot. He had it good, he destroyed it all.

  • The only point in acknowledging your contribution to marriage issues is to work on YOUR growth FOR YOU so that you can bring those to YOUR NEXT relationship after you’ve tossed your cheater from your life.

  • I did not know that a (romantic) relationship or marriage really COULD be mature, calm and mutually supportive. I did not know that such a relationship could lift you up. I did not know that you and your spouse could be on the same side.

    So after I was first married, when my (now)-ex was initially disengaged and combative, I stood up to him and thought I’d “won.” After all, he started staying home and acted like a loving husband and caring father. I thought I’d won. because I faced his craziness and rages and told him they were NOT acceptable to me. I set boundaries, and he seemed to agree and to reign it in.

    But in reality all this lead him to do was to go full-out passive-aggressive on me. He portrayed a charming, loving and happy exterior while hiding his increasing sexual and personal transgressions many fathoms below. Now I can look back and see the long, strange dance ex and his AP’s performed, slowly circling around me and my children in an odd desire to be near us while carrying out their “affairs,” until the inevitable conclusion.

    And here is my “50%”–> I blame myself for believing my (then) husband. I blame myself for not listening to my gut. And I very much blame myself for abandoning myself to the numb misery of not knowing what I should have known. I will never make that mistake again.

    I am sure ex and his AP’s are pleased. They most definitely won the game they were playing. It is freeing somehow to admit that now. I don’t have to keep pretending that he did not hurt me, anxiously trying to confirm that karma got him, searching for scraps of evidence that he is sorry. He and they are not, they are most decidedly happy. Like cats who ate the canary (after tossing it around in the air for a while for kicks), I am a satisfying casualty of their little war games. And they have moved on.

    But I do have my consolation prizes–My children, my new loyal and true husband, my career, my family, my friends, my home, my puppies, and my self-respect. As I have said before on here, I just wish I had lost him sooner.

    • Kelly – by my standards, “children, my new loyal and true husband, my career, my family, my friends, my home, my puppies, and my self-respect” are not consolation prizes, they are *THE* prizes, the brass rings of life. In my book, you have “won,” and your ex and the AP are total losers (so much so that they cannot even recognize that they’re losers!).

  • And nothing but the truth! Truth is the code I live by. Too bad the cheating asswipes of the world don’t. Our son will be 30 next month but he acts twelve. Even the kid looked at his dad like he was nuts when dad was boasting about what a good man and father he is, the son should keep his promises, never lie, be honorable, always tell the truth, have integrity, be loyal, be a man of your word just. Like. Me. The kid looked at him and said. Yeah, dad, right, just like you did to mom, right?

    • My ex has tried the same thing, kar marie. On one of the few times he had dinner with our oldest son post-D-Day, ex insisted on bringing long-term AP. Somehow in the conversation, ex and his AP discussed what a man of “integrity” ex is!! Are they serious? Delusional? We will never know.

      Son almost vomited. He has not seen his father since.

  • When a third party enters the relationship it’s no longer 50/50. That third party now has influence over your partners emotions, thoughts and money.

    We chumps really only garner a third 1/3 .33% – Powerless

    I’m learning slowly that I was not responsible in anyway!

    It hurts to lose your best friend, lover, wife and it’s hard to move on, no its really hard to move on….!

    I only wish I was younger; I know I’ll be a better spouse or partner in a relationship, but I also know I am not putting up with BS!!!!!


    • In the end mine wanted out after 35 years of marriage and 2 kids! He had been a serial cheater all along but was good at keeping it undercover. However, he wasn’t good at trying to make me happy! I am a Catholic and gave him everything so he would not want to leave I paid half the bills after going back out to work when my youngest was 17! My Ex worked overtime as he never wanted to be around the kids! I cooked, cleaned, cut out coupons and did without so he could put away money for retirement, I even paid an additional $30,000 on the house so he could retire early 3 years! In the end I found out he he was with his (Work wive) or affair partner for 15 years and waiting for our kids to leave so he could up the circus steal the house and all our bank accounts! He not only tried to steal our house but did steal all the belongings, lied about putting money in our children’s school accounts etc. I paid for my youngest 2 years of college after I started working because my lying thief husband told me the school bonds he set aside for him were not mature! I have been divorced around 8 months and I am still fighting him over assets! However, I cannot tell how good it is to get this betrayer out of my life,

    • That’s a brilliant assessment, Chris–not only are they making us audition for a role we already got, but by pulling in another person, there is now a 2 against 1 mentality that puts the cheater so far above us in the power structure that there is no way to win, and no way for the marriage to survive.

  • Could everyone on this site email bomb my mother and tell her to stop telling me what I’M doing wrong in the marriage. She says she doesn’t tell my husband bc I have told her not too — which is true, he’s not going to listen to her. But she needs to stop equating not visiting my in-laws to putting his dick in another woman. NOT THE SAME MOMMIE DEAREST!

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