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Dear Chump Lady, He’s come out of the “fog” and wants us back

dilemmaDear Chump Lady,

I’m in need of a situational bullshit translator. My story is long and ridiculous so I will do my best to give you a condensed version. I was married for 20 years with two beautiful children when my husband decided our life wasn’t enough. His father died and I noticed a personality change almost immediately. A once dedicated family man, he began drinking more, caring about family less, and “working” late. Our marriage was clearly on the rocks when I found out about the OW.

Righteous anger propelled me into swift and immediate action. I demanded a divorce within days of finding out, had divorce paperwork completed and filed a week later. His guilt and desire to be free for the OW worked in my favor. He agreed to absolutely everything I asked for without hesitation. My divorce was finalized three weeks later and he moved in with the OW a few months later. It is hard to convey the devastation my children and I went through while giving you the cliff note version, but I’m sure you can imagine. Chumps all travel a similar path through hell.

Fast forward a year later, my ex found out life with the OW wasn’t the fantasy land he expected and ended their relationship. He told me that he finally woke up from his (wait for it…) “fog” and could believe what a disaster he had made of his life. He regretted everything and desperately wanted his family back. Thanks to Chump Nation, I know that tears are cheap and fog is bullshit. I refused and moved away to a neighboring state.

Without any prompting from me, over the last 6 months he has been seeing a therapist weekly to work on his conflict avoidance, communication, and low self-esteem issues. He finally seems to be taking 100 percent responsibility for his affair, no more talk of the “fog.” He has been willing to talk about everything as often and for as long as I’d like to, which has been surprising since he had always been incapable of talking about his emotions.

He video chats with the children every night for hours helping with homework and travels 5 hours each way to see them every weekend. He has sent me login information for all his financial, email and phone accounts. He has also been extremely forthcoming whenever the OW tries to contact him. He continues to ask for a second chance and has offered couples counseling in addition to his IC. He has also offered to give me any legal paperwork I would like including a co-habitation agreement. I am able to mark off everything from your real remorse checklist.

Now, by all accounts he seems to be the very model of remorse and reform in-progress, but my question for you is… what am I missing? I need to see this situation through the clearer lens of Chump Lady who doesn’t believe in the reconciliation unicorn. Is there some sort of backwards Prado logo I can look for to tip me off that this is just a fake? Divorce was a nightmare and being a single parent of two is harder than I imagined. I don’t trust him or myself at this point. I’m afraid that I’m softening into reconciliation Chump Sap.


Dear ChumpBadge,

You seem WAY too close to your ex’s situation for someone’s who’s divorced. I’m glad you were mighty and filed when learning of his affair. However, now I’m wondering if you didn’t file as some sort of misguided attempt at the “180.” Watch me flounce out of your life! You’re really going to be sorry! Are you watching me? Huh? HUH? SEE HOW MUCH I DON’T CARE?

And his reaction was to run full tilt toward the OW, damn the cost.

In this Pick Me Dance duel — you lost.

Since that time you have closely monitored this situation.

Without any prompting from me, over the last 6 months he has been seeing a therapist weekly to work on his conflict avoidance, communication, and low self-esteem issues. He finally seems to be taking 100 percent responsibility for his affair, no more talk of the “fog.” He has been willing to talk about everything as often and for as long as I’d like to, which has been surprising since he had always been incapable of talking about his emotions.

You live in another state, and yet you know how often your ex meets with a shrink and what exactly they talk about.

He has been willing to talk about everything as often and for as long as I’d like to…

You want to have long conversations with him… about HIM. About his emotions. You’re not demonstrating detachment with your ex here — you’re knee-deep in his skein, untangling that mofo. Hey, there are reasons why he cheated!

His father died!

Conflict avoidance!

Low self-esteem!

None of these reasons appear to be entitlement or a professed lust for cake. Nope, he’s got the sadz.

He has sent me login information for all his financial, email and phone accounts. He has also been extremely forthcoming whenever the OW tries to contact him. He continues to ask for a second chance and has offered couples counseling in addition to his IC. He has also offered to give me any legal paperwork I would like including a co-habitation agreement.

Let’s put this offer through the Universal Bullshit Translator.

He has sent me login information for all his financial, email and phone accounts. 

Hey, you can keep playing marriage police! Won’t that be great?

He has also been extremely forthcoming whenever the OW tries to contact him.

Whenever she contacts him? So, she contacts him? Does that unnerve you and make you all toe-tappy to the Pick Me Dance? Good!

He continues to ask for a second chance and has offered couples counseling in addition to his IC. 

Why would you need couples counseling if this is HIS fault? Why would you need couples counseling when you are not a couple?

He has also offered to give me any legal paperwork I would like including a co-habitation agreement.

Holy shit! Co-habitation? Aren’t you going to at least hold out for dinner and a movie? What about taking it slow and dating you? Straight away, he wants to get into the nitty gritty of living together?

He’s been living “alone” and OW-less for what, 6 months?

I’m sorry I’m harshing your unicorn buzz, CB, but I’m not feeling the genuine remorse. It’s great that he travels to see his kids every weekend. But the dude can’t take them to his place? He has to come around every week with his awesome “take me back!” offers? So you can curl up and have long, deep conversations about him?

I know at this point you’re thinking I’m making the conditions for reconciliations impossible — but really I’m not seeing the unicorn here.

People who are sorry don’t batter-ram your boundaries. He was in a fog! (Take him back.) He was in a sadz! (Take him back.) He was on a shrink sofa! (Take him back.) If he really understood the full devastation he put you through, he should feel ZERO entitlement about you taking him back. (Let alone signing fucking co-habitation agreements.)

People who are sorry don’t make it all about THEM. What about YOU? Where are the long, heart-rending stories of how much he hurt you and the kids and can’t live with himself? No, it’s all about fog and His Issues — not how he destroyed your world. It’s still What You Can Do For Him. Give him back respectability, finances, and the trappings of family. Feel sorry for him!

Does he lose a lot of sleep worrying about your single parenting? Your heartache? Your humiliation?

You’re doing the chumpy thing of falling for a kibble. He shared his feelings! OMG! A FEELING! Aren’t I the lucky one?! He trusted me with his low self-esteem!

You have feelings too, CB. I don’t see where he’s desperate to hear about yours.

If I believe in unicorns at all, I don’t think they emerge from the misty forests of fear — his fears (OMG, lost cake!) and your fears (I can’t make it alone!) That doesn’t sound like a solid foundation.

Divorce was a nightmare and being a single parent of two is harder than I imagined.

Please don’t think this man who cheated on you is the best you can do. Don’t make decisions based in fear. Yes, single parenting is hard. Being married to a cheater is harder. Playing marriage police is harder. Wondering if the OW is going to contact him, or if there are other OW is harder. Staying in a marriage with a man you can’t trust is harder.

You know, some times we get so caught up in field marshaling our way through infidelity, that we don’t grieve until later. We’re high on drama and adrenaline, and then later — the overwhelming sadness comes. It’s not Meh on a Tuesday Instant Karma Happy New Beginning Times. It’s not having anyone to help mop up when the kid has the stomach flu. It’s the Multitasking Death March. (Sign what? Be where? Due when?) It’s lonely, sexless nights.

New beginnings are hard won. But the self-respect is worth it.

You can’t do the grief work because you’re not NC with your ex. You’re still caught up in his drama. Put reconciliation thoughts on hold and take all that energy you’re directing at him now and invest it in yourself. Do the new life building work, and quit looking back at the old life. So when he has the kids — GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. See a friend. Make a friend. Befriend your toenails at a nail salon. Do SOMETHING ELSE.

Feel the grief. Get angry. Get sad. But don’t sidetrack all that to focus on your ex’s sadness. Really, who gives a shit about his feelings? He created this clusterfuck — he doesn’t get to cry on your shoulder.

Let him do the invested parent thing for several years, get on with your life, and THEN tell me if you care about unicorns. My guess is he cannot sustain it, and you’ll get to mighty and won’t miss him. Tough it out now, CB. ((Hugs))

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I sincerely believe nothing the ex tells me and observe what he does and did. And I trust that he sucks. He’s a closed up extremely stoic creep who subsists strictly on impluse. What he wants when he wants except now living with the whore and now he’s pussy whipped. Haha. I trust they both suck. The only feelings he expresses ever are anger and rage. A real cold fish and an insult to fish everywhere.

    • Ahaha…an insult to fish everywhere! No mine was the coldest of fish from the frigid Norwegian waters. It must of have been an adaptive trait for living in freezing temps. Unfortunately this does not benefit the partner of said fish. We need a warm blooded animal the next time!

    • I’ve come to realize that my ex-cheater was and is a chameleon who can morph into what ever character she needs to be, depending on who she’s with, to get what she wants. She has the good person act down so packed that if you just met her you’d think she was a decent person. Knowing this, she can’t be trusted. Even if she did truly repent from being a jackass, I would still have nothing to do with her because I would never know if it was real or not. There are plenty of other people I can hang around without who don’t have that problem.

    • Mine was a cold fish from Sweden. I even had to live there!

      I wish I had had the UBT during my wreckonciliation. It felt creepy and I couldn’t put my finder on it but it was all about him. I realized I deserved better. It was hard to pull on my big girl panties and move on but really… its the only choice. WWWAAAAAYYYYY happier now. Its hard. Still is. I am lonely and had to start over and professionally my life sucks and I am a single mom trying to get kids off to college but its nice without his cold fish presence damping our happiness. I think the kids are happier too now that I am more stable and focused on a new life. Its hard but worth it.

      • CL, are you sure you have no training as a therapist? I kept thinking, wow, what will she say, what will she say? And then you nailed it. What would I do without you?

  • So true, we don’t grieve until later, I know I didn’t. Getting caught up in being strong,accepting new responsibilities we don’t realize just how devastating, how much crap we’re dealing with, we’re too busy climbing out of a huge pile of crap trying to not to look like the victim. It hits eventually and it can be suffocating. Wise words once again from Chump Lady.

      • Yeah, me too. I thought I’d gotten angry but no, now I’m angry, almost a year and a half later, because that’s how long it has taken to realize every dirty trick he pulled on me for the last 6 of our 9-year marriage and especially the last awful year before it finally went boom. I scream “it’s not fair!” like a little child. I’m 63 and still wish things were fair?? This is a longer road to recovery than I had ever anticipated. I wanted to jump into a new relationship and be over it. Sigh. Anyway, brit and Carmella1722, I hear you. May we all see Meh before too long.

      • Thankfully, just as I headed into some degree of grief over the loss of my marriage after the holidays, X exhibited yet more BS to confirm that he sucks. Not really anything to grieve, more relief at getting rid of a jackass.

    • That is the clincher. Personally, the trust issue is what burned any bridges with my ex. I realized that no amount of “pick me dancing” he did could erase that niggling doubt in the back of my mind… AND I truly believe that allowing someone like that back into your life is a recipe for disaster. Not a risk I was willing to take.

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      • I did enough pick me dancing, I never want to humiliate myself like that again.
        After X’s father passed away there was a distinct change in his behavior. X became
        quiet, more serious, he became distant. Since he had recently lost his father I thought he was
        grieving and just needed time. More excuses for inappropriate behavior. As his disinterest,
        unprovoked rages, and just plain rudeness increased I thought maybe the death of his father
        triggered this behavior and his mid-life crisis.. I’ve come to my senses. As Chumps we make far too many excuses for these worthless creatures.

        • The death of his father was part of the “discard” phase of the Jackass Experience. He was already into gaslighting in a big way, but I literally never saw his face again after his father died–although for a week or two he was on the phone telling me all his troubles. He used his grief and responsibilities to avoid any accountability for what he was doing.

          • They are emotionally stunted. Just like spoiled children, they glom on to whatever excuse they can in order to avoid accountability for their bad behavior. Never their fault — always something/someone else is to blame. After D-Day, the “fog” I was living in started to clear up PDQ!! I played the marriage police for a while and gave him the benefit of the doubt… Big mistake. I wasted 2 more years only to find out he hadn’t changed, just got better at hiding his tracks. I’ve been divorced for 5 years now and that was The Best decision I ever made. There was no looking back and wondering “what if” ever again.

        • I made some of the same excuses for my ex. His Father died and he seemed to be in a mid life Crisis too. The bottom line is they had choices. They could have chosen to get help for themselves instead of band aiding their own personal unhappiness by getting their low self esteem lifted in the arms of another woman.

  • If he was a solid, loving and trustworthy partner for 20 years then I think that a reconciliation might be possible – if he is really taking responsibility for himself and owning his stuff. I love this website and have used it to help me get over a very toxic relationship with a total narcissist and mostly the advice is really sound. It has helped me not get sucked back into things with my ex repeatedly. I think that the advice for this post is a little irresponsible though.

    If he cheated once because he was grieving and drinking and being a dick but is now taking responsibility for it and he never cheated before then he may just have made an enormous mistake. I’m not taking away from the pain that it caused you and your kids. He clearly was a complete wanker, but I do know that nobody is perfect and we all fuck up sometimes.

    I personally lost my father, our relationship was complicated so it was an extremely difficult situation to navigate. My drinking also became excessive and I became severely depressed. I had no support from my partner and sometimes when I had been drinking I would flirt with other men. For example on the second night after my dad committed suicide my ex demanded sex from me and when I started crying he asked me what was wrong with some exasperation. I was isolated and alone in my grief and blindly reached out for support where I could – weak and stupid, but I have learned and grown a lot since then. I have also now been sober for 18months and free of exs lies, manipulation and gaslighting for that long so can see things a lot more clearly.

    I’m not defending my behaviour, but I know first hand how out of control things can get when one experiences the death of a parent. It’s pretty huge. Add alcohol to the mix and you’re fucked.

    I’m not excusing his behaviour either, but I can understand first hand how he could have made such a tremendous mistake. He’s a coward and should have been a stronger, more emotionally intelligent person, but he is also only human, as are we all. If we can be honest, take responsibility for ourselves and learn from our mistakes, then it is possible to change our behaviour.

    I think you should consider whether he is the kind of man you want to be with as your life partner and if the pros of his character outweigh the cons then perhaps this huge error and running away from life on his part could be forgiven and understood.

    I would move incredibly slowly to make sure that he is sincere though. You sound like you have come too far to just jump back into things with him.

    • Cheating is NEVER a mistake. It’s a choice and often times a long series of bad choices strung together.

      If the cheater is honest with themselves maybe they will realize it was a bad choice but they still own it.

      A mistake implies it was unintentional like picking up orange juice instead of milk at the store. You can’t accidentally fall into or on top of someone else’s genitals.

      Bad choices come with consequences and this guy doesn’t want his. CL is spot on as always. If this guy is truly remorseful he will respect boundaries and let chumpbadge grieve and make her own choice.

      • Well said. They want the choice but not the consequence.

        I may have mis read it But it is a little to coincidental that this clarity came after I it fell apart with OW.

        • and he had to live on his own….. these people can never live on their own… and they expect us to not only do just that but raise their kids in the process. I wonder how he would react if YOU started dating???

      • “A once dedicated family man, he began drinking more, caring about family less”

        Addiction is such that people, when they are using, make terrible decisions to escape their feelings and situations. The man was in an enormous amount of pain at losing his father by the sounds of things and turned to alcohol and sex (a very real addiction) to try and deal with things. Not emotionally intelligent at all, but I am in no situation to judge.

        Addicts’ behaviour is often totally alien to their true nature. People do make mistakes when they are using. Enormous, pain causing, horrible errors of judgement that are often totally unlike their sober personalities.

        When they get sober, part of their recovery is to make amends for these and to learn to deal with their feelings in a more healthy way.

        I think there are extenuating circumstances here and that a reconciliation is possible with a lot of work.

        That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it 🙂

        • The real question is does the betrayed spouse want to attempt the hard work of reconciliation with someone he or she can’t trust? Ultimately, it is up to the betrayed person, but even a one-time regretted “mistake” is grounds enough to leave. If is totally understandable if that person would rather leave and build a new life and, perhaps, a new relationship on a stronger foundation.

    • I cannot believe what I’m reading…we are actually making excuses for the cheater!!!
      I’ve been cheated on and I made excuses for HER….a cheater will always be a cheater and it took me years to grasp that.
      I know it’s hard, but I’ll take the truth any time and any day of the week. At least you know where you’re currently standing and it’s the truth.
      Focuse on you and you children….you’ll see time will put new and healthy relationships in your path.

      • Sorry, but does a death in the family give someone a license to cheat? This supposition is ludicrous. Most of us have suffered a death, be it an aging parent, a sibling or heaven forbid a child. Most of us do not use this as an excuse to go screw someone other than our spouse. Don’t see how A leads to B.

        ChumpBadge, I think the link betwen your ex’s grief- stricken state as impetus to start an affair is a bogus one. His personality changes were less due to his emotional state regarding his father’s death and more due to the fact that he was probably knee deep into his affair. You’ve just linked the events in your chumpy mind to give him the benefit of the doubt. Poor man, he was sooooo sad, he temporarily lost his mind. He’s ‘out of the fog’ now – sees things so much more clearly now. Not!

        • My XH started affair while his mother was dying. Not an excuse as far as im concerned. He is just a POS and coward. Yes, he ignored me, kids and grandkids.
          I filed for divorce immediately! He asked me not to but no way. No trust. I got fired from my job of caring.
          He is a predator and ow, a criminal.
          Dishonarable man, shame on him. Shame on both of them!

    • I think there’s a big difference between a moment of stupidity, possibly drunken stupidity, and an on-going affair, requiring on-going deceit, followed by the abandonment of spouse and kids. The first shows immaturity and stupidity, for sure, but the second shows poor character. And that does NOT get fixed, certainly not in 6 months.

      • Thanks for pointing this out. I actually wasn’t sure how I was feeling about ChumpBadge’s story and some of the comments, trying to think about it through the lens of my own situation. This is a crucial point to remember.

        • Hmm…are we saying then, that a man who hangs out in bars with friends (and skanks) should be given a pass if he gets drunk and screws a woman that night? That “one offs” don’t count…only “affairs” do??? If he stabbed a fellow drunk (just once) because he was insulted by a comment, do the police just say “well, that was one mistake” and give him a ride home to sleep it off? I think it would be nice if Chump Lady might want to address the “drunk excuse” at some point.

          I had gone to bed after confronting my (Jesus Cheater) husband about his using Porn again. I awoke later in the wee hours of the morning and found my husband sitting drunk in his recliner (he gets drunk every night…nothing new there). He had a blanket over him, and he was still pissed about the confrontation. My husband suddenly whipped out a loaded Glock and stuck it in my face and shouted “YOU are NOT of God”!!! I fully expected him to pull the trigger. I told him to either “shoot me” or to “give me the gun” or I would call the police. He just stood there, so I called the police. He then threw the gun down and hid on the roof of our house.

          When the police came, I told them that we were having a domestic fight, but that my husband had “left”. The way I figured it was that I was still alive, and now I had the weapon and was safe, and if he came back in and attacked me, I would shoot him personally. He tried to deny that any of it ever transpired…just like cheaters do. Then he tried to use the drunk excuse…but I told him that he was not too drunk to climb up onto the roof, hide, and navigate himself safely down after the police left. I could have (should have) had him locked up.

          So much for his “mistake”. I could have been pushing up tulips.

        • ChumpBadge, I know first hand it is scary being a single mother. I was a battered wife and fled with three babies, ages 2, 1 and 9 mos. I started back to school to get my accounting degree, because I needed to support the kids on my own. I was terrified, and clung to anyone who promised they would help. This put me at the mercy of a con man who cleaned out my bank account and abandoned us in Atlanta.

          Keep telling yourself “I am strong, I can do this.” You don’t have to do it all at once, just take time in one day or one hour or in ten minute increments. Do not attach yourself to anyone at this point, you are too vulnerable. Especially in regards to your Ex. Yes, it is scary as hell doing everything alone, but it is all do-able.

      • Nicole

        There is no excuse for cheating and discarding your family, going through a divorce, moving in with a ho for six months, and blaming it on the death-drunk combo. Just reread your post. She was right to dump the fucktard while he was still attempting image control and went down willingly.
        Cheaters remorse usually focuses on the CHEATER. He wants a fucking place to sleep after the ho fucked the next loser. Good guys DONT fuck a slut and abandon their families. Selfish pricks do.
        My mother died and stick dick wasn’t getting attention. He tagged a slunT. Forgiveness? Bulkshit. She did everything right and should go no contact. Let him find an apartment and take care of his children. Grow up manboy.

        • That’s my advice on her situation too. Be on your own year +…process yourself on your OWN, boy…then try to work everything out, if she is still willing.

          1. NO contact.
          2. Kids go visit him in his slut-shack every weekend- meet him half-way if you must, but make him tke the kids to his own place.
          3. Keep out of his affairs, endeavors. Period.
          4. Work on yourself, CB- worry about yourself and learn to truly free of him if you haven’t aready.
          5. Make him be a big boy ad do not speak of reconciliation for at east a year.

          There’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.

        • Donna

          “She was right to dump the fucktard while he was still attempting image control and went down willingly.”

          I’m totally down with that. Agree 100%.

          I’m not making excuses for him. His behaviour is completely insane. But he doesn’t seem to be serial cheater. He’s a 20 year dedicated family man who went off the rails.

          I don’t know if you would forgive my husband and take him back after such a thing myself. But i’m not a particularly trusting, loving person truth be told.

          I am also a recovered addict however and have made some truly awful decisions in the middle of my active addiction. Done things that I would NEVER do now.

          I think all of us here could possibly take the time to think about the worst thing we have ever done in our lives and consider why and how we did it and if it should define us forever.

          People fuck up all the time. But if they learn from their mistakes then people also do change.

          Alcohol is a particularly revolting drug and a precursor of all kinds of abuse.

          I’m not making excuses for him. I’m saying that I can totally get how he could have been stupid enough to do it though.

          If he’s making the effort to see psychologists and deal with his own bullshit then he at least, is trying, which is a lot more than I can say about my ex narc, who is with woman number 3 or four and who has her doing everything for her. I pity the poor thing. Men like him should come with a warning label.

          It’s the “was a dedicated family man for 20 years” that makes me think that this was a terrible, once off attempt to not deal with life. Cowardly yes, but malevolent, perhaps not.

          But trust is a very difficult thing to rebuild. As I’ve said. I’m not sure I would be big enough to try again with him. But we don’t know how their relationship was for the last 20 years. It surely depends largely on that as well?

      • KarenE,

        I am infuriated by your comment. Are you really proposing a “moment of stupidity” defense? Let’s use CL’s example of pushing someone down the stairs. If I, in a moment of stupidity, push someone down the stairs, I am guily of a crime. If I am drunk and do the same? Still guilty.

        Excusing flirting is one thing, intercourse, even under the influence, is not stupidity, it’s culpable behavior.

        Hmmmph. Arrrrgh.

        • I do not believe that people have consensual sex with other people out of stupidity or by mistake – they want to do it and decide to go ahead. Maybe they are drunk, bored or lonely – they missed out on promotion – somebody has died or illness has stricken. All valid reasons to feel bad but a decision to have an affair never just happens.
          Maybe affairs come in degrees….that is open to debate. A drunken one night stand is not the same as a two year affair that involves multiple lies and ongoing deception but it is still a deliberate act of betrayal.
          As for today’s post – yes, this guy is making all the right noises but red flags are waving. CL knows it, we know it, and the writer of the letter knows it. It sounds like he is still very much part of her life. I wonder why this new, improved and reformed cheater is still accepting contact with OW at all..its a thumbs down from me.

        • My husband had a drunken one night shag with the town whore in the smelly toilet of a dingy local pub ( while his friends ‘clapped and cheered him on’ outside the door like a gang of horny frat boys, no less) He may as well have had a ten-year love affair, the pain is still the same, the trust is shattered and he will join the rest of the cheaters on the slagheap of history. There is no difference, and NO EXCUSES!!!

          • Exactly. Do we give a Rapist a “pass” just because he “only” raped ONE person whilst his friends stood around and watched?? This husband screwed a woman…and raped your soul. That is enough.

            • sweetz, it’s all those little nit picky little differentiations that keep people stuck. We are just friends, it’s an “emotional affair”, we only went to the motel to sleep.” Blah blah blah. I went thru that shit with the cheater. I couldn’t “prove” he had sex with the whore. Well guess what, he couldn’t prove he didn’t. The burden of proof isn’t on me, it’s on him.

              I changed my policy, and whatever was possible is what I think. He went alone, in secret, to a whore’s apartment. Sex was possible so that is what i believe. I don’t believe in “emotional affairs”. There’s only cyber, and physica,l to me. If you are in the Physical presence of the co cheater, don’t tell me you haven’t done anything physical because I know you have. A little touchy feely, kissy kissy, meaningful stares, blah blah blah. I know your whoring ass broke a marriage vow. I don’t use ” Penetration” of a whore as my standard of adultery. Life is so much simpler that way.

              • An EA is “foreplay”. It is what is done before reaching an intended goal…this is the first step to letting their intentions be known that they are interested.

                I do not accept EA’s any more than PA’s in marriage…that is what a spouse is for. They are both betrayals of what should have remained exclusive and safeguarded in marriage. An EA shows contempt and disrespect to the spouse in favor of “strange” thrills. An EA reveals the intended path that has already started in motion. The moment your spouse starts with the flirting and sharing personal/intimate things alone and one on one with a person of the opposite sex…they have just entered into foreplay. Just watch the animal kingdom…the males strut around and do dances to try and attract the females. No brainer as to what they want and intend to do. People are no different.

          • No excuses none. I gave asswipe four forgiveness and he did it again. What a chump I am. No more! I should have kicked him the first time. What a chump I am. Again no more! Fuck him and the whores he rides on. Its too bad I will never trust again. I always had issues with trust in this day and age its hard to have trust. I’m sure there are nice guys out there who aren’t cheaters too bad I’ll never believe them. I’m too old for this shit. I hope the world falls down on his bald head and his whores too. Fuck them in every sense.

    • I love your compassion and willingness to see the other side. You went through a hard time. You flirted. You were in a bad place.

      That said… You didn’t go out and mess around for god knows how long, and shack up with the rebound. You thought abouT it, and maybe got a drink off someone at a bar. This partner didn’t have a one time fling. Didn’t tease someone. They gave up on their partner and broke the rules. Then they shacked up with schmoopie and now want a do over that is all about them healing.

      You might have been in a hard place, this guy was in a selfish place. You are giving him too much credit, and yourself not enough. It sounds like you’re healing. Good for you! *hugs*

    • Thank you very much for your perspective. I do believe people can grow from their mistakes. I think you should give yourself some credit that you did not cross the line from flirting into an affair. The fact that you recognized that you were on a destructive path and are now making strides toward a healthier life should be commended. Best of luck to you in your healing!

    • “I’m not defending his behaviour, but *insert reason to defend behaviour here*”
      “I’m not excusing his behaviour, but *insert reason to excuse behaviour here*”
      Also, cheating, EVEN if its a one night stand, IS NOT A FUCKING MISTAKE. It is a CHOICE. And MANY choices at that.
      Cheaters have poor character. Period. No ‘but they did this so its somehow ok’.
      In short, you are saying you are a cheater yourself. So what, your partner was ‘non-supportive’? I’d be non-supportive if I found out my partner was flirting with others whilst drunk, too!
      Ever heard of the novel concept of having an honest conversation, or if that isn’t possible, starting the ball on divorce proceedings?

      • I’m with you Lania, even a blackout-drunk one-night-stand is cheating. You fucked someone else? I’m out. Monogamy is a choice. Cheating is a dealbreaker.

    • For Nicole: You make some good points. People abusing alcohol and drugs have lowered inhibitions and also are primarily in a relationship with the substance of choice, looking for escape from perhaps both inner and outer commitments and obligations. If they get sober and stay that way for a prolonged period, it might be possible to reconcile, knowing however that a relapse into drinking and related problems is possible. I know a number of recovering alcoholics who are doing well in their lives, but one day at a time. That’s tough for the recovering addict and for the partner and kids, if they have them. Good for you that you’ve rebuilt your life.

      And in your defense, your post suggests that your partner at the time was very, very abusive, to insist on sex when you were not in any shape to want it.

      • Thanks for that. It was an extremely abusive relationship – hence the drinking on my part. It almost killed me but I made it out in the end. Nightmare years. But moving on one day at a time 🙂

    • Good points. Since she is divorced from him, there is really no reason to co-habitate again. It would have been one thing had he woken up from his stupor BEFORE letting things go to far with OW..but he didn’t. He went FULL THROTTLE into the relationship with OW. MOVED IN with her. Now that has crashed and burned and he wants to come home to mama and move right back in? No.

      I applaud him for getting help, seriously.. that doesn’t happen much with these guys. There might be a glimmer of hope for this one.. but it’s going to take a lot more than a few sadz sausage notes and logins to his financials. He’s going to have to win you again. And maybe he can’t. Maybe it’s too high a hill to climb.

      Up to her if she wants to pursue that, but I sure wouldn’t commingle finances with him. Nor would I think of him as my only choice. She needs to put herself first and if he’s worth it, he’ll wait her out and stay consistent.

  • CB,
    What your X values is the construct of marriage. Does he really value YOU? I think the CL advice is very spot on. Where in all of his new-found consciousness are his thoughts about YOU?

    He can’t just want back what he had. He needs to focus on you. Prioritize you, like he would if you were strangers. And you are strangers because the guy you married 20yrs ago never intimated he would back stab you when things became difficult. It all makes us wonder, those of us with LT marriages to crafty cheaters, who the fuck ARE these people?

    • ^^This. The construct of marriage. All the conveniences received by the faithful, clueless, committed spouse. You are just the person who happens to do it, there is NOTHING special about you to them at all. In fact the cheater tends to resent that you are working hard and caring about them and the family when they know they don’t deserve it (with all the energy they are pissing out of the marriage/family with their cheating).

      He threw away your 20 years to go /live with the OW/. He is not a safe person. Maybe he can be again — would you date him? Is your history all that great really?

      • ” In fact the cheater tends to resent that you are working hard and caring about them and the family when they know they don’t deserve it (with all the energy they are pissing out of the marriage/family with their cheating).”

        ^^ THIS!!! ^^

        I’m beginning to see that same pattern having been played out in my cheating STBXW.

        • Also he’s willing to cohabit with you and he has some kind of get out of jail free document. Well that seems interesting. Living with you, he would have all the perks of a marriage and none of the responsibilities legally. What a deal for you, huh? You get to do all of the work with no legal protection whatsoever.

          Charming guy.

          Again, selfishness presented as generosity. Run Sweetie, run. He is not even remotely your friend.

      • I found a list in a diary from a few years ago: “Why I Fell in Love” with him in the first place…

        He chased me very hard, for months – I thought he was conceited and immature so wasnt interested – should have listenened to my teenaged self!!!!
        He had a very good education and a job as an aerospace career
        was spontaneous and fun,
        we had lots of adventures

        But I had also written that I would not date him now…

        Thinking deeper, I was 19 and he 27 when we started dating and:
        I wasn’t sexual attracted to him for a long time, the sex was never great (not for me…)
        He didn’t have a car, drove an old Harley or my car. (I bought most of the cars during our 37 year marriage)
        One of our early dates He asked me to climb a tall chain link fence to enter a sporting event, because “why should we pay admission when we are only seeing the finals?”
        His favorite tee shirt was from a bar in Alaska that read “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you”. He even replaced it when it wore out and was sad when they went out of business!
        I could go on and on…

        The signs were there from the beginning. They just got bigger with larger consequences, but he spun everything and i easily fell for it.

        I forgave him 2 “one night stands” early in the marriage after his “remorse” and going to marriage counseling. I was a complete fool to be so naive, thinking he would never cheat again. He never gave me any reason to suspect!

        At the end what did I have?
        Liar Liar pants on fire
        Cheater cheater Pumpkin eater
        He’s entangled me in a business lawsuit, hiding another lawsuit from me completely until he got a huge judgement against him, coincidently the day I filed for divorce
        Always “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, while pretending we were financially sound
        Secretely using our equity line of credit to live on to the tune of 200k
        Owes money to many local businesses and lawyers
        Owes 100k in credit card debt
        Drives a broken down filthy truck (he doesnt take care of his possessions)
        I’ve finally realized over the last 2 years, there have been many affairs that i never suspected, he was even trying to pick up soccer moms at practices when our boys were in elementary school!
        And the final straw, I learned about Schmoopie, a widow, who had been in the picture for about 18 months by then… Of course he told me it was only 3 weeks – like that wasnt bad enough?

        No Pick Me Dancing. I filed.

        2 years later, still not divorced, just turned 59 and why am I so sad?

        Oh, because he played me so well. I was the perfect foil. He thought nothing of Wasting My Life, he did whatever he wanted to, while I believed in him, thought he was an honorable man for decades, then (smack forhead) stood by him when the lawsuit was filed, believing his gaslighting while he continued to lie, cheat and steal.

        I finally saw proof of his business deceit in a litigators office – the attorney later told me “You are Mrs Madoff, (on a tiny tiny scale, but) you need to divorce this man!”

        STBXH, father of our children, man I’ve trusted my entire life, WHO ARE YOU???

        Its hard when somewhere very deep inside I still have love and miss the good parts of him, but my memories of nearly 40 years are tainted, because our life together wasn’t true.

        He wasnt true.

        Jan 5th I was in court for phase 1 of the business lawsuit, and the judge didn’t believe a word he said…

        I feel like I’m coming out of a cult or something, I was so brainwashed and trauma bonded.

        If only I had trusted my very first impression and never gotten involved.

        How strange to be a woman starting over at nealy 60.

        Sorry, this turned out to be a rant! I just don’t think they change after intimately deceiving you. The marriage is broken.

        • ChumpChange

          Who are you? What are you? What do you see when you look in the mirror?

          These are the questions I asked him after I threw him out. I’ve answered each and every one.

          He’s a serial cheating covert narcissist sociopath who led a double life.

          And when I hear the MISTAKE bullshit I respond with, “that you know of”.

          Or the, “he’s not that bad”.

          Once I SAW him everything fell into place as you described. They are cunning and cheat in every aspect of their lives.

          I hate the phrase, “You were in denial”. Who the fuck thinks they’ve been sleeping with a sociopath for 41 years?

          In the beginning I grieved for the person I thought he was and then for the person he left abandoned and broken.

          Yesterday, after my daughter told me he was a sociopath she told me I was mighty.

          I’m also starting over at 59 and the view is much better now. Every single day I’m going to do something for myself.

          • Donna, sounds like we are walking the same path.

            Narcissist, sociopath, leading a double life. What a waste of our lives.

            Would love to talk to you, is ther a way we chumps can get in touch?

    • “It all makes us wonder, those of us with LT marriages to crafty cheaters, who the fuck ARE these people?”


  • CB brings up something that I have been struggling with. The real remorse or not conundrum. Cheater has done everything on the real remorse list. Including a post-nup. Paid for couples counseling and his IC for porn addiction. All along the way I have stressed I can leave at anytime. That nothing he has done guarantees I will stay. I have even stopped crying or getting angry in front of him. Thinking maybe he is getting kibbles off of it. But mostly its knowing I will never trust him again that makes me think I should leave. Not that he does not seem remorseful but that the trust is gone. ugh.

    • That is the difficulty, isn’t it? Once trust is gone, what remains worth keeping? I do not know whether CB’s relationship can be restored. Only she can answer that question. I do know that love without trust is a lonely place to be . The always wondering must be very corrosive to a person’s well-being.

      I speak from personal experience. X was the only guy I had ever loved and I was with him my entire adult life. Hell, in many ways, i still love him. We had some truly wonderful years together. Sometimes I still cry about what we lost. But, but, but…if I can’t trust him, how can I let him back into my life? I have concluded I can’t and that is why I keep him at arm’s length. Even now, I remind myself of how painful X’s actions were to me.

      I want to be clear that X never did all the awful things I read about here. He was a narcissistic asshole, but he always took care of his financial obligations, always loved our kids and never, ever was abusive. Those kinds of things should take any thoughts of reconciliation off the table. I do know a couple, though, who split and everyone thought divorced. About 15 years later, they reunited over the sale of the family home and have been together since. All our friends were shocked but they seem very happy. So I guess it can happen, if there is a genuine desire for a new beginning. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to trust whether the desire is, in fact, genuine.

      • I think what keeps me stuck is family history. I found out many years ago that my grandfather had had an affair. He left my grandmother when my mom was 8 and my aunt 5 and married the other woman. (I do genealogy and found the marriage license) They were married a month and then it was annulled. I never had the heart to ask my mom about it but I did ask my aunt. She said she remembered dad left and then came back after a time. My granddad is 84 my grandmother passed away last year. I think if my granddad could do that to her and she had the guts to forgive him and take him back, then perhaps I should too. My granddad is an elder at his church one of the most Godly men I have ever known. Though he was not always. My aunt said that the affair changed him that he was a different man when he came home. That he was a better father. Before she passed away I told my grandmother about my husbands affair. I had hoped she would open up about her and my grandfather. But she didn’t she referenced my mom’s first husband ( also a cheater) and my aunts first husband (cheater too) and a cousin who’s husband cheated on her. But never said anything about her own cheater husband. This leads me to think it was swept under the rug and never really talked about. So the only thing I have concluded is that the women in my family have really back pickers and pick cheating assholes. Family of chumps thats us.

    • It really does need to be your decision. They cheated and there are consequences for that. That very well may mean you leaving. They should be good with that and understand. To me the bottom line is you do not trust that person. They haven’t taken the steps you need to trust them. Maybe they’ve done everything possible and you just don’t trust them. That is your right! Trust is earned. Honestly, it was catching my stbx in another lie that sealed it for me. I still remember how smoothly she answered my question when I asked her. I actually felt sorry for her! Then I found proof that it was a LIE! I knew I could never trust her again and that was it for me. It sounds to me that you are letting quilt guide your decision. You have nothing to feel guilty about! Do what you need to do! You can do it!

    • He has a “porn addiction”? That’s not going away any time soon, is my guess. And you are walking around on eggshells. That’s says a lot.

    • Are you stuck in the ‘do I stay and fight for what my life was supposed to be even though it really won’t ever be that now’ the ‘I don’t want to be the woman who got Pwned by some slut /or porn/or hookers, so staying is less sad’ or… Leave and be that woman who didn’t fight and got Pwned by hookers… conundrum? I can’t see a third unicorn option for me. I either stay and be miserable, divorce and make it what I want it to be and fuck the stigma…. Because try as I might, the carrot isn’t sticking to the mule. I hate the idea of being a divorcee, the stigma. The shit I have to go through to get there. But I also absolutely hate the idea of being in my shitstorm a second longer than I have to be. There is no door number 3.

      • Probably the ‘Do I stay and fight….’ But also the “I am 1) poor and cant afford a good lawyer, 2) feel I should not be the one to file for divorce because I didn’t fuck around, 3) I am afraid I will be alone and never find someone else.” I don’t do the whole dating thing. Never really did. Met my cheater husband via a hobby we both shared and he asked me out. I think that if I divorce him I won’t even attempt to find someone else. Which by default means I will never have the family that I always wanted to have. Divorce stigma is not a big deal to me. Both of my parents were divorced before they met. I see the success stories here. Of Mighty Chumps that find someone they can trust and have better lives. I am not there yet. Been reading this site for two years, since D-day in January ’14. Just now getting to where I can talk about it and not get upset. Unfortunately, as you stated, there is no door number 3.

        • Maybe check around at your legal aide office. Even if you’re not in scope for assistance, they can often walk you through things like – how to f ile yourself, how much it costs to do a no contest divorce, which lawyers can take payment plans and have better rates for low income folks, and what your options are. I totally feel your pain. I am borscht poor. But there is no door number 3. I need out. I have to be separated for a year before I can even f ile- blessing and a curse because I can try to save money/ pay off debt for the year, but it means in a year I have to rile myself back up to angry to get it over with. Good luck to you.

        • I think there is a Door #3: Stop thinking about your life as a choice between whether you won vs. the AP or the hookers (etc.). Behind Door #3 is “gain a life”–whatever you have to do to get to an authentic, and eventually happy, life. Fight not for the relationship but to get yourself to a point where your default setting is “what is healthy for me?” not “the relationship defines me.”

          • Oh that’s there, it’s in the divorce door, but I’m being honest with myself about my feelings. I will have to feel and go through my shame and anger at myself and chumminess, I am not pleased to be the first divorced gal within my girlfriends. That I will probably lose some of them, if not all. That I may have to sell all my shit, that I have anxiety attacks to the point of absence seizures. It’s fucking awful before it gets good. Hella to the yes I will gain my amazing life back in spades, I will work my ass off to celebrate my freedom and I will hopefully even find a nice fella who isn’t a wank. But that happens after I go through some sad soppy bits where I mourn the me I already liked quite a bit and the life I thought I had. It’s me. It doesn’t have to be everyone but I know it’s part of my path

        • Alzada you found the courage to post and it’s a first and mighty step for you. It feels amazing to have a voice. You are worthy of love and respect. You will find that here. It sounds as if you are dependent on him. Is there any way to change this situation?

  • This is such a timely post for me. Still living with the cheater, in limbo, ignoring each other (except he’s trying to hoover). I know I need to pull the trigger and need to move on and incredibly difficult to get over that hump.
    I tell myself that I am grieving, that I need to let my heart catch up with my head. Truth is it’s a war between comfort of the familiar, hopium and trying to remember that he sucks, truly sucks. Even without the cheating he was a half-assed husband and father, critical, demanding, controlling and uncommitted.

    Best of luck to ChumpBadge, I’m guessing that this was a difficult letter to write and difficult advice to hear. I didn’t even think of half of what CL said so I’m obviously still in chump fog and have a lot of work to do. Thank goodness for this forum.

    • FA, I believe you have answered your own question…

      “Even without the cheating he was a half-assed husband and father, critical, demanding, controlling and uncommitted.”

      And you want this……why?

      Your heart has caught up…it is your head that is saying….but i dont want to be alone. I dont want to be divorced. Something bad is better than nothing. The drama is addictive.

      Your kids deserve better from you than a father that is “controlling, half assed, critical and demanding”. Get rid of this negativity that is brought upon you and your kids.

      Good luck to you.

      • I was thinking this too, CB. You didn’t drop everything and get divorced on a whim. Things were already not good and the affair was the last straw, not the first. When someone crosses your “aw, hell naw” boundary, you know it. Please keep listening to that.

    • Just take one step at a time. Make the decision and keep telling yourself over and over what you have decided. Then take the next step. I would suggest take care of legal stuff without alerting them. New bank account, cancel joint credit card accounts, have your paycheck deposited into the new account, and gather up all your financial information (run a credit report). You can run 1 free credit report per year by law. Go to experian and search for free credit report. From one bureau, you can run reports for all 3 majors. Then take another step. Set a deadline to do the 1st step. Then a deadline for #2 after you completed #1. You have to take a step or you will be forever stuck in limbo. Trust us, every step gets a little easier. You have to find support that well give you advice based on critical thinking. You won’t be thinking that way. No of us did in the beginning. And take the advice you get. That’s thinking with your head and not your heart. If you wait on the heart and head to align, you may never get away. Your playing a mind game with yourself, but you have to. Good luck! Move forward and don’t look back and second guess yourself!

  • Of course he wants you back.. you are awesome! Who else would be so loyal, caring, understanding, a great mom, and have high moral values? Step away for a minute and look at his future. He left you in the dust for a sparkly turd, and once the sparkles wore off, here his is. His story is he is divorced? why ? He cheated. He has to own that to every future date he has. He is taking the easiest road possible to continue to associate with quality people. Otherwise, he is just a cheater who broke up his family for next to nothing, and now doesn’t want to pay the consequences once he found out what they really were.

    Isn’t it interesting he is completely following the “perfect remorse” playbook? A good con always involves the participants consent. You wrote in because you don’t trust him. You are right. Good luck in a glorious turd free future!

    • Nancy,


      “He cheated. He has to own that to every future date he has.”

      This is extremely helpful in my own case too.

      Unfortunately, I sometimes imagine my STBXW happy and carefree after our divorce. But in reality, she’s divorced. Why? She cheated. Of course, she will almost certainly not tell her new beaus.

      But I know it. And she knows it. And it’s UGLY.

  • Yeah…I would be concerned by how the focus is off your pain as CL stated. How is that empathetic? It is not. Giving “explanations” makes it sound like he isn’t owning his behavior 100%. Circumstances don’t make ppl cheat. Poor character does.

  • As usual CL is spot on. It’s still ALL about him!!!!!

    If you reread your letter you will see that OW didn’t work out and now he needs his plan B back up plan to work – or he will be ALL ALONE! Poor sausage!!!

    He did not chose you or your kids. He chose his dick.

    He put his dick’s needs before your marriage. Before your needs. Before the lives and welfare of your children.
    Never forget this!

    Now he’s love bombing you again.

    Until he gets what he wants. And then he can fall back into his regular old life regardless of what he’s done and when he feels all sad and sorry for himself he can follow his dick to greener pastures again.

    Once a cheater always a cheater.

    As CL says go NC as much as you can and focus on yourself. Stop being his Mommy and let him figure this shit on his own.

    No one gets a free pass on adulthood. He needs to grow the fuck up!

    • I don’t believe once a cheater, always a cheater. That’s too pat.

      What I do believe is that entitlement is hard to give up. Especially if you’re empathy-challenged.

      What a unicorn would look like to me here is

      1) How can I make your parenting life easier, CB? I don’t fight you on support, scheduling, I don’t triangulate with the kids.
      2) I respect your boundaries. I don’t presume to sympathy and understanding. I hurt CB and I should understand her protectiveness and wariness.
      3) I don’t bad mouth CB.
      4) I don’t blameshift, even subtly, that a Fog made me cheat, or CB’s inadequacies. I cheated because I gave myself permission to.
      5) I care more about hurting CB and the kids than I do the tangible things i lost — money, home, respect.
      6) OW who?
      7) I don’t presume “couple-ness.” CB doesn’t owe me counseling, a shoulder to cry on, her time.
      8) I demonstrate humility by not presuming a relationship OR a timetable. No sale pitch for living arrangements. The most I could hope for is a date. And demonstrating my changed character over TIME. A LONG time.
      9.) I don’t presume family cake. I can’t insert myself in CB’s single parenting life when ever I want and dress it up as “good for the kids.” Confusion isn’t good for kids.


      • While I agree with CL that reconciliation is rare but possible, I feel compelled to add that in my experience, the numbers are significantly in favor of a cheater repeating their behavior.

        I do know of one person – ONE – who cheated on his wife (drunken-one-night-stand-style), was beside himself with grief at how he had so majorly fucked up, and came clean and did the entire reconciliation thing on his own without any prompting. They stay hitched, went on to have two kids, and are doing very well over a decade later, by any reasonable measure, because he owned up to his issues 100% immediately after it happened and didn’t expect his wife to forgive him, etc. I usually expect to see a horn growing from his forehead whenever I see him!

        That’s one real unicorn sighting in my albeit limited experience; but I’d bet every dollar in my wallet that real reconciliation is a true possibility in, maybe, 1 to 2% of infidelity cases.

        ChumpBadge, I’d cut and run, the numbers just aren’t with this; if your ex is a real unicorn case, then on his own, without any need to involve you whatsoever, he will improve his life so much that he will not only run to catch up to you, but will even be far enough ahead of you that you’d notice him. In the meantime, don’t bet on that outcome, go find other awesome people.

        • I also think that a reconciliation isn’t successful just because a person never cheats on their partner again. There are a million ways for someone to behave like a reckless, deceitful and selfish douchebag; if the core of the character hasn’t been reformed, the “cheating heart” will just express itself in other ways (like buying an expensive sports car for himself, while you’re scrimping and saving to replace the roof on the house).

          • Lulu, this is SOOOOOO right on! I pick-me danced real pretty and did all the reconciliation work after Affair #1, while the narc stepped up his game JUST enough to keep me around. But over time he continued to be selfish, negative, mean and entitled. At one point I had had enough of that, told him I wanted out, but he again stepped up his game, enough to make the kids and myself much happier, and very appreciative of his efforts.

            THEN he cheated again.

            • In a 30 year relationship married twenty five he’s done it four times ha how chumpy am I, twenty three years he was faithful at least he appeared to be. Thought we were past all that. But no entitled bastard I’m not the boss of him but now whore juice is. The big he man alpha male was too much of a chicken shit to tell me the truth. And apparently 30 years of love and devotion as a good faithful and equal partner meant and means absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing! The only thing he cares about is being called sir, lord and master by the whore and treated the same way. He was never like this before her or maybe he was and took it this long to come out. But to realize almost thirty years of love, family, history, devotion means nothing to that bastard is beyond me. He’s erased it all and doesn’t care. Well I no longer care either. The only thing I wish upon him is all the pain and torture he gave to me. I no longer care whether he lives, breathes or dies. Harsh I know. But to turn on me like I’m the piece of shit fuck him. Take him back, never, I never want to see him again for any reason whatsoever. And him and his whore wants us to be great friends I think not. Fuck them both. He’s cheated on her in the past, he’sdoing it now. Love of his life, dream girl, bah, they will both get theirs one day. What goes around comes around.

              • I don’t think you’re harsh at all. I feel the same way. They turned on us and treated us like shit! Would we let anyone else do half of what they did to us? Mine too wants to be friends. It kills her we can’t talk. I don’t care about her financial struggles now. Well, Fuck her! Maybe you should have thought about that crap before you fucked around. I see no reason to have anything to do with her or care about her. She sure didn’t think about me and the incredible pain she caused me when she admitted to cheating and then wanting a divorce. You know they really are only concerned about themselves in all this!

            • Wow, Lulu and Karen, your comments touched on something I dealt with too, but could never quite explain it or put it into words. It was like the cheating was just a symptom of a much bigger issue. There would be periods of no cheating, but inevitably something else would start to go bad–financial shenanigans, acting out, other selfish/entitled behavior, etc. It was as if the bad behavior had to come out in one way or another! Sometimes that entitlement mentality may not continue to express itself in the form of cheating, but in many other ways that are destructive to others.

              • My XH (not the Jackass Cheater) was every bit as entitled and miserable to live with as a cheater would be. Looking back, I can’t believe what I put up with. He didn’t cheat with an OW, but I was at best #6 on his priority list, behind son, 2 grandchildren, his bff, his weekend drinking hole and his buddies there. From the time I was 21, I would have said “But I love him” no matter what he did. And there were probably 50 moments over the years when I should have walked away. But the “I love him” was really not about him–it was a one-woman pick-me dance, no cheating involved. Just me trying to get a disordered selfish alcoholic to value me, to pick ME–a big repetition of my experience with my mother. It took a DDay and 6 months of aftershock to start seeing that things in my life would never improve until I learned to truly value myself. Lose a cheater (addict, narcissist, pain in the ass), gain a life.

              • Exactly. When I finally saw that the relationship was always lopsided in every way, in addition to the fact that he lied to my face and cheated for months. Why would I want to have anything to do with this person? It’s still a tough and painful transition, but there’s no turning back.

              • Same here surfer, he would be fine but whenever he got totally stressed out, bamm, affair. This was the last time for me I get stressed, he stressed me out, menopause stressed me out, major surgery stressed me out. I. Did. Not. Cheat. Fucker.

            • I don’t know if my husband is a serial cheater. I do know he wasn’t there for me when times got tough. When our newborn was screaming for 8 (yes 8) hours in a row he suddenly had to work constantly. And if he was home to sleep, well he had to be at work so he HAD to sleep. I spackled of course at the time but I can look back over the course of our relationship and see when times were hard he worked all the time. Was he cheating everytime? I have no idea, but I know enough. Over and over when times were hard he bailed, with lots of excuses. If the excuses weren’t good enough and I questioned him, the guilt, anger and silent treatment would set in (but of course if I mentioned his silence then there would be denial anger guilt etc. it never ended!!). I bet if you look back at your life you will see evidences of his selfishness time and time again that you may have spackled CB. But it’s hard I know and it takes time.

          • Exactly! This has been my experience. The cheating is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. That entitlement thing is a bitch to live with, work around and get used to for those of us on the chump end of it. Ugh! Feels like all I’ve done is grovel for 10 years. I’ve begged for love, prayed, hoped, sacrificed myself on it’s alter and I’m now convinced the man I’ve been married to is completely incapable of reciprocity. There’s definitely something bigger at work there and I’m so sick of trying to figure it out!

            CB, I say this: Even if he is a unicorn, he might just be better for someone else. Let him go and you go and find other awesome people to hang out with who don’t remind you of such hurt and sadness. That should never be the basis of getting back with anyone.

          • Lulu, boy are you right. It’s not just the cheating (although that is horrific). But someone willing to thrust that stake into your heart is likely to be a poor partner in other ways.

            • Absolutely. So true. I spend a lot of time looking at the past without the rose colored glasses on – with the piles of crumbled spackle debris on the ground. 28 years worth. There were things that happened in the first few months that should have caused me to call it quits.

      • Thanks Lucky and Chump Lady. I really needed to hear this reminder today.

        My STBXH left me for the OW. I can only assume things haven’t worked out because now he is love bombing me and wants me to take him back. I am spending a lot of time reading articles and comments on here to remind myself to trust that he sucks and that it’s kibbles and cake that he wants and not me.

      • How about this ChumpBadge? Go no contact on him with no warning for 90 days. Absolute no contact. Let a family member negotiate the kid’s visitation. Is he still interested? Go on one date with him. Then do another no warning 90 days of no contact. Six months in, is he still there? Get his medical records, phone bills, internet history, therapy notes, and every single financial document you want. This isn’t marriage police, because you’ve been no contact. One final date where you tell him you’ve been having sex with some (perhaps fictional) guy while you were no contact.

        Now is he interested?

  • Poor baby! Is he finding out that life has consequences…. and there is nobody there to fold his socks,cook dinner, walk the dog and pay the taxes? He misses the wife appliance.

  • ChumpBadge–your X gets a Sad Sausage degree, cum laude.

    I agree with CL, you have not had enough distance from him to make rational decisions.

  • Nicole, this woman had to leave her home and move away. Not only did her children lose a family they lost their home. And look how long it took him to get out of that fucking fog. Gag a maggot.
    CB, why don’t you let him have the kids at his place for the weekends while you go get some relief from parenting. Tell him to become a grown up. My husbands mother died and in his grief he reached for me and hung on for dear life. That is what you do if you are committed to your spouse. You let them in to comfort you. He fucked the OW because he wanted to. When he can show the adult realization that he harmed his family and then be an active Dad IN HIS OWN HOUSE….BY HIMSELF……then maybe.
    Do you want this man to decide at 40, 45, 50 that maybe a little love from a co-worker wouldn’t be so bad? You can’t change him. Also, it took a frigging YEAR for him. That is what I see. It is still all about him.

    • Let go……I would have thought that thats what the XPOS would have done/should have done when his son passed……lean on me. NOPE! He chose a stripper and many excuses instead.
      FUCK HIM! Yep, still hating over here.

    • Thank you for your reply. You asked “why don’t you let him have the kids at his place for the weekends while you go get some relief from parenting.” Right now, he follows the divorce decree which gives me the children a majority of the time. We live in a very mountainous area and, with winter weather, I’m not really willing to have them traveling the dangerous roads. When he is in our area, he does offer to take the children to give me a break.

  • I can understand LW being to “into” ex’s situation at this stage. Her DDay and divorce happened SO QUICKLY that she barely had the time most chumps have to process through what has happened to their lives. Kudos to you, LW, for handling this shit like a boss and not giving HIM time to do “decide” what he wanted to do. You drew the lines and drew them quickly.

    But now, the question is, are you happier now than you were when you were married to him? Do you find your life less stressful? Do you find that you’ve been a single parent for years, doing all of the family’s emotional heavy-lifting and care-taking, you just didn’t realize it? Are you more hopeful about your future now than when you were married to him? Does the idea of returning to him make you happy or disappointed?

    I ask because i’ve seen several friends in cheater-broken marriages end up feeling RELIEVED once the marriage is over, because they realize that it’s actually easier being alone than being married to someone who devoted so little to the marriage/family. That it’s easier to just take care of the kids and their needs, rather than trying to chase the cheater, making sure he feels appreciated enough, loved enough, worshipped enough, just so s/he participates in the family.

    It’s entirely up to you, whether you want to return or not. I would step down heavily on the side of “not,” because once that emotional damage has been done to the marriage, I don’t think you can come back from it. But that’s me, not you. I would go to a therapist IMMEDIATELY to do the emotional work you need to do before you should even consider such a step. I hope it works out for you.

    • Omg…. Your comment completely spoke to me. This is me……sooooo hurt, sooooooo want the apology I’ll never get, but now a year later sooooooo thankful that he left me for his affair partner. I feel like I came out of the fog I was in and become more myself again everyday.
      I’m lucky, because my ex’s affair partner is insecure he will cheat on her with me ( that’s rich…) he is not allowed to contact me unless it’s business related to the divorce, had to be on speaker and she has to be listening.
      I love my life now, sweet amazing new also chumped boyfriend, great amazing kids who choose to not see their dad anymore, good atty so good settlement, best of all no more narcissistic asshole.
      You absolutely have to shut off that crazy ass noise to see the new life that’s so amazing. NC is the only way to end the insanity.

    • You have many great questions that I need to really consider. Thank you.
      1) “are you happier now than you were when you were married to him?” — Honestly, yes and no. The earlier portion of our marriage was happier, the last 3 years of our marriage was absolutely miserable.
      2) “Do you find your life less stressful?” — No, my life is more stressful now in many ways. I have a lot of rebuilding to do. I imagine it will get easier with time.
      3) “Do you find that you’ve been a single parent for years, doing all of the family’s emotional heavy-lifting and care-taking, you just didn’t realize it?” — No, he was an engaged father for the majority of our marriage. It was the last 3 years of it that he completely checked out. I was a single parent from that point on.
      4) “Are you more hopeful about your future now than when you were married to him?” — Not yet.
      5) “Does the idea of returning to him make you happy or disappointed?” — IF the unicorn remorse was real, IF the current level of reconciliation effort would be sustained, and IF I could find a way to make peace with all the pain he has put me and our children through, then yes, I think I could be happy. Unfortunately there are a lot of IF’s in that sentence and no guarantees. So, the thought of being chumped yet again makes me physically ill.

      • You forgot “IF I can trust him again”, lots of big IFs that are unlikely. He deliberately lied to you for a long time to carry on affair and left you for the AP. Big IFs. You are more focused all the IFs that are him, not enough on ALL the IFs that are yours. Jedi Hugs!

      • If you were “single parenting” for three years while he was checked out/having affair(s), you indeed have “been a single parent for years.” It’s very helpful to notice when you are minimizing the consequences for you and the kids of his long-term detached behavior, as well as the affair(s).

      • Chumpbadge – He’s still in touch with the other woman? Fuck that. I don’t care if it’s “only” via text, email or carrier pigeon. You used to be his wife, you are now THE OTHER WOMAN. Take a long step back and look at it. It’s a classic narc move. You wouldn’t be the first ex to become the schmoopie under the false premise of wreckonciliation.

    • PucksMuse “But now, the question is, are you happier now than you were when you were married to him? Do you find your life less stressful? Do you find that you’ve been a single parent for years, doing all of the family’s emotional heavy-lifting and care-taking, you just didn’t realize it? Are you more hopeful about your future now than when you were married to him? Does the idea of returning to him make you happy or disappointed?”

      Thank you so much for this. It’s the perfect check-list for me today, and confirms my decision to start divorce proceedings this week. I’ve been a single parent for our entire marriage. I can clearly see the road to meh…

  • I wonder, since the OW is still trying to contact, if she has saved all the texts, emails, etc. I wonder what you could find by asking her. You might find another side of him. You might find a slimy, lying, scumbag. I guarantee she has saved everything. This is a question for Chumps….should she ask to see?

    • I say no way, do not contact the OW. That’s getting way to involved after they’ve already divorced. CB doesn’t need proof, I think; she needs to get more distance away from this ex of hers.

    • The fact that he is still in contact with his OW in any way, shape, or form (so that he “admits” when she has contacted him), is evidence enough.

      • Yep, that was the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for me – X would not stay 100% away from his AP. It’s a complete slap in the face, and the reason why I turned my back on him for good.
        And I know he knew this was the key, because right before I left the state, he said he’d dump her and never speak to her again, if I would just give him one more chance. TOO LATE! I moved away a few days later.
        They know what we require for us to feel safe, and these are the things they start offering later, like when the AP dumps their dumb ass!

  • Chump Lady, The way you break down the situation is why I come here every day. I just don’t “see” the reality like you do. When I read something like this and then get your analysis, I’m reminded why I must remain no contact with my ex because otherwise I would fall for his BS again. I think it’s more than fixing my picker. It’s more like stop taking everyone/thing at face value and protect yourself.

    • And it’s about trusting your instincts/your gut. So many of us have been blessed with good instincts but we talk ourselves out of letting those instincts guide us because we’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or being perceived as a jerk.

      It’s okay to trust your gut. Most of the time it’s smarter than your head and it definitely wins out over the heart!

  • Maybe I am weird, but I’ve got no interest whatsoever in what my cheating STBXW is up to right now. None.

    If she came back begging to reunite, I would laugh my ass off and then tell her to get off my property.

    I wouldn’t call it meh, as I am still justifiably angry at her and her AP (who is a real narcissistic asshole, and that’s not even my own term for him, that’s what other people in the neighborhood have told me that they think of him). And I get reminded of it every time that I have to contact her and even get within downwind smelling distance of her constant bullshit.

    And while seeing my daughter only half of the time depresses me, I’m waaaaay happier being single and not having to deal with my ex’s constant mindfuckery. It helps, I think, that she’s so unprepared for navigating the tougher aspects of life that she parrots whatever I am doing, and so she is gradually adopting NC (though still kibble-fishing by trying to give me waaaay more info than I need when I do have to contact her).

    Personally, I am VERY glad that I don’t have the returning-cheating-spouse problem to have to deal with right now.

  • Dear ChumpBadge,

    If your ex could hide his true nature for 20 years, then he can certainly hide it long enough to convince you to get back together. You need to trust that he sucks. Cheaters are going to cheat even if it takes them 20 years to get started and non-cheaters will NEVER cheat, no matter what. As far as I know, it took my ex 20 years to start cheating on me. I (accidentally) got definitive proof that he’s cheating on wife number two after only a year.

    If you take this dude back he will cheat on you again. Don’t go there. Go very low contact with him and only discuss issues regarding the kids.

  • Regarding the login information: Any account a cheater gives you access to is worthless. They have secret accounts, do you really think a person is stupid enough to do their whoring where they know you can see it. You can set up completely new accounts in a few minutes.

    This guy hasn’t changed, he just wants his “life” back. You are incidental to that. He was probably cheating all along, and just got sloppy in the end. Sorry, mofo, goodbye is your best response.

    • For sure. Mine – after initiating a very sincere heart to heart talk, laying out our proposed “new beginning”, wherein there would be “absolutely NO dishonesty whatsoever” and “only exquisitely transparent dealings in every way” on his part, googled “how to hide your history on firefox” that same afternoon…

      I mean, as he often tells me, his mama didn’t raise no fool. (Oh, I beg to differ.)

      Thank you, key logger! Yes. I actually laughed when I read it.

  • Wow. What an amazing takedown for the UBT. As I read CB’s letter I was thinking goodness, this does seem like genuine remorse, he does seem to be taking the right steps– how could one argue with this, thought I?

    And CL brilliantly seized on the answer. It’s all about HIM. Wow. Of course. He lost his OW so of COURSE he is doing just what HE needs to do to get what HE wants. He doesn’t give a flaming frog what’s good for CB. Of course. Geez.

    Fantastic. Well done.

    (But how unfortunate for CB.)

  • CL is speaking truth here. Seeing the big picture, which is hard for you to do, in these circumstances. All us chumps understand. Most of us have given our exes at least “one more try.”

    The OW fantasy wore off (as they tend to do), now you’re his Plan B. Lucky you… Yay. (no-one claps)

    Don’t be fooled. The “Plan A” slot is still open, waiting to be filled. You’re still plan B, always will be. Even more so, if he knows you’ll take that kind of treatment and come back to him.

    Part of your struggle, ChumpBadge, is that you want him back. You don’t want to single parent. Maybe, just maybe, you want to save face, too….get back the husband that you want to believe wasn’t a waste of years of your life.

    But don’t…just don’t. History will repeat, and then you’ll have wasted even more years. Keep your legal freedom, and untangle yourself mentally from him.

    • Excellent, excellent point about the “Plan A slot still being open”. Wow. Why would ANY of us want to a cheater ‘ s “fallback” plan? Yuck.

    • The ex really did seem sincere every time he begged me back, and each time I gave it a shot I ended up heartbroken and disappointed. What LiningUpDucks is saying is SOOO true. Had I been his Plan A, he wouldn’t have gone looking in the first place, and when he did and got caught, he would have shown a scintilla of concern and regard for my feelings and my emotional well-being. I can forget that he screwed anything that would say yes, but what I can’t forget is how cold and indifferent he was towards me. There’s the biggest eye-opener, and that’s what completely destroys the faith and trust.

      It’s years later, and he’s still begging me back, only I understand now that he’s just sad and lonely and I seem like a good idea at the moment. If I went back, the inevitable would be yet another D-day. Thankfully, the desire is completely gone.

      Don’t invest any more time.

  • This isn’t really the place to ask for the kind of advice she needs. People really do make mistakes and learn from them. It does happen. There are no second chances here. One strike and you’re the devil.

      • I know what it is. I’ve lived through it. Still, some people do make mistakes and are genuinely remorseful for them. The guy in the story above has obviously read “How To Help Your Spouse Heal…” because he’s doing everything they say to do. Taking ownership, transparency, counseling, etc. It’s all there. If he doesn’t deserve a second chance then honestly who does?

        • Yes, that’s right: nobody “deserves” a second chance after abandoning your family. You don’t earn it; there’s no quid pro quo. If you receive it, it’s a gift. You might google “grace.”

          And that very sense of entitlement dooms any reconciliation.where it exists.

          • If he left you for another woman, thats not love. He lived with her for some time. He probably professed his love to her. Now he is ready to come back. So he loves you again? He no longer loves HER? I cant trust a man who can switch his love off and on like that. It just doesnt make sense.If it is on-again-off- again then how can that be love?

        • Houston, the pos was gone for a year. How often did he see his kids then? How often did he read stories, look at homework, go to activities? There is a whole year out of childhood that is gone. Zippo. During that year while the mom was trying to get over her shock and grief, while she was dealing with her childrens’ sorrow he was off fucking another woman. Did the ow have kids? If so they saw more of the man than his own kids did. What he did was steal trust, self esteem and joy from his wife and a year of childhood from his kids. He hasn’t done any time for this theft. He ought to be so grateful that this very caring chump opens her home to him. He needs to move closer to them. He needs to be a 24 hour parent even though he does not live in the house. I do not believe in that counseling bullshit about why he cheated. The son of a bitch cheated, and abandoned, because he wanted to.

          • All this anger is why I suggested this might not be the place for her to ask advice. I used to be just as angry as everyone else here. You gotta let it go. It’ll ruin you.

            • Actually there is now a lot of psychological evidence that anger can be a positive emotion; it (rightfully) targets people who break societal strictures, it motivates people to make changes in personal and public life (imagine if people hadn’t been angry during the Civil Rights era; nothing would have happened), and it helps us keep personal boundaries. When directed at a wrong-doer, it can also be a learning mechanism to help them reign in their impulses.

              • That makes perfect sense. It’s curious to me how these days anger is so unacceptable. It’s not “cool” to be righteously angry, it’s cool to be nonchalant, the bigger person, etc. But anger seems to me to be a very legitimate human emotion that, when processed and expressed appropriately, can be very positive. Of course, if we let anger simmer indefinitely without processing it, it can be damaging too.

              • …but anger and happiness are mutually exclusive. You can’t be happy while you’re angry and who wants to live like that? We all here, or most of us, got unimaginably screwed over by someone we loved and trusted. It happens. We had no control over it but what he have full control over is how we respond to it. We can become consumed by anger, hatred, and bitterness or we can let it go, move on, and find happiness. The choice is ours. I choose happiness.

              • HD, you can’t tell other people how they can feel. Don’t transfer your ideas onto others .

              • I disagree; I can be angry when I think about what was done to me, and the ripple effects from X’s decision to bang as many nubile students as possible. I also get damned angry when I contemplate that the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are still missing. But the vast majority of the time, I consider myself happy.

                It might be difficult to be both angry and happy in the same moment, but there are many moments in a day and in a life.

              • I understand justifiable anger but should we here give advice to someone else from a position of anger over our own situation? That’s why this might not be the place to ask for advice on a lot of things but rather a place to vent that anger. Case in point, I don’t recall ever seeing anyone here suggest that someone give their wayward spouse another chance. Every single time a question is posed like the author of this letter posed, the advice they get is to immediately dump the other person as harshly as possible. The responses are always coming from a place of rage but not rage for the OP’s situation but rather rage being projected from their own situation.

              • You must not be looking, then, because I have HD. But personally I think any person who leaves his spouse and moves in with a tramp has blown all chances of reconciliation. And guess what, I’ve always believed that, so it’s not coming from a place of “rage”, just good sense.

              • You’re wrong, HD–some of us who have been divorced and still on the site do not have rage for our own situations anymore. I, am, however, righteously angry that other cheaters are enacting damage to their spouses’ and children’s lives, and using mindfuckery to do it.

                Furthermore, many of our judgments that it is best to leave a cheater are cognitive (not emotional) ones–we have read myriad stories about chumps taking back cheaters, only to have 2-, 5-,, 10-, 20-,30- more years of their lives wasted with emotional abuse + more infidelity. When infidelity is accompanied by emotional abuse in other areas, there is a .025 chance that the cheater can reform, in my personal and professional opinion as a psychologist.

                I’m happy that you have lost your anger over being chumped, and are moving on. Stop judging the rest of us that you have had limited contact with.

            • I feel like you’re just tying to make sure she is engaged in this choice- that she knows it is up to her. That’s admirable. And yes- this letter is from her so it’s positioned from her point of view, so the red flags which chump lady is pointing out may actually be about her and her feelings for ex, and her shouldering responsibility for the affair instead of allowing him to own it. We are all rallying behind what we know, which is no unicorns. If he is actually doing the work, and she chooses to give him another shot, CL has outlined some great guard rails to ensure it happens slowly, and with care to her recovery, not just his poor hurt feelers. Your right, in that sometimes we are a bit scary in our adherence to rational ‘get away from the burning house that is life with a cheater’…. But that’s what you do when you want someone to not be in a house on fire. She is absolutely able to review and declare that she’s going to give it a shot. Most of us do. And most of us have the scars to prove it. But I admire your level of hope. It takes a lot to be that open after enduring this. It’s nice to see, and please don’t stop posting it because CN is about finding your way, whatever choices you make on that path.

              • HoustonDad – There is no such thing as a “wayward spouse”. Perhaps you are on the wrong board.

              • I’m angry damn Angy at my cheating ex and I’m staying angry at him and his ho. Will keep me from anymore further contact. I’m not angry at the world just him and his shit. I will not let that anger rule any other part of my life except where he is concerned and my anger for him is indifference and non caring.

            • I don’t speak from a place of anger over my ex. She came here because her gut tells her she needs to. I believe that. Yes, it’s possible her ex is remorseful but she’s got doubts she can overcome her own pain and trust him. HD, you tried that route and found out it’s damn hard, for you it was not possible. So should we advise the LW to try despite her doubts? We advised you not to, you did it anyway and in the end you realized you could not rekindle the love and relationship you once had with your stbx. I’m getting a little pissed at your insistence that everyone here is an angry bitter person who cannot move on. That is not true at all. Many of us simply recognize a pattern or see things more objectively than the person in the thick of it and we say what we think. When I was in the thick of it I could not see clearly, not anymore than YOU could.

              • “I’m getting a little pissed at your insistence that here is an angry bitter person who cannot move on.”


            • I can’t speak for others, but I wouldn’t say I have anger toward my cheating ex. I just know who she is and have a firm opinion that she’s a very dangerous animal. I no more have anger toward her for her cheating than I have anger toward hyenas for ambushing a wounded gazelle. It’s just what they do. Better that I recognize that and act accordingly. And also that I warn other wounded gazelles when the hyenas are circling.

        • Thank you for all of your replies. I have read the full string and wanted you to know that I understand what you are trying to say. You are right, he did read the “how to help your spouse heal…” book along with several others. I do not believe you were calling all of Chump Nation bitter, but I believe you may have been trying to say that our own personal experiences color our responses. If that is in fact what you were trying to convey, I absolutely agree with that as well. I know that the responses I get will absolutely depend on the type of site I am on. I knew that by posting on CL that I would have many people punching holes in the hope, but that’s what I wanted & needed. There have been many replies that, while I greatly appreciate them, I have to disregard because they are less about my specific situation and more about their own.
          Plus, there is always the very real fact that we are all commenting and giving advice on situations without all the detailed information. That is just the nature of these types of sites. I couldn’t possibly give all the details of the damage he caused & all the details of his effort without making my original letter a novel. So, I condensed as best as I could but I now see (by the responses I’ve received) that there are very important details that I left out that would perhaps have changed some of the reaction I have received (including CL). I started to try to give more details in the replies, but most seem to see it as minimizing. It’s entirely my fault for not including it in the original post.

    • If you think an affair and abandoning your family is a “mistake,” you truly don’t belong on this site. Or in a marriage, for that matter. Because you lack a basic understanding of character, compassion, and personal responsibility.

      Maybe you should find a support site for the victims of child abuse or hate crimes and wag your finger at them for how they handle their trauma. SMH.

      • Nomar, he never identified whether he is a Chump or a Cheater.

        “I have lived thru it.” On which end? What this comment smacks of is a guy who is the typical sociopath….mimic all the right moves and expects everyone to be fooled just like before. What is so nice about sunlight is the cockroaches are seen…and what is seen cannot be forgotten.

        Cheaters want us all to forget what we see and know and nust listen to their spin.

        CB…he shacked up with OW and didn’t come out of his “fog” until it fell apart with her. You say he tells you when she tries to contact him? Question: why does she have any connection to him….why has he not cut her off so completely….as in, new phone number, blocked everywhere else…etc? He is telling you about it because it makes you feel that he could teeter back if you don’t grab that specialness that is him.

        And child support. Lets not get into the whole cheaper to keep her thing. That is a given. Schmoopie probably wanted shiny things besides ChumpBadges EHs dick and Mr Cheater couldnt afford it. Or he triangulated with her and the kids/you and she kicked his ass out. Whichever….he didnt come out of the fod until Schmoopie Pie was smashed in his face.

        The whole super dad thing is nothing for him to do right now…he has nothing else. Until he gets back everything he incinerated once before. Then it will be…..YOU can’t let it go. YOU keep wanting to talk about this, I am done now, I talked about it until you took me back and that was the goal, so get over it.

        This story has sociopath mimic written all over it. The six month thing is a trigger for me because that was always the timeline with XH….he got caught cheating and it too six months of being alone, and then he was calling me “missing me”. He was in college for six months…then quit. He was on a construction job for six months, then someone “said something mean” to him (they ARE roughnecks, dude. Duh.) And he quit. He started into every hobby imaginable serially…six months go by and he quits out of boredom.

        Six months is your XHs expiration date.

        Oh. And you are waaaaaaaaaaay too involved in your “XHs” life. You sound kinda like you dont want to move on, not that single parenting isnt hard, but you arent even doing that…you are still with XH, just without the sex. Just an observation.

        • I am 99% sure Houston Dad was severely chumped by his wife with his friend/neighbor….I recall his story over on the Forum several months ago. He was very angry and then later, it appeared she had talked her way into reconciliation. From his comments today, he must have found a unicorn….
          No shade, HD… of luck 🙂

          • I just want to add, Houston Dad–If the unicorn jumps out the pasture and you find yourself in need of coming back to our fold, we will welcome you with open arms, compassion and righteous love just like we did the first time—semper fi

    • Houston, we don’t know enough to know if this man feels remorse. What we do know is that he not only cheated, he wanted out so he could move in with the OW. And now that his affair is done, he wants a do-over. I don’t really care what book the cheater might be reading, or what his counselor tells him to do. This woman has no solid indicators that this guy has changed at all. The only way she will know is to do her healing, get clear on who she is, and figure out what she wants (other than to turn the clock back before her DDay). He made the mess. If it takes her a couple of years to get a cold-eyed look on what he has to offer, going forward, he should be fine with that. Meanwhile, my guess is that he has one life through the week and now the “family” on weekends. Cake here, Cake there.

    • Houston we have a problem! This isn’t a site for people who want the sugar coated version of the truth. That is true.

      BTW-cheating is NEVER a mistake. It’s a choice. Big difference.

      CB’s ex is not entitled to reconciliation with CB. She can accept what happened and keep him at arms length if she so chooses because well that is her choice. That would also be her ex’s consequence because here is the great thing about being an adult and having free will-You can make any choice you want but we all do that with the knowledge that there might be consequences. Those of us that aren’t delusional that is.

      If I decide to eat a giant hunk of chocolate cake, my consequence is a spike in my blood sugar short term and if I do it every day, weight gain in the long term. If I eat that chocolate cake every day I’m not going to run around blaming everyone else that I made that choice. Nor do I believe that the gods of weight loss should forgive me and grant me my cake with no calories or no consequences.

      If this guy is a true unicorn, CB should know what that looks like. This guy doesn’t sound like a true unicorn to me.

    • Houston Dad,
      No, this is not true about CN– it is not “one strike and you are a devil” at Chump Lady.. The point here is be cautious; if you decide to trust, trust, but verify. We all realize here that folks do make bad choices and can learn from them. But in the VAST majority of cases, the cheater continues down the path, whether it be one month later, or ten years later. In the case of ChumpBadge, I agree with CL assessment. Lot’s of me on the part of the exH, but where is the concern for CB?

    • Yes, one strike and you’re out. Even if remorseful. Want to know why? Because no faithful spouse deserves to live feeling broken, mistrustful, and playing marriage police. Cheating doesn’t just “happen,” it involves a series of decisions, typically over months or years. If a spouse has such terrible decision making abilities and poor impulse control, I don’t trust them and I don’t want them. End of story.

      • First thing my therapist told me is “you can never go back.” Because she knew a hyena when she saw one. It took me 6 months to internalize that.

    • Paraphrasing Houstondad:

      “Not everyone is wrong in exactly the same ways. Except CN; you guys are all wrong in exactly the same ways.”

      Dude, WTF?!??

    • “here are no second chances here. One strike and you’re the devil.”

      HoustonDad, we have a problem.

      The cheating we’re talking about here is not a single mistake. This is not a “one strike” incident. When my cheater ex chose to have an affair, he deliberately chose to spend time with the other woman. He chose to take her out to dinner. And he eventually chose to take her to a hotel. While he was doing that he was also choosing to spend his time doing anything and everything except parenting our children.

      ChumpBadge’s ex-h did something similar. We’re not talking about somebody who got blindingly drunk, tripped, and fell dick-first on a naked whore. Somebody who is stupid or immature could do that. Once. If it happens twice then it’s a lifestyle. It’s a pattern.

      ChumpBadge’s husband decided over and over to think only about himself and his dick. He wasn’t thinking about her and he wasn’t thinking about his kids. He was having fun until the new fuck didn’t work out as a wife appliance. Of course he wants his old life back.

      • HoustonDad was severely chumped and tried to reconcile at least twice. He couldn’t make it work. He thinks his wife was truly remorseful but that he couldn’t love her anymore. He appears to be on the forgiveness train, which is fine. It’s not everyone’s ride though. Peace out.

        • Blessings to HoustonDad and anyone who goes through that wringer. And it’s perfectly OK to not be about to love someone who rips your heart out. Or to feel you still love someone who is a entitled, cheating narcissist.

    • I gave my ex a second chance… I think a lot of us here have tried reconciliation at some point. We non-cheating spouses do a lot of dumb things in the name of love because we want things to be the way they were before. But once that trust has been broken (especially when it was a long, on-going affair or multiple infractions and you know exactly what was going on and with whom) it’s really REALLY hard to get that trust back. It’s really REALLY hard to shut down the “movie” playing in your head, too. I hated feeling like the other shoe was going drop and being on edge constantly. My ex hated having to be an open book and the lack “his privacy”… As soon as I let my guard down, he was soothing his “mid-life crisis” again. Hopefully for you that won’t happen in the future. Good luck! CB knows that this is not a reconciliation promoting website. She asked for opinions of what she might be missing. Just like you, she will decide whether or not she wants to run the gauntlet again.

  • Hi ChumpBadge,

    First and foremost, your husband shouldn’t be commended for visiting his children and helping them with their homework. He’s their father and he’s just fulfilling his job description.

    Second, he didn’t give up the OW after Dday, or after your filed the divorce papers, or right after he was served… no, that relationship ended when it stopped being fun. If you believe that he had some grand epiphany over everything that he’s lost, then you are buying into the bullshit “fog” theory even if you disagree with it in principle.

    Third, if your ex was willing to blow up your marriage and not make even the slightest effort to save it after 20 YEARS together and a couple of kids, how could you possibly sleep soundly beside him ever again, never knowing for sure if in 6 months, 5 years, 10 years or in another couple decades (maybe when he’s no longer on the hook for child support and can have a relationship with the kids independent of you) he might just stab you in the back again?

    Last but not least, you should ask him to send you a copy of his proposed cohabitation agreement…just so you can wipe your ass with it and mail it back. He’s still an entitled dickhead if he thinks he get to dictate the terms of your reconciliation.

    ChumpBadge, you took quick and decisive action in the beginning and didn’t hang yourself out to dry in limbo for years like many chumps do. Don’t set your ability to heal and move on by backtracking now.

  • What stands out the most is that MR. CHEATER took off with the sparkly OW, and now that it turned out the sparkles lost the shine Mr. Foggy, Mr. Sadz, Mr. Remorse is now sharing his “feelings” with you.

    Mr. Cheater was’t thinking of you or the kids when he was shacked up with sparkles, they were happily banging each other while you were left to pick up the pieces of your life. Sparkly banging while you were the primary parent, sparkly banging each other, having a great time while you were the adult.

    Poor MR. CHEATER, the sparkles lost it’s shine, maybe the money ran out, maybe he was used and it wasn’t his big dick but his big wallet that sparkly loved. Poor cheater, it was foggy, he was sadz, he has feelings that he can now share with you. You’re so lucky, so lucky, lucky, to even be given the gift to forgive him.

    My ex-wife’s brand new marriage is over, she’s tried the same shit on me now. I told her to take a hike on a big mountain on a foggy day.

    • It’s pretty well documented that these Cluster B’s CANNOT be alone. Ever. It’s literally pathological. If you get rid of one, they literally run around until they can find ANYONE so they’re not alone anymore. If Jeffrey Dahmer was the last person on earth, they would shack up with him, JUST so they aren’t alone anymore. (I’m not saying PF is Dahmer, but it reminded me of an important point when he said his EW’S new marriage is now over, and she’s come crawling back to him. They CANNOT be alone. We’re just the “Companion Appliance”).

      • You have a good point here Chris W., ” they literally run around until they can find ANYONE so they’re not alone anymore. ” And if you are the anyone that they set their sites on CB, then pick yourself up and walk away from that mess. You are not just “anyone” you have value, give that to yourself.

  • A quick personal experience from the Chumpdom Battlefield: A pre-nup or other erstwhile “written agreement” is MEANINGLESS. A piece of paper can’t replace trust, fix the disordered or keep a constant tab on the state of the ow. When they decided they’re bored, want another bite of that tasty cake or to bring you up just so they can bring you down again, a written agreement is going to be run over by a mack truck. Squashed flat. Shredded. MEANINGLESS. They will offer this to create a false sense of security, if they truly want the cake, they will find a way to get the cake.

  • CB……what CL says will be a REALLY hard road to follow, but do it!!! She’s so right! He can’t be the only person you can ever fall in love with! HE SUCKS!!

    • Forgot to add……and the bad thing on my part is that I was like you CB with believing yours could be the one story that is a successful back together again story……till CL set me straight too!

  • CB, from the tone i’m picking up in your letter it sounds like you are trying to talk yourself into taking him back. You are acting like a chump! Follow CL’s advice and decide what you want. Shut-off the noise that is him with NC like has been suggested. It was at least 2 months of NC and counseling before I started coming out of the “chump fog”. I admire you for acting so quickly and decisively. Now take the advice here and heal yourself. Then and only then should you reconsider him at all. But I think you know once you do the work, he’s not what you really want. It’s hard to believe that life can be good after all this. It can be. It’s hard and it’s work. To me the alternative of going back to your old life just isn’t worth it. Be strong and think about you! I know it’s hard for a chump but you deserve better.

  • “You have feelings too, CB. I don’t see where he’s desperate to hear about yours.”

    ^^^^^Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.^^^^^

    This is what I have to remember, and why I this site is my morning coffee column. Great post, CL.

    These jackasses put their marriage and family (in dollar values — EVERYTHING THEY OWN) on the COME line, rolled the dice and it came up CRAPS.

    Mother fucker lost everything on the roll of the dice.

    The fact that they were capable of this act says everything you need to know about the character of this person.

    I do believe people can change, but this ass is still jacking off and wants her to watch.

  • If you take him back, you will ALWAYS be looking over your shoulder, for the rest of your life. That is NO way to live. My ex moved out in Nov, ’13, into his own apartment, seeing the OW constantly. In Apr, ’14, he texted me “I broke it off”, expecting me to take him back. I didn’t.

    Breast cancer runs in my family, so I’m obviously diligent about mammograms and other tests each and every year. I always have vowed if I got breast cancer, I’d have a double mastectomy immediately, because I don’t want to live my live looking over my shoulder constantly. It’s not a way to live.

    Taking a cheater back is the same. Don’t fool yourself that it’s just THAT OW. Cheaters find new ones, you’d constantly be wondering, “is that new neighbor who smiled at him a new OW?” or, “Does he have designs on his new co-worker? ” It’s endless.

    His dad dying was just the beginning. We are ALL aging and MORE death and MORE loss is going to happen. To quote Indiana Jones: “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.” He’s going to get the Sadz a lot more. Should you then be worried and looking over your shoulder the rest of your life? This is what you want for your life??

    I suspect CL hit the nail on the head. He’s driving 5 hours and you’re playing chef, event planner, relaxation planner for him and taking care of the kids all weekend. LEAVE the kids to him and go to the spa! Get some YOU time! Once you’re not cow towing to him all weekend, I bet the 5 hour drives stop. And there’s your answer.

  • ChumpBadge, one more thing: Most cheaters have self-esteem that is too *high*, not too low. They think they deserve more….spouse and AP…kibbles….(and bits and bits and bits!)

    • What is tricky is that reconciliation seems like the easy way……it is the hardest way because you can forgive a person for whatever and you cannot forget the pain you have sufferred. So besides the fact that the cheater could do it again you have to drum up trust that does not exist anymore and everytime you say how you feel the cheat would say you are bringing up the past….the fact is you feel this way because this happenned and the cheater only wants the easy way and for the chump to do it all again…just like they always have..
      there is NO easy way

    • “Most cheaters have self-esteem that is too *high*, not too low. They think they deserve more…”

      ^^^^^ THIS!!!! ^^^^


      You wrote about how your ex was “working on his LOW SELF-ESTEEM issues”. Yet, we’ve said here at ChumpNation time and time again that cheaters cheat because of their *ENTITLEMENT* issues. Entitlement issues come from having a HIGH regard for one’s self (and consequently, a LOW regard for others); not having a LOW regard for themselves. IMO, Your ex’s entitlement issue is the ONLY issue he should be “working on” in therapy. If he gets his ego under control, most of his other “issues” will fall by the wayside.

  • ChumpBadge, your letter says almost nothing about you, other than you’ve been smart and pro-active about getting the divorce and that being a single parent is tough. Your focus, as CL points out, is squarely on your cheater. That’s a very good reason not to trust his “remorse” or your own judgment. You’ve done 1/2 of your work. Now you need to do whatever it takes to learn to trust yourself. Part of that work is managing without a partner. (And I’m speaking here not as a single parent but as a woman who spent most of her adult life believing on some level that without a partner, I couldn’t make it–even though most of the time I was taking care of myself and whatever jackass I had let into my life.) Everything changes when you come to understand that you can make it on your own.

    You don’t say why you moved. Did you get a job or change jobs? Are you pursuing a career? Is there family near to support you? That’s where you focus should be–what are you doing to make your life (and while they are still at home) your children’s lives better?

    My guess is that you are still “in love” with this cheater and are looking for reasons to take him back. I’m sure on one level your kids would love to have dad living with them and you would have some version of your old family back. But the kids won’t live at home forever. Is this cheater willing to move where you live? Can he sustain his parenting efforts? What is he doing to win your trust and respect back? The very idea that the OW is still contacting him would be a deal breaker for me on that front. And in this technological environment, having his Facebook and main email passwords meaning nothing, zip, nada. There are more ways for people to conduct affairs than I can count, starting with burner phones and moving to even stupid things like chatting on Words with Friends.

    Before you get couples counseling, get yourself figured out. Who are YOU? How did infidelity change you? What do you want FOR YOURSELF for the next 5 years? the next 10? Who are you without this guy? You’ve been throughout the hell of being married to and divorcing a cheater. Now it’s time for the part where you get your life back. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Marriage is not the goal of life. It’s just one experience. Until you know who you are without him, who you want to be, you can’t see him clearly.

    You’ve come this far. Listen to CL. Set some boundaries. Go no contact. Tell him you need a year to sort out things for yourself and take care of your own needs. And don’t let him park in your house while he visits the kids. Is he staying in a hotel? or hanging out of (God forbid) staying over? At this point, you could just be his weekend girlfriend, hence the mention of a cohabitation agreement. So cake in the old place, cake in the new place. Tell him to get a room for the weekend. See how it goes if the travel costs him money. And there’s no chance of CAKE. Thinking he is just hoovering you back and hoping to end child support.

  • And why hasn’t he moved to be closer to the kids? What benefit is it to him to have you out of state? Think on that for a while.

  • CB–Oh, I think this is a tough one. Off-hand, I’d say you were being love-bombed, and you know it. Otherwise you would not be writing to Chump Lady.

    Your letter ask the very fundamental question, “As long as he looks as if he’s truly remorseful, is he entitled to a second chance? Am I obligated to give that much to him?

    The answer is no. Even if he is truly remorseful, owns his behavior, and would crawl over broken glass to get his family back–even then he is not entitled to a second chance.

    Refusing to take him back does not make you either mean or cruel. It means merely that you no longer wish to be married to him.

    The world is filled with perfectly reasonable, nice people who haven’t violated your trust–and yet you have no desire to be married to them. Why should your X be any different from these people? YOU do not OWE him the second chance.

    Your X detonated his marriage. When you uncovered the cheating, he should have dropped the affair then and there and did everything that he’s now doing, and prayed for forgiveness. He didn’t. Instead, he went off with the OW until he got tired of the affair. Once it’s over, well, you’re a great Plan B.

    The question is how does that make YOU feel? I’m not talking about him and how he feels sadz. I’m talking about YOU. How do you like having to look at his financials to make sure that he’s not spending on other women (and how do you feel knowing that you know only those accounts that he’s told you about–remember, he’s lied before…)?

    I think you need time. And if he’s truly remorseful, and truly worth the second chance, he’ll give this time to you. Challenge yourself to go No Contact with him as much as it’s possible with children. This means you block him on social media and send his emails to a special folder. Get a friend to read through that folder and delete any messages that are not relevant to the children. Likewise, when he texts you, keep the subject only on the children, nothing else. He wants to talk about his therapy? Crickets.

    Go into therapy if you are not already there. Fill your life with what you want. For a change, have the kids spend the weekend with their father. This gives you a break from having to be a single mom. Is he concerned about the travel time? Well, this is what airfare is for.

    Once you’ve gotten past the point where you feel you have to check up on his every move, then ask yourself if reconciliation is really what you want–or only what HE feels he’s entitled to.

    Best of luck.

    • “When you uncovered the cheating, he should have dropped the affair then and there and did everything that he’s now doing, and prayed for forgiveness. He didn’t. Instead, he went off with the OW until he got tired of the affair.”

      EXACTLY, KB! My STBX sat in our living room, after I had decided to move out, and told me he was going to pursue OW and try to make it work. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!!!!

      Be your own best friend. Step outside of yourself. What would your best friend, who knows all of your facts and your experiences, be telling you right now?

      • Oh, another thought: If my husband was to the point where he was ready to trade me in on a new woman and a new life, it was time for it to end. I deserve to be the prize for a person who will treasure me.

      • “My STBX sat in our living room, after I had decided to move out, and told me he was going to pursue OW and try to make it work.” I got the same from my ex.


    You can miss him, grieve him, feel bad but do it running.

  • My advice is; go COMPLETELY NO CONTACT for 6 months, and get yourself into therapy for YOU.

    Set up temporary custody arrangements so that he takes the kids on ‘his’ time, and you have a break; you’d be amazed at how much easier that makes single parenting. It also gives you time to take care of yourself, and to build a life of your own where you’re living now. Make friends. Find hobbies, volunteer, be active.

    If he won’t accept 6 months of NC as the price of ADMISSION to possible (possible, no entitlement!) reconciliation, then he’s not serious, and not thinking of you. If he won’t RESPECT the NC, by keeping his contact with you as minimal as possible, then he’s not serious, and not thinking of you. This means; e-mail only, and only when prior arrangements MUST be changed, or there’s an actual emergency. This means; you prep the kids and send them out to where he’s waiting in the car, or the exchange is made by a third party (you drop the kids at a friends’ place, then leave, then he picks them up there. Reverse for pick-up.)

    This gives time for YOU to get out of the fog, to see and think more clearly. If, after 6 months like this, you still think trying again is worth it, then go for it.

    I doubt he’ll accept this (6 months ALONE????? But think of how alone he left you), and I doubt he’ll respect it. And I very much doubt you’ll feel like making this re-investment afterwards even if he does. But it’s worth a try, if you’re not .

  • When my STBX ‘s beloved grandfather, who raised him, died that’s when he decided to turn his marriage-long love of flirting into full blown cheating. Grandpa was a truly great man, larger than life, utterly loyal and kind. After he died, STBX didn’t need to impress him anymore. STBX’s image as a “good guy” was solely maintained for Grandpa’s benefit. It WAS NOT the grief that “made” him cheat. It was because he didn’t have to pretend anymore to be something other than the dishonest, sexual deviant that he is.

    I fully expect STBX to come sniffing around me again in the future if he cannot find “Wife Appliance 3.0”. He will definitely miss “Wife Appliance 2.0”. I love that expression, it is so very appropriate.

    If he does, he will be met with a gray rock. Because I know him. And because the manner in which he left our little family was incredibly cruel. Toxic people have no place in my life. I don’t care if he does morph into an actual real live unicorn shooting magic beans out of his butt. Never. Again.

    • Awesome post. That’s a great observation that they cheat when loved ones die, not because they’re sad, but because more of their lifetime boundaries that kept them “in check”, are gone.

      OMG, I laughed so hard about the magic beans shooting out of his butt!! THIS NEEDS A CARTOON!!!!!

      • That’s when the affairs I am aware of really got out of control, after my ex’s father died. As far as I know, his father was the only person whose opinion he valued.

    • FarBetterOff, your comment about your STBX’s reaction to his grandfather’s death was a light bulb moment for me. My ex went off the rails after my dad declined into early onset dementia and eventually died. My dad was my ex’s father figure and mentor and he valued his good opinion above anyone else’s. I have always believed that if my dad was alive and healthy I would still be married (not necessarily happy but not aware of the reason why I wasn’t) but I couldn’t quite make the mental connection that my dad’s mental decline and death gave my ex the freedom to stop caring whether his “good guy” mask slipped.

      I’m with you too – I would never, under any circumstances take my ex back. It is absolutely unthinkable to me. I look at it this way. If a masked man, hiding his true identity broke into my house, mentally tortured me and my children, stole our money and then took off his mask so we could see who he truly is before leaving to go on his merry way, would I invite him back for another go at us? Um…NO.

  • The chumpbadge story reads word for word like my own, except I moved but stayed in the same school district and my STBXH had 1 long-term and several short-term affairs over our 20-year marriage. So, within 2 weeks I moved and within 2 months I filed. I think the LT affair started when his mother died 15 years ago and the ST affairs started when his dad died 2 years ago. The one long-term AP recently died also. Here’s the thing, is there an Option #3 where you reconcile “with eyes wide shut” realizing that you are living with a snake that is an entitled, sparkly, cheating, controlling, yet disciplined good provider? And what do I get you may ask? Well, I get a pretty picture (maybe I’m a narcissistic as well — but I never cheated)
    Thanks CN, I think I answered my own question. Maybe I should just invest in real artwork and work on my self-esteem issues. . .but he’s so sparkly. Seriously though, I know women who take Option #3.

    • So, you’d take him back, knowing it would be a “open relationship”? Knowing he’d be cheating, seeing whomever he wanted, and you’d see other people too? I guess that could work, of you established the right up fronts and boundaries (I know nothing about open relationships, but I’m assuming there’s rules and policies/processes to them???)

      • Yeah, no. That wouldn’t work. He would never accept an open relationship and I don’t want one. I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t predict the future with this guy or any other guy. I can take him at his word that he has changed, but, based on past history not be surprised when it happens again. No one is perfect and how is cheating any different or more selfish than alcholism or drug abuse especially if there is a physiological response to it? We treat drug abusers and alchoholics, but throw away cheaters?

    • Women who take option 3 need therapy. They need more fucking hobbies. There are too many other people in the world to meet and take a chance on then stay with a person who’s PROVEN they will fuck you over. Nobody should have to settle.

  • I haven’t read all of the comments here yet so forgive me if I repeat something that sister and brother chumps have already said.

    There are two things that come to mind however. One, why is he not taking to the kids to his own house, and two, it very much seems like he’s the one trying to control the narrative……… See… I am doing all this really hard stuff, ( Which I really shouldn’t have to do if you would just roll over and give me what I want, Wife Appliance.)…so I get to hound you about taking me back. Me, Me, Me,….it’s all about me. And believe me, if you take me back, I will make you pay for all the hoops you are making me jump through right now.

    I wonder if the OW is still in the picture and that reason the children are not going to his house is because she’s living there. I agree with chump lady in that he seems to have zero empathy for your feelings or his children’s feelings and all of this. This would make me pretty doggone suspicious. And you know that old saying once burned? Well I certainly wouldn’t believe him, but I do tend to believe when their lips move, they are lying.

    Oh, and the OW contacts Him? A not so subtle reminder that she is still around, so you better dance pretty, now. I’d dump him just for that little manipulation alone. Subtle coercion. Changed man, my rosy red ass.

    I think you need more time away from him Sweetie. And I think you do need to do some work on yourself. I think also you’re all up in his business and it’s time to cut the cord.

    Advocate for yourself and your kids, Sweetie, not him. You’re worth more than that. And I would add you deserve to have a great new life that is cheater free.

    • Thank you for your reply. The real reason the kids do not spend time at his house is because I don’t allow it. I have been strictly sticking to the divorce decree parenting schedule, which gives me a large portion of parental custody. We live in a very mountainous area and with our winter weather, I do not want my children commuting on the dangerous highways during this time of year. It is my X’s choice to risk the commute and he does offer to take the kids (to his hotel) while he is in area.

      • You should consider why he hasn’t blocked the OW on all media ChumpBadge and why he shares with you that she contacts him. It sounds like a manipulation to me. See CB, she still wants me but I chose you after I got tired of her…Jedi Hugs!

        • Thank you. I understand why it does appear that way. Full transparency is one of the typical efforts in this type of situation. Something he had read in several books/blogs.

          I’m sure this will be construed by many as more spackling by me, but I’m honestly just trying to give a little more detail. If I was to actually see if this was the real deal, I would want to be made aware if there is any contact between them. The minute contact is held back as a secret, that is something I would consider proof the relationship is ongoing.

          So far it has been twice over 6 months and both have been drunken angry rants calling him every name in the book. Not really of the “she wants me back” variety. The first one occurred in July, the second a day or two before Xmas. After the 2nd contact, he did block her on his phone, as well as on social media.

  • A couple of items that stuck out in chumpbadge’s letter was her ex being forthcoming when ow tried to contact him….Doesn’t sound like the relationship is quite over to me, her ex is still stringing ow along. Why else would ow contact him? Maybe ow is ex’s back up plan. If ex was serious about ending the relationship he would have made sure ow would never contact him again in this lifetime. So after a YEAR ex decides that ow is not for him, not a few weeks, not even a couple of months, a whole year! Chumpbadge, your need to go NC as much as possible. Meet your ex at a halfway mark with the kids every other weekend and let the kids stay with Dad at HIS place. String the asswipe along and tell him you need a YEAR to figure out of you want him back or not.

    • Thank you for your comment. I do believe the relationship is “over” (for now). There has been 2 texts in the last 6 months from her and both were very hate-fueled drunken rants. She is hurt and angry that much is clear. Not that I at all feel sorry for her. There are consequences to jumping into a relationship with a married man. She deserves any amount of pain she has received.
      I imagine the next question is why doesn’t he change his number… The X holds a job that allows his cell number to be published publicly. He has since blocked her number as well as blocked her through social media.

      I’m not naive. I know that even if he’s not with her, he could easily be in a new relationship with someone else.

  • Thank you so very much CL and Chump Nation for taking the time to respond to my letter. I’m not going to lie, your collective advice was painful to read but exactly what I needed. It is very true that I haven’t had enough distance or time to heal. I am reading and re-reading your posts, trying to make sure I absorb all of your strength and clarity. Many of you had additional questions in your replies and I will do my best to respond to everyone.

    I would also like to take a moment to thank those of you that risked the wrath of Chump Nation to be the voices of “maybe.” As it has been posted many times this is not a reconciliation site, so I think it takes bravery to voice an opinion that would go against the masses. When you do and find yourself on the receiving end of some angry responses, please try to remember that there are many here that are speaking from very painful repeat-burn experiences. I did really appreciate these posts too because it proves that this a complicated situation and maybe I’m not a total sucker for allowing it to give me pause.

    Thank you again everyone. This site has been a steel rod for my spine on more than one occasion. I don’t know how I would be making it without all of you.

    • Betraying you, and turning a cold shoulder to your pain by abandoning you and the kids isn’t complicated at all. It’s exactly what it appears to be.

      It took some of several soul-destroying experiences to get that through our heads.

      It’s so hard to see things clearly at this stage of the game, but do try. You have a lot to lose.

    • ChumpBadge

      I am curious, after having read this good advice, what do you think you are going to do?

      What are your next actions going to be?

      Please remember that words mean nothing because they require almost no effort, and we all tend to view the world through our own prisms, and thus project our values onto others.

      So, if I take my word seriously, then when someone such as my partner is saying something important, I naturally assume that they are also taking what they are saying seriously.

      Unfortunately, the expression is true: “talk is cheap.”

      He is subtly trying to manipulate you through the children who of course love their dad and by trying to get you into couples counseling. The problem with couples counseling is it will most likely be administered by someone whose task it is to “fix” the relationship.

      Thus, they will try to “fix” the relationship, and if you are the impediment to “fixing” the relationship – for whatever valid reasons – it will be two against one if you choose to attend.

      Cheaters look at life as a series of present circumstances and opportunities for a greater chance to get what they want. They do that ad infinitum. If subtly pulling some levers to work you to get what he wants then that is what he will do because it will create a present situation that is beneficial to him, and because they are incapable of thinking of long-term responsibilities, you will assist him into a present situation where he perceives something better and discard you for the better situation.

      Your shared history proves this.

      I think the starkest example of this that I have seen anywhere is one of the chumps on this website whose cheater through away a lifetime with kids and everything over a Nigerian scam using a well known adult film star’s picture.

      I wish you and your children the best.

      • Thank you for your reply. “What are your next actions going to be?” That is a good question. I think the recommendation from many of going NC for several months sounds like a solid first step. I agree that I have not had enough distance from my X and this situation to see things clearly.

    • ChumpBadge, here’s my fear for you– you believe him, you recommit, you move back or he moves in with you, you remarry maybe even. And then in 5 or 10 or 15 years, you find out he never stopped the affair(s), or he started up again, whether with this AP or others. And maybe there are a lot more than you realized. And you sit in stunned amazement that your life was a lie. And now you are so much older, and have so fewer options. You are in disbelief that it went on for so long. How could he? Why didn’t you see? Why didn’t you protect yourself and your children when it was early on? Your children are angry, maybe even hate him now. They are old enough to realize what he did, how bad it really is, how much he hurt you, how their family was in some ways a lie too. Maybe at that point they choose never to see him again. Now where are you? Now where are your children? Even more lost and destroyed. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

      You’ve gotten through the hardest part, you got divorced, you started a new life, you moved away, and you kicked ass. Why oh why would you backtrack from all those gains now? Because his life with AP didn’t work out? Hell CB, what do you think the odds are that if you take him back that this will end well? He didn’t have a one night stand and fess up, he didn’t have a come-to -Jesus moment even when you were divorcing him, even when his children’s happiness and stability was being destroyed. He didn’t see the light at all…..until his affair with AP went south. NOW he wants you back, NOW he values his children. NOW is he telling the truth? How would you ever know.

      I know a woman who is doing just what your ex wants you to do. She is trapped in everlasting hell and he knows it. What is she going to do now? Kick him out again? Move away again? Tell the kids again? So she doubles and triples down even when she hears rumors he is still seeing the old AP,…..and most of her friends have given up on her and don’t even bother to tell her when they see her husband out cheating. To them, they saw her through the divorce and then she turned around and went right back again. In the end they figure she has given up and so have they. And her children scoff at her when she expresses fear that her husband is seeing an AP, and actually blame her for taking him back.

      As the others said you have not gotten away from him to see what you really want and need, you never will if he thinks he will be able to come back someday, and if you think that is the case. After my divorce at age 51, I met a wonderful fellow chump and am so happily remarried. I shudder sometimes when I think I could still be playing the marriage police or worse with my ex, being manipulated and betrayed and never realizing the full extent of it. You deserve so much better than that. But you will never get out physically or emotionally if you do not go NC.

      Please, read about hoovering, and about splitting. These cheaters can be devious and incredibly convincing. Jeez, he probably believes it himself right now. But what are the odds it will last if he worms his way back in? And even if it does, are you willing to live like that and take those chances with your future and that of your children?

      I know how desperately you want to hear the “maybe’s.” I get that, I truly do, no one gets that better than we do here at CN. But please, the scary movie music is playing and you’re heading to the creepy cellar door down the dark hallway where bad things have happened before. Just. Don’t. Please. Turn around and walk out of that haunted house into the sunlight and fresh air.

      • Thank you very much for your post. Talk about hitting the core! Your fear for me is the very base of fear I have for myself. Thank you so very much for articulating it so well.

    • Chump badge, I’m 3 years into reconciliation, and my H also came out of the “fog.” I have no idea if your ex is being sincere or not, but your letter does make me think there is hope for reconciliation. All I can say is go slow! Get angry! Let him see the darkness inside of you that he’s created. If he still wants to reconsile then he’s really willing to try. I will never trust my H the same way again, but I feel safer each month. What I mean by safer, I don’t marriage police anymore, and I believe his being honest with me. I also want you to ask yourself, do you like him? What I mean by this, take away him being a dad, companion, lover, part of your history….. Do you like him? I still liked my H . It’s not as much about love. Love is feelings and emotion , liking is what allows us to be rational and comfortable. I liked being with him as a person, I liked hearing his opinions, I liked how he listens to me, that helps,because I will never feel the same way about him as I did before the betrayal. The Love has been broken. I will never get that gushy feeling with him again, and I miss it. You’ll Have sex and the affair will haunt you in your bedroom, you’ll be at a school function and think, last year he while I was at pto, he was fucking her. You’ll be watching a tv program with an affair scene in it and want to punch him for what he did to you. It doesn’t go away, and HE has to be willing to put up with your anger and resentment. So that’s why I said make sure you’ve been truly showing him who you are now. You are not the same people, and your marriage will never be the same. It will move forward as 2 different people, but if you really like and enjoy one another, a different love begins. I think it is bullshit, that an affair makes the marriage stronger. My relationship is less heartfelt and more realistic. Also, I had my H read CLs book, and when there is a post I want him to read, he reads it and we discuss it. Good Luck whatever you decide.

  • I have been “reconciling” with my cheater wife for two years now. She had a six-month affair with a married piece-of-shit-asshole she found on a BDSM facebook fuckbuddy club. She then trickle-truthed me over another six months as I turned uber-marriage police detective (after pleading with her to just simply tell me everything up front).

    Since then, she too shows all the behaviors under the true-remorse checklist(s). She accepts responsibility for her cheater actions – without blameshifting. She listens and empathizes with me when I get into dark places and apologizes for what she did – and stops there; no “but/however” blameshifting. She recognizes that what she did was evil. She is participating in therapy for her own faults and for her own healing so she can be a better wife, mother, and individual. She agreed to a post-nup. She demonstrates that she loves me and our children. She is a good mother to our children. She is generous with her time with me. She consciously looks for what she appreciates in me. She shows that she wants a future with me – I’m her plan-A. I still love her deeply.

    However… Here is my trade off: I live with the knowledge that my wife is capable of insidious evil toward me. She is an incredibly gifted and talented liar. I trust that I still don’t have the entire story of her affair. I trust that she has learned how to better hide and better lie about her cheating. I trust that she is currently demonstrating reticence with me so that she can maintain her “public” image. To keep narc-girl in check, I filter every interaction with her through a lens of anger.

    I am still the marriage police. I randomly check all the apps in her phone for any slightest evidence. I utilize the find-a-phone GPS. I backup her phone and use spyware software to scrub the files for “hidden” texts, calls, photos, and data. I research new methods for cracking evidence of possible illicit affairs. I monitor the phone bills, credit reports, credit cards, and all her known email accounts for any hint of activity. I check her moods. I question her actions when it’s eerily similar to when she was cheating.

    I’ve prepared myself for what I’ll do when I find out she begins cheating again. I imagine it will be pretty calm, matter-of-fact, and without a lot of drama (“I am greatly disappointed with your choices. Here’s the post-nup. Go have a great rest of your life.“) Gawd… It sounds pretty bad just typing this out. But I’ve also found out a lot about myself in this whole shitstorm. I used to be pretty amiable. I’m a much stronger person now; I don’t take shit from anybody any longer.

    That’s just a taste of allowing the cheater back in our lives. I don’t recommend it; it’s not easy. In fact, I would recommend taking Chump Lady’s (along with everyone else’s) advice since you’ve actually divorced the cheating piece-of-shit. He sounds like a plan-B (X, Y, or Z even) sort of guy.

    • This is a really good post from Betrayed. I think he displays how much WORK this is for the Chump to take back a cheater. That shouldn’t be underestimated. I did the Marriage Police thing for 6 weeks and hated it. I couldn’t do a second more.

      I am divorced from my Cheater, and I know I’ve told you guys he moved 2000 miles away and took almost NONE of his possessions. In my getting rid of his stuff, I found more evidence of at least 3 more affairs, unrelated to the final AP. Affairs are like cockroaches, you may see one, but there’s hundreds lurking behind the drywall.

      Hugs to Betrayed and everyone else who’s trying to reconcile with a Cheater. It’s got to be tough, tough work.

      • betrayednomore – ouch and more future ouch!

        My situation was the exact same with my now ex-wife. I gave her yet another chance as you are doing. She did and said all the same as your wife. I have to agree it’s very believable to think that you will be her “Plan A” especially when it supposedly (I said supposedly) shows in her words and actions. I also think that you WANT to believe her because you claim you truly love her or at least that is how I felt at that time. Also having 3 kids did influence my decision to stay.

        Turns out it only took her another 2.5 years to hook up with yet another married man with kids. She was able to have this affair all the while she was treating me with the same love and respect (what I thought at the time) and displaying all those great words and actions (it was all bullshit) that she promised me would right up to DDay. Because of the nature of that kind of repeated betrayal, the pain so much worst.

        She was only able to sell me those same lies back then because I was justifiably vulnerable at that time. I was just a vulnerable chump.

        Today – since I am mighty and strong chump, HELL NO!!!! I would of never taken her back. I am thinking way to clearly to buy all those lies.

        • Thank you everyone. Y’all are really kind. I only meant to put that out there so ChumpBadge at least had a chance to see what it’s like for someone working through reconciliation. Believe me, there are certainly moments where I just want to chuck it all and file. What’s different is that my cheater is the one doing the pick-me dance. She had every opportunity to leave and go live off the naughty all-you-can-eat-kibbles buffet.

          Right now she’s the one putting in the work to change her behaviors. She’s the one making amends with me and the children. She knows we have given her a gift – and she is showing us appreciation (it feels real, not the typical superficial convenience-store narcissist platitudes).

          I appreciate y’alls advice. You’re giving me (and ChumpBadge) more to think about.

          • BetrayedNoMore….Thank you so very much for your honesty. Like Chris W said, I think that you have made it very clear just how much work it is (mentally, emotionally) to reconcile with a cheater. Unfortunately, post-nups are not applicable in my state and so I’ve reluctantly started the divorce process. (I’m naturally a very organized and cautious person). My STBX and I are in mediation….just 2 or 3 more sessions away from filing. Unlike most chumps on here, mediation has worked for me bc my cheater is extremely contrite. I’m not sure that I would have proceeded with divorce if postnups were applicable because like you I still love my STBX very deeply. We have 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. He was my best friend for 17 years (married for 8). I did not catch my STBX in the middle of his 6-month affair—I found out over a year AFTER he ended it w OW—and my STBX is not like the outwardly abusive spouses that others have had to deal with on here. Like your spouse, he is the one doing the pick me dance and he has agreed (so far) to give me everything I want in our settlement. HOWEVER, regardless of all that, he too makes a very talented liar. Fact is, he stabbed me in my back every single day…and with a smile on his face I should add. This has instilled an anger in me that is eating me up like a cancer. It hasn’t receded at all in the 9 months since D-day….and that scares me. So in a way, sometimes I am glad that I’m moving forward with the divorce. Most of the time, however, I’m not. I miss us. I want us all to be together like before. I’m devastated. And ashamed, although I know I needn’t be. I feel like I’m am taking the necessary steps to protect myself (kicked him out, mediation for divorce, etc) , BUT I’m still functioning like we are married…carrying out the same day-to-day tasks as you are…as the marriage police. A big part of me is hoping that he might “win” me back one day. The same part of me is also afraid that the divorce will reveal a reality in which the both of us will never reunite. The same part of me wishes that I had a much uglier experience (the cheating and abuse, that is) so that it might be easier for me to let go. Anyway, I need to wrap this up…..just wanted to say that I understand your hard work and your struggle very well.

    • Damn betrayednomore so eerily familiar bruh and your right to take CL advice as you are doomed to have another d day…..mine took 5-7 years for her to slip up and get caught again so it isn’t worth it…..these people suck it is just who they are…..fucking assholes

    • Your now is my nightmare. Thank you for sharing. Do you have a blog? I would love to know how you possibly balance being the spouse police. I don’t even get it. This is exactly what I would need to be, and who I don’t want to be, in how much time and effort and heart bracing is required. I feel like I would do it just for the post nup to get him in a trap, kind of. Ugh. My heart hurts for you.

    • Betrayed, appreciated your post, very candid, honest and sad. You stated that your wife is a talented liar, so you have to keep in mind that these narcs can go for quite a stretch playing whatever character suits them at the time. You may think you are still in love with her but I think it may be worth your while (and sanity) to reconsider your marriage to this woman. No one should go through life waiting for the other show to drop.

    • Let’s not forget the other phone that they get when they know or even suspect that they are being monitored… ex had his mistress get it for him. You are wasting your time. If she’s not cheating now she will be eventually, they don’t change their DNA….and when she does she’ll be two steps ahead of you.
      Every affair just makes them get more creative about how to deceive when they have the NEXT affair ( mine had 4 affairs) . I’ll take being divorced and having a new healthy relationship over living a life of being super spy any day.
      They so aren’t worth it.

    • Thank you for your very honest reply! How do you do it? You make me so thankful that I finally just decided I couldn’t live with that crap. Mine too was and still is a talented liar. It’s amazing to me how they can lie like they do because they seem to believe what they are saying. FYI, you sound miserable. Do you really want to live this way? I am not going to lie, it hurts like hell to walk away from a relationship (28 years for me). That pain is finite. It doesn’t feel like it at first, but it is. You are living in hell every day! You said yourself you are waiting for the next time. You don’t owe her a next time! You owe yourself. Find a counselor and start working with them. There seems to be a lot more to your story and a good counselor can help you work through all the garbage. I hope one day you find happiness!

    • Thank you Betrayed. Your post, as well as the one from LivingMyLife, is an important reminder of the tradeoffs required to reconcile. It is a sad state of existence to be sure. As another poster had mentioned, even if he really is a unicorn, he might be best for someone else. I’m not sure living with the pain & memories are worth the price I’d pay to put my family back together again. Sometimes the best course of action is to continue walking away.

  • Dear ChumpBadge, I am so very sorry that you are on this highway of tears, potholes, washboard and sleepy semi drivers. Without a map or GPS.
    I thank you for your candour and courage to put this before the Nation. That takes balls, as it were. And your response to the semi hitting you was decisive and swift and smart. Kudos, girl.

    I am limping on the wrong side of this road in the dark, with you. I feel like I am a child who is learning how to walk , so I use this forum to see how others do it and to see if my legs and proprioception will permit me to do this miraculous thing. There is a lot of falling. But CL and CN show me.

    I got a lot of creepy feelings from your well articulated story, thinking this (as everyone else is saying) is all about his terms. The hair of my entire body was standing up (imagine that visual!) and I was so happy that it was. It means I might be making headway on Day 124 of NC. My God! Can that be possible?? I truly believed not. It is 6 months since DDay and there are times that I feel like Aunty Acid ~~ “The supply of available swear words in insufficient to meet my demands.”

    But I’d better get geared up, wrap in reflector tape (the lessons of CL and CN) and get the hell moving. We used to have a family friend, who in early stages of dementia, would say cheerfully, “I don’t know where I’m going ~~ but I’m on my way”. Travel safely and wisely, ChumpBadge!

  • CB I don’t want to repeat what all the others have so wisely said. But I can’t help but think your X thinks this is some kind of slot machine situation. He puts ‘coins’ (therapy sessions, seeing the kids, etc) one at a time into the slot machine of your estimation. He pulls the handle to see what he gets in return. Damn lemon keeps coming up every time. More ‘coins’ needed. He points out all these ‘coins’ to you constantly and makes sure you know what they’re costing him in terms of time, effort, and monetary value. See all these coins? Are you keeping track? Has he put in enough? Has he got three oranges yet? Or at least cherries? Because look how much he’s investing, and hey, he’s not doing this for his own amusement and entertainment, he wants payout. The big jackpot. Enough to cover his past and current losses and then some.

    He will not understand this one iota, but this is nothing to do with what he deserves or what he has earned. It’s about YOU. What you deserve. What you’ve earned.

  • This hits a nerve with me because I realize I spend a lot of time thinking about what others say about their feeling and never focus on my own. It feels good to say to my son “I love you” for example. Most of the time he responds “I know”. I’m glad he knows. But I also need to hear him say it back somwtimes. He does. And sometimes he tells me ump romped by me. That is golden. Plus he is a child. I’d never accept that from a grown ass man. Nope. That is something g I do absolutely need.

    • Thank you for your comment. A side post, but have you ever read the book “5 love languages”? There are several in the series, but there is one that applies toward children. I have a teenage boy that I found had difficulty with the words, but the book was really eye opening for me to see how he chooses to express his love in other ways. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it for everyone!

  • Probably already said but my lunch hour is short…..

    “He video chats with the children every night for hours helping with homework and travels 5 hours each way to see them every weekend.” – Good, at least he is attempting to parent. Let’s see if he still is 18 months from now.

    “He has sent me login information for all his financial, email and phone accounts.” – That you know of. It’s a nice overture but seriously he is a lying liar who lies. You do not know if these are his only accounts. Free email under an assumed name is easy.

    “He has also been extremely forthcoming whenever the OW tries to contact him.” – So he is bragging that he is just so desirable that she won’t leave him alone. Um, that is not considerate of your feelings!!!!!

    “He continues to ask for a second chance and has offered couples counseling in addition to his IC.” – So he confirms that you are Plan B, not good enough to respect and deal with in an honest way, but good enough to want back after Plan A doesn’t work out.

    “He has also offered to give me any legal paperwork I would like including a co-habitation agreement.” – Oh hell no! Go No Contact for 6 months to a year. Explain to him that this is something you need to do to know if this is real. No talking, No long conversations about him and his issues, no chats about the OW, just email about the kids containing basic facts. If you are still thinking you have a unicorn let me know.

    PS: Single parenting is hard!!!!! I get that, but not worth putting yourself or your kids in danger over.

  • Comments on both sides hinge on whether or not CB can consider her X’s steps true remorse and contrition.

    What does research say about this? I found Lundy Bancroft’s work, distilled in his book “why does he do that?” most helpful when it comes to unicorns. Bancroft has been working in abuse recovery programs with controlling an abusive men for decades, and he is doing so less to try and ‘save’ these men, and more to get insights into their functioning so he can help their victims best deal with the disordered.

    I am not going to lie, Bancroft’s book is tough to read for self-sacrificing chumps, which I believe you definitely are CB.

    Why did you move your family pre-divorce? Was it for your X’s job, your job, or to be closer to family?
    Why did you move after you divorce? What was the impact on your kids of your move?
    Before his relationship with his AP ended, did you X put his kids first or did he skip his visitation, child support when these were no longer key to his image management?

    Bancroft’s chapter on real change in cluster Bs is better, but I hope these two blog posts on people who are serious about changing will help you CB, other chumps and any unicorn chasers:

    Part 1 –
    Part 2 –

    CB – It seems that your XH has been able to go up a few steps (the easiest ones I might add), but can he go all the way? Knowledge is power, I hope you will learn as much as possible about true contrition and restitution.

    And for the record, I lean towards GTFO, because as Kat brilliantly put it in a previous comment “What do a narcissist and a sperm have in common? They both have about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being.”


    • I think there is only one real way to tell if a person has changed. The test of time. Cheaters can reform, sometimes. If they don’t cheat again in a few decades they probably won’t. But who has time for that ??

      • I agree Anita, only time can truly tell.

        In my case, the moment I discovered his affair, I knew I could never trust or respect my X again, so why lose more time listening to his trickle-truth? I was moved out and started our divorce proceedings within 3 weeks of DDay #1. I am proud every day that I didn’t dance for this turd.

  • Dear ChumpBadge, I’m really a Chump. When I read your story, I actually hope for you that you could have your family back together again…I want to believe in unicorns. My own father cheated on my mother when he was in the army and she was home with a baby (me). They are still together 60+ years later. He told her it was his biggest regret he had in life. He is taking care of her as she is now frail. I truly don’t know what she would do without him. However, most of my childhood was permeated with my mother’s distrust of men. It didn’t help that her own father abandoned her family when she was born. She passed this distrust of men onto me.

    My own husband broke off our wedding when we were young, then asked me to take him back. He never really explained what happened, but said he had cold feet and thought he “saw someone he liked better.” Boy, did I want to believe him. I loved him! He begged me to take him back so I did, but I never really trusted him again. The trust was gone and it never came back. I was angry about the embarrassment of calling off the wedding, I didn’t see him in the same light. Through the years I worried about his “too close” relationships with female coworkers. Then, after 30 years he announced he was leaving and it was all my fault. Eventually I discovered my suspicions about his affair with a married coworker were true. It felt like the thing I’d feared all my life had come to pass, like the other shoe had finally dropped. Guess what he told me in our last conversation over the phone? “I just saw something I liked better.” Yeah, deja vu. It was eerie!

    What I’m trying to say is the trust is gone. It will never be the same. The person who put you through hell? That’s who he really is. That’s what he’s capable of.

  • CB, I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments here but I will say this, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” may be too pat, but I think once they cheat, there’s a 99% chance they will do it again. They’ve already broken that trust. Once a cheater, forever the potential to do it again. Personally, I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone who’s already done it to me once. I don’t have time to look over my shoulder all the time.

    Look . . . this douche-bag left you and the kids. The divorce is final. He spent an entire YEAR living with OW, and boo hoo it didn’t work out so now you’re the boobie prize. Fuck that. Why on earth are you willing to let this guy rip you apart again?

    So yes HoustonDad, everybody makes mistakes. But cheating isn’t just a mistake. And frankly, I’m always irritated with people like you who insist our reaction to getting fucked over is worse than what actually happened to us. Please, take that shit to your “wayward board.” Nobody does that here.

    • RK, I never really thought about the chance of him cheating again. I think that’s beside the point. For me, it was the fact that I could never love him again after he showed me who he really was. I could never respect him again as a man because he behaved like a petulant teenager. It disgusted me that he had so little regard for his innocent child and was capable of knowingly blowing that boy’s world.

  • I think it bears worth stating separately that it does NOT “all hinge on whether the cheater is showing true remorse.” That’s because EVEN IF a cheater shows true remorse it is okay to walk away and never look back. The chump doesn’t “owe” the cheater reconciliation. Ever. No. Matter. What. It ALWAYS remains the chump’s prerogative, whether the chump can accept the pain/work/uncertainty of trying to patch the family back together, for themselves or for their kids.

    I decided I couldn’t live with knowledge that my cheating ex was amply capable of betraying me and my kids without losing a wink of sleep. Two things confirm that this was the right choice for me: 1) the fact that my life since divorce is a million times more joyful, secure, and satisfying than was life with my cheater; and 2) the horror stories told by those in prolonged “successful” (for the moment, as far as we know) reconciliations.

    Take a cheater back if you choose. I can’t say it’s impossible you’ll find a happy, healthy marriage. But IMO your odds of crossing the Pacific Ocean in a row boat are significantly better.

    • Here Here! Had to write this one down as it was so fabulous nomar! Such wisdom and I do think the odds of crossing the Pacific Ocean in a row boat are better! Ha ha!

  • Probably echoing a lot of what has been said already, but as an exercise, I imagined what would happen if Mr Fab suddenly came over all contrite, saying he had done the therpay work necessary, realizes the other woman is a ho, yadayaddayadda. My answer would be: HELL to the NO!

    Take a plate.
    Smash it on the ground.
    Now tell it you are sorry.

    Is it the same plate? NO.

    The 2×4 here is, you have wasted enough time on this entitled fuckwad…..and FYI, one if the ‘reasons’ Mr Fab gave me as a catylst for his cheating:” Well your Dad was dying of cancer and my feelings were such that I couldn’t discuss them with you.” Oh, so that makes cheating on me and our kid while my father her grandfather a perfectly okay thing to do……your ex going to therapy, etc MIGHT benefit your kids, but, given what you have already experienced, I do not like those odds……

    This is a play for cake, hon. Shut the door, get in your car, and step on the gas and wipe that tear away.
    and google “hoovering” on the narcissistic abuse recovery sites-it will make you sick, but you need to know your ex is pulling a move right out of the entitled jerkwad playbook….

    wish it was different……we all do, but wishing and living are two different things.


  • He’s saying and doing ‘the right things’ (I use that term loosely – I think hes just out for kibbles to be frank) now. What about in 5 years time? I can guarantee that if he realised it’d take that long, and then at the end theres no guarantee you’ll take him back, he’d probably bail. CB – it boils down to that, pretty much.

  • His downward spiral happened after his father dies, maybe when his father died, his conscience died too. The one person that was “keeping him in line” dies and now he is free to be who he really is. Was there a 3 year lead up to this, could his father have been in his decline at this time?
    x sang like a canary after final d-day. Talked to me and at me like he should have all the 22 years that we were married. If he had, at least I would have a chance to make a decision on what I wanted to do with my life, not my married life, but MY life, the one that my x had no care for.
    x called me about 6 months after d-day, when he left our home, his schmoopie had gone back to her husband. “you were right” he tells me, that apparently was his form of apologizing, and at the end of a completely me, me, me message he is frustrated and ends it with “but you don’t care”. Not once in that whole message was there any remorse about what he had done to me, in fact beyond the “you were right” he doesn’t mention me at all until the “you” don’t care line. This is how these f*cks think. You are the “wife appliance”, interchangeable with the “schmoopie appliance” and the better than “schmoopie appliance” that they found after the “first” one. There is always “another” one that he has cultivated, waiting in line.

  • I have one question. WHY has the asshole suddenly suddenly come to Jesus? What woke the mother fucker up from his ‘FOG”?

      • Calamity, it could be that we are all asking questions about this because we are just “big ole meanies”. Having the sadz, after ap leaves , is perfectly understandable and “forgiveable???????” without being bitter bunnies, that is.

  • CL, there is a particular sentence here that hit home this evening – so glad it was written: “New beginnings are hard won, but the self-respect is worth it.”

    It sucks being stranded for 16 hours and trying to dig your doors out of 3′ of snow. It sucks trying to make ends meet every month, knowing that you’ll have to sell your home within 2 years when the alimony runs out, you can barely scrape savings together, and you’re too old for a gainful career. It sucks worrying about what will happen if you can’t work (autoimmune) and you HAVE no other family to rely on (and SSDI won’t help because you spent most of your adult life being a SAHM). But somehow, tomorrow there’s a new day; God provides – and has so far. I still would not trade this for a life with someone like my ex.

    My ex is supposed to be no contact with our teen. But every month or so, he sends some kind of note – “nice”, sarcastic, scolding – one even a veiled threat. He feigns interest in our child; however, if in fact he really was interested, he would have attempted contact when it counted => to see if our kid was ok during the blizzard. Nothing. … (Which is fine with us, btw).

    • Uh-oh
      You know as I read this it reminds of the story when my xH had an affair when my kids were 14 and 8 years old. He was so enraged with me and unreasonable I finally had to put him in a nearby apartment and offered to separate. Once we visited the lawyers a couple of times he put on puppy dog eyes and persistently tried to hoover back into my life. At first I didn’t take the bait, but eventually over a period of 8 months he wore down my resistance and I relented.

      Fast forward and my youngest goes off to college and BAM. H was out of there. I find out he has been chasing everything he can find in a skirt the whole time after I had given him a second chance. Huge mistake I made. It would have been much easier on my youngest at that age, I actually now believe it is much harder to have your family dissolve when you are 18 than when you are 8. It distorts your whole sense of reality, and since the cheater tries to rewrite history they often manage to somehow concoct a story to turn you into the bad guy with your own kids.

  • ChumpBadge, I was in your shoes twice. I took him back twice, and while he was “good” for a number of years, he could not sustain it. Looking back, I wish I went completely no contact because I sincerely believe I would have made different decisions.

    While enmeshed in the drama, you cannot, cannot see clearly. You don’t even know what you want because there’s never a gap in your thinking other than “I want to keep the family together at all costs” even though it may not be as obvious as that. In other words, you are not emotionally clear-headed. How can you be when you are not giving yourself the chance? It’s all about his cheating. It’s all about what he wants. What about you? What do you want for yourself? He is still calling the shots.

    Why not go completely no contact, allow yourself to heal and then assess what you want for yourself? Screw what he wants. He lost that right when he cheated. I have a feeling what you want after going no contact will be quite different from what you want today.

  • I swear, CL, I would love for the cheater to send chump nation a letter so WE could grill the mother fucker before ChumpBadge let him back into her life.

    At least she would be fully aware of who he is when we were through.

    That’s what I would do. I would have the cheater go through UBT all on his or her own.

    Hear that cheater! Are you REALLY sorry? Send us your story.

  • CB,

    I’m not going to tell you what to do. I am just writing to express my condolences. Like you, I (and probably many other people) consider my divorce a nightmare (having gone to court almost monthly for 1.5 years–and still going!), and find life as a single parent MUCH harder than I had previously imagined (and my vision of single parenthood has never been a rosy one). My STBX also offered me a cohabitation agreement, which he wanted me to sign, no questions asked. As he wouldn’t even discuss the terms of the agreement, we (fortunately) never reconciled/lived together again. I realize that sometimes my STBX and I wish that we weren’t getting divorced–solely because raising kids as a single parent or not seeing one’s kids for long periods of time is quite chronically challenging. If I reconciled with my STBX solely because being a single parent is hard, I would just live through divorce/break-up/abuse from my STBX again. I cannot say that your case is the same. I hope that, for your sake and your kids’ sakes, you don’t rush back in to anything other than a business-like co-parenting arrangement with your ex. Good luck!

  • Dearest CB,
    THIS is what you are missing…


    Time away from HIS proposed agenda…”cohabitating agreement” should be trashed.
    Time away from listening to HIS “story” line.
    Time away for YOUR healing.
    Time to reflect about how your life could be w/o him 5 years from now.
    Time to discover who YOU are apart from him.

    Moving to a neighboring State is not the same thing as TIME…it is simply geographical distance. This does nothing except make it easier for him to play both sides of the coin.

    What HE needs also is TIME.

    Time for him to consider how this has impacted YOU.
    Time for him to get well acquainted with YOUR story line.
    Time for him to dig deeper about the TRUTH about WHY he could do this to his family after 20yrs together.
    Time for him to reflect about what his life could be like 5 years from now w/o you.
    Time for him to discover who HE really is apart from you…will he use this time to hunt down more whores as punishment for you needing more time?

    Tell him that you BOTH could use about 5 years apart to discover what was real about the relationship vs what was just an act.
    If he cannot/will not give that time to you, then you know that he is simply using YOU as a rebound.

    If he is maturing, only time will tell. He should be doing everything possible to make sure that you are financially secure w/o a Court Order to enforce this…regardless of being divorced. He should be keeping his fathering interest intact. He should NOT be trying to include you in couples therapy…you are NO LONGER a couple. He should be focused on YOUR pain rather than his own excuses for his. He should be encouraging YOU to explore life on YOUR terms w/o his trying to control how you do this. He should be like a friend…with no demands, agenda, or focus on his own desires.

    Are you afraid that he cannot do this? Then you have your answer about what is missing. It is called Love.

  • Chump Lady is absolutely spot on here. The most important thing to observe that it is all about HIM. What is so devastating about infidelity? Not the affair itself, not the OW (who is being lied to just as you are) – but that is completely destroys all your beliefs about your adult life. That is what is so traumatic. From thinking you were loved, cared about, someone had your back, you were in a team – you now have NOTHING.

    Repentant cheaters can talk about the damage they did and their regret until the cows come home. But until they articulate clearly what they destroyed – YOU – don’t buy any of it. It needs to be about YOU. Seeing YOU. Getting YOU. Otherwise it is just more shit.

    • The problem is, that even if they say the right things and do the right things.. you wonder if they just read it on the Internet and are going through the motions because it’s what you want to hear, and what they need to do to rebuild their image that got destroyed when they got caught cheating. It doesn’t really change the core values or beliefs, it just gives them something else to work with to keep you on the hook and continue to manipulate you. These are things you’ll wonder about as your cheater is telling you how bad they hurt you and how sorry they are. They are saying sorry, but probably feeling great that they are so special they could destroy you… You can’t believe or trust them, so words become worthless.. even actions can be faked.

      • Both your comments are so true, Raging. I took mine back too, for a while. I can’t really regret it, though, because that extra time I spent with him allowed me to see him for what he REALLY is, get over him, and “fall out of love.” I don’t think you can ever really love a cheater again, anyway. It’s some screwed up emotion you feel, but it’s not real love.

  • You’ll never be able to trust him.. it’ll always be in the back of your head that you’re the consolation prize, you’ll compare yourself to her.. picture them together, get angry about all the things he did and could do behind your back. Then some day he’ll slip and instead of saying the right thing, he’ll say one of the ‘stupid shit cheaters say’, and you’ll wonder why you fell for his bullcrap a second time… Don’t do it. I’m 2+ years with a unicorn that’s trying super hard to keep that horn on her head, but every once in awhile she’ll say something that’s revealing about her true character. Mine told me the other day about how it was a ‘difficult time in her life’ or something like that.. one of the built in excuses cheaters use. (aka, it’s not a character issue or my choices, it’s just how life is.. tough times make people lie and act like whores) Any adversity is a license to boink your co-workers.. and if you don’t have much to complain about, make some stuff up. Her bad time in her life, she was going to the gym, buying new clothes, dolling herself up to go out to dinner on weekends with her boyfriend.. taking days off together. I know if I stay with her it’s just a matter of time before she comes up with new reasons to f around.. ‘he never forgave me for my affair…’ Many of us that get stuck with unicorns wish we had cut out sooner, and now are planning our escape. Don’t get sucked back in now that you’re free… stay true to yourself and find someone that treats you the way you deserve to be treated, and doesn’t just use you while they flirt around for other prospects.

    First year, you’ll want him back.. but eventually your love of him will fade, even if you’re with him. It’ll be your minds way of protecting you from him, because you’ll know deep down that he can’t be trusted and that he’s a phoney. His words won’t mean much.. You’ll start to dissect the words like the UBT.. analyze every word and action. Then you’ll kick yourself for not staying divorced… You’ll question why you compromised your values and allowed someone that’s capable of such abuse back into your life. That’s why you’re here. you know bullcrap when you see it. You know deep down that if an opportunity comes up again, he’ll probably make up some reasons why it’s okay.. and will figure you’ll always be there waiting, he just has to cry and get therapy and you’ll take him back. I wish I never let my cheater wife back, and just kept her gone.. taking her back made things easier for the kids, the dog, her… not so much for me. Stay strong.

  • This whole thing about ‘making a mistake’ — it needs to be banned. It needs to be put into a burlap bag with three bricks, tied off at the top, and dropped off a high bridge into a deep river.

    Reason: It’s a softening term that minimises the damage inflicted, sounds like an admission of something other than guilt, and opens the door to the possibility of reversal of victim and offender.

    The word ‘mistake’ doesn’t point clearly and directly enough to admission of WRONGDOING and FAULT. The word ‘mistake’ is used by children, and childish adults, to suggest that they didn’t understand something, or that a problem wasn’t explained clearly enough to them, or they got things accidentally muddled because someone said something and then said something else was said that was different, and it all became so very complicated and confusing. They were simply misinformed. See how making mistakes can be such an innocent accident by someone who only ever wanted to do what was right? Please, sir. I only made a mistake. I’m meek and mild and you’re just being mean to me now. I said I made a mistake.

    The word ‘mistake’ doesn’t point clearly and directly enough to PERVASIVE BAD CHARACTER. The word ‘mistake’ is used by cheaters retroactively only after they’ve been caught and are facing the consequences of their actions. Successful bank heists are profitable — they’re not ‘mistakes’. Unsuccessful bank heists are when ‘mistakes are made’ that result in 27 years in prison. Until the moment of being caught, the cheater is successful and happy and without any ‘mistakes’ whatsoever in doing what they want to do. See how certain words can be said in the right order by the abuser to try to appeal to the victim — who suddenly finds him/herself in possession of the power to decide what becomes of the cheater? Please ma’am. I only made a mistake. There I said it. That word. That ‘mistake’ word. How do I sound?

    Replace the concept of ‘mistake’ with the concept of ’embarrassment’. That’s much closer to what is meant — because it’s a weak, self-serving attempt at describing how they’re ‘suffering too’. Getting caught is embarrassing to me. I’m now embarrassed to be known to have shagged that scabby bar girl in the parking lot. I’m embarrassed that my colleagues all know I gave the new guy from Finance a bj in the bathroom. Your dumping me is a huge embarrassment to me. How can I recover from all these embarrassments, it’s not fair how embarrassed I am and all you can do is make it worse by staying angry.

    And last but not least. Mistakes beg to be passed off as learning moments. ‘Mistakes were made, lessons were learned’ is one of the most infuriating 21st Century pat phrases regurgitated by professional liars in positions of authority who were caught fucking over victims of every description from customers to employees to constituents, to the general public, and just want everyone to shut up about it already and move on.

  • ChumpBadge, it sounds like he’s trying. But the thing I had to come to terms with is that trying does not equal change. My ex tried: we went to couples counseling, he went to individual counseling, he fully committed (or so I thought) when we got engaged and married, he was reliable about seeing our son, he cried and told me how horribly he had fucked up. But none of that meant that the internal core of his being had shifted. It didn’t, because he cheated again and left me in a terrible position as a homeless, unemployed single mom. (I recovered from that and now have my dream job.)

    I know my ex wants to be a better man, but he lacks coping skills, empathy, and forethought. He never stopped putting himself first, and I think CL’s point is valid that your ex is making it about his growth and recovery and not yours. I know some honest-to-goodness unicorns, and frankly they are the ones who had the ability to point out the holes like CL is doing for you.

    I won’t advise you to run. But I will advise you to wait it out, throw up some hurdles, and see how he responds. The proof is in the pudding, not the menu.

  • I’m sad to say that taking him back is a terrible idea. He abandoned his family for a long period of time for a shameful reason. He didn’t go off to war! Irreparable damage. I’m glad he’s remorseful. Maybe it’ll make it easier to co-parent with him. But he will never again be a safe and stable person to be with, for you and your kids. They need at least one safe and stable parent, please give them that. You let him back into your intimate orbit and he compromises your ability to be safe and stable for your kids. There is no other answer here, but I understand why you’re looking for one. Best of luck

  • To illustrate, because I do believe cheating happens in degrees of severity, on a cheating scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is flirting too much with a coworker at the company party one time and 10 is setting up family franchises while screwing underage hookers and beating your wife and children, your ex is closer to 10 than 1.

  • Sex just became mundane. He is not sneaking around anymore. He isn’t secretly texting and sending emails and dirty pictures. Now he is living a normal run-of-the-mill life. He said to himself if he was going to have mundane sex he might as will go on back home where his children live and then he won’t have to pay child support.

  • Although my husband’s affair was emotional (I think, of course we never know for sure as they are liars) it went on for 2 years, involved sending her money and talking bad about me constantly (none of which was even true) while building her up, and even talking to her about our lovemaking, saying he wished it was her. These are only a few of the thousands of reasons I could probably come up with as to why I consider it an affair, and probably even harder for me to get over than if he screwed someone else one time or something. We’ve been separated for only 3 months- and I only found out about the affair 4 months ago… Have had several attempts at reconciliation, but I kept “digging” as he put it, found more things on him involving his affair and finally said I’d had enough and didn’t wish to reconcile any longer. Now he’s also “come to his senses” and is pleading with me to hold off on filing for divorce because he is “working on himself” in counseling and dealing with some medical issues that caused sexual issues in our marriage that I had always asked him to take care of… He is constantly telling me how sorry he is for what he did to me and our daughter, how he wants to be a better man and how he can’t believe he did that to me, etc. He was also very verbally and emotionally abusive to me during his affair. I was always fighting for the marriage, while he was off behind my back giving his attention and fulfilling each other’s emotional needs while completely disregarding mine.

    Anyhow, I am also having a very tough time believing him when he tells me what he’s “working on.” I love this response from CL. I want to read it over and over! And I will. I keep thinking, only time can tell what he’s really done to work on himself and whether or not this is true remorse, or whether he just misses home and his comfortable life and wants to jump back into routine. A routine that I no longer want. I want a new life! Whether that ends up being with him or someone else, his being selfish and only worrying about what he wants has made me realize how much I was settling for a life that was less than what I want and feel that I deserve.

    But I still feel so wishy washy. One day I will feel like “I’ve got this” and am determined to be an independent woman, free from the doubt and insecurity, free from him. The next I am wishing he was there to hold me, thinking maybe he really means what he says, maybe these steps he’s taking really can help him change. I don’t think it helps when you have to see them all the time because you have children. I wish I could just go no contact for awhile but our daughter is only 4 and my family and friends hate him so I’d have no one to facilitate that for me.

    Anyways, this is just my long winded way of saying thank you! Both to Chump Badge for asking this question and sharing her story, and to Chump Lady for her honest and helpful response. At first I was on an infidelity website, also geared more towards reconciliation than being selfish, as the cheaters are, and working on YOURSELF before worrying about what they want. I have found this site much more helpful and empowering. Thank you!

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