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Dear Chump Lady, Is the cheating my fault?

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trust_issuesDear Chump Lady,

To this day, I have no proof that my soon-to-be-ex cheated on me physically. I do know for sure that’s he’s had many emotional affairs since before we got married. (I was so stupid at the time and pursued him during one of a few “devaluing” stages.) I think my husband is a narcissist as our relationship has followed the pattern of love bombing, devaluing and discarding. We’ve gone through that pattern at least three times in the last 20+ years, but I was never love bombed after the first time. I was always hoping we’d get back to that first stage when he adored me. To this day, I have no clue what I did wrong to be devalued. And of course I fell into the pattern of working harder on our relationship and myself in order to get back to that stage, but it never did.

I caught my husband out for a drinks date with a former co-worker who just got divorced. His reason for meeting her was he wanted to be a good friend. He told me many lies in order to go on this date until almost 1:30 in the morning. I saw his flirtatious emails to her and then I found out he was seeing her for coffee before work for the previous nine years. (They haven’t worked together for over nine years.)

We immediately went into counseling with our pastor and we were supposed to be working on our marriage. I just felt him pulling farther away from me. However, he put up a great act for a few months. Then one day in the morning, he grabbed me, kissed me passionately and told me he loved me. Seven hours later he called me at work and said he’d meet me at home because he needed to tell me something. At home he got out this long Divorce Letter that started out by saying, “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100 percent…….you’ll never be able to give me what I want……100 percent trust…”

He told me that I was the one who “made him push away from me” due to my “trust issues.” This coming from a man who needs constant female adoration, I like to call his women friends his harem. When I was pregnant with our second child he devalued me again. He was so jealous of our firstborn and then after I got pregnant again (maybe before but I didn’t see it coming?) he turned mean and cold towards me. He started going out with his co-workers for drinks, joined a bowling league with work, and started smoking (he hid this from me, but I found out.) At one point he casually said to me, “You and the kids will be fine financially without me.” I was devastated and cried every day throughout that entire pregnancy. I once again didn’t know what I did to have him treat me like that. I found out years later during his so-called “lost” time, he was going to strip clubs in Canada (at least ten times all by himself) and getting lap dances because of “peer pressure.” He went there all by himself! How can total stranger pervs give you peer pressure?!

There’s more to the story, but my questions are these: Am I the problem? Did I cause him to move away because I didn’t like him seeing his so-called “healthy female friends” behind my back? I thought when you get married you gave up seeing the opposite sex one-on-one. And I’m not talking business lunches, but getting close to the opposite sex. I honestly never said anything to him about his opposite sex relationships (he had me convinced it was normal) until after my 40th birthday. The birthday I thought maybe he’d buy me a cake for once or get me some flowers or a present (flowers twice in 20+ years!), but he didn’t.

And then Mother’s Day came and when I asked him, “Aren’t you going to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day?” and he replied back, “You are not my mother.” After that I started to wonder about his girlfriends. And I started to speak up about it maybe once a year when I’d find something damning out. The last few years it started to bug me more, because I’d walk into the room and he’d sometimes close his laptop down or turn his phone over. He said he did that to give me his “undivided attention.” There’s so much more. I felt crazy at times.

I moved out eight months ago (divorce not final yet) and I’m not getting better at all. I still have a lot of anger and I haven’t handled my anger appropriately at times (nasty emails to him and physical a few times, even though I’ve never been physical with anyone my entire life!) My life was him, our children and my part-time job. I don’t know how to move on and I feel lost.

Martha

Dear Martha,

Well of course you’re angry. You’re being gaslighted. When people fuck with your reality, you go bonkers. That’s totally natural. (Don’t hit him though. The last thing you need is an assault charge. Just stay the hell away.)

He’s gaslighting you with all the plays from the cheater handbook — he’s not a cheater, it’s your “trust issues.” He’s not checked out, you expect too much. He’s not being inappropriate, you just don’t understand “friendship.”

Oh, and this old chestnut — he’s not having sex, it’s just an “emotional” affair.

As I’ve said here before, if it walks like a fuck, and quacks like a fuck, it’s a fuck.

He got lost in Canada and wound up in a strip club? Too bad he didn’t fall into an ice-fishing hole instead of a hooker’s lap. Yeah, guys who disappear to Canada, or come home after work at 1:30 a.m. are having chaste conversations. And that nine-year thing with a former co-worker was just a coffee klatch. I’m sure they just sit around and talk about their knitting.

Martha, sweetheart, you’re being gaslighted. You want to move on? Please recognize that this is NOT about you. You didn’t cause him to cheat (or have inappropriate “friendships” or whatever). This is not about your inadequacies real or imagined — it’s about his entitlement.

What IS about you is how you’ve put up with being devalued for 20+ years. Why you accepted so little and did not enforce your boundaries of basic respect. I’m not blaming you here — I’m saying YOU MATTER. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with voicing your needs in a relationship. Like, “I need you to not spend 9 years having coffee with another woman” or “I need you to not go on dates while we’re married.” I’m sure he mindfucked you when you expressed those needs with some version of “It’s all your fault.” But the fact is, then and NOW, you have to pay attention to reality. His actions gave you the answer to the “don’t I matter here?” question. He demonstrated he didn’t give a shit.

You failed to pay attention, because it was painful to do so. Because of the intermittent rewards of his attention and “good” behavior. Because you were economically vulnerable to him. Because of your values of loyalty and family. And probably because of your own issues (check that out with a therapist, read up on codependency). It’s okay, we’re all recovering chumps here. We get it.

So how do you move forward? You deprogram yourself. Start calling bullshit on bullshit.

“I want to be with someone who trusts me 100 percent…….you’ll never be able to give me what I want……100 percent trust…”

Yeah, well, sane people don’t trust liars. You’ll never be able to give me what I want, Mr. Cheaterpants — a faithful husband. So fuck off.

What he’s saying there, Martha, is that he needs a new chump. You know too much. You’re voicing the occasional need. Getting uppity, and it’s time for greener chump pastures. Someone who doesn’t know him, someone who will blindly trust him the way you once did, someone he can sparkle for again and extract value from in return. And someone (because these freaks never change the cycle) whom he can devalue and discard.

How do you move on?

You get a pit bull lawyer. You fight hard. You make that part-time job a full-time job. You stop looking to him for answers. You build a new life. You get independent. And you trust that he sucks.

Because he does suck, epically. Hug yourself — you’re free of Suck. Suck has left the building.

Now, shut the door.

 

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Martha, I could have written your letter. We were married to the same idiot. You will get better but you need to go No Contact with that fool. You’ll never get the truth from him about anything, he’s perfect, his ego is too big and there is no room for truth or caring for you. It’s a slow, hard process but you will make it!!! We are here for you.

    • Martha, I understand completely and I bet every chump here in CN could replicate your story, in one form or another, due to the broader more constant themes that CL pointed out: blaming (gas lighting), making you feel crazy, lying, creating the “pick me” behaviors, justifying, taking offense when your basic natural needs are expressed, and then the nerve to demand trust from you. Really? It’s hard to see all this when you are discarded, but devaluing and discarding are typical narcissist behaviors. My ex shed tears about my request that he not spend time doing athletic activities with AP. He literally said he was just a kid who wanted to have fun, to ride his bike and to climb, that he deserved it because he worked so hard and that I was a meany for not supporting that. It’s the same old story, but so relevant and impactful when you are going through it. Let your self move further from him, keeping reading the posts here, and you will see the truth of his actions that are truly and diagnostically narcissist.

        • Martha I just want to confirm that your husband has been unfaithful, you said you never got proof but I m from Canada and stripclubs here are basically brothels. He was clearly interested in the lax stripclub lapdances where you can touch everything for 20$ a dance, and for more money bjs or the whole enchilada. This indeed would be enticing for the type of dirtbag he is. You feel lost because you lost yourself in him. You can get back to being you by ridding yourself of such a toxic presence who takes you for granted. Find happiness within your family and yourself. All the best!

          • Wow! Seriously? I always wondered what the strip clubs were like. He said there was “no touching allowed.” He’s a constant liar, so I’m sure he lied about that too. Thanks for the information.

    • Martha,

      I too could have written your letter. So many similarities. especially the beginning:

      “but I was never love bombed after the first time. I was always hoping we’d get back to that first stage when he adored me. To this day, I have no clue what I did wrong to be devalued. ”

      That set so much of the stage for the rest of our marriage where I put in 110% effort to our marriage and she put in 0% and yet I somehow always felt I was doing something wrong which led to the sexless marriage.

      “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100 percent…….you’ll never be able to give me what I want……100 percent trust…”

      In addition to being a out and out mindfuck, I think this also means “I’m entitled to search for Truwuv and TruFucking, without feeling judged by you. If you somehow think these quests are wrong, then you are insecure, and have an edgy, sharp personality and are judgemental. You don’t understand TwuWuv and TwuFucking like I do. I am entitle to all this without your negative energy” (i.e. “I am a narc”)

      • Yeah, he actually said in the Divorce Letter that I was judgmental and controlling, because I was judging his actions and I was controlling because I didn’t think he should have “friends.”

        • LOL the judgmental controlling line, my EW doesn’t say that now that I divorced her ass. Her latest is so are you happy with the outcome? hmmm, yes.

        • My ex said in front of the therapist “Why shouldn’t I get to be friends with my her (the mistress). I don’t tell you who you can be friends with.” To which I replied “I don’t have sex with my friends.” All he could say to that is “Touche”

          • Oh, mine said that too! “I don’t understand why I can’t be friends with her. We’re just friends now.” Further proof that he just didn’t get it. Or more likely, didn’t want to get it because then he’d have to cut off one source of cake supply.

        • One of CL’s principle arguments is that infidelity is a form of power, a form of control over one’s spouse, and these type of statements from cheaters confirm that point.

          Then to use one’s power, power backed by deceit and lies, for selfish reasons at another’s expense is abuse.

          These truths, these facts are ignored by the RIC, by the Perels by the Strayeds, by the Gilberts etc, because entitled, semi-evil narcs are afraid to admit their evilness.

          As a side note, it also turns my stomach how cheaters will admit to their “dark side” and get in touch with their “dark side” and then purport to be more authentic, more evolved than the chump. Romanticizing this dark side is disgusting. (But I I guess I have trust issues and am just a provincial chump who believes in treating one’s spouse with love, honor and respect 🙂

    • Big hugs to you Martha. I too could have written the exact same letter. I had 20 plus years of “friends” who he though were appropriate to go out with, see, go to the football, drink with, even stay at their place because he was too drunk to come home. Came home with bites on his neck and back but I had to just get over it because they were just “having fun”. Found text messages on his phone. Saw emails. I got all sorts of reasons why I was never invited, why we didn’t have a “relationship” like everyone else. Why it was sooo important for him to have these female friends.That it is my trust issues. I gradually felt him drifting away, all the while blaming me I started standing up saying this is not right. He got more abusive and angry and I just went into my little shell, worked harder, looked after my kids, loved more. He eventually left for the final “friend”. Packed up while I was at work one day. Found him at her place a week later. I was beyond devastated. I am nearly 5 years out now and my life could not be better. I am happy, content. Looking back at the whole gaslighting, manipulation, abuse that I endured for 20 years and I just shake my head. I deserved so much better and are worth so much more than that and so are you. <3 Your fuckhead cheater does not give one moment of thought about you. He does not care. In all honesty he is not worth any part of you. This is not your trust issues. This is all on him… every single part of it!!! He is an entitled ass and will never every change. Sending you hugs and strength to leave. Get a lawyer, be strong, you can do this!! xx

      • I can relate to this strongly, although I kicked him out (DDay2) when I finally backed him into a corner with evidence he couldn’t refute that his 4 year affair with his workplace ‘friend’ was ongoing (we’d separated over it 2 years prior, then we moved house and he moved jobs and told me it had been over for 2 years but it never was). I’m only 3.5 months past DD2 – have already sold the house and bought a new one which I move into by the end of this month. I’m in Australia so can’t file for divorce until 12 months separated. We did DIY settlement as he didn’t want lawyers involved and the copious evidence being exposed. Your answer resonates with my experiences.

    • How did you know he’s “perfect?” He actually said to me, no lie, “I think I have the PERFECT personality to be in a relationship with.” Yeah, a pathological liar sounds perfect to me. Not. His mommy has told him his entire life, “You are special and perfect.” Yeah, she said this said this to him at our last Thanksgivng together and he’s in his 40’s, but you wouldn’t know it the way his mom still babies him. Thanks for replying. 🙂

      • Martha, you will get through this it will take some perseverance on your part but you will find your strength slowly but surely.
        You just have to remember that he is the sparkliest, the best most perfect one and that you are going to be wrong and to be blamed at every turn. You will survive this and you will be so much happier for it. There will be days/weeks/months maybe that you will cry, but that’s just all the poison that you have lived with leaving your body, leaving your soul. And one day you will realize that you haven’t even thought about the stupid, imperfect f*ck all day and you will be good, not completely healed but good. Hugs

  • My X told me the same thing “you have to give me 100%, if you can’t, I don’t want you” this after 20 years of lies, affairs (some he claimed were just friends or emotional, but just more lies). I have been devalued, screamed at for just being me, abused and betrayed, so giving him 100% after I found out he went on a romantic cruise with an old GF, instead of taking me for our 20th anniversary, was just too much. You can’t give 100% to someone that is so selfish and uncaring about your needs. He is the problem, not you, love yourself enough to expect more. When you expect more, you get more, but you will never get what you need from him.

    • My x also couldn’t stand the lack of total and complete trust…which HE destroyed. Apparently it is so much worse and more soul-rending not to be trusted (for good reason) than to be betrayed. Betrayal (such a harsh word, isn’t that unfair -barf) is something a nice person would just shrug off. It’s OVER, after all. Except that of course it isn’t. X continued cheating almost non-stop through two major DDays. He didn’t get the chance after the third. At that point he switched to crazy desperation and was volunteering for insane levels of monitoring — paying for a PI to follow him, wearing a GPS device. You name it. If it was bonkers he wanted me to buy in. By then I knew it was either a scam (there are always ways around monitoring) or within a few weeks there would be rage or self-pity that this unnecessary expense and lack of trust was continuing. So I got out and am SO HAPPY I did.

      You did nothing wrong, Martha.

    • It is so amazing to me that cheaters have to keep pushing the boundaries. Just coffee, then just dinner, then just a hotel … all the way up to “a romantic cruise with an old GF.” What goes on in the brain there, why jump to those lengths? It’s so deranged.

      • What I have started to understand, is the level of detachment the cheater has. You are the *Spouse*, not a real person anymore. It’s amazing, they can look in our eyes, share a laugh with us, but inside, they are seething! You can’t tell me what to do! She/he is just a friend I go places with! They force us into the position of Jailor, a job we never asked for, or wanted. We wanted to be their equal- how dare we!! I am never going to settle on that- if a potential partner can’t see me as an equal, I’d rather go to the local shelter, and adopt a dog to spend my time on, and the doggy will deserve it!

        • lol when my cheating wife left I went to the local shelter and adopted a pure bred rescue Shih Tzu that came from a puppy mill. We are ALL much happier!

    • It’s just amazing to me how all our stories are so much alike! I’m sorry you went through the same things. It just sucks thinking about it.

    • Mine too said the same thing after I discovered the affair. You need to adore me. I have to be the most important thing to you. Nothing about the pain I was feeling. I seriously looked around to see if I was being punked.

  • The first and most valuable thing I learned on this website was that you cannot be held responsible for the actions of others. You are only accountable for your own. That’s helped me get away from trying to figure out what was wrong with me and made me see the situation for what it really was…..a horrible choice by my wife that I could not control (or understand, but that’s a different matter).

    I may be in limbo, and still trying to find the strength to leave her, but no matter how much she tries to casually blameshift her actions onto me, there’s a impenetrable truth that knocks that shit down in my mind every time — and that’s that I am in no way responsible for her actions. And I learned that here.

    • LOST2015, it’s great that you learned you don’t control what another person does on this website. I wish I’d have known it 20 years ago. Then I could have called BS on my ex’s “friendships” with women at his office.

      • Lost2015, here’s my hope that you end your time in limbo and go on to Gain2016 and a new life. You deserve to be happy. And safe.

    • Lost 2015. I’m in exactly the same position. I think chump lady’s point about loyalty and family values is what keeps me hooked; that and it’s just hard to give up on 9 years. But my head knows I should leave and it’s busy battering my heart into submission. Boy do I hope it wins and I can leave without bitterness and just with the knowledge that it was the right decision for me and my family’s future happiness. I wish you all the best and hope you find the strength as it’s so sad when something that felt right suddenly feels wasted for no good reason but surely there has to be better out there than someone who would so selfishly disregard our feelings. Good luck lost x

      • Omg leave leave leave!!!. Please don’t waste any more precious time like I did I stayed married for 34 years. He cheated 5 years ago and begged me to stay. Biggest mistake I ever made. The abuse after that was epic. Financial (half of our life savings), emotional, verbal. He moved in with his new supply within 3 weeks of our separation in October. He also wouldn’t work all last year so no spousal support for me. That is my reward for sticking it out. Love yourself enough to leave.

    • Yeah, I wish I had the guts to leave when he treated me like crap when I was pregnant with my second child. I just subjected myself to 15 more years of devaluing and being made feel less than. Once trust was broken, it was impossible to get it back to 100%.

      • I swear that was ALWAYS the worst part, feeling “less than”. X-holes actions always screamed “you don’t matter” and deep down I knew it.

        He saved my life by walking out and showing me who he really was, what he was truly capable of, I often doubt if I would have ever actually done it myself.

  • The more I read here, the more I realize that the hell I have gone through for years is not unique. It is a garden variety Suck suffered by many. I am not alone.

    • Unfortunately, these horrible stories are so common. Last Sunday, I met a thin fortysomething blonde, chatted with her a bit about various things, and we ended up realizing we had “so much in common”. Her husband of 20 years had “fallen in love” with a Russian prostitute, had become mean, and had denied all along, until she could not bear to do the pick-me-dance one more day of her life. They had a beautiful home in the ancient city of Carcassonne (Google it, no place is more gorgeous), two children, well paid and stable jobs. He destroyed all that for a cunt.

    • Sadly, u r not alone. When I walk, I look at all the homes I pass and realize things are not always as they seem. I think of what id brewing in those homes now or in a time to come. Shame chumps dont easily land together do that we nevet had to be s chump… and disordered keep with the disordered.

      In high school there should be a class on learning your personality type and how to understand other types..

  • Martha, Chump Lady is not understating things when she says you need to deprogram yourself. You will have to read this information many, many times, sometimes the same thing over and over again, before this new (to you) way of thinking sinks in and begins to drive your life’s decisions and choices. It’s not easy, you will doubt yourself and you will backslide. Some days you will feel like you’re seeing your first sunrise and some days you will think “why bother?” I assure you, you can trust Chump Lady – she’s got your back. Hang in there because it’s worth it and YOU are worth it.

    • Thank you, Cheryl. I know CL, you and everyone is right about the reprogramming. He’s is my mind and I need to get him out and shut the door!

  • I have to say I’m torn on this part: “I thought when you get married you gave up seeing the opposite sex one-on-one”. I’ve always had more male friends than female friends – and it seems like asking that I should stop being who I am for the sake of being in a relationship if I’m asked to sacrifice those friendships simply because I’m in a relationship.

    That said – you have to be considerate of the feelings of your partner. My husband has never had an issue with me meeting up with some mates on my own. There was however one friend who he asked I never see on my own again. I’ve respected that wish. My husband knows all of these friends and also knows exactly when I’m meeting any of them. Surely if you’re in a healthy (key word – healthy) relationship some trust is in order? And what if you’re bi sexual – does this mean you’re not allowed to have any one on one time with a friend – ever?

    • I have a very good male friend who I dated briefly about 5 years before I met my husband. He was and is in my circle of friends, and we remained good, platonic friends, sort of a Jerry and Elaine thing. My stbx is jealous of him and asked me not to see him, at least outside of a group setting. So guess what? I didn’t. Out of respect for my husband. Even though I knew there was nothing going on there, I put myself in his position and tried to imagine how I would feel if the situation were reversed. So I gave up a good friend out of respect for my husband and my marriage and all the while he was cheating on me with everything that moved. Including women in our circle of so called friends. Unbelievable.

      • Ugh, it happened to me, too. Most of my pals from college were guys-I had a fling with one of them looooong ago, but out of ‘respect’ (?!) for Mr Fab, I cut them all out. Didn’t stop hime from having ‘coffee with a friend’, or staying out fucking her until 1:30 am. The double standards are mind-blowing.

        Martha, it is entirely possible to survive this, but do as CL says, lawyer up and get this abusive shithead out of your life. The quicker the better. I went on the reconciliation merry go round for a year, and it cost me about ten grand, a job, 50lbs in weight, and a house. It also cost my daughter peace of mnd and about 2-300 self harm scars. He is kicking you when you are down, and it is deliberate. I am not saying tuis to scare you, none of us are. Knowledge is power, so take that power back.

        Hugs,
        x-Meh

        • Yeah, I hear you about friends of the opposite sex. When we got married he had one close female friend from college and I honestly was fine with her and I knew they went out each year for lunch for their bdays. She didn’t start bugging me until it started to get to me that he went out and celebrated her bday, but my bday was not even celebrated at all! I did not sign-up for a marriage where I came behind his female friends. He ignored me all the time. At one time he was working seven days a week. He came home from work, ate dinner and worked. It’s hard to accept that he had time to go out for lunches and coffee dates with his female friends, but he didn’t have time for me. I think if you are honest with your mate before you get married and they know you have lots of friends of the opposite sex, then should be no reason to complain. My STBX has a constant need for female adoration. His relationships are more than friends. They feed his ego plain and simple.

    • In the ‘When Harry Met Sally’ debate, I’m firmly on the side of yes, men and women can be friends without sex coming into it. I too have probably had more male friends than female ones over my lifetime. There are male friends I have, and have had, that I have strong affection for, just as I have strong affection for female friends, but that doesn’t mean I’m any more likely to have an affair with one of my male friends than it means I’m about to have a lesbian affair with one of my female friends. All that being said, should I ever jump back into the shark-infested water that is the ‘dating pool’ and I meet a new beau, if he were to say to me ‘Jayne, you can’t have male friends. I’m much more with ‘Harry’ from that film and don’t think it’s possible for men and women to be friends without sex being involved’ then I’d respectfully end that relationship with my new beau. Clearly, ‘our values would not align’ and, unless one of us had a change of heart (and it is unlikely to be me because some of my male friends have been there for 30+ years) there is no way either of us would be happy in the relationship. I certainly would be a fool to marry him and consider having children if I knew a significant part of who I am (someone who has old friends who are male) would be making him unhappy.

      Martha, whether or not your ‘Harry’ point of view didn’t align with cheaterpants ‘Sally’ point of view – he knew it was your point of view but chose to marry you anyway. That he continued in a way he knew caused you pain (even if he didn’t agree with your P.O.V.) is, just as ChumpLady says, because he doesn’t give a shit that it hurts you. Your P.O.V. doesn’t make you crazy just because it’s not the same P.O.V. as his. Nor does it give him the right to sneak around ‘having female friends’. An honest conversation with some serious consideration about dealbreakers and boundaries is what was called for, with yes, sadly some hard decisions having to be made. Not disregard, disrespect and dishonesty. So, while there do seem to be some strong pointers to cheating going on (Lost in Canada – peer-pressured lap dance – coffee to 1.30am)? – that he couldn’t give a crap whether you are distressed by his behaviour (for 20years)! is ENOUGH to end this marriage. It’s ENOUGH.

      • I do think there’s a difference between the extra-marital “friendships” that narcissists pursue, which are all about kibbles, and the genuine, reciprocal friendships that chumps and other non-disordered folks are interested in.

        The motivation for narcissists in pursuing friendships outside of marriage is purely to bask in the attention and adoration of other women/men, with the added bonus of cultivating potential new partners should their spouse start growing a spine and questioning their intentions and allegiances.

        And because of narcissists’ sense of entitlement when it comes to kibbles, cake, and ignoring all boundaries, you can bet, as CL pointed out, that most of these “friendships” eventually do become sexual, sooner rather than later. Hell, my STBX is gay and he still used friendships with other women to love-bomb the crap out of them and line them up as potential beards after I became wise to him.

        If it walks like a fuck . . . OMG, spit out my coffee on that one. Wish someone had hit me with that 2 by 4 back when I was apologizing for my “trust” issues.

        • And the difference is SECRECY. My X complained that I had a friend who texted me weekly, so what was the difference? First, the friend is gay; second, I always showed X the texts from this friend and had no secrets about my friendship. False equivalency to claim that friendship was equal to taking students to coffee shops, then for drinks, with lots of texts (including complaining about how “Tempest doesn’t understand me,” blah, blah,blah), and then screwing them in their student apartments.

        • In my case, X spending time with women, usually when I was stuck at work, was also to cultivate the One Up/One Down power game in our so-called marriage. He loved to keep me feeling uneasy, and out of the loop. How thrilling is it, to come home from a tough day at work, and your SO lets you know- they had fun today! And some other woman was there, too! I think it’s just their sick, shitty game to make you feel knocked down a notch. It worked, and that’s why I’m still in therapy!

      • Martha, I also got the very same gaslighting from my STBX on my “trust” issues. As others have said, they all operate out of the same playbook. For many years I bought into his framing of my concerns about his friendships with other women as being my problem, completely unrelated to his behavior at all.

        First he tread somewhat gingerly and claimed with feigned empathy that I was simply insecure and had nothing to worry about. Then when the red flags kept popping up and I continued to question him, he ramped it up with accusations that I had “trust issues” and how could I accuse him of such heinous behavior, the poor sad sausage, after he’d been so loyal “this marriage” (he never did say he’d been loyal to me).

        By the time I’d fully seen behind the mask and was no longer buying his excuses, he flipped to the rage channel and would unleash vicious F-laced diatribes about how I was an angry, bitter, pathetic shrew of a woman who viewed him as some sort of monster and that if I was going to be that way, then he would only have to become more secretive to “protect” himself from my emotional abuse.

        All you can do is go as NC as possible with him and work on deprogramming yourself from years of brainwashing. It’s painful, for sure, but the only way through is with your eyes wide open and your gut-check in solid gear.

      • Jayne,

        Excellent post.

        What Nora Ephron didn’t account for in the “When Harry Met Sally” friends debate is the much-improved understanding we have today of sex, gender, and sexuality.

        I have had male lovers in the past. When I went back to get my JD as an older-than-average student, my worldview made it nigh on impossible to be friends with straight white men. My STBXW encouraged me to create study groups with women and underrepresented minorities. Some of the study buddies were quite attractive. A roll in the hay would have been a treat. There was no question some were game. There is a physical sensation – you (I) know when someone would fuck me. Did I fuck any of my associates? Nope.

        My STBXW got her PhD in a heavily male-overrepresented STEM field. She chose a straight male as a mentee. I have no doubt he’d have been good-to-go with her given a chance. My STBXW also dated women before I met her. We discussed these pokitical and social issues in-depth. These are the times in which we live.

        This is not a “friends” problem. This is a keep-it-in-your-pants problem.

    • Ah but if you’re meeting up with an opposite-sex friend, and you either don’t invite your partner, or you lie to your partner about it (say you’re meeting up with ‘colleagues’ or same-sex friend), or the very thought of inviting your partner along makes you slightly queasy, guess what? YOU’RE the gaslighter. There’s no ‘innocence’ in that shit. Sort it out.

    • Friends of yours, when you are married, become friends of the relationship. In other words, you would be 100% OK inviting said friend in the presence of your husband/wife, and anything which is being said to said friend is something you could repeat to your husband/wife and it not be considered inappropriate by them.

      Thats the problem with these entitled twits – they spew topics of conversation which are only to be held between married partners, not to random friends. Or they get pissy if the husband/wife gets included in the activities.

      • Agree! Keeping these people in the shadows says something. Are they a friend of the marriage? Why not? If they can’t stand to be around your life partner, what’s up with that?

  • Im packed and ready to run fast the other way but asswipe is dragging his heels buying me out of the house. Cake eating or wont quite let go. I dont know. Run!!!!!!!

    • “Run” is EXACTLY what my sisters pastor said when she told him what my STBX said about “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100%.” He said, “He’s cheating and this isn’t the first time.”

  • Martha,Martha,Martha….. Your head has been fucked…. Full of mind bending little sperm. Gaslighting at it finest. Unfortunately when u have had your head fucked with it you have a very hard time hearing the truth…. From anyone. BUT !! There is something inside of you that knows. Knows that its not adding up. Listen to that voice. Pull the plug on that recording that your asshole husband has been playing in your head. The subtle elevator music that you dont even notice anymore. Time to shut that shit off.
    You play a new tune in your head now….follow your song. It will take a while to trust yourself but you feel it coming on like the spring… Under the surface you are beginning a new life. Small little sprouts of green are making there way up…..help them find the sun. Nuture those little thoughts and you will florish and grow in ways you never thought possible.
    Listen to you.

  • Ahhh the mindfuckery and gaslighting. As I’ve said before these assholes turn us against ourselves. They drain you emotionally and they take and take until your completely empty and then they toss you like a dirty napkin.

    Every word CL said is true. I know mine KNEW I would never blindly trust him again, he’d been caught. He knew I wasn’t to be silently chumped by him anymore and he was not going to spend his life being monitored (“spied on” as he called it), so he shat all over our existence and blew up our lives. The gloves were off and so was the mask.

    Keep reading here Martha, you will find parts of your story and many of your cheaters lame excuses and behaviors in many of our stories here. They are so alike that it’s disturbing. You are not alone and you’re not THE problem.
    It will get better and so will you.

    Hugs,
    Stevie ; )

    • Mine called it “spying” as well Stevie. After a while I discovered so much about her that I couldn’t even articulate it all. But she made me feel guilty for “spying,” so I never confronted her about it all. I internalized her criticism of me. Everyone I talked to would tell me I had to get away, but it was almost impossible.

      • After D-Day when I foolishly believed my then husband’s claims that the OWs were “just friends” yada yada, I still insisted that he end all contact and that he become transparent with his activities because he had crossed some serious boundaries by keeping those so-called “innocent friendships” a secret from me. It wasn’t long before my marriage policing was touted as an “invasion of his privacy” and that I was “over-reacting” and my “lack of trust” was the problem…

        • Prior to D-Day I had never questioned that what he was telling me wasn’t the truth. I was the epitome of a trusting wife. He totally took advantage of that.

        • Yep. How dare I open the laptop only to find his Yahoo chats come up and read ONLY ONE email to another woman (out of the hundreds that were listed!). What the hell was I doing in HIS private stuff on MY FUCKING LAPTOP? Fucker!

          • You read only one?!?! I rifled through all of my ex’s filthy emails when the idiot left his secret email account open on our family computer!!!! I also printed out every damned one of them. I could not believe my eyes. But I digress… It’s a one way street with cheaters.

            “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” ~Stephen King

    • Yep yep yep ^^^ to all of these and this! They suck, they’re all alike…they THRIVE on our chumpy trust in them.

      I found texts to final Owhore, no emails and they were disturbing. Not even sexy. Stupid juvenile schmoopie 7th grade banter. Almost laughable but not quite.

      Amazing how alike they all are. Thank God for that, it explains a lot!

  • Martha – we were married to the same cheater. Just before I found out about the fuck phone – it was Mother’s Day weekend. I got pretty much the same attitude “Why should I wish you a happy fucking mother’s day? You aren’t my fucking mother.” Yep! Strange though how previous mother’s day he DID wish me a happy mother’s day. It wasn’t until the fuck phone and Yahoo fantasy was in full force. And yes, I was blamed for the cheating too. It was my fault because he wasn’t getting enough blow jobs apparently when he was coming home drunk 5 nights a week and I said NO!
    Meeting a ‘friend’ for coffee of the opposite sex is WRONG – especially if he is doing it behind your back. Obviously if you didn’t know about it, he knew it was wrong as well.
    I too have been gone for 10 months (3rd and final time leaving) and waiting for this long drawn out divorce. STBX has still not apologized for destroying our marriage, home, family, friends…. and he never will because it was MY fault he cheated.
    So sorry you are going through this. It is so very painful, I know.

    • Yes, Martha – ditto.. my ex not only told me “you’re not my mother!” as the reason why he could never appreciate me on mother’s day, he constantly needled me every Mother’s Day about how awful my children were for not calling me first thing that morning (kids from my first marriage). So imagine my surprise to find an email to one of his OWs (I was clueless about the cheating, same kind of blinders to all the clues), saying, “wishing you a deeply warm and rewarding Mother’s Day.” WTF??? Martha, listen to Chump Lady, you need to go No Contact on him, deprive him of his Cake, get a tough lawyer and let him suffer the consequences of what he has robbed from you and don’t let him steal the rest of your life.

      • I heard that line, too, about not being his mother. I also was the one who reminded him to call his own mother on Mother’s Day and I made sure there was a gift for her — he wasn’t thoughtful enough to think ahead and, of course, he knew I would do it. I always made sure that Father’s Day was special for him and that the kids had something for him as they got older and no longer made FD gifts at school. He once commented to me about the gifts being lame… Honestly, who is that shallow and ungrateful when your own child makes you something or picks out something especially for you??? Oh yeah – a selfish narcissistic asshole, that’s who!! After D-Day I stopped making a big deal about Father’s Day. The kids were old enough to drive by then and had part-time jobs, I would remind them that father’s day was coming but I left the rest up to them. He noticed the lack of fanfare and my reply became, “You’re not my father.”

  • “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100 percent…….you’ll never be able to give me what I want……100 percent trust…”

    1. You have seen their mask slip and you can never unsee that again.
    2. They are not trustworthy and need to find a new chump that they can fool.

    So they say things like this to project the issue back on you. You’ll either fall in line and ignore their activities (like yesterday’s post) or leave them. Either way, they will always blame you for their issues because that’s how they manage their image.

    Trust that they suck and use your anger to help you get away as quickly as possible.

    • Yes. Once a disordered person knows you have seen behind their carefully constructed mask, they know the game is up. At that point, they will discard you because they can no longer fool you. If you are lucky, they will divorce you and disappear easily. If you are unlucky, they will make things extremely difficult for as long as they can, because they are enraged at you for seeing their truth, and so they feel entitled to “punish” you. That can go on for years.

      • I must be one of the lucky ones because my ex and I divorce amicably without lawyers and I’ve not heard from her since. For me, once I saw her for what she really is, that’s all I saw. I think for her once she realized I saw through her game, she knew the jig was up. So she moved on, or back to one of her exes who was happy to take her back because he’s still buying her game. He’ll be here soon.

    • Yep! My friend told me a year ago, “He needs to find a new Martha.” Someone who doesn’t the who is really is. He needs to start over with a new, trusting woman who’ll reflect his sparkle back at him.

  • When a cheater is involved, nothing is ever their fault. You catch them cheating and it is your fault for not trusting. You stumble across a morning after pill wrapper and it’s why were you looking in the back seat. Get away and let your head clear, don’t accept blame for anyone else’s actions! By the time I went NC with my wife I had already been told repeatedly how I needed to step up and take responsibility for her affair. You can’t have a discussion with the entitled

    • Yes, I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t have a discussion with the entitled. He cheats, because he can and in his world of lies he’s entitled to it. He sucks.

  • Hope your pastor called him out on this junk. Of course, you have trust issues. That is a HEALTHY response to having one’s trust violated REPEATEDLY!

    And I would add, going to a strip joint for lap dances is beyond “just” an emotional affair. It is sexual contact even if it isn’t technically intercourse–speaking as a pastor and not a lawyer here. My thoughts are in agreement, though, with CL that likely more has been going on behind the scene than he is revealing. Why would he just stop at talking with a woman for NINE YEARS when he gets lap dances from strangers?!

    • Believe it or not, Divorce Minister, but my pastor didn’t call him out on his behavior. The day after I caught him going on for drinks until 1:30am, we both went separately to our pastor (my stbx didn’t know I went earlier in the day.) My stbx said he realized he went too far going out for drinks and said he was sorry (I think he was just sorry he got caught and was afraid I was going to leave with the kids), but my pastor spent four hours with him and tried to understand the friendships, etc. He came home after that meeting and still didn’t feel like he did anything wrong besides going out for drinks. My stbx is very charming and a “nice guy.” He’s well-liked at church. He was allowed to stay as a leader in a boys group for eights months after he got caught and also asking me for a divorce. I felt spiritually abused by my pastor and some of the other leaders. The only reason I attend that church now is because my kids are both really involved in their youth groups and it would be mean to them to pull them away from their support groups. I go to church, worship and try to get something out of each, but I’ll never fully trust my pastor again.

      • Sorry to hear that. I am not surprised…seeing that he is cheating would mean the pastor would be obligated to correct and rebuke. It is easier to believe the cheater narrative than confront.

        • Our pastor is all about “love” and “not judging.” I don’t get it as I think it’s not Biblical to not judge others. I’m not talking about not accepting people. I’m talking about judging bad behavior and consequences. The whole thing was handled the wrong way, but it’s over now and I know I won’t be staying at that church forever.

    • Divorce Minister,

      Good point. Strip clubs are sexual physical contact.

      In addition to this being a “keep-it-in-your-pants-problem,” infidelity is all about “what are our shared values as a a married couple” problem.

  • I think anyone who calls themselves a decent husband would put their wife’s need first. Not some office floozy. When I was married I made it a point not to be alone with other women or develop any intimate relationships with any woman other than my wife. IMHO, a spouse should be your best friend too. Her needs come first. Getting intimate with another woman is a very red flag. Certainly, talking about bad about your spouse to the opposite sex, especially one-on-one, is heading down a bad path. I’ve seen people in the office use this tactic to establish intimacy through sympathy.

    Funny how they are all disordered in the same way. My ex told me she left her boyfriend because he wasn’t giving her what she needed. In the end she left me for the same reason… because I’m not a smorgasbord of men.

    • After word got out about stbx’s fuck phone, people approached stbx and asked “Did you really get a phone behind your wife’s back?” He couldn’t deny it because it was my son who found it. So if he denied it, he would be calling my son a liar. Anyway, so cheater came up with the story that he had been abused (by me) for years. That I was a horrible wife, and he never sought therapy. According to stbx, people would then say to STBX “OMG – You were abused for that long and you never talked to anybody about your problems? You poor guy….”
      Yep – so if people are THAT STUPID to believe that line of bullshit from a cheater are absolute idiots. There is never a reason to cheat. I was NOT abusive (I was a prude though – according to him, but in my defense I didn’t care to have sex with a guy who came home from the bar at 11:30 at night smelling like beer and cigarettes because he didn’t take his shirt off! Um YUK!)
      He cheated, but I am the bad guy. It was my fault. I deserved to be shit on. I deserved to have my life destroyed because I didn’t overlook his alcoholism, flirting with other women, treating me like shit.

      • I can only imagine what my ex-wife is saying about me. Probably that I was controlling. Controlling being that she wasn’t allowed to talk to ex-boyfriends and do drugs. Allowed being I held her accountable if she did. And by the way she ran off with an ex-boyfriend who sold coke out of his house, whom she discarded for me, whom I was discarded for in the end. So….

      • Martha,

        Unfortunately, this is my story as well- and I stayed 35 years! I now realize, of course, that he should have been saying he would do anything to gain my trust back. Instead, he blamed it on me, saying “You will never trust me”. That was, I think, the third time in five years when I found out that he was still with his old high school schmoopie. And yes, I was the bad guy. I didn’t earn enough money at my job and HE wanted to retire so i should work harder! I was a prude! (Even though he didn’t want to touch me) He was a verbally abused husband! And that was because I insisted on (and didn’t get) the truth. The therapist bought the poor me, I am an abused husband act, and I sat there every week, for years, hearing about how my childhood issues made me a nag! At the end, we are now almost divorced. I kept all the friends. My son thinks his father is a pathetic POS. Even though that is true, it is infinitely sad. And, again, of course, now the stbx says I was the best thing that ever happened to him, I am the most important person in the world to him but (predictably) he can’t give up schmoopie- it is a love greater than the ages. That’s okay because I could never be that miserably unhappy again. I am not happy now but I am no longer unhappy.

        One thing that REALLY helped me, and this is kind of gross ( I am not usually so graphic so forgive me) was something a very good friend told me- imagine in your mind seeing your husband kissing, fondling and then sticking his dick into someone else. Then imagine him moving up and down and moaning and groaning, or whatever moves he normally made with you. REALLY IMAGINE HIM FUCKING SOMEONE ELSE. If that’s not enough to make you throw up, I don’t know what is. it certainly stopped me from wanting him and from thinking I had made a mistake in finally giving up (notice I didn’t say that I took control and kicked him out, but i just finally and quietly gave up).

        Martha, there is peace here. When your mind clears from all the crap he has been feeding you, you will realize you were played by a master manipulator. It took me five years to realize that the marriage was dead as soon as he fucked someone else. i just didn’t know it. It’s not your fault you don’t trust him. Your gut is telling you the truth- get out and stay out. Happiness and security do not lie with this man. (Sorry for the bad language)

        • I like to envision shitbag going down on a prostitute, with his long greasy hair falling over his eyes (which is quite probable). That pretty much clears my head of any nonsensical ideas that this is my fault. He’s just gross – and I was too polite to notice and call him on it.

          • lostandfound wrote: ‘a very good friend told me- imagine in your mind seeing your husband kissing, fondling and then sticking his dick into someone else. Then imagine him moving up and down and moaning and groaning, or whatever moves he normally made with you. REALLY IMAGINE HIM FUCKING SOMEONE ELSE.”

            Funny, I never did have a mind movie of them fucking. I actually couldn’t picture it at ALL.
            He was so lousy in bed (with me anyway) that he didn’t like to fuck. He just liked bj’s and hj’s.
            So, I sort of have a laugh when I think of them in bed together.

            He wouldn’t be any different with her. That much I know. But, I bet she tried hard. hahaha

        • Let’s put “you will never trust me” through the UBT: “I am going to keep lying and cheating and sneaking around. I will gaslight you but your perceptions, instinct, and common sense will scream that I am betraying you.”

        • Your story is my story. I allowed him to stay another 5 years after his 1 year affair with a friend of ours. He is a piece of shit and I have imagined him screwing his new supply, who has a 10 year old. Good riddance to stinky garbage.

        • No need to apologize for the language. 🙂 I can’t to even bear to think of him sexually anymore. He makes me sick and I’m so happy that I never have to have sex with him again.

    • What Michael says just kills me.

      “I think anyone who calls themselves a decent husband would put their wife’s need first.”

      Michael won the comments board. Shut down Chump Lady, we have the simplest and most succinct answer to pretty much everything that has ever been posed here.

    • I totally agree, Michael. Of course you are going to develop friendship with your female co-workers, but taking it beyond work is just plain wrong.

  • Slightly off topic, but whether or not they dish out faux celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Day is irrelevant. My cheater ALWAYS goes through his “I’m a great spouse checklist” and lays out the card, flowers, chocolates, wine and meal out. Every friggin’ time. And he expects me to be so impressed and happy about his awesomeness. And pat him on the head and tell him he did good. This valentines day, I finally had the gumption to not even get him a card. I bought him a $1 box of cheapo chocolates from Walmarts that said “I am toad-ily yours” with a picture of a toad. I’m sure he didn’t get the toad reference the way it was intended (as in he is one.) I know you all will feel this small act of rebellion is 10 miles from mighty, but I am a limbo chump and with the help of CL and CN am finally, slowly working towards mental and then real freedom.

    • Dixie, the “toadily yours” box of chocolate made me laugh so hard, I choked! LOL, that’s hilarious. And yes, you are right, some of them DO make a big deal out of holidays (my ex always did) but it’s not because they actually care, it’s only because they think it improves their image of being a wonderful person.

    • Or my personal favorite; when they send you things at work for the express purpose of other people seeing how wonderful they are. Mine would do this a lot. He’d send me edible arrangements for valentines day or Vermont Teddy Bears for birthdays or anniversaries or whatever holiday seemed appropriate. Then I’d come home from work and he’d harangue me about the reaction of my co-workers. He wanted to know what they said and how awesome they all thought he was. I never recognized this for what it was until he cheated.

      He continued this practice after dday. One time he sent me chocolate covered strawberries at work and the card instructed me to share with friends because he sent like 2 dozen. My boss at the time said “He must have been really bad to send you that many of those” to which I replied: “trust me, 100 chocolate covered strawberries couldn’t make up for what he did.” I said it in a crowd of people and then made sure he knew that conversation took place. He never sent me anything to work again and not long after, I divorced him!

      • Gee, I actually think is it quite lovely that your then-husbands bought you gifts, and flowers and gosh knows what. My X didn’t think any of that was necessary. Yanno – you know I love you. You don’t need those things and I boycott every holiday that ‘expects ME!! of all people to give in the pressure of buying roses or chocolates. It’s just a consumer scam….blah blah blah.

        So, although I always got very nice hand-made notes from him on b’days and Valentines…(and they were sweet), I never got anything else. We were making some good money then and, not that I’m a jewelry person, but it really would have been nice to wear something on my neck that showed his love for me.
        He also thought jewelry was a rip-off.
        I wouldn’t have cared if it cost $10 bucks.
        Even just ONE red rose would have been romantic enough.

        One year while m/h traveling, my b’day fell during traveling.
        I get a little depressed on my b’day.
        Got a kiss that morning and b’day greetings, but that was it.
        We were out of food and I think cooked weiners.
        No cake though.
        (and, believe me, his b’day is on Halloween and he always insisted on a HUGE affair, complete with my 4-layer homemade German Cake)

        Anyway, feeling depressed because I wanted something lemony for desert, I wandered over to the local c-store and bought myself a – get this – a twinkie. First time I’ve ever had one.
        Of course, I came home and shared it with him.

        Just UGH b’days every single damn year.
        Don’t even mention xmas.

        • “you know I love you. You don’t need those things and I boycott every holiday that ‘expects ME!! of all people to give in the pressure of buying roses or chocolates. It’s just a consumer scam….blah blah blah.”

          Exact same here Shechump, and yeah don’t ask me about Xmas either…

      • Or they play it up on Facebook, while in real life, they barely acknowledge you. I remember my ex on our 20th anniversary. He posted this gushing, loving update on Facebook, and literally kept checking the status every few minutes, counting how many “likes” and comments it received. Meanwhile, he barely noticed me and gave me a gross, joke card about being my “sex slave” despite the fact that he barely ever wanted to have sex with me, probably because I’m not a man or a woman married to someone else. He was fucking at least two other women at that point, and God only knows how many men. But he sure looked good on Facebook.

        • My cheater did this too! Brought expensive and often useless gifts and asked me what my friends/ family thought of his wonderful gift but apart from that there was no attention given to these occasions. It is like he gave me the gifts not because he wanted to give me something but because he wanted the world to think he was generous.

    • I LOVE the toadily yours cheapo chocolates too. That freaking KILLS ME! Thank you! I’m throwing a pity party for one in my tub right now. I’m also limbo chump and I can’t get over the good parts. I know he’s a dick and selfish but apparent from one screw with OW it was a damn good 10 years. It’s coming to an end and my codependent self is having a melt down right now. I know. It gets better. But it really wasn’t bad. That’s the worst part. He wasn’t abusive or mean until AFTER the affair. That’s when he became super distant and weird.

      • Sad Shelby – ‘He wasn’t abusive or mean until AFTER the affair. That’s when he became super distant and weird.’

        I’m so sorry you have also experienced the early horror of this form of disrespect and gas lighting and everything, and I believe 99% of us have been through.
        They change into monsters and try to demonize you for getting in the way of their lover. They re-write your marital history, project their bad behavior onto you by blaming you. This is the worst of the worst times in your life. I was married 35 yrs and he became a Dr Jekyll overnight. Typical is that they NEVER indicated they were unhappy. I’m so glad you found this site so quickly. There is much advice you will be offered if you reach out.
        We care and understand exactly what you are going through..

        Welcome to this club that members were forced to join. 🙁

        Please post often, dear.

        • It’s only been 9 1/2 weeks since d-day and I am still an emotional wreck. I love(d) him so much and wish that darn unicorn was on its way! ? Once it came out into the open THAT’S when he turned into this terrifying monster. I can still see his humanity and the worst part is HE knows he has turned into somebody dark and he seems genuinely scared for himself right now. He says he’s torn (of course he loves the cake!) and doesn’t trust his own judgement or decision making abilities right now. I know I can’t fix him and he is not my problem but I can see he’s right there if he could just realize that the OW is NOT his real, real, real, true, true love. But no amount of me telling him that will convince him. He went ILYBINILWY right after he slept with her (on ONE occasion) and he’s sucked into the fantasy that she LOVES him ? I tell myself I can’t control him I can only control myself and try to tell myself that I need to let go to move on. It’s all I can do when I’m still so sad and scared that I get anxiety attacks and dry heave at the thought of him leaving. This SUCKS! And I have to tell myself so does he. Because he KNOWS he needs fixing but he just CAN’T do it! ☹️

          • Shelby – this is the time where you need to take the best care of yourself, in spite of all the horrible shock of all of this so suddenly.
            People have been consistent in saying how much weight they lost. Some wanted, some not wanted weight-loss.
            Drink lots of water – stay hydrated, even if it’s Ensure drinks.
            Try to avoid alcohol as will make you more depressed.
            And, if you need medication to get through the anxiety, please see your doctor. Many of us gets very dark thought during this discard from our husbands/wives we loved dearly, and often so many children affected by this.

            Stress makes you crazy, no appetite and it’s a terrible time to be driving. Your mind is all over the place.
            Impossible to watch a movie or read a book.
            That’s why this site is good for really figuring it out.

            The first advice, during this ‘fog’ of reality that your life has just changed forever, is please get yourself a good therapist to deal with all the feelings.
            (Rage can be harmful if it comes too early)
            And, also, get STD testing done for you both – now that it’s his affair in the open.
            And, start looking around for a good Pit-Bull lawyer.
            Do NOT tell him you are shopping around but most attorneys’ offer the first hour visit for free.
            You NEED to know your rights.

            I was one of the people who said, once was enough and I could never go back. A 3-1/5 yr affair – too much lying and deceit for me and I got far ahead of him on the legal process (and snooping) when he didn’t even think I knew about his shenanigans. He played me for a fool? I played him for a complete idiot!

            Again, please post often and you might want to post on the Forums for a lot of personal help there.

            So sorry, :-(. I hope you are getting your sleep.

            • Shelby – just reread your post – ‘He says he’s torn (of course he loves the cake!) and doesn’t trust his own judgement or decision making abilities right now.’

              WTH? He can’t decide between you and her?
              How about YOU don’t care – he’s married to you and you are the one that WILL decide if you want to stay married to him.

              That’s what The X said to me and I’m like, what-the-fuck? I’m not a fucking CHOICE!
              YOU need to decide?
              Well, sorry for my Italian but I chose to NOT be a choice and hit the divorce lawyer immediately.
              How humiliating to be Plan B.
              To be compared to his whore who spread her legs and who he knew for exactly 3 mos before he felt he was in love.

              Poor baby ‘loved us both’.
              He doesn’t have a clue what long-term ‘love’ is about.

              What a shallow, manipulative person when he got involved in the all the cheating.
              The lies, the thievery; things he was doing that was so against who he was, which made him pretty sick with cancer in the end.
              He cheapened himself with going so low and lost many friends and family.

              Sorry, your post made me fume again that your husband ‘needs time to fucking -choose-‘.
              Who the hell does he think is is against such a fine woman as yourself.
              Fuck him.

      • SS, the asswipe became distant and mean too as soon as i found out. Seems like one of the many cheater traits. Im over three years out from dday. One year from divorce. Ive moved finally far away and it feels great to be away from the madness. You will get there it does get easier with time. We got you!

        • Kar Marie,

          I know this is an old post, but I hadn’t seen you announce you moved!!!

          It’s true? You’re free?!?

          That is the best news I’ve heard all week. Heck, in the last month!!!

          Congratulations!

  • Martha, you are … today.. doing fantastic. You recognize you have been devalued and discarded and you knew enough to visit ChumpLady. Welcome to Chump Nation! You have a venture in front of you and an entire group here to help you along no matter what stage you are in or move in and out of.

    Your story… is our story.. we all have a version of the same story. I still have been unable to scrap my chin off the ground. No Contact for 2 whole months out of going on two years since I left is the only thing pushing me forward at this point.

    My chumpiness went on for 23 years… 10 months reconciliation and seeing unicorns… then 6 months in a rebound.. Finally.. I am grieving properly… I am getting stronger even though I have very weak moments. I am living in Ah Ha moments that you are already seeing so early on. I think you will get through this like a champ.

    • Thanks, Jackie. I love it here at Chump Lady. I feel so less alone. Others get me. Others have been through the same thing. Others have survived! I found Chump Lady be accident, but then I don’t believe in chance, so I was meant to make my way here with my fellow chumps. Thank you for what you said. 🙂

  • The thing that helped me the most was dropping all the labels, and just concentrate on the behavior. There are NO “emotional affairs” or “just frien
    ds” relationships in my world. There is either honest, appropriate behavior or there is not. If it’s not, you are a cheater and need to go.

    • ^^^Yes, this!! Separate the words and behaviors. Words don’t mean shit. Look at the actions, and look at them from a nice safe distance. Give yourself just two weeks of No Contact, just as a start, to clear your head and get some perspective. It takes time and space to heal. Listening to his words is just putting your head in a blender, no exaggeration.

    • Yep! Actions!! I always listened to the words and trusted the words. But my gut was listening to the actions and constantly telling something was wrong. Looking at actions from now on.

  • Not wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day or helping you celebrate Mother’s Day because “you’re not my mother” — that was totally my husband every year for 20 years! I never knew anyone else ever said that until I read your post and all the other replies here. I have been free of fucktard’s gaslighting for five years now, and I’m still seeing things in a new light thanks to the freedom I have from NO CONTACT and insights from others who have experienced the same things including all of you here at CN.

    And a “harem”? That’s exactly what I called all his female friends! He always had women who he needed to feel needed by. He always had someone waiting in the wings. I just didn’t understand it for so long. Once I did, that’s exactly what I started to see them as: his harem.

    Martha, you have been thoroughly gaslighted by this guy. He was your husband. He was supposed to be protecting you from people who would hurt you. He was not supposed to be the one doing the hurting. The further you get away from his crazy-making gaslighting, the better you will feel. It took me nearly a year after my serial-cheating fuktard moved out to feel to start feeling separate and normal. But now it’s been more than 5 years and I feel phenomenal. I’ve totally reinvented my life, inside and out. I am really blessed to be rid of him.

    Stick with the no contact and you will get to that point too. One day in the not-too-distant future, you will look back and marvel at how you ever could have fallen for his crap: his harems, his “just-a-friends,” his devaluing, his casual cruelty, his constant lying. Stay the course. You are mighty. We are all mighty. And these fuckers have nothing on us.

    • Ditto. He did not do holidays birthdays blah blah.would say it like it was profound shit. Lol. Whatever . I am stepping away from the crazy. I think of him screwing other people and feel relief.

    • Wow, still can’t believe others had the “you are not my mother comment, too, and you called his female friends his harem. I never knew anyone else had my same experience. They are not so special after-all if there are so many of them that are so alike! Thanks for giving me hope that I can have a better life someday and look back and think, why did I see in him!

  • Wow! The comment about not being his mother when confronted about not being acknowledged on mother’s day… my ex said the same thing. I actually had a physical response when I read that. On my path to healing I have tried not to focus on all of the shitty things my ex did and said and I have tried to let it all go. I forgot that one. It really hurt then and it clearly still hurts. Bastards. What a shitty thing to say.

    Just keep moving forward Martha. It does get better.

  • The only thing you did wrong, Martha, was marry a cheater.

    Comedian Bill Engvall has a bit where he wishes “stupid people” had signs, because it would save everyone a lot of time and trouble. You’d see the sign, know not engage with them, and go about your merry way.

    Too bad it’s not the same with cheaters. If you had some easy way to identify them – like with a scarlet letter, for example – you’d know to avoid them from the start. But you don’t. You meet them at their most charming selves, fall under their spell, and remain there until they do something SO vile, you can’t take it anymore. For some, that’s one date. For others, it’s decades of marriage.

    So cut yourself some slack. I’m nearly 8 years out from D-Day and have been divorced nearly 5 years, and can only now say I’m truly “meh.” It took me THAT long to pull myself out of the train wreck, dust myself off, pick up the pieces, and set the train on a new course.

    In fact, when XH announced a few weeks ago that he was divorcing wife #2 after 14 months of marriage, I kind of panicked, hoping he wouldn’t refocus his attention on me. He did – but only for a minute. As soon as I made it clear I had no kibbles for him, he went looking elsewhere: to our children. That Kumbaya fest lasted exactly two weeks before both dad and kids lost interest.

    So give yourself some time, Martha, and work on cleaning up your train wreck and staying off your XH’s radar. In time, you’ll see it’s him and NOT you. You didn’t make him cheat. You only made the cheating more delicious because it allowed him to eat cake. Now it’s time to withdrawal your cake and save it for someone more worthy.

    • Wow, that sure would be wonderful if cheaters had a mark on their bodies that clued us into who they were. I’m thinking the Mark of the Beast would be perfect — 666! I’m happy you are at meh!

    • There IS a red letter we can give them. In locales where it is an option, one can give them an adultery fault divorce.

  • Cheaters make the marriage 2-1, they have someone in their corner propping them up, telling them how wonderful they are, while they are simultaneously devaluing and criticizing us (and we have no one to back us up). But then, it’s our fault they cheated. Unbelievable.

    The only way to start to heal is to accept that you can do NOTHING to make them see reason, or develop empathy or see how they are making you feel. Insight is not a cheater strong suit. Better spend your time trying to make your cat or dog do backflips, or trying to genetically engineer an apple covered in chocolate.

    • THIS… only are you losing the contest you did not know you were in, you are also unknowingly out numbered!… The game is rigged!…and if we leaned anything from the Mathew Broadrick movie “War Games”… The only way to win is not to play the game… “How about a nice game of chess?”

  • Thread Hijack 1: Update on Irish
    Thanks so much to everyone who contributed toward health care costs for Irish. She had had a minor heart attack, and with the help of CN, was able to get an angiogram and new drug regime that will help prevent any more emergencies. (She’ll weigh in soon in the forums for a more detailed update.)

  • Thread Hijack 2: Yosemite Chump Meetup

    Anyone still interested in the Chump Meetup in Yosemite the second half of the summer should fill out the Doodle bug poll in the Private:General forums in the next day or two (the dates will be decided this weekend to make sure we can get lodging, as Yosemite fills up quickly).

    If you don’t visit the forums but want to go, you can email me at tempest.ariel2014@gmail.com & I’ll send you the link.

  • In theory, if we are so powerful and omnipotent as to be able to MAKE someone cheat, then reason follows that we would have that same superpower to make them NOT CHEAT.

    Frankly, if I had ANY superpowers, I wouldn’t waste a single one of them on Mr. Sparkles. He isn’t deserving of a thing from me.

    I WOULD use my superpowers to make Chumps feel brave enough to leave after the FIRST D-day. I would will all Chumps to believe in their own worth and their own ability to care and love and give to people who are reciprocal. I would put a shit shield around all the kids that become the collateral damage of these disordered oxygen suckers. I would show all Chumps a glimpse of the beautiful future of Meh and joy that awaits them after NC (even with a co-parenting situation).

    But, since I’m just me… and Martha, you’re just you… let’s both just take it a minute at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time… and shake off the blame and gas-lighting we’ve accepted for far too long and BELIEVE that anything without our Cheaters is a blessing… no superpowers needed.

    HUGS.

  • Matha,

    The scariest thing is realizing you have been played for many, many years. Your narc husband has caused you to question your reality, and it is hard to hit the reset button. My narc XW told me for a year that she and her AP were just “friends who flirt.” I believed it – I wanted to believe it, when friends and neighbors were telling me how uncomfortable the two made them feel. I would tell myself their affair caused my wife to treat me poorly and act crazy. Every day I realize our relationship was doomed from the beginning.

    Stop questioning what you did. The only mistake any of us made was to marry the wrong person. Get out and start working on yourself. It will take a long time to feel better. I still feel very guilty that I picked a crappy mother for my children, but I had no idea. I see how she manipulates my children to actually think she did not have an affair, and she actually did me and her AP’s XW a favor, because now we have the opportunity to be happy.

    Take care

    • So many similar stories to my own on this site. I trusted X with being “just friends” with an attractive blonde neighbor who had been flirting with him. Other neighbors told me they were concerned that X and Blondie were getting to friendly.. Neighbors told me in private they had seen her grabbing his ass and crotch, foolish me trusted X and thought it was harmless or they were exaggerating.
      There were other incidents when I’d find a questionable, cleaning out his coat pockets to bring it to the cleaners I found a receipt for porn rented in his hotel room. When I confronted him with the receipt he denied it, then went into a rage and accused me of snooping. He then told me from now on he’d pay in cash.
      He’s sometimes mention that he paid cash for services in his hotel room as a “joke.” To avoid an argument, his rages, and silent treatment I ignored him, along with others that were totally inappropriate and should have been addressed.
      It’s all an insidious form of brainwashing, devaluing and taking advantage of someones trust and devotion.
      I also heard the “you’re not my Mother,” on mother’s day. I would make him call his mother to wish her a happy mother’s day, I’d buy her gift and card and mail its. I had to buy my own birthday cakes and invite family over to celebrate my birthday. In fact, he never took part in celebrating our sons’ birthday or his parties, he’d sit in the background. Including his own family and their birthdays. Christmas I was on my own to decorate, buy gifts for our son and mail them to his family.
      Back to the friendships, I ignored any red flag moments because I trusted him so completely.
      If I were to mention i felt uncomfortable about something I would be accused of being crazy, never happy, looking for a fight.
      It’s a living torturous hell with these sick assholes.

    • Yeah, I agree. It was scary coming to terms that my life was a lie. I’ve come to terms with it, but it took a long for my mind to accept. Thanks for you help.

  • I had a husband with a harem. A range of female ‘friends’ on the fringes of our marriage which kept Mr Sparkles in sparkles and me on my toes. In hindsight this was the training class for the final pick me dance. Even Ms Marriage- Break-Up noted his propensity for female followers (well he’s just so witty, charming and creative) but hey, she won so she won’t be having any problem with this, will she?

    As a slight aside, my love of celebrity tittle-tattle (I only browse online your honour, never buy) has revealed that Khloe Kardashian believes that remarrying Lomar Odom would be the ‘best dream’. And Mommy Jenner thinks so too -‘ I always want my kids to have a happy ending’. Ms Kardashian and Mr Odom now share a ‘pure love’. Now, I don’t care about the Kardashians per se. I’m British, I still don’t understand who they are or why they are always in the news. But they are always in the news and this particular publicity, of how true, sorry pure, love erases that whole hookers in a ranch with mega drug ingestion episode is exactly the reason why nearly every one of us is on this site. We love and stand by people we should not love and stand by. Somebody send Khloe a link to this site, quick.

  • Martha – your story is my story. We were married to the same douchebag. Literally. There may be a few points of our past that are ours uniquely, like say, how we brought our children into this world, but the DNA donors are of the same breed. NOTHING unique or original. Not even the lame-ass excuses your douchebag gave you – MINE SAID THE SAME THINGS! We are more intelligent and feel things more deeply than these zoo monkeys who can’t seem to control themselves, and certainly not for the sake of their own children. From age 16 to 40, I gave, gave, gave, encouraged, and begged a douchebag cheater (nothing confirmed yet, but had feelings that something was “off” many times over the years) for attention/love/intimacy, and eventually just focused inward, and on the kids and earning continued education and professional accreditation.

    What I didn’t realize was that through those actions I was putting on my own oxygen mask first, and preparing myself for takeoff into a better life for myself, my kids, and even my grandchild. It’s been 2 years since DDay and one year since divorce finalized. I still go through points of sadness, and you will, too and it completely normal after giving so many years of our lives to someone we thought loved us back, but the sadness isn’t for wanting that abusive and narcissistic person back in my life, it’s sadness over youth, love and total trust wasted on a douchebag. I’m also learning that sadness lessens over time, but only in direct proportion to the happiness you seek for yourself, to the love you shower on your true family, and in the engagement you attempt to have with real and honest friends (new and old).

    I’m sure if you are anything like me, you lost nanobits of your personality and your soul to that cheating douchebag, almost to the point where you thought your expectations of love and marriage were unrealistic. The truth is what CL said: you were gaslighted with all the plays from the cheater handbook. These douchebags are of zero depth, and empathy is likely nonexistent. We just have a hard time processing that someone we gave our lives and love to is detached from being an emotionally mature human, and is no more emotionally connected to others than a zoo monkey in perpetual heat. And it’s even more devastating to admit we accepted their bullshit and mistreatment of us and our children, and even went as far as to make sandwiches out of it for ourselves and our children to eat.

    Do what CL said: get a pit bull lawyer, fight hard, get that full-time job, go completely no contact (in-person/phone/text/social media) except for business-like info about kids, and get independent. Trust what you already know, which is that through his long-term selfish and hateful actions toward you and your children, that he will NEVER stop being a douchebag, and will always suck.

    You, me, and the citizens of Chump Nation? Over time and with kindness toward ourselves, some much-delayed self-care and self-love, we regain our sense of reality, about ourselves and others. And, because we never stop knowing how to legitimately love and give, WE are the most desirable potential mates around. We can finally start living like balanced adults once we lose the heavy, useless anchors of years of deceit, betrayal, abandonment (emotional/physical), gas lighting, and the complete dismissal of our needs and dreams. You’ll find those nanobits of your personality and soul begin to peek out and return in full force some days, and go back into hiding on others, but there’s excitement in knowing you’re not stuck with a moron who never deserved you in the first place.

    If change and growth is frustrating and hard at times, I’ll take that ANY day over continued abuse and mediocrity in a sham “marriage.” Knowing what I know now, and having experienced the excruciating pain and anguish of the loss of those 23 years and my intact family, but then still seeing how far I’ve come since DDay, I can honestly say I would take the path of pain again. I can honestly say that I would absolutely opt to have my family blown-up by my discovery of that douchebag, than continue to be abused and betrayed in my own home, and live a lifetime of a lie with someone completely undeserving of me and our kids. That declaration only comes with an extreme care and attention to my physical, spiritual and mental self everyday since DDay. I hope the same for you, Martha, and all Chumps.

    • Kibble-Free, thanks for your awesome response. What you said reminds me that who you are and what happened to you are two very different things.

      • Thanks Lyn: “who you are and what happened to you are two very different things”
        I’ve written this down in my notebook to refer back to on my bad days.

    • epic post, kibblefree. ” I still go through points of sadness, and you will, too and it completely normal after giving so many years of our lives to someone we thought loved us back, but the sadness isn’t for wanting that abusive and narcissistic person back in my life, it’s sadness over youth, love and total trust wasted on a douchebag. I’m also learning that sadness lessens over time, but only in direct proportion to the happiness you seek for yourself, to the love you shower on your true family, and in the engagement you attempt to have with real and honest friends (new and old).”

      I’m cutting and pasting this one into my journal.

      • Aww – thx, Muse! Edit for grammar! I was just trying to get the thoughts out, but you know what I meant. 😉 Huge (((hugs))) to you and all Chumps!

    • Wow, wow, wow! Thank you for taking to the time to write all that our for me and CN. It was perfect and so inspiring. 🙂

  • You loved him with your whole heart. You loved him so much that you would never hurt your marriage by having “special friendships” with men. You deserve to recieve the same kind of love as you give. It seems your ex is incapable of that. He is too selfish. Jealous of his own kid. Too spiteful to say Happy Mothers Day.Persuing other women and then lying about it. Shifting the blame to his wife. Blaming peer pressure for his lap dance. (dang..how old is he? 14? Peer pressure?)Now you have broken free from his crazymaking and mindgames. Go you!

    • Yeah, I really think he’s stick stuck mentally in puberty. He’s a very responsible adult in a lot of ways, but emotionally he’s very immature. Thanks for your reply.

  • Martha, the more you read here, the more you will realize that your husband has been following a pattern that is no less shitty for being utterly predictable. This knowledge will be your power. It will get you to the kind of anger you will need to break free and begin to heal yourself. It’s nearly impossible to imagine from where you are right now, but one day very soon you will wonder how you ever could have thought it was your fault, because it is not your fault. It is not your fault. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

    I’m so sorry you are going thru this, it sucks worse than almost anything. But you have come to the right place. Read everything on this site. Everything! Come to the forums for more support and help. We have been there, where you are now, where you are coming from, and most importantly, where you are headed next.

    • Thanks, Arlo. After being in a fog for six months, I finally got angry and that anger propelled me to move out with my kids (he wouldn’t leave fast enough for me.) Thank you for mentioning about the forums. I’ll check those out, too!

  • “What he’s saying there, Martha, is that he needs a new chump. You know too much. You’re voicing the occasional need. Getting uppity, and it’s time for greener chump pastures. Someone who doesn’t know him, someone who will blindly trust him the way you once did, someone he can sparkle for again and extract value from in return. And someone (because these freaks never change the cycle) whom he can devalue and discard.”

    ^THIS.^ You can’t compete with the new chump because she does not know him. Not your fault!

    • Yeah, you are so right! He needs to find a new chump who doesn’t know the truth about him. A good friend of mine told me a year ago, “He needs to find a new Martha.”

  • Martha, satan said the same thing…that I wasn’t his mother – but for 34 of the 36 years we were together he had always wished me a happy mother’s day…ugh, these people are all the same.

    Everyone here has pretty much already told you what you need to be doing…Kar marie’s RUN pretty much sums it up. Run away from that disordered asshole as fast as you can! Lawyer up and go no contact immediately. It will be very painful at first but the further away from the insanity the more you will understand that he does suck and he will never change. You don’t want that in your life. You deserve better. And it does get better. I promise!

    Hugs to you Martha!

    • Well said, Jeep. I knew my marriage was over – and it’s sort of funny – but he put brand new tires on OUR bus. Now, we had just put new tires on this thing and each tire is very expensive. Little did I know how many miles he put on the bus while driving the slut away on all sorts of trips, while I was out of town. I asked him, why do we need new tires again – we haven’t driven it for over a year. That’s when said, Hey – *I* make all the money and I can spend it the way *I want.

      whoa – I said, this isn’t a marriage. We used to talk about $20,000 purchases before they happened.
      I knew that was the end.

      Fucker – and I tried to get him to pay me back for those bloody tires to no avail, although it was married-cheat-money he was spending. So long and goodbye, asshole.
      (for the record, this was MY m/h and I loved it – they tarnished it completely)

    • Thanks, Jeep! Hugs to you, too! I have ran (moved out with the kids at the end of June (he wouldn’t leave fast enough and was driving crazy at home), hired a lawyer a year ago (still not divorced yet, but hopefully soon) and I’m pretty much no contact (email about the kids.) However, I have screwed up by sending him mean emails too. There’s just so much anger, but I have promised myself no more of those emails. It’s a waste of time and I’m only hurting myself as I’m breaking no contact and keeping him in my brain where he doesn’t belong anymore. Thank you for your advice. 🙂

  • Martha, I was married for 31 years and I still sometimes wonder what I could have done differently. However, to get past the horrible pain you’re in now you have to do one thing. Start loving yourself more than you love him. Every time you’re tempted to talk to him, or find out what he’s doing, ask yourself “will this help me or hurt me?” I can guarantee your answer is going to be “it will hurt me.” Choose to love, value and care for yourself. Don’t accept a damaged person’s opinion of your worth. Your tortured thoughts about what you could have done differently are nothing more than a bad habit, and you can always break a habit. After all…

    “The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.” -Bryan McGill

    Martha, you can love yourself more than your husband ever could.

  • Hi Martha-

    Just wanted to wish you a belated Happy Mothers Day!! I also wanted to remind you that not only do you appear to be a wonderful mother and woman, there is NO WAY that his cheating is your fault.

  • I got that same line from my ex about Mother’s Day. I never understood that. He also told me he supported me “too much” when I was advancing in my career. All my fault. Even though he was the one who picked up street walkers for years and years. He was just trying to justify his behavior like your soon-to-ex is. Both of these guys can’t face that they totally suck. I could and now I’m divorced and better off and you will be soon too. What A-holes!!!

    If I was living in the middle of a cock roach infestation I still would be better off than living with my ex. That might make a funny cartoon Tracy…

  • God this guys blaming you makes me want to vomit. What an asshole.

    I found for myself and some of my girlfriends that finding concrete proof of an affair really helps to move on. One of my friends hired a PI. I myself put a key logger on the home computer. Its just helps to have it in black and white in your face for those times you doubt yourself.

    I also think that a lot of the brain washing starts with the devaluation stage. It was great once so we start to get into that mind set that somehow its our fault. We start to try to please him instead of thinking what it is WE want in the relationship. It keeps us off balance… off of trusting our own selves and ignoring our own needs. Its the big initial hook into your psyche.

    You are going to have to do a complete 180 in your mind about who this person is. This site really helps. See a therapist for yourself too if you can and stay away from those horrible reconciliation people.

    Such a mind fuck blaming you for his trust issues. I get it. Been there and so glad I am no longer there. Just leave the fucker. Get a good attorney but get your ducks in a row first because once you stand up to him it can get nasty.

    • Yeah, I thought about hiring a P.I., but I don’t have money to waste and I certainly don’t want to waste it on my STBX! I just keep telling myself that “God has seen it all” and I’m okay with not knowing everything. Knowing even more isn’t going to change anything.

  • Hi Martha:

    To answer your question, no, you did not cause him to cheat.

    Cheating is a choice. Cheaters like being married, but they also like the thrill of having the secret on the side. It’s the kibble and cake thing.

    If your STBXH were an honest person, he’d have communicated his feelings to you, and the two of you could have worked on them together. Marriage counseling is for couples who identify there’s a problem BEFORE there’s any cheating going on. You mentioned you went to a pastor for counseling AFTER you found he was going out for pre-work meetings with former co-worker. Who pushed for counseling? Dollars to doughnuts you were the one who decided to save the marriage.

    Your STBX is blameshifting you and gaslighting you. You are buying his story because you’re so used to living with him and making accommodations to please him. This is very typical Chump, and it’s why you need therapy and No Contact to deprogram yourself.

    You also need a lawyer. You are dealing with a shark in a people suit. You cannot trust him–and believe me that this is very hard after so many years of assuming that he’s trustworthy. Find a lawyer who’ll go after temporary spousal support so that you can transition from a part-time to a full-time job. Find a lawyer who will, if you have minor children, fight for better-than-state-mandated child support.

    Good luck.

    • Yeah, I’d say I pushed for counseling with our pastor and he went, but the whole time we were in counseling he was pretending to be working on our marriage, but behind the scenes he was talking to co-workers about divorce and lawyers. He’s definitely a snake in a suit!

  • Martha, your (I hope) soon-to-be-ex sounds just like my ex husband. His saying, “I need to be with someone who trusts me,” OMG, I got that as well. Maybe they should have been TRUSTWORTHY if they wanted to be trusted, right?

    Your husband sounds extremely disordered, textbook narc. The way he’s twisting reality to blame and mindfuck you…. that’s how they roll. It’s always YOUR fault, despite the fact that HE is the one cheating (and yes, he’s having physical affairs and has been for years.) “Coffee dates” is his euphemism for fucking his coworker, just like when my ex used to say he was getting together with a friend to “smoke cigars,” but they were really giving each other blow jobs (and yes, I fell for that one, too.)

    There is NOTHING you did wrong to be devalued. That is what narcs do. You could be the most perfect woman on earth and it would still happen, because it is about what is inside THEM, not about you.

    Please talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Your husband saying you and the kids could get along financially without him tells me that he’s been thinking ahead for quite awhile, and probably has moved money or arranged finances to his advantage.

    • Wow! You got that same comment, too, about wanting to be with someone who trusts them 100%?!! They must all read the same book in order to say the same things.

  • Martha please repeat after me: there is nothing wrong with me AND I deserve better.

    I am also stellar at ‘spackling’ and didn’t really believe my 17 year marriage was all that bad until the last 2 or 3 years (and ending with DD#2). But now – with time, healing and a bit of therapy – I can see it was terrible.

    This line is one I can empathize with: …..until after my 40th birthday. The birthday I thought maybe he’d buy me a cake for once or get me some flowers or a present (flowers twice in 20+ years!), but he didn’t…… This line tells me that you know who he is — but it is a painful thing to acknowledge. Honey, he is a ‘fucktard’.

    There’s lots of good advice here and I would also suggest getting some counseling.

    Right now it sucks but it will get better.

    • Yeah, I can look back now and see that he sucked a lot. The thing that drives me bonkers is that everyone (well not everyone anymore) thinks he’s a “nice guy.” My family was surprised with all the crap I put up (I never told anyone.)

  • You do need to “deprogram yourself” as weird as that may sound, it is true.
    You are conditioned to certain things that you should not be. Go No Contact if possible or at least as No Contact as you can. It will help immensely as your mind is allowed to stop fighting the battle it is constantly in right now of trying to figure things out. Instead it will be allowed to process what has happened to you and it may take some time but you will be able to see the truth. Also find a lawyer and follow the advice here. Most of us have been exactly where you are now so we know. Good luck and keep coming back to CN as the help is absolutely wonderful.

    • The “deprograming” is new to me. I’ve never been told that before, but I will take it seriously. I have to still constantly think of him, because of the divorce not being final and I have to still communicate with him due to the kids. I’ll be happy when the day comes that he’s no longer in my head.

  • I needed this today. It has been a tough week dealing with the end of the fantasy i thought was my marriage. This article reminded me how miserable I was ignoring the contact with the numerous “friends”. I was a wreck all the time wondering who she was talking to and what she was up to. Listening to the nothing is going to happen with them. I just talk to them to understand you better. I knew better and asked she stop. Told her how it bothered me. She would stop sometimes for a few weeks. Then would start right back up. I am not crazy and my feelings were justified. A normal human being wouldn’t engage in inappropriate behavior like that to begin with. It is truly a blessing to be away from it.

      • Yea I got sold the same BS: I’m helping her with her marriage (from a cretin who wouldn’t talk about his own)–that was for AP#1. Then for AP#2: her “boyfriend beats her”. I read him the riot act and told him to choose. He didn’t choose, so I ACTED. And lawyered up and kicked his ass to the curb. As we all hope Martha will do.

    • I’m sorry you went through the same thing with all the “friends.” It’s so hurtful. I’m happy I don’t have to deal with it anymore either. My STBX actually said to me, “I don’t even recognize they are females. They are sexless to me. They are just friends.” Well, gosh. Do you send flirtatious emails and texts to your male friends?!

      • My son was born the day before my husband’s birthday. He felt like he was being overlooked since I couldn’t throw him a party. I remember saying you have a new and healthy son! Be grateful for that! Later on he also got jealous of the affection I heaped upon the baby!

        • Yep! I totally saw the jealously like you experienced. It NEVER made sense to me. After my son was born, my STBX’s mommy onto him, ” Oh baby, you look so tired. Poor baby.” Gosh. No concern for me, the person who actually pushed the baby out of my private parts. My STBX actually said to everyone on the phone about me, “She (me) had MINIMUAL discomfort.” Yeah…..no. My family saw him acting weird and jealous. Our son was crying and he refused to give our son to me. He got our a parenting book about parenting and crying of a newborn. Read that. Took our son to the basement where it was cooler, refusing to give our son to me, his mother who would have nursed him and calmed him down. But he refused! He only cared about himself. It was all about him. No concern for his crying son Assbrain.

      • I was told “I talk to my female friends the same way I do my male friends.” As if it were perfectly normal. I wasted a lot of energy explaining why he ought not do that!

    • Yeah, at the time I couldn’t figure out why he was acting that way. Even my mom and sister saw him act really weird when they came to visit after our son was born. My STBX was no longer the center of attention and he was jealous of the one who took the attention away from him.

  • Martha, first, realize that he is a parent as well as you. The idea that he was jealous of his own child tells you that he was about five years old emotionally. He has never moved past that. Second, he will continue to cheat until he is on his deathbed. Opera singers have to practice every single day in order to keep their strong voices. Your husband has been practicing every single day to be the smooth operator he thinks he is. Thank goodness you do not have to live with that horrible human being another minute.

    • I really liked what you said about him practicing every day to be a smooth operator. His charming personality has certainly come a long way since I first met him. He was actually a bit on the shy side when I first met him, but he’s no longer that way. I’d love to see him in action with his “friends.” I have no doubt is charming, attentive, a good listener and flirtatious.

  • Martha, we so get you here. What you wrote is what we battled with. You are not alone! The most important part of CL’s reply to me, was the bit that we can control: ‘What IS about you is how you’ve put up with being devalued for 20+ years. Why you accepted so little and did not enforce your boundaries of basic respect. I’m not blaming you here — I’m saying YOU MATTER. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with voicing your needs in a relationship. Like, “I need you to not spend 9 years having coffee with another woman” or “I need you to not go on dates while we’re married.” I’m sure he mindfucked you when you expressed those needs with some version of “It’s all your fault.” But the fact is, then and NOW, you have to pay attention to reality. His actions gave you the answer to the “don’t I matter here?” question. He demonstrated he didn’t give a shit.

    You failed to pay attention, because it was painful to do so. Because of the intermittent rewards of his attention and “good” behavior. Because you were economically vulnerable to him. Because of your values of loyalty and family. And probably because of your own issues (check that out with a therapist, read up on codependency). It’s okay, we’re all recovering chumps here. We get it.”

    This is the only part in your whole sorry marriage that is yours. You are mighty, Martha, and you deserve much more than this selfish selfish person who (actually) can’t do relationships, can’t really connect with another human being. I can promise you that although you are on a road of pain, there is peace and serenity on the other side. The Chump Nation is with you. I thought I would die with the pain of being abandoned, but now I can see what an incomplete person he is. Once I adored him, now I secretly think he is a bit of a creep (his attitude to sex and women).

    • Thank you to you and Chump Nation for getting me. I know everything CL and you said is so true. I tried setting boundaries, by they were pretty weak. And when I told him it hurt me that he would have lunch dates with women — he stopped telling me about ANY lunch dates, male or female. It was his way of still doing what he wanted. Lying by omission. I’m happy to be out of Crazy Land, but I know I still have a long way of healing and deprogramming ahead of me. Thanks for you helpful comment.

  • Over 26 years, Snake had a number of female co-worker “friends” I was concerned about, but he gaslit into me so fiercely if I mentioned anything I thought was inappropriate, I backed down and just tried as hard as I could to trust him. Of course, he then abused that trust.

    Like you, I never had anything that would “prove” a PA ever happened. But when I came across hard evidence of an EA, and realized he’d been gaslighting and emotionally abusing me for almost the entire marriage, I finally had enough and left.

    Had I not left, I believe the snake was on the verge of telling me he wanted a divorce.

    Read up as much as you can on narcissistic abuse. Open your eyes, and take a realistic view of the patterns over the decades you’ve been married. Pay close attention to descriptions of how gaslighting and narc abuse affect the victim. You’ll see yourself in that.

    It’s very hard to admit to yourself you have been abused, when it is “only” emotional, but it is a huge first step in dropping the victim label and moving on to being a survivor.

    Take yourself back in time to the woman you were before getting involved with your husband. Work on igniting the spark you used to have. Rediscover your passions in life OTHER than him. Step by step, you need to identify the pieces of you he has broken down, so you can rebuild.

    You will get through this, but it takes some time. Be good to yourself.

    • Yes, I’ve been reading a lot about narcissism. I never in a million years would have thought I was in a relationship with a N, but I had three healthcare professionals say to me that they thought he might be a N.

  • Martha, propel yourself away from this bottomless pit of need, over the lava pit of lies he’s surrounded you with and out of his universe. I don’t care if it takes the ION cannon from The Empire Strikes back to give you enough velocity to tear free. It’s vital:)

  • Trust is a huge point of contention with my cheater wife too. Just this weekend, I questioned her heading out to get her nails done for a couple of hours. She stared at me confused like I was babbling in a foreign language, “What?! You don’t TRUST me?!” Now that I reflect back on it, I WAS speaking in a foreign language.

    She’s cognizant she did wrong by me and our family. However, the consequences of her cheating are what seem so foreign. So I shot back the same befuddled look she gave me and replied, “Sweetie, I DO trust you. I TRUST you are a cheater. I TRUST you will take advantage of me. I TRUST you will lie to me. I TRUST your intentions are evil.

  • Martha, we were all married to the same entitled, selfish POS. It’s amazing when we compare notes that they all follow the same playbook and they all say the same things. Right now I am not only battling his refusal to take the blame for the demise of out marriage (9 year LTA, could be more), but he now has his parents on board. He recently sent me a message saying that “we could have worked things out between us”. Really? You can’t fix a marriage while you’re still cheating, fuckwit! I didn’t acknowledge that mess. And he needs to use me as a reason why he and his whore are still not officially together, I won’t let him go. Really? We have been in court now for almost 2 years and he keeps coming up with crazy settlement after crazy settlement just to drag everything out. Hoping that this mess ends soon.

    But everyone here is right, don’t accept the blame for their mess, and you need to figure out by you would put up with this level of abuse in the first place. Because that is what it is, ABUSE. And rebuilding is hard, so be patient with yourself.

  • Martha getting mind fucked over under the guise of saving your marriages absolutely is about the evilest thing a cheater can do. Been there and it’s a shitty hole to be buried in, but it will get better and trust me once you get out of the fog you are going to be so happy with yourself your own friends won’t even recognize you.

    • Yep! He totally messed with my mind during marriage counseling right up until the day he brought up the Divorce Letter. I said to him, “What kind of person does what you did to me?” His response was, “A confused person.” I said, “No! An EVIL person!” I don’t buy his bs that he didn’t know what he was doing and was confused. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing. Almost two months before the Divorce Letter came out, he was talking to co-workers about divorce and lawyers. I have concrete proof of this. He’s EVIL.

  • This, this and this soooo much! There were plenty of signs along the way I totally ignored (mostly because at the end I didn’t want to stop and examine them while holding our newborn in my arms) but when you tell your spouse you’ve had a really, really hard day (severe PPD made much worse by an absent, cold distant husband who insisted I keep the unplanned pregnancy all while knowing he was going to leave anyway) and for once, need a night where SHE isn’t coming over and you can just spend time together, and he says, “Okay, but something really important happened at work and she needs to talk about it. Afterward, okay?”

    How much more fucking obvious did I need things to be? *facepalms*

    • So sorry, Cakeless, that he made your motherhood so miserable. You do know that a normal partner would be full of bonding love endorphins, when his wife is holding his baby? All he could focus on was a co-worker? So glad you’re out of there!
      Sending love to you and your child. Your X didn’t deserve either of you.

  • Martha, My dear,

    My Cheater Pants tried the line: “you’ve never trusted me.” to which I spat back: “Seems like I had/have good reason not to.” They are just astonishing jerks. I had to whip up my own anger to defend myself from the gaslighting and self pity thrown my way. Try a dose of that for yourself and go no contact with your very own Cheaterpants. Good luck.

  • Martha: I did not read all of the other responses but please take the advice here and build a new/better life for yourself without cheater pants! He sucks on many levels. I experienced very similar circumstances and at times I felt as tho I would go insane. It took me SOOOO long to reprogram myself but I am 1,000 times better now than I was when I was listening to my dipshit and his many lies and excuses for his poor choices and behavior. Like Tracy says “call bullshit …..bullshit” when you see it.

    My Ex still fucks with me about co-parenting and I don’t cave to his bullshit. So much less stress in my life without the wandering dick trying to screw with my life!

    It is NOT you. It never was. Stay strong and put your bitch boots on and kick ass!!!

  • The entitlement these assholes exhibit it just breathtaking. Somehow, this is YOUR fault you don’t trust him? OMFG. Yes, that’s gaslighting, blameshifting and emotional abuse.

    Lots of red flags. It’s NOT normal for married dudes to have a ton of female “friends”. Sorry, not normal, not okay… not a reciprocal adult relationship.

    Run Martha, you deserve better.

    • Asswipe put words in my mouth, made decisions in his head about what i think and how i feel convinced it was the total truth. Gee dont bother asking me you douchebag make up my mind for me. He always made a huge deal about mothers day called his sister and daughter to wish them happy mothers day for 27 years. Last three he denies ever calling sister or daughter wtf they are not my mother! Tells me he doesnt even know why he wished me happy mothers day. New whore gets the whole deal flowers, candy, dinner yeah caused raised someone elses kids! FUCKING ASSHOLE. RUN MARTHA RUN!!!!!

      • Yea. Mine would ask a question then when I gave am answer he did not expect he would say that is not what you were supposed to say. I’d tell him give me my lines next time. I spent a lot of time training him ( loosely speaking) so I know he will take the good habits he picked up from me with him to make him appear more normal. He well may treat someone else better cause he needs to lock down this supply better than the previous one. But I won’t want that treatment from someone who will turn callous in a blink.

      • My ex told me he couldn’t lose his “best friend” (the mistress). Apparently, things got rocky with said “best friend” pretty fast. Now, he’s got a new wife and had a girlfriend because they have an open marriage. Apparently, he broke the contract with his wife and put the girlfriend on a pedestal. The wonderful girlfriend ended up fucking several guys he and her boyfriend didn’t know about. He was all heartbroken about the girlfriend’s cheating and demanded the wife give up her boyfriend. She kept on seeing the boyfriend and he found out about it because he spied since he is ironically paranoid and distrusting. I guess this is what happens when you start hanging out with people who lack the same values you lack. They can’t even handle being poly let along monogamous. On the other hand, I may not be perfect, but I’m a much better best friend and my new best friend is a much better friend than my ex. Stay away from the people who turn your life into a Jerry Springer show. Nobody needs that.

  • Ugh, my ex also had tons of women friends. I just thought it meant he was an Enlightened and Sensitive male. So when he started hanging out with one in particular, I never thought much of it. So OBVIOUS now…

  • This story…over and over and over again…told by so many chumps and sounding just like mine. Oh how I wish I could send this link to STBX and his fuckbitchwhore so they can see they are not “unique.” There is nothing special or earth-moving about their “love.” They are run-of-the-mill cheaters. Ordinary. Just like the rest of them.

    The last time I had any significant contact with STBX was three months ago. I asked him if he planned to ever tell the kids (all grown) the truth about Fuckbitchwhore. He asked whose truth he should tell — his or mine? Fucker.

    • True word salad, since apparently his “truth” would be a LIE. Because as we all know, in cheaterworld, up is down, the sky is green and the grass is blue….cause they say so. That is why you can never reason with the epically evil and disturbed and should not waste one sweet breath on trying, Zmichelle. What fuckers.

      • Exactly. They don’t even understand the meaning of the word “truth.” There is only ONE truth, comprised of the facts. My ex used a similar phrase, saying, “you can’t deny me my truth.” By which he meant his pathological lies, blameshifting, gaslighting and spin.

  • The second time I caught Fat Bastard cheating he used the You have to learn to trust me bullshit.

    Trust is earned, and when you’re fed a steady diet of lies and gaslighting it becomes very hard to trust your own reality.

    Think about this- you’re writing to a woman who clearly states Leave A Cheater- it’s right there on the home page. So on some visceral level you KNOW that you’re being Chumped. Enough so that you sought out this site and took the time to write.

    He is lying to you. He is using you. You deserve better.

  • Years ago I read a book by Dr. Patricia Love called “Emotional Incest.” It was a book that addresses the damage parents do when they put a child in the place of the adult partner. In my case, my mother did that, to some degree with both children. And of course, that damaged us. The book meant a lot to me at that stage of working on my FOO issues, but I never forgot one list that she included about adult partners. (I don’t have a copy of the book any more, but I found the list here: Notes on Patricia Love’s book, from
    http://dbeckywahkinney.vpweb.com/upload/The%20Emotional%20Incest%20Syndrome.pdf

    “The Spousal Unit – Roles and Responsibilities of Adult Partners
    o Respect and support each other
    o Nurture each other
    o Practice tolerance
    o Have fun together
    o Adult partner are lovers
    o Share significant interests
    o Partners are confidants
    o Financial partners
    o Adults are each other’s primary social partners.
    o Resolve conflicts and work out problems

    You might say this is a list of needs that we have when we get married or enter into a committed partnership with another adult. Either the note-taker or Dr. Love said this: ” When a marriage doesn’t live up to this standard, there is an unconscious or conscious wish that it would. If marriage doesn’t meet these needs there is a void in their lives.”

    When one partner enters into an affair, or a string of one-night stands, at least 8 out of 10 of these go out the window. A chump might still “share significant interests” and even “have fun together,” at least when the cheater isn’t with the AP. But the rest of this list is impossible when one party is betraying the other. So this notion of trust–pfffttt. Once cheaters abandon 80-99% of their responsibilities to their partner, the marriage is over. Because love and support–gone. Nurturing–gone. Practicing tolerance–that’s hard when the cheater is devaluing the spouse. Lovers? Maybe there is still sex, but it’s sex with a big secret betrayal. Financial partners? Cheaterpants is spending money on the affair and hiding that. Resolving conflicts and working out problems? Whatever the marital problem, the cheater has “resolved” it with the distraction of the affair, while the chump is still banging the head on the desk trying to communicate. Confidants? That’s a joke, given the big secret cheater life. So we’re down to the matter of being primary social partners. And the cheater is having breakfast or running 6 miles a day or playing racquetball or mountain climbing or doing karaoke with Schmoopie while the spouse/partner sits at home alone, or with the kids, or goes out with a friend.

    Most of us have friends of the same gender as our cheating partners. But we don’t have the time or inclination to turn that person into our confidant or primary social parent or lover. And we don’t have the time because we know that time should be invested in our primary relationship or the kids or our aging parents or our career/work/education/community. No heterosexual adult needs an regular opposite sex running partner, and I say this as a former marathoner. If Schmoopie is sad and “needs to talk,” that’s Schmoopie’s problem. When a “friendship” starts cutting into the time, money, respect and attention needed for the primary relationship, that’s a giant ass red flag.

    • I really relate to this:

      “Whatever the marital problem, the cheater has “resolved” it with the distraction of the affair, while the chump is still banging the head on the desk trying to communicate. Confidants? That’s a joke, given the big secret cheater life. So we’re down to the matter of being primary social partners. And the cheater is having breakfast or running 6 miles a day or playing racquetball or mountain climbing or doing karaoke with Schmoopie while the spouse/partner sits at home alone, or with the kids, or goes out with a friend.”

      LAJ, you pretty much summed up my 31 year marriage…at least once he met the woman of his dreams when she started working for him as a grad student. She rose up in the ranks of his department pretty quickly for someone so young, and ended up being an assistant director, with my ex being director. When I look back it feels like I spent 90% of my time waiting at home alone while he traveled the country with her. How could I complain? He was just working to support our family (right). Even when he was in town he was going to lunch with her, jogging with her, carpooling with her, running errands with her, or even taking his clothes to the dry cleaner’s with her. Even when my mother-in-law opened the door one day to find his coworker standing on our porch with my husband’s dry cleaning in hand, his family didn’t think it was strange or inappropriate. I remember thinking something was wrong with me because I seemed to be the only one who had a problem with their relationship. After all those years of waiting, trying to communicate with him, trying to connect with him…it turned out my intuition was right about their relationship all along.

      • I’m so sorry he treated you that way. What a selfish clod. That list is important, I think, as a way for those who are facing issues with a partner who has a time- and attention-sucking relationship with someone else. If the partner is still fully plugged in, those needs are probably still being met. But if we are sitting at home alone or looking for others to spend time with because there is another person “present” in the marriage and the quality of the intimate connection is deteriorating, it’s time to ask what we want. How do we want to live? What do we need in an intimate partnership? Imagine if a Cheater like yours came home early in the affair (stuffed on kibbles and cake) only to be served with a petition for divorce. What I hope for is a culture in which people (including me!) understand that we deserve love, support, nurturing, respect, and a true “primary social partner.” I hope someday we don’t need to get to D-Day to say: “See this list? I’m not getting any of this from our marriage. We’ve gone to marriage counseling and nothing has changed. You’re still gone 16 hours a day and spending your free time with Schmoopie. So I’m out of here.”

  • Dear Martha – gas lighting is severe, twisted, emotional abuse about which we all have instances, examples, stories and sorrow. Warped, wavy, crazy making is cruel. A new, better benchmark is to remind yourself to surround yourself with those who help your being. Always. Do no more disservice to yourself. Take no more misery.

  • Chumps often make the mistake of believing it’s “just” an emotional affair. I personally don’t believe in such a thing. An emotional affair is simply a physical affair that hasn’t gotten to the fucking yet. And in real life, affairs get to the fucking a lot faster than cheaters admit to. Seriously, some of these stories where the cheater claimed to just be meeting for coffee or whatever for years…. yeah, right.

    My ex also had an extensive “fan club” of admirers. I frequently told him it bothered me that he had standing coffee dates with married women, or he spent endless time texting various women, or he would inappropriately flirt and touch people during conversation. He would always laugh and say that they “knew he was a happily married man” and that he “would never do anything to jeopardize his marriage.” Jesus, I was so stupid. It still shames me how easily he fooled me, and how he had to have been laughing contemptuously at me inside his head. And that’s not even counting all the dudes he did on the down-low.

  • This man sounds just like my Dad, except substitute bowling for “Stephen Minister.” Yes, he hit on the wife of a dying man while standing next to that man’s bed. What a fucking creep. I am angry all over again, he wrote a divorce letter to my Mom, too. I don’t know how she kept from killing him. You are free, Martha! My Mom blossomed after Dad left, and you will blossom too.

  • This was hard to read. Like others, I went through a similar story and similar hell. The anger is natural and it is processed out over time, a long time. It’s been about a year post my discovery of his affair on me which later turned into multiple affairs, though the jackass still denies he did anything wrong. So many skanky women out there more than happy to go out with a taken man….well, that’s another story/comment in and of itself. But, I will say this: your husband sounds like a psychopath. The more you read about a psychopath the more you will understand his lies, gaslighting, manipulation and his projection of guilt onto you. You can’t rationalize with him on any of this because he is incapable of empathy and telling the truth. I won’t sugar coat this, but this is not a quick fix for you – you can’t just get over it. You will need to go through the stages of grief and it takes a long time. The best thing to do besides getting a lawyer is learning how to recover from emotional abuse and learning to love yourself (something that was lost on me). Be good to yourself during this time.

    • Yes, you are totally right. I couldn’t understand a few people telling me to just move on. There are other men out there (ugh, no thanks.) Just move on. Why are you still crying about him? He’s not worth it! Very few people understand what I’ve been through. It was abuse. Mind abuse.

  • Martha, my heart is aching for you. I didn’t marry this guy, but I dated him on and off for five years. The love-bombing, devaluing, and discarding ran for about seven cycles before I finally woke up.

    He had loads of emotional affairs with married women, and the only reason I think they didn’t get physical was that he is a closet gay and terrified of the fact. He’s never been sexually intimate with anyone of either sex, but it didn’t stop him cheating. And yes, he was another man with Huge Mommy Issues.

    Your husband is a cheater. He’s just hidden the evidence really well. You may never find ‘actual evidence’ of the sort you want, because he’s so cunning, but this also means that he has probably hidden money from you as well. Get the pit bull lawyer and the forensic accountant. You will need them.

    Even if you never find the ‘actual evidence’ that will give you the closure you need, it may be easier to find the hidden money. And that’s worth a lot more in the long run.

    Please do not torture yourself by wondering if you have the wrong end of the stick, because you don’t. He’s a cheater, pure and simple, even if you never ‘prove’ it to your satisfaction.

    • Raising hand here too ^, I just know he was closet gay but he was definitely not going to admit it (farm boy).
      What really surprised me is he chose another beard. I would have been more relieved than if it had been a guy. In fact, I was so suspect it was another guy I found myself on gay websites searching for answers. So, when he found a loose woman – probably his next beard to hide his secret, well, it shocked me. I mean, come out already and put yourself to peace and others around you.

  • I also believe the cheater needs to say all these things about you the betrayed one. It is how he can justify what he is doing. It makes it all okay. You are the problem! If you aren’t the problem then he is. So much better for him to make you the bad guy. Do not believe what he has pushed onto you for all these years. It is terrible! It will take time. But you have been the honest and loyal one. It is not fair but remember these were his decisions and he never asked you. Hang in there it will get better!

  • I experienced something similar, Martha, and it’s so confusing. My STBX formed an intense, sudden friendship with a single woman. Later, i find out that he had become “infatuated” with her and this experience helped him to “discover” that he had been unhappy in our relationship for as much as two years of our eleven year marriage. He told me he had been repressing his unhappiness. Ooooookay. Follow this with two months of crazy behavior and top it off with his having unprotected sex with strangers. But the weird part? It’s all my fault! That’s right, he told me he behaved this way because he just loved me “too much.” He loved me sooooooo much that it made him unhappy. And that unhappiness drove him to having sex with strangers. Sure, this sounds crazy now, but at the time he was most convincing. I believed it for a while and blamed myself for the entire debacle.

    This isn’t about you. I think they have to develop a narrative to explain their behavior to themselves.

    • Ha! Babe, I just love you so much that I need to go fuck other women without protection. That’s the best he could come up with? Some people really are two cards short of a deck aren’t they?

    • Yeah, my STBXH actually said to me, “I’ve been unhappy for the last ten years BUT DIDN’T KNOW IT.” You can’t make this stuff up! I was there the last ten years and he sure seemed happy to me most of the time! It’s crazy-making at it’s finest.

      • My h was miserable for 9 of the ten years we were married. Then wait it was actually 5 then no, 4 then 2, then maybe 18 months, but really it started when he started texting OW 4 months ago. Really? So you were cool until you started up with her?! You ASS! And now he’s leaving for his real, real, real, true, true love the whoremat. Abused and taking scraps from other women when she knew he was married. ?????

  • Yep, either that or it is a physical affair and you just don’t have evidence of the fucking. Oftentimes, cheaters won’t cop to what you don’t know.

  • Martha,

    No you are not at fault.

    Short of battery and inidelity on your part, you upheld your end of the deal.

    One of my favorite retorts I learned here on Chump Lady: “I may not have been a perfect spouse, but I was perfectly faithful.”

  • Oh, how I don’t miss the gaslighting!

    Martha, you sound like a very nice woman, and a chump (like all of us here).

    You did NOTHING wrong.

    My ex did the same things:

    She complained that I was too restrictive, and not supportive of her making friends at her new job.
    She said her affair was emotional.
    She said she would work on the marriage.

    And then…when we (meaning “I”) started working on the marriage by going to couples counseling, she started with the whack-a-mole. She was unhappy for X, so I said I’d address X. But then she realized it was actually Y that was upsetting her, so I tried to work on Y. Then she said it couldn’t be X or Y because she was still feeling unfulfilled and I wasn’t doing it for her, so she started with vague complaints that I couldn’t address because there was nothing to actually do to fix the problem…

    And all the meantime, she gaslighted me. She tried to trick me into thinking the affair was over. She diverted conversations. She planted red herrings. She even went out of her way to try to make me happy in other ways so that I’d stop asking about the guy I suspected she was fucking. I still remember the massage she bought me at a local high-end masseuse: the entire time, I thought about whether she was at home, taking advantage of the 1.5 hours I was away to bang her colleague.

    Martha, you deserve more than your man. This is all about him, and not about you…despite the fact that you are intimate collateral damage.

    Get away. ASAP.

  • Hey Martha,
    This thread is getting very long, and everyone has been pretty much spot on with their empathy, support, and advice. So I just want to address one specific issue, which you stated in your first couple of sentences.

    “Dear Chump Lady, To this day, I have no proof that my soon-to-be-ex cheated on me physically. I do know for sure that’s he’s had many emotional affairs since before we got married. (I was so stupid at the time and pursued him during one of a few “devaluing” stages.)”

    Dear Martha, let me assure you, beyond 200% certainty. Your STBX has been hungrily plunging his cheating penis into multiple vaginas for that entire time. Emotional affairs my ass. Where there’s smoke, there is fire.

    I know it is agonizing beyond words to accept the physical aspect of it. I myself am shaking and in a retarded amount of neverending pain from the serial cheating my Evil Cum Sponge did behind my back for the entire marriage. I just would not want you to be under ANY illusions that there is even a slight chance that your STBX kept it in his pants. As far back as you think those EAs go, that’s when the penis got busy.

    But here’s the thing. Your absence of proof of the physical aspect is a actually a true BLESSING IN DISGUISE.
    In my case there was so much evidence and so much proof from Cum Sponge’s texts and e-mails that I was ready to exit Earth if not for the support of this forum. I was reading e-mails between her and other guys: THANKING HIM FOR LAST NIGHT, AND HOW SHE LOST HER VOICE FROM ORGASMING SO HARD WITH HIM THE NIGHT BEFORE. And that was just one of dozens of exchanges. Here’s another: a different guy saying last night was awesome, and WHEN ARE WE DOING ROUND 2? Her reply: WHO EVER SAID ‘NO’ TO GREAT SEX? LOL.

    The urge to slash my wrists was incredible. I honestly wanted to just die when I had to visualize the above in my head. And adding in the fact that I have to share a child with this whorish Vampire, therefore needing to continue to interact from a child-rearing perspective. I am now on multiple anti-depressants and I am experiencing symptoms of PTSD in addition to the Depression. The people on this forum are my Guardian angels. So trust me. RESIST the urge to keep searching for evidence of physical affairs. Unless you want to encounter the kinds of graphic, horrifying exchanges and e-mails I shared above. Nothing good can come of it, and you will drive yourself insane. Just trust that it (the physical part) has been happening the entire time. As Tracy said in her post, if it quacks like a duck and fucks like a duck….Shield yourself from the pain of what I had to read on my STBX’s laptop. It will not accomplish anything except more pain. YOU KNOW ENOUGH to RUN and never look back..

    • If you ever have the thought or inkling they are fucking, just assume they are. And that they did absolutely everything. At least when its just mere thoughts, and not having it proven, it blunts the anguish a tiny bit.
      And it still makes out that they are the whores they are – without completely destroying yourself.

    • Sammy888, I so get your pain. The worst thing is having to accept that your loving heart, soul and expression of physical love is nothing compared to the high of affair sex. I used to torment myself reading infidelity blogs from husbands-who-stayed who said ‘it was the best sex of my life’. They all said it. It is true.

      But after a while Sammy (you do have to go through it though) you stop caring. Who cares what disordered people do? People who use, who perform, who secretly hate and fear the other sex, who can’t connect genuinely as human beings?

      I am human and decent and I gave my heart with integrity and that is now good enough for me. I know I loved him and desired him and he had nothing to complain about. It is enough.

    • I’m really sorry for what you are going through. I have no desire to find out anymore information. I know enough to know he sucks. I hope you feel better soon. I’m on antidepressants myself (was on 0% meds before this all started) and they’ve helped so much.

  • Still standing, I am So, so very sorry for your loss! Having spent years with a narc STBXH is awful but to lose your only child to cancer is unimaginable. May God Bless you. BIG (((HUG)))

  • Martha, congratulate yourself on surviving the mindfuckery. Once I learned about the Cheater Handbook, mindfuckery became predictable. Turning phone over when I entered room? When I asked, I was accused of being paranoid and was even told I’d been working at an alternative school too long (where kids try to pull all sorts of tricks). Thru “research” I learned he had been face-timing just before I entered room. Nothing is ever the fault of the cheater, he/she will put it on you (Play 14 from handbook!). Keep reading CL – I would have committed myself to the insane asylum if I hadn’t found Chump Nation. You are rid of that louse – things will get better!

    • It’s crazy how the cheaters all do the same things! Yes, I will keep reading CL. It’s my lifeline at times. 🙂

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