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Dear Chump Lady, Which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair?

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cloudsDear Chump Lady,

I spend a lot of time thinking about the chicken and egg question — which  came first, the death of the marriage or the affair? My soon-to-be-ex said that it was never good from the beginning, (which would be 35 years ago). I know that isn’t true, but I don’t know when things started to go bad.

Now that I know what a crappy person he really is, I suspect there were signs years ago that I either didn’t understand or ignored. But what I really believe now is that he would have at least put some effort into the marriage (other than going to marriage counseling and lying) and I wouldn’t have heard ILYBINILWY if it hadn’t been for the affair. I now believe that, being the impulsive and addictive person he has always been, he got involved in an affair because it was fun and exciting. It was new and, of all the things I could not be, I could not be new.

Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating. I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me. Once he got into the affair, he found out how “wonderful” she was — he couldn’t even think of one bad thing to say about her, except she didn’t like it if he put his elbows on the table. She was so “loving” (puke here).

Anyway, my point is that I have been beating myself up for years. (It’s almost one year past the fourth and last D-Day and I am waiting for the final divorce decree.) Every time he wanted to come home to me, he ended up leaving again because he “missed her so much.” I remember every cruel thing he did — we were on an isolated beach on the Virgin Islands, just the two of us — when he said he didn’t love me for the first time. Even though that was five years ago, I can go back to that feeling in a second. And there have been many other instances of hurt and cruelty.

He told me (referring to her) “even a word can get you hard.” He also called me from the pharmacy where he was buying Viagra in order to have sex with her, and told me that I should watch porn by myself — the implication being that maybe if I was as skillful sexually as she was that he might have stayed. Then there was that time that he charged 64K on my Amex for his business, didn’t pay it, and walked out because I was “nagging him” to pay the bill and not ruin my credit. She supposedly didn’t want any money from him; she just wanted him to be happy with her. (Yeah, right.)

Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60. The logical part of me knows that he drags misery wherever he goes and he will soon ruin that relationship, which started out with the stink of betrayal and lies. It would be easier for me to know that I didn’t waste 35 years (40 if you count before the marriage) with this asshole and that some of it was real. (Of course, I have my son, who is the love of my life.) I do believe that he had to justify what he did by saying that the marriage was dead before the affair started. But I would like to know, which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair that killed it? Was this an exit affair and, if it was, why did he come back four times before I finally had enough?

lostandfound

Dear Lostandfound,

Does it matter? Dead is dead. Does it matter if the corpse was crushed to death by a falling piano, bludgeoned with ball-peen hammers, or poisoned by a genetically modified cookie? It’s DEAD. That’s either a sad thing (wow, Bob had a good inning, we’ll miss him!) or a relief (Bob, what an asshole, set another place setting, Satan…)

What exactly is the point of your autopsy?

Who killed Bob? Bob killed Bob. Was Bob a waste of 35 years? He sure sounds like a waste of space. But that chump question is best answered by realizing that YOU were real, that you invested, that you loved — and that’s the only story we control here — our own.

And that’s where your focus needs to be — not on “was this an exit affair?” or “was Bob ever truly happy in 35 years?” or “why did he keep coming back to me?” but “Why did I tolerate an asshole like Bob?”

I realize you had many years together and deep sunk costs, but when someone tells you they don’t love you anymore, the proper response is “Buh-BYE.” NOT the Pick Me Dance. Not being part of the rotating cake buffet. Not sitting around to listen to their many suggestions of how you can improve yourself. (And when they do that? Share! “I should watch porn to improve my performance? You should watch Jane Austen. I need you to be an early 19th-century English work of fiction. With a castle. Why can’t you be more like Colonel Brandon?”)

Did the marriage die before your ex had his affair? I don’t know. Maybe it did. News to you, I’m sure. Then it was incumbent upon him to either try and save it with some therapy, or leave honestly, fairly, and definitively.

Marriage counseling is fine if you’re in an actual marriage. You know, with TWO people. Then, sure, share your sexual fantasies and frustrations, work on how you both can improve yourselves for the better. But when a partner is cheating? Then it’s just a pick-me-dance competition. That shit is doomed.

Your ex is a typical cheater. Why did he come back four times? CAKE. And because you continued to be of use to him. (Or your American Express card did.)

By your description he was cruel, unfaithful, and financially abusive.

Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60. 

You were “left” without a cruel, unfaithful, financially abusive fuckwit. That’s GOOD news.

He didn’t get a character change when he left. He’s still the same creep. She “won” a creep.

Hope she’s got a good credit score. She’s gonna need it.

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    • Gah. Amazon is giving me conflicting messages. Now it’s saying May 10 again but it’s “in stock” now.

      Better sit on my hands… this is driving me nuts. Anyway, it’s coming SOON.

      • I got word two days ago that it would be shipped on May 4th Don’t know if that helps or not but that’s what Amazon told me.

      • Felicitacíones Tracy! Hope you will also personally record an Audible version. Itt’d be a terrific way to connect with chumps who need your wise & funny voice “inside their heads” while trying to get through each tough post-D-day. Whether I’m commuting or exercising or folding laundry, you’ve been my (figurative) voice of sanity for 1.5 yrs now. An audio book would be a fantastic way to broaden your reach & impact.

      • I got an email about six hours ago from the Book Depository telling me “You’re going to be one of the first to read Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life!

        I am pleased to let you know that your pre-ordered book has been made available by the publisher.

        Your books should be dispatched soon, so please review the details below and make sure your shipping address and items are correct.”

        Really looking forward to getting it and having a good read.

      • I got an email from Amazon a couple of hours ago telling me that it should be delivered May 3rd. I pre-ordered in December. Sounds like the publisher is getting it out a bit earlier than expected.

      • I got a notice over the weekend that my book was being shipped earlier than expected and I should receive it by May 4th or 5th.

      • Amazon notice said my books (2) will be delivered May 3rd. I already know who I am loaning the extra book to and I can’t wait to read it!

      • I GOT my e-book via Kindle delivered on April 3rd. I also ordered the actual book. So it looks like Amazon sent it out early.

      • I don’t know if this helps, but eBooks.com (my favorite) has your book on sale and ready to go right now. Kobo has never heard of you. Guess where i’ll be buying it from? 🙂

    • Yes, got my Amazon notice yesterday!! Will let you know when it arrives.. I’ve been looking forward to reading your book for months… Yes, once my book arrives I will write a review.

      • Chump advocate how were you able to get the Kindle version? I’m on pre-order with a May 10th delivery date…

      • Chump Advocate, I have a woman in the neighborhood who is lost and needs help divorcing. She is a SAHM and so far as she knows he hasn’t cheated. What is the number one book or resource you would recommend for her. She saw a lawyer and is really overwhelmed. Thanks for any help!!!

    • Can’t wait to read the book. May 10 works for me as grades will be in and I won’t be a prisoner of end-of-term madness. Will be glad to do a review, for sure.

    • Please pre-order if you haven’t already!! Preorder sales count toward first day sales. We NEED to get CL’s book to the top of the best seller list!!! Get the word out. Buy early and often!!

    • I got an email from Amazon saying that my order has not shipped yet, but that I will get it Tuesday (aaahhhh, glorious Tuesday!!!!) Best. Christmas. Gift. To. Me. EVER!!!! I ordered mine back December 10th.

      Thanks, Tracy!!!! MUAH!!!!

  • Sooooo familiar we were 36 years. He cheated 5 years ago and again right around when he left saying he just wants to have fun and I’m too negative. Negativity from trying to hold us together financially when he wouldn’t earn a living and we owned 4 properties along with losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failing business,obtaining that money by lying about stock in the business. His schmoopie makes good money,has her own house and a baby daddy in portugal so im sure he is looking forward to that trip that she is likely paying for.. I too question the failure but chump lady is right on . It tales 2 people to save a marriage and I was the only one making any attempts to do so. Not at meh but working on it….

    • sadlady15: “when he left saying he just wants to have fun and I’m too negative.”

      Just when I think I can no longer be amazed that THEY ARE ALL THE SAME, I’m amazed again. Yep, I got this too. He stuck me with all the boring, adult tasks he didn’t want to bother with, then told me one of the reasons he left was because he needs someone who’ll challenge him to have more fun.

      • Better days~
        It’s crazy isn’t it? They can’t be bothered to pay bills, file taxes, pay traffic tickets, make mortgage payments, etc. etc. and then they resent us for being responsible. I was so angry after marriage when I found out he owed $20k in back taxes that came out of our first return. I’ve since filed an injured spouse form to get that money back, and I will get it back. Idiot thought he was in the clear after I paid it and started the aggressive devalue and discard two months after our marriage.

        Asshat left out marriage where all his bills were paid and he was loved and supported, my family and friends adores him, for a 20 year younger unemployed drug addict singer who was living in her moms basement and has no drivers license (didn’t pay tix) and no car. Their duo album is entitled “love wins”, I frequently remind him that reality bites. He hasn’t gotten a full taste of reality yet, but he will as the divorce progresses. She will have to deal with reality too when she finds out he cheats on her too and is a serial cheater and liar. Fools deserve each other and their trainwreck life to come.
        Adulting is no fun. Boohoo.

  • I just ordered to hard copies of your new book! One for me to read and keep (and review) and the other to keep at the ready as a gift for a friend or family member who will inevitably face the same challenge of dealing with a cheater.

    • It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Even if the marriage was “bad” and everyone agrees that it was bad, you can still end your marriage without lying, deceiving, gaslighting, hiding money, and humiliating your spouse. I’ve seen it done, I know it is possible.

      There are really people out there that end relationships without destroying everything in their paths – they do exist. And yes, it is possible in life to end a relationship without going out of your way to screw somebody over.

      This was seemingly all news to my wife. It’s sad that something like this has to be explained to someone, isn’t it?

      • Really, Lost2015? I have never known anyone in my own personal sphere who divorced without adultery.

        • I was about to type that I know of one or two couples that divorced on honest terms (i.e “It just didn’t work out…”), but after reviewing all of the couples that I can recall divorced, just about every single on of them had claims or proof of adultery…wow…that’s fucking ridiculous…sad actually…

      • Exactly!!! If The Evil One was so damn miserable, he could’ve just said that instead of the years of neglect, affairs, financial stress, emotional abuse, sexual abuse (to a point), etc. If TEO had left honestly, we’d probably get along great, but NNNNOOOOO, TEO has to be a total scumbag, abandoning not only me, leaving me in financial straits, but he also abandoned our Autistic daughter…scumbag piece of shit!!!!

    • Excellent point. Even if a marriage “dies” one could argue the spouses then by default become friends instead of lovers, But do you treat a friend that cruelly? Of course not.

      • For myself, I know I tolerated junk in my marriage in how it ended that I would have never tolerated in dating. If a friend shared with us about his/her girlfriend/boyfriend behaving like our spouses (or exes), we’d likely tell our friend to run! Sad that it is hard to see it like that so invested in the marriage and all that comes with that.

  • Lostandfound, I love CL advice here. The time was real to you and what you lost is a GOOD thing as he hasn’t changed. It’s very hard to grasp and understand. My mind is still processing it to but you will see it with some more time away from his abuse. Another thing I’ve had ringing in my head is a statement I’ve heard before (my marriage being 12 years). “The only thing worse than being in a manipulative relationship for 12 years is being in a manipulative relationship for 12 years and 1 day”. Heart goes out to you. Hold your head up high, be mighty, and find some new adventures and things you love to do and people you love to be with to fill up this new life that lies ahead of you.

    • The memories were real to us, what we felt should not be poisoned by what we know now. That is the hurdle to get past in order to stop telling yourself that you “wasted” your life. Jedi Hugs!

  • We were nearly 30 years. I didn’t realize he was having a long distance affair for about 3 months after he first mentioned divorce. His excuse was the old ILYBINILWY. When I found out the affair was with his college gf, my first reaction was WTF is he thinking. He hadn’t seen her in 35 years! But it was “twu luv”. So once the course was set we started divvying up our assets and when we had to be together to move things to/from storage, he would sob like a baby. It drove me NUTS! I would just quietly turn to him and say, “I’m the one who is allowed to cry. You’ve made this choice and it’s not going to be undone. Man up.” I sometimes wonder if I saw this coming. He was running. He had projects whether it be on a church board, a village board, playing golf/tennis/skeet/paddle/choir. He couldn’t relax. He was an extrovert and in comparison I’m an introvert. I thought we made a great pair because our strengths and weaknesses balanced each other.

    When all this started 3 years ago, I used to have a panic attack and the hair on my neck would stand up each time I saw the word “divorce” and when I got emails from my lawyer. Now I’m no longer scared. I controlled the settlement and progress. I’m happy with my efforts. The divorce is final. I have two daughters who are awesome women. They understand their father is an a-hole. They refuse to meet Schmoopie (who moved here 6 months ago). We have moved on and left him to rot in his own tears.

    I don’t even wish Karma on them anymore. Life is good!

    • I could of written your letter. Anxiety attacks like crazy!!
      My kids also know he’s an asshole, refuse to have anything to do with him or her.
      No contact and this site are my peaceful place.
      Glad I have everyone here. I would be nowhere near meh without this support.

      • Me too!! I wouldn’t say divorce for months and thought I was “damaged goods.” I was so low but I put in lots of work and couldn’t be happier with me new life, minus the fuckwit!! I shudder to think I could still be married and miserable to that asshole. The worst thing that ever happened to me turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me!!!

    • Wow, Mom9193, I salute you! I love your response to his tears. And the fact that you don’t wish Karma on them any more is inspirational. I’m aiming for that. You are strong!

    • Mom9193, very similar story here. We were together 25, married 21, two kids, and she left for her college boyfriend – “twu wuv.” They started the texting and FBing last summer, and she made up some ridiculous lie about a girls’ weekend at the beach in October, and I found out the truth a week later (by looking through her phone, she was being so weird). She moved out in January and he moved to within 90 minutes of our town a month or so ago. The same questions the letter-writer asks have been going through my mind – how long has this thing been dead, what was wrong with me, etc., etc. But by finding CL early on in the process, and a lot of good help from family and friends, I understand (at least intellectually – emotionally is taking more time) what CL is saying. She’s got the problem, and now they have the problem, and my future looks bright, I guess. It kind of sucks being single at 52, and in kind of a small town, but I’ll make this work out. I have tricks up my sleeve still.

    • What is with the crying? It has been 18 months since dday. 12 since the divorce. She is still with the bf but they are not living together. Saw her to complete our taxes and she cried half the time. What the hell is she crying for. She has her bf, her new life and she chose it all. It is really rather pitiful. b

        • Wow, Buddy. I’d never heard of her or read this. Her articles on the male waif and passive-aggression were very enlightening. Thank you for sharing.

    • Married 35 years when found out about Schmoopie. We were together since I was 19. I’m 59 and 2 years out from final DDay. Wish I hadn’t forgiven him 2 “one night stands” early in our marriage. Too late I realized if you forgive them, they lose all respect, get more devious, and keep on cheating. Schmoopie was DDay #4 and that’s only the ones I knew about. Connecting the dots now, I realize he was a serial cheater hiding behind the mask of devoted husband and family man. Through therapy with a professional trained in pathological love relationships, I took an eye opening test of “His Traits”. He scored as an “Antisocial (sociopath) Pathological Narcissist”. A Cluster B Trifecta! By a landslide, his scores were so high. He was educated as a Rocket Scientist, and very smart Cluster B’s can keep their masks on most of the time for decades apparently. My therapist told me that when he was “good” that was the pathology in action. So his Good side was actually Evil incarnate. It’s the fact that they hide so well that is so dangerous. I was his billboard of normalcy. It hurts me that both adult boys have met Schmoopie and had to spend time with them as a couple. Neither one can talk to me about it (I’ve already said too much). My oldest just told me they came and visited him in NYC (from California) and it was “weird as fuck!” I wish they were able to stand up to their disordered father for being such a scumbag, but he’s pathological, and is working that sick b.s. on the boys. That’s just what psychopaths do. I’m still in the divorce process, still having anxiety, and still triggered when I get his mail, his phone calls, see his truck, see legal stuff. Its exhausting. I resent starting my life over at 59. When I review our marriage now, I see many things through a different lens, and recognize so much more of the covert abuse, gaslighting, pathological lying and general Mindfucking. He loved getting away with stuff, why didnt I realize he would love getting away with chesting on me? No “Pick Me dancing”. I am trying to be grateful that he’s got another victim to control and mindfuck now. Looking forward to being free, except that is still the father of my sons. In that respect I’ll never be rid of him until he dies. What a legacy of destruction he leaves in his wake.

      • What’s eerily prophetic in hind site, I gave him a Western themed surprise party for his 45 th birthday shortly after we purchased a Ranch. We still lived at the beach, and he loved going up to the ranch and hopping on his horse, or his tractor. I put up posters everywhere at the Ranch and sent out invitations to his “Sentencing” with pictures of him as both a business man, and as a Cowboy, saying “Wanted! For High Handed Outrages and Living A Double Life!

        We even put him in a stunt harness and “Hanged” him!

        Cant make this shit up!

        • Your ex sounds very much like mine, Chump Change, highly intelligent, very charming, kept the mask up for decades of marriage. It absolutely stuns me what a cool cucumber he was. No anxiety, no fear of getting caught. Must have been meticulous to keep it all under wraps for so long. When I was pregnant with my youngest (now 16), I even suspected him and dug and dug for evidence, but he looked deep in my eyes, convinced me he would never cheat on me and even persuaded family and friends, as well as my own children, that I was just “crazy” and “jealous” (of course he did that in the most loving way). Fast forward 12 years later and I catch him and our lives blow up in a spectacular fashion rarely seen in our community. Once he was finally and truly caught, he realized the gig was up, shrugged and moved on. I know now that our children and I were just an attractive and socially acceptable facade.

          Beneath that facade he was passive-aggressively and perpetually angry, felt trapped in the normalcy, and carried on all kinds of affairs and group sexcapades to relieve the boredom. He has now married one of his long-term AP’s, breaking up her marriage, requiring DNA testing of one of her sons. Our children refuse to speak to him and overnight had no father. I never could have imagined our apparently wholesome and somewhat sparkly life could degenerate into a weak and unbelieveable plot line for a Lifetime Channel Original Movie.

      • My story is very similar! I have been divorced one year and it has been 3 since discovery! I am 58 going on 59 and met him at age 14! I have since bought my own house, have had multiple proposals to date, and am finding life to be better than could be imagined without him! I think they really bring you so down you become a STEPFORD WIFE! My only regrets is not leaving him years ago…. I no longer care about the materialistic things that brought us together ! Life is too short to waste it on these fools!

  • If the marriage died, shouldn’t the next-of-kin be notified? And it’s rarely of natural causes and is more often murder. Too bad we aren’t afforded the opportunity to give the cheater in a dead marriage a proper burial. At the beach. Up to his/her neck. With lots of hungry crabs around. With high tide coming in.

    • YES, uneffingbelievable! Because the death is either unnatural, natural and unexpected, unexplained or unattended, there ought to be a coroner/medical examiner brought in to establish the cause and confirm the death. Also to ascertain, through a medicolegal inquiry, if the cause was accidental (falling into or onto sexual organs, heretofore not recognized as a cause of death), due to misadventure (and the nature of that), suicide (½ of a living thing can not survive administered poison or fatal blows), neglect or unlawful acts. All of the acquired evidence would be detailed in a public document, with recommendations to improve public safety and prevent similar such events.

      Sorry, I got carried away, thinking what a great job that would be!

      • Whoa.

        That was truly masterful, Virago. The vocabulary and verbs unfamiliar, and the use of a fraction gave me a techie thrill. Great writing.

        So, yeah. I’m more on the marriage autopsy bandwagon than it sounds like Chump Lady is. Even if, as Chump Lady says, the question is “Why did I tolerate a bitch like Match Girl?” I need to know everything about the dissolution of my marriage, including the divorce proceedings.

        Life has a limited number of tragedies it can bestow upon us humans. The obvious global scale phenomenon like: war, famine, acts of god, all spring to mind. Then there’s the personal tragedies. Death of a child, death of a parent, death of other loved ones. Tragedies also include: chronic illness, poverty, bankruptcy, pregnancy/abortion/infertility, and on-and-on ad infinitum. Almost every chump, if not all, have experienced one of these in their marriages. Tragedy defines us. How we deal with tragedy is more indicative of our character than what we do when we are happy. Our spouses proved that irrefutably.

        Marriages can and do survive all of the above and more. Many without adultery. Marriage is a living organism cultivated and cared for by two people. A marriage can only die when one person stops doing their agreed upon part. Until one person expresses that they are no longer providing that mutually agreed upon life-giving energy to keep the marriage alive, the marriage is alive.

        So, in my estimation the question lostandfound is asking is very simple to answer. “Which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair that killed it?” The affair killed the marriage.

        • “The vocabulary and verbs unfamiliar, and the use of a fraction gave me a techie thrill.”

          I shrieked with laughter, Ian. That felt really, really good. Thx man. And I had no idea how easy it was to give you a thrill!

          What if one person stops giving their mutually agreed upon life giving energy before the affair? That would kill it. And the affair would kill it (definitely not mutually agreed upon!). If I were the Marriage Coroner/ME, I’d have to pronounce the marriage as dead as a doornail either way.

          What did CL say? Dead is dead. No pulse. A portion beginning to decay (that would be cheater) and early rigour mortis. You may be saying, though, that your marriage was murdered by the affair. And my relationship slowly committed suicide because MoFaux killed off ½ (I couldn’t resist, Ian!) of the relationship.

          OMG. I just realized that I hate the word “affair”. The word just sounds altogether too exotic, refined, whatever. I kinda think we should call it something else that has a stinky sound. Ficklest, maybe. IDK. CN could solve this.

          • Virago,

            You are right about me. Simple pleasures for simple minds.

            I too hate “affair.” I find “adultery” works just as well on most occasions. Of course adultery is only applicable when it’s a married couple. And infidelity is not a strong enough word either. I feel your pain.

            • Nothing simple about your mind, Ian. No suggestion by me re that!

              One day when I am not so dim and less fatigued I would like to tackle the appropriate synonym for ‘affair’. Not quite as strong as fuckfest but a little stronger than fornication, though the latter is kind of appealing to me.

              • I love both your comments. Personally I prefer cheater. In NY the court declares adultery is intercourse between penis and vagina. Of course everything else (we won’t list them) is not adultery. I think cheater defines everything including the actual sex. A chump is cheated out of time, attention, money, honesty, etc. From the moment the person began lying to begin the first flirt, the inappropriate texts & phone calls, the secret meetings all the way until they were caught. We were cheated on in so many ways.

            • Cheater is a great term that even little kids understand and hate. Infidelity is good too, expresses the breach of faith. When you say affair though, people get it. The bad ones think it’s thrilling, the good ones hear pain. Wish people had a greater understanding of the meaning of betrayal. That’s the word I prefer. And traitor for cheater. Traitors are beheaded in Game of Thrones. Show is doing a great job of reminding people of the disgrace being a traitor should be.

  • Dear Lost and Found

    I have struggled with this same question. I really don’t believe your ex was unhappy for 35 years. It’s a case of shiny new syndrome. A marriage as long as yours had moved into the companionship phase, not that there can’t still be passion, but long term relationships evolve to more than giddy infatuation. Our exes are narcissistic and are unable to go to that deep companionship level. They simply jump to the “shiny new” cuz it feeds there insatiable appetite for “kibble”. Your ex most likely was not miserable. Most chumps like us are very in tune to others feelings and happiness. If he was so miserable you would have noticed. They only say they were unhappy because nothing can compare with the excitement of infatuation. Unfortunately they can’t remember back to when that same excitement was there with us. I know I haven’t been able to sort out all the questions about what happened to me, but the more time that passes it becomes clearer who my ex is. He was never what I thought he was or what he portrayed and I am getting closer to “meh” every day.

    • ^^^THIS^^^ “Nothing can compare with the excitement of infatuation.”

      The difference between me and Mr. Sparkles… I still loved him after the bloodbath… because my love was real… misguided and misplaced, but real nonetheless.

      His love was directly proportional to the shine. And, that is his pattern.

      Good luck #4… and 5, and 6 and 7 and 8 🙂

    • Perfect andrea i agree totally. Me the family the kids not new and sparkly but whore juices are! Fuck them both! Onward!

    • Your post is an epiphany for me, Andrea. The ex really WAS miserable for the entirety of our marriage. Miserable because of his many jobs, his FOO issues, his frequent illnesses, and my oh-so-many “failures”. And I would prop him up, and support him, encourage him, and apologize and dance harder after two DDays with “emotional” affairs and the numerous online fantasy flings. For years, until my son died.

      I had a hard childhood (mother died at two, abusive alcoholic father married three more times to the type of women alcoholic abusers attract), but somehow, his was so much harder.

      I had quite a few jobs I hated, but kept slogging through because bills until I could find a better one. Somehow, he just wasn’t able to stick to one more than a few months without coming home to announce that he had quit again with no new job lined up, bills be damned.

      I dented the new truck and apologized for months. Tools got stolen from the back of that truck because he was “distracted” because “I had made him so upset” during an argument that he left the truck unattended, and I apologized for months. When I found out about the first (E)A and cut off his ATM access to the emergency bank account that only I made deposits to (and which I discovered he had been giving her money from), he had no money for food while he was over-the-road and a continent away. I apologized then, too, but the words tasted like acid.

      The years rolled by. The kids or I would have the run-of-the-mill illnesses, but he would would suddenly fall sick and be so much sicker than anyone else. Every. Single. Time.

      During our wreckonciliation after the second (E)A, my adult son died in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and three very young kids. I was a basket case, on Celexa for a year in order to function at my job and maintain some semblance of sanity. During this time, he was there for me, telling me he was “all in” and his goal was to be as good a husband to me as his stepson had been to his wife.

      After a year of pharmaceutical numbness, I realized I was not processing my loss properly and withdrew myself from the drugs. As clarity returned, I realized that the AP was still very much in the picture, and had been since shortly after my son’s funeral. I had been “emotionally unavailable”, you know, and you just can’t manage to out-die someone to get those kibbles flowing again. What else was a Sad Sausage to do?

      It’s four years later. I am divorced, with sole ownership of the house that he was always too tired to work on. Sole ownership of the garage full of tools that he needed for the businesses he didn’t have time for because he was too busy flogging his dick on internet cam for his fantasy women. Sole ownership of the first edition Honda Gold Wing show bike that he just had to have until his first girlfriend decided it wasn’t as cool as a Harley Davidson, so it was left out to weather for a year. Sole ownership of over $5000 in HO train shit that he used as an excuse to isolate himself to build backgrounds for, but really to have long heartfelt phone conversations with Schmoopie 2.

      And him? He is living in a shelter downtown. On his third job in the last three months. Still miserable. And yes, he was miserable for the entirety of our marriage. And I finally accept that it wasn’t my fault.

      • WiserToday, You are so strong and so much better off. Your post brought back a memory that I forgot because of the trauma of d-day and made me laugh out loud. A week before D-day I borrowed his truck to go take back the returnable cans. I habitually park next to the cart return. As I was leaving I drove away and cut the corner too quickly before leaving the parking spot and ran the side of his truck from the cab door to the tailgate down the metal cart return. I swear it was a mistake and I confessed immediately and apologized. He was so pissed off his eyes glazed and all he could do was sputter. Now I’m glad I did it. Had I known what he was doing, I would have backed up and run the other side down the metal cart return and left matching dents and deep scratches.

      • my condolence for the lost of your son… from one mother of an angel to another. my eldest and first born past away mar 2012 for EDS. like yours my ex was by my side, I couldn’t tell you how long he was there by my side because I basically lost it. I do not remember the rest of 2012. I mean I know I washed clothes, feed children, took them to school, paid bills, bought food, made sure homework was done and got them to their games and practices, but I honestly do not remember doing any of it. working on auto pilot (and did a damn good job if you ask me) he did even manage to get a job all on his own (without me filing out the application and resume, wait, maybe I did, I don’t remember). anyhow around end of jan/beg of feb I start to wonder why I was still paying all the bills and everything with my paycheck. where was his paycheck going,,,, and that is when the games began. I don’t know at what point my marriage died. the rest of 2013 was one thing after another, hiding money, always broke, doesn’t remember what he spend his paycheck on and has nothing to show for it, I did not even know how much he was making until july, he was telling me he made 200 a week but was also putting in so much overtime plus Saturdays… then he started drinking more and more. then he started not coming home, supposedly got 2 drunk and past out, I never knew where he was all that year while he was drinking and not coming home, it just got worse. I kicked out a few times but panicked and begged him to come back. by oct he was staying all night either Friday or sat. once during a bad snow storm, they shut the hwy down that he came home on, of course it was after 9pm but he wasn’t home. plus there were multiple car wrecks and even a fatality. I was frantic trying to find out where he was. texting and calling him but he refused to answer. calling the police dept, jails and hospitals, only to find out from one his coworkers wife that he was at her/his house drinking. he even showed them both the text about the fatality. she finally felt bad for me and emailed me on facebook. it was just crazy!!!! by December he is even worse. I kicked him out on new years eve 2014 for not coming home again. for the last time. found out he had a sewer rat troll whore girlfriend on feb 9, 2014 and filed the divorce papers the next day….

        Like you, I was emotionally unavailable. my head was not on right and I wasn’t doing or thinking straight. apparently he just could NOT wait for me to get me head on right. I stood by his side for 14.5 years, jail, probations, dwi’s, lost jobs, etc etc and he couldn’t stand by my side for 2 years while I grieved my daughters passing. he left me saying I “got boring” and that I “treated him bad”…. i spent the first year blaming myself. wondering what I could of, should of and would of done. throw in his sewer rat troll whore, who knows from experience the best way to “help” a unhappy married man. who would purposely call or text me hateful and cruel things to hurt and to get a response from me so she could “tell” or “show” my husband just how much I was treating him badly. I did put a stop to her crazy but it only made it worse.

        but finally I am doing good. not great but good. I spent the last year working on myself and the things that I could control. I made myself realize that a man who treats his wife like this especially during a time of loss is nothing but a shithead loser worm…every time my silly liitle heart tried to convince me that he “wasn’t that bad” and he “was just confused”… I read all the notes I took on how he treated me in the end. he doesn’t pay child support so I am struggling financially but my days are peaceful. it took 2 full years for me to get to this point. (and I still have some blue days) I pray you are healed and doing well also….

      • Wiser today thank you for your post! It was very inspirational. I swear I’m trying to grow up. It’s just tough. I really appreciate all the posts on here. There are so many phases through all this crap. It’s good to see people having hard days and then overcoming them. That kind of vulnerability is tough. My therapist says I’m one of the most honest and transparent people he’s seen. He likes it but not everyone feels that way lol.

  • My STBXW also moaned in the last few months that 15 years together was bad. I just laughed. Yea.. you waited 15 years (vacations, house, dogs, kids , cars).. to tell me that it all sucked!

    Should have divorced the first time (4 years ago) when I had suspicion something was off.

    • My story too! In one of the few (and last) significant conversations we had he proclaimed “It’s been bad for a long, long time! I waited and waited for it to get better but it never did!” Really? Three grown kids, a family business, great careers, Mexico vacations, motorcycle trips and a full social calendar tell me otherwise.

      • Got the same thing here. Depending on the day. He had been miserable for 5, 7 or ten years. I also got the, “you had to have known how miserable I was. He joined a dating website because the marriage had been over for along time. Mine said the same thing, he had “tried for so long”. I would like to know how he tried? In his own head apparently because he never said a word to me. Asshat. My daughter saw him yesterday, thank goodness he did not see her (they all went NC as soon as he left). She said, Mom, he looks like shit. Fatter than he was when he left 3 years ago, pale and pasty. Yes, that happens when you sit in a 600 sf apartment for 3 years, blogging about hate filled politics or playing the guitar because after all, he is a musician!. Gag. He walked out for a fake girl and now is a sad and lonely sausage. He has no family, no friends and his co workers can’t stand him. Such a great life. His one unemployed and druggie high school friend had met someone on POF and moved to Guam. That is who convinced him to join POF and meet someone. I had never met this person or even spoken to him but my Ex convinced him I was a horrible wife who ignored him. So he had 6 months or longer to start believing his own bullshit, that the marriage was over. I think he justified it. he always was a self centered, quick to temper asshole, so I did not see any signs at the time. Looking back almost 3 years out of it, he was being cruel and mean. As an aside, the woman that his friend met on POF died of cancer within a couple of years of them being together. Very sad but I think Karma has hit them both. So, I think an affair, be it emotional or physical ended the marriage. Dead is dead. Trust is gone. He has tried very hard to convince me that he did me such a great favor by leaving. Yes, after 23 years, thanks for running me over with a mack truck. I spent the first year in a daze and just kept thinking, WTF just happened? It has taken a long time to get to meh. Still, I will feel much better when he is gone from this planet. Sorry, not sorry. The last thing I said to him a month ago, was you are ugly on the inside and the outside. I am so glad that he is out of my life. When I start to feel a little blue because I miss the companionship of a husband, I slap myself. I thank God, I do not have to put up with a 57 year old total fat slob, CPAP machine, his smoking cigs and pot, not brushing his teeth (resulting in thousands of dollars of dental work) or not taking a shower, eating like a 2 year old, choking on his coffee so it is coming out of his nose, refusing to trim his toe nails, asking him to do something around the house and getting bitched at, him morphing into a tea party birther, railing about Obama 24/7, conspiracy theories, his racism of blacks, Hispanics and gays (my son is gay). So glad he is gone!

        • Whew, Velvet! So glad you got that toxic slob out of your life. It’s amazing to me how many of us are so much better off without the toxic disordered adult-child in our lives, and yet there are days when we have to slap ourselves free of the faint wisp of hopium still floating in the air.

  • I’ve wondered this too. The cheating really makes you question yourself as a partner. Why wasn’t I enough? I seriously wonder what goes on in the head of a cheater. I could of never entertained the idea of going outside the marriage.
    I wait patiently for the “relationship” with the schmoopie he left me for to implode. I don’t want him back, I have a great new boyfriend and I enjoy my life now. I would like him to have to have that moment where he realizes that he lost it all for nothing…..maybe it’ll never come and I don’t require it for my happiness and healing, but boy would that be sweet!!
    I am a realist so I also know this…..I gave 20 years to this disordered fuckwit because just when I couldn’t take it anymore he would do just enough to keep me on the hook. He’s got that routine down pat. I’m sure he will do the same with her so the justice I seek may never come.
    What came first? The affair or the end of the marriage?? There never was a real marriage. You can’t be married to someone who never stopped dating.

    • This is pretty much what I was thinking, too. If he was really never a person who could keep his agreements or control himself and he was just good at keeping his dysfunctions a secret for a long time, then it was never a marriage in the first place. You and I didn’t know that what looked and walked and talked like a duck was actually a snake. We thought we had marriages, but we learned later that we had twisted arrangements to which we did not mindfully agree.

      • I read somewhere… if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. If it walks like a duck but says it’s a swan, it’s a narcissist!

        • ICanSeeTheMehComing, thanks for this! MoFaux thought he was a swan, but turns out he was just an old bat (with many caves!!!). Or a vulture. Definitely narcissistic.

    • OMG… CL… PLEASE… a cartoon for “You can’t be married to someone who never stopped dating.”

      Genius!

          • A long buffet table with many different kinds of cake…. one of them being a wedding cake. The cakes that are the non wedding cakes are the only ones that have pieces cut out. Cheaters hate wedding cake.
            Story of my life. He was always getting a piece, it was just never of the wedding cake. Lol

        • Anybody remember cakewalks? I can’t believe I’d forgotten about them myself until just this minute. They had them in our park every Thursday when I was a kid. Picnic tables loaded with homemade cakes, and you walked around the table playing musical chairs and when the music stopped if you got a chair you got whatever cake was at that place. Maybe you could fit that in.

          • @Pearshaped—I remember cakes walks! We had them at my elementary school, I never was ‘aggressive’ enough to get a chair/cake ;-(

            • One year when I was about twelve, my little sister and I both got one. We walked home a few blocks, each carrying a cake. I’m not sure if my mom was pleased or appalled. Anyway, with all the references to cake and cartoons, it just made me think of a cheater walking around all that cake, waiting to pounce on the table!

              • I just looked up cake walks to find out when they started. Wow! Quite a difference from the ones I knew. It did make sense that it’s where the term ‘takes the cake’ comes from.

              • We still have cake walks at church. They are really fun. Everyone makes really cool stuff. My daughter loves making them and winning them, too.

        • Oh yes – a cake smorgasbord with little schmoopie figurines on top. Maybe sand castle cakes…sliding off the table?

    • Paintwidow-karma will come (if it hasn’t already) but it really does not have the impact with the disordered that it would have say a somewhat decent normal human being. Schmoopie will go thru the same crap you went thru. Living a life where yes, sometimes it is (appears) great but always waiting for the other shoe to drop, no thanks.

    • Paint widow, yes, Justice gets served. We are not there to see it most of the time, but these disordered assholes and their Schmoopies have to live with their poor choices every single day! Most of these cheaters are too damn proud to admit they have made the biggest mistake of their lives because during the height of their “affair” excitement most of them said and did absolutely ridiculous shit to justify being with the OW/OM! They are NOT totally ignorant of the fact that they lied, deceived and out and out acted like two year olds to keep their supply of extra marital nookie going! Once the “shiny” wears off of the new relationship these cheaters can see the damage they have done! My Ex came back home after a divorce and four months of actually living with his Schmoopie, never once did he talk about her in glowing terms as he had for nearly three years prior! As a matter of fact, he compared her to a “shiny toy” that he just had to have, but the shine wore off really quickly. I realized he always referred to her not as a person, but an object that once made him feel good, but had since become boring and worn. She lost her appeal very quickly! Add his age and his bout with cancer to the mix and he had to face ugly reality! Some cheaters wake up and realize too late that they bought into a fantasy! Just know that I believe cheaters do know deep down that what they are doing is wrong and sooner or later it blows up in their face. That’s good enough justice for me!!

      • I feel like STBXH KNOWS how bad it is and how wrong it is to leave for OW. He knows she is a train wreck. Poor girl is a whoremat. She opens her legs for any man that gives her attention and needs constant rescue because of terrible FOO issues mother devalued her told her she wasn’t good enough, “do ANYTHING to keep a good man”, got raped by ex fiancé and had a kid from it, another ex bankrupted her by stealing her SSN, her STBX is an alcoholic who hits her and took her 401k. And THIS is who STBX wanted to be with? He’s leaving a house with his “best friend” and wife of ten years to live in an apartment with whoremat after texting for 5 months because she “loves” him and he “has strong feelings for her”. ??? Really?! Tell me that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a lasting healthy relationship! The worst part is he knows he IS screwed up and HAS screwed up but just can’t fix it. Or even try to fix it. I’m not sure if it’s narcissism or just someone that has gone badly off the tracks.

        I’m waiting for the relationship to blow the fuck up so I can laugh. He KNOWS what we have here is better so why destroy everything for fantasyland that isn’t even good?! I’m a fucking gourmet dessert buffet and that bitch is a stale Twinkie!

  • L&F,

    I was in the same boat, trying to figure out when the turning point in the “marriage” happened. Looking back, I believe it was in the first few years after the sparkle wore off and the hard work began. He did not have to pursue me anymore. I was not sparkly. I was an adult. Like you, I became the “mommy”. He even started calling me “mommy” instead of using my real name after the kids were born. Yech 😛

    After a few DDays and years of me spackling and holding it together for the welfare of the kids, I became angry because he was distant, preoccupied and basically soulless. When he realized I had caught on he monkey-branched to another victim that would maintain his exterior facade while he still screwed the trash on the side.

    CL is right. There is no rhyme or reason to their fuckupness. Figure out why you stayed, put new boundaries in place and move on. It’s wonderful on the other side and you are still very young ☺️

    • Yep, my sparkly shine wore off right after the wedding. I didn’t *poof* turn into the PERFECT wife when we signed the marriage certificate and the poor thing was confused. …and then I *gasp* REFUSED to change into the Martha Stewart/pinup doll/wife appliance he wanted. So he worked his wiles on the next one… Which didn’t work either *snerk*

  • Greg Berhendt (sp?) wrote the book He’s just not that into you and he states by the time a person leaves the relationship, chances are they had already checked out a long time ago. I’ve found this to be true. But there are exceptions, where people were never bonded or attached to their spouse to begin with. They got married and had children, because they just went through the motions without much thought about it. And when a cheating opportunity occurred, they took it. They weren’t that invested in the first place. The entire thing just boggles my mind.

    • Good book! And yeah, mine was already gone before the affair. She was just his “escape hatch” so to speak. Ahem.

    • Yep, mine was checked out from the beginning. I was very useful for 30 years, but then the youngest left for college and she already had the next target lined up. They just got engaged last Thursday. I’m so happy for them because she will no longer be my problem (alimony). 🙂

  • I’m kind of confused by the whole “a word can get you hard” bullshit. Not that it matters with his crusty old limp dick, but what is the Viagra for? To get the boner he already supposedly has? Lol. Cracking me up.

    • after the first affair, and before I took him back.. … … my ex actually told me that she and I had a lot in common, we both had a little da__id in us. so we both know how if feels to have sex with him or we both have had him inside us…. …. I cant actually remember the last line because I was literally in SHOCK!!! it was also so out of character for him to say something cruel and crass like that… … ..probably more in his character then I ever knew. huh….

      but ya, like the fool that I am. I actually took him back after that. PLUS I was so super shocked when I found out he had the new sewer rat 2.0 that I stopped breathing for a while.

      thank GOD my mind cleared and I was able to bludgeon my silly little heart with a club… the crazy shit we put up with in the name of love huh…. they really do tell you who they are, I just had to listen…..

  • Lost&Found

    Do not beat yourself ,like 80% of us,we do not know how unhappy they are until we discover the affairs. Like CL said trust that they SUCK, we can not “label” them as pshyco, narc , since we do not have clinical studies ?? but live with DIABLOS . Do not beat yourself is what I learned here. Some of us are still in process to leave the bastards and we
    listen to: ” I love you”, got kisses, hugs,gifts, valentines dinners, mothers day gifts, there are conversation about when we get older etc. etc and they are whoring around. Like one of the chump here mention it is “Crazy, crazy bat shit”. Just concentrate in yourself and your kids. The Karma will get him darling. It took me a year to write in this blog and you guys are the only ones that knows what crazy is this, LostAndFound keep going do not give up find happiness in everything and do not use your brain to think about him unless he owes you something. HUgs ?

    • PreyingMantis sent me Valentine’s Day flowers this year, even after the ILYBINILWY phone call weeks earlier. I now know that by that time, there were firm plans in place on PreyingMantis’ side to leave within that next month, that there were at least 3 simultaneous OWs that were being juggled, that Switzerland “friends” of ours were being groomed as potential places to stay (one must always have a soft spot to land, don’t you know!). I’d been covering the bills for the last 2 years while PreyingMantis shuttled back and forth between here and the family farm in order to “take care of my elderly parents”. I’ve noticed these days a certain someone is much freer to travel and pursue their own interests, but these abovementioned elderly parents didn’t magically get any younger or healthier… The point you make about the presents and “iloveyous” really resonated – I was always being told how grateful PreyingMantis was for my support… nice way to show your gratitude; I always implode a relationship (with kids) as my way of saying THANKS!

  • CL must have been channeling me yesterday as she wrote this, because I had a breakthrough moment that mirrors today’s advice to LostandFound.

    I was walking to my train for the commute home, caught up in a feedback loop about why STBXW felt compelled to destroy any trust we had — “she did it so she could have a do-over for the early/mid 20’s life she thinks she was cheated out of by marrying me”, or something like that — when I stopped myself and said, “NO, she did it because she could, and because she’s a fucked-up asshole.”

    Eureka!!

  • Oftentimes it’s Monday morning quarterbacking time on the part of the cheater–they are morally compromised with poor impulse control, see the opportunity for a fuckbuddy and take it, and then all of a sudden “Marital problems drove me to it.” It’s to maintain their image, and their self-image as good people (when in reality, they suck Tyrannosaurus Rex balls).

    Mine did that–we had plans to add onto the house and get a puppy for the kids one summer. Just as all that commenced, he started being mega-irritable and critical (more than usual). I remember wondering why I was with him. As that played out for a few more months, I emotionally withdrew more and more from him; still had sex 3-4 times a week but would think, “I don’t even like him, why am I doing this?” Turns out he was in his affair with gradwhore, I was in a massive devalue phase but didn’t recognize the signs.

    So what does the asshat claim now? Marital problems led him to have the affair. Um, no, your affair caused marital problems. Yet he’s used that to convince friends of his sad sausage ploy, and after all he did end the affair and come back to the marriage (shed tear here). I knew I was healed when I stopped trying to convince him of his chicken and egg problem. But the post-hoc blaming of me (not responsive enough to him) and “marital problems” is a second round of betrayal. I hate him.

    • Yes Tempest, In addition to “Marital problems drove me to do it” – and equally as devastating – they say, ” ILYBINILWY”.

      My translation to “ILYBINILWY” is….. I – Lie – Y’all – Because – I’m – Narcissistic – Immature – Loser – Who’s – Yellow

      • Ah. Finally an answer to my question of, what the fuck does ILYBINILWY mean. Thanks. Now that makes more sense.

        • It really means I love you but I’m an immature asshat that banged some fucking skank and now I’ve confused skank banging with an emotion. ?? That’s what it meant when my STBX said it to me. But somehow he still tells me he loves me, wants to be there to protect me and take care of me and that I’m beautiful and sexy. Wait. This sounds like a marriage. And things you say to your wife. But you LMBAILWM?! ?

    • Tempest, same exact pattern here. Now he’s saying that from the time we had our first child, we “didn’t work as a couple.” That we had problems for the past 17 years. (??!!). I’m sure that’s what he told all his APs. And yet, he brought me fucking flowers at least once a month, we never fought, agreed about most everything, he bought me a $6000 diamond ring (unbidden!) two years ago! WTH. I can’t bear to wear it, but I’d never get the money back out of it. I hate him.

      • Sionara–you DIDN’T work as a couple, in his eyes, because “as a couple” to a narc means “you worship me 24/7, I accept your adulation, and children be damned.” No marriage to a narc can survive children. None. Children and puppies are greedy little time and adoration suckers; you can’t be sufficiently adoring the narc with a cute cuddly thing in the house.

            • ironically my ex loves dogs. I think he loves dog because dog love unconditionally. they are always happy when you walk In the door, doesn’t matter if you are skunk drunk and can not walk, or if you come home at 2 in the morning…of his attention TO the dogs is sporadic. but whenever he decides to remember he has a dog, the dog is always so happy for his attention…. unlike me, who was always super pissed off and in the end I didn’t care for his half ass sorry’s and poor me stories.

    • Tempest,

      Only when I stopped wanting to explain the chicken-egg problem to her did I even begin to consider no-contact. “The chicken-egg problem” is another name for “closure.”

    • I agree with Tempest. My Ex NEVER said a word about being unhappy or dissatisfied until after he slept with the “Sure Thing” he found on Facebook! Then everyone had to hear him say shit like this: “We have NEVER been husband and wife like most people.” Really??? Then what were we for the past 38 years? Really close buddies who raised four great kids? I’m totally confused, but okay if you say so! Then I got the ILYBINILWY speech right after his admission of screwing her for three days in a hotel room on his fake “business” trip! Yeah, the marriage is “bad” and they have been “unhappy” for just years as soon as they have successfully peeled the panties off of the whore that is willing to lower herself to being a side dish! No doubt about it! My Ex always told me prior to his Schmoopie how happy he was and life was good! Guess he was just a fucking liar!

  • This is one time I don’t agree with Tracey. The affair very clearly KILLS the marriage. The marriage was not dead before the affair. If your marriage was dead before the affair, YOU would have noticed. A dead marriage implies that both participants know it’s dead.

    • Yes, affairs kill marriages. I don’t disagree with that. BUT the question is irrelevant.

      If you think your marriage is “dead”? ACT ON IT by ENDING it. Not cheating.

      We cannot argue how another person (the cheater) feels. To try and figure that out is untangling the skein. If he thought it was dead, okay. So. And?

      It’s what you DO about that which determines your character.

      Your larger point — both people don’t know it’s dead, is the stronger point. If it’s “dead” — why weren’t you both on the same page there? And why the hell did you come back? Answer — cake.

      • True. You can’t argue how a cheater feels. But I just think it’s part of the justification and devaluing process, not the truth about about the marriage in most cases. Many people will sympathize with a cheater is “the marriage was already dead”, just like many people will sympathize with a cheater if they people that you suck because a cheater a cheater said so.

        It’s powerful to say, “you don’t suck and your marriage probably didn’t suck either” (that’s why so many hang around and slow down the divorce process). This is just all part and parcel of their justification process–in most cases their decision to cheat has basically nothing to do with the chump or the marriage at all.

      • Exactly!! Well said CL! One of my friends was married for 10 years and her husband started checking out of the marriage. And he told her he just didn’t want to be married anymore. It was hard for her to take, but she finally accepted it and they got divorced. It was very civil, and today she is totally fine and has completely recovered. If he had cheated, I think it would have taken her far longer to recover she stated.

      • Absolutely. The “I love you, but not in love with you speech” should have taken place BEFORE the OW.

        • They didn’t know it!! They were still in love with you. But then they boinked someone and the love transferred to the other person in the body fluids. Osmosis or something. So now they aren’t in love with you because schmoopie swallowed their “in loveness.”

          • I read that you can’t attach to 2 persons at the same time, meaning in the intimacy kind of way. So these cheaters are attached to us (in a shallow way), until someone else comes along and they attach to her, so they start rejecting you (meaning undoing the attachment between the two of you). I see this happen often in dating, where a guy will suddenly go MIA after dating a woman and drop her cold, because he found someone else to date. But not in a marriage, where the level of attachment is supposed to be more solid and stronger. Normal people don’t just switch loyalty like that, and drop you for someone else. You really have to be disordered in some way to bail on your family like that.

            • When my ex during the I am not in love with you speech told me our relationship ran its course. I said to him, yeah I am going call my Mom and tell her our relationship ran its course and I don’t love her anymore and go get me a new Mom. See how that sounds? Assholes.

        • When I reached my breaking point, hired a lawyer, and told my lying, cheating, narc husband that I didn’t want to be married anymore, I started the conversation with IYBINILWY… I used some of the phrases he had used on me over the years. He bawled like a baby, begged, pleaded, swore he’d change, etc. It was like we had switched places.

          The difference being was that the things I said were the truth and he could not deny any of it. I never cheated on him, I didn’t lambaste him even though I was terribly hurt by him, and I didn’t derive any pleasure from telling him I was done. It was very apparent that he and I had different goals in life and I did not want to reconcile. Period. It took all of my strength to hold myself together but I did.

  • Great topic this morning!
    I’m a year out still trying to deal with this: After 20 plus 5 years my X-Cheater 4th Grade teacher wife says she hadn’t been happy for about 8 years….? WTF. Could have told me what the issue was 8 years ago. More than likely this is when her affair began I figure. She and her teacher affair partner blew up the family so she could have more on the side – always too tired for me.
    Now the girls college educations and future will be a struggle and she could care less! She was never good at planning for the future and always talked about being present! LOL Yoga talk…..present for affair partner not her husband.

    Yeah, boggles mind.

    • Hey, your not alone. I’m in the same position. Still the responsible one and paying for all of my daughters expenses. Looks like that isn’t going to change. It is a common theme for cheaters weather man or woman. They don’t want to be responsible. It leaves us still shouldering 100% of the things needed by the kids that we brought into this world. Meanwhile, they run around and play. Some things never change. I really hope that at some point the legal system will go back to recognizing cheating as a cause for divorce. Then adjust alimony, child support & asset division in an equitable manner. Recognize which parent it is that’s really going to be providing for the kids.

    • Chris were we married to same person ? My stbxw also a primary teacher. Her first affair (I have no proof) was with one the male teachers. But I think he didn’t leave his wife.. My STBXW acted weird (that was 5 years ago). She was distant, not very loveable etc.

      Now she is dating her AP (my ex-best friend). He left his wife and 2 kids, She left with our 2 kids. So 2 families broken… but those 2 don’t care. All about themselves.

      And funny thing? He (the AP) is full blown narcissist… and she had some narc features too. So going to be interesting .. but I don’t care.

      And I think people get bored and want fresh “fix”/feelings. So the affair is the fun thing to do.

  • Lostandfound, I struggled for a long time with the same questions you did, and I was also with my husband for 36 years. Part of the way cheaters mess with your head is to tell you that your marriage was over long before they started cheating. They hint that you should have known this, so it’s your fault they had an affair because you were stupid, but how are you supposed to know? When my cheater first said these types of things I felt tremendous shame for not realizing that my marriage was over since he kept coming home, doing nice things for me, telling me he loved me, buying me flowers, etc. Silly me for not understanding my marriage was over when he was ACTING like he still loved me!

    My ex also wrote in his journal that I was old, had been around forever, and he was tired of me. In contrast, his married howorker was younger, newer, and more exciting. How do you fight that kind of thinking? It’s sophomoric.

    Anyway, normal people don’t focus on sex to the exclusion of everything else in a relationship. This is something I learned from being out of my marriage. Healthy people see you as a total package, and they place value on connecting with you at an emotional level.

    Chumplady is right, dead is dead, and he’s the one that killed it. Congratulations! You’ve been released from spending your retirement years doing the pick me dance and being devalued. You can live in peace now, and surround yourself with people who really care about you.

    • D day (days now) were painful but also a relief cuz I knew it was a deal breaker and the bull shit was coming to an end. No more busting my ass to guess what was wrong and trying to fix it. The future is in the future, don’t give them anymore of your time.

    • Yes Lyn, I too was part of the “Our marriage was over anyway” mind fuck. It’s a beauty and in my dazed and confused state it kept me scratching my head for a good long time. Defending the idea that the marriage was not over by listing the things that told me otherwise (like talking on the phone every day, saying we loved one another, going on vacations together and still having sex) was such a waste of my breath. And as a bonus he would get even more infuriated the more I tried to defend my point.

      It wasn’t until I pointed out that there was one sure way he could have signified the marriage was over and that was with a simple phrase: “I want a divorce” that I could get him to shut his pie hole.

      They all do the same thing and they all think they’re special snow flakes. The longer I am away from it, the happier I am to be out of that hell!

      • “Defending the idea that the marriage was not over by listing the things that told me otherwise (like talking on the phone every day, saying we loved one another, going on vacations together and still having sex) was such a waste of my breath. And as a bonus he would get even more infuriated the more I tried to defend my point.”

        OMG, cheaterssuck, yes! Because nothing spoils a good lie like a cold hard dose of truth.

        The Entitled One told me soon after the final D-Day that we were “just roommates anyway.” I said, “Roommates who have sex? Who tell each other they love each other? Who call each other their soul mate? THOSE kinds of roommates?” He dropped that line with me, but I’m sure he’s spreading it around to all his new dupes.

        • they tell the lie so often to all the flying monkeys that they end up believing it themselves. after a year, my ex tried to tell me that he was “working 6 jobs” for all this, gestures with hand to the house and yard. (and of course I STILL wasn’t happy with what he did for me)….

          I just looked at him and said “really? 6 jobs? all at one time? and this was when? recently?”….. of course, he looked surprised, I think he remembered who he was talking to and that it was a lie, and started literally stuttering about side jobs and scrap metal and so forth…. … I let him go on digging his hole and finally ended it by saying “well, who knows how many jobs you think you were doing, I damn sure never seen a penny of it and it never came back to the house and family.” and when he tried to argue more, I just started saying “it doesn’t matter” over and over..

          but I do think that they end up believing their own lies. so it doesn’t matter if you have proof or know the truth after all… they MUST believe you are the bad guy so they can feel better about themselves. I am ok with that since I was always shouldering the weight of everything anyhow and the people he is telling his poor me stories to don’t matter to me.

        • We were room mates and companions and he was just a paycheck to me! THAT’S why I told him every single day how much I loved him and wanted to be with him! Room mate! Paycheck! Never told my other past room mates I loved them!

      • Haven’t finished reading all the comments below yet. Some real nuggets of wisdom.

        I know that to the outside observer, like Chump Lady, all of us “new” Chumps having these amazing “revelations” here everyday must seem a bit… I don’t know I am at a loss for words. I can only relate to my own long-term recovery from alcohol. When new people show up. They may wear different skins, but they tell the same stories. Over, and over, and over.

        With regard to the exit affair, and the “our marriage was long over.” It’s really the only thing the cheater could say. If they were to say, “yes our marriage was still a thing, I just don’t give a fuck, and I do what I want.” Then it’d make more sense to a chump. But a cheater can’t make that mental leap. No matter how smart they are. They are stuck at: me no happy; me fuck other.

        Finally, the exit-affair is (in my opinion actually a thing(unicorns, on the other hand are a fucking FANTASY!!!)) So, and exit affair would like like this: a one night stand, a confession, an easy divorce. I keep ruminating about this exit affair cause some of the Swiss in my life keep trying to ram that shit down my throat. I want to push them through a plate-glass window.

        • actually an exit affair is an affair that the cheater uses to leave the marriage. unlike the other affiars that he hid and sneaked and was willing to give up if found out, the exit affair is purposely and stratically planned for the spouse to find out. it is used to force the unknowing and sometimes unwilling spouse to make the move to end the divorce. it is used by cowards and spineless people. the ones that want out of the marriage, but cant be alone. who have to have someone to pick up where the spouse leaves but the action of the exit affair is solely to end the marriage. because the cheater is unwilling or unable to stand up to the loyal partner and explain they want to end the marriage…..

        • In my case, he would have continued his adultery for as long as he could keep it hidden from me. When I found out and initiated the divorce, then it became his “exit adultery” and “our marriage was long over.” Every time our memory recalls an event, we recolor that event with our current recollection. Hence we never recall the same memory twice, we elaborate upon it and enrich it through our recollection.

          Imagine he kind of memory twisting our cheaters have to go through in order to justify their adultery? That is why few of us will get closure, because they are unable to fess up and instead have to vilify chumps to live with themselves.

          I will never know when my marriage died, but I knew immediately at DDay that I could not stay married with someone who couldn’t have an honest conversation.

          Sometimes, I look at our family pictures, all the videos of our times together pre-DDay. And yep, either he was happy, or he should consider a career in acting because his performance were oscar worthy.

          My marriage is dead, I am divorce and I am finding ways to help my kiddo have as carefree a childhood as I can. I also keep forging on because I know that the hardest I work to process the memories of my past, the less they will pollute my present and determine my future.

          • Yes! Even the most horrible people, serial killers, dictators, have twisted their memories and reasons into a good self image.

            I, like most of us, started out hoping for a karma like moment. When cheating ex would suddenly understand, feel genuinely sorry for what he caused me and our children.

            Now I realize he would sooner expect me to apologize, for whatever wrongs I might have done in his eyes. And that is a tough nut to crack. Your post helps understanding the coloring of memories. He sees things in totally different colors and perspective. And really getting to meh means accepting that and not caring.

    • Yup, dead is dead. You can know it was “Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick” or not; a corpse is a corpse.

      • For me it was Fucktard in his Truck with Viagra. I think you just revitalized the game, only we will call it Clue, Cheater Edition.

        • OMG Tempest and Anne, this is hilarious. It might be unhealthily beating a dead horse, but it sounds fun! Let’s play the What killed your marriage game! Who, why, when, where and how! Ha ha!

          • Okay, I’ll play: Was it Saucy Susan in the Motel 6 with the Sex Swing, or Flacid Fabio in the broom closet with the anal vibrator?

          • And we’ll call it Clueless. As in every poor chump is clueless, until we aren’t. Or conversely, as in every cheater IS completely clueless that what they are doing is wrong. Or as in, the really “good” cheaters take it underground and leave no clues, but your gut know. So I guess…maybe…we should really call it Gutless?!

  • Trust me, You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want you. It’s akin to flushing your soul down the toilet. You only end up with one life, don’t wait a moment more wasting your time on a man who could careless about any aspect of you existence.

    I happened to be married for 9 years to my wife. She had a 3 month affair with an absolute man child. This guy, in his 30’s, still living in his parents home, no job, no life, no ambition, and permanently attending junior college for the better part of his adult life. This is who my wife chose to cheat with. Aaaahhhhh, no! I could not and would not accept a woman with such low standards in an affair partner. It’s just disgusting to me and down right pathetic, shows who she really is. I didn’t want this type of a woman wrapped around my arm out in public. I wouldn’t come near her with a 10 foot pole.

    • Ben, you are mighty!

      Also…I think you should revise your statement from: “I could not and would not accept a woman with such low standards in an affair partner” to “I could not and would not accept a woman with such low CHARACTER to HAVE an affair partner.” Additionally, an affair partner doesn’t have any standards – that’s an oxymoron.

      • Yeah, it kind of reads like if she had better taste in affair partners, you’d consider staying with her (but I know that’s not what you meant, Ben). I really like your advice to not waste any more time on someone who would treat us like that.

    • Ben,

      Sadly, I DO want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me (my post-marital separation now-ex-boyfriend). I don’t think that he cheated on me. (He probably waited five minutes after I left the last time (on a Saturday night) to bring in my replacement, which I am sure he, and probably many other people, think is an upgrade from me, a financially struggling, under-employed 50-year-old mother of young children and soon-to-be-ex-wife of a criminal.) I think that he thought that I was just not worth the effort to tell me that there was a problem in our year-long dating relationship and 30-year-long friendship well before dumping me without warning. I don’t think that I can find anyone who I love as much who will ever commit to me.

  • lostandfound, don’t beat yourself up over comments about how much you suck and how the marriage was really dead before it began. Almost all cheaters say that. It’s how they make themselves feel less guilty for what they did. “If our marriage was really bad, and I wasn’t really into him/her, then all I’m really doing is just jumping the gun a little on killing something I should have gotten out of years ago. Hey, it’s not really cheating!” Don’t buy into the bullshit. If your marriage was really so awful for so long, why on earth did he hang around for 30+ years? Why did he keep coming back to you while screwing her?

    Take comfort in the fact that 95% of relationships that started out as affairs die a quick death once they’re out in the open. Given that these two can’t stay together when he has you on the side, I highly doubt they’ll make it to a year when they’re in the clear.

    In the same vein, trust me, stay out of contact with that bastard, and you’ll feel better in a year. Odds are, he won’t.

    • Traveling, it’s been almost a year since the last D Day and I think they are still together, although he lives in NY part of time (where his business is) and she lives in FL, in the house she bought for them. So they are not together full time yet. I do hope it implodes and that they are both miserable. More than that though, I hope I stop caring. I did get a drunk call in late January where he said, after not talking to me even once in almost a year, that he hopes we can remarry someday and also be buried together. That would be a very crowded gravesite! Asshole!

      • Lostandfound, A lot of them do try to keep their chump on the hook or reclaim them later. Mine pulled the old “we can stay friends and maybe remarry in the future” horseshit (though he left the graveyard out of it). That just means you were useful to him and he wants you as his always dependable Plan B in the event the shiny new relationship doesn’t work out. The correct answer is no. Someday, you will stop caring and you will laugh at his audacity. In the meantime, you can trust that he sucks.

        • Yup. But that was just to test whether we’d be open to taking the Freaks back. They like to keep track of their options. Like the one that worked before might work again if I can just say some nice words. . .

  • I beat myself up with that chicken and egg question forever… Turns out I was asking the wrong question. That question assumes that both of you are responsible..in some way or fashion. The better question is ‘ who is the disordered fuck who lied cheated and shifted blame? ‘ DING DING DING….when all the check marks are on one side of the paper….the question is easily answered. Remove yourself from the equation. No math. No theories of evolution.

  • I am so excited about Chumpy Booooooooooooooook!!!!!!! 🙂 Congratulations, hard working Chump Lady! You are a gift to the world.

  • LostandFound … The brain doesn’t stop processing, eh? We’re the same age … I “wasted” 40 years hung up on guys and in bad relationships (I thought the last long-term one was meant to be … apparently not so) … I have anywhere between 1 and 30 years left. I just spent 2 years constantly asking myself what you’re asking yourself, and I’ve got more answers, but only because by digging, it forced him to continue saying ridiculous things, cruel, rude, because he’s backed into a corner.

    My guy has two settings: Infantile or posturing fool. He showed me this more and more with comments like the ones yours had for you. On the one hand, it gave me proof, on the other, the more he said, the more it hurt and the more “PTSD” I suffer. The Viagra comment is cruel and juvenile … it’s bullying, taunting, lacking empathy, everything you’d hear in a schoolyard, but it’s coming from who you thought was an adult. There are probably a hundred more comments like this that pop up in your head and throw you off your day’s plans.

    You know why you stayed, and you know why you endured the bullying, and you don’t have to keep processing that. Tempest is right … he undermined you, gave you nothing to work with, and you may have withdrawn, I was in love with mine but we had reached the comfort level, I had upped my romantic game, but with no response, and cruel comments. I withdrew because it was embarrassing, and I was tired, and then that becomes what they blame it on. They could blame it on anything, like your shoe left in the hallway made them trip, they hit their head, and they woke up in love with Schmoopie. They couldn’t help it, and you’re keeping them away from their destiny by trying to make your relationship work. I love puppies, but not when your husband is one. That’s what they are … running from person to person, getting hit on the nose, finding someone who likes them, and on it goes until they get old and need taking care of.

    I hate when people tell me to move on, or let it go … no, I don’t want to hear those words. But what I want to remember is that the psychotherapist said, “I can’t label him, he shows a lot of the signs, but what I do know from meeting him is he is infantile and his grown-up act is just that, an act.” (He had the nerve to posture in front of the therapist.) You can’t get support from an emotionally unavailable person. It’s hard to get around the fact your guy is just a kid … but he is. Schmoopie hasn’t made him grow up, no matter if he tells you that or not (and he will … “I’m all growed up now … I’m better … I’m not going to screw this next relationship up … I’m going to be better to her than I was to you” … again, that’s bullying, and proving that, no, he hasn’t actually grown up).

    You raised a son, and you did a good job. At 60, do you really want to keep raising a kid? No. So try to look at it that way. Your husband was, and still is, a little boy, and there comes a point where you can’t save him … it’s all on him. You’ve done everything you can, and there is no more to give. If you bring him back, you’ll be bringing back a child, and at 60, you don’t need to do that. I’ve always thought “Take care of yourself” sounded contradictory. My husband thought the same thing, selfishly about himself … he took care of himself and his needs, so isn’t it selfish to take care of your own?

    No, because you’ve already put in the hard work … he hasn’t. You deserve good things. Don’t give him the rest of your life to prove to you that he’s a changed man, or that he’s even worth working on.

    So, deal? If you stop processing, I’ll stop processing. That’s what this site is … it’s the buddy system!!! The rest of your life will be so good because you’ve already done the work.

      • Something to consider if you keep needing to ask what came first … Okay, when we first met, we were at the same level, fun times, not much thought but a desire to have a relationship. He was carrying the disordered gene, I was carrying baggage. I grew right through to grown-up with some stumbles along the way. He THINKS he grew up because he was unhappy and in the OW found someone who meets his needs … sure, he will call that “grown up” … and he will posture to the public that he is a grown-up now, but people on this site are correct … he is living through her.

        You are on your own, all grown up, mad that he’s abandoned you, but not scared that he has, so keep growing. Don’t get stunted at this stage, don’t re-live … keep growing. He is stunted at whatever age his trauma happened … he won’t get past that because he still drinks, or he still fucks OWs, or he still bullies you. If he was all grown up like he wants to pretend he is, then he wouldn’t have tortured your emotions.

        Mine is now doing the polite, distanced grown-up act, not wanting to hurt me with his new life, supposedly. Even that is not grown up because he hasn’t had an honest conversation with me, ever. They don’t have these conversations, because they would have to realize that to sit down and talk honestly about problems and hurts and solutions is actually what love is all about. Are they having these honest conversations with Schmoopie? If they were, then they would be all grown up and capable of coming back to you and telling you why they did what they did. If they can have an honest conversation with the OW, then they would have empathy for you, and not able to live with themselves knowing they had done what they had done. They would be apologizing to you, a sincere apology, not a hollow, self-serving, guilt-relieving “I’m sorry, but …”

        He’s not capable of reaching the level you have.

        • Champ,

          Thanks. Wow. You said:

          Are they having these honest conversations with Schmoopie? If they were, then they would be all grown up and capable of coming back to you and telling you why they did what they did.

          I think you I understand your point to be that were the cheater actually “grown-up,” they could come to us and confess. Since they haven’t confessed, they aren’t grown-up. And as a side-dish of awesome, because they haven’t confessed, we can know without a doubt, that they are still the same old cheater now foisting their shit on a new chump.

          Yay, us!

    • Awesome, Champ!!! Into the chump hall of fame with that post!

      Cheaters use ANYthing to justify their poor behavior after the fact. Mine is now claiming he should have left me years ago (his poor ego can’t take that people knew I kicked him out) because…wait for it…I started rescuing betta fish. Yup, my fish obsession caused his Craigslist obsession.

      • He felt usurped by a fish? Poor sausage!!! “You do realize there’s not room for three in this relationship. You like that fish more than me. Waaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!” My ex felt low on the food chain, too, but I got a letter from him, after he left me for her, saying how big a heart I had to rescue animals, and love them so much. Ah, thank you … he has bestowed upon me his blessing … I am indeed a noble creature for rescuing fish or puppies or donkeys, and he is better for having known me. He feels much better now, I’m sure.

        • there *were* a lot of fish….

          And damn, Champ–you got the badge of honor from a fuckwit for your big heart. Be sure to frame that sucker and put it on the mantle.

          • One of the reasons I got was just so stupid:

            ” You won’t let me have ketchup.”

            “What? What do you mean I don’t ‘let you’ have ketchup? Of course you can have ketchup if you want to. I’m not going to try to stop anyone, especially a grown man in his 30s from having ketchup.”

            “But you don’t like it.”

            “So what? You don’t like it either. At least that’s what you’ve said the past five years.”

            “No, I don’t like it. But IF I did I would have to feel bad about having it because it grosses you out.”

            :Rolling my eyes:

            And, yes, this actually happened.

          • It’s even better/worse since his favourite food was lasagna. He just didn’t realise there was ricotta cheese in it until I told him so. Then he was pissed off that he looked stupid by my pointing it out. This was typical behaviour from him at the end.

    • Exactly. I was sitting on the back porch last summer after the 2nd and final d day. I had been trying to figure out what he wanted. Then I asked myself, “what do I want?” My initial reaction was that I wanted him. Then I asked myself “why?” I couldn’t come up with one positive reason. I sat there for a very long time. I finally realized that I did not know exactly what I wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want after 27 years of marriage. I didn’t want to spend the next 27 years giving everything I had and everything I was to someone who did not value me. I called him up. We met and I told him I was going to file for a divorce.

      Tomorrow will be my 28th wedding anniversary. I was hoping the process would have been done by now, but I’m close. I know that he betrayed me, did not value me, lied to me, and hurt me in the worst possible way. He never became physical, but he left scars. It doesn’t matter why he deliberately destroyed our marriage. All that matters is figuring out why I allowed so many bad behaviors and violations of my boundaries. I can fix me so that I never stay with some who cannot respect me or promises that we make.

      • “I had been trying to figure out what he wanted. Then I asked myself, “what do I want?” My initial reaction was that I wanted him. Then I asked myself “why?” I couldn’t come up with one positive reason. I sat there for a very long time. I finally realized that I did not know exactly what I wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want after 27 years of marriage. I didn’t want to spend the next 27 years giving everything I had and everything I was to someone who did not value me’

        This really speaks to me. Thank you Anne for sharing. Especially the “… I did not know exactly what I wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want…”. Sometimes it’s easier to understand the answer in the negative, so I don’t have to know what would fix the problem, I just have to know what IS the problem (deal breaker).

  • I am not an authority, but I spent a lot of time researching disorders and trying to figure out what went wrong. I think that my personality type gets comfort from finding out as much as I can about a subject, and then making an “informed” decision — it makes me feel I have done due diligence. I also think it reflects a Chump characteristic — we want to fix what we can fix. Our problem is learning to accept that we cannot “fix” everything! No matter how smart, funny, sexy, or all other kinds of wonderful we are — we cannot “fix” everything! That is why the Pick-Me Dance is futile. If our “partners” don’t appreciate what they have, and cherish it, and realize that all things that are worthwhile require effort and maintenance, then they do not deserve us, or the effort we make to make the relationship a nice place to be.

    I do not believe that a long term relationship was “bad” for those involved from the beginning. If there was some semblance of “love” in the beginning, if plans were made, and children were created, and houses were purchased, and extended families and friends were involved — there was some basis for the relationship. It is unfortunate that only one member of the partnership was truly committed, and the other was just along for the benefits of the ride. It is unfortunate that one partner does not want to accept any responsibility for getting through the tough times that are inevitable in a lifetime of living with others. If they do not have the capacity to truly share in the ups and downs of an authentic relationship — then they will not be able to share with others in the future, either. It is the fatal flaw in the character of a liar and a cheat. They only show up for the good times — they are the insatiable sot at the banquet of life. They expect to cruise the buffet line and pick out all the best — leaving the rest for everyone else. They will never be happy or content, they expect euphoria at all times.

    I believe you can only truly appreciate great joy and happiness when you have experienced great pain and unhappiness. You appreciate the good things in your life when you realize that they can be gone in an instant. It may be a perversity in human nature, but I think Chumps develop the capacity for appreciation early in life, and the Disordered never do.

    Chump Lady is right — if the marriage is dead, it really doesn’t matter what killed it. What matters is you are still alive, and capable of moving on, living your life in an authentic and joyful manner. Don’t worry about “why” the bad things were bad — learn to enjoy the good things that you still have in your life. You have the capacity to choose happiness and contentment. Use it.

    • Portia, you’re spot on!

      “I believe you can only truly appreciate great joy and happiness when you have experienced great pain and unhappiness. You appreciate the good things in your life when you realize that they can be gone in an instant.”

      I think gratitude for who and what I have has been a tremendous gift from going through all of the hell. I have always been grateful for who/what I have, but something about losing so much really shines a light on our blessings. I also believe the disordered never experience real gratitude – pity them.

      • Great point about gratitude. During wreckonciliation and counseling I kept telling STBX how great our life was, how lucky we were to live in such a beautiful place, to be farming, that he has four healthy handsome sons. I told him that despite 9 miscarriages and no children I told myself I was lucky because I had him and this family. Nothing is ever good enough for him. He had a rotten childhood but has been lucky as an adult but has systematically ruined 3 marriages and 3 careers. He never looks back with gratitude, will never be content, looks down on other people. But he blames me, says I am negative. Permanent discontent and ingratitude have ruined his life, and worse, other people ‘s lives, again and again. When I look around me, the happiest and most stable people feel gratitude every day, and if they sometimes don’t, at least they work at it.

  • This is insane on how cheaters seem to use the same playbook. Mine told me he was unhappy for a very long time, ilybinilwy, and that sure he acted like he was still in love with me, told me that and made plans for our future etc…but that he was faking it hoping to rekindle those emotions again.

    Liar. Cheaters are liars. Anything and everything that comes out of their mouths are suspect. They are into self preservation. They are into making themselves happy. And they will do whatever it takes to do so.

    My marriage was real to me. I loved him. I suspected affairs in the past but when he told me he would never….well, I believed him because that is what genuine people do with the people they love. They trust them. I trusted. We all trusted. And we are not fools for doing that. We are loving trusting people and I don’t think we should feel bad about that.

    So when did the marriage die for the cheater? The second he/she decided to fuck someone else for the excitement and kibble.

    • “Mine told me he was unhappy for a very long time, ilybinilwy, and that sure he acted like he was still in love with me, told me that and made plans for our future etc… but that he was faking it hoping to rekindle those emotions again.”

      My. Wife. Exactly. You are spot on with everything you just wrote.

      • Cheaters aren’t the special snowflakes they believe they are. I am sure mine would be shocked to find out how cliché he actually is.

      • I got the “rekindle” comment, too … another “false front”. What disordered fuckwit says, “I’ll give her this most beautiful card because that’s how I wanted to feel, and would like to feel, but I don’t actually feel this way, but maybe I will if I give her this card and she cries and sleeps with me and then things will be okay, but if she doesn’t, then I’ll find someone else.” There is NO Hallmark card that says that, ever!!!!

    • “So when did the marriage die for the cheater? The second he/she decided to fuck someone else for the excitement and kibble.”

      And when X continued to stab the dead thing by sending millions of texts, pics, calls, hook ups…..I could go on and on and on. Now he’s just an old lonely man, cut off from his family, working in the most dismal office you can imagine, doing 2-bit work….

  • If you clearly had a serial cheater, or someone who was obviously on the Cluster B spectrum, put it this way–your marriage was doomed from the start. Maybe you could hang onto it for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 35 years, but it had a detonator programmed in from the “I do.” There’s your relationship autopsy.

    • That’s my ‘marriage’ in a nutshell, Tempest! It was a relationship of one loving Chump, and one Cluster B, it never had a fighting chance, but I forgave and overlooked for 35 freaking years!
      It wasn’t a waste of time, because I learned something…

  • Thank you all for the comments. I first learned of the cheating five years ago, but he had been cheating with the same woman for 8 years. (She was a high school friend of his. She was at my wedding!) Before I knew about her, he kept saying he was ‘unhappy’. He stopped touching me but he blamed it on me- he tried to have sex in the middle of the night but I was sleeping, the cat was in the middle (that was true). Even when he first left, I didn’t know about the OW. I though he was living in a motel but he was living with her and dating me. So, yes, I got a truly crazy person. I agree with all the above. He wore the face of a ‘normal’ person for some years and hid his dysfunction. I hid it from our son and our friends and family. He also never kept his word or controlled himself. He never took care of himself and was frequently ill. And yet I asked this question today because I have really struggled with why I wasn’t enough and what was wrong with me. I have settled on the answer for why he did this- he did it because he is a crappy person and he wanted to. And i asked if it was dead before the affair because I have to know that I haven’t wasted all these years loving him when I was just being used. Yes, it was real to me. We do have one son, who is 32. He has seen my stbx once in the year since the last D-Day (5/12/15). He refuses to talk to me about his dad. He said he didn’t want to see his dad until he knew the divorce was going through because he (my son) needs closure. I don’t know what he meant by that. My son also said that it all happened for the best. I don’t know what that means. But my son also does not want me to bad mouth his father, even if it’s all true. And somehow that makes me feel that he is minimizing my stbx’s behavior as the stbx did. And no, I never thought it was dead and that’s why I kept doing the dance for years after I should have stopped. Even though I didn’t even like him anymore and even though there wasn’t enough soap in the world for me to consider ever touching him again. It’s so odd that my son became an adult but my husband didn’t. And on the subject of whether the marriage was dead, if it was, why did he work so hard to hide it from me? I just kept trying and trying and trying.

    • Lost and found. Here is the answer to everything you have asked : CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE (to infinity. And beyond!)

      • Anita, for some reason this makes me think of the Eddie Izzard routine “Cake or Death” (which has nothing to do with cheating, but if Eddie would just tweak it a little, it could totally be about cheating!

        • Eddie Izzard is brilliant. Any utterance of his seems funny to me.
          His perfection is the comedic equivalent to the perfection of Alan Rickman.

          • Saw Eddie in Austin, and three times in NYC.

            Here is a video I uploaded of him post-show in Austin in 2008. At the beginning Match Girl asks him a question about feminism. I am holding the camera.

            He’s brilliant even off-the-cuff.

              • oaktree,

                Thank you. I don’t agree with Eddie on all of his politics. Hell, I probably disagree with 90 percent of people on most of their politics.

                One thing I do know is that my views on feminism have changed radically in the last five months.

              • “Weak character woman” would be my guess, oaktree. Thanks for posting this, Ian!

    • LostandFound,

      You said, ‘I have really struggled with why I wasn’t enough and what was wrong with me.’ What you said is central to the existential crisis I have dealt with every day for the last ten weeks and probably many days over the last 25 years (since my first break-up). In my case, I think that one reason I ask this question and think that I am not enough or something is wrong enough with me that my partner won’t stay stems from dealing with an extremely critical father for half a century. He was never a cheater, monogamous for life, but told me that I was a failure and still tells me that I am a failure. I think that subconsciously as a young and middle-aged adult I believed that I didn’t merit decent treatment and thus settled for abuse, mistreatment, and lack of respect, especially from men who used me and didn’t care about my general, long-term well-being. I hope that I can find a psychotherapist who can help me figure out exactly why I put up with immense amounts of garbage, avoid getting into any time of bad relationship (without completing permanently shunning romantic relationships), and enjoy my life at least a little bit once in a while instead of feeling desperate enough to contemplate suicide.

    • The thing with the marriage being dead is it WASN’T dead because to you it wasn’t. It was good and loving because you were good and loving. It was worth saving because you were worth being with. It had life because you gave it life and nurtured it. It was worth it because you were worth it. But he wasn’t. And he drug it down. And he made it dead because he was dead inside. And he used you and hurt you because he’s a user and hurt too. It SUCKS! He SUCKS! My STBX KNOWS he’s damaged but just can’t. And a marriage can’t be with only one person. IT SUCKS! I’m really trying to come to grips with this. Yesterday was 10 weeks since d-day. I still love that stupid fucking cake eater and I have to accept. He doesn’t love me. He’s made the wrong choices and he will keep doing it. And he’s not my problem.

  • As Princess Diana said in an interview when discussing the demise of her marriage–

    “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” (In my case it was a veritable mob).

    • Princess Diana is another reminder as to why we must move on and not look back. She is long gone while her ex has married the OW and she enjoys the fruits royalty, living, and a forgetful public.

  • Also wanted to say that I suddenly had panic attacks a few years before I found out about the affair. He was being really mean to me and I was scared about what was happening to my life. Nothing made sense. Now of course I know that he was being so mean because he was already cheating and trying to push me away and justify what he was doing. But it was killing my soul.

  • Kelly, I would say all the time that there couldn’t be three people in a marriage. So now there are only the two of them.

  • Dear lostandfound, your question is one that we all have asked ourselves in our endless search for understanding. The thing that makes the unravelling of the skein impossible is that:

    a) you were dealing with a person who distorts their own thoughts (ie. makes much of negatives, dismisses the positives, modifies the facts, makes catastrophes out of nothing, ignores true catastrophes/emergencies out of fear or inadequacy or fear OF inadequacy)
    b) you developed some thought problems of your own after being ‘managed’ by a partner of 40 years (insidious control and manipulation and distortion of your sense of self).

    Your life was not wasted and is not over. I am older than you and I have some serious mischief to enjoy, once I get over this rather prolonged dark night. I’m discovering candles and flashlights (primarily CL and CN).

    Our lives were actually quite separate from our partners. We were self actualizing in spite of our circumstances. You were ‘becoming’ a loving, generous partner, a mother, caretaker, homemaker, establishing a career/profession/avocation and building relationships everywhere you went. IMO, being the wife/husband/partner of a character disordered person (sorry, but I think he was!) is a HUGE undertaking (after which we need the undertaker). But it has not stopped or impaired our development. I even wonder, at times, if it may have enhanced mine.

    I wish you great good fortune. Let’s show the buggers and live an amazing future!

    • I absolutely love what you expressed!
      Chumps are very resourceful, we have to carry such a load.
      The only thing that bugs me, and I’m working on, is the cynicism towards the world I feel. I would love to trust again!

      • FreeWoman, I think that trust will come back. We are just in the aftershock period of our betrayals. In time, though, I believe that we will settle and have greater discernment in all things relational. But not before its’ time.

      • Betterdays, your response to Christina (later) was premium! The leverage of our vulnerable points and being “lying liars who lie” resonated with me! Surprise, eh?

  • Your ex’s deceit, deception, dishonesty, cheating make it a marriage murder. It’s reasonable you would want to investigate. Just don’t stay at the crime scene. There’s nothing to see. Move along…

  • I wondered myself which came first and when it came into play in our 23 years…. bad relationship to cheating or cheating causing bad relationship? When, how, who, why, what, me?, him? Two years I done this until one day I just didn’t care. I know I was the best me, I did right always with good intentions and love, I was responsible, compassionate, kind, fully devoted yada yada yada. In the end, CL is right. Dead is dead no matter how it got that way and I truly believe that I was not the toxin.

  • Virago, I agree. I do think my own thought process is distorted because I was trying so hard to make sense out of something that made no sense, and I was trying to hold together something I should have let go. To be honest, I feel broken. As a result of this, I have been taking low dose anti- anxiety meds for a year. I have been to this psychiatrist before over the years (because I started to have panic attacks and symptoms of general anxiety about 10 years ago) even though I haven’t been on meds before. The psych (who never gave me an opinion before) told me that he thinks my husband is a sociopath. I was lucky in every other way. I have a good job, wonderful friends, family support and a wonderful son. So I was ‘self actualized” despite the marriage. My divorce lawyer was kind and gave me great advice even though I gave up and absorbed all the debt, I got my house and 401k. The lawyer said that my husband was such a pathological liar, we would never unravel the skein of fuckupedness of his (cash) business. The lawyer thought my husband was ‘spiraling down’ and I should just get out, which I did. And yes, my stbx was a drama queen and the worst things happened to him. His business burnt down, his van blew up on the driveway, he had to be detoxed for alcohol 4 times after the first D-Day (didn’t know he drank). Poor him. Everything is about him. So now at least, there is peace. I get all this stuff intellectually- that it doesn’t matter when and if it was dead before the affair, but emotionally, this is a stumbling point for me that I am working on. I know there is something deeply flawed about him and obviously, the OW must be just insane for taking on this trouble person, and also for getting involved with a married man who kept going back to his wife. There is reality- where I know I have dodged a bullet- and there is fantasy- that he got everything he wanted and that they both ‘won’.

    • “The psych (who never gave me an opinion before) told me that he thinks my husband is a sociopath. I was lucky in every other way. I have a good job, wonderful friends, family support and a wonderful son. So I was ‘self actualized” despite the marriage. My divorce lawyer was kind and gave me great advice even though I gave up and absorbed all the debt, I got my house and 401k.”

      Wow! Well done. You did win. You are out. And you have support and success in your life.

      The next big step is to gain control of your thinking. Your mind, like mine, is a busy place. Thoughts arriving and departing like it is Atlanta International airport (busiest in the world, I’m told!). Your therapist can help you with that and you can get good ideas from a bit of research. Our life becomes the sum of our thoughts, so you and I could promise to select carefully that to which we will give our attention. Our fuckwits would not be a sensible choice, lostandfound!

  • And I should add, the fact that he immediately went no contact after I caught him with a burner phone last May, added to my anxiety and pain. He washed me away as if I didn’t exist.

    • LostandFound

      The great eraser came after 36 years, 41 total for me also. A week earlier he was leaving me messages saying he loved me. He initiated no contact after I threw him out. “She wouldn’t like it if I talked to you.”

      I believe this type of discard typically comes after spending years with a sociopath. My take is that they told so many lies to the OW they don’t want their past to ruin their future in any way.
      They create an illusion of their greatness and want to control the narrative and image they created. He said DONT RUIN IT FOR ME.

      The bonding with the OW is based on devaluing US. I let her know the truth. I campaigned against the two of them to his customers and everyone that knew us as a couple including the the dentist, accountant, friends at my reunion and my children. I’m doing a public service by countering his lies with the truth.

      He was always a dead man hiding behind the mask.

      • lostandfound, somebody (pretty sure it was CL herself) set me straight on our shared problem. He went “silent-treatment” on you. It’s a form of torture. It’s hardwired into us as babies. No communication with loved ones equals death. You implement no-contact, cheaters punish with silent-treatment.

        DoingMe, Great point regarding the silent-treatment. Match Girl’s entire future is based on me being a horrible fucking monster. Her three months now (to infinity I imagine) is just her making sure I don’t monkey-wrench her future with her own past.

        • Wow, so true Ian. I am NC with ex, but in the few terse emails I have to exchange with him periodically, he seems to try to draw me out a bit (and like a chump I periodically fall for it) just so he can turn around and be the one to ignore me. It still hurts (as I am sure he intends) but I will learn eventually.

  • I think this is a loaded question, full of implication and assertion of facts that simply are not true. A marriage is made of two people. It only has a life within the bounds of those two and it’s not something apart from those two people. It’s not a person and cannot die. It is commitment and a promise to work hard, because life is hard.

  • Dead from day one, right out of the gate.It can’t be anything else when you marry a disordered person, because you have to marry a human to have a marriage and we did not have a human as our partner. We married the salt sucker from Star Trek. Because we only get hints of what is behind the mask can’t even conceive of this level of betrayal. We happily go along providing cake and they happy go along snarfing up our cake like a pig at a trough…mmmm cake. Then when they get tired of this flavor of cake, they go hunting for a different flavor of cake. I think we also need to remember that cake is not nutritious for anyone, the cake maker or the cake snarfter.

    This is who we married and why our marriage was dead from the get go. https://youtu.be/BsogfjxlDpo

    • Ring

      Right from the starting gate. My life with him was one disappointment after another. I was wondering if he was ever triggered as chumps are by a song or a memory. He’s not capable.

      He wanted me to suffer. How evil is this. I used to look forward to so much. We has a combined bachelorette/bachelor party for my daughter and he asked my daughters friend who used to be a stripper to dance. My heart sank. He never once danced with me. He never stopped complaining. His life was his own and I never mattered.

      Joy for him was wiping the smile off my face. It’s no wonder I suffered from depression. He gave me scraps. This is why I will never forgive. If ever there was a wolf I sheeps clothing it is him.
      My therapist pushed me to file. The first baby step to getting my power back and I cried at the thought. It was always there.

      • Good for you for filing. Get the abusive cheater out of your life. You deserve much, much better. Stay strong, Doingme.

  • The affair draws energy, attention, emotions, respect, trust, and honesty from the marriage. This is indisputable. The marriage then necessarily suffers. So of course the marriage looks like crap at the end of an affair. But to say that an affair is a necessary result of a marriage (or even a bad marriage) is complete garbage and is basically blameshifting.

    It’s like leaving a flower unwatered, watching it wilt, and then saying “see it was going to die anyway” as a way to justify not watering it. It’s ridiculous.

  • My ex has gone round telling anyone who will listen that our marriage was awful. One of his friends recently said “well if a marriage is good, he would not have an affair”. Infuriating! He is a serial cheat and lies to everyone.
    What I find frustrating is that it seems you never get a real chance to defend yourself to the outside world. Even in court here you can’t mention infidelity as judges “don’t like it”. Its all “no fault”…..

    • I hate it when people say “well, if marriage was good he wouldn’t have an affair.” I remember telling one of my sons that having an affair doesn’t say something about your partner, it says something about you and your integrity. I’ve even seen prominent counselors talk about affairs being caused by misplaced anger. I tell you what, I certainly had a lot of reasons to be angry, but I never once thought about having an affair to address my anger. I kept trying to address our issues with my husband, but he refused to talk about anything but work/sports. He even told me “men don’t think about things like relationships.”

  • I think you are right, to some extent. The seeds are there early for sure, but age has a way of enhancing our good traits and worsening our bad ones. He became more irresponsible, more cranky and critical, more irrational the older he became. In a strange way, even though I stayed, I became wiser (yeah, right) because I lived so much of my life inside my head, I felt so alone, that I had plenty of time to think even though I couldn’t put my finger on what had gone so wrong and why. The truth is that the older he got, the more the mask slipped. When I was sick and when I had cancer (I am okay now), he was mad at me, yelling that I wanted to be sick. Everyone said that it was because he loved me so much. But I knew that it was because it was an inconvenience to him or maybe I was stealing his thunder, because he was sick so frequently and never took care of himself. Whatever it was, it wasn’t concern for me.

    • Your ex is showing the classic traits of someone with a personality disorder. Narcissistic people act this way, meaning they get angry at you when you’re sick or when you show any vulnerability. They kick you when you’re down, even abandon you. Normal people would come to your aid and support you, but not narcissists or people with other personality disorders. And also they get worse with age, and they don’t take care of themselves. Your ex is showing all the traits, trust me I know my parents are both narcissists, and it took me years to figure this out. And your circle is dead wrong about him loving you so much, your ex-husband is mentally disordered.

  • seriously, you are right. I think the no-fault law is terrible. The courts don’t want to hear about what the ex did, it doesn’t figure into the equation. And how many people have said the same thing the ex said, that the marriage was never good? Like I didn’t try hard enough. What is the sound of one hand clapping? Silence. One person cannot make a marriage, no matter how hard they try.

    • First divorce date the judge refused asswipes comments and said i want everything in writing to the last detail before i grant anything. Asswipe became furious and started arguing with the judge who promptly cut him off and said in writing mr asswipe in writing or i will give it all to your wife you two have been together 27 years she has value i care not one wit about new whore but the woman standing here has value and she will get it. I dont know or believe you mr asswipe get it in writing. The judge made these comments in open court embarressing asswipe and boy was he pissed off! I got what i wanted and i never said a word guess my halo was really showing that day!

  • I don’t think most cheaters are unhappy with their marriages. At least not until they are caught. They are perfectly happy to delegate uninteresting tasks to their spouses, and enjoy their efforts and support. What makes them “unhappy” is the chumped spouse’s anger, disapproval and disappointment upon discovery. That implies that the cheater has done something wrong, and they cannot be “wrong.” And everything was going so well before the chump got into their business and upset their happy life of having both a spouse and an AP dote upon them. So the cheater must quickly revise history and lay the blame for their bad behavior at the feet of the chump.

    PS Those bouts of cold and cruel behavior were supposed to signal the chump to step up his or her game.

  • Asswipe said about last couple of years of marriage well we werent getting along and not close anymore. Uh no. The reason we werent getting along. He was cheating lying being mean and nasty handing my car and credit cards to that whore and not close cause he was pulling away to smell up new snatch. The nerve of these pods! Im supposed to be a happy fun mood when hes pulling that shit. We werent getting along because he was cheating and giving away the farm and i refused to pick me dance. I really regret missing his head with the toaster oven.

  • The thing I couldn’t figure out was all the crap he said about how he couldn’t be alone. That was in response to my suggestion that he live alone and get his shit together. So it’s okay that I live alone????????? So clearly, he was horrified at the thought that he would end up alone yet it was okay to put me in that position. Besides, “she’s so loving”.

    • OMG! Mine stood there, crying, and wailing, “Maybe I’ll die alone!” They do not care … in his mind, you have deserted him because you aren’t understanding that he needs to be with Schmoopie (there’s that chicken and egg thing), you have made him unhappy somewhere along the line, so you don’t count. Only he counts, and he is gracing Schmoopie with his presence and saving her life. But he knows that Schmoopie might also not wike him one day, and then he will shrivel up and die because no one will wuv him … until … Squirrel !!!!!!

      Years ago mine told me he didn’t think his first wife would take care of him in old age (red flag). I promised him I would (chump). No doubt he has told OW that about me, and no doubt she has promised she will take care of him. I spent since D-day thinking, “But I promised him, but I wanted to grow old with him, I wanted to love him forever, he wanted that of me, I was proving I’d take care of him.” Then one day recently I remembered a few physically gross things he had done, teamed that up with another memory of his insults towards me (I mean, where’s his filter, eh?) and thought he can only get worse with age, so better her than me to look after him. My nursing days are over. He may seem shiny new to her now, but wait until he uses her kitchen scissors to cut his toenails.

      • Kitchen scissors and toe nails?? I agree mine also had no filter and is deeply concerned about who will care for him. He was quick to point out all of the wifey care giver type things I needed to improve upon and often used these trite excuses sprinkled with not enough sex as to why he sought it elsewhere….even though he paid to get laid. Now that he is free to sex whom ever he so desires the joy of new pussy has left….and the ability to pay for it as well.
        Before ending this I am not ashamed to admit that I gave it my all. There is no looking back. I feel sorry for him because I am special. His loss not mine.

    • You don’t need to figure it out. That’s a bullshit trap. He can’t be alone because he’s not a grown adult. He’s an addict. He needs someone to do life for him. You’re treating him as if he understood reciprocity, when he sees you as the Parent and himself as the Golden Child.

    • Uh me too! The whoremat has a kid and family drama so I’m not sure how STBX is going to deal with not being the center of her world. I guess it’ll be okay at first because she’s sending her kid away when he first moves in with her. But he tells me she might get a new job where she’s away for 10 days a month. “I’ll be alone 1/3 of the time!” ??? I said “Well I’ll be ALONE 3/3 of the time!” FUCKER!

  • Just ordered Chump Lady’s new book on Amazon. It says May 3rd and also, that there are only three books left in paperback.

  • The marriage dies, in the case of cheaters, often times when something comes up that they can’t handle…you know, adult stuff. So that could be anything and everything. They kill the marriage with their lack of life skills and character. And, yes, it can die even if we don’t realize it.

    LostandFound, your ex cheater and the OW are not living happily ever after. He is most likely doing to her what he did to you. He has not changed into a better person because he is with her. None of the “others” are that special no matter what they believe about themselves.

    My ex cheater lives with the OW. They moved in together before we were even divorced. He told our 8 yo son that he did it because he needed help paying the bills…..no great “twu luv” there. Couldn’t even tell his kid that he loved her. He wanted Pity Kibbles from an 8 yo.

    The cheater lives off the OW’s desperate need to be wife-like and homemaker-y. I think she is the one who does stuff with my son when he is there. She makes f’ing candy every time he is there. I have no idea what the cheater does. He is not special. He actually does LESS with my son than he used to when we were married. I suspect one day he’ll just be MIA. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me. The only reason he is still doing visitation is probably for image control with his parents…maybe me and any friends that might be looking. It’s so sad.

    Be at peace with the knowledge that you are free from the weight of him around your neck. It gets easier with time. So be patient with yourself. Forgive yourself too. We all have to do that to truly move on. Remember how well you love and that even with a broken heart, your love is deeper and stronger (and loyal) than his could ever be. THAT is something to be grateful for.

  • wow….lostandfound
    I could have written this exact same letter. Our stories have so many similarities. I am still in my situation and currently working through it. I am personally going to take the advice CL has given. First by asking myself “Why did I tolerate an asshole like Bob?”. I do believe that the 28 years with my husband was real for me. what it was to him I really don’t know and if I ask him he wouldn’t tell the truth anyway. I was definitely chumped and that has been a hard reality for me to face as I always thought I was wise enough to not allow that to happen to me. I also, agree if it was dead before the affair the right thing for him to have done was to leave honestly and definitively if he was not willing to put in the effort to save the marriage. My husband and I actually had many discussions about if either of us were unhappy in our marriage we go to the other person and express that concern and we would work together on were our marriage would go from there and he still cheated. To me it really doesn’t matter which happen first, second or last. What matters to me is that he treated me like crap, while I was treating him with love and respect. I deserve better than that.
    Same as you I have many years invested in my relationship with my husband. I hate to say this but going through this process has made me stronger and I would say even better person. It has forced me put on my big girl panties and take control of my life and start making the best decisions for my life. It doesn’t matter our age life can still be good on the other side of all this BS these narcs have put us through. I say let’s take our focus off our cheaters and use that energy to better our own lives. We can do this!

    • I love this ^^^^. It’s a difficult process to get to this place but so much better than wasting your energy on trying to figure out what died first.

      Factually, cheaters are broken people. They cannot create healthy deep bonds with anyone-even with their own children! Don’t be fooled by the asshole behind the curtain….their new shiny life is just shiny. Factually, they are infatuated with being infatuated. Not great, deep emotional bonds are being forged. In 2 months 2 years or 2 decades they will be on to the next infatuation.

  • lostandfound, the gist of CL’s advice is to stop thinking about your disgusting, abusive (and mean) Cheater and focus on you. You say, “Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating. I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me.” If he was an addict, you never had a partner in the first place. Someone who is an addict (drinker, drug abuser, binge eater, etc.) is not available for a relationship. Take it from someone who married an alcoholic and drug abuser, knowing full well he had been one since his teenage years, because “I could handle it.” Someone who is focused on self-medicating and distracting himself or herself from painful or negative feelings and situations is not able to engage in partnership with a healthy adult. The would-be partner always ends up in the co-dependent position, or as you call it the “mommy” role. Addicts have massive character problems, as lying is essentially the same things as talking for them, and are so wrapped up in the relationship with a substance that empathy for others is absent.

    You (and I) invested years in helping someone manage adult life, taking on most or all of the grown-up concerns–certainly more than our share, and meanwhile, our own Self slipped further and further into oblivion. So now you want to reassure yourself that the time wasn’t wasted.

    I can help with that: it took you this long to get free of an addict and cheater. If you had known how and why to leave, you would have done so long before. You (like me) have a mindset that says “Focus on that person with all the problems and your life will be worthwhile,” only to find out that isn’t true. Now, instead of focusing on you, you’re STILL focused on how he felt about you and the marriage, yada yada yada.

    You’ve left the cheater; now, leave him behind. Stop thinking about him. He’s an addict. He’s a cheater. End of his story. Start thinking about what kept YOU in a relationship with someone so profoundly troubled. Think about what you left behind, or lost, or crushed into the ground in order to function in this marriage. Think about the life ahead of you. By all means, do the relationship autopsy, but focus on you and the choices you made.

    I’m 64.My favorite post-DDay memory is leaning on the fence at the ballpark last summer, where I played my first season of organized softball, and thinking, “I’ve found a part of myself that I thought was dead years ago.” Go out there and find out who you are, what you love, what needs to change for you to be happy.

    • All this!!!! and don’t beat yourself up about it … just say, “I spent all those years loving him … and the insults he threw at me, did I ever do that to him? Did I ever tell him, “I’ve got someone else, you’re not worth it, I never loved you” … no, I didn’t.” I actually forget that mine was an alcoholic, and that should be the first thing I remember.

      • Yes, it should be because that meant you were never, ever going to get the marriage you hoped for.

        • And then I think, he drank because he was unhappy with me, and so if I can find out that he’s still drinking with her, I will feel better … AND YET I KNOW NOT TO THINK THIS WAY!!! But I still do. It’s really hard to break the cycle of self-doubt.

          • Mine was an alcoholic too. Drank a lot that I knew of and then all the empty bottles and cans I found hidden. My teenage son would never do anything with us as a family because his dad was always drunk. I do know that now that he is with schmoopie, he no longer drinks. Thanks asshole for putting your family through that shit but stop for your fucking whore.

            • I agree, it would have been nice to be alcohol free but that’s no guarantee you would have liked the personality he was left with. Alcoholism/drug addiction is sometimes a hard long road that may go on forever.

  • I struggle with this issue because I can’t tell you how many times STBX said this to me…”our marriage was over before the affair (with much younger work subordinate) began,” “she had nothing to do with our affair, our marriage was dead,” and “we would have ended up divorced anyway. “I was so unhappy, I couldn’t make you happy,” and it goes on and on. But I do feel like maybe our marriage was over and then of course I blame myself for not being more “understanding of his flaws,” or “taking him for granted” or “loving him unconditionally” as ex has accused me of.

    STBX and I had been married about 7 years, together 12 and had a 1 year old child when his affair began. We dated for 4.5 years by the time we were married and we hardly ever fought when we were dating. I was so in love and I thought he was too. On the outside, he seemed like the perfect guy, not just handsome, kind, funny, but very thoughtful, romantic, etc. But the honesty issues on his part started popping up during our engagement when we were finalizing details to buy our first home together…I found out he had lied about how much student debt he was in by about $80K! I was concerned that he would lie about such a thing, but I was young and in love and figured he was just embarrassed and we’d pay it off together, etc. (Of course, I remember him now denying that he had ever lied about it…).

    Shortly into our marriage, I came to realize he had a habit of lying…I used to joke with him he was the King of Little White Lies…I easily got access to his personal email account early on and realized I couldn’t trust him. He would lie about little things like making plans with friends and not telling me, to contacting female co-workers/colleagues to ask them out for drinks (alone) after work, to lying about being fired from a job, lying about me to his friends (the subtle character assassination started early), lying to me about looking at porn and visiting strip clubs with his buddies (he swore to me he found that stuff disgusting) lying about whether he had paid certain bills or not, and finally in the last few years of our marriage I found he was taking money from our joint account to pay for luxuries we had agreed we weren’t going to buy so we could save for another home, take a vacation together, etc.

    Over time, the lack of honesty (as well as discovering the porn / strip club issue) caused me to distance myself from ex, lose interest in him romantically and made me depressed. I wasn’t happy being married to someone who lied so much. And yet, I still tried to look at the positive sides of him…still acted loving, thoughtful, tried to be romantic with me, wanted a family. Ex encouraged me to go to counseling (ALONE…he didn’t think he needed counseling, that the problems were all mine.) But I figured no marriages are perfect (my parents did not have a perfect marriage, went through some tough times but are still married for 40 years) and that we would just get through it.

    One thing that haunts me is that a few months before he started up his affair, we had a huge argument. I discovered he’d been hiding bank statements — again — and taking a few thousand dollars out of the joint account — for the third time in three years. He told me it was to pay bills but I realized it was the same old story…he spent the money on season tickets for his favorite MLB team after we had agreed we weren’t going to renew them. I was so mad (also tired, stressed from working full time, taking care of our 1 year old, lack of sleep, etc etc) I told him I wanted a divorce. I told him I could not stay married to someone who lied so much and that all of his lies had ruined any love or romantic feelings I had for him. I remember he just sat there emotionless and didn’t say anything. The next few days, I calmed down, as I always did, and forged ahead. Upset, but knowing I would never really divorce him. Shortly after that, we exchanged Valentines Day cards each saying how difficult this time was but that we wanted things to get better, loved each other etc. But then less than a month after that, he hooked up with MOW at a work happy hour and three years later (and 14 months of pick me dancing/cake eating/fake reconciliations) they are still together. Our divorce will be final this summer, and she’s divorcing her husband as well.

    Ex has told me numerous times our marriage was over before the affair began, and he often sites that argument where I told him I wanted a divorce. He calls his lying and financial dishonesty “flaws” that I wouldn’t overlook and love him in spite of that. I have learned that I value honesty and trust in a marriage equal (or maybe more) than romantic love in a marriage because the passionate love you feel on the day you get married will come and go through the ups and downs of life…but in order to have a true partnership, you have to have 100% honesty and trust in your partner. I never had that, I ignored the red flags early on, and as devastating and demoralizing as his affair has been to me, it is hard to not blame myself that I either should have acted on the red flags earlier (demanded marriage counseling) or found a better way to voice my frustrations about ex’s dishonesty than to say I wanted a divorce. I know it probably shouldn’t, but that moment where I used the D word to him feels like it will haunt me forever.

    • Oh, Christina, don’t let that argument haunt you forever. That’s him hitting your weak spot — these assholes always know what our vulnerable points are and they know that the best cons have some truth in them. He knows you feel bad about that argument and he’s using it to prove his lie. So what if you told him you wanted a divorce? You had grounds for divorce! That emotionless stare you got — that’s the cheater dead-eyed stare they get when they’re caught in a lie. He was probably holding his breath, wondering if he’d have to come up with a new story to hook you again or if you’d let it go and let him keep eating cake.

      The Entitled One was also a liar about everything. If it was expedient, he lied. Easily, naturally, with no hesitation whatsoever. Days after I caught him lying about going out with a woman–AND AFTER HE ADMITTED IT–he stood on my front porch, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “I’ve never lied to you.” I think truth is such an alien concept to him that he believes his own bullshit. His frequent “little white lies” made me uncomfortable but I told myself I was being too rigid (ha!) and he reinforced that I was just a goody two-shoes. If you’re an honest person, you assume other people are honest too … until you get burned by one of these disordered assholes. So you and I have learned a big, valuable lesson.

      Don’t beat yourself up. Easier said than done, I know. And I’ve done my fair share. We did the best we could. When I’m tempted to go down the road of believing his fiction that our marriage was always unhappy and it was all my fault, I remind myself that he’s a lying liar who lies.

      • Another reason for the dead stare is because he wants out of the marriage, and you saying you want a divorce, or me asking “Do you want to break up because you don’t seem interested in me” is us giving them the “out” … I think they hear that as, “Ahhh, She wants a divorce … I better find someone else” or “now it will be her fault we split up, not mine” … They are not hearing your desperation, or your desire to keep this marriage together … they are hearing what they want to hear.

        I have a moment or two when I know I have truly hurt him in the past, and I regret it, but I am privy to some information from a family member about his beginnings in life, and I can source part of his disorder to some trauma that occurred before his memory would have kicked in for it. I’m not saying this I the cause of his disorder (it would make sense, thought). What I’m saying is if I can blame myself for not treating him well enough to make him stay with me, that it’s not just me … things have happened in his life long before I came on the scene to cause him to run away, or to hate women, or to need to be liked. You can’t think that it was that one argument you had that made him leave.

        Also, some really healthy couples argue … or they play fight … they banter. Healthy people know how to respond, to cool off, to come back even more loving. The disordered don’t have this skill.

    • Christina, I’m sorry but you really never stood a chance at having a real marriage with your ex. He is a selfish, self entitled asswipe that will continue his disordered ways till the end. The thing is he knows that he was going to continue to do as he damn well pleased and never would have given you or your child a second thought or had any remorse for stealing funds, etc. Yet, he blames you for voicing “divorce” after getting caught (yet again) in the act stealing and lying. The guy is a low life, narcissistic thief and I think the funny part is the OW more than likely thinks she is getting a catch! Her life is about to explode, be totally ruined that is for damn sure. I’m guessing you are still rather young so you can rebuild your life and move on. However, the OW may spend years with your ex and end up getting dumped (without doubt he will dump her) and she may be at an age where it is not so easy to start over. One more thing, these narcs usually get in trouble at work as well, they are not just disordered in their personal life, so more than likely he’ll eventually end up jobless as well.

    • Christina, I know how it feels having been the one who mentions divorce first. I actually filed because I knew in my heart I had to. He never actually asked or verbalized that he wanted a divorce until he was in his affair for over a year. I Had filed eight months after his admission that he was sleeping with the OW, but he had returned so many times to me stating his affair was over and dumb me believed him. So the divorce was on and off for nearly two years. I just needed to end the game he was playing. The OW’s husband had dumped her a full year before once he had proof of her betrayal so I have no doubt that she was instrumental in pushing our divorce forward. I do feel guilty sometimes about having filed first, but if I hadn’t I am certain he would still be in the affair and playing the game of triangulation. What the divorce did accomplish was that it gave me the opportunity to quit being used to “excite” their relationship and I had a firm view of my financial future that I could build on and I knew he couldn’t screw that up anymore. It also gave me some form of “closure”. Rest assured, not the kind I wanted at all, but I could at that point put a period at the end of it all and move forward. I will admit that once the divorce was final and his relationship with the OW sank faster than the Titanic, I was thrilled! It was proof to me that the only thing holding these two fuckwits together was the old cliche, “it’s our Twu wuv against the world!” Those two found out really quickly that they had nothing in common other than forbidden sex and that nobody, but nobody bothered with them! They became invisible to family, friends, children, etc.! They had what they thought they wanted, each other. But I believe they both realized the price of admission was far too high! I figure they deserve what they both got, absolutely NOTHING! And don’t feel guilty about being the one to say divorce first or filing first. It’s sometimes a matter of protecting yourself and the assets you have worked hard to attain. Consider it baby step one in caring for yourself!

      • Roberta, you wrote, “. I do feel guilty sometimes about having filed first”

        WHAAATTT? You became empowered, you took the initiative to declare the relationship Deceased. Don’t feel guilty about that. You didn’t bone an outsider for a year; he did, he caused the end of the marriage, you simply legitimized it and put control in your own hands. And then you kicked his ass during settlement. You are mighty!

        • These fuckers will do absolutely ANYTHING to try and produce guilt in the people they are fucking over. It’s incredible! Fuck these cheating losers!!

  • Thank you for the Jane Austen part. All I wanted from my ex throughout my marriage was for him to be the guy he started out to be. The guy I guess he was pretending to be. I silently wished for it, and did everything to hold up my end of the deal. I guess I danced to coax it out of him. What he wanted from me was quite unfair, I think. I was supposed to dress differently, talk differently, socialize differently, and basically morph into an extrovert. He got his way most of the time, but refused to give me any credit (because I made it ‘a chore’ to make visible efforts to be the wife he ordered). I got the glimpse every once in awhile (of the guy I thought I had married) that kept me on the hook. Life was super-miserable for me, but apparently so miserable for him that he had to cheat over and over again.

  • Less than 12 hours after D-Day/Minute (while I could still barely breathe) he sent an email out to everyone we knew saying “We had grown apart” and “It had to happen”.

    I guess the sex we had that morning meant we had grown apart, I guess the day before while we were holding hands and cracking inside jokes meant we had grown apart. How stupid of me not to have gotten all those clear “grown apart” messages.

    What still causes me to feel like there is no ground under my feet and I am falling is that after 18 years together – he was not the person I thought he was. I was not in love with him because the ‘him’ I believed in, didn’t exist. What the hell was I experiencing/seeing all that time?

    • Alice, that is from Controlling the Narrative 101. You were seeing what he intended for you to see. Until you learned the truth. Then his image control shifted to everyone you knew, so that they would hear what he wanted them to hear, and to hear it first. You can correct that if anyone asks. He claims that you “grew apart?” Not so. He invited a third person in between the two of you. The breakdown of the marriage “had to happen” because his having a girlfriend while married wasn’t okay with you.

      You were the victim of gaslighting. And you will recover. And you will find peace.

        • Stay mighty. The other side is so much better. You will heal and feel the sunlight and you will be whole again. And you will know that freeing yourself was giving yourself your life back. And your life will be good. Hugs to you.

    • You are seeing the illusion that they created, Alice, it is horrifying and astonishing all at once. I try to come to grips with the fact that I will never understand how ex could do what he did to me.

      We could never do to them for one minute the things they did to us for years, decades, and really for the rest of our lives and our children’s lives.

      The bottom line with all of them, as you said, is that they were never the men (or women) we believed them to be. Evil really does walk the earth disguised as human beings.

    • Alice – mine did the same thing! Sent out a mass text to everybody (right after I learned about his fuck phone and started calling people and telling them about his fuck phone and Yahoo accounts) telling them that it was my fault we were getting a divorce because of the ‘fake’ affair I had had 13 years prior! OMG did that make him look like an idiot. I had no idea he had sent that out until MY SON’S X-GIRLFRIEND got the text! It was her mother who sent it to me. Yep – I guess he felt like he had to save face because he knew I was going to tell EVERYBODY about his little fuck phone.

      • LOL – I just found that text and had to laugh. He states to everyone that we are getting divorced because of what happened in our past (meaning MY affair that never happened) and I have apologized for doing him wrong and how mean I was to him. Then he goes on to say that if anyone doesn’t believe HIM – they can fuck off. LMAO

        • Saving face – you nailed it. I also liked the phrase Survivor used above “they were trying to control the narrative”.

  • “ …realizing that YOU were real, that you invested, that you loved — and that’s the only story we control here — our own.”

    I often questioned how much of my marriage was “real”. Together 30 years, married 28, I couldn’t wrap my head around what was transpiring in my home. Was everything a lie? Did I spend the bulk of my life in a daze? I couldn’t believe I had loved and lived with the spawn of Satan who inhabited the body of the man I thought I knew. In the end, I knew nothing at all.

    A friend told me the same thing as the quote above. She told me to focus on the fact that I was the TRUE and REAL person in the relationship. That I loved with abandon and I lived a beautiful life. I needed to hold on to that thought. Whatever hell he placed himself in and the subsequent torture he believed he experienced was not of my doing – it was all on him.

    It’s taken quite some time for me to fully embrace the concept that his implosion, while it affected me exponentially, is not who I am. It’s who he is and I’ve finally seen his true self. My story remains my story. I loved with abandon and lived a beautiful life.

    • CL has a wonderful chapter in her FANTASTIC book titled, “What Was Real? Does It Matter?” I have poured over that chapter so many times. I will never understand the xhole imploding our 30 years together. 30 years is a lot of time to revisit and wonder if any of it was real. But as CL points out so eloquently, we were “real”, We were vested in the relationship. We gave with our whole hearts. We believed in the vows we spoke. And that is what matters in the end…it was real to us. Those memories I have questioned always come back to the fact that I was doing the absolute best during those years…I can’t control what the xhole was doing, thinking, or feeling. His loss…my 30 years were lived with integrity.

  • I think we can all agree that our cheaters were not too terribly deep! There was no real substance. In many of my conversations with my ex over the years he did not have many thoughts that went beyond “cave man”. You know, thinking about sex, thinking about his next meal and scratching his ass. While I am kind of making a joke…..that is basically what I was dealing with. I thought it was just the typical man thought process. What I didn’t realize is that there are real men out there who have insight and opinions on real life issues other than the basics! My ex never put any value on me or what I offered our relationship. He did not invest in our children.

    Lostandfound………I think if the marriage was never good for him you would have sensed it. It he wasn’t happy he should have said so. If he wanted something else in life and he didn’t think he could have it with you, he should have asked for a divorce. He had choices!!! He wanted to have it all. YOU AND OW!!! It is that simple.

    Thank God you are rid of him! He doesn’t deserve you!

    • Kimmy – You wrote “There was no real substance. In many of my conversations with my ex over the years he did not have many thoughts that went beyond “cave man”. You know, thinking about sex, thinking about his next meal and scratching his ass.”

      I read this and it is so spot on of what I’ve been trying to articulate but simply couldn’t!! I just dumped a guy, because our conversations and his thoughts didn’t go past “cave man”. It was exactly as you describe, sex, the next meal and scratching their ass. There isn’t much depth there and these men sure don’t think like we do, they aren’t capable of it. It’s unbelievable how so men aren’t very evolved past the Cro-Magnon stage. Thanks for helping me figure it out, you gave me the clarity I was looking for!

  • Thank you all. But those signs in the last years- refusing to touch me and telling the mc it was “coming” (well, I’m sure he was “coming”, but not with me- sorry, lol). Not celebrating my birthday because he said i wanted expensive things. Telling me I was fat and why wouldn’t I lose weight for him (I am not that fat and I am not the one who planted my fat lazy ass on the couch). And no, when he started cheating (8 years ago by my estimate), my life was not beautiful- we were fighting constantly over money. He said I spent all of it and he could never retire (Irony: since he left and is no longer giving me a dime, I am actually starting to save money). He wouldn’t talk to me about anything important. He said I was obsessed with the affair and I would never get over it so he wouldn’t talk about it and he convinced the mc not to talk about it either (she didn’t want to upset him). So yes, I was true and real throughout, even through to the bitter end. And even now I am real and true. I continued to trust him when he no longer deserved it. When he was unspeakably cruel to me. You see, he didn’t SAY mean things- (well, he did say some means things) but it was more about what he didn’t do- on my birthday, on or anniversary. He was very uninvested in our lives together. He wouldn’t take time off from work to go away with me anymore. So what I wish for him- as he has spent years laying on the couch, complaining and avoiding me and his son, most probably dreaming about life with schmoopie. I hope he is laying on HER coach, complaining, missing his family and knowing he fucked up the best thing he ever had. Because I was worth everything, and so was my son. He was even mad at our friends- he said they abandoned him because they were all mad about the way he treated us. He said his friends should have known he was “going through something”. I said yeah, they knew you cheated on me, was a compulsive liar, left without paying a dime of our joint expenses and your business expenses, and completely cut your son out of your life. I journaled and journaled- why, why, why and I finally have peace with the answer: because he wanted to. IT STILL HURTS BUT I WILL BE FINE

  • I want to add: that in July of 2014, after 4 years at home with me (after two prior bouts of cheating with the same OW), I discovered he texted her: “You are the only one I love.” When I confronted him, at first he denied it, and then said: “It’s the OW. I love her. She bought a house in FL for us and I am moving there. I sold the business.” (It turned out that he didn’t sell the business, which he still has and commutes from FL back and forth to NY) Then he left, and tried to come home again, but I wouldn’t let him. I said, get help, get an apartment, learn to live by yourself. But he wouldn’t do that. When he was in NY, he was living in his shop (no shower there). We started ‘dating’ again in November of 2014, when he said he wanted to come home, but I never let him move in again. Then in May of 2015, I caught him with another burner phone with her, and that was finally the end for me. A smart, educated woman!! It only took me four times and five years. He made my life a living nightmare. I don’t take responsibility for that. I expected better and I deserved better. But I should have woken up earlier.

    • “You are the only one I love” … mine said that to me when he met me, and he told me recently his first wife was a mistake (he probably at one time said it to her) and the OW is a mistake and that I wasn’t. Betcha anything he told the OW that I was a mistake. They change the story so it applies to their current situation they have found themselves in!!!

      “She bought a house in FL …” means she has money. This is important. You didn’t have money, she does. Big thing with my ex … HUGE thing. I had money when he met me, and it got whittled away with me trying to work a marriage that he wasn’t invested in. The OW has money now … doesn’t mean he’s living off her, but he doesn’t have to support her … that’s a huge thing. Not all narcs are freeloaders … some just don’t want to share their investments so they’re happy to find someone who won’t need their money. Then they’re free to lavish gifts on their OW, but not actually support them. It helps, too, when the OW comes with medical benefits.

      This OW knows the tricks … I’ve known her a long time … she knows his buttons, and will be pressing them, I assure you. That’s another reason they appear to be happy … she knows how to seduce her meal ticket. Is it twu wuv? Well, if two disordered train wrecks are happy together, then maybe they think it is. They have found their level. But it’s not authentic. And it sounds to me that you are authentic, and real, and saw through him and you can’t lower your standards no matter how hard you try. We’re trying to lower our standards by understanding them … not at first … When they first accuse us of the shit, we try to be better partners for them, hoping they will stay. There’s room for improvement with everyone, and we show them we’ve improved. But really, enough’s enough. The pick-me dance can go on too long and you are trying to turn into what they need, and yet what they need is this other woman who has no morals.

      I’d rather be authentic.

      • Champ. So true. All he ever talked about was money and how we didn’t have any. But he refused to make any changes to his business or lifestyle (he liked to eat out five nights a week). First I heard that she only wanted him but no money. Then I heard she only wanted him to pay her mortgage. I kept hearing about how she was a teacher and had such a great pension. As for his business it did well when he wasn’t in turmoil as he always was and didn’t do well when he was drinking and screwing with my head. He said; “she sits at her desk and pays bills”. What the f does he think I did. Asshole. So I do think that the money and the home in Florida was the bait that sealed the deal.

  • So now I am still true and real, and at least there is some peace. Still trying to find my way as I wait for the divorce decree.

  • Honestly, when I read the shit I wrote, I can’t believe that I am the least bit upset. You never know what you will put up with until it happens to you. When you are in the midst of it, you just are so frantic you can’t see the truth.

  • Honestly honey it’s bullshit. Mine started his affair before we were married and it continued for six years while we wed, started a family and bought our first home. He’s just rewriting history like every other cheater. Be mighty and move your life along you are well shut of him.

  • Being in love, to the character disordered, is the feeling of infatuation during the idealization phase which lasts approximately 4 months. People who are not disordered will normally bond deeper after the infatuation phase, but the disordered begin the devaluation phase, which consists of alternating abuse with the constant positive reinforcement experienced in the idealization phase. It is when the devaluation phase begins that the character disordered individual will often look outside of the relationship for someone new to experience the idealization phase with all over again. The disordered person does not realize that their own incapacity for love is at play here – they just blame their devalued partner for not being able to hold their interest. Getting close to the disordered also means that they will project their self-loathing and faults onto you. The character disordered are not capable of being good marriage partners and when they get married, especially if it is after the idealization phase has run its natural course, they are not getting married because they want to commit faithfully to the one they love for a lifetime. They get married because someone has a good job or assets that could help support them, someone can provide the perfect image of a spouse and produce children, and someone can provide, I once read, “a stable home from which they can stray.” In what the character disordered lack in their incapacity for love they make up in their ability to be great actors. When you think everything is going fine and they are not cheating, they are cheating. When you catch them cheating, they get sore and trot out the old “the marriage was over already.” It was over before it began because it was not a marriage in the true sense of the word from the beginning.

  • He told me I wasn’t shiny and new. Hell, after 34 years together he certainly wasn’t either!

  • My loving husband posted on facebook that we were separating by mutual agreement because we had drifted apart. No mention of the fact that he arrived home for thanksgiving to suddenly announce “This is not working or me. You are not giving me enough. I’m grabbing my clothes and moving across the country. I’ll send for my things later.”

    No mention of the fact that he was screwing prostitutes from the very beginning, exposed me and his unborn children to STD’s, spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on dating websites, escort services, jewelry and lingerie stores for “friends” over two decades. Never acknowledged that his wife supported him and paid for school and family expenses after his job losses. Now that he’s capable of earning money he dumps the “bitch” to date women openly instead of behind her back.

    Yep our marriage fizzled out because I was too stupid to catch him. Naive supportive bitch me actually believed he was one of those men who actually follow through on vows and promises. Introduced me and our kids to his father’s mistress (RED FLAG!!!) like it was normal. Went on and on about how much he hates his stepmother who not suprisingly I resemble. Lamented to his family how much I did not support him. WTF, he spends money on HIS toys and I spend money on family expenses and HIS toys. What was I supposed to do, every day announce that he was god and that I worship the ground he walks on.

    Like my brother said to me after the POS left me…Can you get your head out of your ass and take the bastard to court, he’s a dick, we have all been embarrassed to call him family.

    • @justanotherchump :

      At least your family even called him family!!! Hahaaa, my family NEVER acknowledged his birthday, our anniversary, him and Christmas, etc. They NEVER liked him and couldn’t understand why I was with him putting up with the shit I had for 13 years!!! When I announced he was leaving, my sister told me, “Good!!!! He did you a favor!!! Consider it a blessing!!!”

  • Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60 (In my case, 45, but still…). The logical part of me knows that he drags misery wherever he goes and he will soon ruin that relationship, which started out with the stink of betrayal and lies. It would be easier for me to know that I didn’t waste 35 years (40 if you count before the marriage) [in my case, 13 years total] with this asshole and that some of it was real. (Of course, I have my [daughter], who is the love of my life.) I do believe that he had to justify what he did by saying that the marriage was dead before the affair started. But I would like to know, which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair that killed it? Was this an exit affair and, if it was, why did he come back four times before I finally had enough?

    ^^^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Same here, lostandfound!!!!

    When I get into these frames of mind, I have to shake myself off and realize that he truly sucks, I was honest, faithful, loyal, supportive, loving, caring,etc. while he was a lousy bastard fucking piece of shit that leeched, mooched, bummed off me, etc.

    I am in MEH-topia, and he is out of my hair. I don’t care what happens to him…as the Facebook memes say, “I’m not saying I hate you, but I would disconnect your life support plug to charge my phone”.

    (((((((hugs))))))

  • Yep, Kelly – I got that cold, coolness too. The looking deep in your eyes while lying like a snake. Making us seem crazy to others… They are so good at the deception. Its a rush for them. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that this is true EVIL. I was always so impressed that he could take so much pressure and never break a sweat or be afraid. He should be very, very afraid of the huge expensive lawsuit we’re in for his unscrupulous business dealings (he made me CFO of his Corp. without my knowledge – I had nothing to do with his business whatsoever). Mine shrugged and moved on too, like nearly 40 years with me never happened. Scary thing, had I not busted him, he would still be home with me eating cake. Wish my boys could see through him. They both have told me they love their Dad but don’t respect him anymore. I so wish they would cut him off. Be happy for that. I never would have seen this coming in a million years. Looking back, it should have been obvious. He had a lot of freedom, so did I. I was a trusting wife. I’m so sorry for what you have gone through. These guys are frighteningly disordered. Hope your community supports your side. I’m tired of the Switzerland friends.

  • Exactly. I was the stable one. The goody two shoes. Why wouldn’t you want to have a stable family life? Everyone was amazed that I could stand up on my own but I was always the grownup. But I did walk through fire. Life with him was fire.

  • lostandfound, I think I’ve read your comments here before, and they really struck a chord with me.

    So: your husband of 35+ years was reckless and impulsive, couldn’t manage money, did drugs, was a heavy drinker, binge-ate, and was unfaithful and abusive.

    But why did you have to be mommy? Why did you let him push you so easily into that role?

    I had to ask myself these questions – why did I stay, and put up with such awful men, more than once?

    The answer was unflattering, because I had to admit that I stayed partly because there were rewards in it for me. Admittedly, we didn’t have a child, but I have also seen women ‘staying together for the children’ when actually it was because they couldn’t bring themselves to relinquish control of their ‘investment’.

    I got to be mommy. I got to be in control of my boyish, impish, delightful man-children. I got to be indulgent and caring, and Florence Nightingale and Martha Stewart and the Happy Hooker all rolled into one.

    I got to be magnanimous, and keep the home fires burning, and heal his wounds, and salve his dysfunction with my self-sacrifice.

    And when these relationships broke up, instead of being GRATEFUL that I had unlatched the endless toddler at last, I grieved. I no longer had a man to ‘fuss over’ like my mom fussed over my dad (translation = control, monitor, indulge, spoil, smother-mother). I would spend time wondering about his new relationship, and asking myself what she had that I didn’t, and blaming myself for not being enough for him.

    I recognise now that this was just an extension of my desire to control him. So instead, I learned to let the fuckers – all of them – go.

    BOY WHAT A RELIEF. I’ve said this before, but it was like losing 100kg of unwanted weight.

    So I think Chump Lady is right – your line of questioning is all wrong. It’s time for some soul-searching about why you stayed, which can be painful, but it’s so worth the work. It also helps to make the second half of your life much, much better.

    • I have been soul searching all along but my head was/is twisted from years of gaslighting. I guess I also had some foo issues because my father was always angry and we all walked on eggshells to keep the peace. I don’t know why I stayed in a marriage that was beating me down. For a long time I thought it was all my fault. Then I was waiting for him to wake up and really see me. Mostly I didn’t want to be unmarried, I didn’t want my son to know how bad things were, and I kept thinking he would change back to the man I thought he was. But of course the sticking point was that he was never that man.

      • I was always trying to fix him and get him help. So yes, I guess I did want to control or at least contain him, because life with him was chaos.

        • Hey lostandfound – thanks for answering!

          “my father was always angry and we all walked on eggshells to keep the peace. I don’t know why I stayed in a marriage that was beating me down.”

          You just answered your own question. They do say we choose partners who we feel ‘comfortable’ with, and we think that’s what love feels like, because it’s familiar. Otherwise, why would you choose to marry someone who you dated for years before marriage, and who you already knew was chaotic?

          It means that people like us with unhappy family backgrounds tend to have broken pickers, and we pick partners who are like an abusive parent. After that, it’s really easy to start placating the difficult person, just like at home.

          “I was always trying to fix him and get him help. So yes, I guess I did want to control or at least contain him, because life with him was chaos.”

          I hear you. I think almost all my partners have been like that, and I chose them for the same reason – they reminded me of my dad. I found the idea of a ‘fixer-upper’ really irresistible; I would take a man on like a project, like I was reupholstering an armchair or something.

          It didn’t end happily. Not once.

          I watched my mom control my dad for years, and she also controlled our access to our dad. She would justify this by saying that he would be unkind or cruel to us if she didn’t stand between us and him, and there may have been some truth in that, but I realise now that most of it was about my mom’s need to control.

          So I had to face all this – ouch – and learn that the one person I really could control – and should control – was me. Not him. Not them. Just me.

          It’s hard because you feel guilty and feel like you’re abandoning the person to their own dysfunction, but guess what? He had 35 years of you ‘helping’ him, and he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want your help.

          What he does want, is for you to keep being a doormat and being available to bail him out.

          This is where No Contact really helps. This is also where therapy really helps, so you can rebuild your shattered sense of self, and stop letting him bully you and use you any more.

          “But of course the sticking point was that he was never that man.”

          Damn straight. It’s really hard to wake up and realise You Miss The Lie.

          Do you have a good support network – friends, a counsellor, hobbies, stuff that gets you out of the house? A lot of the focus on him would die off naturally if you could focus on you and things you enjoy instead.

      • L&F
        my father was the same way. Was just discussing thing very thing with my therapist this week. She said children of emotionally abusive parents often stay in bad/problematic relationships long past the point where others would have left. I too had a husband who was incredibly selfish, impulsive, binge ate and drank too much. I so often felt like mommy to my husband despite him being 14 years older than me. I was trying to control the chaos/messes he made. In the end he left me for the OW who is 22 years younger than him.

  • Sionara and Tempest,

    Cheaters, liars, and selfish individuals don’t ‘work as couples’ as really being a couple requires being honest, forthright, deeply thoughtful, and emotionally available instead of running when ‘the going gets tough’ as in the loving partner parting her hair on the ‘wrong’ side or not magically divining that loser expected her to go out with him on a Wednesday night instead of a Friday night. (Communication, anyone?)

    ILYBINILWY seems to go with the uncommitted, non-committal person’s thought, ‘I’m just not that into you and never was, and I don’t value you as I am well into the devaluation stage (of you) and likely in the discard phase (of you).’ How sad. I got a version of this from last boyfriend, who upon breaking up with me said that he loved me the way he loved my family members (WTF, especially considering that he had known me for decades but never before the onset of our dating relationship said, ‘I love you.’) Nearly three months post-break-up, I am still reeling from him telling me that something was ‘missing’ from our relationship, and he wanted to run away from me to date other women, and he wanted his therapist to help him figure out why the vast majority of his relationships didn’t last longer than three months.

    I get what you are saying about waves of betrayal.

  • RSW, I am always so glad to hear from you!

    “Nearly three months post-break-up, I am still reeling from him telling me that something was ‘missing’ from our relationship, and he wanted to run away from me to date other women, and he wanted his therapist to help him figure out why the vast majority of his relationships didn’t last longer than three months.”

    Yikes. And there’s the problem AND the solution in the one sentence again . I had no idea he was a serial three-month-dater.

    Oh mamma! You really dodged a bullet!

    Why do we always think that we will be the exception to the rule? I learned that from Baggage Reclaim – this fatal idea that we will be the one to make them change. I went to a really good talk recently on ‘Deal Breakers in Relationships’, and the speaker told us that ‘I can change him’ were the four stupidest words in the English language.

    How’s the therapy going? Are you realising what an amazing lady you are, just as you are?

    • Good morning, Lola Granola,

      Thanks for writing! How are you doing?

      I did not know all the details of my now-ex-boyfriend’s romantic/sexual history until after we got involved. (Goes to show that even after ‘knowing’ someone for thirty years, you might not really know him or her!) I had hoped that since some of these not so great behaviors/attitudes he showed in past romantic/sexual relationships would not repeat themselves because they occurred long ago, he, like me, had become a chump and gotten divorced from his cheater, and we had been what I thought was friends for thirty years! Now I know better. Still, I have moments in which I still think that he is stellar for new partner and grieve the loss of him (and what I thought was him).

      Baggage Reclaim is a great site!

      Have talked to several psychotherapists. Unfortunately, I am quite underwhelmed with the ones I’ve met as they don’t seem very smart/knowledgeable/aware. So how can they help me solve my problems? Will continue to interview therapists to get my hard-earned money and help me deal with the pain (both emotional and physical).

      Some good news (in a different facet of my life) which I want to share with other chumps who are feeling down and out and might be encouraged by the sharing: I have (finally) been offered two jobs, both of which I will likely accept. At least I now can support my kids (albeit modestly) ! Sometimes I wish that my ex-boyfriend would have stuck around to see the wonderful things that happened in my life and I made happen. I think that he would have enjoyed our relationship more and respected me more. He probably would have fled any way.

      • CONGRATULATIONS RSW!

        PS He would have fled anyway, because you having a job would have been too threatening / too distracting / too hard / too easy / too any damn thing he could think of to throw over his shoulder as he ran away to play the field some more with pretend three-month ‘relationships’ that massage his ego and are cheaper and safer than hiring prostitutes.

        Man Child.

        Arrrrgh!

      • Or maybe, you are lucky he didn’t stick around because you deserve far better. Maybe you will respect you more. Perhaps, someday, someone new will have a respect for you that your ex never would have had.

  • L&F – you know when he called you from the pharmacy? About getting hard? He KNEW what he was doing. That is called sadism. And us buying into that and thinking it is actually about us? That is masochism.

    We need to just let go, know they do not define us, and walk away. So easy to say, so hard to do.

  • I know, Patsy. BTW, he didn’t say the thing about getting hard and then go the pharmacy that same year about the Viagra. All these terrible things took place over several years. i did finally walk away but I am still deeply hurt. Definitely moving on, but still deeply hurt.

  • The thing that’s so great about this site is that no one understands unless they have been through it. And unfortunately, all of us here have been through it. The love and support is amazing.

  • “Hope she’s got a good credit score. She’s gonna need it.”

    I hope she doesn’t, for her sake. It will be much easier to have her credit ruined if it sucks to start with.Then again, it would be sweet justice if she did have that happen after the way she’s acted.

  • JannaG, I always heard: “She sits at her desk and pays bills.” so I would say: wtf do you think I do? So I am pretty sure that, like me, her credit was pretty good before he got involved with her. I agree. Hope that’s another thing that goes bad for her.

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