How about a post on enablers, i.e., people who assist cheaters in their pursuit of The Most Magical Romance the Universe Has Ever Known?
First off, there are the enablers who help the affair along. They might be people who fan the flames, encouraging someone else to violate his or her marriage vows in the name of romance, getting a second piece of ass, or whatever vicarious stupid shit floats their boats. They might be part of the Undercover Adultery Assistance Squad, helping cheaters to cover up their tracks and deceive their unsuspecting spouses?
Then, there are the assholes and sundry other useful idiots who enable cheaters to avoid any kind of moral self-reflection once they’ve been discovered. There are those who mean well, but don’t understand human nature — especially narcissists — one whit. These include the starry-eyed marriage counselors, therapists, authors that “don’t judge” or “don’t apply labels”, who want to see every marriage saved, no matter how one-sided and awful the problems are. Then there are the amoral jackasses who simply stick by the cheater no matter what he does. These are people who say “friends need to support each other no matter what,” even if those friends are breaking up a family to move in with their favorite strippers.
In my case, my soon-to-be-ex mother-in-law was one of those last types. Once I caught her daughter cheating, we tried going to a marriage counselor. My soon-to-be-ex lasted one session of it, then had her mother come to help her set the stage for life with the other man while I was out of town. She went with her to siphon money into a secret separate account, smuggle away valuable items we both owned, and “corroborate” the lies that she wasn’t seeing the other man.
When I got home, my wife told me what was going on, and that she was actually a serial cheater who had only been caught once. I got to hear the classic “I keep doing these awful things, so there must be something wrong with YOU” speech. When I said that I felt betrayed, as I had thought we were working things out, my mother-in-law said “I hope you can make the changes needed so that my daughter doesn’t feel the need to have all these affairs.”
WTF? I replied that there was nothing wrong with me, and that my wife should be making some changes. As you might guess, I’m not a fan of “reconciliation” attempts.
Don’t worry, this story has a “happy” ending. I gave up on reconciliation once it become obvious I was married to an unrepentant serial cheater (though her moving out made it easier). I got all the stuff they stole back, and she only managed to make off with $200 out of the bank account. I’m picking up the pieces, and each day things get a little better. Your site has helped me to realize that there was nothing wrong with me, and that I will find someone better.
As for my cheating ex, the relationship with the other man lasted all of one date after she left. It turned out the Prince Cheating really wasn’t still living with his ex because “there were no apartments available.” In fact, this woman wasn’t an “ex” at all, he was still married, and had no intention of moving in with my wife. Karma’s a bitch.
A Chump Who Loves Being Cheater-Free (aka Jim)
Well, congratulations on your new beginning. Sounds like you navigated this shit storm quite nicely. Affair enablers? So you saw Esther Perel’s latest TED talk, huh? I’m sure Chump Nation would be happy to weigh in on the subject of Cheaters and the People Who Indulge Them. I can think of several reasons why people encourage affairs.
1) They’re fucking your spouse. An interesting Venn diagram would be the people who are “neutral” about your spouse’s cheating and the people who are actually, in fact, cheating with your spouse. Being an affair partner certainly presents a conflict of interest on the whole social opprobrium thing.
2) They’re cheaters themselves. If they’re not fucking your spouse, they’re probably fucking someone else, have done, or are thinking about it. They’re splendid people. Your wife is a splendid person. Let’s not call their character into question. That’s very ugly of you.
3) They’ve never been chumped, but have Great Unquestioned Assumptions about it. Your vulnerability is terrifying, so we have to make up some excuses why you deserved this. Hey, your wife was unhappy, and the pursuit of happiness is paramount. You must have Had An Agreement. You’re sexless. Anyway, everyone’s marriage is a mystery, but your suckitude isn’t. That we can assume.
4) They’re related to your cheater. Your MIL has probably been hearing for years how awful you are and how much her precious darling suffers unjustly. It’s much easier to think poorly of you than re-examine how she feels about her own flesh and blood.
5) They’re Marriage Do or Die freaks, which in my cynical opinion, means they’re probably also 1, 2, or 3. These are the folks who think divorce is the big sin, not infidelity, not untreated addiction or mental illness, not child neglect or abuse — but DIVORCE. It not what they did, it’s your reaction to it that’s the problem. Your job is to hang in there trying. Indefinitely. Because no matter how much they fuck up, that’s not a pattern — that’s potential.
6) They’re amoral romantics. Those girlfriends who were egging your wife on to have affairs got to live vicariously through her drama. Wow, a Harlequin romance come to life! Tune in for the next exciting chapter of Prince Cheating and the Jim the Dullard who is thwarting twu wuv.
How nice to be a cardboard cut-out villain in her epic saga.
Anyway, Jim, as you realized, you don’t need these people. I wonder if these jerks ever tune into the karmic ending when Prince Cheating goes home to his wife? Nah, the Undercover Adultery Assistance Squad is probably on to its next affair adventure.
This column ran previously.