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Dear Chump Lady, Is PTSD a reason for cheating?

i-dont-have-a-short-temperDear Chump Lady,

I’m sure you have a variety of chumps who were military spouses. I’m curious about whether or not any of them got the rationale that “I have PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, so I feel no empathy and don’t have any way to feel bad for what I was doing.”

That was what I was told. My husband of 10 years cheated on me for 7 of them. With (as far as he’s admitted) 3 different women. One was a wife of a friend of his and the other two were single females he worked with. I had an intuitive feeling about number 1 from the get go. And he just held fast to his lies. I went with his stories until I found out about number 3 when I FINALLY had tangible proof. And then he lied about contacting her some more until I left him in the house with no furniture and told him to get therapy, spiritual guidance, and stop drinking.

He quits drinking and confesses about all three (the gift of yet another D-day — I have truly lost count) and starts counseling. His therapist tells him it’s not uncommon for men who have been to combat to cheat on their spouses when they have PTSD. He told him that his brain can’t help it because of the damage to his emotional systems. I’m a therapist myself — makes it more pathetic I know — and I’ve never studied such a thing. In fact I am very familiar with interpersonal neurobiology and that theory is in no textbook I have ever seen. Nonetheless as soon as he was told that by Wondershrink, he was elated and decided he and I should try to reconcile. Fast forward a year later and here I am looking for a job so I can leave this sack of shit.

Why? Because I’m a chump. I believed after he stopped drinking (every time he cheated he was sober, btw) things could be better. We have three kids and I was afraid to break their hearts by kicking their dad out. Especially when I saw how devastating it was when I moved out with them the first time. Now, he smokes pot. Every day. Doesn’t drink though, and of course the pot helps him with his PTSD so I should allow that because if I don’t, he might cheat again given his brain damage from PTSD. Also he quit counseling because it’s a waste of time and he would rather be at home spending time with me. The spiritual guidance? All his friends are ex army and/or potheads. Not a single friend in our church who could offer spiritual support because he has trouble making friends (because of the PTSD).

So here’s what my idiot chump brain says to me sometimes:

Well PTSD does cause a lot of damage. TBI is brain damage. He’s not a violent drunk anymore. You’ll be broke if you leave now. You have to have a better paying job and zero debt first. Things are so peaceful between you — you could pretend to love him for awhile until you get yourself situated financially. He’s not cheating now. You don’t even care about him what difference does it make if you stay married…. honestly I could go on and on.

I didn’t want to be a rambler. But here this is, getting stupid long. Anyway, the question I have is whether or not other milspouses have written to you with the PTSD excuse? AM I the insensitive clinician he makes me out to be for not empathizing with his “condition” (for which he gets no help, besides the pot)?

I know the answer. I really do. I just need to know I’m not alone and that my bullshitometer is still fully operational.

Thanks in advance,


PS. In case you need a laugh today, girlfriend #3 contacts me. Drunk texts about how sorry she is, we should be friends, he’s a shitbag, etc. She follows me on Instagram and recently asked me if she could come visit me (across the country). I don’t have a clue what to make of that nonsense. I tell her she needs Jesus and send her photos of scripture. I’m not a saint. And I’m not as deep into my bible as I would like to be. But I figure sending her to God through the Bible is better than sending her to meet her maker any other way. No. I’m not threatening anyone. I’m making a joke.

Dear LadyDanger,

Wow. I know you’re a professional skein untangler, but that’s some pretty knotted bullshit you’ve gotten yourself into there. Out of this entire letter not ONCE did you ask yourself ANYWHERE if this relationship was acceptable to YOU.

Think about that.

This guy cheats on you with three different women, drinks too much, swaps that addiction for another (mostly illegal) one and tells you flat out that he doesn’t have any ability to feel bad about his actions. And your reaction here is….? To wonder if his brain “damage” gets him a cheater get-out-of-jail free card?

Not — can I stay with a man who is harming me? Not — should I continue to expose my children to addiction and dysfunction?

I can’t really say if your husband has PTSD or not. I can’t say if men with PTSD are more likely to cheat on their spouses or not. Let’s say they’re more likely to get into irrational rages and hit you — would you stay with that? Or would you see the harm in it and run the hell away? Sure, it’s tragic that sacrifice for your country can leave you with a scrambled brain. That doesn’t mean you have to stick around and become collateral damage.

So if you leave him, what? You’re not a patriot? You fail to understand his service?

He’s not a violent drunk anymore. 

No. He’s a zoned out pothead who refuses to take responsibility for his behavior or feel one bit bad about it. What exactly do you think you have to work with here? How itty bitty are you going to make your needs? Exactly how low have you set the bar? Not a violent drunk? That is pretty fucking low. And his reaction to this gift of sticking by him, and evaporating your needs is what? Getting all the mental health benefits afforded those in military service?

NO. He isn’t doing that.

Moreover, he’s not-so-subtly threatening you that if you insist on accountability, he will cheat. Wow, isn’t it crazy how that PTSD brain works? A blow to the head can give you manipulation superpowers!

Please see a lawyer. You’re not insensitive, you’re chumpy. It’s curable. Many people have left cheaters without achieving zero debt. (Way to set the bar really high on yourself, by the way. But not so high on him?) Make a plan, reach out for support, and save yourself.

And P.S. Dump Wondershrink too while you’re at it.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • You have three children. Do you really want them to grow up thinking that sitting on their asses all day smoking weed is an acceptable way to deal with their problems? After all, Daddy did it and Mommy coddled him while he was doing it. How are you ever going to enforce any rules on drug use with them when Puff the Magic Cheater is hot boxing away in the next room?

  • I’ve got a cheating ex who is ex-military, an alcoholic, and has PSTD. I stayed with him for 6 years after I suspected he was cheating for many of the same reasons. All I can say is a person like that, especially one who chooses not to be treated for his addiction, is going down and he’s going to take you with him. Let go or be dragged. There is no silver lining, no happy ending and you owe him nothing. The longer I stayed, the worse he got. Yes PTSD sucks, but it’s no excuse to abuse others.

    • My cheater pulled the PSTD crap too. Bad news here, I have it from a nasty auto accident, yet I haven’t managed to bang any random drivers yet. I better work on that once the divorce is final 😮

      • Dear LadyDanger,
        I am ex Air Force wife. I won’t even mention the number of lies I caught him in prior to getting married. Those rose colored glasses worked wonders. Instead I’ll focus on the PTSD.
        Prior to getting married I would awake in the middle of the night with ExH strangling me. This happened 3 times. I got him into counseling for PTSD and depression. I told myself, if it was cancer I wouldn’t leave him so why would I leave someone who is sick in another way.
        He “changed” or so I thought. Drank less, the strangling stopped etc. I married him. 2 years in, he’s deployed to Saudi Arabia. He calls me and tells me “get health insurance, I want a divorce.” I find evidence of another woman. He takes emergency leave and shows up unannounced with a moving truck to our home and then tells me that I am at fault because I was always trying to “fix him” and couldn’t just love him for him (I guess those vows and faithfulness weren’t enough to show him I cared)
        So in my case, he didn’t blame the PTSD he blamed me for making him get treatment. I’m sorry to say you are screwed either way. Get out now. put your ducks in a row. He is in violation of the UCMJ and I doubt he’d want his commanding officer to know what he’s up to. Keep that in your back pocket though. My ExH had no idea I knew about the other woman. I waited and waited to show that card until I was in a stalemate with negotiations on the settlement. I simply told him “do what you want, if you need me, I’ll be talking to Col. so and so.” Man o man did he settle quickly on my terms after that. Did it make me a bitch? Yup! He already thought I was one anyway even though I wasn’t so what did it matter. Best of luck and don’t worry, you will be okay. The shit storm will suck for a long while but you will be okay. I promise.

        • Wellrid, thanks for posting this. Add you can see I relate to all of this issue haha. I have been trying to decide whether I should go to my stbxh col. Or not, and since he’s the one that authorized rehab for stbxh, he’s got the skinny. I will continue to keep this in my back pocket too, for negotiations later this month if needed. You’re right..he resents me no matter what, and he’s not paying the full requirement for ar60899 each might just be the ticket. Chica

  • Dear LadyDanger,
    You deserve better. I thought my husband might have cheated because he had a bad fall at work. No, he was cheating well before the fall.

    Getting your financial ducks in a row is a smart move. Take the kindness you are showing him and turn it on yourself. You didn’t cause this, you don’t deserve it, you will survive it. Collect all the evidence possible of his cheating. Obtain copies of all financial records. Find out your credit rating. Open your own bank account and transfer half your savings. Make appointments for him to see counsellors – go yourself if you feel it will help. Document when he doesn’t go to counselling. Model responsible adult behaviour to your children. Your husband will be the example of consequences coming from actions.

    Good luck. You have an entire army of chumps worl wide rooting for you.

  • I dated a guy who like me, was an Iraq war veteran. Unlike me, he came back with PTSD and TBI (or so he claimed). Also unlike me, the SOB was a liar, a narcissist, and a sociopath. I realized later after the dumbass let me look at his DD-214 (document of his proof of service) how full of shit he was. He did go to Iraq. He was also kicked out of the Navy after two and a half years for failing his fitness test. He had no awards or decorations that indicated he’d done anything other than show up at work. For someone who bragged so much about his service, he was completely unremarkable. PTSD and TBI can do a lot of bad shit to people, but it does not turn them into liars, cheaters, and sociopaths. People that were that fucked up after coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan were that fucked up before they left. Combat (if they actually saw it) may have exacerbated whatever dysfunction already existed, but it does not make them cheat. Wondershrink is full of shit. Nothing inspires sympathy like a poor, wounded combat veteran and your husband is milking it for all its worth. My narc ex-boyfriend did exactly the same thing. They’re banking on society’s sympathy and people’s general ignorance of PTSD to get away with being assholes. PTSD and TBI don’t turn someone into a cheating sack of shit.

    • ^^^YES^^^ One of my best friends is a chump who was married to a combat vet with PTSD. He was a controlling, selfish POS before he enlisted, and everything about being in the military inflated his ego and controlling nature. I lost my friendship with her for several years because he disapproved of me because I disapproved of HIM. Then after a few deployments to Iraq, he came back, emotionally abused his wife relentlessly, and was eventually caught cheating. She divorced him post-haste, and we reconnected.

      I had him pegged as a manipulative abuser years before he joined the military. Jennifer is absolutely right that PTSD just magnified the shitty person that he already was.

      • You hit a really important point. There are people who enter the military (and other professions like the police and first responder jobs) for good reasons. They care about serving their country and society. Then there are those like the narc exes who do it to inflate their egos, posture themselves as selfless heroes, or control others. My XB was a prison guard after he got kicked out. Not all stolen valor cases are civilians running around in fake uniforms. Some are people like my XB who did serve, but their job didn’t suit their ego. XB made up all this horseshit about going through SEAL training and all kinds of other exploits that never actually happened.

    • This is spot on. I am a vet and work for the VA. I’ve heard many stories from narc vets I know couldn’t be true. Stories of their military exploits (of course) – never suspecting a petite female such as myself is also a vet and knows better. I just nod along in faux-wonderment. That said, the vast majority of veterans are good and honorable.

      As to staying in an abusive marriage until you feel financially set, I did this and below is my experience:

      When I discovered my XH’s double life, I was a full-time college student with a part-time job. We had three small children. At the same time I discovered the sexual infidelities (years of co-worker and prostitute hookups), I discovered he’d also committed tax fraud causing a federal lien on our house (with the mortgage in my name only!), had stolen my identity with numerous credit cards racked up and had all sorts of his own secret debt. (He would control the mail so I was unaware for a longest time.) I still had 1.5 years left in a rigorous program for which I had taken out student loans and to top it off, my XH barely made any money himself so I couldn’t count on child support/alimony if I did divorce him. Moreover, my parents are religious conservatives who condemn divorce and asking them for help in leaving my husband was not an option.

      I was completely screwed. (I now know that often times when the victim begins to wake up, the financial devastation leaves him/her so vulnerable that leaving is nearly impossible.)

      It took me 5 years to straighten things out enough to my liking. In the beginning, I attempted reconciliation with him (which today blows my non-chump mind). The rest of the time, I was going through the motions and biding time.

      If I had to do it over again – I would have held out 1.5 years and left him the day after I graduated. Even declared bankruptcy if need be. Time is precious and I wasted years being married to him, then years gearing up to leave. It nearly robbed me of my sanity and it certainly took the joy out of living. I would break down and cry while out running and couldn’t tell people why as it was embarrassing – being aware that I was married to a creeper all while appearing to be the family guy – forced me to be outwardly dishonest and disconnected from people – living a lie. It sucked my soul and modeled poor chumpy behavior to my kids. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and realized there’s never an optimal time to divorce and made a leap after 5 years.

      The infidelity (financial and sexual) never stopped, even during this rebuilding time. It’s who they ARE.

      2.5 years out now. I can’t believe I lived in that situation for as long as I did! I was married a total of 16.5 years. Life is so much better now and I didn’t realize just how stressful things were until I left. We just become acclimated to the abuse after awhile. My internal perception that I wouldn’t survive was far worse than the reality of having to survive. It’s doable and honestly, easier. One foot in front of the other.

      Please make a plan and get out. Sooner rather than later.

  • The original question – did my former spouse give the PTSD excuse? Yes, I got that one as well as the one about him being too crushed by losing his fighterpilot slot to act like a civil person …and these were all in the same basket as being told (many times over 29 years by him and his parents) that he was absolutely crushed in High School by being cut from the basketball team. He was 5-6.

    So yea, I got that one…trouble was, he forgot that I knew him before he went to war (he already had many of these traits) and his big war campaign was the first Gulf War that lasted 100 hours. He did sit on a boat off the coast of Kuwait for a few weeks waiting to conduct an amphibious landing (where they expected a 50% casualty count) that got cancelled when the enemy failed to show for the battle.

    I think he cheated when we dated then may have done OK as a husband at first, there is a chance that his marital cheating may have started when he was told he would die then he came home and had to reintegrate to his marriage after a “Im going to die, so lets fuck” thing.

    For him, at least, it was all just excuses. Im remarked in reading LDs letter that he chose to quit therapy…well if some giant thing causes you to abuse people, if you quit therapy, it doesnt seem you are trying very hard to fight the giant thing.

    My late husband’s giant thing was mostly his anger, he was ALWAYS mad & resentful which turned to rage very easily. Never got serious help. He was fine with it, I was the one with the problem. I had PROMISED myself that I had suffered my last rage from him…I had saved money to leave and was mustering up the courage to follow through when he died.

  • Line up ducks quickly and get out. The sooner you get out the sooner you and your children can start healing.

    It might seem easier to stay, for whatever reason, but it’s not. You can’t see that now because of all the mess that’s around you. Once you are free from this abusive addict, things will be clearer to you. You are trying to use logic in a situation that has no logic. This moment calls for Courage. All your Courage.

    Logic will be very useful after you get out.

  • Ever notice chumps of military and first responder career people (police, fire fighter, paramedics) complain that cheating/divorce rates is high?
    I’ve heard PTSD, stress of these jobs causes this.

    I’ve wondered if the PTSD explanation is real, I know the divorce rates for police are high in first responser fields. I wonder if the high risk, daring nature of someone attracted to those careers in the first place may play a part? I could see a connection with hero complex, control and the risk taking an affair provides.

    • I have thought about this, too. I think you have some good points. At the same time (and I know you might well agree), equating a choice to be married to a person with empathy for the person is a false equivalency. CL makes that point in her response, and it’s spot on.

      Let’s say for a moment that PTSD/TBI is, in fact, a significant contributor to the husband’s behaviors that are unbefitting to healthy partnership. There may be other contributors, too, like background, pre-existing mental health issues, etc. There could be an alphabet soup of contributors. However, no matter how many or few or big or small those contributors are, identifying them won’t change the harm as long as the behaviors continue.

      It follows that deciding you don’t want to stay in a relationship that causes you and/or your children harm is unrelated to your empathy for the other person in the relationship. No matter how well you understand the abuser, the abuse itself remains abuse, and it only ends when the circumstances change.

      If PTSD/TBI have really rendered this man unable to be emotionally unavailable and doomed to a life of substance addiction and illegal behavior, and even if he was truly helpless to change that, it would be a tragedy. It would be heartbreaking to discover that his inability to sustain healthy family relationships has to mean that he can’t parent his children full time because it will harm them. It’s sad for him and even more sad for the kids.

      Still, sad as that story is, none of that would mean he should be allowed to be in the home being emotionally abusive (or otherwise abusive) to anyone. It would mean that, sad as it is, he should live in a situation where his behaviors aren’t destroying the lives of the people around him.

      • This is so helpful to me..I’ve figured this out along the way but what a succinct explanation. “identifying them won’t change the harm as long as the behaviors continue.”
        It’s so hard to see this when you’re in the middle of the mess. I think a lot of why it’s easy to stay has a lot more to do with how we view the kind of person we are than seeing the other person and their behavior clearly. Having a clear phrase like that to separate my empathy and his behavior/effects would have allowed me to make hard decisions sooner. Great post!

        • I am glad I can be helpful. I frequently say here that I just share what others shared with me that helped me untangle the insanity. If paying that forward helps, I am thrilled! Hang in there. You are mighty and we all support you!

      • Your post reminds me of something from my premarital wedding counseling (with my father-in-law minister who married us). He asked me why my deal breakers would be for ending the marriage. I told him 1) infidelity and 2) having an addiction or mental illness and refusing to get help for it.
        I wonder now if my responses were actually red flags that I attributed to wedding nerves…
        STBX turned out to be a narcissist and cheater. And I turned out to be a chump.

        Irony: I now have a C-PTSD diagnosis myself from dealing with long term emotional abuse from STBX.

        • I can relate to this. My dealbreakers were abuse or infidelity. STBX knew this and did both. I was a chump and I didn’t leave until I started having panic attacks everytime STBX walked in the room. He laighed the first time he realized what was happening. That’s when I knew I had to leave.

      • Turning the situation around sometimes helps me think more clearly. If I was being a terrible spouse and parent due to circumstances beyond my control, such as PTSD, my loving/former self would want my spouse to protect themselves and the kids from me.

    • I don’t think it’s PTSD per say. It’s a certain personality type that is attracted to the profession. I was raised in a military family. My father served in the Army for twenty years, my brother is in the Air Force, my sister was in the Navy. Me? I’m a more intellectual type. My idea of a good time is reading political philosophy. Those types don’t do well in the grunt core. Officers? Maybe, depends on where you are. I’m way too cerebral for the military. My STBX is a former soldier, got kicked out after 14 years because he just wouldn’t pass his PT test.

      So, you can probably tell I’ve been exposed to a lot of these types. My family is pretty dissimilar from what I’m about to describe. There is a “type” that joins the military quite often, risk prone, likes excitement, needs stimulation, prone to impulsivity, etc. The military provides structure, yet it gives you a job where things aren’t the same every day. Cops, firefighters, EMTs, all the jobs like that provide the same thing, so they tend to attract that excitement seeking personality type. I believe this is also why smoking, drinking, etc are also widespread in these professions – it’s more simulation seeking.

    • First we have to rule out self-selection & niche-picking. People with narcissistic traits will tend to seek out professions that fit those traits (professors, doctors, lawyers, rock stars). People with power and control issues will tend to seek out professions that allow them that power (police, military, fire fighters, prison guards). If you eliminate the already-semi-disordered from the pool, then we could see if the experiences of some professions themselves lead to someone becoming disordered.

      My bet is that most of the problem is self-selection into those professions.

      • “My bet is that most of the problem is self-selection into those professions.”

        This is 100% the case with my law enforcement ex. He cheated in previous relationships prior to going into law enforcement. The part of him that compels him to cheat is the same part that sought out a career in which he has automatic control over others. He is full of fear and he lacks the confidence his massive ego would leave you to believe he has, so he sought out a profession that gives him an exoskeleton of bravery and power. Funny, though, that he chose to work for an agency where he gets to wear the uniform, hold the commission, and order people around, but he doesn’t have to deal with any real bad guys. He talks the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk like real cops. He likes to make a HUGE deal out of the fact that he once tackled a teenager with a gun. The part he doesn’t tell is that the kid had his hands up and TOLD my ex he had a gun in his pocket. But ex likes to use this as evidence of how bad-ass he is and how his life is always on the line. But suggest that he join a police department (for the purpose of, say, living in the same place as his infant son and spouse), and he balked. Too much threat to the illusion, and he might have to deal with REAL bad guys.

      • Yes! STBX is a physician. He has never talked about wanting to help people ( I just assumed he did). I am convinced he chose his profession because of prestige, money and because he likes the intellectual challenge.

    • My ex was a paramedic, we were married x 30 years. IMO is a large amount of stress and possible PTSD working in these fields, that is absolute but most of the people applying for the job have that type personality to begin with, it helps them get the job…thrill seekers, narcissistic looking for hero status and entitlement, able to read situations quickly and take command, great communication skills and charm.
      I don’t believe every fireman, paramedic etc are jerks but those that are, were before they became employed as one.

  • I was (am) a military wife, moved my babies to TX prior to the last deployment away from all my support because being a good wife, mother, meant keeping the kids with their dad, right? We were reconciling and i remember trekking my mother “he’s trying, what’s one more year?”. I did this after finding (and saving) evidence of his online sexting win a friend, and after he had a brain scan in RI ..the Dr showed him a picture of a TBI from a motorcycle accident and one of an alcoholic…his matched the alcoholic brain. And I still went. Three years later I had tried to leave again events made me give it one more college try. That last two years, I started to finally get it, his behavior only got more resentful and picky…Even though I took care of everything while he left work when he felt like it, went to the bar to “work on his masters in peace” (yes he got it) etc. D. Day was a year ago, and his response was to become a new man! Through alcoholism recovery. we lived together this last year as it is recommended not to make big changes during the first year of recovery and i saw an opportunity to let him make his amends to the kids and hopefully salvage some relationship with his son.. and I could save my entire paycheck to afford a downpayment on a house. This summer..not even a month after our son was in outpatient mental health facility for dealing with this man, He was introducing my kids to his new gf …before we even physically separated this summer. And he thinks it’s all okay and should be fine simply because he’s in recovery. *sigh*.

    To the one who posted I will say: TBI and ptsd are both real, and your response could be mine. I didn’t recognize the gaslighting although I knew things were not right. The best answer to all of the questions are exactly what CL said “is this behavior okay with me”. It’s not easy but it can be done.

    Yesterday I texted armyboy to bring the kids home and he called asking if there was a problem I said’re not doing what you said you would do (bting them home an hour earlier) so he got mad. I have a right to enforce the rules or call him on his bs…even when herdoesn’t like it. I was upset for a few..but it gets easier over time to stop taking the blame gift they offer. Be strong! Xo

    • Chica,

      I was a military wife too…one reason I stayed so long was that I thought the kids were better off with a dad who was an active/decent parent some of the time. I thought that my good influence and impact on them would override his negative. I was wrong and I now see that they were all negatively impacted by his behavior.

      When he retired, he was firmly up OWs ass at the time (we werent even sep, we lived together as a family) he scheduled his retirement ceremony to suit OW but one of our kids couldnt be there (finals). Their shit just never ends…you have no moral obligation to stay because he is in “recovery” he is still an asshole.

      Im so sorry, I know this is awful. Im WAY down the path, years out and I have a rebuilt life.

      • Thank you unicorn. I agree…I wish I had understood the depth of my chumpiness before I did, before I chose to buy a house a street away in the same town as him (which was my decision. my son was in a bad spot..not sure moving home would have been best). I still have a hard time untangling 13 years of being married to this narcissist, and learning to trust my own judgement again. baby steps..but I’m getting there in my own time. I have hope, and support and the ability/self permission to change my mind at any time. It’s hard to recognize and I’m afraid I won’t be able to protect my kids from his particular brand of morality..but I’m getting there

  • I agree with those who say that he’s just making excuses. In our society, everything has an excuse and a get-out-of-jail free card. My ex is still handing me excuses, eleven months later, and I no longer ask for any.
    I can empathize with your situation in a lot of ways, because I was a Christian, ahem, we were both ostensibly Christian but he could not possibly turn to the Lord or any of our church body for help, advice, um Prayer. He was as resistant to that as he was to any other need to work on anything. I had to leave Him, and I did have some financial issues because of it – but I had no choice when dealing with this kind of disordered individual. Please get out, and be safe. Who knows what he’ll try to pin on “PTSD” next.
    P.S. Block the girlfriend. She’s not your bff. I know you know this, but she’s another tangle in the skein. Cut it and run!!

  • From my experience (I work in the medical field and spent quite a few years in both military and addiction/HIV treatment settings) PTSD and TBI can alter personality. But cheating and addictive behaviour is not the only “change”. I’ve seen people who have lost cognition, social filters, motor skills, short term memory etc. Add in nightmares, night terrors, extreme reactions to particular sounds or situations. If lying and cheating is the only manifestation of your PTSD or TBI you are simply a lying sack of excrement using a very real and horrifying life changing experience of truly injured people as an excuse.
    And if you have the misfortune of being tied to somebody who is genuinely suffering from PTSD and TBI with major behaviour problems step back and look at your situation as if your child, parent, or best friend was dealing with the shitshow. Would you recommend your daughter stay with a raging alcoholic who repeatedly slaps her and the kids around. No! It is not anybody’s responsibility to expose themselves to violent or aberrant behaviour to help somebody too ill to be a competent partner or parent.

  • Lady danger
    I agree with everything CL says. You are so deep in the trees you have forgotten you are in a wood that you can step back from. Honestly ask yourself what you are doing by considering all the minutiae? There is only one question here which is – Do YOU want to stay?
    I would respectfully suggest that you listen to the post above about the kind of lessons your children are absorbing from all this.
    As CL says, the reasons for cheating may be many and varied, may be true or nonsensical, but you get to decide what is acceptable for you once it has been discovered. The cheater may be sad, angry, vicious, cold, indifferent, whiny, pathetic, strutting or lost but whatever they are you get to decide for you in your own best interests and those of your children what is the best course of action.
    The Immoral is sad and very sad and very very sad and I find it almost impossible to be angry with him. But someone said here that I could just see he has different values from mine and decide that is my line in the sand. He cheated – end of story. I didn’t have to see him as ‘bad’. That helped me out no end. I can now feel sorry for him all I want as long as it is at the end of a barge pole. I don’t want him around no matter how sad and sorry we feel.
    Really who cares about him. Even he doesn’t care about himself enough to get help, let alone you and your children.
    You know what to do, it’s just scary to do it. Cheaters force you to kill your own marriage. Be mighty! Gain a life.

    • I think that is a very good point — you don’t have to see someone as “bad” — it’s just what are your deal breakers?

      As I’ve related here many times, in my first marriage I stayed far too long with someone who suffered from mental illness. Was that his fault? No. Not getting treated however, WAS his fault. (but you can also argue the nature of the illness is such that the person suffers lack of awareness.)

      In the end, it didn’t matter if he was ill or an asshole, or both. (He was both — I’m over 15 years out now.) What mattered was that I didn’t have a partner. I was in the relationship alone, and worse I was living in constant chaos and exposing my young son to that. So I left. And I never regretted it for one moment. All I felt when I could finally go there in my head was RELIEF. Huge, huge swells of relief to lay that burden down.

      And the guy never did get better. He got worse. For my son’s sake, I wish he’d gotten a grip, or the loss of his family meant a consequence that registered. But it didn’t. And as a shrink had to explain to my son — his father’s issues are NOT his responsibility.

      LD — your husband’s issues are NOT your responsibility or your kids’ — they are HIS. And from what you write, he is NOT dealing with them. Whether that’s because he can’t (he’s too damaged) or he won’t (he is too disordered) — it’s THE reality. And it’s the same reality either way. It’s either an acceptable relationship for you or it isn’t.

    • Capricorn, I usually look up for a few specific people’s posts here after CL’s and you are one of them. I find your thinking resonates with my feelings. My thinking might still be blurred at times because right now I am very heavy contact for another 11 days. But I keep reading, it’s all I do in fact sitting here on the beach and family-“vacationing” while discussing amicable divorce. I just realized I posted my update under an old post (i just keep devouring CL and CN wisdom) so I will repeat here.

      My mind is still chumpy although I don’t back off as I did in the summer. But the narc cheater also does not make any attempts at reckonciliation, he now agreed that divorce is the only solution since we can’t connect “on an emotional level and I spoke disrespectfully and disobediently with him”. However, while I have been resuming my powers thanks to CL, when I read this post today I thought that I would have probably stayed with the cheater. Well..this is what I was prepared to do in the summer, right? When we were wreckonciling and I thought it was over and I had my husband back for the happily ever after. Then all the future plans went down the drain only because the effort to sustain that 2-month perfect unicorn he showed me over the summer was too unbearable and heavy job for him, so he cracked. If he had sustained it for a year, while smoking pot like out PTSD stricken military, I would probably still be with him.

      So while I am discussing divorce now and determined to take this route once I return home, I feel I am still chumpy for thinking this way re today’s post and I feel that even this divorce was not really my inner Chump Lady decision but he just pushed me with his jerky attitude to take up this route. Not sure if I am making sense here…

      He just opened up a discussion of celebrating NY’s eve with some friends here. There is a family with two boys so my son will be delighted. But I feel in no mood to celebrate, even to put this mask for the sake of my son. The cheater just tried to guilt me into that “we need to give him a family environment for at least this much.” Well…it was your decision to have a long distance family for the last 6 years which gave you excellent opportunities and time to do as you pleased and participate in your son’s life for 70 days a year. Now it’s my fault that I don’t feel like doing the “Happy New Year!” Together. Ha! Now when I think back our long distance started right after our son was born. At the time he worked in another city (same country) and would come home for weekends only. Then 3 years later my son and I moved to Canada. So he really was never a full-time father at all!

      He just stormed out after I said I am not committing to the NY eve party. I guess he expects me to bring my son over to him for the next 9 or so years for christmas (which I ‘ll probably do since I won’t trust him with the kid here) but I am in no mood to celebrate anything. At least this year.

      For LadyDanger, just realize what kind of dynamics your kids are seeing these days. Do you want them to repeat that in their adult lives? Especially when you mentioned there is no love you feel towards him and you are just buying time. Get out. Absence of feelings makes it easier. I am still trying to untangle my feelings although divorce is inevitable. That’s why Capricorns words resonated – I can feel as much sad for him or in love with him as I please…I still don’t think he is the right person for me.

      • Longtime
        I look for you also! Some thoughts on your post. I will have contact with The Immoral in about 24 days for a couple of weeks maybe. Then he will be off abroad again. I can tell you my experience is that my thinking gets straight when he has gone, goes fuzzy when he is around. I don’t think your thinking or you are chumpy. From how I understand it you got chumped (fooled, taken, misled, lied to whatever word you like). A chump is someone who trusted and loved wholeheartedly but got fooled. Now you are not chumpy, you are trying to sort out how you feel about what you know, there is a big difference. Also you have decided to leave. That’s not chumpy thinking. At all. What you read here today and thought you might have done is irrelevant because you are focusing on what IS GOING TO HAPPEN in your future. You have accepted it and are determined. The fact that it hurts and isn’t really what you wanted is beside the point. Long way for me to say – you have not recognised you are being mighty. Go you. You are being mighty. You are sitting on a beach thinking and planning for a divorce while fuckwit is around. That’s mighty. When my cheater checks in soon I’m going to come looking for you for advice.
        Also I noticed you said ‘he pushed me into it with his jerky attitude’. Nope. He is seeing a new side to you so has decided in true narc fashion to pretend he is the agent of change. He sees he is losing your cake and is trying to say he didn’t want it anyway. That pure 100% narc bull shit. You are making sense. You made a decision to divorce now he is trying to own that decision. Up to you if you let him. I think you should own it. You are divorcing him.
        And you are the constant parent. He is like Uncle Dad. Like mine. Idiots. What they have missed and will miss. But all of this is him trying to see where your new boundaries are. Will you still accept the guilt he offers you, will you accept shame, will you accept blame? I would suggest you leave it all with him. It belongs there.
        Longtime. 2×4. You bloody should be celebrating. You chose to do the hardest thing. You are standing up for you and your son despite great fear and anxiety and insecurity. Yay go you I say.
        This divorce will only be amicable btw if you don’t rock his boat so much.
        You trust that he sucks. You are getting out. You have got this. We are mighty (inside and quietly!).

        • Capricorn, thank you!!!

          I read and reread your post and will read it more. I really needed this. You are right, the thinking goes fuzzy when they are around. We did some shopping today and came to the cottage and while I was cooking he opened a can of beer and was involving me in this very lovely conversation. It felt like….well I can’t really say good ol’ days because he NEVER did house shopping with me and neither cleaned a fridge which he did today. He also never kept me company when I cooked. This is when we were full time husband and wife. At the time everything was done by the time his majesty arrived home and I was walking on eggshells trying to predict his mood. Since our long term relationship started about 6 years ago he started doing these family chores with me in those short times we saw each other. So today was that POTENTIAL that I saw and was yearning for. But now when I catch myself in this yearning mode I realize I am longing for the potential, not the real thing. And oh yes, he can be sooo lovely one moment and such a jerk the next. Early on when I knew nothing of narcs I spotted a pattern that I could never understand. Whenever we had an exceptionally connecting sex and cuddling, real emotional bonding, the next day was a huge fight after which I usually had to cry and apologise for mostly “being controlling and pushing my ways on him” while he would distance himself (and find a good reason to go vacationing “alone” because he had to unwind.) Now I understand the narc’s paralysing fear of connecting, feeling vulnerable to other people, so every time he felt the slightest vulnerability he struck. First. Just to make sure that I wouldn’t do it as he expects everybody in his life to.

          When he mirrors niceties it’s really hard to not fall back into his hoovering. I see he may have a great influence on our son at times and I see how my son feels and acts like a man around Dad. But then he also acts extremely irresponsibly and yes, missed on the whole growing up thing. Arrrrgh…i get so angry when I see how it reflects on our son. Shit sandwich we have to eat.

          You are right, he is now trying to own the divorce decision. And you are also right, I should not rock his boat much. I find myself constantly biting him especially in front of our son and I see he is doing a great effort in order to not snap out on me. I have this urge to tell the whole world about his cheating and I am afraid frankly. I told his friend today and this guy was in total disbelief. But I am on his territory. Should take it easy.

          Thank you really. I will be there for you when and if you need it, when around The Immoral (not sure the capital letters are justified here). CL and the whole CN, thank you! If I had not found you by miracle (don’t even remember how it happened -long live google!) I would still be the RIC client feeding delicious cake to the cheater narc.

          • I agree with your comment about longing for the Potential, not who he really is. My chumpy heart still gets tricked by him, and all his gaslighting ways. I understand how it is to be at a disadvantage, on his territory. Stay mighty and plugged into CN; this is the best resource I’ve found next to Divorce Minister.
            Prayers and peace to you!

          • You certainly have an enviable courage. You couldn’t have been more right. The fact that he treats you “lovingly” for small periods of time is only a way of controlling you. It doesn’t even mean he does it intentionally, it’s in his personality, and it’s something he can’t and won’t change.
            Something I have learned is the one thing you can never accept in a man is control, whether physical or emotional. Control changes the way that you think and the way you see yourself to the point it leaves you feeling like a broken, useles rag. And believe me, it will take you years to recover from that if you keep accepting that. You should get away from him, you already know you’re unhappy, just think out of the box and stop making excuses to yourself, he will never change for good.

  • Dear Ladydanger,
    I can’t think of ANY good reason for cheating. Not sure what your vows were but mine had that Love, Honor and Cherish thing in them along with forsaking all others. In a church. Surrounded and witnessed by 300 family and friends.
    My Fucktard tried the PTSD route….. He worked in the EMS field and 2 years prior had an extremely horrific case. After I caught him red-handed and he was fired since the AP was one of his employee’s fiancé, he goes to a therapist..
    At our 1st meeting after D-day which I set up to discuss divorce details, he tells me that he has seen a therapist twice and he now knows why he “pushed away” me and our sons and “turned” to her and maybe I’d like to wait on the divorce? I had told him after the 1st d day (that I knew of) 23 years earlier, I would not/could not, go thru it again and even though I wouldn’t say never , I wanted to continue with the divorce as he had a LOT of work to do. As far as I know he never went back. But it sounded good right? And bought him time till the slut’s fiancé kicked her to the curb, not buying her “I want to work it out” bull.
    So as far as him saying it was PTSD from the case, that since he felt like a failure and everyone else must think so also, why not show everyone what a true failure he was by taking up with some slut who was younger than his son? Moving out to be “alone” to “get his head screwed on straight” (what he told all friends and family) but telling your employees that your marriage of 35 years was over and partying with new friends (all your kids age). Yah, you’re a failure all right.
    A true tragedy to blame a horrific illness that causes such suffering. All because you “weren’t attracted” to your wife anymore (and of course you were SUCH a stud muffin Adonis at 56). Sorry, I don’t think that there is any affliction that controls your zipper. Let’s just say what it really was, A total lack of morals, bad character and no integrity. Basically, YOU SUCK.
    Good luck LD, see a lawyer, get your ducks in a row and lose that cheater. As far as your kids, is this the type of relationship you want them to think of as normal? I’m all for teaching our children not to be a quitter BUT I also want them to know their true value and being a doormat is NOT one of them.
    Hugs to you……..

    • Had It… yes you and Capricorn are right.. it is pathologically self serving to use real situations that destroy people and pull them out as an excuse to fuck people. (I’m reminded of the “Golden Ticket” episode of South Park) .

      I work in pediatric end of life care and I’ve seen some shit, I’ve never use it as an excuse to behave badly.

  • Dear LadyDanger,

    When someone has mental illness it is their responsibility to get treatment for it. If they won’t do that, you cannot help them. It’s not on you. And after all, he’s proven he can find ‘support’ elsewhere, even when you are right there. Please get your ducks lined up and get out before his behavior impacts your children. It’s already impacting you, see a therapist (not the idiot your husband saw).

    On to this PTSD excuse for cheating. There is no clinical evidence I am aware of that indicates people suffering from PTSD lose their empathy. As someone who is 6 years out from trauma and still struggling with the remnants of that very thing, I have done some research on this topic. Also spent a lot of time in therapy for it. It is possible the dumbass therapist read an abstract of the one small 14 person study done on this topic but didn’t bother to read the actual paper. If you read the abstract you are left with the impression empathy is impacted. If you read the entire paper you see there is no statistical significance. You can read it here:

    Hope that finishes off your desire to untangle the skein…The other important thing to recognize is that your asshole is no different than most. He found a therapist he could manipulate, he got the diagnoses he wanted to manipulate YOU. Then he quit going to therapy. If an abuser goes to therapy he doesn’t get better, he just uses new skills to gaslight and fuck with people. Read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy if you haven’t already. If every chump on this site chimed in on this topic you’d see this is common as hell. We should have a name for it.

    Jedi Hugs!

  • When trying to untangle my exes skein (he is now dead at 40 but that’s another story) my very wise therapist told me this when I asked about the mental illness question (what if he is bipolar, has issues from f’d up childhood, has depression issues, grasp grasp grasp). She said this “mental disorder, outside of schizophrenia, doesn’t make good people bad, character is what it is and you can’t fix bad character”. She had many patients that did have some sort of mental illness and they were in there working to be as better as they could be, they were also faithful and worked hard to be good spouses. Your cheater isn’t insane, he knows right from wrong and chooses wrong. PTSD doesn’t make you a cheater, poor character and entitlement make you a cheater. Don’t buy what he’s selling, get out and stop wasting time. You deserve better.

  • LadyDanger, you’re a therapist – and I’ll bet a good one seeing how hard you’ve tried to untangle your cheater’s skein – I’d suggest asking yourself what would you say to your best friend if she came to you for help with the same facts?
    My advice: save your own sanity, and your childrens’ sense of values, and get away from him now while the going’s good!
    … and the very best of luck with it all ?

  • LadyDanger,

    You wrote, “AM I the insensitive clinician he makes me out to be…”

    LD, you know all about projection and manipulation. He’s calling you insensitive because he is insensitive. You should know that low-empathy people seek out and marry high-empathy people. You are NOT the insensitive one in this relationship.

    Prolonged trauma can cause PTSD. If PTSD caused cheating, there are a lot of chumps out here who would be cheating.

    I notice that your husband told you he feels no empathy. My ex-h told me the same thing. RUN AWAY. Living with someone who feels no empathy is damaging for children. You must get your children away from him.

  • I was a military spouse and my cheating ex was also sent to the first Gulf war. I won’t minimize the contributions of our other fine veterans, but I believe the only trauma mine experienced was a blister from playing too much volleyball. He was with a unit that was far behind the front lines, such as they were. Even if the PTSD is real and serious, it is his responsibility to seek and continue treatment. It is not a free pass for self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and extra-marital strange. I would suggest you remove yourself and your children from that daily dysfunction promptly. Doing so will most definitely improve your lives and it might cause him to examine more carefully his own issues. But probably not.

  • Lady Danger,

    You said he was sober when he cheated. That’s it. It’s a one-and-done deal breaker. He’s an alcoholic; there’s no addiction or PTSD to blame for fucking someone else, though.

    He sucks. Dump his ass. Get a lawyer. Hate him. Make him pay out the nose. He sucks.

    Welcome to the club nobody wants to join.

  • I find this interesting since I have been diagnosed with PTSD…..from my relationship with a cheater that was filled with lies, gaslighting, deception and manipulation. It never made me lose empathy or decide to have sec outside of my marriage.

    I found a great therapy group for PTSD with great people all trying to get better. When I asked my therapist about potential personality disorders in the group dynamic she smiled and said they’re easy to spot since they come to make a good impression then stop after a few sessions. No one in my group talks about losing empathy or cheating on their spouse. We discuss very different difficulties.

    Side note: I met a good guy in this group and we started dating. He is former military and has the most wonderful integrity,not a damn thing like Narkles the Clown.

    Find an awesome attorney and go grey rock. Teach your kids how to be mighty by taking control of your life and getting them as far away from an abusive jerk as possible!!!!!!

  • Married 15 years and Ex Army Wife here. My Ex didn’t have a TBI but managed to get the military to label him with PTSD as he deployed 7 times despite having no symptoms associated with that disorder. I can tell you I went to therapy with him at Ft Drum and it was a joke. It looked like the check out at Walmart’s self service isle. He used every excuse from his multiple deployments made him feel like he wasn’t part of the family to his therapist told him to move out and get himself right. The move out one was his justification for moving his affair to NY and continue it while married. I bought most of them hook, line, and sinker so I was definitely a “chump”! Came to his rescue every time he screwed up his life even after the divorce. He would beg and cry for my help then discard once he was brought up to a comfortable level. Finally had enough when I realized he had no desire to change his behavior and I was driving myself into the ground trying to get him to see what he had lost. (pick me) Six months ago, I said to myself, if he actually came back and professed to be “cured” then what does he have to offer to the relationship and family? It’s was a hard reality that the answer is nothing good. So now I am taking the actions that I should have a year and a half ago! I feel I gave him more chances then any person ever should have to “get right” and have the life we had together and instead he found yet another personal ad woman to run to. So I realized she got him! She can keep him! I am moving forward with my life, loosing very little in the process. It is hard to do but I have come to understand that these men never valued us as devoted non cheating wives , family, or the marriage they had. Maybe someday they will wake up, maybe they won’t but in the mean time, I will repair myself and hopefully find someone who does appreciate all that I offer. Best of Luck to you. And positive thoughts to all who are going through this tough journey. We feel that we are alone in it, but know that you aren’t!

  • How about all the poor chumps that end up with PTSD like emotional problems from d-day? So far all I’ve done is cry pretty much everywhere. Have anxiety attacks pretty much everywhere. And somehow in the three months since then I haven’t fucked any strangers. I must just be super strong or something ?

    • SadShelby I also did not fuck anybody even when my cheater husband suggested I do instead of telling other people he is a serial cheater. I told him I needed to validate my feelings by speaking to others and he suggested that I go fuck somebody. I guess that’s how he validated himself or maybe can’t deal with other people discovering his beingness.

  • He is still responsible for cheating WITH THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN! Interesting how his PTSD did not seem to hinder his deception game. My point is that he CHOSE to lie for YEARS and cheat FOR YEARS. These are HIS choices.

    If he really saw cheating as a problem and wanted to change, he could have come clean with the first. He doesn’t and didn’t. And don’t buy the lack of empathy bs. He was aware enough to know what he did was wrong that he would hide what he did from you until you caught him red-handed.

    Insisting on personal responsibility is NOT being insensitive. It is called “adulting.” All of that is noise to keep you from enforcing consequences for his wicked behavior. Remember, this is a pattern that he REPEATEDLY chose to hide and repeat. That is far from repentant, IMO.

  • I am married to a cheating, narcissistic army major with a history of combat PTSD for which he refuses treatment. As others here have already stated, that’s not the reason for his cheating–that falls under matters of character, or the lack thereof.

    He was a paratrooper on the ground for D-Day of the first Gulf War, then later in charge of a MASH-type field hospital in Haiti. Haiti was by far the worse experience but still not an excuse for cheating and emotional abuse, which he enjoys dishing out.

    My father too suffers from PTSD; he’s a Vietnam veteran who still has nightmares/night terrors almost nightly after 40+ years. He’s receiving treatment from the local VA. I moved back home with him and my mom after my first D-Day, but left because I couldn’t live with the chaos there. I was losing so much sleep–dad wakes us all up with his yelling and thrashing about and accidentally breaking things. Bad scenario and there’s no end in sight to it. He’s 70 years old now.

    Anyway, despite all that, dad never cheated on mom. But my cheater played the sad sausage routine after a therapist brought the PTSD idea up, and of course I had sympathy for that, having been raised around a man who suffers greatly–and was abusive in his own unique way, I might add.

    But cheater refuses treatment and marriage counseling despite having promised both in front of said therapist during wreckonciliation. One of his reasons is that that could derail or delay his making rank; he’s on track to be promoted to Lt. Colonel and nothing’s going to stand in the way. He has since resumed seeing schmoopie on the sly. He doesn’t know that I know, that I am just lining up ducks and waiting for a bit of evidence I can present to a judge to file under adultery, and in effect handing him the bill for my attorney services. He successfully talked me out of filing, and out of a post-nup, too. God, how I could kick myself. So now that prior evidence is useless due to ‘condonation’. I’m back to square one, waiting for them to slip up.

    Don’t let that happen to you. Disregard his ‘poor me’ routine and do what you need to do. Do not believe any tears, promises, and grand gestures he might make, it’s all for show. These type of people don’t stop. They just ramp up the cheating, albeit underground.

    • IBJ,

      I am so sorry for your pain, this is horrible. I have already coined my nowdeadcheater as “Major Cheaterpants” so yours can be Lt Col Select Cheaterpants if you like, but you can come up with your own name for him.

      I never divorced, so I never had to deal with thing like Condonation, but that sounds horrible. Catch them and get enough proof for you to get a good settlement. Sorry you need this place but sorry you need this place.

  • Let me give a different perspective on the issue of the relationship between a profession (in this case, the military or law enforcement) and some types of people drawn to it. Overcomer says, “people applying for the [military or law enforcement] have that type personality to begin with, it helps them get the job…thrill seekers, narcissistic looking for hero status and entitlement, able to read situations quickly and take command, great communication skills and charm.” I would only qualify that with “some people” are drawn to those fields for those reasons. As someone in the education field, I’ve seen that some teachers enter the profession because they want the “Dead Poet’s Society” moment where they can become the object of admiration and near-worship by students. Other teachers are in it for the right reason–and there emphasis is on finding a way for students to become their best selves. People go in to coaching and scouting because they love the activities and want to help young people develop skills–OR because it is a place to recruit and groom abuse victims. I’m thinking that many, many professions (business, banking, medicine, accounting) attract people for the wrong reasons. But those people are not healthy or whole going in.

    There are many roads to traumatic brain injury, PTSD or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (damage done by recurring concussions, as in football players). But in someone evidencing the symptoms of these disorders, the people involved in their lives need to consider more than the base diagnosis: 1) Is the brain issue or mental illness the major issue? Or is there also an underlying character or personality disorder that combat or injury exacerbated? 2) What evidence is there that the “traumatized” person is aware of the impact of his/her condition on others? What evidence is there that this person is interested in treatment that mitigates that impact? 3) Does it make sense for the family members to live apart from this person in order to allow them to be healthy and functional?

    Here’s the bottom line for me: You can help a traumatized loved one without sacrificing everyone else. In many cases (and here I will say that for me alcoholism and addiction are not all that different and in fact are often co-morbid with PTSD, TBI and CTE), injured/ill persons may need to focus on themselves and their healing rather than to fail spectacularly trying to do the impossible: function inside intimate relationships while struggling to recover their own functionality. You can leave someone because you love or loved that person. Because you love your kids and want them to live a healthy life with one sane parent. Because you love and value yourself.

    Finally, we can never see the future. I left my XH the alcohol abuser some years ago and whether or not he is drinking, he continues his slide into self-absorption and narcissistic behavior. He still goes back and forth from being truly decent to being mean, unkind, sometimes from sentence to sentence. On the other hand, my brother, whose behavior during our mother’s last illness was frightening and abusive, has become a different person. I’m not sure why, but my own unwillingness to give in to his demands, my calm detachment from his tantrums, and the passing of time have helped. And of course, he is no longer regularly mindfucked by a narcissistic parent. Get away from people who are abusive and selfish. Get your mind clear, with support from a good therapist (not a quack who recommends enabling disturbed people). Get the kids into a healthy setting. There’s nothing that says you can’t continue to participate in this person’s recovery, even after divorce.

  • Lady Danger,

    Therapists are trained to believe that there is always a trace of good in people, that they want to get better, that they just have layers of dysfunction that prevents them from being their true, pure, good selves. That is simply not true when dealing with Cluster Bs.

    Please do feed your mind about Cluster Bs, read Lundy Bancroft’s books, Sandra Brown’s books, get info from Bill Eddie on High Conflict personality. The more you can learn about the dynamics, the more you can help your mind catch up with reality: Your husband disregarded your well-being, and lied his way to actually fuck three other women behind your back. The facts and his actions are all you need, the reasons that pushed him to make these disastrous choices are less important than the fact that he knowingly did these things.

    You don’t owe him anything, but you owe yourself to take good care of you and your kids. He is not entitled to your forgiveness, he is not showing any contrition or acts in a mature way to earn your trust back.

    My advice is as CL/CN, go NC, and proceed with divorce, the more you stay away from him, the clearer his gaslighting and manipulations will become clearer to you. About the GF, get as much evidence from her as possible, text, emails, pix between them would be great. You can use these as leverage during your negotiation or if needed in court.

    It is going to be a rough road that will take a lot of work, I was so disappointed in myself that I did not better discern who I was dealing with until I found evidence of his affair. It is very painful to discover and deal with the fact that a Cluster B’s definition of “love” are along the lines of “you make me look good”, or “you are so useful to me.” But the earlier you detox, the earlier you can build your next chapter with dignity.

    The silver lining? In this process, you will gather the kind of clarity, knowledge and wisdom that will make you a kickass therapist to help recovering chumps for years to come.

    (((Lady Danger)))

  • I was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of DDay events (I found out he was cheating when I walked in on him and the OW in flagrante in my own home.) I had night terrors alternating with insomnia, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, self-destructive impulses, depression: the whole nine yards of the DSM-5.

    Guess what? My empathy is still intact (like you, OP, I am an effective mental health professional), my morals are untouched, and I have had no sudden impulse to fuck other people.

    As CL and others here have already said, you KNOW that PTSD is not a valid excuse for your husband’s disrespectful and dehumanizing behavior. Save yourself. Save your kids. Get out now.

  • Adultery is a biblical reason to divorce. As CL said, ask yourself if his behavior is acceptable to you. If it is not acceptable, talk to a good lawyer and make a plan. Take the time you need but move forward. I wish you the very best.

  • My STBX was emotionally abusive and a serial cheater. I got the “maybe he has PTSD” / “is it because he’s in the military?” excuses from therapists and friends. (STBX’s excuses were that he was selfish. That he thought he could have a wife and girlfriends- even though he knew infidelity was my deal breaker. And that he thought I’d find someone better and leave him. )

    In the past, after an incident of abuse or infidelity, I would fall for his lost little boy routine. I’d try to explain to him the consequences of his behavior and how his actions were hurting me. Then a few days or weeks later he’d be back to hurting me again.

    What finally helped me was acknowledging that I was not okay with his behavior. And I was not responsible for his actions only my own. STBX made the choice to hurt me. I made the choice to stay even though he was violating my boundaries. I couldn’t force him to be faithful and stop abusing me. But I could protect myself by leaving.

    I felt empowered when I realized that I the ability to protect myself from him. I loved him and put him first for years. And I was miserable because he kept hurting me. Leaving him was an act of self-love that led to my feeling truly happy for the first time in years. He used my helpful nature as a way to control me. I was finally free once I made the choice to stop trying to help him and to help myself.

    • “He used my helpful nature as a way to control me.” Spot on Finally Free…

      This was my experience too… Discovering his affair was a profoundly disturbing reset of my worldview that everyone is always doing their best to care for their family and loved ones… Lesson learned!

  • “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”

    Having a great job and zero debt are all admirable goals. But while you’re married to the Cheater HE could be wracking up debt you’ll be responsible for half of during any divorce, you could get a STD because these people never change

    • Or, the goalposts will change when you get to zero debt and you think, “I’ll leave when I have ‘X’ in the bank”. All the while, your one precious life is being wasted away on a Cheater. Get out now.

  • Thank you to everyone for the support. It is a relief to have this kind of feedback on this scale. I appreciate the well wishes. im so glad I found this community.

  • My ex is a retired military man. I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough depending on how I view it) to work in the HQ in DC with these supposed “always faithful”! Trust me when I tell you that PTSD has absolutely nothing to do with cheating! I worked with military and civilian personnel daily and watched flagrant cheating going on from the highest to the lowest ranks. I would watch as military worked side by side with the ho worker. I watched my own CO flirt and cheat with the females in our small unit while his officer wife was pregnant! The UCMJ may cover all that, but it’s hard to involve the chain of command when the very person you are looking to to enforce it is also engaging in the same terrible behavior. Civilian life isn’t really any different, but the military is a “fishbowl” type environment so it seems more prevalent. It is very much an entitlement behavior. I am with CL on this issue , you need to ask yourself if this is acceptable behavior and is this the way you want to be treated and live the rest of your life tolerating. No one cares about you the way you care about you! Get out ASAP! Good Luck and warm hugs!

  • My ex husband used his PTSD as an excuse for EVERYTHING. It wasn’t until after I filed for divorce that I discovered almost all of his military “history” is a lie. I started snooping and found paperwork that said he was only in for 1 1/2 years. 1 1/2 years! I was in for 2, and he used to give me such a hard time for that, saying he was in for 3. I already knew some of his stories were lies, like him telling everyone he’d gotten the bronze star award, when I’d seen him forging the document.

    I so wish I’d gotten out sooner. There was a window of about a month when I played it cool and pretended everything was fine, but I’d already consulted with my lawyer and made plans to get out. That month was excruciating! I even had sex with him because I didn’t want him to be the wiser, and at that point I was completely disgusted by him. My lawyer was pathetic, though, and I soon grew tired of waiting for her to get my paperwork finished.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Evening, All!

    I know / I know….l am late to the party once again….

    And I admit that I did not have a chance to read the entire letter, nor all of Tracy’s response nor all of my fellow Chump’s replies

    However, I still feel I can share this…..

    At about age 7, fell from about 5 ft high to flat on my back, hitting head on concrete floor…..
    About 8 or 9, fell face first onto solid ice…..
    At age 13, suffered a severe head / brain-stem trauma…..(head-first into a car windshield)
    I had various degrees of PTSD from age 13 until age 53….(Rape / motorcycle wreck / living with cheater-freak narcissist))
    And guess what….I NEVER CHEATED!!!!!

    Even with these types of traumas, one can still know right from wrong, still keep one’s vows, still choose to love with all your heart…..or not

    Love all ya all as we all ForgeOn!!!!

  • LadyDanger, I got that excuse too. From Cheater #1 (when I was a military spouse also) and Cheater #2 (who was a victim of incest). Three-time chump here. Also, I’m a therapist. So I think I’ve earned the right to be frank here. NO, nothing entitles you to cheat. Not previous trauma, not military service, not brain damage, not Purple Hearts. Sorry cheaters. But I think CL is right, I think you’re asking yourself the wrong questions here. Where I think you’re going is, does it make me a bad person if I leave someone with these problems, and I think what really matters is whether this relationship works for you. You have to take responsibility for your choices here and leave this toxic person before this relationship poisons your entire life and your children’s. I remember doing the same thing, untangling the skein, and in the end it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make the behavior add up. There’s no algorithm for this. I think Wondershrink is right in that yeah this phenomenon might be common, but I think that’s far more attributable to entitlement than it is to anything else. And entitlement can be pretty common in the military in terms of, I’ve earned the right to fuck around (for both men and women). Just because something might be common doesn’t mean it’s okay. Just because PTSD might lead to sexual dysfunction and acting out doesn’t mean said acting out is okay. And the biggest thing here? He’s getting NO help for himself. Pot helps him numb his conscience, lucky for him. You’re left eating the shit sandwich. Leave this loser. Spend your compassion on those who want and seek help, there’s plenty of vets who do. Your husband is just not one of them.

  • Lady Danger, my STBX was in the Marnies, did a tour in Fallujah. At 19 he was exposed to full combat, saw his best friend shot and killed in front of him and then when he returned home he became a cop. As a cop he was involved in a lot of situations that would make any normal person need to compartmentalize. Although he had nightmares throughout our marriage, he claimed he wasn’t bothered by his military experience or the hard situations he faced on the job. Do I think his ability to compartmentalize contributed to his ability to cheat on me and not feel bad about it? Absolutely!! With that knowledge in hand, I had some really hard choices to make. Did I want to spend my life with somebody who could betray me, put my health at risk, continually cheat, and look me in the eyes and lie straight to my face- and not feel an ounce of remorse?!! HELL NO!! Regardless of why he can compartmentalize, I had to wrap my head around the truth of the situation. I married somebody that if I stayed would destroy my peace, future, and security. You sound like a fighter, I don’t think that you’re gonna let yourself or your children be destroyed by this cheating, manipulative, compartmentalizing jerk . You are going to make a plan and you were going to act on it. You are going to make an appointment with a lawyer, see what your options are, start looking for a job, and get the heck out of there. Whatever the cost, it is worth your peace of mind. Its a long road, I’m not divorced yet, but I promise you it does get better. Hang in there, but whatever you do please see the situation for what it is. You are married to someone who could destroy you and not even feel bad about it. You don’t have any options but to leave.

  • Oh dear, that is an awful lot to manage. I’m sorry this is your burden. It’s so unfair. You have to remember, as do we all, we have one life. One chance to dance before the final sunset. We have one life on this earth to live to the fullest. You’re buried in all-about-him’ness.

    There is soooooo much information out there on PTSD and the path to wellness. He couldn’t care less about entering that journey. You’re. Not. Helping. Anybody. Least of all yourself.

    The question I find helped me. If this was my precious daughter living this life with this kind of man, what would I do? What would I want her to do??? It becomes a much easier scenario to evaluate when you look at the chump through the the eyes of pure love. Listen to CL. lawyer up and hope he takes on his own personal journey to wellness.

    You, meanwhile, block the OW. She’s no friend. Nove forward. Find your new happiness. I believe you can and will. We all can and will.

    Wishes for the best, you deserve it!

  • Longtime lurker, first time to post a comment. My BF of three years is ex Air Force. He cheated on his ex-wife during every deployment. It’s a thing: “deployment d*ck/p*ssy.” It was a point of pride for him to be able to revert to the faithful husband and family man once he was back stateside.
    Practically every story he’s told me from his 10+ years of service, of everyone he served with, or was friends with, involves cheating.
    I believe a few circumstances of military life increase the “odds” of cheating.
    It’s a group of young, immature, inexperienced people, working closely together under stressful, dangerous circumstances.
    Families move frequently

    • Dangit, accidentally posted prematurely!
      Meant to say:
      Military families move frequently, far from support of family and friends.
      From my outside perspective, there appears to be a higher percentage of infidelity in military or ex-military marriages/relationships than in the civilian counterparts. But not due to PTSD – rather, due to ample opportunity and lack of maturity, discipline, and morals.

  • I have had thre TBI’ s ( traumatic brain injuries) and was in 2 long term (dangerous) comas. I have had an NDE ( near death experience) and am legally disabled from my last concussion. Guess what… I’m a chump. And responsible for my actions. And compassionate.
    Trust that they really fucking suck.

  • if you need a powerful love spell to bring back Ex, contact Dr.Mack address:dr.mac@yahoo. com he’s the real deal!

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