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You Might Actually Suck, But You’re Still a Chump

muffintopSeveral people sent me the HuffPo article that ran recently “4 Huge Mistakes I Made As a Wife (Now Ex-Wife).”  On the shallow face of it, it’s a woman owning her shit. That her marriage broke up because she wasn’t her best self.

But then it nosedives at:

And while I’m still hurt that my husband chose to solve our problems in another woman’s bed when some conversation and counseling might have helped, I absolutely know that my behavior was part of what pushed him there.

If you work from the premise that cheating is abusive (I do), then this is a cringe-inducing confession. She may as well outline her sins and then say, “And that is why Bob had to bash my face into a door.” Of course, I’m still hurt that my husband chose to solve our problems by bashing my face into a door, but I know my behavior was part of what pushed him there.

Hey, Sloane — codependency 101 here — you are NOT responsible for other people’s behavior. You do not MAKE people DO anything. That’s on THEM.

Yes, you are responsible for your own behavior, but even your most abhorrent behavior does not compel someone to abuse you. Abuse is a choice THEY make.

Before I put this article through the patented Universal Bullshit Translator, I would just add that narratives like this are particularly offensive to chumps because they solidify the exit affair storyline. The reason people cheat is that the chump is so horrible, the cheater has to take refuge in another person’s bed. Versus the reality of cake-eating — affairs tend to go on for ages, there’s usually more than one of them, they’re part of a larger pattern of entitlement and lopsidedness, and cheaters prefer multiple kibble sources (affair partners and spouses, even post-divorce you can stay friends!).

Now, I know exit affairs do exist, but those aren’t caused by rotten chumps either. They’re caused by cowardice and crappy character. This whole blame-the-victim nonsense is especially awful when it’s coming from someone who’s suffered betrayal. It’s buying into your own oppression, and putting it on display like a chump minstrel show.

Now for the UBT.

At first it was easy for me to point every single finger and toe at my husband for obliterating our 10-year marriage. He’s the one who cheated and walked out without looking back. And long before that, he repeatedly shut me out, choosing to bury himself in his work to avoid what was happening to us at home.

Blame was my coping mechanism to get through the first difficult months of our separation, and “how dare he (gasp!)” was my mantra. I rallied an entire army of supporters who, like me, were totally, utterly and completely aghast at the nerve — the gall — of this man.

Because obviously being a lying, cheating, family abandon-er trumps anything I did to our marriage in the past decade. Right?

They are not causal effects. You did not make him abandon you and his kids. You might actually suck, but that doesn’t excuse (or cause) his cheating.

He had a whole decision tree of available options — not “shut you out” and get counseling. Speak up. Have honest conversations. Divorce you honestly and not humiliate you or endanger your health with an affair.


I deflected any and all culpability in the failure of my marriage for months, holding on to the picture I painted of myself as the gentle, selfless and long-suffering wife. It wasn’t until I found a therapist who called me out on my bullsh*t that I was forced to take a long, hard look at my shortcomings.

It wasn’t pretty.

Sloane, it’s good to own your shit that you weren’t your best self in this marriage. That’s admirable. But that is different than saying you caused your husband to cheat on you. I’m sure you would like to find meaning in this, and it’s often easier to look at ourselves and determine that We Control This, than to face the terrifying reality of vulnerability. We don’t control all outcomes and people can betray us. Even people who promised to have our backs.

Here’s what I now know actually screwed up my marriage. May it serve as a warning to you. Before it’s too late.

1. I put my children first. 
It’s easy to love your own children. It takes very little effort, and they adore you no matter what. Marriage is the polar opposite: it’s work. And whenever my marriage started to feel like work, I would check out and head to Build-A-Bear Workshop or the science museum with the kids in tow. I’d often plan these adventures when I knew my husband couldn’t go (and spoil my good time). I told myself it was OK because he preferred to work anyway and always seemed grouchy on family outings. I chose most nights to cuddle with them in our bed, blaming his late-night bedtimes and snoring for the sleeping arrangement. As a result, we were hardly alone together and never had kid-free date nights. Well, maybe once a year on our anniversary.

How about your husband did not put his family first? Children ARE work. They’re a shitload of work. A good marriage isn’t that hard, Sloane. It’s a pleasure, because you’ve got a partner helping you with the “work” part. You didn’t have that.

Also consider that your husband wasn’t joining you and was grouchy on family outings because he was already in an affair.

Also consider that you were seeking comfort in your children (not a healthy dynamic) because you weren’t getting your emotional needs met either.

2. I didn’t set (or enforce) boundaries with my parents. 
They were at our house frequently, sometimes arriving unannounced and walking right in. They’d “help out” around the house doing things we never asked them to, like folding our laundry (incorrectly, of course). We’d vacation with them. They’d correct our children in front of us. My own fears of upsetting my parents kept me from drawing a line in the sand and asking them not to cross it. The few times I did stand up for my family’s autonomy, I didn’t hold my parents to the same standards in future. My husband, quite literally, married my entire family.

You didn’t make him cheat and your parents didn’t either. In many cultures your last sentence would make no sense whatsoever. You DO marry entire families. We are generally package deals with our extended families, unless you married an orphan.

Boundaries with families are good (I live in Texas), and this is certainly fodder for marriage counseling, but desiring family togetherness isn’t a sin. You can have a marriage AND family vacations.

How could you imagine fixing this? Jettison the family and kids and make your husband your sole focus? Sure, your relationship should be primary, but you also wrote he didn’t make time for you. Do you fault yourself for not chasing harder?

3. I emasculated him. 
I thought love was about honesty, but we all know that the truth hurts. As we grew more comfortable (read: lazy) in our relationship, I stopped trying to take the sting out it. I talked smack to my girlfriends, my mom, my co-workers. All. The. Time. “Can you believe he didn’t do this?” and “Why in God’s name did he do THAT?”

Instead of building up his ego, I trampled all over it. I belittled him often, saying his job was unimportant and dismissing his friends as “hangers-on.” I berated him for doing things wrong when, in all honesty, he just wasn’t doing them my way. At times I spoke to him like a child. I controlled the family finances and grilled him over every single penny he spent. And in the bedroom — yup, you guessed it — he was doing that all wrong too, and I wasn’t shy about telling him so. As our marriage crumbled, I found myself constantly looking for faults and mistakes so that I could justify my superiority. By the end, I had zero respect for him and I made sure he knew it and felt it every day.

Well, I admit this makes you sound like a righteous bitch, but seriously Sloane, “emasculate“? Is this some kind of right-wing stand by your marriage shit? Did his balls shrivel up because you controlled the family finances?

This all sounds very muddled to me. If you were verbally abusive — yes, you suck. But again, that doesn’t give him carte blanche to then abuse you with infidelity. The whole dynamic sounds toxic.

And I have sympathy, Sloane, I really do. I look back on my first marriage and realize I too was a raving bitch at times because I didn’t respect my spouse. But you know what? He was behaving in ways that diminished my respect for him. That shit (untreated mental illness, hoarding, hiding money) was real. The way I coped with it was entirely wrong. I should’ve wised up and realized that his behavior was a deal breaker for ME. Instead, I kept trying to control it and him by being shriller and more insistent that he Change. (See my codependency 101 point above.)

We only control ourselves, Sloane. You don’t like being a verbally abusive person? Fix that. Realize what your values are, what’s a deal breaker in a relationship, and realize you don’t control other people. Get out honestly before you feel the need to belittle and nag.

4. I didn’t bother to learn to fight the right way. 

I know it sounds odd to suggest there is a right way to fight. But there is. I tended to keep the peace in our house by keeping my mouth shut when things were really bothering me. As you can imagine, all the small things that drove me crazy grew into a giant suppressed ball of anger that would erupt occasionally in a huge, really frightening fit of Hulk-like rage. And by rage, I mean rage in the clinical, mental-health definition kind of way. After the fact, I’d justify my anger by saying that a woman can only take so much. Looking back, I was one scary b*tch during those episodes.

See my points above, Sloane. And know this — it takes two to fight the right way. When your boundaries are violated, yes, SPEAK UP. But often we don’t speak up, because we know from painful experience that when we voice an objection, we will not be heard. Our concerns will be rejected and ignored.

So we co-dependently snark and nag. Or it builds up and we explode.

All of that tells me that your husband was sending you a very clear message for years — that he did not Give a Shit. And you refused to receive that message, and instead you nagged and raged at it.

I write this mea culpa not with the hopes of winning my ex back, or even wanting his forgiveness. I write this because I can’t believe how long I kept my head buried in the sand. I hope other women out there will yank theirs out and take a good look around. And while I’m still hurt that my husband chose to solve our problems in another woman’s bed when some conversation and counseling might have helped, I absolutely know that my behavior was part of what pushed him there.

You didn’t push him there. He was already there. You were just chumped. Welcome to the club.

This column ran previously. Consider it my strike for International Women’s Day! Wear red y’all!

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.
  • Think of all the times this self-confessed awful person could also have cheated on her crappy husband.

    But didn’t.

    • I was in a relationship with a grouchy, distant, abusive, cheating gaslighter. I never cheated. In fact, I tried my best to be perfect, so he would stop hurting me and get back to being loving. But guess what? Abuse isn’t cause-and-effect. It’s a character flaw the shitforbrains take with them wherever they go.

      I’m with CL that cheating is another type of abuse. And just like other types, the victim is always trying to be better and do better, taking on the blame and trying to fix themselves so that it doesn’t happen again.

      That’s exactly what this lady’s post sounds like. It breaks my heart to see it. I hope the author works on her issues if she needs to. But she’ll never be ‘good enough’ to not get cheated on, if she is in a relationship with a cheater. They are just fuckwads. Period.

        • I agree that this woman did not cause the cheating. But, seriously, if she did act as she says she did, I doubt any of us here can relate to her story.
          This is a person who paints herself as an absolute monster of a spouse, whereas I am virtually certain that none of us here, despite normal deficiencies, even approached this level of behavior. So, her story is inapplicable to almost any betrayed spouse, IMO.
          Another thing to consider is that she was dealing with a grouchy, self absorbed husband who is a known cheater. Think she did not ” pick up some fleas” by being in a relationship with a guy like this?
          Anyone who has ben in a relationship for any period of time with a disordered spouse, has probably acted out on occasion, due to the constant abuse.

          But, from what I read here re this woman behavior, if true and take at face value, I simply cannot relate at all.
          This reminds me of the allegations a woman on TAM who goes by the name EI, characterized her husband’s behavior that led her to cheat. She got a boatload of sympathy because of the way she described her husband’s behavior, and her husband came on to the site to confirm he was a prick.
          So, I guess there are a few exceptional cases where a BS is a monster. But, this type of situation is so rare as to be irrelevant.
          I did none of the type of crap this woman describes. In fact, if anything, I was way too nice and accommodating and attentive to my XWs. In fact, I think that this “niceness” is part of why they lost their attraction for me.
          This type of story, the way this woman alleges she acted toward her husband applies to ano Betrayed spouse I have ever met or talked to.

          • There is a high probability that she wasn’t really as awful as she describes herself. There may be a kernel of truth in it, but her ex and her therapist have blown it way up and now she believes it herself.

            And please don’t give up on being “nice”. STBX thought he was too nice and was therefore missing out on something in life so he deliberately became an asshole in order to improve his life. He destroyed his family, ran off with Schmoopie and still isn’t any happier than he was before, only less respected and with fewer friends and relatives who admire him (everybody used to, now not so much).

            • You are , probably, right. Strong likelihood she has drank his disordered Kool-Aid.

            • Talk About Marriage. I think I first found CL there way back, over 5 years now, I think.
              Lots of BS on that site praise Chump Lady. CL used to post there.

          • Well I guess I have to admit that I TOO had this behavior in my relationship.
            So I can actually relate.
            Your partner becomes the victim of your inability to deal with your own insecurities and you don’t even realize how bad is it because you’re blinded yourself.
            Twisted, I know. It sucked. Totally.
            He was hurt and I was feeling miserable for playing the mom/wife/sister all the time.
            But it wasn’t always like that. And it didn’t appeared overnight. I became like that.
            After 8 years, we were in a middle of a crisis and everybody handles it differently.

            Well he chose to cheat on me when traveling abroad with a 25 years old (he is 36).
            Denying it until today even if I have proof… Image management 101, he wants to keep things low.
            So what are you saying? That he some kind of deserves to get his “revenge”?!

            He was free to leave.
            But betrayal? Really?
            Honestly, what you’re saying is that he had a “pass” to cheat” because she sucked.
            Yeah, we sucked, but nobody deserve to be cheated on.
            But nobody deserves this kind of suffering.

          • Arnold, I think her behaviour ties into the excellent point you made right at the beginning of CL: that the selfish characteristics required to cheat, bring problems to the marriage in the first place.

            How she describes her husband and her reactions to her husband speak of a lot of passive aggressive behaviour. The whole point of passive aggression is that anger is denied, and UNCONSCIOUSLY PROJECTED on to the other partner. The PA behaviour escalates until the partner UNCONSCIOUSLY ACCEPTS the projection – and erupts in rage. Thus the cycle is completed, where the PA person is reinforced they have no anger, the raging person is shamed, and it is mutually agreed that they are the crazy one whilst the PA person is normal and calm.

            It is also part of the vicious cycle of having unmet needs, denying your needs are not met, and trying to make your needs smaller and smaller – until the denied needs erupt in rage.

            I am afraid that I read a lot of myself in her post. I spent a lot of time trying to work out what I was responsible for and what I was not responsible for. Affairs are a very passive aggressive act.

      • “I was in a relationship with a grouchy, distant, abusive, cheating gaslighter. I never cheated. In fact, I tried my best to be perfect, so he would stop hurting me and get back to being loving.”

        What? were you the one seeing my ex??? LMAO. sorry, that just sounded like it could have come from me….

        • AKA perfecting the art of walking on eggshells…. I am The Queen (or rather the ex-queen) of Eggshell Walkers…

          Drill this into your brain: “Abuse is a choice THEY make.” Not your job to fix them!!!

          • Nor blame yourself for their cheating! They had many other better choices to rectify things within the marriage…

      • I too felt so much sadness reading this, the opposite of our usual anger or humor.

        Coincidentally, today a student told me about her aunt who caught her husband with OW in their home! Her grown children already knew, but did not want their parents’ marriage to break up (how nice of the children to make their mother’s decision for her…).

        Well, the cheater managed to gaslight and blameshift his poor wife to the extent that she was hospitalized like a looney and even medicated. This story made me want to vomit!

      • Not giving a shit is on them. Not willing to see their actions as deal breakers is on us.

        But cheating as a response to ANYTHING the writer mentioned above? Just another form of abuse.

      • So this!
        I went thru the same. He grew distant, paying more attention to himself and his pursuit of the bottle, other women and throwing around our family’s cash. And yes I lost respect for him and let him know it. Although it didnt stop me from pick-me dancing during RIC, I left as soon as I knew he was involved with someone else. I left with some self-respect and I do not regret my decision. I have thought about “what if..” often and have concluded that NOTHING I could have done differently would have changed what he did or who he was(is). The end result would still have been the same. At least after all that self-reflection I am a better person who has grown from a horrible experience. Him?, he is still a piece of shit! Huh, no personality transplant after all! Go figure.

    • This women and the her husband are in the same skin. They are one and the same.


      It was a WM [a wronged man] that posted this.

      He did an admirable job in laying out his case. That was his intention

      Chumps readers scattered the wood chips.

      They did so, not noticing they were cut by a disgruntled husband, former husband, WH.

      He won no converts, or none with the guts to openly support and swallow whole, “her take” on this naked blogs butt.

  • I think this post will upset a lot of us. It upset me because I can see how easily it furthers the bullshit we have heard all our lives about the cheating being a relationship problem rather than a character problem; cheating being an act that two people have to take responsibility for; that women have to be all things to their husbands (perfect partner, perfect mother, perfect sexual plaything) because otherwise scores of other women will be waiting to take them – you can’t pause in your efforts to keep your man no matter what. So many women I grew up with always blamed ‘the wife’. It upsets me because cheaters and cheater apologists love this stuff to muddy the waters of the essential truth. One person in the marriage made the unilateral decision to cheat.
    In what I read above I see absolutely nothing about how she felt about him and how she thought he felt about her. To me one of the most striking things about all of the posts I have written is that chumps are almost always thrown into shock and actively begin to automatically accept it was something they did/didn’t do. We spend hours here trying to make sense of it, how our relationships not just unraveled but we’re destroyed. Do the cheaters ever do this??? No. They give us bullshit that they don’t even believe. They spew out words and justifications and minimisations and top it off with rage or contempt. They don’t ever look to themselves. They never question themselves unless it is done in front of a chump to try to avoid consequences of being caught.
    All of which makes me know that whatever the writer is guilty of it is certainly not the cheating. And if she goes back over the relationship but asks the same questions about how he was for her, what he takes responsibility for – there will be a huge sucking vacuum of nothing.
    Conversely if she asks what she didn’t like about him and why she will find that in all likelihood he had stopped being there for her years ago. This reads to me like a woman who has been bludgeoned by life and the RIC to accept responsibility for the behaviour of others. She is being a ‘good girl’ by choking down that shit sandwich. It looks magnanimous and mature but is self abusive. It was a marriage. There were two people in it, one of whom chose to lie and cheat. I know who I think carries all the responsibility.
    I have many faults and shortcomings, regrets and ‘endearing’ habits but not one of them made him cheat on me for four years. I was committed, I loved him, I trusted him, I was emotionally supportive and ‘there’. He wasn’t. It is all on him.

    • Capricorn,
      Every single time I’m having a bad day I will go back and read that. It’s saved to my phone. Thank you for this. Great post.

      • Paintwidow
        I’m glad. It hit a sore spot today as I am home with my 11 year old who can’t manage school today as he keeps bursting into tears. We had a good long chat this morning. I asked him to tell me all the thoughts that were bothering him. Then I asked him to answer them himself. Then we went through the list and talked about each.
        The one question that he had asked that directly relates to today’s post was;
        Did my not wanting to do much stuff with dad like swimming or walking make him unhappy so he went off with these other people? So even my kids are wondering what they could have done differently to have ‘made’ him choose to be faithful. All here will know how ripped up inside that makes you feel. He asked and told me a great many things that I did not know he was holding inside. I see many more conversations ahead with each. Hard to cope when you are trying to put your own head on. So this post where she takes the blame and responsibility for things that she should not, I wonder what the hell kind of lesson she is giving her kids.
        Seems to me they blame themselves too- saying no to swimming time made my dad cheat for fucks sake. I’m so glad he told me so we could get that straight.
        I’m so fucking furious today I could just explode.

        • Great thoughts, Cap. I think part of the appeal of wholly taking on the blame is that it seems to offer the only sense of safety, control, and logic that feels available to the chumped. So, it’s, “Okay, if I perfect myself and never make these given mistakes ever again for as long I shall live, then this overwhelmingly awful thing cannot happen again.” Totally wrong, of course. First off, nobody can attain perfection, and nobody can read his or her partner’s mind and preemptively fulfill every ever shifting need that may now or might ever exist. Can’t be done, and the effort is exhausting. Second, this attitude defines the chumpee’s role strictly as inexhaustible source of happiness. It’s a thoroughly masochistic role, and of course sadistic to expect that of anyone. Third, much of the behavior she describes here seems to me to be the classic and totally understandable response to a cheater’s behavior. When we know something is off but we don’t know exactly why–and when it is beyond our ability to know why, because facts and truths are being deliberately withheld–then of course we try all of the strategies at our disposal: justifying, controlling, escaping, downplaying, etc. none of these can work for long, but that’s all we can do, so we try.

          In the immediate wake of dday, I felt absolutely unlovable, undesirable, and broken beyond fixing. It’s going to be a long haul, still, but understanding something about the workings of the narcissistic brain has helped immensely. I can be many things, but thing I cannot be is someone else, and certainly have no power to be many other women. Cannot instantly shed decades. Can’t and won’t check my intellect, my personality, my values, my instincts, my self as the price of admission to any relationship. At one point many years ago, now, I actually confided in a trusted clergy person about all of this, and sought his advice. He told me, correctly, that there was no right move. I could not fix it. Could and did try every sexy outfit (the sort designed rapidly to end up ripped or on the floor) under the sun, but ultimately it was no use.

          The chasms in them cannot be filled. You could stand on the cliffs at the edge forever, throwing in money, pornography, admiration, obedience, strippers, prostitutes, love, and on and on, but you wouldn’t even come close to filling them.

          Happiness and contentment can only be generated from within. No other way. I feel for the people like this writer who not only believe but are being encouraged to believe (we can punch this ridiculous therapist, right?) that this Sisyphean task is rightly their life’s work. No. Self-immolation actually doesn’t count as a worthy goal. Sure, own and work on faults, but also know that you will forever have some, and still deserve love and respect.

          • This hit home so deeply for me — “seems to offer the only sense of safety, control, and logic that feels available.” For years, I was held emotional hostage by both a pathological boss and a narcissistic partner. They both engaged in gaslighting. I developed severe anxiety and had major depressive episodes. When I finally got the courage to confide in someone and ask for help, one of my closest friends suggested I might be making it up their behavior because it was so horrible as to suggest I might be ‘paranoid.” It reinforced my belief that people must treat me this way because I am so flawed, and that they would stop if I “just behaved better.”

            • Oh, Isis. It takes so much courage to reach out for help. Finally to manage it and then to be greeted by downplaying and rejection of your perceptions is a heartbreak. Amazing, isn’t it, how our mental health improves once we finally get it. Anxiety and stress can linger, because it is one rough stretch of road, but depression lifts considerably. Truth and clarity gradually work their healing wonders. I hope you are finding that peace now. You are strong to have survived so much.

            • Isis, I can relate. Whenever I tried to tell someone how my family of origin was treating me, I got this comment: “You must be leaving something out.” [“my part” in being treated like dirt] As a result, I spent my whole life (until getting into a 12-step program) looking for “the key”. The key, I found out, is that they treat people who allow it–even me, their dear relative–like DIRT. But it is so hard for people from basically normal relationships (even if lousy relationships, that are basically normal) to understand people who are not in basically normal relationships. I once nearly choked when someone wrote a book review about a woman who wrote about her narcissistic mother because the reviewer said, “I’m sure like all parents, this mother wanted the best for her daughter.” I thought: “LIKE ALL PARENTS? Dear reviewer, do you not read the newspapers? Do you not realize that you are living in Pollyanna world?” But it is common in life to blame the victim (as even today’s CL post shows!).

              • This! Dr Phil is fond of saying that “parents do the best job they can.” Pisses me off because I come from a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive FOO. If beating me was “the best” they could do, then I’m well rid of them. And Dr Phil as well.

          • “The chasms in them cannot be filled. You could stand on the cliffs at the edge forever, throwing in money, pornography, admiration, obedience, strippers, prostitutes, love, and on and on, but you wouldn’t even come close to filling them.”

            So insightful chumpionsahm. I have done everything I can think of to make my cheater happy – especially after the affair – and guess what? The jackpot answer is: He is never going to be happy because that is not within his purview. I’m pretty sure my cheater is determined to miserable for the rest of his life! It wouldn’t matter if I turned into Betty Crocker or was a sex kitten or became Dr. Phil for his personal therapist – it won’t bring him peace. I’ve actually tried to do all that and what do I get? I might as well be at Art School for the critiques I receive daily. Good grief, what the hell else can I do wrong for you today my lord and master?!!!!

            Sloane’s points #2 & 4 (I’m not a parent so I can’t comment much on #1) – continuing relationships with your parents and not learning to fight the “right” way make # 3 possible. I know because I’ve heard my head make these exact same excuses for why my husband cheated. Think again! There is a real void in these people that can. not. be. filled. by. you.

            • I took a picture of your comment to look at over and over because it is just SO TRUE. Thank you for writing it. This is exactly how I have felt for the past 4years since the first D day.

          • I believe that I have a part in our marriage falling apart, but I would not have cheated no matter how bad it got. I wasn’t happy and knew I needed to work on me, which I am now doing with a therapist. H was not a loving and supportive husband and this affected the way I felt and acted. I felt like his mother – H only needed me when he needed help.

            It’s very sad that this woman went through counseling and came out thinking that the breakup and cheating was because of her. We are responsible for our behavior (mine was crazy bitch level when I found out about the cheating), but in no way are we responsible for their cheating. That is all on them, no matter how many times we are told well it’s all our fault.

            I now know it isn’t my fault and some of my craziness stemmed from H’s betrayal.
            Which I pointed out to him and told him “don’t blame me for his behavior”.

            This woman needs a new therapist.

            • Well, bah. I mean, the cheating is what sunk it. If it needed to end for other reasons, then there’s a humane way to go about that.

              Of course, I react strongly to this wording, because it is cheater boy’s mantra–“confess to your role in the failure of the marriage.” Nope. Fuck that noise.

              • I’ve likened a marriage to a car in which each person puts a few dings and scratches. But the cheating is driving the car into a tree at 80 mph, then tossing it over the cliff. Totaled, can’t be fixed (and the small dents no longer matter).

        • Cap. You rock. Your kids will remember that you were the parent that saw them through the awful. It is horrible that your child thinks he may have caused the breakup. And I am glad you set him straight and you are kind and understanding enough to let him stay home today. But I have been told it’s pretty common for young kids to think they are the problem in the marriage breakup. You Cap keep the story line honest with your kids. Hugs to you.

          I have adult kids. Their take is like ours. The discard and was my history with dad real? Did he care? Did he really love us? “Dad” has at present discarded the adult children too.
          And this may be the new reality.

          I appreciate that CL keeps reminding us that this is abuse. It is. To the very core. The idiot MC said it was not a character issue. BS. It’s EXACTLY a character issue and that is evidenced by his continued shitty actions.

          And yes in crappy marriages people don’t cheat. My bother is married to a very difficult woman and he is faithful to her through all her crap. That’s marriage and what marriage vows look like.

        • Thank you Cap, you summed up so much of what I feel. It took me a long, long time to get there. My kids got there way ahead of me. They refused to own the stuff he did and it was me trying to gloss it over for so long. That is a hard sandwich to eat, too. Especially when you have the rest of the court industry pushing reunification (with an abuser). When the kids say not just “no” but “Flip, no” they are labeled aggressive and problem children. The problem comes from knowing that their own father does not love or understand love and that they will never have that in their lives. A total loss. There is no hope with that. And that is what can make or break you – hope.

          I feel for your son, too. My middle daughter was about that age when hell broke loose and it has not been easy. It’s like your son is always trying to figure out what he did wrong – like we all do and that is so very, very sad. Like a slot machine that never pays off. If I just keep putting more in then one day I will hit the jackpot. Better to stop and turn away right away.

          • My daughter who is 25 was told by x that one of the reasons he cheated was because she was hard to be around when she was 13 and going through normal teenage stuff. Seriously messed with her head. I told her I went through the same thing and never cheated. They will sink so low to justify.

            • Newday
              They are, for sure, a special breed of fucked up nasty. You poor daughter. It’s hard enough for us to parse their bullshit but for their children it is especially cruel. Hugs to you.

            • My ex told my daughter recently that she was the reason his relationship with OW2 failed He set up home with OW2 after I asked him to leave)- she was ten at the time- and OW2 bullied my daughter relentlessly during the 11 months they lived together. When I tried to discuss this with him at the time he dismissed it as me being bitter.But obviously my daughter’s failure to love the bully who broke up her parent’s marriage was the reason for his Twu Wuv crashing and burning, not the fact he was cheating on OW2 in turn ( with OW1 and 3, he keeps rotating between them). Sigh. it’s a good thing daughter can get a psychologist’s plan covered under Medicare, cos she’s going to need a few visits. Thank you, australian health care.

          • Aww, Cap. I sure wish you had been my mother. I woulda stood a chance of growing up like everyone else, one Trauma at a time, please take a number instead of being chucked unceremoniously in the closest dumpster to the hospital and essentially told, “OK. I did my part. Now it’s your turn.”

            Seriously. You are mighty MII-TEE in every way. Methinks ya got the chump blues today and that just sucks. It prevents you from seeing what I see: The greatness in everyday people. Thank you for just being you. I don’t know if this helps-and there’s no creepy stalk-ery stuff involved here OK?!-but just know there’s a little old widow in the
            Tundra who is thinking of you today: You are my Hero of the day.

            • Tundra – this is one of the sweetest kindest posts I’ve read and it really touched me. I’m thinking of you today Tundra.

              • Oh thank you! And right back atcha, Ms. Kathleen!

                FWIW, You’re in good company-my old cat does too, because she’s got this internal alarm pegged to that atomic clock that apparently keeps time to the nanosecond: She knows exactly when it’s time for the wet food, fresh water (with 2 ice cubes, I draw the line at “fresh mice” just ohhellno) time to get the litter box declumped, brushed, time to drop another weapon of ass destruction/biological warfare to do the greatest damage and flatten appetites within an astounding blast radius etc.
                (Damn, an old widow with an old cat-I really AM a cliche!)
                Again, many thanks. I do believe Chumps are the nicest people period AND who ever got shat all over for no good reason other than a philandering partner who is entirely responsible for their reprehensible behavior. Full Stop.
                Have a lovely day, Ms. K!

              • Absolutely. My thoughts are with you both.

                As well as all of CN, as imagine this post is going to trigger a lot of folks.

            • Tundra Woman.
              Thanks for that. Yes you spotted the chump blues! For sure today.
              I went through my own shitty childhood, then a lot of it was dragged back up when I had my own kids and gained another perspective. Then I did my therapy training and that pulled up more stuff. Now the cheating and I have to watch my own kids suffer and think again about my bloody effing childhood that I am actually fed up of lately. I wish today I was a shallow fool in complete denial. Just for some peace.
              Thank you for thinking of me today. I really need it. ❤❤

        • Been here a couple years but almost never comment – today like you this all hit a nerve and because of the most difficult conversation I had to have with my 13 year old son yesterday. The manipulation in the other household (I tossed cheater on DDay1 – 5 yrs ago when I found out about his double life with multiple AP’s). He did every BS thing and said every BS post DDay CYA ever mentioned on this blog. And then abruptly stopped and married the next chump that he found when I stood my ground. My oldest son – the now 13 yr old – locked himself in the room the day of the wedding, my daughter didn’t attend. So now its the happy happy family charade over there like he played with me and the oh so charming perfect image management asshole continues to play the pity party – “but I have so little time with you kids.” Sad sausage asshole making the kids feel bad for him and asking to spend more time when he won’t even take them to their activities as outlined in consent order. In contempt particularly on taking them to their infrequent Sunday evening class at church. This week my son didn’t attend again and came home with the pity dad story and that dad told him he is old enough to decide if he wants to go to the class or not and spend more time with dad. It is not in my children’s best interest to spend any additional time with this master manipulator who I have recently found is now cheating on wife #3 with expensive whores when he travels on business. Doesn’t need an AP cause now between them they have the $ for him to buy the strange. I will do whatever in my power to ensure my boys don’t grow up to be like their father (and his father before him) and whatever also to ensure my girls know that it is never ok to be abused by a cheater! Ironic that he did all the same with wife #1 – who I thought was the crazy mother of my stepdaughter – and we are now close friends. His patterns and words are the EXACT same now so many years later. I am NC as much as possible but it is so hard not to rip them a new asshole when your kids are hurting. Not gonna do it and feed the crazy. Thanks to CN and all here for keeping me walking the straight line and maintaining NC!

        • Capricorn,
          I can’t imagine. My kids are older. They were old enough to make decisions about their dad on their own and I’ve respected that they choose to be completely NC with him. I will occasionally visit the subject with them if something happens that makes him come up in conversation and I now always use the line Beth used in her post a week or so ago which is ” if you want a relationship with your dad it won’t hurt me, but it may end up hurting you”. They can do what they feel is right for them and I will support them in this always.
          He called me about an old bill yesterday. It would of been our 19th wedding anniversary yesterday and when he mentioned it I went down some insane rabbit hole and started flailing about all the damage and hurt…….I hate that it happened. So much progress in my life to let one comment from a dickhead just send me spiraling. I cringe now at the thought of it. I’m sure it left him giddy that he got to me.
          In this “conversation” yesterday he ran down all the ways I made him cheat and what a failure I was. It was everything about today’s post and I allowed it to get to me.?
          I preach how NC is so important and I failed yesterday and it bit me hard.
          This post by chump lady today was exactly what I needed but your response really put things in perspective for me.
          You helped me today, thank you.

          • On days like those, PW, I try to remember what my therapist told me about setbacks. He compared it to slowly winding up a string of yarn into a ball. And one day you drop the ball of yarn and it unravels a bit, but not all the way back to the beginning. You just pick it up and resume the winding where you left off — but it’s not all the way back at the beginning. No big deal, just keep moving forward.

            • That’s a great way to think of it, NWBiblio. I love it when people share helpful advice from therapists. We all benefit from it!

          • Big hug, Paintwidow. We all stumble and backslide, now and then. Sooooooo hard not to defend ourselves against such insane accusations. What a complete shithead he is for deliberately drawing you into that conversation on that particular day. No accidents with these people. Fuck him and on you go. Please don’t beat yourself up about it any longer. ❤️

          • Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me how important NC is!! Any one of us could have gone off like you did (I do it in my mind 10 times a day). I really appreciate you sharing – it is very helpful. (((hugs)))

        • Oh, Capricorn! I’m sorry for your son, who has taken the weight of the marriage on himself (despite his father being the 4-ton weight that dragged it down). There is no one better than you who is suited to dispel his concerns that he caused the divorce. Hugs!

          • Thanks Tempest.
            I got blindsided again. I knew he had been quiet but had no idea how much toxic waste was slopping around his head, nor that he feels he has few people to turn to if I am having a bad day (hmmm few of those lately..).
            He has been having nightmares about us getting back together and has been hesitant to say in case I want to and get mad with him. Let’s say I just unhitched my ‘conscious uncoupling’ wagon for a moment and made sure he was in no doubt about the future on that score. ?

            • Cap, I am so with you on this. My heart breaks every time our 9-year old son says something along these lines. He told me a couple of days ago “Sometimes parents do things that upset their kids very much.” I said I would be very upset as well if I was in his place, and that I am upset that this is happening to us, but I cannot live with his father because he keeps doing things that are unacceptable for me. Like him being with other women. It’s hard for my son to comprehend it because he virtually saw no father in his 9 years. Father was always in another country claiming work matters, caring for ailing parent, tons of other things to justify being away from family and being a father and a husband. For my son, his dad is only with him for 5 weeks during summers and 3 weeks during Chirstmas and so dad=fun. He does not know any other arrangement. My chumpy fault was that I kept his faulty tale line going for our son all these years, yes, your dad works there (BS – his work is online from anywhere), yes, he takes care of his ailing father (who was for 15 years in a nursing home), no, we cannot go there because it’s not safe (although I wanted to go back no matter what but he did not let me) – all the reasons why he has to be over there rather than here with us. So now I am seen as the catalyst for this unwanted change. I asked my son if he would like to live with me if I would regularly beat him up – he said of course no. I told him his dad did things that were equivalent to physical abuse – try to explain emotional abuse to a 9-year old. He has been gaslighted himself all this time but only saw how I revered his dad so he inherited this attitude from me. I have lots of work to do…
              Hugs, Cap. We’ll make it and will be on the other side, cheater-free.

        • This is why the courts frowning on demeaning the other parent should be abolished! No, you do not have to tell your 11 year old that dad is an asshole; but you should absolutely be given free reign to tell him that dad is an asshole. That may not make sense to some but I bet every chump gets it. I too have a son. He knows his dad is an ass. He knew before I told him. I just gave him the vocabulary. A young boy particularly needs a male role model. I know we often speak of women being made lesser but young boys are in a tough spot. They want to be men but don’t know how. As a mother to a daughter, I know how to speak to her and what her fears are, with my son I have to guess and tread carefully. I was never a young teenage boy. But I’m his mother and guess what? He loves me and trusts me. It’s probably because I’m trustworthy:) I hate these fuckers with everything in me. And that stupid article makes me sick. I remember having my first child and being scared to death realizing that i had just embarked on a lifetime journey where I had no idea what I supposed to do. I shared that thought with my husband…. his response “You have no idea how stressful it is to know now that I have to support a family..” keep in mind that I gave up my job and my own money and was left all day with an infant and he continued his life and same job. So yes! I put my children first. Sue me or cheat on me or whatever but of all the wrong stuff I did, I never fucked the UPS guy because I was bored and lonely. And I was bored and lonely.

          • The kids know who they are before we do, because we still have spackling paste in our eyes when D-day happens. Youngest daughter went NC with cheater months before I did; oldest is the one who said, “Just file already, Mom! He’s never going to ‘get it’.”

            • My daughter said almost the exact same except, “he’s never going to change.”

          • Bev
            Yes I do get it. You are 100% right and I think I have been sending out the wrong messages by trying to be not upset in front of them. But it’s so hard to find the balance. I’m so frustrated the divorce isn’t final yet. Maybe three more weeks. I’m really feeling the pressure.

            • I’m still married to my asswipe. So no judgement from me. It’s hard beyond hard to balance the kid thing. I will always feel guilty for choosing this particular piece of shit to be the father of my kids even though I know (now) he lied from the start.

              Sometimes we are forced to choose the path of least damage. We lose the battle but keep the big picture in mind … the war.

              I have read your posts and I know you’re going to be more than fine and so will your children. Assholes as parents are a dime a dozen. Great moms are hard to come by. You will be free and happy and so will your kid(s).

              • One more thing: when we are asked to “not be upset” in front of the kids then we are modeling “it’s fine to get divorced; no one should be upset”. .. which is a complete crock of shit. Of course we shouldn’t expose our children to the crying heap on the floor day after day but think about it…. what if our kids are truly affected by something bad in their lives (which is 100% probability) and they fall apart (vomiting and unable to move)? Do we want them to think that means they can never get up? Do we want them to think it’s not okay to react to bad things? Do we want them to think that a DIVORCE is like “gee, life sucks… someone ate the last cookie”? They need to see that real life trauma causes real life emotion and that it’s fine. Just because I curled up in a ball and cried on the bathroom floor does not mean that I will remain forever in that position. Great life lesson “my mom was a basket case when my father cheated and she cried it out and got back up and handled her life” …. it’s fine to cry and fall apart but there’s hope and life out there again. As long as we model that emotions are not bad and there is a time to stand up and keep going then we model humanness which our husbands and their fathers were unable to model. We validate life. Our spouses and exes validate perpetual teenage angst.

        • That sucked for your boy, Capricorn. Makes me feel so bad for him.
          I had the other side of the coin, with my kids wondering why I had to leave them. I tried and still try to see them and interact daily, but one of my daughters, who really dislikes what her mom has done, asked me why I did not fight for her.
          Now she stays with me a lot, as she can choose. But, as a 4 year old when this happened, and with a mom who was a SAHM, and this happening a long time back when the parent who worked outside the home was seen as a non primary caregiver, I had no shot at all, per my lawyer.
          I try to explain to her but it still upsets her.
          My lawyer, who was one of the best and who wrote the most used treatise on Family law in my state, told me I would spend over 100k fighting and had about a 1% chance of winning.

        • Hear, hear, Capricorn. The really sad thing in all these stories is that the children have been even more gaslighted and cheated than the spouses. Usually they have believed the cheater’s lies for years, and the faithful spouse has done their best to protect the cheater’s image, downplay their bad behaviour, keep everything smooth. Unwittingly the faithful spouse has participated in the deception. No wonder the poor kids feel it must be their fault.
          One more reason to stop managing the image of these cheaters and tell the truth about their actions, like CL says, without editorialising. But just say ex cheated and lied to me and to us and this is unacceptable. Ex is responsible for his/her cheating and lies, it is no one else’s fault.
          As for the RIC, shame on them to blame people who have been deceived and lied to (and usually lied ABOUT on top of it all)

        • My heart is aching reading about your poor son, Capricorn. Thank God he can talk with you and share his worries – my son (10 at the time his dad left 4 years ago) couldn’t do the same, but was so distressed and unhappy for months. A psychologist we saw told me he felt responsible because his dad fell in love with OW (the school music teacher) by starting his own cello lessons in order to help him. I repeatedly told my boys it was not their fault, but that’s hard to swallow when they saw their dad enthusiastically creating an instant family with OW and 2 stepsisters. Now my boys are older I think they are starting to understand what a selfish bully he is, but at first we were all just shell-shocked.

          • PS I think it’s OK if you are occasionally teary and upset around them – it just validates for them what a big deal this is for all of you. I used to burst into tears in the early weeks and months, but would give them a big hug and reassure them we would get through this OK

    • Well, said. You accurately describe the timeline of finding out about being betrayed, the blame shifting and then accepting the blame by the chump and it is so hard to step back and realize the abuse for what it is. My cheater told me just this morning that my behavior influences his behavior—as an explanation as to why he was looking up the other woman on facebook this past weekend.

      Thanks also to Chump Lady for this post—I needed it today.

      • Missed! Me too. I totally influenced mine’s behavior and choices! We are mighty then!

      • Mine told me everybody looks up everybody …except me. That was to justify him googling her name to see what he could find after supposed 3 years of wreckonciliation.

    • I am always struck by the “spent too much time with the kids” blameshift that seems like a universal cheater defense. Good fathers WANT to spend time with their children – having fun and providing guidance. Cheaters seem to view spouses and children as “entertainers” and when the family isn’t fun anymore – they find fun elsewhere

      • The entire article reeks of self-flagellation. ” I spent too much time with the kids, I was’t good enough in bed, my parents folded the laundry the wrong way (heaven forbid!), I nagged my husband to do things I shouldn’t have had to nag him about.” Did she also breath too loudly when her X was texting his mistress? I call bullshit on ALL these excuses for bad behavior.

        No marriage is perfect because we human beings aren’t perfect. But quite frankly, so what? That is an excuse to cheat? Oh, so this lady spent too much time at the science museum, the one her husband bitched about having to visit. Well, of course her X was entitled to cheat.After all, she failed to put him on the pedestal he so richly deserved! See how stupid that sounds?

        I can’t speak for others here, but I know I did my damnedest to make my marriage work. Did I do everything correctly? Hell, no, but I did make my husband a priority. I did have date nights, I did enforce boundaries with my family, we had an active sex life (until the cheating began), I made every effort to communicate effectively with my X. And you know what, he still cheated. Not because of anything I had or had not done, but because he wanted to. I gave all to my marriage, and I have no regrets in doing so. But I absolutely refuse to shoulder the blame for X’s shitty decisions. That’s all on him.

        • I too, did everything “right”, I am tall, blonde, in good shape, classy, well spoken, and always available in the bedroom. He cheated with a fat, tatted, classless troll, who smells bad. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are with a man whore, they will find the low hanging fruit, always! So don’t beat yourselves up ladies, they suck!

          • I agree. I’m no fashion model but there’s no shortage of men willing to take his place, and I was NEVER envious/jealous/threatened by his OW. I kept telling myself he’d never leave me, because they weren’t as smart, attractive, patient (with him), outgoing, easygoing…. you name it.

            • mine never does truly leave, he comes crawling back when he needs “mommy” to fix him back up after the drugs, booze and whores start to make him feel beat up, like a scroungy old Tom cat, drags himself back. He’s on his own now, when/if I find out he has died from one of his many addictions, I won’t waste time putting on a black dress to attend his funeral. Luckily, I did not procreate with this monster.

              • CharlieSheened! What a clever screen name. I too was Sheened. All of it.

                I am sick waiting for my latest rounds of blood work. I have passed with with some “curable” STDs. Someone showed me a photo of him (thanks) and he looked so gaunt and emaciated…you know where my mind goes like a panicked rat.. I think, Surely God would not add that to my burden. Not that I deserve any pass that no one else got, but I don’t know if I can manage that, too. One day at a time.

              • Peony I vowed that this will be the last time I go to my obgyn who I’ve gone to for years and explain why I need these tests again when I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for seven years
                Sadly only one of us understood that term

        • YES.

          The author’s husband could easily have used everything she brought up, as reasons why she was the love and light of his life.

          Imagine this: “My wife is so devoted to our kids. She’s always exposing them to new experiences, and she’s a fantastic mom. Family? Her parents can be kind of challenging, but she’s loyal and has a close relationship with them. I feel like I got a second mom and dad out of the deal. Hell, they even do our laundry!! Sometimes, she takes care of other people too much, and I can tell when she gets worn out, b/c man, she has a temper! She’s fiery, and she definitely needs to take more time for herself.
          I asked her parents to babysit more often, so I could take her on a weekend getaway and some date nights. I’m also planning on spending every Sunday afternoon with the kids, so she has some alone time. She deserves it.”

          ….Instead, she’s hating herself and writing columns about what a shitty person she is. Cheaters and their mindfuckery SUCK.

              • Please don’t stop “Canning” Capricorn! I love the giggle your responses to that autocorrect give me. 🙂

          • This. He could have chosen to spend more time with the kids himself. He could have been clearer to her about his boundaries with her parents (note that she never said he complained about this). He could have planned a few date nights himself. Instead, he buried himself in work and other vaginas. That’s not a valid response to the issues they were having.

    • Agree, Capricorn. I’ve read this column before, but when I read it this time, all I can see is “abuse cycle.”

    • “…we have heard all our lives about the cheating being a relationship problem rather than a character problem”

      I love this.

    • Absolutely. That one so hit a nerve with me as well. It is easy to blame ourselves because we can do something about our shortcomings and we think fixing ourselves will fix them too. STBX took 21 years of marriage to get around to the PA, but he did have an EA at 13 years. At the time I don’t think either one of us really recognized that as an affair or realized how much damage it did to our marriage. I used to refer to it as a “near affair”. I knew about it as it was going on but thought I could trust him to end it. In the end I had to step in and demand that it end. Back then he still loved me enough to end it when I demanded that he give me back the time and attention he was giving her. During that window while it was going on, however, I recall he and I had an argument about something and he either said or implied (can’t quite remember it exactly now) that I had better be good to him because he had other options available if he wanted them. I took that to heart. I thought the EA was a wake up call to me that I needed to shape up and be a better wife and lover if I wanted to keep my husband. After that, I was doing the pick me dance all the way to D-Day and beyond. I worked so hard at being perfect but as you all know the goal posts kept moving and I couldn’t keep up. During our first marriage counseling session he indicated that just before he went looking for the PA (because he was feeling so lonely and unloved), he was thinking back to the EA and regretting that it hadn’t gone farther. That hurt like heck because I knew that I had tried so hard to make him not regret sticking with me. It was at that point that I first started to consider that it might not be worth continuing the pick me dance when it obviously wasn’t working and maybe I was not the problem after all. Of course it took a bit longer for me to actually end the pick me dance and even longer to get to the point of initiating the divorce to get out of limbo. When you have so much invested in a relationship it is hard to give up on it and let it go as a bad investment.

      • What a mindf*ck. And yes, parts of it are really familiar!

    • While I wholly agree with you, it sucks because a lot of society DOES believe it’s all the chump’s fault. Unless you’ve BEEN the chump “regular people” don’t get that the cheater is a fucked up asshole. In their heads the cheater (and anyone else on Earth) WOULD NEVER do what they did unless they were “driven to it”. Because it’s true that normal people would do ANYTHING to avoid a situation like the one the chump is thrust into. And there ARE tons of women (and men too) that are looking for “unsatisfied” spouses that WILL snap them up in a second. Just ask anyone that has been chumped how hard it was for their cheater to find someone to “bake them cake”. Of course it’s WRONG but it IS happening. We all know. We’ve all been blamed by the cheater. We’ve all seen the shows and movies, we LIVE the shows and movies. All of that stuff is real and true. It’s only the narrative that is wrong.

      I HATE these types of articles. They always ruin my day with the justifications and the blaming of the chump. I KNOW that it wasn’t me but hearing that other people still think that it was always ruins my day. I’m saying it more for myself but I’m sorry this happened to you other chumps. You are a good, decent person that did the best you could with what you had. You did not deserve this and it is all the cheater’s fault! Now I’m going to spend the rest of my day trying not to be an inconsolable sobbing mess and I’ll check back here to see all the good things that CN posts refuting the chump sucks narrative.

      • Thanks for your post! It is so true! Society and its narrative… When it happened to me I was surrounded by people telling me stuff like “You should have done something…”… or “maybe if you have been less… (add something here)”… And now, that two years passed and that I am refusing to date people that are not at my intellectual – emotional – human level I heard the same society telling me “well, you are too picky…” or … “you never wanted a family…”. I never wanted a family? I was robbed of my dream of having a family! I was cheated, lied and used! And no, I am not planning of having some delusional relationship… or occasional sex… just cause I feel lonely! Cause I am in my own company, and it’s great! I do not need them. If I wanted meaningless sex I would have stayed with my ex… And yeah, right now I am not the easiest person to go along with cause my BS radar is freaking sharp and I recognize assholes almost immediately. And … I. DO. NOT. CARE. 🙂 People are scared of living the chumps’ hell… I know that when they look at me they consider my story one of their worst nightmares… well, fair enough. At least, I can keep walking with my back straight, I can look at myself every day in the mirror and be proud of the person that smiles at me from the other side. I own myself. I own my life… One of the articles I read some months after my breakup was about women above 35 plus… and the mistake they made not trying to reconcile. The “journalist” was suggesting to women older than 35 of dating men 55 plus, cause they “got their shot of love and they missed it”. I remember that I was devastated. I felt humiliated and wrong. Wrong for being myself. Wrong cause I refused of eat the “cake”. Now things changed and I wonder how many of these “enlightened” pen pushers, of these doormat-to-become can say, like me, “I am free and I love it”

        • Emma, I am right there with you! 21 months out from Dday and I am still exhausted from being in a relationship with a covert narc. I am 59 and don’t care one way or another if I am ever in another romantic relationship. The most important relationship I need to fix is with myself! I’m getting there, slow but surely.

        • Emm@ thanks for sharing this. It’s always encouraging to us newly-minted chumps to hear how life is like on the other side. Great to know how you are now having relationships in your terms and enjoying your mighty self circa B.C. (Before Cheater).

    • Capricorn, I always love your posts. Today’s was excellent. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I and most of us feel. Thank you.

    • This is lovely, Cap. I especially appreciated this: “you can’t pause in your efforts to keep your man no matter what” Yes, somehow it was up to me to be “good enough” for him to want to stay. What about his part? As you said so eloquently above, all I found was a “huge sucking vacuum of nothing,”

      • I felt like I had caused the adultery because I had ‘paused’ the trying to be perfect as I was pregnant and had lots of littles already and had post partum. Like it was my faint. Why do we DO that to ourselves??? Why do some people keep the confidence and not fall into this thinking?? I KNOW it’s not true..yet I have to fight it off even now sometimes! Ugh!!!!

    • I see this woman taking the blame as to have pseudo control” over an uncontrollable situation.” See, it is my fault so in my next relationship if I do A,B,C that person won’t cheat on me. See, I have solved the problem and now I have my control back. BS!!!!!!!!

  • UGHHHH – I can only read so much of Sloans “self deprivation”. Seems that the cheater could have written this looking through her eyes. She is a screaming co-dependent.
    or: She is completely detached from what happened.

    THIS is bullshit. Honestly, she sounds WAY too calm to be that hurt by him.
    Just seems like those of us who had our lives, hearts and families stomped to the ground by our ex’s know real pain.
    She just seems to me to be writing an article.

    • Agreed. Bizarrely unemotional tone. When I think of things I did to let my marriage/ relationship wither (while clearly knowing that I did not cause cheating) — i feel deep remorse. Sloane’s article is no different than if she wrote about “mistakes I made when I redecorated my living room.”

      Very telling that she starts every comment with “I………”
      Wouldn’t marriage issues be “we……. “

      • These click bait articles are often fake. Maybe this was actually written by a cheater under a pseudonym.

      • I sometimes wonder about the nature of other people’s relationships with their spouses. I am EXTREMELY sensitive, a big ok’ baby. I just never developed a thick skin and I take things VERY personally. One of my best friends, when she found out about idiot cheater said fuck him and move on. I don’t know if it’s just that she doesn’t really love her husband or if she’s just literally NEVER had anything bad happen to her in life or what. But I asked her to imagine that her h just utterly dropped her like nothing and left. And she said she’d just move into her mom’s with her kid and keep on keeping on. I kinda think some (mostly normal) people just DGAF the way that I (and it seems the other chumps around here) do and maybe to them it really IS just like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ life goes on!

        • Sad Shelby, I got a similar “just stop it already and move on” today from a friend. She added, he is not your enemy. Yes, he is! Of course, he is! I had to cut short my conversation or it would have turned ugly.
          They would not understand. That’s why we have this wonderful nation that gives us the validation that cheaters robbed us of.

        • Well I have to admit.I could be the one friend who would gives you a similiar advice.So I can relate with your friend here.Even before I read Chump Lady.I didn’t waste my time crying or moaning about our relationship.I moved on as quickly as possible.Possibly because I always prepared myself with the possibility that anyone could cheat.

  • Well gosh darn….it only makes senses that taking the kids to “build a bear” could make any man cheat.
    Note: Don’t take the kids to the dentist and the doctor either, that is making them first and could lead to man to cheating.

    Right on: A good husband wants his needs to come first, so lock the little ones in the basement and give your man hot sex. By not doing so emasculates your man. Oh…and dinner and a clean house goes a long way too, but no matter how tired you are, wear sexy lingerie and install a strippers pole in the bed room. If the kids ask what’s that pole for, explain it’s daddy fun pole and they’re grounded for asking.

    Don’t nag, don’t ask why he’s working late, don’t nag about unpaid bills, and that husband’s beer belly makes him extra hot.

    Be into porn and always be ready to service the man. He chose you, but there are plenty of hoes and hookers who wish they had a man lije him. If he farts don’t nag and open the window. That’s a man’s smell and if you don’t Rejoice in inhaling his manly scent it will emasculate him and cause him to cheat.

    to be continued……..

    • OMG – you just described my EX !!! God forbid the asshat wasn’t first in all aspects of life…….

        • Mine too. He literally said that I put the kids before him and that I didn’t respect him. Ummm….at the end, when I didn’t respect you, it was BECAUSE you weren’t being a present husband or father. We’ve been separated two years, yeah that’s another story, and he’s seen my one minor chid FOUR TIMES in two years. The oldest (22) he has seen once. Be a man and say what you really meant. It wasn’t that I put the kids before him. It was that you put yourself before everything else – including your kids and your marriage. Coward.

          • “It was that you put yourself before everything else- including your kids and your marriage.” That is so true. Ex made decisions unilaterally; it never occurred to him that what his family needed mattered. He was too busy chasing tail to think of anyone else.

    • OMG, I love this so much! We didn’t have a basement for me to lock the kids in while I gave him hot sex, that is obviously why he cheated. No stripper pole either, I am such a failure!!!

      • Saus, same here! I’m a bad person because I didn’t want a stripper pole either,…..I thought another thing to dust! WTF!

    • I think we might be taking this too far in the other direction. I did everything to stuff my own feelings and put my cheater-wife first and foremost on her self-imposed pedestal. I’m the emasculated guy.

      I work 60-hour work weeks so we could afford a nice house in a good school district. She worked part-time so she could “be there” for the kids when they got home from school.

      For my efforts, I got to hear about how much of a loser I am because I don’t earn as much as her friends husbands – her friends don’t have to work at all. I got to come home late in the evenings and cook dinner because her day was “busy.” I then got to hear how what I cooked wasn’t good enough for her – because she has a “sensitive” palate. I got to clean up the kitchen late at night because she never liked anything I prepared.

      After that, I got to walk into our bedroom and see her, in all her frumpy sweatpants glory, gleefully texting with her sweethearts. I then got to watch her look up from her phone, frown at me , and then inform me the laundry isn’t going to fold itself. And after everything was folded and put away, I then got to hear her complain that I didn’t fold or hang anything “correctly.” She would then fly into a fifteen-minute tirade about how I’m completely insensitive because she’s told me time and time again how she wants the laundry folded and that I never listen to her or concern myself with her “needs.”

      Only after hearing about what a lousy human being I am, and promising to do better to make her life easier, I then got to go to bed and fall asleep to her texting her friends about how I’m such a shitty husband because I ignore her “needs.” It was only after my D-days that I discovered she is into BDSM – with other people. It was only after my D-days that I saw she liked dressing nice – for other people. It was only after my D-days that I saw she knew how to be nice and complement – other people.

      My needs? I’m a codependent, I have no needs – can I get you anything?

      • BNM, wow! I would have sold my “kingdom” for a man like you!

        • Oh please… I drink beer, wine, burp, and pass gas on occasion (not necessarily in that order). I’m a rude inconsiderate selfish monster.

          • Yes but you can hold a job, cook, clean AND do laundry! #winning

            Seriously though, I too worked all the time, cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, managed the finances, did the laundry, helped two kids through school and after school activities…and still had time to plan nice dinners, outings, romance….it just wasn’t enough to fill the bottom-less pit of his. Hence I’m a member of the club no one wants to join…sigh.

      • Out of curiosity, how do you fold laundry wrong? Seriously, like, if it’s not wadded in a ball, how’s it folded wrong?

        • They’re narcissists… It’s wrong for whatever reason they can make up right then and there.

          It doesn’t start off like that early on. The first time she jokingly says you’re folding the laundry wrong, you can look at them like they’re nuts and ask that very question, “How in the hell could anyone possibly fold laundry wrong?!” Ha-ha.

          After awhile longer, she then informs you, “Seriously though… You’re folding the laundry wrong. I don’t like it when you do that.” And again after I look at her like she’s nuts and ask, “How in the hell could anyone possibly fold laundry wrong?!“, she proceeds into a 30-minute training seminar carefully demonstrating the proper methods for folding and hanging laundry; complete with exercises and follow-up exam (and she does NOT grade on a curve). Ha… Oh.

          Who doesn’t want to make their wife happy? After all, it’s just folding and hanging laundry. No big deal; right? Wrong. Now she is able to provide a performance critique on my complete lack of laundry skills (AFTER I’ve done it all of course). And if I dare say anything in protest, I’m also a selfish SOB who isn’t considering her feelings – after all, if I loved her, I’d WANT to ensure the laundry is folded and hung properly. Ugh.

          The human being in me is screaming (internally of course) that it’s unfair that I do the work and get criticized no matter how I do it. But the co-dependent in me remains quiet and passive aggressively folds her sweatpants incorrectly (HA! That’ll teach her!).

          Good God that is fucked-up…

  • Build-A-Bear and science museums took away from your marriage? Really? And while he was working? What of it?

    Donor the explorer was building a fucklust and leading a double life with his DOWN time. And I’m sure he was down quite frequently.

    Attention is a two way street and never a 50/50 split with narcissists. Wasn’t he capable of planning? Ding, ding, ding!!

    Each time I saw a therapist I complained about HIS inability to PLAN. Oh, cheaters are masterful in the art of planning. Leading a double life takes much planning. Kids and a wife are not sparkley. Thise are for image only.

    • Apparently they now have a Build-A-Ho and he was just field testing the prototypes.

        • Yeah. Oh for the good old days when the only thing guys “stuffed” was a pair of rolled up socks in their tight jeans instead of “rolled all over” ho’s.<Two legged bed bugs, so they are.

        • I thought is was stuffing a “beaver?” Darn, I live under a rock!

          • Nah. It’s just that here the beaver get trapped and the fur sold. It’s only a tourist who wants to experience living before public sanitation, a reliable power source and indoor plumbing that would pay someone to stuff a beaver. Notice I said “pay!”

  • Mine had a laundry list as long as the wall of china as why we had a “failed marriage-a bad marriage”. This was after BD when he was ANGRY.

    Just like you say Lola Granola ( ps- I love Opus ), even though I had been kicking a dead horse for years in this marriage ( he stopped kissing me because of a grudge 2 years in ) – I never cheated!

    I may have found my emotional needs being met in my children, my ailing parents, my friends, my books and other hobbies because quite simply put – he had checked out mentally years before.

    I believe that cheating is a form of abuse. It’s the grand middle finger of abuse in the disordered partner’s playbook of fuck you’s.

    • Lucky, you’re absolutely right, “cheating is the grand middle finger of abuse in the disordered partners playbook of fuck you’s.” An accurate description of my relationship with X, kicking a dead horse then ending with the fuck you grand finale. X had his long list of my shortcomings and faults which he claims destroyed the marriage giving him no other option but to cheat. X secretly shared his list with friends, family and acquaintances while playing the role of the victim and gaining sympathy.

      It never occurred to me to list his faults or my feelings or needs not met. I was too busy being a devoted wife and Mom, family, taking care of our home, wondering why I was such a failure in his eyes.
      In contrast X focused on being miserable, my perceived faults while looking at me with disgust.

  • “Versus the reality of cake-eating — affairs tend to go on for ages, there’s usually more than one of them, they’re part of a larger pattern of entitlement and lopsidedness, and cheaters prefer multiple kibble sources (affair partners and spouses, even post-divorce you can stay friends!).”

    Mine told my mom yesterday that he likes his lifestyle but wants to stay friends. Continue his annual visits to canada and have fun together. Because he likes me as a person. Kibbles, kibbles..

  • Sloane’s writing style is quite Elizabeth-Gilbert-y. You know, “I used to think like all of you lowly average people, but now I am so enlightened! Look at me, owning my shit while being so much more enlightened than you. I am amazing. Learn from me to be a master justifier and you, too, can reject the realities you see right in front of you and embrace the immense universe’s plan for tiny you.”

    CL’s response is spot on. Maybe Sloane is a total PITA, but that doesn’t make it acceptable for Mr. Sloane to lack integrity.

  • While I do own my shit….I wash, dry, fold it and put it away too…. I in no way “own” being lied to, humiliated, betrayed, infected with his Whore’s STD. Nope… that is not my “shit” to own…my purpose is to ask myself why did I allow his abuse. Why did I not value myself. Why did I allow him to ignore me, ignore our children. He sure knew how to coo another woman. He sure knew how to go shopping and take long weekends with her. He sure knew how to PLAN to see her and her kids….she lived in Chicago….we live in Pittsburgh. He took 7 hour drives….but couldn’t spend 7 minutes helping out with his own kids.
    This woman is still being abused by him…. to take the blame for him not keeping his dick in his pants…. wow….
    Nope… notta….
    I start to feel certain type of way when I hear people blame me….or I hear how “crazy” I was….or how I didn’t cook dinner every night. So that is reason to go Dick Dippin. No thanks.

    • Tracy, “I start to feel certain type of way when I hear people blame me….or I hear how “crazy” I was….or how I didn’t cook dinner every night. So that is reason to go Dick Dippin. No thanks.”

      I feel a certain type of way when people say that about me too. If I was that “crazy”, difficult or whatever, he made me that way, if I wasn’t super wife, well all I can say was that he sure as hell wasn’t super husband at all. Did he come home after work every evening, yes, but he sat his ass on the couch and didn’t do anything but criticize my “lack” of whatever struck his fancy that day, cleaning, childcare, homework, yard cleaning, the laundry, you name it I wasn’t doing it to his satisfaction. If it was being done, it was being done by the housework, childcare and laundry fairies, because it wasn’t me doing it. And if I wasn’t right there by his side, because I was trying to clean, cook, care for the kids, homework, laundry, he would say that I was neglecting him. So do you want me to clean or to sit by you for hours, there aren’t two of me, so what is it that he wanted me to do. Psychos is what we had to deal with. Goal posts always moving and no way of winning the rigged game.
      I don’t miss that at all.

      • I did feel crazy at times in my marriage, but once I was out of it I feel calm almost 98% of the time. Amazing how not having to constantly second guess whether your ex is having an affair with one after another coworkers who spend time constantly traveling with him takes the crazy right out of you.

  • This is such a timely article for me to read today. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for me, I was thinking about the ex a lot. Getting angry, and feeling guilty for feeling angry.

    It’s one of the hardest things to internalize, and one of the most important.

    I did not do anything wrong. I didn’t cause this. I’m not perfect. That isn’t relevant to ex’s decision to sneak around with a whore behind my back. Period. As someone said earlier, he was certainly not perfect, and actually guilty of the same things he claimed made him cheat. We are both “fat” ( although neither one of us is noticeably fatter than 80% of the people I know) and bad at housekeeping. I didn’t cheat, although under his logic I was certainly entitled to. The only thing I actually did wrong way stay with a lying cheating whoremonger after I knew what he was.

  • I’m not saying that it was “wrong” to stay with the ex, it was more misguided than anything else. That way my biggest mistake but I came by it honestly under the RIC umbrella of bad advice. Won’t happen again.

  • “Emasculate” is one of the words that makes me roll my eyes. Not because it doesn’t happen. Criticizing a male person for not being “male enough” is wrong. What bothers me is that their is no parallel for criticizing a female person for not being “female” enough. However, I don’t want to coin a new word, I just want us all (i.e. the entire world) to understand the inherent sexism in attacking another person’s way of existing. The things that make a person good aren’t related to whether they exhibit masculinity or femininity in a particular way. It doesn’t matter how much someone can bench press or how well someone walks in high heels. Integrity, compassion, responsibility, generosity–these are the things that make people worthy. These are the characteristics to seek and to be concerned about when they are absent. The writer, despite her mea culpa, is still working within stereotypes that insist she defer to and build up her husband’s ego and that she be needy or dependent so that he can feel manly about himself and respect her femininity enough not to “need” another woman. Gender is not character–and the writer does not understand the difference; the word “emasculate” encourages us to continue to confuse the two.

    • Yes. Your comment reminded me of this quote:

      “By far the worst thing we do to males–by making them feel they have to be hard–is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.

      We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.’

      But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man? What if we decide to simply dispose of that word–and I don’t know if there is an English word I dislike more than this–emasculation.”

      — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

      • chump-tastic
        Loved that quote.
        I just had the thought today that my cheat has not been to more therapy, has not looked for a new therapist, has not spoken of therapy in any way. He knows that I am watching and waiting and told him I knew that he would never go (he actually told me he didn’t know what he should ask about (wtf) and I just said why not ask about how to work better with colleagues, as he has some trouble with them. Oh yes, good idea he said).
        So today I thought – how long before he realises that I knew him. I knew what he wouldn’t do. How long before he can’t take that thought. How long before the blaming me starts. He cannot look himself in the eye. He cannot look at himself. He knows who he wants to be seen as. How long until he realises that we will never look at him like that again. Ever. To protect himself he will have to blame others.
        I think I have been complicit all these years in trying to make him feel better about himself. Now I can’t/won’t do this for him (and neither will the boys) and he can’t do it for himself – how long before he has to get someone new to look at him like before.
        He would much rather cheat (although the divorce will make it not cheating) than do that hard work of character change and that knowledge is much too hard for him so it will be my fault I expect.

    • I think there are some words critiquing females for not being obediently female enough, and that we hear them all the time, and that they are abusive: butch, frigid, lesbian, nag, harpy, crone, and on and on.

      • But words like butch, frigid, lesbian, nag, harpy, crone, etc. all blame the woman for not being “womanly” enough. When ’emasculation’ gets brought up, it’s not blaming men, it’s still blaming women for not doing what men “need.”

    • That’s why I hate all of the “real men do…” or “real women feel…” comments. People are endlessly creative when coming up with ways to devalue other people.

  • Are you sure that letter wasn’t written by my ex, describing me?

    These are all the bullshit things he used to say/do to me. I remember looking at other couples and watching how the wives spoke to their husband and knowing I was a marshmallow reading on eggshells in comparison, but he claimed I was a monster and I bought it.

    I wish people would wake the hell up and stop blaming the victim.

    • My ex’s mother got in on the act, criticizing me for being nagging or selfish if I ever tried to protest anything, while he got away with cheating (that she knew about), stealing money, making unilateral decisions about our future, spending like crazy, and doing nothing for five years while I earned all the money. (He was “working on his company”). Abuse is abuse.

  • “Here’s what I now know actually screwed up my marriage. May it serve as a warning to you. Before it’s too late.

    1. I put my children first. ”

    YES!! YES!!! Children are supposed to come first–they are helpless, There is a critical period for attachment (based on a/both parent/s being responsive + holding them), the first 3 years are important for stimulating them to encourage brain development. Any parent who doesn’t put their children first doesn’t deserve to be called a parent. (yes, that means cheaters, who betray their children, too)

    My X pulled the amorphous, “the marriage failed because you helped other people too much.” OUR CHILDREN, dumbass?

    Imho, the author of this piece is still being co-dependent because she has her values fucked up; she has assumed the skewed values of her cheater and thinks it is a problem that she paid attention to the children. Going to bang my head on a desk…

    • Yes, this part kills me too. I remember my ex bringing that up as a thing that really bothered him (after D-Day when it was Time To Invent Things That Bothered Him, of course, not before): “You’re always taking care of the baby. You never pay attention to me and you always pay attention to the baby.” This took my breath away, and was something that even back then during false wreckonciliation, I couldn’t agree with or stomach. I was like “She…uh, she’s an INFANT. She needs, and should need for a while, a lot more ‘taking care of’ than you, a grown-ass man. Babies need our help! That’s our job.”

      The kicker, of course, is that if he had been FUUUUCKING HELPING ME take care of the damn baby, even anywhere remotely close to a 50/50 split as much as breastfeeding would allow, I would have had to spend way less time “taking care of the baby.” Instead, the preposterousness remained: of a man who was never around and stayed out ’til 3am every night, then had the gall to say I spent too much time with the baby. Ahahaha.

      P.S. The damn baby is now a damn kid and is a magical ball of assertive energy, who takes no shit. May she drive her father as crazy as possible and continue to make his frail frail ego jealous for the rest of his life.

      • Yeah I get this big-time: the epically unfair paradox of not getting the help you need with the kids…I basically had to single-handedly parent two toddlers while he left the house almost every weekend and weeknight, then being told “you just don’t put any effort into our relationship” as an explanation for him choosing HER. I sometimes bash myself for the moments I could have done more for him but didn’t. I try to remember that you’d have to be superhuman to have ANYTHING left for anyone in the crazy situation he created.

      • Time to Invent Things That Bothered Him. Hahahaha I remember that period post d-day well

    • As a childless woman in our society, I often wonder about this dynamic. Why is it so seldom heard that the wife is pissed because the HUSBAND is putting the children first? IOW, shouldn’t BOTH parents be putting the children first? Maybe for a time, marital intimacy will have to be a peck on the cheek, but isn’t that why you have kids? To raise them? — And wouldn’t it be nice if the marital intimacy didn’t have to be something physical but could instead be the experience itself of raising your kids together? — It’s offensive that a woman gets dragged over the coals for being a good mother. The father should be just as self-sacrificing. (Also, my apologies to any Dad chumps out there, as I know it DOES happen but our society strongly skews this particular issue female-wise, in my opinion.)

      • Why is it so seldom heard that the wife is pissed because the husband is putting the children first?”

        LIKE LIKE LIKE LIKE LIKE!!!! (Manic pushing of imaginary button)

      • I want to know why for the cheater the ONLY intimacy that exists HAS to be physical. Because living an entire life together isn’t intimate? That person is the ONLY person that has been privy to my innermost thoughts and feelings, ups and downs, good and bad of our shared life together. All the things that he and I did only he and I. That is almost half my life spent with only him as the witness to my existence and it really means nothing to them in comparison to fucking a whore? That’s what really kills me. That’s where that soul mangling sense of “I am nothing” comes from. That literally my life meant less than a hole to stick your dick into. Me as a person is worth less than a used up see you next Tuesday and an ejaculation. I’m worth less than a teaspoon of jizz. (I know I’m not but it sure feels like it when you get down to it) I don’t know if it’s just because I too am a non-mother but I’ve NEVER actually seen an equal parenting relationship. EVER. I always thought that we were equals in the relationship but even with our cat I could see that he would do the basics (feed the cat half the time) but he was always the fun pet parent. I’m sure if we’d had children it would have ended up the same. Mom is the heavy lifting parent and dad is the fun parent. Or maybe chump is the heavy lifter and cheat is the fun one. The male chumps seem to be the heavy lifters around here.

        • I remember seeing the mother/father dynamic in my own parents’ marriage — admittedly, that was back in the 1960s/70s, but still…. Dad went to work, came home did NOTHING. Mom did everything except leave the house to work a 9-5 job.

          I saw that and consciously thought, “Ah, I see. If *I* am the primary breadwinner, then when *I* come home from work, dinner will be on the table and all the housework will be done for me!” With that in mind (or at least a more equitable arrangement), I pursued a college education, a degree and career in (veterinary) medicine… So you can imagine my surprise when it was still MY job to do all the heavy-lifting! Jesus, really??

          I think the reason “intimacy” = “sex” is because these particular people/cheaters are shallow. I read a FB post today from a stranger who said that when she discusses her day with her fiancé, he keeps texting on his phone and hollowly replies, “Oh, really? That’s too bad.” I wanted to scream at her, “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, SISTER!!!” — Is that my business, or am I just a whacko on FB then? — Still, I chose someone shallow (which I chalked up to age/immaturity) and that’s the result.

          • No I totally get that! We were both guilty of that cool. bummer. wow. At times in our marriage (see me owning my actual shit instead of the made up to blame the chump for the affair shit?) we ignored each other for phones and TV and whatever else. BUT none of that happened until FAR later into the marriage. And it was something I HATED and mentioned to him. He claims he tried to stop doing that and pay more attention but that’s all BS because during the time he was “being present and putting the phone down” he was texting the whoremat. If I ever get involved with another man ( ha. ha. fucking HA!) that will be a big one for me! If he can’t even pay attention for five fucking minutes to talk about our day without the phone in his face,! That shit is NOT happening! And that guy isn’t even her mugs and yet?! ? That’s one of my biggest fears about potentially ever being with someone again. I’m (relatively) young and young people are all turning into such entitled assholes! I mean I’m not perfection. I’m an entitled asshole too. I’m selfish and shallow and think about me WAY too much. I have special snowflake moments all the time. But how in the hell do you find someone that isn’t just an utter selfish tool? Maybe my fairy godmother will help me out ? Obviously I know more now but I’m fucking terrified!

        • Sad S, “That’s what really kills me. That’s where that soul mangling sense of “I am nothing” comes from. That literally my life meant less than a hole to stick your dick into.”
          This kills me too. It’s what I can’t articulate to someone that hasn’t been through betrayal. We have kids together. And his contribution to the kids was being the fun parent. My daughter recently said in answer to a discussion that we were having that “she remembers dad doing things with them”. I said yes you do and yes he did, but you don’t know what it cost me to get him to do those things with you. She fails to understand, because as NWB said “Ah, I see. If *I* am the primary breadwinner, then when *I* come home from work, dinner will be on the table and all the housework will be done for me!” and that is what the x did. That is the life that I led. I was everyone’s parent in our household, even my x’s.
          The “intimacy” that my x wanted was for me to be a bendy porn star. I am not that nor will I ever be, not even to have “kept” the x as my husband.

    • I know in my family of origin I was the kid who would let people run all over me to keep the peace. If someone needed me to take responsibility, even if it wasn’t mine to take, I would do it to keep the peace. Maybe this type of upbringing leads us to blame on ourselves for things going wrong in our marriages.

  • And newsflash–my X sucked in myriad ways, and yet my privates stayed in my skivvies.

  • My favorite line by my ex after d-day: “I am the least selfish person in this house!” Yes, our infant and toddler really should try to be less selfish. Jeez, kids. What are you thinking?

    • Mystique, are you raising a militant infant and toddler. You gotta get some control over those babies!!!! 😉

  • Oh boy, so many posts on the Internet promoting the cheaters’ lies, asking chumps to share the responsibility for someone else actions. And it feels so insulting… Well, I refuse to share any BS. An affair is a choice. It is a series of actions. Cheaters can stop and reconsider at any time. They just refuse to do it. My ex probably started flirting with the OW. He went back to see her again and again. Did he trhink of me in those moments? Nope. He was the one that kissed her. That touched her the first time. He was the one that took of her shirt, that started to undress himself. He was the one that took off his underwear and that DECIDED to have sex with her. Did he consider my feelings while he was doing this? Nope. He could have stopped at any moment. He could have reconsider his actions. He could have told me the truth. But no… he just decided not to do it. Like when he arrived drunk at the airport to pick me up and (as I later discover) he was coming directly from the OW house… that afternoon when he kissed me… lying and pretending that everything was ok… He decided to act like this. His resposibility. Not mine. He was the one that omitted to tell me that he had another relationship while he was trying to convince me to leave my job! He accused me to be career oriented… for almost two months he told me that he did not have an affair… for two months he was pretending to be confused and hurt and in pain… and you know what he told me? He was confused cause I was not the 17 years old girl that he started dating! He made me go through hell three months before our wedding, making me feel guilty… refusing to tell me the truth. Even if I asked him, many time. He mocked me while I was crying and suffering… and he told me the truth by phone! You know what? I am not guilty for his behavior . He is. I am so upset Chumps… I am so tired or reading articles like these… I felt guilty during all my relationship. Guilty for who I am. But the pain helped me. It gave me the chance of falling in love with the woman I am becoming. And this is something I am really grateful for. Honestly, if someone would give me the choice to avoid the pain going back in time to stay with ex, I will still choose to go through this hell… because it helped me to become better, stronger and mightier. The only thing I blame myself for (not always… only sometimes) is that it took me more than ten years to realize how weak and pathetic ex was… I should have dumped his ass much sooner. But still… better late than never. Love u all aaaand happy women day!!!!

    • Emm@
      Thanks for this. Sometimes I gloss over the specifics and buy into the BS that my husband felt ignored/unneeded/un valued and just honorably fell in love” with his ho-worker during their multi-year affair
      But when you think of all the “steps” a cheater takes over and over again – you realize they had thousands of chances to change the trajectory of the relationship and their lives. Every text – every phone call – every dinner out – every gift – every fuck session – every lie to your spouse and kids – was a choice the cheater made. Over and over and over again. Choices that hurt other people. Choices they could have stopped anytime. No one “made them do it.” no wonder they can’t analyze themselves. Cheaters are horrible people. And it’s a big fat lie to think anyone or anything justifies their behavior

      • Exactly my point! I was so much into blaming myself during those days… and he was using it. I was trying to fix it. I was thinking… if I blame myself enough things may go better. Problem is, they would have not going better in any case. He was taking advantage of my pain, he was using the blame-shifting to make ME feel guilty. And this is cheaters’ attitude in general… too easy, man. Way too easy. I know I have many things I can improve. But I am not working on them to be accepted by someone else. I am doing it for myself. Cause I matter. And I am enough… ex and ow can go play hide and seek on the highway. Lying is a choice. And using someone’s else trust to feed their own ego is an action and a decision. They are horrible people… And they know it. They choose to be like this and all this show they put on with us Chump is just bullying… their confidence is crap, so they try to break ours to feel stronger. We are better without them. 🙂

        • Emm@, exactly this ” I was so much into blaming myself during those days… and he was using it. I was trying to fix it. I was thinking… if I blame myself enough things may go better. Problem is, they would have not going better in any case. He was taking advantage of my pain, he was using the blame-shifting to make ME feel guilty. And this is cheaters’ attitude in general…”

          And all the while he knew he was lying and it was ok for him to do that to me. NO. I say NO to this because I was all in and he was just all in for himself.

      • Exactly! My ex also had an affair that “just happened” “all of a sudden”. Then I found pictures from five years ago. Five years is 5,475 breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s 1,000 acts of sex. It’s a lifestyle of deception carried on for nearly 2,000 days.

    • +100 Emma

      I own believing him because I loved him. I own forgiving him a reconciling.

      I own having the courage to file and divorce a predator who conned every woman he slept with. A man who demeaned me to get empathy.

      Losing his family, his business and ending up in a dump with an ugly pig whose crazy and drug addicted is all on him. He’s aged, sucks in bed, and will live in poverty.

      I own gaining a life. Don’t care what he fucks.

  • If “some conversation and counseling” really did prevent affairs, abuse, and divorce, very few of us would be here now.

    • For all we know it DOES help ward those things off. But if the cheater actually said ANYTHING then maybe we could have tried it out. MINE never said anything other than “I want more sex.” So I gave him more sex and then he went and cheated anyway.

  • YES — imagine if someone said “your neglect is what caused your husband to hit you.”

    But for some reason, therapists and the public at large is willing to blame the VICTIM when it comes to cheating and because of this, cheaters feel perfectly OK blaming their faithful partners.

    • Oh, yeah. One of the worst statements that people use to justify a cheater and blame a chump is a variation of, “Well, if he was getting what he needed at home, then he wouldn’t have had to get it somewhere else.” This statement just makes my blood boil!!!!!

      • Agreed. And 99.9999999% of them if they HAD something they needed more of “at home” didn’t say shit about it. And guess what. I’m. Not. A. Mind. Reader. If anybody knows a good one I’d pay to procure their services so I’d actually know what goes on in idiot cheater’s head. Otherwise those people that say that should spend their time keeping an eye on their own spouse. You know, in case they slip up and “force” their spouse into the arms of someone else ???

  • This sound likes something out of last century’s Lady’s Home Journal. The “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” monthly He Said-She said-Therapist said contribution. Ridiculous. Like telling a woman with a newborn to remember her husband might be feeling left out! Because feelings.

    If you both can’t put your children first? Don’t have them. It’s a fine choice.

    Date night. Grow the fuck up.

    • My STBX wanted children. He still resents that we didn’t have more and yet he still complained that I gave them too much attention.

      • x wanted children, I didn’t because I had an older daughter and my narc mother basically took her away from me and raised her. Narc mother always told me that “dogs know how to take care of their young better than you ever did”. So I was pretty much f*cked from the get go.
        x starts pressuring me to have a baby from day one of getting married. I wasn’t so sure. After I do get pregnant x tells me “oh good, now you will never leave me”. I should have run like my hair was on fire, but I didn’t think I could raise a child on my own.
        When we did have our daughter, my second daughter and first daughter share the same birthday, years apart, x got really frustrated with me “spending” so much time and effort on her. I was torn, do I spend less time with daughter? No I did not do that. She was a baby, it was up to us, her parents to care for her. I did the best that I could and he did the least that he could at home, but out in the world, he was Disney dad. So x only wants that one child, I wanted just one more and I had one more, a son. A son you say, I thought x would be over the moon with him, he was not. That was when things started to go really wrong. Then when x abandons us he tells me that “things started going wrong after you had son”. Well they sure did asshole, you were even more distant then to me than ever before. Classic narc behavior, feeling jealous of his own child basically “pushed” him into what x calls EA’s. I’m sure now that they were PA’s but it’s all water under the bridge, I don’t “need” to know what they were, I only need to know that he f*cked up and that is that.

        • Hmmmm, Assholio and I had two kids together, a daughter and then a son. Assholio said that things started to “go south” after I had our son. Maybe because I was a married single mom with two babies and was overwhelmed. Also, I think there is an element of (imagined) competition for a narc with a same-sex child. He concentrates most of his nastiness on our son while our daughter can do no wrong. It makes me sick because our son is much more emotionally sensitive, another reason Assholio has contempt for him.

  • HUH? So if she has the power to “emasculate,” is this his version of a hysterectomy? A family-ectomy?
    I’ve field stripped slime molds that knew I was up to no good as soon as I poked ’em-and they don’t have a CNS or a brain. Deargawd. Even they “got” who was the Perp and who was the victim…

  • a POS acts like a POS. Never takes responsibility.

    My ex sat and blamed the kids (teenagers) for not paying enough attention to him. Teenagers. Did you not get the memo? Teenagers are self absorbed. Oh, forgot you are emotionally stuck at 17.

    So no, you couldn’t see that one coming? You had a wife with MS. So no she couldn’t pay more attention to you. What did you do? Find a slut who would.

    Characters always plays out. Don’t let the door hit him on the a**.

    • x did the same thing with our young adult kids, 19 and 21. Still living at home, still trying to get their father to notice them. They stopped initiating conversation with him about 6 months before he left, they stopped initiating conversation with me also at the same time, because I was so focused on x and his shit to notice, and I regret that. I could have done better for them, but I was so focused on x, who thought my efforts were sh*t, that I missed the boat with my kids. I am now suffering for that.

  • I used to “nag” my ex about finances all the time. I was scared he would lose everything and spend us into debt. So finally, near the end, I just stopped. I couldn’t stand the “nagging bitch” I’d become. I was exhausted from worrying all the time. I figured I needed to lay off and start trusting him – he was my husband. So as soon as I looked away he bought five ipads, put all the finances in his name and then spent $20,000 on investment “advice” for some get-rich-quick scheme. And then I found out about his 5 year long affair. “Nagging” doesn’t mean we’re bitches. Nagging is a symptom that our spouse is not behaving responsibly and they’re not coming to the table to have rational discussions about things that are important to us.

    • EXACTLY. If they took care of their shit you wouldn’t have to nag. It’s really an easy concept. When you don’t like me saying the same shit again and again, remember the reason I keep saying it is because you aren’t doing it. ?

  • I believe people want to believe in causality. If the world we live in has a cause and effect — we can “make sense” of our world. If we live in a random world, it is a much more scary place. We want to think we can control the actions of others by our own actions, but the reality is that we can only sometimes influence the thought process of others, and sometimes that will result in them making a particular decision to do a particular thing. I have been inspired by the words and or actions of another person — but I do not live my life as that person lives his.

    Our culture is full of examples of this deceptive thinking process. For instance, if I hadn’t been standing on the San Adreas Fault Line I wouldn’t have been devastated by the long overdue earthquake. I heard on the news this morning that there has been a study of earthquakes in that area, and one occurs about every 100 years, and the last one was in 1857. So we may be “overdue”. Do we abandon all life in California in anticipation of the quake? No. Will it be our fault if we are on the fault when it happens? No.

    There will be an earthquake, that is the nature of earthquakes. Cheaters will cheat, because that is the nature of cheaters. Nothing we say or do will prevent that. You might sell an article by telling someone there are 7 things they can do to “affair-proof” their marriage. There might be 7 things they can do to be nicer to their spouse, but cheaters cheat because they want to. Cheaters can also pick a very nice and useful person to stay married to, and might actually enjoy some of the cake they eat while with that nice useful person — but they will still sneak out of the home and find other cake to eat. Cake that is not as nice or as useful as their home cake. But it is different, don’t you see? They are entitled to all the cake they can cram into their needy and forever unsatisfied mouths! Cake is randomly available and the choice to eat other cake is entirely up to the cake eater. If having bad cake at home were the only reason — couldn’t the cake eater learn to make a better cake at home? Why, surely!

    There is no causality in cheating. In the stay married or get divorced decision there may be whole laundry lists of stay/go reasons. Marriage is an agreement — if the terms of the agreement become intolerable or are not mutually beneficial, then terminate the agreement. It is also logical that you cannot have your cake, and eat it too. Cheaters don’t agree with that logic — they think they are entitled to a different deal.

    If my husband acts like a selfish bastard, I have every reason to consider divorce. If I fly my broom around the house all day, he has every reason to consider divorcing me. We could also talk about him being selfish and me being a witch. If we choose not to talk about it, we are only delaying the inevitable confrontation, because who wants to live like that? There will be an earthquake in California. Many marriages will end in divorce. Neither one of these two things causes the other.

    You can believe in causality if you want to, but the older I get the more I believe we have little choice or control over our lives. We can usually choose our own actions, but not how others will react to it. Sometimes we don’t even have time to make a choice. Life is what happens whether or not you are prepared for it.

    • I agree. I think it’s this lack of control that makes people feel so eager to have a simple reason or excuse. Life is rarely so simple. I confess, I sometimes envy those who skip through Life never really comprehending its complexity and just how lucky they are to have never had something uncontrollable smash through the roof over their heads.

      • and this tendency to believe in the “just world hypothesis”–the world is a fair and balanced place. If good things come to you, you must have worked hard to deserve them; if bad things happened, you must have done something to deserve them.

        But the research shows that belief in the JWH makes a person kind of a jerk:

        • Well, that’s just fascinating, isn’t it? — Furthermore, it serves to verify what I’ve been feeling since Dday, which is a genuine befuddlement of how anybody moves forward with ANY sort of plan in this world, which seems able (likely?) to take each of us out at the knees at any point in time? How do people plan to build a house? Or retire at a certain age? Or save for the future? — There may BE no future, people!! is what my brain is screaming at me.

          I don’t know if this new knowledge is good or bad, all I know is that I cannot unknow it.

          • And that is the aftermath of betrayal–knowing that anything you value, anyone you love, might just might be cut out from under you in a nanosecond. I sometimes feel like a spectator, just watching attentively as people go about their daily lives, unsuspecting of the deep fault lines.

            • Tempest, it’s a strange way to live huh. Just waiting for the fault lines might seem fatalistic but it really isn’t. Like CL says, we can only control ourselves, and that is not even true, we may die at any given point and we have no control over that. Maybe it is a call to be a better person than you have been, to “hedge the bet” somewhat, because none of us are going to get out of this alive.

              • I know, Flutterby, it doesn’t feel fatalistic. I feel somewhat comforted, even, by other people’s naivete about the worst-that-can-happen, and sincerely hope it does not happen to anyone else. But if it does, I’m the one on the sidelines who has been entrusted with the Emergency Kit.

              • This is what struck me hardest in the article ” if we didn’t all believe that to some degree, life would be an intolerably chaotic and terrifying nightmare in, which effort and payback were utterly unrelated, and there was no point planning for the future, saving money for retirement or doing anything else in hope of eventual reward.”

                That basically summed up my entire existence at the moment. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and then d-day came just a couple of months later and I’ve pretty much given up hope on the state of the world with all the other stuff that goes on too. It’s sad. And scary.

            • I’m exactly the same. I have always been a VERY anxious person. I am cautious because I know lots of things can go wrong and I like to be at least a little prepared for the imperfect (maybe I’m just too pessimistic). NOW though, I feel like my life has been literally ripped away. I’ve been knocked to my knees and I just have no clue. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to move forward. I don’t know how to let go. And I hate all of it. I LIKED who I was before. I LIKED the innocence and trust I had in life and myself and where I was going and even where I was. I feel like now I can never trust again. I hate all the happy people that are living an easy straightforward existence that isn’t marred by betrayal and fear and uncertainty and the knowledge that where I am now was caused by the one person I trusted and believed in and relied on more than any other.

  • So glad I got rid of that blameshifter…and do not miss him! Recovery has been healing myself with the insight you provide here ! Thank you!

  • Online affairs are also cheating! Mine claims he’s not cheating because he hasn’t been with any woman “physically”. In the last 6 months he’s texted other women – some high school classmates (hundreds of times each month) and sometimes daily phone calls to them at least once a day. He will text through Facebook messenger then immediately delete his comments so I won’t see them. And he does video chats through Facebook. Then texts women that he has dreams about her, thinking of her, etc.

    Even after being caught having an online affair with more than 1,500 texts in a six week timeframe he claimed he still wanted to be married to me. But he blamed me for him doing it because I wasn’t affectionate enough towards him. Geez, when you are insulting your wife about her faults frequently, biting her head off over anything no woman wants to be romantic. Two weeks later he started texting at least 3 other women online multiple times in the last two months.

    Found out he would call me and then immediately call one of his girlfriends after talking with me more than once. He’s done that twice this week already. We’ve had some deep conversations where I have confronted him and he claims he’s sorry but he continues to text other women. It’s ALL his choice do these things. Tired of being lied too.

    Desperately looking for a job so I can get on my feet financially so I can kick him to the curb. I’m so done and he doesn’t realize it. He’s a fool. He’s thrown a 20-year marriage down the drain. He thinks the world revolves around him and he’s the victim – typical Narc. And he rarely will help around the house, he acts offended if I ask him to repair anything to pick up after himself. After all he works long hours so he thinks he shouldn’t have to lift a finger around the house. He’s an idiot.

    • Ugh Joyce – sounds like you are in the thick of it. Good luck and run run run like your hair’s on fire.

    • Hi
      You just told my exact story. Thats what I thought it was until I found out by seeing loads of photos that she had flown her for (at least) a 3 day fuck fest, (she is married!, no kids plastic tits, narc attention whore) he told me he was on work trip.
      Silly me thought it was an skype EA and people here kept telling me otherwise.
      If he hasn’t done the dirty he is trying really hard to, just get out.
      I threw mine out when I thought it was EA took him back 5 weeks later, gave my heart completely to him for three weeks thinking well it was just an EA, then boom Devine intervention I found out about the fuck fest at our favourite family spots, was absolutely gutted at the bare faced lies and ‘i want you and the kids crap’ he never ceased contact with her and kept this all hidden for a year I might add until I found out accidentally.
      I threw him out within two hours of seeing those pics.
      Shattered but 1 month on I’m doing ok and grey rock minimal contact is a blessing. He asks for stuff and whines in emails, no reply. He is shit and trying to fill the void that always existed. I always knew he was empty but thought I could help him. He is out in Siberia as far as Im concerned. Im going to start a bit of light dating myself soon as Im not wasting my time on this loser any more 13 years of bullshit from him, including years of binge drinking, in and out of jobs, lack of commitment to kids and me.
      Never asked me to marry him, too much like normal people stuff, he’s to special for that pedestrian stuff.
      Did I cheat, I had chances and propositions I’m quite attractive, but no I did not. I regret staying so long, but this degrading shit storm was his middle finger fuck you to me. Waiting for the karma bus while me and kids rock 2017 with gaining traction to kick ass life. Oh and that job of mine that was on the line ‘ you did a pretty good job of turning it around in two weeks’ my boss. Dont hang around for the final humiliation, you have enough information and he is totally disrespecting you. Mine was all right under my nose, texting her in our bed you name it, gives them a boner, sick.
      Go rock awesome without this fakebook stalking loser.

    • Aaahhhhh, the online emotional affair. That’s how my now ex moved flawlessly from spending all day and night like a juvenile mouth breather in the basement messaging his dream girl on Facebook to actually igniting a full blown star crossed lovers romance!
      I used to comment on his endless “validate me!” Posts asking him what the fuck he was doing down there and then letting him know that dinner was ready- so could he please finish up and come eat with the kids.
      Now he’s losing his mind because we’re no contact and he found out dream girl is already seeking new ego strokes from the same group of Facebook group guys he thought were so great.
      What goes around comes around.

  • Listen, it’s really this simple: if you’re that miserable in your marriage, then divorce your spouse fairly and honestly while keeping your children’s (if you have any) best interests in mind. You can even have a dissolution with a fraction of the legal costs. Not to mention you still have a chance to remain friends and trust one another post-marriage. It’s really not that difficult of a concept.

    Divorce is never fun for anyone, but it can be done without:

    1) Lying to your spouse
    2) Cheating on your spouse
    3) Hiding Money from your spouse
    4) Blowing Money behind your spouse’s back
    5) Gaslighting your spouse
    5) Talking shit about your spouse to other people
    6) Sleeping with other people’s spouses
    7) Humiliating your spouse
    8) Using your spouse and;
    9) Blaming all of the above actions that you did on your spouse’s “deficiencies”

    I’ve tried to make this point to my wife and all I get back is the thousand yard stare. If I was as bad of a husband as she said I was, then why not just divorce me years ago before the A started? THEN you can go out with other guys (though she seems to prefer other married guys, so she’d still need to address that issue, but I digress). But that just seems to be too difficult of a concept. She just stares out into space, sort of like if I were to explaining my electric bill to my beagle.

    But even though it’s unspoken, I know she knows why she did these things, and she knows I know why she did these things — cake.

    • Blindside, I had *exactly* this conversation yesterday with my teenaged son. His father (Cheater #1) had been “explaining” why our marriage broke up and how he had been unhappy for most of it. Yep, all 20 years. Uh, if you were sooooooo unhappy, why not leave? He could’ve left before we had a child, before we bought the second house, etc, etc, etc. No, he’d rather rewrite history and be a martyr.

      She just stares out into space, sort of like if I were to explaining my electric bill to my beagle.

      Best line ever. May have to borrow it in the future.

    • “She just stares out into space, sort of like if I were to explaining my electric bill to my beagle.”

      Line of the year so far.

  • Any of us who spent time doing the “pick me” dance have probably picked apart our own self-perceived faults and made an effort to address them. I made a good faith effort at being more outgoing and interested in athletic activities and persistently cheerful and and and … until I realized that the reason some of those things were hard for me to do was because of him. Try being persistently cheerful when your spouse is constantly lying to you and boozing it up on the sly every chance he gets! Of course, folks here know exactly how successful that little venture was. I finally realized that changing myself into an entirely different person was not only impossible but also unreasonable. I support the idea of improving and growing as a person throughout life … but do it for yourself, not to “keep a spouse” who is not willing to do the same and has a much greater need to do so. And by the way, that personal growth accelerates exponentially when you drop the dead weight!!

    • This jumped out at me: ” I should’ve wised up and realized that his behavior was a deal breaker for ME. Instead, I kept trying to control it and him by being shriller and more insistent that he Change.”

      This was me. — I was just thinking the other day (having gained a bit of weight in the past year or so) how I kept myself thin and fit, because XH’s dad’s reason for leaving XH’s mom (and cheating) was that she “let herself go.” I thought, No way is that gonna happen in this marriage! And so I remained thin, fit, active. — Still not enough, XH still cheated and left because that’s what he was always going to do.

      But the line above about wising up and leaving the marriage? That should have been me. I felt neglected, unwanted, and I was actually thinking about leaving … right before he proposed. Then he proposed, said some very nice things about wanting to spend the rest of his life with me, and I once again crammed ALL of my grievances into this teeny tiny little excuse that he must have been stressed and distracted planning the proposal! Nope. He didn’t ever care enough, and there was nothing I could have done to have made it end otherwise, except leaving, myself, first.

      • I guess that the cheater thought that by losing weight and being trim and fit that schmoopie would see his wonderfulness and fall at his feet. Unfortunately for him, she just wanted his money. It has been a joy to see “what” the x has become in these last few years. He was constantly harassing me about my weight, my not being feminine enough, cue in high heels and skimpy lingerie, and a whole myriad of things that I was not or have never been in to. So he leaves me for her, she is a frumpy thing at best, but she is soooooo much better than I am and younger to boot. Their whole “being” together lasts about 6 months after he leaves me. It took her a whole 6 months to find out that he is a useless jerk, me, it takes me 22 years of marriage to this jerk, I feel mortified for staying so long, but I digress. She realizes that he is not a “sugar daddy” but only a “pink” sugar daddy, because he is so cheap, so she goes back to her husband who tries to give her the “life that she deserves”.
        x is very “broken” by her leaving, he leaves me a sad sausage voicemail, ending with “but you don’t really care” at he end, oh I care alright, I cared so much that I laughed for around ten minutes.

        • The life she deserves is one of living in a dumpster. That’s on fire. Anyone that gets involved with a married person deserves a slow and painful end.

  • Here’s where this “if only I was better he wouldn’t have cheated” ridiculousness falls apart. When final Dday happened and I kcked him out, I figured his drop dead gorgeaous 15 years younger than me do anything he wanted sexually girlfriend was what he needed to finally be “happy”. Jokes on us all when I found out he was cheating on her too. The point being when you buy into this nonsense that it was something you did or didn’t do and that’s why they cheated is bunk. They cheat because they are disordered jerks that will NEVER be happy. I swear to God the final DDay mistress looked like Cindy Crawford (no I’m not exaggerating) and literally did anything he asked, they didn’t live together so none of the rigors of real life were there to harsh his buzz and HE STILL CHEATED ON HER! It’s not us, it’s them and they are bottomless pits of need and unhappiness. Once you accept that the rest gets easier. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

    • How funny. x left me for a frumpy woman, at best, but younger than me. When someone asked me who he left me for and I said that she was a frumpy little thing that resembled his sisters and mother, they just stared at me. I laughed and said “what you thought he left me for a young model, like he always said he deserved?????” Nope that did not happen, and frumpy woman leaves him to go back to her husband that made more money. She thought she was a sugar baby, but she picked a “pink” sugar daddy that is so damn cheap he can’t see straight.

  • Oh, and the part that got my attention was the place where she was rightfully angry and the therapist “set her straight”. Sounds like the therapist was either a cheater themselves or a cheater apologist. Not to diss therapists, but there are some really bad ones out there.

    This one gives me images of coming across someone who has been robbed and beaten bloody. Instead of helping, binding wounds and such, well, just beat that person some more, because after all, it will help them be a better person. You know, they deserved the first beating, actually, caused it by being a sucky person and here….. I’ll just kick you a little more so you under stand that this is all your fault.

    This woman really needs Chumplady and Chump Nation!

    • Tessie.
      Great spot as usual. Yes the anger thing not going over well with the therapist. All I can say about that as a therapist is in my room when I client gets angry I breathe a sigh of relief because what that signals to me is that all of that anger that was being directed towards the self and causing depression is now coming out and can be usefully channeled and shaped by the client towards its rightful target. If I don’t see anger in the room with my abuse clients, I worry and try to work on the blocks to that anger, usually a fear based reason, a powerlessness thing.

  • This is a great post and so helpful for me to read right now. This is my struggle STILL. It continues to upset me that people believe his narrative that “there are 2 sides to every story”. I understand logically that our culture believes this narrative, his friends will believe it, and people who don’t want to get involved or don’t particularly care will believe it. But it still infuriates me. I speak the truth and speak up for myself but this is a battle I won’t win. Winning the battle would be that every single person in the world knows what a POS lying fraud he is. It’s just not going to happen. So my struggle is to focus on me and my life and getting to meh which is what I want! I have to soothe that little internal voice that says “it isn’t fair!”.
    That is so true; it’s not fair. I need to chant the mantra to myself through the day “I know the truth, I know the truth, I know the truth.”
    Oh yeah, this post really inflames me – my eyes are pretty much popping out of my head right now.
    But I am glad to reread it. Onward!

  • nauseating…
    I did put my husband first…(even before my kids to my great regret now)
    I adored him and stroked his ego, I respected him, loved him, gave him a great sex life, supported him, created a beautiful family for him, am pretty and fit, supported his career and helped him advance in it etc etc etc…
    I know that and that’s how I KNEW on my own that what he had done was ABUSIVE.
    I put all my efforts into our marriage and family and gave him a beautiful life, and in return he had affairs with my two sisters (all the while having great sex and a great marriage with me).

    It is NEVER our fault and I am the biggest proof of it.

    Chump lady, I love you, you were the first voice of reason and balance in a crazy time…
    I got out and the abuse escalated to a point where I had to get a Final Restraining Order on the man I once trusted and loved more than anything in the world, which only proves that THIS WAS ABUSE ALL ALONG…

    I have been totally no contact and though I am still really struggling financially, I am sooo much better off now, away from him.

    Sending strength to all of you!!

    • Your 2 sisters? damn, that must make for some awkward Christmas dinners.

  • Today’s column reminds me of a little mental exercise I indulge in from time to time: Imagine, Chumps, being in a relationship where your partner is truly invested in your happiness — not success. Happiness. They want you to be happy. They do things to make your life easier, anticipate your needs and try to smooth the path — Maybe do the laundry and cook dinner because they know you have a big presentation at work you’re trying to focus on — All without asking. All without expecting a big gold star of appreciation and reward.

    Imagine that, if they have a problem with something you’ve said or done, they approach you in a mature calm fashion and say, “You know, that really hurt my feelings.” Or “Earlier today when you said that thing in front of Bob, I didn’t appreciate it and would really rather you didn’t do that.” Or “It seems like you’ve been a little distant lately. Is everything OK between us? Is there anything you want to talk about?”

    … Honestly, it brings a tear to my eye to think I could ever have that. I think some of you do — CL seems to have a version of this — and I’m so terribly glad for you. But the point is — for me, anyway — how much LESS than this I came to accept in the context of my own marriage. Always I was chasing after him, waiting for him to notice me. In hindsight, it’s embarrassing. He wasn’t so great or handsome or successful. — The next guy will have be an adult. I’m sure it will come as a complete shock to me how different that might be.

    • NW.
      A year came to my eye reading that. I have had the same thoughts. Just imagine what it would be like to be with someone like that. Who actually thought of you! Shit. That’s depressing!

    • NWB, I don’t even know what I would do with that. I would mess it up because I wouldn’t believe it even if it happened to me. And maybe I wouldn’t believe it because I believe some of the bs that the person that wrote the article was somethings that I believe about myself.

  • My MC also tried to get us both to share the blame for my X’s abuse of his family and his cheating. The X blamed us when he was abusive because we shouldn’t “push his buttons” and make him lose control. I bought into the craziness because I didn’t know any better.

    Finally found a therapist that told me the truth, no matter who bad of a wife I supposedly was, that really didn’t give him an excuse to abuse me or cheat.

    So, as the X was blaming my grad school for his cheating, because “I didn’t have to make all A’s,” it hit me that my girlfriend who was also in grad school with me and whose husband also complained about the hours it took doing homework, but my friends X didn’t cheat and blow up a 20-year marriage because of it.

    There was no excuse, just more blame shifting. It actually hurt to read this poor women blame herself.

  • I feel like Sloane…I made mistakes and I own them as best as I can but in a different context. I own them for me, so I can get as close to my truth as I can in order to grow and understand ME. I am my own best friend and I need to be a friend that is honest. Unlike Sloane, I don’t think I brought his affairs/abuse upon me or the kids. He gets full credit for that. A lot of my mistakes were truly responses to his poor behavior but I will not allow myself to take that as an excuse as I will not allow him any excuse for imploding our lives or for the torture he dealt to us. I also take responsibility that I knew he was a turd when I let him into my life. It was so clear, the color, the smell, the peanuts and corn…it was all there and I put it aside because I was “special” and an “exception” and certainly his previous wives did not provide him with what he needed, blah, blah and more blah. Those choices were my own, my rationalization was my own and if I don’t own it, I may step in it again. I agree that Sloane is perpetuating a mindset that needs to be abandoned but she gets only my love and prayers that she will be able to set her belief aside that she somehow is the cause for her husband cheating. I think she is in the worst place with this, thinking that she did something wrong or neglected to do something right. How horrible she must be feeling about it right now. She is yearning for her cheater and I wouldn’t trade places with her for anything. She has nothing but my deepest empathy.

    • ” I put it aside because I was “special” and an “exception” and certainly his previous wives did not provide him with what he needed, blah, blah and more blah.”

      When people say this, I always want to ask, “but you must have thought that they were enough when you decided to marry them, so what have you changed about your needs or your ability to know who or what you need in order to know that I’ll be enough? What changes have *you* made that makes your current confidence that I’m enough for you any different from your previous confidence that they were enough for you?”

  • CL, you are so good!

    IMO this sound like someone whose therapist has tried to get her to take personal responsibility and to get Sloan to dig deeper. This is what a good therapist will do.

    Maybe because I am at MEH, but I see red flags all over the place. It is clear that she didn’t want to spend time with him — and he didn’t want to spend time with her. And when they had sex, she told him that he is doing it wrong! Hmmm….

    Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. While you are in an unhealthy relationship, you often don’t see it. You internalize, blame immaturity, etc.

    No one’s actions can drive another person’s actions. I call bollocks!

  • Buy & read the book:
    Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft as a antidote to this delusional article. The book is worth its weight in gold.

    Cheaters are not mysteries to solve. The author of this article is lost. Do not read her article unless you are far past Mighty Meh.

    Cheating is abuse. It is just a tool in their shitty tool box to control, dominate and have pleasure unchecked, or cake. The path of agony left in their stinky wake is not on their radar.

    Once you grasp this, you realize cheating is no different from someone winding up and giving you a stiff upper cut to the jaw, black eye or ramming your head through dry wall.

  • There are some inconvenient truths in the world. While whether to cheat vs not cheat is a character issue, if someone treats their spouse with this level of disregard, disconnect and disrespect, they are likely going to be watching their spouse driving away over the horizon at some point.

    Whether that STBX cheats before leaving or not will depend on their own character and moral compass, but either is a risk that someone who treats their partner this way takes.

    Her disregard of him may not have directly “caused” him to cheat. But it surely contributed to the environment that lead to their disconnect. The fact he followed up on an opportunity before closing the door behind him is on him but I doubt if his heart is bleeding too much about it and I don’t get the feeling that Sloane’s heart is bleeding over it either.

    Her self reflection and self critique are valid.

        • I’m more concerned that my anger can go from 0 to 100 in a nanosecond to let me post this. I was never like this before the A.
          9 mths from DDay, 35 years in.
          Trust They Suck

          • Unafraid, I am over one year out. And I woke up this morning so enraged, that it frightened me. The scalding, steaming rage that I have toward this man could melt iron.

            I weigh the pros and cons of getting him back, brutally paying him back for the pain he caused me. I ponder if I could survive in prison. I was making a cup of coffee, and said, Now remember…if you went to prison, you could not have coffee this good…no cinnamon toast, no sunny walks, long hot showers (well showers would be a whole new adventure)

            I have to quietly self sooth myself to keep it in the road. To keep from going berserk on his smirking entitled face. This is one year of No Contact. Not a drop. And if all hell breaks lose, and martial law was declared tomorrow (more real now than ever) ….he had best learn sleeping with one eye open.

            I get it. I wish I had some spell to give you peace, but I am still searching myself. I think of the Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”. I went to the mountains, I went to the doctor, I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.

            I beg for relief from this anger and have tried everything money can buy. If anyone has any remedies, please chime in.

            I feel like the victim of terrible crime who never got one drop of justice.

            • You are not alone Peony and Unafraid. “I feel like the victim of a terrible crime who never got one drop of justice”
              I do believe we will find the peace we are looking for. It’s going to take some time and the path will be twisty, but we will get there.

            • Peony,
              It will sound strange, but I have found that mindful meditation (meta meditation) – loving kindness and compassion for myself helped significantly with the annihilating rage and debilitating anxiety. I feel acceptance (not every day, but some days) and gratitude for the many blessings in my life. I took a meditation class and also used the free online meta meditations at

            • Peony–there is no way around it; ride the anger like a wave. It will subside some days, or for a few hours, and then return with a vengeance. Exercise, dancing, and channeling the anger into a useful endeavor, were the only strategies that worked for me until the rage becomes just white noise against your daily life.

    • Ah right, imma pretend you’re not a pointy headed troll for the moment or the affair partner or the playa and let’s take a closer look at your thought process, such as they are:

      So, “whether (they) cheat or not *before leaving* will depend on their own character and moral compass.” Yes, that tricky word “Character” and “Moral Compass” are indeed in bed together. Ah! The rub is in the leaving.
      If one has a morally bankrupt Character it is no surprise their “moral compass” is reflected in the behavior they demonstrate. The reality is, there are multiple-in fact about infinite choices and resulting behaviors to address what ever environment of discontent they *allege* has been created prior to leaving-aside from a Scorched Earth Ambush via the profound Betrayal of another’s trust. I find it perversely humorous the “Exit Strategy” of cheaters consistently involves lying about what they’re doing-hey, that’s Character, right? and hiding their perfidy-which is also about Character, amiright, yes I am. See, if what you’re doing is in your own view “moral” and a reflection of your Character, what further evidence would you require of your MIA Character besides lying and hiding to demonstrate your “Character” has all the depth of a mud puddle and about the same shit brown color/scent/consistency? Which is fine if….you had not HID THAT Character, the real “you” who was a lying liar who lied when you presented to your partner a bunch of bull shit about who you were; ergo, it’s their fault for believing you were who you SAID and BEHAVED you were. (Scratches head. Huh?)

      Marriage is not an a la carte menu. It’s not a multiple choice by virtue of committing oneself to “forsaking all others”-which I do believe rules out polyamory. It doesn’t come with a codicil, a PS, a predetermined Expiration Date other than death or “contingent upon my partner never getting old, wrinkled, or when their cute tweety bird tatt turns into an accordion of transparent adipose flesh” and so forth. But if you find your situation seriously untenable, there’s an app for that: Divorce. Finally, that “opportunity?” If that “opportunity” really WAS, it’d still be there after the ink dried on the divorce decree. Perfidy and Betrayal are inimical to a Character of which one can be proud: Character is the bedrock of who you are and is not contingent on anything other than your conscience-your morals, values, ethics and personal integrity-or lack thereof. Appearance, attraction, hawtness fades. Character is forever. It is the “you” you will answer to every single day until you take your last breath.

      Sometimes using jumper cables causes shit to blow up when you don’t bother to connect to them properly. Getting burned hurts like a mofo-especially when you weren’t prepared to be a self-immoliating monk.
      In any event, I hope to hell you don’t advise anyone on how to write a Victim Impact Statement.
      By the time you were done, the victim would be sitting on Death row waiting for their hot (wired) date.

      • “Character” has all the depth of a mud puddle and about the same shit brown color/scent/consistency? Which is fine if….you had not HID THAT Character, the real “you” who was a lying liar who lied when you presented to your partner a bunch of bull shit about who you were; ergo, it’s their fault for believing you were who you SAID and BEHAVED you were. (Scratches head. Huh?) YASSSSSSSSSS

        Basically, without coming right out and saying it, this poster says the cheater gets a pass because the chump got what he/she deserved and they don’t feel sorry about it. Abuse is not ok. If someone does not like they way their partner is acting, just leave… But instead, the cheater’s vindictive true self appears and there you have it. There are stipulations to whether or not I will lie, deceive, abuse, humiliate you. NOT a good person, IMO. There is no reason ever to cheat and the person that does not feel sorry is NOT HUMAN, they are evil, soulless turds.

  • This post is very disturbing. Still being in the middle of being married and working on getting out of it, I have to say that all of Sloane’s points are completely off base. CL is absolutely right that cheating is a form of abuse. My cheater also exhibits some other forms of abuse too that would probably accompany a more typical emotional abuser. He tries to isolate me – he doesn’t want to spend any time with my family. They bother him and they are all below his level of intelligence. He tends to treat everyone that way, but I notice it more with my family and with people I like in general. We are package deals. I want my family apart of my life and he doesn’t. He never did and that was actually a GIANT red flag that I should not have married him. Spackle, spackle, spackle.

    My cheater tries to make me believe that I do everything wrong – but I actually do everything. I am the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. He holds down a part time gig and is going to school for the 3rd time on my dime. For the 9 years that we’ve been married, he’s held a full-time job for about 3 years. The rest of the time it has been part time and I do all the work. Yet, I do it wrong and I don’t make enough money and blah blah blah. Spackle, spackle, spackle.

    My cheater also wants to control everything. He likes working with a puppet, not a wife. He’s known exactly how to manipulate me to do exactly what he wants, make me think that I needed to work harder for the relationship on every single level (sex, money, career, friends, etc). And I’ve spackled all over that too.

    Sloane, you are a spackler and what is so terribly sad is that you are spackling even after you are rid of the fuck-wit. Count yourself extremely lucky that you aren’t still pick-me dancing. I did that for years and am just not starting to realize what the hell is going on. I have a lot of work ahead of me before I can get out of my marriage, but let me just say, I won’t spend my freedom spackling.

  • Divide and conquer is a strategy of abusers, they want you away from friends and families, normal support net works, classic isolate the victim move.

    • Chump Nation!!!! *******Trigger Alert******
      Do not read the following post written by O and do not respond to it. It’s not worth a moment of your time.
      Don’t engage with this guy – he doesn’t get it. At all. Not one little bit.

      • I’d delete it, but I think Chump Nation has done a very good job of refuting Oldshirt.

        • I think you are absolutely right – intelligent, insightful, and empowering posts by the Nation!

  • Additionally, I think we need to take a deeper look at who the original chump in this story is/was.

    No where in her story did I detect any sign of love, desire, respect, passion etc for him. Nor did I detect any sense if loss or sadness. The only lament I could detect in her story was that he wasn’t a good helper with the kids (other than working nonstop to support them)

    I get the feeling she just wanted him as a sperm donor, ATM card and assistant care-giver to help with the kids.

    The only thing his cheating did was simply add one more thing to her list of complaints. Which may have been a bigger or lesser complaint than him leaving simply because she sucked.

    Sometimes it hurts more when someone walks away and they DONT have someone else waiting in the wings.

    My point is she would’ve bitched no matter what he did.

    Yes, the right thing to do would’ve been to “talk” about it first and seek MC etc.

    But what makes you think he didn’t try to address his dissatisfactions and with her layer upon layer upon layer of disdain and disregard for him, what makes you think she would’ve jumped right on that and took any beneficial action??

    My guess is his requests for MC would’ve just resulted in another complaint on her laundry list of his shortcomings.

    I can hear her bitching to hear friends now, “…and not only does he work late (to support us, but that doesn’t count). But now he wants me to take time out of my day to see counselor!!! Can you imagine the nerve of him!!”

    Yes his cheating is on him and goes on to his moral report card.

    But I don’t see her being too upset with the fact he was loving up The OW instead of her. A part of her probably even thanks the OW for relieving her of that distasteful task.

    Her only regret seems to be that she has enough humanity to at least self reflect on her role in the demise of her marriage.

    I actually respect her for that. Y’all are the ones turning on her and attacking her for that.

    If she ever wants to have a loving, mutually respectful and mutually beneficial relationship in the future, she will need to examine and critique her role in the breakdown of this marriage and she where she can do better.

    To blain it all squarely on her X will give her license to pick her next chump and treat him like a wage slave to serve her and to treat him with the same disregard and disrespect and be back at square one when he’s done with being her doormat.

      • Or he is actually the husband of Sloan who cheated. He definitely is making a lot of inductive leaps from her letter. Almost like he has intimate knowledge of how the husband “felt.”

        Even if he’s not a cheater and he is married to a faithful partner as he eludes, he’s definitely a troll. If he has never experienced infidelity and can’t get on board with the site’s banner, then he’s just throwing a pineapple into a crowded room.

        Good riddance!

    • You sort of miss the point of this website so I’m not sure if what I’m about to say is going to register but I’ll give it the old college try.

      Chump Lady actually says that this woman might actually suck as a partner. (the universal translator said it too) She should probably work on that because it will probably impact her relationships going forward.

      Now here I’m going to try something. Okay-I just waved my magic wand and asked for all cheater apologists to disappear from the earth. Are you still here old shirt? Yes you say? You know what that proves? I have absolutely no power (magical or otherwise) over what you do or where you go.

      Neither did the author. She didn’t do anything to “make her ex” have an affair. Her actions DID NOT drive him into the arms of another woman. His entitlement did. If she acted like she says, she sucks and I wouldn’t want to be married to her either but you know what?

      It’s shockingly easy to procure a hasty divorce in these here United States. Because if her hubby had an adult conversation and she didn’t do any of the things she needed to do to make him feel like he should be in the marriage, then he should have RUN to a divorce lawyer. You want to know how I know? Because I procured one of those hasty (although not hasty enough) divorces after I decided to leave a cheater and gain a life.

      My ex gave me the bestest reason to be driven into the arms of another man too because he cheated. I didn’t though. I left the marriage honestly. I didn’t expose him to sexually transmitted diseases, unilaterally without his consent. The breakdown of our marriage did not push my ex into an affair. His entitlement and cowardly tendencies did that.

      Do you not understand that?

    • Oldshirt
      So do share your story or are you just typing your excellent word salad thing for something to do with your hands… a change from….

    • You say you get the point, but I don’t see you getting it. We are not telling her she has no faults, or did not need to examine any areas of her own behavior for improvement — and perhaps her marriage was headed for divorce, anyway. We are only saying anything she did or did not do did not CAUSE the spouse to cheat. He chose to do that. He didn’t ask for counseling, or say “I am unhappy and would like a divorce because of x,y, z” . He cheated, he abandoned her and the children. That was his decision.

      You may have been hurt by someone who treated you like a wage slave. Sorry that happened to you. Believe me, if you read CL long enough you will find plenty of women who have been treated like wage slaves. We also have been solely responsible for the housework and the childcare, and paying the bills, and have lost health care and retirement and savings. We may have had to endure our children going to another home where they were told to call the OW “mom”. We may have been lonely, and sexually unfulfilled. Any and all of these things happen when marriages and relationships fall apart, and they happen to both men and women. This site has some excellent men and women who have endured all manner of pain and rejection. None of us claim to be perfect, but we don’t want to be blamed for the cheater deciding to cheat. That is the point. The implication in the article is that if she had done those things better her marriage would still have been intact. We believe her thesis is incorrect.

        • It’s in the right spot Portia. Just follow the line and it goes to old shirt where it rightfully belongs!

    • “No where in her story did I detect any sign of love, desire, respect, passion etc for him. Nor did I detect any sense if loss or sadness. ”

      And you know what, Oldshirt, I did have great passion for my X; I respected him, I loved him, I loved our family, and I worked hard to make the family a happy, supportive place. [Everyone here would likely say the same thing about their relationship.] But if I wrote about my X after having found out about his affairs and his years of lies, and then confronting his blameshifting said affairs onto me and my “deficiencies” as a wife, you would not detect any lingering signs of love, desire, or respect. I was not perfect, but dammit, I rocked as a wife and mother in many, many ways. And my X’s betrayal of me trumps ANYthing good he did; it was the meteorite that left a huge crater in my memories and my willingness to ever trust deeply again.

      Whatever passion and love for him that I had was burned up in the meteor blaze, and it would not make its way into an essay on my marriage. Nor would any trace of sadness be present in an essay, because my life is so much better without his persistent subtle emotional abuse and undermining of me. I did not deserve that, and now all I feel is a sense of relief that he is gone. Perhaps the same is true for the author of this piece.

      • The meteor. That’s it.

        Oldshirt- when someone cheats, they burn the barn down. There is no recovery. Anything would be preferable. It is Stage 4d pancreatic cancer. Shaving their head, getting a face tattoo, living in a trash can, even robbing a bank would be easier to manage than adultery. You can come back from many things, but adultery? Forget about it.

        You have affected a calm pseudo intellectual tone about cheating.Academic. I see you smoking a pipe and wearing Spock ears.

        Theory becomes frightening when it is practice. Discover condoms in your XH’s overnight bag, a burner phone or emails of a whore’s pussy and booty shots
        get back to us.

    • There once was a poster named Oldshirt,
      Who read that Sloane’s husband went out chasing skirt,
      ’cause she treated him like dirt,
      It seems to me that he not choose to realize,
      That calling a spouse’s cheating a “complaint” is a blatant attempt to minimize,
      You “observation” that she no longer speaks passionately,
      About the man who discarded her is your attempt to rewrite history,
      And to your future loving, mutually beneficial relationships I wish them good luck,
      Because, honey, I trust that you suck.

      Ok, so I’m not winning any awards today, but it felt better to write it in couplets.

  • I specifically said a number if times that she did not cause him to cheat.

    That was on him and a reflection of his character and his moral compass. It was his choice.

    If he’s a narc or a BPD or just a shitty person, there probably wasn’t a thing in the world she could’ve done that would’ve prevented that.

    I do get that and I acknowledged such.

    But if he was a normal guy that just got pushed to the point he didn’t care anymore, instead of making a clean break, he took an opportunity on the way out.

    Maybe the opportunity came before he decided to pull the ejection handle and having someone treat him decently made him realize what he was missing and gave him the motivation and confidence to bail out.

    Either way, when you treat your spouse like crap, that’s the risk you incur.

    If you treat your spouse with due diligence, you’ve at least done your job and if they fall down it’s on them and you can walk away clean and sleep well at night.

    In cases like Sloane’s, it’s not on her he cheated. But I can’t blame him for being dissatisfied to the point of walking. I don’t condone his adultery, but is some who is NOT a narc and not a BPD and someone who doesn’t kick puppies has that much disregard for their BS, there’s probably a reason for their depth of not caring.

    The other point I was trying to make is self reflection is an important part of growing and developing as a person.

    She should not be attacked and derided for reflecting back on her role in the demise of her marriage.

    Self reflection does not equal self blame.

    If my spouse cheats on and leaves me, I WILL self reflect on my role and my behavior and I will critique myself.

    My conclusions my be that cheated because she sucked and there was nothing I could do to stop it, but I would self reflect nonetheless.

    I think she should be allowed to do the same.

    She obviously DOES have things to work on.

    Being a BS does not grant her any kind of Golden Immunity from assessing and addressing her issues.

    At least allow her that.

    • Point made; now let’s go back to supporting people who come here for solace and to make sense of their own situations (99.99999% of whom were not awful spouses, and in fact were doing the lion’s share of the marital work).

      • What bothers me is I still detect a bit of exactly what we are trying to dispute. The reason’s sited for the spouse not doing “due diligence” and “treat your spouse like crap.” I heard so much drivel — “you sleep too much, I am a highly sexual person with needs, you aren’t being supportive of my business” for example, when I needed to sleep because I was the only one working a paying job with regular hours; when he had ED and a porn habit, and I was figuring out that he was screwing around by doing my marriage police investigation, which sent my desire for him plummeting; when I suggested that if his business wasn’t making any money after 2 years, that he needed to get a job that would provide income for the family expenses. All of these things were causing the marriage to deteriorate, and even without the cheating, we would probably have divorced. The cheating, and the realization it had been going on even when all the rest of the stuff he complained about was not going on, THAT was the issue with no answer. Other things may be marital problems, and may be able to be fixed. Maybe not. Whatever, you can’t fix a cheater! You are spot on, Tempest. I didn’t marry for money (obviously), I had plenty of love and respect and passion and desire, and when it all went away there was pain and loss and suffering. But if you ask me what I couldn’t live with and why we divorced — Cheating, and lying to support the cheating is the answer.

    • Her issues are separate and have nothing to do with his cheating. The. End! Chump Lady did not berated her for reflecting and neither did anyone here

    • You see for most of us chumps self blame is what comes first. Self reflection is what eventually helps us to realize that “hey, it wasn’t my fault after all.” It also helps us to examine the issues that would make us so quick to blame ourselves in the first place. Accepting blame for other people’s mistakes and allowing yourself to be a doormat are faults that needs to be corrected.

      • But Sloane wasn’t the doormat, she was the shoe.

        And nothing indicates he was a narc, BPDer or bad apple.

        Self reflections here is a positive attribute.

        • NOBODY is berating her for self reflection. We are saying one thing (her self reflection/her past actions) has NOTHING to do with the other (his cheating).

          She connects those dots and your (not so) subtle word salad is doing the same thing. He doesn’t have to be a “a narc, BPDer or bad apple” to be entitled. He felt entitled to cheat and so he did. It really is that simple. If she wrote an article about how she could be a better wife/person separate from the cheating then it wouldn’t have made it to this site.

          The Reconciliation Industrial Complex pushes this crap. We can see through it and we won’t allow it to be preached on this site. Pick a different narrative dude because we are not buying what you’re selling.

        • You don’t know enough about the situation to know whether she was a doormat (but has been convinced by therapists and her cheater X that SHE was the problem) vs. whether she was not a doormat. Cheaters do an extraordinary job of the MINDFUCK on their way out, and someone without sufficient support may become convinced they did cause the cheating.

          So, Oldshirt, time to STFU.

        • Self reflection is an attribute chumps have as a strength.

          Unfortunately, after years of abuse which includes cheating, lies, withdraws, blame shifting and devaluation it takes a good theapist to shed light on and recognize narcissistic abuse.

          My interpretation is that she would have preferred conversation and counseling. She wanted him to be home (he was never home). He avoided what was happening at home and SHUT her out. Sounds to me like he abandoned his family long before she reacted to her screaming gut.

          So what of her shortcomings? Putting chikdren first was necessary. After all she was doing all the heavy lifting. And when included he sulked, grumbled and spoiled what she anticipated as time together. She HAD no-choice but to seek out support systems including her parents and friends who were there to comfort and help her with his responsibilities.

          And she missed the narc training and neglected to stroke his ego? It’s no wonder she spoke to him like he was a child.

          I think her therapist missed the boat. She believed she had power and control in the relationship and never did. Once she had enough she emasculated him. Hooray! She lost respect and knocked him off the pedistal. He was an abuser all along. No doubt a cheater who avoided his responsibilities (yes those children).

          This is a woman who should have trusted her gut. She thought it was her responsibility to make him happy and her failure to do so was because he never cared.

          It’s tempting to avoid the pain and blame ourselves. All she needed was support with self reflection paired with how the disordered operate.

        • Oldshirt, I do not agree with you. Talking about your personal story? Are u that guy – or do you know that ‘nice guy’ that cheated just just cause he was bad treated? ‘She pushed me away!!!!’ (Whining)… ‘She did not do her job’ (Did ‘that guy’ do his job? Who knows! Better, who cares!). See, there is a problem here. If you beahave like an assholes, big chances you are just one. The fact this ‘nice-not-so-nice’ guy cheated made him the bad apple. Is that simple. We live in the XXI century, we have something called ‘divorce’ and ‘breakup’. You are not happy in a relationship? Fine, you leave. You do not lie, you do not fuck with someone else. Your excuses? Are worthless. My ex could come to my door tomorrow telling me a list of excuses as long as Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’. It won’t make any difference. And I did my ‘homework’. You know what I have learned? Next time dump the asshole’s ass sooner. Next time look at the actions, and only at the actions. Words are meaningless. She is not perfect. But here’s the amazing truth… nobody is. There is always space for personal improvement. Nobody is saying the opposite. But, here we have a difference? And a huge one… Sloane did not go fucking around with the risk of getting him a desease. He – ‘the nice-guy’ -did. No excuses. You cannot be a ‘loving/ caring guy’ and cheat. If you have moral standards, you have moral standards. You just leave. You behave in a different way. Dozen of people does it. Not all the stories finish with someone cheating on the other partner. Sometimes, they just end. Cheating is a choice made through time, more than one time. It comes with misleading, lying, faking and other amazing ‘characteristic’ of the ‘ not-so-nice guy (or girl)’. They are all so misunderstood. All so fragile, little creature! Sorry, I don’t buy it… you know what’s pathetic? The fact that even after all what they did, cheaters usually have the gut of telling BS like ‘I am so broken…’ or ‘I am suffering… you know… SUFFERING’. Please.. Own your shit. Walk away. Never come back. You broke a relationship, broke someone’s else trust. Just go. Her sorrow, the blame she is surrounding herself with, is not doing any good. But no! According to you, she needs to keep doing it. Be sad, woman! You have been cheated on. No matter if you are the victim… you – as you have defined her – are the shoes! Did you, Oldshirt realized that this is blameshifting right? Who is the doormat? The cheater!!!!! Of course! He is not a bad apple… it just appened he put his genitals in someone’s else vagina… wasn’t his fault… he was such a caring guy (with the ow probably)… maybe he even used a condom!!!! Who is the guilty one? The shoes, or… the chump… Ah that Chump! She always wanted something silly like… truth and respect! Geeez! She needs to reconsider her attitude! I mean… if she stops blaming herself… she might become a free independent woman! At that point what would happen to the cake that the poor cheater have baked for her? To that perfect apple pie with kibbles topping? Who would help him to feed his little tiny ego? Well, guess he would have to reconsider… cause, usually, if you do not want to be consider a scum, you just don’t behave like one.

    • Old Shirt
      Let’s say I did focus too much on kids and became very critical of my spouse in years 27-28 of a 30 year marriage. And that our teens were trying. So my husband became legitimately unhappy. And probably told me he wasn’t happy ( in a whisper not a shout!). So… During this time he began sharing thoughts and feelings with his assistant 26 yrs to his 52. And that in time their relationship became physical. So for 2 yrs he saw her regularly and began to lie about his whereabouts and drink more and was prone to outbursts. And seemed depressed. And started working out and focusing on appearances and talking about getting old. And me and 3. Kids knew something was wrong. And we all assumed it was his high pressure job. So we tried to get him to relax and have more fun. Then I found out about affair – for a year (year 3) I didn’t tell a soul as we went to marriage counseling and tried to patch things up. He stopped seeing AP – but began again behind my back. So I asked him to leave and he got an apartment and told me he ” needed to see where this other relationship was going ” and I stayed “nice” (for all of year 4) Hoping things would change. And probably confused my kids by giving him time. Until I realized I needed to move on so I filed for divorce. And I have had to reflect on my own issues that kept me sad and immobilized and disbelieving when faced with the facts of the situation

      But what chumps are saying is – I did not deserve to be gaslighted or betrayed! My husband could have worked on marriage or left – honorably – to become happier. Instead he “used me” to be part of his happiness without ever telling me. HE WAS WRONG TO CHEAT AND SET UP A NEW LIFE WITHOUT LETTING ME KNOW. EVEN WORSE – chumps know that the months or years of being deceived in this way messes you up – and that it takes a while to find yourself again when the ground opens up and nearly swallows you whole
      So maybe I – like Sloane’s – deserved to be left – but not in such a deceitful mindfucking way

  • Oh I do accept my mistakes… let’s see:

    -Trusting and believing a liar. Of course I didn’t know he was a liar till 16 years later. He was that good.
    – Not telling him to get a fucking job when his “business” was hurting (which was always, essentially). Instead I just kept supporting him, feeling so proud of my ability to be the homemaker and the breadwinner both. How nice to have free housing, food and free cell phone for 16 years.
    – Putting him on the deed to house we “bought together” that I paid 95% of. Ditto putting him in my will and on my life insurance, though the last two were easy to change at DDay, the house battle cost me about $30,000 and has jeopardized my ability to retire.
    – Spackling over his psychological abuse, verbal abuse and sexual deviance and abuse.
    – Ignoring what I now realize were other red flags in addition to all of the above (e.g. he was always jealous of my kids from first marriage, always putting them down, always triangulating).
    – Never told him no, ever until D-Day. Always made my needs small.
    – apologized endlessly when I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. For years.

    There, I just accepted my share of the blame for the toxic relationship!

    However, it is quite obvious that not a single one of my mistakes caused him to fuck a woman whose house he was remodeling for a year while paying not a penny for our household expenses, to have been fucking his “prior” girlfriend on the side for the first 7 years he lived with me and my young sons, to have been fucking another woman who lived in a building he was remodeling (I found the emails from 5 years prior to D-Day); to have been making weird phone calls all over the country (burner #s I now realize)… including to someone whose voice mail said he was a psychologist specializing in gender identity disorders. This call was made during a wonderful family vacation with all our extended family together. I used to think it was the best vacation of my life. No wonder Dday was so surreal and caused such cognitive dissonance it has taken me almost 4 years to wake up and I still have my bad days. This guy was good at deception.

    Right, not a single mistake that I made caused him to choose to deceive a good, decent hardworking, loyal, honest single mother supporting three kids, who trusted him, loved him, put him on pedestal in fact.

  • If your partner doesn’t pitch in – it makes you resent him/her.
    No chump goes into the rage mode at the beginning. we usually try our best to involve our partners.
    When all requests fall on deaf ears, yes, you lose it.

    I worked full time, managed all finances, all house work and the dog … yes, i was resentful when the cheater was spending the evening “counselling” the bitch out of her marriage.I remember several incidents, when I suggested counselling and discussions. I look back at those times and wished that I had kicked him out then.

    The inner critics in chumps are so strong, that we endure. We imagine any situation as “fixable”.
    We endure for our own detriment.

  • I actually cringe when I see titles like this in magazines. 4 HUGE mistakes? Nothing NOTHING you did makes cheating okay. Right after DDay I would actually read these and try to see where I, Yes I went wrong. I absolutely refuse to own any blame for his decision to cheat with 2 women for 4 years. He owns that. He mentally tortured me, He owns that too. He flew into rages without provocation, He owns that.If he wanted out, he should have been a man and left first and then went with other women. I own how I reacted to his mind fuckery. I gave him too many chances. I was too trusting. I blamed myself. I tried to fix “us” alone. Men and women who cheat are shitty people. The have no one to blame for their choices except themselves. The rest of us have to deal with the fallout of these selfish people.

  • Some of the most giving and beautiful women I’ve ever known have been cheated on. You’re so right Tracy, that if this were physical or emotional abuse we would never be saying there was anything the person did or did not do that led to the abuse. If your partner is a shrew or a horrible person, get some balls cheaters and divorce them, or accompany them to therapy at the very least. The cheating is, IMO, a completely separate issue. In “normal” marital problems, the 50/50 thing works, but not with secrets, double lives, or undisclosed addictions. I feel very sorry for this lady in that she’s carrying way more of this than she needs to. Come over here, Sloan! Chump Nation is awaiting you when you stop spackling.

  • Some cheaters do participate in household chores and childcare. They even wash the sheets after they bring their whore home while you’re working.

    Hey if you’re going to watch the kids why not bring them to play with the MOW’s children while you fuck in the other room. There were at least five different ones he arranged ‘play dates’ with.

    “Married but on our own,” was what he wrote to his whores. And in the end he stated, “I like being single.”

    He hid behind a mask for 41 years total. He was always single however had no friends, and never lived on his own.

    Narcs can’t self reflect as it requires honesty. Those values and integrity he mirrored and echoes to his current whores were borrowed. He wears them like an old shirt.

    • Yep mine did dishes. Did laundry. Washed the sheets they fucked on.
      Still a raging classic narc once I figured him out. Off came the mask. He was a decent guy until he wasn’t.

  • Does anyone else suspect that this was actually written by a cheater?

  • i remember being at this stage. blaming myself for everything. it’ll turn around once you start to acknowledge your anger and deal with it. it’s very motivating.

    you were working to different agendas:

    your agenda – do my best to make the family and marriage work.
    his agenda – marriage and family life is boring, but it gives me some “normal” to hide in. i’m going to fuck somebody else on the down-low. this will make me feel special and exciting.

    you feel like you ignored him? are you a fucking superhero? pretty hard to make yourself spend fun or intimate time with someone who keeps acting like a grumpy, selfish, narcissistic asshole and pushing you away.

    no doubt you said and did some stuff you regret. isn’t it possible that the situation was driving you beyond your limits a little? maybe your reactions were normal for a human being.

    he was grumpy because the family kept ruining his special time. poor little flower…

  • WOW, WOW, WOW!

    In the weeks that followed D’day I shuffled between utter confusion and blind hot rage. Due to an agreement made with my son (my eldest) not to take my emotions out on him or his sisters, following his exposing his fathers preference for homosexual porn, that he had found on his fathers phone. He was 14 at the time. I took to walking LOTS, and when I could not walk I hit the punching bag that I had purchased a few weeks before d’day. I had been raised in an abusive household and it took some work on my part to identify that I was repeating the patterns when my children were younger, but the catalyst for this was my being hospitalised because the level of crazy I was experiencing skyrocketed in 2006. So I dealt with my emotions and owned my faults and faught to mannage my emotions better for the sake of my family. But I continued to struggle with my husband and would feel so disrespected by him on a regular basis that I would often struggle with anxiety and depression. He would never own what he was doing when he created and issue and would often question if I was struggling? did I need to see someone? or he would just brush it off that it was not his intention to hurt me it was just the way I took it. Fast forward 8 years and I am to the point of breaking again because no matter how much he denies keeping secrets, or being unfaithful my gut is screaming at me to get out. This was then compounded by the little things that he would do to get under my skin. They would be little but they would be deliberate and they would be designed to get under my skin but they would never be enough that he could be called on it. This would build, layer, upon layer, upon layer, some days I would do well and be able to confront and just air my feelings without causing offence. But at other times his picking away at me, on top of being a mom of three and working full time, I would loose my composure and go off like an over heated volcano, I would become very heated verbally. This is something I am not proud off and was always used against me to deflect the issues. I never felt at peace, always feeling as thought I had to be on guard incase I did something that would either be seen as critical of him or being a bitch for no reason. 4 years before D’day I stopped eating gluten because it was discovered I carry both the genes for celiacs disease. This then gave my husband ammunition to criticise me for what I ate, or blame when I became upset on my eating the wrong foods not because I may be upset at something he had done. If we were out to dinner and people asked why I did not eat wheat he would respond ” if you want to see her go from normal to bitch in 30 seconds flat just give her a piece of bread” and then he would laugh and they would look at me oddly. He was controlling the narrative well before D’day.

    I knew as D’day unfolded as he sat opposite me at the home of our elders confessing his brief affair 8 years earlier and that he had “fallen again” earlier that year (aka, he had been hooking up since his affair because that was easier for him to hide) I knew we were over but it did not prevent the overwhelming slide of denial, anger, excuses, and every other gambit of emotion. In the beginning I genially believed that if his adultery had been with other women rather than men I would have been accepting of it as I had been an awful wife. I even accepted in the beginning the attitude of the church that I needed to take responsibility even in part, for my husbands actions. It was only through finding CN that I began to understand that Yes I had acted poorly in my marriage but I did not cause my husband to cheat, nor did I cause him to be gay. Just like I have the capacity to not sin in my actions he also had the ability to not sin in his. My now ex has a list as long as his arm as to what caused the end of his marriage and depending on the audience determines the cause given. But I did not cause it, I just had the courage to lay what was already dead to rest rather than keep flogging it (pick me dancing). The more honest I am now with friends about my marriage the more horrified they are that I was with him for so long.

  • “All of that tells me that your husband was sending you a very clear message for years — that he did not Give a Shit. And you refused to receive that message, and instead you nagged and raged at it.”

    I feel exposed.

    I could never get through no matter how I responded or tried to communicate it. And I tried everything from silent treatment to reasonable conversations to angry outbursts. Yet I kept trying…for so, so long.

  • I want to send a link to today’s discussion to every person – family, friend, acquaintance – who, upon learning what my ex did to my kids and me, STILL had the nerve to try and pin blame on me.

    It wasn’t bad enough to see the knife sticking between my shoulder blades? Nope, these people had to grab the handle and twist it, looking for my own fingerprints.

    Damn them all.

  • Perhaps this picture by Anne Taintor sums up the comments on this thread about all our marriages:

    my needs last

  • Thank you for this, Chump Lady. It’s not our fault that our husbands (or wives) chose to betray us when they could have chosen another option. It’s hard to read these articles where women (or men) try to take the blame for the abuse or betrayal. It’s hard to read articles where people say that infidelity is in some way deserved. Thank you for standing up for us, Chump Lady!

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