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Therapy with Cheaters

Today’s Fun Friday challenge is “How’d that therapy thing work out” with your cheater? Did they do the homework? Book any of the their own appointments? Act invested in the process, only to still secretly cheat on you?

Did they learn a new vocabulary with which to mindfuck you? Well, I’d like to answer your questions Janice, but you know that just triggers my toxic shame and we wouldn’t want a relapse.

Did they share any interesting nuggets of narcissism? (Mine famously compared cheating to forgetting to buy milk and added buoyantly, “I like being a narcissist!” Yes, I was an epic chump… thus this blog.)

I left off the possibility that they were improved by the experience and never behaved like an entitled, oversexed fuckwit again. Unicorns, you weigh in too, okay?


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I know my experience is common, based on previous comments, but mine:

    – smirked when I said I didn’t think the affair was over. The MC basically told me just to move on. The affair wasn’t over… they’re still in their fucked up relationship,

    – wore a scarf her fuckbuddy gave her to our marriage counselling (I only worked it out later – confronted her, she just shrugged it off),

    – exploded into a fountain of waterworks (but without any real tears) whenever I said anything critical of her… that’s if she wasn’t already raging. I was so glad I read about the mindfuck channels at the time.

    – was basically a textbook case of manipulation – so glad I found CL and also read books on manipulation at the time to see the signs.

    – only bought books to show me she was buying them… never to actually learn anything or change.

    People say MC is a bad thing – I say it allowed me to see my X in her manipulative best and learned from that experience. I can’t ever see MC saving a marriage, though. That can only come from the cheater making huge internal changes, which will never happen when MC’s are enabling them and not holding them to account. At best it is “Divorce Avoidance”.

    • Yep. Counselors are people, and, like people, some of them are a-holes. While a good counselor will hold you both accountable, s/he won’t sacrifice respect and validation while doing so.

      Any counselor who behaves as though you need to accept being betrayed and otherwise harmed is not a good fit for you as a betrayed and harmed partner.

      • The MC also told me that it is ok to stay in an abusive situation…. fuck me, I said to myself at the time, as I wrote her my last cheque….

        • It’s always helpful to shift the context to evaluate what people tell you.

          Marriage counselor: “It is ok to stay in an abusive situation.”
          Fire Chief: “It’s ok to sit in a building that’s on fire.”
          Police Officer: “It’s ok to stay friends with the fellow who just stole your money.
          CPS worker: “It’s ok to let that child molester babysit your kids.”

      • During my individual session with MC, he advised me that I should not accept just anything for a marriage and that I needed to stand up to him in regards to Schmoopie. He also said, however that he had to be careful how he approached STBX himself or he would be in danger of losing him for the same reasons I was in danger of losing him if he got offended and felt the MC wasn’t “on his side”.

        • Mine said something similar when, during our last session, I confronted her about why she seemed to be on his side. I pointed out that because sticking to the facts / truth was so important to me, I would show up super prepared with all my notes and bajillion specific examples of these things happening (so he couldn’t deny stuff or gloss it over, as he always did), and he would just sit there and after hearing these examples, and go “See how she nags me?” Ah yes, I was nagging. How dare I ask you to be accountable to the basic responsibilities of life. ? When I brought this insanity up to the counselor alone, she said “You’re absolutely right, and I think he’s clearly in the wrong and I do feel for you. But if I say that to him, he will walk out and not listen.” So I think part of this is just self-preservation, I mean they have to keep the cheater sitting there so they can continue making money. And if there’s any chance for a narc cheater to finally “get it,” they probably have to “see” the problems on their own and feel like it was their own idea. But guess what? None of that is helpful, supportive, or empowering to the chump. It’s all still cheater-focused and cheater-catered. So I dumped that therapist, got some recommendations from other people, and found one that was amazing. She encouraged me to do the things that were *in my power* to do right in life, for myself and my child, regardless of the crazy circus the cheater was putting on in the background. Three years later, I’m so thankful for that.

  • After many sexcapades with many more people than I knew until much later, a D-Day/Separation/Reconciliation, another massive D-Day/Separation, and my clear statement that it was over, THEN he suddenly acted serious and asked for dual counseling. I agreed, but did not say that I was really only doing it to get help getting him on board with the divorce. I got a referral, and he did everything else (scheduling, paying, etc.) with earnest.

    After a few times, he walked out part of the way through a session when the counselor held him accountable for choosing to be deceptive, saying that nothing about me made him make that choice and he needed to own that.

    He and I sat in silence for about a minute. She then turned to me and said, “Are you here to work on the relationship or leave it?” I said “I’m here to get help leaving it.” She said “OK, good, let’s do that, then.”

    • Ami, that’s what a therapist once told me: you can get counseling to work on a relationship or to leave it.” Any joint counseling should start with that premise–that the task is to figure out if there is anything to save. If the purpose of counseling is to save a marriage, then you can end up with a therapist saying (as someone said above) that “it is ok to stay in an abusive situation.” My own suggestion would be that the cheater should do up to 6 months of therapy with a therapist who understands disordered people, liars, and cheaters, in order for the chump to get a sense of whether the cheater is capable of empathy, reciprocity, honesty, and fidelity.

      Now, Jackass would never seek therapy and if he did, he would approach it as an opportunity to convince the therapist of his superiority. But I didn’t need anything other than my own therapist, whose first words to me were, “You can never go back.” And this from a woman who never, over a span of years, ever told me what to do about any problem. And that carved her words into my memory forever. There are some things you should never go back to.

      • So true. Nobody can undo what is done, and uttering the two words (I’m sorry) won’t make something become ok when it is not ok.

        You just can’t ever go back to what used to be. Forward is the only option.

        • Another reason the relationship will never go back to how it once was is because it was never what we thought it was to begin with.

  • Mine was also still seeing her second affair partner while in counseling. MC didnt say anything about the om1 or om2, she said we were in too bad of shape to deal with those issues.

    Stbx goals were to determine if she wanted to stay in the marriage, but she was cold and not involved in mc. When I filed, it was thrown in my face that we only did two sessions. Even though she told me after every session how she did not think it was working.

    I found out about PA with om2, after second session, so it made sense she said ILYBILY, and wasnt attracted to me.

    • I got the “doesn’t know if she wants to be in the marriage” line, but only because I let her think I did. Once I said it was over, she completely changed tunes and was scambling (whilst still seeing her fuckbuddy).

      Both the “I don’t know” and the scrambling were manipulation attempts to keep me or get me back in line. When I showed her proof she was seeing the fuckbuddy still, she mistook it for interest on my part and flicked back to “I don’t know”. I moved out straight away… she then scrambled…

      • The MC btw told me to “let them fizzle out” and then later told me to “claim” my wife (as if she was some sort of prize…).

        I don’t envy a MC – they really do have to put lipstick on a pig…..

      • That’s a power move; they claim THEY don’t want to be married any more as a cue to the chump for more pick-me dancing. Cheaters always have to be the one in control (and typically they prefer their foot on the chump’s throat).

        • So true – the control thing became very pronounced and continues well into the divorce proceedings for both money and kids. She hates not having the “one up” position…. win/win is a loss to her.

          But it also comes with a serving of projection – every court document she files claims I am controlling, abusive, angry, blah, blah, blah. Luckily I went LC a while back and only communicate by email, so it’s all there to be seen.

          • I know the dynamic well. Every time I said I wanted a divorce, cheater would BEG for marital counseling. When I would agree, he would email/phone me with a list of demands of things I had to change for him to consider therapy. I would go all Gorgon on him, ask for a divorce again; he would plead and he finally agreed to make a counseling session.

            Behaved like an ass in the MC session (therapist later told me he was “not relationship material), then refused a second session and said he wanted the divorce. There was NO way in hell he was going to emotionally abuse me, cheat on me, and then be the one to file, so I was at the courthouse that Monday morning at 9 a.m. and filed pro se. Oh, jeez, did he wail after that–it was unfair! We were supposed to make a decision together! He’ll go back to counseling. Waa waa waa!

            Much more drama after that, but the end result was I was divorced with sole custody. Life cheater-free is so refreshing.

    • Gee, I wonder why you had anger…

      My takeaway from all this is that marriage counseling is rarely a good idea after cheating. Which I know stands in opposition to the conventional RIC advice. I’d say see a lawyer, get a post-nup, run the financials and credit report, see your own therapist to help YOU, before you ever consider MC.

      • I agree with this. Myself, I would add that if the cheater doesn’t also do individual work (from an entirely self-loathing place, and giving it whatever time and energy it takes), that is also a red flag that MC isn’t worth it. A person who isn’t committed to self-improvement can’t bring a stronger self to the relationship.

            • 🙂

              Yeah, if the person really does grasp the harm s/he caused, the person probably will experience some self-loathing. Having a conscience is so inconvenient! 😉

          • Actually I think self loathing is at the root of the whole thing. Deep down they hate themselves and don’t want to face themselves so they focus outward in an effort to find the happiness that can only come from within. Then they are disappointed when they can’t find the happiness they seek.

            • Ns have loads of self esteem. Their brains are different and they do not have the emotional depth to hate themselves. Sorry you’re incorrect

              • I agree with Biscuit, cluster Bs do not have self-loathing, their inner belief is that they are superior beings that are God’s given gift to the world. Each action they take is centered around the belief thwt the rules should not apply to them as their perfection should also be apparent to anyone else… So if a superior being foes not respect promises or the rules, well the other people should realize that these rules and those promises are not really applicable in the special context of their unique circumstances…

                To them any limits or challenges of that inner belief of perfection is felt as a vicious attack to them.

                So imagine when people have objective proofs that their choices and behaviors are despicable? Like cheating, lying, stealing time fron their families to have their rgo stroked by more than one person?

                Those are threats that should be neutralized at all costs, more lying, charm, poor sausage routine, rage, all weapobs are fair game to neutralize a threat to their perfect inner self-image…

                This is why cheaters with cluster B personality traits don’t let go, their chump have seen the gap that exist between the perfect person they want everyone to believe they are and the shitty spouse they turned out to be…

                Cluster Bs don’t hate themselves, they hate anyone and anything that reminds them that others know that they can been less than the perfectly unique God’s gift to the world that they are.

                Completely twisted and this is why NC and moving on from cheaters’ with cluster b traits are a chump’s best shot at a happier life!

        • X was too much of a coward to go. He also bragged “I’ll never change.” Well I did. For the better. Good riddance.

          • Today (for me in NZ anyway) is April Fool’s day & also the day, exactly a year ago, I left my SOB ex.

            I called him (for separation stuff, and for once he answered his phone), and he quickly attempted to take the conversation away from the matter at hand.”This was all over nothing” he declared, then “I’m Lusty McSparkles and I can do what I want!”

            I replied “Of course you can – How’s that working out for you by the way?”

            He’d said exactly the same thing 11 months and one week before, during our Intensive Couples Therapy Weekend. That and “I don’t understand what YOUR problem is, I always come home to you.”

            Oh maybe just the cheating, gaslighting, the ‘I don’t lie to you – I just don’t tell the truth” bullshit. The drinking, pot smoking, hidden porn, character assignation….. looking forward to the day when I don’t still feel like a complete April Fool!

      • Agree; save yourself the money and headache of MC after cheating. Cheater ran the marriage into a tree at 80 mph, then pushed it off a cliff. There is no point trying to fix the scratch on the passenger door.

        • I love your metaphor! I think of my cheater as macaroni and cheese casserole made with burnt milk. It may look lovely on the surface after putting on the crumble and toasting it ever-so-perfectly, but it tastes vile no matter what once you use spoiled ingredients to make the dish.

          • While Tempest’s metaphor is indeed fabulous, I cracked up at the Mac n’ Cheese one from Isis ? OMG, love it! Thank you for that laugh

        • Love that metaphor, Tempest! Yes, marriage is “totaled” after cheating. Cut your losses. Move on.

        • My friend used this great metaphor and extended to he was driving and you and the kids were in the car and you are all laying there bloody and broken but he is ok and he starts blaming you for the crash and tells you to get up and fix the kids while he heads off to have a drink with his schnoopie because he is stressed.

          • I begged the Now Distant Stranger to go. he agreed then reneged. All the paperwork I’d carefully filled out mysteriously disappeared from his desk.

            I went by myself. I’m glad I did. I’m glad he didn’t. Three years later I’ve grown and worked on myself. I am actually making different choices than back then. I’m so much more healthy and sound.

            He’s an aging man-child running in place, repeating the same cycle with woman after woman. Running out of breath, good health and time. Always under a cloud of conflict and drama.

            I think I won by losing.

            • You know you did, Luziana!

              I was thinking the same thing about my X. The two before me were at least 5 years younger than him. I was a year older than him. He is now back to relationships with women who are 5 years younger. Only thing is… he is 49… so it is really starting to show on him (circles under his eyes, thinning hair, front teeth need to be re-crowned, hair getting thicker on his back and knuckles!)… he’s deteriorating while I’m blooming. Karma.

            • Wow – I Can See… “I think I won by losing” is quite insightful and I get it and completely relate to you. Sending big hugs.

            • “I think I won by losing”. I appreciate this line. It’s a better take on all the heartache that I currently have. That winning feeling is something to look forward to.

        • Yep absolutely, fixing the dent on a totaled car makes little sense…

          After DDay 1, I knew I was out of that marriage. However, I still had hopes of high functioning co-parenting with my then-H.

          So I scheduled us for therapy with a practitioner specialized in couples therapy with a focus on divorcing with dignity.

          It became clear through our first common session and our separate sessions with the therapist that my then-H completely believed that the sessions were about getting me over my anger and helping me go back to being his chump.

          Those sessions were when his cluster b traits became crystal clear to both the therapist and myself. Having that certainty led me to read more about cluster Bs, high conflict personalities and helped me adjust my approach accordingly. By our 4th session, the therapist was asking him more and more why he was unable to deliver on the promises he made during our shared sessions.

          That is the day I asked him to schedule our next session, he never did.

          A year later, we were in the middle of our divorce, his behavior had become more disgusting so I reached out to that therapist again. The fact that she had seen our dynamics was super helpful as the shit he tries to pull sometimes is so nuts some therapists might try to have question reality.

          So I would only advise to go to therapy with a cheater if it is with a counselor specialized in abuse recovery.

      • My cheater would never consider any therapy or counseling before he left. He always said “this is your problem, you need to fix it.” Telling now. After he left, he found a new age therapist who validates his feelings on a weekly basis. I got him to meet my counselor once but he wouldn’t go back because he deemed him a “condescending prick”. In other words, he didn’t approve of cheating.

        I went to talk to his therapist who “validated my sadness” but said if one person wants to end the relationship, he can. She volunteered to meet with us both so that we could”cross the bridge into each other’s world” but I couldn’t do that with her because he has burned that bridge.

        He did finally realize, our kids want nothing to do with him. He was expecting me to get them to obey his every whim just as in the past. I got him the name of a family therapist that a lawyer I had interviewed suggested. By the time, he finally set it up, I had found chump nation and realized it was futile. My lawyer, however, advised me to suck it up for an hour and go so he can’t use it against me later. I did and it was horribly painful but afterwords I wrote down all the narcissistic crap he said and think the therapist may have actually seen through it. We each have an appointment to go back and talk to her individually. I can tell he thinks he totally showed her what a crazy evil bitch I am;but the look on her face after she asked him if he was ever concerned for the welfare of the children after he left because of my increased stress as a single mom and he responded “no, I think it got better” was priceless. He is right, I got rid of my most immature and needy kid!

        Btw I laugh at the new vocabulary part of today’s post. He tries to use it in email as well as legal jargon but he can’t spell and he is not so eloquent as he thinks. After the latest email, I had to resist the urge to reply: please have someone proofread and edit your emails as my lawyer charges by the hour and he is wasting time trying to decipher your rambling.

        • This is the trouble with so many therapists. Yes, it’s true that if someone wants to leave they can end the relationship. But it is not true that someone can lie, cheat, manipulate, and abuse. Too many people equate these as the same thing, and they are NOT! It’s the “bitter bunny” accusation wrapped up in different packaging. I’ve come to realize that I just don’t share the same values as those wingnuts.

      • Totally agree that counseling is not the best idea after infidelity. In my experience, I think my counselor was more concerned with smoothing things out and “saving” the marriage than they are with protecting the faithful spouse. It’s like having a rapist and the victim in the same room and trying to get them to be friendly with each other while ignoring the danger of an unrepentant rapist and the safety of the victim. I’m sure there there are some counselors who get it though and are the exceptions.

          • Fully agree DM. My X told a story about how his Dad came home drunk one night and raped his Mom under the Christmas tree when he was 5. Weeks after he moved out he invited me over to his new place for a beer “to talk”… I broke down and told him that I felt like I was being raped every time we had sex AFTER D-day #1. He stone cold replied, “Yes, I can see why you would feel that way.” No empathy, no adaptive anxiety. Frightening.

          • Soul rape. Wow what a proper term. I often thought of it as a murder of my soul. A friend posted a men that went something like this “the one who you would take a bullet for is the one behind the trigger”

            • That is how devasted you feel …your most trusted person in the world is actually fucking you over. Also i spontaneously put together in my head emotional rape after he told me sex to him had just been a ‘biological release’ . After 25 years he was happy to eventually tell me that !? So when i googled emotional rape i was surprised to see it as an actual term. It was exactly how it made me feel.

        • I went to therapy for myself for several weeks, since I must be the reason for him to cheat in the first place and he would ask me what we talked about, then continue to make it about him as if he’s in therapy….then when that was not enough, I was the one to book our joint therapy, of which only lasted 3 sessions, since the therapist felt we didn’t have any problems in comparison to the crazy he’s used to and also believed that “everyone flirts on social media” and apparently, I’m just uptight! WTF…Needless to say after feeling complete invalidated, deflated, and crazy, my husband pretended to reconcile… fast forward 6 months… yeap, caught him again, same person, it has escalated, and he never stopped talking to her.
          Don’t need a therapist to tell me my next steps anymore… I know.
          Time to walk away….after 34 years!!!

          • Experiencing this now. Been married 20 years and found out he’s been having online affairs for last 6 months. Thought counseling might help but he refuses to stop talking to women online while claiming he loves only me. He talks to multiple women letting them think they are the only one he talks too. Trying to get a job and save money for an attorney.

      • In agree that marriage counseling is the LAST STEP if you decide you want to reconcile.

        Otherwise, all it does is provide a safe space for the cheaters and abusers to manipulate their victims.

        It’s also well documented that people with Cluster B personality disorders are particularly adept at manipulating their therapists and loved one in therapy.

        Dr. Robert Hare, the foremost expert on psychopaths, refers to counseling as “finishing school for psychopaths,” because they actually learn how to mimic emotion and empathy. It’s pretty scary.

        • “Counseling as finishing school for psychopaths”.
          While this wasn’t the case for my cheater so much (so stuck on himself he saw no reason to change anything), this happened with my sister – to her and her kids’ detriment. Her husband suddenly and miraculously transformed from an abusive, neglectful husband and father to a doting, “loving” and attentive husband and father, the entire time jumping the fence to fuck the slunt next door and pushing my sister to take a fourth — yes, you read correctly — FOURTH job. Her doctor told her the stress in her life was going to kill her and she was only in her 30’s. He had their marriage counselor, and later during the divorce, the children’s therapist, and even my sister’s lawyer wrapped around his little finger. The marriage counselor eventually caught on to him (after MONTHS of my sister being made to be the “problem one” and the “crazy lady”) but my sister kept doggedly pointing out his discrepancies and the marriage counselor fired them. But not before my brother in law picked up on everything and boy did he put on a show for the kid’s counselor and divorce court. The kids counselor ended up testifying against my sister and helped her X win fifty fifty custody. Now he neglects, manipulates and even somewhat abuses the kids when they are on his watch but my sister is powerless because he covers his tracks so well. He even tried those puppy dog eyes on me and my husband but we knew better. But it worked on my parents and they even go behind my sisters back with him sometimes on things that relate to the kids.
          Beware: marriage counseling can be your ticket to permanent hell. Need counseling? Get individual counseling for YOURSELF from someone who can help you learn to protect yourself from these bozos. Or better yet, get CL’s book. that book is a fast pass out of crazy land.

        • “Finishing school for psychopaths” is the perfect way to describe MC with the disordered. I also liken it to yet another stage for them to shine on, manipulating the therapist with their sad sausage stories about how much they’ve suffered being married to crazy partners who don’t trust them.

        • About a year before I found out about the OW, my exP told me that he had “started to see a psychiatrist to work on our problems”. At the time, I was pleased, although I wonder why he wasn’t seeing a psychologist. Then comes D-Day, when I find out the exP had been leading a double life for four years with…yes, a psychiatrist. Lovely.

          About a year later, I hear the exP was bragging about how his shmoopie says he is perfectly normal. Yeah, right. Like she’s impartial… Anyway, I suspect he learned lots of tricks fool people by milking here for info.

      • Before I discovered the cheating, I sensed something was wrong with our marriage because we weren’t having sex – he just didn’t want to, blamed it on low sex drive, the need to have stamina to play golf/baseball etc…. So we went for mc but he never told the therapist about the cheating.

        During our last mc session, we each had individual sessions with the therapist and she advised me to get a divorce. I was livid and stopped seeing her.

        Once I discovered the cheating, I called her rightaway and asked if she knew about it. She said no he never told her but she could sense I was unhappy in the marriage because I wasn’t getting my needs met and that’s why she thought I would be happier divorced.

        So I engaged her as my personal therapist for a while and lawyered up rightaway. No I don’t believe in mc after being cheated on because cheating is the ultimate disrespect to me and an immediate dealbreaker.

        • Quite right LWBR.

          I do have one hilarious memory, though. Sitting in MC office, when Mr Fab says “I only cheated on you because you are frigid.”

          My reply, “I think it can be objectively observed that if you want to fuck your wife it helps to get in bed with her when she is awake.”*

          MC spat his tea and said “I am going to stop wasting your money now.”

          Happy Friday,

          *(Many ‘late shifts’, and if he was home he always waited until I was asleep to go to bed).

          • LOL, Mephista! Cheater knew he was no match for your intellect and went in search of lower life forms to suit his character.

            • Lower life forms. I love that!!

              When asswipe informed me that he lowered the bar cause his ego was raised anytime anytime some woman made goo goo eyes at him and wanted him he just had to fuck them cause it made him feel so good. Then asked me when i intended to go afucking! Well i told him he lowered his bar i raised mine so mind your own business fuckface. That made him have the sadz but he offered to have sex with me whenever i wanted cause he still wanted me too. Nope dude not gonna be part of harum so step off. Really the nerve. Im so much better now away from that madness!!!

          • Lol! Been there. It was cheater’s way of trying to convince me that he wasn’t cheating… He still wanted to have sex with me. At 3am. When I was asleep and had absolutely zero interest in sex… Because I was asleep. Then he’d accuse me of being cold and having a lot w sex drive. Our MC considered it abusive and went so far as to call it sexual harassment.

      • I sent the Devil to Cotillion! He happily showed up to multiple rounds of marriage counseling over the years….it just gave him the tools and education to mindfuck me for another 30 years! Gaslighter for the win!

      • Been there done that. It was a waste of time and money.

        I did not want to undergo any more “therapist abuse” on top of the abuse the cheater bestowed on me. I threw him out instead. The only counseling I engage in is to help me move on.

    • I did not even bother with therapy after d-day #2. I was already bludgeoned with “you’re too angry” and “you won’t forgive” after d-day #1 years ago. I just threw him out and filed for legal separation. Ain’t no fixin it.

  • Marriage counseling was as useful as learning algebra in the ninth grade. A better idea in the ninth grade would have been learning to save money and not waste it on things with no return value, such as MC with a cheater. I made the appointments, did the homework, and wrote the checks. His contribution was to pretend to listen when I talked. You know, that active listening skills we’re taught, nod, utter an occasional, “I see” or “I understand.” Not surprisingly his “love language” was receiving gifts and physical touch. He just wasn’t particular on who touched him or if the gifts were penicillin. I was tempted to write our MC and tell him to sell bottles of snake oil with each session. On a good note, I made appointments, did my homework, and wrote checks to my lawyer. Legal council is the new marriage counsel. Money well invested in me.

    • Ok, I have to disagree on the algebra thing. That was one of the most useful thing I ever learned.

      • Algebra would only have been useful if I decided to tie Fucktard to the train tracks and needed to know what time the south bound would meet the north bound to effectively squash him like the worm that he is.

        • I like the way you think ; ).

          Computer programmer chumps–here’s your chance. Start with, “Assume the South-bound train is traveling from 60 miles away at 55 mph, while the North-bound train is traveling from 75 miles away at 65 mph. If both trains leave their respective stations at the same time, and the cheater is tied to the tracks, will the trains run over him/her simultaneously? If not, which train will reach him/her first, and how long afterwards will the second train arrive?”

    • “Not surprisingly his “love language” was receiving gifts and physical touch. He just wasn’t particular on who touched him or if the gifts were penicillin.” Holy shit. That is freaking hilarious. Thanks for that laugh.

  • >Act invested in the process, only to still secretly cheat on you?

    Oh yeah! For three solid months the counseling sessions were held weekly. Her sexcapades were held thrice weekly.

    >Did they share any interesting nuggets of narcissism?

    Hell yeah! “I’m not exactly chopped liver, you know.”

  • My cheater went to therapy with me for a year as I knew something was wrong but could never get him to open up. The therapist would ask him what he wanted me to work on to make the marriage better. He would always shrug his shoulders and with such sincerity say “beachgirl is perfect, I can’t think of anything”. It would drive me crazy, I would tell the therapist during our sessions he was angry, distant, mean and he would just play it off and say things like “I was just really stressed out that day, I know I need to work on it”. Then he just started finding reasons why he couldn’t make our sessions. of course I now know THE WHOLE TIME we were attending therapy he was screwing around. No wonder things never got better. The therapist now thinks he was, at best, borderline sociopath (he’s dead). To be able to sit there and do the whole “my wife is perfect” bit then leave to meet OW for a screw in his truck still blows my mind to this day.

    • I had a similar experience. My wife would always tell me, the therapist and everyone else how perfect I was, how great, like I was someone she admired as a person. This made it so hard for me to understand why she was having an affair. I kept trying harder to be that person she told everyone I was. This was such a mindfuck!

      • The real kicker of course being that if they were actually the person they pretended to be, they would be a good human being.

        Still something I could never understand: If they can work out so perfectly how to ACT like a good human being, why not just internalize that and BE that good person.

        Then I remember it’s because there’s a big, gaping black hole where their soul should be.

      • Fool me twice—I sooooo relate to your comment about the mind fuck it felt like when the fuckwits we married keep telling us how “great we are”…”oh no, you don’t need to change…it’s me”….and then my favorite when I find fuckwit is still screwing around with OW…” You know, I have always appreciated you”…What the fuck goes through these assturds’ minds???!!!

    • Our first therapist when I first suspected X was cheating.
      X would rub my back during our sessions looking at me and then kept repeating to the therapist, isn’t she beautiful?
      I felt uncomfortable and thought it was weird since X never rubbed my back or told me I was beautiful.
      The therapist at the end of our session looked at me and said I was very lucky to have such a devoted and loving husband. I tried to explain this isn’t who he is but was ignored as if I had no reason to be there.

    • In around the 10th year of our marriage and again around the 20th year, we went for marriage counselling. We went because I felt ignored by my then husband and the only way to get his attention was to suggest we should go our separate ways. That alerted him to my being serious and he set up the counselling. Then in the sessions he went on and on about what a wonderful person and wife I was and that he would do anything to make me happy. Fast forward to year 33 together and I inadvertently discovered there was another woman. Then he confessed that there had always been another women. They changed frequently. Most were one night stands, three were 6 month relationships and one was a three year affair with the only woman he truly loved! He gave her up “for me”. So, all my uneasiness had come from a true sense that he was disengaged in our relationship. But, he never confessed to cheating in the counselling sessions and if anything made me look like I was petty in wanting more attention from him. The first counsellor even pointed out that I was too much of a historian, remembering transcretions.. I was certainly kept in my place by these counselling sessions. Now I look back and realize I was gaslighted by both XH and counsellors. I have learned to trust my intuition and will never be snowed again. Now 6 years out, I have put myself back together and do believe in counselling, but of the individual variety.

  • Therapy only works if everyone tells the truth. I saw absolutely no benefit to bringing a liar to therapy… one therapist “friend” said that people don’t tend to lie to therapists; they come because they know they need help.

    I told her that was a weakness she should probably address. If someone is going to lie to their spouse and children and gaslight them into thinking they’re imagining things, then why would they suddenly tell the truth to a therapist? She told me I had trust issues. “DUH. And you’re naive and have delusions of grandeur. We’re all fucked up somehow.”

      • And a therapist who thinks people never lie to a therapist…hey, I’m here to tell you that even normal decent people lie by omission to their therapist. I’m one of them. I had such a facade of normality going on that it took DDay to get me to talk about a lot of stuff. That first day, my therapist took pages of notes because–at last–I had reached a point where is was willing to look at the fuckedupedness that keep me in damaging relationships. That day was the first step toward an authentic, healthy life–at age 62. Then I found CL and accelerated the process.

        • People lie to their doctors ALL THE TIME. And that shit can LITERALLY KILL YOU! So why would it be any different to lie to a therapist? They just want validation from the therapist too. It’s just a different form of kibbles or another way for them to get their kicks by tricking someone. ? If cheaters wanted help fixing the marriage or themselves they would see what was happening and stop BEFORE cheating, get fixed and move forward. But they don’t think they need fixing. It’s all the chump’s fault that’s why they HAVE to cheat. Because the chump is frigid and sexless and blah blah blah. Of course MC is a waste of time. Because how can a marriage with a “perfect spouse” and a “defective spouse” ever work out when the chump doesn’t even realize they are the defective one? Dance harder if you want me to stick around!

        • Ooh, that’s one I forgot…

          My cheater learned what lying by omission was by going to individual counseling around the time that we separated. He’s not always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

          He then said to me, “I’m supposed to apologize to you for lying because I didn’t tell you how I felt and what I was doing. Apparently, it’s lying if you don’t say something. I didn’t know that.”

          No shit, Sherlock.

          • And it’s lying if you neglect to mention something REALLY germane to the topic, such as “I spent my entire paycheck at a local bar buying drinks for the local “hide”.

            Also “lying” if you forget to mention that you got a DUI six months ago and haven’t paid the fine, so when you get pulled over and go to jail while the car is impounded. Surprise!!!

  • Bit off topic but my cheater did go for a session with my individual therapist before D-day.
    That was a huge help because she got to talk to him (he lied – what a surprise!) and put a face and personality as a reference while we moved forward working towards my new life!

  • I didn’t bother with therapy, just left and divorcing the bitch.

    About 2 years before D-Day she did buy some “Self Help” relationship books for us both to read…I guess i missed the chapter on “How cheating can save your marriage”

    • I have grown jaded about books. I do find them helpful, but only as an individual. I shy away from counselors who lean hard on books and I don’t think they are useful in MC unless both people buy in 100% and there is a lot of other work going on (which means it’s very rare that they help.)

      • I’m not sure of the content of some of the books, but the titles tell the story.

        “The bastard on the couch”
        “The liar in your life”
        “The scarlet letter”
        “How to dig a hole to the other side of the world.”
        “Buried Mistakes”
        “Dusting off the ashes”
        “Happy life”

    • Mickeyblueeyes, I didn’t bother with therapy either. No amount of words or actions on his part would ever undo the devaluing, disrespect, abuse that was done to me.

      • Good for you nomoreskankboy, I regret not having the insight sooner. I didn’t realize how ugly things were and how badly I was being devalued, disrespected until I found CN.
        I kept searching for answers, believing the lies and blaming myself for his unhappiness and unprovoked rages.
        If only I had or hadn’t …, (fill in the blank) maybe it was the tone of my voice.
        I was pathetic.

        • I applaud anyone who just told their cheater to f-off and didn’t even consider MC. I didn’t do it, because I was so messed up and wanted time to make sure it was the right thing. But anyone with the mental strength and fortitude to do it is mighty.

      • Same here. MC could never put that toothpaste back in the tube. I threw him out and filed for divorce.

      • Lucky you! At first I read hokey how to save your marriage with a SA books. Most sent double messages: It’s not your fault you’ve been cheated on….but you need to change your sucky self so that that the cheater can be happy. Then…maybe he/she will stop cheating. Screw that!

  • When he finally agreed to MC because we were having serious problems (lying, secrets, deception…), the only thing I remember him saying to the therapist is how I was never going to change. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was already in an affair. Once, I found out, I did change, from the compliant, go-with-the-flow wife and SAHM of 25 years, back into the bad-ass, smart and proud woman he had tried to stifle for all these years.

    • Better Alone- so much truth in this!
      I always wanted my spouse to be on my side, and help me grow and realize all my dreams, but I had to realize them by myself, with him throwing negativity in the background. Or kicking and steaming as I wanted to do anything adult! Funny how he appreciates the sons we had, and the home I made, even though all he wanted to do was party, buy vehicles to fill up the yard, chase other women, and sleep. That’s an over-simplification, but you get the idea!
      I am pretty badass all by myself. I can adult, and I get so much shit done now, it’s amazing!

  • He lied to the therapist and the pastor while he continued to cheat. No one expected that, least of all me. The concept of cake requires a level of deception and entitlement that many people can’t imagine.

    Both counselors were men and were very sympathetic to me and my plight. I saw the therapist a few times individually and really benefited from that. My pastor helped me understand the situation spiritually.

    Both agreed I had nothing to work with, and his repeated, immoral choices were not my fault.

    I believe it was honorable that I asked for help and gave my very best (even though I was shocked and horrified by his actions). It was hard to admit divorce was the only sound choice. One of us had to do the right thing. I needed the strife to end so I filed.

    • This was a similar experience to mine with the exception of religious based counseling because my ex refused to have anything to do with church. He even tells our children that I have gone crazy because I am attending a church where I moved. He tells our kids there is likely no God. It’s a tough thing to have to handle with our kids: a cheating lying father who tells them there is no God. Side note? His uncle (deceased for many years now) was a priest who taught at The Vatican City North American College in Rome.

      • The last time I attended church with my cheater…his cell phone was loaded with porn and hook up sites and he was sending my neighbor unwanted lewd texts (Anthony Weiner style). Of course I found this out after d-day. Going to church didn’t do the disgusting pig any good.

    • I believe the intent is honorable, too. I believe that honorable intent is behind most reconciliation attempts. I guess it just turns out to also be true that if both people aren’t honorable, it’s unlikely to work.

  • Over our 20 years of marriage and two continents, we saw many therapists. He was even put in a hospital for four weeks to deal with his “anger issues.” In the final years of our marriage, all we did is see therapists. If one didn’t work, or he didn’t like the fact the therapist told me to leave him because he was an abuser, we would go find another.

    During the final DDay, he dragged out some assignment he had done for our last therapist and put it on my desk. It explained all the things he loved about me, which were all superficial, like my eyes. Not anything really about me. I had the feeling we were trained like Pavlo’s dogs, to run to therapy whenever anything happened instead of facing it ourselves. I tore up the paper and left the shreds on my desk.

    I went back to the therapist that originally told me to leave him because I finally realized I had some deep issues I needed to work out so I could leave him. (took a couple of years but he is gone, yea!)

    I bought the books, the movies, planned our attending couples retreats etc. Prayed. Talked to elders and pastors at church. Nobody could fix something that was broken and should not have been in the first place.

    Anyway, the worst thing that happened in therapy, at the end and the final DDay, we went to one of the church elders who is a therapist. He assigned me to talk to the X for 15 minutes each day to tell him how I felt about him cheating. the X was supposed to just listen and say, “I am sorry you feel that way.” It was like torture for me. I was the one being punished. Finally, the X started ranting and raving at me, I guess so he could feel better about himself. What an idiotic thing the MC had me do. After a few weeks, the MC had a slight stroke. I took it as a sign from God and went back to the therapist who originally told me to leave because of the abuse. (The MC is all better now thankfully) I am all better too and have been divorced for two years! God works in mysterious ways!

    • Am I the only one who finds it sanctimonious when a person responds “I’m sorry you feel that way.” ?

      • I’m sorry you feel that way about that phrase. 🙂

        I hate it, too. Hate it. It’s dismissive and patronizing.

  • I suggested it after I got proof. His response was “I don’t need it. Therapy is bullshit and this was your fault.” I guess he did me a favor. Fast forward the next four years with the abusive ass, I finially said that I was through pretending and,”HE needed to get help but dumb me also said, ” I’ll go with you but you have to get help.” We left a few months later. When he was served he decided that he would indeed go to marriage counseling not therapy because we both have problems. This was the message my lawyer recieved. She told his lawyer that we can do individual counseling and when both counselors agree we were at a point we could have therapy together then we could decide. I went to therapy for myself. Him, crickets about that. Later, I got the crybaby message that I didn’t go to therapy with him like I said. I guess he was waiting for me to make his appointmrpent. I possibly would consider precounseling if I decided to enter a sreious relationship but never with someone who abuses me. That leaves the door open to a lot of licensed professional mindfucks that would be used against me.

  • Oh yeah, therapy was great: she was openly cake-eating and I was doing a desperate pick-me-dance. The therapist tried, I guess, but eventually she got sick of my XW complaining about how conflicted she was between her family and OM until she finally told my XW that maybe she wouldn’t be so conflicted if she ended her affair and devoted herself to her husband and family. Whereupon XW stood up indignantly said, “I don’t have to take this abuse!” and flounced out. I filed for divorce shortly thereafter.

    I still see this therapist on my own.

  • He skipped out on the last session, and didn’t even ask about it. Said he felt “attacked” by the MC. Never did any homework, claimed he had cut contact when he had not, and flew off the handle when I changed one of my goals during a session–I was playing marriage police and he wanted me to stop, so he was adamant that I couldn’t change that goal, even though he didn’t work on ANY of his goals!

  • The word my ex learned in therapy is compartmentalization.
    I’ll use it in a sentence.
    ” I was able to fuck everybody and not care because I suffer from compartmentalization, the therapist said so. That’s how I was able to have sex with somebody else and then one home and ask you to make me a sandwich.
    It’s a disease.”
    So. Fucking. Happy. I’m. Divorced.

    Happy Friday ya’ll.

    • Compartmentalization isn’t a disease or diagnosis, it’s a mechanism.

      That’s like saying “I’m not a drinker; I suffer from pouring tequila into a shot glass.”

      • Can we use it then too????
        I’m not divorcing you, I’m just not going to talk to you, or live with you, or be married to your cheating ass anymore.

        • Totally. “I suffer from integrity. It’s a disease that renders me unable to tolerate your compartmentalizing, deceptive horse shit. Integrity is incurable. The only treatment is to have you surgically removed from my life.”

          • Amiisfree,
            What a load of shit right?
            Everybody, back in your tiny little compartmentalization boxes.
            Fuck that…

          • Amiisfree, yes, you nailed it! I love this, and will now use it when anyone questions why I am getting a divorce. “I suffer from terminal integrity.”

    • Mine discovered “differentiation” which he apparently never went through as a teen so he has to do it now. This is evidently when teens get rebellious because they are trying to become their own person. It may work great at 17, but it’s just messed up to try and do it when you are 47 and have teens of your.

  • I was told by our counselor that we should separate and have no contact for two weeks. Well, that was the absolute stupidest advice ever because guess what she did with those two weeks? This, after she literally and unapologetically proclaimed that she is not done cheating and fully intended to have a getaway weekend with the OM and that she was leaving with him directly after the session. She also unapologetically declared that the best case scenario for her was if she could have both men. I had heard enough and never did go back to counseling with her but she did go back once on her own. That stopped after I told her I’m divorcing her. That night ended with her kissing me on the cheek and saying, “I’m sorry for doing this to you” then taking off to meet with the OM for their getaway.

    In the two years we were together, we did a lot of pre-marital and marriage classes. She even joined a women’s group for married women. I thought this relationship couldn’t possibly go wrong seeing how invested she was. But then of course it did.

    Cut to two years later and she is now cheating and planning her abandonment. I found some emails between her and the OM, which was an ex-boyfriend, in which she used the language that we learned in those classes to hoover him back in. There was something about her wanting to be his “helper” and that she felt like just ran away. That’s when I started to see her pattern and realize she was a sociopath and left him the same way she was leaving me. One of the last things I said to her was to not email in two years.

    • Honestly, I think your therapist gave you excellent advice! She gave you the perfect opportunity to see EXACTLY what kind of person your wife is.

      • Hmm. I see what you’re saying. But he also encouraged her to take the getaway with the OM so that she can see how God works, so I’m not sure he was giving good advice but you’re right in that taking a few steps back allowed me the perspective to see her for who she really was. In fact, I even said that in the session, “Is this who you really are?”

        Like you we only went to one session which was enough. Also like you, we went to a Christian counselor. To be fair, I cannot say All of his advice was awful.

        • It’s like the chapter in CL’s book where she is talking about her pitbull therapist calling her out to SEE her Cheater for who he was… too listen to what he was saying.

          I think my first MC was trying to do that with my “righteous anger” acknowledgement, but was also trying to be politically correct in supporting reconciliation.

          Would love to see a revolution in the MC industry.

  • There has been no post written by you that I can’t relate to. Or haven’t experienced myself in some way. Cheaters/narcissists think they are so clever and successfully manipulative. And they are, to some degree. But once they’re found out, it’s amazing how predictable and transparent they really are. Mine was so good that he fooled two different therapists. And I raged and stormed out. I used to regret how I handled those sessions because I kept thinking not only was I the victim of this man’s narcissistic shenanigans but then how on earth did I become the reason we needed therapy? I have taken much time to heal and no longer care. I know who I am and why I felt the way I did and I f a trained therapist can’t see that, they weren’t that good to begin with and he was better than I realized. He is still with his last affair that he vehemently denied for years. The only satisfaction I take in this is the knowledge that they will implode because they are both narcissists. Their largely long distance love affair may have initially worked but when it comes time to argue over whose turn it is to scrub the toilet or cook a meal? They will kill each other. But I doubt either will ever realize that they destroyed two marriages, 6 combined children and forever changed two spouses. Once I let go of caring about that, that’s when I began to truly heal.

  • If your comment winds up in moderation today, please be patient with me. Working out a few issues and I can’t be at my desk all day. But I will free you eventually!

    • Ahhh–home renovation. Never a problem that can’t possibly morph into something MUCH more expensive!!

  • I think I’ve told this story before. We went to one appointment it was both a blessing AND a disaster.

    He said he was willing to go to a therapist but only one who was Christian. I don’t know if he insisted on that because he thought it would be impossible to find or if he thought a therapist with a Christian-perspective would be patriarchal and take his side. I actually found a Catholic priest who was also a licensed family therapist.

    The entire session, any time I brought up the problems in our marriage– other women, emotional abuse, his family mistreating me– he proceeded to scream at me about… how I throw my clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper.

    The therapist said: “You seem to have a lot of anger towards her.”

    I was sobbing at this point and dropped my tissue. My ex yelled at me to pick up the tissue, and said to the therapist, “See what a slob she is?!”

    The therapist picked it up instead and said in a really soothing voice that he would honored to pick up my tears.

    In that moment, I realized this man who just met me (and never had a romantic relationship in his entire life, as far as I know) treated me with more kindness and compassion than the person I was married to for close to a decade.

    My ex refused to see that therapist again because “this priest doesn’t know the first thing about marriage” (i.e. “I’m pissed the therapist didn’t take my side, and he was so gentlemanly that I felt like a cad in comparison”). I was heartbroken, but at the same time, I did get some satisfaction at seeing my ex so subtlety but profoundly shamed.

    • What a powerful story. And what a kind, compassionate man that priest way. I think there’s some truth that priests don’t know marriage in a first-hand way, but it would also be true that a happily married person, one married to a healthy partner, would not know marriage to an abuser in a first-hand way. What a therapist needs is empathy, the ability to read the dynamics in a relationship, and the knowledge that some people troubled and struggling in a relationship and can benefit from counseling while others are disordered and incapable of healthy relationship.

    • It’s the difference between being nice to get something (sex, respect, awards, kibble) and genuinely being a nice person.

  • I found out 6 months after d-day that he was seeing OW still. Got in a car accident because my mind was not in the car with me. Next session that all came out. My therapist said she wasn’t going to waste time because there was no relationship and I was doing all the work. MC was over. He just sat there with that cold fish face. Therapist said to me “you need to get on with your life”.

    Nope, I made the appointments, he went once a month to my twice a week. Never read the book. I don’t think he even touched it. Thinking back, offering the book to him was like trying to get a vampire to hold a crucifix.

  • The best part of therapy for me was being introduced to the word “narcissist”. When ex got up and walked out because “She’s too angry” the therapist replied “that’s the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever seen.” I went home and Googled the word, almost crapped my pants and the rest is history. Now I get to watch him try and destroy our children.

    • My therapist eventually lost his temper and shouted at me ‘he is a narcissist! He is never going to change!’

      That was the beginning of the rest of my life. Truly seeing that he did not care, and no amount of my whining, raging, sparkling and explaining was ever going to change a goddam thing;

      and what was I going to do about my pain?

  • After about four sessions I realized therapy was a waste. Ex didn’t do his homework, the only boundary he could come up with was that I wouldn’t look at the phone bill and never touch his phone. When I pointed out to cheater that therapy wasn’t going to work he says of course it wasn’t as I was obviously jealous of therapist and her boobs!! Um well I see what he was thinking during those sessions!

  • Mine went to his lawyer and cried after I booted him. Lawyer gave him the name of a therapist. From there, it gets fuzzy. Near as I can figure, he saw the therapist in person maybe once, perhaps had a phone session or two, and then just lied about it for months and months, claiming to be in therapy when he was not. Of course, that was not a thing he could ever do, because it requires truth and sincerity and self-examination. Not happening, ever. His true breakthrough came when he figured out that I would not continue to be a chump, but the gf would. Then, the blame shifting, the image management, etc. Affair continued throughout, but he lied about that, as well. Tempest puts it perfectly above. He decided I’m the “scratch on the door” that needs fixing and is the source of all of his woes. The fiery crash he designed? Nothing to see there at all.

    • Arsewipe did agree to go to see counsellor on his own after I suggested he needed to look at himself and his behaviour following DDay2. But did it to tick a box, keep me quiet and convince me he was working to change. Really it just provided a platform for him to talk about his favourite subject – himself. Even boasted to his friends after the 1st session saying he couldn’t wait until the 2nd session as that was when it was going to get “juicy”, like the counsellor was some kind of eager viewer in the soap opera of his pathetic life!! 3 weeks later when it became clear that no matter how many sessions he had his actions would ever match his empty words, I filed for divorce. The very next day he dumped the counsellor and went back to seeking other kinds of therapy with the Howorker!!! They can’t change, nor do they want to because ultimately they see nothing wrong with what they have done. Save therapy for yourself to help you heal and move on.

  • My experience, MC or “family counseling” was an hour long tattle – tale session from my xh – on ME. For 50 minutes I was put on the defensive from all my perceived sins from the past week. Most of the time I had NO IDEA what he was going to come out with next. From the perspective of time I see this clearer now, and I am in shock that I put up with it for so long. Chump, chump, chumpity chump.

    Even though I complained I felt tattled on, the counselor let this go on consistently, and I played right along, for years. How many of the chumps on this board fell into similar situations, I wonder?

    Every “victim protagonist”, as my cheater saw himself, needs a villain antagonist. If he took the protagonist role, guess which one was left over for me? MC who perpetually try to mediate arguments, try to find the middle ground in all situations are sometimes unwittingly used as a patsy to reinforce the cheaters gas lighting. Maybe it was not so lop sided as I felt, my perceptions of blame played a role in this, too.. BUT now I am stronger, smarter and better prepared to deal with conflict.

    My cheater was a pro at “running” the counseling meetings, it felt like by the time it was “my turn”, the session was over and I was sent to think about what I had done, and what I could do better – until next week.

    Please note:
    I do not feel comfortable, usually, talking poorly about counselors or counseling. Most are dedicated and helpful. They should all not be lumped together as hacks.

    Narcs, true cluster b’s can fool the professionals, too. PLUS, mine xh was a liar, things he SAID he was told in counseling were probably falsehoods.

    There are many things I wish I could go back and change. Sitting there like a target in MC would be one of them

    • We’re all just people with our own baggage. This counselor was a bad match for your situation. That’s fair.

    • I had a very similar situation with our second therapist. X had quit MC with the first years before because she was on to him–the first time he pulled his Blue Steel look of silent rage at me, she said, “Does he do this a lot when he feels challenged?” When I said yes he got up to leave and that was it. Chumpy me just let it go.

      By the time he agreed to go to the second therapist, he was prepared. He sat there and flat-out lied about all of my “issues” and convinced the therapist that we needed to delve into my FOO to figure out why I had trust issues and was always accusing him of raging at me. That said as cool as a cucumber, with a look of feigned concern and empathy, which was clearly meant to show the therapist what a long suffering spouse he’d been married to such a crazy woman. The therapist bought it hook, line, and sinker.

      I also wish I’d known at the time to stand up for myself, but I was still a chump and thought if I was patient and tried to “own” my part in his abuse of me, maybe he would change. Of course I still didn’t understand at the time that I was being emotionally abused by a narcissist, and the therapist had no clue either.

      I found out after I filed that he went back to her for IC and it wasn’t long after that that he went no contact on me. Which was good because I’d done so first, and he was still hoovering. But I have no doubts that he ramped up his lies about me and convinced her that I was the narcissist and she advised him to go NC.

      I have fantasies about running into her and telling her the whole story, though I realize it will only confirm his narrative about how crazy and unhinged I am.

  • We went to therapy for 3 years, where I was gaslighted by both of them.

    Then the therapist started working out with the narc and his new wife.

    But she stopped (pouty and gaslighting) when I sent a letter to the ethics board.

    • “Ethics? Shmethics. Oh, wait… I can get in trouble for engaging in triangulating BS with clientele? There is a whole BOARD for ethics, and others in my profession think I should have standards? Whoa!”


  • Mine offered therapy for himself, you know after failing at AA, church and various other things that would fix him. I was mostly no contact, we got together for dinner in a public place, in the town his “therapist” was located, he had been several times and wanted to inform me of the progress 🙂 I asked where the office was, I got a dismissive wave of the hand-around here. Woops red flag? I said what is her name, he answered, why does that matter? Me thinks this therapy might have been a lie? But surely not 🙂 I went ahead and decided we were done. I went to therapy on my own, no point in wasting time trying to fix the unfixable!

  • After 6-7 one on one sessions not going well for me and her constantly encouraging me that “he loves you”, “he’s not such a bad guy”, and “he’s only doing what’s right for the family”; we did a group session. That’s when king narcissist let his true colors fly after she asked him what his expectations were of me for everyday work. In 30 min. he changed his expectations 5 times and every time his list didn’t shrink…..IT GREW! In the end he expected me to have 4 jobs outside of the home that I was supposed to do everyday and then come home and work on a 5th job with his business. (Mind you at that time he kept guilting me into working multiple jobs for extra money because it was the best thing for our family. I was working my real estate job during the day, waitressing at night and when I would come home after waitressing draw plans for his business. On average I was getting 2 hours of sleep a night). None of the expectations included being a mother to our 2 children, being a wife, taking care of meals, cleaning, etc. or sleep. I totaled the hours it would take his “expectations” and it would take an average of 28 hours everyday. I chimed in and said “Excuse me but those ‘Expectations’ you laid out there would take an average of 28 hours and correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t there 24 hours in a day….. and you left off my main priorities in life such as being a mom, a wife and taking care of the household.” The therapist eyes grew wide a saucers and his temper flared. The therapist said “I’m not licensed for this, you have bigger problems than I can handle”. He left first and when I left she told me to “Get out of that marriage.” I later found out the reason why he wanted me working and “out of the house” all the time was because he was screwing the next door neighbor and embezzled the money I was making. What a douchebag!

    Now we are having to return to therapy after 2.5 years of being divorced bc the mediator recommended it before we go to court again. She said we have to learn to communicate for the children. The entire court system is a load of bullshit! While I see her point, she doesn’t realize he is a narcissistic pig so I found a therapist who has experience dealing with narcissist and came highly recommended.

  • We went to pre-marital counseling because I was not comfortable with him being in contact with ex-girlfriends/lovers he had scattered around the world. The therapist explained “emotional affairs” and how devastating it would be to our marriage. He insisted they were just “friends” (yeah right.) This was back in 1992, no internet, no Chumplady, and I’ve never heard of NPD.

    Long story short, he “promised” not to contact these friends. I was 5 months pregnant with our 2nd child when I found proof that he was still in contact with these women. When I confronted him with the evidence I was told, “I never intended to keep my promise and I never thought you would find out.” I made plans that week to leave with our 1yr old daughter. A few days later, I lost the baby. Losing the baby and the dream of a “perfect” marriage all in one week devastated me.

    Fast forward to today, I divorced Lord F*ckwad 3 years ago and am now living my best life ever. I will always be grateful to Tracy for creating this site. It saved my life and put me on a path to pay it forward.

    • I am glad you are in a stronger place on your own with your child. I am also moved deeply by what you shared here and I send you lots of support and peaceful wishes.

      • Thank you Amiisfree for your kind words. My daughter keeps telling me I should write a book one day. Perhaps. For now, I will continue to help other women empower themselves and create a better life w/o dealing with a cheater.

      • I was also moved by what you went through. Thinking of losing a child really puts my situation in perspective.
        My heart just ripped a little.

    • Oh god. The pre-existing harem. We also went to premarital counseling in the early 90’s with our minister where my concerns about his friendship with his exes and other women I’d never met led to, “You got the man. He’s going to be your husband. You shouldn’t worry about those other women.” My husband said they were indeed in the past and he was moving on. I bought the idea that marriage was a fresh start and that indeed those other women were in the rearview mirror.

      I also found that they were not at all gone when I was pregnant with my second. Years of email and gifts. However, I do think he was keeping them as cheerleaders on the sideline because he found himself a couple new women through work and hookups are much more convenient when your secret girlfriends live in town.

  • If I heard Mr. Sparkles say it one time, he said it a hundred… “WE need to fix US”


    – US wasn’t fucking strangers from Craigslist and going to group sex parties by the airport.
    – US didn’t have multiple online personal ads because he was a sad sausage
    – US didn’t lie to his wife’s face and say he was going out to shoot pool only to go to a hotel instead
    – US didn’t reply to a personal with a picture of himself from our son’s baptism day indicating he was a BIMWM

    Marriage Counselor #1 – identified my “righteous anger” while Mr. Sparkles took six weeks to admit he was doing things online – “but never acted on anything… even left the hotel before the hooker got there… and he never left work during lunch to keep those hooker massage appointments”.

    Marriage Counselor #2 – gave us homework… quizzes and such. Just provided Mr. Sparkles with a new worksheet on ways to push my boundaries and REALLY fuck around with my vulnerabilities. Good times.

    BOTH MCs told me that if I went the path of independent counseling, because Mr. Sparkles refused to keep going because “it wasn’t helping”, then invariably one of us would GET HEALTHY and leave the marriage.

    My current counselor recognized Mr. Sparkles as a narcissist within the first two sessions alone with me. The other two fuckwits never brought up the term.

    I stayed because I didn’t want to share my son (then 3) 50/50 custody and I feared being alone. I’m so grateful he left me for the OW (almost 3 years out now, so I can see the blessing). And, I’m still working with my counselor on healing and building a better me.

  • He said, “remorse and humility aren’t part of the personality I’m trying to cultivate.”

    I’m so glad I went to MC. So glad. It exposed him so much. He’s an odd duck — readily admitted a lot of his acts and thoughts. After MC I knew enough truth to last me a lifetime. Also the counselor was great. I think I got really lucky with it. Sounds like a rare occurrence.

  • Two stories here —

    KK and I saw MC1 together, about 9 months before she asked for the open marriage. No breakthroughs but I thought it did some good. After the open marriage request, I went back to him for 2-3 sessions to get some outside perspective. He saw that I was determined to make the situation work, and closed our session with this: “You’re a very unique person taking on this attitude, and I really commend you for that. Just know that if it doesn’t work out as you seem to think it will, the time may come where you find yourself wanting to end the marriage. And if you do, you have to mean it. There should be no going back after a decision like that.” Those words may have prolonged the time spent later on wondering “can I make this work, can I make this work,’. but when I decided, it was firm and I did really mean it.

    Towards the end when we saw MC2 (an older woman), she spent much of the first ‘getting to know you’ session asking about our history, upbringing and family lives, and specifically zeroed in on KK’s fractured and troubled relationship with her own parents. As soon as we walked out of the office, KK exploded: “I KNEW it!! I knew it was going to be another ‘dump all over KK’ session!! You must feel really good — once again, I’m the problem, not you!!…”

    I should have recognized writing on the wall at that moment. (But then I may never have met the Carrot Singer…)

    • I guess the bottom line is that marriage is, by definition and in every spiritual way, not open. The two become one. That’s the goal. That you even entertained the idea shows how committed you were. Sigh. Breaks my heart, how hopeful chumps really are.

  • Do not do it. MC with a cheater is a waste of $. Cheaters are skilled manipulators and have the ability to charm most therapists, making the so-called problems in the marriage the result of chump’s deficiencies. MC educates the cheater in therapy-speak which is further used to abuse the chump.

    I understand that MC may feel like some sort of 3rd party validation to the chump that the cheater sucks, but DO NOT seek that validation from a person whose goal and training is to keep marriages together. Instead, seek counseling for yourself. You have been betrayed by a person that you trusted implicitly. You need to work through the trauma alone and not with the perpetrator.

    I liked Tempest’s analogy up top ^^ regarding the car, scratch and the cliff. A marriage or relationship with a cheater is just like that! Even nearly 3 yrs out I have learned about MORE long term APs. What you know about a cheating person is only the tip of the iceberg. Their lack of character has nothing to do with you. Save your money and invest in yourself and your kids, if you have children.

    • ANC, I totally agree with everything in your post. Waste of money, waste of time, tip of the iceberg, etc., and I especially agree with this: “You need to work through the trauma alone and not with the perpetrator.”

      After DDay#2 I totally went the sex addiction route with my ex. Poor baby, he wasn’t a cheating fucktard, he was SICK! I would help him get well!! I insisted that he find a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) and work on a disclosure. Luckily, I was smart enough to find my own therapist and refused to do MC until after the disclosure. And of course in those early days he was all about doing “whatever it took” to fix the marriage. Only not so much. He refused to allow his therapist to talk to me directly or answer any of my questions. He gave me a bunch of BS about how he paid for his sessions with cash every other week or so to ‘splain why it looked like he wasn’t going to see the therapist every week. “Yes I am! I’m just paying cash.” Leading up to the disclosure he constantly harped on the fact that he just knew I would hold a grudge, never forgive him, yada, yada, yada. After the disclosure when to my utter horror I found out what I thought was 2 affairs was 3 affairs and a decade of fucking strippers while out of town on business trips (that was the tip of the proverbial iceberg), his therapist said (the disclosure was the only time I got to talk to him) the next step in ex’s treatment was to work on facing the damage his behavior had caused me and our kids. Well, he wasn’t going to do THAT so that ended his therapy although he lied about still going for a couple of months. I have to give my therapist big props – when my ex was frantically trying to get out of doing the disclosure, he tried over and over again to get me to agree to MC with my therapist. I’m pretty sure he convinced himself that she would see that all of this was my fault which is exactly where he wanted the focus to be. When I asked my therapist what she thought about having sessions with both of us she refused. She said she could never be neutral towards my ex because of what had been done to me; that she was and always would be in my corner and could not in clear conscience advocate for keeping the marriage intact if that wasn’t in my best interest. I’ve always been thankful for that.

      • I agree that this shows integrity, bit it may also be legally required.

        Where I am, they are not allowed to create weird dual relationships. For example, excepting introductory sessions, a counselor can see an individual OR a couple or family, but s/he can’t serve both roles. Or, s/he can see a couple/family, then continue forward with one individual form the couple/family, but s/he can’t then switch back to the group setting.

        Also, the counselor absolutely CAN NOT socialize with any of you. In fact, if the counselor sees you in public, to preserve your privacy, s/he can’t even acknowledge that s/he knows you unless you say hello first, and even then, s/he can’t say how they know you.

        Of course, some do it anyway, but as we read earlier in this thread, that’s why there are ethics boards.

        • I think where I am, she could have seen both of us if I requested it but I would have had to sign a waiver most likely. As far as socializing, no, I don’ socialize with my therapist LOL although it turned out a couple of years into therapy that I’m good friends with my therapist’s sister. They have different last names so I didn’t put it together until that point. Doesn’t bother me. I know she would never mention it to her sister herself although I did.

  • I often feel I’m not in the right place when I visit here because most of you were married to spouses who cheated and still maintained a connection with you.

    Mine was unhappy, ignored me for months and then asked for a divorce and I found out he was starting something with a woman at the gym (*even if the “starting something” was working out together; going out for lunch…). Well, he left me and is now with her. But says there was no affair.

    So I often times I don’t feel like I fit in the typical mold.

    • Please don’t feel that way, Mjo….while there is so much similarity to so many of our situations, we also have differences in the ways we ultimately got to this point. Many, many people here had some very obvious abuse situations and blatant mistreatment….for me? I was totally blindsided. I think that is one reason I still struggle-I still have a hard time disconnecting from who I thought he was, despite the TERRIBLE things he ended up doing to me. I can now look back and see that there were issues, hence realizing he was a very “covert” narcissist, but at the time, just thought they were things you deal with once you’re in a long term, “committed” marriage and heavy responsibilities and life situations kick in. I put up with a lot of shit. I think it’s still hard for me because I remember who I thought my best friend was…but he was not real. My XH is with his AP, too. You have been hurt, mistreated, discarded, devalued, abused…just like the rest of us. You ARE in the right place and belong among people who understand you, regardless of situational similarities or not. Many hugs to you….

      • My mess was similar to yours. No abusive red flags at all, just a vague “distance” I couldn’t quite identify. Meanwhile he kept doing things like buying me little gifts and giving compliments freely, and all that little stuff. If he hadn’t finally confessed, I’m not sure I would have ever figured it out. All I knew was that something was a little “off.” I thought he had depression.

        • Yeah we all have our stories, some similar, some not – but we all got burned by a selfish self-centered, narc of a spouse/lover/asshole at some level

        • Me, too. — Depressed. Tired from work. … at one point, I even thought maybe he was gay (he has an odd relationship with the male friends in his life). Had I not seen him cleaning out the passenger side of his truck that day, I would never have known for sure. And he insists “nothing happened” until after Dday. Nevertheless, by the day of our divorce (a mere 47 days after Dday), he was already referring to himself and OW as “We.”

      • I think being blindsided as you were has to hurt like hell. It turns your whole reality upside down. We had problems but I was committed to working on them (kids, mother in law, the usual…). We fought a lot about the kids and disclipine and finances (he didn’t let me see anything). However, I never thought he would start being interested in another person. That really hurt. Having said that, while the divorce is still going on, the pain has lessened tremendously with the realization that a person like that is not good for me. Going behind my back, lying, still not admitting to anything. He’s s narcissist as well (although the term is overused nowadays, I thought so for years…enough to research it years ago on the computer.

        So on I go to focusing on me. And the possibility of meeting someone new one day (but not just ANYONE).

    • Me, too, Mjo, but I still think there’s wisdom and shared experience to be gained here. Not every post, but some. You & I suffered what’s commonly called an Exit Affair or Emotional Affair (no physical contact). The way in which I feel similar to other chumps is that our spouses unilaterally decided they wanted something outside of the marriage and devoted resources (time, money, energy, … love) to cultivating that something else, while we chumps obliviously kept the home fires burning. Dating or fucking — all the same to me. Those resources were for me (the wife) and the marriage he committed to, not to some 25 year old Schmoopie waitress who is “important” to him!

      In that way, MC was good for ME, because it allowed me to see he had someone else (He had told me simply that he was unhappy and didn’t think we were “worth trying to save). I dragged him to one MC session (reminded him that he promised me if things ever got bad between us, he would go to MC), and overall I thought the session went really well. I’d read MC therapy self-help books and he had all the hallmarks of “good signs”: respect, appreciation, … But at the end of the session, the MC suggested an exercise for us to rededicate ourselves to each other and our marriage with renewed appreciation and attention, then report back to him after about four weeks. — The mere look in XH’s eyes when he said “four weeks,” was enough to tip me off. The MC noticed it as well and backpedaled to TWO weeks. — Same look in XH’s eyes, and that’s when I knew he had someone else and couldn’t keep it in his pants for two fucking weeks after sixteen YEARS of marriage! THAT was the minute I knew it was really over. I went home, printed off the dissolution papers (we have no kids), and handed them to him the next morning over breakfast. — And then I continued to see that MC for IC for another few months and he was very helpful.

      But, for serial cheaters, no, it sure doesn’t seem like it makes any difference in the end. Just wasted time and money and more manipulation.

      • Sorry you went through all that. I can relate a bit to your second paragraph. Having someone else do some of the talking helped me see through the hopium and realize that my cheater wasn’t in it for the long haul. He had a timeline in his head, and it wasn’t nearly as long as I was willing to give it, as miserable as the pick-me experience was for me at the time.

        “not worth trying to save”… isn’t that awful? I heard that, too, and it was soul crushing. Then he’d try to make it better by saying that I’d been such a great “friend” to him for so many years. Cheaters are heartless.

        But I’d rather experience real love and heartache than to live in their unattached, entitled little world.

        • yes, they do say the most heartless things. — I tried to “act normal” after he dropped the bomb (“not worth trying to save”) and was sure he was having a mid-life crisis and just needed time to think it through (I did not yet know about OW), so I suggested we go for a bike ride together on a nice sunny May day. I was in utter shock but going through the motions. And he was just chattering away, as if he had not just blown my entire world apart, and said something about a secret joke we had about our trip to Istanbul a couple years previously. And he just laughed and laughed. Meanwhile, it occurred to me that no one would ever get that joke again. It was only between us and explaining it to someone else would not translate… And I just collapsed in sobs and stopped the bike, sobbing by the side of the trail. He didn’t notice, of course, because he was riding in front — precisely the problem: he was always ahead of me.

          • NEBiblio…your story made me feel sad…especially the part about stopping to cry.

            We all know the pain you experienced. The shock of him asking for divorce. Those first hours are hard. They are surreal. Those men don’t deserve us.

          • Yes, that’s the loneliest time… when your heart still feels close to him and you long to share your sadness with him so that he can comfort you, but you slowly see that he’s simply not there for you. Not only does he fail to comfort you, he’s the reason for your pain.

          • Gawd, NWBiblio. Your comment just made my heart lurch, your trying to carry on after the bomb drop. I can recall going out one night with him. We’d just celebrated 25 years a month or so earlier. I was happy and felt blessed to have had such a successful relationship. Our kids were old enough to leave alone, and we headed to an old friend’s summer garden party. A beautiful, balmy evening, outdoors, under his magnificent, mature trees, tennis under lights on his lawn court. We drove along, chatting away, when suddenly I asked him if he still loved me. He had been weird of late. Not dramatically different. I just felt an odd distance. He was quiet. And then said, “I don’t know. I don’t think I do.” Holy shit! I felt like he’d thrust a knife between my ribs.

            Then we arrived at the party and I had to pretend for the next seven or eight hours. When I asked him later if he wanted to get some counselling, or if he wanted to separate, he backtracked, saying he was tired and stressed. I probed further in the next few days. He insisted he loved me and we just needed to spend more time together. Ugh. I had forgotten this. I knew there was something terribly, terribly wrong. He had NEVER hinted, acted, nor suggested we were anything but madly in love before that. First red flag.

            That was the most miserable party. Until the one when the OW texted me well over a year later at the start of another party, that she had been fucking him all along. I also had to feign pleasure that night until the party ended and I drove us home, showing him the text about half an hour into our journey home.

    • I am glad for your reminder, actually. Your experience may be less common, but it is every bit as valid, and the pain is just as real. I hope you will keep sharing and reaching out!

    • Mjo–First, he had an affair (cheaters often lie). Secondly, you definitely fit in here as MANY people had cheaters who just picked up and left without a backward glance. Which scenario is more painful–being abandoned vs. having to deal with a fuckwit for longer–isn’t important, they both hurt. A lot.

      Speak your experience; it helps to write about what happened to us, others provide great solace & advice, and you help someone else feel like they belong here, too.

      Hugs to you!

      • Thank you Tempest. I needed to hear that as I often struggle with people saying “well he wasn’t happy” and it makes me feel like I’m wrong for feeling that he found another…

        • Mjo: First, “I wasn’t happy” is the go-to post-hoc excuse for cheaters to justify their behavior. After all, they can hardly say, “I’m a lying, sniveling, piss-poor excuse for a human being and like screwing strange at the expense of my spouse/family,” can they?

          Secondly, IF they were truly unhappy, it’s typically because they are lying, sniveling, piss-poor excuses for human beings, and have no internal depth (thereby relying on novelty to give them a reason to live).

          Thirdly, IF they were truly unhappy, HOW IS BETRAYING YOUR SPOUSE A LEGITIMATE OPTION????? ( sorry to shout). There is a decision tree for unhappy marriages, of which betrayal is the ugliest, meanest, and least constructive. The evidence continues to link infidelity with entitlement and poor impulse control on the part of the cheater. That’s why they cheat.

          (and F**k your former-friends who buy cheater’s rationale)

          • No matter how much my head believes it, it still always does my heart good to read these truths again from time to time. Thanks, Tempest.

    • MJO,
      I was in the same boat as you. There are several of us here. Chumplady has done a blog about “The ones who just leave”. My XH left because he didn’t want “to be married”, he “wanted to be single” after 16.5 years of marriage. He, of course, denied an affair. He was so angry at me – which didn’t make sense – we weren’t having any difficulties (he admitted this as well). Wouldn’t tell me where he was living as he didn’t “trust” me. Turns out he left for a younger coworker that is skilled in busting up marriages. We never did MC. I never stood a chance. The last time I saw him was almost four years ago – when he served me with divorce papers the day before my 43rd birthday (less than 2 months after the ILYBINILWY speech). We have absolutely no contact – he filed a RO against me – 10 days after his whore had already done the same. He was engaged to her within a year of our divorce. I don’t think these cowards leave without having a sure-thing waiting in the wings.

      • Ditto here. XH was turning 40, I was turning 50, and OW is 25. He got engaged to her and may already be remarried to her. I don’t know/care since I haven’t seen him since the divorce hearing 3yrs ago.

        • NWB,

          My XH was 41. I thought it was MLC – he actually TOLD me it was. I instinctively knew this wasn’t an “Us” problem. I went to stay with my dad so that he could start IC (I kicked him out after ILYBINILWY and we were paying for hotel charges). I don’t think he ever went to IC. Debit card charges showed him near her rental while I was gone. Strange food in my kitchen and bed made differently when I returned. His whore was 32, it’s been almost 4 years. Their second wedding anniversary is coming up. I wish I was at Meh, close, but not quite there.

          • They suck. They just do. — I remember him saying, on the way to our one & only counseling session, that he didn’t know what this “complete stranger!” was going to tell us about our relationship that we didn’t know about ourselves already. I got pretty pissed, because as a veterinarian, I hear that shit all the time from clients, “Well, I’ve had dogs all my life!” (which does NOT make for a substitute for a medical degree!).

            As for mid-life crisis: I actually ASKED XH, “Is this is MLC? Do you just want me to buy you a Corvette and we can move past this?” — He did NOT think that was funny. But I did.

    • Mjo you absolutely belong here.

      Why? Because he lined up the next one before he left you. This is called ‘devalue and discard’. You were as much lied to (that took a cold decision, and planning), gaslighted (he didn’t say a word about the decision he unilaterally made, to look) and betrayed as the rest of us.

      You absolutely fit here, hurt, being treated as less than, and lack of integrity knocks the sense of being a valuable human being out of anybody.

      • Wow, that really hit hard, Patsy. I could never find the words to express my pain the way you just did…”that took a cold decision and planning”.

        That’s why I feel that what he did was so evil. While I was finding ways to get closer (reading books, sending him Buddhist quotes, trying to talk to him while he not only stonewalled but basically emotionally disappearing for a year without even saying my name) he was getting closer to another. It takes a cold asshole to do that in my book. I got stood up at a MC session (the first one) only to find a receipt a year later, placing him at a bar restaurant for lunch (and he later admitted it was her but they were “just friends”– funny he never once in five years (the time he knew her he now says) ever mentioned her. Hearing what you say now validates even more my feelings of hurt. Thank you!

        • In case you’re still reading: You really aren’t alone, Mjo, as Patsy & Tempest and other say. I have found tremendous solace here over the past three years and am comforted to know there’s somewhere for me to come when I feel bad in a way other friends simply can’t understand (they, rightfully, feel my life is better off without a lying coward to drag me down — but sometimes my heart & brain get a little wonky about it).

          I hope you continue to tune in and share your story. You’ll see. It’s not you. It’s them. And the healing road is hard because it does seem sometimes like other people, including friends, really just have no fucking idea what this is like.

  • I never did marriage counseling. Never even brought it up however asswipe did and in the third person. Here goes…..his words.

    Asswipe knows he and km should do marriage counseling. Asswipe knows hes fucked in the head and needs serious individual counseling. But the thoughts in asswipes head would scare anyone into running away from asswipe because asswipe is a dangerous pod. But asswipe also knows whats asswipe wants and what asswipe does is asswipes business. Asswipe doesnt really need help, asswipe knows what hes doing, asswipe will never change, asswipe is fine the way asswipe is and if the rest of the world doesnt get asswipe thats too fucking bad!

    Never in 30 years did i hear asswipe speak in the third person. My response was to burst out laughing!! He talked himself in and out of counseling. What a tool! I knew right there and then it was over. Took awhile to untangle and divorce but now im on to better things and asswipe still has to look at himself in the mirror.

    • UXworld thinks this is utterly hilarious. UXworld is of the opinion that this is some kind of psychologically perverted attempt by Asswipe to remove himself from the shittiness of his behavior — “Asswipe did it, not me!…”

      (UXworld is also reminded of the “Jimmy” episode of Seinfeld.)

    • Compartmentalization at its finest. Third person speak is the ultimate denial-detachment from Self. Or a three year old who points to herself and says, “Her is hungry. Her is sadz”. Definitely indicative of a deeper malady.

    • Does anyone remember when Sarah (Freeloader) Ferguson got caught trying to flog access to Prince (Freeloader) Andrew for 500,000 dollars to some fake Sheikh? Of course they had it all on film and she ended up on Oprah (yuck) and did the entire interview in the third person. “She did this and she thought that”. I guess that’s the way these jerks deflect guilt.

  • Had a great therapist who called him out on his selfishness. He refused to go to that one again. Go to a second one who calls him out even harder. Yep, he refused to do any homework that one gave and refused to go again.

  • Therapy is supposed to be about seeing how your looking at an issue, with a misguided, unhealthy view. So it can be viewed differently and help you not harm you. (IMHO) . Example: He/she has made a mistake and if they knew that, they wouldn’t do it. On our part we need to help them become the person they really are deep inside. They are narcissistic and we are chumps. I can’t believe it will ever work. For narcissists, they are perfect, no one will convince them, they aren’t entitled to everything they want. And as chumps till we walk away, nothing changes for us. CL says it simply, leave a cheater, gain a life. That’s therapy !

  • My x refused because and I quote “I don’t have any issues, no my problem” I retorted with “silly me, I thought if one person in this marriage had a problem we both did, and the other would try and help” his response “nope, your issues have nothing to do with me”, ummm your cheating, gaslighting, verbal abuse and the list goes on were all ” my” problem. Ok.

    I attended weekly session from that point on. He always wanted to know what was said and did I talk about him. I never told him anything which ironically angered him.

    It got to the point that if I came home upset from a rather hard session he would use that very moment to drop a bomb shell on me. I would then go for a walk on the beach after sessions, relax and come home refreshed to avoid that. That seemed to make him even more upset, telling me it was not working, the therapist was a quack and I was clearly on drugs as I showed no emotion after session , all because he don’t get what he wanted.

    Fast forward 6 months later after the house sold I get a call from him sobbing and saying he needs to see my therapist ASAP for help. I told him she would not see him that it was a conflict of interest. He saw another therapist once and never went back.

    The reason he went “because he and the (whore) love of his life were having issues”.

    It didn’t work out for them and he wanted “our old life back”. Hahaha I’m sure he did.

    My 2 years of therapy were worth every penny.

  • 3 therapists and we never got past “she won’t have sex enough”. His favorite therapist, his Minister, said “that’s why God gave you hands” – last time we went to him!!

  • After DDay 1, we started going to Christian based marriage C. (Funny my wife always told me how her belief and devotion to God was much stronger than mine) I would schedule and she would show up but was always on the attack during the sessions. Turns out, she was still involved with her ex and was having sex with a 26 year old on the side. Hence the attack. During this somewhat short event, she signed us up for a marriage class at the church. Three days after the first meeting, she was at a hotel with the 26 year old. All that being said, MC is a huge waste of time with these people. It is just another way they attack and manipulate you. What I have found out is ignore the cheater and take care of yourself. A good individual C is the route to take. Yes the cheater sucks….. but so do we. Find out why you put up with the abuse….. fix yourself…. dont waste time chasing them around. If they choose to work on their issues then great…. but don’t set them up or make appointments just get away from them.

  • Our couple’s therapist was better than most; she did use the line ‘unmet needs’ about cheating, but she didn’t encourage any blaming me and did focus on the harm the cheating had done. But she had to tread lightly, ’cause cheater narc would have bolted. Even so, after about 5 sessions with no effort on his part, he had had enough. We saw her once more later after he threatened me physically, and when he ‘explained’ why he’d gotten so upset at me and I said ‘no matter what I’d done, you can’t threaten me’, she looked straight at me and said ‘that’s right, no one deserves to be abused’. I didn’t even take that clue, we had years more of wreckonciliation …

    But my fave therapy-related incident came after Affair #2 and my kicking him out, in the months it took him to actually leave. One of us had said something about ‘we didn’t disagree about a lot, but we didn’t have any way to resolve our disagreements, they’d just get worse and worse’ , which was totally the case. I mentioned I had repeatedly begged him to go to couple’s therapy again to try to resolve that. He then said that even if he was refusing, I SHOULD HAVE GONE TO COUNSELLING ALONE to figure out and fix OUR inability to resolve conflict.

    I remember looking at him like he had two heads, but he seemed to think that was a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

  • Yes, we had one meeting together with his therapist, it was supposed to be disclosure, but was only minimal.
    Therapist called me out for changing the subject back to the fact that infidelity started 20 years ago and continues.
    He did however say to me several times,, “you already know the length and extent of his acting out, that is more than most wives could ever forgive”. Sounds like a warning to me.

    The words that keep popping up, acting out and compartmentalization.

    He has been dismissed from that therapist who referred him to a psychiatrist.

    Yesterday I changed complaint for separation to Divorce. My super power is my new ability to walk out of the flames of destruction.

  • My ex wouldn’t even consider MC or any sort of therapy. His first wife forced it on him via the courts (part of the no-fault process in PA) but when we broke up he told me to my face that “I should know that he’s not the kind of guy who ever sits and tells his troubles to some shrink.”

    Flash forward to marriage #3 to the slagwhore who was his mistress in the last few years of our marriage until I discovered those porn shorts of her on his phone and GUESS WHAT? Not even 2 years into his newest “bliss/soulmate” union – he was cheating on her! Being a cheat herself – she apparently was way sharper than I was, and found him out. HAHAHA!

    He is 61 now, retired and – with me having taken a large chunk of his pension – TERRIFIED at the prospect of being cast out of another comfortable nest (that she paid for) and ending up in a dingy apartment. That wouldn’t be cool or what a great guy like him deserves, he no doubt tells himself. So he offered to GO TO THERAPY!!! When I heard, I just about died. So now he’s going around telling anyone who’ll listen that old Slaggie has forgiven him and “redeemed” him from himself by not kicking him out and making him face his “problems and issues with marital fidelity!

    Seriously – if you wrote this as a movie script, they wouldn’t buy it. I don’t know who is more sad and pathetic at this point: The OW/Wife #3 who thinks she can control him and fix him or my ex who now can say that he has never been faithful in any relationship he’s ever had. Either way – these two twisted monkeys are not part of my circus and so not my problem. But as a spectator, I won’t lie – it’s filled with schadenfreude and fun to watch from a distance.

        • Ah yes, life in that dingy rat hole doesn’t seem so great now does it, and at 61 maybe he just won’t be such a catch now to some new floozie (if you know what I mean). After ex left I was with an older man for years. I had known him for 25 and love that guy to bits (still do – we separated for other reasons but still see each other occasionally) He was 13 years older than me so of course ED set in BUT I loved him anyway and could deal with it. At 61, with no financial prospects for a new OW, sod all in the way of a personality, good luck to your ex attracting a new OW to pay his bills. And THAT is called karma!

  • How do you change a personality? You don’t. The job of a therapist is to help the cheater stop cheating. If that doesn’t happen then to ask the Chump if they can live with this life and if they say ,”No” then give them a list of good divorce lawyers and wish them luck.

  • My ex husband always flat out refused counseling. He said the counselor would just put all the blame on him and make him feel bad. I would just say ok and take him back anyway (he cheated multiple times, whenever he found a new true love at work). Talk about ignoring that major red flag!

  • One of my children is having some troubles and she’s in therapy. We also have ‘system therapy’ (That’s what it’s called in the Netherlands, it’s when they look at the whole family system). Ex and I got divorced last year. My other daughter was also there. The therapist asked them about specific things about us, their parents. About me they said: She’s social, spontaneous, caring, loving, loyal, supportive, strong, etc. About my ex they said: Intelligent, chaotic, impatient, domineering, puts himself first, etc. My ex almost exploded, but couldn’t. The therapist said it would be better if he wouldn’t come next time, because she had the feeling we were all holding back because of him. I felt so great after this….This was last tuesday 🙂

  • Mine told the entire story to the counselor first. I wanted him to go first so he couldn’t use my words. Turned out he did anyway, from our previous conversations and arguments. Told the counselor about the seven-year affair (of 13-year marriage) and some other details that had been important to me (I pointed out his smirk/smile while telling the story). Then later at home he said it wasn’t seven years. When I said he’d just admitted that it was seven years to the counselor, he said he’d only said that because it’s what I wanted to hear. I’m still dumbfounded by that.
    No other effort was made on his part to see a counselor. I saw one every week for ten months. I took the kids to their counselor, found her and made the appointments and paid for all of it–he still hasn’t even offered to help with that. He said he doesn’t go to counseling because he doesn’t have money and that counselors can’t help people anyway, people can only help themselves.
    Counseling is a complete waste of money, effort and soul when it’s with a liar. It’s just not real, because his reality is of his own making, not a shared reality, so no there was no way for me to impact or change or participate in his reality. And even if I thought it might be working…I’d never ever be able to know what’s true (mostly nothing) and what’s an act to keep me on the hook. There is no point. It does not work.

  • Yeah, didn’t go well. The counselor admonished me for verbally “attacking” my ex. After that he thought he could do and say anything to me, and if I reacted in anger he would say, ” remember, the counselor said you shouldn’t yell at me.” He totally played the victim after that.

    • As soon as I even raise my voice he would say I liked to argue and had mood swings, yeah righto.
      Infuriating and when I spoke for more than 30 seconds he talked over me and shut it down.
      Total narc took everything as criticism. Only went to therapists that ‘got him’ ie he could bullshit to.

  • Durt readily agreed to go to couples counseling, as it fit nicely into his bogus narrative, and kept me invested longer. Of course, of the 4-5 times we scheduled, he missed one (don’t even remember the excuse), was 20 minutes late another time, and had to leave 20 min early because he didn’t “feel well”. The other time he had to use the bathroom in the middle, no doubt to sext the slut puppet.
    The one session that he was there the whole time, it was where he got to tell me how he was feeling and I had to validate those feelings. It quickly devolved into him screaming at me for 45 minutes about how everything was all my fault, because of course he wasn’t screwing slut puppet (or the other hoes he had on the side). It got so bad that the counselor called me and him the next day to apologize for allowing it to continue. She was a witness to his abusive rage towards me. The next session was supposed to be my turn to talk about my feelings, but Durt didn’t like that format. Hahahaha. He also hated the therapisT after he realized he couldn’t charm her.
    Keep in mind at this point we had been married 6 months. As a little cherry on top, right after the first session, which I had to use time off to attend, I got a message from his former band member telling me that Durt had been sexting his wife and sending pics of his dick to her. Telling her I am a fat, hideous drunk. Awesome. I should’ve known then it was hopeless, but it was my fault of course.

  • I mentioned this yesterday, but here goes again.

    I tried to no avail to get STBX to follow through on his own announcement that he should go to individual counseling. All I did was tip him off the fact that it was something I wanted him to do so then later he tried to use it as a bargaining chip. Towards the beginning of the three month window between when he decided to move out and when he actually moved out he said he would go get counseling if I would allow him to carry on with Schmoopie while still living at home (discreetly of course). I said no. The result was that he continued to carry on with Schmoopie anyway without going to see a counselor. Then he got upset that one of our kids overheard me calling him a fucking asshole over the phone when I called to interrupt one of his tristes.

    • Chumpinrecovery, that is really, really sad. I feel for you, my friend.

      Our nation is just muffed up, with the porn, prostitution and extremely lax morals. We’re all paying a dear price.

  • Putting in a word for the good ones:

    My sister’s MC did a couple (three or less) sessions with her and Narcissistic Wingnut. During the last one, NW leaped up and stormed out, shouting that the MC was a hack and man-hater because she told my sister she was the most mentally healthy half of the couple and that NW could take cues from his wife if he wanted to know what appropriate behavior and choices looked like. Sis continued to see that therapist individually and she was tremendously helpful. Weird side note: NW appeared to take the MC’s comment to heart in a typically sociopathic way: during counselor-supervised visits with the kids (long, grim story), sis and NW each had interaction time with the kids while therapists, guardian ad litem and the other parent (I was there, too) observed from behind glass. Sis went first, then NW. Sis and I kept looking at each other like, “What is he doing?” because he was acting so unlike himself and the way he usually was with the kids. Then one of the therapists observing turned to my sis and said, “He’s being you.” BINGO! He had watched my sister and was trying to act exactly like her, down to quoting some of the things she had just said to the kids. SO creepy. The therapist thought so, too.

    At NW’s insistence, they also went to a religious leader (the one they had together, which necessitated her flying halfway across the country because she had left him to move in temporarily with my parents). NW made it about 20 minutes before he stormed out screaming that neither sis nor the religious leader understood forgiveness. This Mormon bishop looked at my sis and said, “Get out of this marriage AS SOON AS YOU CAN. Whatever you need me to do to help you do that, I will.” It was tremendously validating and strengthening for her and, to this day, I’m grateful.

    P.S. I started reading CL to help a friend who’d been chumped and was going through a divorce. That was three years ago and I’ve never stopped reading, because cheaters keep abusing my friends and loved ones and I keep needing the dose of reality and the tales of actions that DO help. I’ve steered nearly a dozen people here and I am grateful for your kindness to all of them and the strength your experiences give to them, strength they can borrow until their own mightiness catches up. I also keep reading as a gut-check for my own complacency and to help me remember that a true friend takes sides in stuff like this. Thanks to all of you.

  • Here’s one for you. We were going to our MC separately in back to back meetings. She went first and then I went after. I walked into my meeting after literally passing her in the hall and sit down. MC says, “OK, she is not cheating on you and we need to talk about why you are thinking these things bc you are driving your wife away with your allegations”. Boy was my ex good! LOL. My response? “Are you done? Bc I have an audio recording of her having sex at our house on our couch with our kids at home in their rooms from 3 days ago while I was at work. Also, she went on a 2 hour date before she got here today for her session….. just up the road at Buffalo Wild Wings and picked up the tab with our joint checking account. I know this bc when she used our account I saw and knew the amount was not just her so I called and actually spoke to the waitress that served them. She remembered them very well and told all once I told her I was the wife. Yep, you got fooled too”. MC sits in shock with her mouth open. Me: Drops mic and walks away.

    • I must add that the counseling continued but within a month, the MC sat me down and said that I needed to stop trying to save my marriage. Said that people don’t try to stay with “this kind of person” but should instead run away. I still see the MC but for individual therapy instead to this day!

  • Wow — this topic is getting a lot of responses! My two therapy sessions with my ex were almost as weird as the discovery itself.

    I had just found out about a 20+ year addiction to S&M and sex for hire (we had only been married a year when I found out.)

    Super weird moment in therapy #1 –

    Therapist: ” Alice, try to think of it as a compulsion — like gambling!”

    Super weird moment “2 –

    Ex:” Did you tell your daughter everything? I can’t believe you told your daughter! I have never been so humiliated in all my life!”
    Therapist: “That’s quite an enactment you have created, Marty!” (S&M people like humiliation……wtf??) At that moment I didn’t really need to be there — it was all about him, as everything was always all about him.

  • The trouble with marriage counseling is that it can only work when spouses are coming from a place of equality and have a shared goal. When the emotional abuse of cheating is a factor, that’s not usually the case. The chump’s goal is usually to restore honesty, vulnerability, and balance to achieve a cooperative and loving partnership. The cheater’s goal is usually to maintain a position of advantage and to get the chump to shut the hell up. These objectives are mutually exclusive. Most marriage counselors are either blindly or willfully ignorant of this dynamic and take it on good faith that inequality is a shared fault and that the spouses have a shared objective. I think most of us chumps only start to clue into this dynamic after we’ve tried marriage counseling and walked away scratching our heads and feeling emotionally shredded.

    I don’t believe that marriage counseling can work until equality has been restored, and equality can only be restored through intensive individual counseling on the part of the cheater to deconstruct their fortress of entitlement from the *inside.* As long as Ft. Entitlement stands strong, marriage counseling won’t make a dent.

    • Ha Free Vixen, we were posting at the same time, basically along the same lines…though as always you are much more eloquent than I am.
      Happy Day!

    • Well stated. With the right therapist and with equally committed partners (who simply have some issue to work through in a counseling-type setting because they can’t seem to settle it on their own), it can totally work.

    • Well said. Describes my MC experience, 100%. Wife went in and lied her way through all of it, manipulating both me and the MC (who was no prize, herself). After each session, I came out confused, feeling I’d been attacked and humiliated and was being asked to swallow more for the sake of something I couldn’t grasp. From my perspective, it was actually one of the worst experiences of the affair: an allegedly objective third party just made me feel worse about myself.

  • something I can comment on directly for once ! (Since my ex is a vanilla cheater).

    5 years into marriage ex was acting strange, I accused him of cheating, he denied it and said the fellow grad student was infatuated with him, etc. So I dragged him to counseling (hint #1!). I thought we expressed ourselves and learned to communicate. It came out that he thought I disrespected his mother, I explained that giving my opinion is not disrespectful).
    11 years later… hmm, acting the same; I ask, no cheating, but coworker through herself at him, etc.
    Unhappy with work, so I encouraged a leave from work and a temp new job out of state. 7 months in, then husband announces he does not want to end up like his parents (WTF? No way we are like them…)
    I again drag him to MC. It takes two months, but he FINALLY admits to the cheater, though it dribbles out over the next month, and each time minimized (I loved #1, but not physical; well, yeah, physical, but only one time. #3, I stopped socializing with her 4 months ago, but she had nothing to do with the end of the marriage…. a week later, yeah, I love her, but I did not cheat… blah, blah, blah”
    Also ad in, you never liked my family, you hate my mother, blah, blah, blah. Again, disagreeing with her, and asking husband to back me up when grandmother drove baby in the car WITHOUT A CAR SEAT does not mean I hate her.

    I wish I had known then what I know now– if they refuse counseling, give it up then. They are not “in.”

  • I was thrilled when he suggested that we go to marriage counseling because I thought it would give us a chance to fix the problems we had recently been experiencing (as I understood them with no clue that there were Schmoopies in the mix). It turns out the MC was her idea although once we started she did her best to scuttle it. That was probably the only reason he considered it at all, because Ms. seemingly perfect at the time thought of it. If I had suggested it he would never have agreed.

    By the time we went to the first session, I knew about Schmoopie but he claimed that he was serious about trying to fix our marriage through MC. I agreed to go and try to save our marriage if he would end things with Schmoopie and he said he would (yeah right – he did stop the PA for a while, but the EA was still going strong despite my attempts to stop it). The first MC session was all about everything that was wrong with me, which I now recognize was mostly projection on his part (she’s emotionally unavailable, she doesn’t appreciate me and our sex life is too predictable).

    At our third session we were assigned a book. He suggested that I order the book on Amazon and get the free shipping so it would be less expensive so I did that. Then a few days later he said “what? That will take too long to get here and we need it now”. So I cancelled the Amazon order and went to the book store and purchased the book. I read the assigned chapters immediately and passed it on to him. I thought it was great because in the introduction it talked about each of us focusing on improving our own relationship skills without focusing on whether or not the other was improving sufficiently. It only works if both sides do this. STBX read the introduction and got no further. Later that week Schmoopie (who suggested the counseling in the first place, then got upset when he said he had to put their relationship on hold while we were in counseling and then called him later to break up with him after he already sort of broke up with her), sent him an invitation to go to a movie. That is when STBX decided he was too far gone and we should give up on counseling and he should move out. At first I thought it was the invite from Schmoopie that got him all moony over her again that scuttled MC, but now I believe that it was really finding out tMC meant he had to work on his own issues.

    Now my biggest fear is that he will go to relationship counseling with Schmoopie so that he can be in a better relationship next time and she will benefit from it instead of me. I know that is a stupid worry, however, as I don’t think he will every be able to sustain whatever self improvement he might attempt.

    • This thinking was really challenging to me for a long time. I make an 11 year investment, then he leaves, does the work, then gives someone else what I should have gotten? That thought hung me up for a long time.

      You are most likely correct that it won’t really work for them anyway, but I tend to think the more relevant issue is that it doesn’t really matter what he does or does not do with anyone else in terms of what is best for you.

      I wouldn’t call it stupid that you have that worry – it’s common, and honest – I would just say to consider that it might represent an indicator that you might still have some unwanted attachment to the hopes and dreams you had for the illusion you thought your relationship represented. If you could maybe separate him (what you clearly don’t want) from what you thought he was (what you wanted), maybe it would make it a bit easier? Just a thought.

      • Yes. I am still working on all of that too, much to my consternation. The brain understands, the heart is still playing catch-up. That is why I am Chumpinrecovery rather than Chumprecovered. Maybe it should be Chumpstilldetaching. I am now at the point that I realize I don’t really want him back, but I still want things to go bust with Schmoopie. I still care about consequences for him for his bad actions. I know I need to get beyond that too, but I am not there yet.

        Actually that reminds me of something the divorce mediator (who is also a marriage counselor) said the other day. He told me that if Schmoopie was going to be an important person in his life then I might have to encourage the kids to have a relationship with her in the future. I said something to the effect of “are you out of your mind?”. I said I understood that I probably should not badmouth her or call her Schmoopie in front of them and I should not discourage them from whatever relationship they want to have with her, but to actually encourage them to have a relationship with her? I can’t even conceive of that right now. Perhaps someday, but now was not the time for the mediator to tell me that. I do think that I will be able to accept a new girlfriend in a couple of years if they start with an honest relationship. I might even like that hypothetical girlfriend better than him by that point.

  • I told this story on the other thread, but I’ll tell it again: XH was always extremely resistant to doing therapy.

    – He asked for a divorce in 2004, one year after we got married. (He was actually cheating, but I didn’t learn of it till 2014). I insisted that I would not cooperate in the divorce unless we tried marriage counseling first, so he grudgingly came to all of two sessions. His participation was apathetic and minimal. On the second session, the therapist asked us to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much we desired to save the marriage; I said “10” and he said “Zero.” The therapist said she really couldn’t help us.

    – He was put on unpaid medical leave at work in 2012 because his boss overheard him being a drama queen and threatening suicide. He was required to do therapy before he could return to work. We didn’t have insurance or much money, so I tried to get him into the counseling center at my graduate school, which provided discounted services. He filled out an enrollment questionnaire and a few days later, they sent us a letter saying he was beyond their help. To this day, I don’t know if he filled out the questionnaire as weirdly as possible to scare them off, or if he really is that fucked up. (Either one is disturbing.)

    – During my pregnancy, my family practitioner (who was doing my prenatal care and hearing all about his emotional affair with the ho-worker) asked him to come in so he could broker a counseling session between us. My XH immediately turned into a petulant child. He answered every single question with, “I don’t want to talk about that” or “I’m not going to answer that.” It was so embarrassing.

    – After the divorce, I toyed with the idea of getting back together with him (yes, I was dumb). I demanded two things: that he go 100% NC with OW #1 + OW #2, and that he check himself into therapy for his pathological lying. He said he wouldn’t go NC until I met his demands first because “you have to prove to me that there’s something worth coming back to” and said if I wanted to find some therapy options for him, he would “check them out.” Or in other words, he wanted me to do the “pick me dance” and do all of the work of fixing the relationship, even though he’s the one who broke it.

    I would now consider it a HUGE red flag if a man was anti-therapy.

    • He sounds like a real keeper – like mine. Glad you’re rid of him.
      Therapy isn’t for everyone, and in some cultures and upbringings, talking about your feelings doesn’t come easy or comfortable, I get that. But being a decent human and respecting others and not lying and knowing whats right and wrong, those should be fundamentals for everyone. Or maybe I’m just asking too much

      • His father is a well-known neuropsychologist, so he should be comfortable with it. (Then again, maybe that was why he was uncomfortable with it: having to live with too much of it.)

  • After he got caught, crazy me, still thought the marriage was worth saving. He would not go with me to counseling, but said he’d go on his own to work on himself. Fair…but who knows what he was telling her, cause what he got out of it was that there was a lot of “dirt” in tihs vaccuum of ours – a lot of that dirt was because of me and maybe he should look at all the things I did over the years to make him go to another woman. I don’t know what BS he was feeding her. Sure I wasn’t perfect, neither was he, neither is any marriage. But thats what marriage is, hard work and going through things together. Or leave. Not cheat, not lie and betray and totally not give a fuck about the person you love. Yet still want to come home to them everyday and sleep next to them, and say all kinds of lovey dovey things, as if everythings normal. All the while living a double life.

    I got fed up, wanted to file for divorce. He begged me not to. Said he couldn’t bare to be without me. But didn’t know how to forgive himself. So he couldn’t put any work into fixing what he broke cause he was so broken and down on himself. Whatever. Bottom line, he didn’t want it bad enough, what he wanted was me and his cake, just handed to him.

    No thanks.

    You cant fix stupid.

  • During 14 months of fake reconciliation, I took ExH to three different counselors. Two Catholic (as he still claims to be a better Catholic than me. During the affair, he and the AP would text about going to church and how important their faith was…no joke) and one secular. The pattern was always the same: I always made the appointments. After a couple of sessions, ExH would start making excuses for not being able to attend. Then he would tell me he didn’t think counseling would help us (well, he was right about that!). He would lie multiple times to the counselor’s face about cutting off the affair, and multiple times, after yet another D-Day, he’d march into the counselor’s office, head held high, claiming, “I made a mistake and I’m taking accountability.” I don’t think any of the counselors actually believed him…eventually, after he’d quit going and I went alone, they’d define him as “sociopathic,” and/or “narcissistic.” But yes, I had to sit through a ton of “everything I did wrong in the marriage” crap and all the shame Ex felt…tons of legitimizing his actions making me feel like he was the true victim out of all this. Counselors telling me I was expecting too much transparency…expecting too much of Ex period. Ugh. I honestly wanted to ask for all the money back in the divorce that was spent on fake counseling…. because of course, who’s account did the counseling checks get taken out of?

    • You just wanted basic human decency – honest, respect, caring, heartfelt emotion, ….yeah guess you were expecting too much

  • Hmmm….let’s see.

    Well, yes, went to MC…..he lied.

    I did the RIC for myself (online, on phone program located in the good ol heart of TX) AND
    individual counseling to which the no good mother fucker said to me….good, keep going, maybe it will do you good!

    And no, he NEVER booked an appt to the MC nor did he read something I printed out for him to review for this weekend retreat thing (that I now know is bullshit).

    It all happened for a reason… the time apparently I was desperate to hang on and my Higher Power had to step in and do something about it for me! THANK YOU GOD!!!

    • A good reminder. Being thankful can be hard amidst all of the pain and upheaval. But, yes, we have much to be thankful for. Namely, a life free from the abuse of cheating and all of the mind bending lies that go with it.

  • With $100k and five years of therapy, he gained a PhD in language to manipulate me, our kids, and the counselors. After all of that, I found the same exact escort site on his phone. Not one more question, not one more counseling session, I knew instantly I was done. Of course I got, “I can’t believe you’re ending this without even verifying what it was about”! I knew enough that it always picks up where it left off.

  • After I found him hiding and lying about text messages with one of our friends, I told him I was going to start separation proceedings after our son was born (oh, yeah, I was 7 months pregnant, doncha know) unless he started individual counseling and set up a marriage counseling appointment. He dragged his feet and we didn’t actually get into see the counselor until my son was 6 weeks old.

    He proceeds to tell the counselor that the *real* problem is not him having an EA, but that our marriage was “so fragile I was threatened by him having a female friend,” and that I’ve never been supportive of his hobbies because I don’t like playing ultimate frisbee with him (I’m not even making this shit up.) He swore up and down–in front of the counselor–that he hadn’t had any contact with her for months.

    I finally get evidence that the EA had been a PA and that he had been in contact with her all through my pregnancy, my son’s birth, and the counseling appointment. I confront him, and he insists he “always loved me” and “never meant to hurt me” and is “100% committed to the marriage.” He wants to go back to the same marriage counselor.

    I fire her after 4 sessions because she insists that the affair happened because I had “emotionally stepped away from the marriage” and that now that he had “chosen” me, I needed to be “in the marriage with both feet.” Fuck that noise.

    I got suckered into trying to reconcile, but just found CL this week, and have already read the book twice. Thank god! I can see the self-serving bullshit so much more clearly now. Last night, I allowed myself to get sucked into a discussion (I know, gray rock, I know I screwed up), and he actually uttered the words, “I don’t understand why you don’t think I’m fully committed to the marriage. ”


    Are you fucking kidding me? The AFFAIR I just caught you in is a pretty good clue. Fucknuts.

  • We went to a Marriage Encounter type week-end after we had been seperated for about a year. The first requirement was to cut off all contact with a third party in your marriage. Then attend 6 follow up sessions and then meet daily for a 20 minute structured communication session type homework. He only made 4 of the 6 follow up sessions because he had “prior” committments. We met during lunch time but only during the week to have lunch together and do our homework. After shit blew up I found out – 1. He was living with Cinderella. And Cinderella wasn’t happy that we were doing this and gave him shit about it all.the.damn.time. 2. While I was putting 100% into these sessions he was only putting in 5%. 3. He was hiding his workbook and journal at work so Cinderella wouldn’t find them. 4. Cinderella was pissed because he was having lunch with me on an almost daily basis. Kept telling me how much he “loved” me and how proud of me he was for losing weight.

  • OMG–these posts are the best. My biggest regret is that I didn’t find CL before I wasted a year of counseling. Time I will never get back! BUT the good news is after he left me while we were still in fake counseling for the OW, I found a new therapist and worked hard to get through the narcissistic abuse I endured for 12 years! Never going back there again!! I am so much better off now and when I look in the mirror I like what I see. Love this blog!!!!

  • My now XH wanted to return home after living apart for about 6 months while he was ‘thinking about things’. (I was unaware that he had purchased a home with OW#2 and was living with her.) My only condition was that we go to MC.

    I recall a very weird blame shifting when XH compared me to OW#1. He said I was not adventurous (read athletic, sexuallycurious) and wouldn’t do something like a take a cycling trip through wine country in France. We had never discussed such a trip – ever.

    Later, I learned that XH had continued the gas-lighting, blame shifting and image management campaign. At DD#2, this realization added additional fuel to my anger (thankfully).

    Post DD#2, I returned to the MC for individual counseling. (She was excellent.) She disclosed that XH had come to her independently and told her the full story. She was direct and told him that MC was not going to work unless XH was open with me.

    It always floors me how much effort he put into image management but never once sat down with me to have an honest and open conversation. I mean – he talked to everyone including neighbors! That is some very f-uped behavior.

    My analogy for MC/therapy is that it is like wearing sunglasses indoors when you have full blown cataracts. Eventually, I got clarity but there were many steps and time for me to get there.

  • My cheater brought the child whom he conceived out of adultery to marriage counseling. She was about 1 year old at the time. The counselor told him it was highly inappropriate. But when baby momma calls, he runs to answer no matter that the appointment that had been scheduled for a month prior. When I was upset, his answer was I will take my child and leave. Meaning leave me and our 6 children at that time ages 1-12.

    Also, he blamed me for going back to the same baby momma and possibly conceiving a second child after our 7th child was born still because I asked him if he was still cheating. He said I provoked him to sleep with her because I asked if he was sleeping with her. He, in his warped thinking, later said the therapist agreed it was my fault.

    Sigh. Sounds even worse when I type it.

    • Good God, now there’s one who can’t keep it in his pants right? I sincerely hope he is financially supporting all those children. And I REALLY hope you take him to the cleaners AND dump him.

  • My spineless douche bag of a (soon to be ex) husband came to our 3rd and last session having just had sex with his fuck buddy (I had tried to locate him on his phone prior to the session, and it was switched off, but my daughter had accidentally left her phone in his car, and thats how I found him out where he was). I had made him find the therapist and book the first appointment, but it took him about 6 weeks to do it. That day, he also hugged me harder than usual and made a point of telling me he didn’t want to hurt me anymore. When I discovered his affair a few days later, he told me that he hadn’t decided what to do, who he was going to choose, and if he had chosen me, he’d never have told me about the affair. Dick head.

  • Get therapy for yourself. Don’t include the Cheater. Waste of money and time. Get therapy and move on ASAP

  • Our time in MC was before the affair was out in the open. We started a couple of weeks after ILYBINILWY.

    It was an okay/ineffective experience, mostly just a chance to talk with a referee. It was actually my cheater’s idea to go to therapy.

    I rationalized later that it was more about his going through the motions of saving our marriage, because it was crystal clear that he wasn’t going to put in any effort. He had absolutely no interest in our marriage, but he wanted to create an outside appearance that we tried because – hey – we went to counseling.

    But my cheater would sit with his arms and legs crossed, barely contributing anything. Even when the topic came up of my being uncomfortable with how much time he spent with other women (again BEFORE the affair was out in the open), he denied everything. He half-assed the homework. He arrived late to every appointment, and often planned work meetings to start right afterwards so that he’d have to leave before the hour was over.

    As for new terminology, here’s the kicker… He didn’t pick up terminology from OUR therapist. He picked up terminology he learned from his AP, who had been in therapy for SIX YEARS with her husband because she was a serial cheater. From day one, he’d go on about how he was a “distancer” and I was a “pursuer”. I’d call him out on that shit. “I’m not ‘pursuing’ you! I’m just an active member of this family. I’m here for dinner every night. I’m involved in our kids’ lives. I make conversation. I ask you how your day was. Is that ‘pursuing’?”

    Oh man, I’d buried those memories already… Just thinking of it again is making my blood boil. I am such a chump for putting up with that crap. I am SO much better off now.

  • First MC said that neither of us should make any side the moves. In other words, wife can keep cheating until we figure this out. So I quit that MC and left my wife for a month.

    After affair was allegedly over, and I came back to my wife, second MC suggested going on dates and having more sex…which I tried.

    Second MC asked why I kept bringing up the affair. It was over, so I needed to move on. So I tried.

    MC suggested an open marriage…over multiple sessions…while I continually refused

    Second MC suggested an open marriage…over multiple sessions…while I continually refused.

    The MCs we saw were a total waste.

    BUT, my wife was also lying the entire time to the second MC. Wife claimed affair was over, so second MC started from that premise. I hated that MC, but she would have done better had my wife not been LYING to her.

    Fuck MC. Cheating isn’t a marriage problem. It’s a character problem.

    • Thanks JC “Cheating isn’t a marriage problem. It’s a character problem.” It takes two people invested in it to make it work, also, it is a rare therapist who is good at couples’ stuff.

      Marriage counseling simply does not work for narcissists. Soon after discovering my then-wife’s long term affair, we saw our first marriage counselor. Also, my wife had supposedly ceased seeing her affair partner to “work on our marriage”.

      The therapist was simply awful, not very smart and terribly hippy-dippy. The little my cheater did speak was about how she had fell in love with her AP. At one point, the counselor sighed and smiled and said “it’s love, I guess you just can’t fight it”. This gave my ex more ammunition to buttress her whole party line which was “I couldn’t help it, I fell in love..” Yuck.

      • “It’s greed. I guess you just can’t fight theft.”

        “It’s an entire cheesecake. It’s delicious. I guess you just can’t fight eating the whole thing.”

        Yeah. You can.

  • In another life when I was a chump, and tried MC the ex:

    Never made any appointments. I did all the work.

    Never did any of the homework. Gaslighted by saying the MC never asked us to do the homework, but had no explanation for where the specific homework assignments came from.

    Would immediately be on the phone with her AP within minutes after the session.

    Agreed with the MC that there could be no if MC was going to be successful, however she continued to cheat throughout the entire process.

    Fun times! I would advise anybody who’s been cheated on to walk away and never look back.

  • While living with ow x signed up for online marriage counseling. He got the “Lone Ranger” package since I had zero interest in his bullshit. To me it was basically a stalkers guide. If she won’t meet with you…show up unexpectedly at places you know she’ll be. Call her repeatedly, she’ll break down and answer and more along these lines. The underlying message was Don’t give up! Remind your spouse that a cheating husband makes the best husband because now he knows what he has to lose! Word for word from the emails this online scam sent him. I felt like billing these losers for the security system I had to put it thanks to their “advice”

  • My Cheater actually said in MC, “I feel like I found my new best friend.” After I caught him texting with my friend. It infuriated me. He said he’d stop.


    They stopped texting, started secretly emailing and eventually fucking in the third row of her Pilot.

    Waste of money and time. Neither of which I can ever get back.

  • He used MC as a fishing session since I was Gray Rock and he needed stuff to berate me about. When I didn’t comply he walked out in session 3

    The MC was an idiot. She refused to here that I wanted out and was done. She made comments about my clothes since I was nicely but casually dressed and he’d show in Armani. She told me “abuse is a buzzword” that my “therapist wasn’t done my a good job and needs to get you in line.” She told me if I “lost weight and stopped being permanently disabled” he’d love me again. WTF?

    I reported her to the center and the APA. She was so obviously into him I was hoping they’d start dating.

    • Abuse is a buzzword???? That is the worst thing I’ve ever heard someone say came from a therapist. Wow.

  • I consider the therapy years with my X as Gaslighting II, the journey continues.

    We had been in and out of couples therapy for 15 years (FIFTEEN). I learned to speak to him with “I” messages and to watch my tone. He learned that he was not acting as a partner or putting the needs of his family on par with his own. I fully believed we could get where we wanted to go in the marriage.

    Coincidentally, we had a therapy session booked for the day after DDay. I could barely walk in the door because of my complete breakdown – couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t think, felt I was having an out of body experience, kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare of learning of the 10-year-double life. He did not have an affair partner per se – he had craigslist hookups and Skype sex buddies and then the 3 hour/day porn habit. And believe me played that “no affair partner” card until it was ragged.

    So he threw himself into therapy and went on meds for sex addiction. He found his own therapist and I stayed on with our original one. We occasionally would go together. He learned about narcissism and said he wanted to get off the scale. He started making Food Bank deliveries. He shopped and cooked for us. He would get excited about an insight he learned in therapy and come home to tell me. I really thought maybe things could work out! My therapist said that time will tell and if it’s a mask he’s hiding behind I will see it to just wait and see. He cares deeply about what others think of him so he set out to charm his therapist.

    He would slip up and start doing his blame shifting, minimizing thing and yell and scream at me – and then write it off as, “I’m not quite where I want to be yet; I’m not the person I know I can be”. So I gave him time. He said he was going to live a completely transparent life, he gave me the passcodes to his electronics his bank and credit cards. He was going to tell me everything about the double life and the lies. He was going to give me closure by admitting to everything and filling in the gaps with every little detail I needed to know.

    He was playing the long con and he was very good at it. He wanted our family, my money, our lifestyle, the front of legitimacy…

    About a year into it, the mask did come off. And in therapy I learned to recognize all his tells. He said he was sorry but he didn’t DO sorry. He rolled his eyes behind my back. He decided he had told me enough and talking about it made him feel bad. He discounted my feelings (omg yes, I masturbated big deal!),
    He blame shifted (it’s not what I did, it’s your inability to forgive). He played victim (“she’s just so angry”, said with a sad shake of the head). He was obviously not sorry just sorry he got caught.

    Then he moved on to retelling the past – I fell out of love with you years ago, I stayed for the kids, I am the hero here – to give up my own happiness for the kids!. He played the bitter card. He charmed his therapist in ways that I simply cannot believe. He reads his meditation books and considers himself enlightened because he has forgiven himself. It is all the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

    The therapy for me was ok – I was going to be wrecked for a couple of years regardless. It made me feel I had done everything I could to save the marriage and it made me 100% sure that he was NPD and a pathological liar. There were no tears when he moved out. I was ready and knew it was the right thing.
    (And BTW he made a little porn movie in our house the night before he moved out because the little rental he was moving into wouldn’t look so good on film). So did he change? Oh my god NO. Incapable of change and a total wingnut who writes bullshit emails to the kids – they have been in therapy too and know all about NPD and they can pick out his lies in 2 1/2 seconds. My struggle, and I write about it often here is the damage he’s done to my reputation. He is SUCH a covert narc. People think he is the nicest most wonderful person ever. I did too when we first met, so I get it. It’s hard to have been in the orbit for so long of someone who lives in an alternate reality, lies like breathing, and really doesn’t think he did anything that bad. But my therapist? She is a wise woman and she is a hard ass and she is SO glad we are divorced. I am too and I will get to Meh. It’s hard when I have to pay him alimony though…

    • He made a porn movie in your house!!! Next time he smears your reputation you might want to casually drop that in the conversation to all those he bad-mouthed you to.

  • The Limited manipulated me into thinking everything was my fault. After leaving him in 2001 I was a mess. I had lost my home, dropped over thirty pounds and my hair was falling out. His response? He blamed it on menopause. The stress was so overwhelming I was post menopause at 42.

    After taking him back my therapist attempted to help yet wasn’t direct enough. He refused to join me for obvious reasons. This was the year he spent thousands on porn and blamed my son who was mortified.

    He then went on a campaign convincing me that I was the one with issues. After cheating again and again I saw a specialist who again wanted to meet him. The therapist asked me why I tortured myself after meeting him. In order to stay with him I had to drop my friends and give up everything positive in my life.

    He then used my coping strategies against me; he told everyone I was an addict. I wasn’t. I learned to develop healthy coping strategies and he sabotaged each and every one.

    It wasn’t until I met my current therapist and found CL that I was able to see the monster I tolerated for 41 years total.

    Yes, I was sick. I bonded with a sociopath. I needed to know the truth. My therapist was direct and what he said aligned with everything I learned right here.

    While history will never repeat itself in my relationships, he’s working his magic on his latest victim. He’s convinced her to treat her lifelong mental illness. She’s borderline, addicted to drugs, explosive, verbally/physically abusive, and spends his money. Good luck with that toxicity.

    I’m off the crazy train and at peace. Life is good.

  • My STBX did the homework, said all the right things, and appeared as if he had really made an internal change. I, too, worked on the things that I felt had hurt our relationship over the years.

    Fast forward 2 years and he was walking out on me again. Part of his departing comments were how he didn’t get anything out of the marriage counseling and he had just said what he knew I wanted to hear to keep me from divorcing him. That was just the beginning of discovering the incredible deceptions I had lived with for YEARS.

    That is almost worse than the cheating. Nothing from our life together is real anymore. Only positive thing that came out of the MC was that the things that I worked on did get internalized so they benefit the other relationships I have in my life.

  • My X made all the appointments. Thought it would make him involved. Ha!

    1st MC: denied physical affair despite faking evidence. Claimed we needed time together to reconnect….bad behavior was rewarded with a vacation. Work benefit ended, stopped seeing counselor. (He did say to divorce after I returned months later.)

    Proof of physical affair. 2nd MC: lots of 3rd person speak. Lots of talk about “his business.” Poor baby complained about the difficulty he had finding fuck friends on the internet. Stopped seeing counselor when found evidence on another affair.

    3rd (strike your out!) MC: denied seeking affair partner. Guess we never asked if he currently had one, so our bad. Claimed he was happy we were working to reconcile…just never found the time to send the paperwork to the court. And MOW called immediately after every counseling session. I don’t think I ever spoke more than 5 minutes per session. Finally got to ridiculous to continue.

    Next time, I think I’ll save my time and money!

  • Two marriage therapists- probably over ten years. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY. I poured my heart out. He continued to cheat and lie. The first MC, a woman, kept blaming me: I was overweight, I was too involved with my son, I should get a second job so the pos could work less, I was a nag. I wanted sex and physical contact so I was ‘pushing him’. She suggested that we stop giving our son money for college and boot him out on his own. (Thankfully I didn’t agree as he is now self supporting, with a great job) The MC was clearly totally fooled by the narc and appeared to have a crush on him. When he raged, she would say I shouldn’t make him angry. And because he had a problem with alcohol, she said he should try ‘controlled drinking’ (huh?) He would laugh when we left and say he had pulled one over on her. The second MC, a man, also missed the whole thing. He never got it at all. When I came back to talk to him after the final D day, crying hysterically, he told me that because I no longer had the money to see him, he couldn’t talk to me. He told me to stop paying for my son’s college and pay him instead. These people totally suck ass. They know nothing. I came with my heart on my sleeve. I told them the truth. They never made him talk about the affair. They wouldn’t know an authentic moment from a lie even if it bit them in the ass. My ex made not one sincere attempt at change- he only criticized me and gaslighted me in front of these therapists – and they both chimed in and agreed. Neither of them recognized that he was a narcissist, sociopath and had bpd, all of which he was later diagnosed with. Physician, heal thyself! Assholes!

  • I should add that after he finally left I started my own personal therapy and my therapy was amazed and confounded that neither of the marital counselors could see what was so obvious.

  • We shouldn’t assume that someone is wiser just because they have a degree. They also have to have some sort of empathy and intuition to be a good counselor, both to help us and to suss out what the truth situation is. Also, marital counseling with a cheater is a total waste of time unless there is total remorse and, as CL says, that is rare.

  • I apologize up front for repeating this, but I think it’s worth the warning to those being severely gaslighted and lied to.

    My asshat had scratch marks on his back (he blamed the dog) and lipstick on his collar (he said it was my lipstick). Plausible deniability is his forte. But, the evidence was so cliche and my gut was screaming so loud that I didn’t believe him — I insisted on marriage counseling.

    He gave the same, heartfelt, excuses to our therapist. And, the therapist fell for it (hook-line-and-sinker). Those therapy sessions ended up being solely focused on how I to improve my self-esteem and stop being so jealous.

    With the man I loved emphatically denying wrongdoing and an EXPERT supporting him, I completely caved in on myself. Overcome with guilt, I balled my eyes out and apologized to my asshat for being such a horrible wife. Seriously.

    EIGHTEEN YEARS later he finally admitted that the evidence was definitely from an affair. Even then, he still lied (“it was just once!”). The reality? It was an affair with a coworker that lasted nearly a year (during my second pregnancy and for several months after giving birth — it only stopped because we moved and he started a new job).

  • My experience with counseling was terrible. We saw the therapist together and separately. I was struggling with how to get the thoughts of her giving a blowjob to the idiot. When I asked her how to get the thoughts out of my head the therapist laughed and said , “How come all men think this is the worst thing?” I never went back.

  • I come from a culture that is healthily sceptical about therapy. Nevertheless, what do you do when something feels off, or you feel like your mental health or relationship might do with a tune up? I thought talking therapy was preferable to shoving pills down my throat as a first resort. So, I sensed our distance. Couldn’t name it as that at the time. Just thought, something felt ever-so-slightly ‘off.’ So. I approached him and suggested couples’ therapy. His (don’t cut off my cake supply) response? “Oh Snooks, don’t be silly. We’re fine. You’really just working too hard and being overly sensitive.” So. I let it go. For a week. Then I rang a therapist and booked. Thinking that once I’d booked, of course he’d come. After all, my reality was I felt something needed talking about. I NEVER suspected an affair. He had always been caring and empathetic. The most emotionally intelligent guy I knew.

    Appointment day arrived. And he refused to come! I was pissed off! And very confused. He was not normally dismissive like this. But decided to go alone. I went to three sessions. Alone. And had no idea why I was there! Got the bog standard, love bank crap. (Put more in….)

    D-day was about a year later. After that we saw several. But my suicide attempt conveniently changed the focus to my ‘depression’ for a while. Individual counselling, eventually a brief period on meds (for my ‘depression’ which was really just complicated grief – you can’t medicate that away.) Until a good shrink put the focus back where it should have been. More than two years after D-day. He was horrified I had been medicated and somewhat ‘blamed’ (crazy woman) for a perfectly reasonable response (grief) to losing the relationship I was certain I had, a good, healthy, loving one with a strong and sweet guy for well over 20 years. Instead I was dealing with the kind of grief widows do. Except the corpse was still in my house! And in my bed. And in my heart. My lovely boy had been body snatched! Yes, the ‘old’ one was back. Horrified at what the intruder did and trying to make it right. But he still stank of death.

    Still, we tried intensive MC with the only one I think had it sorted. He was good at keeping the focus on the ex and his shit. He told us a story about how he felt he was normally was onto the cheats that were still at it. Except once. When the guy had him convinced he ‘had changed’ and was all in. Found out a couple of months in he was going straight from therapy to hookups with an AP. He told the wife to run. And never look back (NC.)

    Did X ever make any appointments? Nope. The only therapist he found was the first one for me, the day he cut me down from the woodshed rafters. Yes. He did the homework. But he never initiated any therapy. Nor found his own. He showed me how much he cared right there.

      • I’m so sorry you had to go through all that because of a cheating bastard. It was never “you” – they are the guilty partners here. You are so much better off without that scumball. Good luck to you.

  • Number me among the thousands who banged my head against the brick wall that is marriage counseling with a serial cheater, my ex-wife.

    My situation was pretty typical. Prior to first D-day tried MC because “something was off” but thought it was only ordinary issues in a 20+-year marriage that could be addressed with an MC “tune up.” Ex-wife was passive and said little. When the topic of divorce came up I said several times, “Divorce is for problems like cheating and addiction. People don’t get divorced over laundry and video games” (she played online A LOT). Neither the ex-wife nor therapist pushed back on that idea, what I considered “perspective,” so I plowed ahead, trying to fix “our” issues–on my own.

    Not much after that, encountered the first D-day. I became amazon chump, buying 2 copies of lots of books (one for me and one for her) and marking up my copy and checking to see if the book mark in hers had moved (it hadn’t). I thought we’d read the books in parallel, compare notes, and make amazing insightful discoveries **together**! Boy, was I wrong. Despite not having a job at that point, and both kids teenagers and in school all day, she couldn’t find time to read. So I bought her AUDIO copies of the books I felt would help her most, thinking she could listen to them in the car (she didn’t).

    She did buy one book for herself, “When Good People Have Affairs.” She didn’t read that one either, but at least she left it out on her nightstand. She clearly liked the title and referred to it repeatedly (and with great pathos) in describing her situation.

    I proposed another round of counseling, and she went, grudgingly. Counselor assigned a book that said we needed to figure out what was missing in the marriage to cause STBXW to go outside the marriage because only then could we make the marriage “whole” so she wouldn’t have to cheat. Sadly, I bought into it. Counselor gave each of us homework that seemed like Buzzfeed clickbait (e.g., “5 things I Will Do Differently To Make Our Marriage Stronger”, “5 Things I Will Give Up to Make Our Marriage Better” Etc.). I wrote loooooooonnnng self-punishing essays in response to these assignments, about how I would give her more privacy, be less of a buzzkill, stop judging her and her choices (like spending a couple thousand hours per year playing online video games).

    Cheating wife? Not so much writing, it turns out. Not a word, actually. Then at one counseling session therapist turned to STBXW and said, “Now look Nomar in the eye and tell him that the other relationship is definitely over, so he has a safe place to stand while you all work on your marriage.” And she responded, “I am here because I want to work on the marriage, but I can’t say for sure the other relationship is over because I don’t know what the future holds.” The therapist, gob-smacked, said STBXW need to figure out what SHE wanted before it would be possible for us to work on the relationship together.

    Our new homework assignment was to get individual therapy. I did, STBXW did not. So I looked up info on candidates for her, made a little spreadsheet for her so she could pick a therapist by gender and credential (e.g., “Here’s a female psychologist, and here’s a male clinical social worker, and here’s a female psychiatrist,” etc.).

    See a pattern emerging?

    You can guess what happened. Yes, nothing. She went to counseling, never even picked one she would go to if she got around to making an appointment. And thank GOD a few days later I discovered yet another affair, ongoing even during the MC fiasco. And that was finally enough to tell me I had nothing to work with.

    As others have said, MC only has a chance if both people are in it with the same goal, namely, to identify and address the real problems in the relationship. Cheaters won’t disclose or admit the real problems (cake eating), and they certainly have no interest in fixing them (can’t lose cake!), so MC with them is pointless.

    • So unbelievable to chumps, huh, nomar? That they would allow anyone (let alone the person they at least once upon a time supposedly loved) to pretzel themselves, spending thousands, and countless hours on therapy, trawling the Internet and self-help (ahem) ‘literature’ continuing to invest further in them. When they know they don’t give a fuck. Cake, cake, cake. Nom nom nom nom nom!

      • Yeah, in retrospect is stunning and a bit embarrassing, as many have said. The lengths we went to, the scraps we longed for. All to prove that we were good enough, that we were . . . enough. That cake wasn’t needed, that our spouses might not even miss the cake if they just gave us a chance. And all our efforts doomed from the start, like a moth’s efforts to fly to the moon.

        That you cannot make anyone change is perhaps the hardest and most painful lesson life has to teach. As you said, they want cake. Nom, nom, nom.

      • Admirable? A little bit. Petulant, controlling, and delusional? More so.

        These days I avoid investing effort where it’s not wanted. I think that when we say an older person is wise, it usually means they have learned what they can and can’t control and to be okay with the limits on their influence. My 82-year-old mom has that. I aspire to it.

  • Unbeknown to me my then husband started seeing a therapist because his affair partner, urged him to go. He was claiming he was depressed and unhappy. So every Thursday morning he took off work and went to the next town for a session with his therapist and a “session” with the OW. When a few months later when he dropped his ILYBINILWY and we should amicably divorce, I suggested MC. In the course of the MC, when I thought things were looking up, he confessed to years of cheating with escorts and other sex workers and hook ups and also said he was thought he was in love with someone else. The MC asked me if I had a counselor of my own. I didn’t at the time. The MC then asked my husband if she could meet with me individually. He gave his ok. When I met with the MC the next day she gave me the book, “The Sociopath Next Door” and the business card of the best divorce attorney in town. Unfortunately, I was not ready to receive this information as I was so desperate for a unicorn.

    Months later during wreckonciliation, I agreed to go with him to his therapist as I thought he was interested in working on his “sex addiction”.
    It was very clear to me from the reaction from his therapist that he had lied about me and to her in their sessions. Later after I filed for divorce he claimed his therapist just wanted him to be “right”. In his head “right” meant superior. I’m pretty sure his therapist meant “right” as in “he ain’t RIGHT”!

    Therapy only works with non personality disordered.

  • Fortunately for me, my cheater refused to do any therapy with me. A few weeks after D-Day when I was in the throes of “pick me” and trying to get him to see our relationship was worth saving, I gently asked him on the phone if he would be willing to do therapy with me. He screamed back at me, at the top of his lungs (nothing new actually), “I DON’T need therapy, Muse! I need MONEY!!”

    Unfortunately for me, I was traumatized by Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance, and I sought individual therapy to help me get through the crisis that ensued when I was cruelly discarded by this raging narcissist. Both therapists that I worked with over a period of three years told me that Ex was a narcissist and probably a sociopath.

    He had me brainwashed for almost two decades.
    So glad he didn’t want to fake therapy with me.

  • Our MC was the husband of the minister of our church. x and the minister had a little thing on the side. or possibly with both minister and husband. I was in such a state of shock, I couldn’t see how messed up that was. In fact, it’s taken an embarrassingly long time to recognize how messed up so much of my life with that weirdo was. I feel sad about this.

    Anyway, during our three sessions of MC, therapist told me not to ask questions about x (or the life savings he squandered on strange) because that was private and violated x’s boundaries. He questioned why I was shocked. He confirmed that x’s attempts to purchase a teenage Filipina webcam whore indicated a legitimate relationship that I should honor.

    It was a horrible experience.

    Fortunately, I found a fantastic IC and have worked with her ever since (until recently when it became too cost-prohibitive). She and I rarely spoke about x because she felt that there was nothing there to mine: he was a sociopath and that was that.

    I still SMH when I think about that ffucked up couple (minister and therapist) and their inappropriate behavior. I really don’t trust anyone anymore.

    • Yah, Roaring, that minister and that MC are Sickos.

      So Sick. Whenever you feel strong enough, maybe you would report them to church, to therapist’s board, or something. Wow. That’s just downright evil on their part.

      What is “SMH”?

    • “He confirmed that x’s attempts to purchase a teenage Filipina webcam whore indicated a legitimate relationship that I should honor.”

      Roaring–I know the experience was painful, but you have a way with words!

  • I actually had an amazing therapy session with my ex. His 2am “Bible studies” led us to counseling. I told him he had to make the appointment and stick to it, and he did. He choose the most religious counselor he could find so he could have them drill in to me how a woman’s place is subservient to the man. After 20min in to our session, he excuses himself to the restroom. The counselor leans over to me and said “Are you sure you want to stay married to ‘that?!'” My answer was already NO, but that solidified everything. If a christian marriage counselor doesn’t think you should be married to him then I need to run!! (And I did)

  • The first time ex went to individual therapy, at my insistence, it was to complain bitterly about me while he continued to cheat on and verbally abuse me. Five years later, after I caught him with the OW in my house, and went through the emotional horror cycle we all know so well, it occurred to him that maybe destroying the person who has cared for you for two decades might indicate a problem of some kind.

    He went back to individual therapy, admitted he was a failure as a human being, tried to figure out why, developed a conscience, found some humility, sincerely apologized, made amends, ponied up financially, picked up his slack around the house and did his best to fix what he broke. He was, honest to god, a unicorn. He found and made appointments with a marriage counselor who we saw for nearly a year. She was wonderful, worth her weight in gold, and eventually became my IC after I quit MC.

    She also helped me see that even though ex was finally becoming a decent person, he had done too much to me and to the marriage for there to be any future together. She did help us navigate an amicable divorce.

    So yes, ex WAS improved by the experience and never behaved like an entitled, oversexed fuckwit again (so far as I know). But I’m still better off without him.

    • Thank you, Kristen. You have vocalised my very similar experience. I, too tried hard with a unicorn. But those unicorns were once asses. You never forget that, and it taints the future. Hard to do, leave a truly remorseful person. You look like all kinds of mean and unforgiving. Thanks again.

  • Cheater ex and I went to an MC exactly once. After trying to get the counselor to address the subject of cheater ex’s girlfriend, said MC looked at me and said “We’re not going to talk about that!” It was OK for cheater ex recite a long litany of my supposed sin’s, but the elephant in the room was not to be discussed. I pulled the plug on joint therapy after that. Cheater ex’s story then became ……..he was begging me to go to therapy with him, and I, being the bitch that I am, refused. His wacko therapist actually suggested I come in to a session with cheater ex, for closure. This was after cheater ex had informed me he was giving serious thought to killing me, my children and then killing himself. My answer was NO! After cheater ex kidnapped and murdered my fourteen year old son, and then committed suicide, wacko therapist had the gall to call me up and try to get me to sign some sort of document to absolve him of responsibility. I hung up on him.

    I know there are excellent therapists out there, I am seeing an excellent one right now. Wacko therapist however was not a shining example of competency in his field.

    • You had a Tarisoff v. University of California claim against the therapist. He must have told his thoughts to harm others, and that requires reporting. Asking for a waiver of responsibility is yet another reason to pull that shithead’s license. I would have hung that bullshit artist out to dry, but then I never lost a child to a psycho. Lots of love to you, Tessie Your story always makes me gasp in disbelief.

      • I was in no emotional shape to do much more than plan my son’s funeral at that point, and for quite a bit after. Plus, due to the very effective smear campaign cheater ex had mounted against me and his family having talked to the local police first, I was being harassed by those same police. As for wacko therapist, if he even has a conscience, I hope it bothers him for the rest of his life.

  • Haven’t had time to read all the replies yet. But I will tell you that the deck can be stacked against you. The Fucktard ex was a clinical psychologist. He sent me off for therapy because I was paranoid and suspicious and, well, doubting his good word. I got stronger and that only made me doubt him more. Then he thought he could knock me into line and tell the world I was crazy. I was not, but I was referred to a really good therapist who understood abuse after the Fucktar got physical. She was incredible. But at the same time I was going to couples therapy with the Fucktard, every Wednesday morning. And every Tuesday night, the Fucktard would start up a war of complaints. And every Wednesday morning, he would argue about how bad I was, and how badly I behaved the night before. He never mentioned the hours of provocation that led me to erupt. I knew I was being mistreated in and out of those sessions, and thought he was driving the therapy appointments to his own benefit.

    At some point, both the marriage counselor and mine showed up on a Wednesday morning and asked him questions he refused to answer. He marched out and said they were both incompetent. Didn’t they KNOW WHO HE WAS? They did. After he left, they both told me that he was the worst of the worst.

    I think that is rare.

  • I got hours of provocation also, following me around the house, pushing through the locked bathroom door, ranting and finger pointing, until I left the house and went for a drive then came back to it, but I liked to argue according to him.
    Insulting my family and me, I have spat at him and shoved him to get him out of my face, that’s me being sbusive according to him, oh and have had the police around on more than one occasion for intimidation. He would never hit me as he would lose the power to say it was me who was abusive, which is the reason he tells his co workers why he left me.
    We live in a smallish town and I tell whoever I like he was an emotionally abusive cheater.

    • Take care, Lady B. I was kicked senseless in the middle of the night. Oops! Knocked into walls, oops! If you don’t take the threat that you already must be the aggressor, then he will hurt you. Or he’ll just have you jailed for abuse that you did not do. It happens.

      • Yes, when I said we were getting a divorce exasshole attacked me, when I called the cops he got me arrested. I was trying to keep him out of jail because I believed he was delusional, drunk and needed help. In that belief I helped him get me arrested. BUT, make no mistake, it was a set up on his part. It just took me a while (and evidence) to believe he’d done it on purpose. This is one reason I despise the MRAs, one of them taught him how to set me up for arrest. Damn right it happens.

        • Mine used to follow me around, knocking in doors and pushing me into walls too. He was a marine (yay the fucking marines) and knew how to fight. One time he locked me outside at 2 am in my underwear for an hour. It was February and we live in the alps. When I managed to get back in he had me pinned on the floor in a ball kicking three shades of shit out of me. I am the most laid back person I know but he actually told MC that I provoked him. Asshole.

  • Survivor, he is out of here so I only get the rage channel when things don’t go his way.
    He hates confrontation or criticism, passive aggressive type and I have mood swings according to him, yeah I do cause your shit makes me fucking cra cra.

  • Not so much a unicorn as a single-horned wild ass. Ha! Therapy was good for us, but only because our therapist really held my husband’s feet to the fire, called him out on his bullshit, was the one to suggest to my husband that he consider taking a polygraph after the shit really hit the fan and I found out what I thought was “only” one affair was in fact simply the last in a long line of bull-shit. We also took a course that was big on the idea of making the cheater face the pain they had caused, instead of avoiding it, and on building safety for the betrayed first and foremost. I think these two things were exceptionally helpful for my husband to face his shit and the pain he caused and step-up. It certainly hasn’t been easy or perfect since d-day. He’s a better person, a better husband, a better father. We have ups and downs, but overall a positive trajectory. Still, the trauma is with me, a part of me.

  • We went to MC. All the time he was still cheating with a new affair. We discussed the one I had discovered! Old news.
    It was a joke. I look back and wonder at my own naivety.
    What the MC did say tho’ was that just as a partner being an alcoholic, drug addict and / or wife beater was a good reason to divorce, so was serial cheating. He knew but stopped short of spelling it out to me.
    I could have saved about 2 years of my life if he had.
    At that point my ex clearly had no interest in the marriage, had already moved out and was knee deep with the woman at work he is now with.
    God knows why he even went. Bizarrely I think its because he wanted me to like him!! Yeh, right.

  • We went to the first MC after Dday number 1- he didn’t like her because she told him it was normal for a new parent to be in bed by 10pm and not to want to go to late night comedy venues( one of his complaints about me and my boringness). Two years later and we go to a second MC, after i tried to kill myself (becuase my husband was a distant stranger who constantly told me i was paranoid and that of course he wasn’t having an affair. My psychiatrist was very sceptical about my husband -he said sure we could try counselling but had i considered divorce?But my ex got a recommendation from somewhere so off we went. Gordon was a sensitive new age counsellor, and he and my husband had a very enjoyable first session discussing the role of the hero in Star Wars, amongst other things. 5 minutes before the end of the session he remembered to ask me why i was there. I mentioned, you know, suicide attempt, husband’s previous infidelity….he said we’d get to that later and patted my hand. Next session they discussed husband’s aims for the future, for the entire session. Shortly after that came Dday number 2 and the sheer relief of not having to listen to the pair of them ever again.But then because I was dumb beyond belief,after a year or two, still not divorced, i contemplated reconciling, only to be slapped arond the head with Dday number 3.Ex turned up the next day swearing eternal devotion and begging for me to go to counselling with him. Strangely I declined. I know he went to Gordon the SNAG for quite a long time on his own, only stopping when he decided that he was never going to do any of the things Gordon suggested- like getting rid of any of the crazy girlfriends.he said that to me, straight out. Poor Gordon.I bet his feelings were wounded.he was very sensitive.

    • I also want to record that after my suicide attempt my husband’s main reaction was anger. He told other people that it had been the worst day of his life, but when I came around he wouldn’t even give me a cuddle. People kept saying ‘ oh, it’s understandable, he’s upset’but he visited only about 3 times- I was in hospital for two amd a half weeks. he was ‘ busy looking after things’My sisters had come from interstate to look after the house and kids, and he was furious with them too, for being ‘ bossy’ . They spoke their minds when he wanted to go play his hobbies as usual.He finally came to a joint session with my psychiatrist- afterwards my psych said ” well that was illuminating’ and made the comment about divorce. when i did ask him to leave after Dday 2 a few months later my psychiatrist was thrilled, and said ” you won’t need to see me much longer”It makes me very sad in retrospect to remember how little i was prepared to accept, how desperate i was for any crumbs of comfort. I got more kindness from the staff in ICU than i got from the person i shared a life with.

  • We had 3 sessions, after the first mention of “I’m really unhappy in the marriage no of course there’s no one else”, 3 months before D-day. He sat with his head in a bucket the last session, pretended he was ill and couldn’t talk. At least the MC told me (when XH left) to get our settlement sorted ASAP while he was still guilty, as it wouldn’t last – that advice was well worth the cost of the sessions!

  • I didn’t bother with therapy when I was dealing with my serial cheater. I have little faith in those quacks to begin with, and certainly didn’t need their mumbo-jumbo telling me how I MUST have been neglected/molested/abused when I was little and that I need to deal with it I’m an adult and can do it myself – and did, quite nicely.

    When I read that ridiculously deluded SI board, they all act as though ‘therapy’ is the MAGIC CURE for everything. It will fix all things, don’tcha know? It will fix what ails ya, and it will fix what’s ‘broken’ in your cheater. LOL. Whatever. Sounds more like they want to believe it SO bad simply because they want to continue desperately and pridelessly clinging to the scumbag that cheated on them no matter what.

  • Such crazy stories. I recall vividly our first MC appointment. The one requested by my FWW because you know…she was confused and stuff. Keep in mind at this point my gut is screeming, the devalue has been underway for a few months, and the agony of the gaslighting is in full force.

    Right out of the blocks the MC asks WW …what qualities attracted you to Boatguy when you first met?

    WW response…umm, ahh, hmmm..maybe boatguy could go first!
    I was clearly floored and the rest of the session was a blur. After 15 years my WW could not remember one attribute about me that she was attracted too.

    Later in the afternoon she fabricates enough meaninglessness drama over something, and I choose to go do to our camper on the lake for the night.

    But my bell was ringing when I also learn from the kids the she has made arrangements for them to have sleepovers at friends.

    I drive back home that evening unannounced to find her and OM in my home, in my bed having a great time. These two fools didnt even have the courtesy to flip down the wedding picture on the bedside table.

    After the “oh shit!” From OM, he says “its not what it looks like, your WW loves you”

    Christ, if that doesnt give you some I sight into the delusional mind of a wayward I dont know what would.

    So my WW had me in the first MC session to save our marriage while at the same time planning to have OM in our family home that evening. Who the fuck does that? Ive come to accept that this is a midset I will never understand.

    Thank you all for this great resource. Its been pivotal in my healing over the last 1.5 years.

    • Wow, right, who does that shit? Awful! Fact is though – a lot of cheater narcs do that. Too common.

      Similar stories with my FWW. Twice in counseling sessions, different counselors, she drew blanks on “what qualities do you love about your husband?”. Said it was the stress, unprepared. Really? 25 years married and two fine boys and can’t think of anything? Just finished a lavish trip to Vegas and Sedona and can’t think of anything? A beautiful home and second one on a nice lake, and can’t think of anything? It was mortifying, deflating.

      To make it worse, I felt bad for her at that moment, spackled to cover, and offered to go ahead with mine to give her time to think! What pathetic chumps we are at times, or at least I was. I’m ashamed to admit it.

  • I can only remember two things about therapy with X. One, his AP made him go to her therapist, to help her figure out the future of fucking a married father of three! I know, because he told me he was going, it was a real low point for me, self-esteem firmly put in the gutter!
    And two, he had an IC for about a month. I went once, and his therapist sat there and let him go on and on, and then finally told X- she’s a fine woman, why are you treating her so badly? X stopped going soon after, no kibbles there!
    As for me, I had Suzanne, my therapist, and she was an actual godsend.

  • Yea, she made an ass out of me in counseling. Acted invested while secretly cheating on me with Mr. Awesome. They must have laughed when she sent the “I am working on repairing my broken marriage so don’t contact me again” text message. When I found out that I had been chumped again, the therapist explained to us that I needed to work harder because I wasn’t giving her what she needed. I finally gave her what she needed…..a set of divorce papers.

  • We never went to MC together, although I begged him for years. He always said he didn’t need it. I sought pastoral counseling throughout the marriage, and the last one told me that with what my XH had been putting me through, God didn’t intend on me living like that. Interestingly enough, my XH saw that same pastor one time only right before I filed. It was for show as he had already moved on from the last AP that caused me to finally file for the divorce to a howorker that I didn’t find out about until after the divorce. I’m pretty sure he didn’t like what the pastor told him…rhetorically speaking, I think he got doused with some holy water & it burned too much.

    I sought IC a couple of weeks after the divorce was final, Best thing I ever did. Between IC, CN & CL, I’m much better off than I was 3 months ago. I literally do not know how I would have survived the devastation without IC & you all. I’m so far away from MEH that it’s not funny, but I’m trying.

  • I’m over talking about the MC sessions, just don’t do it. I’ll share the last thing, a group session to learn to communicate better and share our vulnerabilities included a workbook that was ‘private’, we were not supposed to read each others books afterward. A week later my book had been moved so I decided to look at his workbook, no small feat for me. I really do have that integrity thing but I was by that time in survival mode due to his abuses.

    Anyhow, No wonder he’d finished his exercises so fast, the only one he’d actually filled out was the question “what makes you most angry with your spouse?” He’d written “When she calls Sue a whore”. That’s right, while in MC he wrote that my calling his OW names was the worst thing I ever did. Kinda puts paid to all those lies about how I ‘abused him for 17 years’. His response when I showed it to him? “How dare you invade my privacy!” Classic.

    As for MC therapists in general. Always ask if they are interested in determining if you should be together or if they are intent on saving the marriage. Most of them don’t give a shit about you, they have a reputation to uphold ‘saving’ marriages. It’s insane. Also, exasshole spent a lot of time insisting he had to ‘work on himself first’ before we could work together. If your in the middle of this shit storm and your spouse says they need to move out to fix themselves? Fucking file, do it fast, do it hard and get the fuck out.

  • Like most here, I found the MC and booked the appointments. After the first appointment, Assholio was enraged that the MC said that the “Wayward Spouse” needed to put in more of the effort to work on the marriage. This just did not fit with his view that I was mainly at fault and had made him have an affair. And like most here, he continued his affair with Whorebag while lying to the MC that it was over. In hindsight, I wish I had all that time and money back, sigh.

    Fabulous nuggets of narcissism gleaned from MC: “I want to feel like a Rock Star” (this was a recurrent theme, big shocker). “I want someone who is glad to see me when I get home from work, and gives me sex 4-5 times a week.” Don’t forget to add someone who cooks/cleans/takes care of the kids/pets/house/yard to your fantasy, big guy…

  • These comments have been enlightening and instructive. Like someone above stated, sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in here because my situation has not been nearly as extreme as most commenters. But there is a reason that I keep coming back here–alot. My husband had an emotional affair via email (soon to be physical–like “plane tickets were purchased” soon), broke things off immediately, fessed up to all the facts (after some trickle truth and what not and a couple rounds of some basic sad sausage stuff that eventually dissipated), did “emergency” MC (went ok, but counselor was heavy handed on the whole “surely he wouldn’t have cheated if the marriage was going well, he seems like a nice guy”…really? Can we know this for sure?), and went about the convoluted process of trying to be better and make it up to me. I mostly believe this was his one and only affair–unless my deep forensic research was faulty (I’m still just paranoid enough to think he has hidden something so well, despite his clear inability to hide anything–hence his affair being discovered very quickly with no effort on my part). He has done almost everything I have asked and then some. I have had a tough time responding positively to his actions, mainly because I now question his overall values (no shit!) and question whether we’re even compatible anymore. Also, I’m frickin tired. The last 2+ years has changed and exhausted me. Do I really want to keep marching down such a bumpy road? Is he a unicorn? I don’t think so. Is he a manipulative narcissist? I dunno. Certainly not like the stories I read here. He just seemed like a pretty selfish and self centered guy with a depressing inability to self-validate, and who’s genuinely tried to be less selfish and self-centered over the past 2 years. It’s a fairly vanilla oatmeal situation comparatively. We’re re-entering MC for one last shot at keeping our family in tact–we have a young child. I think it’s a good sign that our new therapist is very open about wanting the best resolution for us as a family and as individuals–he says his role is not to keep us together but to help us discover if we can be together. He has also said that the responsibility for the affair is squarely on the shoulders of the offender but that we should explore the backstory and unearth unhealthy patterns (whatever that means). Does anyone out there in CL land have a vanilla oatmeal situation too? If so, how did things go for you in MC…or overall? Thanks

    • Hi, KC. I’m sorry you aren’t getting a lot of feedback here. I think there are either two resolutions to the trajectory you are on. Either things work out (on some level), and those people are not often on this list. Or, they don’t work out because people eventually discover that their spouse returned to dishonest practices/the marriage was too damaged to continue, and these people tend to favor getting out earlier rather than later. There are a lot of people here who did work on the marriage–for another 2 years or 20–only to learn they were still being chumped.

      You sound pragmatic and your therapist sounds reasonable. The one piece of advice I’d put forward for you is not to stay together for the sake of your child. Do what is best for you. From that decision will flow the strength to be the best parent you can be whether you remain married or not.

      I hope you have some people in your life who are cheerleaders for you–not cheerleaders for marriage necessarily, people who help you see what you deserve. Chumps are pretty good at trying to be fair to their spouses, but we aren’t always fair to ourselves. For me, the fall back question is a very old one from Ann Landers–“Are you better off with him or without him?” She didn’t suggest those of us in this position think about what would be better for the spouse, the kids, our extended family, the business, etc. She suggested we put ourselves at the center of the equation.

      Best wishes.

      • Thank you! That Landers question is a tough one. When you’ve been with someone since you were 20, how do you know?! Even now, I’m doing stuff that is made much easier because of his willing assistance (I’m now in grad school). Practically, probably better with him. But, assuming he will be true blue from now on, will I ever respect him enough again? Maybe I can figure that out in therapy. But it is very telling that I keep returning to CL. Maybe that’s my inner truth screaming at me.

    • KC–Do not stay in a relationship with someone who wearies you for the sake of your child. Have a semi-broken mother whose mind is often pre-occupied with a substandard relationship does not do a child any good. Children pick up a lot implicitly. It will not escape him/her that the parents are not in a fully loving relationship, and it will influence your child’s relationship with you and with people in the future.

      I think you know the state of your marriage, vanilla oatmeal or not. Trust cannot be regained after such a huge infraction (even if your H had just one affair). If he is not bending over backwards to make up the betrayal to you, you have nothing to work with. You are hanging on for noble reasons, but not for rational ones. And your H’s insistence about exploring dynamics from the past is a subtle form of blameshifting (the number one hallmark of cheaters, BTW, and the best predictor of someone who will cheat).

      Please go post in the Private: General forums (click on top R and register)–you will get much more solid advice and support, as many people do not read the main page columns after the day they are published. Hugs!

    • P.S.–If you have a young child and the affair was 2 years ago, I’m wondering if your H cheated while you were pregnant? If so, I’d estimate there’s a 90% chance you have a prospective serial cheater on your hands, and that one affair was simply the start of a lifetime of heartache.

      • Thank you for your advice and response! Our child was 7 when he cheated. I guess it’s hard for me to gauge if he’s bending over backwards or not. I think he has been, but I also think I will never trust him again. I think I will never trust anyone again other than my sister, for that matter.

        • Kc, I feel you. Especially this:

          “Is he a unicorn? I don’t think so. Is he a manipulative narcissist? I dunno. Certainly not like the stories I read here. He just seemed like a pretty selfish and self centered guy with a depressing inability to self-validate. . .”

          Also this:

          “I have had a tough time responding positively to his actions, mainly because I now question his overall values. . . Also, I’m frickin tired. The last 2+ years has changed and exhausted me.”

          Exactly. I am actually repulsed when he tries to do something nice. I’m frickin tired as well. So tired that I can’t muster the energy to fake excitement over his “insights” from therapy.

          Methinks the marriage ship has sailed.

          I alternate between relief and grief. Also terror because we have 2 small kids. But Tempest is right. Staying only for the kids won’t help them or us.

          No advice here. Just saying you aren’t alone. And thanks for articulating thoughts in a way that I haven’t been able to. That helps me clarify my own thinking.

  • Oh yes MC with a highly recommended MCouncelor in our Silicon Valley area. My stbx is calling me names, the MCouncelor says she doesn’t want to call him out on this cause it might cause him to not come back. WTF? Then Stbx sits in the therapy couch and complains I don’t wear enough makeup or designer clothes. What? That’s his complaint? Hey what I didn’t know was I as a stay at home mother was competing with women he was having affairs with who were fully made up and dressed to kill. Narc much. This little wifey learned fast after enlightenment. 34 years of superficial “love”! Of course this isn’t all the crap o la! MC was very interesting cause it gave me an tiny insight into his crazy brain. Who cares what the MCouncelor was going to do with the makeup and designer clothing complaint. I don’t even recall looking at her. I was looking at the narc with new eyes. I couldn’t believe I was married to a man who was Ivy League educated, experienced business man who I helped cheer on since our college days and that was a deep as he could get about me, his wife of 30 years,the mother of his children. I was a prop for his image. I wasn’t decorated well enough lately it seems for his image in Silicon Valley. Scary.

  • I asked the Twat to do counselling but in relation to his temper (fury) outbreaks and his alcoholism. He wouldn’t agree to go because “any male counsellor will side with you (?) and you speak better French than I do”. So then his best friend Katie tells him that she and her husband go to a lady counsellor and she speaks English. Well if Katie says we’d better all jump on board hadn’t we. I didn’t feel I needed counselling because, hey, I have a great supportive family and friends and they all told me I was nuts to stay with him, but I went anyway. He started off all smiley faced Mr Congeniality but as soon as she called him out on one thing he flew into a rage. So she asked him why he was yelling at me (you know how they screw up say, when they are driving, and then start yelling at YOU)! He didn’t like that at all. Same thing happened the next time and in fact it was useful to me because I saw him as he really was and an impartial outsider confirmed when I really knew. He never made the third meeting despite my sitting there waiting – he had been drinking and had a car accident. We never went back again. Strangely enough, when I called the cops out to him for his violence he always started out as Mr. Congeniality – didn’t take more than a few seconds for that mask to drop though. It was all very validating. I knew I wasn’t the mad one.

  • Mine (who I am still with at the moment) on daring to very occasionally bring anything up said ‘ah , no doubt your counsellor thinks I am a shit and you should leave’. They are all men haters according to him, ….actuallymy counsellor thinks I have been far too co dependent , it’s up to me if I leave, but yes what he did was shitty!! he also said ‘I don’t want to see a counsellor, they will just try and make me feel bad’ it’s better if you just do. I really don’t understand him, he doesn’t want to split up I know that but seems to be mightily embarrassed at what he did to the extent of not wanting to discuss or me bring up, we are in ultimate rug sweeping territory here to the extent it may break up a marriage he doesn’t want to break purely because he feels embarrassed/an idiot!! (In his case I found piles of love songs 3 months ago written and recorded for someone who worked for us 10 to12 years ago) and whom he want on a lot of work trips with, no evidence it was reciprocated at all apart from their was a lot of texting at the time, I know many could get over this but to read all about ‘all senses are alive ‘ and there is ‘only you and me’ and I yearn to feel your touch etc , when I was at home running the business and he was on tour with her is devastating. She was only 20 and he was42 at the time. He kept in contact too by text and facebook for years as well, I feel a total mug, he has said it was all in his head, he was a bit down at the time and effectively ‘get over it’

  • I’m sorry to say that I missed out on therapy with The Grifter *after* I found out she was cheating.

    Before she left, I knew the relationship was falling apart and I suggested we try couples counseling. We went for a couple months of weekly sessions. But I didn’t find out until much later that the reason we were falling apart was that she had already taken up with someone else.

    I now know that on at least one occasion, she left our counseling session to “work the night shift”, but she wasn’t on her way to the office.

    To this day I’m still wondering whether the therapist knew but didn’t bother to clue me in.

  • I started therapy before I found out about his other women. I thought there was something wrong with me, that my insecurity (which developed after we started our relationship) was pushing him away; that I somehow instigated the silent treatment he inflicted frequently leaving me bewildered and wondering what I did to make him so upset. He told me about his experience with MC with his ex-wife. He said that it was bullshit and nobody could ever “get him” because he was so unique. He also told me his ex-wife suffered depression. Now I know why….he probably cheated on her too.

    I read relationship advice about not trying too hard to get him to tell me what was wrong, about praising him incessantly, about thanking him frequently…that it would bring him back to me. It never did. I was looking for the mirage of the man I fell in love with. CL & CN helped me realize that the insecurity wasn’t internal, but externally caused. My unconscious mind was picking up cues to his cheating (read The Gift of Fear, which CL recommended). Luckily I have a great psychologist & psychiatrist in my corner….they just kept asking me, “is this acceptable to you??,” as I weighed in on my decision to leave him. They helped me get over my fear of breaking free and assured me that I had options. I’m not totally disconnected from him because of finances, but am working on it. I come to this site everyday because I feel so close to my fellow chumps that post here. So many shared experiences in sadness….and in joy when getting to meh.

    I pray for my meh-day to come.

  • Although I booked every appointment, X had a way of dominating, and eventually becoming the central focus of every session. Our first therapist asked to see him separately, which eventually turned to him, alone, every time. I found another therapist, saw her for many years on and off. When I found out about the cheating she asked if he could join us. “Why of course, that would be great,” I said. After a few sessions she wanted to see him alone, to work on HIS problems. At this point I didn’t mind, because I knew HE needed it. But eventually, HE became her primary client. I knew she was a scam when he started going 2x per week (and it continued for 2 years!). No improvement, still cheating, still hadn’t spilled some of the most sordid details.

    Eventually, I got another (3rd) counselor. This one was a lady, Christian counselor, and I was worried she might try to convince me to stay. She also eventually asked to meet with him. I was really hesitant, because it’s so much work to find a counselor, but I said yes. She met with him for more than half my session, as I sat in the waiting room thinking, “great, he’s got her sucked into his narc world, believing I’m a horrible person and he’s a suffering soul.” I finally went in, alone, to wrap up with her, and she looked at me and said, “You have nothing to work with”.

  • Years ago, I came home from work to an empty house, and a note taped on the bedroom door informing me that my husband “no longer wanted to be married, he just wanted to focus on his career”, I fell apart. I never saw or heard from him again. I begged him…through unreturned emails and voice mails, to go to marriage counseling. I was 24 years old, nearly four years into what I thought was a perfect marriage. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. Surely I thought that we could fix whatever it was that compelled him to leave. After my attorney suggested that I hire a private investigator, I of course found it that it was an affair. Within six months of him leaving, she was pregnant. Reeling and in shock, I got myself into therapy. Now a lifetime removed from that young woman who didn’t know how she would survive, I credit that therapy for saving my life. As difficult as this is to say, it is my belief that marriage counseling to address infidelity is useless and only prolongs the pain. I believe that the decision is made to exit the marriage the moment the infidelity occurs. You can’t fight for something that no longer exists. Once the trust is broken, and the betrayal occurs, the marriage is already over. It sounds counterintuitive, but the pain is worse, not better, trying to hang on to what has already gone. Many years later, i certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I am sure of that. I know at times, it seems like you will never see the other side of this, but I can assure you, there is indeed life on the other side of this. Hugs to all!!

  • Things were really tense between my ex- and me so I found us a couple’s therapist. At the start of the very first session, I said, “I’m withholding my love from because I don’t trust him.” At this point, he had already cheated on me three times so OF COURSE I didn’t trust him. A couple months of weekly sessions went by, and during this period my ex- forgot some sessions, came high to others, and once told me afterward, “Well, it’s clear if one of us is going to have to change, it’s going to have to be you.” He also complained that “all we do in therapy is argue.” Surprise surprise, I found out he had been cheating on me the entire time we were in therapy. I left him right upon discovery, despite him begging me to stay and exclaiming that therapy was actually starting to be helpful. Hah!!! He then tried to get me to admit my responsibility for his cheating, and also — in our final session the week after discovery — told the therapist he thought I was “overreacting.”

    Bye, Felicia.

  • My first and only experience with marriage counseling, was when my ex suggested it after I discovered the affair. Of course by then it was too late. Actually, it was a psychiatrist that was supposed to diagnose me with some type of disorder he was convinced I had; (it was actually residual anger from the first affair and his current shirking of household and paternal responsibilities, fully enjoying his hobbies and personal vacations while I was expected to be the perfect wife appliance and secretary, with no individual interests.) I was treated like a stupid child and then criticized for everything I did wrong-down to the clothes I wore and the way I loaded the dishwasher, even though I was the only one doing the dishes, lol. Sure, I let my anger and resentment build and wasn’t the nicest at times, especially after our first child. In fact, I was a fucking cunt-There, I own it.
    I was supposed to get medication just so I could deal with the emotional fall out from the 2nd affair, after child. I was a Trainwreck at that point and couldn’t even fill out the paperwork, (I stopped and sobbed hysterically when I had to write my last married name, and my ex stood a few feet away looking mildly uncomfortable.)
    The psychologist asked us both to write on a piece of paper how much we wanted to save the marriage (but I thought I was such a cunt?) My number was lower than his-suddenly he wanted to save the marriage; so she asked about his other affair, then asked if he was in love with his current affair partner, to which he said he wasn’t; and then told him if he wanted to save the marriage he needed to end it with her, in a text, right then and there. Of course he hesitated, stuttered, made excuses, lied and then outright denied that he was going to do it. Later, he revealed to me that he loved his AP. Uh, no shit; but maybe not, because he would have broken it off with me first to be with her properly. That’s love.
    In a way, I probably wouldn’t have left that toxic situation that brought out the worst in me if he hadn’t cheated, but I don’t believe for a second that he would not have cheated had we had gotten MC sooner. I just don’t think he ever really loved me for me and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a year in the life of our relationship, that was 1/3 of my life, that he was faithful. I always felt like a object to him. I met him at 20, and he’s over a decade older.
    That whole experience was a bit less painful than my first day ever snowboarding…I don’t touch that shit with a ten foot pole.
    Oh, and living a life without constant criticism and negative comments = 100% better!!! I’ve been working really hard to bring out the best in me, by myself with no medication! Lots of family and friends support, self care, good diet, exercise, education, strong goals and boundaries, and finding healthy coping mechanisms with strong and negative emotions. Also….humor. One must find life’s humor!

  • Mine was a ONS cheater. (At least that I know of) We are four years in. We are in therapy currently, but the only reason why it is possibly working is because of the right therapist. She suggested for him to have more private sessions and the couples sessions were only for me to feel included in the conversation, but that in no way was I at fault for any of the decisions that were made. I hope someday I’m not a chump, but maybe I already am for being in therapy. It was also suggested that in 6 months we both would come to the same conclusion if the relationship was worth saving or not and that if its not then the sessions would still not be worthless because we worked on ourselves for our future relationships.