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Dear Chump Lady, Can I leave if he has cancer?

Dear Chump Lady,

I have been reading your blog for the past year and, while it has helped me tremendously, I have a nagging sense of uncertainty and a feeling of “stuckness.” I desperately need guidance as I decide how to proceed.

A year-and-a-half ago, My husband of 16 years was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has a high (75%) chance of spreading (and becoming incurable) within 5 years. He is 48 and I’m 40.

Within 2 months of receiving this devastating news, he was engaged in a full-blown affair with a young employee (20 years his junior) who made him feel “alive.” His reasons were pretty typical (I didn’t support him, he had been unhappy for years, etc.). As you can imagine, this was all news to me. The affair continued for 6 months while he callously hurt me and our 4 young kids with his selfish and destructive behavior.

Since he ended the affair, we have been through both individual and marital counseling. Upon reflection, he says the diagnosis caused his “brain to break” and act out to push everyone away. I obviously am completely devastated by the diagnosis as well and, while I can’t understand it, I feel sorry for him that he acted out in such a pathetic way.

Having said all that, I have not received the type of remorse and self-reflection that I would expect or require to reconcile. In fact, there has been some blame-shifting and mindfuckery around the entire issue. Because of his lack of self-reflection, he feels entitled to continue friendships with various women. And, as he has for years, he hides all of this information from me (because I am impossible to talk to and he knows how I will react).

I am at the point where I absolutely know that he is never going to change. I don’t expect it. I know if I stay I will be eating a shit-sandwich every day. No, this is not ok with me. However, I am conflicted due to the health issue and consideration of my children’s well-being.

I see no unicorns, but practically speaking, I want my kids to have as much time with their father as possible. Aside from his 6-month affair, he has always been an attentive father who helps tremendously with the kids. He has told
my oldest child about the affair and has taken full responsibility (at least as far as words go). They all adore him. Psychologically, I don’t want to expose them to the trauma of divorce knowing another train is heading towards them. Selfishly, I don’t want to see my kids only 50 percent of the time. I want to control who they are exposed to, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a screwed-up situation for them. We are not modeling healthy relationships, they are going to have lasting damage from witnessing the dysfunction, etc. However, is it less screwed-up than the alternative? Would it ultimately cause them less pain?

If we stay together my goal would be to work towards some kind of respectful friendship/co-parent arrangement.

Is there ever a good reason to stay in this kind of situation? Is this an exception? Am I in denial? Is it better to leave? Please help.

Limbo Chump

P.S. I forgot to mention that the primary tumor has been treated and the cancer has not yet spread.  While he is being closely monitored, he is not sick at this time.

Dear Limbo,

I’m sorry his cells divided abnormally, but he’s still a fuckwit. He cheated on you, continues to try and cheat on you (who knows, maybe he’s successful), and doesn’t sound one bit sorry. Oh right, his “brain broke.” But apparently the pecker lives on.

Sounds like he wants a cancer Get Out of Jail Free card. Did I drown kittens? No worries, I have cancer! Must I pay full-price for that? I have cancer! I’d love to settle my parking tickets, but hey…. cancer!

It’s a disease, not a one-size-fits-all excuse for assholery.

I get it. You don’t want to be That Person who leaves their partner while they have cancer. But you aren’t leaving him because of his cancer, you’re leaving him because he cheated on you, continues to act shady, and isn’t one bit sorry.

Oh but cancer made him cheat! He never would’ve acted so callously if his brain hadn’t broke! 

Bullshit. His lousy character made him cheat. When faced with the specter of total loss of you and his four children — what does he decide to do? He spends LESS time with you all and fucks around with a co-worker. Boinking Schmoopie makes him feel Alive! But his family? Not so much.

Do you really want be the consolation prize who gets to change his bedpan?

I’m sure the upside of cancer for him is it gives him unbridled access to cake. She’d NEVER leave me now! So his entitlement (a character issue, not a broken brain issue) expresses itself with an affair and inappropriate secret “friendships.”

Call his bluff. Get in front of the narrative. “I’m leaving you because you’re a remorseless cheater.”

 I want my kids to have as much time with their father as possible.

Okay, that can be accomplished with a custody schedule. That said, just because you want the kids to have time with their dad, doesn’t mean their dad wants to have lots of time with them. (See “Affair” and “Feels Alive.”) You can’t control the kids relationship with their dad. That’s on them.

Aside from his 6-month affair, he has always been an attentive father who helps tremendously with the kids.

Okay, he can be an attentive father on his time “helping” to raise his own children.

He has told my oldest child about the affair and has taken full responsibility (at least as far as words go).

How has he taken responsibility? He said HE had the affair and not you? If he blameshifts his affair and tries to keep his options open for other affairs, he’s not taking responsibility. What you’ve got there is impression management with one kid.

They all adore him. Psychologically, I don’t want to expose them to the trauma of divorce knowing another train is heading towards them.

There’s no guarantee he’s going to die of cancer. Divorce is painful, no question. But so is being betrayed and living with a jerk. Why do you think you must martyr yourself to this situation? Divorce is a CONSEQUENCE of his behavior. He broke this union, not you. You gave him a chance to reconcile, and he expressed his gratitude with mindfuckery. You’re allowed to be finished with this shit.

Selfishly, I don’t want to see my kids only 50 percent of the time. I want to control who they are exposed to, etc.

And people in hell want a cool drink of water. File for full custody, what the heck! He might give it to you. And if the cancer is deadly, hey you won’t have them half time. Very few divorcing parents want LESS time with their children. It sucks, but it’s also the opportunity for you to build a new life that doesn’t center around the needs of everyone else.

As for controlling who they are exposed to? You don’t control that. Let it go. Unless they are crack-snorting white slavers posing imminent harm to the children, the courts won’t care. You get to control YOUR parenting on YOUR time. Be the sane parent. Recognize your limits. Being the sane parent is ENOUGH.

If we stay together my goal would be to work towards some kind of respectful friendship/co-parent arrangement.

That sounds like an awesome plan if you do NOT stay together. Please don’t model one of those in-name-only roommate marriages to your kids. That’s fucked up. Yes, IMO, it’s way more fucked up than divorce.

You can have an authentic life free of him or a sham marriage. I vote for the authentic life. If he wonders why you’re divorcing him, tell him his affair made your brain break and you’re pushing him away.

Best of luck.

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.
  • Be clear…his brain did not break.

    Faced with a certain death, most people will want to give one last chance to do what they have always wanted, and long for experiences they missed.

    Your husband missed “a lustful affair” and the “thrill of forbidden dick-play”.

    Please know that cancer is not an excuse to fall wee-wee first into someone’s vagina. Also, you now have a pointer on what secret desire he must have kept suppressed for long, and what let his inhibition grow.

    He cheated you, ruthlessly.

    And he has tried his best to ladle the blame on you. Take none of it.

      • getting started on the fuck it list…… more honest description than ‘mid life crisis’ as an explanation of cheater behaviour!

      • Haw haw haw haw… it, CL…..”fuck it list”……so true….We are picked so they can fuck around. He just got sick while doing it. And whadayaknow…the perfect chump to help him through his desease.

        I know there are a lot of chumps here who nutured their own cheating mother fucker back to health through terrible illnesses only to deliver the fuckers to their next liaison to complete their “fuck it list”.

        I sure did.

        I feel for the children to no end. Limbo, be very clear with them about what happened and throw the bum out. His girlfriends can take care of him.

        • “I know there are a lot of chumps here who nutured their own cheating mother fucker back to health through terrible illnesses only to deliver the fuckers to their next liaison to complete their “fuck it list”.


      • Finally we have a short and complete definition of the Mid Life Crisis: The Fuck It List. Brilliant Chump Lady, simply brilliant!

    • Yes Elsie you really hit the nail on the head, if you are faced with death, people will normally choose to spend it with their loved ones not have a 6 month affair and in the process hurt their partner! It was his fantasy to fuck and have a love affair with a younger woman . He got his money’s worth since he came back when it ended 6 months later. I was no dalliance nor a broken head but repressive act. Like CL said it’s quite ironic his dick was not broken, how do you explain that? Also your children will understand that their mother did not want to be made a fool of and will respect you more for doing you?

      • So he has been hiding his friendships with women for years… I sincerely doubt this was his only affair. Just the only one you found out about. His lack of remorse indicates he feels entitled and comfortable with his actions. Once they have an affair It gets much easier to have another and another and another.

    • It is commonly thought that learning one is dying causes us to suddenly and clearly understand what is most dear in our lives (in addition to realizing there are things left undone on our bucket list.) Perhaps this is an overly romanticized notion, but the fact that he turned away from you and your four children to spend time with a new romantic partner lets you know where you stand on that “most dear” list. What a terrible revelation … I am so sorry. He doesn’t deserve your love and loyalty regardless of his health prognosis. I can assure you that he would not stand by you if the situation were reversed.

      • My cheater X abandoned me and our daughter 2 days after my cancer diagnosis and moved in with the mistress. We basically never heard from him again. I was married for 23 years and had no clue about his supposed “unhappiness”. For the last 4 years I have been a single mother – he gave up custody so no coparenting thankfully – had a full time job, and undergoing cancer treatment. He never asked how I was doing. Could 100% care less. He hasn’t seen his kid in over 2 years and barely interacted with her since he left. I agree with Dixie Chump, if the tables were reversed he would most definitely NOT be there for you. Follow CLs advice and kick him to the curb. I hired a lawyer 2 weeks after he left. It enraged X. But I have never been happier with my new cheater free life and I have modeled for my daughter to never accept that kind of emotional abuse.

    • Just another version of the cheater mantra, “I only have one life on this Earth and I deserve to be happy.” It’s pure bullshit. As the family chump, I’ve never been allowed to play the oh poor meeeeee! card – let alone fuck another woman ‘because near-death.’

      +1 for kicking him to the curb and instituting formal custody hearings. Just be prepared for when he plays the cancer sympathy card for everyone else. You get to be the horrible, mean, selfish, piece-of-shit asshole for divorcing a cancer survivor.

    • I hear what you’re saying, I really do. 4 years ago, I was in a similar position when my father-in-law died. I kicked the Fucktard out about seven weeks later, but at the time, I didn’t have full knowledge of what had been going on under my nose for close to twenty years.

      Our marriage had always been lacking. Obviously, I blamed myself, because he blamed me. After his father’s death, his negative behaviours (in private of course, publicly everyone thought of him as ‘long suffering’ and ‘parent of the year’, which was a brutal thing to face post discard) worsened, so I, of course, put it down to his grief. Anyway, an incident occurred regarding co parenting our son, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and despite counselling (which he attended very reluctantly, and then didn’t follow up with the plans we had made re reconnecting – imagine, I wanted a five minute conversation every day, how selfish!), he suggested separating and I agreed. We agreed it would be for the best if we worked on our relationship from separate homes, with the view to reconciling, we were giving it six months. Makes me PMSL now, I was such a CHUMP!

      Anyway, to cut a long story short – turns out he’d been having an affair with one of my closest ‘friends’ for over six months. But that’s not all. Turns out, he hadn’t been faithful for a single year in our marriage. But that’s still not all. Turns out (he worked regularly there) that he frequented the brothels in Asia. All this I discovered within six months of the discard.

      Any guilt I felt about our separation (oh poor thing, he was grieving his dad, I’m such a bitch…yada, yada, yada) dissipated. And that was when I started to heal. That Fucktard wasn’t having a mid-life crisis due to his grief, he was a fucking cheat, who blamed me because he couldn’t keep it in his pants. He couldn’t ‘talk’ to me, because he was too busy getting mileage out of his ‘supply’. And no, it’s never ok. Chump Lady said it best…’he’s staring down the barrel of death, so fucking a co worker makes him feel “alive”, his family, not so much’.

      If you’re still feeling guilty about thinking of leaving, hear this….Your ex is in remission, so the cancer may not ever come back. That means he is healthy. The fucker cheated on you, and has never been ‘happy’. What about you, and your happiness? When you were miserable, did you cheat? Of course not… made the choice to stay faithful, he made the choice to be a cheat. And none of it is your fault. I get the feeling too, that he’s already started the smear campaign against you – after all, he must have told the co worker something to make her jump into bed with him. And he gaslighted your eldest (Fucktard tried that one too), so you’re probably being held responsible (in the mind of your child) for that too.

      You my love, have every right to end this, if that’s what you really want to do. There’s a really good e-book (was my bible in those harrowing days) called ‘Surviving The Affair’….it really helped me to clear my mind on lots of issues, and really helped with the shock and awe of those first twelve months. It helped me to claim me. It helped me to see that not only was it ok, but mandatory to end that farce.

      If someone had told me four years ago, that in 2017 I would not only be surviving, but thriving – divorced, living on the other side of the country with my kids (also thriving) and a wonderful new partner, I would have had them committed. But it’s true. I’m the happiest and most content I’ve ever been, and that Fucktard is out of my life and I’m free of the fuckery.

      I have officially reached ‘meh’. Good luck with it all xx

  • “The brain broke, but the pecker lives on.” LOL. Yeah, like his brain wasn’t needed to arrange hook ups and hide them from you, like he’s some kind of blameless and tragic, stiff-legged and stumbling sex-zombie? Night of the Living Pecker! The Walking Pecker! Franken-pecker!

    Seriously, character comes out under pressure. The cancer diagnosis just brought out this man’s true (and lousy) character, through his cheating and insincere remorse. Leave, wish him well, allow him ample visitation, and start building an authentic and integrated life.

    What will the pressure of these events bring out in you?

    His illness is not your illness. He threw away that sacred bond with his cheating. Your illness is being married to a hurtful and dishonest person. Remove that malignancy from your life soon or you (and your children) will likely suffer far greater damage in the future. Cut off the foot to save the leg–or more. Sending you prayers for this difficult journey.

    • Lol nomar very funny franken pecker the zombie pecker that lives again and knows not what he is committing …lol Also I forgot to mention, what if he does become sick? Is it your responsibility to take care of an ingrate? To be his nurse maid? He can ask his strumpet to clean his boils but we all know she ll be long gone. Don’t be a chump any longer

    • HAW HAW HAW HAW “Frankenpecker”???? HAAAWWW.

      Hilarious, Nomar. I new word for my vocabulary. Thank you!

    • Prince Charming’s character starting showing when our youngest son attempted suicide the first time. It completely left the building with his mother’s GBM diagnosis. He turned to Cinderella because he didn’t want me to see him as weak. Gee, I guess surviving both my parents dying within a year of each other made me strong along with caring for my son’s mental health. Oh and let’s throw in my own sister’s GMB diagnosis the next month for good measure. I was falling apart and he is off dealing with his stress and hiding his inability to cope.

      • During the nine months before dday I was falling apart too. Our next door neighbors were starting a disturbing behavior that would continue for several years after dday & ex’s quick departure. We asked for help from our town but got no where. During our separation I filed a lawsuit on my own since I would be keeping house after the divorce. I did win but it cost lots of money & more stress on my already full plate.

        Anyway, a year after dday in ex’s diatribe concerning all the ways I “made” him cheat he said he couldn’t understand why I was so upset with the neighbors behavior. He resented my behavior instead of the neighhors behavior & our town’s inaction.

    • Remove that malignancy from your life soon or you (and your children) will likely suffer far greater damage in the future. Cut off the foot to save the leg–or more.

      This. Cancer is the analogy I use when people learn I’ve purposely removed my narcissistic parents from my life. Most normal people are mortified that anyone would do that (but… but… They raised you! They took care of you!). I simply explain that cancer is a toxic growth that will make you suffer and eventually kill you. Same thing with narcissism. Why would you not remove toxicity from your life?

      After all… I only have one life on this Earth, don’t I deserve to be happy?

      • BetrayedNoMore: I terminated my relationship with my toxic mother, a rageaholic woman who abused me physically, verbally and emotionally for years. Finally, at the age of 35, I’d had enough and more important, I didn’t want to expose my three young children to her version of “cancer”. The quality of my life increased exponentially, and I’ve never regretted my decision. We never did reconcile and she died last summer at the age of 90. From my perspective, she was the loser; she lost out on 27 years with me and never got to know my children. Her final power move was to “banish” me from her funeral which I had no intention of attending anyway. Free at last!

  • One of the perks of marriage is supposed to be having someone around to wipe your ass and change your bedpan if it ever comes to that. That’s what that whole “in sickness and in health” part is supposed to mean. We (at least try to) marry when we’re young and healthy and, in exchange for enjoying youth and health together, we commit to taking care of each other when our bodies fall apart. No, that isn’t every marriage, but theoretically, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    But he broke the “forsaking all others” part of the covenant. Why should he get to keep the “in sickness and in health” part?

    So no, I would not stick around, not even for the children’s sake. Let him find someone new to worry about the cancer possibility. Good luck with that. (“I’m at high risk for a terminal illness in the very near future” isn’t exactly the kind of milkshake that brings all the girls to the yard.)

      • Oh Boy! I’ll make the same bet,

        Limbo. Forget this cheater’s cancer. Why would an honest person have this kind of desire in the face of death? He is dishonest, so if it were not cancer, the excuse would be “getting old”, “unsatisfied in my career” and tons of other BS excuses.

        Limbo, my cheater complained that he had to take me to the emergency room when I had an anaphylactic reaction to an ant bite. He said I was making a scene. Now I suspect he actually wanted me to croak to clear his way. He did not accompany me for outpatient surgery even though I asked him and it was required by the clinic. Cheater was too busy (doing what?). A colleague from work lost two hours of her time for me. I had TB six years ago and he did not lift a finger to help me, take me to appointments, make sure I was resting, nothing. Cheater was too busy (doing what?). Trust CN: he WOULD NOT do the same for you.

        Limbo, give your children a good example, Your husband is not the good thief dying on a cross.

        • PS Limbo: I just canceled cheater’s participation in my health insurance policy.
          At the age of 65 and high blood pressure he now depends on my country’s awful public health care system.

          I did have a moment of hesitation. My sons were shocked. Then I just reminded them and myself of all the facts above PLUS the fact that we all lost excellent health insurance because he “forgot” to pay for it. The fact was he was spending family money on flatterfuck to get his supply of kibbles (credit card balances show this) and was descending into debt (bank balances prove this).

          And in hindsight I realize I overrated my cheater for ever being a good father.

      • Mine wouldn’t even do my dishes for me when I was nearly nine months pregnant and had preeclampsia. No, instead he stole money from my bank account because I was the only one making any. That was when I realized that if he treated me that way when I was almost 9 months pregnant and my life was in danger, this would never, ever get better. I could have cancer and he would continue to treat me like shit.

      • Nope! As further evidence of their shitty character, they run at the first sign of taking care of spouse with cancer. Mine did.

        Highly aggressive cancer diagnosis had him in the arms of his 20 year younger massage parlor whore’s arms cause he had the sadz. Instead of comforting wife of 34 years who never had a health issue or being there for his family in crisis. Toddler man!

        Limbo Chump, set yourself free and stop being chumped. Trust me, if situation was reversed and you were the one with cancer, he’d bail. It’s what people with shitty character do. You can’t wish or love that out of them.

        Be mighty and do the hard work. It’s incredible once you leave Chumpville. 15 months later, I’m not looking in my rear view mirror, that’s not the direction I’m headed.

        • As I posted above, my cheater X left me 2 days after cancer diagnosis and moved in with affaire partner. 2 weeks later I got a lawyer. We were married 23 years and had a 13 yo. 4 years out now. I have never been happier. LEAVE. Follow CL and CN advice and don’t look back. Don’t model disfunction to your kids.

      • Absolutely truth. My cheater walked out on me and refused to take me to any appointments, to help with the house we co-owned, to visit me in the hospital, etc. when I was being screened for cancer. BTW the precancerous cells were from the HPV he got from his diseased ridden whore and, in turn, gave me. While being screened, the stress triggered a huge avalanche of other, very serious health issues. At one point the stress caused my glucose to rise dangerously high. He boldly told me two things. 1). “I don’t care whether you live or die. You’re not my problem anymore. And, 2) There’s never going to be a good time to leave you. So, now is as good a time as any.”
        This shit was after I raised his children when their mother abandoned him, supported him in every way for ten years. Took care of him in his many injuries (he was a paratrooper in the military) and whenever he was sick. Guaranteed, Limbo, you’re husband would NOT be there for you if the shoe were on the other foot. Not only that, but he would use your illness as his excuse for why he was having affairs. You know, because your cancer would “break his brain”, and his way of coping would be to slip on that banana peel while naked onto a waiting, simultaneously, naked vagina or three.
        Leave. You owe him nothing and yourself and your kids everything. This includes psychological health and happiness.

        • BTW, when I found out about the HPV, I never told him what caused the precancerous cells. Not my circus, not my monkeys to look out for his health or best interests. Would serve him and his mistress right if they get cancer and don’t know it until it’s too late some day in the future. And “you’re” was supposed to be “your” above. Stupid autocorrect cannot tell the difference.

        • Let’s not forget that winner Newt Gingrich “Grinch” who served divorce papers or announced to her that he was done while she was in the hospital getting treated for cancer !

          What a colossal a**hole

      • I always wondered if my STBX would stick by me (and be faithful) in the event I became seriously ill. Should have been a clear indicator of the state of our marriage, but I chose to push those thoughts away.

        Regrets, regrets, regrets. How do I get out of the continual cycle of regret?

        • You have a daughter with jackass, right? That alone should ease some of the regret; had you not met jackass, your lovely daughter wouldn’t be here.

          While I am not religious, the serenity prayer has helped me tremendously in navigating both regrets about the past, and how to maintain equanimity since my divorce. “..grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;
          and wisdom to know the difference.”

          Can you do anything about the past? No, so accept the things you cannot change and put your energy forward, into things you can do something about–compensating for your daughter having a jerk for a father, crafting a life where you can help others who have survived the trauma of infidelity (or any other cause of your choice).

          Trust me, I know about regrets–8 years before D-day, my X had been devaluing me and the children so badly, when he asked for a divorce, I was happy to give it to him–contacted a divorce lawyer, mentally prepared to be the single mother of an 11- and 5-year old. A friend (& clinical psychologist) happened to pop into my office and I angrily spilled the beans to her. She compellingly told me that I could not divorce my X as my children would suffer irreparably. So I buckled myself to the mast and stayed in the marriage (only because I didn’t realize, and wouldn’t find out for another 8 years, about his affair with gradwhore). Once then-husband realized I was committed to making the marriage work, he sent me a demands-letter so odious and disrespectful that my first reaction was to tell him to GTFO. But…remembering my friend’s words, I literally dug my fingernails into my palms until I tore skin, and stuck to the marriage, only to divorce 8 years later when I found out about the affair (and suffered chronic emotional abuse during those 8 years).

          Could I regret confiding in my friend? yes. could I regret listening to her advice? yes. Could I regret not following my instincts after reading that odious letter? Yes. And what good would it do me, sans time machine? No good at all, except to distract me from forging a new life ahead for me and my daughters.

          Giddy Eagle, forgive yourself. You had noble motives to stay in a marriage and attempt to craft a happy, healthy family life for your daughter.

    • Limbo Chump, it does say “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”, but it doesn’t say in fidelity AND in adultery. You are not bound by that last part.
      In sickness this man chooses to disrespect his wife and children. If he was truly repentant now, it would be a different story, but he’s still shifty and disrespecting the wife he expects to be there “in sickness”.
      I’d give him one more hard talk about his behaviour, his choices and his last chance to repent and make amends (send him to Divorce Minister’s site for details of what that means), on account of the cancer. He can get IC to help him set his priorities right.
      I am so sorry you are in this situation where you feel you would be increasing your children’s suffering if the cancer comes back and there is a divorce. But you are not the one undermining the marriage and the family. This should be explained to the children too, what marriage means, what hurting others mean, and how someone must repent and make amends when they have hurt others so badly. It’s an important lessons for children to learn: take responsibility for your actions. He is the one undermining the marriage, cancer or not.

    • about that bedpan-my husband died from cancer and I was changing his diapers. I didn’t mind one bit-I loved him.

  • Limbo

    While your head is wrapped up in cheating you need to consider the fact that he has nothing to lose.

    Take a look at your finances, credit cards, and all assets. My gut tells me he is spending.

    I would suggest filing to protect yourself. Once the settlement is signed you do not have to submit it immediately. Many do this to stay on a spouses health benefits that would otherwise go away once the divorce is finalized.

    The Limited had cancer also. Guess what happened after he was cancer free? Dump his cheating ass and ignore what others think. Protect your finances.

    • Yes, yes, yes to the spending!! He’s a selfish asswipe that thinks his days could be numbered, what does he care about financial security after he’s dead? He more than likely doesn’t as he has already proven it is all about him and his needs, his wants. Limbo should get out now before he wipes them out or incurs more debt.

  • Many people stay together “for the children”
    I believe in divorcing “for the children” and let me tell you why.
    – You need to model self respecting behavior to your kids. If they see you sit there and eat shit sandwiches day in and day out they see that one partner having all the power, fun and kibble so while the other gets nothing and does all the work is acceptable.
    – Your kids need to respect you. That won’t happen if they see their father treat you like crap and learn that this is acceptable behavior.
    – Kids need to learn their are consequences to shitty behavior.
    – The time they spend with you will be quality time, unemcumbered by stress and worry and the other things fuckwits leave in their wake.
    – You lower the odds of them finding themselves in a similar situation later in their life if they learn about boundaries, consequences and self-respect now.

    Trust me on that last one. Looking at my parents and seeing how I got here is difficult. I get mad about it. I get sad about it. I sure as heck don’t think to myself “Isn’t my mother great for eating shit sandwiches”

    • Amen! It goes against instinct to turn away from someone who is ill but it is necessary when that person is abusing you. I have to remind myself to be angry. Sad but true. Great reminders today!

    • Yes!! This is the core of the issue. If you want to be respected, it starts with you. Show your kids that you won’t put up with this type of crappy behavior. I too saw my mom eat the shit sandwich and so did I until I got “woke” and put myself first. Haven’t looked back since!

    • Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!! AOoK hits the nail on the head–in emotionally abusive situations, staying for the “sake of the kids” is much more damaging than divorcing. Model health; children learn much more from modeling than from anything we say.

      • I do wonder, though, if Limbo Chump mentions that there is such a huge chance that it’s all gonna spiral within the next coming years for him, and with the number of kids she has, in order to make a solid decision I’d need to know if he has a REALLY good life/death policy before I’d bolt. If yes, is she the sole beneficiary? Yeah, he’s not sick today, but with cancer? Her day could change at any time, and 75 percent is huge.

        For me, it would come down to there not being any child support or possible death/SSN benefits to help care for these four kids long-term. He’s not gonna be around. If there is a good payout at the end of this, and possibly soon? Don’t waste any money on him. Get the douchebag a pine box and have each kid throw a single flower on said box once it’s in the dirt, or better, donate his body to science. Maybe they can find the source of what it takes to be such an asshole. Then keep the rest to invest and care for the kids and yourself.

        After these many years, just to lose all the possible monetary benefits at the end? This would be my Oscar-winning performance, BUT only after everything is in my name. If he won’t do that, F him. Leave his dumb ass.

        • I second this! Make sure limbo is the beneficiary of all life insurances. I’d start looking for a new man too.

          • That can be done even with a divorce. My X must maintain a life insurance policy with me as beneficiary until his child support payments are up.

            • Is it ok that I fantasize that he has his heart attack and dies before the divorce is final? I’d get all the assets and the life insurance. And the rat bastard wouldn’t be able to fuck up my daughter any more than he already has.

              • On Utilitarian grounds, it is perfectly acceptable to hope rat bastard dies soon before he can do more damage. Make Jeremy Bentham proud (as long as you don’t do anything to facilitate his death, the utility calculus is in your favor).

              • This happened to my SIL (married to Assholio’s serial cheating brother), so miracles do happen. Now she’s set for life. Unfortunately their kids were already young adults, so the damage was done.

              • You wouldn’t be the first OR the last with that wish. I wished it too. Now that I’m divorced I wish for his continued health – at least for the seven remaining years on my spousal support. I simply wish for his continued health and utmost misery for those years. 😉

            • Damn it! Why don’t lawyers tell us these things?! I guess it didn’t end up mattering for me; the douchebag ended up in jail and losing his professional job and credibility so now there isn’t even a policy in place anywhere. Lame.

              Limbo Chump needs to split, then, if she’s able to secure all of that. He won’t change.

        • Not only should Limbo be the beneficiary, SHE SHOULD OWN THE POLICY. My settlement decree included having the full value of my alimony insured with a life insurance policy I OWN, paid for yearly by the crapweasel.

    • True.
      My mother modelled rising above it for enduring love and the sake of the family. She always used to say to me ‘they always come back to the family’.

      Guess who was the kick bucket for her anger, bitterness and resentment.

      When it happened to me I wreconciled to keep the family together just like I had been taught.

      Until I couldn’t. Its all shit, but its more peaceful and self respecting this way.

      • Agreed. It leaves kids in a very strange place when one parent is cheating, blameshifting, gaslighting, playing the victim, and modelling an overall cheater mentality/egocentric moral code while the other chumps around. I didn’t even know that my dad had been cheating on my mom until a week after I found out my husband had been cheating on me. It’s been tough to swallow but now everything makes more sense. Kids know and they grapple with the mindfuck in different ways. For me, I saw my dad’s detached mindfuckery as the way to maintain power in a relationship, and feared that if I let my guard down at all I would be completely bulldozed like my mom was. I was also attracted to those same narcissistic traits that my dad exhibited. I never cheated but I found myself a man who had the codependency game down to such a science that he played the perfect partner in order to keep me around while he courted various relationships with girls with “mental health issues” who “really needed” him, culminating in a two year relationship while I was pregnant with our daughter with a woman who “was the only person who understood” him. My parents, needless to say, applauded my 4 month effort to stay with him. My dad couldn’t understand his unwillingness to try to make amends and keep the family intact… ostensibly because every time he has been caught, he pays the lip service and reaffirms his commitment to his family and just goes deeper into hiding.

        Honestly, being cheated on for 2 years was gross and horrible and has twisted me up in ways that I can’t explain. But I am most fucked up over my parents’ relationship. They are still together, dad still goes to the gym for 4 hours and “smokes weed with friends”, and mom drinks a bottle of wine a night and casually mentions to me over coffee that she doesn’t know what to do with him, he’s so distant. And of all the mindfuckery, despite my conviction that leaving my ex was the best thing I’ve ever done, I want them to stay together.

        • Right there with you. I spent two therapy sessions in an entire year dealing with what Narkles the Clown did to my kid, me, and our lives and the rest of the time working out what my parents modeled to me and the damage it did, and not to let it ever happen again. If I was going to untangle a skein, it was going to be mine.

          • Agreed. I spend so much time trying to figure out how my approach to life has been affected by the behavior I saw as a kid and continue to see, and how best to move past it.

    • Totally Agree, just recently I got a little validation from my 17 yr daughter. (and we all know what 17 yr old daughters can be like, LOL)

      She was telling me that one of her friend’s dad was also a cheater, and I asked “and her mom stayed in the marriage?” and she said, “Oh yes, Mom, her mom is not stable and strong like you” – Hearing this, made it all worth it. Thank God I did not stay in the marriage.

  • Leave him now while the cancer is in remission. You do not have to put your life on hold for years or decades in case it comes back while he does whatever he wants to whoever he wants because oh I might be dead next month. Let him see the kids all he wants so that you can always know that you never got in the way of them being with their dad. He isn’t sorry, you know he’s not sorry, and it’ll be much harder to leave if he falls ill again.

    • We’re all subject to dying at any moment. You could walk into the path of an oncoming bus; get struck by lightning; be an innocent bystander in a gangland shooting. Live your life for now. Now is all we have.


  • I hope that you were in the room, talked to the doctors yourself and made sure he actually has cancer. He wouldn’t be the first cheater to pull out a false cancer diagnosis.

    • That was my very first thought. Have you been at all involved in the doctor’s appointments and treatments he’s been getting for this cancer? Have you talked to the professionals treating him?

      If not, question everything. If you have not been directly involved in his fight against cancer, I would make you a bet that his “cancer treatment times” were actually time spent with OW. And all those bills for cancer treatment? There was that time he bought schmoopie a car and had to get up the cost.

      I’m sorry if that sounds insensitive, but I know in the early days of discovery, it is hard to believe anyone could be so cruel, but all these guys ARE.

      Mine used the excuse of a bad back to make regular trips to Thailand to fuck whores from two continents. One time, he even had the nerve to call me from Bangkok, wailing at me that I was a bad,uncaring person because his back had gone out while there and I would do nothing to help him. ??? He was a 52 year old adult at the time staying in an upscale hotel, while I was at home in Australia. What was I supposed to do that he couldnt?

      And of course it turned out later that he had spent the previous night bonking one of his whores, so three guesses at what threw his back out. I asked him later why he didn’t get his whore to help him out when his back went out… oh yeah… it would have cost too much money to pay her by the hour to sit in the hospital with him, rather than get his dick shined.

      Ok. I know a back problem is not exactly cancer, but I can tell you if my ex was reading this he’d be thinking, “Cancer! What a great strategy! I’ll have to use that one next time!”

      There is really nothing that is beneath these guys to use as an excuse, and my advice would be to go on a digging mission to see what you can find out. I would bet my life that you will either discover he never had cancer at all, or if he did, that the affair(s) had been going on for years prior to that cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis just gave him a good excuse to ramp up his affair(s) and not care so much whether you found out. Great strategy to increase cake eating and kibbles.

      Please protect and educate yourself on his true character by doing a little digging for the truth. It sucks to find out the truth, but it also helps you walk away more easily.

      • Second this.

        Mine told me a tragic family story involving his kid brother who was killed running across the street. I couldn’t bring it up to his parents as they never recovered from the trauma and his brother was buried out of state as his mother couldn’t bare the thought of her dead son.

        We named our son after his brother.

        I caught him being financially unfaithful during the marriage repeatedly and he’d cry and say he lost his brother, didn’t want to lose me, so he’d take out loans to help the family and keep me happy. I felt like a jerk taking him to task over a dead brother and feeling inadequate as a man…

        Shortly post divorce learned he was cheating on me the whole time. Coworkers and prostitutes.

        Two years out. On a hunch, did a death warrant search… brother never existed!!!

        These assholes know how to exploit weaknesses. I bet yours does too.

          • I was easily lulled and manipulated as I never ever considered anyone would lie about something so sacred. I’d invariably would get distracted from his actual dishonesty and caught up into his tragic upbringing…end up feeling bad about being a ‘miser’…playing right into his hands.

            As chumps, we project our own trusting goodness onto others and are easily manipulated.

            Big hug to you and your children. You don’t deserve this.

            • LifeIsGood, of course you never suspected someone would make up something like this, you’re normal! I don’t think that makes you easily manipulated. NO sane person would make this shit up. That’s just sick.

      • Yes, he has cancer. I was there with him through the surgery, the clinical trial and am with him every three months when he goes for CT/MRI scans. I am in complete control of the finances and am not worried about financial infidelity. Although I completely understand the doubt and the possibility that it could become an issue. I am and will remain on guard for that issue.

        • Be careful. After my husband died I discovered he had 17 credit cards with nearly $80k of debt I had no idea existed. Since they were in his name only, I did not have to pay them off. Still, it cost me for a lawyer & accountant to get it straightened out. These days it would be no problem to add a spouse’s name to a credit application without their knowledge or consent. Then you would have to prove that you did NOT apply. Get a credit report on him.

          • Yep. This ^ and my ex stole my identity too – taking out credit cards. I Only discovered this when I ran a credit check on myself and him. Would never had guessed it without the evidence. Married 12 years with 3 kids at that point.

            My ex was also a self-described financial conservative and family man. By all outward appearances, he was; but now I know better.

            Anyway, your husband has already shown you he lies. Protect yourself and your children. What is known is usually the tip of the iceberg.

        • I had full financial control too. Fucktard cleaned us out very quickly after discard. Hear this – You Are Not Dealing With A Normal Person. Open yourself a side bank account asap and siphon $$ into it. You will need it

  • His actions are telling you that he chooses cheating over you and your family. This is ongoing as he is still hiding his relationships with those other women, which is cheating, imo. Cancer or no cancee, that does not excuse such abusive behavior.

  • Dear Limbo Chump,
    I agree whole-heartily with all of CL’s advice to you.
    We all know cancer is a horrible disease. It can hit at any time and is devastating for any person and their family to deal with.
    My heart goes out to you and your children in the months and years ahead.
    However, cheating, is not by chance, like cancer is, rather cheating is a deliberate, hateful, pain causing “disease” of it’s own making. Your cheater choose to engage in an affair he had to know would hurt you and your children. In his illness he still continues to hurt you.
    You are a strong woman. You are the sane parent.
    In ten or twenty years your husband could still be alive and you could be in the same situation, trying to be the glue to hold everyone together for the sake of your children.
    As Chump Lady says you can have the authentic life. Take all the help you can get from your family and friends to stay strong.
    Your husband can still experience the love of his children. For that he is a very fortunate man. However, he made the decision to cheat on a good wife and mother like you. All of this was his choice, now you owe him nothing.
    I know CL and CN will always be here for you for support.
    I send you and your children many hugs on your journey and I am so sorry for your pain.

  • I am so thankful to Chump Lady for posting my question. I have been wanting to ask for so long and am grateful for all the advice.

    • You might also ask yourself whether you could count on him to care for you if you had a life threatening disease. My vote is no.

    • Ms. Limbo-
      You have a magic window of opportunity. You cannot lose it. Let me explain. My father had a terrible stroke. Prior to having that terrible stroke, my siblings and I endured his terrible personality. The catalog of his sins is too long for this site, but he was a walking demon.

      After his stroke, we were pulled into a vortex of “care professionals”- from palliative social workers to his physicians. They saw a stooped over little man, with a drooping left side, who profusely thanked everyone and was as humble as a hound dog. We knew who he was and wanted to run for our sanity.

      When my siblings and I did not want to mortgage our homes, our lives, our retirement to pay for his long term care, we were treated with everything from contempt to social workers telling us she would “pray” for our hard hearts.

      Try selling your narrative of the truth of the awfulness of someone’s character when they are bald, sick from chemo and playing it the cancer card to the hilt. Most people do not want to acknowledge the truth about bad behavior. You might get a clueless Judge who, when you do want to extricate yourself and your children from this man, views you as heartless and cold. Your husband will paint you that way.

      You will spend huge amounts of time having to prove that you are not the major league bad guy for leaving someone with the big C. While he is in remission, leave him as quickly as you can.

      Because he is the father of your children, and our hearts often misbehave, if his cancer does come roaring back, if you want to help him in some ways, this is your business. It will not be the Court’s business. And that is the key issue.

  • Limbo, one thing you said; ‘he feels entitled to continue friendships with various women. And, as he has for years, he hides all of this information from me (because I am impossible to talk to and he knows how I will react).’

    I don’t think the young woman at work is the first one he’s cheated on you with, nor the last. Exact words of exasshole when he would lie about something, including his new ‘friend’. “I didn’t tell you because you would get upset”. It’s perfectly fine to have friends but not to hide them from your spouse.

    I hope you will line up your ducks and get the hell out of that marriage. Given his behavior, I wouldn’t say anything until you know you have all financial documents and are ready to freeze everything.

    PS: you think you can be friends, fine, buy a duplex. However, I’m betting as soon as you decide to date that whole friend thing will disappear. I’m pretty sure it will when you say the word divorce too.

    Jedi Hugs!

    • Limbo,
      I second what Datdamwuf said (except that I don’t know what Jedi hugs are…hugs with a light saber held out in your free hand? Anyway…).
      I hate to tell you this Limbo, but I highly doubt that “six-month affair” was six months. Cheaters lie to hide the affair, and they lie more to keep it going once they’re caught. (Why we chumps — me included — always want to believe them when they tell us it’s done, I’ll never know). He probably didn’t stop at six months, and it may not be done now.
      Oh, and though it’s been mentioned before, this REALLY raises a giant blinking red alarm:
      “Because of his lack of self-reflection, he feels entitled to continue friendships with various women. And, as he has for years, he hides all of this information from me (because I am impossible to talk to and he knows how I will react).”
      Married people who are not cheating do not keep secrets. I would bet dollars to doughnuts these “friends” aren’t just friends.

      He isn’t going to change. He never did.
      If I may add another macabre topic…what if, instead of not surviving, he lives? Are you prepared to dump him then? Because then the narrative will be “you stuck with me through all this, and NOW you leave me?” Whatever the scenario, he’ll find an excuse.
      Self respect is priceless. Dump his ass.

  • Health scares, serious illness and parents dying seem to be common precipitants for cheating, but they are still just catalysts, triggering extremely selfish behaviour in someone who was ready and willing to do it. I agree with the others, don’t stay stuck in this marriage out of guilt, or “for the kids”. They can know the real reason, and can still spend time with him. He might spread a “woe is me she left me when I have cancer” story, but you will know the truth. Don’t stay in limbo for fear of being seen to be a heartless wife, when he has betrayed you and possibly continues to cheat.

  • This won’t be popular, but as a mom of two little ones…

    I would play him in the hopes that the cancer spread. I would do this to establish clearly that I am the primary caregiver and see if he could just die and I could inherit his belongings. I would say….let’s separate and give it a year. Date….whatever….and play him along. I would do this for two reasons

    1) if he becomes severely ill he won’t get 50/50 or if you can clearly establish primary status, he will be unlikely to get 50/50. Plus he may get more time than he deserves bc And The cancer is a victim card.

    2) if he dies and you’re his wife you’ll get assets.

    If it becomes apparent he will live I would more strongly consider filing.

      • Not so sure I buy this advice. Firstly, does he really have cancer? Secondly, does he really have assets? Without a credit report and a bit of investigation, you don’t know what you will “inherit.”

    • The only problem here is that it seems to be true that ‘only the good die young’…plus it’s unethical and dishonest. I couldn’t live with that decision myself.

  • I sympathize with your position, Limbo Chump. My EX had a potentially chronic illness (not nearly as devastating as cancer), but it complicated everything. You can expect that you will be painted as a horrible person, regardless of what the facts show. My EX blamed me for everything–from the onset of the illness, to his choice to romance a “soul mate,” to his refusal to engage in real medical treatment. All of it was my fault and his excuse. My family could see that the illness was a cover for all kinds of irresponsible behavior, but his family could not. And our kids have been told over and over “look what your mom did to me.” I slowed our divorce down a lot out of fear and guilt. And every minute I did was an error. Nothing changed because I was compassionate or gave him the benefit of a doubt. In fact, it made things worse.

    You are between a rock and a hard spot. You will be taken advantage of if you stay and if you leave. Your honesty and integrity will be attacked either way. Your husband will take as much as he can–whether that is the next 2 years of your life or the next 20. Consequently, you need to do what will enable you to live a good life.

    I would look into finding a good therapist/counselor to help you work through your decisions. You’ll face a lot of flack, probably even venom, if you leave someone with cancer, so it is important that you have strategies and confidence in the steps you take to untangle yourself from this cheater. You’ll also need to be careful with divorce proceedings, because if he retains counsel, he will probably be advised to use the cancer card in all kinds of ways to financially penalize you and the kids. Don’t think for a minute that he will be fair. He’s already decided that the cancer is unfair and that he’s entitled to anything he wants as recompense. Any lawyer he retains will feed that entitlement (it is basically the lawyer’s job). Since you are considering divorce, you should start documenting now–collecting financial papers and balances, his medical records, etc. As soon as he realizes you might need them, he will be advised to limit your access.

    Again, I am so sorry for you and your kids. Find your own clarity first–whether that means you remain married but essentially live separate lives or end up leaving.

  • “Because of his *lack of self-reflection* he feels *entitled* to continue *friendships* with *various women.*”

    Ahh, OK. Here’s a tune for ya, and here’s the refrain to it-betcha can’t guess the name….

    “Up on Cripple Creek she sends me
    If I spring a leak she mends me
    I don’t have to speak, she defends me
    A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one…”

    What kind of cancer does he have? Terminal cockitis? Oh he just can’t help himself, his Zombie Stick came to life with a terminal diagnosis. You appear to think the process of decomp involves fucking etc. with “various women.” Just a nasty lil’ side effect of “broken brain syndrome.”

    You have more “reasons” to stay than go and are well armed with a couple of meat shields you’re pushing out in front of you. No, the kids don’t deserve to live in a virtual war zone while you get your shit straight but that’s where they’ll remain until or if you ever decide to model self-respect. You have 4 young kids and the oldest got the low-down of their father’s fuckery? Do you people have ANY boundaries?! WTF?! TMI, waaayyy TMI. Why anyone would wanna fight over some corpse-in-waiting (unless there’s a shit ton of insurance which you can recoup in a divorce) speaks to greed and self-interest. This latest escapade is only the most recent you’re aware of but this behavior has likely been going on for years if not decades if you tolerate his messing around with other women as it appears you have historically.

    You’ve already made up your mind to stay and likely made your mind up to stay multiple affairs ago. You’ll have multiple “reasons” why you won’t leave for every single post made here. I cared for my late husband (who wasn’t a fucktard) at home until he died from cancer. All’s I can tell ya is good luck with that.

    BTW, this wouldn’t be the first time someone used an alleged “cancer” card to get outta jail free.
    Unless I spoke directly with the health care provider who made the dx. I wouldn’t believe them. Of course they would lie about it-they lie about everything else. If it’s true, better book a couple different “viewing rooms” for the multiple APs at the Wake.
    Or you could all just make a long receiving line out the front door of the place.

    Personally, I’d book a tactical spa vacation but imma bitch like that. Then again, I also know enough to consult with medical social workers and Hospice, the Death and Dying Specialists for such matters. If you’re already flailing around now let me assure you it doesn’t get any less….messy.

    • I imagine the whores will hoo running when sickness hits so they won’t be at the wake. That’s how shallow people are.

    • “Why anyone would wanna fight over some corpse-in-waiting (unless there’s a shit ton of insurance which you can recoup in a divorce) speaks to greed and self-interest.”

      Or it speaks to a betrayed wife who loved her husband and is just trying to figure out what variety of freight train has smashed into her life and marriage. A little kindness and empathy goes a long way.

      • True. However, Reality is like gravity and gravity always wins. The above Post has more “reasons” (excuses) for staying then leaving. It is also worth noting what’s unsaid: This is not the writer’s first experience with her philandering husband’s philandering. The only discernible difference is he’s allegedly dxd. with some potentially terminal illness that effects his judgment not one whit. However, it’s added another layer of compost to an already hot mess.

        It would be oh-so-easy to do some hand patting and commiserating and plenty of people will do exactly that so we got that covered. Nothing in this letter indicates anything has changed beyond an alleged diagnosis: Does that change his baseline philandering behavior? Does that mitigate his characterless Character? NO.
        Another damn good reason to broker no bull shit in one’s short brutal existence.

  • Like you, much of my agonizing about leaving had to do with simply trying to decide what was best for my kids. I had to know that — for the kids — the alternative (staying) was clearly worse than leaving.

    I reached that point (too slowly), and one of the indicators I had that staying was indeed worse for my kids is precisely what CL mentions to you … his image management with the kids.

    My asshat copped to the only affair I knew about at the time. I told him he needed to tell our young-adult kids and he agreed. Sitting front-and-center of me and our older girls, the-man-who-never-cries cried his eyes out. He apologized for screwing up so badly, for lying about it (for 18 yrs); and for not being a better person and upholding his vows. He swore that he loved me and he loved our family — and that he would never do anything like that again. It was the most heartfelt, loving apology I’ve ever witnessed. And … it was complete bullshit. It was manipulation for the sake of image management (must maintain cake!).

    I discovered later that at the time of this “heartfelt” confession, he was stalking a local woman on the internet — he had had an affair with this woman while our daughter was on life support and during her recovery a few years prior (she was in a car accident), and he was trying to contact her to rekindle the affair. I also found out that there had been many more affairs in our 20+ years together, he had been viewing porn hours every day (even at work–and throughout our marriage), and he had been hiding money from his checks to use on himself and his “fun” — even when we couldn’t pay our bills.

    When my husband initially “confessed,” I thought I had unraveled the whole knot of deception. At that time, I wasn’t even close to knowing 1/10 of the truth. Hell, to this day, I’m certain I still know less that 1/2 of it.

    My long, rambling point is that when a person can act with such horrendous character when life gets tough — and they are able to lie day-in and day-out without batting an eyelash — they WILL fake accountability and remorse. Even to their own kids. This level of image management is mind-bending for a person who sees the world with a moral compass.

    The one devastating truth I had the hardest time facing was that my asshat’s disregard and disrespect for me applied equally to our children. You’ve seen your husband’s relationship with you through a new lens. Please consider using that lens to view his “accountability” with your child(ren).

    Wishing you all the best.

    • Too many pronouns! Sorry for the lack of clarity.

      Fourth paragraph clarification:
      My asshat was stalking (and trying to rekindle a relationship with) a local woman he had had an affair with while our daughter was in the hospital due to a car accident. The affair continued after our daughter returned home and was trudging through a long recovery.

    • Yep the devastation to find out there is nothing they wont say to victimise themselves to their own children. My disordered mid life crisis/ NPD/sad sausage told our sobbing daughter who hadn’t seen him for 14months that he would have committed suicide if he had stayed in our family a minute longer than the 22+ years he had already endured the ‘misery’ . Needless to say he had been having an affair already but he went further to indignantly say ‘don’t you want me to be happy’ cheater speak to the end … turn the tables on the person wanting some clear answers and put the guilts on them. Needless to say in the last months before he walked out he did not give the impression to anyone but me he was remotely sad. He was dam good at the devalue stage on me with everyone else thinking he was husband and father of the year. The calculating mind needed to plot these story lines are capable of anything thats why they are so dangerous on top of a
      ll the other devastation they cause. As they say …RUN!!

  • Whoever said Adversity shows true character knew what they were talking about !!! This guy is a turd, sick, well, whatever.

    I understand not wanting to lose time with your kids, but I doubt you will lose much. Thru talk a good game but when cheaters choose whether to spend their free time with the children or fucking whores, it’s whores all the way.

    I got really pissed off yesterday for some reason. I realized not only did I let a creep cheat on me ( thanks, Ric) I let him tell me he cheated on me cause I was fat and lazy. Don’t let the creep you are married to push this shit off on you, or disease, or anything! Don’t be me. I can’t change my past but you can change your future.

  • Limbo Chump,

    My kids love their Dad as well but they know he is a screwed up asshole. The one thing they said when we were in the process of divorcing was, “you should have done this sooner.” Yes, they love him. Yes, they spend time with him. However, now they have a completely drama free home and don’t have to hide the little things they have observed about him from me. My son told me that he thinks his Dad was having an affair long before I discovered it but didn’t know how to tell me.
    Please know that your children will be alright. Take them for counseling if they need it, give them space to air their opinion without taking it personally. Show them that it is okay to walk away from a relationship that is not healthy. This is the best gift you can give them.
    Wishing you all the best and we’re here for you.

    • This is what I don’t understand- how do you classify someone as a screwed up asshole but love him anyway. We are asking our children to love someone who is incapable of loving. I was unable to defend myself from his narc abuse for nearly 30 years- how can I expect my kids to do it? On the rare occasions since he left, they have spent a couple of hours with him, they come home and make fun of him. I think it is a defense mechanism but I don’t know that it is healthy. It is the kind of sick thing he would do- cut on people behind their backs.

      The mindfuckery is so subtle that casual observers may not notice it.

      I agree with those who say it is encouraging your children to be friends with your rapist- who does that?

      I can just tell, though , that chump nation is finally a place where I can say “yes! You get it- I’m not crazy!!!”

      • Our mediator was suggesting that if Schmoopie was going to be an important part of STBXs life then I would need to encourage the kids to have a relationship with her. Huh? Why would I want to encourage them to be friends with someone I don’t think is messed up. Of course I am still encouraging them to have a relationship with their Dad, but at least in his case I know there are a few positive things they can learn from him as long as they don’t involve how to be in or end a relationship.

        • Sorry that should have said “I don’t like” or “I think is messed up”. Oops. My brain was going in two different directions and meshed that one all wrong.

    • I felt bad when my daughter found out about Schmoopie because she overheard me yelling at STBX about her. She says it bothered her less to witness me yelling at him with cause then it does to witness be being nice to him most of the time just to keep the peace and avoid drama when he is around. I think the boys prefer less drama, however. I guess the best solution is to have him spend his time with the kids off other places so I don’t have to deal with him at all either angrily or kindly. I am working on that.

      My daughter is also asking when I am going to start dating again. At least let me get through the divorce first, and maybe some recovery post divorce as well before I make myself potentially vulnerable again.

  • First, I apologize for the novel. 😉

    I, too, believe you should spend some time silently preparing for your exit. If you can afford to start the legal help process, do it. It is best to operate from a position where your ducks are in a row. Also, the lawyer can advise you about how to approach the conversation about the divorce.

    I don’t have anything dramatically different to say than others here, I just have a different angle of approach (not a surprise, if you know me.)

    I believe that his betrayal has made it impossible for you to support him in the way he wants to be supported. Let’s say for a moment that what he said is true (though I don’t believe him…), that he had a singular affair with one person in dysfunctional reaction to learning of a terminal health diagnosis. People do all kinds of insane things when faced with mortality. I get that.

    Still, he joined a different team when he chose to turn to someone else for comfort. He didn’t go base jumping or start smoking weed. He shared his body sexually with another person. He broke the family bond and, therefore, betrayed the whole family — including himself.

    You will never be able to feel close to him while you care for him when he is sick. Intrusive thoughts of his body with someone else will plague you.

    You will never be able to see him in the light of a person who has always been good to you and your kids when he is suffering, which will impact your ability to be fully emotionally present with him when he is struggling to cope.

    You will never know where his body has been or how many risks he is taking with it if he feels there is nothing to lose, so you can’t safely share sexual intimacy with him anymore.

    His reflexive response to hardship and life-altering news is to betray everyone in his life, so you won’t ever be able to trust him if something terrible arises for you. You need a life where those close to you are strong enough to help you during bad times. He isn’t that kind of person. That will affect how you care for him. It will most likely breed deep resentment. Your kids will feel that.

    So even if you want to, you’ll never be able to be fully clear about caring for him through his illness. That’s a damned tragedy, but it’s still true, and it’s a downfall he created by breaking the family bond.

    Also, if he is really that sick/potentially sick, he probably can’t reliably care for kids, no matter how much he loves them. They are not adults yet. Caregiving is far more traumatic than visiting an I’ll person. It wouldn’t be fair to ask them to shoulder that burden at this age.

    What you CAN do to support him is be egalitarian about separation, divorce, and visitation. (Notice that I didn’t say accommodating, I said egalitarian.)

    I can see a worldview like this:

    He made choices that irreparably broke our family. It is very sad, and I am heartbroken about it, and the timing could not be worse. However, he harmed me and the kids with his actions, and now we are here, so I can only work from what is true.

    The way I can support him and the kids best now is to do what I can to facilitate the relationship between him and the kids as smoothly as possible while minimizing further harm.

    It is best for the kids when I am strong so I can care for them well, since I am the only parent they have who is not seriously ill. I can’t care for them well unless I am doing ok myself, and I can’t be ok if I try to stay in a broken marriage.

    Will people judge you? Yep. People will judge you no matter what you choose. People are primal and idiotic sometimes. It won’t serve you to make choices based on trying to appease or deflect the train wreck hungry spectators. You don’t owe them ant explanations. You only owe yourself one. People should have to EARN the answer to “Why?” by being trustworthy and supportive. It isn’t anyone else’s business, honestly.

    Bottom line: Your kids need you, and you can’t be solid for them unless you have what you need. You are not ok in this relationship. In reality, he left you no other reasonable choice but to leave.

    • (Oh, oops, various women… Forgot that part. Still, he wants you to believe it isn’t a thing anymore, but his deceptive behavior tells all of us that isn’t true.)

    • Amiisfree, I really enjoy reading your perspective on things. Your calm and logical approach resonates with me a lot. I learn so much from your posts as much as from others here at CN. Hope you don’t mind if I copy your novel to my notebook! 🙂

  • You’re escape window is NOW. You’re post-cheating and pre-cancer spread. He’s healthy and stable for the time being, and that is your exit cue. Don’t wait around until his cancer comes back, because then you may not give yourself permission to leave.

    And what if he’s in the 25% for whom this isn’t fatal? You want to spend the rest of your life with him? Wait until you’re older to start over? Be a sitting duck for the next affair? (It’s coming.)

    Yes, your children may be devastated by a divorce, but that is the fault of the person who decided to abuse you and the marriage, not the fault of the person who chooses to exit said marriage under those conditions.

    • Amen! He may not ever spread. Remissions happen. Are you going to wait out 2, 5, 10 years with a cheating asshole who WILL continue to cheat on you? It may not spread until it does. And maybe you will be ten years older, have contracted a terrible STI because he is working that “fuck it list” with a “nothing to lose feeling.” Go now. You can say he was well when you left. That is all anyone can say. If he didn’t have cancer now and cheated, he could conceivably contract it during divorce. Would you run back to care for him the? No? Then why do it now. I’d be hung up on the “no remorse” thing. He has no remorse. Even knowing what this does to you. No remorse–for something he purposely, selfishly did to you when you were devastated already. Why do you have so much remorse for something that you have no control over, and may not ever happen? You can secure life insurance, support and SSA benefits for your children in a divorce decree. You cannot secure self worth and dignity by endlessly supporting a man who thinks “What will I do with my possibly limited time? Oh, I know! I’ll cause the most devastating pain possible to my wife and children. And I WON’T be sorry for it.”

  • I’m going to cut through all of it and just say…GET OUT. Get out NOW. He has cancer, so what? NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Get your ducks in a row and go file. He isn’t going to die overnight. This could drag out for decades and he’s going to use it as an excuse for every asshat thing he does. Just. get. out.

  • Speaking from experience . . . RUN. Right now he’s healthy(ish). That means you have a get-out-of jail-card. Play it! Now!! If you’re secretly harboring some chumpish fantasy of how when he really needs you he’ll realize how much he loves you and tell you how grateful he is for your life together – get over yourself. There is nothing narcs hate more than losing control. Illness & dying = loss of control. He will lash out at anyone and everyone. There will be no more need to hide behind the mask. This applies to your children, too. One of my son’s last memories of his father – who was in hospice – is being told “Leave me the F alone and get the F out of my room.” Believe me, narcs are not hiding some kind, loving, generous soul that will reveal itself after all these years.
    You’re worried about who will take care of him? Yep, you’re a chump. Does he have parents, siblings, health insurance? Right now you’re Plan A but I’m sure he’ll have a B all lined up before the ink is dry on the divorce papers.
    Won’t people think badly of you? What reason will you give? How about telling them what he showed you. He wants to spend his remaining years doing all the things he always wanted to do. When you understood that many of those things were not compatible with a wife and a family you realized that the greatest gift you could give him was his freedom.
    PS – Does he have a life insurance policy? Make sure your lawyer includes continued payment of the premiums, with you as the beneficiary, in the agreement. You must protect your children’s future.

  • I will furnish the most dispassionate AND mercenary advice. First, the dissipation and division of assets in a divorce is going to be additional life-changing events. Inherit it all. Second, the status of widow is different than the status of divorced woman. In reality you will not change a bedpan, he will be in hospice or a hospital by then. Stay there and hopefully you can shed him without a divorce. My opinion having dealt with a wounding cheater seems so cruel and unfeeling, because he broke my brain.

    • How long should she wait for him to die? 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? 10? maybe 15? And all that money she inherits (possibly, assuming he doesn’t spend it all on affair partners by then) is worth a decade of feeling broken and modeling being a doormat for her children?

      I strongly disagree with the advice to stay with him. If his cancer comes back, imagine the sexual free-for-all he can have at Limbo Chump’s expense because now he can claim the excuse of TERMINAL cancer. Yee ha! The metastasis made me do it!

      If chumps stay in a bad situation where their self-respect is compromised on a daily basis, for the sake of money, then we are as shallow as the cheaters. Live an honest life, even if that means being poorer, having people judge you for divorcing an abusive jackass with cancer. Model strength of character for the children.

      • Yes. It would be different if he was on his death bed, or they were only giving him chemo so that he might have a few more months. But right now he’s well and in remission. Leave, Limbo. Leave while the story is still “he was diagnosed with cancer and promptly cheated on me while our children were worried about losing their father.” You don’t want the story to be “he was bedridden and dying and she left him because he made one mistake right after the first diagnosis.”

      • Another thing to remember is that cancer is expensive. Assuming that it comes back (and the odds are strongly in this favor), the strong probability is that the cost of treatment will eat up available assets. Point of fact: Vice President Joe Biden, whom you think would be very wealthy, looked at putting up his house for sale to pay for Beau’s medical expenses after he died of a rare brain cancer. If a Vice President of the United States is hard-strapped to pay for cancer, where does that leave a run-of-the-mill person?

        Divorce would preserve at least half those assets, which would go a long way to helping the kids through school, etc.

      • So agree tempest- staying for money will be the hardest money you will ever earn. Emotional health is more important! The first lawyer I contacted kept telling me to wait it out for more money unless I couldn’t handle it emotionally. It got to that point!

        My son was worried last night about not sucking up to dad because he might pull the college money. I told him – we would find a way- his mind games aren’t worth it.

    • One of my mother’s friends was married to a cheater who had schtupped the Swedish woman across the street. She was of the generation to not divorce,suck it up yet be unhappy and vitriolic (rightfully so in my book) towards her husband. He had to have emergency heart surgery. She pleaded with the doctor “Please don’t leave me with a vegetable.” He did her one better-hubby died on the table. Big insurance payout because of his position as a business executive $$$.

      I’m glad women have more choices and autonomy now.

  • My advice too is to get out now. Cheaters always find excuses for their bad behavior. I cheated because X (fill in the blank: illness, bad childhood, stress at work, you gained 5 pounds, etc etc). Funny thing is we as chumps go thru bad times too, guess what we DONT do: cheat as a solution to fix our lives. He’s not insane, he has cancer. He knows what he is doing is wrong. Period. End of sentence.

    At the end of the day the reality is this: his life is probably made better by being with you BUT your life is worse for being with him. Are you willing to make that trade?. If you can accept that and answer honestly then you have your decision. Run girl run, it will only get worse. Hugs.

  • I think you should think about this pragmatically, as cold as it sounds. If his death is imminent (say under 3 months) then divorce might not be worth the time and expense. Just make sure your to separate your finances during that time.

    On the other hand, if he’s stick around for longer, then you need to protect yourself and your kids by getting divorced. Since he thinks death is around the corner and he won’t ever to have to face long-term consequences for his actions, what else might he do? Take up drugs? Drain your savings or runs up debt that YOU’RE on the hook for after he dies? Do you really want to be served shit sandwiches from beyond the grave?

    As much as you want your kids to have time with your husband, as Chump Lady says, he doesn’t seem particularly interested in them. Most people’s reaction to learn of their possible death is to spend as much time with their loved ones as possible, and maybe spend a month in Hawaii. His reaction was to fuck a 20-something co-worker and make his family as miserable as possible. Don’t you think it’s far more painful for your kids to have their last memories of their Dad to be fighting with you and him treating them like garbage?

  • Here’s some valuable advice from a person who was diagnosed with an incurable rare form of leukemia 6 years ago. Don’t EVER give pity or a free pass to a person who uses the cancer card. Lame and transparent manipulation at its best.

    • A friend of mine once said, “Money doesn’t make someone become a bad person, it just allows them to be who they truly are.”
      Money or mortality, same concept.

      Trust me, if cancer could realistically be blamed for causing bad behavior, I’d be slapping the shit out of someone right now.

      On a lighter note, it’s been said that men think with their dicks and not their heads. I’m surprised… he missed a perfect opportunity to gaslight a totally inconceivable notion and twist it into a “justifiable reason” for fixing his broken brain. Rookie.

  • Oh man. This makes me quaver. My stbx had an affair with my best friend while I was recovering from active cancer treatment. He shows no remorse. To hear your compassion for him is painful to me. So human and understandable. I agree with the advice here. I understand your hesitancy. I hope you find your way through this. You’re in a tough spot with the kids. I personally was physically repulsed by my stbx and had to get the fuck out as soon as I learned of his non-remorse. Good luck friend.

  • If there is one thing I believe with every fiber of my being it is this: YOU NEVER CATCH THEM ON THEIR FIRST TIME CHEATING. NEVER. If you’re luck was that amazing, why haven’t you won the lottery?

    He OR YOU could die of an undiagnosed STD because of his lying and cheating before the cancer takes him.

    CL is spot on… the only BIG C of issue here is CAKE.

    Your children deserve a sane parent and a non-toxic home environment where emotional and physical manipulation (lying and cheating) are deal-breakers. The victim mentality will not serve them well in this world as adults.

    Saying prayers he lives long enough (and well beyond) to see you and your kids get that divorce, a proper settlement, and build a great cheater-free life.

  • As I read the letter, I thought, ok, Chump Lady is going to soften her stance this once, I mean it’s cancer! I’m glad she didn’t, and after reading the responses, it’s clear I still have some chumpy blood running thru my veins. Of course, mine left me while I awaited cancer results, because I had uterine surgery and would be out of commission for 6 weeks, but that just makes sense 🙂 thank you all for the daily brick upside my head I always need!

    • charliesheened,

      I’m with you – I was wondering if CL was going to say something different because the chumpiness runs deeply through my veins. Since Dday I have learned of the big flaw in my critical thinking skills. If there is one iota of truth in a statement, I tend to believe the whole statement. My brain searches for truth – oh, there it is! It all must be good. I found myself during our wreckonciliation thinking “well, he has a point” tragically often. It took all the therapy for me to see that just because he has a point doesn’t mean there is logic and truth in the whole statement. And usually these nuggets of truth are not important to the big picture.
      Nugget of truth – he has cancer. Truthful picture of reality – he is a lying cheating guy who is not sorry and chooses himself and other people over his family.

      • And even then… if he/she says he/she has cancer… ask to talk to the Doctor, go for the treatments together. These fuckwits aren’t past PRETENDING to have cancer just for the pity factor. Just ask some of Chump Nation.

      • charliesheened, KathleenK — you’re not alone. I was right there with you. Thank whatever higher power you call on for Chump Lady’s hilarious pragmatism. Still working on my chump-o-meter or whatever filter I have in my brain that allows my first response to be so trustingly naive.

  • Ummm, hmmm. Dearheart, he’s been “unhappy for years”. And “I have not received the type of remorse and self-reflection that I would expect or require to reconcile. In fact, there has been some blame-shifting and mindfuckery around the entire issue. Because of his lack of self-reflection, he feels entitled to continue friendships with various women.”

    So let me ask you this. If YOU contract something dreadful or have an accident, stroke or other difficult challenges down the road, can you just guess what his reaction and behavior will be like? How likely would you be to receive his sympathy or support? Gander/goose baby.

  • I really don’t think you owe a cheater your continued support of his needs, including the “in sickness and in health” clause. It is completely possible for you to provide your kids quality contact with him from the safety of divorce. Believe me, if the cancer does return, he will have the most perfect sad sausage excuse to manipulate your kids, family, friends, the world. The time to be strong and look out for yourself is now. It is very hard to leave a cheater when the whole world seems inclined to sacrifice your happiness for their need for reconciliation. Leaving a cancer victim? Whoa doggies … what little social support you would have had will quickly evaporate. Don’t let your difficult choice become even more so. You deserve a life free from cheating. Please go get it.

  • I agree with other posters who pointed out that when faced with dying the natural reaction is to spend as much time as possible with the ones you love. Who he chose to spend time with is very telling. When I had surgery x dumped me at the door of the hospital and told me to call him when I was going to be released. Then went to Mexico to party and was unreachable. My mom and my brother died of cancer. Here is how a loving family handles it. My dad took 4 months of work to care for my mom at the end so she could die at home. My brother reached out to family and friends to strengthen relationships. Neither of them cheated. They both died surrounded by the people that meant most to them. Your husband has shown his true colors and like others have said cancer is not a get out of jail free card. Agree with the advice about talking to his doctor to find the truth and making sure his life insurance goes to your kids not some bimbo.

  • Get the divorce. Make sure you never engage in animosity with your STBX in front of the kids and never talk bad about him in front of them. And get the divorce. I have a 5 and 7 year old. They are doing great after the divorce. They spend 6 days a month with ex, plus 6 evenings. I have them the rest. It works just fine. They are doing great in school. I asked them the other week if they were sad about the divorce, and I got two resounding no’s. Children will survive it.

    Get life insurance on your STBX. I do believe you can avoid disclosing it to him. Make sure the kids and you are taken care of, should he kick the bucket.

    He left you guys when he cheated on you.

  • I’m not making light of cancer, but one of my ex-wife’s go-to excuses was that she cheated on me due to some sort of undiagnosed mental/psychological breakdown.

    And I briefly let her get away with that excuse.

    But then I researched and realized that REAL psychological breakdowns affect ALL parts of someone’s life — not just her/his ability to be faithful. CL has made the same point here, several times.

    What other responsibilities did your husband forego to “feel alive”? Did he quit his job, sell the house without telling you, and go live on a tropical island? Fly away without telling anyone and hike the Himalayas for 6 months? Spend every waking hour in a brothel? Backpack trough Europe? Pick up a heroin addiction?

    He sounds a lot like my ex: managed to disregard ONE specific responsibility due to his condition.

    It’s what we mere boring, conscientious adults call “bullshit.”

  • Run the numbers, financial and life expectancy. See a lawyer and discuss options. Get all the information you need to make a wise financial decision. Go with whatever gives you and your children more financial security. Remove the emotion.

    Have your own private funeral for him. Consider him dead already. Whenever he walks by or speaks think “dead man walking!”

    If you decide to take the easy road and keep him in your life, cut him from your heart.

  • 6 months ago I finally left my narc bf who had cancer (one that will also spread and not be cured). I stayed a long time and put up with a lot of shit thinking he needed me and the cancer has made him do crazy things. Ya, nope, wasn’t the cancer – it was his f-ed up brain thinking he was entitled to lie and have secret relationships. No guilt anymore!! I feel free and happy and so will you!!

  • Limbo Chump,

    Your sad situation reminds me of an article I read in the NYT last month. The title was “You may want to marry my husband.” Before you get all chumpy on that, it was written by a woman with terminal cancer. Here’s the link (hope it works):

    The author, Amy Rosenthal, and her husband had just sent their last kid off to college, and she felt a pain in her side. Sadly, it wasn’t a muscle strain, it was late stage ovarian cancer. Just after valentine’s day, she wrote this article as the beginning of a eHarmony (or equivalent) profile of her wonderful husband, knowing that he should be with someone after she passed. It’s impossible for me to read it without tearing up (but I’m kind of a softie that way).

    Now, here’s the rub. This could have been what you and your husband had over the last few years, and going forward. Instead he hid an affair from you for six months, and then continued to blame-shift and mindfuck you. I suspect that after the six months of women on the side, he realized that when he did get sick again (75% chance), no affair partner would be there to visit him in the hospital, and he’d die alone, unless he fixed things with you.

    I’d suggest that you show him that article. Make him read it all the way to the end. And then ask him if that’s the kind of exit he would have wanted from this life, or is he happier with what he did since the diagnosis. I suspect that you’ll get a good answer to your questions then.

    And if you do decide to stay with him, insist on a favorable will and a post-nup. If he doesn’t care enough about his kids to insure they are taken care of if/when he passes, then he’s a lost cause. He should feel the same way about you, but his behavior certainly doesn’t say that.

    It’s bad enough to be in a position of having to deal with a cheating spouse. The potential guilt from a probably dying cheating spouse is worse. Good luck.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.

    • I also read this story last week. I agree it’s the way things should be (but unfortunately not in my case). I appreciate the advice.

    • I disagree Aeronaut. The two couples in question are apples to oranges, at least by perception since I know neither couple.

      I read the article. Sounds like Ann had a MARRIAGE. Limbo thought she was married but had an ARRANGEMENT dictated by her cheater.

      Do NOT share information like this with skilled, manipulative fuckwads. They have already duped you and have most likely only revealed the minimum of what they think you know. Limbo needs to protect herself and her kids from this selfish creep, not try to reason with him as if he were a healthy adult.

  • I hope I don’t catch a lot of crap for this. . .

    But Chump Lady raises the point of having to take care of someone who is a colossal asshole and changing their bed pan.

    Get out before this gets messy legally. Adultery is grounds for divorce in many states, but it has to be proven, and if for some reason he ends up on disability or unable to work, this could end up haunting you financially.

    I am not suggesting you ditch your sick spouse during a time of need. We hear stories like that all of the time. But clearly this is different than someone just bailing because the going got tough. He cheated on you. He will use his illness as an excuse the next time he does it. And you will be left holding the crappy bedpan.

    I’m also not advocating that you act without compassion. You can be compassionate from a safe distance with clearly defined boundaries. Like divorce papers and a separation agreement.

    (FYI– My ex had a chronic debilitating illness. Luckily, he never brought it up as an excuse.)

  • He picked you for all the right reasons; good person, Good parent, forgiving, kindhearted, reasonable. Cat nip for cluster b’s. He was always cheating.

    Why would you want to parent four small children with him? You made the commitment- till death due is part. This was real for you- He knows this.

    Not for him. He knew he could cheat. He’s probably been doing it for years. Only with this new smoopie they demanded more and he gave it easily because he had your pity over cancer. This was a great manipulation tool he just got- free pass. If you left him- he’d tell everyone you left him for cancer. It’s hard to imagine he’d been ‘acting’ like a husband and father without really being one. They always win image management.

    It’s hard to wake up and reconcile that they don’t value you. They value who you are to them. Useful, trusting, hardworking, committed. He knows your sensitive and if he says it’s your fault – you’ll take it to heart. It will effect you. He counts on it.

    I was the one who had cancer. My exes excuses were reversed. ‘You were sick I couldn’t handle it- I have to go out away from you to deal.’ Any movement from me not being his workhorse pissed him off. I needed him for a change- how rude of me. He even got plastic surgery during my treatment saying everything was about me- and he had to do this for himself.

    Let alone when I found out about multiple women – he said it was my fault – he had no problem shutting utilities off on my daughter and me a day after he left and giving me A few weeks to leave our home. It wasn’t in my name after all he reminded me. Fuck my cancer he said- he didn’t give a Damn. What a charmer I loved.

    Your husband expects you to help him, forgive him, take care of him, care. What he does -well that’s negotiable.

    I hate when I hear that people say about a man that he is being a good father. Like it’s a rare unicorn that he step up for his offspring. He is not a good father. Good parents don’t spend money/time on whores and away from 4 young kids and his wife.

    Be stealth – get your ducks in a row, get proof of indiscretions, review all finances. Know everything. What I learned the most about my experience is I had been taught in childhood to forgive no matter what- to be small in my needs, to only find joy in going for others. That is something I’m trying to break.

    Are you valuable as s good wife and mom? Yes. More valuable then the deadweight husband who’s penis has been risking your health- what if he gave you hpv from a whore? 5 years from now you could be the one with cancer as it causes 85% of all female , cervical, ovarian, etc.
    Get tested. Please. I am very serious!please. I learned the hard way.

    • Chumpedtothe9thdegree–what a horrible story. I’m sorry you had to live through cancer, and then to suffer fucktard’s cruelty afterwards. May your life be healthy and fulfilling hereafter.

      • Thank you Tenpest. I am in a weird space currently. Nothing is working out but I’m here and I’m fighting to get to a better place. Day at a time. It will come. Switzerland ?? friends were all around me- so it was a leave it all behind situation. Very isolating. But there is a sprout of hope. Which is a start. Hoping this lady has the strength to pull away. It’s s waste to live with a human who uses your kindness as a weakness.

        • Chumptothe 9th,

          Your story is shocking – but you sound like an intelligent strong woman and I’m glad you shared. Switzerland friends are the WORST – sorry you had to deal with that. Hang in there and keep posting. (((Hugs)))

          • Kathleen k- Thank you. I feel stupid half the time and somewhat ok the other half. Love to get to kickass warrior! Maybe in time? Hugs back!?

            • We all feel like that at first, over time you’ll realize how manipulative your ex was and that quite a bit of it was simply you trusting this person. You will become the Jedi! In the meantime, Jedi Hugs!

        • It is very isolating, Chumpedtothe9thdegree. I, too, lost virtually all of my local friends (many morally supported me but are in X’s department). Small steps, and reach out wherever you can for social support. Go post a query in the Forums (chump meetups) to see if there are any other chumps in your area; you’ll be amazed at what a great source of support and friendship this can be). Hugs; even an impoverished life is better than life with your sociopathic X (and you do have the strength to rebuild, even if it’s slower than hoped).

          • Thank you- I didn’t realize there was a forum here. I will join. I haven’t made new friends yet- don’t think I can be a good friend with all this anger right now…I am embarrassed sometimes. When I type things that happened out. It’s easy to see now how weak I was. It’s hard to admit how very committed to stupid I was.

            • You are being awfully hard on yourself Chump to the 9th! We all look back in disbelief at all the red flags we missed I think. But when your core belief is that you married an honest good person, it is hard to even consider the possibility that you have a liar on your hands – it’s almost an impossible thought to have.
              I feel for you dealing with a lot of anger. I was so angry for so long I was worried for my health – all that cortisol and adrenaline constantly pumping through my body! I am 3 years out from Dday and my anger is 25% of what it was. I still feel angry toward X (how can anyone be that shitty of a person?) but don’t have that all encompassing anger hanging over me like a black cloud. So happy to be free of that. You will get there in time. Time helps so much. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you and make it all disappear. I really do – for all of us. ❤️

            • as KathleenK says, we all beat ourselves up for stupidity and ignoring our own needs for too long. It will pass, you will forgive yourself, and you will craft a new life.

              If you do go to a chump meetup, you’ll meet plenty of angry chumps, lol, and they won’t mind that you are angry. The Private: General forum is the best place to post when you need extra support or advice (most of the sagacious, old-time chumps step in with words of wisdom as needed).

    • Chump9th degree:

      I’m appalled by your ex- I don’t think these stories of cheaters can continue to shock me but honest to god: what a scumball

  • If you had cancer he would have still fucked the 20 yrs younger chick, hell if your kid had cancer he still would have banged her.

    Recommended steps:

    – silently plan your exit strategy with a lawyer, and make sure of the life insurance and that you’re the sole beneficiary

    – silently document all, including everything about the affair bitch

    – tell you kids the age appropriate truth once you serve him the D papers

    – start the long walk forward a single Mom towards your new life, feel it all and process it along the way

    – know that a new and much better life awaits you

    • HPV is a nasty pre cursor to genital cancers; all on the rise.

      I was diagnosed highly aggressive bladder cancer (the only man to this day I’ve had sex with is my XH) after years of his cheating, faux remorse cycling.

      These selfish, soulless cheaters have no character or care for the damage they cause by their actions.

      At diagnosis, I knew he wouldn’t care for me in my time of need (the only time I needed in 34 years of marriage). I also knew I needed to kick him to the curb if I wanted to live. I was allowing him to literally draining my life force from me.

      I know his al a minute whore likely won’t be there for him in his old age and diminishing health; neither will I. It was his choices that led him to this place. I will never forget the anger and cruelty he showed me while going through the fight of my life.

      I am a survivor! My life and walls of my house sing again. He is stuck with a cheap whore, in declining health in a job he doesn’t like and needs to care for his aging narcissistic parents sans a loving, caring and loyal wife. Karma’s arrived!

      • Yes! Glad to hear you are on the other side! Hpv is so dangerous. Men usually pick it up when fucking around, they carry it, and give it to their wives, gf. So many strains but 4 are the worst. Imagine my surprise when I went in for testing after my stage 3 diagnosis and they told me I had all 4. Wtf? How in a monogamous relationship? this is the silent killer of innocent woman.

        My ex is out there spreading these 4 highly dangerous strains to 10 plus women a week. It should be a crime!

        • Agreed Chump to x9,

          If they took a gun and shot us they would be in jail. How is it legal for them to give STDs that can kill ok?

          Sorry for your diagnosis and pain. May you get through treatment, heal, rise and shine your light into the world.

          • My soon to be ex’s affair partner had HPV that turned into anal cancer. She had a colostomy bad while they were screwing around for 15 months. She died when her anal cancer spread to her spine. Eight months, after I discovered the affair, I was diagnosed with anal HPV. He STILL swears they never touched each other! What a CHUMP I am!

        • Make sure you get your children vaccinated with the existing HPV vaccine, everything helps. And if you don’t have it, get vaccinated yourself

  • I’d file for a Legal Separation first…telling him that you need to protect assets going forward in the event that his prognosis turns for the worst. Surely he would understand that huh? Surely he would not expect you to circle the drain with him and become destitute because of his cancer huh?
    This divides all assets and debts, sets custody/visitation, and it is in force immediately without a waiting period. You will be financially protected against any medical debts and any secret spending he may do going forward…because he will be financially/medically on his own and you cannot be touched or sued. It also shows YOU what kind of person that he really is if he tries to fight you on asset division.

    If he has no life insurance policy, it is already too late to get that. If you find out that he is having additional affairs, you can then turn it into a divorce any time along the way incorporating the established terms from the already in effect Legal Separation Agreement. In some States, you actually cannot live together during a Legally Separation. Check your state…if that is the case, one of you will have to move. Make sure that it is HIM so you do not lose the house (if you have one) given that you have four children to raise and should not further disrupt their lives while you are making a decision.

    Saying all that is designed to get you the space to reflect before taking the final jump to Divorcing if that is what you need. And need I say that every time you engage in having sex with him you are endangering your own health? It would be a crime that YOU also ended up with a life threatening disease that could take you from your children.

  • I love this place. My soon to be ex said he cheated because I had menopause and he thought that meant I was going to die. Haha! Wtf does that mean? Idiot. I came to the conclusion that he’d take a date to my funeral and filed for divorce.

    • Concurring with your categorization of him as an idiot. Worried that menopause = a death sentence? Google might have been useful to him.

  • Wow, Limbo, what a tough scenario!

    I think you’ve received a lot of good advice here, even if it sometimes sounds contradictory. Some takeaways include:

    * See a lawyer.–See what your options are under your state’s laws and what you can do legally to protect those assets you need to secure your children’s future.

    * See a divorce financial planner.–Even if you opt to remain married (but separated), you need to have a good idea of your best bet to a financially-stable future. Talking with a divorce financial planner may help you figure out whether it’s best financially for you to remain married or divorce. Remember that if you divorce, there’s still nothing barring you from showing him kindness should he go out of remission.

    * Get counseling for you and the kids–You need to get counseling from someone other than a marriage counselor. Marriage counselors are in the business of keeping marriages together. Forget that! You need a counselor who can help you sort through the abuse. Cheaters never cheat in a vacuum. Once you start looking back, you start to see all sorts of red flags that should have shown you that you were being devalued but you, because you’re a loving Chump, wrote off because you believed in the fundamental goodness of your partner. Your kids need a counselor because they’re collateral damage. Cheaters cheat more than their spouses; they cheat their families and the kids are often on the receiving end of much mind-fuckery. Your kids deserve to have the support they need to realize that they can simultaneously love their father but not like him very much and that they don’t need to feel guilty should he die.

    * Base your decision to divorce or stay on what would be best for you. Your children will thrive if you’re emotionally healthy and pass that environment to them..–Staying married for the sake of the kids is a huge mistake. The worst thing you can give your children is sense that a dysfunctional relationship is normal. Look at what would make you feel whole. Then factor your children into that. If you provide them an emotionally healthy environment, they’ll be able to handle the issues related to their father’s health and mortality much better (but see the need for counseling above).

    If your lawyer indicates that you could protect yourself via a separation agreement, then that’s another option, though it does make it difficult to be open to a healthier relationship with another man. A lot of nice men don’t want to be the boy toy on the side, which is essentially their role if they take up with a separated (i.e. married) v. divorced (i.e. single) woman.

    Anyway, best of luck to you.

  • This dude is living it up in every way right now, I guarantee it. Not only the affair, I’ll just about bet you my paycheck he’s running up debt that you don’t know about. My vote is to dump his sorry ass, but be absolutely sure part of divorce agreement is that he maintains a hefty life insurance policy to cover future child support.

  • Having seen someone go through this exact situation (and nursed her cheater through his cancer death right after having found out about multiple affairs for years), I have to vote for leaving. This broke the woman I know. She never got to deal with her grief and anger over the affair, and the cost TO HER of burying that and putting him first over and over again literally led to a nervous breakdown she is still not over. Face the music, no matter how hard. No matter who thinks what. Fuck what people think. The commenters above make an excellent point; faced with the loss of your family, a good response is not fucking around on them. In times of greatest stress, character is revealed.

  • They are something else aren’t they? My ex gave me a sob story how he had prostate cancer and I fell for it and was intimate with him because we bonded over the sorrow. I fell for it, and it was a miracle the cancer went away. And hmm maybe it wasn’t really cancer but that’s what his Doctor said. Oh brother. I learned a hard lesson, haven’t fallen for his BS since. I am so sorry you are going through this but actions should match up with words and these guys are full of BS!

  • One of the things that helped me finally pull the trigger on the divorce was a thought experiment along these lines. One of the main reasons why I held out on the divorce was I was worried about my financial security. I didn’t want to be 40 and starting over like I was 10 years before. I ran the finances and had a good grasp on our spending so we were on our way to a comfortable lifestyle/retirement.

    I did a thought exercise where I considered 10 years down the road. I would be 10 years older, and resentfully married to this horrible fuckwit, simply because I wanted to maintain my lifestyle. ExH was not in good health, and I could envision a situation where 10 years down the road he was diagnosed with some kind of horrible disease, and what if we were faced with the prospect of bankrupting ourselves to try and save his life. I literally would have stayed for nothing. I would have wanted to say “sorry buddy, guess you are going to have to die.”

    What does that thought exercise look like to you. You stay, and 5 years from now, the cancer is back, but the treatment option is not covered by insurance. How would you feel to bankrupt yourself trying to save him. How would you feel to put your own health care at risk (ie if you max out your policy) because he needs treatment.

    He’s healthy now, and instead of stepping back and doing everything he can to earn back your trust, he continues to show you disrespect. He has shown his true colors. So it is up to you to decide if that’s OK by you, or if it is better to find a way to move forward without his dysfunction in your life.

    • ^^
      I know women in their sixties whose husbands have slowly morphed into horrible assholes during the course of the marriage, and who have divorced because they don’t want to waste their precious old age taking care of a piece of shit who most certainly will not take care of *them* if *they* get sick or demented.

  • So many here have mentioned that staying in a marriage “for the kids” is a mistake. When I was almost a teenager, my parents divorced. It was, in many ways, a relief. There had been lots of yelling, screaming, and tension. Though they were one of the first in our neighborhood to divorce, I can honestly say that it never would have entered their minds to “stay for the kids”. Fast forward many years, and the pendulum has swung into a much more child centered society, with many couples opting to stay in marriages that have been long over “for the kids” . Not all are high conflict, but many are loveless. It is a scary thought that so many of our children are being raised in these type of environments. The irony is not lost on me that what has been done in the name of protection will cause a ripple of relationship issues as this generation of children grows up. I agree with the many here. Move on from this sad situation. Give yourself the gift of a new life, and give your children the gift of a mother who has a happy future down the road.

  • Life is so short! None of us really know what tomorrow will bring.

    You mention the probability that your husband’s rare form of cancer has a high (75%) chance of spreading and becoming incurable…but the probability of him cheating again is most likely much higher! Maybe 99.9%. Focus on that, rather than the potential for cancer re-occurrence (a distraction from the marriage situation).

    Remove the cancer from the equation.

    What would you want to do, IF you knew he was going to be just fine for another 40 years? And treat you the same way as he has been?

    After all, he may remain cancer free, and continue to cheat and treat your family with “selfish and destructive behavior”. But other things could happen that would also illicit compassion from you and make you question your desire to divorce… paralyzed in a car accident, early onset dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease or Parkinson’s, etc.

    Everyone has said it better than I can. This is your window of opportunity to act in your own (and by extension your children’s) best interests. After what he did to you and the kids, you are not obligated to sacrifice your peace of mind, safety, well-being and future for him.

  • I am a person with terminal cancer (average prognosis is 3 years) and I can tell you, cancer is no excuse for cheating. Yeah, it’s a mindfuck to get cancer but it doesn’t give you license to be an asshole. I’ve had cancer for 4 years now (look at me exceeding my likely lifespan!) and I haven’t cheated once. Can’t say the same for my husband – which is why he is gone.

    • Gilded, Hugs! So very true what you have shared! I pray you go into remission for 100 years! Cancer is NEVER “Get to F*** others.” I have had cancer, thank you, God, I am doing well. Never once did I cheat nor did I ever think of cheating during that difficult time. I “upped my game” with my family…family nights, Sunday dinners, memoirs written, love notes to family carefully placed in my safe deposit box, finances in order, “secret” recipes written, more words of “I love you,” more pictures taken! Never did I even THINK of banging another person, EVER!
      Limbo Chump, please, get your ducks in a row and leave, NOW!

  • “If he wonders why you’re divorcing him, tell him his affair made your brain break and you’re pushing him away.”

    This is exactly what I thought when I read this. Just repeat his own bullshit back to him, but with the word ‘divorce’ instead of ‘affair’:

    “Divorcing you makes me feel ALIVE! You don’t support me! I’ve been unhappy for years!”

  • This post is so timely. Without giving away too much, or compromising my ethical obligations, one of the participants in my Masters research is an old friend of mine. She has had me VERY perplexed for some time. Chump of the HIGHEST order, and I have tried, I really have. In our initial interview for my thesis, some red flags were fluttering very rapidly. I have long wondered why she won’t confront her H, for years, about his affair. Two other friends who have heard her story have suggested to me (prior to any research started) that maybe there was no affair, maybe this is her ‘story’ to justify some of her behaviours. I pooh-poohed this idea, I am the only person who has seen the texts and emails she screenshotted from his accounts. BUT. During the interview, she dropped the cancer bombshell. I have tried to nudge, cajole and basically crowbar her out of her apparent inertia previously. Nope. Not gonna talk to him about it, not gonna leave. Gah! Then, when I talk to her for the first time in a long time (year or so?) about this, she tells me he now has cancer, and she can’t leave. I gently probed, “oh no, that is hard. So, what did the kids say?” They are 19 (at uni), 17 and 14. “Oh, we haven’t told them.” (I had to pick my jaw off the ground at this point.) “Oh, okay, um, right. Um, what about his mother?” Who my friend is close with, widowed, lovely lady who cares deeply about her family. “We haven’t told anyone.” WTF? I just carried on with the interview, but started to get some really creepy vibes. What if all of this is just her way of creating an entitled life? She talked about how she was now getting the “things” (for her house, etc) she wanted, that her H’s “guilt” was making this okay for her to do. I even went and asked my supervisors, very awkwardly, if they had ever felt someone was creating an alternative reality for themselves, during any social research they had ever done (very experienced and respected academics) and explained my question. I mean, how can I judge if she is being truthful or not? Does this affect my data set? That kind of thing. I was TOTALLY on board and supportive when she first told me about the affair, and made me PROMISE to NEVER tell her H. (He is an even older friend of mine, we went to high school together.) I suggested the cancer (which is also not necessarily terminal at this stage) might be a good time to reconsider her options (RUN! RUN! RUN!) Nope.

    In your case, Limbo, I think this is a good opportunity to get ducks sorted, and leave, before and if he gets terminal. My Mum stayed for about a year (no cancer though) getting ducks sorted, and dealing with her grief (we obviously did not know at that time) then kicked him out, and I am forever proud that she modelled that behaviour. A SAHM who took her own (and my two younger brothers’) future into her own hands. THAT is how you do it. THAT is how you maintain dignity, authenticity and ensure you thrive instead of exist.

  • Limbo, your fucktard has just modeled to your children (the same ones you are trying to control who they’re exposed to) that being sick breaks brains and people with broken brains can’t be held accountable.

    That’s what I’d worry about…

    Good luck and be mighty!

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