I was chumped big time. My once sweet, loving husband left me for a girl at work. Problem is, it was a total lateral move. She is about my age, has the same number of kids just like we do, is a full-time-working professional, like me. We even have very similar interests. There are a few things about her that fill in some “gaps” I had or correct some “deficiencies,” like she’s Catholic and I am not (he is), she likes golf and I don’t (he does), and she dotes on him and I didn’t (he loves it).
I loved him and tried to meet his needs, but it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t always understand what he needed (he’s not the best communicator).
When we were married, I dragged us to counseling, to couples programs at church where they try to help you communicate and understand each other better… I was always trying to help strengthen our marriage. And admittedly, we didn’t make enough progress for him. He wanted to be happy, and I guess ultimately he wasn’t happy enough.
Turns out, the girl at work knew how to make him happy, and he left me for her.
They got married and are very happy together. Her kids and my kids now get along great, and to everyone else this is all water under the bridge. My kids even love her (they don’t know she was the OW)!
On my side of things, I have been blessed with a wonderful new man in my life, and we’re now engaged. He once asked me if there was anything that would make it difficult to give my whole self to him. And the truth is, it’s this. I can’t seem to get OVER it. I can’t seem to get over the betrayal, and the total and complete REPLACEMENT of me with her. She now lives MY life! She has my husband, takes my trips, goes to MY country club, she hangs out with MY kids, etc. She is me 2.0, only with the earlier enhancements I mentioned. Oh, and she even goes without make-up and wears flats — more things he wanted me to do that I didn’t do.
Here’s the thing — she’s not a horrible person. In fact, she’s apparently really sweet, and her family is too. I think what we’re dealing with is a good person who did a really bad thing. In fact, they’re both that way. He was not a serial cheater. He is not a horrible scoundrel like so many of the guys I read about. They are both generally good people. They are church-going, family-oriented people. Selfish, sure, entitled, ok, and they did a crappy thing. But they’re not “bad” people.
I don’t think either one of them has a clue how much they devastated me. My guess is he told her that “we” weren’t happy, and she wanted to believe him and did. She wasn’t happy in her marriage, so I think they just rationalized the whole thing — leave the one you’re not happy with, and run off with the one who makes you happy. All pretty sparkly and fun. And I was so chumpy that I pretzeled and did everything possible to bring him back after he walked out on me. So, I don’t think he ever really saw the fallout of what he did. I tried to put on the brave face and betray my feelings to show him I could be a better wife to him. But the truth was I was traumatized by what he did. And I don’t know how to get past it.
Apologies would help, but we’re way past that now. If they weren’t going to give them years ago, I certainly don’t expect them now. They have moved on, my kids have moved on… why can’t I? How does a person get over being discarded and replaced by someone a whole lot like her?
So, let me get this straight. The OW won the Pick Me Dance and gets to golf at the country club, wear sensible shoes, and eschew lipstick. She spends the rest of her days doting on an uncommunicative cheater, but it’s okay because they’re both Catholic — …. and you think you LOST?
I don’t even know where to begin with this letter.
Oh hang on, I do. DON’T GET MARRIED to Mr. Blessed Wonderful. He deserves a partner who is wholly into him and isn’t lost in untangling her ex-husband’s skein of fuckupedness. Replaced, you don’t sound ready to DATE let alone get engaged. You have a serious Trust That They Suck failure about your ex and the OW — you think you’ve been “replaced” instead of liberated.
Listen to me — it’s not okay to self-medicate with other people. It’s not okay to pledge your life to an innocent man’s because it would prove to everyone (ARE YOU WATCHING OW? ARE YOU? HUH? HUH?) that you’ve Moved On.
You’re still Pick Me Dancing, only now you’ve pulled a new chump into the dance. He’s not some fucking consolation prize. He doesn’t deserve to be measured (and found wanting) against the trappings of your Old Life. If you don’t like the OW being wife 2.0? I’m sure your fiancé doesn’t want to be husband 2.0 either. He wants to be loved for HIM, his values, his goodness, and what he brings to the table. It’s not his job to shore you up from the rejection of infidelity — that’s YOUR job. And you cannot commit to someone until you’ve done that work.
So, let’s do that work, Replaced. You can begin by challenging the ridiculous narrative that your ex and the OW are just Good People who made a Mistake and they Did It All For Happiness! Oh, and also throw out the notion that she’s someone “a whole lot like” you. Yeah, you both have two kids and work a job. Are you someone who would break up two families to fuck some strange? Do you share those values? Are you the kind of person who, if unhappy in your marriage, works to fix it, or gets out honestly? Or do you cheat?
Sounds like you worked to fix your marriage. Your husband didn’t. He cheated. OW didn’t, she cheated. You don’t share the same values. This marriage was not sustainable because you cannot work with a saboteur. You need an honest broker. You didn’t have that. That’s on HIM, not your failure to golf.
Next, what the hell do you know of their happiness? And why do you give a flip? She’s a good person, she’s happy, she’s sweet? Is this self-reported? Are you inferring this from Facebook? Or your children’s reports of Happy Good Times at OW’s house? You have NO IDEA of the OW’s inner life. You’re either buying into her impression management or you’re projecting your insecurities at the House of Schmoopie.
But, but she seems so happy! So what? What’s happiness when you’re a shallow pool of piss? She’s a person capable of cheating on her husband and breaking up her children’s home to fuck another woman’s husband. Her character isn’t changing because she takes a yoga class you used to take.
And who CARES if she’s “happy”? What are YOUR values? Could you EVER be happy with a sullen, uncommunicative man who has to be dragged to marriage retreats? Who likes GOLF?
What exactly do you MISS about this life? Are you longing for your own version of impression management happiness? The Intact Family? Why are you casting yourself (yes YOU! YOU are doing this!) as some sort of loser here?
Replaced, I just celebrated my seventh wedding anniversary yesterday to a Good Man who brought me PIE. Let me tell you — I could care LESS what my two ex-husbands are up to. I don’t care if they replaced me with cardboard cut-outs or a taxidermied ferret under glass. I’m certainly not asking myself years after those relationships’ demise what I’m missing out on.
I never went to junkyards with him to find old car parts. I bet she does! I bet she shares his love of rusty carburetors!
She gets to live with his lacy doily collection and his double life! God I wish it was me!
These thoughts never enter my head.
Stop giving your ex mental real estate. Evict him from your mind TODAY. Stop waiting for karma on the Schmoopies and realize their karma is being THEM — people who suck. You can also stop tiptoeing around their narrative. Tell the kids Dad had an affair with OW. They probably sensed it, or knew, and would appreciate not being gaslighted any more. Then let it go. That’s their relationship to figure out.
Don’t rush into any commitments with Mr. Blessed Wonderful until you get your head straight. I hope he understands. It’s okay to grieve your lost marriage, but it’s not okay to let it consume the rest of your life. Why would you give those horrible people that much centrality? Drop the skein, embrace your new life.