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Dear Chump Lady, I don’t think my cheater is like the other cheaters…

Hi Chump Lady,

I am having a terrible time trying to make my cheater fit into the disordered, mindfuck, etc. category everyone talks about here. I’ve been married for 28 years and have four children, one still at home. My husband who was in the military for 25 of those years, retiring as a colonel, ( I add that because he had an ego to fit) cheated on me off and on for all of that time. And yes, I knew it. He admitted two affairs and like others here, I spackled and danced the nights away and we wreckonciled over and again. He traveled a lot and was deployed several times and I would find just enough information to make me wonder if he was still doing it. Said cheater returned home from Afghanistan, retired and took a job in a city an hour away so he commuted for a couple of years.

One night about an hour after we had said goodnight on the phone, I received a text from his phone that was so obviously not meant for me! It was one of those moments when your gut just knows! I confronted him about it the next day and wow, he came up with some very interesting possibilities of how that could have happened. I said, that’s fine, they make devices that we can connect to your phone and it will verify whether or not the text actually came from your phone. I made it up of course, but was desperate for the truth.

The next day guess who had a new phone? I have also played marriage police and found some emails from someone who said she saw his pictures on twitter and he was handsome and did they want to get together and ******* !! Sigh…… You get the picture.

Here is my question — in every other area of his life except this one, this man doesn’t seem to fit the bill of narcissist. He is hard working, takes care of his family (financially, etc.), loves his kids, very committed and involved with them, always has been. He responds to guilt, yes, I have used that ploy at times. He doesn’t have a ‘victim mentality’. He doesn’t rage and charm when confronted. He has gotten defensive and mad, but not like the stories I read here. He doesn’t seem to fit the script so well and for the last 6 months or so he is the great family man. (I work full time and love my job, he works from home now). I pop in unannounced (insert marriage police here) and have found nothing amiss. And his phone and computer are accessible to me.

All of this makes me think he could have changed. Like so many here, I am so afraid to leave, hurt my children who adore their dad, and start over. Terrified is more like it.

I swear I don’t think he is a narcissist, borderline personality, etc. Some things fit the bill…. entitlement, ego, etc., but so many things I read here don’t fit. Is it possible he has changed? Is there any chance at all things could be different now or has he just gone deep underground, what with ‘private browsing mode’ on our phones and computers, that would be a breeze.

Any advice on what I’m dealing with would be a gift to me at this point. I figure if all goes well, I have many good years ahead, and I don’t want to waste them or wake up in a few years only to get another text that wasn’t meant for me.

Please help me if you can.


Confused Chump

Dear Confused Chump,

Why should he rage or charm when he’s got such a compliant chump? You’re there discovering affairs and spackling for 28 years — why would he work himself into a lather? All he has to do is get “defensive and mad,” buy a new phone, and you back off. Cake is maintained.

Want to see him lose his shit and flip through the cheater mindfuck channels you’ve read about here? Impose some consequences. Lawyer up. Demand a post-nup and a credit report. Get some STD screenings. Have him sign over a significant asset to you. Hire a forensic accountant and see if he really takes care of his family the way you think he does. Now tell me what kind of cheater you have.

Oh, you won’t do that because you’re “terrified”?

That works for him. You play the part of wife appliance, and he can swan in and out of family life as it suits him, between deployments and distant job sites (and fuckbuddies) — sprinkle some Dad kibbles to his kids — voila! Impression management.

And you’re there polishing that image, keeping the party line that he’s a “Great Family Man” who LOVES his kids. Really? Because great family men love their children’s mother. They don’t cheat on her. And they don’t risk their children’s intact home lives for strange pussy.

CC, he’s playing a game of chicken with you. You deeply value your family — and you can have it — at the cost of letting him fuck around. (Cake.) He bets every times he cheats that you will not upset the cake equilibrium. He’s paying attention to your ACTIONS (you get upset, and then you drop it. Rinse. Repeat). It’s worked for him. He figures a workaround — a new phone, a new browser, an upsetting conversation, some “guilt” — and it’s back to cake.

And you wonder if he’s changed? What possible incentive does he have to change NOW after unencumbered cake feasting? The goodness of his heart?

I heard absolutely NOTHING in this letter about YOU — what kind of husband he is, just what kind of “family man” he is. Are you okay with satellite “family” member status — or would you prefer a starring role as a cherished partner? Is this relationship acceptable to YOU? 

That is the ONLY question to ask here — not what flavor of fucked up your husband is. I never argue that all cheaters have mental illness or personality disorders. (Some of course do…) Cheating is about ENTITLEMENT. Cheating is a narcissistic act. People can cheat because they’re A-okay with getting what THEY want at the price of your well-being. They do the cost-benefit analysis, and fucking strange wins out. Over your mental and physical health. Over your family. Over your finances. Cheaters make unilateral decisions that serve THEM and suppress (or have zero) empathy for YOU. Suck it up, chump. Bring on the cake.

So if you want to call that entitlement a syndrome, or look it up in the DSM, or just conclude your cheater is an asshole, that’s fine by me. The issue for chumps is — what will you tolerate?

I have many good years ahead, and I don’t want to waste them or wake up in a few years only to get another text that wasn’t meant for me.

CC, only YOU can decide how bad you don’t want another D-Day. Bad enough to have boundaries? Bad enough to impose some consequences on your husband? Bad enough to call a lawyer or collect the financials and think about a cheater-free future?

Right now your plan is what? Hopium that he’s changed? Because he works from home? Because you’ve gone 6 months without a shattering discovery?

This is no way to live. I mean, you CAN live that way — in an endless buffet line of shit sandwiches (FAMILY NIGHT! Kids dine for free!) — but I would suggest you don’t.

Leave a cheater, gain a life. Time to try some mightiness.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • No military pension is worth this, OP. Please get out while you can.

    • He hasn’t changed, he’s done his homework and better at operating undercover from home.

      She’s guaranteed 1/2 his military pension.

      • As a soon to be former military wife, (35 years of marriage and 24 in the military), yes you get half the pension. You can get health insurance for life, & you will get some of what he’s earning now, btw.

        After a wreck-conciliation over a decade ago, I wish I had left in my 40’s instead of now, in my late 50’s. It’s not easier or clearer now. Don’t wait for all the bad news signs to be revealed, glowing in the dark, blinking and screaming at you to leave.

        There is a higher chance of you making more shattering discoveries & having more profound regrets, than there is of him changing.

        I’m sorry. I know it sucks.

        • Yes, she is entitled to Tri-care for life, so if the thought of not having insurance is part of terrifying you–don’t let it.

          • Wait, what?

            Tricare for life?

            How long do you have to be married to get that? We were married for 11 years and this is the first I have ever heard of that? He retired in 2007, 2 years after we married, but I had Tri-care Standard up until the day of our divorce in March of 2017. I didn’t have a lawyer, just did it and got it done.

            Did I get screwed over?

            • I think you would’ve had to been married for 10 years during the military time to benefit.

              • I’ve been there on the military divorce. If your marriage and his military service overlap by 20 years you are entitled to all retiree military privileges, Tricare and Tricare for Life at age 65…instead of having to pay for a Medicare supplement policy. You need to snoop around and be sure that he made you the beneficiary of SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan) upon his retirement. If not you need to persuade him to do that (yesterday) and do it at 55% of the full annuity base. He can’t take you off without your permission once you are the designated SPB beneficiary. [SBP will pay you 55% of his pension for the rest of your life when he dies–divored or not] You share of his pension will depend upon whether you live in a Community Property State or an Equitable Distribution State. Community Property State = 1/2 of his pension if you were married to him for the entire time he was in the service. If you weren’t he may be able to calculate and deduct the service points acquired for the years he was serving prior to your marriage under the separate property designation. I have been through all of this in scupulous detail, and need to tell you that you need to consult (on the down low before hitting him with any ultimatums) an attorney who is completey versed in military divorce, and line up your ducks as far as knowing for sure exactly what you will walk away with from the marriage. Best of luck to you. Mine was like yours. Pleasant man. Good husband and good provider until he reached age 60, became terrified that he would outlive his Johnson, and took up with the married office ho-worker. But I sure to appreciate that half of a full bird’s pension and my Tricare for Life…along with my own retirement. Plus knowing that he can’t leave the SPB to his new wife. lol Best of luck to you.

              • There is a formula for military divorce. The 20-20-20 then there is like 15-15-15. It refers to years married, amount of his service and a bunch of other crap most spouses and “civilians” don’t understand. Hell, I don’t understand it and he was in the military over 25 years and I was there from day one till retirement with him! This is why if they were military and retired while you were married PLEASE consult a lawyer who is familiar and has successfully represented folks in a divorce from a military spouse. You could be surrendering extremely valuable “assets” that you are entitled to as well as any minor children who are still in the home. I kept every benefit except dental insurance which according to the military is not a benefit and I could not fly free on military planes visiting other countries on space available. I kept my ID card which changed to my name and SSN. It gave me medical, in my case Tricare Prime, exchange and base facility, commissary privileges, etc. Basically everything I had while married that counted. Maybe you can “appeal” your divorce settlement. I don’t know, but no way was I giving all that up.

              • I had Tricare while my cheater was on active duty, but he’s in the reserves now and while he still has that insurance, I’m covered by my employer (BCBS). We’ve been married for 23 years. Am I entitled to any coverage/benefits after our divorce? He’s not going to tell me and I’m not letting him on to my plans at this time. Can anybody advise?

              • Forgot to add that he enlisted in 1988, was active through 1992, then with National Guard from 1992-1997 while in ROTC at university. After graduation was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. and active again until 2000, got off active duty to attend grad school but immediately went into Army Reserves where’s he’s been ever since. He’s a Major and wants to make Lt. Col before he retires.

              • In addition I just discovered that he’s planning to create fake orders (to present to his employer?…to secure additional funds and/or cheating time with AP? not sure). I don’t have any contact info for his unit or commanding officer so don’t know how to follow up on that info.

            • 20-20-20 rule for Tricare (basic) for life. They have to be in the military for 20 years, you have to be married for 20 years, and there had to be a crossover of 20 years. As I recall there are some lesser benefits at the 10 year mark.

              I hardly ever post, but have been a longtime daily reader and this was something that came up in my divorce situation.

              While I’m here let me just say that CL & CN rock and have been my lifeboat!!

              • To: I’veBeenJilted. Please consult an attorney familiar with military divorce. If he plans on retiring he will need to have minimum 20 years, but the time is added up by “service points.” Points are significantly more for active duty service than for guard or reserve service. If he retires out of the reserves his pension won’t be nearly as much as retiring from active duty, but it will be enough for your to think about. Plus for the max benefit to you the 20-20-20 rule need to apply, but there can still be benefits. I suggest that you Google the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and also start by reading here:

        • I was married 30 years to my cheater but wonderful father and provider retired lieutenant colonel. I fell under the 20-20-15 rule. He was in at least 20 years, we had been married at least 20 years, but less than 20 years spanned the time he was actually on active duty. In fact, only 19.5 years spanned that time. I was entitled to Tricare for only a single year post divorce and only if my employer did not provide medical benefits. Mine did and so I was NOT entitled to any Tricare benefits. I was NOT entitled to 50% of his retirement because he had been in the service 6 years prior to us getting married. I was entitled to 38% of his retirement. However, what is not made clear is that there is a dollar-per-dollar social security offset. Were I to have taken the 38% of his retirement to which I was entitled, when I would start receiving social security benefits, I would be hit with that dollar-per-dollar social security offset. This means that were I entitled to $30K of his retirement per year, and say I were to get $30K in social security, the two amounts would cancel each other out. I would not get $30K of his retirement AND $30K in social security benefits. I would only get $30K total. If I was entitled to $20K of his retirement, and when I started drawing social security and was entitled to $30K, I would get $20K from his retirement and $10K from social security. Do your research and do not believe that you are automatically entitled to 50% of his retirement and Tricare. In my case, because I was a working professional, I turned down the SBP supplement that by law he would have had to provide. I assumed we would be married til death do us part and I could buy term life insurance much cheaper than the cost of the SBP. Knowing about the social security offset, I figured I’d have the house paid off before he hit 70 and my retirement accounts would be enough to live on in the event that he died before me. Life didn’t turn out as I planned. Were I to have taken the 38% of his retirement to which I was entitled in the divorce, he would have taken half of all assets to include half (not 38%) of my retirement as we lived in a community proper state. If he died even one day after our divorce, half of all my assets would have gone (probably to the skank) and I would have not gotten any of his retirement because I had turned down the SBP. Had I not turned down the SBP, I would have continued to receive 38% of his retirement the rest of my life but when I became eligible to draw social security, I would have been hit with the dollar-per-dollar offset. Each person is in a different set of circumstances. SBP was designed to take care of the non-professional homemaker, not necessarily a professional spouse earning her own retirement benefits. For me, when we were going through divorce it made greater sense to give him all of his retirement and take my entitlement in trade. He was 59 when we got divorced, according to actuarial tables he’s expected to live 23.2 more years. His retirement was $60K with 3% COLA over 23.2 years… which would come out to be approximately $1.2 million that I was able to negotiate in trade. I kept my retirement accounts, two houses, all the furniture, and half of the cash assets. He took one house, his truck, half of the cash assets, his retirement, and his skank. I’m not happy I got divorced but if one was going to get divorced from a liar and cheater, it’s nice to know that I’m taken care of.

  • Confused – He sounds like a narcissist to me! I know it’s hard to see through the rose-tinted glasses that make all the red flags not look so red, ya know what I mean? But you say he has an ego to fit the status of colonel, is that supposed to be a good thing? People with huge egos are generally self-centered assholes who only think of themselves. He’s proving that it’s true with his behavior. Besides, what you know is always only the tip of the iceberg. If you were privy to all the shit they hide under the surface, I have a feeling you would have run away screaming years ago. Maybe. Get away from this asshole, and listen to ChumpLady. Good family men that love their children don’t cheat on their wives! Run!

  • Confused Chump- you picked the right name. You’ve read stuff and concluded he’s different. He’s not. People don’t have to be pathological to cheat- as CL said it’s about entitlement. And you are so used to spakling you don’t realise you how much spakle you’re using. Get gone and get on with YOUR life.
    You know it’s what you need to do. Be mighty!

    • Chump lady is correct. Once you begin examining whether your needs are being met and consequently ask for changes if they are not, you may then begin to see his mask slip. You are maintaining the status quo because it is easier and more peaceful. You’ve already overlooked the few affairs that you know about. Once the kids have all moved on will you have the relationship with your husband that you think you have? Take care of yourself now. I’ve been there (((hugs)))

      • Mavis, Chump Lady, and Everyone

        You are so right about maintaining the status quo, that’s what I do best. Time to start upsetting the apple cart. Not looking forward to that but I really don’t want to wake up one day and have more regret than I am afraid I will already.

        Thank you for the replies and setting me straight. I really needed to hear what I already know. SO hard but true. All of it. It helps to have it broken down and hear other perspectives besides my own warped one.
        I especially appreciate the comments from those who have been in the military life and shared how that worked out after a divorce.

        • Get away from him as soon as you can!! You can’t think clearly while still living under the same roof. He will try to control and manipulate every move once you start the divorce. Send his ass packing or take the kid and leave. You have other adult children, friends, family you could stay with? You need a clear mind to stay strong and divorce him. It will be hard, painful, expensive. You will lose and win. But in the end you will win. Tell your children the truth. Stop making him out to be a good father. He’s not. He’s a jerk. Please grow a pair, get the support you need. A best friend, sister, someone to help you mentally fight through this until it’s done. A better life is waiting!! GO DO IT!!

        • Dear confused chump – Can you let me know how you are getting on? I am in a very similar situation – found out three years ago about multiple cheating throughout our thirty year marriage, but he seems contrite and has been faithful since D-Day (I think – and I sure have been checking every way I can) and is being very nice and patient with my angry flare ups. The children have left home so it’s just me and him. I’m 63. I don’t want to throw away a good marriage (if that is what it has become – it certainly wasn’t before and I ‘m not taking the blame for that now after doing the dance when I first found out). CL and CN has really helped me to stop twisting and turning to try to appease him. Things seem good now – he’s a much better husband than before. It seems like a unicorn really has landed. On the other hand, I don’t want to find myself in the same situation, staring at evidence of cheating, in five or ten years time. Other thing is that it’s really put me off him physically – I keep seeing the other women in graphic detail – yuck. I don’t know how to stop this because they’ve taken up residence in my head. Have you decided to go or stay and how does it feel?

          • I’m not a military wife, but I can suggest you look into “Should I stay or Should I go?” by Lundy Bancroft. It seems like it might be the right kind of support for you at this time. We all hope for unicorns, but they are quite rare, so we like to keep realistic about the possibility of actual change. The book will help you determine if what you are seeing is that or just a pretense. Regardless of what you decide in the end, it will arm you with the tools you need to either leave or stay. The fact that your body has rejected him is actually a sign of a healthy psyche protecting your boundaries. I went through the same, and like you, I was fairly certain the offensive behavior had stopped. Abuse altogether, though had not, and eventually I came to the right realizations for me. I wish you the best in your recovery!

            • Thank you so much. I will get the book. Your last statement resonates – during our marriage I never picked up on the (now very obvious) clues to infidelity, but he was often bad-tempered with unreasonable outbursts of anger which frightened me and the children. He had one of those outbursts just recently over nothing, and threatened our 25-year old son who was on a rare visit home. I told him that was abusive and he simply doesn’t accept it, says we are ‘over-reacting’. Then there will be quite long patches when he’s charming and attentive.

  • Oh my…I could have written this letter, no?

    I was married to a career military guy who loved the presentable front I gave him. He was caught having an “emotional affair” with a coworker but never admitted to sex. Red flags everywhere but I didnt see them. I was the nest military spouse and mom ever. Tolerated wreckonciliation like a boss.

    Then he dropped dead and I found photos/hotel reciepts related to “emotional affair” woman (Susan of Seattle) as well as some woman’s pay stub (who does that?) and after asking a number of his buddies to tell me the the truth (they didnt) I surprisingly got an earful of truth from a confidant of his who revealed that he was a serial cheater.

    My cheater was an EXPERT at reading me and figuring out exactly when to give me a few kibbles of hope to keep me where he wanted me (as FEW kibbles as possible).

    I wanted a REAL, true, committed, sacramental marriage where I was valued…he wanted impression management.

    I also wondered while he was alive if he was a narc (he had more signs than yours but fell short of true narc classification)….after he died, I found a description of “covert narc” and there he was…described in painful detail.

    Look at what you said…you caught him via text message but he didnt make his phone available or anything honest or true, he just went deeper underground.

    You have a LOT of reasons to pull the trigger but havent. Neither did I. I wonder how long it would have taken me had he lived )he was only 50 when he died). I had PROMISED myself that I had tolerated my last rage from him and I had $40,000 saved to leave. We had 5 dependents in the house who I felt very responsible for at the time which was a great influence.

    You only have one single life to live and you are spending it with a faker. I know how it feels to be there since I was, but I hope you will consider making a change.

    • Should have read “best” military spouse ever but funny slip as we are also experts at creating a perfect “nest” too.

      He had moments where he “tried” …I called them “Sparkily Spurts” but they never lasted because Major Entitled Cheater had scapegoated me for SO LONG, that was his pattern, his MO, his ONLY coping skill and you cant take away a persons coping skill unless they have another and he didnt. No matter how well intentioned the Sparkily Spurt, it always fizzled out at the first sign of stress because he had no other way of being.

      I think that military guys have a tiny specific niche of “entitled asshole” that looks like “War Hero” from the outside…they did _____ (risking life and limb for mother country) so they deserve whatever entitlement suits them.

      • Unicorn, this: “He had moments where he “tried” …I called them “Sparkily Spurts” but they never lasted because Major Entitled Cheater had scapegoated me for SO LONG, that was his pattern, his MO, his ONLY coping skill and you cant take away a persons coping skill unless they have another and he didnt. No matter how well intentioned the Sparkily Spurt, it always fizzled out at the first sign of stress because he had no other way of being.”

        You nailed it! Mine even told me he had all the intentions to be nice to me “but but but….you were soooo unforgiving, you just don’t connect with me on that higher intellectual level (read: can’t discuss brexit and trump), I love adventures and you are so meticulous in your plans, you like color black and I despise it ….so you are to blame for everything, LTC, even though my intentions were good!”

        • When I read some of these, I feel even more like a chump than before. My Stbx told me i have such a big heart and am so generous, he felt like a man-child. Interpretation- I was too comfortable getting all my kibbles to be honest. I am helping him to become a man by cutting him off. So looking forward to living my life without his BS.

      • My STBX was in the territorial army medical corps when I 1st met him. He didn’t even engage in active combat, but he did go on two humanitarian missions to Kenya. He told me when he returned how he saved someone’s life who had been trampled by some large wild animal. I was of course really proud of him when he told me this. He then decided to leave the TA on his return from the 2nd mission. He had just been given the best medic award and then he just left. He had had a issue before he went to Kenya and he blamed it on that. It is only now this has happened that I see that incident for what it was. He didn’t get his own way so he felt he was punishing them by leaving, because they obviously thought he was great as they named him best medic. He also mentioned the saving someone’s life incident a few weeks before d-day. I have a feeling now he was reminding me and others about good things he had done for others. It makes me think that was so he could show what a good guy he really was dispite all the evidence to the contrary.

      • Unicorn, you are bang on with your explanation of having one and only coping strategy – searching for and acting on kibbles. I think this “entitled asshole” complex extends to firefighters too.

        I am sorry Confussed Chump that you are living this nightmare. You know what you need to do, the hard part is doing it. Hugs to you on this horrible journey, but I promise you that the destination is worth it.

      • “My cheater was an EXPERT at reading me and figuring out exactly when to give me a few kibbles of hope to keep me where he wanted me (as FEW kibbles as possible).

        I wanted a REAL, true, committed, sacramental marriage where I was valued…he wanted impression management.”

        THIS. When I had had enough, he would do something nice, like take me out to dinner. Then I would get all hopeful again.

        It was during one of these dinners that he told me the truth: ‘I have this huge hole inside of me, and no matter what I do, I cannot fill it up’. (money, strange, blaming me, alcohol etc)

        • Wow. Right on point! Mine called his a vortex going towards a blood sucking vampire,lol. You should have seen my face when he said this! I literally was scratching my head wondering who the fvckery I married. So glad I’m not the only one who finally saw the fvckery. *snickers* I hope his new ho-worker is that blood sucking vampire, they deserve each other and I am free! Peace and love xoxo

      • Unicornnomore- Thanks for your post! This was a lightbulb moment for me when you said,”you cant take away a persons coping skill unless they have another and he didn’t”. This is so true about my now exhusband. His coping mechanic was getting his ego and other things stroked by other women. That was never going to change and he didn’t want it to change!!

    • “My cheater was an EXPERT at reading me and figuring out exactly when to give me a few kibbles of hope to keep me where he wanted me (as FEW kibbles as possible).”

      Mine too. Full on expert. Subtle mind-fuck. Since I was committed, invested, and putting in effort to the marriage, she knew that and took full advantage of it.

      “I wanted a REAL, true, committed, sacramental marriage where I was valued…he wanted impression management.”

      I do think my cheater wanted that too, but she was a narcissist and had covertly discarded me and was always looking for the next true love of her life. That fact that she married me and we had kids together didn’t matter. She was always on the look out for the next true, REAL love, and had no need for my love, just my time and money and status.

      • I am still scratching my head over this (I know, I know…I could drive myself mad trying to figure X out), but I think he partially wanted a real, healthy marriage too. He was just clearly addicted to (or didn’t know anything other) than the highs felt when in a new relationship/with a new person physically. Probably stemmed from childhood — milk all of those little highs that you can get because parents really never provided the real, deeply felt validation/love/support that children crave and need in order to grow into healthy adults. So a cardboard cutout marriage was fine for him while he got his fix elsewhere (I would have never been enough, the blackhole that he is). It wasn’t fine for me, which is why I ultimately decided to end it. Marriage at its core is supposed to be the best and strongest friendship you can achieve in this life, and there is no way in hell I would even do what he did to a complete stranger, let alone my best friend.

        • ^^^this^^^
          You enter into an ‘Arrangement’ with these creeps. It’s Bait And Switch. They mirror back to you what you think you have, a partnership. However your gut has most likely screamed the entire time that something is off. You project your values onto the the black hole and spackle and dance like mad.

          I regret not listening to my gut .

          • Yeah gut…but dont forget the reo curring nightmares….panic attacks…unexplained tiredness. Endless quest to cure what you can do to sort them out. I spent $1000S o n supplements. ..for him….makes me crazy now that i was so devoted to an empty shell.

        • You said it perfectly ChumponIt- my ex-husband was also addicted to the high of being with someone else and there was nothing I could do to fill that black hole and I decided I didn’t want the job. I had worked for years to give him everything: perfect house✔️ finically stable✔️ traveled to great places ✔️ emotionally& sexually available wife who loved him beyond words ✔️ . None of these things mattered to him. When he finally laid down the perfect husband mask his lack of empathy and remorse were shocking. His eyes were even different- they were cold and dark. It freaked me out!! I thought I was living with a great man but he was secretly this monster that could betray and destroy the closet person to him without another thought.

    • OMG, so true!: “My cheater was an EXPERT at reading me and figuring out exactly when to give me a few kibbles of hope to keep me where he wanted me (as FEW kibbles as possible).”

        • Oh yes. This just happened with a friend of mine and her long-term boyfriend, with whom she has ultimately decided to end it. At this point, she was so tired of and so fine-tuned to it that she could see right through him.

    • “I wanted a REAL, true, committed, sacramental marriage where I was valued” – my biggest private grief.

      • My grief too, although I’m not private about it, much to my daughters chagrin.

      • after growing up with an alcoholic mom, I wanted a precious marriage more than anything in life, really…I would have sacrificed anything for it.

        My second hisband is a really good guy, but after being betrayed by pretty much everyone, I trust him but I have an overall caution about other humans

        • I desperately wanted to give my kids what neither me or STBX had. We both had bad roles models as parents and step parents for many reasons. He convinced me whole heartedly that he wanted that too. He lied and he took great pleasure in doing so at my expense.

    • That must have been so hard.. what wise words you have, this post really speaks to me. Thank you for sharing your story, it really resonates and gives me a lot to think about.

  • Here is more evidence of the RIC’s damage. They have the whole world believing that in order for a chump to have agency to leave a cheater, the cheater should be a sociopath, psychopath, a flaming narcissist or all three. How dare you think of leaving a “good family man” even if he is a serial cheater….because that’s what you have on your hands Confused Chump. A serial cheater who has lied and cheated on you the entire span of your 28 year marriage. He’s probably exposed you to countless STDs. That’s not okay.

    Who cares if he’s a borderline or not? He’s hurting you and your children and that’s all that matters in this scenario. And not to rain on your parade but I don’t think he’s changed. Change doesn’t just happen. It’s something that has to be worked on steadily and with purpose and often comes about because of some life altering event or a heavy consequence that’s been levied. None of these things have happened to your husband. He has no reason to change so why put in the effort. Every time he’s cheated you’ve been the dutiful wife (appliance). Things might have become uncomfortable for a bit but not for long.

    I’ve been there. I know how it feels to be too terrified to assert your own boundaries. He might scurry off into the underbrush and your happy home will be broken. Let him scurry because you’re home doesn’t sound that happy and it’s already broken in my humble opinion.

      • Well stated, cheaterssuck. And it’s excellent that you mentioned the STD risk. Whether the letter writer stays or goes, she needs to get tested.

        • And please get tested again every few months for a while…the first time i was tested, it was OK. Doc said to test again as some stuff doesn’t show up immediately, so I did, and discovered he gave me Hep B, potentially life threatening. In my state, you can sue in civil court and criminally for being exposed to STDs, so I’m weighing that option after divorce is over. Personal injury, different attny. I still can’t believe my hub of 26 years went so nuts in his midlife crisis that he didn’t care about the consequences of his actions with sluntwhorecoworker. 2 weeks with her and they were soulmates. She’s out of the picture but he’s on his solo journey (to screw others I assume) but wanted to stay married and have an open marriage/open door policy. Raged when I said no since I never really “defied” him before this. Still raging a year later as he stalls divorce and blames me for everything. Trying to cause me financial harm. But I learned something about myself. I deserve to be cherished and valued and won’t accept being cake or another choice. No way. No matter what. Please please get tested.

          • I hate your STBX for you. What he did to you is utterly inhuman. I’m so sorry.

            This, however, made me smile:
            “But I learned something about myself. I deserve to be cherished and valued and won’t accept being cake or another choice. No way. No matter what.” (I’m giving you a standing ovation for this!!!)

            • When i confronted my w**nker with the …if you have exposed me to stds i will come after you… he called building security on me even though daughter was there at his office to talk to him after 18 months of no contact. (And he still refuses to say where he lives to even his own kids )

          • I am so sorry you went through that. I hope you pursue the lawsuit. Things like this should have solid, ass-kicking consequences for the offender — Lord knows the chumps suffered enough. The risk to my life (with no end in sight — if I’ve learned nothing else from this site, I really will need to be testing myself for the foreseeable future) makes me fuming mad. It’s right up there with the whole deception of making me believe I was in a safe environment to have a child, and risk to HER health.

          • BeowulfSabrina

            2 things. First, I was a military officer before leaving the service FOR our family, and no, not all of us are entitled assholes.

            Second, and embarrassingly, I HAD TO File for divorce, due to Narkle’s appalling & overt abandonment when I was hospitalized. So it’s not like I was mighty.

            Anyhow, Narkles (“the Clown with a goofy as hell affect”), is FURIOUS at me for wanting spousal support after 35 years of marriage. HE “Hates MY guts!”< etc.

            This ^^^ hatred on his part, the irrational punishment he is doling out to me/us financially, baffles me. Why is HE mad at ME? HE is the cheater and liar, not me. I am imperfect. But I was loyal and committed to him and our marriage. So , WTF??

            What is with THEIR anger at us??? Still mystified but off topic I guess. Ugh, so many facets of this shit…

            • ^^^ same^^^
              I’ll never understand why or how they can despise and have so much hatred for us.
              No, I wasn’t perfect but I was a devoted wife and Mother.
              I believed we were best friends.

              • They hate themselves and they hate the fact that you haven’t given them enough reason for them to play the victim so now they got to work on the spin. Wicked is as wicked does. They hate the God Goddess in you. They hate you for not hating them. They just are full of irrational anger and hate period.
                Just as we were full of irrational love.
                They wonder how can we love them.

            • This sort of narc’s anger is all about the money, pure and simple. YOU don’t matter, the BUCKS he’ll lose is what matters. Pure and simple. Doesn’t matter how wealthy he is. YOU had the temerity to try hit him the only place it hurts — his wallet. That’s why he’s angry.

          • Good for you. Beowulf.. we all deserv to be treated with respect from our partners.. I. Marriage, the golden rule is primary. When one betrays the other in this way, then the intimacy of the marriage bond is destroyed. This has been the most painful experience for me. I feel like I have a whole in my chest. I am resentful, disgusted, and vengeful right nOw and look forward to the day of indifference or Meh. Until then, I am divorcing and getting that cruel person out of my life.

      • I think it’s fair to say that my STBX is squarely in the disordered camp — serial-cheat, pathological liar, incessant porn usage, entitlement on speed, manipulative, abusive, and downright terrifying at the end. BUT I absolutely did NOT see him this way during the marriage. Sadly, my description of him would have been close to your description of your husband and marriage.

        The reality of whom I married didn’t hit me all at once — and it didn’t even start hitting me until the final couple of years as I was frantically pulling together the puzzle pieces. It was an infernally slow process for my brain to wrap around.

        This is why so many people on here talk about cognitive dissonance. Discovering what we have known for so long (even decades for some of us) — what we saw as our lives — how we viewed our spouses … discovering that ALL of that was a facade and that our spouses deliberately set up this facade, is horrifically mind-bending.

        In part, I projected my own love of family and dedication to integrity onto my STBX. But, more importantly, he happily went along with that projection because it bolstered his image and secured his ability to pull the wool over my eyes continuously. So, he SAID he loved his family; he SAID he was a proud dad; he SAID I was the best thing to ever happen to him. He SAID he valued integrity. And, yes, he even acted that way at times. (Much later I discovered that him having to “act” within my value system pissed him off — and gave him justification in his mind to “punish” me via cheating, lying, disrespecting, etc.)

        The mask didn’t drop until I dug deep enough to see that the things I had been suspicious of were merely the tip of the iceberg (again, many of us didn’t discover the iceberg until very late the process — because it never dawned on us that we had to look for an iceberg).

        Even without the mask, it took me a long time to really SEE everything my STBX had done (to my knowledge … though, I am certain there is much more I will never know). It took me a long time to pull together all of the little and big instances that I had partitioned and glazed over in my head so that I could see the whole thing for what it was … and see my STBX for what he is (and always has been).

        Accepting the reality of what my life had actually been — and who my STBX actually was throughout more than two decades — this was the hardest part for me. Harder than digesting the serial cheating; harder than digesting the disrespect; harder than digesting the mountain of lies; harder than digesting the continuous lack of remorse.

        Sending you strength as you start to sort through your own puzzle pieces.

        • Sorry – not sure how this ended up here. It was supposed to be at the bottom! *facepalm

          • “Accepting the reality of what my life had actually been — and who my STBX actually was throughout more than two decades — this was the hardest part for me. Harder than digesting the serial cheating; harder than digesting the disrespect; harder than digesting the mountain of lies; harder than digesting the continuous lack of remorse.? Oh God yes.

            I could have written CC’s letter 5 years ago. My ex wasn’t military but the rest of it? Absolutely what I believed. He is my best friend! We are going to make it! He isn’t like all the other serial cheating/porn addicted narcs! He is a great dad! I said all that and more. Like you JM, it took a couple of years and a lot of hard work on my part before I understood that no man who my best friend and a great dad would treat his wife and children with the utter disrespect and lack of regard that he did. I had to look squarely at things that I had avoided seeing out of the corner of my eye for many, many years. It was painful but ultimately it set me free. Like someone else wrote, ultimately it doesn’t matter what label you attach to the the sense of entitlement cheaters possess. What matters is what you are willing to tolerate for yourself and your kids. When I figured that out it was easy to walk away.

            • Beth — your way with words is wonderful!

              This nails it. “I had to look squarely at things that I had avoided seeing out of the corner of my eye for many, many years.”

              And so does this. “What matters is what you are willing to tolerate for yourself and your kids. When I figured that out it was easy to walk away.”


            • Beth, this^^^^was me. Accepting the reality of my life than the one I thought I had was the most difficult. I had to deprogram my brain to accept reality.

              • So true.

                My first husband was physically abusive the second never laid a finger on me and that was all I needed to think he was a great guy.

                The shattering of that image has been the most painful thing in my life. Knowing I was duped so completely by a man who in all fairness wasn’t really that good at fooling me, but I was awesome at spackling. I accepted So Much Bullshit all because he wasn’t beating the living shit out of me and I mistaked that for love.

                It hurts so much.

              • That’s exactly it Britt, deprogrammng. Not a easy task after 30+ years together but worth it on the end.

              • That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Thank you, ClearWater!!

                I’m almost to the day, 5 years out from my second and last DDay (August 5, 2012). I’m still a work in progress but working on myself while alone is SO much better than doing it while married to the Edgar Suit.

        • Jesssmom, thank you for putting into grear words what I have been thinking. And this:”(Much later I discovered that him having to “act” within my value system pissed him off — and gave him justification in his mind to “punish” me via cheating, lying, disrespecting, etc.)”

          Mine keeps blaming me to ascribing this value system onto him and trying to domesticate him while he all the way was just a different human being and I was pushing and pushing and pushing. And he resented me for that and punished me in his own way.

          So why now, cheater-fuck, do you Not want to divorce? Why are you telling me to move back with you to your country and pretend that I have the family I have always wanted? Why, if you resented me all along and know well that I will continue pushing you if I decide to do this stupidity and move back in? Because cake is delicious, isn’t it?

          • LongTimeChump — I have a cake eater too. Hoovering on overload.

            The sense of entitlement for these jerks is really shocking. After putting us and our kids through hell on earth, causing emotional damage that has changed us in fundamental ways … and yet, they want to come back and expect that we’ll want them back.

            I’ve been through some bad shit in my life, but nothing compares to the pain STBX caused me and my girls. Never again. Hell could freeze over and I would still say no.

            • JesssMom, I had an encounter with the cheater this morning. He lives in another country and is visiting now and staying over at his mom’s (next door building). I went over to discuss the terms of the separation agreement (1-year is required in Canada before the divorce). I was extremely generous with the separation. Joint 50-50 custody, son lives with me in Canada but can stay over at his grandmom’s whenever cheater visits (usually in the summer and possibly one more time during the year), all christmas/new year vacations with the cheater over in his country. I only insisted on splitting the summer vacations and he has raged over and over. Since son lives with me in Canada, then he is entitled to spend all vacations with him. I put my foot down here on the 4 weeks in the summer – I also want my time. I was hoping he would come to terms, sign this now, and that’s it.

              A few weeks ago he invited me out (with my mom) and had a useless 5-hour conversation about how unhappy he has always been, how we were not the match, how he never was the family man and he warned me about it, how he wants me to go back to him and live the family life now, how I should be understanding of his peculiarities, blablabla. The real intention was to hoover my Mother to then influence me. Which he failed in.

              So this morning two more conditions: I have to continue living in the rental building for another 11 years (for the time son lives with me) and no other place, and I can’t bring anybody to live with me (a potential future spouse, a family member, my mom, niece, friends, whoever). I said no to both. He said then litigation. So heading there now although I was really hoping to avoid this. His mom is still the one who helps with son’s school (to and from driving and taking care of him till I get back from work) and son also stays with her when I travel. I have no other family members and I have to travel for work a few times a year. So I am in the place where I have to keep a functioning relationship with MIL but with this heading to litigation, I don’t anticipate smooth sailing.
              But I am doing it!

            • JessMom,

              Old tread but I am new here and like to browse around in the archives to learn more – helps me wake up to what I was living with and your words express exactly what I have lived through and continue to live through in these ‘early’ days of seeing through all the shit I thought was a happy life with a decent person. WRONG.

              I am thinking that these covert good guy types create more mindfuckery that the blatant assholes. I am still discovering the depths of my denial and the shock of truly seeing his behavior for what it is and has been.

              Cognitive dissonance fits the bill perfectly. The latest is seeing how he shows no remorse for all of the pain he has caused me and our children. All about his pain – huge doses of self pity fed with justifications and rationalizations that he completely believes. Shocking in that I had him up on a pedestal for decades with me worshiping at his feet. Tables are turning slowly but steadily now.

              Our children are still in the dark about the depths of what he has done and who he truly is. All are older and people say to keep my mouth shut because ‘he is there father’ but I am thinking that is very ‘old school’ and is just another was of protecting the perpetrator vs telling them so they know and really see through his shit – especially our daughter who used to worship the ground he walked on.

              I now trust my gut more than ever because my head can still get confused by his charming act wherein it cramps down the moment he comes into my space either physically or electronically. I have learned to respect my feelings in a way I never thought possible – truly they don’t lie!

              Anyway I wanted to say thanks for sharing here although I am a bit late.

        • Jesssmom. You are telling my story. Could have written the same exact words. Secrets, porn, entitlement, no remorse, no empathy. Rage. And I’m a great baker and my cake was so yummy but he can’t have mine anymore. Choices have consequences. Karma involves ED and the beginnings of prostate cancer. I’m also. I think he’s expanded his desires to men, too, so he is truly out of my life and my son and grandson will never see him again. The fact that he doesn’t really care shows me all I need to know.

        • JessMom – I felt “confused” for years – honestly- my brain is sludge even now when moving through my divorce, etc. And I am normally a multi-tasking fiend. One of the ways I have handled this is to read incessantly about this convert narcs, etc in order to remember who I am dealing with – he puts on such an act and blames me for everything – it keeps me centered, helps me to be “grey rock”, not emotional (which is kibbles for him) and then I just try to take one day and one step at a time. Thanks for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it!

          • >>”[My] brain is sludge even now when moving through my divorce, etc. And I am normally a multi-tasking fiend.”

            Yes. The only way I could describe the “sludge” was that it felt like the neurons in my brain had reached and end point. I just couldn’t think anymore. Process anymore. And this impacted every part of my life — even the simplest decisions became mountainous.

            Like you, I’m still dealing with the sludge. My therapist assures me this is normal under the circumstances (good to know!).

            With patience (with myself) and determination, it has been getting better slowly. I look forward to having my on-task, multi-tasking brain back. 🙂

            • I am a new chump. How I wish I were already on the other side of this mess; I am so not looking forward to slogging through the next several months (telling the kids / having him move out / working through the divorce). I know that divorce is the right path for me — my STBX lies so much that he has me questioning my own reality at times. (On one occasion, after I suggested that he lacked integrity, he disagreed with me and told me that “integrity” means “doing what makes you happy, even if other people think less of you because of it.” Seriously, he makes up definitions in order to justify his despicable conduct). So I know what I have to do, but I am overwhelmed / exhausted by the enormity of it all. Any suggestions / words of wisdom or encouragement for me as I begin this path? Thanks in advance!

              • Our STBX’s must be related … re-defining words; changing perceptions to suit their whims, etc. Argh. Seriously mind-bending.

                One of the best pieces of advice I got was to give myself a mental break every now and then — particularly with something physical. This can be hard to do, because the emotions and weight of the mess can be consuming. But, when you can, do it anyway.

                For example: I decided to repaint the inside of my house. I set no time-table for it (extra pressure would not have been helpful!)… so, I did it in little bits. It was a great workout (aka “stress reliever”), plus it gave me something positive and productive to focus on for a while.

                I think it’s impossible to over-state the importance of having something positive to hold on to (no matter how “small”) during all of this.

              • So Done you can do it. It is worth it and it gets better. From just a little down this path my best hints are: Reaching out to others here, CN forum. family or friends who are likely to not be Switzerland (‘neutral’) ones. Inspiring music see last fri post, maybe clearing and sorting disorder in small manage able chunks can be energising. Being kind to yourself and understanding some days you’ll just survive and that every small step is progress and Reminding yourself that you can do it and you’ll get there.

              • Record your conversations to play back later when you are calm. I wish I’d done that sooner than I did. I will make so much more sense to you when you can listen to his word without the emotion clouding it.

                Jedi Hugs!

            • So Done, my great lesson has been listening to my gut. If something is making you feel uncomfortable, there’s something wrong. And YOU are the one who deserves to feel safe in all this. Your emotions are the most important thing at the moment because you need self-love and self-care.

              The convo with the kids was badly handled by me – I saw he was upset, but I think it was largely fear of the kids’ reaction. I let him talk to them alone to ‘say goodbye’. Don’t do that – you and he should tell them together, if you are able to do it without fighting.

              Thinking of you today xxx

              • Thanks for all of your tips. On the advice of a child psychologist, we are not going to tell our children or separate until December or January (after my daughter completes her first semester in college). Which means that my STBX and I will be living together until then. Yesterday, I asked him to commit to refrain from contacting his AP while we are still living together and out of respect for me. He responded with a whole lot of double talk and mindfuckery. He eventually said that he would refrain, but I of course don’t believe him.

                I think that his staying in contact with her while living with me constitutes emotional and psychological abuse. Who does that? Today was a very very difficult day for me. How can I live like this for 4 months?

              • I agree. My ex said he wouldn’t contact or go to see the OW but he did. The trauma of suspecting/my gut knowing this was going on, gave me proper anxiety, panic attacks, overthinking to an extreme. My peace of mind was destroyed. My ex left a few months before my eldest son sat his GCSEs at 16. We didn’t consult a child psychologist – my ex couldn’t handle staying in the house. I wouldn’t allow him to stay anyway, I couldn’t live with the man I still love knowing that he was betraying me on a daily basis.

                Having been betrayed, I’m afraid you will find it incredibly hard. My hat is off to you for looking after your daughter so well! My advice would be to see him as he truly is, make a list of his betrayals, remember your self-respect and dignity. Don’t let him play happy families at home, treat him politely but don’t do anything for him. Don’t cook for him, or do his laundry. He’s given up his right for you to do that for him. He’s a temporary lodger in the house. This may cause difficulties in itself as he may be resentful and your children may spot there’s a problem, you may have to lie to the children, but if that’s what it takes to stick to the course you’ve set yourself for your kids, you can do it.

                I’m not really convinced by your psychologist’s advice. I’m concerned about the damage it will do you, the bad atmosphere in your home while it goes on which may not do your daughter much good anyway, and, speaking honestly, the avoidance of consequences for your ex. He’s blown up your family and the damage will come sooner or later. This is just a sticking plaster – but I do so admire you for looking after your family.

                Much love to you So Done – big furry virtual hug to you today X

        • Well said, Jessmom, “It never dawned on us that we had to look for an iceberg.”

        • “The reality of whom I married didn’t hit me all at once — and it didn’t even start hitting me until the final couple of years as I was frantically pulling together the puzzle pieces. It was an infernally slow process for my brain to wrap around.”

          I could have written this paragraph. In fact, even now, over three years after my marriage imploded, I’m still putting the puzzle pieces together. I’m still struggling with the dissonance created by the contrast between the man I thought I married and the man I actually did marry.

          I’m still looking back on our 30 years together and seeing personality traits, comments, actions, and incidents in a new light. It has been a slow-motion revelation that will undoubtedly take a few more years to be fully revealed.

          I could have written the OP’s letter as well. Except my x was much more secretive and better at compartmentalizing his life. I had no inkling about the cheating for decades. I thought I was married to the finest, most honest, faithful, upstanding guy I could have found.

          Initially after Dday I was completely incredulous, and even today I still have fleeting doubts as to whether my x was a Cluster B, when our adult children, every therapist I’ve seen in the past 3+ years (four of them), and all the research I’ve done in the meantime assure me that yes, he absolutely is. His behavior post Dday indicates he’s dropped the mask entirely. I still can’t quite square this person today with the guy I thought he was, even though intellectually I now know perfectly well he is textbook NPD.

          I would respectfully disagree with CL’s marginalizing of the significance of a potential personality disorder in the OP’s husband; I will stick my neck out and say he’s completely and thoroughly NPD. What normal person abuses his wife and family this way? What normal person feels so entitled to do whatever he wants? What normal husband has so little regard for his wife and kids?

          In my observation, the typical Cluster B needs the limerence, the excitement, and the risk that an affair offers, in order to feel alive and at all good about himself. He also needs the respectable facade that a good wife and family life offer, in order to prove to himself and the world he’s a good guy. As CL points out, the OP’s husband has become an expert at maintaining the home front while doing anything and everything he wants on the affair front due to his entitlement. But I would not stop at entitlement as an explanation for his behavior.

          I would encourage the OP to research narcissistic personality disorder. Read/watch/listen to the books, videos, and podcasts by Dr. George Simon, Sam Vaknin, Sandra Brown, Spartan Life Coach, and others. Am understanding of narcissistic personality disorder will help her begin to grasp what she is dealing with and will be the first step to embracing the reality of her situation.

          • Sorry for replying to my own post, but I wanted to add: They. Never. Change.

            The only thing that changes is your realization of what they really are.

          • I really liked your post, Just going through with what you described is my husband, I am so “out of it” not making rational decisions and always telling him what I think, which he then uses against. me.

        • “It never dawned on us that we had to look for an iceberg.”
          This, x1000!

        • This is what happened to me, too. He was benefiting of my image, he wanted respectability, good reputation but he couldn’t stand the effort it took to maintain the staging. He couldn’t stand working hard. He punished me for my lifestyle even if no one ever asked him to follow high standards of decency and honorability not even once, he was the only one who lived our relationship as a competition. I never asked him to improve, I accepted him as he was. Yet he wanted to show me, he wanted to get even, he enjoyed this kind of punishment, it was like winning a prize in his twisted mind. This was a form of superiority he could never reach any other way according to his sick ideas.

          • Merry—so, so true. When my x left me, he said one of the reasons was that I was “so competitive.” This stumped me. I loved him and regarded us as a team! It took me a long time to realize he was projecting his own feelings on me, and that he resented my high moral standards and my integrity. This explained why my replacement was a white-trash serial cheater herself, and no threat to his need to feel superior.

            • Cheaters with cheaters, they deserve each other. Blessings to you, Champchump.

          • “[H]e was the only one who lived our relationship as a competition.”

            Yes! Never would have dawned on me that people (let alone my own husband) could view marriage in such a way.

            Marriage is supposed to be the opposite of competition … it’s supposed to be teamwork. I really thought this was a universal, irrefutable truth.

            • Of course it’s a universal truth, JessMom. Why marry someone and then antagonize your own team? Do they realize how auto destructive that is? They’re so sure we’re the only ones to pay the price and that they always cover up their faults. Blessings to you.

        • Eloquently written. This mirrors my experience. It was a slow realization that became possible only thru distance and education. (Most of the books that have helped me were suggested on this blog.)

        • ^Cognitive dissonance – my psyche literally fractured when I had to face the fact that my marriage was all in my own head. I had compromised my core values for so long with that fucktard that I still struggle to manage the anxiety. This is the damage we do to ourselves with sparkles and hopium and dancing. But the beauty of it is that when we finally do come up out of the rabbit hole we can begin to rebuild authentic lives.

        • JM

          He said…..yup, I fell for all of it. Listened to his words, repeatedly.

    • Also…I’ve heard no mention that he recognizes a NEED or DESIRE to change! Pretty sure if he is not even admitting there could perhaps be a problem with his conduct, he is most assuredly NOT on the road to change! Stop being a doormat. You are teaching your kids that this is the treatment they should expect from their spouse…by allowing this abuse, and that’s what it is, you are saying to your children “yes this is how you should expect to be treated and it’s ok”. That’s what your actions are telling them! It’s miserably painful but you deserve so so much more.

  • Omg you sound like me 7 years ago. I caught my husband only once but sparkled and pick me danced through 4 years of wreckonciliation. What did he do–he took and spent half of our life savings(and no post nup so no recourse). He quit working full time then quit working altogether(so no spousal support). I handed him 4 years on a silver platter time which he used to abuse me every way including the financial above( and emotionally mentally verbally and sexually. Funtimes!!! Please put your ducks in a row and do as Tracy says make him prove what he says by giving you a kick ass post nup. Come here for support, hugs or a needed 2×4

  • I could have written this hopium filled letter last year after DD2 and in the midst of my own wrekconciliation. I have, in fact, done that but not to CL (I didn’t know she existed) but to my close friends who were the “CL”s in my life. They constantly pressed me with what was acceptable for me and what were my boundaries. And I kept answering with cheater-central statements: he changed, he does household chores with me, he makes plans with me for the future, he cooks with me, we go out and he is soo attentive, he does things with our son, he brought me roses, bla bla bla!

    Confused, if he demonstrates a “family man” there is no logical deduction that he stopped cheating. Because that’s what it is: a pure demonstration of what you want and need, a sales pitch. So take this nice family man on the outside and shut up. You have a family.

    Why would he change? Listen to CL! My 2 month of “the demo version husband” ended when I busted him again. What is worse than DDay 1? Dday 2. Dday 3 is million times worse. Now it’s not just “the discovery”. With each recurring DDay after every wreckonciliation is his fucking up of the trust that you have so blindly given him again post all those discoveries – this is the most painful part.

    Many of us here could have dealt with one night of “oops” (and I am not saying it’s the thing to do) if what we had were a unicorn. But years of “oops” makes it a deliberate act with all the planning and lies and gaslighting involved. Is this what you signed up for, Confused, even though he demo’s an ideal family man to you? Run.

    • >>”But years of “oops” makes it a deliberate act with all the planning and lies and gaslighting involved”


      Initially, I was flummoxed with all of the discoveries … decades long cheating, etc. I remember asking my STBX: “How did you NOT stop somewhere along the way … at some point in more than two decades … and think ‘Damn, what I’m doing is really shitty and could destroy my whole family. Maybe I should stop.'”

      (This question was a light bulb for me during the process of trying to integrate the reality of my STBX with who I thought he was.)

      • JessesMom

        great question…if my shithead Narkle’s ever EVER asks a real question or if we ever have a real conversation about our marriage/divorce,

        I want to ask him how he could NOT change after all the wreckage he was once aware of…he KNEW – once upon a time–that he had damaged his relationships with the kids and me…so there was a time of remorse, however brief.

        Maybe a year or so later, he turned the fiasco he alone created, into something that “would probably not have happened if I HAD ONLY blah blah blah”.

        And ME!! Why didn’t I then stop him and say “WTF are you talking about?” I never rubbed his failures in his face or brought up the shit he caused b/c I was understanding! I was forgiving! Why kick him when he’s down?? And now HE is furious at me b/c I want spousal support!!

        yeah, 35 years of marriage to Doctor Narkles and I “expect” something of HIM…baffling anger, but evidently it’s par for the course for a narc.

        I feel like an idiot…ugh

  • Aaagh! I spent the LONGEST time spouting how “good ” my cheater was. He did not fit the narcissism description. So sweet to me, so thoughtful, treats me like a Queen! I mean the other woman that he had for 4 years was surely not getting anything but a wet booty cause i was getting most of his time,attention and money. My own cost benefit analysis showed i was winning! The proud winner of a turdsicle!! Except i lost the sparkle in my eyes. I lost the joy in my heart. I became a suspiscious spy. Digging between car seats for evidence and cringing when he ignored his phone beeps or when the phone was hidden in his butt crack or something. Oh but how i kept up the facade of being in sweet sweet love. EVERYONE envied our connection. Ego?! Oh don’t get me started. He has that to spare. He deserved me. And her. And the girl sitting on his lap in that picture that was his friends wife. And the valentines day cards from other women that were just obsessed with him and what they send is out of his control. The condoms were old. The panties that weren’t mine were a plant to test my trust….i deserve a chump trophy!! I wanted it to be my imagination. My Insecurity . He was a high federal employee as well. But guess what? He sucks! He really really sucks. Know it. Trust it. Accept it and live life fully w/o him stinking up your space. Ugh!!

  • CC, your cheater is exactly, exactly like mine. Except for the profession. And this Chump here was exactly, repeat, exactly like you. I was married for 38, not 28 years. The longer you spackle… THE WORSE it gets. Your cheater will NOT have any blessed insights. If he had this quality in the first place you would not be here. As CL says: it’s about entitlement and Injustice. And about how bad YOU do not want still another D-day.

    Our defects cystalize in old age. This insight came from my cousin who is a judge in family court. Says he sees this phenomenon everyday.

    Family man? What’s the definition, what characterizes a true family man? Who made your children suffer consequences? I bet my much awaited divorce papers that it was always you.

    Confused, I am alone now, yesterday I would have been married 40 years (got a text from cheater, have not read it, but I BET it is in fluent Narclish), but now I have NO desire to go through being lied to again and again. I’m now in the process of getting over being angry with myself for being so stupid for so long.

    Be strong. You will find much wisdom and encouragement here.

    • PS: I bet he still works because there até a lot of cheater Bills to pay. Ask me how I know.

      • ClearWaters,

        I’m divorcing now and have been married 35 years (tomorrow is our 36th wedding anniversary. Wonder what Dr Narkles will send me??!)

        I am VERY angry with myself. Dear God, why was I so stupid, weak?? Afraid?? I convinced myself that we were PAST his shit. Idiot.

        And now I’m dealing with HIS anger at ME! OMG it’s insanity. I see my whole marriage in a different light now and it’s not a good one.

        YES he claims he stopped working “to retire/didn’t work out/wants to help veterans–he quit working at a Veteran’s Hospital/wants to do ANOTHER fellowship/take it easy”….

        all to avoid paying me spousal support. God almighty, I cannot believe I am here…he is trying to outlast me by hoarding the money – and does not give a shit disobeying court orders.

        UGH! And the wreckage with our kids! Do they just assume the kids will welcome them back in a decade? Will Dr. Narkle’s Expect our kids to care for him in his old age? Yes he will, b/c he has “never failed at anything” in his life. Yeah, except the 2 most important things – being a good (or just decent) husband and father. He FAILED big time and forgot to show up. Fucker.

        I put up with way too much shit for way too long.
        UGH again!

    • One of the best parts about CN is knowing im not the only one.

      • Agree Serial, agree!!!

        I my language we have a saying: “To cheat and to scratch one just has to start”. Cheaters never stop. Never.

    • Our defects crystallize in old age. WOW! Powerful words. Thank you, ClearWaters

  • I have been married 26 years to a serial cheater first dday 7 years in took him back after affair for 1.5 years- with 2 young daughters. Second dday was in Feb 2017 – they NEVER change. He of course denied calls/texts/staying out all night, work trips with this ‘work colleague’ (staying in the same room etc…we are just close friends blah blah) that I never knew about for over a year. Trust your gut. He moved out around 5 weeks ago – yes it is the hardest thing I have ever done – but I am free from that remorseless cheater. I am 50 and only wish CL was around all those years ago. I read this site everyday- it gets me through – no regrets.

  • He doesn’t have to have a fulk blown persona little disorder to have narcissistic or borderline or any of the other cluster b traits.
    Cluster b disorders aren’t pre requisites to be a cheater, but they do help.
    Consider yourself blessed if he doesn’t, but you won’t know for sure until you impose real consequences and enforce your boundaries.
    He also knows that if you do leave him, there goes a good portion of his former colone fat ass pension checks to you.
    Fortunately for you, due to the length of your marriage you won’t have to depend on him to send you that check, military retiree payroll will direct deposit those funds right into your account, if you fill out the forms post divorce.
    If you’re a 20-20-20 spouse you’ll continue to receive the benefits you do as a retiree’s spouse.
    Lawyer up with an attorney well versed in the Uniformed Former Spouses Protection Act and read up on it yourself.

    Spackley McSpackleton
    (Veteran and soon to be a military retirees ex spouse)

      • Not to be an alarmist but I’m a former Army Lawyer. There was a recent Supreme Court ruling (Howell v Howell) that affirmed that disability pay is not divisible in a divorce –AND— that you cannot compensate for that, after retirement simply shift other sources of income to account for that – at least not with disability payments that come after they retire.
        The court held that a waiver of retirement pay, regardless of when it was made, exempted that amount from division in a divorce decree. The Court also held that Sandra did not have a vested interest because “state courts cannot ‘vest’ that which (under governing federal law) they lack the authority to give. (Howell, 197 L. Ed. 2d. 781 at 788).

        Sooooo to translate – and I’ll keep the math simple for my puny brain. This means if a soldier gets, for example, 40% disability out of a $1000 check, then $400 of it is not divisible as marital property. Which means that $400 of disability pay only goes to him (AND is not taxed either.) So as the former spouse, you’d only get half of the remaining part, which is $600 in this example (=$300 for you) instead of half of $1000 (which is $500).

        Just make sure your lawyer is aware of the new ruling b/c Congress needs to address it. Which sucks for us b/c Congress is…Congress.

        I’m not sure yet how to address my concerns and the risk I’m taking of being screwed (again).

        I think I’m going for more of the private retirement savings (e.g. 401k, IRA, etc) so I don’t have to worry about it (as much).

        My Dr./Colonel Narkles husband has “tinnitus/sleep apnea”, which, incredibly, will compensate him generously for his “disabilities”. And unless he hits 50%, I am screwed out of money. That is because once disability hits 50% or more, then you can both get retirement pay and neither will suffer.

        Hope I wasn’t too confusing with this. It is slowing down my divorce, which is very undesirable. I want to move on from this shockingly horrible person. I don’t want anymore shattering discoveries. I just want to go forward but this disastrous man – the father of my children – continues to disappoint me. Which is amazing in itself. My expectations continue to go lower, so that I wonder where the bottom is.

        • Doctors First Wife and Kids

          Thank you so much for that information. I appreciate you breaking it down. I’m sorry it is slowing things down for you. I imagine when the ball starts rolling you just want to be done as quickly as possible.

    • Spackley

      ‘He doesn’t have to have a fulk blown persona little disorder to have narcissistic or borderline or any of the other cluster b traits’

      I guess I just wanted to believe that if he didn’t fit it might not be as bad as I feared.

      Thank you for that – the more I read tonight the stronger I feel.

  • Confused — I think you’ve taken the stories you’ve read here, come up with your own taxonomies and categories or cheaters and their behaviors, tried to find a match for Colonel GoldenCock, and decided that if he doesn’t fit neatly into the structure you’ve created, he must be different and there must be hope.

    He’s not different.

    Only trained psychological professionals can plot cheaters on a spectrum, assign proper labels, etc. All we Chumps can do is assess our situations and ask: “Is this acceptable to me? Am I worth more than being lied to constantly? Is this the type of life I’d want for one of my daughters?”

    Only you can answer those questions, and unfortunately you’ll have to do it without the formal diagnosis.

    Our sincerest best of luck to you.

  • I put up with suspected infidelity and disrespect for years because I was terrified of being a single mum and kept hoping he would change. He didn’t. The infidelity was real. He became a raging monster when I refused to pretend we had a mutual separation, rather than him leaving for OW. But I am so glad to be living a real life without a toxic man that deep down I didn’t trust.
    Don’t be scared, it will be so much better to be free of this. And he is the one who caused any potential hurt to your kids, not you!!! We chumps take on others’ guilt and shame – remind yourself he’s the Cheater

  • My favorite part of CL’s response (rephrased by me, I hope not inaccurately…) is that this person ultimately needs to decide what she wants more — an intact family life with a person who doesn’t mind betraying her and the inherent risk that necessitates vs. a rebuilt life that isn’t permeated by betrayal.

    It’s devastatingly hard to choose between those two things.

    It could be wise to quietly prepare for separation in the background, even if she isn’t ready to leave yet. That way if she does leave, she won’t have to do all the front-end work before taking decisive action, and if she doesn’t leave, she will at least be empowered with the knowledge that she could choose to leave at any time.

    Here’s one way I think of it: If I (or one of the children, if you have them) ever had a disabling illness, would this person be 100% in my corner without question? (We can’t always know because people can be deceptive, but we can observe a person’s actions and evaluate what we CAN see.) If it’s clear that the person can’t give at that level, partnership with that person, sharing everything I am and everything I own, may not be my best option.

    If he is a great family man and father, that will bear out whether she is his partner or not.

    • Well yes, and mitigate that risk.

      If she stays, she needs some guarantee for that “remorse” — like a post-nup. Like a financial report. Like an asset.

      Because these situations are never static — he could financially abuse her. He could leave. Lucidity is always preferable to hopium. Whatever you decide, to leave or to reconcile.

      But reconciling just because you HOPE it might be better? NO. NO. That shit needs some collateral.

      Cheater doesn’t want to do that? There’s your sorry.

  • Yes Spackley! Former “family member” here and divorced from a career military man. Choose a lawyer who is well versed in military divorces. A new law was just passed that allows these retired military members to get a VA offset to their military retired pay and the former spouse can no longer collect the amount offset from the member. Luckily for those of us who divorced before the change in the law, they cannot go back and petition the court to change it! I was married to my career military man from day one and qualified for the 20-20-20 rule, but after nearly 41 years of marriage it was a tough adjustment. Found out that dental insurance wasn’t part of the “benefit” package and it was pricey! I made sure that my cheater could not “appeal” our divorce decree, but that’s a double edged sword because neither could I! Get a good lawyer and take your time walking through those benefits you also earned while running around the world spackling their image as the good family man!!!

  • I’ve been thinking the same about my stbx, only it’s because he left rather than stayed for the dance. My thoughts go: he’s such a good guy, intelligent, caring. Maybe he just had his head turned, fell out of love with me and in love with someone more suited to him.

    At the end of the day though it’s all just untangling skeins, trying to understand why he behaved this way and made these choices. I’m realising I was accepting less than I deserved on several fronts. Yet I’m still trying to convince myself that the kind of love he’s capable of is no prize worth vying by for.. 🙁

    • It takes TIME.

      And No Contact. No matter how much it burns you at times. Be strong.

      And be good to yourself.

      • <3

        Can't lie – I've been less than mighty when it comes to no contact. Even though I know it's basically pissing in the wind, I still want to have all the conversations and fights I never got to have and to stand up for myself. Today is day one again. I'll get there.

        • Same story here! Just left and didn’t look back or try to fight for his family. I filed and he acts like he has nothing but contempt for us all! Final hearing was 7/31 after he did not bother to file a response or even retain an attorney while living the high life with one of his mistresses on marital money he took . Now he wants to hold his hand out for his share and had threatened to make it messy if he doesn’t get his way! I am tired of fighting and being humiliated and just want to end it all. I was nothing but a vehicle, a credit score and a house to help project an image. The mask is off and he is so detached he couldn’t even tell the judge what branch of service our son is in or when he last saw our children! I would love to have co parenting help as I am overwhelmed by son much. I cry because I was and am so alone and I feel like I don’t matter! If he simply fell in love with someone else, why block contact with your own kids?

          • Aww, I’m so sorry heart broken. I don’t have kids and can only imagine how much more this awful situation is when you see how it affects them as well. I can only restate what I’ve heard others say: You’re the sane parent and your kids have you.

            When you say you want to end it all – if you’re struggling to cope yourself please please reach out for support. There is the forum here, perhaps people in your life who might surprise you at their ability to take care of you, or there might be counselling lines or someone you can call who will listen to your story and talk through how you’re feeling. In the UK we have the Samaritans, who are a brilliant anonymous ear and actually I think you could try emailing them if you’re not in the UK and they’ll respond by email. Some in CN might have some ideas in other areas. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising or anything – I just used to volunteer with Sams and I know what wanting to end it all can be like. Just know you matter. Someone with a cowardly character and no values treated you terribly and it will hurt like hell, but their actions are not a reflection of YOUR worth. Hugs to you.

        • Seriously. I had a nasty dating/romantic episode with a narc recently, and I went No Contact immediately.

          It. Nearly. Fricken. Killed. Me. The injustice of his behaviour, his callousness, and the mindfuckery absolutely infuriated me, and I longed to tell him this, over and over and over, in between asking him WHY WHY WHY.

          There were times when I had to lie face down on the floor and dig my fingers into the carpet to stop myself calling or texting or emailing.

          But I didn’t do it.

          I came up with every excuse in the book to contact him – to apologise, to scold, to set the record straight, to ask for a book back.

          But I didn’t do it.

          We were talking classic obsessive compulsive behaviour here on my part, absolutely burning with hurt feelings.

          But I didn’t do it.

          Like I say, it nearly fricken killed me. It’s the hardest episode of No Contact I’ve ever endured, because this guy got me at a very vulnerable point and really got under my skin.

          But I didn’t do it.

          Don’t do it.

          Seriously, it is the ONLY WAY you will ever get free of this guy. It hurts and it burns and it causes you real pain, but it’s the ONLY WAY OUT.

          Today, after two months, the guy is no more than a speck of dust on Pluto as far as I’m concerned.

          No Contact works, just like it says on the bottle.

          • Thank you – the understanding here about how hard this stuff is really helps. I resolve to go NC but we’re still so fresh into things we have a lot to sort out, so it gets difficult. Today was day 2 and then he texted that he needed to pick up a parcel he accidentally had delivered from Amazon to our house (where I’m living).

            He came tonight and I was cordial but he still managed to cause enough damage in one minute with his taxi idling outside to rip the wound open again. I am re-resolved again. Tomorrow is day 1. Sigh.

            • Eh….I blew it last month when I went totally ape shit and got threatened with a restraining order for “Lewd and Lacivious content over an electronic device.”

              Apparently, Ms. Twatwaffes who reads all of his text messages, didn’t take kindly to being called The Magic Golden Pussy or my asking him if he licks her asshole.

              What can I say, I was weak. **shrug**

              It’s been better. I have to have contact since we have kids, but I am hoping to be so abrasive that it’s way too much trouble for him to contact me. It’s fine if the wuss blames me, I really do not care. I do not want my girls subjected to his tomfuckery and if it’s too hard, then it’s just as well. Must be working since today is our youngest daughter’s 7th birthday and he has yet to call her. I’m not texting him to remind him or chastise him either. FTS..

            • Leave it on the doorstep and DON’T BE HOME when he comes over.

              Seriously, what you think is ‘sorting stuff out’ is actually a whisker away from boundary busting. You will find these ‘accidents’ keep happening because he really needs those kibbles, and you keep delivering them.

              You can be completely No Contact if there are no kids. But you have to want to do it. You can make it into a game if it helps – see just how No Contact you can be.

              Keep trying. It gets better.

              • YES. He will keep pushing to try and regain control, with requests that look perfectly valid and sensible. That’s how they get you, because if you refuse them, you look crazy and vengeful. But listen to your gut and do what’s right for YOU.

  • And as far as these cheaters being there for you during devastating illnesses, I can speak from my own experience here. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! My cheater learned I had lung cancer and I was facing having part of my lung removed. He nonchalantly told my adult children that “they would have to handle it because he didn’t want to give me false hope.” Then he and Schmoopie e-mailed his lawyer to see how it would turn out for them if I were to die! Sweet Guy huh? When the tables were turned after our divorce and HE was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer it was a whole new set of rules for Mr. Sparkly. He thought that even I should come to his rescue. He was devastated to learn that we were not going to tolerate Schmoopie if we were going to help him. Schmoopie was kicked to the curb immediately for his needs!! I imagine she was relieved though because he wasn’t the Don Juan lover anymore. Just a sick, broke, unemployed, needy 61 year old who was broke from his divorce! Not FUN at all! So much for twu wuv! That evaporated in a heartbeat!

    • I was heading to my first biopsy the morning that I found love letter from co worker. So during the divorce I was dealing with cancer and medical bills and emotional/physical abuse. I will never forget the phone call I got right after the divorce was final, asking me to leave him the money I got in the divorce when I die because he would take care of our sons. Seriously. At the time of the call neither my 17 & 18 year old sons were talking to him and he

      If I wrote this in a movie no one would go see it because it would be too evil for normal joe public to accept as realistic.

      It is a year later and this weekend EX wrote that he was canceling my sons health insurance unless they talk to him. (that is the only thing he does for them, no support or schooling) Found after after we got the letter in the mail that he got engaged that night, wants to cut off this family to move on with the new one I guess. I am upset about the insurance but this year with NC has been great.

      • TheBestMe

        I too while in chemo for breast cancer my Narc X treated me cold, uncaring. When I got the call from my doctor telling me I had the disease he was right there. I was hysterical, crying, terrified & all he did was get up to cut an apple for himself.

        Should’ve known then but was too scared to notice.
        I spent 34 years with him. He destroyed our marriage, family,home for a Whore who knew he was married.

        He’s 70 now.. so hopefully the Whore can wheel him around in a wheelchair eventually.

        It’s still hard for me but 2 years divorced I’m not being cheated or lied to.

        Hugs to U ????????

      • TheBestMe,
        I am so sorry for all you have been through.
        Maybe your sons could say hello and GOOD BYE once a year to be covered for medical insurance.
        Your cheater surely doesn’t deserve those 3 words, but your sons need and absolutely deserve to be covered by medical insurance.

        Your posts always touch my heart.
        In my eyes and in CN’s eyes, you, dear lady, are mighty!

        ((((Many Many Hugs dear Kathleen and TheBestMe))))

    • They really are all the same, aren’t they? Mine left to work on his happiness (i.e. I found out about his affairs) while I was going through chemo for breast cancer. Never once asked how I was feeling through chemo, surgery or radiation. He must occasionally use my story for sympathy because I have noticed a couple of his acquaintances checking in on my Caring Bridge page. I made sure to have a journal entry that specifically talks about him cheating and leaving me so they all can see that 🙂

      I would bet money if he ever got cancer, he would expect me to care about him and would ask for help. I look forward to turning him down.

      • He will definitely expect you to care for him! Mine did. He’s dead now from cancer!

      • Cancer Chump,
        You are a strong survivor, your strength always shines through.

        You are right, one day, cheater will need someone to care for him.
        OW like bling, dinning out, being spoiled, they certainly aern’t around to get shit stains out of underwear or to wash dirty socks.
        Naw, that is clearly a chump’s job!
        Not your’s anymore CC.
        You are mighty!

    • During the discovery phase of our divorce, my ex requested just the medical ‘reports’ (not records) from my oncologist. When asked why, he said “If I have to pay alimony, I want to know how long I’m looking at.”

      Pure evil.

      • srfrgrl that is horrible! I’m sorry you had to deal with that. They are truly not human.

      • What a p.o.s. !

        Recently visited my uncle (father’s younger brother) and aunt. The weekend of my uncle’s engagement my father and his second wife joined my uncle and his Italian fiancee at my grandparents summer home, in addition to fiancee’s brother and sister-in-law. Heard more examples of how reprehensible my father was (and is). My father’s second wife had just been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer so my father thought that would be the opportune time to make a pass at his brother’s fiancee in the kitchen ! My now aunt’s sister-in-law was more distraught at the woman’s diagnosis (a woman she had just met) than my father was !

        During this last visit my aunt told me how my father left his second wife to fend for herself during a round of chemotherapy while he went off on a trip. I find these stories of abandoning people during the time of greatest need to be utterly disgusting. Pay attention people ! If people (friends or family) cut and run during illness,it’s a sign of narcissism and time to rethink how much you want to invest in that relationship.

      • Mine did this also. They “estimated” that the longest I could survive was to 66 years and two months! They are awesome aren’t they?

        • Roberta,
          I have to say, YOU are one in a million.
          Us Chumps who have read your story give you the highest marks for integrity and the greatest strength of character.
          You stood by your ex’s side, supporting your children, through the best and the very worst of times. You held them up at their father’s parting from this world and I am sure they will always love and respect such an outstanding mother.
          “In sickness and in health , until death do us part”
          Roberta, not many, understandably so, have ever made it this far.
          You are beyond Mighty

      • I am relieved we can use potty mouth here,
        He is a…………………………………………………
        All possible potty words, my mind is spurting them all off
        My iPad will explode if I type them.
        Srfgrl, Tempest has a CN hit squad she can send out!
        TEMPEST, what do you say?
        I’am in!

        Hugs srfgrl

  • IMO, the question is how much you’re willing to endure what you see as a “tragic hero”: an allegedly great man with just one fatal flaw–his cheating.

    Oh, and his lying and manipulation.
    Oh, and his entitlement.
    Oh, and his ego.

    Otherwise, he’s a perfect husband.

    No spouse is perfect. We often say that here, particularly in our own defense as our cheaters claimed that if we were perfect, the they wouldn’t have cheated.

    But it’s also true of cheaters. They were never perfect, even before they cheated. We chumps (myself included) saw them in the best possible light, sometimes despite strong evidence to the contrary.

    Your husband would be a good man if you take away his fatal flaws. So would we all. That’s why you must judge the entirety of him and decide if that’s what you want.

  • My narc cheater of 26 years made sex tapes of his exploits. 250 of them. There’s nothing like discovering these and then viewing a couple to make all residual feeling disappear down the drain and move you speedily along to ‘meh’.

  • Just because he’s a lesser asshole than other assholes, that doesn’t mean he isn’t still an asshole and you don’t want to be married to an asshole.

    I need to remind myself of that every day.

    • ^^^^^^^^^ This!!!!

      A lot of cheaters’ “qualifications” didn’t fit the xhole. Then I realized it didn’t matter…his qualifications of liar, cheater, and asshole were enough and he wasn’t going to change.

      And yes, I have to remind myself of that every day, too.

    • Yes, like when they applaud themselves for not beating you by saying stuff like, “I’m not a bad person! It’s not like I hit you.” They want a bitch cookie for having not committed ONE type of abuse, even though they have committed so many other abuses. When we spackle over their bad behavior what we are doing is tossing them bitch cookies before they even ASK for them.

    • Just because he’s a lesser asshole than other assholes, that doesn’t mean he isn’t still an asshole and you don’t want to be married to an asshole.
      I need to remind myself of that every day.

      OMG THIS^^^

      I’m NOT sure my Dr. Narkles/COLONEL is less of an asshole, (compared to whom?) But he is an asshole. Our last weeks together I started to fear him a bit. I told my son that if I died suddenly, to check for certain medications that usually don’t show up in autopsy.

      Worse, I wanted him to wake up – until I heard he’d been cheating with OW, and in hindsight, realizing it was not the first time.

      So for me, the endless diagnostic questions are ending. Our wedding anniversary is tomorrow (36th) Wondering when it changed is a separate but painful issue. So I quote Caroline Myss, who says

      “Endless wondering is endless suffering.”

  • Im so sorry that you are in this situation, but I completely understand it. And most importantly, I have survived it. The term “marriage police” that you used is exactly the term I used in making my decision that I was done, I knew and decided that I did not want to be the marriage police for the next 30 years. I was tired. I was done. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. But it was absolutely the best thing I did for me and my children. I made that decision four years ago. My only regret is that I didn’t make it sooner. It has been sad, hard, lonely, and at times infuriating. But I am more at peace with my authentic life than I have ever been. I am still alone. And I may always be. That’s okay. It takes lots of time to heal after a long-term divorce. But I have seen time and time again those who rush into relationships fail because they haven’t taken the time to find themselves and love themselves. Its really up to you. How do you want to spend the rest of your life? Being the marriage police and always checking to verify? Or rebuilding your life to be the most authentic version of you? If he really is so changed, then you should be able to do all of the things CL mentioned and he should fully support you doing it. This is what he owes you. A good lawyer and post-nump would give you a great deal of reassurance that he means what he says and is in it for the long haul. He owes you a comprehensive STD screening and should be more than willing to give you that security. But will those things really stop the questions daily in your head? Or will you always be watching for another D-Day? You get to decide your boundaries and what the rest of your life looks like. But if you ask for these things and he flips his crap on you… I think you have your answer. And you can still choose to stay. You are free to make your choice but you are not free from the consequence of that decision.

  • Well does it really matter into which mold he fits? He cheated, not once, not twice but numerous times. That is really all there is. Time for you to set yourself as a priority. You are worth more than a cheater wants to give you. If he got away several times with cheating, don’t expect him to change. It is your attitude towards yourself that is important. Cut him loose, sever the ties and take good care of yourself. I know you hurt, but you have been hurting for a long time. As my Mom used to say, it is better to have a bitter end, than bitterness without an end.

  • “The goodness of his heart”

    This would be the same heart that was beating each time this man cheated.

    How does such a heart learn to beat to the tune of a different drummer, er, I mean cheater????

  • Time for no contact. Only with no contact can you see through the haze and stop the spackle.

    • ANNA

      the “NC” rule is hard to do b/c we so SO want them to regret their hideous behavior AND we want to know about it! Which is delusional of us, I know.

      So I will remind myself that “Only with no contact can we see through the haze and stop the spackle.” Otherwise I’d probably believe him again.

      Which I did not know until I wrote it out. OMG I hate that this ^^^is true. Why would I believe him NOW? Because I always believed him when he lied to my face so convincingly! Because I wanted to believe him. Because I wanted to validate my choice to stay. And because I loved him deeply, for most of my life.

      Yes I choose to believe we once had a solid marriage. (My sisters & friends confirm that once upon a time we had “a great marriage, and real love” and I recall how precious our children were to us. How delighted we were in the miracles we had created, despite feeling woefully unprepared.

      My therapist says narcs can hide/fight their shitty selves for some time, and then in time, their masks can slip. (Hell, I suspect they may not know what the dark side is within themselves – until it comes out full force). Maybe the good side to them gives in, and then they rationalize monstrous things they once would have admitted were “selfish, lousy things to do.”

      I don’t know if/when my husband will wonder where his relationships with our children have gone. I believe with all my heart that he will miss them. After awhile he won’t be able to blame me, for our children are all young adults. And they are authentic people, who won’t lie to protect his feelings. They have not spoken in 7 months or seen him in a year…

  • Hi Confused Chump. Maybe this will help you make up your mind. December of 2016, I decided I deserved better. I didn’t like what I had been turned into. So I moved in with my Mom, filed and served him after New Years. About 3 months after I left The Worm, a friend suggested I start dating. After a few tries I met a man who adores me and treats me like a princess, and omg wants to spend time with me. As much as I cried before, now I’m laughing. This guy gets up to make me breakfast every morning! He talks to me! Enjoys taking me places! And cares about my feelings!
    I stayed with the Worm for 26 years being treated like I was a parasite……
    Wth was I thinking? Knowing what I know now, I would have left him after six months.
    My point here is, you deserve better! You deserve to have someone who treasures you every single day!

  • My exh was perfect…until he wasn’t. For 11years he treated me wonderfully. Helped with the kids, laundry, cooking, chores, worked hard, in fact, during those 11years, we didn’t have even one argument…not one! Then I accidentally found out he was cheating. Then I found out he’d been cheating our ENTIRE marriage (there were at least 5 other women). Then I discovered he’d done this to every woman he’d ever been with. THEN I found out he was telling the other women he was “conning” me and, with at least one of them, was discussing killing me for the life insurance money. THEN I found out I had an incurable STD that, the woman I’d caught him with, DIED from. When I had a problem with that, his “wonderful” mask fell off and I was subjected to all his narcissistic/sociopathic qualities. Gas lighting, lies, verbal abuse, physical abuse, smear campaign, etc… It was a royal mindfuck! It took me 4 years to wrap my head around it! The “wonderful” was just an act. Divorced now with no contact. These types are expert actors. As long as they’re getting what they want, they can keep up the charade. However, the mask will slip. When it does…RUN!

    • Goddamn him to hell.
      I feel for you So Many Tears. And I know what you’re going through. I have two “gifts” from my psychopath that keep on giving.
      And to all of you wonderful, strong women Cancer Chump, Roberta etc. these monsters HATE when we get sick. The attention is off of them! The disdain for sickness is actually a psychopathic trait. It’s the lowest of low behavior. It’s a great inconvenience for them to endure!
      Goddamn them to hell.

  • Man I was reading this thinking, ok maybe there are some exceptions out there and maybe this guy is doing his part and giving full access to his phone and computer and being a loving father and maybe he’s seen the light. Then I read CL’s response. Its spot on for a lot of the behavior, but just makes me sad that the reality is, he’s probably still out there cheating because he can. And there are verrrry few exceptions out there. Just sad that people can hurt their loved ones, esp after knowing what they put them through the first time. I dont have any advice for Confused Chump. I’m confused myself, at people who do this.

    • >>”Just sad that people can hurt their loved ones, esp after knowing what they put them through the first time”

      One of the things I had to realize is that while it IS sad, horrendously so, it is only sad for the victims of the repeated offenses and abuses.

      For the cheaters — the repeat offenders and abusers — it is vile as much as it is infuriating. Because they KNOW they’ve hurt their families. They KNOW their actions are wrong. They do it again anyway. Their full, a priori understanding of the damage their actions will cause eviscerates all compassion for their circumstances.

      I had to split STBX from the “whole situation as sad” narrative in my head — by seeing him as the offender he is. Until I did that, I still kind of felt sorry for him (SMH!).

      • You’re absolutely right…I just dont know the words for these situations or these kinds of people.

        • That’s because you are a decent human being. 🙂

          This whole experience is like getting a crash-course in crappy-person logic. “Naming” this foreign worldview is insanely difficult because it is so far outside of our value systems.

          • I should add that this is one of the most valuable aspects of CL’s writing … it’s her ability (in hindsight, having been there and done that) to give us a language for this stuff. She helps us to identify and name the crappy person worldview. Thank you, CL!

    • IAP right there with you. I was reading too and thought ‘wait, could it be a unicorn in the distance?’. I realize now CL is like Yoda and ‘Much to learn, you still have’ popped into my brain.

      One day CL, I would love to hear what you think makes chumps chumpy? I guess we have as varied reasons as cheaters do but does it boil down to one thing (like cheaters and entitlement)? I used to joke about my ex ‘I married my dad’. I didn’t mean the cheater part of which my dad was. I meant the goofy, practical joking, never met a stranger, life of the party kinda guy.

      With time and limited contact (kids), I realize he really is my dad. I just never recognized the full extent of it. He was a bottomless pit of need for attention-not just ho’s. Everyone thought my ex was such a great guy, Mr. Personality. We called him ‘the hammer’ at home as he was so strict and nothing seemed to suit him, no one could live up to his expectations.

      My mom finally left my dad after 25 years of marriage and many, many ho’s. He married his last AP who was my sister’s age in her mid 20’s. She’s a nutter. He had 2 more kids with her which is how she roped him into marriage. And he raised them because she’s so unstable. There’s a real happy ending for you.

      My dad is dying now. He’s calling my mom 25 years later (yes, he’s been married to nutter that long). He wants to be buried with my mom in the crypts they bought many years ago. He wants a church service in her church (he’s never attended as she moved to a new city after the divorce). Wifey doesn’t even live with him. He’s in a facility because there’s no one to take care of him. What a crazy life path he chose for some strange. He constantly belitted my mom when she was the one who raised us and supported us. She was the one bringing in the money as his ‘job’ was his hobby with little income.

      I thought my ex was different as he highly educated with a well paying job. Just a few more sparkles to mask a turd.

      It’a scary as hell to leave initially. When I discovered Dday #2 with a different schmoopie, I got my ducks in a row. I got my financials figured out. I made a plan. I knew I couldn’t keep living this way. I thank the heavens above for finding CL & CN. I’m not sure I could continue my mighty without you.

    • ImaPhool

      This made a lot of sense to me: ‘And there are verrrry few exceptions out there’
      I’m afraid you are right. I’m not going to get an exception……

      • MJB. Wow what a mess. First with your father then ex. Just smh at these assists.

        Confused – only thing I can hope is that reading everyone’s experiences sheds some light into what you’re going through and helps in some way. It’s hard as hell And I’m sorry you’re having to go through this.

  • And you’re there polishing that image, keeping the party line that he’s a “Great Family Man” who LOVES his kids. Really? Because great family men love their children’s mother. They don’t cheat on her. And they don’t risk their children’s intact home live’s for strange pussy.

    Yes! Chump Lady! Cheaters make terrible parents!

  • I too get stuck on trying to put a label on him. I think if he has an actual disorder then there is no way it could have been any way my fault. If he is just a run of the mill cheater then maybe I was in some way responsible. He was also a one time cheater and didn’t really make me pick me dance. He told me he couldn’t not see the OW again and so that was our marriage over.

    • My story is similar. It could have been a one-time deal for the ex cheater but I truly don’t know. He didn’t ask for the PickMe dance either. He just walked. I don’t believe he is on the personality disorder spectrum. Big fat liar, yep. Entitled, for sure. Lack of adult coping skills, yep. But like you, I haven’t experience the bat-shit crazy that others have experience where the cheater won’t actually leave. I’d like to think it mostly had to do with my mightiness but I think it would hav required too much effort on his part to try and make me dance.

      It’s a blessing for sure. Hard to see it that way for a while though. And it crushed my self esteem to think he could just walk away like that. Looking back now, and with the help of CN, I realize it was all him and not me.

      • I’m in the same boat. He was drama-less, just walked, although he DID try to make it so I kicked him out. I didn’t.

        He told me on our daughter’s 8th birthday that he’d been cheating, said something about being sorry, and that he’d do whatever I wanted, even if it meant moving out. (?)

        What I wanted was to go to marriage counseling, because cheating “happens” and if he was willing to do the work, I wanted to stay together.

        He wasn’t willing, but he wasn’t willing to move out until I insisted HE decide…”YOU have a decision to make” but really he didn’t decide… he waited until I went a little batshit crazy one night when I found him snoring in his recliner after I got home from work. It made me so damn mad that I took my foot and brought it down hard on the footrest jarring him awake.

        Then he played the “I’m scared she’ll hurt me in my sleep” card…so he could still blame his leaving on me.


  • CL is spot on about what kind of person he is. Don’t think of this about WHY he does this, and whether or not somehow there is a good person down there. Think about WHAT he does. Do good people flagrantly cheat on their spouses, and make them feel awful? More importantly, do you want to continue to be miserable for the rest of your life?

    Yes, leaving someone after so long is terrifying, but you can do this, and you will come out stronger and happier than before. I did it, so many other people on this site have done it, and I know you can do it. You’ve gone through deployments and the horror of D-day, you can get through dumping a cheater.

  • My X was fine playing the “nice guy” and secretly patronizing prostitutes our entire marriage. This made it hard for me to even process how bad of a thing that was to do to me for months. If it didn’t finally weigh too heavily on him (and that’s what made him finally confess — the weight on HIM), he would have been perfectly fine keeping it under wraps and playing the loving husband instead of the man who held genuine love hostage (or, as it seems more likely now, was incapable of love) for years and replaced it with some cheap filler substance. He is still a good dad to our daughter as far as I know, but he was a terrible husband and I was not going to put up with that…because that’s what it was — putting up with him and his deeply-seated shortcomings as a human being. I found that I couldn’t love him after processing just what it was he had done/was doing (because the underlying behavior didn’t change) to me and just how he was risking (more like destroying) the whole family with his selfish behavior. The timid forest creature metaphor that has been used here is spot on — you call them on their shit, require your own space and time to process, and they become whiny children demanding their cake, as if nothing happened. It did happen, it’s probably still happening, and it will be something you will have to “live with” if you stay, because it sounds like you are not really happy with the marriage as it stands. It’s so hard, but your children will start seeing a you that is not the you that you want them to see if you don’t take care of yourself…and that will destroy the family as well. Find a way out, and wipe your hands clean of him.

    • Might be mixing my metaphors with the timid forest creature thing…timid forest creatures tend to scurry away when confronted, but cheaters can show their true colors either way (running away or exploding — fight or flight). My X scurried away from the relationship in his head and heart…if that makes sense. He kept pretending — because he serious segmented himself and was still not able to reconcile the cheater him with the him that he presented to the world, but he was no closer to “saving” the relationship or changing his behavior. And he did get pouty about withholding of those things (i.e. sex) he sought like a drug. It honestly didn’t seem to matter if it was me or someone else — it was all vaginas to him (the “wife appliance” metaphor comes into play here too — I was replaceable in order for him to get what he wanted). If you feel like you’re giving in to living a life “as usual” because you’re afraid they will get mad, run away, replace you with someone else, etc., this is no life to live. You have value and you (unfortunately, as it feels when everything seems to be crumbling around you) have to exercise it. Living with it is always an option, but what is the cost?

  • At first, just after DDay, I thought that my cheater was just wayward. He doesn’t know what he’s doing! If he knew how much this hurt me then I’m sure he’ll see the light and change and everything will be even better than it was before. My cheater didn’t seem to fit the narcissistic profile or even BP disorders. At least that’s what I thought.

    A year out from DDay and I was working the full-time job, while he was home getting fat on his unemployment ploy. He was still in contact with MOW and was exhibiting more and more signs of cruelty and disrespect toward me. 3 years out from DDay and those things were still in effect, except he had added a very part-time job to his life, was behaving even more strange and taking trips all by himself like he was some sort of single man or something, going back to school for a 3rd time on my dime, had entitlement out the wazoo. Even if he wasn’t in contact with MOW anymore – like he claimed – his behaviors and attitude were awful. I had become marriage police and was looking at everything that didn’t have a lock – his phone and computer were always locked – and that was really only his journal. He had written in his journal that he was going to leave me when he was done with school. He was just going to pick up, take what he could carry and leave.

    After having lost all self respect for myself by bending over backwards into a pretzel for this man he was just going to up and leave. That was THE straw that broke me and really, it should have been DDay. I’m not proud that I didn’t just leave him 3 years ago, but held onto…. what? It all boiled down to this: I DO NOT want to be treated like that ever again. I have never worked so hard for so little. Put me down for cherishing in my next relationship, or I’m forgetting it and moving on with my single life that is SOOOOOOOO great because X isn’t in it.

    Confused, dump this life! None of it is worth it. What kind of a person do you think you’ll be by the end? You’re showing your kids that it’s OK to have a doormat wife. You’re showing yourself that you aren’t worth dirt. Give yourself the gift of freedom from playing marriage police. Give yourself back power and mightiness. Give yourself a better life.

  • I tend to think that about my husband too. You know, that he’s not like the others…

    Really good Christian man, husband and father for 33 years. Only until I began to ask normal questions because something wasn’t just right.

    And it began….. The anger. The defense. The throwing me under the bus in front of our kids.

    The entitlement. The money hiding.

    What the heck am I still doing here? Do you think it’s possible for a man to make this mistake once and never again?

    I want to tell her to run now!

    • >>”What the heck am I still doing here? ”

      I get it — genuinely, bone-deep get it. And, I’m so sorry. This is such a long, hard process. But, please keep reading, keep processing.

      I promise you deserve honesty, reciprocation, and authentic love. What you described is none of those.


      • Thank you JesssMom! This is really hard. I made the mistake of coming back last year after I caught him hiding our savings.

        He said we would find a decent counselor. He wouldn’t go. Our first two counselors were disasters. He has spent the last year doing everything he can to show me he wants our marriage.He still swears no affair happened.

        He’s done the whole apology thing to the kids and of course they believe it.

        I’m honestly still trying to decide what to do. I know….. I know….

        • Stillhere, I totally get it too. We all do. I remember that feeling – like being in prison. I didn’t know what to do! The worst part is, I think you do know what to do, you’re just afraid to do it. Deep down, leaving the cheater is terrifying! If only because it’s change and change is hard. It is so hard! But if it’s any consolation, being free from them is better. Doesn’t mean that it’s all rainbows and puppies over here, but not having their dysfunction in your life (or at least limited access) is worth all the hard fought battles.

          • I’m actually thankful my kids are grown but we still have a couple of young adult ones living at home. He doesn’t want them to believe this happened. They adore him.

            I know the hypocrisy of this mess will slap a lot of people in the face. Of course it would come out.

            I don’t feel like I’m terrified anymore. I just know it’s going to get messy because he denies stuff.. I would be exposing it all.

            We also own two houses free and clear with a decent amount of money put aside. I’m sure he would deny and deny! Pretty sure it’s over!

            • Stillhere, my ex left for schmoopie 1.0 when our kids were 2 & 4 years old. At first he said he was leaving for someone then denied it. He went to a couple of counseling sessions where he denied (counselor called bullshit to me and said there is always another in these situations).

              I took him back. Then found out there was a schmoopie and she had divorced her second husband for him. I guess the grass wasn’t greener so he begged to come back. Somewhere along CL & CN, I saw postings that the cheaters are trying on AP for size. Just because one doesn’t fit, doesn’t mean they are done. Whatever way they have of doing this, they still have. It’s a fatal flaw. He’s already shown you how much you mean to him with the financials.

              Mine found another schmoopie and he left again. I got my ducks in a row, filed, and am divorced. I changed the locks (he’s a cake eater and thinks this is still his home). I guess the grass isn’t greener again as he intermittently texts the shit out of me. Time, distance, no contact. Things become much clearer. Only you know what you can tolerate. I suspect you know he’s a shit as you are here with us.

        • Please don’t berate yourself. Your paralysis is completely understandable. I was there … yes, I saw the writing on the wall. Yet I felt stuck. There were so many layers of things to think about (because us Chumps actually consider the ramifications of our decisions — particularly their impact on our children). It was overwhelming for a very long time.

          I think this was my body’s way of absorbing what it could as it could. My paralysis was my core self protecting me from a complete breakdown. I just didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with it in one fell swoop.

          But, over time, the reality of what he had done — the reality of his lack of remorse — the reality of what I was modeling (inadvertently) to my kids — starting to seep through. Bit by bit. Until, the tide turned. Then, the pain of indecision became more than the pain of ending the marriage (and all that that entailed).

          You will get there. Along the way, remember to be gentle with yourself.

          • “I think this was my body’s way of absorbing what it could as it could. My paralysis was my core self protecting me from a complete breakdown.”

            YES. I experienced this myself — what, now in retrospect, appears to be riding the wave of denial for a few months. I needed time to really absorb, really process, really reason and think about what happened and what I was going to do about it. And I certainly see that situations like what Confused Chump and some of us here have experienced where our cheater doesn’t seem like a “real” cheater, horrible person, etc. can help to create this paralysis because a) we can’t even understand that this otherwise “decent” partner and/or father did what they did and b) we’re trying to figure out if in leaving them will we end up in a better situation than if we stay. People who are physically abused are scared to leave, roped back in by love bombing, etc., but there seems to be more of an underlying understanding that a partner who beats you is a bad person and needs to be left…much less defined than the “nice” cheater. Regardless of how our cheaters decide to reveal their true colors, we can’t be too hard on ourselves for missing/spackling things. We went into the marriage expecting one thing and are left raw/confused/scared by the exposed truth. Not to mention the complication brought on when children are involved. CC, Stillhere and many of us at one point or another, struggle for good reason.

            • I told him to leave last year. He wouldn’t because he’s never hit me. I decided I wouldn’t be the one to leave. Now, I think about it a lot and am making a back up plan. I am sure it will get nasty because I’m going to take money. The money he felt entitled to when he hid it all last year.

              Spent 10 months convincing me there was no affair. Even bought me a diamond heart necklace because he ” hearted me” all the while hiding the money. I don’t wear it anymore!

              I mean honestly, who hides forty thousand bucks and says they were going to leave by the self? Says not because of a woman. I say bullshit!!

              This after raising six great kids and having what I thought was a decent marriage. I’m just super pissed still. I am sure it’s over. Won’t give reasons but just know it.

              About to be married 35 years! What a shame!! Thanks for letting me vent! It’s my therapy!!

            • Sorry, just re-read my post, and I meant that it’s much less defined WITH the “nice” cheater. They tend to be shape-shifters.

              Stillhere, reasons can be that gut feeling too. Gut feelings are created via facts…even if you can’t put an exact name to it at the time. Sometimes the bullet point type reasons come out later. Even post-divorce, I feel like my own list keeps expanding (bullet points, sub-points…) In terms of sharing reasons with cheater, if you choose to do so, I’ve found it ends up being more therapeutic for you than enlightening for them. Clarity comes in time. What’s important is staying true to you. *Hugs*

          • Such truth JesssMom! This is precisely how I felt. I was paralyzed with indecision. Finally at the end, it felt good to actually make a decision and stick to it. Still hardest thing I’ve ever done, but worth every agonizing second.

        • The best way to start is to insist on a full accounting of all money and assets right now, using a forensic accountant. Pin down what you have at this moment and get written agreements for any major changes. Get a post-nuptial agreement dividing things fairly and indicating that any money he “hides” will come out of his share in a divorce. Write out how you would handle the two homes, retirement pay, etc. Get it in writing.

          Then ponder what a “good Christian man” would look like. I don’t think Jesus would be down with hiding money from a spouse or with cheating, lying and spewing anger. I think it was in Steven Covey’s book where he stopped to correct one of his kids when he was rude to his mother (Covey’s wife). He absolutely put a stop to that behavior. I think it’s in “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” one of my go-to books. Worth looking at. No parent should throw the other parent under the bus in front of the kids. In fact, one of the biggest, worst red flags is when one spouse/partner throws the other under the bus in front of anyone–a kid’s teacher, the plumber, the mother-in-law, golfing buddies, work friends. Whoever.

          I had a ingrained narrative about Jackass that went back 30 years. My belief that he was smart, funny, kind and caring would have been fine if it had been true. However, he wasn’t any of those things, although I can give him some credit for book smarts and the ability to play the role of devoted son in a public setting. Once I let go of my assumptions about who and what he is, I was able to start to heal.

          • Him throwing me under the bus in front of our kids was really the biggest red flag that something was seriously wrong. He had never done that in our 33 years of marriage. I never stopped him as I wanted to hear what was in his heart.

            It was pretty nasty at the time and it stunned our youngest three who live here. Of course he has groveled and apologized to me.

            All money is accounted for. Did I mention that for months before I discovered this….He put me off for sex big time. He was tired, we are getting older, and the list goes on. I actually believed him! Stupid me!

            He never ever has any problem now and he knows that was an issue for me but denies it. We are only in our 50’s.

            Did I also mention that he didn’t have Facebook but started getting these notifications on his phone for this other name and he kept saying he had no idea what that was about. After the money was shown and confessed last summer, he confessed to being the fake guy! I was livid. Of course he tells me he couldn’t get on there. Didn’t know how.

            Of course for about four months I wrote pm on that name. To her…. and yes, under my real page. I could see someone was reading them and at times would have his cell with me and someone was still reading them. I’m sure it was her.

            I’m thinking that might have been why after only two text message exchanges- initiated by her, that her husband would leave a message on my husbands cell phone telling my husband that I had been harassing her for 3 months. What? If you want to include the fake page, I suppose so but she couldn’t name that!

            I’m sure she made it sound so pathetic. Covering her tracks. Yes, I pretty much hate her.

            She has played mind games with me. I want to take her down too but would really rather my husband wasn’t killed by her crazy husband.geesh…

  • I may catch some flack for this opinion — I certainly do from my Mother. She says that I won’t let her have any hero’s — because I tell her “the rest of the story ” whenever she expresses admiration for a public figure — a military man, a politician, an actor, an author etc. I was raised by parents who tried very hard to convince me the people of the world were either good or evil. If you were good — you were good in all things, if evil, tainted in all things. Ergo — if I was to be a good girl, I should behave in all ways the “good” way (which miraculously corresponded with my parent’s opinions about what was good or acceptable). If I didn’t comply — I became bad, and might burn for all eternity in hell’s fires.

    Unfortunately for my parents, I found some of their “good” ways to be “bad”. We disagreed on the Viet Nam war, Nixon, politics in general, dating, and the definition of success — to mention but a few of our arguments. My rebellious attitude knew no bounds, according to them. Now that I am a grown woman, and have lived my life without publicly shaming them, or becoming incarcerated, and I don’t seem to reek of sulfur wherever I go, perhaps the Devil doesn’t own me. But I still have a few pesky “radical” opinions, according to them. Still not buying that “all good” argument.

    To me the “hero’s” are hero’s for one thing, maybe more, but not all things. A man could be a great military man, or great actor — whatever — but it doesn’t make him a great man. He has some good things about his character, and in all likelihood, some bad things. I don’t know anyone, including myself, who is perfect in every way. I judge myself and my friends (yes, I am guilty of rendering judgement) by the preponderance of actions. To me, the way you act, in private and in public, is the indicator of who you really are. Anyone can express a public opinion, or live a superficial life of apparent goodness, but privately not believe in any of it. I think there are many people who live a Fakebook Life, where they appear to be wonderful, but really — they are not.

    What this man has done in the military is not relevant to whether or not he is a good husband. Whether or not he has financially provided for his family is not evidence of his sexual fidelity. If he has cheated before, and repeatedly, that tells this woman all she needs to know about whether or not she can intimately trust this man — and whether or not his behavior is acceptable to her to continue to be married to him. I understand that marriage is not just one thing — that she has many emotional and financial considerations to weigh while she determines what to do with the rest of her life. Once again, Chumplady has cut to the chase — is it acceptable to her to continue to pretend to believe in the image this man projects? Is she tired of pick-me dancing? Does she want to retire and continue to live with someone who continues to look for opportunities to score some strange without having to pay any consequences ?
    When I finally asked myself that question, after all the study and marriage police actions, and weighing all my options, I decided that I didn’t want to waste another moment living with someone who had proven repeatedly that I could not trust him. I was over doing any dancing, I let the kids form their own opinions of what type of a person he was. I finally chose me, and decided that the quality of my life would be better without him.
    The jury is still out on whether I am “good” or “bad”. Personally, if I have to be all of one of them in order to truly fit in the category, I don’t see any way to accomplish that. So I decided to be good on some days, better on others, and when I’m bad I make sure I have a lot of fun to make up for it. You are welcome to form your own opinion.
    We find many ways to spackle and rationalize the actions of others, and we cannot see into most of the souls. But if we choose to continue to Dance with the Devil we know, we are certainly saying something about our own soul. That is what it comes down to — do we continue to dance, or do we prefer to go home alone.

  • Forgive me if I’m subscribing to a stereotype here, but aren’t people in the military “supposed” to live with honor and loyalty? I’m sure that isn’t meant to be applied to only one compartment of their lives. I’m not trying to bash him, but if you look at this behavior on a deeper level, is he really the man you describe?

    Doesnt the military despise infidelity? (I’m working from a social belief here, I have no intimate knowledge to go off of). If so, he not only dishonorned you, but dishonored the military
    as well. That doesn’t sound like the character of an honorable man.

    I am suspicious of anyone who has the ability to live their lives in compartments.
    Honor, loyalty and IMAGE on this side >>>>>>>lying, deceiving, character on that side.

    Character; The mental and moral qualities of an individual. What you see is his image. He tries to hide his character, but character inevitably leaks out into our lives somewhere.

    I eco what everyone else here has said from experience. I could have written your letter. Looking back at my posts on infidelity boards makes me sick to my stomach. I was convinced he wasn’t that person! No way! He had too many other qualities that were admirable! Here I am 6 years later, in the middle of an ugly divorce, to a guy that said he would NEVER screw me financially, I’m the mother of his children (yeah, and he doesn’t give a shit). He’s locked me out of the bank accounts, has spent the majority of our stock accounts, tells me I have to sell the family home (after he bought his house cash), took a lower paying position at work, and is dragging this divorce out in attempts to ruin my Financial future. It took me a long time to catch on, but if you listen, they tell you exactly what they are going to do.

    I won’t talk bad about you means… get ready for a smear campaign.
    I won’t screw you finacially means… I’m spending it all.
    I won’t put our kids in the middle means… I’m going to rewrite our kids childhood and spout my narrative to make you the villain.
    Pretty much if they start a conversation with “I won’t” you can bet they are telling you “I will be” doing x,y,z.

    Sadly, I also clung to the image he portrayed, even though he was showing me who he was. The biggest lesson I learned in all of this is… listen to actions, not to words. If everything about them was horrible, it would be an easy choice… but intermittent reinforcement is a powerful drug! I’m pretty sure a military man would know that.

    • Got a Brain

      “The biggest lesson I learned in all of this is… listen to actions, not to words. If everything about them was horrible, it would be an easy choice… but intermittent reinforcement is a powerful drug!’
      This is such good advice and so true! Thank you for sharing that

  • My serial cheater X was adept at the ‘family man’ image, too. In fact, during the height of his professor-fucking-students phase, he STARTED attending Back-to-school nights, middle school orchestra concerts, soccer games, when he had not done so before. Put both our names on the stock account, purchased new items for the house more often when I asked.

    Cheaters aren’t all stupid. They play on our mama/papa grizzly loyalty to Family. They know the bare minimum it will take to keep us roped in, and keep up the impression management and thereby maintain their convenient spouse appliance.

    Confused Chump–you’re in the midst of the maelstrom; you can’t fully assess how damaged you have become from all this mindfuckery, which includes his deliberately-orchestrated disconnect between his actions and his “good guy” persona. You have nothing to work with; serial cheaters are ALWAYS serial cheaters. They do not change, they just go further underground. It is not humanly possible at his age to change into a non-cheater, I promise you.

    You may be doing the cost-benefit analysis of Intact Family with pain of his cheating vs. Divorce, and tipping toward Intact Family, but I *guarantee* you will wake up someday in the future with further evidence of his continued cheating OR he will leave you in 10 years for one of his APs. Spend a week reading at least a year’s worth of CL comments and you’ll become convinced of your future. They don’t change. But YOU will change–you will become hypervigilant and anxious, you will have stress-related health ailments (I’m convinced my thyroid issues were sparked by the mindfuckery of the last 3 years of my marriage, when I knew something was ‘off’ but didn’t yet know why). You will become a fraction of yourself, and will develop a disconnect between your public & private selves.

    You cannot win in this situation. The damage is done; grab the life-raft (after you download all the financial information you need). Hugs.

    • Yes to the stress-related health ailments, I know they really happen. Breast cancer here, thankfully caught early and removed. The good news is, get away from the abuser, and love on yourself, and they may get better. Life has to feel better, when you’re not being fucked over by your partner!

      • FreeWoman–I’m glad your cancer was caught early and removed. And that you got rid of the 150 + lb. tumor in your life, too. Life is clearly better on the other side!

        • I absolutely believe that constant stress and abuse undermines our health.

        • I have not forgotten that after my 6th vulvar surgery for severe dysplasia exasshole said he was afraid to have sex because he thought he’d make me sick again. He knew where that shit was coming from. Perhaps a moment of honesty that at the time I dismissed, because I didn’t know.

    • Yes also to the health ailments. I had stomach problems throughout my entire marriage/relationship with X. Gone the day after he left. Just…. wow!

      • + 1000 to the ailments while leaving with the Traitor. Constant back pain, hip pains, 5 or more colds a year, headaches, lack of energy. Plus regular UTIs…
        I haven’t had a single cold since he left in May last year. No back pain, no hip pains, heaps more energy. And of course, not one UTI…
        Whore got one so bad during wreckonciliation, she had a kidney infection and almost ended up in hospital. Bwahaha!

    • My ex also turned into super-attentive father and partner when he visited every couple of weeks (we lived in different states) after he started up his affair. He brought me flowers for no reason, cooked dinners that he put in the freezer for work nights (since I was essentially a single mom most of the time), enthusiastically helped with home improvement projects, was loving and present with me…the works. Instead of raising red flags, this lulled me into believing that he had turned a corner and was back to being the man I fell in love with. After about a year of this, “we” were so happy that we got married (after a decade together and a child), I sold my house, quit my job, and moved across the country with him, only to be dropped on my ass for the OW mere weeks after moving.

      Often times the “great guy” behavior is a tool, not an innate characteristic of who they are as a spouse or as a person. Don’t be fooled. You already know he’s a serial cheater. There is your answer.

  • CC

    You described my life living with a serial cheating covert malignant narcissist exactly. Denial is as powerful as spackle is layered. It’s what you do in reaction to his performance. He is an actor doing just enough intermittently to maintain what he deems important, maintaining an outstanding image as he disrespects all that YOU value.

    My suggestion is to hire a private investigator to gather evidence. Solid evidence with pictures and data instead of getting a post nup. What you value is your family and children. You ARE living with one who will have to win. This means as a controlling prick he will create a narrative to destroy you and the relationship with your children. Count on it.

    Start putting away cash and documents in a safe seperate location. Get credit reports. Hire a forensic accountant and an attorneywith the expertise in getting his pension. Do not discuss anything with him.

    Getting solid evidence will not be difficult as long as he believes you are unaware.

    See a therapist who specializes in trauma.

    When you file the rage will be scary as hell. Get a support system in place. Make a plan.

  • I think this comes down to ingrained fear in standing up for ourselves. Growing up, we grow up told that something that hurts us is not a big deal, that someone “didn’t mean it,” that we should forgive and forget violations of our boundaries. Then we get married and we are told that we are “one” with our partner and that separation or divorce is a sin, that saving the marriage and the “intact family” is more important than standing up to forms of abuse.

    Someone who lies and gaslights and cheats is abusing trust and breaking the contract that should form the basis of the relationship. We’re not talking about eating the last piece of pie or leaving the toilet seat up or spending too much money on shoes. We’re not even talking about spending too time on the golf course or at the animal shelter rescuing cats. We’re talking about taking the ONE thing that is at the heart of marriage and giving it away: the agreement to be the only sexual and economic partner & the primary emotional and social partner (because we all get family and friends). So the chump keeps the agreement and the cheater does not. As CL puts it so clearly: “Cheating is about ENTITLEMENT. Cheating is a narcissistic act. People can cheat because they’re A-okay with getting what THEY want at the price of your well-being. They do the cost-benefit analysis, and fucking strange wins out. Over your mental and physical health. Over your family. Over your finances. Cheaters make unilateral decisions that serve THEM and suppress (or have zero) empathy for YOU. Suck it up, chump. Bring on the cake.”

    That’s abuse.

    • Exactly, LAJ. And this is why the false equivalencies from the cheater (and from other cheater-apologists) are so baffling. Honesty and Fidelity to your partner–emotional & sexual–is fundamental to the relationship. Whatever flaws a chump may have neither equate to, nor justify, rampant betrayal. Annoying habits that partners in a marriage have are equivalent to paper cuts; infidelity is ripping the heart out of a living person.

    • Brilliant, LAJ!

      Although I admit I might divorce somebody who consistently took the last piece of pie….

    • Yes, BRILLIANT! LAJ, you are one of my favorite commenters on here. Love this!

    • Wow. Perfection. That there I wish I could memorize and repeat to the MANY people who minimize cheating.

  • Try this. Get a spiral notebook and keep it in a convenient place but hidden. Now, start paying attention to you, your bodily sensations, your feelings, every time you interact with your husband. Be specific. When it happens, where you are, where he is, what he says, what he does. Write it down. We communicate mostly by body language. He is constantly reading you and you are reading him. All this is without being fully aware of it. Does he huff out a breath to silently let you know you have gotten on his nerves, said something “stupid” or forgotten to buy eggs? Does he roll his eyes? Is he sarcastic? Does he, oh so subtly, put you down in front of the kids and others? Do you constantly monitor yourself to make sure you are the “best” wife and mother you can be? Does your stomach often feel in knots? Is there a very faint underlying sadness in you? Do you feel like you are being petty if you bring up things he has said or done? Do you feel like you have to make excuses for normal things you do? Being manipulated is not straight forward. It is subtle and random. Write it all down. Narcissistics can be very good at glossing over their behaviors in such a way that you question your own mind. They have had practice from an early age. Your husband commanded people who could not question or disagree with him which fed his inflated sense of self worth. You are just the “little woman” and don’t deserve the accolades he does. Does that seem fair?

    • Give yourself a couple of weeks but write everything down. One issue per line. Even what you consider petty. There is a pattern but you are too close to see it. Chumps here are far enough away to see the patterns of their lives. They know your husband because they have been married to him or his female equivalent.

      • And don’t forget the smirk. That smirk is a true sign of contempt.

        • Confused, narcissistic traits are on a continuum. It only becomes a problem when they feel so entitled they dismiss your needs as piffle. Love that word. He is so good at keeping your focus on his charming face that you aren’t paying attention to what he is doing with his penis. He is a magician using sleight of hand to keep you confused……but I’ll bet your body isn’t. Headaches, knots in tummy, tense shoulders, clumsiness, forgetfulness are all symptoms of a person under stress. Once you get this all down on paper you will have a pretty good idea of how he is manipulating you. Good luck!

    • Excellent advice. One of the truly shocking things I realized (after the fact, of course), was how TENSE I was when STBX was around. I was not conscious of walking on eggshells … because I was the proverbial boiled frog.

      I didn’t recognize this until I saw STBX for the first time after the separation. Holy crap — nausea, migraine, shoulders in a knot. This caused me to look backwards at myself. Yep — it had been there all along.

  • Dear CC,

    I’m a reformed spackler. “Look at all his good points!” (while I minimized the lying, deception, and cheating).

    Sorry to say, but your husband has NOT changed. He lied about the text you received from his phone. All those “interesting possibilities” regarding how that could have happened: pure b.s. A good example of gaslighting. It’s OBVIOUS that he goofed and sent a text to you that was meant for Miss Thang, but he came up with all sorts of other wild ideas to redirect you. “It wasn’t at all what you were thinking – how silly of you!”

    And getting a new phone THE NEXT DAY? No good reason to get a new one? He’s HIDING something. He’s still trying to keep you in the dark. More deception.

    It’s sad, and I totally understand hanging on. You’ve invested so many years in this guy. But he’s eating cake and will give an Oscar worthy performance to make it look like he’s got a respectable life going on. (They are SUCH good actors, it’s scary!)

    I agree with the suggestions re post-nup and getting tested for STDs. But I would also suggest – you can say it’s to give you peace of mind – that you ask that HE get STD testing and give permission for the results to be sent directly to YOU. See how he reacts to that. If he’s all about comforting YOU, he’ll do it without hesitation. If he’s all about his own image management (and therefore, not caring deeply about making YOU feel better), he’ll balk.

    Best of luck, and big hugs!!

    • My XH the substance abuser (not a cheater, so far as I know) had many fine characteristics. He could be very kind and thoughtful. He mowed the elderly neighbor’s lawn. He rescued mice from the cats. He was talented and artistic. He was smart and creative. He could could like a dream. He would cut his arm off for his kid. But–brutally cruel and unkind to me. He said terrible things. Any concern I raised was met with the rage channel. Complained about the hours I worked but also wanted the $ from those hours. Made my friends feel subtly unwelcome. Was useless in a crisis and then resented my ability to solve the problem. By the end, never sober from the time I got home Friday to Monday morning.

      No one is perfect. And even the worst people have redeeming qualities. I knew a man once who was a terrible liar and cheater but who once as a child sat on a curb holding a dog that had been hit by a car, waiting for someone to stop and take them to the vet. There’s a heart in there somewhere. But he was also a nightmare as a partner. Some people have great qualities or are capable of great achievements but can’t stop looking to get the upper hand in relationships. Can’t stop the lying and cheating. Can’t control the addictions. Can’t stop backstabbing people to get business advantages. I admired a lot of John Edwards’s political positions but he revealed himself to be a liar with a double life and an entitled fuckwit.

    • Hopium4years

      Thank you. I’m so sad but I know these things are true.

  • Thank you Chump Lady. I needed this.

    CC – this is somewhat my story too. Then, 3 years ago (big DDAY#1, small ddays before but I didn’t realize until later) and somewhat before that, I started standing up for myself. The lying increased, the silent treatment increased, he started saying mean things in marriage counseling – because I wasn’t spackling anymore. I wanted answers, I wanted apologies, I wanted accountability. Then he just stopped treating me like he even hardly knew me. I didn’t cooperate any more. I didn’t treat him like he was a great guy. I still kept his secrets and pretended in public and in family – ugh.

    Now, we have lived in the house together for 3 years with our kids, in relative formal silence. I am still playing secretary because I manage the kids and the house, finances, etc, but we only small talk or talk about kids’ schedules, etc. It is maddening. He has manipulated me for years – and has rarely honestly apologized or acknowledged the hurt he has caused.

    I filed for divorce on May 26 – my kids are 9 and 11 and living in this ridiculous relationship between us- he completely ignored it. He drags his feet, hardly talks to me, and continues to act like the amazing family man. He is offended and fighting me because I didn’t offer 50/50 custody – as though he is going to magically become a 50/50 parent – it is all about his image, his finances, and him manipulating the situation to have total control and keep me down. The kids are amazing – they make him look good. He takes my 11-yr old son with him to many events in order to attract attention – even has left him with EA partners or APs and would say that they have a special friendship. I wish I had understood what was going on at the time – have shut that down now.

    So I am like you in that I let so much of this just happen in order to keep the peace, because I was in denial, because I like the image we had, because I thought if I changed it would get better – but I slowly watched my happiness disappear, gain weight, grow tired and weary from the life I was leading. It is not worth it!! We need to live in truth without showing our children that appearance and image rules. That women/moms deserve to live in the light, in peace, not walking on eggshells. You are mighty. You can do this Our children will respect us and learn that no one deserves to live that way. Best to you!

  • CC,

    My cheater is also military. We’ve been married 11 years so I haven’t spent as long institutionalized in the military system as you have. It is its own special mindfuck. In my experience, being a dependent comes with its own requirements for pick me dancing. That, coupled with an arrogant cheater, fucks up your view of your self-worth. You deserve more than you’re getting. By miles and miles. Please start interviewing attorneys. Be sure to grill them on their experience with military divorce and feel out whether they are truly sympathetic to dependents (some really aren’t–you know that while hero worship of the armed forces? That can work against you).

    Read here. Read everything. It takes a long time to really see through the bullshit you’ve accepted as normal. I found my cheater’s Ashley Madison page a year ago. I started reading here and looking at other sites that posters here recommend and have been faced with revelation after revelation about how awful his behavior really was. I suspect you will have a similar experience. Nevertheless, quietly get your ducks in a row. Don’t let on that this is what you are doing until you have a solid plan. If he is entitled enough to cheat on you for years, he’s entitled enough to think you deserve nothing and to try to screw you over in your divorce. Start denying him the upper hand. From today forward. You can do this. You deserve more.

  • Hi “Confused Chump” I hope you see that he has YOU exactly where he wants you … Confused.

    I finally took my head out of the sand at year 31. Been divorced almost 2 now and it literally sickens me to think I wasted decades praising his worth and him degrading mine. I convinced my self (against my gut and numerous DDays) that he was a great dad, good provider blah blah blah. He had trained me so well to keep him on the pedestal and image management was always top of his list. With the kids grown , him retired and me “confused” still I started really listening to his actions. It didn’t take long to see most shit was right under my nose, I just didn’t want to step on that landmine. BUT I did, knowing what I put up with the first 30 years I knew the power was in ME to decide what my next 30 years would be.

    Once I was no longer his prop to hide behind and I exposed him to kids, family friends etc. he totally lost his shit. My Xh was a cop and like the military dudes out there, people expect them to be loyal and honest bc they uphold laws, protect us, they have command presence and nobody questions their integrity. When I learned he had actually had affairs with AP he met on calls, on the streets, strip clubs, bars etc. I was sick. AND so much more that I will never know bc I cared until I didnt anymore. He played a good Jesus cheater too. The amount of energy he spent in our 31 yr marriage compartmentalizing his life was simply exhausting.

    Im 60, I live on half his retirement, (not much bc he retired early) but Im OK. His mind fucking, gas lighting, lying, cheating, betraying, blowing up the family, disrespecting me is GONE. Divorce was horrendous!! I know why I stayed, I loved our family, I didn’t want to believe he was a rotten as he was and its not easy being divorced at this age (or any age). Trust that they SUCK and one day you may have the courage to put you first, and see him for who he really is! Focusing on only ME is awesome.

    I’ve rediscovered a strength that I knew long before I allowed his needs to reduce my own to nothing!

  • ONE more thing ……. “He IS like all the others”. You can take that to the bank

  • Either you can live with it, or you can’t. He is a cheater, this is known. All you can do is accept it and stay or don’t accept it and leave. These are your only options.

    Some people can accept being a spouse appliance and sacrificing themselves for the sake of their children’s intact family unit and perceived financial stability.

    • But here’s the thing, you can’t trust him. If you stay, protect yourself. Make the finances your business. Covertly start saving in a “fuck you” account. Prepare for the worst, be prepared for when he leaves you. It can’t hurt to be prepared.

      • Yeah. This is true. Just because YOU want to stay a family doesn’t mean HE does. And this site is riddled with tales of husbands who serial cheat for decades and then, TA-DAH!!!, they up and pull a disappearing act, leaving their spouse in the lurch. So, if you stay? Be prepared, just in case he comes home one day and tells you he has met “the one” and is outta there so fast it’ll make your head spin.

        • NWBiblio, this is something many chumps overlook. What’s to prevent the cheater, once the kids are out of college, from just leaving for the next young Schmoopie to come along? They stick around until the kids are out of the house and then trade in the old wife appliance, like someone on House Hunters who looks at a completely fine kitchen and says it needs a “total gut job.” If they’re staying “for the kids,” they might be leaving after the kids.

          • Precisely. We had no kids, so I got gutted as soon as the right Schmoopie came along. Fortunately, I am a “save your pennies for a rainy day” sorta person, so, though I was sobbing my eyes out, at least I had a boat, a raincoat and some damn good galoshes.

  • Sometimes I wonder if we chumps don’t seek “cake” of our own. Confused Chump, I think you sort of want it both ways. You want to continue to live with a known serial cheater, with your head in the sand, but you want to come here and have us validate that, no, your husband is DIFFERENT!

    I think you have two choices: You can either sit tight in your marriage, accepting that your husband is a cheater but you have chosen to remain with him, waiting for that random text message any time now (and the pain that comes with it… but maybe it won’t be so painful, because you already know). Or you can man up and leave. It’s hard, there’s no denying that’s true. Only you can decide if you want a challenging life of dignity and authenticity, or the continued false-comfort of delusion and deceit (and disrespect, and STDs, and … and… and….). The choice is yours. But your husband hasn’t stopped cheating just because you can’t catch him at it.

    • Yes!!!!!

      I can empathize with wanting a little cake, but sometimes we have to eat our truth vegetables. :-\

    • Boom. You said it. “I know he cheated but I don’t have proof and he’s really a great father and….”

    • Bingo NWB! I wanted my cake too, so I refused to see red flags everywhere, especially at the start, wearing the love/lust goggles. Then I spackled out of loyalty and commitment. I agree with you this self-deception was my chump cake…

      • Well, I think we all want cake, right? I mean .. fuck, it’s CAKE! I LOVE cake!! (and pie, and cookies, … I digress) And it’s hard to face the cold hard truth — again, there’s a reason it’s “cold hard” truth, not “warm fuzzy” truth. Who wants to snuggle up to THAT? Yuck/Ouch.

        I guess since Dday I’ve just come to realization that there are more “Variations on Marriage” than I’d previously realized. Some people are in “happy” marriages because their spouse cheats and their partner is “okay” with it. My boss is like this, and I’m beginning to think my sister is, too (she’s 63 and is really unable to be alone, without a partner), though I am not yet ready to face up to that particular cold hard truth about my own sister, so I have stuck MY head in the sand and not asked her about it, because I want to preserve THAT relationship….

        So, y’know, Confused, make your own choices. Turn a blind eye if you feel it’s in your overall best interest to stay with someone who lies to you all the time. That’s your choice, and you’re free to make it. — But to come to THIS particular website looking for comfort from a bunch of people who were lied to, repeatedly, and who ultimately CHOSE to have some self-respect and painfullly carve away the cancer of deceit from their lives, well, it’s unlikely to be found here. Try a wreckonciliation site instead, perhaps.

  • Dear Confused,
    I know it’s a tough decision. My marriage was exactly like yours (just different career) when our kids were growing up, and yes, there were still some very good times between us even after some of the DDays / spackling. Yes, at least my kids got to grow up and go off to college, so even now I can’t 100% say I regret my decision to stay with him till now. But in my own case what happened over time is that my STBX’s comfort level with basic dishonesty increased, to the point where not only did he cheat at marriage, but this also started in other parts of his life (ethics, taxes, etc.). Like, a narcissist morphed into a maybe-sociopath. Not saying this happens to everyone; it probably doesn’t. But another thing to keep in mind about why you might be better off to get out now.

    • For sure we see over and over that emotional/sexual infidelity often leads to financial infidelity. And if not, the long knives come out once the divorce starts and he or she won’t divide assets.

  • We were all Confused Chump at one time or another. Mine was like this too; he was a “nice guy.” I only ever saw that veneer slip once or twice, and only in extremis. It’s part of the mindfuckery. But all the while doing things that are far from nice. Getting a new phone (that is CRAZY btw), gaslighting you for confronting him about it (I’m sorry but texts do not, in any universe, get magically transmitted from someone else’s, to his, to yours). Also, this guy is a confirmed cheater. Honestly you’ve got very little to work with here. My guess: He’s got a burner phone, and clears his Internet history. Probably also has email accounts you don’t know about. Colonels are not stupid people, they understand subterfuge, they’re trained in it. There are also different kinds of narcissists, and it exists on a spectrum. The really smart narcs are “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” which I suspect is Confused Chump’s husband to a T. In my opinion they are the sickest, because their actions are the most covert. They truly enjoy duping people. CC, please get out while you can!

    • Yup-burner phones and using the library computer to correspond and check e-mails. I have walked behind men,and women, wearing wedding bands while looking at dating sites at the library !

  • Ex and I were together 9 years, married 2. He was a Navy Seal (talk about ego). I thought we were this perfect couple. He’d send flowers whenever, buy me gifts for no reason, stop by my job for lunch to surprise me. Told me all the time how lucky he was to be with me. People always told me how lucky I was and how amazing he was. When confronted with cheating evidence he changed, became mean and vindictive. He took all the money, left me at home broke with a 10 month old. Once I saw the real him, he wanted me to pack up my car and leave. He said he’d send my things later and along with any money he felt I needed (I wasn’t working). Basically once I saw behind the mask he wanted me to leave quickly and quietly.
    Several years later and a great therapist, I saw all the little signs and clues that had been present in our 9 years together. I think if you look you’ll see evidence he is a disordered narc. Years later the little things I swept under the rug are huge red flags.

    • Oh wow, I’m so sorry this happened. I can’t believe he would leave you at home broke with a 10 month old!! That is so cruel.

      May I ask that you share the signs and clues present during your 9 years together? I too don’t see signs usually and am trying to get better at spotting them. Thank you. If you can’t share, then that’s fine too. Hugs.

      • He was always very flirty, when I complained he accused me of being jealous and would then tell me how much he loved me ( I’d never cheat on you babe!). He had lots of female friends and hardly any male friends ( he said he didn’t have male friends because he was afraid they would hit on me!) When I met the female friends they almost always hated me. Ex blamed me (you were a bitch to them!). He was always the victim, all past relationships he was cheated on, job situations where he was fired he Was the victim.
        I was always the responsible one with money and adult responsibilities. He liked to play big spender with the money when we were living paycheck to paycheck.

        • Thank you so much for sharing! This is very helpful for me. I just dealt with a guy like this, where he had tons of female friends and hardly any male friends. I thought it was so weird. He disappeared and then I saw him adding tons of women on Facebook. Now, I know it’s a blessing he disappeared. Sounds like your ex-husband never grew up emotionally, neither did this guy who disappeared. You have helped me. Thank you.

  • Dear Confused,
    I was also married 28 years, and I was clueless to what was going on. I am 2 years out and I can tell you that the advice here is golden. Listen to it and try Chumplady’s advice to confirm if he has changed. I am guessing you will get your answer as he tries to accuse you and place the blame on you for causing problems.
    I am just starting to understand that my X sucks, but I had to trust that for these last 2 years because I also felt like he was such a great family man who treated me well. (except for… inert list here… what was I thinking?) This might take a lot of time. It did for me. My grown kids still adore him. He is that good at impression management, yet it is all just an act. I am hoping one day they will also see that he sucks.
    Here are three scenarios I can foresee if you maintain the status quo: I list these from first hand experience. They are devastating.
    1) You get sick. See how long he sticks around. You don’t have to read here very long to see how many chumps were left when they were fighting health issues.
    2) Your youngest child finally leaves the nest and he figures this is good time to abandon the family.
    3) You want to do all you can to hold the family together so you won’t be the bad guy. But if he abandons you when he finds that woman he chooses to leave you for, it will hurt like hell. Then he and the kids and others will wish you would just get over it to hold up the “family” (or the impression of it – “we still all get along”). “If only you would cooperate. This whole mess is because you won’t accept it and be OK with Dad’s happiness” I wish I had been the one to walk away instead. I may have looked like the bad guy, but I was abandoned and I still look like the bad guy.
    Good luck, Confused. I am so sorry that your illusion is not true. That is a horrible place to be.

    • Kluless, your three scenarios are right on point. And while you wait, he can manipulate money and public opinion so that you are left at a terrible disadvantage.

      It’s so important for chumps to see that cheating is based on maintaining advantage over the chump. The cheater knows what you don’t know. The cheater has what you don’t have (an AP; money to spend on the affair; a faithful partner in you; time away from the family to pursue the affair, while you take care of stuff at home because someone has to). So to tolerate the cheating or to turn a blind eye to it is to normalize the situation where you are at a deep disadvantage in your own marriage.

    • In my case, he waited until 2 days before our youngest was in kindergarten full time.

      Wasn’t he just a great fella to take into consideration saving the daycare expense, so he didn’t have to shell out for it?

  • So your husband has cheated on you, twice at that. I’m sincerely sorry this has happened. Even if he doesn’t have a personality disorder, the end has begun. In that, once a man cheats on you, it’s just a matter of time before they leave you for good. The countdown has begun and now, you need to get yourself in protection mode from him. You need to line up your ducks and your finances, for when (not IF) he leaves you for good. Ask all the wives you had DDays, numberous ones, and they can attest it’s just a matter of time before their husbands left for good. The clock is ticking and your marriage days are numbered… Please please please at least look out for yourself. He sure won’t!

    • Yes, they will eventually leave anyway. They all have their own reasons, but some will stay simply over guilt for the children. So, they will continue to have affair after affair, trying to cope with the feelings (or lack thereof) they they do not have towards their spouse. But eventually, the children will be grown and gone, and at that point, they will finally leave. Save your sanity, save your dignity, and allow yourself to have a true genuine life, not a lie that you tell yourself in order to stay.

  • CL is right, is this acceptable to you? Will you grow old feeling content and safe with your husband as he is, a serial cheater you are afraid to confront because you might lose him? He’s what CL calls a Timid Forest Creature.
    If walking on eggshells is ok for your future, your senior years when the kids are grown up, when the grandchildren visit, that’s your choice. But please go into it with you eyes wide open. And he still might leave anyway.
    What really gets to me reading your letter, Confused, and reading all the RIC propaganda, is that ordinary honest and loyal people have been conditioned to accept a situation where they fear,
    demanding monogamy and loyalty in a relationship based on monogamy and loyalty. This is the foundation of marriage; the first step towards it when we are dating is dating exclusively. We are afraid to demand the basics!! And if/when we do demand our basic entitlement, we’re vilified and ridiculed. Then the cheaters and the law punish us.

    • Sorry, terrible punctuation etc. Need another breakfast coffee, did 2 night shifts…

    • He still might leave anyway is exactly right. I pick me danced for 8 years after sTBX ended the emotional affair (I thought his ending it before it went physical meant he loved me) so he wouldn’t ever have a real affair (as I defined it at the time). Not only did he have two PAs anyway, he left me for slut number 2 anyway. All that pick me dancing and he told me he didn’t feel loved. He never even noticed my dancing.

      Confused Chump: Get out now and save your dignity

    • KiwiChump

      ‘What really gets to me reading your letter, Confused, and reading all the RIC propaganda, is that ordinary honest and loyal people have been conditioned to accept a situation where they fear,
      demanding monogamy and loyalty in a relationship based on monogamy and loyalty’

      This really makes me think! It is crazy but true! How does this happen?

  • CL is right — GET OUT AND GAIN A LIFE!!! The longer he is operating under the radar, the longer he has to hide money and mind fuck you and your family. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: the older a cheater (subsitute narcissist, entitled, etc.) the worse their behavior becomes and the more those around them suffer.

  • CC, my X was retired military. He was also a fantastic father, helpful in the kitchen, always sweet and loving and attentive. I couldn’t say he was text book NPD or a narc either. Not until I find out this wonderful person has been fucking around for almost a year that I know of.

    That’s the mind-fuck. We never fought, had a fantastic sex life, he always professed to be so happy. But if a spouse can be one person while in my sight, and a completely different one when I’m not around, that’s some kind of personality glitch. They don’t have to be raving lunatics like some in CN had to put up with. These people will still, slowly crush your soul. You won’t even notice all the weird stuff about them until you box their shit and get some time apart from them to think clearly.

    Speaking of time apart, it turned out that besides that last affair, there were others. I just hadnt found out about them. Smh . . .

    • Wow Rumblekitty!!! This times 1,000!!!! You stated so well the core of the problem. If they can be one way when with us but someone TOTALLY different when out of our site there is something very very wrong with them that should not be overlooked. In fact, it should terrify us.

  • I try to imagine how I’d have to change in order to behave the way my ex did. And that’s when the spackle drops off and I realize what he is. I’d have to remove the little ethics chip in my head that tells me the difference between right and wrong and guides my actions. I’d have to lie to the person who is the most important and long-term relationship in my life – every single day. I’ve have to be completely incapable of feeling guilt. And that’s when I realize how shallow all of his apparent good qualities are, how ungrounded, how fake.

    • Chomping Chump

      This post has me sobbing … you are right. When I hear it put this way, it is suddenly clear.
      Thank you for posting that…

  • Rumblekitty- you describe my ex. It is this weird ability to walk out of the door and become a different person. Total compartmentalisation.
    Their lives are lots of little boxes with different individuals in each.
    Now I have trashed one of his boxes my ex hates me. Really hates me.
    No guilt, no remorse, just hate. Truly odd.
    Its weird.

  • Confused Chump, why do you need a diagnosis? Why do you need validation that your husband is not like any other cheaters? You say you knew all along he was cheating on you and you swept it because in all other ways he was fine. So why now do you give a shit? Have you realized that if you truly need him he will be gone? What is driving your fear now? Or are you realizing time is running out and you have not had a life well lived, a life well loved? What do you want? Is it time to decide what you truly need before you are gone from the earth? I don’t mean to get all existential on you but the letter you wrote reads like someone asking, is it OK to live like this and OK to just continue to be unhappy till the day I die? Maybe I’m missing something.

    Jedi Hugs!

    • Datdamwuf

      I don’t know if I can respond after this thread already ran but I just saw your reply and wanted to respond… I think you are right and how sick is that? Just tells me how deeply I’ve let myself get in this mess. I think I am coming out of it and appreciate all of the things I read on here. Your reply gave me a lot to think about. Thank you.

      • Yep, you can post later, I came back to see if you did. Glad you came here CC, you aren’t sick, denying yourself and your own needs is not that unusual, especially when betrayal is new and hitting you hard. I hope you will find a good therapist to help you figure things out. There is also a forum on CL where people help each other, up at the top you can sign up. I’m not on that much these days but there are many good people who can talk with you there. I think maybe it’s time to ask ‘is this all there is?’ and decide if want more, to go get it. Jedi Hugs! It’s scary but worth it.

  • Question Chump Nation: How long between DD#1 and #2, and #2 and #3, if it got that far for you?

    • 5 months between Dday1 and Dday2. 5 months between Dday2 and divorce.

    • The Limited was always looking. I noted cycles early on and didn’t know about the 3,phases of a narcissistic relationship. He was addicted to the infatuation stage.

      Serial cheaters aren’t particular as they are opportunistic predators. Dday’s do not necessarily equal the number of sluts they hooked up with.

      • Dday #1 was 7/31/13. That was me finding out he was cheating with an old girlfriend he’d actually cheated on his first wife with 38 years before. Dday #2 was 2 weeks later when I discovered another affair that had been going on our entire 11 year marriage (a mutual friend). Dday #3 was a week later when I discovered Ms 11year’s 17 year old daughter had been sending nude pics to him for months. Dday #4 was the next day when I discovered he’d started another affair with a neighbor 2 houses down. Dday #5 was almost 4 years later when a woman contacted me to tell me he was cheating with her during the year we dated. Ugh. I’m divorced and no contact now.

  • Early on in the cycle, chumps all hope their cheater is a unicorn. Most of them find that if their cheater is a unicorn, it’s just so that the cheater unicorn can shove that horn up the chump’s ass.

    As always, we give support, and we have their back. But we’re getting tired of the slightly different flavors of the same story over and over again.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.

  • “Sometimes I wonder if we chumps don’t seek “cake” of our own. Confused Chump, I think you sort of want it both ways. You want to continue to live with a known serial cheater, with your head in the sand, but you want to come here and have us validate that, no, your husband is DIFFERENT!”

    Guilty as charged. I think we have all been there as part of the cycle, as aeronaut points out.

    I personally will never forget my industrial-grade spackling over on Baggage Reclaim when I thought the ex and I were ‘friends’, in this beautiful, trusting, once-in-a-lifetime friendship that made us Very Special Snowflakes Indeed.

    I was not like those other saddoes out there who were trapped in the Relationship That Wouldn’t Die. No, not me.

    Actually I was hanging on to the completely fossilised relationship like grim death, and was living on crumbs, dying inside, and spackling, spackling, spackling.

    Thank God he left me for the OW a year or so later. By that stage I was so over him that I burst out laughing and felt like I’d lost 110kg in unwanted weight. Which I had. It was the most tremendous relief.

    No Contact took care of the rest.

  • Chump Nation

    I work all day so I only got to read these wonderful posts tonight. I’m sorry it is so late but I wanted to say many thanks for all of the posts, responses, wisdom and support. I have a feeling I will be living here on this site for a while. And Chump Lady, thank you so much for listening to my story and replying in the way you do best, I know I needed to hear it.

    Confused Chump (CC)

  • Is there anyone on CN who has been successful at rebuilding a relationship? Preferably would like to know of many many years of successful rebuild – I know the can pretend for a short time.

    • I’ve read of wreckonciliations lasting several years, we’re talking 7-10-15 years or so.
      They will get better at pretending and hiding and that’s just a fact. So if they want to continue, they know how to do that by going deeper underground. Some may even see that as a challenge and get motivated to snow the chump further (sick and twisted).

      What I like to point out is that if you are with a cheater, you are with an abuser, you’re just not accostumed to seeing it that way. Abusers may not cheat, as not all do, or may decide to stop. But the abusive mentality will live on and that’s cause for concern, regardless of cheating.

      Abusers are also addicted to abuse and while they may believe they need to stop their behavior and may even do so successfully for a while, the entitled thinking returns and leads to disaster, whether through cheating, lies, financial abuse, etc. They will find a way. Reformed thinking is possible, but very difficult to acquire because they never think there’s anything so wrong with what they did, they justify it away, they don’t make amends and if they treat you nicely, it’s not in a “I see you and respect you” way, but more in a “china doll on a shelf” way. It’s supposed to reflect well on them, they do it for selfish reasons. Your gut knows if what you’re seeing is true remorse or not, you just need to trust it. But even true remorse is not a guarantee they will be capable of turning around. CL also has a column dedicated to that!

    • I would like to add, my cheater had been supposedly clear of offensive behavior for 2 years when I decided to leave. Simply because he’d kept lying and trying to cover up what had happened before the last D-Day. So even if he had stopped flirting with coworkers (and I’ll never know for sure), he was still trying to one-up me and control me and silence me every possible way. He also proposed during that time, and that goes to show how “the sanctity of marriage” means peanuts to them.

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