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.
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.