Prior to finding your site, and just after D-Day in 2012, I was an active member on another infidelity site. Fortunately many members were very helpful in making me “see the light” and urging me to divorce. The “reconciliation industrial complex (RIC)” members in my case were few. In any case, like so many others just after D-Day, I was in serious denial and was desperate to save my family at any cost, so I danced hard as my XW continued her affair in my face. I lasted for eight months before I finally filed. When I did (I think she was stunned and furious that I actually finally followed through with my threats) she promptly moved in with her affair partner, with our then 5 and 8 year old. All hell broke loose as they did not adjust well to a “new dad” thrust upon them. It didn’t matter to my XW. Her needs were paramount. It was heartbreaking.
Most of my story is “by the book”:
Once she was caught, she begged and pleaded not to divorce her, assuring me she would stop immediately, get therapy… I backed off, she moved out to “find herself,” and continued the affair. I slowly died inside as my life and family were abruptly torn apart.
Blameshifting, marital rewrite, vague allegations of abuse — of her and of our children.
Highly acrimonious divorce. I’ve essentially gone broke. But in the end, she paid spousal support and she pays child support. I’ve got a good job.
I’ll stop there with the background. Suffice to say, it was the single most horrific five years of my life–from D-day to separation to divorce to non-existent co-parenting, to battling the AP, who has been her Svengali and financer of her legal bills and writer of her nasty Emails.
But: Things eventually, rather surprisingly, simmered down. In the last year or so, we have gotten along. We can chat about the kids, the kids see that we get along, and they are finally okay as well — even though they have wanted nothing more than for their mother to leave the AP (a true scumbag, even if he weren’t a co-conspirator with my XW in the destruction of a family). So I’m finally pretty recuperated. My search for a new partner has been fruitless, but I’m finally okay with that too. I’ve let go of most of my anger — not to be confused with forgiveness — and I’ve got this single dad thing down. I’ve come out the other end.
Here is what has recently happened — and again, no shock. I always predicted this would happen, and of course this too is part of the Cheater’s Handbook. Unicorn Land has broken down — AP has turned out to be a flop — and she wants me back. Crying, apologies, on and on. I won’t go into all the details, because they do fall into the category of Cliche and the scenes that have transpired are lifted verbatim from the “Soulmate Shmoopie” videos.
Do I want her back? A “soft no.” I loved her. I miss the parts I fell in love with. I miss and have missed my family deeply. I know my children want nothing more than for us to be a family again. We had a good life. I miss it. I am human.
At this point you are probably gearing up to tell me what I already know: don’t do it. This is just her looking for a soft place to land since her “thing” has run its course with the AP. Kibbles and more kibbles. And you are right.
But here is where I will tell you why my “no” is only a “soft” no and why my story has a twist. It’s not an unheard of twist, and indeed you have addressed it here and there on your site.
Six years ago — around a year before D-Day — we started exploring polyamory. We agreed that she could fool around with another guy, and eventually we would have a threesome. To make a long story short, she promptly broke every rule, fell for this guy who became the AP, and thus commenced all the usual cliches: double life, funneling her paycheck into a secret bank account… Just total cake-eating.
Why did we embark on this? We really did have a good marriage. I’ve gone over it for years in therapy and on my own, and even though I can conduct all manner of psychoanlytical analyses of the “why’s,” it really comes down to: it turned us on. So we tried it.
So: there is the rub. I still blame myself 50% for going down that path. I feel terribly guilty for my part in encouraging her. We played with fire. I played with fire. It was vain, foolish. Even when I post to Chumplady, it was with no small amount of guilt, for I fear that if the other members knew my “twist,” I would be run out of town on a rail. This is what happened at the other site: most members ostracized me, essentially accusing me of helping bring about the affair. I don’t blame them, frankly.
To be clear: I am not totally conflicted. I know now that she has a horrific dark side. I have left out many of the terrible specifics of what she did, involving the utter emotional abuse of not only me but of our young children. YET and BUT: there is an ember of hope — hopium, I suppose — that we can begin a new life. And if it doesn’t work out, I know I will be okay.
BUT and YET: Even if she HAS changed, even if she DOES become the ideal partner — loving, assuring, selfless, remorseful in deed and word — I don’t think I could live with myself. The damage is so profound and deep.
When I was on the other infidelity site, another member wrote me a very kind private message. She told me that her ex-husband had finally come back and that she had taken him back. They had been back together for years. And indeed he had consistently shown himself to be a changed man–the ideal husband in every way. But, she said, it didn’t matter. SHE had changed. She no longer loved him. His betrayal, his emotional abuse from years before, had taken their toll, and she was deeply unhappy. She warned me that if someday in the future my XW did the same? Resist, and run the other way. Don’t be her. I’ve never forgotten that letter.
What do you think?
Let’s say I lost my arm in a combine harvester. Once fed through the thresher, there wasn’t much arm left. Just some ragged bone and sinew, and a loss of blood that nearly killed me. But hey, I survived. I miss my arm deeply. It was a good arm. I’m human.
Oh, I forgot to mention, it wasn’t a farming accident. Um, my ex shoved my arm through a combine harvester.
I think she’s changed — should I take her back?
David, ARE YOU INSANE?!
You don’t have a relationship anymore. That arm is GONE. You’re having ghost limb pains. There is no loving wife. There is a bloody stump. You’re missing what doesn’t exist. You don’t get your whole arm back, sorry.
I know you want to wish and hope and believe otherwise. (Bargaining stage of grief, we’ve all been there.) But let’s attack that spackle and hopium, beginning with the Other Man. Dude, he’s not Svengali — he doesn’t have your ex-wife under a spell. He’s douchebag who fucks married women, got one 24/7, and bailed. Which makes him a dead average douchebag.
Your ex, on the other hand, is a selfish, vindictive, manipulative con. This has absolutely zero to do with polyamory (or the Affair Partner As Wiley Predator) and everything to do with her character.
Let’s review the whole Polyamorists Can’t Be Betrayed fallacy AGAIN. (Similar to the Monogamy Is The Real Problem That Makes People Cheat fallacy)…
You and your wife decided together to open up your marriage. Joint decision. Consensus. There were rules. Discussions. She broke those rules.
she promptly broke every rule, fell for this guy who became the AP, and thus commenced all the usual cliches: double life, funneling her paycheck into a secret bank account… Just total cake-eating.
Breaking agreed upon rules to benefit one’s self — whether it’s a monogamous set of rules or a polyamorist set of rules — is a CHARACTER problem. NOT a sex problem.
You thought she would honor her word and her commitment to you — she did not. That’s on HER. Not your decision to explore kink.
Unicorn Land has broken down — AP has turned out to be a flop — and she wants me back. Crying, apologies, on and on.
Don’t put your other arm in that combine harvester. Are you mad?
Quit being an idiot and stop talking with her. If you had boundaries, David, there would be NO crying, apologies, or “on and on” because you’d shut that shit down. I know it’s nice to be Right. Who doesn’t enjoy the validation that comes when the Schmoopies crash and burn? But if you truly trusted that she sucks, you wouldn’t care. You’d shrug. She sucks. She has crap life skills. Either she finds a new host and clings tightly, or her host escapes and she starts the chump search all over. It’s What She Does.
WAKE UP. She’s looking for a new sucker and has set her sights on you. Because she senses that you’re EASY and can be manipulated with intact family warm fuzzies. I promise you, you aren’t the only prospect on her roster. Refuse to be Fall Back Guy. Don’t model that shit to your children! And certainly don’t put them through another reconciliation and break up. Steady on, man.
You know taking her back ends badly. And I suspect dozens of chumps today will tell you they did exactly what you long to do — they took the cheater back. And how did that turn out, CN?
David — trust that she sucks. And for the love of God get some parenting software and quit talking to her. Walk away from the drama.