It’s trotted out when the chump is looking for an explanation as to why their family life just blew up.
Well DUH. “I haven’t been happy for a long time!”
This statement presupposes a number of things:
A) That the cheater’s happiness is the most important thing (and is a valid answer to the Why Did You Commit This Horrible Betrayal?)
B) That they’ve silently suffered for a long time and gee whiz, isn’t it time AT LAST! that they experience some true happiness?
C) How could you be so dumb that you never noticed how unhappy they were? Heck, how could you not notice how unhappy YOU were until they pointed it out? (WE haven’t been happy for a long time.)
This sends the chump into apoplexies of self reflection. Well, yes, I am sometimes unhappy, but it passes. Or… hang on, how could I have missed my spouse’s cosmic misery? Apparently it was long and went on for EONS. Am I just that insensitive?
Of course you have no way of challenging this “I haven’t been happy for a long time” statement because you are not in their heads. You have no idea what they feel. So if you say, “BUT YOU LOOKED HAPPY. You had kids with me! We went snorkeling in Barbados! You drank the coffee I brought to you every morning! You said you LOVED your birthday slippers!” The cheater can just say, “Nope. I wasn’t happy.”
But you looked happy. Happy enough anyway.
“No, I was full of sorrow. Every minute. My life was a burden of grief and misery. At night I used to gnaw at the invisible chains that kept me tethered to you.”
So chumps, how are you supposed to interpret this “I haven’t been happy for a long time” crap? Here’s a few ways to look at it:
1.) Take them at their word. Okay, you’ve been a miserable sod for decades. You, cheater, are responsible for addressing the things that make you unhappy and adjusting your life accordingly. While as a loving spouse I want to support you, if your needs are not communicated to me, there is jack shit I can do to help you.
2) Don’t accept responsibility. If the cheater was so unhappy in the marriage, they had ethical ways to go about ending their marriage — beginning with trying to save it first. Or getting out honestly before they told all their “troubles” to a sympathetic fuckbuddy.
3) They’re bullshitting you. Cake is delicious. They were probably perfectly happy with you and the services you provided — paycheck, child-rearing, air of respectability. It wasn’t until they were busted at D-Day that their Great Unhappiness was revealed. Blameshifting their “unhappiness” on to you is an invitation to do the pick me dance. Oh, you’re unhappy? How can I make you happy? I can control that! I can WIN your happiness! Let me TRY HARDER!
And guess what, they’re probably pulling the same shit on the affair partner. Oh, my marriage makes me so unhappy, but I must stay for the children! I am a noble slave to convention! Woe! And the affair partner goes, I will PROVE to you that I can make you happy! I can control your destiny! I can WIN!
Cake, cake, wonderful cake.
This column ran previously.