Here’s some one-size-fits-all cheater bullshit for you — “Our marriage was already over.” Cheaters say it to affair partners, “We’re all but divorced!” “We’re separated!” “Just roommates!” And cheaters say it to their spouses when they’re discovered cheating. Our marriage was already over.
Well, yes, yes it was when you fucked that other person. But did chumpy you get that memo?
Hey, they gave themselves a mental divorce! Had a few concentrated thoughts about it, and shazzam! Legal and ethical responsibility ended!
Why do cheaters say this?
a) To duck responsibility. It’s blameshifting — weren’t you aware the rules had changed? You’re not very observant, are you?
b) To goad you into the pick me dance. They didn’t tell you it was Over because they wanted to perpetuate cake. It’s too bad you know, but perhaps this crisis will provoke you to try harder to win them back. Kibbles, kibbles, kibbles.
c) Actual divorce is hard work. Hard work sucks. They’re going to boldly strike off after that new life. You can clean up the mess. You’re welcome!
Which brings us to the question of how do you properly END a relationship? Nobody likes to be dumped. And that’s the mindfuck — after you’ve been devalued (“our marriage was already over”), you’re insulted with the accusations that you’re just jealous and covetous of their newfound happiness. Tut, tut. You should take it better. Can’t you see you’re yesterday’s news? Okay, so maybe they went about it in the wrong way, but It’s All for the Best! Their happiness is what Really Matters!
This is how you properly end a relationship:
a) You communicate. “Hey, X, Y, and Z are deal breakers for me. I’m very sorry. We need to go our separate ways if we can’t resolve X, Y, and Z.”
b) You communicate and communicate some more. You get therapy to address X, Y, and Z. You work hard to see if there is some alternative to divorce. You pay attention to how invested your spouse is or is not in addressing X, Y, or Z. If the deal breakers persist, or you can’t reconcile yourself to X, Y, or Z — then you end it with “We need to go our separate ways.”
c) You don’t eat cake. With the statement that it is over, you ACT like it’s over. You don’t continue to fuck your spouse. You don’t send mixed messages to your family or your spouse. You publicly own your decision to end it. You quit extracting value from your married status and you go it alone.
d) You take LEGAL steps to end it. You see a lawyer. You draft a separation agreement. If you’re in one of those crazy states with a one-year waiting period, you start that clock ticking with physical separation. If you can’t get your ex out of the house, you do everything in your power to leave or compel them to leave.
e) You end things fairly. If leaving was your idea, you recognize there will be hard feelings and you put your Adult Pants on and divide things evenly, according to the law. Not based on your feelings of entitlement. If you can’t figure out what “fair” looks like, ask a mediator.
Ending a relationship ethically is what grown-ups do. Whoring about, stuffing your gob with cake, and getting caught is what cheaters do.
Response to “Our marriage was already over”?
It is now. Sayonara.
This column ran previously.