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How Can We Challenge Blameshifting Therapists?

shrinkDear Chump Lady,

I find myself truly saddened, perplexed, outraged, confused? Am I going crazy? or is this really the philosophy around infidelity and how can we possibly challenge it when it’s so ingrained?

Recently I picked up a book (2015) by people I greatly admire Julie and John Gottman “10 Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy.” (Okay I didn’t read the whole book but went right to “cheating.”) Brand new book and chapter 9 is “Suspend Moral Judgment When Treating Affairs.”

Does exactly the drill addressing the PTSD, damage, pain etc. — then page 170:

“We witness the devastation affairs cause not only to partners but to their children as well. We know that affairs result from choices affair partners make. They don’t happen due to the randomness of fate. Yet we are admonished to not take sides. Crucial to our understanding is that affairs don’t usually begin in a vacuum.

When John and I examined the data of hundreds of couples with affairs, he discovered no less than 24 precursor steps that lead up to and predicted future betrayal. John’s careful analysis of affair-ridden couples revealed that they often start out happy and in love. But over time, poor conflict management skills take a toll. Either THEIR fights grow ugly or there is no fighting at all. Eventually both patterns lead THEM to shut down and avoid discussing disagreements altogether. After a while THEY shun any honest conversation and each other. Gradually THEY descend into canyons of loneliness. Just when THEY feel the worst after falling down into the canyon floor THEY discover a lovely flowing river a sweet young woman at the office. A sympathetic listener in the cubicle next door. The guy they keep running into at the gym. Before long there’s an Other, the one who listens, the one who laughs, the one who sympathizes, the one who brings fresh croissants every morning. Soon they are swept up by the waves of romance. They begin to compare their current mate with the Other. Blinded by the Other’s Brilliance and beauty the mate is left far behind in the dust. Rushing downstream they plunge headlong over the waterfall and into an affair.”

And then the Gottmans go on to use Caryl Rusbult and the honorable Shirley Glass and her famous marital “window” images. I highlighted Gottman’s use of THEY and how quickly it shifts from the one person (who willfully makes a decision to cheat) to suddenly it’s THEY and the unaware partner is held equally accountable?

I suspect every therapy book I now take in hand will gladly have the unknowing partner share the burden of deceit as being the root cause (by not paying attention to the cheating partners ‘loveliness” in just the “right way?”) I witness legions of betrayed spouses that — all never left the room! — or opened another “window,” outside of the relationship. Yet we still get handed the end bill, and blame for a cheaters unending narcissism and cowardice. Lovely.

Sorry, I feel so impotent and angry now that I see so clearly every where I look, the cultural gaslighting and Exuberant Defiance of Individuality and reckless domestic abuse by stealth so broadly supported. God forbid you blame the rapist for the rape and hold character disorders to account. We are morally puritanical in that case.

I want to write to the Gottman’s but don’t even know where to begin. I actually feel crazy sometimes.

Jane

Dear Jane,

You want to know where to begin? Leave an Amazon review. (I just linked to the book for you.) You bought the book, now review the book. Say exactly what you just wrote me — you admire their work, but when it comes to infidelity you think someone dropped them on their heads. They’re blameshifting and buying into the whole Chump Drove Me To It nonsense.

Yes, people can be in terrible marriages. And yes, sometimes chumps suck. And yes, people can make each other miserable — but it is what you choose to DO about it that matters. THAT is a measure of your character.

You might be a righteous asshole. You might insult my mother, kick me in the shins, and vote for Donald Trump. I can’t then steal your wallet and claim your asshole-ishness drove me to it. You made me very angry, Jane! I’m now going to charge $50,000 worth of pinecone elves to your account! You DESERVE it. I think you need to own what you did to make me so mad that I stole your wallet!

Are you a victim of crime? Or am I victim of you being a jerk?

If I don’t like you being a jerk, I have choices — like cutting you out of my life. Or attending therapy with you to discuss your asshole qualities. If I steal your wallet — I didn’t give you a choice. I just took something I thought I was entitled to.

Cheaters make UNILATERAL decisions about chumps’ health and welfare.

THEY discover a lovely flowing river a sweet young woman at the office.

No THEY do not. Only one person fucks the lovely flowing river — the cheater.

(And seriously, these PhDs should be ridiculed for that sentence alone.)

Hey, I don’t have a PhD, but let’s take this further — if the Gottmans truly believe that infidelity is so harmful as to give people PTSD, why are they making a false equivalency with poor “conflict management skills”? Being a lousy communicator is no excuse to risk my health with STDs, or my finances, or my children’s home life, or sexually humiliate me.

Also I call BULLSHIT on “Suspend Moral Judgment.” The Gottmans DID judge — they judged the chump as deserving of infidelity and equally at fault. By ascribing ownership of infidelity to chumps, they are blaming chumps. You want to blame someone? You just made a moral judgment, asshole.

Now then, to your question about changing the conversation around infidelity — you wrote to me. Okay, fine. I’m publishing your letter — to an audience of CHUMPS. We are preaching to the choir here. You want the blameshifting to end? Then SPEAK UP. There is an entire Chump Nation here — you people have voices and fingers to type on social media. Start questioning this shit. Take the conversation into the public sphere and get out of the CL ghetto. I cannot do this alone. You can buy my book — it would certainly help to get one published chump perspective out there, but it’s going to take more than that. It’s going to take chumps getting uppity.

Rise UP, Chump Nation!

Rerunning this column in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Just some points of business…

    1. Will announce cheater freak xmas contest in a post later today. Thanks for your patience!

    2. Do not give me shit about the Donald Trump line.

    3. It’s been pointed out 1,347.658 times on this blog previously that MLK cheated. Okay, we know that. It’s a holiday honoring him and the civil rights struggle. Point is — organize, rise up, change the narrative.

    Let’s keep it to the topic of blameshifting therapists, thank you. 🙂

    • Why see a therapist? They are just as fucked up as anyone else.

      My ex-fuckwit spent three years lying to me until he finally admitted he is a sex addict – not that he had affairs, because of course, he would never admit that. Then he said the last three years with me were the best of his life. Well goody for him, because the last three years of my life were nothing but a fucking illusion. I thought we had a great life – compatible, full of adventure, and awesome, frequent sex together. In my mind, I thought we were perfect and it was the best relationship I’d ever had. I take care of myself, am pretty and fit, have a great job, and own my own home. And he loves my two dogs.

      And I am nothing but a gullible chump. I don’t need a therapist to tell me that, and I don’t need a therapist to tell me the fuckwit can change, or that I should be more accepting of the fuckwit’s “issues”, because that is what therapists do. He is 64 years old. He is not going to change. I am 59 and need to move on. Why pay someone my hard earned money to tell me what I already know????

      Thanks for reading my venting. I didn’t sleep well last night – it’s only been 5 days since D-Day……

      • Miko, just wanted you to know how sorry I am you have to go through this. It will get better though it may not feel like it. Try Valerian Root to help you sleep. Non-addictive and never leaves me groggy in the morning.

        *hugs*

      • @MiKo CHump – best way to heal is to shift the focus on yourself – on the therapists : not all of them are useless. Mine helped me to develop coping mechanisms during the first three months of hell. Now I am 16 months out, cheater free and focused on living my life.

        • I found my therapist to be helpful but you definitely have to be careful who you see. I screened several before choosing her in regards to some of their personal views. Even though ethically they are not to be allowing their personal ideology to influence therapy I unfortunately found that to not always be the case and I worked in the behavioral health field for a long time. There are some great therapists and awful ones. Mine took the time to help focus on me and what I wanted. What my options were and what I was capable of. She helped me find my strengths again and realize I had the skills and was way more independent that my cheater spouse to get through this. She also reminded me that working on me is always a good thing. We all have aspects of ourselves we can improve and may one day want to for a future relationship if we choose. I moved for graduate program and did see someone for free through the university but once again did not connect. She didn’t get it and I stopped going after a couple sessions. I was way ahead of her basically. I read a lot now and do hope to eventually to find someone for both my boys to talk with. I took my oldest for a couple months awhile back and ex (therapist himself) freaked out about it. He seemed to question why our kids might need to see a therapist. I just couldn’t even deal. I told him to contact the therapist directly and she’d help him out with that one. He continued to fight me all the time on it including the bills he was 1/2 responsible for. Guess it cuts into his fun with the wifetress.

      • Miko,
        Welcome, and I’m so sorry you’re here. Nobody ever wants to end up here. But “here” is one of your best sources for understanding and healing. It’s a slow process. Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. Know that the roller coaster of emotions is at its beginning.

        In the initial stages of trauma I found some relief from the sleepless nights with Ambien. I could always count on being knocked out for 3 to 5 hours, which my body needed to escape my racing mind and PTSD-like existence.

        Try to move. Walk, run, exercise in some way every day. I know it’s difficult, but it helps immensely. Exercise will give you beautiful moments of reflection and perspective.

        Treat yourself to a massage every so often if it’s affordable enough. You are worth it!

        Mighty on!

        • Miko-
          Your story could have been mine, to a “T”. And unfortunately, no therapists I sought out told me to run. No, I got detailed accounts from our couples therapist (who also had permission to speak to my cheater’s “sex addiction” therapist) all about poor cheater’s sad sausage childhood and how THAT developed into his poor coping mechanisms. Bottom line? I was always told that given all he had to bear (oh, please!) that he’s doing so well in therapy. “He is doing well at sticking with his therapy appointments” “Was that a tear? Look, he’s allowing himself to come out of his childhood numbing and FEEEEEEEL something”….etc.
          What it all REALLY was, was that he loved therapy because he managed to make it all about him. And the therapists all had that ungodly combination of seeing his potential, with lots of recurring payments.

          You already know how this ends, right?

          So, yeah…..just go to therapy for YOU, not for the two of you. Get some help for your own trauma if you need it, or just to be heard and validated. And I agree with Gratefully Divorced Dad, Ambien is your friend…..
          D-Day plus not being able to sleep = a disastrous emotional state.

          I’m so glad you found CL because I didn’t find her till way after all this transpired. I was left being gaslighted by his sex addiction therapists when HE wasn’t busy gaslighting me.

          ((hugs))- it does get easier but it takes time so try and be patient with yourself

      • Miko, love how you put it down. You are beyond mighty, you go girl!!!! I’m a chump myself , it’s been a rough year for me but making progress. You made my night for that I thank you.

      • Minwalla actually studied and defined the trauma betrayed spouses go through! The “sex addiction model” created by a sex addict (Patrick Carnes)- does abuse, discard, and re-traumatize the already traumatized betrayed spouse.

        Like lobotomy….Patrick Carnes and his half baked “Sex addiction” treatment model- needs to be thrown in the dumpster of bad ideas.

        • Actually I told the MC that a lobotomy was the only to move forward in a potential relationship with the asshole in my situation.

          Can’t unsee what was seen. Can’t undo what was done. Adults make choices and decisions all the time, regardless of emotional maturity. It’s important for the abused to make choices only in their favor and for the positive welfare of their dependents.

      • This is what we are taught in Canadian law that you cannot judge morally, the HELL with that I have been fighting my cheating ex husband a year now and I’m never backing down! Cheating is filthy and immoral!🇨🇦

        • Well, maybe his lawyer isn’t supposed to judge him morally, but you aren’t his lawyer, so what’s that to you?

      • Thank you for that link! It superbly breaks down and explains just about everything I went through, in clinical terms.

      • This is great – thanks for the link.
        “In fact, the traditional sex addiction treatment model, which promotes co-sex addiction as the primary clinical diagnosis and clinical paradigm for treating partners, is a collusion with perpetration”

  • I really think that unless people have lived through this that they really have No Idea!

    How else can you explain that the loving spouse and devoted dad and Christian guy you have been married to for over 30 years has lost his ever loving mind?

    While you are home taking care of kids, all household things, being his biggest encourager and trying to help in every way you can because you can see he’s going through something but don’t even think it could be another woman because he’s a really good actor .

    It takes being a really good actor to hide all of your savings from your spouse ( who never checked that until 10 frickin months later) because for over 30 frickin years their was such trust!

    People just have no earthly idea!!

    • I totally agree with this.

      Totally good fucking actors they are…and they can play any part they choose, and do.

      Yep, unless you have been betrayed like this ~ keep your fucking mouth shut and your fucking advice to yourself.

      • Jodi….Amen to that!

        The emotional hell a betrayed spouse/partner goes through upon discovery/devalue/discard stages…………is a nightmare. I agree: KEEP YOUR FUCKING MOUTH SHUT AND KEEP YOUR ADVICE TO YOURSELF …….if you haven’t gone through it.

    • They truly do not. Unless you have lived it, you cannot possibly know the depths of deception to which cheaters will sink. I can laugh at it now, but after years of jumping to satisfy X’s every whim or desire, he supposedly told AP that we were strictly roommates, who stayed together solely because of work/family obligations. That was certainly news to me!

      The so-called therapist we briefly saw together (after which I learned she was related to AP!) was a Gottman devotee, and she told us at the first session she did not want to talk about the affair, she wanted to talk about what led to the affair! Okay, easy-peasy, the affair occurred because X was an ego driven narcissist, who wanted to be told hourly how sexy, brilliant and virile he was in his late ’60’s! In other words, I just wasn’t giving him enough kibbles. Check please!

      There is one thing I agree with in Gottman’s analysis. He describes the four horsemen of the apocalypse (of a marriage), one being contempt. When your partner begins to treat you with contempt routinely, and act as if you somehow are always the problem, your marriage is has hit the rocks. Gotttman does in fact talk about the eye-rolling, dismissive behavior, and lack of respect as strong indicators of a person who does not want to be married to their current spouse.

      So while the Gottmans may correctly recognize some of the red flags of a doomed relationship, their analysis of cheaters and the origin of their misconduct is dead wrong. It all boils down to the fact that cheaters cheat because of their ego, their lack of empathy, their need for kibbles, and because they think the rules of marriage simply to do not apply to them. It has zero to do with any imaginary failure on the part of the chump to fulfill their vows to “love, honor and cherish” their spouse.

      • I also agree with the four horsemen of the acopalypse. However, I have to confess that “I” was the one doing it.

        I eventually got there because nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing made any difference to the ‘you do not exist as a human being and could you just get back in your corner and carry on being the household appliance’ level I was put on.

        No amount of asking, explaining, explaining some more, explaining in a different way (because I didn’t say it in the right way), arguing, analysing, giving made any goddam difference. It has been explained that that was all just kibbles to him. The self help books that littered my shelves, gosh how I tried. I got angrier and shriller as I tried to get some needs met. Chump Lady describes how that got received, beautifully:

        “There were only HIS interests… and static. I was an annoying buzz, that sometimes rose in volume to a drone, which occasionally pierced his attention space and was really, fucking irritating.”

        Nothing pierced the concrete bunker of self absorption and disregard. And then I just gave up and rolled my eyes or exhibited contempt. And that, the Gottmans are quite right, was the end of my marriage. He said to his OW (signalling availability) “I don’t love my wife any more. SHE doesn’t care about ME”

        You cannot win. Nothing I did do, didn’t do, said, didn’t say, expressed my feelings, tried to stuff them until they exploded, made any difference at all. This is a man who did not see fit to give his wife any attention, not even a conversation about his day (“I’ve been there all day, I don’t want to talk about it now’) let alone a walk, a movie or even a Saturday morning coffee or breakfast. Dinner date? Come with me to a conference, all I have to pay for is your travel costs??? Perleeze. It hurt hearing other people say they were going somewhere nice for a conference because their husband wanted their company. I was just mother and housekeeper. He literally did not see me.

        The other things that the Gottmans don’t seem to consider, is that the very characters required for cheating – selfishness, not caring about the impact on other people, not caring about their feelings, secrecy – might actually be the very characteristics that caused problems in the marriage in the first place. We are now divorced and NC, he lies and is secretive to the children he supposedly lives for… Me? Or not me?

        I actually asked on the Gottman website ‘does this work with a narcissist?’ (IC diagnosed, not me) – but got no reply.

        • “the very characters required for cheating – selfishness, not caring about the impact on other people, not caring about their feelings, secrecy – might actually be the very characteristics that caused problems in the marriage in the first place.”

          Brilliant, Patsy

        • Yes, Patsy, yes! I’m too exhausted by post divorce strong-arming over visitation to reply in depth. Just wanted to say I lived it too, and you nailed it. Sorry that was your experience. Mine did want to talk about HIS day and take me to conferences but only as an appliance or mirror to reflect back his experience. Sickening when I finally got it.

        • I completely understand where you are coming from. I also must confess that I became the complaining, critical, and, at times, contemptuous wife. Not always but at times. I was at my wits end as to what to do with a man who just preferred to stick his head in the sand and ignore issues. I tried so many ways to approach issues and presented so many solutions and ideas to very little result. He would agree to an idea and then not follow through. I begged for marriage counselling for a few years, and he would find any excuse why it wasn’t necessary. He would try for short bouts of time and then give up because it was too hard. I tried encouraging monthly dates (he wouldn’t follow through the following month), at home wine nights (in order to save money, he rarely reciprocated), ensuring that we always kiss or hug hello and goodbye (it would last a week or two), scheduling one night a week to discuss business and keep the other nights for fun conversation. I suggested talking to our priest, attending a church marriage course, a weekend away (we never did that after having kids because we had limited childcare options), special dinner nights, ensuring regular sex night no matter what. You name it – I read about it and suggested it. I found myself always kick-starting something and then his follow through would be limited.

          I fell into the oh-so common trap of over-worked working mom. The one trying to be all things to all people and feeling unacknowledged for the triple duty being performed. Trying to show everyone that I could do it all. Didn’t know how to say no and found myself caring for a lot of people. My husband even once said that he’s never met someone with so many takers in their life (my first though was, “Yes and you’re one of them.”). I became resentful, snarky. And, then I started to shut down and de-prioritize him. When the pursuer of a relationship shuts down, it’s the kiss of death because the other person, the withdrawer, will rarely rise to the occasion.

          These are all behaviours I have owned. I owned them in MC. Sought my own counselling independently to address root causes and learn more effective strategies. Apologized about them to my husband repeatedly and worked to demonstrate that in knowing better, I would do better.

          I assumed that he would reciprocate. I was willing to swallow my pride, knowing that it has to start with one of us. I took the risk of exposing my greatest vulnerabilities for the cause of saving my marriage. It was a shock to me that my husband didn’t reciprocate at all. He was too far gone in an affair and lost all empathy for me. He took my admissions and used it as a weapon to rationalize his affair. He interpreted my vulnerability as me simply not wanting to fail at anything in my life rather than a sincere demonstration of loving trust.

          But, I didn’t cheat. My needs were not being met, and I found an outlet – my kids and my work which made the money that supported my husband through a university degree that he completed almost two years ago. He cheated. He chose that. I did not drive him to do it.

          He was emotionally disconnected.
          He didn’t want things to be too hard.
          He would often shut down when there was too much adulting required. I would end up doing it all or it wouldn’t get done.

          And, in the end, I got accused of being too strong, too controlling, too critical. But, then I’m told that I am an amazing person who is the best mother he could ever want for his kids. So he now has a weaker woman who he thinks never judges him and allows him to be his real self for the first time in his entire life. He’s her knight in shining armour. And now he gets to life like he’s single and in his 20s again on the days that he doesn’t have the kids.

          RIC doesn’t discuss the post-trauma that comes from putting yourself out there to be so royally crushed repeatedly. The toll that hopium eventually takes on you. The state of suspended disbelief you get stuck in because you would never have imagined that this person who you have been the most intimate with in your life would so callously disregard you. The impact of gaslighting and the spiritual exhaustion that comes from the Pick Me dance. Shame!

      • Perfectly put, Violet. It’s a shame the Gottmans miss the point that it starts with the entitled cheater whose contempt has been poisoning the marriage for a long time.

    • Yep. How the hell does someone hold your hands, look you in the eyes, say I love you and our boys and I want to grow old with you. While being ball, heart and soul deep with someone else is unfathomable.
      One lesson of 2017, others don’t hold the same level of care, compassion and empathy as we do and some people’s is just plain fucked up.
      This out of everything just eats me, the bare faced lying.

  • I’m exhausted with the “you’re too judgmental/puritanical” accusation. Seriously, all I am asking for is basic human decency. Don’t lie to me, degrade me, cheat on me, and keep your fucking promises. When you fail to do that PLUS destroy my family, my years of investment, and devastate our children … you have failed the basic human decency test by a million miles. If it’s puritanical to say this, then fuck it, I’m puritanical.

    In our marital counseling, the asshole refused to admit to anything. He lied and gaslighted until he convinced the counselor that the scratch marks on his back were from a dog and that I was just an over-jealous, harpy wife. Regretfully, because the counselor fell for it and pushed that narrative, I believed it.

    More shockingly, the female therapist he saw in the hospital (committed for attempted suicide – flagged as dangerous to me and our kids) called me to ask how I was going to get the serial cheating, abusive asshole home. I asked her if she read his notes, which bashed me from start to finish (he refused accountability for anything) — and they also included his admission that he had raped me, with the caveat that I deserved it.

    She said, “Yes.”

    Then I asked her if she knew I was advised to get a restraining order against him. She said, “Yes.” Given all of the stress I was under trying to get emergency housing for my kids and I before he was released … I flipped out on her. I may have told her to fuck off …. it’s hard to remember now.

    Therapists who dump blame on the victim, in my view, do as much damage as the abuser/cheater/narc (it’s just a different kind of damage). They double-down on the damage they cause by alleviating the abuser/cheater/narc from proper accountability. By default, they help to perpetuate the behavior.

    • That read strangely. For clarification, the two therapists I refer to were about two decades apart. The last one happened when everything finally imploded.

      • It was a hospital unfamiliar to me (luckily, not in our direct vicinity). I was such a frazzled mess at the time — and totally stunned by the cal — so I didn’t do anything except tell her off. My eldest daughter (early 20s) heard it all, though, and called to report the woman to her superior.

        A couple of days later I received an “apology” email that said she was sorry I was upset. Then she explained that she was just trying to do what was best for everyone involved …. it reminded me so much of the apologies I used to get from the jackass.

    • JessMom,
      Your story never ceases to amaze me. Your strength and resolution remains a shinning example to me.

      Fellingit once said in a post to me that I tell only bits and pieces of my story. Correct, my dear friend, is right on!

      The post topic today reminds me of the time, it was years ago, and some years after DDay even, that I did go to a therapist.
      I had lost a tremendous amount of weight and was tall and slim to begin with, it was just my nature. My family Doctor saw me at my work place ( hospital) and demanded I make an appointment with him immediately. He referred me to a specialist, I was hospitalized, many tests were performed. No physical, medical cause of the severe weight loss was ever found. Due to muscle loss it took a long time to start to put some weight back on. ( I had no eating disorders). I saw a nutritionist and ate a high caloric diet. My Doctor said he did not want me to return to work and insisted I see a therapist. He believed that I was simply working too hard and had to slow down.
      The therapist was indeed a lovely lady, very soft spoken, kind. She set a timer, I sat in a chair with a box of kleenex on a table beside me.
      We talked (mostly she talked, I said very very little), until the timer went off, 45 minutes, later.
      Not once did I bring up DDay, the fact that I was a Chump, ( hell, I didn’t even know of the word “Chump” at that time). I was just a young woman, busy, with being the present, sane, loving parent, ( even though my cheater stayed), working a busy career, taking care of the house, everything.
      This therapist knew where I worked. She knew about confidentiality, and that what we said in that small room, with the clock ticking, well these words would get no further. So, she drilled me, asked me questions about this doctor, that doctor, this and that, this and that regarding hospital gossip. I felt it was wrong to tell her any specifics. Sadly I never really did get anything positive out of those sessions.
      Thankfully I did get well again and carried on to the best of my ability putting my family and my career ahead of myself once again. Chumps tend to do that, it’s just the way we are built.
      Cheaters, not so much.

      I want to add that less than two years ago I found new therapists! They are true therapists, who listen. They are kind, smart as a whip, genuinely caring individuals.
      Their names are Jeep Tess, Tempest, Tessie, Capricorn, Feelingit, twiceachump, Mother Chumper99, ChmpyKindofLove, LovedaJackass, Aeronault, XWorld, Sunfloer36, and oh sooooooo many others.
      Chumps come to know each other by post name. No timers are set here, the door is always open.
      We all dwell in a big big house and our founder, our leader’s name is CL.
      No better therapists exit than CL, CN!
      Just saying!

      JessMom, stay strong and Mighty!

      Love,
      peacekeeper

      • Peacekeeper, you are so right! I saw a couple of very good therapists for a couple of years after my dday, but it was here at Chumplady.com that I found true healing. Reading CL’s wonderful, smart, snarky posts and all the wonderful contributions of all my fellow chumps have been instrumental in helping me find meh. I am now 4 years out from the end of a 27 year (what I thought was a very happy) marriage. I told my therapists about Chumplady in the hope that they would check it out themselves and perhaps tell others about it. We have to keep getting the word out. I still read here every day. I screenshot posts and read them when I need an extra boost. I can’t thank CL and CN enough!

        • Same here. I told my therapist about this wonderful community, and I sincerely hope she recommended it to other clients. Sometimes in our sessions I laughed so hard about the witty contributors here that I am positive my therapist checked it out, if only for the gritty humor that CN displays.

      • Amen peacekeeper. I have received the benefit of so much good therapy from the members of Chump Nation. I check in almost daily for a tune-up and am so much the better for it. Many thanks to those who take time to contribute their comments on this blog and of course, especially to Tracy.

        I went to two individual marriage counselors early on in my marriage when things “weren’t right”. The counselors refused to consider that Fuckwit was abusive and was lying to me and to them, even when he tripped over his lies. If I were the person back then that I am today, I would have said to myself, ” I don’t need to stay in a relationship that is making me unhappy and I don’t need to listen to ridiculous rhetoric from people who say that I have joint responsibility for my partner’s fuckupedness.”. Like so many others, the younger me believed that I needed to never stop trying to appease and please my partner, no matter how he treated me. I did not have the insight to understand what was happening, the vocabulary to articulate it or the courage to walk out on the sanctity of marriage. I do now and I love the do-over of my life.

      • Please add yourself to this list of wonderful new therapists for Chump Nation.
        (((Peacekeeper)))

        Where do I stop with this list, so many wonderful chumps here helping each other out 24/7?
        And endless gratitude to Tracy who gives us a place to find each other and trusts us to create this unique community, potty mouths and all.

        • Thank you for your very kind words kiwichump.
          YOU are one of the most courageous Chumps I know.
          It is really unimaginable all that you have been through and you turn it all around into helping other Chumps, showing them the way and the light.

          I smiled when you referred to us being allowed to use “potty mouth.”
          I love this also, thank you so much CL.
          There is a time and a place, and this is most certainly it!

          The names Chumps choose for their cheaters are (sadly) true, yet hilarious.
          Thank you Chumps for the smiles!

      • Peacekeeper: (((Hugs))) and thank you. You said: “Thankfully I did get well again and carried on to the best of my ability putting my family and my career ahead of myself once again. Chumps tend to do that, it’s just the way we are built. Cheaters, not so much.”

        So well stated. I’m just now trying to figure out when “putting my family and my career ahead of myself once again” dips into the unhealthy range — as it did during my marriage. I don’t want to let go of that trait … I still think it’s good, but it needs to be moderated. And this is where my current therapy is helpful. 🙂

        I love your point about CL and CN therapy. I’ll keep announcing from my little part of the world that this site saved me and my kids. The information …. the stuff I’ve learned here (via CL wisdom and CN experience) has been more valuable to me and my life than even my college degree. Then add in the stunning amount of kindness blended with understanding and guidance (you are one of these people, Peacekeeper) … utterly priceless. Now that I think about it, this is the safest “place” I’ve ever known.

        The people here hold a very special place in my heart. I come here nearly daily as CL/CN STILL helps me, but I am also at the point now where I think my experience may help others, so I try to do just that. Pay it forward, as it were.

    • In other words…..the quack therapists are “enabling” the cheater……as they revictimize the already victimized spouse. Disgraceful!

      • Therapists see this as the full employment act…whether they admit it or not, there is a significant monetary gain to be realized by not calling out the fuckwit and turning a blind eye to the research literature showing that this behavior is unchangeable. It is indeed the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. The good news is I have several therapist friends who I hike with. As we walk, I tell them about all I have learned and they intern have been making lists of CL etc and giving them to their Chump clients. They get it and it is not something that was taught in school. Now the King Narc in the White House, this is a topic that is getting serious airplay. It is going to take a while though and lots of effort to put all the leaves in the tree though.

      • Yes, the therapists who play the “share the blame” card really are disgraceful. It blinds them to the character disordered behavior of the cheater. More importantly, I think it re-traumatizes the victim who’s already traumatized by gaslighting and the other abusive behaviors that almost innately go along with the cheating.

        For me–in the midst of the depression caused by the degradation and gaslighting, the therapist’s spin put a professional “you’re husband is right about you” stamp on the asshole’s degradation of me. And for the asshole, it gave him a “free ticket” to continue the behaviors … because the professional agreed with him. So damaging ….

  • To think that I actually copied and pasted parts of the Gottman’s faulty scientific reasoning in my exchanges with Lord von Glitter-Balls during my pick-me dance.

    To think that one day when I was trying to communicate with Glitter-Balls about our retirement he yelled into my left ear (loud enough to have it buzzing for minutes) that he was a failure and that it was MY fault… (AND he denies ever having said this…)

    To think that my conversations about anything, ANYTHING, were met with burps, farts, joking. Maybe so he could keep daydreaming about schmoopie, whose existance I would have never dreamed of in a thousand years????

    The Gottmans have lots of data, but make crappy hypotheses with it. It’s very hard to test that cheating was due to lack of communication and not lack of character.

    And, as Tracy argues, what do communication skills have to do with cheating?

    Happy Civil Rights Day. I am sure MLK stood on many shoulders, starting with Rosa Parks’.

    • I would get the tv volume going up every time I would beg for talk. Or he’d say “what?” Every time I would ask him something…making me have to repeat. I think back about those days. They were so hard and lonely.

      • If I wanted to “communicate” with X regarding our relationship or question him, he would accuse me of never being happy, “bitching again,” or looking for something to argue about. X would say these things loud enough that our son would hear him so he could play the victim to my troublemaking.
        I was still under the assumption X was the person I thought I married and he actually cared about our marriage and our family.
        Looking back, it’s quite obvious he couldn’t have cared less and actually despised me.

        • Exactly the same here. And would talk loud enough for the kids to hear despite me pleading with him not to do that.

          • Oh, god… I still go berserk whenever anyone says “what?”. We even got my exH’s hearing tested, and he actually does have minor hearing loss for the upper range (but I have a somewhat deep voice). However, he could certainly hear things when he wanted to, just not my voice. My brother too smirks whenever he says “what,” so I’m going to insist on an audiologist’s report if I ever go out on a date again.

            • OMG I thought I was the only one! Almost every single time I say something to him, he says “what?”.
              It was really getting under my skin and I didn’t know why. But now that I’ve read this, I suspect it is less like a hearing thing (his hearing is fine) and more like a control thing.
              As in, whenever you talk I am going to start out with an annoyed “what?” just to remind you you have no place talking.

              • Mine did this too in the last year – any question or conversation was met with an irritated “what?” along with a look of pure hatred

              • Ayup, same here. The “what” to be dismissive, and loud enough for the son to here, with that look of contempt.

                And that becomes “she argued with everything I said “. Wait doesn’t there have to be an actual dialogue to constitute an argument?

        • ^^This.^^

          I was constantly accused of “wanting to start an arguement” when trying to communicate any emotions I had. I wasn’t allowed to have any. He bragged when we divorced that “we were never combative”. He doesn’t realize that that’s because I always aquiesed to live life on his terms when I really felt like I was banging my head against the wall in trying to communicate with him and have a dialogue.

          I still try to forgive my chumpiness.

          • Mr. Cheater Pants communication style was the worst I’d ever seen concerning me. He would say something and I would agree. Then he would start arguing with me like I had disagreed with him. The conversation went around and around. He didn’t do that with anyone but me. It was so stinking maddening. If something came up at work and I wanted to talk about it with him he would just scream something like ‘well just tell your boss to go fuck himself.’ Oh yeah, that’s what I’ll do honey. He was the most absurd human being I’ve ever met. I wonder if he talks like that to Schmoopie now. Gawd, I hope so. Lol

        • My XH the substance abuser followed the same line. If I asked him to do a chore or asked him to clean up some mess he made, I was told I was “nagging” and “bitching” and “never satisfied.” It wasn’t until I told him I was leaving that he suggested therapy and I said, “Not unless you stop drinking first and get help with that.”

          There was no point in me going into couples’ therapy with someone who was actively destroying both of us with alcohol. I say the same thing for cheaters. One way to end the blame shifting is for chumps to refuse marital counseling until the cheater gives up the AP and gets into serious therapy to see if he or she is even capable of change. That’s job 1. No point in going to counseling with an unrepentant liar.

          • @lovedajackass

            Been there, heard that, hated it until I turned numb and just didn’t give a shit about him anymore. My “AC” means Alcoholic Chump.

            Alcoholics Anonymous and alcoholic rehab programs actually encourage this kind of blame-shifting and denial of responsibility. At least, all the ones he attended did: “Alcoholism is a disease. You’re not at fault. You can only control the symptoms… with help. You’re powerless against it. You can never be cured. It’s not your fault.”

            Bullshit. Alcoholism is an addiction, and that makes it a choice, not a disease. If alcoholism is a disease, it’s the only disease you can bring under control with support group meetings.

            Drinking and driving is a choice. Buying that bottle was a choice. Stealing your kids’ 50-states quarters collections to buy more rum is a choice. It sure wasn’t MY fault that he bought a 750ml bottle of rum and drained it by himself… every night… 7 nights a week. Maybe it was DS’s and DD’s faults for leaving their quarter collections on their bookshelves.

            On the upside, when he drank that much there wasn’t much cheating with a Schmoopie, because a drunken dick doesn’t stand any straighter than the drunk attached to it.

            • Yes this! I tried for a long time to “communicate” with him and only getting a wall in response so I gave up. He increased his drinking and absences. Then later he said he did go to a the therapist who told him that the drinking was just a symptom of his unhappiness in his marriage. He was so relieved that he drank more. This was NOT mentioned in the Gottman theory. I don’t believe that alcoholism is an addiction for narcs-they are in complete control. It “cleared up” when AP replaced me.

  • After a few sessions of listening to my X rant and rave about what a terrible person I am and how we had a bad marriage …a failed marriage, my therapist turned to me and asked me what was I going to do to bring X back to the marriage.

    During this time I had not said one bad thing. The cheating was put on the back burner – my faults ( in his mind – the devaluation) where the main focus.

    Excuse me – my need to buy groceries and pack healthy lunches on an extremely tight household budget while you wentbout to lunch everyday with Miss Piggy and friends drove you to pure loathing?!?!

    My therapist did nothing but reinforce my X’s viewpoint that I deserved everything I got.

    Funny enough – my Minister X also councils the couple’s that he prepares for marriage.

    I told him that he should stick to funerals at the time of our separation and called him a hypocrite. By that time I was done kissing his ass and “trying to bring him back to the marriage” and didn’t give a fuck.

    • Clergy can be the worst of the worst with marriage counseling! When I first caught Dancing Dick with dial-a-whore telephone calls, voyeuring the teenager next door……and porn cassettes back in 1988- I turned to my pastor for help. He told me to “be a better wife!!!!!!!!!!” Unfuckingbelievable!

      It’s as if he missed all the parts of the Bible that screamed “Don’t commit adultery.”

      • I am so sorry that happened to you! I had such an opposite response from my priest. When I was trying to get Col. Cheaterpants to stay and worried about how I would forgive him, my priest said, ” You cannot forgive someone who has not confessed, expressed remorse, and promised to repent. You cannot repair his broken vows , nor could you have foreseen that he never meant them and you would be in an invalid marriage.” That priest saved my life.

        • My Priest told me to separate myself from my Cheater also, when I went in the early stages after Cheater had moved out and I wanted him back somehow. He said the same thing, if he is was not repentant, showing remorse etc., I needed to stay away from him. It was not what I had expected, I don’t know what I expected, but it was so calming and comforting the way he approached it.

          • I visited my priest in February. My husband left the family after Christmas and ended up spending new year’s even with the OW (didn’t even call the kids in the early evening to wish a happy new year). After explaining his behaviour over the last year and a half, my priest told me that I must give my marriage up to God, protect my children and take care of myself. He assured me that there was nothing I could have done to keep my husband from derailing as badly as he has and that what he’s going through is something he has to do on his own. When I asked him if it was a sin to stop praying for my marriage (because I just couldn’t keep doing it), he told me that the marriage will be in God’s hands and what is a priority to pray for now comfort in my and my children’s suffering. It was all such a relief to me, very freeing.

      • The pastor who married us said, after I told him of the discard, “As Christians, we want to believe that God brings things TO us. But, we must also accept God’s love in removing things or taking things from us that are causing harm.” He died shortly after that conversation, but it is burned in my brain for eternity.

  • I’d like to know where that theory fits in my case (and many like me).

    Cheater and I were newly married, had exciting sex life, lots of sexy texts to brighten day, massages together, shared jokes, long talks about life, totally connected (he agreed with all this) very successful business and no money worries, fabulous travel. Also I was in best shape of my life and had most gorgeous collection of lingerie he loved.

    He cheated throughout with whole band of poorly educated, unattractive, rough types 10 years older and 25lbs heavier than me. Clinical psychologist told me later my cheater saw this as fulfilling his need to feel superior and maintain control due to a malignant personality disorder.

    So this theory that cheaters are lonely, neglected souls looking for attention just doesn’t hold water. At least not in cases like mine. A human being could not have had more love and attention than he did.

    He now lives alone, bankrupt and works a low paid job.

    • This is my story too. Nothing made sense and I was so beyond confused why I was so suddenly rejected. My confusion turned into a complete loss of reality like i didn’t know up from down.

      So he has decided to “explain” things to me. This is not him being insightful. And he is not admitting fault. He’s just straight up telling me why I FAILED and why I deserved everything i got.
      He doesn’t realize that his explanations are basically narc 101. He told me that he wanted me “to do what he told me to do”. He didn’t care what the reason was behind me not doing what he said. He wants what he wants and he will do anything to get it.
      What caused him to feel justified in beginning to devalue, abuse, lie, and cheat?… I didn’t text him back fast enough when I was at work. He concluded that i was not doing what he told me to do so he would go get someone that would. Insane because I texted him all day juggling him and my job.
      This was justified because “f@ck you for putting anything above me… And no one tells me no”.
      He had a narc injury from not getting enough attention while we were at work so he blew up our marriage. He said he “gave up on me” and then for the next 3 years he “tried to destroy me so he wouldn’t have feelings for me anymore”. If it wasn’t texting it would have been something else. I never could have known where the land mines were.
      He also thought he was noble… “i chose you… my wife… I wanted to talk to you!”

      So you can do backflips on his D and be as sexy and smart and perfect as anyone partner can be… You marry a narc and the time bomb starts ticking at the first hello.
      You think you’re in heaven and have no clue you bought a one way ticket to Hell.

      • Wow whatring….that is so screwed up on so many levels. I totally relate… you have no idea you’re buying a one way ticket to hell. Exactly right.

        So relieved to be out of the lunacy but I bet you’ll agree the healing takes so much longer.

        If I’m brutally honest there were some red flags but he hid real man so well and you start to question your own sanity

        • I totally relate. I’m relieved not to be controlled and hurt like I was when I was living with him. But at times I wonder if I’ll ever be happy again. It was a dizzying amount of bullshit. It’s a lot to sort through.
          He almost gets me with his “explanations”. I just keep saying no over and over in my head. No, that makes no sense. No, that is not rational. No no no.
          The red flags were there. I feel stupid now looking back. But it’s like being spun around in a circle. They are slithery. He should get plausible deniability tattooed on his ass. And if you hold your boundary they confuse the shit out of you until you forget that you had a boundary. Or something I noticed as well was the punishment for having boundaries was rejection and revenge. I knew it would be coming but I wasn’t sure how bad or when. Gave me horrible anxiety. Some of my first discussions with my therapist were fear over revenge. Fear to speak up. There was no advice given on what to do. They all told me to file for divorce I’m married to a dangerous narc that cares only about himself. That the man I married never existed and he’s not coming back.

          • I am so sorry you were treated this way.
            It really bugs me that chumps are put through so much psychological abuse by their cheaters, that every counsellor on the planet will lecture on the ratio of praise to criticism required (6 to 1, 20 to 1 ?), but they still pile on more abuse on the chumps.
            Do these people ever listen to themselves?
            I guess it’s just easier to jump on the victims than to stand up for them. There’s a surprise…

            • My fellow Kiwi,

              I’ve seen three counsellors (one jointly in MC) since DDay and two of them basically sided with him against me. Blaming me for the A because my poor communication, telling me “nice guys” find it difficult to make a clean break etc etc.

              I’m actually a health care worker myself and I would never kick somebody when they were down, not in the first stages. Maybe a bit later when a therapeutic relationship had been made I could make a few gentle suggestions, but it’s such a relief to find I’m not alone with this…

    • Same experience here. Thought everything was great in our relationship. He is really a liar and a cheater and a serial sex addict. He’d fuck a snake.

    • “So this theory that cheaters are lonely, neglected souls looking for attention just doesn’t hold water. At least for cases like mine.”

      So I’m curious. Is it only cases like yours where this theory doesn’t hold water? I think that comment is a slippery slope. There is NO reason for a cheater to cheat. Once chumps start going down that rabbit hole then we’re right there with the RIC determining when would be a good time.

      The moving goal posts is a thing with cheaters and applies to ALL chumps. The theory that cheaters are lonely, neglected soluls looking for attention doesn’t hold water for any case. Just my two cents.

      • I think that many of the cheaters here have personality disorders, especially Narcissistic And Antisovial. I highly doubt that loneliness drove these cheaters to do what they did over and over again –in spite of the love and attention of their legitimate partners.Based on the research I have read, many (most) people with these disorders abuse/mistreat others out of unmerited contempt and a sense of superiority and entitlement).

        • That’s exactly right Rock Star Wife.
          You’ve nailed the very words I’ve often struggled to find to go along with a sense of superiority and entitlement and its unmerited contempt. Yes. Absolutely.
          Thank you

      • Nomoreskank….there were actually about 8 of them all texting, phoning, meeting up at different times. Its a miracle his phone didn’t explode yet he had it down to such a fine art he’d often ask me to carry his phone or would leave it around the house. The juggling everyone was the buzz for him and something he just did in his spare time like playing football (he actually said that!). So once it all came out it wasn’t fun anymore. Game over. He actually didn’t want any of them and was horrified at thought. He was like a little child and sobbed in complete shock when he realised his “silly games” really meant the end of his marriage.

        Cheaterssuck when you say “there is NO reason for any cheater to cheat” I wonder if you mean there’s no “excuse” for any cheater to cheat? Surely, there are reasons we all do/don’t do things. It doesn’t mean those different reasons justify such behaviour. I’m fairly new to CL/CN but have read CL post called Spectrum of Cheaters
        .
        https://www.chumplady.com/2012/05/a-spectrum-of-cheaters/

        I think CL herself outlines different motivations and reasons people cheat. Of course whatever the reasons none act as justification, and I certainly wasn’t suggesting that. Apologies if I didn’t make that clear.

        • No reason , no excuse is all the same for me. Yes we all have a reason we do things but their reason is that they give themselves permission to cheat. The. End.

          What I was pointing out was your qualification “At least in my case that’s not true.” When anyone makes that qualification it makes it sound like “under different circumstances this would be okay”

          I just think for the chump narrative you should leave that qualifier out, otherwise we are following the RIC narrative that under certain circumstances we can understand cheating.

          It may be semantics but the whole RIC is based in those semantics.

          • Yes so true. Especially when I saw on the phone bill that he’d once sent same body shot pic to all of us. I think making me fourth on a list of nine must have sent his duper’s buzz into orbit. I can just picture his sick grin. Psycho

    • HA! My ex cheater/perv (Dancing Dick) took up with a “head janitor” woman in Indianapolis! His need for superiority shines like the sun!

    • Same here NataliaB, “a lot of poorly educated, unattractive, rough types” plus some skinnier, some heavier, some younger, some older, worldwide nationalities and some cheaply paid in euros. All shelved and often recycled from the past or suggested to his friends. He loved to make fun of their physical imperfections after having sex with them.

    • Ex began his serial cheating (unbeknownst to me) about a year into our marriage, while we were – at least by all outward indications – still in the “honeymoon” phase of the marriage….so the whole “you drove him to cheat” narrative doesn’t hold water in my case either. I spent almost 26 years of my life with him before Dday #1 occurred, and I discovered his affair with a ho-worker. Naturally, we immediately hit the marriage counseling circuit, where we examined and explored what I did (and didn’t do) which lead him to cheat . One year into MC, and Dday #2 – my discovery of his aforementioned multiple affairs, porn addiction, and God knows what else – occured. So, yeah….clearly the problems he had pre-existed any action or inaction on my part as his wife.

  • I listened. I laughed. I sympathized. It wasn’t nearly enough to fill that bottomless pit of hers.

    Because if the attention came from the person who’d already had a peek at what was behind the mask, it didn’t count as “attention.”

    The only thing I would have gotten by bringing KK fresh croissants every morning would have been a red-face outburst that “I’m so fucking BOOOOORED with croissants.”

      • Before D day he would have played it all as wonderful and proof that the marriage was great and he was awesomely worthy of croissants. After DDay when the jig was up, I would have gotten, “What’s your fucking game with the croissants? What do you want?” He truly thought everyone was playing games all the time and no one did ANYTHING without an ulterior motive. Probably because that is what he was like.

  • I was seeing a Christian woman therapist the year before d-day. I told her exactly what I thought my stbx might be doing but I just could not prove it. I knew he was a jerk but I stayed because of Catholic guilt and I made my bed and had to lie in it. That’s what I was taught as a young woman. I had no family support and he knew it. He made me feel bad for even thinking he didn’t want me and he just kept manipulating and gaslighting me all the while cheating on me and exposing me to god knows what. I have since learned that I was groomed and was being emotionally abused by a covert sadist/narcissist. (At the time – I didn’t even know what a narcissist was) I was obviously very sheltered and that’s how he wanted me to stay. So d-day finally comes around. I go to my therapist looking for support and she tells me “you can’t leave him now” and I’m like why ? – I finally have the truth about him and all his lies. She actually said to me “if you leave him now that you have the answer that you asked god to provide – then that will be a slap in the face to god –so you must stay and work this out with him”. Great advice huh? I went home and wasted another year with him – but I also found Tracey’s book, lined up ducks and filed for divorce at the end of that year. Im still fighting him for a good settlement but at least I feel like I’ve accomplished alot just by getting emotionally stronger and staying nc. It’s the only thing that works after years of narcissist abuse. I have since moved on to a new therapist who gets it. Like Tracey’s therapist – she’s a little Jewish lady that encourages cussing and telling it like it is. I am gaining a life.

    • strongwoman – you are strong!

      That therapist is no Christian. We are not to stay in abusive situations. She should lose her license.

      My stbx thought that since I was a Christian that meant that he could do whatever and I would forgive him. (Christian = doormat). Two years ago I told him to get out and promptly changed the locks. I told him the amount of support I wanted a month. He refused as that would make him homeless! He would have to live under a bridge – he whined and cried – how could I hurt him so – trying to ruin him like that?? But he will survive!! oh the drama
      (he makes 6 figures and his gf from work makes big bucks, too). I started divorce. I called him out on his lies – just stated facts.

      Oh and how he proclaims what a hypocrite I am! I am a bad Christian! I am a fake Christian! (No longer a doormat – makes them furious).

      Yep. Standing up for myself and not accepting abuse makes me a fake bad Christian.

      Oh, and the amount of support I wanted each month? Exactly what I ended up being awarded in court. I also was able to buy him out of the house. The house he fought me tooth and nail to sell to punish me for standing up to him. What’s hilarious is the appraisals we got for court made it so I could buy him out. The appraisal I got when I refinanced the house in my name – a lot higher. He would be livid if he knew how much.

      That a person will be so cruel and abusive – and then when you stand up to them they switch to this pathetic victim role and then become so spiteful and vengeful to get back at you…. That’s truly mental illness right there.

      • That’s what I call karma. A similar situation happened to me with my house—he agreed to my buyout offer based on what realtors said it was worth. The market here went crazy right after we signed the financial settlement and I sold it for $250k more.. yup, karma. Maybe for him not working and stealing our retirement savings? I have so support and no retirement savings but I have a house( one I chose to buy) and he is a leach on his AP.

    • We need to learn to walk the hell out the therapists office if we are made to feel less than or atfault and do it early so we don’t have to pay their lame asses! Fuck this and these therapists who have zero insight. Get better help here and on you tube in my experience!

      • This works, I think, after the Chump has seen the light (married to an abusive narc-type). The problem for me (and I suspect many Chumps) is that during the marriage, it’s just so friggin’ hard to SEE what’s going on.

        After years of lies, gaslighting, covert — and some overt — abuse, I had no idea what was up or down. That’s why I wanted to see the therapist, to help me understand if my raging, screaming gut was right (that I was married to a jackass cheater), or if I was being a selfish, horrible wife. I was so messed up at that point, I honestly didn’t know.

        I trusted the therapist for his objectivity — huge mistake. I not only owned the “you’re an over-jealous, harpy wife” narrative and did everything in my power to conquer it (making myself smaller and smaller), but I stayed with the jackass for two more decades. All because I believed the therapist who backed up the asshole’s narrative.

        • JessMom

          It is hard to see what is going on.The chaos and lying and all over weirdness makes it impossible for any sane, logical person to understand. Plus dealing with everyday life. My demanding career, sick Mom, disabled veteran sibling, my kids. Gaslighting is easy to get away with if your Chump is living a real and involved life.

      • Yep. Adultery is always a sin! There are no excuses given where it doesn’t count, is not that bad, or is considered justified. No false equivalencies that say if you aren’t perfect either–he’s allowed to cheat. It is straight up always 100% wrong.

    • Wow! That so called “Christian therapist” never read a Bible! If she did….she would know that adultery is the only reason God would agree with divorce! If you think about it……..thats because adultery involves:

      Lying
      Spread of disease
      Deception
      Loss of family stability
      Theft of family funds for sex trade workers/OW/OW
      Loss of parent for the children (cheaters put the kids on the bottom of their “to do lists”)
      In some cases murder (crime annals are full of cases where adultery was the motive for murder).

      God knew what He was talking about when he said “By all means….divorce a cheater.”

  • Pretty much every chump on here talks with some humility about how life wasn’t perfect. They acknowledge they aren’t perfect. Marriage doesn’t ask for perfect. It asks for communication, compromise, honesty and integrity. Compassion and heartiness. Commitment and tenacity. Someone who goes trolling for strange with escorts and massage parlours long before their head is turned by the willing waterfall or wayward slough or leaky bucket or dirty dugout (what a strange correlation they tried to make us all envision, it so easily goes awry for me) at work… didn’t just happen into it.
    They weren’t a thawing ice cube slowly melting into this skanky sinkhole. They chose to pursue super slutty slippery slopes. I certainly didn’t get a memo. Or a ‘here’s how you can be a better wife’ list. Although I thought I was doing the right things. I never said no to sex, asked for it, tried to initiate, was shut down frequently… ‘I’m so bagged, maybe tomorrow’ and I made food and lunches and I cooked and did laundry. There were times when he did more and it sometimes came up that he thought I wasn’t doing enough so I tried to do more… but I certainly know if he told
    me it was so bad he didn’t want to be intimate because he found hookers more appealing than me because I failed so much, I would remember. I would know that he had tried to bring it up, and then maybe you could potentially say that ‘gee CR, he gave you fair warning that your wife settings needed improving or he was going elsewhere.’ But that wasn’t a thing. I didn’t get warning. Or choice. When he realized I knew, and we were sitting down to talk about the slutty buckets, or whatever you want to call the dalliance that is decade long infidelity… he said ‘well… things can’t stay the same’. (No shit)… I still don’t know what that meant. It obviously meant I wasn’t good enough. I obviously was failing. He has found this profile and knows that I have previously called myself a ‘catch’ on here and called me out on it. Again The communication is often accusatory and devaluing, vaguely. No detail just… you called yourself this. (Silence implies I am full of shit). Then at times when he is attempting to restore the relationship it’s all about what a fool he is. He is all ‘damn I’m dumb’. Like he actually lost the catch. (Am I a fish in the river? What is the chump in this weird ass water illustration? A well, not so fancy but damn serviceable?)

    Ugh. Whatever. This is all garbage. Happy blue Monday.

    • The always increasing and shifting goalposts. Cheater/Narc Playbook 101.

      — Don’t make enough money, he says. Okay — work more, bring in more money. Then it’s “You work too much.”

      — Don’t dress up enough, he says. Okay — dress up more often. Then it’s “Who are you trying to impress?” (YOU, asshole. And you never, ever deserved my constant sprint on the hamster-wheel .)

      It’s the unwinnable game. Nobody can never love enough or do enough to appease these assholes.

        • Yep, the constant sprint on the hamster wheel. You said it so well.

          Thanks for all your posts today. You’re spot on. That loser did NOT deserve you. You are worth so much more.

          • Thank you, FindingBliss. Being so accustomed to tearing myself down–and just getting my sea legs with my self esteem, it’s really heartwarming (and helpful) to hear this from someone else every now and then. (((Hugs)))

      • Exactly, it is an unwinnable game.

        What was it that movie said? The only way to win is not to play the game.

      • You’re so right about the unwinnable game.
        If you keep the house clean, they cheat because you clean too much; if you don’t, they cheat because the house isn’t clean enough.
        They’re always entitled to cheat.
        If the neighbor’s fried artichokes taste better (but they don’t) he would have dinner and sex with her when his husband was at work. Then he would come back home and say to me unaware of the affair: “her parquet is installed better than yours (I should have been suspicious about him saying yours instead of ours) and her jacuzzi has a wonderful view on the beach”.
        But he was the one who chose our jacuzzi and who installed our parquet!!!
        It’s just about triangulation, do therapists want us to have communication skills or to manipulation skills to keep up a hypocritical lifestyle as cheaters do?

        • Yes the game is rigged! I noticed that the only thing that pissed him off more than his complaints about me were my solutions! He didn’t like the couch in our den so I said let’s switch it with the couch you do like and he refused. He said I made dinner too late so I made it earlier and he went to the gym as the kids and I were sitting down to eat. He said I made breakfast too late in the morning so I made it earlier and he threw it in the garbage right in front of me. His made up complaints were easily disproven and some of them were things other people had done! It was only about justifying his planned abandonment, and he was visibly angry if I tried to solve his “complaints”.

          • Disordered folks love to put you in no win situations.
            On this sharing blame deal: I think in the initial aftermath of discovery, many chumps are susceptible to accepting blame. There are a few reasons for this: trauma affecting one’s ability to reason; desire to have some control i.e. if I caused it , I can fix it; and, in many cases, one has been beaten down for so long dealing with a disordered spouse this blame acceptance is the go to mode we have adopted ( it keeps some semblance of peace, and keeps the kids from hearing their abuse ( sometimes). There are , probably other reasons that I cannot think of right now.
            This 50/50 deal. so often spouted as the apportionment for responsibility for pre-existing marital problems that , supposedly, made the cheater cheat, ignores some pretty important factors.
            First, I read that there was some type of study done showing that cheaters, in general, were way less invested in the marriage and way more responsible for most of the marital problems pre-cheating. I do not know who or how this study was done, as the research I did was so long ago.
            But, the conclusion made perfect sense to me as it applied to my marriages to cheaters ( and I realize that my objectivity is suspect).
            Look at what qualities it takes to be a cheater: lack of integrity ( think they only lack it in this specific area, fidelity? think again. Look at the patterns in their lives.0; poor communication skills: poor problem solving skills; lack of empathy ( big one here); inability to foresee the effects on others ( this ties into lack of empathy).
            It is so much easier , and takes so little analysis to just use a trite phrase like ” both parties are equally responsible for the problems in a marriage”. This sounds good, but , simply , is not true, especially when one is dealing with a cheater.
            These folks are practiced liars who have lived a lifetime hurting others and lying to themselves and others. think this cheating is just a one time blip on the radar? Contact folks from their pasts and see what their history is. Look at the ease with which they cheat and yet sleep like babies and function normally, all the while lying to you, exposing you to disease, stealing family resources to fund their cheating.
            These are not people unfamiliar with lying and abusing.
            Often the are financially messed up, and have other big time issues in their pasts And they re comfortable in this realm of lying and cheating.

          • “I noticed that the only thing that pissed him off more than his complaints about me were my solutions! ”
            Nodancing, it sounds like you must have had a recorder in our home…

          • >>“I noticed that the only thing that pissed him off more than his complaints about me were my solutions!”

            So well stated! I really thought it was good to try to improve things when my spouse was unhappy with something — to make sure I was doing my best for the family I had committed to.

            The MAJOR problem with this thought process is that it would have required an equally committed — and rational — spouse. Regretfully, I believed this was the case in my marriage because he presented himself as these things.

            Of course, he was nothing of the sort. The facade was a cover for his true, abusive, narcissistic self.

            • He hated my solutions. He didn’t want any and was mad if I worked to solve problems. He also did not like simple solutions. His few solutions were complex,detailed and non intuitive. So they would fail because no one could follow it. I also told him many times that some of the things that bothered him were just not a priority to me but I would support changes if he took responsibility for them. He never did. You can gain no equity with the disordered. They never remember the good stuff, the years of trying.

      • This “you never deserved my constant sprint on the hamster wheel.” In fact if they acknowledge that you really were trying hard to please them constantly they’d say, “Ick. She is so desperate to please me it’s a real turn-off.”

    • I conclude they have no loyalties, only to their own happiness and like novelty, it dings the little pin ball flappers in their brain.

      • Bahahahaha! Pinball flappers. That’s gold. The incessant need for validation, and stimulation. I believe cheater when he cried and said he was sad. It’s sad. this was all out of control. It was all about stimulation. Like a monkey getting treats from a machine. Pinball flappers. I’m neurotic and a bit obsessive and I definitely have a big lazy streak. It never once occurred to me that all these things should combine to resent my spouse, and then find someone to feed me treats and use and abuse him. The flappers in my brain just don’t flap that way.

    • I love your writing, CR. Your post had me laughing out loud. “Dirty dugout?!?” – yuck. You sound like a “catch” to this guy all the way over on the other side of the Atlantic.

      I can’t remember if you have kids with that fool, but your no-contact/grey rock game seems to be letting him in your head a bit too much. But, hey; no judgment here. I failed incessantly at the no-contact thing; until I didn’t. Take care of yourself.

  • I clicked on the amazon link to look at the book reviews and the first sponsored suggested book listed was “Having An Affair: Practical Advice for Cheaters and Spouses”. Just awesome. I think amazon needs to work on its algorithms. I would think #1 would be “delete your order history on your shared amazon account.”. I wonder what the advice for spouses is? “Document that shit?” I just can’t even.

    • So sorry you had to see that … grrrr … such assholes, aren’t they? I had something similar, but it was the advertisements popping up on my computer.

      I could not understand why the ads I kept seeing were adult-oriented (sex-lingerie-oriented). I am a mom who shops for her kids, researches stuff for kids and work, and works on her computer. The most exciting thing I do on a computer is come to this site … so the ads made no sense to me. Until I discovered his 20+ hour a week porn habit — using my computer, unbeknownst to me.

      Reconfiguring how the various programs interpret my interests has been an annoying necessity.

  • Regardless of the state of the marriage – cheaters are liars who put themselves above all others
    At some point – e.g. when they bought the burner phone -worried the AP was pregnant – hid credit card charges – Left family vacations with their children a few days early “for work” – any cheater had to realize they were in over their heads and ideally gotten help to figure themselves out
    Instead – they just go deeper into the affair

    Jane – read a book like Frank Pittman’s “ private Lies” – it puts blame for cheating squarely on cheater. And most importantly it emphasizes the true order of romantic affairs – specifically that cheaters don’t “fall out of love” and then cheat – cheaters cheat to escape their own lives and after engaging in sexual bonding/ intimacy with the AP – “ fall out of love” with their spouse.

    • I completely agree with Frank Pittman. There isn’t a single family member or good friend who doesn’t agree that that the only reason that my husband couldn’t make his way back to the marriage was because of the obsessiveness of the affair. He’s not fully immersed with the OW, whom he equated to heroin last summer in a conversation with me about the affair. He admitted that he knew that she’s not good for him, and that no good can come of it, but the euphoria he feels around her or when he thinks about her it like heroin. My response was that it’s not normal to feel that way and he needs to talk to a professional about it (his own mother told him that maybe he should see a doctor). His response was, “Sure, there’s a lot of thing that I probably need to talk to someone about.”

      Well, he’s got his full-blown heroin now and practically lives in the heroin den on the days he doesn’t have the kids at is place.

      How can there possibly be any bonding with a wife when the husband is so far gone that he loses all reason?

  • I disagree. I didn’t get the message from Gottman’s excerpt that the blame is being shifted. They are describing ONE way a marriage breaks down and one of the spouses cheats. This scenario is pretty much mine. My husband found a sympathetic ear at the gym. Someone to elevate him and make everything ok while I was BEGGING for conversation, communication. Of course, all this behind my back.
    I’m a pretty level-headed person and strive to make things work. Unfortunately the man I married didn’t like to find solutions to our problems; he preferred to reiterate the problem over and over again. Extremely frustrating thing to go through. A doomsday attitude. The woman he unloaded on is absolutely gorgeous. Never saw a better body in my life. What does this tell me? You?that he was probably checking her out a long time. So…yes, our marriage had problems. Problems that could have been EASILY corrected with a willing partner. But it was easier for my husband to turn elsewhere. That says a lot about his character. Cheaters maybe all have shitty characters. I would suspect the Gottman Institute knows this.

    • Mjo, my situation is similar to yours, including the sympathetic ear at the gym. Of course I wasn’t a perfect husband and leading up to DD#1, I was distant because she was so withdrawn from the marriage that I had no clue what to do. So after DD#1, I told my wife I wanted to try to work on things, I wanted us to go to couples therapy, I asked her to open up to me, I told her I was scared for our marriage, etc. She would say things like, “I need time, “I can’t be rushed,” “I want to go to individual therapy before couples” (but then it took her 3 or 4 months to go to a therapist), etc. By the end of the summer I just knew something else was going on….bring on DD#2! I’m not sure what else I could have done leading up to DD#2 to change my wife’s mind or patterns. And that’s probably true for DD#1 if I ever saw it coming (I was blindsided and never saw it coming).

      I now realize us changing their minds isn’t possible, both in the past and moving forward. If they aren’t willing, we have nothing to work with.

      • FooledDad, I agree. Their minds are somewhere else. I had no suspicion at all about what he was doing. His brother had recently left his wife for another woman four years before that and it created major heartache for the whole family. I never, ever thought he would do the same, knowing what we all went through.

        What you said about being withdrawn because she wasn’t talking, was going on with me too. I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I was really depressed. So I sank into my world: take care of kids, hiking (mostly alone just to think about everything going wrong). And meanwhile, he was slowly building a new relationship. It’s hurtful, isn’t it? No one needs to go through that ever.

        • I am not surprised that his brother is a fuckwit as well. For years we all said why is my husband‘s brother such a fuck wit and never questioned how would it be possible that he could be normal, given the same upbringing. Turns out his brother is an overt and he’s a covert fuckwit.

      • Yes, it is the chicken and the egg deal, Fooled Twice. In my situation, things got so bad after my XWs had started cheating and it took me so long to figure it out, that my memories are that the relationship was always bad, therefore I felt maybe cheating was understandable, if not justified.
        But now , looking back and having composed a timeline on my own ( as admissions and details were never given), I can see that before the cheating we were happy, with the usual problems folks have.
        It was only after my wives began cheating that things got really unpleasant ant they began to b e super critical and mean.
        I understand it now, the need to demonize to justify etc.
        So, my memory was off. The relationship, to the extent it could be with a NPD, was not terrible, at least from y perspective and I had little clue of the dissatisfaction of my XWs ,as they never communicate it to me.

    • Mine found multiple sympathetic ears!!!!!
      He admitted just one, then it sounded strange to me that he admitted only what I had already found out, gaslighting and reducing many details. So I kept looking for evidence and within a day or two came avalanches of names numbers dates pictures. He actually targeted every woman he met of any age, size, nationality. Despite proof of his “pussy grabber syndrome”, he still admits only one and blames me of being bitter and jealous.

    • “So…yes, our marriage had problems. Problems that could have been EASILY corrected with a willing partner. But it was easier for my husband to turn elsewhere.”

      THIS ^^^^^^^^

      Thanks for this nugget today Mjo:)

  • I don’t have any stories about therapists trying to place blame on me for my STBXH’s cheating. But I do have an acknowledgment of two therapists who seemed way more interested in my stories about my husband than me.

    As I sat in the chair, pouring my heart out over my happiness with my current situation (which, by the way, wasn’t about his cheating, because at that time, I didn’t even have a clue!! Not even sure he was seeing anyone during the times I was going to therapy…)

    But as I described how unhappy I was with the way he treated me (controlling, demanding, etc), the therapists (two different ones, a few years apart) literally perked up, asking so many questions about him, his actions, and I just had the perception that they really wished he was sitting in the chair, instead of me. It was like they knew he was the problem. I’m not saying I didn’t have some of my own; it just really seemed they wanted a go at him.

    And despite always saying how “people don’t need to know about our private things,” he did go once, to a marriage counselor with me (not one of the other two). But he literally walked out of the one session (he only went 2 or 3 times) halfway through, when the therapist started questioning his thought process on one of the topics we were trying to tackle, and tried pointing out how it was ok that I didn’t think the same way. He didn’t like hearing that he might be wrong. Big surprise, right?! And how he went…

    • My second XW was adamant that I was never to mention her in my therapy. Not only was she unwilling to go herself, but no one was to hear about her. Yeah, these NPD types hate the scrutiny. It is one reason they isolate their prey.

  • I’m grappling with how we reconcile the advice to be “dignified” with “get uppity”? I’ve placed some links to this site on FB and made comments about not enabling cheating. Absolutely no direct response. I hope it at least made people think, but no one said so. The only noticeable effect was that the married vestryman from church who’d been making overtures to me backed off. I posted a picture of myself in the snow and I got heaps of praise and dozens of likes. The cultural message to me was that I must “move on” and never mention chumpdom or I will be shunned because people don’t want to feel awkward.

    My response to these therapists is that cheating is a choice. To open up to another person rather than one’s spouse is a decision that most do not make. I work at close quarters with a number of married men and only one of them – a 70 year old – drops by for personal chats. Making the connection with an “Other” is not kismet or inevitable. It is a selfish, immature decision to see if the grass is greener from the comfort of one’s marriage. And to take as many years as one needs to lay the groundwork for divorce – to line up the finances, graduations and history of regretful expressions of marital decay. All while using the chump for the benefits s/he provides. I would point out that this elaborate effort to “prepare to possibly leave” is never balanced by a similar effort to stay.

    I HAVE noticed from reading the UK Daily Mail “Comments” that readers are skewering Ewan MacGregor for cheating on his wife of 22 years with his younger costar – and then thanking BOTH of them in a recent award acceptance speech. He apparently brought the costar to his house for dinner – presumably already in the affair, though of course he denies it – where she told his wife that she’d had a crush on her husband when she was a teenager. He really seemed to believe that the culture was fine with his behavior. But it is backfiring, which I find gratifying. A few obvious OW are spouting the usual rhetoric – you can’t help who you fall in love with, his wife needs to move on. But they are being told in no uncertain terms that they have bad character and/or low self-esteem.

    • Like that terrible song on the radio atm about being the other women and what days you have him and how great it is to share him, puke
      Ewan’s a dick who fucked up a good thing like soo many of them, may he fade into obscurity.

    • Janus this is so insightful and exactly what happened to me. He married me just to have a wife appliance but spent the next 13 years perusing his options from the comfort of having a devoted wife who did everything for him. It’s disgusting. I realized that I live for 13 years with this uncertainty of where we would live, he always was saying we would move. Turns out that uncertainty had more to do with him moving out of our marriage than us moving houses. He resisted putting down roots with me, even after two kids. He was setting me up the whole time, to jump ship when shit got too real. No I didn’t bring him fresh croissants, he would have complained about them. He hated everything I did, there was no way to meet his approval.

      A therapist did try and pin blame on me for our marriage problems, we went for two sessions where X immediately recruited the therapist then demonized me. I was pretty shut down from abuse at this point and he used my (justified) reticence to get involved in the therapy process against me. He criticized my behavior but bailed on the therapy the minute I finally spoke up and said he was involved with two other women. Magically he left a week later. Magically a week after that he got a large bonus at work. So many coincidences.

      • No dancing, I also experienced the frenetic moving, along with a refusal to buy decent furniture. He only let me have a house and good furniture when he had a job elsewhere and the next relationship solidified. Although he was clueless in many ways. When I got the house and the mortgage deduction he said, “I never realized until now the importance of a mortgage deduction.” He’s refined his approach and now only has a long distance relationship that revolves around travel.

        He never saw a relationship that lasted beyond 20 years. So I was a phase – the second wife who helps him advance in his career and helps put his kids through college. When the youngest was in his last semester, I found out that he’d been with OW for 2 years. His mother’s marriage to her third husband followed this very pattern. He got her youngest through school and then she took off with OM. They are always looking for options. I believe they think their connections with the “Other(s)” reflect how special they are. But it is more that they cannot be alone with themselves.

  • You know how I know this is baloney? My ex’s married AP was married all of 6 months before he decided to jump “headlong into the waterfall of an affair” with my ex-wife. Let’s see the RIC blameshift that one onto his wife (who was so, so bad that he immediateley went running back to her after Dday).

    And I second everything CL had to say. If our spouse’s are so “unhappy”, then just divorce us. Be honest, be up front…and divorce us. THEN, go jump into the “waterfall of romance.”

    Alas, mine decided she first needed time to test out a new relationship for a few years on the side while stashing away money, and of course all the while making me think I was in a committed marriage. Then when she thought she (and her AP) was ready to go……suddenly I didn’t make her “happy” anymore……puh-leeze.

    • Yep, I would have liked the honesty, if he had just said, I’m not happy and we divorced.

      The betrayal, gaslighting, and cheating behind my back wasn’t necessary. Well not for me, but I guess it was for him so he could ‘test’ other waters.

  • We saw an EFT therapist (among others) as a couple, and when Cheater said the words “Esther Perel book,” she shut him down very quickly as someone whose views she didn’t have a lot of respect for. Granted this was after 4 therapists he was able to lie to, one of whom admonished me for not believing that he hadn’t had sex with the mow. He clearly wasn’t lying and I was putting this false claim on him. Yeah, guess who was correct. I wrote her up. The mow was a social worker and he figured he knew how to charm the pants off the really dumb ones in that field, due to his success with one. I have only seen phds since, because female social workers are a terrible trigger for me. It was clear that cheater had NO respect for the therapists he bamboozled. If they fawned over him (yes they did, with me sitting there) he looked for another. So many fucked up people in that field, at least in my experience with, now, over 10 therapists. All I could ever do was cry non stop and test the staying power of my latest mascara. If any one is curious, I narrowed it down and found a great one.

    My current shrink is a stereotypical Ivy League no bull shit, no softness, 65+ doctor who kicks my ass bi weekly for $25 co pay, free parking, 5 min from my home. She’s what I’ve always dreamed about in a shrink and I’m so lucky I have her. I limp out of there with a lot to think about, and grateful for the constant Radcliffe issued 2 x 4s.

    • Yes, I ran through a list of terrible, inept, enabling and self-serving therapists as well. I try to steer clear of many people I the so-called “helping” professions because I think that they don’t screen very well for who should be in them. A bad therapist can harm so much more.

      • There is a tendency for some disordered people to go into helping fields. If they’re helping others, it’s validation that they’re not just not fucked up, but actually superior to most in their healing abilities. I think it’s conflict avoidance in the form of license. They almost seem to revel in other people’s issues – “phew, at least I’m not that fucked up! I rock. Next client, please.” Is it a coincidence that the cartoon epitome of manipulative ass hole, Lucy Van Pelt, is also a psychiatrist? And how she loves ripping that football out from Charlie Brown after swearing she won’t. I suddenly feel sad for Charles Schultz, he must’ve gone thru some serious shit.

        • Yes, hollowbunny, you nailed it! It took me forever to figure out why NPD STBX’s identity is so tied up in his profession (yep, he’s a therapist!) when he’s so personally fucked up (lying, cheating, tax evasion, alcoholism out of control-just got a DUI this weekend). But all he talks about is how much good he does “helping people.” ( And I have actually witnessed uncharacteristically caring behavior towards people in crisis calling him). I think he actually gets off on the sense of superiority-like, OK, I did my job and helped someone. Therefore, the rest of the world owes me an exemption from having to abide by the law of the land, or even the normal rules of human decency. Effin’ narcopaths!

          • Yes to all of this. I heard a lot about the mow “she’s a good person, she only helps people, she’s loyal to the business,” meanwhile the 2 of them were lying to family and business and putting it all at risk. She wrote a lot about how she’s “a good person. We are good people.” A lot.

            If one states over and over again how one is good, or a genius, or stable or whatever – no.

            If you have to say you is, you ain’t.

  • “THEY discover a lovely flowing river a sweet young woman at the office.” Seriously?!?!
    I know what my narcissist Xh discovered: at least 30 rivers! Some simultaneous and some paid in euros using our family finances.
    Do these therapists know what he used to say about the more than 30 OW he fucked? That “the ugly ones are the best” because he liked to make fun of their physical imperfections after fucking them. So sick.
    How about this serial cheater’s communication skills?

      • Ok, but what if the river is old and has sewage in it and has been around and around a lot and is smelly and nasty? And it’s flowing through the office? And everyone seems to hold their nose and avoid it because it’s so gross? What if that’s what he’s fucking?

    • Yeah, I am sick of the flowery metaphors and euphemisms surrounding affairs. It’s always written that way. No book ever says “He was getting blow jobs in a Honda Civic in the wall mark parking lot by a low rent prostitute carrying herpes!” Although the second scenario is far more common than women who are “lovely flowing rivers.” There is a cultural gaslighting in these euphemisms that turn dirty, disgusting, dangerous, deceitful behavior into “lovely flowing rivers.” A euphemism is nothing but a piece of perfumed silk used to cover up the stinking corpse of some rotting moral truth.

      • >>” No book ever says “He was getting blow jobs in a Honda Civic in the wall mark parking lot by a low rent prostitute carrying herpes!”

        (add-on) … next to your child’s car seat.

        I agree, Jojobee. There is nothing flowery or sweet about the disgusting lack of character happening in affairs.

        • Never any mention of the ugliness, it’s so romantic. All the saggy wrinkly jiggly shit slapping all over screams sweet youth and flowery connections.

  • I guess I got lucky when it came to therapists. Mine was a daughter of a cheater and had witnessed years of abuse and gaslighting in her family home. Her father eventually left and married the OW, but he soon realized that she was nothing more than a gold digger who was using the crap out of him. The therapist has lunch with her Dad occasionally and all he does is whine about his misfortune! Her Mother is her hero. A once SAHM who used the time she knew her husband was cheating to get a nursing degree before he left. Apparently her Mother is a VERY happy, well-adjusted woman now. Seems she spends very little time worrying about her Ex! My therapist encouraged me to just let him go and let him actually live out his fantasy. She was convinced that these cheaters soon realize that their fantasy is actually their worst nightmare come true and they deserve it! She made it clear that her “lunches” with her Dad were nothing more than his attempt at free therapy and they were few and far between. She had little sympathy for a man who had ruined her childhood and family, but gave him a few crumbs of her time occasionally when she could stomach it! Her advice to me…. living well is the best revenge. Just let the cheater go! She was a gem!

    • If any on-the-fence chumps are reading my reply, this is the way to invest your time while keeping an eye peeled for your unicorn: “A once SAHM who used the time she knew her husband was cheating to get a nursing degree before he left.”

      Get your ducks in a row. Learn about money. Plan for the future. Get training or education. Be prepared.

      • This is the greatest advice LAJ! I did just that, taking classes to get my degrees with three children at home. My youngest was in kindergarten and it took me seven years.

        And age does not matter! Invest in yourselves Chumps.!

        • It took me seven years to get my degree too! (Though, I only had two kids at the time.) I was often older than my professors … but, nobody minded, including me. 🙂

    • Wow, Roberta- You were lucky that your therapist shared her story with you. So many therapists are actually wives of cheaters (especially in the infidelity or “sex addiction” field, but they’ll usually not tell you because ethically, they’re not supposed to “self-disclose”. Yet, from what I’ve seen, many of them are high on hopium themselves, and project onto us that all we need is more compassion, understand our partner’s trauma, blah blah blah….I believe many actually NEED to see our relationships work. Otherwise, the ugly truth that 99% of cheaters are not redeemable, would be way too painful a reminder about their own hellish marriages not being fixable.

  • I just started this virtual therapy and had my first session with the counselor they paired me with. In our initial chats I made it very clear I am suffering from some depression that is related to my ex’s affair and prompt discard of me and not just the fact that I had to divorce. He kept going on about the effects of divorce in general. I didn’t feel like he was listening to me at all! I promptly requested someone else. This is not just a typical divorce scenario, and I’m tired of the rug-sweeping that people do about cheaters! It DOES matter how the relationship ended. It’s profoundly traumatic to the Chump and there need to be more medical professionals trained to deal with this sort of trauma. I hope my next assigned counselor gets this!!

    • Good job deciding to request a new counselor! Keep at it. As frustrating as it is, finding the right one can be extremely helpful (and worth the frustration to find him/her).

  • Right on! I wish I could share this but my attorney would say I’m going to leave the impression that I would talk badly about the kids mother and that could effect my custody. My wife says I need to own my part but does she own hers? No. Even say the word affair and she either shuts down or gets furious. I’ve told her when the kids are adults, I’m telling them.
    I bet there are some people who cheat, regret, and never do it again, and have good relationships. People make mistakes. But I don’t have a cheater like that. Mine doesn’t want to be judged or take responsibility mine want to shift blame and claim false equivalency. I used to think it’s because she couldn’t accept what she did. Maybe she can’t. But mostly she doesn’t care enough about me. She just cares about herself. She wants to feel good doesn’t care if she hurt me, I don’t matter to her.

    • Lack of accountability is such a huge flag. It took me forever to realize the jackass’s criticisms of me were often a part of a blameshift. Looking back, it’s shocking to me how much I “owned” while he refused to do anything of the sort.

      And, no, these types don’t give a shit about us … or anyone else. Your wife is devastating her children’s family (their stability) as well as you (by so thoroughly breaking her commitment to you and your family). All to avoid accountability, to avoid becoming a decent human being.

      It’s shocking to know people like this exist at all. But it’s worse when you realize that you’ve been married to one.

      Best wishes as you move forward with the divorce. Keep listening to your attorney!

    • Yeah, always best to keep quiet while there’s a court case going on. Heck, I wouldn’t lie to your kids all throughout their childhood either. Once they’re old enough to understand the concept of cheating, they’re old enough to know that’s what she did.

  • I read this book after day 1 (the one I was aware of), I found it to be the ultimate in blameshifting. I learned on this site that cheating is a choice. This site was my only clarity after d day 2. I firmly believe in the chump lady cake eating theory.

  • The line that struck me was “Blinded by the other’s brilliance and beauty……” WOW!!! The cheater can’t help themselves the stupid, ugly spouse can not compete!! Is there no free will?

    • It’s like a fairy tale instead of an explanation of human behavior, where the cheater has been enchanted and has not choice.

  • There are therapists and marriage counselors out there who will treat cheating for the moral crime it is. However, I don’t think those people believe they will sell a lot of books. Here’s hoping CL sales make the industry rethink its approach.

  • It’s called “therapist abuse”- and it’s very harmful to the betrayed spouse. No one on earth can make you do anything that goes against your moral principles. No one can “make you”….”drive you” …or coerce you to rob a bank…………cheat on your spouse………or kick a puppy. NO ONE!

    If unmet needs drove people to cheating- I should have been the one pouncing on every man I saw!

  • Meh, I think this is accurate in some cases. Not all affairs, but some happen in shitty relationships and sometimes people refuse to attend counseling and if you are a chump (like me) who thinks you need to work on things, you stick around despite having a shitty relationship.

    Honestly, at this point, his affair was the best thing that ever happened to me. It freed me from that shit relationship and showed me who he truly was. I know it’s hard to conceive of that in the beginning – I’m 4.5 years out now.

  • I wonder if this kind of nonsense started because therapists were trying to find a way to throw a bone to the cheater as a way of having them stay part of the conversation. It may have been rationalized as a good idea because at least the work together as a couple could then move forward if both sides had points for their side, and progress could be made together. It also keeps people in therapy for longer (cynically speaking, of course).

    There is of course, a couple of fundamental problems with this. The issues that each partner might bring to a session are not equal. Being a bit stubborn or uncommunicative is not equal to fucking around on your spouse and children. Also, the cheater is likely to be much more self-entitled, manipulative, and can easily dominate therapy sessions, especially if they are still involved with their AP.

    I would love it if a therapist would say, “Well, John(Jane), I’ve listened to both of you very carefully, and I have come to the professional conclusion that you are a monumental asshat. Furthermore, there is nothing I can do to help the two of you because you are still engaged in an affair, and are very likely to have another because you are a self-entitled prick. Thank you and have a nice day. I have given the number of an excellent divorce lawyer to your long-suffering wife (husband)”

    • Marriage counseling is worthless with a cheater. Chumps should not waste their money on these quacks. The cheater will not stop lying, blame shifting, gas lighting or deceiving…..just because they go to a marriage counselor.

      If anything…..the cheater tries to recruit the counselor/therapist into agreeing with him.

  • I am really confused…should I fight more or less? I need the Gottman’s to please tell me the correct way to communicate. I understand that my lack of communication was the reason my husband had sex with another woman for 2.5 years. If only I could have kept him from going into an abyss of loneliness!! The lies and deception he heaped on me were well deserved because I didn’t bring him croissants!!!

  • No…it does NOT take two to tango with adultery! It takes ONE amoral, selfish piece of shit to ruin the marriage with infidelity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Marriage counseling cannot and will not help with a cheater! Cheating is a moral deficiency on the part of a cheater- NOT a “marital problem.” No marriage counselor can help the cheater grow morals, decency and integrity!

  • Right on! The chumps voice must be heard outside of this forum. We are an army thanks to our leader. To the streets with our virtual protest.

  • “Free at last! Free at last!

    Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

    Thankfully, I found my therapist within weeks of once again being discarded by my abuser. When I described the discard he leaned forward and said, “He’s a narcissist, If you don’t leave him it will kill you the next time.You need to divorce him.” I was in the bargaining stage and those were the first words I had ever experienced that validated the abuse I’d suffered over decades.

    He suggested I find a blog instead of revenge which led me to this great nation.

    MLK was a great man who changed the narrative. There are few who have the power to change a nation.

    And I was shaped by generations of women who suffered horrible abuse, my great grandmother left with three children during the depression. They went hungry and lived in poverty. My grandmother who had to quit school to work as a house keeper for a rich family as a child. And then my beautiful mother who suffered lifelong abuse from my verbally Abusive narcissistic father.

    I was strong, beautiful, bright and independent. I was particular in choosing my partner. He was kind and didn’t rage. We were always together and he professed his love frequently.

    The abuse began prior to marrying him however I didn’t recognize it as such. I worked harder, did more. The monster I married was a malignant covert narcissist who played me for decades. I could no longer see myself getting free from his toxicity even though I could support myself.

    What Chumps need is to be validated and to know they are not alone. It’s irresponsible to place blame on victims of abuse, male or female. Yet many therapists, blogs, and authors hide behind those generations of judging and blaming under the guise of ownership.

    Communication requires honesty and the willingness to change. As Chumps our part is to say, “Fuck the SILENCE.” Tell your story. We no longer have to suffer alone.

    The injustices I’ve seen on these pages tells me there is hope. Personally, I know of two wonderful people who ended their lives because of infidelity and the fact they blamed themselves and had no where to turn.

    Thank you Tracy for being the one who changed the narrative to one of hope so future generations break the patterns of suffering in silence and know their worth. I salute your neverending dedication to change and hope. You saved my life.

    • The victim blaming mentality reminds me of the days when rape victims were blamed for being raped. Equally, convenience store clerks who are shot and killed for a few measly dollars in the cash register- had it coming. They coulda…..woulda… shoulda done this that or the other.

    • Doingme, thanks for putting the chump struggle in historical perspective. We are at a point in which people who have suffered abuse from spouses, employers, and others in their lives (doctors, therapists, coaches, etc.) are starting to speak out.

  • I teach my students that NO ONE makes them…kick someone, call someone a name, bully someone, not do their homework, cheat on a test, be disrespectful, etc. We discuss the “you are in control of you” concept daily. We talk about choices, how choices can hurt others, and how there are consequences to choices.

    How sad is the world that 11 year old children understand that concept better than adults.

    • Very sad. And an excellent point. I don’t know one adult who doesn’t teach their kids something along these lines (basic morality). Yet, so many people I know do not hold themselves to that same standard. It’s mind-boggling.

      I once made the comment to jackass that he would never put up with our children lying, cheating, etc. He would be furious. But, holding everyone else to a normal, moral standard clearly showed me that he fully understood morality, how to be moral, and why it’s important. This was when I realized that he very much understood what he was doing to our family.

      • The Traitor had an answer to this. “Do as I say, don’t do as I do. ” Every time he said this to the kids and pretended it was a joke, he was giving us a glimpse behind the mask.

  • One asshole marriage counselor asked me what I did to contribute to my ex pervert/liar husband’s lewd behavior. I told her…..I trusted him.

    I hate….hate …..hate the term “codependent.” NEVER allow a quack counselor to hang that label on you! You didn’t enable the cheater…….you didn’t contribute to the cheating……..and you certainly did nothing to cause the cheating!!! All you did was love and trust a liar/cheater.

    • Yes to this! My STBXW would go to the gym to meet up with her AP. Was I supposed to follow her there and see who she was with? I trusted her completely. I was home with the kids while she was out. I would have gone to the gym with her otherwise. Love and trust go together. You can’t have one without the other, not with equals. We’re not talking about kids.

      • When the cheater breaks the trust……..it’s impossible to get it back again.

        I don’t care what pop psychology says………or what overly optimistic Christians say……..it’s fucking impossible to put that toothpaste back in the tube!

        To make matters worse…”forgiveness” is no more than a green light for the cheater to cheat again. Anyone who denies this is kidding themselves. Cheaters are morally disordered people- nothing can fix them. Not pills, not church, not half baked therapists.

    • Labels are often unhelpful. But there are people who stay attached to abusers because they think it is their job to “fix” that person, to help that person be and do better. Another way to think about that is many of us don’t value our own lives as we should. That doesn’t make us at fault for cheating, but it can keep us stuck trying to “save the marriage” or rescue the cheater instead of taking care of ourselves.

  • I believe Dr. Omar Minwalla tells betrayed spouses to “move on”- there’s nothing to work with when he knows the cheater is incapable of accepting responsibility for the cheating. Minwall does “call the cheater out”- but most often it’s futile because the cheater believes his/her own lies.

    He also understands the damage cheaters create for betrayed spouses and children If we had more professionals like Minwalla- the blame the victim crap would stop!

    What happens to the betrayed spouse…..take a look:
    http://theinstituteforsexualhealth.com/thirteen-dimensions-of-sex-addiction-induced-trauma-sait-among-partners-and-spouses-impacted-by-sex-addiction/

    Minwalla has it exactly right. Any counselor who can’t see or understand the emotional damage of sexual betrayal……has NO business in the counseling field!

    • I, too, love Dr. Minwalla’s work. AND/BUT….as long as the term “sex addiction” is bandied about, wives will still tough it out, thinking that they need to wait for their “addict” to claim recovery for himself.

      I would love to see an end to anyone using that term. It denies the perpetrator having to take real responsibility for his behaviors, and worse, it keeps the wife hanging on for years, hoping that those 12-step meetings will eventually seep into his brain and cause what CL might call a character transplant.
      Nope. Rare enough to call that a unicorn.

      • “Sex addicts” supporting each other in their meetings (and outside for “hookups”) is akin to lunatics in charge of the insane asylum…

  • I think the false equivalency narrative stems from religious context (all sins are equal in the eyes of god), and from the patterned roles of status in a social system. Status brings with it privlage not afforded to those without it… as we are well aware of on MLK Day. By merely discussing the origins of cause/effect/correlation, it can function as an excuse for the very thing which is being disputed. By exploring the “reasons” cheaters cheat, the RIC affords cheaters the privilege of using interpersonal interactions as a way to blame their behavior on their partner. Of course we influence feelings in those we interact with, but with false equivalency, there seems to be no distinction between feelings, actions and outcomes.

    “anything offered as a cause in theory is in someway functioning as an excuse in practice.” ~ Michael Samsel

    Feelings are not the driving force of outcomes, actions are. Maybe I wasn’t the best spouse, maybe I regularly pissed my spouse off (feelings). What actions my spouse chooses based on those feelings are the driving force for outcomes.

    Does my spouse discuss their feelings (action)?
    Does my spouse brood silently (in this case the choice is inaction)?
    Does my spouse go out and have an affair (action)?

    The RIC’s Exploring of the feeling/action/outcome history in the marriage quickly becomes “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” … and there you have the ground work laid for false equivalency.

    “In 1990 you hurt my feelings when you took care of our toddler with the flu instead of attending my office Christmas party where I met my smoopsie” The excuses and false equivalency then become this never ending circle ⭕️ that make a chumps contribution to the cheaters FEELINGS the driving force of their ACTIONS.

    My spouses affair (action) really made me angry (feeling) , and I really wanted to bash his head in; but because I own my own agency (and would prefer to stay out of jail) I made a CHOICE to not ACT on those FEELINGS.

    This is pretty elementary stuff here. I’m not sure how something kids are taught in kindergarten … “Sam don’t punch sally because you are mad she took your toy, instead tell her you are not done playing with it yet, and you will give it to her when you are done. Sally, you need to ask for his toy instead of just taking it.”

    Why is this hard for cheaters and the RIC to grasp?

    • Ah….false equivalency! Dancing Dick (ex cheater/pervert) told me that because I spent money on towels at JC Penney’s without first consulting him……………..that’s the same as him spending money on web cam hoes!

      You can’t make this shit up! The RIC would have agreed with the Dancing Dick!

      • There is always that tendency toward distraction. As though this can’t be about the actual betrayal… no it’s about spending money without consulting the spouse. Which is something you do TOO. Cheater acted like me chatting with friends was absolutely the same as him texting weirdly inappropriate messages to teenage girls. “Well, you talk to YOUR friends! Why can’t I have friends?” As if it’s the same thing for me to email my friend as for a 50-year-old guy to be texting a teenage girl about how to keep secrets from her dad. Sheez.

    • This is a fascinating discussion that has a lot of implications in the mainstream media, and not just about cheating. I’ve often wondered how many smart people fall for the “false equivalency” argument or make that argument themselves.

      • Just a guess on my part — but my experience is that most people aren’t taught how to think critically. Fuzzy thinking is easier than parsing logical fallacies, so why bother. Add in the emotional factors (social pressure not to be “judgmental”; own flaws that make it hard to condemn others; moral cowardice, etc.) and it’s a recipe for disastrous conclusions.

    • It ISN’T hard for the RIC to grasp at all. But think about it– there aren’t many billable hours in telling a chump, “Get out now…He’s not going to have a character overhaul from what I can tell in here.” That would be the end of what COULD be so many years worth of billable hours with you seated in the first row as the marriage therapist untangles his skein!

      And make no mistake about it– many, many cheaters LOVE therapy. It’s another form of kibbles…..it’s still all about them. You sit there hemorrhaging but they will still twist the session into all about their sad sausage lives.

  • This saddens me, because I have in general I enjoy reading relationship advice from the Gottmans. In my case, I agree with their initial assessment. My marriage had poor conflict management skills. Mostly on my husband’s part but I used some poor judgement as well. It did indeed lead to avoiding disagreements, well actually he always avoided them and I started avoiding them because they always got turned around on me. Fights got ugly, mostly because they happened after he got home from the bar. All of this did lead to us shutting down any communication and basically ignoring each other. Although I did try from time to time to start a convo and he would invite me out to happy hours, but only after I asked where he was. He found lots of sympathetic women at his office.

    But here’s where the Gottman’s oversimplify. He had a choice to respond to my bids for affections, as they call them. We may have not been communicating well, but I tried my best to cook his favorite meals or buy him something I new he liked or send him an email during the day when a topic he liked popped up on my Facebook feed. I made bids. He did not do the same to me, basically making me feel lonely, unloved and unheard and yet I did not cheat. This points to it being not JUST about poor conflict management, but also the character of a person. It takes a certain type of person to make the choice to cheat. Usually this person is selfish and that in itself may be the reason for the poor conflict management in the first place! You have one selfish partner who never takes accountability, avoids conflict or blame shifts and of course, you are going to have poor conflict management!

    Another reason I know his poor choices are not my fault? He continues to make them. He chose to leave me during cancer. He chose to leave out child with me while I was going through chemo so he could go out to the bars. He then chose to start another relationship 6 months after the first one, in which he immediately got a woman pregnant and now he is choosing not to tell anyone about it. He chose not to tell his mother or me that his girlfriend is 6 months pregnant. Bad choices all around and the only common factor in all of them is him.

    • In my experience, people of good will in friendship or in love do respond to the “bids” or loving gestures of the other person. I bought my XH all sorts of expensive, lovely gifts that he used all the time–bicycle, camera, iPad, etc. Always the best I could afford. And once Christmas or the birthday was over, I never heard another word about it. The stuff was now HIS and it didn’t mean anything to him that I put the time and thought into the gift. Meanwhile, I bought VKM a pair of “heat retaining socks” last year. He’s not a demonstrative guy, so I figured maybe he thought it was a stupid gift, but it was just socks (LOL) so no big deal. Yesterday, he sent me a text telling me how great these socks I GAVE HIM OVER A YEAR AGO were keeping his feet war. I almost cried when I read it. Give him a gift and he remembers.

  • As a data analyst, there is a major flaw in their study. “When John and I examined the data of hundreds of couples with affairs…• They only examined couples with affairs. Not couples WITHOUT affairs. Those precursors to cheating might be present in a second set of couples as well, where it did not lead to cheating.

    I was in an unhappy marriage and I didn’t cheat. So…. go back to the drawing board, Gottmans.

    • I thought the same thing. They are studying cheaters, and its likely that the type of person who cheats– especially the disordered cheaters we see here all the time–probably have crap marriage skills in the first place. It’s pretty damn hard to communicate with someone who is in the devaluation stage of the narcissist cycle.

      So the first move in looking at cheating should be figuring out if one of the partners has a character or personality disorder. Then either cheating follows as night follows day or some other cataclysmic problem like substance abuse emerges. That’s pretty foundational in any attempt at getting two parties to agree. If one side does not enter into the process with good will or if that side shows no interest in change, the willing party is wasting their time.

  • A year ago, right around now (a few months before d-day), I was getting looks of disgust from my then-husband. I asked if he wanted to go to counseling. He said “No”. He told me to “Stop trying to make our marriage work”, when I’d point out my faults to him and give him complinents.
    Thank God I didn’t go to MC!

    His affair, I guess, is considered an exit affair. It was dead long ago. I wasn’t happy and wanted to leave him years ago. It doesn’t matter though. Cheating is wrong. There is no excuse. No one deserves to be cheated on.

    When ex blames me for him having the affair, my response is “I was in the same shitty marriage, but I didn’t cheat”

    • Anthony Wiener went to “The Ranch”- a place for wealthy perverts/cheaters to do arts and crafts….ride on ponies……and blame their spouses for their disgusting choices. The Ranch is modeled on Patrick Carnes “Sex Addiction” bunk. Sex addiction does NOT exist. Personality disorders with deceptive behavior patterns do exist! While Carnes gets rich off of these perverts/cheaters……….uneducated people actually believe sex addiction is real.

    • Exactly Happy! I had realized it was over and just wanted out. He chose an exit affair with a former EA. And yeah, same shitty marriage but I didn’t cheat.

    • Oh, the exit affair. Which, for a narcissistic/disordered type, is the logical step that follows devaluation of the partner. Also known as a “discard.”

  • Any articles or books written by Patrick Carnes, Rob Weiss and Ester Perel are nothing injurious hog wash. Don’t waste your time reading anything written by these quacks. They are leading the pack with victim blaming! They should be forced to leave the counseling industry for harming betrayed spouses/partners. The job best suited for Carnes, Weiss and Perel is “Assistant Manager” in the laundromat. These people have no business in the “helping profession.” They enable cheaters/perverts as they injure their victims.

  • The “blame shifting” therapists from Jane’s letter focus on things that break down between a couple and lead one to cheat. What happened to me is that I learned at the end of 33 years of marriage that my husband had cheated from the first month we were married. In the early years of our marriage, things were pretty good from my perspective. Over the years, yes, there was less sex, but definitely a comfortable level of doing things together – sharing hobbies, fun holidays, etc.

    So, when a spouse cheats from day 1, I can’t see how the 24 precursor steps have happened. There were no steps – just one person who had no intention of being faithful and whose character allowed, permitted, sought after affairs. So, any therapist who blames the chump, has no idea about the character defect that is at the root of cheating.

    When D day occurred for me, I was devastated and I did blame myself for awhile. But as more information came out, I realized it had nothing to do with me. It was all him – his entitlement to sex with anyone he desired. Now, I didn’t have a therapist who blamed me, but I had two girlfriends who did. They are no longer friends. I went NC with them as well as with him.

    • “So, when a spouse cheats from day 1, I can’t see how the 24 precursor steps have happened. There were no steps – just one person who had no intention of being faithful and whose character allowed, permitted, sought after affairs.”

      I think there are probably marriages where the cheating went on throughout courtship. And I agree that entitlement and character disorder are the roots of this behavior.

  • All marriages go through ups and downs. That’s just life on planet earth. Either you are committed….or you’re not. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Let’s get honest here….from the get go- cheaters never had “good communication skills.” At least not on the interpersonal level. Dancing Dick’s idea of “communication” was …”Im right and you’re wrong.” The man never saw anything wrong with himself. Never!

  • Communication or lack of communication……has NOTHING to do with immoral, selfish choices cheaters make! Enough of this bullshit!

    • You know…I can agree with the “lack of communication” part…because how many of us were told by our ex-fuckers that they weren’t happy? 99% of us didn’t get the “I’m unhappy” and the ever so popular “I love you but I’m not in love with you” line until AFTER we discovered the affair. Not before. Not during. Not until we found out. And my ex-fucker tells everyone he just wanted both of us to be happy…never told me that, because I thought we were! That’s right, I forgot I was in the same unhappy marriage, yet every time ex-fucker traveled for work, not once did it cross my mind to go fuck someone else. Would have been SO easy, too! Yes, I didn’t realize you sticking your dick in multiple decade younger employees, including the now whore-wife, and snorting shit up your nose was supposed to make both of us happy. So there’s your lack of communication.

  • If I remember correctly (don’t quote me), I discussed with my husband attending a couple’s weekend workshop by the Gottmans shortly after D-Day #1 and was told by a practitioner that they would not accept couples containing personality disorders (including narcissists), which cuts out a lot of serial cheaters and abusers. Hence, they work with couples who are relatively high-functioning. Could explain their high success rate posted on their website. A bit like a coach saying, many of my athletes won medals at the Olympics when he works only with a very talented Olympic team!

    I could say a lot about therapists providing marriage counseling/comment on my marriage, but for sake of time, I won’t (as I need to ‘get a life’). However, one thing that upsets me is the fact that a very close relative of mine, who is a psychologist, seems to make excuses for my last boyfriend, who was her friend for 30 years. She seems to buy into the ‘He’s a Nice Guy’ notion and downplays his lying, invalidation, disrespecting of me over a few years. I feel somewhat unheard and invalidated by her. I am also tired of friends of his/mine/ours saying, ‘He’s a Nice Guy’ when they hear that he left me (for his work subordinate). The response seems strange and rather invalidating. I don’t expect friends to beat up my now ex-boyfriend, no matter how he behaved, but the response is somewhat hurtful, not supportive.

    • These supposed “friends” of yours need to be downgraded to acquaintances.

      My friends are people who share my values.

  • I went to an individual therapist. Once. Because this 20 something sat there and told me that I should be able to ‘honor’ my marriage. What does honor mean when one’s husband runs away whilst one is out? I arrived home to a short note and an empty house. After 37 years of marriage. What was honour to him, or integrity or even common decency. Instead I spent some time reviewing those 37 years and came to the conclusion I married a closet narc with all the accompanying entitlement. My marriage was not what I thought it was and therefore there was no ‘honor’ associated. The passive acceptance that this therapist wanted for me is not what I needed. I was entitled to be angry, very angry and chump nation showed me the way to deal with this.

  • I’m always fascinated with therapists wanting to concentrate on the “we” aspects of what went wrong. It must have something to do with the narcs being brick walls when it comes to owning their repulsive (shameful) bullshit. Plus it seems so judgey to point out the narc was/is cheating. To keep the “discussion” going, therapists turn to the chumps who are desperate for help and engage in the “what did YOU say / not say / do / not do / should have done” to contribute to the cheater’s affair?” So the conversations don’t go anywhere except right back at the chumps; it’s the path of least resistance.

    It feeds right into the narcs, “I win! You Lose!” view of the world. I was even shamed because I kept referring back to my cheater-wife fucking other people. The therapist looked at me and said I wasn’t allowed to pull out my trump card every time we had a disagreement (i.e.: She was getting pissy about something I said / didn’t say / did / didn’t do / should have done); “You’re just throwing it in her face to win the argument. You can’t just shut her down anytime you disagree. That’s not conducive to open communication.

    While outside of therapy, the narc cheater-wife was still ripping me a new asshole anytime she wasn’t feeling properly worshiped (all the time). We had only one more session before I told them to go fuck themselves. I got righteously angry, found my voice, drew up my own list of terms and conditions (with big thanks to ChumpLady), and delivered them to the cheater-wife and therapist. YOU fucked other people – not WE. YOU are the disordered shithead – not WE. There is no WE until YOU fix YOUR shit.

    It was the most rational thing any human being could do in that situation. I haven’t wasted another dime on a therapist since.

    • I do think it’s a trap for chumps to stay in a relationship in which the cheater is not doing anything to address his or her own cheating, lying, gaslighting, etc. When a situation is NEVER RESOLVED, of course the chump is going to go back to that root grievance. There is no way to save a relationship where betrayal (sexual, financial, emotional, and/or psychological) is not RESOLVED and ended. But disordered people, who act on their sense of entitlement, are never going to resolve anything that might result in reciprocity. They want that tilted playing field. They want a triangle. They want the advantage. And right there, we can see that for them, nothing is about “love.”

  • I just want to say it’s frightening to challenge the narrative. I am a member of a 10,000+ strong closed Facebook group for women in my profession (law). To say we are outspoken is an understatement. A month ago somebody posted that they were thinking of having an affair and there were over 1000 comments —disgustingly many of them in favor of it. It was so triggering that I could not even begin to read the comments. However, yesterday somebody posted about her husband abandoning her and their infant. Many commenters raise the possibility of an affair. One person, however, linked to Esther Perel. I was angered and responded with our chump nation narrative: that cheating is domestic violence. I outlined all of the ways in which I believe this to be true. However, it upset me so much that I’m having trouble opening Facebook today because I don’t want to see the blowback. I’m three years out from D day and nine months out from divorce. I’m still barely at meh most days.

    So, challenging the narrative is great but it is difficult. At least for me and at least right now. My person difficulty advocating for chumps makes me even more grateful for you Tracy and for the others who speak out publicly. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Ps — as I mentioned before, I am gathering research for a book I’m writing which will be a legal help book for betrayed spouses who are seeking to use the law to recoup from the financial devastation of infidelity. So, I do plan to advocate for us and use my skills to change the narrative that way as well. It’s very slow going though. I’m still very fragile emotionally.

    • Good for you. Can’t wait to read the book. Will be glad to read drafts if you want feedback. I am a trained professional reader!

      And I know what you mean about the blowback on social media. My Twitter life is all politics, all the time but I am committed to civility to individual posters. It’s tough when they are really, really mean and personal. Hang in there.

      • Thank you LDJ! I will definitely take you up on the offer. I expect to have a good draft by summer at the latest. Being a new partner at a new law firm in a new state in a new area of the law at 50 after many years as a SAHM (yay me! Building this life thing…..) is taking priority and nearly all my bandwidth. But, I am motivated to help other chumps by writing my book.

    • Breaking the silence! Awesome Motherchumper 99.
      I bet there are many in your group who have been chumped and then hurt by the encouragement given to this cheater.

    • I saw men in the co-ed CoDA group I used to attend visibly flinch when I stated that cheating is a form of abuse and domestic violence. Pretty sure some of these men cheated and are “double winners” in 12-step lingo, meaning they attend SLAA meetings as well.

  • Great article! Hi ….I want to share my life which has changed in past 15 days. I’ve been married for past 7 years.Thought I had a happy married life as my husband cared for me and I loved him from the deepest core of my heart.He never hide this phone chats mails from me 2 weeks ago I happened to check his phone as he just returned from a trip ..I saw dirty chats with one of his colleague when I confronted he deny all until I try to contact a private investigator who helped me hacked his phone remotely I was able to see all that goes in and out of his phone until I caught him with a solid proof…thanks for this wonderful service if you have similar issue contact this man via his gmail cyberhack005

    • Stephanie, so sorry you are needing to be here but I get it. The marriage police sucks so bad— it robbed me of the very joy of living.

      You may come to a point soon where you ask: Is this ___ (full in blank with whatever “dirty texts with howorker”) ok with me?” “Is this the kind of non-reciprocal, disrespectful, sketchy behavior what is acceptable to me in a husband?” When the answer becomes “no,” then the path will become clearer.

      From one who pick-me danced and bought the fake remorse despite catching X again and again, and the abject terror of choosing my sanity over the life I had had with him for 26 years, 4 kids, homes, businesses, financial security….. it only took 18 weeks of that horror to be DONE enough to kick X to the curb and lawyer up. Another year to file while I slowly went NC. I wish I had moved more quickly to rip that rotten bandaid off and begun to heal faster. Oh well…..

      Life is so amazing today! Meh is wonderful! Peace reigns my life. Kids are doing so much better. I have so much joy and fun. I’m completely NC, thank God! X and his whores, drama, abuse, blameshifting are not my monkeys and no longer my circus! In fact, I hate circuses! I prefer a quiet book by a peaceful lake with the sound of gentle waves and rustling leaves any single day!
      ❤️❤️❤️

  • The only advantage I had was my own ability to recognize the truth when I saw it. Sure, I was programmed by the social narratives of the time, and sure I had to go back and separate the truth from the spackle, but I was able to hold on to the bits and pieces of the truth that I learned, and eventually all those bits and pieces came together. The truth eventually sets you free. The primary Narcs in my life had several things in common. They all lied, and they never took responsibility, for instance. What I discovered, with a little random help from a few therapists and authors along the way, was that the disordered personality types have patterns of behavior, and they do not feel real emotion or care for anyone’s feelings, other than their own. Once you realize that they were never the person they presented themselves to be, it was all a con, and there was never any end to their desire for kibbles, you can do away with any thought of reconciliation. We never had anything but an illusion. It is impossible to have a true relationship with someone who was never really there. All they ever wanted was everything I ever had, and they could never create or maintain by themselves.

    When you get away, you are free at last.

    • What a true, succinct and beautiful distillation of the very ugly facts. Love this, printing and posting on my mirror. Thank you, Portia

  • Just repeating this for emphasis. And this is why it’s useless to untangle the skein of their fuckedupedness. They are disordered. Not like us. Aliens walking around in Edgar suits: “Once you realize that they were never the person they presented themselves to be, it was all a con, and there was never any end to their desire for kibbles, you can do away with any thought of reconciliation. We never had anything but an illusion. It is impossible to have a true relationship with someone who was never really there. All they ever wanted was everything I ever had, and they could never create or maintain by themselves.”

  • I was very, very fortunate in that my therapist’s husband cheated on her back in the ’60s when they were very young – they had had their first baby – and so she knew *exactly* what I was going through. She never said it was my fault. She said his choices had nothing to do with me, and I’ve tried to internalize that as much as possible, especially when my ex said that I “failed” in the marriage by not having enough sex with him and because I stayed in the house too much.

    The sex part is partially true as I have two chronic illnesses, but also, we would plan to have sex and he’d fall asleep. When he would confront me the next day, I’d say, “But you fell asleep.” And of course, he’d respond, “Well, why didn’t you wake me up?” Yep, still my fault. When I would talk to him about the sex thing because I felt guilty, he’d say he didn’t care, that he understood that my health was a problem. WHATEVER. I couldn’t win!

    Y’know, what’s hard for me to deal with sometimes is that I *know* I started treating him with contempt. Why? Because of his behavior, the constant broken promises, the constant cycle of abuse. And I got fed up with it and I resented him. In hindsight, I should have ended things, but I was determined to make it work because I married him again (we divorced in 2008 and remarried in 2010 because I thought he’d changed!) and I didn’t want to admit that I’d made a huge mistake.

    He used to tell me sometimes that he saw hatred in my eyes when I looked at him – it wasn’t hatred, it was contempt. But I feel really bad about that.

    • That first sentence reads wrong! I was fortunate that my therapist knew what I was going through, not that she’d been cheated on!

    • Keepin Calm, I get the whole contempt thing. In hindsight, I treated mine with contempt as well. He couldn’t follow through on anything. Never wanted to stay in a job more than 2 years (which might have been ok if he wasn’t in a profession that meant we had to move each and every time). Felt the sun rose and set on him . . . Treated our teenage kids like 4 year olds . . . It’s a never ending list.

      • Thank you, bepositive. It’s the same with my ex. He couldn’t follow through, either. So, so many broken promises. Before we remarried in 2010, he wrote me all these gushy love letters; went to church; went to counseling. I really, really thought things were different. I was SO HAPPY! Within a few months, I started to see the other guy – i.e. the REAL guy – coming back. Those last 6 years, I would take out the letters he wrote to me and say, “What happened to this man? Where did he go? THAT is the man I married!” And he’d look at me and say, “Things change.”

        He lied to me again, and I fell for it. That is undoubtedly why I looked at him with contempt and undoubtedly why our remarriage was doomed from the start. He simply couldn’t make the changes last. In fact, he definitely fits Sandra Brown’s definition of a psychopath. I just wish I’d known all of this sooner and I could have saved myself so much heartache.

  • I just want to state, for the record, that I love my therapist. She has helped me to recognize that I was emotionally abused and to find myself again. She has been in my corner from the first and still occasionally sees me 3 years later to make sure I’m still in a good place.

    The two MC we went to were interesting experiences. The first one told me flat out that he wasn’t going to change and asked what I wanted to do – this at the first meeting. The second one seemed to not want to set off any triggers and I felt was sort of blah at the whole counseling thing. However, my ex-spouse hated her and refused to go back so I think he might have picked up on some different vibes than I did.

  • The whole “Shared blame/ Unmet needs” model of post affair therapy is a major pet peeve of mine.

    My question to the idiots who like to trot it out is, would you ask a rape victim how she encouraged her assault? Would you talk about the shared responsibility a battered wife bears for her abuse by not making his sandwich right or not getting his bear quickly enough?

    Yet when it comes to the shittiest thing that human beings do to each other that isn’t illegal it’s all “how did you contribute to their choice tp cheat?”
    Like the betrayed held a gun to their head of some shit.

    Then of course they come back with the whole “well things aren’t always black and white”, true somethings aren’t black and white but not cheating on your partner isn’t one of them. The choice to cheat is a personal choice and responsibility for that choice lays firmly and completely with the one who made said choice. I mean really how the fuck is a betrayed partner supposed to take action to prevent something that they don’t even know is happening?

    Show of hands, how many Chumps here had a cheater who came to them and said “I’m upset about X and if things don’t change I’m going to go fuck someone else”.

    Any?

    Yeah that’s what I thought. This entire experience has left me with a dim view or therapists and therapy in general.

  • Yeap I just got uppity yesterday on a Closed Facebook Group of my ethnic community. Someone posted a question, “If you are betrayed, do you forgive or not?”
    So some lady posted (I believe an OW) that cheating was not Black and White. Oh, lady you should of not said that… I totally got uppity. Even used CL wording “we need to change the narrative” type of language. They of course, came back with a bunch of Bull shit, I rebuffed them again, and of course they didn’t have a comeback. But that’s OK. there are 50K members in this group. Even if one CHUMP sees my post, it may make her think differently. I certainly did not think like I do now, before I was a Chump. So I understand. So yes, we need to spread the word. I’m not ashamed to talk about it, and I will every change I get.

    • Amazing coincidence! I did the exact same thing on my closed FB group of 10,000 professionals when someone lauded Esther Perel. I did so to help any chumps out there. However, I haven’t had the guts to look at any blowback. I’m still healing from all the Years of being victimized by X so I need to protect myself.
      You, however, are MIGHTY!

    • Good on you Mightyagain! You are indeed mighty for standing your ground and helping the chumps who are in this group. I’m sure you have helped many with your posts.

  • Well, dang it, maybe in a way they’re right. We never really argued, at least in the last couple of years of our relationship. They got that much at least.

    But my fault? Hell no. I asked constantly how she was, whether there was anything she wanted to discuss, whether she was happy in the relationship and she intimated repeatedly -right up until the end- that she’d never been happier & that she felt lucky to have me.

    What am I supposed to have done with that other than exactly what I did? Which is take her word for it. Sure, there were times when I sensed something wasn’t right, but she often told me it was stress, wider events in the world getting her down, etc. Am I supposed to barrel in on my partner and insist that there must be something wrong in the relationship that she’s just not telling me? No, beyond a certain point you have to trust your partner to act like an adult.

    At the end of the day, she was a moral coward in many ways. One of those ways was conflict avoiding (something I saw from her in more general life – it should have been a red flag), and not bringing up any complaints she may have had about our relationship. Another was to cheat. Another entirely was to run away from responsibility when caught.

    I’m a straight up guy, I don’t see the point in holding back or being closed off in a close relationship, I know the problem wasn’t with me. I communicated, but I couldn’t communicate on her behalf, only on mine. If she wanted to say stuff to me, anything, I know I’d have listened. On the rare occasions stuff did come out that she thought i’d be angry about, I recall I was usually bemused. Another red flag missed. At the end of the day, I couldn’t control her character & her lack of willingness to risk the relationship by saying things that she feared would upset me. And i’m not in the business of trying to control my partners in relationships, thats…. not healthy.

    So yeah, they’re spot on that we never argued and it led to resentment building up…. on one side. On the morally deficient, character deficient side. Not my side.

    • I totally get this. There were several times I would ask to see if things were okay. He said they were. So like you said, what else are you supposed to do but trust them?

      He came to me late 2016 and said he wasn’t happy. So we talked. From what he said, it sounded like none of it was related to me, but to him personally. So I suggested he go get help, talk to our pastor. Fast forward two months and all of the sudden, he doesn’t want to be married anymore. And why? Because a few weeks after he spilled his guts to me about not being happy, he started having an affair. I knew something was up and I confronted him about it. He STILL denied anything was going on, even gaslighted me into thinking I was crazy that I thought he was having an affair. Heck, on the day after I found the nude pictures of the whore (or rather, my daughter found them on her iPad which was somehow still synced with her dad’s iphone), I confronted him and HE STILL DENIED IT. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

      Who does that when caught red-handed? Answer? Disordered fuckwits. They really do suck.

  • My special fuckwit abandoned me while I was away on a work trip. I left to warm hugs and kisses in the early dark on Monday and landed one flight leg short of home on Thursday afternoon to an e-mail from him saying he moved out, that I was to transfer half of our savings into an account he opened (he kindly provided the routing number) and said he was going to file for an online divorce. I got an e-mail from that asshat, after 28 years of marriage, and with zero warning. I was in enormous shock and sought a crisis counselor to keep me from eating a bullet within the first week.

    After a few sessions the first dumbshit therapist let it slip that she didn’t believe me. She said something like, “if what you say is true” when referring to how the special fuckwit had split the scene. And she yawned a lot during those first sessions as a nice little touch. What possible motivation would I have to sit there and make up this shit, while I rapidly lost weight and obviously had the look of a zombie on zero sleep? I had completely wasted my time in talking with that stupid nitwit.

    I really felt like had been victimized twice in some ways–it was hard enough to wrap my mind around what kind of selfish, cowardly asshole sends his wife an e-mail and just poofs, but now I was being doubted by someone who was supposed to help. I was like someone who just was struck down in the street by a hit and run driver but found only a bored beat cop on the sidewalk who didn’t believe me.

    I have a better counselor now but I think my time with her might be drawing to a natural close and I find I get more out of my daily visits here with CN. I might go back to formal counseling later in the next phase (whatever that is) but I think I am ready to try navigating for a while on my own.

    • OMG this has such resonance for me Now IC.
      I got a text message from Arseface .One minute I was the love of his life then boom,he was gone in what I now realise was a sociopathic discard.It was only after this I discovered the harem of whores.Your post reminded me how bewildered and shell shocked I was in the immediate aftermath.In retrospect I can’t believe I actually tried to reconcile with that walking serpent but it adds insult to injury to walk into a therapist’s office and be asked what you might have done to cause such egregious behaviour.

      BTW CL,not an American but totally agree about Trump.There are no words.

  • After the divorce was final, I wrote a letter to the three marriage counselors we had gone to over the years. The first, with me having no clue about the affair, once a month for 5 months. The second, after I found out about the affair, for 2 sessions 2 days in a row. The third, 1 time and the XH walked out when he was asked to call the AP from the room and tell her it was over. So I wrote them all a letter… the third one I thanked & continued seeing to help me finish the divorce. The first two I thanked for their efforts but suggested that they would have helped me best by confirming if there was an affair & refusing to do couples counseling if the affair wasn’t over. As long as there is a 3rd person in the room, you’re doing trio counseling & not the couples counseling you’re getting paid to do.

    • Meg,
      Excellent post!
      “a third person in the room”
      You were so wise to send all three therapists a note. Hopefully the first two learned from your wise words.
      I commend you for being free from your cheater, and for getting rid of that ” third person” in the room of your life.
      YOU, sweet lady, are Mighty!

      • Thank you! Honestly, it took me 7 years to get a divorce after DD1. I did everything wrong & then found CL & CN. Divorced 4 years & so much better off! And I’m a clinical social worker planning to do a new career in unmarriage counseling; How to improve your marriage to a cheater by ending it!

  • Our MC called BS on X and demanded a polygraph if we were to continue as she too did not believe the remorse and commitment was genuine. X walked out and refused. BOOM. False wreconciliation over. Thank God. I was dying inside from the push me pull me and pick me dancing.

    • God she is great. I started watching her nearly thirty years ago. Thanks I’m having a great laugh watching her genius on you tube.

  • This is how my attempt at MC went.

    Me: My wife is cheating with men she is meeting on a social fitness site and I want her to get off those sites and be transparent with her electronics.

    MC therapist: Are you being insecure? Why not let her have some time to decide if she wants to be transparent? Your wife said she uses the fitness site for weight loss support, that is a positive thing, support is good, support is helpful.

    Me: She doesn’t need that fitness site to lose weight, she lost the weight on her own not because of a fitness site. She is not using it for support, she is using it engage in sexting and hookups with other men. Here is a print out of her flirting with other men on that site. They meet on this site then they take it to secret messaging apps for the online sex like KIK and Skype.

    MC therapist: I find that hard to believe, that is pretty extreme. She seems to genuinely use it for support. Give her some time to come around on transparency, don’t push her, stop being so needy and insecure.

    Me: I’m done with these sessions, I’m leaving now, this is a complete waste of my time.

  • portraying cheaters as being victims of their own personal wonderfulness that other women/men just throw themselves at them- reality they are con artists lying and scamming by any means necessary.

    Is one of the principles of effective couples therapy being honest? Because I sure didn’t experience that during months of marriage counseling with my cheater wife.

  • I started therapy shortly after DDay (my XWH moved 1000 miles away to be with his old girlfriend after bumping into her at their 50th H.S. reunion) and at first, it was helpful because she taught me a lot about the brain and how the neurotransmitters send the panic and fear signals and taught me how to stop the panic attacks and from melting into the floor in a glob of tears and snot. But then I wanted to start working on my inability to concentrate. I can’t read, I can’t watch a tv show to the end, I never finish any tasks around the house but constantly have 27 things upended at one time, I’m a mess that way and worrying about it is making me worse.

    When her solution to my problem was to make a list, I knew my time with her was done because she absolutely, 100% didn’t get what I was going through and was not going to be able to help me anymore. (side note: my kitchen island counter is literally covered with lists. Some of them are still from November. If there’s one thing I know how to do and can still do, it’s make a list.)

    My point is, listen to your gut and if you don’t feel comfortable with what your counselor is saying or how your counselor is responding to your comments, find another one. The damage the wrong one can do to you is worse than not going at all.

    That doesn’t make her a bad therapist, it just means she’s not qualified to treat my type of situation. It would be so wonderful if therapists had more specialty classifications like doctors do.

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