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How to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity

(No, not really. I’m just trying to mess with Google Analytics today.)

Many people tell me they wish they’d found Chump Lady sooner, before their ex inflicted another affair/ran off with the 401K/impregnated the schmoopie —  but alas they were googling “How to save my marriage” instead of “How to leave a cheater.”

So, all you sleepless 2 a.m. chumps, who just got pummeled by a D-Day, who want to save their marriages after infidelity? Rest here awhile. I know you’re not ready to hear it, I know it’s not the message you were hoping to find, but hey, I’m not going to charge you $399 to “affair proof” your marriage or bullshit you.

Here’s some real advice about How to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity:

Recognize that it’s dead. No! It’s all a terrible mistake and they’re really sorry! I hear you. You’re just going to try harder and be stalwart, and it’s all going to turn around. Sorry. That’s not how it works. When someone betrays you, in the most intimate and humiliating fashion, you cannot trust them. You cannot feel safe or intimate with someone you don’t trust. Sure, you can stay married to such a person, but you won’t feel connected to them. You know that movie Gravity, where Sandra Bullock is floating in space, untethered from the obliterated space station? Millions of miles and years from earth and the oxygen is running out? That’s your marriage.

But you DO feel connected! You have all this shared history! And you’re going to fling yourself at the cheater and FORCE the goddamn connection. LOVE ME, YOU BASTARD! That’s the Humiliating Dance of Pick Me. Stop it. You don’t control dead things.

Don’t I have some secret recipe to give you control of dead things? What, do I look like a wizard? No. And anyone who promises you such a recipe is a fraud. WE DON’T CONTROL OTHER PEOPLE. What other people do and how they feel is utterly beyond our control.

I’m sorry. I know the powerlessness sucks.

Realize it’s not your fault. Pay no attention to the blame-shifting. You didn’t hold a gun to their head and force them to create dating profiles. You might actually suck, but you did not make your cheater cheat. That’s completely on them. People have agency and many options including therapy, divorce lawyers, and honest conversations. They cheated because they wanted to. It’s that simple.

If you have any hope of saving it (assuming you think resurrection of dead things is a desirable outcome), you have to be prepared to enforce your boundaries, even if that means leaving.

Yes, that’s totally counterintuitive — to save this thing you want so badly, you have to be prepared to walk away from it cold. But that’s exactly what you have to do — you have to love and respect yourself enough to have deal breakers. If you won’t enforce your boundaries (such as “break up with Schmoopie,” or “show me a credit report,” or “get an STD test”), then you’re sending the message that you and your boundaries can be trampled on without consequence. Let it ride? That’s essentially sticking a sign on your forehead that says, “ABUSE ME.”

But they would never do that! 

They already did.

Finally, know this — you’ll survive. You’re more than the stupidity and appalling judgment of your partner. Infidelity is no measure of your worth. Whatever some fuckwit dished out, you’re still you. Don’t internalize their crazy.

I’d also suggest not staying married to it either.

This column ran previously. 

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    • Greatest post ever by Chump Lady.


      Much like Tom Brady*, she just keeps getting better and better with age.

      *Was going to use Newt Gingrich, but realized I might need another letter sent through the UBT.

    • I love love love it this is the best column so far I agree Chump lady and it took me FOREVER to finally see it. I fought tooth and nail after the first affair but when he admitted fully his first TRUTH I know that he didn’t even protect himself, a DRUG ADDICT she said she was clean, lol. That was it I found a lawyer and filed IMMEDIATELY. Hardest thing I have ever done but I respect myself too much for that and no “PICK ME” dance!????

      • Oh, geez, yes!! Back in 2014 the first Google search took me to a site where I spent $100 to affair-proof my now dead marriage, I bought books and wasted more time and money on the cheating douche and the sinking boat of a “marriage.” Yes – 23 years wasted. Yes – all my late teens, 20s and 30s on a lying cheating dbag. If ONLY this had come up then in my online search I wouldn’t have wasted another 8 months hanging out in shock, trying to save that giant nothing of a marriage. Lawyer up and come gain a life with us. Will it hurt and suck? Yes, but never as badly as what he’s done to you and you get to come away from it with your dignity and a new life, cheater-free. That’s gold, but you have to walk through the fire to get it.

  • I did see CL in the immediate aftermath but I wasn’t ready for the message. I’m not a quitter and I had a hell a lot of sunk costs. About 12 weeks later after failing to comprehend the erratic behaviour of the cheater and the disconnect between words and actions I finally understood. My eldest daughter told me she’d seen a text from my now ex to her MOM arranging a secret meet up about a week after her telling me she wanted to try again. I finally realised that staying married meant a life of looking over my shoulder and who wants that. I implore you, listen to the wise and wonderful Tracy, provider of snark and good advice for the cheated on. It isn’t a mark of your worth. It’s a mark of their crappiness, expect and demand better for yourself. I divorced the wife and I’m the happiest I’ve been for 20 years. People who cheat in my opinion have a whole host of traits that make them crappy, draining, using partners. I wish I hadn’t wasted 20 years with such an arsehole but at least I came out of it with 2 lovely kids and my self respect. Leave a cheater, gain a life, say it again.

    • I feel the same Real Monkey. It took me awhile to realize that I was the only one invested in my marriage and that was no way to live. I’m worthy of someone’s love, not of their abuse. When you are away from it you realize you were holding onto someone who already checked out. You DESERVE better! Go out and find yourself again. Love yourself again. Xo sweet

    • I, too, came across Chump Lady after dday#1. It was probably this article as I was searching for how to save my marriage. Even though I had cognitive dissonance going on, I was not ready to believe that this was really who my husband was. I was listening to his remorse and wanting to believe that deep down, he was still a good person.

      Until you are ready to let those seeds of doubt about their character grow, you aren’t ready to be open to CL’s message. Unfortunately, dday#2 (or 3, 4, 5…) will force you there. I now thank God for this place. Learning “trust they suck” and “no contact” are the most valuable things I have learned over the last 2 years.

      • “Until you are ready to let those seeds of doubt about their character grow….”

        GetMeFree, what a perfect statement!
        On my wedding day, I believed I knew who I would love for the rest of my life. I felt amazing that day, and letting go of my own expectations in favor of realizing that while I could have made it with him, he didn’t have what it took to make it with me, was a valuable lesson.
        Divorcing him isn’t a statement about me and my failures, which was the hardest thing for me to grasp.
        Sure, I contributed to the things that undermined us, but before he went out and found someone to “comfort him” (his words), he could have said something to me about how he was feeling or what he wanted and wasnt getting…..but he said so himself, albeit much later, he was selfish…..
        His actions took a lot out of me and our marriage. Once I came to terms with who he wasn’t (which meant seeing him as he was and not as I had envisioned him to be)…..he wasn’t quite so lovable, and I wasn’t quite so in love with him, either.

    • “People who cheat in my opinion have a whole host of traits that make them crappy, draining, using partners.” Well said, RealMonkeyLove. They do indeed.

      Enjoy your cheater-free life! You deserve it.

  • And talking of Sandra Bullock, someone cheated on her! Being successful and attractive is no protection against being cheated on so don’t feel less than. My ex affaired down as did her MOM. Fuckwits the pair of them. It didn’t last, what a surprise

    • “Being successful and attractive is no protection against being cheated on so don’t feel less than…”

      That is a difficult message for many us to really hear. It bears repeating until we “get it.”

      • Hugh Grant cheated on Elizabeth Hurley with a prostutite he picked up on the streets. Brad Pitt cheated on Jennifer Aniston. Billy Joel cheated on Christie Brinkley. Halle Berry. Eva Longoria. Shania Twain. Sienna Miller. Just a few gorgeous, talented, wealthy women who were cheated on.

        • I believe that Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright can be added to the list of successful, people who were cheated on. My modest, kind Olympic gold medalist coach who competed in SEVERAL Olympics, even after she had kids, who competed at the international level in TWO distinct sports, looked like Audrey Hepburn, spoke multiple languages, was offered a spot in medical school, and did the talk show circuit shortly after winning the Olympics and emigrating to the U.S. was left by her American Olympic husband for a younger athlete decades after they got married. Situations like this remind me that there is no protection against being cheated on.

          • The only real protection is to not marry a cheater in the first place, but it isn’t so easy to tell and many don’t turn into cheaters until decades later. Those seeds are hard to spot sometimes. I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that ex would cheat when we got married. It wasn’t until the emotional affair 13 years in that I discovered that he might even have thoughts like that. Sigh.

    • Agreed are you kidding me cheaters in my opinion are the lowest of the low why can you not just be an ADULT and ask for marriage counseling or a divorce? I think many are cowards and the cheating is to help get you to do their dirty work!

        • I agree, GetMeFree, Power and control, and vindictive disrespect.

          It’s impossible to save your marriage when infidelity is a factor.

          I spackled, pick me danced, and spackled some more, I attributed it to midlife crisis, his grieving the loss of his father and was ready to forgive and forget so we could live happily ever after.
          His infidelity had nothing to do with a midlife crisis, grieving or me or whatever excuse I could come up with. It had everything to do with his lack of integrity, character and malicious intent.

          They have checked out long before we discover or suspect infidelity.
          There’s nothing to save, if they feel entitled enough to cheat once they will cheat again being more careful this time not to get caught.

          • Brit, your comments sum up my experience almost exactly. And after this, they blame you for breaking up the marriage because you had to be the adult and file for divorce. They suck

            • ‘They have checked out long before we discover or suspect infidelity.’

              This is the kick in the gut that takes you down.

  • Oh Tracy, I love you!! Thank you, thank you, for the laugh, and for the reality check: “Love me, you bastard!” Choice, and rich. From above: “But you DO feel connected! You have all this shared history! And you’re going to fling yourself at the cheater and FORCE the goddamn connection. LOVE ME, YOU BASTARD! “

  • Great strategising Chump Lady !!! I was busy typing in how to save it all after DDay for months on end and finally came across this site by accident … best accident I’ve ever had ❤️

    • I fount this site when I was googling Carolyn Hax articles and clicked on CL’s rebuttal of one.
      Reading the truth was like the heavens opening up and angels singing. Finally…truth, clarity, wisdom and laughs.
      Thank you CL!

      • Ha, I’ve used a similar phrase to describe my feelings upon striking on CL–it was if the clouds parted, and sun shone down upon me. Quite refreshing after my reaction to the “my husband’s cheating was the best thing that ever happened to my marriage” drek. Seriously, WTF? It’s like claiming a leg amputation improved one’s sprinting times.

        • Thanks, Tempest, your post reminded me of the couple of weeks of psycho-tennis when I fluctuated between leaving a cheater and…being perpetually neausested by the thought of reconciliation. Having lived the RIC nightmare of “working it out” with the grand prize of Dday #3, I knew I couldn’t stay at the shit buffet another second. Tracy offered me the no-shit smorgasbord of cheaterfreedom with style, clarity, wit, and sometimes hilarious reality 2x4s. She didn’t candycoat the gut-wrenching reality of what I had to feel to walk through my pain, but that honesty helped me trust her and CN. The individuals of CN have steadily held their torches aloft as I first crawled out of the cave after Dday and now -occasionally – as I skip or dance my way toward legal freedom. I really am.finding unimaginable happiness, even just 8 months out.
          Excellent post, Tracy! Thanks!

        • Actually, I think my husband cheating WAS the best thing to happen to my marriage b/c it helped END it. It finally sunk in that he’s pathologically selfish and a practiced liar. And he has a cruel streak b/c he posted on FB about finding the “love of his life” just weeks after leaving a 35 year marriage. (Months after finding her, but that’s a separate issue). He was cruelly taunting me and the kids and or Oblivious to how insulting it was to me and our family **BUT also to how goofy HE sounded! He’s 61 posting on FB about a woman he supposedly just met AND said he was “introducing honey to the family” but not ‘THE family, he meant to his dad…

          Once the cheating came out, it broke my heart – but it also woke me up.

          I had let so many other boundaries get crossed, that when the finale was he ALSO fucked another woman while I was in a neurology ICU on top of all the shit he put me through (that I know of, I mean,)

          I had an awakening. Our 31 y/o son, God bless him, told me the first piece of great advice I got in all this dreck:

          “Good riddance to lunacy.”

          I think the main reason the DOCTOR has ghosted me AND our kids, is b/c he knows we know. So many lies that the divorce discovery process revealed, it does gut you when you realize it’s been going on much longer than you knew. Fresh wounds cut you again. But I remind myself that I would NOT date, let alone marry a man like my husband is now.

          So “good riddance to lunacy” is one of the mantras that helped. And leaving the 4 people who loved him the most, for whom he is now just a ghost, IS lunacy. Because I’m a great catch and our kids are wonderful smart hilarious young people.

          He is a lunatic to have lost us, but our wounds will heal. And he will have his Schmoopie and replacement family…and maybe they will be SO HAPPY, but he could not be happy with us. Not now. We know too much.

          Like seeing a serial killer murdering someone. Sure, the uncaught killer can go home and have dinner with his wife and kids, but he’s still a serial killer.

          • I am in the same boat with a cheating husband who is also a physician. Dday was about 7 weeks ago. He wants to make it work. Do you think that your husband was cheating for a long time? I feel like it’s so easy for them to have an excuse of being on call etc.

      • I was on the boards of one of the RIC’s and somebody mentioned champ lady. I looked up her site and have never looked back.

  • Oh geez… reminds me of the weeks and months after he ran off. I bought into the whole save your marriage crap. Got to love Mort Fertel not. Wasted so much time and money working on a dead marriage. I was the only one in it for years. I wish I had CL around 10 plus years ago when I knew things werent right, when he was chasing everything in a skirt and coming home with bites on his neck but I was told to be a good wife by well meaning friends and family. Fuck that noise!!

  • i wonder if there is an average length of time that cheaters’ relationships last? that would be interesting. how long do my kids have to go through this bullshit for?

    • I’d read somewhere that the ‘average’ affair was 2 years. Guess it takes that long for the glitter to tarnish. And the thought JUST STRUCK ME that is the same general span of time being married that “confirms” whether or not you’re compatible as partners, and your marriage will last. Today, Six months after Dday and WW abandoning me I say YEAH RIGHT!!! Pffft!

      I’ll quote Hillary Rodham Clinton now, “At this point, What difference does it make!”
      Since finding CL, listening to her audiobook a couple dozen times, reading countless stories of serial cheating and also joining SI, I’ve become educated on the character traits, actions,tactics and strategy of a serial cheater. The natural extension of that education is me asking myself,…”Self!, How the fuck did you get married to this lizard Queen for 12 years and NOT pick up on her broken, disordered character?”
      I didn’t have my THEY LIVE! sunglasses on. (Watch the movie. Roddy Piper & Keith David).

      • Do you have the link to that information on the length of the “average affair”?

        Congrats on your newfound knowledge and freedom, Marcus.

    • How long do affairs last? How long is a piece of string? That’s your answer.

      I know of several relationships that started with infidelity that are still going decades in. Are they healthy relationships? I doubt it. My impression from the outside is that they work hard on keeping the spackle applied and constantly worry about being judged.

      Quite a number run off to their “twu wuv” only to have it fizzle out but then they still can’t be trusted and the chump is at best a “plan B” while they often find another victim.

      In my own case it’s been well over 2 years since Mme YogaPants started up with Senor MoneyBags and a bit over a year and a half since she finally got the nerve to leave the house ending up in an apartment instead of his place. Last I heard they are still dating but a lot of the bloom and excitement is gone. Mme has significant sunk costs here (just like a lot of us Chumps) so she’s not going to give up trying to land him easily. No clue what is going to happen there long term.


      • How long does it take? Beats me.
        -Ex had an affair with whore that lasted AT LEAST 6 months prior to leaving me. He never admitted the affair, so I will never really know when it started.
        -Our divorce took 74 days. He filed within weeks of leaving me. (We were married almost 17 years).
        -He was engaged to her within one year of the divorce.
        -Married the skank 6 months later in a 3rd rate “resort” guest room with no family or friends present. Schoompie (2nd marriage to a cheater) wore a wedding gown, with cathedral-length train, and veil.
        -They’re coming up on 3rd wedding anniversary. 5 known years together.
        -I do not know what their relationship is like, however, he spends a ton of money on her.

    • Talking about different things here.

      An actual live in/see each other daily, public, open, yes-we-are, NORMAL dating/partnering relationship – yes, around 2 years usually shows you all you need to know for whether it’s good for the really long haul.

      A secret, sparkly, covert, occasional, intrigue-laden, what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about, ABNORMAL dating/partnership – decades, if you want it to.

      And as Sesame Street taught us, “One of these things is not like the other one …”

      So yeah, if you can out them, and effectively force them to choose to live NORMALLY, the sparkles wear off REAL fast. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

      (Isn’t that right, Barnaby? Thank goodness their love is real, and will endure this difficult test.)

    • How long? As long as they can keep it going.. .. .. I really thought my ex and his thing would not last long. He is a weak, spineless, coward man child with no honesty, integrity, or loyslty.. .. come to find out SHE ain’t either. She is STILL married and abandoned her own 4 kid’s.. .. I thought for sure that any woman like that was NOT a good person and she is not real love.. … . He and I were together 15.5 years.. . I believed he would eventually realize that she was not good..

      He is still with her 4 years later. .. Oh I was 100% correct on her shitty character and her not knowing how to love.. .. .. apparently I was also 100% off on what and who I thought my ex was… .. He is just like her. No job. No house. Running from bills. Drinking. Drugs. I was told she keeps him high on meth and drunk because when he is sober he tries to leave her. . I don’t know about that.. .. but I do know he is miserable. He thought she was better then me but she beats him, throws bottles at his face, steals his car, .. .But he stays with her (go figure).. . They are still together but they are toxic. .. .. her last relationship lasted 5 years. I have to admit to wondering if she will break up with him in a year.. .. plus he is looking at jail time for his 3rd dwi, I doubt she will wait for him.. .. Then again maybe she will. She has 2 boys in jail already

      All I know is it is not my problem anymore. I am one of the blessed that got replaced and .. forgotten. … He ghosted and disappeared. .. .. my boys gave not seen or heard from him in over a year.

    • God– I wish I knew. I just spent tonight dealing with a crying fit out of my 9 year old because she doesn’t want to ski with cheater and his GF tomorrow. This poor kids all wrapped up in other peoples messes.

      • My son was 9 when Mr. Sparkles left. He introduced the OW and her two kids about 9 months later, and then subsequently went on a week long vacation together where my son was crying every day and his non-empathetic father texted me to “come get our baby”. It was heart-wrenching and made me feel like an awful Mom for not rushing in to save him. But guess what, my mid-week, my son was going to the boardwalk and being a kid. Hug them (the kids), love them (the kids), and talk to them honestly. If you are consistent and don’t play into the emotional rollercoaster, they’ll come to see Uncle Dad and his GF for what they are… amusing and boring. My son is 12 now and asks when he can talk to the judge about not going to Mr. Sparkles on the weekend anymore. Give it time.

  • “ Stop it. You don’t control dead things.”
    A few weeks in my therapist said, “You’ve never had power or control in your relationship.” THis was a shocking awakening.

    Yes I was doing all the work while he held all the power and control.

    • And this is sooooo ironic since many of the cheaters feel that we chumps are the controlling ones who have made them feel so invalidated they have to sneak around looking into someone else’s adoring eyes to feel good about themselves. Their secret life is a passive aggressive way of thumbing their noses and saying “You aren’t the boss of me!”

      Nope, I’m not the boss of you, Woody, but I am the boss of me. Buh-bye!

      • I feel the same way. It’s a big passive aggressive f@ck you.
        If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I do what I want. No one controls me. I’m a grown ass strong man. I’ll never change” I would be rich. Sad thing was nobody was controlling him. When you’re a 13 year old in a 40 year old mans body everything feels like a satisfying rebellion. stunted development narc baby did it to himself.
        K. go do all that without me because I’m done being made a fool of. I wanted a partner. i didn’t want to be mommy to a man-child who needs parental controls on his phone in order to be faithful. real men have integrity. real men don’t have tantrums all day.

        • omg mine too “I’m a grown man I can do whatever I want” all the time with that shit. What an asshole

          • Like in “Game of Thrones” as Tywin Lannister points out to Joffrey: if you have to tell people you’re the king, you aren’t the king. (I paraphrase). Methinks they doth protest too much.
            They are exactly the opposite of what they say.
            Every day of the week is opposite day with cheaters.

          • Bitchy man-baby assholes. He actually admitted to changing the rules. He said that I got used to too much love and attention and then when he changed the rules i had a problem with it. That he shouldn’t have let it go in for so long.
            So he’s a con man who basically admitted to love bombing me until we were married.
            And then he tells me that the reason we are getting divorced is because I never gave him enough attention and I didn’t listen to everything he told me to do.
            He gets what he wants and then wants the opposite. Maybe I’m being dramatic but I think this makes him a monster.

          • But they actually CAN do whatever they want! The problem isn’t that. It’s that they want to do whatever they choose to do, without ANY consequences.

            Chumps tend to adults, who think of and accept consequences. But we also get to do what we want, including leaving their cheating asses!

            • Major missed red flag:

              Cheater, very early in relationship: “Don’t ever tell me what to do. It drives me crazy.”
              Me: “Huh? Why would I ever do that?”

              Me, shortly after marriage: “Honey, how about having chicken/meat loaf/lasagna/whatever for dinner tonight?”
              Cheater: “Don’t tell me what to do!”
              Me: “Huh???”

              The next 24 years: His escalating perverse obstinance to nearly every single one of my mild suggestions, and my increasing bewilderment.

              • OMG, I just googled Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and my stomach is clenching at the memories.

                “In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning. Symptoms of ODD may include:

                Frequent temper tantrums
                Excessive arguing with adults
                Often questioning rules
                Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
                Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
                Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
                Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
                Frequent anger and resentment
                Mean and hateful talking when upset
                Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking”

            • Pay attention to those early signs in any children you had with your fuckwits. I am currently living in hell with a daughter (16) who clearly inherited her father’s genetic and behavioral predisposition to flouting rules. If anyone sees signs in their children, get help yesterday rather than waiting (and preferably with a therapist who knows how to treat ODD).

              We all have the power to leave our spouses who exhibit such behavior, much harder to give up on someone with ODD when they are your child.

        • I got the “YOUR NOT THE BOSS OF ME” thing.. .. i guess that is the story he told the town whore.. .. That i was controlling and manipulating him .. .. ironic because she us actually the one controlling and manipulating him.. .. . But he is a fool.. ..

          So funny how he says I was controlling because he did whatever the fuck be wanted.. .. if I was controlling how did he find time to cheat? Oh n it now his thing doesn’t let him out of her site… .. lol.. how is that real love and trust?

          You can’t fix stupid

            • You know for some of them its not, what is between their legs has nothing to do with it at all. Some cant even get it up or keep it up (ask me how I know.)

              I dont think sex is the main factor in most affairs, I think ego stroking is

      • In a perverse way being a shit in a relationship gives you the power as the partner is in spackling damage control mode a lot. This was me before I knew about the affair, trying to raise the man baby to adulthood while being told I was controlling. One year out I see what a dead weight he was, he had power over me in that my life was limited being with him, financial and emotional abuse and early on his drinking. Never again.

        • Mine claimed he tried to tell me he was unhappy while we were in marriage counseling. Since the marriage counselor became my personal counselor after D-Day, I mentioned this to her. Her expression was priceless. it’s all somehow my fault. Whatever jerk.

    • The person who loves the least controls the relationship. Unequal Relationships 101

      Because the person who loves the most (the Chump) will basically put up with all their shit.

      Oh HELL No!

      • My therapist says the exact same thing. The person in the relationship that gives the most love has the least amount of power. Narcs set it all up that way from the start. They know exactly what they are doing.

        I’m so glad I filed already, and am focused on when I can start to “gain my life back”

        • And that was a huge revelation for me, that I was in a relationship that had become about power. That cheater would use my love for him and my concern for our kids to leverage cake eating.

          That’s when I realized I have zero desire to be in that kind of relationship, with that kind of person. I want a relationship that is based on love, not on power. And if I don’t find that, I’d rather be alone.

          • I realized it much later after my last was out of the house. Then it made sense. Something clicked, finally.

            I asked myself how an intelligent woman could have stayed for so many years loving a weak pussy of a man.

            I might have been broken back then but the nose dive he took landed him in a special kind of hell.

            The control was subtle yet continuois. Thankfully, it’s never too late for Meh.

    • Mine, too. Except mine makes it seem as if I have all the power and control. His modus in passive agression, or, if you prefer, he “tops” from “the bottom.” So everything that happens at home and in our personal life is both my fault and my responsibility. Yet somehow he goes off to work every day where he’s uber competent and well respected by all our colleagues, who seem him as forceful and hard working.

  • I moved from the US to a country (France) where the rules are very different and I’m confused. Personally I don’t see cheating as a moral question so much as an emotional one and a breach of trust – though that is moral I guess. I don’t like the emotional chaos, the insecurity, sexual health issues, divided loyalties etc so I want to be in exclusive relationships.

    However – in this culture it is almost expected that both partners will be unfaithful. That sex and love are separate. That sex is not about emotions so it doesn’t matter really who you have it with. Just be discreet. The rules that exist about relationships also exist for how you manage these ‘adventures’ and ‘afternoon seductions’. I get the feeling this is a society built on what is not said. And so the idea of affairs making the marriage stronger might actually come from here since a lot of relationship culture is not monogamy or open relationships but a sort of don’t ask don’t tell. Maybe this is beyond chumplady rules – within those relationships no one is chumped or — no one is meant to appear chumped. It’s not cool to do so. Of course in real life everyone I know here that was divorced is cut up and suffered. But they would tell themselves it’s not the adultery but losing their partner. (Seeing this written down maybe this is no different from the US where although there is a culture of valuing fidelity, one also excuses infidelity – not on the grounds that sex is meaningless but that infidelity is twu wuv).

    I find this difficult as I navigate this and I feel that my views on relationships seem unfit for this country. I have felt this way before in that a lot of people anywhere act as if any rules are just constraints and traditional etc. I tend to feel on the back foot. I was wondering if anyone has had this experience or maybe being a chump is basically this experience – a clash of two sets of values. Which means that I’m not fit to date here! Or I’ll have to always feel insecure since I don’t plan to change my values. The sense of shifting ground is very confusing. Maybe this is why I’m turning to CN – I want to understand how to live my values in a culture that doesn’t value them.

    • I’m next door in CH. date those with same values. Go to expat gatherings. has lots of expat social events.

    • We have French chumps on this site, who I hope will notice this comment. I’m told the discovery of infidelity is just as shattering there.

      I wonder if you’re not discussing open marriage, which isn’t being chumped. If you have an arrangement — that is consent. To be chumped, however, is to be denied consent. Open marriages have some rules (like don’t date my best friend, or practice safe sex, or whatever people negotiate.) To cheat is to change the rules for oneself, unilaterally — that’s a matter of character, not monogamy. So open marriage Euro sophisticates can be cheated on too — all you need is a rule to break.

      • Thanks CL youre right – the cut up I know is real here on certain discoveries, so people are being chumped. Perhaps those discoveries involve the breaking of agreed upon rules. The idea sounds much like open relationships. However the people I talked to did not see these as open relationships – though they might have been holding back what they disclosed. And unlike open marriages it’s not just particular consensual arrangements it’s the broader culture also of how you think about love and sex. I’d be very curious to hear from French CN readers or expats!

        • I was visiting a close French friend in Tour just this fall. She had been chumped and kicked her X out after 20 years together and 4 children. I found her insights about the situation closely resembled mine. The shock and horror of finding out about long term lying…it was a deal breaker for her. During the marriage she said she was often tired and grouchy dealing with the kids and life in general. So she thought she bore some responsibility. I was glad to share my CL training. She may have been tired and grouchy, but he is a liar – he could have done lots of things that a man with integrity would do – like tell her he is unhappy to start with. Which he never did – just made a unilateral decision to cheat.

          It’s just one story of one French woman. But believe me, she was NOT ok with the cheating.

          • I suspect many of us became “tired and grouchy” because we were doing all the legwork in the marriage and in parenting. Then that gets used against us when the cheater defends their affairs because we didn’t have enough emotional energy left to give the toddler-mentality cheater. Lose-lose.

            Never accept “blame” for being the responsible adult in a marriage.

        • I lived in France for a significant portion of my life and you’re right; there’s a broader cultural acceptance of cheating that can be hard for anglos to understsand. But the acceptable form of cheating has strict perimeters, some might say as strict as conventional marriage. For example, it’s generally seen as okay to fuck someone else and even develop feelings for him/ her, but not to the extent it really impacts your family life. Miss the occasional dinner with the wife and kids? Sure. But not to skip out on a week’s family vacation. The spouse ought to not ask you about your extra-curricular activities but there should be no lying, or at least no more than white lies. The unspoken (yes, this is why it’s tough for those of us not born and bred in that country… it’s all learned from generations of modeling behaviour, and none of it is explicitly stated) nature is such that if you ask any of them if they believe in “open marriage,” they would recoil in horror. Of course not! How indelicate! They see themselves as utterly loyal to their spouse and kids, but fidelity and loyalty are very much separate. To sleep with another man is fine, but to leave your husband and kids for the new lover is dishonourable.

          Of course, this is not all French people. Most of the people I befriended were loving, faithful people who think cheating was nasty. One friend was chumpedby his common law wife but explained he didnt care at all that she had slept with this other guy for 2 years, but rather that she had lied to him about it.

      • French Chump over here! I did the reverse you did Inconfusion, I left France for the US, met the Genius (who incidentally is neither American, not French) and have been here for 30 years now. Every time I hear about French people being ok with cheating, I cringe. I know exactly zero person in my family, friends and acquaintances who are ok with cheating. I will say that there is a sub-group of French people who will claim that cheating is no big deal, that everybody does it, that it is unnatural not to, bla, bla, bla… They are usually pseudo intellectuals, à la Esther Perel, who imagine they sound sophisticated and smart by making such statements. I will also add that with the #metoo movement, France had a definite push-back that I did not see as much here. Most notably, the letter authored and signed by about 100 known women who claimed for the male gender the ‘freedom to importune”. So we have a ways to go for equality and “Vive la différence” is really just a sexist statement. I will add that I have 2 sisters who divorced because of cheating too (a therapist would have a field day with my family!), and I am so glad I divorced in the US…
        Now… we are definitely more open in our sexual relationships than most Americans, and I agree with others here when they say not to confuse cheating with open relationships. When people ask me why I got divorced, one of my answer is that I was in an open relationship but was never informed.

    • I can’t speak to culture but I can look at your letter here and tell you what I see. The first thing I notice is that you speak of infidelity as a singular thing, as if it is not attached to anything else. It’s attached to so many other things. Here are three because I am late for work. I am sure there are more.

      Financials. Who pays for the things involved in an affair? The hotel room? Little gifts? Meals? Vacations? The apartment for the mistress? If two people are married n the US then half the money spent on a schmoopie belongs to the chump.

      Respect. People frequently confuse cheating with an open marriage. In an open marriage there are rules and guidelines, parameters where everyone knows what is going on. With cheating at least one spouse is kept in the dark and does not know what is going on. The chump is disrespected by the cheater. The chump can’t make an informed decision about their own life and what they want because, many times, what the cheater enjoys about the whole set up, is deceit. They like the whole I know something you don’t know. That’s not equitable or fair. If someone vows in front of others to fore sake all others and they don’t how can you trust them again after they have shown that they are a liar?

      Health. Here in the US spouses get to make all sorts of decisions for each other, including when to remove someone from life support. Do you want the your spouse sitting there ready to pull the plug because you are such a drag on his and schmoopie’s relationship? There is also the issue of sexually transmitted infections. I have an aquaintance who found out she was HIV positive while pregnant. She was infected by her cheating husband. I am proud to say they are no longer married.

      Anyone want to add to my list?

      • This is the thing so many people miss–that cheating isn’t solely an emotional issue. All the books talk about how to “get past your feelings” and “rebuild your trust.” Okay, well, when my feelings are all better, I’m still out tens of thousands of dollars that he spent bankrolling his fun. I’m still responsible for a lot of loans he took out in my name to pay for his whores. My credit is still ruined. I still had to be treated for what I am now pretty sure was an STD. So who is going to pay me back?

        • How about the RIC front the money to reimbursement of chumps as they are proposing that chumps just ‘get past their feelings’ and ‘rebuild their trust?’ There’s a reason things like bail and first and last month’s rent exist.

    • Inconfusion,
      How long have you lived in France? How connected are you to the inside culture-being 100% included and accepted by locals/natives?

      I lived only 4 yrs in the land of Amore! I lived locally, not round xpats. It took a few yrs in developing life-Long deep friendships. I do know that culturally prostitution, cheating, porn are given somewhat of a pass because nothing is worse, with the Pope down the road, than Divorce. People who are married and split tend to Separate, never legally divorcing because it is a long process and culturally unacceptable. In fact, some longtime Separated people are in new, long term loving partnerships with people who they have children and will grow old with- and yet they are still married to some asshole in another part of the country.

      So I understand your POV. What I learned living in another Western country was that what’s on the surface as being accepted is not necessarily HOW people chose to live. In fact, cheating on a spouse is considered disrespectful and abusive there too.

      • I have lived here for only two years and as I work for a small expat firm I am not well integrated into local society and don’t have close friends to ask what is or is not the norm. And there is a culture of not being direct here so I would not get a direct answer especially not from men who I am dating who are more likely to shrug except when discussing their own divorces. I think even in the US most people don’t talk openly about this so probably one never knows what is accepted in culture and talk and what is accepted in real life. This makes me feel a bit more secure in finding someone that appeals to my values.

        For @alloutofkibble – perhaps i speak of infidelity as a singular thing since I am still dating and for now other than sexual health and trust, financial and legal issues are not important. But I agree that it is bound up with all those other things. So thanks for reminding me of that also.

    • Infidelity is still the #1 reason for divorce in France. So while much of the media, etc may normalize cheating, and people may be shy to speak up against it, they still walk away from cheating partners. So take heart!

      And in the end, it’s always about ‘is this acceptable to YOU?’

      PS My cheater narc is French, and tried to convince me infidelity is no big deal, but his previous long-term relationship ended because his girlfriend, also French, they were living in Paris, left him because of his cheating, too. Of course, I only found this out much later!

      • Hello KarenE, how can we get connected. My stbx is French and need to talk privately, I am not sure If I am allowed to ask for this on this blog. Please if it is out of the rules, then scold me for that!

        • feeling light, send I think you can send Tempest your e-mail, and I can too, then we can e-mail each other. Just not sure what her e-mail is!


      • My stbx is French, I am not! Based on my experience, I have seen that infidelity was taken light in the close family. It is a culture that encourages you to pursue happiness under any cost, and i think for that reason the close family had cold reaction to what he did. I was shocked! But thru reading many stories of chumps here, i recognise that the reaction of his family is not uncommon.

        • Interesting reactions from Ex’s family, all French living in France. His mother, covert narc, thinks it’s pretty normal to cheat and has been the OW, although she kicked his father out when ex was very young, for cheating. Ex’s father is a serial cheating wife-beater and child-beater, both his wives divorced him for cheating. Both of them have not a harsh word to say to Ex about his life choices, I’m sure.

          HOWEVER, Ex’s 4 siblings are another story! Very caring and decent people, the two older ones in long marriages, no cheating, the younger ones in longish relationships, and they NEVER could stand Ex, even long before he abandoned me and our children.

          I think the connection is; children of cheaters are more likely to cheat. But not all of them do. And the Frenchness may not be a big factor.

          Personally I think French child-rearing techniques, at least post-war, often created very poor ability to attach and low empathy, leading to a lot of narc-ness and a lot of cheating.

    • Inconfusion,

      I lived in France during my twenties and wish I had more time to comment in depth. Check back this weekend after I’ve had time to gather my thoughts and find some book titles that may be helpful to you. Are you considering setting down roots in France (marriage and children) or is your work assignment up for negotiation ? You are living in a country where nuance plays a significant role in the culture and its navigation, another language to learn after you master French.

      You wrote “I want to understand how to live my values in a culture that doesn’t value them” a very astute comment. I was accused of being too direct, pragmatic and wait for it… puritanical. This a country that is fine with heads of state having mistresses (Mitterand’s long term side piece, a guest lecturer at my school, stood next to his wife Danielle at his funeral) or getting blow jobs from trans sex workers in the Bois de Boulogne (Sarkozy married to the former model Carla Bruni). I watched French female friends pretzel themselves to accommodate their boyfriends and be devastated if the relationships ended. Deep rooted social mores. Read “Liaisons Dangereuses” and watch the different movie versions-this is a primer on French relationships. Seduction and manipulation for sport.

      I second the suggestion that you find other expats to pal around with and date, to enjoy the country. Are you in Paris or one of the other cities ?

      p.s. One of my male British friends used to joke “What’s the difference between French women and American and British women ?” “Twenty pounds” I saw a lot of eating disordered women when I lived there-skipping meals, stuffing down laxatives, purging after meals, smoking to suppress their appetite

        • I am in Paris ame will stay a while. So meeting someone serious would make my life more enjoyable.
          Seduction and manipulation for sport – sounds exhausting. I also think I am too direct and pragmatic even for non French people so I must be very gauche for the people here! Puritanical – well they do think Americans are puritanical.
          I guess I’ll take on the values of the culture that work for me. But you can’t learn nuance and ambiguity when you spent years unlearning it.
          If you have book suggestions that would be great!

          And thanks also to all the other comments. It really has helped to read them and to figure out again what I value and what makes me feel aligned with myself.

          • Inconfusion,

            I took cross cultural training with Polly Platt, the author of three books on living with and understanding the French. Very helpful if you keep in mind that she addressed the upper/middle crust of French society and can get past her sometimes snobby tone. She was a Seven Sisters educated w.A-S.P born in 1927 who married a Serbian UNESCO official. I remember his collection of obelisks in their beautiful 7th arrondissement apartment. Two other books to recommend-“Entre Nous” by Ollivier (she’s actually married to a Frenchman) with the extensive bibliography and Frith-Powell’s “All You Need to Be Impossibly French”. Check and see if anybody is offering cross cultural training for your generation. Am I right to assume you’re in your twenties or thirties ?

            Get out and do things on your time off. The French tend to separate professional and personal lives plus you wrote that you work for an American company. Do you spend most of your day speaking English or French (American/British or French colleagues) ? If the former, sign up for French classes where you can meet other working professionals your age, not college students doing a semester or year abroad. People may be reluctant to form friendships with you if they sense you won’t be in France for the long haul and native Parisians are cool customers to anybody not born and raised in the City of Lights. When I did make female friends, they were all from province. I had a few contacts before moving but only the men returned my calls. How I met men and women during my time there-ski trips through a French tour operator, wine tasting class, hiking club, the local pool. Find places to go and things to do where you see the same people again and again.

            Charm is rewarded, being a loud (voice or appearance) American with a broad grin is not.

            Bonne chance !

  • I am one of those chumps who thought I could stay with my husband after he cheated with my cousin. He assured me he loves me and cut off all contact with her. Agreed that we would go to counseling. Every appointment he missed because he was mandated to work. He refused to take ownership of his affair. Continued to shift the blame back on me.After years of verbal abuse, him only giving me $200 a week towards the bills, refusing to put me on his health insurance. He cheated on me and continues to blame me for his choice. I realized my marriage is dead and I am putting my ducks in a row.

    If this is your first time to this site. You are worth more than broken promises and being abused by an asshat who only cares about themselves. Trying to stay in a marriage after the prick cheats on you will only haunt you. Take it from me you will never be able to feel the same way about the cheater.

  • “…sticking a sign on your forehead that says, “ABUSE ME.”

    I let him abuse me so incredibly badly. His cruelty after DDay and before he finally left, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But I wouldn’t kick him out. God, I should have. Should have kicked him to the curb right away. But I was desperate, and deluded that there was anything to save. Even when I began to grasp that he was going to leave, I still wouldn’t end it. My logic was that I wanted to be able to tell my kids that I did nothing to destroy our family, that it was all on their Dad. What I failed to see is that he had already destroyed the marriage and the family when he spent four years cheating on me and lying about it, with time and resources away from me and the kids. Everything that happened after I discovered that was just me letting him abuse the hell out of me in front of my kids. That’s one of my biggest regrets. I tell my girls all the time: I would never, ever want you to allow someone to treat you the way I allowed myself to be treated.

    If you’re reading this right now in a state of desperation to save your marriage for your kids sake, ask yourself: do you want your kids to grow up and accept someone who causes them this kind of pain? Believe me, you are not doing them any favors. Stick around here and read some stories. Read Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life. I promise you will see yourself in every page. Save yourself further pain!

  • My googling would have never found this site since the ex’s affair happened in 2010 and CL didn’t come on the scene until 2012. I did dreadful wreckconciliation for 3 years, although the last 8 months were formulating my exit plan. I found CL in the beginning of 2013 from a link on a RIC website. It was so refreshing to read what I think I always knew: Not only was I not responsible for my ex’s actions but I was also not “50% responsible for the bad marriage that lead him to his choices.” If he was in a bad marriage, so was I but I didn’t cheat.

    CL is right. Once your spouse cheats your marriage is dead and there is only one thing to do with something that is dead. Bury it.

  • I was seeing someone new this year. I knew it wouldn’t be long term as we were too different, but I was willing to give it a go. It ended because I wanted to know where we were meeting up on Friday night and if he would answer my question as to still wanting to see me. He got back with a nasty text and that no, he didn’t want to see me ever again. I was so impressed with myself. He tried to get me to stop seeing my friends – I wouldn’t. He became physically and emotionally distant, I believe, in an effort to make me pick me dance – I wouldn’t. And when I politely, yet firmly, stuck to my guns and pushed for an honest resolution one way or the other, he got nasty and dumped me. That is what it looks like when you set boundaries. You piss people off and they leave you alone of their own accord. So proud of myself.

    • Good for you, Kimhopes!! I’m just venturing into the dating world for the first time myself and I hope I can enforce my boundaries that firmly if it becomes necessary.

    • I’m proud of you too, Kimhopes. It’s definitely a culling process. Weak men cannot STAND strong women. Really, I really should have said, manipulative people cannot STAND strong partners, as male chumps and chumps in same-sex relationships can attest. The best part about setting (and sticking to) boundaries and being willing to walk away is that the most of the users will typically self-cull and move on to easier (read: chumpier) targets. They can smell it, people! I’ve been happily remarried for 10 years to a fellow chump. His nickname for me is the “Queen of Boundaries.” Even after 10 years of bliss, I would walk away from this relationship if warranted. And my boundaries are much, much broader than cheating.

    • You should be impressed with yourself KimHopes! You are a good role model. Boundaries have always been a bit difficult for me, but I have been working on it and I WILL be better. I am excited to practice if I ever go on a date again. ????

    • Good job KimHopes! You recognized the monster lurking in that one. This was the first red flag I missed early on with my X. I had many friends and over time he isolated me.

      Making yourself a priority is impressive.

  • “You cannot feel safe or intimate with someone you don’t trust. Sure, you can stay married to such a person, but you won’t feel connected to them.”

    About 2 months after D day (thank god) I found CL/CN and since learned I’d been doing some SUPER SPACKLING throughout the marriage. It was so gradual it just became the norm. I ridiculously said on a number of occasions, STBX and I will be together FOREVER. Being so secure in that thought, I excused and justified his behavior and didn’t enforce boundaries. A person can talk themselves into believing just about anything to protect the dream. This makes me nauseous now, and it did back then too, but… I. Never. Trusted. My. Gut.

    Love does not truly exist without trust.

    No trust = No intimacy × No connection × No safety

  • I was someone who tried to save my marriage for a couple years before I realized it was dead. SAVE YOURSELF SOME TIME and END IT NOW. I wish I would have done that, but I was high on hopium and honestly stayed longer for the kids. This is the advice that finally worked for me:

    -Watch what they DO, not what they SAY.
    – Even if they act remorseful for a while, if this betrayal is a deal-breaker for your marriage, then just end it. (this one was almost like Tracy giving me “permission” to leave – that it was ok if I couldn’t trust him again- that I could actually make decisions for myself again.)
    – Ask yourself, what are you hanging on to? Is your cheating spouse ACTUALLY someone worthy of your love, or are you believing your own spackle?
    – Are you really in love with the person they are RIGHT NOW, or are you in love with the image in your mind of what they COULD BE.

    I am a chump because I believe that deep down we all have the capacity to do good, the power to transform ourselves and to be loving and faithful compassionate people. But like everything, this is a choice that each of us make every day, and some people DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE.

    For years, I’ve projected my optimistic perspective onto my STBXH and I’m learning others knew he was shit, but just didn’t want to tell me. I had to really wake up and see him for what he is. A lying, cheating, selfish person who has no empathy. I don’t want to associate with that anymore. My kids and I deserve much better.

  • One thing I’ve learned is we all need to follow our own path get to this place. Some of us need to try one more time or watch their actions for a while (the key is to watch, not listen). Sometimes it takes a while for our hearts to catch up to our heads.

    • I couldn’t agree more with this comment. We all have different learning curves when it comes to matters of the heart.

    • Agreed. I spent several months smoking the hopium and believing that ex would eventually come to his senses and focus on me and the family again. I ran across Chump Lady but set it aside because I was not ready for her message. Ex didn’t just up and leave after DDay, but he didn’t display a sincere (or even false sincere) desire to reconcile either. He sort of invited me to pick me dance while trying to pretend he wasn’t. It was two steps away, one step back over and over again. Every time he took that step back I wanted to believe there was hope, then he would take those two steps away and I would be crushed all over again. Eventually I started to recognize the pattern and realized that even if he did eventually “come to his senses” and learn to appreciate what he had, it would take too long and I would be a shell of an emotionally battered woman by then. That is when I decided to divorce and when I started coming to Chump Lady daily to give me the strength to get through the divorce. I can’t say that I am thrilled to be divorced, but there is a lot less stress in my life which makes it easier to enjoy the good moments that I have. Interestingly, the downs are actually less down without him around as well.

    • True, but most people who took a while to get to DTMFA wish they’d left earlier. A strong message to leave may not be followed immediately, but sometimes it plants the seed.

      • Tempest, it definitely planted a seed for me. I resisted reading CL for a few months because I was afraid it would skew my outlook, smother my hope, and get in the way of reconciliation. But after months of more lies, it opened my eyes.

      • While it may be the case that many chumps arrive here sceptical and remain unconvinced, I am grateful to those who refused to sugarcoat it for me. A truckload of two-by-fours is the only thing marriage-police chumps should expect.

        This is not a reconciliation site. Staying with a cheater is the wrong decision. It’s only a matter of time before they cheat again.

        • Well said, Doubtless. I’ll never forget when the X thought I was filing separation papers and they turned up on his business table as, Divorce Decree. He wrote me soon after saying…’I went to pick up papers from your lawyer and they turned out to be a big surprise – Divorce? ? What.Am.I.Supposed.To.Think? It was precious dialogue that I saved somewhere. And, I’m proud I knocked his ankles off his legs with a heavy divorce decree!

          Aww…love the guy…signed….Misery.

        • I think for me, my pride was bruised that ex was turning out to be what all my friends and family had predicted. I didn’t want to admit the failure of the relationship because of many, many reasons but mostly I didn’t want to hear “told ya so” by my loved ones who hated ex from minute 1.

    • Trying one more time is something many a chump has experienced. I know the pain of forgiving and wanting to believe there was hope. Now I see it as being in limbo.

      What are the consequences of staying in the relationship? This is the question I never asked myself. It costs.

  • I think we are so focused on the Cheater that we forget about ourselves. What is acceptable to me? What do I want and need ?

    I sure didn’t want this shit show of a marriage or the public humiliation that came with it.

    He was toxic and I was bleeding out. No way to live. In the end I had to chose me.

    I wasted 10 years ( married almost 15 ) of my life playing the good wife and dancing pretty.

    It didn’t make him a better husband to me. He got worse with every passing year.

    My only regret is staying because I thought it was my only option.

    People need to know that it is ok to walk away from a broken marriage and that it’s ok to be alone. Better than ok – brilliant really !!!

    • I have tried to resurrect the horse, moving left legs, right legs, left legs, and so on. Even tried to convince myself the horse would gallop by putting it on my back and running. Just kidding. Sadly, real life hasn’t been that much different. When ex-boyfriend left me for the last time, I told him, ‘I wish that sometimes you would just touch my hair [putting his limp hand on my hair].’ (In the last few months of our ‘relationship,’ I don’t think that he felt at all attracted to me, although I tried extremely hard to look beautiful to him. I didn’t know that he had already lined up my replacement (and was probably already touching her hair, perhaps among other things).

      • RockStarWife – I’m sorry this has happened to you. Limp hand on your hair. No enthusiasm. No love. No matter how sexy you’ve worked up to that moment. I totally get you here. I guess, in my case anyway, the guy never was attracted to me. And, I still wonder why I ever stayed so long with him. I thought I kept myself very healthy and attractive. It’s just an Anomaly that they are not attracted, even after 35 yrs. Was I crazy!??

      • This was me, too. I love having the side of my face cupped and stroked lovingly. I would literally purr if someone did this to me. Ex could not do this at all. Limp, clammy hand, too hard, too soft. He could never get it right. Even after coaching him.

  • “What, do I look like a wizard?”

    Immediate mental picture of CL with a wizard hat superimposed over her gorgeous, curly hair. Holding a magic wand, with a unicorn in the background.

    I would create this picture and post it here if I had any tech skills at all, beyond being able to post a comment on CN. lol

    What a great way to start my day!

  • If you landed here and are trying to figure out why this has happened to you and what part you played in this whole mess, know you have come to the right site to help you through this. And no, it isn’t what you want to hear in the early days of learning of the betrayal. Let me first let you in on a secret the reconciliation sites don’t want you to know: it’s not your fault, you aren’t to blame for their decision to cheat, your abilities as a teller for the ‘love bank’ didn’t fall short, your inability to meet their needs wasn’t on you to meet, they didn’t find the twu wuvs that could not be denied because there is a soul mate out there and darned if you weren’t it for them–oopsy, you didn’t break it and you can’t fix it, none of what they did or are doing are within your control.

    What is within your control? You. For you. Not the 180 to win them back. At some point you are going to start realizing and have to own what is yours to own: you hitched your wagon to a lousy partner, they seemed like a good one for (fill in the blank) these reasons, they weren’t perfect either and you didn’t go out and cheat, you mistook intelligence for character, you’ve covered for them for some idiotic things for years but thought they had your back too, they are good father so there must be something to salvage (good fathers don’t cheat on their families and risk their kids’ homes), you think there is such thing as a midlife crisis, you think deep down they love you and they’ve just made a mistake (by risking your health with STD’s, risking your home life, spending family money on a schmoopie).

    Take a moment for the primer by going to the home page and scrolling to the very bottom. These are the primers you will need to read (the starter package if you will). Right now you are in a haze, you can’t see the forest for the tress, you are grasping for anything that will make this better and fix it.

    Many of us stayed with a cheater because we bought into a ‘I don’t know how this happened, it was a mistake’, staying for the kids, believing in the shared life and not wanting to give that up, afraid of what the future may be, thinking we can make that cheater come to their senses and realize what they are doing. Those of us who bought into that theory are here many years later with multiple Ddays spanning across the marriage, realizing this spouse was never who we thought they were, now knowing that whatever mechanisms are within the cheater to betray you and ‘fall in love’ with a schmoopie are within in them and that doesn’t go away. There’s always another schmoopie around the next corner. You are setting yourself up for a lifetime of hurt and betrayal, playing marriage police, never trusting the person that should have your back in this life, and it will affect your health forever. It’s a hard life you are choosing with constant angst and worry and snooping. And just when you start to feel secure and trust them again, boom–another betrayal. It’s who they are. You need to believe them.

    • Twice, this is such an accurate description of the pain and angst of chumps. Thanks for your wise advice. I am so grateful that fellow chumps share their stories. Peace and hugs to you!

    • Twice – This!!! You have described my experience. I was back at the bookstore looking for more RIC books and I’m so glad I found a copy of Leave a Cheater Gain a Life. It has helped me feel sane again (After so much gaslighting). From the book I found this website. Thanks to chump lady, you and so many others who share your experiences, I know that I will survive this chaos.

  • For the newbies… know what your Sparkly Turd is doing while you’re googling “how to save my marriage after infidelity?”… here is the short list:

    1. Buying a burner phone and going deeper underground to hide future affairs from you (cuz you’re a buzz kill)

    2. Cleaning their internet cache and cookies after every porn session or after scanning the personal ads (and probably installing passwords so you can’t get in anyway)

    3. Moving funds into accounts of which you have no idea (yup, cheaters do this)

    4. Lining up the next schmoopie, a wolf needs more than one sheep


    I’m sure this could be a Friday challenge on its own – if you’ve found this page by “accident”… consider it an act of divinity. It changed my life (for the better) and my home and my family no longer live in a toxic environment of the cheater’s making.

    • Oh, number two on your list…. My brother-in-law is one of those ultra-paranoid tin-hat types that mirrors his desktop for every internet session, has a fingerprint key to unlock the computer, super secure phone, you name it.

      • Ha! My ex went pulled out all the privacy stops too, but sadly I could have been head of the marriage police. Of course in hindsight I now realize, if you have to be the marriage police – you shouldn’t be in that relationship ????‍♀️. Hey, I’m a slow learner!

        And of course the plot twist when he got caught screwing escorts! ….. he wanted to get caught because he wanted out of the marriage! While that may or may not be true, what matters is, he wasn’t man enough to address it like an adult! I’m pretty sure it was all kibble hoarding, but alas the skein doesn’t matter! I trust that he sucks!

  • I would just tell new chumps to just think about how emotionally and physically drained and exhausted they are right now (I know, I was a zombie for months). Now understand that once the initial shock wears off, you’re going to start playing marriage police if you’re not already – and this will go on for months, years, or however long you take to be satisfied (and understand – you’ll never be satisfied). And playing marriage police is just as exhausting. And trying to figure out whether you’re being lied to every day, and where is my spouse, and why haven’t they called/texted/whatever. And you’ll go through this every stinking day from now until who knows how long.

    What you’ll find at the end is that you are an emotional shell of your former self, you’re always physically drained, you have no energy, your mind is shot (my short term memory did not exist for a while), and you just want to go crawl under a rock every day.

    I know I did, I lived in limbo for months and this is how I felt – every single day. Then I found this site and read CL’s book, and then one day not too long after that it all made sense and I realized I had had enough. Then I filed and began to extract myself from the absolute mindfuck that my life had become.

    Yes it sucks to divorce and yes that is emotionally draining as well – but when it’s over, you’ll get this new found energy. You’ll get your mind back – and there’s no price on sanity. It sounds like a cliche, but you really will get your mind back. Don’t make the same mistakes that many of us made by waiting around for your f-ed up spouse to turn into somebody you thought they were. Get your life back!

    • Please read blindsides post again. It is dead on. For me, what was worse than being the marriage police was when i no longer even had the energy to do that anymore. But instead of walking away, dissociation became my norm. I’ve been out of that 10 year mindfuck for six months and only in the last month am I starting to remember details of all the shit i put up with and had completely blocked out. Head in a blender.

      Like the saying goes: if it’s destroying you itisn’t love, my dear.

      • Blindside & Grendal,
        This is exactly where I have ended up. I just don’t care anymore, and I realize that’s no way to live. Even if I had access to all of my wife’s emails, texts, apps, etc, I don’t think I would even look. Just the thought of going through all of that is exhausting. I actually see dissociation as a good thing. It’s given me space from the situation and clarity.

        And great quote, Grendal!

    • Blindside
      Even though I’m still in middle of divorce and living under same roof being as NC as possible- I noticed for the first time in years this week – that my thoughts are much clearer-that realization made me hate all of this even more and is making me more inpatient for house to sale so I can at least move to undisclosed location while legal process moves at a snails pace!

      • Seeing Clearly – I’m sorry but you are NOT SEEING CLEARLY. Whatever your circumstances are, get out NOW. You will go mad being under the same roof. Even better, kick his ass to the curb. Good luck on moving to an undisclosed location soon. Even if it’s a snail’s pace, you may not want to be under the same roof. Especially if you have children. PLEASE.

  • I think the most powerful message I heard that knocked me out of my fog was when, after pouring my heart out at all the horrible things my husband was doing to me for a half hour, my therapist asked me, “so how did you feel when you realized that he doesn’t love you?” It completely caught me off guard to hear the truth that he just didn’t love me. I was under the delusion that he loved me, he just couldn’t help himself. Wish I’d found CL at DDay because it would have saved me from wasting about 5 months of my life.

    • I finally concluded, when married young to an addict, that in the end it doesn’t matter whether they love you, or how much, or how much you love them. Is the marriage AS IT IS acceptable to you?

    • “I think the most powerful message I heard that knocked me out of my fog was when, after pouring my heart out at all the horrible things my husband was doing to me for a half hour, my therapist asked me, “so how did you feel when you realized that he doesn’t love you?”

      This made me remember an event from several years before Dday. I was in therapy not for marriage issues, but for my own anxiety problems. But of course, I spoke about my marriage a lot to the therapist. One visit, about six months in, the therapist said to me, “You know, Glad, if all of your phobias and anxiety disappeared overnight, the first thing you would do is leave your husband.”

      It hit me like a punch in the gut. I knew with every fiber of my being that it was the truth, but I was still far too frightened to do anything about it, so I crushed that knowledge down somewhere small, and continued on in that farce of a marriage for several more years.

    • Glad it’s over
      So glad you have an excellent therapist!! So many, talk all the nonsense of “your role and taking ownership in your part” bs!!

    • THIS. My biggest downfall in the whole healing journey has been refusing to accept that he didn’t love me. He TOLD me he loved me a dozen times a days. Text it to me all the time.

      BUT, our last DDay, I was at his parents house and was having a conversation with his “crazy uncle”. I was crying to this uncle saying that I don’t understand why, when we break up (over some shitty thing that ex did again) that instead of feeling better after a few weeks, I would miss him even more. I thought that must mean love. (Reality = trauma bonding).

      Uncle looked at me after I explained this, and explained ALL of the reasons I left him every time and said to me “he doesn’t love you. A guy that does those things doesn’t love you, even if he SAYS he does.” He proceeded to tell me that I was too smart and too beautiful and was sensible and a hard worker and every one in the family could see what a good mother I was and how hard I tried to make this relationship work. He said ex was like a son to him but he was ashamed of ex and the way he treated me. He told me that I need to leave ex and find someone who can love me the way I deserved.

      I don’t know why his words sunk in so clearly when others hadn’t. But I am thankful they did.

  • My ex subjected me to humiliation with his ow, for years, we split up 5 years ago, and she still hangs around, we haven’t even lived together for 5 years, do you feel your wasting your time talking about them, I wish I knew about chump lady years ago.

  • Saving a marriage after infidelity is like putting an egg back in the shell.
    Once you disrespect somebody enough to lie, steal and cheat behind their back you will never respect them again ever.
    LOVE ME BACK is such a hopeless hollow request to make of a cheater.

  • “Don’t internalize their crazy”! I LOVE this!
    I just had a discussion with my cheater last night about the state of our marriage. It is so interesting to hear him admit to his feelings of entitlement. At least he’s honest about that…..LOL! However, what I told him was, “You can feel as entitled as you want, however, you are NOT entitled to make unilateral decisions in this marriage and you are not entitled to cause me pain”!
    Lack of empathy and feelings of entitlement do not belong in a marriage.
    The other point that stuck with me is how can we ever feel connected again, intimate again, after such humiliating hurt and betrayal. You are right Chump Lady! So right!!!!

    • No point telling him what he’s entitled to or not; you only control you!

      But isn’t it rather mind boggling when they ADMIT it, w/so little shame?

      • Ex just recently hoovered me after no months nc. He just casually waves me on a fb account he had been inactive on and never thought to block.

        I engaged out of curiosity and quickly learned that he absolutely does NOT feel he betrayed or lied to me (and these were HUGE betrayals and lies) but that maybe he disrespected me “a bit “.

        I agree, KarenE, it was mind boggling.

        BUT, it was the closure I need to know that he is still the same old fucked up asshat doing the same old tired shit to everyone and blaming everyone else.

        It was actually healing to know it was never me.

  • Ok, after dd1, stbx did break up with shmoopie, did get an std text and did seem so remorseful. Even when I California him on the phone with her four months later, he said it was to ask her to change a password he had forgotten he had and it was an issue and wouldn’t I want him to do that? Then over three years later he tells me that she had been back at work for another contract but was almost done (she had been there for over 6 months already) but that he never talked to her because he hated her. Oh, and one time, a year after our wreckonciliation, they had met and kissed, but that was it!!!!
    it took everything in me to say that’s it. In my heart I knew it was over but oh how hard it was to say no to all the promises and minimizing. I wanted to believe him. Actions, actions that are consistent over time, that increase and give, are what shows any possible chance of saving the marriage. Sometimes you get a mix of actions words and horrid actions. I have found that the most difficult.
    I loved him deeply, and there was so much shared history and times of closeness. I’ve decided this divorce as it drags on to 2 years since dd2 now is like being stuck at a tragic fatal accident…it’s awful…a marriage has died and the clean up takes forever. But I am healing, God is helping me, and I have hope for what is next.

    • Fighting Chump: What a perfect analogy… “like being stuck at a tragic fatal accident…it’s awful…a marriage has died and the clean up takes forever.”

  • I am about 9 months out and the struggle continues…it has a lot to do with the fact that we did have a great connection. I thought we did anyway? The ric seems to offer an explanation for the complete change of personality. I think that sucks a lot of people in. They truly can not understand how someone could be so completely different. Hell i cant understand it and intellectually i think i now understand it as much as one can. It is very hard to accept the fact that the person you shared so much with never really existed.

    • I am in almost the exact same boat. 10 months out, kept hoping, begging for him to be able to talk to me about what was in his head. The affair was overshadowed by the devastating info that he had been unhappy with the relationship since BEFORE we got married 5 years ago. I really believed he felt as deeply about me as I felt about him, despite lots of evidence to the contrary.

      I got crickets about our relationship while he continues to be Mr nice guy and good dad to our 18 month old. I have finally come to the realization that he is utterly incapable of having those hard conversations. I am only now realizing I will NEVER be able to trust or believe him.

      If he can only handle one relationship, I’m (becoming) ok that it is with our daughter and not me.

      I really needed this message today, and am grateful to everyone who has shared their stories.

      • Tired, I very much hope he can be a decent dad for your child. But don’t be surprised if he can’t sustain it. Toddlers give great kibbles; teens not so much. And the selfishness, entitlement and laziness that led to the. Cheating tend to carry over in to their parenting, unfortunately.

        • It is so hard for me to think of him that way, even though I know it is true. I keep reading everyone’s stories, and telling myself… wow, I didn’t have it so bad. But when I stop and think about it, he sabotaged everything in our marriage that in any way would tie us together in the future. We fought and fought about whether or not to have kids (despite his being desperately in favor while dating), and then was completely unsupportive during IVF and my pregnancy. Not.. bad, just completely emotionally absent. He now totally adores our daughter, and I hope desperately that he is able to continue that.

          • During one of our reconciliations, ex joked that he had had his vasectomy reversed and after making love, now we might be pregnant! Yah!

            I was horrified. I have two bio kids (not his) and he has 2 boys (with ex wife) and he was a horrible father and step father. That was one of the reasons I had left but the cognitive dissonance was strong at that point.

            I made it very clear I did not want anymore kids and yet he joked and carried on about it.

            Of course, within weeks we break up because he did something stupid AGAIN and my period is late. I start freaking out thinking “what if he did have a reversal”, and even took some pregnancy tests that were negative. I think the stress of everything affected my cycle.

            But I remember, in the midst of thinking “What if”, I had decided that if I was, I would never tell him. Take that baby and my kids and move away. The though of being tied to him for 18 years and seeing how horribly he treated the children made me sick to my stomach. And he was horrible in dealing with his ex wife about his kids.

            I knew that he would use a child as an instrument to hurt me. He doesn’t care for the kids at all.

            Very scary to realize someone you love is a monster.
            P.s. I don’t love him anymore….

            • That is a horrible, nasty, mind-f*** thing for him to do. I’m so sorry that happened! I’m glad you will be free of him though, it sounds like you are far far better and so are your kids.! 🙁 What an awful thing to do.

      • Tired of guessing i am so sorry! It really is so hard to believe at times. But i guess i have had to come to the realization that this is exactly who he is and always has been. I know it doesnt seem like it now but you will be grateful you found out sooner than later. I found out later. Much later. After he had sold me on a fake life. He was just using me. And about him saying he hadnt been happy. I heard that too. It is a lie they all say. My husband even admitted it wasnt true. But in a way it is maybe the only true thing they ever say because they are not truly happy. Not like we are. Not like we think they are.

  • Sadly, I didn’t stumble across CL/CN until loooong after D-Day, a 3-year separation (the first 6 months of which included frenzied Pick Me dancing, expensive and completely pointless RIC counseling, and other dehumanizing activities), plus another year of life as a dazed and confused 60-year old trying to find her own way after having confidentially traveled through the “Land of Marriage” for 40 years.

    Oh Sweet Jesus, how I wish I had found this community sooner; I would have done just about EVERYTHING differently! But, once I did land in the right spot (here), I immediately went Zero Contact and what followed was miraculous… peace, healing and self-respect showed up. And the people all said “Amen”.

  • I had insomnia last night, so I rented the movie Wonder. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it.

    I drew so many parallels between that movie and the hearts of chumps. I think Augie and his family are a good reminder of what chumps should remember. We are not perfect, we have physical flaws, we have emotional scars, we can be selfish, but our big hearts are what matters. Everyone in that movie was going through something, but they mainted their worth. They didn’t grovel, beg or plead with the people who were hurting them. They stood up for themselves and each other. They knew when their own problems needed a back seat to someone else’s (something cheaters don’t get, and chumps give too much of), and when they needed to speak their worth.

    It reminded me that Switzerland friends and Chump apologists aren’t the kind of people you want in your life. There are good hearted people in this world that will care more about your heart than your “cool new ping-pong table” (if you don’t get that, you haven’t seen the movie).

    Chumps need to hold onto their worth and get rid of the bullies who don’t see it. The people who were meant to be in our lives will show up! Don’t wish for cheaters to be who they are not! accept that you can’t control them and how they see you. Bullies want the kibbles, harems, and glory; they don’t care about real genuine relationships.

    Hold onto your worth chumps!

    • Since all this went down with ex, I have culled 3 girl friends out of my life. They were narcs and liars and were stressing me out.

      CL articles really helped me realize that girl friends can be just as bad as the exes and can really hinder healing.

  • Life on the other side of this mess is so much better, I could never do the pick me dance thing again. Divorcing was the THE hardest thing I have ever had to do, but CL is right when she says the pain is finite.

    Also, as regards point #2 on enforcing boundaries, I dare say that if you were in a marriage that was akin to many of CN, you didn’t have boundaries by the time you found out about the cheating. Every time a boundary was stepped on or jumped over, you made your needs smaller while the cheating party made their desires broader. After several years of this kind of thing, it’s really really difficult to remember what boundaries are. And I think the only way of getting them back is to leave. I found that once X left and the divorce was final, there was still quite a bit of de-programming to reach a level where I felt like a normal human being again with normal expectations of a partner or even normal expectations of people in my every day life. I just don’t think there is any way to realize these things unless you get the cheater out of your life.

  • I think its not as much that narcs can maintain a false persona, it’s that they must. Their very existence depends on it. That is a lot of work. Real people just don’t need to do it. Real people fall apart, they unravel, they completely lose it. And they are still the same person they always were.

    • “Real people fall apart, they unravel, they completely lose it. And they are still the same person they always were.”


      Almost one year out from DDay, and coming to the end of Pick-Me Dancing and Wreckonciliation attempts (after finding CL/CN) this resonates for me HARD. I was looking at his almost-two-year-long (that I know of) secret life with the OW as a result of a midlife crisis. He keeps saying “I feel like a different person. There’s all this craziness in my head now.” But, looking back over the years, a lot of the signs were already there, although I guess I’d just been spackling. This is not to say that he isn’t having some kind of midlife/identity crisis, but I’m thinking that the “different person” he has “become” is just the real deal that he could not longer keep in check. I sometimes see signs of the man I fell in love with, but I don’t think he’s there anymore, if he ever really existed. And even thinking that kills me. But the more I come to internalize that, the more I realize I have to (and can) move on.

      • Ditto for me too. It’s a rabbit hole. It will suck you in and reveal far more questions than any satisfying/healing answer. Trust they suck.

        My cheater is not the special man I thought he was, he’s like every other cheater on here. My story (that felt so shameful before finding this site) is not the sad tragedy of a beautiful marriage breaking because we “grew apart”, it’s the same old crap everyone on here is dealing with. I loved my marriage and my life with that man (which gives me confidence that I am capable of love and companionship and it’s NOT me that harbors sadness that isolates me from others – the BS they will try to project onto chumps that are in shock). My cheater ex has a million different version (depending on how he needs to sway the narrative) of what our “history” is, most likely because he didn’t care to be present during the marriage and really doesn’t know what he’s walked away from. Not just at the end but like you said look back, the signs were there. This didn’t just happen over night or when the perfect lover walked into their presence, these people are game players and they have been playing a long time. If mine was able to fool me for 26 years I have no doubt he fools every single person he comes in contact with. It’s how he chooses to live. A cheater’s lifestyle.

        You are so right, NotAfraid when you say that the “different person they’ve become” is quite simply who they really are. They just can’t keep up the charade and without having us chumps in their daily lives for them to mirror empathy, love and basic human qualities they fall back on their true selves and that’s such a shocking thing to witness. I don’t know about you all but mine even looks physically different to me now, I don’t think I’d instantly recognize him if I saw him in a public place which is so freakishly bizarre to me.

        • Unfortunately, he doesn’t look physically different to me. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I still find him incredibly physically attractive. But his eyes are different. Like, it’s a cross between a kicked puppy and the “shark eyes” some people write about on here. And, there’s something….grey about him. (I have a weird synesthesia thing. I “see” people as colors.) He used to be a vibrant cerulean blue. Now he’s a muddy grey, which is very disturbing.

          • Not afraid
            The shark eyes your seeing- that reflects the voidless, empty, very sick person behind the “dead shark eyes” – the “gray look” – same thing

          • I saw ex at a grocery store parking lot a few weeks ago. First time I laid eyes on him in 6 months.

            I saw him before he saw me and I debated sitting in my car till he left but then thought if he drove by me and saw me, he would get kibbles thinking I was there stalking him.

            So I got out and walked across the parking lot and he was startled to see me. Said a cautious “hey” and our eyes locked for a minute, and dammit! I still had butterflies and I always felt like he was home to me.

            I growled a curt “hey” and entered the store and was shaking and sweating. I was dreading that he would be out by my car wanting to talk. But he was gone.

            But I survived. I lived through the moment. I appeared strong to him. I thought if i ever ran in to him i would cry or barf or both. Replayed it for a few days in my head. And then funny enough, saw him in town and didn’t feel a thing.

            I still remember our dynamite chemistry. But lust does not equal love and I can safely say that his awfulness makes me never want to touch him again in my life.

        • I feel the same way about my ex. The mask fell off hard! The thing that lies beneath, I don’t recognize him. He looks totally different to me now physically, and I want NOTHING to do with that vile creature.

      • I know the research shows that most adults don’t have mid-life crises. They make some changes or adjustments, but not in destructive or childish ways.

        So I’m wondering if the ones who do aren’t the same ones who are so hollow inside, the narcs and sociopaths. The charade falls apart, they get too frustrated with being expected to adult and be responsible, they are no longer seen as perfect and amazing by their partners, and don’t care that they are truly loved, and they just can’t take it. So they blow everything up.

        • I think you are right. I think some people really do have mid life crisis but only selfish and weak minded people have them (ex included). It basically means setting aside responsibility and giving in to insanity and the pursuit of euphoria at the expense of others. It never works, however. Supposedly most people in mid life crisis do eventually work their way out of it and become decent human beings in the end, but it takes years and they can’t really undo the damage done. In the end I wasn’t willing to wait years for a maybe he might recovery and not be a jerk to me anymore. Interestingly he is less of a jerk to me now that we are divorced. I’ll take that. It may be fake, but at least it isn’t active abuse.

        • I think I may have read something awhile ago about mid life crisis- that generally the “crisis” is much worse for disordered people- people who already struggle with knowing who they are and accepting themselves by aging gracefully, etc. they just try to fight it all, and in the struggle they often destroy themselves and their relationships. No f@cking excuse for lying and cheating, but makes sense they can’t handle getting to the second half of life without blowing something up.

        • That makes a lot of sense, KarenE. We all get to an age where we have to confront ourselves, our lives, our mortality, but most of us have a solid enough core to weather that. The ones who turn it into a midlife “crisis” not only lack that core, but also have the “Run away! Run away!” coping mechanism. That’s all they’ve got, so that’s what they do.

  • Somewhere in CN Tracy once wrote that THIS marriage is dead once infidelity has happened. The betrayal, the lies, the cheating, the humiliations, etc. have all invalidated the marital contract. The commitment is broken, the trust is gone and the foundation that the marriage was built upon has utterly crumbled. Whether or not a NEW relationship with the cheating partner can be reborn out of the ashes is another matter (most unlikely, but perhaps possible is a few rare instances) but, the current marriage is over and cannot be revived.

  • I never cheated. But, I always thought if either would it would be me. I could even see how it would have happened. I used to think I missed the thrill of the chase. Nothing happened. Nothing close to happening happened. The one time something may have happened I ran home, lol.
    After D-Day I sympathized with my wife, felt she got in over her head and didn’t know what to do. I felt I had to give her the same chance I would have wanted if I cheated. However, I always knew if I did something it would have been meaningless sex and I would have done anything to save my marriage.
    She did nothing. She really just wanted more time to continue her affair and maybe decide who she wanted to be with. If I cheated, it would be over. She wanted me to sit there, take the abuse and be faithful until the possible day she decided to return.
    I filed for divorce after four months, not bad considering stories I’ve read here. Sometimes I wish it was sooner but I wasn’t ready to give up then.
    My ex appears to be the worst of the worst. I only
    know of the on affair but who knows. I now have suspicions going back to the moment we first dated. Past, present and future destroyed. Still amazes me. Well moving on. Divorce should be done by end of the month

    • the “suspicions” can get you- consume you. Been there, still there some times. I try to fight the thoughts. But it’s difficult knowing I was with someone with a double life for 17 years. I feel screwed that I lost those years. I think I could have been with a better wife that was a better human being.

    • congratulations on divorce being almost done. Mine is dragging her feet as much as she can. I guess she’s hoping I will change my mind. I’m sure its not stopping her from rolling around with dudes though.

  • The problem with reconciling with a cheater — well, there are many problems, but this one isn’t often mentioned — is that once you take them back after they cheat, they feel contempt for you. Oh, they may hide it well, but deep down inside…. they know you’re willing to settle for crumbs, and they take your “forgiveness” as excusing them for their bad behavior. They despise you on a deep level, and most of the time, they will hide that contempt, but it will leak out on occasion and you’ll feel it like a blow to the gut.

    My ex actually told people after our final split that I really didn’t have a right to complain because I KNEW WHAT HE WAS. That’s the mindset of all of them, although most won’t verbalize it out loud. But you know what? It’s actually the truth. Once you KNOW what they are and what they are capable of, it’s all on YOU for going back for second, third, fourth helpings. I can say that because I did it, over and over, until I finally wised up. But it took years, and it’s only now, years later, that I can look back and see that truth. He was never going to change. It was ME that had to change, no matter how hard, if I really wanted to live.

    And I know and understand how hard it is…. I was so paralyzed with terror, I couldn’t eat and lost 30 pounds in a month, could not sleep at night because my muscles kept tensing up and I’d shake all over, couldn’t think, couldn’t function. I had all the usual excuses: we had been married 20 years, we had a child, we owned a home, I’d been a SAHM for a decade, I couldn’t survive on my own….. the usual.

    But I did it despite the terror, and I survived, and life got better, and I stick around here to offer my small encouragement to those new to this nightmare. It’s really better on the other side. Life is better without a cheater, it’s true. But you can’t get to your destination until you start walking down the path.

    When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

    • Gladit’sover, thanks for sharing your story, sounds a lot like mine. I’ve learned once you take them back the first time, the contempt they feel for you gets completely unleashed. I think it was always there, but once you see behind the mask, you can’t “un” see it, and the narcs know this and can’t live with you after that anyway. I love the Maya quote too.

      • True. Its so weird. When you give them a second chance instead of being grateful and cleaning up their act and getting therapy to control their “urges” they just become angry and better cheaters.

        After Dday 2017 I asked cheater wife “what kind of man would I be if I stayed with you?” Her response: “Brave.”

        I considered that a warning of future hell. I knew I was done.

        • Zell, I also realized that after the “second chance”, what I really gave him was the opportunity to improve his skills of deception. When he dropped me and three of his children off at the airport after the Christmas holiday together in FL, making some lame excuse to stay there a little longer, I was done. In the morning I woke up to an email from him asking for a 6-month separation. I went no contact and filed for divorce as soon as I could. They SUCK

        • I asked them-wife a similar question after she reappeared around this time last year. I said: “could you really respect a man who would take you back after cheating on him.” She lied and said “yes.” But “no” is the answer. Taking somebody back after they cheat on you is fucking pathetic. Weak as hell. Yes, all of your friends are laughing at you behind your back; and if you’re really truly honest with yourself you know you too are shamed of what a spineless sack of shit you were to take them back.

          In a very short time that anger propelled me to a couple of angry outbursts and she never even fought back she just bailed again. I like to think it was because Chump Lady made me insufferable to be around what with my seething righteous anger mingled with a deep self loathing for ever speaking to her dumb ass again.

          All moot now: she’s long gone, and I am doing fine.

      • They have contempt even if you “take them back” without knowing there was an affair.

        When Hannibal Lecher asked for a divorce in 2006, but changed his mind after I professed my love (without knowing about gradwhore affair), he ramped up the contempt by going on adult dating sites (even signing me up for Adult Friend Finder & posting a picture of me in lingerie with my head cropped, *without my knowledge* so he could convince me to screw other people in front of him). The next 8 years until I found out about the gradwhore affair were one long series of periods of contempt interspersed with occasional lovebombing when I threatened to leave.

        That MFer convinced me to perform a pick-me dance without my knowing that is what I was doing (and only “professed my love” when I had actually come to hate him to keep my kids in an intact home. Foolish, in hindsight).

        • P.S. I did not take him up on the (cough) generous AFF offer. Unlike Hannibal, my privates stayed private the whole marriage.

          • Tempest, what a sick fuck. They have no thought for anyone but themselves. The emotional mind games are abusive and cruel.

            My STBX also suggested after D-day #1 that I go out and date other people, he’d totally be ok with it. I told him no fucking way. What a POS.

            • I got that too. Mine told me that she was on a dating site while dating him and still living with her husband and the husband had a new girlfriend too. Then he looked at me and said I should go on a dating site. I said “no thanks. Somebody in all of this has to maintain some sense of dignity”.

          • Glad it’s over,
            Thank you for sharing- wish I’d read this about 10 yrs ago!!

            I saw the same maya quote awhile back – was such a wise woman!!!

        • Amazing…mine too. When I confronted him about a continued affair with a coworker he asked me if I’d feel more comfortable with taking on a lover as well. I asked him if he was delusional then quickly replied, I already know the answer to that.

    • Yes, as hard as it is to admit…only the first time is a mistake. After that, it’s a choice. Rationalize, excuse and blame, but that is the truth. You get what you allow. You can stay if you choose, but you do so at your own peril. When it comes right down to it, what price is too much to stay with someone who so clearly does NOT love or respect you. I’m not sure there is a reason that justifies that.

      • Absolutely. I think my ex was quite shocked that I kicked him out when I found out about Affair #2, and wouldn’t let him come back no matter how long (2 years!!!) he sad-sausaged and moped around.

        I had clearly told him after Affair #1 that this was his one and only chance, never again. But he ‘forgot’ about that, and I really think that because I had wanted him to stay the first time, that I would do it again… and again… and again.

        He also had a friend who had cheated, his wife divorced him, and 15 years later they re-married. I think he thought that would happen to us … and that’s why he didn’t want to sell the house. But a) I’m not that guy’s wife, who is very very meek, and b) he’s not that guy, who is charming, fun, and quite sweet, aside from being a lying asshole. My ex isn’t even charming or fun!!! Even beyond the lying asshole part, why would I ever want him back??

    • Glad, thank you for writing this. It sparked the memory of a conversation we had a few months after DDay, which never sat right with me so I think I “forgot” it.

      He was telling me about a conversation with his brother (who had also cheated, but I don’t know if his wife ever found out. They are still married, FYI.) Anyway, he said that his brother told him, “If, after all this, the women come back for more, it’s their own fault.” Cheater told me this with a weird little smirk and laugh. I must have looked horrified, because he added, “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but you know how my brother is. He doesn’t mean anything by it, its just how he talks.”

      I know his brother tends to say “unfiltered” things, and tried to put it down to that at the time. But both the comment and Cheater’s reaction when repeating it (and the fact that he chose to bring it up at all) is pretty damning, especially in light of what you wrote.

      I love the Maya quote too. I often repeat it, but clearly have never taken it to heart. Peace!

    • GIO,
      Yeah, I get the contempt/disdain/disrespect from cheaters/liars who don’t genuinely appreciate the subsequent chance the chump generously provides.

  • Having been raised with the concept that actions have consequences, I could not imagine any adult actually believing that “rules” are for other people. Small children may have to have that explained to them, but they seem to grasp the concept quickly enough if it is consistently enforced. How people can become an adult and say things like “you are not the boss of me,” to someone who is supposed to be their partner, and to someone they clearly EXPECT certain things from — well that is a bit too immature for me.

    I think when we discover the truth about the partner we thought we knew, we enter a “state of being” I would describe as “betwixt and between”. It is physically difficult to exist between two states — think about water, it can be solid, liquid, or gas. But in between those recognized states it is melting, or getting ready to boil, but not there yet. That is betwixt and between,.

    So we look for reasons we may have misinterpreted, or reasons the partner may have been temporarily insane, or emotionally damaged as a child, or genetically doomed to failure — we look to everything to delay the transition of what we thought we were, and what we are afraid to become. Sooner or later, however, we are forced to transform, either by being abandoned, or by leaving. When we come to accept the way things really are, instead of the way we would like them to be, then we can start working on what we would like to become, without counting on anyone else to get us there. It may be a lot of hard work, it may take time, but our own actions will have consequences, too. We learn that we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves. Regardless of what the RIC promotes, you do not have to stay attached to a fuckwit just because you became entangled with one.

    When the partner chooses to lie and cheat, regardless of what they believe, they have started a process which forever changes the relationship. It will never be what we thought it was, or what we hoped it would become. It will transform because the truth will out, eventually. The truth is a compelling force of change — it will move us to the state of betwixt and between until we transform into what we will be. It may not be a process we would desire, but it is a part of living a realistic life.

    • Wow Portia that’s a really powerful image and goes a long way toward demystifying the agony I’ve been in for the past three months. The bottomless rabbit hole of wondering whether any of it was real, whether he ever loved me, whether I just got royally played, etc., etc. I know that none of that is helpful or even relevant, when the bottom line is he betrayed me and lied about it without a scintilla of remorse. Even though I can accept the way things are I still cannot quite believe it. It helps to consider the process from an elemental perspective — when the temperature drops a pond will form a sheet of ice and it really is ice but still when you walk on it you will fall through until more of the water transforms to ice and creates a thick layer.

      My three-month crash course in personality disorders has brought some wonderful transformation of its own. My FOO was red-flag central and even though I’ve whiled away several decades healing and gaining perspective it wasn’t until this recent opportunity that a few things really crystalized. In FOOland I learned to identify red flags and create survival strategies. Turns out the criteria for the all-star personality disorders — narcissists, sociopaths, borderlines — are just a listing of what I know as red flags. Eureka! Moment of Clarity!


      Which means there is only one course of action. Turn and walk away. Now. Do not inquire further. Treat every red flag the same as you would if someone disclosed on the first date that they were a meth addict and child pornographer. They are all red flags and it doesn’t matter which are bigger, redder, slightly ombre, or whatever. They all lead to the same fuckery and shenanigans and they always will.

      • Nope!
        Red Flag = Arsehole

        The relevant arsehole may have a mental illness, or may not. More likely they caused a mental illness to their relevant chump. Besides which, it just gives the arsehole another reason with which to claim “it’s not MY fault” and that means they should get a free pass.
        Arsehole is as Arsehole does – which is sh*t.

    • I agree. When he said, “you can’t put my dick in your purse”: that permanently changed me. Who would have the balls to say that to their partner of 15 years, and then try to take it back. It’s no mistake. There’s no unsaying that. It’s what they really believe. I turned and started the walk away that day. I’ll never forget it. Hugs to all, you did not deserve this. Xx

  • It’s difficult for chumps because we think cheaters think like us. It takes a couple heartbreaks to realize that is not the case. They can rationalize bad behavior in their brain and be completely ok. It also takes awhile for the devastation to become more clear. No contact gets you out of the emotional fog that clouds your vision. Helps you realize that cheater didn’t make a mistake, they are just actually horrible people that have been tricking you from the very beginning of the relationship.

    • Tempest
      Exactly how I felt when I googled: Divorcing a Narcissist- led me to an online article that mentioned Chump Lady website !! Best google search of my life, I, too, felt like the skies opened or the “Red Sea” had parted!!

      I spent 48 hrs on “overdosing “ on Chump wisdom, emailed Tracy to register, rest is history!!

  • “If you have any hope of saving it (assuming you think resurrection of dead things is a desirable outcome), you have to be prepared to enforce your boundaries, even if that means leaving.”

    For the newbies who just had D-Day or are on Month #3 of the Pick-Me Dance, this is key to survival. We are dealing with people who cheat and lie. The marriage is, indeed, dead, because the contract is based on two people agreeing not to cheat, to be faithful partners in good times and bad. So whatever you thought you had on the wedding day, it’s gone by D-Day.

    That is actually an opportunity. The Cheater wants to be forgiven? To reconcile? The price of re-entry must be steep and serious.
    1. You need a post-nuptial agreement. These aren’t always legally binding in some states, but here’s the deal. You sit down and spell out exactly what happens if Cheater cheats again. Or dissipates family assets or gets back on or has lunch every day with OfficeSchmoop. Spell out that you get physical & legal custody. Cheater gets every other weekend and Wednesday night. Find out what child support would likely by in your financial situation and up that by 25%. That child support for you. If a SAHP, spousal support for 3 years or until you finish whatever education you need to get back in the workplace. Do you want the house? Half the pensions? Half of all other assets? A forensic accountant to do a review of assets?

    Make it clear what your deal breakers are. That means YOU need to know what your deal breakers are. And be prepared to leave.

    2. Make him run a credit report. Find out if there are debts you don’t know about. Put the family on a budget that will eliminate that debt because if you need to leave, you don’t want Schmoopie’s vacation coming out of your pay.
    3. Get STD testing. For both of you because you’ve now slept with all of his partners by extension. Gross.
    4. Re-arrange how you do finances. Open your own checking account. Your paycheck goes into that. You write a check to the household account from that. Cheater can do the same. But you make sure Cheater’s share of joint expenses is proportional and automatically put in the household account. If you are a SAHM, you get regular deposits into your own account. The Chump should aim for 6 months of living expenses in savings.
    5. Any sign of undercover apps, dating sites, Craig’s List posts, Ashley Madison (is that still a thing?), fake FB pages and you’re out of there.
    6. Make sure your car is in your name only.
    7. Open a small credit card in your name only. Use it every month for household expenses and pay it off.
    8. Insist on a review of budget and finances after every payday.
    9. Make sure you have copies of all major documents pertaining to marriage, home ownership, pays, financial assets and the kiddos. Add to these each month, so if you need to see an attorney, your ducks are all lined up and wearing their sailor hats.
    10. Have photos of all of your individual possessions that you brought to the marriage.
    11. If you anticipate an inheritance, see an attorney ASAP to know the laws in your state to preserve it for yourself if you divorce.
    12. Document what you do for the kids. This can be a simple as keeping a diary about doctor visits, school Open House, that includes copies of sports schedules, etc., with marks for games you chauffeured kids or bought the drinks or watched Kiddo play. Include doctor receipts and sign your name at bottom to show it was you. Or use your debit card and pay yourself back.
    13. Get a counselor or therapist to support you and help you hold your boundaries.

    Most important, what do you need to do to develop yourself as a person? If you’ve been married for years to a selfish person who doesn’t do his or her share, chances are you’ve neglected your own life as a person. You need an identity outside of the marriage, outside of being a parent. Who are you? What do you love? Who belongs in your support system? Who can you count on? Where do you as a person want to be in 5 or 10 years? You are more than a spouse or a parent. The marriage is important to you, of course, but you now know that it is not so important to the Cheater. So don’t over-commit to the marriage. Shift to putting significant time and energy into your own life. This is the equivalent of putting on your own oxygen mask if the plane is crashing before you put the O mask on your kiddos.

    If you want to save the marriage, and Cheater claims to, you have to show Cheater what it’s going to take to do that. You have to know your worth. You must stand up for yourself, and by doing so, for your kids, if you have them, and their right to grow up with one sane parent with strong values, including self-efficacy.

    • Loveda, this list was great. I’m one of the rare stayers on this site. Here’s my take.
      1. Didn’t do this one. We live in a community property state, so everything gets split. One thing that kept me here is his pension. I will continue to get most of it if he dies first, but nothing if we are not married. It cannot be given in a divorce settlement. We are keeping his life insurance. I also have my own pension, social security and investments.
      2. I did that early on. Nothing there I didn’t know about.
      3. Had him do that the day after I confronted him. He went immediately and showed me all the results.
      4. I have always had my own checking account. His is our joint account. He was paying the bills but wanted me to take it over, so I did. (from the joint account)
      5. Yep.
      6. It has been since I bought it.
      7. Probably half of our cards are in my name, half in his.
      8. Okay, I let him look at it any time he wants to.
      9. I’m the only one who knows where all of this is. My filing system.
      10. It’s been over 40 years. Do I still have any of that stuff?
      11. I have always kept my inheritance in a separate account that will go to my kids. He comingled his and of course it’s all spent.
      12. They are adults. NA
      13. Did that. She was awesome, but she retired and moved away.
      I’ve always had my own career, my own interests apart from him. In fact, I was off doing my own thing for a month when he met his schmoop.

      The other list you should look at if you are thinking of staying with a cheater is in CLs article on Real Remorse. If your cheater isn’t doing everything (ACTIONS not words) on that list, don’t bother.

      1. Humility. One example… Early after Dday I asked him to start opening the car door for me when we are out together, as a way to publicly say, “this woman is special to me.” He had never done this, and it was hard and humbling for him at first. But he always does now, and it’s become his normal habit. I told him he could stop after a few months, but he said he wants to do it because it makes me happy.
      2. Initiative-he did all this…eventually
      3. Honesty-He has answered all my question with as much detail as I want. He said he would take a lie detector test if I want him to, but I guess I’m the one who thinks they ae expensive and unreliable. But yeah, he always tries to ease my mind. Pretty much polices himself, letting me know if plans change etc. And I do the same for him.
      4. Patience. I’ve been rough on him, maybe even pushing him to test his commitment. He remains solid, in it for the long haul he says.
      5. Ownership-He has never blamed me, (or her) he even argued with his therapist that he was not a sex addict, it was an issue of his character, that he was in complete control and did what he did because he wanted to and thought he could get away with it. He doesn’t want our friends and family to know, but then neither do I at this point.
      6. Recompense-He doesn’t have any money that isn’t half mine or wouldn’t be all mine if he dies first. This doesn’t really mean much to me. I would tell everyone if it happens again, so maybe that’s the one thing I hold over him if he cheats again.

      We’re older and retired and together most of the time, so not everything applies in the same way. He was never in luv with OW, it was over two months before I found out (I know because I have all their emails and texts), he came home on his knees when I confronted him in an email, and didn’t flinch, no indecisiveness or time to think about what he wanted. I gave him a second chance because I love our life and I hated to let him mess everything up with his stupid affair. There is a lot of good, I like being with him, we have fun together and laugh a lot. He treats me very well, tells me how much he loves me every day and how much he appreciates me staying with him. Most of the time I am happy. I am starting to trust again, though that trust will never be as complete as it was. We’re 18 months out from Dday and all three therapists (his, mine and ours) have graduated us and think we’re going to make it. Is he that mythical unicorn? Maybe.

      But as perfect as this reconciliation (still not spelling it with a “W”) seems to be, here’s the thing. There is a rage just under my skin that still surfaces with the least little trigger. I will never feel the same freedom in loving him but will always hold something back. I will never forgive what he did to us. He knows that and is willing to live with it. And for now, I guess, so am I.

      So newbies, what I am saying is, even if you get the perfect, remorseful, uni-horned former cheater, think twice before you stay. It will never be the same. And if your cheater is not even close to the things on these lists, don’t bother. Leave before it gets worse.

      • This is a whole mess of crazy, DWD. You deserve better. Get out before he does it again. Because he will. He hates you.

        • DWD, the awful thing is that while you might THINK you have a unicorn, you will never KNOW.

          We have chumps here who wreckonciled and thought they had a unicorn, only the chump died, and months later, out it all came.

          I’m not remotely surprised at your rage. The Marriage Police isn’t something anyone should sign up for. Keeping your husband on such a tight leash must be exhausting for you.

          And ultimately, if he wants to cheat again, he will. He knows you won’t divorce him. He will just be much more careful next time.

          You are 100% correct – it’s never the same afterwards.

      • At the end of the day we are all subject to the same standard — whether we have acted in our own best interest. None of us can ever know what a relationship is like if we don’t happen to be in it. We may or may not know which path is best but if we commit to proceeding from a place of honesty and integrity we can maximize our chances of getting where it is we need to go.

        Many years ago I was in a situation with a man where I kept telling him I was going to move. When I actually did move he was in shock which made no sense to me at all. A friend said: Cognitive doesn’t work for him it has to be behavioral.

        I had no clue what she meant and when she explained it I was amazed that there are people out there who don’t believe you when you tell them something or, alternatively, who will say things that they never intend to actually do.

        That’s why, if I was considering staying, I would be tempted to negotiate an affair for me. When you trust someone and they betray you you don’t just know what’s lost you have the actual experience of losing it. I’ve not been in the situation of continuing a relationship under those circumstances but if I was I think I would want my partner to share in that side of the experience as well.

  • I really don’t remember how I found CL, but I was one of those type chumps who thought I could save my marriage and I couldn’t readily accept her message at first. You know I thought WE were special and this was just some sort of “mental breakdown” he would get over. NOT! If I had to do this over again I would have kicked his ass out much sooner and gone through the divorce at warp speed. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I could truly kick myself for pick me dancing. Divorce is hard, especially after over 40 years of marriage, but I found myself unable to look at him the same way I had before he was unfaithful. The level of deceit was just too much. Like everyone else I was scared of what my life would be like financially and I knew at my age and health that another relationship would never happen. Anyone who reads CL knows I did take him in because he was terminally ill. I took care of him till he died, but I NEVER could get by the pain and misery he caused me. It was always there simmering below the surface. Once they betray your trust it’s over. If I had it to do over again I would have pushed a fast forward button to get divorced and away from him for good. Don’t EVER waste your time and effort on anyone who can so easily dispose of you like a used tissue! And once you get rid of them make sure they can’t find you. They will return to extract the last drop of usefulness out of you if possible.

    • Roberta
      You are so very right – once the trust is gone – it’s done. I did something very similar-took care of Stbx after he had heart attack (a month after I filed) and then open heart surgery! I knew within 2-3 weeks – there wasn’t anyway I could do it ever again – even if nearly dying would have changed him-IT DID NOT!
      But I realized once you unmask – nothing looks the same again and even though he was incredibly ill and went through many complications- I regret allowing my empathy and compassion to make me think a near death experience could change a narcissist and that he would agree on amicable divorce!! He is more evil and more hell bent on scorched earth policy.

      I’m trying to put everything I can into place to make sure he and any flying monkeys can never find out anything about me!! I keep saying I feel like I’m preparing for witness protection program!

      That’s how serious I am – I want NOTHING to do with him or anyone attached to him !!!

      I’m the type of person who has life long friends – but this – dear god -he’s a fucking sociopath and have to make sure he never knows anything!!!

  • In addition to seeing a therapist, I’m part of a Christian support group. In a video shown last night to the group, there was a mention that one of the Biblical allowances to get a divorce was due to infidelity. Seeing that helped me justify “why” I proceed w/lawyering up and not going through mediation; to me, I didn’t have a reason to be the nice guy anymore, but to be guarded and protect myself and my kids.

  • How to Save Your Marriage After Infidelity…….DON’T!!!

    Of course after DDay1, no one could have convinced me and I did not have that clarity. It took DDay2 to know there was no way to save it. It might have been a marriage that looked as good on paper as the day we signed on the dotted line, but the trust was gone. So in real life, where the hard work is done, I couldn’t trust him. There was no turning back. No need for me to hang on.

  • I was talking to my best friend last night on the phone and I could hear her husband in the background making a comment on what we were talking about. She kind of yelled at him and then started laughing, saying ‘it’s winter and we’ve been cooped up too long and we’re driving each other insane!’ They’ve been married 40 years, I introduced them when we were all teenagers. After I got off the phone, I thought ‘if that were my XH, (or any other man I’ve known) and they were bored or going stir crazy..’why they would have an affair!~’

  • Chump Lady saved my life. My shattered heart and soul found a safe place to heal here. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had to go through that hell without the wonderful people here.

    2 years out from the end of a 14 year marriage and I am well. The divorce anniversary went by unnoticed, I just realized. That date isn’t remotely important to me. My heart and home is my truly own now.

    New Chumps, know this – you will make it! And You are worth it! The dark road has an end, and at its end is a new beginning. There is no shortcut. It is terrifying and lonely. It changes you forever. But someday you will be okay. Someday you may even be Defiantly Happy.

  • Lurking here for a couple of weeks. Reading the book. Thank you all for being brave enough and kind enough to share your stories but mostly your insight. I’m 59, two time chump just coming out of shock that led to weeks of illness and weight loss. Yes, I thought he was “the love of my life.” It becomes clearer everyday I am a chump, which isn’t a bad thing. I am a good person who believed in marriage and family. Of course he “loves me.” So much in fact, that he had an affair with ex girlfriend/body buddy (also married) . I asked him to leave if he ever wants to cheat and he promised, as well as promising no contact with her our entire marriage. Funny, I knew something was off, I even asked about her (instinct) and was met with “how could you think something so awful of me.” So glad to be here! I am learning everyday and so grateful to CL and everyone on this site!

    • I’m glad you found this site Annette and sorry you have to be part of club no one wants to be in. However, you’re among friends now and people who understand.

    • Annette,
      I’m so sorry are going all the pain and heartbreak- So glad you found CL – this site will become your lifeline!!

      just know everyone here will have your back and give you all the encouragement and support you need to get through all of this!!!

      Many hugs

  • CL & CN, you are my rock. I had to read this today. Thank you for the constant reminder that I, like many of you, will survive this.

    He finally filed divorce papers. I did wait until he filed so he would feel the weight of his actions. It took him 6 months (separated since Dday2) but he finally did it. I admit, I was on hoping even though I went no contact as much as possible (we share custody of our toddler). I retained an attorney and hoping the best for my divorce settlements (unfortunately I won’t get his pension or Social Security because we weren’t married for more than 10 years).

    What I am having trouble with is exhaustion as a single parent and I’m almost about to collapse from the busy. Please lend me strength and share your advice.

    I am drowning in tasks. The chores are endless, you know what they are…as chumps we were the house maid, laundromat service, cook, accountant, caregiver, responsible parent, best damn domestic engineer…and many like myself have a career to manage, too.

    I can barely keep my head above water or sleep soundly. We’ve had to move 2x and i’m having trouble finding good daycare closeby.

    I still haven’t started on the splitting assets or focus on work (I’ve taken time off to deal with all this).

    I’m really thankful to not have to worry about income for about 2 years. It’s not much but I’m living within my means. I see the light at the end of the tunnel…I do…it just will take a bit of time. And when my 2-year old qualifies for preschool, I will have some comfort in some free time to take care of things.

    Thank you friends helping me through this. I know you all have a LOT going on, too.

    • Cloud castle,
      Sweet lady, you do have your hands full. I’m so incredibly sorry you are having to do all of this on your own!! I hope you know how incredibly brave and strong you are!!!

      Do you have family that lives close to you that could help with any of the chores -doing laundry, cleaning, etc?

      It almost sounds like you would benefit from finding someone trustworthy that could take care of many of the household chores and help in preparing meals – in exchange for free room and board – would this be a possibility?

      I’m so glad you already found CL/CN and have received the wonderful support and encouragement that this site has to offer!

    • Cloud Castle: I’m sorry you’re struggling. Single parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world because it requires you to juggle so much. You can’t do everything. An upside-down piece of buttered toast is left on the countertop of your kitchen for 2 days? Oh, well, no one is going to die from it.

      Each night make a mental list of (a) things that are URGENT to do the next day (pay the electric bill before you incur a late fee), and (b) the most important things in the foreseeable future that require small steps to complete them (e.g., lining up day care centers to visit). Everything else? Doesn’t need to happen. Cut corners every place you can (e.g., some supermarkets have relatively cheap family meals for busiest nights; choose the healthiest ones & keep a few in your freezer). One important thing mentioned in every organization plan is to only touch each piece of paper twice–once when you retrieve it from the mailbox, and a second time to deal with it (no leaving a stack of bills to pay at a later date–write the check & mail it as soon as you open the letter).

      Multitask if two things can be done at the same time (e.g., I catch up with friends by phone as I walk dogs). Automate as much as you can; we are fastest and most efficient at tasks (including cooking certain dishes) when they have well-established routines.

      Ask for help. Most people are happy to do a small favor for a single parent, even picking up grocery items or dropping off something to a repair shop.

      I know this is virtually impossible, but try to get as much sleep as you can; sleep deprivation only makes tasks seem more daunting, and depresses your mood. If you can’t get 7-8 hours, set aside a 30 minute period for a nap (I sometimes crash out on the rug in my office during lunch hour).

      And mostly–let yourself off the hook if to-do items fall through the cracks. Very few things will get done perfectly as a single parent and the world still turns. Hugs to you.

    • Cloud Castle you are mighty whether you feel like it or not and every one of us here would like to bring you soup. I’ve been in your shoes and the best advice I can add is just do the things that are important and do them as best you can and go on. Personal honesty is key. Having a child is a wondrous experience but not every single moment of it. There are times when things just suck and it’s ok to acknowledge that. You don’t have to Pinterest Pretend that every moment is a delightful smile fest. Love your baby, love yourself, and love the fact that jettisoning your spousal deadweight is a decision that you will always, always remember fondly.

  • Picture this (voice of Sophia on Golden Girls)
    March 2015, just two weeks after my birthday in which he left me the most sentimental and loving birthday card, he leaves his lap top open and running —intentionally I would later find out, but thats a different story— and I read a Facebook PM exchange between him and a woman that he was chasing after (again, another story for another time) in which he revealed his intent on leaving me.
    Me, after 13 years supporting him through countless job chamges, multiple friend ditching, family disengaging because of him. Me, the woman that literally took him in like a stray dog and supported him, insured him, etc.
    I honestly laughed at the PM-ing because all I could think was, “My God, he has NO game!!!” He sounded like an idiot, but whatever. I also noticed his gmail was open, so I looked through it real quick. Nothing in his inbox, so I clicked on the Sent file and saw multiple emails he sent out to Craigslist sex ads with his picture and cell #.
    Then, the shock and awe kicked in.
    Know what I did then?
    I finished his laundry. Yep.

    I called a few friends, revealed my discovery.
    I copied and oasted his messaging with chickiepoo and saved it to a jump drive. Gave it to a friend with some ither stuff for her to hold at her house.
    I called HR and changed my beneficiaries on jy insurance.
    I called my law u er from a previous divorce thing related to my exh1.
    What I didnt do was cry. Not until much later.
    What I didnt do was confront him. Nope, I was silent Sam with jim. Acted kike nothing was wrong when he returned.
    For a week I went on as if nothing had changed. He was constantly asking me if I was OK, that I “seemed upset about something”. I played it off as stress from work, or stressed about my upcoming surgeries.
    The night before Easter Sunday 2015 is when we had “the talk” (again, another story for another time)
    April 2015, I was Googling “my husband says he isn’t happy” and found oodles of article links about ways *I* can “fix” myself to make him happy. The more I read, the angrier I got. I was like, “fuck this shit, he aint happy? What about ME?”
    Somehow, some way one of those articles referenced Chump Lady, and I clicked on a link or Google searched for her directly, and here I am.
    Almost three years later, and I m still here.
    Still learning.
    Still healing.
    Still growing.
    Still crying as my heart breaks reading all of my fellow chumps going through this trying to choke down the shit sandwiches, the Cool, Bummer, Eow parenting moments, the Trust That H (S)he Sucks reminders, the Get Mighty rally calls.
    Still laughing at the humor we still have with the You Cant Make This Shit Up shares.
    It’s good to be here.
    Thank you, Tracy.
    Thank God for the Mighty Chump Nation!!!!

    • Unsinkable
      Had I not been in a state of utter shock and disbelief upon meeting Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde within months of marrying Narc freak – after quitting a job I loved, relocated halfway across the country, and instead listened to my gut – I would have reacted immediately and very similarly to you – when I first married Narc freak!!

      Every time I read a post like yours, I want to wind back the clock, where I went with my initial gut, and said – you just made the biggest mistake of your life – you were taken advantage of by a narcissist who enjoyed fucking up a woman and her children’s life who had just started turning her life and her children’s life around after the sudden death of her husband, where I contacted the moving company that was en route, driving halfway across the country with all my household items, and told them – mistake-turn around and I will meet you at the same destination you packed and loaded my entire house into your truck, grabbed my daughter and made a one way plane ticket back to the place I just moved from, called an attorney and told him do whatever it takes/get me out of this nightmare, and resumed the life I had been in the process of rebuilding and forgot that had I had ever received the phone call from a person I had grown up with and had been friends with years ago – I know I wouldn’t be going through a divorce from hell from a narc sociopath

      If only we could turn back time – using hindsight as 20/20! I wish to god I had even known enough back then to give a name to the “uneasiness “ I felt shortly after moving to Stbx town, state!

      Now all I can do is keep moving forward-get through divorce from hell and live out the rest of my life in peace by ensuring Stbx can never find me.

      • SeeingClearly, you and I have a very similar experience!!!!!
        I too was practically screaming in my head, “No!!! Don’t do this!!!” as I received my wedding vows…
        He came into my life (I mistakenly thought) at just the right time— a mere six weeks after my ten-year marriage ended when exh1 announced he was done with me. I thought he was Heaven-sent, for a minute.
        I can’t tell you how many times I kicked myself in the ass for staying with him as long as I did.
        The thing that pisses me off the most even now is that he loooovvvvves to go around calling other men “leeches”, “punk-ass little bitch”, the p—- word, etc. when they are living off of someone else or not being “a real man”, but he was the biggest one of all the above!!!!!
        Instead of saying, “Hey, (Molly), we need to talk…” and had just been a honest about him wanting to leave, etc., I wouldn’t be happy, but at I could have moved on and would have been more cooperative for lack of a better word.
        However, he chose not to take that route, and here we are, or I should say, here I am!

    • UnsinkableMollyX,
      You aren’t alone. When I found out (DDay#1), I bought my wife flowers and actually thanked her for choosing us (me and our two young kids). I wish I could go back to that day and kick myself in the groin and smack myself straight. When I think about the pick-me-dancing I did, I want to vomit. Good for you being strong and still coming back here!

  • “to save this thing you want so badly, you have to be prepared to walk away from it cold.”

    This is actually a good test, or at least it was for me in my circumstances (my own income, no kids).

    After three months of ZERO progress on her part, I simply moved out on my wife and told her I’d begin to research divorce.

    If she was actually reverent and loved me, she’d beg for me to come back, disavow her OM, pleas for forgiveness…

    She did NONE of those things. Instead, she continued to rationalize why she had to see and text her OM (a semi-colleague). She raged at me for skipping out on her family when they visited. She bitched and moaned and claimed I caused the problem.

    Don’t get me wrong; it was a miserable experience for me, and I did show up to work once absolutely stinking of whiskey and likely still drunk from the night before.

    But, it revealed that she wasn’t going to change. She had what she wanted (a husband and a lover) and all of her efforts went into maintaining that situation for as long as possible.

  • This “to save this thing you want so badly, you have to be prepared to walk away from it”
    Thank you CL.
    Oh how I needed to read this today. So true and so hard. Began divorce process earlier this week and informed my wife last night of my intentions. I’m still very wobbly even after having been treated horribly for several months now. I look back often at the eight years of memories. Our travels, beautiful wedding, the birth of our son just one year ago, time with our friends and family, working on our first home, etc. The loss is tremendous and knocks the breath out of me multiple times a day. I will miss her so much and believe there will always be a hole in my soul where she belongs. But I have no choice but to let her go, she’s in love with her affair partner of seven months, and says she feels things in that relationship she no longer feels for me. She is fence sitting, loves me and our life, but won’t give up the affair. This is well out of my control and now I must love and respect myself and enforce my boundaries.

  • Best advice I ever received! It hurts so bad when you first discover the cheating. You want someone- anyone to tell you it can be saved, but a broken vase can never hold water. Once someone cheats you can try and glue your broken relationship back together, but it will never be the same. You will eventually crack!

    So when I heard that I can have deal breakers, it was like someone had thrown me a life vest. This notion saved me!! It made me realize that I can take my power back from someone who yielded theirs over me. It woke me up!! Wait a min, I can enforce consequences, that fucker can’t take my choice away, he can’t take my future, or the essence of who I am !!! It still hurts like a motherfucker, but with good therapy, chump nation, and support from family and friends you can get through it. I did!! I am currently typing this at a five star resort in Mexico with my loving, faithful new boyfriend. Two years post cheating and one year since divorce was final. There is a better life out there. Choose you!

  • What about the losers that do stay married? In my case, the wife, is hanging on, in a loveless marriage, just to ‘win’. There is no love or respect in that marriage, but she’s holding on for dear life believing that the connection is still there. It’s super pathetic. For four years she’s been unhappy, crying on the bathroom floor, every time her hubby sees me (every weekend), but she can’t seem to grasp that she should just leave him. She’s been pick me dancing for 4 years, and on the verge of a mental breakdown, there is no way their marriage is loving and caring. He is just totally annoyed by her most of the time but can’t divorce because of ‘Christianity’. I mean seriously, what to do about these pathetic women?

    • Great question, Anna. You seem super smart and really nice. My suggestion to you is to load up you and your boyfriend and drive off a bridge. Barring that (because you’re a fucking coward) maybe spend some time learning grammar, spelling, and punctuation be sue you come off as an uneducated skank. Finally – get an STI test pronto because you’re not his only side piece. Toodles.

      • Doubtless, hahaha. I can’t believe this skank thinks the husband is miserable with the arrangement. He CHOOSES to stayed married and bang her on the side. She is just a piece of ass to him. If he truly loved HER, he would have left the wife a looooong time ago. (eye roll)

      • Doubtless
        Great response to Anna, the skank, hmmmm just another stupid OW who is clueless of the role she plays!!

        Anna, Pathetic loser! But thinks the wife’s pathetic – of course she’s buying the bs line that “wife’s crying on bathroom floor” – what a bitch!

    • Anna, Anna
      Let me enlighten you – you are also being made a fool of, trust me on this, that sparkly turd you believe you won, you are just one of many side pieces he has! He sees you every weekend. Do the math sweetie-2 days don’t equal a week!

      It’s the OW like you-don’t have a fucking clue!
      Enjoy! If I were you, get a weekly STD, because you aren’t going to “get it” anytime soon, that you are just one of many!!

      Karma- will visit you soon! Unfortunately, you won’t realize it until, BOOM!

      You need to find another place to hang out!

  • We are just fuckbuddies tbh. Who wants a real relationship with a cheater? Not me! Lol.. How do I know she’s miserable? She calls/emails me, begging me to go away. Seriously pathetic…

  • Yes, this is exactly what I was Googling when I found out the affair. I was pick-me dancing for about 6 months before I found Chump Lady, but by then I felt like I had read almost everything I could get my hands on about saving my marriage, so I think was ready to hear CL’s message, because what I was doing wasn’t working. Yes, Mort Fortel is horrible.

    I have to say that Marriage Builders helped me. They don’t advise pick-me dancing for more than 6 weeks (for women, longer for men), because they think it’s emotionally damaging and could cause PTSD. After that they advise complete no contact unless it’s necessary communications about the finances or kids, and even for that they recommend that all messages are in writing and get filtered through a third party (which might cause some legal issues re custody). I think the filtering might be a little too much, but I kept all my communications with ex in email and short and business like (and ignored his tirades).

    And they advise taking the cheater back only if s/he does a number of actions, like being completely transparent with finances and emails, phone, etc., which many cheaters simply won’t do (thank God mine didn’t, so I didn’t take him back). They also advise immediate and wide exposure of the affair to kill it, which is I still think is the best way to kill it if you want to, but in the end you probably won’t care and might even welcome OW taking him off your hands. They also advise telling kids of the affair in an age-appropriate, non-derogatory way ASAP (before cheater can get their story out first), e.g., “I am divorcing your dad because your dad was dating another woman while we were married, and I think that’s wrong,” or “Your dad broke a big promise to me and lied to me over and over again, and I can’t be married to someone I can’t trust.” FYI, I did expose the affair to ex’s family and friends and OW’s friends and family as recommended by Marriage Builders, and I still ended up with primary custody of kids.

      • Well, the affair ended a few months after that (after I filed for divorce), though it probably would have ended anyways. What Marriage Builders (MB) said would happen did happen–ex became enraged, said that now he was definitely leaving me (he had been waffling)–but that it shouldn’t hinder reconciliation in the long run (after I filed for divorce, he asked me repeatedly to reconcile).

        My lawyer said I shouldn’t have done it, and ex tried to use my exposure as evidence of my instability in custody, but that didn’t seem to work and I did get primary custody in the end. My lawyer said that my behavior could be deemed harassment, but I think what MB also says is correct–cheaters are too embarrassed by their behavior and would rarely file a harassment suit. Also, if you do exposure the MB way–send private messages to all of ex’s and OW’s friends and family or call them–and frame it like you’re just trying to save your family, I think it’s hard for ex and OW to paint themselves as sympathetic victims.

        Google Marriage Builders Exposure 101 and they tell you exactly how to expose (though I might refrain from exposing to an employer or work colleagues as that could have negative financial repercussions to you if your spouse loses their job because of your actions). I found OW’s Facebook account and you have to download all the names of all her friends first because MB says once they find out you’re sending private messages to them, OW will disable her account (which she also did in my case). I sent the messages in the middle of the night when most people were sleeping to give myself some lead time. You also do exposure all at once, like over the span of a day. I think that also helps you legally if you do it just once and not engage in long-term exposure, which could be deemed a pattern of behavior. Also the judge can chalk it up to your being so distraught over discovery of the affair and merely asking friends and family to encourage your spouse to stay with the family. MB has a template email that you could use.

        I have to say that at the time I was exposing, I was really trying to save my marriage. MB’s philosophy is that in order to save the marriage, you have to kill the affair first and exposure is the best and quickest way to kill it, as affairs thrive in secrecy and die upon exposure to light (like mold).

        • Thanks. Interesting. It’s probably too late to use in my situation as my wife and her AP have been together for 8 months now and at this point are going on dates publicly and even took a vacation together last week. She tells me they’re meant to be, and the AP says my wife is the love of her life. So I doubt exposure would matter much. I wonder, however, if the affair relationship will last and turn into something legitimate. The thought keeps me up at night since we will be sharing custody of a one year old.

          I’m filing for divorce in the next few days, and my wife has been asking me to wait. She’s so confused, it’s just sad all around.

          • DNM, dude I feel your pain. She is not confused. She is using you like an emotional tampon. You are playing right in to her hands. I know this hurts, but she is riding his dick right this very moment. She is pushing every one of your buttons to keep you in line like a good little boy. Stop. STOP. STOP!!! Tipping your hand to her. Every conversation you have with her gives her more emotional leverage over you. Every thing you need to say can be put in an email unless it is a legit kid emergency which needs a text. Man, fuck that bitch. Get mad, bro. Don’t let her use you. She’s not confused – SHE IS EVIL. Get it together, sir. You got this!

          • MB says it’s never too late, though the earlier the better. Actually 8 months is not that long, relatively. There are tons of stories on the MB forum of affairs lasting for years. If you post to that forum, there are lots of people who will give you advice immediately and guide you through the steps of exposure and no contact. I divorced my ex when my younger kid was one year old and managed to keep almost all of our communications through email.

            Even if killing the affair isn’t your main goal of exposure, there are other psychological benefits to it as well–it gets you needed support from family and friends, helps protect your own reputation (no doubt your wife is telling everyone what a horrible husband you are and may eventually lie about the reason for the divorce), and reinforces the fact that this is not your shame to bear.

            • And yes, exposure is worth it. It is your best weapon to weaken the affair. Even if they are “public” with their relationship (or so you think), you don’t know what they’ve been telling other people, e.g., your wife may be telling others that the relationship started when you were already “separated,” or that you agreed to an open marriage or that you’ve even filed for divorce or you were the one who had an affair first! In any case, it’s worth it to get rid of this OM because I don’t think you want your kid to be spending a lot of time with the type of man who would have an affair with a married woman.

              Also, you want your child to know eventually that the marriage broke up because of your wife’s infidelity. The more people who know the truth, the more likely your child will as well. And again as the child grows up and asks questions about why you two are divorced, you can tell your child in an age-appropriate, non-derogatory way. This is not just to protect your reputation but also for your own child’s well being. As MB says, if you don’t tell children the truth about the divorce, they become confused and frequently end up blaming themselves. The truth sets the kids free.

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