Dear Chump Lady,
I have been with my husband for 15 years, married 12, 2 kids (9 and 5). He is a serial cheater. My fault for sticking around so long — by taking him back I condoned his behavior and let him know that he could continue ‘cake’. I was the chump that thought I could love him enough to change and want his family.
I’ve been suspicious for a year of an affair, and his behavior gave it all away, the usual gaslighting, blaming, etc. I just couldn’t catch him. He finally left after accusing me of cheating, which was his escape route. In the past, I had always found out and had hard evidence, which led to me kicking him out temporarily, until he groveled enough for me to let him come home. This time he left before the D-Day.
The difference is that he doesn’t want to come home this time and it’s driving me crazy. After finding out the truth, a week after he left, and my 9-year-old son knowing the truth, I need to walk away. I know this. I don’t want him back — but I want him to want me back so that I can tell him to FUCK OFF!
Is this the part where the Chump still wants to control the situation? Why can’t I let him go? He let me go and is living with his whore, and taking my kids around her.
And then — is he really happier with her and her kids? I hate the confusion…
I Don’t Want You, but She Can’t Have You
This insanity is what we call the Pick Me Dance. You’re so used to the intermittent rewards of “winning” your husband, you want the competition to go on. You need some deprogramming, stat.
First off, this drama cycle is addictive. “Winning” anything intermittently reinforces behavior. Why do people stupidly stuff money into slot machines, knowing the odds are the House always wins? Why do dogs flip out on the chance you might give them a biscuit? Why is suspense scary? How do freaks control? You just withhold, withhold, withhold… kibble! Withhold, withhold, withhold…
You’re freaking out for your kibble right now.
Your beef with your husband? THERE IS A SCRIPT AND YOU ARE NOT ADHERING TO IT! He’s supposed to feign remorse and return. That slut machine is supposed to dispense. And with your tiny little kibble you get your token of control. That you can “allow” him to return. That you could “make” him love you and the kids. Instead of accepting the true horror of this situation — you’re powerless. People who love you, don’t goad you into humiliating competitions for years, only to abandon. People who love you don’t project their crimes on you (cheating) as a pretext to leave.
IDWYBSCHY, you’ve been dancing to his tune for a long time. You only control YOU. Start asking yourself if this relationship is acceptable to you? What on earth do you think you need this man for? His chaos and instability? The way he models disrespect to your children? His super awesome parenting? (Where IS he as he’s serial cheating? At cub scout meetings? I don’t think so.) HIs paycheck? You get one of those and a legal settlement and fuck him. It’s amazing how much household income you have when you’re not sharing it with extracurricular fuckbuddies.
You don’t need him to come back to say FUCK OFF to him. You know what says “fuck off”? A divorce summons. Consequences. All his shit in Hefty bags on the lawn for the raccoons.
What you really want is to win the pick me dance. You want to “win” him from the OW and crush them both as the victor as YOU say NO.
That’s a stupid chump fantasy. Let it die. Clearly you don’t understand the dynamics of cake. He’s never given up anything in his life. The OW isn’t crushed because he returned home. She’s either still available and/or there’s another OW in the wings. Cake eaters eat cake. You aren’t winning ANYTHING here, except another chance to compete in the Pick Me polka.
And he’s not crushed either because he was never fully invested to begin with. You can’t win what you never had.
I know, ouch. But that’s what his behavior says. And if you let people walk over you further, you don’t gain their respect and undying affection. They tend to disrespect you even more.
That’s true for the OW too. So, let her have him. Let her win the turd. Let her enjoy the long, inevitable devalue.
Is he happier? WRONG QUESTION. Are you happy living this insane, unstable, unloving life? Is this freak the sort of person you’d choose to be partnered with? Who CARES if he’s happy? Stupid shit makes stupid people happy. I’m sure my ex is delirious over the recent purchase of a crossbow, a Thai hooker, or an Italian sausage sandwich. Why should his fleeting dopamine high impact my life? Why does his joy diminish me? I have my own separate life. (Which is vastly improved by his absence.)
THAT is what you need to work on — the new life. It begins with divorce lawyers.
In time, you really won’t care what he’s up to or who he’s with, because you’ll know what he is. A person who SUCKS. As for bringing your kids around his rotating buffet of girlfriends, get a custody order in place. Some address the meet and greets.
You don’t control what he does, but you do control how much you’re going to tolerate. He wants to have a girlfriend? Remove yourself from the situation. You be the sane parent, and let him be the pathetic creep he is. Children whose dad has a rotating buffet of girlfriends need a stable parent. BE THAT PARENT. Don’t be a sad person hung up on some jerk who treats her like shit.
Pass that role on to the deserving OW. Good luck.