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Dear Chump Lady, Is this a unicorn?

unicornposterDear Chump Lady:

I potentially have that mythical unicorn in my life. It shares its body with the original transformer that sadly still becomes my spouse on occasion.

In the morning light with dew on the grass, the unicorn seems legit. Doing and saying the right things. Making good changes and taking responsibility for his choices. Going to counseling on his own, developing better relationships with all. When he sees me in pain, he knows that he is the sole reason I cry. Got the truth after a couple weeks of gaslighting/denial, not willingly but eventually admitted / shared details nonetheless. He has agreed to all boundaries and for the most part I do believe he is heading down the path of a better life, with or without me.

However, I see remnants of the transformer’s personality in his underlying choices.

For instance, I requested that he acknowledge a few hard days I have most every month. Instead of doing as I ask, he chooses (for my benefit) to NOT say anything on those hard days; he identifies that he believes that he is protecting me from pain on those “special” days and he chooses to ignore them because we are moving forward. I called him on his bullshit but truthfully his thinking/decision making is so skewed that he talks himself into believing that line.

For instance, we finally told our college age kids the truth (for over a year they had been rebuilding a relationship with their dad based on his BIG LIE that he only sexted her when in reality they had multiple sex overnights and were just getting started with their affair because they both deserved some happiness). He was upset, not because of what the truth would do to his kids, but upset that he should have been given adequate time to prepare how to tell his kids.

For instance, this past month, I brought up divorce. 95% of the time, he appears to want to continue the marriage and actually does “think” of me when making some choices. However, his yearly vacation with a relative became a priority and a reality over this last holiday weekend of the summer. He “asked” me if he could go. I told him it was not my decision to make. When he made the commitment to go, I told him that I was floored that he made the choice he did with the marriage hanging on a thread. Instead of the obvious truth (that he really wanted to go), he again talks himself into another bullshit story about the other person’s happiness with the annual trip and also that I probably needed a break.

The first question I asked the marriage counselor over a year ago was whether or not he was possible of true change, not just the surface rust changes, but the soul busting changes that govern underlying choice process. I have stuck it out for a while to see what changes he was capable of making. Divorce is now an option to explore given the rare but continued surfacing of the old husband.

The unicorn that I am married to reverts to a transformer when pending decisions require him to make a difficult choice.

Looking for your input. I actually do see the real remorse (not just the genuine imitation naugahyde remorse); however the default transformer just will not allow the permanent conversion to the unicorn. Don’t think that will change.

Honestly, maybe it boils down to how the affair has changed me: weary, untrusting, doubtful and just plain disappointed. Maybe I don’t believe in unicorns anymore.

Thanks for your column. It provides an angle of sanity to turn toward instead of the daily stupidity.

Chump Loving Life

Dear CLL,

I’m confused, CLL. You say your husband is “making good changes and taking responsibility for his choices” and then give me chapter and verse on how he’s not doing that.

He doesn’t comfort you when you have a bad day — and does the mindfuck that it’s really for YOUR benefit. He takes a trip alone with a “relative” (you sure about that?) — and says it’s really for that relative’s benefit, and you “needed” a break. And he attributes his inability to tell his kids that he had an affair to… inadequate preparation. I mean, maybe he had a flip chart and PowerPoint, CLL, and you were just too hasty!

It seems to me, when pressed into an uncomfortable situation, he reverts to mindfuckery and probably gaslighting (a trip with family? Really? Why aren’t you invited?) Yeah, I wouldn’t be very trusting either, CLL. What exactly has he done other than go to counseling by himself? Do you have a post-nup?

I only have a letter to go on, but it looks like you both have issues saying what the hell you want. When he asked if he could go on that trip – yes, I would object to the whole parent/child dynamic, but you should’ve said exactly how you feel about that. HELL NO I DON’T WANT YOU TO GO ON THAT TRIP. Instead you say it’s his choice, and then get pissed when he chooses.

You’ve stepped into the mindfuck bear trap. Because he posed the question as a Mother May I kind of thing (grrrr), you’re quick to back off to not be seen as controlling or parent-like. I Trust Your Best Judgment on This. When of course you trust no such thing. He, naturally, does what he wanted to do in the first place. And the no win is, if you object, you’re the bad guy, and if you consent, you’ve fucked yourself.

Instead, take a step back and stop focusing on him and his purported motivations. “..Truthfully his thinking/decision making is so skewed that he talks himself into believing that line.” Do you want to have to take his temperature each day on how much he wants the marriage? Oh, today he’s 95% in!

Why not ask yourself — is this relationship acceptable to ME?

Do you want to play marriage police? Do you like that parent/child shit? Do you want a marriage where every time he fucks up he says really it’s for Your Benefit?

My take is the guy is a spineless, manipulative dude. He’s very quick to cloak himself in righteousness at your expense. Hey! He’s just misunderstood! Why can’t you appreciate him and how much he does for you! Like giving you a BREAK by taking holidays with other people! He’s really a Very Nice Person whose only fault is how much he considers others. And there you go, picking him apart, like nothing is good enough. He doesn’t comfort you when you’re sad because you’re ruining that whole “moving forward” thing. It’s for your own good. If you could just suck it up, we could all get past it, but you there with those emotional days. He was only thinking of your happiness when he was ignoring you.

Are my only choices to see this guy as a unicorn or a transformer? I just see him as a cheater. An unreformed one.

Figure out what you want, CLL, what you stand for. Is this enough “sorry” for you? (((Big hugs)))

This column ran previously. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hope you’re doing well, CLL. All I’ll add is that unicorns are unicorns for a reason.

  • Of my ten (TEN!!!!) friends who have been cheated on, only ONE has “reconciled”.
    I pay VERY close attention to what she says. It’s been ten years since his affair.
    Suspicion is STILL a family member!!!
    He has recently been texting a woman from the gym. He has been clicking inappropriate sites on the computer. She has been having dreams that he is up to no good. But it’s okay because they are in therapy! She confronts that shit!! I have that funny feeling that she is in for another DDay sledgehammer. What I want is for my husband to be who I thought he was and for his affair(s?) to have never happened. An affair is the Death Star blowing up the home planet in Star Wars.
    It is GONE and is never coming back. But the good news through all the space junk is that the home planet sucked! I just won’t be able to really get it until I get to my new planet. And when I get there I am going to kiss the ground, get up, and go kick ass in my new life. As for my other NINE friends who left their cheating partners? NOT ONE IS SORRY AND ALL ARE GLAD. Hear that!!!

    • PS…one of my ten friends had a DDay when her son was two months old. Her husband (police officer? So much for the oath to “serve and protect!) said he didn’t love her and all kinds of other painful soul-murdering things. He came back crawling A YEAR LATER, wanting his family back. She said no. Eleven years later, he is remarried and has always cheated on wife #2. Throw spoiled milk away!!!!

    • I used to dream that my engagement and wedding ring were falling apart and I would wake up scrabbling about on the floor for the bits.
      Ha. Sometimes dreams are sending you a heads-up!

      • I had a dream that the diamond stone in my wedding ring ensamble fell out and was lost.

        I would also have horrible jealous dreams that my husband of 16 years was cheating. They started 3 years before D-Day. I would wake up in the morning pissed off at him and confront him with what i dreamed. He denied everything, gaslamped me and called me crazy.

        The last jealous dream i had was the most intense. I had it a week before he left the kids and i. Father leaving was emotionally devastating on the family but soon after he was out of the house. I slept peacefully.

        A few years later, my ex said it scared him how i always knew when he was with another woman. He said i’m psychic. I don’t think i have any extraordinary ability other than that sixth sense called woman’s intuition.

        It’s real. It’s femine power.

        Here’s where i want to go from here:

        To use my higher intelligences to provide light and happiness for myself and the world in general. To not have my intelligence buried under the dark emotions of lies and betrayal that comes with living with a betrayer. Strong word, sounds biblical, but that is what cheating spouses are- they are betrayers.

        I wish my ex husband recognized my intelligence, valued it, and used it for the family’s benefit. But the fact is, he didn’t value me. I fooled myself into believing in something that was a black hole and my higher self was telling me this via bad dreams..

        I still have much to offer.

        The key is to find someone who genuinely appreciates me, if they exist, anyway i’m looking. Being a serial chump, i have learned something over the years and it’s this: it is not enough for me to appreciate the man, they must appreciate ME too. This was never a priority when i was choosing a man, but it is essential.

        Another key key is to put myself in the right siuation.

        Anyway, at this point in my life, i’m beginning to think that most men are cheaters and that mist men are incapable of monogomy.

        I have utterly lost all faith in the husband/wife dynamic.

        At one point in my life i believed marriage was the most wonderful thing in the world. The thought of husband gave me such high hopes and happiness.

        I think i am now what is refered to as “damaged goods”

        Maybe i need to find another focus in life that provides comfort, passion and love

        Not food,
        Not drugs and alcohol
        Not a man

        What? That is the question.

        Something to say for freedom, independence, my own space and the kindness of strangers.

        But loneliness can be a bitch. Pushing 50 and the pickings are slim and creepy.

  • As the Queen Unicorn Wrangler here, I will say that yesterday…more than 5 years after his death, I realized he did a decent thing. I am more than ready to post here about this failings, so I will be fair.

    Years into wreckonciliation, he started and sold a business. The new owner decided to close it so he was laid off as an employee and watched it become dismantled. He could likely have bought it back for pennies on the dollar and since I was a chump, I offered him a HUGE portion of my personal work retirement savings to buy it.

    He turned me down. I now think it was because he knew he was probably still going to leave me and he has 3 moral brain cells left which told him that buying a business with spouses retirement when you plan to leave her is wrong.

    He decided to not be the Worst Guy Ever but still had no intention of being a good husband.

    • Or he spoke to a lawyer who advised him that you would be entitled to a stake in his business in the event of a divorce because you helped finance it.

    • Yeah, my ex isn’t “Worst Guy Ever” either, in fact he is a veritable saint compared to others described here and I struggle with that sometimes. Am I still allowed to feel betrayed and hurt and angry and mistreated if he could have been worse? Am I still allowed to think that his relationship with Schmoopie is an abomination that had no right to exist in the first place because it started before I even knew there was a problem in my marriage?

      • My Cheater isn’t the worst guy ever, either. Did he cheat? Yes. Did he wallow in his supposed unhappiness for 5 years? According to him, yes. Could he have gone about this divorce in a different manner? Yes.

        However, I think neither one of us wanted this marriage to end. We both tried (sorta) and it died. I’m hoping that years down the road, I will be happy that he initiated the divorce. I probably would have stayed because I foolishly loved him. Today, the paperwork for our divorce should be signed by the judge and it will be final.

          • At this moment, OK. Ask me again about 7pm this evening. I won’t lie. I really wish he has said something to me sooner. I still love him very much. However, it really pisses me off that he was so willing to cast me aside for the bright new shiny penny. Deep down, he’s a coward and on the surface he is a very self-centered man.

            I have no kids, a couple of good friends and a close aunt. My world is pretty small and I’m dreading the holidays which were filled with him, my two stepchildren and his extended family. And I get pissed again just thinking about all it (like right now). I wish I could smack him across the face.

            • You may find later on it’s not really him that you are missing, but the family situation. That’s what happened with me and the ex. I had built my life around his so much that it left a rally big hole there. Abusers do that.

        • I’m sorry he chose to cheat rather than discuss things with you, or separate/divorce rather than be so selfish. I hope you feel some sense of relief soon, if not today.

          “I’m hoping that years down the road, I will be happy that he initiated the divorce.”

          You will, eventually.

          You going to go for a long run, or swim later? Beat the shit out of a punching bag?

          • Oh, beating the shit out of a punching bag is so, sooooo therapeutic! I was fortunate enough to start kickboxing a month before my ex started being a total dick. And 2 months after that, when the evidence of his cheating became to obvious for me to deny, I dumped his ass.

            Visualising his face on that bag, as I punch away, has really helped! As does the “fuck you” as I punch.

        • Right now, I’m OK. Ask me again this evening – after a good stout gin & tonic.

          I feel like slapping him or beating the shit out of a punching bag. It really pisses me off that he tossed me aside because he was a coward and working on our marriage was just too damn hard for him. A bright, shiny, new penny is much easier – it doesn’t have history. It just thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips. And yes, it makes me very sad to think that I wasn’t worth fighting for.

          I don’t have any kids, a couple of good friends and a close aunt. I’m not looking forward to the holidays where I would have spent the days with him, my two ex-stepchildren that I help raise and his family. And I just lost my mother a couple of weeks ago. I’m trying hard not wallow but, damn it, it makes sad and mad at the same time.

          • “I feel like slapping him or beating the shit out of a punching bag. It really pisses me off that he tossed me aside because he was a coward and working on our marriage was just too damn hard for him. A bright, shiny, new penny is much easier – it doesn’t have history. It just thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips. And yes, it makes me very sad to think that I wasn’t worth fighting for”

            Yeah that pretty much sums it up how I felt. I guess for some people things like vows and commitment mean nothing. They think there is something wrong with us for thinking that they did. How naïve and old fashioned of us to have expected them to follow through on their promises.

          • “…my two ex-stepchildren that I help raise and his family. And I just lost my mother a couple of weeks ago.”

            Oh man, that’s rough. I’m so sorry about your mom.

            I don’t know, any chance that his kids might contact you and if not spend that particular holiday with you, maybe see you sometime during the holiday season? I’m hoping that you being the Sane Adult might be appreciated in the future, if not in the past.

            Better days ahead. In the meantime, you get the most out of that stiff gin & tonic.

          • MissBailey I am so very sorry for your losses. I lost my sweet dad recently. The all encompassing grief of the double loss of marriage, as well as a parent, beloved stepchildren and extended family, feels earthquake richter 100+ on the life foundation shaking scale.

            Allow yourself to grieve.

            We are here for you. We are here for you.
            Please Force yourself to get outside daily. Even just to the mailbox at first.

            I am currently reading Observations of Grief by C. S. Lewis. While our griefs are different than the one he is writing about, regarding his personal loss; the pain we humans human, in grief, is universal.

            Sending you lots of love and BIG hugs. You will SOON be better than you could ever dare to dream!! I am believing your BEST, MOST WONDER-FILLED and WONDERFUL life awaits!

      • A man doesn’t have to be Charles Manson to be someone you shouldn’t be married to.

        Or to put it another way, would you walk down the aisle again (putting aside the kids for a second) if you KNEW he was going to cheat and betray you? I don’t mean that at 20/20 hindsight, but rather as a way to know what you think about MARRIAGE apart from the shared history you have with this person.

        • “A man doesn’t have to be Charles Manson to be someone you shouldn’t be married to.”

          Actually that was my point….at his very best most decent in wreckonciliation, he was still a sucky husband.

        • LAJA – No WAY that I would marry him.
          Thank you for this clarity!!
          It was the breakthrough I needed!
          Off to make that phone call for my new life now!!
          #newbie #iamworthy #fighting4me #imatter
          #I????CL #I????CN

          • I am gonna be a unicorn wifely NO MORE! Wisdom from the nation….!

      • We usually talk about the awful pain and hurt of what the cheaters have done, and how that makes reconciliation a bad idea. We also need to remember that marriage is a relationship based on complete and total trust. You allow another person to bond and share everything in life together. It cannot work without total trust. When you find out someone has betrayed that trust — not just with the cheating, but with all the lies and deception that go with it — how on earth do you re-enter that relationship? I’ve always wanted to ask someone who stayed together with a cheater years afterwards if he or she ever really trusted this person as completely as before.
        So, no, don’t feel badly about the fact that your cheater had some good qualities. Everyone has some good side; even Hitler is said to have liked children and dogs. Remember that you were asked to be married to someone you knew could not give you the relationship you signed up for.

        • My friend, who is still with cheater, ten years after the affair, does not trust him. Not my choice.

          • I’m still with my Cheater. First D-day was in 1997, second 2001 and there have been many other types of betrayals since then. Even though he “tries” to be a decent husband, father and human, he really isn’t. He tries just enough to keep me around and I spackle the hell out of him. I wish I never met him, never “forgave” him but now after 23 years of marriage I feel defeated. I just stay and continue to lower my expectations of him, of marriage and of life in general. It really does feel like a waste of my life when I think about it. I would advise any woman who has been cheated on to just leave, it has to be better than eating shit sandwiches for the rest of your life.

            • Amy,
              What would it take to get you to leave him?

              Here is something I’ve learned that woke me up. Remember, they are not unhappy. These cheaters have the best of both worlds. They have the comfort and security of a partner who will not leave them and then they also have exciting new sex that floods them with endorphins and happy happy chemicals.

              So, while you’re posting on chump lady that your whole life is a waste, he does not feel that way. He feels like he’s getting one over on you and that’s because he is.

              I know that it’s calming and comforting when people write that their cheaters are miserable. I know there are exceptions but I don’t believe they are. I don’t believe that for a minute.

              They are like pigs at the trough, wolfing down a big hunks of cake. ???? ???? ???? gleeful and gluttonous douche bags.

              I think after they fuck their affair partner take a shower and pull up in the home driveway they feel like the king of the world. Smug.

              Any perceived anguish or misery on their part is pure acting.

              So just remember- you are flying solo in this life of misery. Your husband is a serial cheater and he has shown that your feelings matter no more to him than a stranger’s on a coach flight.

              Do you believe this should be your destiny? I don’t!

              • Amy, you speak as if you have no control and have one foot in the grave. My heart breaks for you. It doesn’t have to be that way.

            • Amy-

              Mine cheated on me (the one time I found out about) after 24 years of marriage. I stayed for 3 more years of wreckconciliation and ultimately divorced anyway. I felt like I wasted at least that 3 years with him and sunk costs or no sunk costs I was out.

              Ultimately I stayed with him for 27 years and divorcing him was the best decision that I made in my adult life.

            • Amy 76, you do not have to eat shit sandwiches the rest of your life! You sound like you have resigned your life to this! You don’t have to live like this.

        • Traveling the World, to answer your question, No, you never trust them again and you’re never any further than one wrong word misunderstanding from all that pain all over again.

          • I was never any farther than “one wrong word understanding” away anyway. That’s how I got cheated on in the first place. Asshat.

        • When you discover the affair lie you wonder for every after about other potential lies as well. Is he lying about finances? Did he really pick up after the dog? Did he pass on phone messages to you? Once they have told the whopper of whoppers (affair) you can’t believe them about ANY thing.

          The only thing you can trust is that they suck. lol

          • When I read that comment about being with someone who cheated for all those years and not trusting them something clicked for me, for the first time after being apart from her these last 14 months I feel positive about the split, coz I know I could never trust her again.

          • Mitz – ‘Once they have told the whopper of whoppers (affair) you can’t believe them about ANY thing.’

            That’s exactly right.
            And, once they start lying, it’s like they’re a fried egg on a teflon skillet how they slide around with their oily truth-isms.
            And, I think for the majority of us, they definitely cheat financially as part of their sick schtick.

        • I caught my ex cheating (emotionally) in Dec 2015. I decided to give him another chance (stupid me!) and we/I tried to work things out. I would be lying if I said I fully trusted him…but I was working on getting there. Until earlier this year. When he showed me his true colours. He is a liar and a cheat. Well, I suppose those two qualities go hand in hand.

          I still love him. I have cried *buckets*. But I have finally learned my lesson. I will never, ever, ever get back together with him. And this, not only because I can no loner trust him (or respect him), but also, if I get back together with him after this, I give him carte blanche to treat me dismally.

    • Absolutely.

      My ex actually articulated this (he really is a good father and provider):

      “I am a lousy husband”

      I was such a chump that I chose not to hear his absolute understanding of himself, his choices and what they meant. Fog, confusion, FOO issues and midlife crisis were much more soothing explanations.

        • Your interpretation of what he said was 100% correct. You correctly read between the lines!

    • Maybe he just felt like that business would be one more thing to fight about during the divorce asset division? Maybe he felt like there was no more “we” and he did not want to get entangled in something that would indicate a future together with you?

      This is what my X did. He flat refused to continue investing in certain aspects of our home and businesses…often stating that it would not be good for “me” if God forbid, should something happened to “him”. How noble. What he really was doing was protecting himself from investing more together and having to pay an Attorney to unravel that much more among everything else during our divorce.

      In the end, what he did try to do just a month before he left was to take out an home equity loan for $200K w/o consulting me, “to help his grown children “invest” in their future”. How noble…Ha…nope, not signing. We are in our 60’s…why would I want to go into that amount of debt at this age to enable his two grown kids in their 30’s who do not even have jobs? We did not even have a measly retirement of our own set up…just small Social Security to look forward to…and if he had had his way, both of our Social Security payments would not even pay for the home equity loan monthly payments let alone put food on OUR table. In essence, his plan was that he would have forced me to have to sell the house by this tactic while he walked away with his share of the equity, leaving me struggling to make the payments…and the Realtor…and the Capital Gains tax.

      • I had exactly this for 9 months , refused to commit to things in the house and financially whilst doing things behind my back, taking out loans and buying new cars.

        As if the affairs arent bad enough then then try to screw you over financially .

        • Whoa Sweetz – what a GDFA!!!
          It reeks of reckless planning and wild ideas, formed by his silly immature pea brain. What made him think you were that stupid to sign that!
          So glad you shut that bullshit down.

      • Yep i was chumped same way… kids and me are homeless now ????but wiser ????

  • Hi CLL,
    I could relate to so much of what you wrote. My STBX also went willingly to counselling on his own, knew he was the sole reason I cried, and also took a couple of weeks to tell me the whole truth (he only told me because OW’s husband caught them at it and was trying to contact me and tell me the truth). He also agreed to all the boundaries and was full of remorse at first.
    I’m certain that the affair ended – STBX was terrified of the OW’s husband – but as time went on, other problems emerged. He was withdrawing large amounts of cash but couldn’t explain what the cash was being spent on (I suspect dodgy happy-endings massage parlours). He realised with the help of his counsellor that he hadn’t been happy in YEARS (who knew?!). And he was becoming increasingly verbally abusive, going on tirades about all the things I’d done wrong over the years. I tried to keep it going for the sake of the kids, but like you, the affair had changed me. It had changed EVERYTHING. Thankfully he realised before I could admit it to myself that things were going nowhere and he decided to leave. Since then he has shown his true colours – complaining about having no money but able to treat himself to an interstate holiday, selling the car and buying a more expensive one because it has better fuel economy while still whingeing about money, paying child support into one account on the same day as sneaking almost as much out of another account we don’t touch while STILL whingeing about money.
    CL is right – ask yourself whether this relationship is acceptable to you. I knew mine wasn’t acceptable to me but stayed anyway because of the kids. I am grateful that my STBX saw the writing on the wall and left. I’m not sure how long I would have kept on spackling for the sake of the kids. Our cheaters didn’t get a character transplant the day they started their affairs. Their characters were flawed all along. I think you know deep down, as I did, what you need to do.
    Wishing you all the best

  • I echo CL’s sentiment on the whole trip thing. Far be it for me to stand up for a cheater, but saying “it’s not my decision to make” means you’ve in effect forfeited any protestations. If he goes, that tells you all you need to know about his unicorn status, and you can use that data point to move forward in a way that you want to. But putting the power in his hands and then telling him you’re “floored that he would make that decision with the marriage hanging by a thread” only reinforces the dysfunctional dynamics already in play.

    • I agree because I have been on the other end of that. Many years ago when we were still newly married I had to decide whether or not to go to graduate school knowing it could delay ex’s career and/or require living apart for a bit. I asked ex his opinion and he said I should do whatever was best for me and he would follow. I took that at face value and thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a thoughtful and caring husband and I let him know it. After I got my degree I put his career first from then on. Within a few years he was making over $200K per year by himself so in the long run my going to graduate school did not hold him back. Evidently, however, he resented my having made that choice and held that resentment throughout our 20+ years of marriage. He was convinced he would have done better if he hadn’t followed me to graduate school. It was really the only kind thing he ever did for me and he resented it.

    • Or, one can throw the choice back into the cheater’s lap, and then follow through on the “If…, Then…” flowchart of decision making.

      “It’s not my choice to make.”

      Cheater decides to do on trip.

      Chump: [buzzer sound] Wrong choice. You just kissed your marriage goodbye. [drives to lawyer]

      • ^^THIS^^ — I did this exact thing when my ex-hubby basically chose a weekend beach trip with a coworker and his family over one with me, after I had very clearly told him I did not ever want to socialize with EA- partner (at minimum)/coworker again. His choice to go on that trip caused me to start quietly lining up ducks. His actions told me all I needed to know about ex’s commitment level and who was the top priority in his life.

        • This also. X spent day with me and told me he was going to go visit AP and sleep on couch. Friend asked “did you tell him no way?” I said “nope”. At this point I knew it was over.

    • My own experience would say that if you are in the dynamic where people have to ask permission to do things seemingly important to them (or presented as “good for someone else”), you are already in trouble. Think of it this way: Why is a married person going on a YEARLY vacation with a relative? The women in my family do a 3 day “girls trip,” but all of us have lots of vacation time in the summer, being either teachers or retired. But for most people, vacation time is spent with spouse, kids, grandkids. And if the trip is a nothing burger or really, really important for some obvious reason, why ask for permission?

      Something big like a move for a job change or a stint in grad school is on another level altogether. But that’s where reciprocity, one of CL’s major points about healthy relationships, comes in. People in a marriage have to balance what is best for the individuals in the marriage, what is best for the bond they share, and what is best for the family unit, if there are children. Maybe that means that each spouse gets a long weekend break with family or friends, but that stuff only works when people can trust each other, when all the other signs in the marriage are about honesty and accountability. And when both parties value reciprocity and the other person’s growth.

      Years ago, I had a 10-year relationship with an older man. We never married but were exclusive. But he was a local celebrity and always had a lot of friends, male and female. There was always drinking after work. I was young and insecure, always looking over my shoulder for some “other woman,” and frankly I didn’t understand what made me so uncomfortable. He was always 100% in my corner professionally and I was in that relationship almost through grad school. But looking back, I felt intuitively that he had porous boundaries, always running off to rescue some damsel in distress. He needed to be central and could never stop expanding his circle. Life was exciting and I learned so much in this relationship, but I could never relax. If I could do it over again, I would do that relationship like I do the one with VKM–I would date him and live by myself. I wouldn’t worry about what he did with other people because if he stepped out of the relationship, it would end in a nanosecond. Looking back, my insecurity was not simply rooted in his drinking and narcissistic tendencies (he was no malignant person, in any sense but clueless about how his way of doing things tended to blow things up for others). It was also rooted in my own lack of identity and boundaries, the fact that I was all too willing to put my own life on a shelf to accommodate him, largely because I thought that was what I had to do to have any relationship. Now I know better.

  • Leaving is hard. Staying is Chinese water torture- the constant drip, drip, drip of pain and doubt. Sometimes it is just best to pull off the band-aide and let yourself begin to heal.

    Life is too short to live it in constant doubt about whether he has “changed”. The better question, and one CLL mentions, is has she? It seems to me she knows the answer, and fear is holding her back. There is a beautiful world out there, one free of fear and doubt. It is time to open the door and step into it.

    • Absolutely spot on Violet!! Chinese water torture indeed. Being free of the doubt and fear and the wondering if I would ever be good enough is priceless. Because now I know that the answer is no, I would never have been free of those negative emotions as long as I stayed in the marriage-that-wasn’t-a-marriage.

      • I remember when this concept finally “hit” me. I was in a Costco with a close friend and we were talking about my marriage. I was two years out from DDay #1 and I repeated the phrase, “I just don’t know what to do about all of this” over and over and over and over again. I had been saying that phrase for a really long time. And it was so interesting when it finally dawned on me that actually, I did know what to do, I just didn’t want to do it. It still took me another year to do finally file – I thought I saw a unicorn and found out that nope, it was just the same old X.

        I think that “denial” can be a mode of existing and especially in the case of Chumps, it looks like CLL’s letter above. Most of us have been there, wandering around in a fog of crazy, not actually doing what it is that we really need to do. Sever the tie. Rip the band-aid off. It gets better when the person who is causing the crazy is gone.

        Also, I say even if they are a unicorn, you’ll never have that trust thing back. It’s a marriage police state or bust. I think that “trust in a marriage after infidelity” is a unicorn.

      • “the marriage-that-wasn’t-a-marriage.”

        Great phrase Beth. Sums up a whole lot.

  • I have learned that my husband got with other women when he went away on their boys bike trips, with his/our friends I had known for years. I trusted him completely, after all, he had said many times “I would never ruin my family over something as stupid as that”…

  • I remember getting that mother may i thing and thinking it was so.weird.
    Now i know what he was really doing. The fact that he asked me(and of course i said sure, i didnt know what was up.) really repulses me.
    I would be very wary of him. It sounds like he may be setting you up just to kick the chair out from under you.
    And yes, these people are that sick. They love to watch you struggle.

    • I agree.

      I got the mother may I thing and I never wanted to be the ‘mother’ so I let him choose. He always chose what he wanted.

      And yes, I was set up when he kicked the chair out from under me and left me like a bag of trash on the curb never looking back.

      And YES.THESE.PEOPLE.ARE.THAT.SICK. I know that now.

      • I never nagged, never put my foot down about any adventures and toys he wanted. He did exactly what he wanted to do for 31 years, 28 married. Guitars, guns, motorcycles. He walked around in stupid dashikis, this guy who is as white as paste thinking he is soooo coooool. He looked ridiculous but I never let him see my inner eye-roll.

        After he abandoned me while I was away on a business trip, sending word of his departure by e-mail, he declared that I was Controlling and Judgmental. And that he couldn’t talk about being so unhappy because I was Too Difficult, so he had to poof on me with zero notice. The future-faking he was doing right up till that moment? He just wanted to see how the words sounded but he never meant it. He Never Ever Loved Me.

        So it doesn’t matter how permissive and easy going I thought I was, how I never wanted to be the nagging wife, how I never understood the phrase “Happy wife, happy life” or what it meant to be Queen of the Castle. Clearly I was a doormat, but it was still abandoned and declared to be a wicked witch by the man-baby coward. I took him back after OW#1 nine years earlier, but obviously I was still just a bitch.

        Yes, they are disordered. Good luck with that, Schmoops.

        • Omg a dashiki. How did you keep a straight face? 🙂 Trust that he really sucks. A little boy pretending to be a man.

          • He liked to wear them especially when we were going to a public place where he could really stick it up people’s noses, as if daring them to say something about this ridiculous, bald, stoop-shoudlered, over-the-hill, dumbass with zero cultural connection to such exotic clothing. He looked like he was dressed up for Halloween in some absurd cultural appropriation nightmare.

            He sure loved it when he made it onto the Diamond Vision screen at the professional baseball game one time. I wanted to crawl under the seats but just played along. I realize now they picked him out of the crowd because he looked so completely ridiculous.

            Wonder how Schmoopie Eastern European chicky-poo is liking his cowardly swagger with the stupid shirts!

            • wow! that is funny – his delusional belief that people looked up to him when they really thought he was a clown. My Ex was into loud hawaiian shirts.

        • Now I.C., this was my life for 20 year too! I am a very easy going person by nature and never wanted to be the screeching, nagging wife. So I let my ex-husband do whatever he wanted because I thought that made me a “good wife”. I didn’t realize until the sudden abandonment what a doormat I had been our entire relationship. He didn’t respect boundaries and I sure as hell never enforced them. Every single adult responsibility in our home, family, and lives fell squarely on my shoulders. And I shouldered that burden for 20 years until the day came that he thought he’d found someone better and literally walked out of our life without a backwards glance. No warning, no discussion, no nothing. ILYBINILWY, I haven’t loved you in a long time, we have nothing in common, I only married you because I didn’t think I could do better, etc. Despite the shock and the grief, that was the wake up call I desperately needed to realize my self-worth and to finally see that I deserve better than the way he treated me all those years.
          I grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father and I thought I’d won the husband lottery because he didn’t drink and didn’t physically abuse me. But I just wasn’t familiar with his particular brand of abuse, so I didn’t recognize it as such until after he was gone. My life became so much easier, so much less complicated, I experienced a freedom I had never had in my entire adult life. And when he came crawling back a few months later (shockingly, the grass wasn’t greener), I was able to tell him to stay the fuck out of my life.
          Now my 12 year old son and I can live an authentic life, free from the mindfuck and emotional abuse. While I hate that I wasted 20 years of my youth with this disordered jerk, I don’t regret it because I wouldn’t have my awesome kiddo. Also our dysfunctional relationship has taught me a lot that I can use in future relationships if I ever feel ready to try that again. As it stands now, I enjoy every day that I get with my son and we live life to the fullest. I know he’ll be gone to college in the blink of an eye and I’ll have plenty of time for dating a relationships then.

          • I was also easy going and thought that made me a good wife. I never wanted to be accused of being a nag or not letting him do the things he wanted to do. In retrospect, I think he actually wanted me to be more controlling. He needed guidance but I kept expecting him to know how to behave and make the right choices without my help. in 2007 he had an emotional affair. At first I just made it clear that I didn’t want him to have an affair and thought he would take it from there. I am certain it would eventually have become physical if I hadn’t gotten tired of him spending time with her instead of his family, called him out on it and made him come home. At that point he went no contact with her and seemed grateful to me for setting those boundaries. 9 years later when I tried to set boundaries on his relationship with physical affair Schmoopie 2.0, however, those attempts fell flat. Hence divorce

            • I think if he had left us for OW#1 he probably would have crawled back (he claimed it was only an EA too, but later admitted to some second-base type stuff–doesn’t matter, he is a liar). At that point we had been married 19 years and had young teenage girls. I too was responsible for every adult thing in our lives. Everything, plus I made a large income and managed our money very well. He was, and remains, a child. A passive aggressive man child. The time between EA/OW#1 and the final OW#2 and abandonment was also 9 years.

              Back then OW#1 twat was not sparkly, she was just young and different and he was bored as he turned 40. It wouldn’t have lasted for them, and I wonder if I would have taken him back or would have been smart like you were and told him to stuff it. Good job getting the disease out of your life.

              • Passive aggressive man child—describes my exhusband perfectly! And same here too in that ex husband was turning 40 and I made a much larger salary and managed our finances. The woman he left me for was 27 and I guess had a magical 27 year old vagina. That lasted all of about 2 months when he realized she wasn’t going to take up all the adulting for him. He’d never actually met her in person before he moved across the country to live with her, they were internet buddies. He came slithering back to me once that fell apart. All while trying to “win” me back, he was trolling for new strange just in case I wouldn’t take him back. He tried his damndest up until the date our divorce was finalized then magically he disappeared again. Surprise, surprise—new girlfriend #2. This one however is older, she has children and a grandchild. Much more responsible and capable of providing him with the care and attention he requires. He immediately moved in with her. I’m so glad he’s not my problem anymore. I’m just sorry my son has to have a front row seat to his never ending shit show.

        • Omg i was queen of the”i’m sooo not the nagging wife/bitch with PMT / boys nt out no probs/ do u mind ‘babysitting ” yr own kids? Ye s of course i will do all things domestic /look after our 3 lovely kids/ work multiple jobs -adapt every time we move (every 2 years ) … Apparently i was too controling -just like his mother – and let myself go- made HIM fat and made all thd decisions. Later i learned i was also a spender…had him under the thumb…. just an all round bitch actually. Oh…

      • The “Mother, may I?” is such a trap. After all, you AGREED he should take that hunting trip that included women.

  • When I was in my Amazon Chump phase (before CL and IHG) I read a book from the RIC about rebuilding your marriage post affair. It was by Andrew Marshall ( ex cheater himself by the sounds). I read about all the stuff I was expected to do and the hoops I had to jump through to keep my marriage and I realised that I just couldn’t face it. Within a few weeks the now ex had fucked up again with an attempt at an illicit meet up with her true love and I finally saw that the only option for me was divorce. (CL and IHG filled in the gaps, whys and wherefores) .
    Looking back I just wonder why I even wasted 3 months trying to keep a marriage with a Grade A** fuckwit going. Once they’ve fucked you over like this it will never go away and I think we all just deserve better. I hope she ditched the twat and rode off to the life she deserved.

    These days every day is like Christmas as stupid isn’t here to spoil everything

    • I’m not familiar with the acronym IHG. Translation, please.

        • Thank you. It’s a shame it’s not around anymore. At least there is CN!

        • *waves hello to RealMonkeyLove* I am SadPanda from IHG (I post here as Sitting Chump – but I don’t post/comment often). I hope you are well. My divorce was final in January. My house is sold and I am looking for my new home. Meh is not quite here yet, but life is better without the cheater in it.

  • I never told my husband what to do either and he chose to spend a lot of time pursuing his interests in his spare time. The warning sign here was that he always made the selfish choice and began to spend more time attending tournaments long distances away from home. After awhile the children and their activities became my priority, and his interests became his. Yeah, he felt guilty at times, but when given the opportunity to spend time with us or to do what he wanted, he always made the choice to go play. I rarely got away because I enjoyed parenting and the children weren’t difficult, even when they were younger. I stopped attending tournaments because some of those he was hanging with were crap parents and never supervised their children so I would end up watching theirs as well. Some of his friends were just crap people, many complained about how difficult it was being married, and all they wanted to do was play. All red flags. After awhile X stopped asking me to go, even when I expressed an interest and had time. Sure enough he fell in love with someone who shares the same crap values. And I was freed from a man who never grew up.

    • Yup. My ex was always off pursuing his own interests while I was home looking after the kids. Then he complained that I didn’t give him enough attention. I was giving it all to the kids. I guess I was supposed to ditch the kids and go join him in his adventures. Oh yeah, and he wanted more kids than I did in the first place, I guess he thought they would come out of the womb as perfect little adults.

      • All of this resonates with me. Ex went on motorbike trips, hunting, and fishing with his friends. Mother-May-I syndrome at its finest. I spackled it because he was a business owner, and I convinced myself he needed the stress relief. Never mind that I was doing most of the parenting for our 3 young children and had a full-time career too, I made my needs soooo small.

        When D day finally arrived, I discovered he had taken Schmoopie on a hunting trip, just them and her father(who knew ex was married to me, and she was married to someone else – WTF?!?). After some digging I also uncovered photos of her wearing my motorcycle helmet and and standing by my Harley. His explanation was a blame shift – Apparently, I never had time for him. Ummm… Perhaps because I was running kids and running the household, making it possible for him to go away in the first place? Wow.

        We are 18 months post divorce. Now he and Schmoopie have purchased an acreage (I call it unicorn ranch), and are up to their eyeballs in debt. His business is in the shitter. Ex has an absolute crap relationship with our three children. Two daughters refused to live with him, and my son endures his 50% by staying out with friends and hiding in his room while there. I still do everything for the kids, because as my son says, “you’re just better at that stuff, mom.”

        And the ex? He now whines that his children don’t want to spend time with him, don’t call him, aren’t interested in him or his pursuits. He is insanely jealous when I take all three kids on a trip and we have a marvellous time. He is a strange, sad little man who will never be happy, and he is Schmoopie’s problem now. My lawyer gives them 7 years… she noted several times that ex is a textbook example of ‘repeat business’ in the field of family law.

        Be patient, new chumps. Cheaters eventually reap what they sow.

  • When you have to coach what being human or considerate looks like, you are not working with a unicorn. He is faking it the best he can but you have to tell him how it should look. What I see is you spending a lot of time coaching considerate and him making a half effort to do it WITH coaching but left to his own choices, you don’t factor in.

    I truly understand your desire for him to choose the right and considerate choice, but your letter suggests he never will make the choice that takes you into consideration.

    • Your comment about having to coach someone regarding being human or considerate is worthy of a needle point pillow.

      Two years out from D day and I was talking to a man I met on a dating site.

      I heard myself trying to explain to him how horrible it was that he slept with married women- right after he told me. I felt red explosions going off in my brain.

      I stopped. I told him that it’s best if we never had contact again.

      Never again will I be in a relationship where I have to explain basic decency to someone.

  • I believe in unicorns. However, I believe they are quite rare.

    In my opinion, Step 1 for the ‘unicorn wanna-be’ is to immediately and completely cease and desist any and all contact and extracurricular activities with any and all ‘third parties’. I suspect that, given the addictive nature of affairs (especially in the early going), this presents quite a difficult challenge for a cheater.

    Has ‘Step 1’ even been verified as true? 100% without question? Hard for me to tell from the information given. I’d go no further until I get Step 1 verified to my complete satisfaction.

    As such, this little vacation doesn’t pass the sniff test for me.

    • I’d say step one is the cheater realizing that he or she is still selfish like a toddler crying for a new toy, then you don’t have a partner to work with. You have a baby human in an adult body.

      • Great point, LAJ, as usual. The repentance, heart change, character transplant, whatever you want to call it, needs to underpin the whole deal. The proper ACTIONS are the fruit of that.

  • All I have to say is beware!

    While you think you’re reconciling, he could be moving money, setting you or himself up to establish standard of living (yes this is a real thing people preparing for divorce do). Beware of the job change, missing money, changes in employment based contribution plans, rollovers into new accounts, closing bank accounts and starting with new providers (access to bank records is a big part of divorce).

    After years of suffering through multiple d-days, dating sites, porn, etc. I’ve come to the conclusion that if it’s come to cheating the relationship is already dead. Reconciliation is really no different that trying to revive a dead loved one. You hope and pray they will come back, but no amount of bargaining will bring them back. It’s hard to accept the loss and move on, but that is the only thing that will start the process of bringing the pain to an end.

    • Yes yes yes, I believe the majority of the time “reconciliation” is what cheaters do while they prepare for divorce, unbeknownst to the chumps. Probably because they got caught before all ducks were lined up. They move money and assets. They shoo stay at home moms to work and homeschooled children to school. They move their families into new living situations that would benefit them after they leave, and they ramp up the smear campaign behind the chump’s back.

      Cheating in relationships means there is no relationship. The only unicorns that existed were goats who had a mutation that gave them only one horn. That is what a reformed cheater is: a smelly goat.

      • They also hound employed spouses (mostly women) to quit their jobs (to demonstrate that they are leeches) and suddenly find fatal flaws with schools that have been more than acceptable up until the day they need them to suck.

      • I think many also hang on to a point where they figure out how to minimize child support. Get the kids into high school and it’s only a couple of hard years and you can stiff them on college. The cheater parent win/win–get 50/50 custody, pay as little as possible, and then let the lower-earning parent be the one who applies for financial aid, thus sheltering the big income from expectations of paying for college.

        • Yes, this is why I believe that once cheating is discovered the betrayed spouse should file for divorce immediately. Do not wait!

          • I have come to believe it is best to file immediately, period. I did not. I wish I had.

            I did not because divorce was the most utterly vile and unspeakable of 4-letter words to me. It carried unimaginable shame in my mind. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. X eventually filed.

            “Divorced” or “Married” doesn’t drive the relationship. It’s the other way around.
            “Divorced” or “Married” is essentially a piece of paper denoting the current status of the relationship.

            To be clear, I’m NOT advocating getting divorced on a whim. To me the vows we made were serious and sacred. SHE defiled them.
            But don’t get hung up on the word. There’s no shame in it especially if there’s abuse or if you know you did, or would have done, anything possible within your power to save the marriage but couldn’t.

            So, is the RELATIONSHIP acceptable?
            If not, disable the cake-eating, bring those consequences, and deal with potential unicorn sightings if/when they arise. In most cases they’ll be false sightings anyway.

            The sooner you do it, the sooner you’re on your way to healing, either way!

  • My little granddaughter will be having a unicorn theme birthday party soon.
    It is very difficult to find unicorn themed gifts. They do exist, but are rare.
    I have taken to draw a beautiful unicorn horn on horse pictures I have found. But, underneath I know that this is no unicorn. No matter how pretty, or handsome, I paint that horn, underneath it will always be a horse!
    ( just saying)

    • Funny, but here in Australia our Walmart-equivalent and big discount stores are packed with unicorn-related kitsch. You know, the stores that sell the stuff that all the other stores rejected.

      I always find this quite telling.

  • Well of course the marriage counselor told you he could change – otherwise the counselor would be out of a job. Wake up and stop spackling. You know in your heart what you should do. Yes it will be painful and disruptive. That doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do, though.

  • CLL—You want to live the rest of your life like that? With all that anxiety and worry? Being the marriage police and wondering what he’s doing/texting??? NO, you don’t. Life is SHORT (sorry the cliche). You’re going to turn around in 1,5,10 years and be exactly where you were. All those years of stress and anxiety are going to give you a condition, or cancer (yes, stress can contribute to cancer), or something. Get rid of that worthless peice of crap. The only reason he’s doing all that counseling and crap is impression management. He probably doesn’t want to lose assets or pay you money.

  • This guy sucks and sounds like he’s still cheating. He goes on vacation with someone eles? Really? He doesn’t want to comfort you on bad days? Wtf? Get way from this guy. Divorce him. He’s still cheating, still manipulating and still using you. That trip pisses me off because guess what I’ve been there. Fact: he would take you on a trip if he were sincere in any of the unicorn bs that comes out of his mouth. He is just stringing you along for the time with as little as he can do to make you think he’s sorry and cares. He doesn’t! It’s obvious just from your letter. Don’t let him hurt and mess with you anymore! Get your ducks in a row and to a lawyer, you don’t deserve that shit! You Find your happiness and not like he supposedly found his with cheating with some whore and destroying his wife and kids along the way.

  • I feel your hurt CLL. I am a 1 1/2 years away from my mindfuckery. I did 8 mos of torturous wreckonciliation. We went to counseling, he said ONCE that he was sorry and all the rest of the time he was “trying”. It was all about him and how unhappy he had been. Thanks for never mentioning this before you found someone more sparkly!!! I walked on egg shells doing the pick me dance. It was pure hell. He never once came clean to admit that he was talking to her again and then sleeping with her. I finally had enough and kicked him out when I saw way too much on his phone one night. The point of me writing all this is that I completely understand the mess.

    The other side is so peaceful!! It’s hard somedays when I see intact and seemingly happy families but my children and I are doing well considering all we’ve been through. I never wanted this outcome and I wish I would have had the chance to work on the relationship before he stepped out and found someone else. However, I have learned from this site that he has not had a character transplant but instead has revealed who he really is and I don’t want any parts of it. I have been dating someone for 2 months and he treats me with respect, goes out his way to make sure I feel cared for and he makes me laugh. At times I don’t even know what do with the attention because in my old life, it was all about the ex and all his needs.

    CLL- I know it’s scary and I still have low points but the pain does dull a little more each day. I’m forever grateful for this site and what it has taught me. Stay strong and keep reminding yourself what is acceptable to you!! Hugs to you!!

    • “At times I don’t even know what do with the attention because in my old life, it was all about the ex and all his needs.”

      THIS. It would be amazing to enjoy another person’s company who’s able to reciprocate. Narcissists are such empty big black holes, sucking everything in its path.

    • PAP – completely relate to your experience.

      My STBXH left the house for good seven months ago. It dawned on me recently how I still have a demanding job, still do everything to meet the kids needs, still keep up with both sides of the family, now care for the whole house myself, yet I seem to have almost none of the stress I have experienced for years.

      What’s the one factor that has changed? It’s that he’s gone. No more coming home to a husband who gave so little emotionally, who existed like a cardboard cutout. I never realized before how many years he had withdrawn his attachment and how emotionally soul sucking that was. It is mentally exhausting to live with the greatest danger to your mental well-being.

      I have peace at home for me and my kids. It’s no longer a place of crushed expectations.

  • CHUMP LADY IS CORRECT, CCL! When in that fog of confusion that I describe as a ying of my heart wanting to believe and trust and the yang of my head telling me this makes no sense- I conclude his trip with the “relative” is with the smoopie. And further this “relative” is giving him the cover story. I know how hard it will be to get your emotions under control to start doing all the secret things you must do to protect yourself financially, but start now and start while he is away with the “relative”. Let him think you believe every word and gaslight him back. I did it once I knew the facts of the deception. Because they think we are so stupid and they can get away with anything they want, our CAKE is manipulating them with our outward, ” I am the same loyal person to you I always was” while we are getting our plans together. I wish you the very best and G-D speed you through the crippling emotions to powerful strength into your brand of mindfu.k. That chapter he wrote is over. You will now be in a new chapter. You write it. You can do it. This stuff has a great gift contained inside-it makes us so much stronger, wiser. I know it’s impossible to believe now, but look at what all of us chumps who have walked the same journey have written on these 1000’s of comments. We not special, that we could do this. We did this because we are normal humans, just like you. Your hubby is not normal-none of these cheaters are. The norm always has it over the abnormal. Blessings for you.

    • Heh, heh, heh …… When CheaterPrick threw me away for a stripper 35 years younger — and blamed me for it — my anger went volatile and I gaslighted him right the fuck back. Easy to do and very rewarding.

  • My STBX left me so I don’t know what’s it’s like to have a ‘remorseful’ cheater. The day I found out about the affair (which was the day after he walked out the door), I was completely done. My opinion of him was forever changed. He could never actually be the husband I wanted, even if he became a unicorn. Does that make me unforgiving? Maybe. I know I could never trust him again. If he became a unicorn, I would be so happy for my three teenage boys. They could have a father who put them first, above himself. ????

  • My cheater used to call how he treated “managing my expectations”. I think that’s the game and the cheaters control the playing field as long as you’re still playing. The “Mommy may I?” thing just makes cheating even more delicious to them.

    I finally became the manager of my own expectations and divorced that turd. Best. Decision. Ever.

    • Yes, and that case of “mention-its” they get also makes it more delicious. You start hearing so much about the AP, often delivered in lists of reasons why the person is dumb or goofy, only to learn later that was their effort to dangle Schmoopie in front of you. Yummy, how electric for them. Mother, may I go fuck the idiot chick at work?

      I heard about OW#1, “Miss Cargo Pants” who was a tofu-eating, bohemian, unwed mother of a young child. 10 years younger than him and incompetent at her job. Stringy, long straight hair (compared to my short naturally wavy hair). Yup, he was going to blow up our family for that dumbass twat. Gee, how lucky for us all that I confronted her and she ran for the darkness like a cockroach.

      Nine years later I was abandoned for OW#2 half our age. I know nothing about her other than her Linked In profile of her best professional photo makes her look like a sweaty cow with bad teeth. She is is Europe and he moved there permanently to be with her this spring. In his parting comments he declared that he was ashamed after the first affair, not because he did it, but because he didn’t leave me and our then-young teenage girls way back then. So disordered, he thinks he should have left his family for the dumbass twat who dumped him like a hot rock the moment the wife confronted her.

      He will lose any relationship he had with his daughters (same age as OW#2) and will not know his grandchildren.

      But the Schmoopie is worth it, the never-ending pursuit of magic beans and Peter Pan youth is all worth so much more than anything else.

    • Mine used to talk about managing expectations too!!! One time he was coming back from a 6 week deployment and I was excited to sleep with him and hang out. He made sure to tell me how long the flight was, he’s probably going to be exhausted etc so not to be insulted if we don’t have sexy time. He was going to try but he needed to manage my expectations so I wouldn’t be upset if it didn’t work out that way. He could have just told me he was just as stoked to see me as I was to see him and he was going to fuck me good and crash out afterwards. There. Expectations managed. And then I didn’t have to be talked down to like I was so unworthy.

  • We all need to trust our instincts or gut more often than we do. It’s there for a reason. Don’t talk yourself out of your concerns or uneasiness – either look into why you are feeling this way (for minor queasiness) or run for the hills if you feel frightened.

    Don’t dismiss gallows humor either. There are messages in those ‘jokes’.

  • Douchebag McGee went to the beach “alone” to think about things and try to learn how to be a better husband to me. UBT: Going to the beach with homeslice to have a weekend with her. so I Once he got back, he created a pros/cons list on each of us. He told me I was the better choice based on his list.

    Fast forward 2 months, he was still involved with her, lying, and spending time with both of us. I ended it when I went to the hospital after his surgery and she was sitting there in the waiting room.

    Cheaters want a soft place to land. I think very few are willing to do the hard work that includes accountability and ownership. As long as they justify their cheating, there’s nothing to work with.

    He’s married to her now, has acquired a lot of debt with her and is helping to raise her two young children (two of his cons on his list). In the end, he wanted to save appearances at work, as they worked together. He had already created the story at work of how awful I was, how stupid he would have looked staying in a marriage with me. It’s all about appearances, not truth.

    I think back to if we had stayed together: the flashbacks of what I had created/seenin my mind— them having sex, his texts thanking her for blow jobs, him sending her a Mold-A-Willie Penis Vibrating Kit for them to mold his penis. I wouldn’t have been able to handle another DDay— it was traumatic enough. Why would I consider the possibility of allowing that to happen again and experience that pain again? I couldn’t, I love myself more than I loved him. And that is a good thing.

    • “Mold-A-Willie Penis Vibrating Kit” Good gracious, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. That’s just weird and kind of creepy. It’s also pretty arrogant on his part. Kind of like sending her a mini me so she’ll never be without him.

    • “In the end, he wanted to save appearances at work, as they worked together. He had already created the story at work of how awful I was, how stupid he would have looked staying in a marriage with me. It’s all about appearances, not truth.”

      This is almost my exact situation. Cheater had created a narrative about me for years to work colleagues. He cheated when I got cancer, but it was justified to all of his industry colleagues because how could he be expected to stay with me during cancer when I was such a terrible wife. Leaves. Gets an industry colleague pregnant, confesses all his failings in the marriage to her and is now working on correcting them because he has to because if he doesn’t he would be exposed as the a**hole he really is.

  • If a business partner cheated you out of money would you trust him/her again? Would you continue the partnership?

    Why is a spouse different? Liars are liars. Cheats are cheats.

  • What really helped me on my road to MEH was the whole “Is this acceptable to YOU?” concept. Tracy harps on this ALL.THE.TIME. It doesn’t matter what a sweater-vester says about your marriage, or a friend, or the internet, or “experts”… Can YOU handle this situation or not? I read an article a few months ago that Anna Kendrick broke up with a guy because he tickled her. She didn’t like not being in control of her body like that, asked him repeatedly to “please stop…” and he did it anyway. Her response? Bye, Felicia! If he didn’t honor her boundaries on something as stupid as tickling her, how else would he not respect her? I was BLOWN away when I read that. I thought it was awesome and showed crazy strength of character. Good luck to you on your journey to MEH #Leavehim!

    • That’s really interesting!

      As a side note, STBXH likes to tap his palm repeatedly on my back playfully, and sometimes it hurts. I hated that and kept telling him to stop but he never did. Talk about not respecting my boundaries!

      After I threw him out there were a couple of times he tried it on me and I was furious. I told him if he ever did it again I’m going to kick him in the nuts.

      • Tickling has been known for centuries as a form of torture. I recall a letter in Dear Abby an eon or so ago, where the writer wondered if her fiance was a possible abuser. He would hold her down and tickle her until she was breathless. One day, she told him to stop or she’d spit in his face. He didn’t she did and he beat the ever-loving crap out of her. Abby told her she was justified in calling off the engagement; and, in fact, had dodged a bullet.

        On yesterday’s thread, there were several mentions of Maya Angelou’s famous saying, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” [paraphrase] When someone tickles you as a “just rough housing” or says something cutting and it’s “just a joke” or reprimands you for “not being able to take a joke” or “you have no sense of humor”, it’s one of those Maya Moments ™. They are showing you and run for the (*&^% hills. Don’t ask me how I know this.

        • Absolutely on the tickling. My father, who also abused me sexually, used to hold me down and tickle me unmercifully until I peed my pants. The loss of control–both over my body integrity and my bladder, was humiliating, and I felt ashamed and as if it were all my fault. No doubt that what’s he wanted, because that’s how the sexual abuse felt, too: as if it were my fault because I must somehow have invited it. To this day I hate tickling.
          I took that sense of “my fault” into my marriage, and spackled like a champion, including feeling that anything wrong was down to me. And my spouse made it clear he thought the same.

      • That’s another thing… I HATE to be tickled too! Dick kept insisting that it was fun, and him not believing me that I did not enjoy it at all. Till I got mad about it repeatedly. Then there was the pinching my kneecap and squeezing till it hurt. He would do this until I shrieked or jumped. I finally got furious about it and told him if he did it again I would “slap him upside the head with a brick”….or something like that. Why would anybody think doing that was affectionate or fun? or funny? It was attention-getting in a negative way and getting a reaction (kibble!). So many annoying things that should have been red flags. No Boundaries whatsoever. smh

        • Wow. Dr Cheaterpants would grab by knee cap and squeeze hard and it fricking hurt. I hated it. He knew it and did it anyway. He would tickle me til I couldn’t breathe when we were dating. He would tickle others ‘jokingly’ and had made our daughter cry sometimes when he got too rough. Some of his nephews were talking about it once at a family event how he did this to them when they were little and they hated it.

          Interesting thoughts on abuse by tickling. There was nothing fun about it. Boundary pushing and control with a side of negative kibble.

    • I learned a few years ago during a seminar based on John Bradshaw’s work (inner child) that tickling can be a form of child abuse and exerting control over a child. Not respecting the child’s body and boundaries. Tickling the child to the point of the child peeing himself/herself. And taking sadistic pleasure in doing so.

      One of Pia Mellody’s books addresses what appropriate boundaries are-physical,sexual, intellectual/talking and listening, etc.

    • It’s all about respecting boundaries or in the case of our exes, never respecting boundaries. My ex would tickle my feet which I hated. I am ridiculously ticklish and he wasn’t ticklish at all so he thought it was funny…..until one time I was trying to get away and I kicked him in the head. I didn’t render him unconscious but he saw stars, and never did again. I didn’t even do it on purpose but looking back I sort of wish I did.

      He would also drive very erratic (tail gating; weaving in and out of lanes; raging at slow drivers) because he knew it scared me.

      He also loved to hide behind doors and jump out of the shadows so I would scream. If I got angry at him for doing any of this I was “just being a bitch.” I realize now that I was just being abused. I didn’t enforce my boundaries.

      He showed me who he was from the beginning but instead of believing him, I spackled quite a good deal.

      • Are/were we married to the same jerk? Tickling, scary driving, jumping out of closets and doorways. I “can’t take a joke”. He also would call me a prude when I took offense at some utterly gross and sexist remark he would make. For the record, I can take a joke IF IT’S FUNNY and I am not a prude. Golden D##k is just a vile and disgusting person, with no sense of boundaries.

        • Crikey, I didn’t know that was a thing either! My ex was a marine and (at the beginning) I weighed 112 lbs. He was ALWAYS rough-housing me. One time he grabbed my ankles and I fell backwards and smashed my back on the fireplace! Yeah, that was great fun. Another time we rented a house in Florida and I would dip in the pool to cool off, then get out and do something else. His idea of fun was to hold my head underwater and have me thrashing around like crazy. In the end I got out and told him when he had finished having his “fun” maybe the rest of us could use the pool. There were 5 kids in our group and he did the same to them. After he had the third one in tears I said “oh just two more to go then, when you’ve made them all cry I guess we can consider we’re having fun”. Even back at home, if we would go out with kids he wasn’t content until he had made them cry by having “too much fun” with them. Gosh, I really, really didn’t know that was a thing but boundaries —- wow!

          • Oh and I forgot, did anyone else just “love” getting flicked really hard with a T-towel because “it doesn’t hurt”?

  • First off these guys will never drop free sex once they have experienced the ego freedom it brings them. I’ve got two. He’s going to hold on to both. The other woman is angeling your husband. Your money. It’s a screw you to you and screw your children also. Pretending is over.
    It takes a while for the shock of divorce and a new life you move in to beginning a new journey, But on down the road you will see it wasn’t a choice but the right thing to do. The marriage is over.

  • You set him up in wanting him to choose you, and then got mad, objected to the decision he made, and challenged him on it when he didn’t choose you. The problem is you can’t seem to make a decision for yourself. Stop setting him up like that. Even if he did choose you, it won’t make what he did go away, but you set him up to force him into proving his love for you, only to get disappointed when he makes his choices that are not you and are not proving his love. Make your own decision about his infidelity. Decide if you can live with that, and that means accepting it, which is the ultimate unacceptable. It’s been a year. Make a decision already. You should have left him when you first discovered it or when he finally confessed, but you don’t have the nerve. So, stop analyzing him and analyze yourself. Figure out your own standards and stop trying to figure out his. He obviously doesn’t have any. Your marriage should be over. He destroyed it, and you need to start accepting that. It is what it is.

  • My ex is appearing to be a unicorn for the OW. She is aware of his issues. Or at least some of them. Just today I received an email from her where she stated that he “is doing his best to change his ways of the past so he can be what his family needs”

    So to her he appears to have open communication, to drink less, to be more supportive and involved in raising his new baby. But to me he still holds onto issues to use as deflection later on, rages over meaningless issues, does not take vacation time he is entitled to with our daughter, does not take an interest in her education, does not care to tackle parenting issues with me, etc, etc.

    From my perspective you cannot be a changed person with just one part of your life and leave the other as is. IF he was really working on changing those ways I would be seeing those changes too.

    These guys are all the same.

  • Amy
    You say after 23 years why bother leaving the cheating
    “husband”? You sound like you have no self respect for yourself. Listen to all the comments here saying life is better without living with a cheating lying man.

    I left my cheating x husband after 35 years!! My sunk costs were unimaginable. My world was ripped apart
    in every way but my self respect took over & I filed!

    I still love him & miss what I thought I had but I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone ever treat me like I was trash while he treated the owhore like a wife.

    Grow a set & throw him out. Life is better on the other
    side here with us ! ????????

  • A true unicorn would’ve skipped vacationing with the ‘relative’ (cough cough) this year and done so without even mentioning it to you.
    A unicorn would have instead, planned an intimate getaway for the two of you because working to save your marriage is their first priority right now.
    He thought you’d like a break from what? From what he broke? That’s not a unicorn…that’s a jackass!

    It’s time for you to stop allowing him to use you as a wife appliance and do some ‘transforming’ of your own.

  • I want to go off of today’s topic to plug two very funny books I read years ago and didn’t think of again until today:

    “Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: And Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom” and ”
    Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments” by Celia Rivenbark.

    I think someone took off with my copies when they went to college. Well, I guess I need to start my birthday/holiday gift book list for the kids!

  • I got the same treatment, asking my “permission ” to go on a yearly overnight fishing trip with the boys. When I said yes, he exclaimed his love for me and said my trusting him meant we had turned a corner in the marriage and my nightmare of the affair was over.
    Found out the following month he had spent the night with Schmoopie in Boston

  • No matter what you do ,no matter how hard you try to do it in the End it’s all image management on his part, you deserve better ! you do you! do yourself because if you don’t he will just continue doing what he does and well you Really just don’t matter. Trust He sucks ! because WELL he sucks ! you don’t SUCK!!!

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