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The Walls in Your House Will Sing

My Aunt J’s birthday is next week and I thought it was time to rerun her story. She gave Chump Nation the powerful line: “The walls in your house will sing.” 

She wrote this for the blog six years ago. Since then her husband has developed dementia and she takes care of him 24/7. Not in a sad way, but in the same sort of kick ass get-on-with-life way you’d expect of the exceptionally mighty. I’ll see them at their granddaughter’s wedding in September. Yep, Aunt J still road trips with M. (She does all the driving, though.) 

Let me add another note to this story — Aunt J’s cheating, alcoholic first husband left her, it’s true — but he would not divorce her. Because cake. Because it was okay for HIM to screw around, but he didn’t want the mother of his children to date. (And he was upset when she married M years later.) It was the 1970s and she could not afford a divorce lawyer because women were not allowed credit then. Read that sentence again and again and again. And if you’re not a feminist, smack yourself with your keyboard until you get it. Women. Were. Not. Allowed. Credit. They had to get loans co-signed by their husbands or credit cards in the man’s name. (This did not change until the U.S. Senate passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974.)

My aunt initiated divorce, finally, when she got her boss (a man) to sign a loan for $5,000 so she could retain representation in Chicago. (Her ex was a successful attorney who later argued in front of the Supreme Court. I’m sure he never imagined chumpy J would out gun him.)

Her new life was hard won. And she’s always paid it forward. This same woman showed up 30 years later in my driveway when it was my turn to throw out a cheating, alcoholic attorney. 

I love you, Aunt J! Here’s her story, for all the newbies. — Tracy

Ladies and Gentlemen (because men have cheating wives), life does get better after you get through the horrors of a cheating spouse. My second husband and I both had cheating first spouses though our stories are not exactly similar.

My first husband had a hardscrabble childhood with his dad’s early death, a mother who couldn’t cope, foster care for a while, living on the “wrong side of the tracks,” being told he was stupid and couldn’t go to college, then enlisting in the Navy before he would be drafted in 1953. The Navy changed his life because he did well, discovered he had a brain, and after four years in the service, put himself through college by working three jobs and carrying a full academic load. We met in science classes, married five days after my graduation (he was six years older than I), both worked a year, he decided to go to law school and began right after our first daughter was born.

Success followed in law school and in practice in Chicago. Because of health problems, his mother moved in with us and stayed until her death 7 years later. Initially, it wasn’t easy, but after a few months, we had a really good relationship and the girls adored her (second daughter was been born 6 years after the first). However, the lure of the fast-moving, big boat sailing crowd in the city in the early 1970s took hold with its ethos of drinking, bedding younger women, and partying (I know not everyone in the sailing world is like this…he just happened to find the group that was and enjoyed every minute).

He traveled constantly for the firm and after seeing him in action at sailing parties, I realized he was lying about his trips. I snooped in his briefcase one night after he had passed out — and found a return flight ticket from Savannah when he was supposed to have been in Washington. I confronted him, he had no reaction, just walked out.

A few months later he decided he didn’t want the suburban life, raising two daughters and having a wife. He moved out, bought a condo in the city, and went his merry way, sort of. Our girls were 14 and 7 when he left (freshman and second grade). They were devastated, but I was beyond devastated and asked all the same questions everyone does: What did I do wrong? Wasn’t I good enough? Did I not do all the right things? Should I get counseling? (I did, he wouldn’t, and it was the best thing I could have done to understand the dynamics of the marriage, such as it was at that point.) What will our friends think? (They all saw it coming and were thrilled for me because he was such a bastard the last couple of years.) How do I tell the family? (My brother and I, according to my sister-in-law, were not programmed to fail [she was correct] and I had failed in the most important relationship ever.) What could and should I do?

Well, let me tell you, I had been beaten down psychologically and emotionally but didn’t realize it. Over the years, my whole personality had changed. I definitely was an enabler for his drinking because I was afraid not to be. He wouldn’t have abused me physically because he wasn’t all that big, and I probably could have easily defended myself. Psychological and emotional abuse is just as destructive, in some ways worse because it is insidious and not obvious to outsiders. For 18 months I was completely afraid to hire a lawyer because I couldn’t gauge his potential reaction and I feared he’d stop supporting the girls and me. I was working part-time but didn’t earn nearly enough to keep the house and stay where we were. His lawyer was one of his partners. After 5 years of inaction or bogus but effective delays on his part, his lawyer finally said he’d have to give me the house and pay sufficient spousal and child support, or he’d drop the case and he’d have to start over. Ultimately, I gave up all claims on his pension, investments, boat, two condos, and future income so I could have the house and spousal/child support. To his credit, over the years he was always good about money and did put both girls through undergraduate college.

By the time it was over, I had regained my personality, strength, zest for life, and relationships with friends and family who were always supportive and “on my side.” I had started to date toward the end, after my lawyer said it would be OK. (OK for him to cheat and have women but I better not date.) I really didn’t want to date at first because I was too wrapped up in my own problems and wouldn’t do that to my girls, who still thought maybe this was a passing fancy on his part. Once I did start to date, turns out they were not big fans of the two men I dated at different times.

Then, about two months before I signed the final papers (on Halloween no less) I had a phone call from my mother. She and my dad had moved back to the town where I was raised after my dad retired. My high school sweetheart (M) and his wife had separated. We’d stayed in touch over the years, exchanging Christmas cards and photos of our children. She and I had been friends from the age of 8, long before I met my sweetheart in high school. We were all friends, ran in the same crowd during school; he and I dated exclusively after sophomore year until we broke up just before graduation. He and she began seeing each other and were married after college. According to my mother, his mother said M was the aggrieved party, she had been having an affair with the priest from her church, and wanted a divorce. Everyone in town was shocked because they were the quintessential perfect couple to the rest of the world. He had the house, the family’s summer cottage, and their two children, aged 14 and 16. Yes, she was leaving her husband and children for an alcoholic, cheating priest!

M was a wreck, according to his mom; my mom simply said to me, “Do with this information what you will.” Took me a while and right after I signed my own divorce papers, I wrote to M, expressing my concerns, I knew what it was like to be cheated on (he’d known for a while and despite her protestations that the affair had ended, it didn’t), to be left with all the responsibility because the cheater obviously didn’t want any of the issues of raising children, etc. My only words of advice were to avoid bad-mouthing her to the children. I tried not to do that with my ex to my girls because that can really totally disastrous. Children are far more perceptive than we realize; they figure it out eventually. I didn’t hear back from M right away but when I did, it was like we were 16 years old again.

Our high school reunion was scheduled for the next summer (this was now November) and he asked if I planned to come or would I be coming home before then. I was planning a trip with the girls to visit my parents that Christmas. I did visit, M and I saw each other and the 25 years melted away. I think we both knew at that point, we would eventually be together. He had to wait until the next fall for his divorce to be final, but in that time, we saw each other when we could despite the distance, my girls adored him right from the start, and we were married about a year after his divorce was final, when it was a good time for me to move my younger daughter after she finished 8th grade (older daughter was in college).

We bought a house, he moved to it in May, I moved in July, and we combined families, with children who were 14, 16, 18, and 21 when we married.

Our children are now all in their 40s, have children and we have a wonderful relationship with each other. We have never thought in terms of “step”; as far as we’re concerned we have 4 adult children and 7 wonderful grandchildren. They all get along, we have marvelous times together.

We still see his ex when she comes to see her children, we get along with her; her alcoholic priest husband never comes with her on these visits. The fact that we get along makes it so much easier for the children and grandchildren, no conflicts and actually, we all have a good time.

My cheating, ex-husband died of alcoholism nearly 20 years ago. He never remarried. After a heart attack and open-heart surgery, he would not stop drinking and drank himself to death. He was 60 and had several opportunities to get off the booze and reclaim his life. He couldn’t/didn’t and ultimately committed a slow form of suicide, which was very sad.

Yes, folks, life does return after a cheater is caught and either leaves or is thrown out. (I never had the courage to do that; in retrospect, the best thing he ever did was leave me, though I didn’t think so at the time). Have the strength and fortitude to rid yourself of a cheating spouse. It took me a long time to adjust to my situation, but when I did after 18 months, and finally took action, the relief was palpable. One friend said “the walls in your house sing again.”

I started moving ahead for my sake and for the sake of my daughters. They are well-adjusted women, who came to terms with their father, his actions, and especially his alcoholism, over the years. My husband’s children have done the same with their mother. Don’t give up hope because better days do follow the agony and tears, humiliation and hurt, stress and strain, and attempts to hold everything together. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.

I realize not everyone hooks up with a former sweetheart, but decent men and women are out there, people who will respect and love you and who will honor the marriage vows. We’ve now been married 27 years, longer than either of us was the first time around. I like the old Sinatra song, “Love is better the second time around!” Yep, it is! Don’t rush into another relationship, give yourself a chance to adjust, figure out who you are and what you want. When the opportunity presents itself, you’ll know and you’ll know whether that person is the right one for you. Until then, smile through the tears…you can do it and good things will happen.

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  • I’ve loved reading this story every time it’s posted.

    I got re-married just over a month ago. Love is definitely better the 2nd time around.

    • Yours was one of the earliest stories I recall on this site, Rarity, and especially among the earliest Tales of Mighty. You gave many of us hope and it is wonderful to see how things are turning out! Congratulations!

    • Ah Rarity…congratulations! It makes me so happy when former Chumps find a new love. All the best to you and your spouse!!

    • Congratulations Rarity! Please do tell the story of your ride out of the ashes sometime soon! I didn’t even know you were engaged!

    • Congratulations, best wishes to you and husband Rarity❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
      Im very happy for you!!!

    • An old high school friend of mine divorced about two or three years ago. He was a very popular, athletic guy in high school, and he ran with many of the same type of friends during high school and college. Almost all of his social circle were married nearly immediately out of college. Not all, but most are also now divorced, and many are remarried. He often says that in his friend circle, there were very few happy in their first marriages, and nearly all who have remarried are happy now. I’ve never been an advocate of marriage for people in their early twenties….this would seem to support the wisdom of waiting.

  • Thanks for your words of inspiration, Aunt J. I am coming up on three years out from divorce from my emotionally, financially, abusive cheater X. Definitely need to remind myself that there are good men out there (and there are) while I work on my life. Praying for you and M as you stand with him, giving him loving care.

    • Right with you there – sometimes I wonder if I will meet someone and then I realize I’m afraid of running into another jerk. So instead I try and do things to help others, focus on my kids and life in general and just don’t think about it. But stories like this one (way to go Auntie!) are uplifting to read and I thank you for sharing.

      Hugs to everyone and have a great….TUESDAY!

  • I love this story. Last October, a co-worker posted a photo in Facebook of her father (Pepaw) helping her son carve a pumpkin. Totally for her amusement, I commented that “Pepaw is cute.” Well, Pepaw saw the comment, friended me, messaged me for a few days, called me in the phone, then we met at a Starbucks. And the minute I saw him, I knew he was the one. I’ve been on my own since D-Day in 2005. I’d had awful experiences dating, and eventually gave it up years ago. But we just clicked. We met on November 7. June 8, we were engaged. I never could have predicted this.

  • We all need this story (or ones like it) every once in a while. There are too many like it all around us to ever give up on the power of decency, honesty, respect and intergity.

  • This is such an amazing love story! It gives me hope! What a strong and courageous lady!!!

  • They are amazing. I’m sorry dementia is in the picture, but I’m glad they are together, happy and kicking ass.

  • What a lovely story. It’s 8 yrs since I flew the coup due to cheater X. While I haven’t lost hope of meeting a loving partner it seems like a pipe dream. In the meantime I’ve perfected independent, go it alone me.

  • Thank you CL and Auntie J for this inspiring story. I needed to be reminded of this today as I have been wallowing in the injustice of my situation for the last day or so. My ex and his tru luv moved in together by his parents, no less, before our divorce was even final and continue to this day 3 years later. I got stuck with all the hard work of raising the kids practically alone, all of the marital debt while he ran off into the sunset with his whore. They play happy family with my kids every other weekend. Both of their families have accepted the relationship as ok, even though they are all very aware that it was a 4 year affair before I found out.
    But as this story reminds me, my story is not over yet. There are not a lot of suitable men out there, but they do exist, I just have to put myself out there….Right now I’m not really ready for that, as I’m trying to get to meh, and raise my kids and keep moving. But i’ll get there one day….

  • Lovely story if strength and courage.
    It gives me hope for a better future of my own!
    It has been almost 2 years since all started and 7 months from DD, I hope at some point I get the inner force to date again, at this moment I just want to be able to heal and be happy going solo.

  • Love Aunt Joan’s and M’s story. They are so inspirational. And, I’m sure, will continue to be as the walk thru this season of life hand in hand. Give them both a huge hug from all of us at CN.

  • Thank you J and happy birthday!

    What I love so much about this post is the timeline. Yes, things were very different prior to 1974. Women didn’t have the options we have today. And this story could have had a very different ending had she stayed.

    Then I see the likes of the mighty Rarity! Congratulations!

    The narrative is changing one chump at a time. Staying with an abuser is the hardest path one can take. My mother wasn’t able to escape. We no longer have to suffer in silence or held hostage.

    Than you J and Rarity for your courage, strength, and guidance. You are the role models of hope.

    • My mother wasn’t able to escape either. It just wasn’t possible for most women back then. They stayed in abusive relationships for several main reasons, being that it wasn’t ‘socially acceptable’ to leave… or they didn’t have access to the family finances because The Man ….. or they didn’t work outside the home. My mother suffered in semi-silence, as I would hear her sometimes tell my grandmother how unhappy she was. She passed away in March of this year, still held captive by the same abusive and cheating man (my father) who held power over her like some demented black widow. Thank ALL the saints that we now have other options to leave and get the hell out these days.

  • Yeah.

    I thought my second husband was a great guy. So did everyone else.

    Nope.

    I think I’m done. There really isn’t anyone out there for me.

    • Agree with you. No one out there for me and im not wanting it either. My second marriage ending damn near killed me but i do like happy marriage stories. Will i do a third i think not. But aunt j sounds like a remarkable woman.

      • I’m with you Kar Marie, it damn near killed me and I am done. I am fine on my own, and love my life alone.

  • If you created this story as a work of fiction, you’d HAVE to name the protagonist “Aunt Joy.”

  • I thought James Bond was going to be my “M.” I introduced him into my rich and full life, full of love and sunshine. as “the one.” Like a Ghengis Khan, he began conquering, everyone.

    I got rid of him. Everything’s final now. He is completely out of my life. But the loss. How he has destroyed. I’m fine. I’m okay. But I do not think I can ever do the marriage thing again. James Bond was my second husband. I waited ten years to find the right guy. He checked all the boxes. Before him, I seriously tried to suss out the con-men, the bullshitters, liars and ladies’ men . . . but no. I involved him with all of my people, from the beginning, so they could check him out. James Bond is a Jesus Cheater — prostitute John, window-peeper, seducer of women (young and older), user of Tindr, porn, online sex. A total sicko. Outwardly devout (he mimicked me), said the right words, so smart, could appear handsome — but so demonic.

    I’m glad I’m free. But maybe the best I can do is be a nun (of sorts). Maybe no fuckin asshole can mess up my life again. Don’t mean to be bitter. I’d like to be sweet.

    • QueenMother

      My bar is set high and for good reason. These creeps hide and can fool those with experience. Indeed they are predators leaching onto vulnerabilities and fuck if that mask isn’t transparent until they show themselves. Let’s face it, if it were obvious we’d have seen it given our wisdom.

      Therefore, if I do partner up or get married it will come with a prenup, seperate bank accounts and credit cards. If anyone doesn’t like that too bad.

      For now I’m attemptimg to live in the present, assess myself fairly and look for the good in others witjout attaching to it selflessly. There are conditions.

      A very hard lesson to learn is to allow others to problem solve on their own without interrupting their consequences. Not my job to fix it. That goes for all relationships.

      • Good point, Doingme. I never thought I would remarry after all the hell Cheater X put me through. Eventually, I did. But I took my own sweet time rebuilding my life first, and yes, got the prenup and kept my separate finances separate so I’m protected. Not because I don’t believe in happily ever after, but because I’ve seen the worst case scenario firsthand.

      • “A very hard lesson to learn is to allow others to problem solve on their own without interrupting their consequences. Not my job to fix it. That goes for all relationships.”

        THIS is so true. It is a lesson that I have been thinking about for the past couple of days so I am glad to see it reinforced here. I always think that I am supposed to fix things …. but I am NOT.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Aunt J. I don’t think contentment necessarily lies in meeting a new romantic partner; many of us never will. However, I’ve found someone really wonderful through this journey: myself. The real “happy ending” of this post isn’t building a second, happier marriage with M but rather creating a joyful post-cheater existence, in whatever form it came.

  • I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone else but then I’m seriously not looking. I was so badly burned I don’t even want to go there again. But you know what, I love my life as it is. No hassle, no crap, no walking on eggshells! That being said I’m sure that when you say “never again” that is just the moment that another “M” creeps up on you. If so, so be it. If not, I’m good!

    • Yes. The joy of no egg-shells and better ng able to make decisions based on what is good for me and my kids, not on how he will react (angry/ depressed/ resentful/ silent seething/ over-the-top excitement). I am in love with predictability instead.

  • Nice to read positive stories. I have faith that God will place a wife who loves me as much as I love her.

  • I LOVE this story.
    In fact just last night, because it was the very first one in my new house, I remembered Aunt J’s saying and I just sat down and looked at my walls singing.

    I sold the house I shared with glitterballs bought a small farm and a tiny house.

    Hugs to Aunt J from Chump Nation!

    • Glitterballs hahaha Power to you for creating a whole new life. Best wishes to you for the farm and new house, it sounds great.

  • Aunt J’s story brought me to tears… all happy!! What a beautiful story of strength and love. What a wonderful role model for her family and for all of us!! I am 18 months out and I am mostly at meh. I am looking forward to the future and appreciate all the blessings in my life. May Aunt J’s mightiness live in me!

  • I love Aunt J’s story so much. M’s illness is a sad twist to the story but having seen my own parents go through the dementia wringer, I am confident that ultimately love will prevail for J and M, as it did for them. My dad is gone now, but the love lives on.

  • Aunt J is such a good writer. And her story! It covers all the bases, even the “cheater is a high-powered dominating attorney” one. So sorry to hear M has dementia. It’s a very difficult situation to negotiate but once again, she’s doing it with style.

    • Yes, she’s doing it with style. I love that she’s still enjoying road trips with M.

      I took my mother to Florida by train and it was an amazing adventure. We laughed! I miss her smile and think of her every day.

  • Gives me hope, but I still can’t fathom finding love again. I think I just have too much damage still. I can’t imagine ever trusting anyone and I don’t want to live a life being paranoid about someone.

  • My walls are singing even without a partner, or any prospect or desire for one.

    They can do that, you know. When you take out the trash, your walls can and do sing again, regardless of whether you ever partner up again.

  • I have to keep reminding myself that (1) I’m 69 and (2) It is a shock to women that their grandmothers,, aunts, mothers couldn’t establish credit in their own names. It just don’ts seem that long ago that my mother had to turn to husbands of friends to co-sign loans. And that women before us paved the way . . for the possibility of divorce without shame. Still have all the other crap . . but it is common to be divorced. Because in the 20th century, enough women left. Also – that Aunt J said this, “To his credit, over the years he was always good about money and did put both girls through undergraduate college.” TO HIS CREDIT? Because we have to be grateful when these half-formed cretins follow court orders. Assume responsibility for their own children. To his credit. But I also know this story to be like so many others . . . second marriages that work. The 21st century even coined the phrase, “starter husband” . . as inconceivable as it may seem that another relationship is possible, people keep knocking it out of the park!
    And alcoholic attorney husbands There are a lot of those. A lot were best buds with my alcoholic, cheating husband. Good riddance.

    • Bitch cookie. My ex also didn’t screw us financially and still cares about being a Dad to his kids. He isn’t even an alcoholic. He is still a jerk. He still broke up his kids’ family for someone who really isn’t worth it.

  • I too lived through the 70’s and can identify with the social constraints levied on wives during this time. I watched my mother strive and thrive through this this period finally ending in divorce from my alcoholic, abusive cheater father. It was horrible growing up in this situation in hindsight. My mother demonstrated Mighty in my formative years.

    The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage totally screwed up my brother who is hopelessly an addict and alcoholic to this day. The disease of alcoholism will kill him as it did my first wife. Mom is in martyr mode and has been for years since allowing him to move in and live with her. I do not know how she can continue to endure my brothers state. A mother’s love is so strong they will endure decades of abuse hoping their kids will change.

    Having the predisposition for alcoholism, I became a black out drinker/alcoholic from 1978 through 1994. I got sober in 1994 and haven’t drank since. I married an alcoholic 1st wife (M) but she did not cheat. We had a daughter together and I decided I would never let her see me drunk. I did not want to repeat my father’s behavior in her life and was prepared to do whatever was necessary to not become my father. She has no memories of my alcoholism. I involved her in my sobriety and AA from a very early age taking her to AA meetings- she became a part of my sobriety. She knows the way because she grew up an AA girl and watched me live “the Program”. I came to understand through Alanon, that I did not have to live with a practicing alcoholic and divorced her. A year and a half later I had custody of my daughter after (M) crashed and burned, and I found myself single and lonely after 13 years invested with M.

    Within short order I met my 2nd wife. I DATED TOO SOON. I married her (E) in 2005. Things started out well until Dday last year Aug 2017. I learned who E really was and caught her. I just got my D papers yesterday. This marriage also lasted 13 years but like many chumps I had no idea I had married a serial cheater. I found CL, SI then CN. I got CL’s audio book and listened to it daily. It took a long time for me to realize who this tramp really was and I question if my the whole of my 2nd marriage was a sham. It appears so- which is disappointing to say the least. So now, “I know that I know” the depth of disordered in this woman. I’m slowly letting go of the sunk costs because it only brings pain to think about them.

    It appears that the shelf life of my marriages is 13 years. At 58 today, I don’t think I have another happily ever after left to enjoy. I’m “Finding Me” now and
    I have a long way to go. I’ve found some of my MEH but I’m definitely NC. I took the step of blocking my ex’s phone # on Sunday after a long weekend concert gathering my favorite band and fans. It was a symbolic act for me. I told myself it was time to let go of her (contact information). The only way she can contact me is by showing up or email now. I put the hopium pipe down for good. I have nothing to work with.

    So here I am. I will continue to seek CL/CN advice and encouragement. The hope I have now is for the Good life without a cheater. I’m still sweeping away the debris of the past and healing. Healing feels right. I avoid my deranged ex like the plague. She is toxic to me. I know this now. I’m trying to move ahead albeit slowly but I know there’s a lot of work to do on me. I have nothing to offer any prospective mates and I tell the women I’ve met who seemed interested in me that. It was an awakening to me that many women find me attractive and sexy but I’m just not there yet to share my life with them. Not by any measure. I know the depths of betrayal and I’ll never go there again. I keep reminding myself that there are good women out there and not to prejudge them based on what E did to me. Reciprocity is the key identifier I use now as a guide. That and time.

    So Thanks CN and Cl for being here. You’ve saved my life.

    • Dating Too Soon – another classic Chump weakness.

      We tend to read about them in the letters to Chump Lady – as in, ‘Two months after I changed the locks, I met a wonderful wo/man, and we are so in love, but there are just a couple of things …’, before reeling off a list of red flags that goes for miles, accompanied by blaring sirens.

      Hoo boy. Fix that picker. It’s so tempting to medicate with people, find a shoulder to cry on, and salve the Horror of Singleness, all in one go, but I really think it’s such a bad idea.

      • When our partner puts us and our attractiveness down….. it is SO hard not to seek some validation from the opposite sex after separation!.

        The abused women’s shelter told me it is ok to date. But never move in with someone you haven’t know for a minimum of 2 years. I suppose they know the temptation to be seen as desireable or even acceptable.

    • ML, thank you for sharing your story..
      Stay here as planned and write, read, share, comment, twist and shout.
      Yep, takes time to heal…but damn you have really come out of that rabbit hole.
      We are sure you have plenty to give. Bet your kid knows that..
      Stay the course, you got plenty of life to live with good people in it…

    • Marcus, congrats on all the mighty you’ve shown throughout your life, on the dedication you’ve shown your daughter every day and, now, on the dedication you’re showing to yourself and the rebuilding of You.

  • I haven’t read this story before, so thank you Chump Lady for posting it. I am relatively new to the site. The ‘wasn’t programmed to fail’ really resonated with me. I think the shame of failure is why it has taken me two and a half years since D-day to leave. The religious-nut-job-pseudo-saint begged for forgiveness, but the revelation of 16 years of sporadic but continuous cheating with his out of town “best friend”, is, I finally realised (with help from this site), beyond forgiveness. I also clicked with the subtle emotional and psychological abuse Auntie J mentions – the not being cherished, that slowly changed my personality, at least when I was inside my own home.
    Our therapist invoked the Esther Perel School of “what did i do to make this happen?”. But I never bought it, nor the compartmentalisation that allowed him to keep it hidden for so long. Shirley Glass’ book Not just Friends, was the only book that I thought was worth reading, at least she acknowledged the trauma (apart from Simone de Beauvoir’s novel The Women Destroyed) until I found Chump Lady. Sixteen years of cheating is sixteen years of zero respect, whatever hidden compartment you put it in. Cheaters may cheat in a myriad different ways, but their impact on us chumps seems pretty universal. It is easy to feel connected to Chump Nation, so thank you all.

  • Stories of REAL hope, not “hopium”, are so refreshing and so very welcomed! I love your Aunt’s bravery, especially considering the times….I will draw from her inspiration to be sure! I also love that she expresses the fact that there are indeed good people out there, just waiting for the kind of safe and trusting love that we as Chumps have to offer. Right now I am steeped in the betrayed partner “communities” and because it is clear that there are a LOT of cheating folks out there, I have started to wonder if there are any truth-loving, heart-protecting, vow-honoring men at all. I know it is such a cynical view, and one I am happy to shake and am ABLE to shake with stories like this!

    I want my walls to sing again!!!!

    • Yes there are a lot of cheaters out there. My therapist told me that cheating is common. Her intent was to make me feel better about my situation (not an effort to convince me to reconcile). What I told her is that yes it is common, but I thought my ex wasn’t common. I thought he was better than other men. That’s why I married him. A big portion of the heartbreak was in discovering that he was “common” after all. Just another two bit cheater.

      • I said the same thing about my now ex Cheater. You became your average run-of-the-mill ordinary cheater. How mundane. And I wanted to grow old with you – what the hell was I thinking?

        He can kiss my plump ass. Once we sign the closing on our house in a month, I never want to see him again.

  • It’s always nice to see these stories of chumps who finally found happiness. I love reading them and seeing they finally found happiness. I, unfortunately, am older and terminally ill so my second chance at anything is over. But I am very content with my life as is. My mind is still clear, I have made some very good friends and my kids and grandkids are phenomenal. Even if I were in top physical condition I am not sure I would trade the peace I have for an exclusive relationship at this point. Being single simply isn’t that bad for me. But to all the others who hope to find someone to love I say go for it!

  • I’m a newly minted chump (D-Day early April of 2018) and ready CN as part of my morning routine. My ex was in “recovery”- sober for 17 years, when I caught him cheating with a younger woman who attended one of his regularly attended meetings. From this I have learned that time isn’t always an indicator that someone has done “the work” on self. I’m grateful to all of you for your courage and honesty- but especially your sense of humor, which made those early pain-filled days a little easier. My daughter and I moved into a new house, and the walls sing every Saturday- as we make breakfast, jam the house cleaning music, and rebuild from that shit show. We can hold two ideas at once- we can heal while grieving.

    • I love that idea: We can heal even as we grieve. Hugs to you and your daughter and your Mighty!!

  • “Cheaters are dreamers, over achievers, people who just aren’t satisfied with the status quo.”

    An accurate Esther Perel summation.

    You know what? This isn’t totally unlike some drivel that I have heard applied to people who are depressed, or bipolar. That they are so much more SENSITIVE and SPECIAL and so what if they hurt the people they say they love (when it’s convenient, to their advantage or they feel forced to do so before they lose the person who is holding them up). Well, they’re deeper than anyone else. Why can’t others truly understand their pain?

    I still remember the grim satisfaction I took in burning tapes that were given to my Fuckedup Unicorn regarding his (very real) depression years ago. He would play them every so often and they were so insulting regarding everyone around the Suffering Individual and basically simply reinforced how spectacularly selfish depression can make a person.

    Not unlike an adulterer.

    When you look at how depressed or mentally ill patients are often treated in the recent past (and it’s changing more slowly than I like), you can see where Perel and adulterers in general found the language to justify their behavior and smile smugly at those they lie to while in midst of the Wreckonciliation Industry.

      • Because in some treatment modalities the patient with the diagnosis is the only one who matters.

        Not unlike how adulterers view themselves and THEIR happiness.

    • Well, I’m a “dreamer, over achiever, people who just aren’t satisfied with the status quo.”….But I was faithful and loving to my wife, even after I caught her multiple times and had opportunities to do so. I still took my vows seriously, hoping we grow past this. But she didn’t want to grow. While it hurt like a bitch, letting her go was the best thing for me

  • /Well, let me tell you, I had been beaten down psychologically and emotionally but didn’t realize it. Over the years, my whole personality had changed. I definitely was an enabler for his drinking because I was afraid not to be. He wouldn’t have abused me physically because he wasn’t all that big, and I probably could have easily defended myself. Psychological and emotional abuse is just as destructive, in some ways worse because it is insidious and not obvious to outsiders. /

    ^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^
    This sums up my 13 years with exh2 The Evil One almost perfectly, because he could have easily beat the hell out of me, but not without a hard fight from me, but that’s not the point.
    Thank you, ChumpLady for sharing Aunt J’s story again. I needed to read it today.
    ChumpLady is my daily devotional, and I’m forever grateful.
    Happy birthday, Aunt J!!! ❤️🎂🎉🎵

  • I’m another two-timer. The second one nearly killed me too. Took 5 years to recover and I’m still not sure I’ll ever be the same. I can’t help being wary of stories of instant perfect love with someone, after being chumped – without ensuring first that you have fixed your picker. You are most vulnerable to narcissistic love bombing from someone when you are a recovering chump. So yeah, while I’m happy for chumps who found post chumpdom love, I worry for those who perhaps like me when I got fooled the second time, deeply long for a loving relationship and are willing to trust w/o verifiying.

    After a combined 26 years with two parasitic cheaters, I simply could never risk it and now that I’m in my 60s, I also feel that it’s really too late (menopause changes a lot of things), and that sadly, I may be very jaded. I spent a little while on the dating sites and will never go back there (don’t like feeling like a piece of meat being picked over, and believe there are a lot of liars on there). And I can’t help thinking that by this age, all the honest and loyal men are still with their wives.

  • I remember reading Aunt J’s words and tale of strength and second love years ago, and it gave me hope. Thank you, Aunt J! Although I’m still happy on my own and dating “me,” I’m still hopeful when I read this story and Tracy’s of wonderful second loves. These dumbass cheaters just don’t get it: love is action, and it’s sweet to hear that some spouses still do this for one another.

    Happy birthday when it comes!

  • I am really happy for J and M and good chumps that find real romantic love again! And I hope that J has a great birthday–she deserves to be celebrated for many things.

    I would like to know their ‘secret’ to finding that authentic love after being chumped. I thought after my abusive, adulterous husband left that I had finally gotten together with Mr. Nice Guy (friend of 30 years and fellow chump). I thought that I was ‘safe’ with a friend who had been abused by his adulterous spouse. Instead I got someone who lied to me, disrespected me, and left me more than once (for greener pastures that he had been eyeing in and out of the office. My picker was still broken. Now the ‘available’ guys I run into who want to date me tell me things like, ‘I feel as though I have known you forever, but I hate you!!!!’ or ‘You can cook dinner for me’ (before we have even gone out on our first date).’ I now prefer to stay home to re-arrange my sock drawer! A year after last discard, I’m still heartbroken and numb. Never thought that life would come to this. But I’m glad to hear that some good chumps out there still win the ‘golden ticket.’

  • CL your aunt is such a great example and a strong woman! I am so glad she was there for you. This is an awesome story and thanks so much for sharing.

  • What a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing it and I am very happy that you guys found well deserved love the second time around.

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