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Dear Chump Lady, So why the hell isn’t she HAPPY now?

Hi Chump Lady,

So my wife had an affair and after being found out asked for a trial separation. She said she had been “struggling with her feelings for me”, that whilst I was a great dad and someone she admired, she had changed and we had “drifted apart”. Yadda Yadda Yadda. I told her to make it permanent since she evidently didn’t want to save our marriage. She at least had the humanity to agree.

So here’s the thing: she said, although it was hard to see me so hurt by her actions she couldn’t allow my reaction to “emotionally blackmail” her. Here was her logic:

  1. The fact she cheated must mean she wasn’t happy in the marriage (she couldn’t actually come up with anything I’d done wrong).
  2. If she wasn’t happy in the marriage, then she would only make the kids and I miserable and she’d just keep trying to cheat.
  3. Ergo, it was better we separated so she could at least be happy with her Twu Luv and I could be happy with someone else. (Not that she had much choice at that point, what with me saying “no more cake”).

Within a fortnight her schmoopie had left his wife too. True Love Rejoice! They could finally date each other properly!

So why is it, three months later, I find our Switzerland Friends are sending her pity presents? That they are concerned because Drifting Wife is Suffering So Much.

I never got pity presents. I never got cards saying, “You’ll get through it, Chump!”

I’m sorry, but didn’t someone say they wanted out because they were unhappy? And that getting out and being with their Twu Luv would take them straight up the road to Happysville? That’s the Perfectly Reasonable Argument, yeah? And, the kicker is, by all accounts they’re still all loved up with each other. Her Schmoopie’s chump tells me he can’t stop blathering on about her (she’s stuck living with him at the moment, sadly). I’m pretty sure crushing reality will emerge one day, but it hasn’t yet.

Am I being unreasonable to want to shout: “HOW DARE YOU BE MISERABLE!!”?

I mean, she *chose* this outcome. She nuked our family and that of her Twu Luv’s because they could not bear to be unhappy. And yet, not only is she *not* happy, she’s apparently *even more* unhappy.

My brain would hurt if it wasn’t so furious.



Dear Billy,

Ah yes, the if-you-didn’t-want-to-go-to-Chicago-why’d-you-get-on-the-train? dilemma.

I must go to Chicago! Only in Chicago will all my dreams come true! I have purchased a one-way ticket to Chicago! I have boarded the train! Behold as I embark on an epic journey of self-discovery! Farewell, losers! (Throws glitter to the masses.)

(Trains stops in Chicago.)


I know, it’s maddening. You’re a chump, so you assume people who board trains to Chicago want to go to Chicago. And that people who leave their marriages to pursue Greater Happiness were Unhappy and desired Happiness. But the goal was never Chicago — which is a real place, with sights and smells and subzero gusts off frozen lakes — it was impression management. The promise of Somewhere Different. Of easy change without hard work. Of how one looks on the train platform in a fedora. Dashing? Mysterious? A star in one’s own biopic? But then the train actually leaves and deposits them.

And suddenly the reality of Chicago isn’t at all as it appeared in the brochures. It’s cold there. It smells like a stockyard. And they kind of miss Loserville. Chicago doesn’t make hotdogs the same as Loserville. And the taxes were lower in Loserville…

Couldn’t they just ask themselves why they got on a train to Chicago? No. That’s too honest. Instead, they feel dissatisfaction through the lens of injustice. Were they unhappy in Loserville? I’m sure that was your fault. Well, there’s unhappiness sometimes in Chicago too. Heads must roll.

So they start looking at other train schedules and deny they ever really intended to go to Chicago. It just happened.

How they discuss The Chicago Decision really just depends on the audience — and what they need from that person. To love them?  To go away? To try harder to please them? To give them pretty presents?

Charm? OMG, I’m so fabulous to be living in Chicago! It’s been a journey of EPIC self-discovery and I bought a snow globe! Follow me on Instagram!

Rage? How DARE you judge me for going to Chicago! That bad man made me buy a ticket! I was kidnapped! Forced against my will to board that train!

Self-pity? I am so sad and alone. A little puddle of sadness on the shores of Lake Michigan. How did I get here? Won’t someone buy me a pierogie?

See how that works?

So why is it, three months later, I find our Switzerland Friends are sending her pity presents? That they are concerned because Drifting Wife is Suffering So Much.

The easy answer is because they’re fuckwits who don’t share your values. (Hey, public service announcement — people who cheat on their spouses and abandon their children do not deserve gift baskets!)

But also understand, you’re not the only one she mindfucks. Mindfuckery is her basic operating system. And of all the channels on mindfuck TV (rage, charm, self-pity), self-pity is the most powerful.

Most people, especially chumps, are disarmed by self-pity. It can be hard to distinguish distress (oh no! Someone’s in crisis! I must help!) from self-pity. (“I has a sadz.”) Self-pity is deflection from one’s own terrible choices. It’s not very deep as introspection goes, and its basic message is TAKE CARE OF ME! I CANNOT ADULT!

But as manipulation goes, it has hooks. The chump or Swiss friend or innocent bystander who swoops in can tell themselves they’re a Hero who has a hanky/can save the day/has money to loan/can fix this just-stop-crying!

Fact is, a lot of people don’t stand back and look at the big pictures through the lens of basic moral values. They wonder how’d they look in a cape.

I never got pity presents. I never got cards saying, “You’ll get through it, Chump!”

You know why, Billy? Because you’re STRONG. Because you’re not manipulative. Because you’re probably reacting to this adversity with private suffering and stiff-upper-lip-ishness. You’re DOING things, like caring for your children and I HOPE calling a divorce lawyer.

And where fuckwits see strength and competence, they think “Hmm, Billy can’t be suffering THAT much.” And they also think, thanks to your cheater’s narrative, “Billy is the Bad Man who made Cheater unhappy!”

Ergo, no presents for Billy.

So Billy, here’s your gift — Freedom. It’s monogrammed and everything.

Quit untangling her skein, if she’s happy or unhappy, or registering over at Sparkletwats R US. The woman just isn’t that deep. “Unhappiness” doesn’t make you lift wallets or cheat on your family — lousy character does.

You’re getting her out of your life. Yea! That freedom looks good on you. Wear it proudly.

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.
  • “I never got pity presents. I never got cards saying, “You’ll get through it, Chump!” Nope. Instead I got shunned by an entire family. I got divorce papers and endured months of late documents, false documents and forged documents, all costing me many thousands of dollars.

    I got told by people that barely knew us that “the marriage must have been over”, by my adult son “dad was not happy”. The adultery part just did not seem to matter.

    His happiness was HIS responsibility and I for one do not care if he is happy. As Ghandi said: “Happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony.” In my ex’s life, this is never going to happen.

    • getting shunned by people you cared for, cheater or relatives and friends is the worst thing

    • @NotMyFault… this is a keeper! Thank you so much! I love the Ghandi quote and I believe it and it must be why I was and am and will likely always be a happy person.

    • Good quotation to pull out when Switzerfolks say Cheater was/in unhappy: ” “Happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony.”

    • All i ever got were lies & more lies. My favorite one is “i never met sweet we just talked in the phone for over two years about hunting.” Hunting what ? He disappeared in ohio withbhis phone turned iff!! LOL!!!

  • My ex, is the king of mindfuckery, shop owner says ex has issues, I say he’s failed 5 drug tests, (this was 7 years ago) she shrugs her shoulders!, but she lives with a alcoholic, but that’s her choice. I think some people don’t have the same standards. My ex, stole, cheated, I was abused sexually by several of his friends, did he give a fuck no. His ow, is a drug dealer, and got her junkie friends to abuse, me, years later, he even admitted it, some people are just shit.

  • Dear billy,

    No one cares about her happiness, neither should you, it’s the same old story. IMO it comes down to a total lack of imagination to create your own nice life/house/career/network. Or just to create… anything really.

    Look when people create things, we are essentially taking raw materials and making something beautiful. We create. And the more creative and skilled we are, we can make things out of nothing.

    Eg growing food, recycling objects, interior decorating using salvage, caring for animals, building communities, schools and relationships so many amazing things people create.

    Your ex on the other hand took what she had with you and reduced it to nothing. Nothing from something.

    See – it’s the wrong way round, you’re not compatible. She’s got no imagination.

    • OMG, MidlifeBlast – THIS!!

      “Your ex on the other hand took what she had with you and reduced it to nothing. Nothing from something.”

      I never saw right in front of me when I lived it for 23 years/married 17, but the dbag in my situation NEVER contributed to the home or family. Never. In fact, when I finally lawn-bagged his crap, it was only clothes, some old high school yearbooks, and one pic of his mom. That’s it?! After 23 years, two kids, multiple homes, and LIFE?? The only things indicating that he existed around us fit into 5 lawn bags??

      He abandoned and never looked back, which was great for me in the long run, but he took NOTHING from the home. Everything is exactly as it was – just as I designed it to be. He didn’t even take a single photo of his own two kids or one grandchild. That home is mine and my grown kids’, and thanks to his sociopathy and emotional disorder, and his inability to connect with others, I don’t “see” him in things around my home.

      You’re exactly right. He took what I designed and built, and reduced it to nothing. Only, I was able to rebuild, since I was always the only contractor, builder and designer on the job the whole time.

      • @KBMF: were we married to the same guy for the same length of time? 25 years and he took nothing. His shit fit into 2 boxes in the end. 3 years after he abandoned his lawyer wrote demanding his entry into my new home to get his (1990s) suits and ties. WTF???!!!! I tossed those to the charity bin when I moved and he didn’t show to pick up his shit (as I asked him to do) in 2015! My God! The audacity!

        • Wow-me too ! I am now dealing with his shit and he wants to come get it 2 yrs post divorce. I said no, the divorce decree clearly stated that whatever is in Our possession at time of divorce is ours. I don’t want him in my house or to even talk to him. He complains to my sons and they just say he had plenty of time to come get his stuff. he just came twice and only took what he wanted at that time. Now wants more. Nope. But ole sucker me feels sorry for him at times until I remember what a dick he is.

        • Same here. Hurricane Irma hit and the kids and I literally had to pick up the pieces by ourselves. His 1000 dollar suit, shoes, clothes, diploma,birth certificate and pictures went in the trash. Months later he asked for them back thru my oldest son. No way, those things we’re long gone after I kicked him out. No traces of you left here.

          • Putting Cheater’s stuff in a charity bin gave me a fuzzy warm feeling of closure.

            I hope someone of good character was on the receiving end.

    • Yes. This. Exactly.

      And this is also why we should not care or worry about what people think. Create. Build your life. Let the rest of them live in rubble.

    • “Your ex on the other hand took what she had with you and reduced it to nothing. Nothing from something.”

      Well said.

      I think sometimes cheater types take something and some more something and even more something, leaving you with nothing, and then still feel they deserve more and search elsewhere for that extra something they deserve. All the while giving absolutely nothing.

      Lacking in creativity – yes.

  • Dear Billy–Yes. It is annoying as hell. I could have used the help, not to mention an invitation for a drink, an apple pie, a weekend at a friend’s lake house, etc. All these and more were offered to the EX upon his departure. I was helping the kids rebuild and couldn’t go get drunk or take a weekend off alone (though we could have eaten the pie!) But years later, I still have a relationship with my kids. No one brings him pies or offers him a drink any more. In fact, most people block his calls. Those responding to your EX’s need for pity and support are still being chumped. In your day, you probably gave her a lot of gifts and support too. Congratulations for being first off the crazy-bus. The others will either follow you soon or they are the sort of people you will do better without anyway. In the meantime, feel free to burn effigies (small ones) in private (it probably isn’t good to let the kids see these kinds of small self-indulgences).

  • Brilliant, C.L.! I would only add that cheaters aren’t happy because happiness often arrives when our efforts align with our values, and sometimes bear fruit. Think of how good it feels to work in the garden and then taste the beautiful tomato you grew. But cheaters have no values, so their actions have nothing with which to align. If they plant a seed, they wander off to let it wither from neglect. Result for cheaters: no luscious tomatoes. #poorthem

    • Yes, CL ~ absolutely brilliant!

      And nomar, I agree with you totally. They have no values….NONE.

    • I needed this one today, my ex is so utterly miserable, living in our old house, in her old job which she hates, and alone. All these things she wanted to change because she was unhappy. I bought myself a house, our kid lives with me during the week and I’m training next year for a new job. It’s like I’ve left her behind.

    • This image of the Cheater just wandering off needs a cartoon!! They wander off from everything- spouses, homes, children, pets, gardens, jobs, siblings, elderly parents, everything!!

  • Society also forgets that there are guy-chumps. We see them here and know they are real, but the social narrative is that men run off with a Schmoopie (cue excuses and victim blaming “you know she never sis lose all the weight from that last baby”) and the left behind spouse is a chubby middle aged gal who should have tried harder.

    I perceive there is an unwritten expectation that if a woman leaves, the guy must have been a really bad guy behind closed doors. It leaves no room for the reality of the female narc cheater. Throwing away a perfectly good man is an unusual behavior, but it is done.

    Like Mr CL, my new-husband was (by all observable proofs after the fact) a reasonable and decent husband not given to the abuses we see here. He does buy too much Tide on occasion and fills the garage with half redone steamer trunks, but does not go to hookers or sext random women. His former wife was just convinced that there was greener grass out there…perhaps with men who don’t overbuy Tide. Off she went demanding as much $ as she could get to fund her pursuit and he paid her every dime the court instructed and a few more.

    17 years later, she is incensed and livid with us…how dare he start dating 12 years after their divorce and when I came along, he quit dancing to her tune. He should do exactly what his now-remarried XW tells him to do, how dare he have boundaries. and she is miserable.

    • My current husband’s ex is exactly like this. He is the only person I’ve met in real life who was chumped (infidelity and financially) more than me.When we were engaged, she became enraged that he wouldn’t cosign a twenty thousand dollar loan so she could remodel her mother’s house. She also once raged over text that he wouldn’t give her several hundred dollars above the alimony (child support ended and kids were out of the house), mortgage costs, etcetera that he paid her. He had taken all the marital debt. He was paying off her student loans for degrees she started and never finished. She was livid because “She deserved it.” Her reasoning? I owned a designer handbag. Uuuum. We weren’t married; I was a working professional and purchased my own handbags. I know NC is the way, but that was one time I grabbed the phone and told her, “What I own is none of your damned business. If I want to paper my walls with designer handbags, I will. One of us is living off this man while giving him nothing in return–but it sure as hell isn’t me.” He was wobbly with boundaries when we met–but he is sure over that now! Female or male, a narc is a narc, and our only job is to get as far away from them as we can.

      • So nice to hear from other women who are shocked at their behavior of their husband’s narc ex. My husband’s cheated on him for five years (that he knows of) and then took him to the cleaners financially. She even wrangled a giant loan from my in-laws before I was in the picture. And she is still so angry. She actually tried to have him fired three months ago (called his place of work etc) You just can’t make this stuff up. Of course, she insists that we are the bad ones – that we talk negatively about her. Honestly, we try to stay as positive with the teenagers as we can but she is convincing… somehow we come out looking like the bad people… because boundaries?

        • When they were married, she complained that when they travelled to Greece, Germany and Hawaii, they stayed in timeshares funded by his parents. In her new life she goes only to her BILs cabin in the woods…hmmmm timeshare in Greek Isles might be looking good about now.

          She forbade us to take daughter to Europe …I tried to get him to defy the edict from Cruella, but he gave in for the 5 years we have been together. Daughter is now a young adult and has a passport and it is our turn to have her for Christmas, so will be in France for Christmas and Rome for New Years. Neener neener.

        • Yes, entitlement is really on the surface with female narcs. My husband’s left him for a year (after very openly carrying on several affairs) raising two young kids, got pregnant with someone else’s baby, and when her boyfriend ran out on her just flounced back into the family home and announced they were staying married after all. He is a devout Catholic so he allowed this. He even told her he would raise the child as his own. She went and aborted the child anyway. Then any time he disagreed with her about anything she’d bring up how she had gotten an abortion “for him.” For years he lived in anguish over this. Pure evil right there. Five years later she threw him out of the house again. He waited patiently for three more years to file for divorce. When he did she was shocked that he would leave her. She “dated” openly in front of him for over ten years altogether and admitted to sleeping with more than 50–yes fifty–men. But, she could not believe he’d divorce her for it. There’s no accounting for crazy.

    • Yes this happened to me, when I told some women friends early on they told me their first thought was “she must have been so unhappy” to cheat on me and wreck our child home. These friends did come to their senses eventually but plenty havn’t. But I know my own truth.

  • Reacting like a normal, empathetic, invested human being would to being lied to, betrayed and emotionally mind-fucked = . . . “emotional blackmail”?

    Yes, that’s exactly how they see things. Everything — their own destructive choices, their abusive dishonesty and deception — points back to their being victims of attitudes and behaviors beyond their control.

    • At the peak of my confusion about why my wife had suddenly declared that she was no longer “in love” with me (before I knew about the affair), I decided that what our marriage lacked was honesty and emotional intimacy. I took a day to go on a long hike by myself to get my head together; when I returned my wife asked me how it went. I told her the truth: my head was spinning, I was confused and afraid and upset. Her response? “You are trying to emotionally blackmail me”. She straight up accused me of trying to manipulate her by being honest.

      • You could have said you saw an elephant fly and you would have gotten, “You are trying to emotionally blackmail me.” That’s Cheater code for “hold me accountable.”

      • Yes. Cheater would accuse our children of being manipulative if they cried. When I called to tell him that son was upset and wanted to talk to him he said I was calling to make him feel bad. With that I signed off.

        • Funny how I find this site and all your comments endlessly helpful. I remember just after D-Day which happened to be a week after my dad’s funeral (top bloke huh) I was at his house clearing my family home and his friend called to ask how I was and of course I was just a blubbering, howling, snotty wreck of the ‘I hsve just lost both my parents and partner what the f am I going to do’ proportions. My Ex was exasperated and said here you go again,blowing it totally out of proportion and not facing up to how we got here. IF you would just take a look at blah blah blah. It’s abuse. I am starting to see now, it’s emotional abuse. If your children cry, or I cry or expressed any emotion, especially strong ones I got it right in the neck. Shudder. Bad juju man. Enjoying every day I move away from those days towards meh. Loving Grey Rock. Path to enlightenment. Well fucked off have to coparent with him but don’t have to ever look at him again if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to thinking about incidents like that, of which there were many.

          • “It’s not what I did that’s the problem here. It’s (a) everything that preceded what I did, and (b) your reaction to what I did, that are the real problems here.”

            This is the cheater/narc mantra.

  • I guess it’s my turn to ask if I wrote this … But why pick on my beloved Chicago? Anyway, stop giving a fuck and start the journey to Tuesday. I’m not there myself, it’s more like a late Thursday afternoon or early Friday morning, but I hear it’s great!

    • Ha! Totally.

      I had a friend who moved there and I missed her, so I used to beg her to come home and would tease her about the wisdom of moving to a place where the name is made up of the words “ill” and “annoy”. 😉

      • I agree Yesshesucks! I was born in Chicago. Most of my school years were spent in the suburbs, and one of the great thrills of my childhood was TAKING THE TRAIN TO CHICAGO.

        I think the metaphor works better if it’s take the train to Washington DC, home of liars and cheaters extraordinaire.

        Anyway, Billy, remember this about Swiss friends: they are unlikely to tell the whole truth. First because they aren’t hearing the whole truth from your ex (an expert LIAR), and second because one should question their fidelity to honesty as a guiding principle if they are still friendly with a cheater!

        Not to mention – she may be feeding them woe-is-me crap which she INTENDS for them to pass along to you, hoping you will then be tempted to re-engage with her (more attention!). BLECH.

      • “Ill-annoy” is exactly what I used to write on my return address after I moved to the state. I wonder how many of us have had that thought!

    • HAHa! The only not on point comment, CL, was that anywhere, let alone “loserville” could have better hotdogs than Chicago!!! Their hotdogs rock! But I must say I do not miss the winters;)

  • Chump Lady I needed this SO much today! Thanks, Billy, for sharing your problem.

    I ran into ex-BIL and his wife at a dear uncle’s memorial service. None of them called me when sparkledick abandoned me and I found out about all the cheating. After 38 years of marriage. They disappeared from my life. Zero communication.

    So BIL’s wife greets me lovingly and joyfully. Most probably to look good to my family (my uncle besides well loved, was well connected). I gave her a WTF!? Can-Things-Get-Any-Weirder? look and walked right passed her. But her gall really upset me. I would have preferred so much more that she kept ignoring me. I felt used.

    Used Once More. We shared a weekend place with several BILs for decades! This BIL’s wife never lifted a finger to help, was always pouting about some perceived slight, always having a tantrum. She would delouse her kids at the shared place (that is, besides bringing the lice along to infest the rest of the cousins, her kids screaming like stuck pigs because of the treatment, she expected the rest of the family to help). Etc.

    Like EX, BIL is a complete moron who also cheats, but wife is very wealthy, so he is very careful. And he knows that wife also wants an intact family.

    Let them keep getting off at Chicago.

  • She’s not happy now because cheaters are inherently unhappy. They seek happiness from external sources (people) instead of from internal sources positively affecting the world around them (integrity, character, hard work, humility, etc.)

    They put on a good show, though, when times are good. They appear to have it all together, to love carefree and spontaneously and not bound by society’s rules.

    That’s all an act, though.

    • Spot on! Also, the Switzerland friends sending cheater wife pity party gifts……I’m guessing she is their entertainment and somehow her train wreck of a life makes them feel good. So yes, they would rather keep in touch with the entertaining train wreck rather than the boring play by the rules chump husband. Soon they’ll be bored by the train wreck, ghost her and then she’ll really be miserable.

    • This is why we, as Chumps, need to work to get past pleasing people and worrying about what others think. That keeps us living on that same surface level as the cheaters. The Switzerland types are doing things for Cheater because that is how she relates to people: “What kibbles do you have for me? Pie? A trip to Chicago? A lake house? Dinner out? A chance for me to gaslight you?”

      If it’s true, as stated above that “happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony,” then the road to Meh and our own happiness comes from aligning our own values and actions and words. Untangling the skein of people who are still being gaslighted by a disordered person is not just a waste of time; it keeps us from healing.

        You wrote —

        –If it’s true, as stated above that “happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony,” then the road to Meh and our own happiness comes from aligning our own values and actions and words. Untangling the skein of people who are still being gaslighted by a disordered person is not just a waste of time; it keeps us from healing.–

        THIS^^^ THIS ^^^^

        A very helpful thing to read. I am grateful to you.

  • When I am unhappy I look inward because I have an observing conscience and tend to be introspective and strive to be an insightful person.
    Cheaters are blame-shifters, ergo the cbeating. They point fingers and fail to notice the three fingers pointing back at themselves. Short-cuts appeal to cheaters…daunted by the effort required to have a successful long term relationship, the pea brains of cheaters propel them to run to the Internet to click around and install some new fuckbuddy software. Rest assured there isn’t any “happy” produced by lying and cheating and abusing others.

    Maybe your “wife”, like my “husband” is now finding out that her unhappiness had nothing to do with you and she has taken herself with her to her next gig. She has swapped deck chairs on the Titanic. You get to get into the lifeboat. My “husband” moved out in February because he “had to follow his heart””. I say you have to have a heart first, which I sadly now believe he does not IMHO. He told me recently he is not happy….no surprise. When we grow up, happy is an inside job that requires actions and thoughts that foster happy. Requires looking in the mirror and taking our personal trash to the curb. Character polishing. Not being a liar and a cheater and a thief. It’s all over his head and out of reach for him. Being in a relationship with someone who cheats is being in an abusive relationship and totally short-changing myself. It’s difficult to reconcile who he has revealed himself to be with who I thought he was. He was “unhappy” and his effed-up “solution” pulled our whole family into his Unhappy tar pit with him. Efforts at authentic happy, which are obviously out of his skill set, would have uplifted all of us. My daughter and I are on the long, slow road to healing because of him….no one who understands the real meaning of love would have put us here.

    • …..and I now agree that they are “sole” mates
      (his spelling). They both have gaping holes where the soul should be. Maybe he meant “hole” mates?

      In a million years, I would never date a married man. Therefore I cannot stay married to a man who dates….

    • Excellent agreed my ex husband came from an abusive Mother. He refuses professional help and is a cheater. You must leave the abuse and move forward you deserve better!

    • Resource suggestion here….
      “Just One Thing” by Rick Hanson PhD
      My daughter and I started the lessons today…
      Today’s lesson is BEING FOR YOURSELF.
      A friend from my Friday night 12 step meeting suggested it….it arrived yesterday and is the life ring for today….so grateful. ❤️

  • As someone who grew up in Chicago, I loved your analogy! I survived plenty of frozen blasts while dreaming of some warm utopia. (Actually I ended up moving farther north.) This is always the dilemma when people pursue the “geographical solution” to their unhappiness: the illusion that pulling up stakes and going somewhere else will solve all problems. Or in this case, it’s the “genitalia solution.”

    In certain situations moving to a new town, a new job, a new life IS the best course of action, but that needs to be done clear-eyed, thoughtfully, and with full knowledge of the realities involved. Doing it to find “happiness” is the same magical thinking that cheaters use when justifying their actions – and look how often that fails. So Billy, the fact that your cheater ex is now even more unhappy is perfectly predictable.

    • Getting Wiser is right about the geographical solution.
      I kept hoping I would be happier if only we would move back closer to my hometown where my family and friends lived, thinking I could fill the hole in our relationship with other people. My selfish cheater moved us repeatedly to further his career while I begged him to find a position within 5 hours of “home”. But no positions ever materialized. I kept thinking “If only I had never left home…then our marriage would have survived.” Nope, our marriage would have survived if we had been different people who told the truth about what we needed. He never cared to listen and so I went silent. And I filled my loneliness with hobbies and new friends. Him? With his job and online dating.
      You can be happy anywhere so long as your needs are met. I could have been happy in any of the places we lived if “we” had been better… If I had been better… If he had been better.
      I am now “home” near friends and family, without my STBX and I can tell you that moving back was the right thing for me right now. I was unhappy in all those places because of what I hid inside myself- the minimizing of my needs for the sake of the marriage.

  • Her misery was self created. Often times the ‘separation’ comes after the deed has been done. You’ve got nothing to work with.

    Hire an attorney, secure your residence legally.

  • Real change is hard and making your own cake is part of it. That’s not for the charcter-disordered. Their cake will be custom-made and delivered, for free dammit! When that happens, they bitch and cry.

    You get to make your own cake and appreciate it. For the eventual win.

  • Some people will never be happy and there’s nothing we can do please them. Nothing.

  • Billy,
    The time between when the X said he wanted a divorce and D-Day was 3 weeks. I didn’t find the cheating until after he said he wanted to go find his “happiness”. On the day I found evidence, I was so livid with rage that I threw a beer bottle at his truck as he pulled into our driveway. Other than the shattering of the bottle, there was no harm inflicted on the X or our truck.

    Two days later, the X in the hospital with an allergic reaction/anaphylactic shock due to mold exposure. Long story short – I was barred access to him because he was so mad at me that day (he was with his family) that they didnt want me there. I was even threatened with arrest by the security guard if I didn’t leave the hospital grounds. Not once did I act like a crazy person other than being a wife who was terrified that my husband had died and no one was telling me anything. I just wanted to see him and talk with the doctors about his medical history.

    Later his sinister sister’s husband came out to the parking lot and we chatted some. My BIL has the audacity to tell me that the X was really stressed by the divorce. WTF – he blew my life up and he’s stressed?

    I guarantee that’s he played the self-pity card to everyone. He even told his kids that he cheated to gain sympathy because dear ol’ Dad made a mistake. Can’t he get a hug to make it all better? His life was miserable and now the OW and him had a chance to truly be happy.

    I can tell you that he looks like shit. I don’t know if it’s stress, self-pity or just his bad actions coming to the surface. I look fantastic compared to him! My world was torn apart, I lost X and stepkids, I’m building a new life at the age of 51 – and I still look more alive than him. Trust me, she sucks and she always will.

    • Wow! Almost like mine exactly, said he needed to go be “himself” and “be happy” because I never let him. I didn’t find out about OW for another month. He also looks like crap, he is insisting on trying to grow a beard but it will never come in even, it’s all patchy. I on the other hand have been told that I look fantastic. Ha!

      • Isn’t it funny how we somehow “never let them be happy.” We have these amazing powers to control them and keep them from “being themselves.” But if I really had such amazing powers over my ex I would have used it to make him stop fucking hookers and endangering my life.

        • I would have used my powers to make him notice me – his loving and faithful wife who just wanted a husband to be happy with her.

  • As CL said, she is shallow. Unable or unwilling to do the hard work on herself. So instead she works on finding fuck buddies and works on making people feel sorry for her. Be glad she is gone. Now you are free to do what makes you happy. Go buy yourself something nice! A “I’m free” gift.

  • Dear Billy,

    From one Guy Chump to another:

    Forget about her, start over, and get on with your life.

    Go watch”We Are Marshall” and get started.

  • It’s almost that you can accept the lies and pain, if indeed the stars were aligned and these two cheaters, in the service of love, were together. Long live Love. You were just the thorny vines preventing access to the castle…

    It’s the knowing that your life was blown up for no good reason that makes it so much worse. A whim! Whoops, sorry! I can’t help my brain from going there. AND this aspect of this whole nightmare is more humiliating to me to mention. It swirls deep down inside me and whispers you weren’t worth anything.

    I’m working on this. d

    • This was my experience, exactly, dm. When I threw him out after DDay #2, and he went willingly, I thought perhaps my ex would be happier, without the responsibilities of a family and home, and without me, who saw him clearly. By then I knew he was selfish and immature. (What I never imagined was that he wouldn’t even try to be a good Disney Dad).

      So when he was miserable, later, and complaining about how much he’d ‘lost’ (I did remind him that he didn’t ‘lose’ anything, he threw it all away, very deliberately), it made me particularly bitter. He threw away SO MUCH that I valued, for NOTHING.

      But recognizing that I valued those things, not him, was super helpful. And recognizing that he’s never been happy for more than a couple of months at a time (new job or new woman), and never will be.

      And most importantly, recognizing that his throwing so much away, including me, said NOTHING about the value of any of those things, including me, meant NOTHING about my value, or the value of our kids, our friends, our home, our family relationships. It just meant he’s really, really, really stupid.

      • Karen… I’m also finally starting to realize that my value never changed, it was his disordered view of our value. Me, my son, daughter, home, family, future. Yes those things had value and still do, he just failed to recognize it while searching for fresh sex. But I’m proud of myself for stopping the “why wasn’t I good enough?” narrative and starting the “he is an absolute fuckwad for throwing us away” narrative. It feels much better and it’s absolutely true.

      • KarenE. Yes. It’s really been hard to not judge the value of our life together based on how easily it was thrown away. But you’re right. That is his perspective. Not mine. Family & home are precious. It does just mean he was really stupid. dm

  • The pity is because he is still married and LIVING WITH HIS WIFE! It all boils down to money. They might be soulmates but he isn’t budging from that house until he gets his share of the sale. Ah, true love. You can’t beat it.

    • Yep it takes alot of external resources to keep the “twu luv” alive. Otherwise, well you know…reality.

    • They are also not getting a dose of reality because the two cheaters are not living together yet. Just wait… lol!

  • Billy-

    I hear you! I’m a lot longer out than you (just about 3 years now) but I am still amazed at XW’s inability to own her own choices. I don’t get self-pity from her (though I’m pretty sure it’s there), only rage, but the impact is the same: how could you nuke two families and then not even be happy at the end? What was the point if you’re not even happy now?

    The truth is she jettisoned me because she is an unhappy person. She was going through a crisis. She had changed her job and hometown … and yet, six months later, she was still unhappy. She looked around and decided that her husband must be the culprit, so she swapped me out for a new one (younger, hipper, etc.) – but on the inside she is still the same person. Who knows? Maybe a few years of therapy will deliver some insight. Or maybe she’ll decide that she needs to finish cleaning house and she’ll get rid of the last vestiges of her old life (our three kids).

    She has absolutely iron willpower, so she’s going to cling to her new relationship for all it’s worth to show the world that she didn’t make a mistake, but the rage simmering beneath the surface shows that her head doesn’t lie easy.

    As for you: there’s no perfect solution here. Minimize contact, minimize information about her life, rebuild your own life and keep yourself as busy as possible. Very few people really change their core nature – it requires immense effort and introspection, not cheaters’ strong suits – so you’re going to be stuck with this behavior from her for a long time. Treat every interaction as a source of danger so you’re not cold-cocked by the rage or self-pity. (To remind myself I put the “Danger Will Robinson” robot as XW’s pic on Messenger). And remember: in the end, she is stuck living with herself. You’re out.

    • “She was going through a crisis. She had changed her job and hometown … and yet, six months later, she was still unhappy. She looked around and decided that her husband must be the culprit, so she swapped me out for a new one”

      That’s exactly how I felt. Ex was unhappy. He bought an airplane. Still unhappy. He quit his high paying job to be a SAHD because they didn’t appreciate him. Still unhappy. He wanted to move back to his home state because he loved his home state and hated the state we lived in so I got a job in his home state so he could live where he wanted to live. Still unhappy. He was fast tracked for a new career as a flight instructor (his other goal after he quit his high paying job). Still unhappy. I guess he looked around and said “I have the job I want in the state I want but I am still unhappy. What’s left? Oh yeah, I forgot to swap out the wife”. At that point he went looking for my replacement because if he was still unhappy it must be my fault. He was running out of other things to blame. Now he has the job he wanted in the state he wanted and is with the woman he wanted. He still isn’t happy, however, and he has nothing left to give up to make it all better. Sucks to be him.

      • Yeah, I’m wondering how I’m still making him unhappy after he left 9 years ago from over here in France while he’s living “happily” back in the States with his twu wuv. Damn that power I have!

  • I finally made the big announcement to friends and family that this is not a marriage and it is done. There are a lot of shared friends but I no longer live in the same area, so I am ok if he ends up with them, I am busy building a new life.

    I know some have reached out solely to him- he shared this- and that’s beyond ok. All of this is ok. Because we get Tuesday. They will keep clamouring for the next cookie

    • Yeah, CreativeRational!! I have been hoping for this freedom day for you for some time!! Now you get to live the authentic life you so richly deserve.

      • Tempest, I know you have been watching and waiting for this for a long time. I appreciate your care so much. You have been a huge influence and cheerleader for me.

        In the recent melee, a couple of our shared friends have planned a trip out to visit me for a girls weekend. One knows everything. The other knows the tidy ‘we are divorcing, it’s private, don’t pick sides’. But she is the one who suggested the trip, to the one who knows all. And who am I to deny them a weekend in the big city? Bring on the fun. And probably too many cocktails.

  • Cheaters are all self-importance and no self-reflection … until of course self-reflection improves their self importance. When they learn a little feigned self-reflection will improve their chance of kibble disbursement, well then, they’ve “spent a lot of time and introspection figuring themselves out.”

    Hindsight is the perception of the nature of an event after it has happened. Cheaters conveniently use hindsight to twist the nature of an event to make it fit into their sad sausage/ victim narrative.
    They are the ones in control of said events (cheating), their perceptions aren’t formed by deception, camouflaged information, concealment, etc. Their perceptions are based on real time information and actions they control.

    Hindsight is simply the invented reflection cheaters use to create bias for their benefit.

    Hindsight bias decreases one’s rational thinking. When a person experiences strong emotions, it in turn decreases rational thinking.
    Another negative consequence of hindsight bias is the interference of one’s ability to learn from experience, as a person is unable to look back on past decisions and learn from mistakes.
    A third consequence is a decrease in sensitivity toward a victim by the person who caused the wrongdoing. The person demoralizes the victim and does not allow for a correction of behaviors and actions.

    1. recently acquired knowledge influences the recollection of past information. (Aka… I didn’t choose to cheat, I must have been super unhappy, because all that reflection I’ve done now makes me realize I’m unhappy! It has nothing to do with the fantasy of a new fabulous life (twu-love) I’ve built up in my head, that has failed miserably. My unhappiness post dates those events, so must be my spouses fault.
    2. New information combined with rejection of past memories can confirm behavior and delusional belief. (I’m unhappy, therefore I must have been the victim of a horrible spouse!)
    3. Encouraging people to explicitly think about counterfactual information. (Yes, I cheated, but my spouse denied me sex that one time back in 1992. All these years I’ve carried a hidden hurt, that until recently, when I started boinking Tom, Dick and Harry, had lay dormant in my psyche. So you see, I am really the victim here).

    When you stop trying to untangle the skein, life becomes so much clearer.

  • Dear Billy, the winning troffe of divorcing a cheater is that you rid yourself of parasitic “friends”.
    This is true gift! This storm of cheating clears waters and helps you see who has values and who doesn’t.
    You are better off those ppl.
    CL is right: enjoy your freedom!

  • I first read it here from Luziana: They are leaky buckets. You can pour anything into them, including being a complete doormat and playing years of humiliating pick-me polka, and they will turn on their heel and announce how completely inadequate it all is and how you are the root of all evil in their lives.

    My X asshat is certainly a leaky bucket who is unable to feel gratitude about his life or circumstance. He had an objectively wonderful family with a faithful, loving, scratch-cooking, high earning wife. He got to do anything he pleased and I never nagged him. I was an excellent appliance.

    He had 2 smart and lovely daughters who are well-scrubbed young ladies with great empathy for people, have new college degrees, and bright futures, and who worshipped him. He could do no wrong in their eyes. He had a job where he was respected and made contributions to the world. He had health and sanity in this environment.

    He threw it all away and moved to Europe to be with the 25YO sparkletwat co-worker (eldest daughter’s age). He now doesn’t have a relationship with his daughters at all; they see he is a completely selfish dick.

    I don’t think he is happy. Knowing him as I do, I bet he is doubting his choices every single day and the anxiety and depression he was prone to in the marriage still walks with him as his shadow does. He self-righteously declared that he “had to tear some things down to find a happier place for himself” as he nuked his family. He fully expected his daughters to fall in line and accept his choices as viable outcomes in his pursuit of self actualization. Let’s all hate Mom, OK? Nope.

    Daughters and I look at his life now and just see shit that is torn down.

    I am sure he still blames me for how it all turned out.

    • I love that your daughter’s see through that! No! he is not happy. They’re never happy. I say no 25 yr old dates a man old enough to be her father for love or sex. He is a paycheck.

  • I’ve heard my cheater is unhappy. I’m at meh a long time ago but I always knew that he would be unhappy in no time because he’s one of those that is never satisfied. With anything. Ever.

  • I love this so much. It is true, they do not want really want to go to Chicago. Chicago is cold and they have all the same responsibilities, more in fact, but their money doesn’t buy as much as it did in Loserville. So what do they do to cover up the fact that they made a massive error? They blame the chump, and involve the chump in never-ending divorce and post-divorce legal action. They tell everyone that Chicago would be better if the chump was or was not doing x, y and z. They have the sadz from evil chump who didn’t appreciate having everything she worked for stolen and taken to Chicago.

  • I’m 2.5 years out of my divorce. I told him if he wants his freedom to live and love his OW then go. He paid for all the divorce proceedings and got what he wanted. Last I heard they are playing house in a small town up way north in Minnesota. They have their love to keep them warm. I’ve heard he has had some bad health issues but as far as I’m concerned OW is there to help his sad ass through it. I did my share and he tends to be monster when sick and injured. Funny thing after I heard about his health issues I didn’t give a fat rat’s ass. I didn’t feel anything. I guess I’m on my way to MEH!!

  • Argh!!! This just chaps my ass! Billy, I feel for you. Mine ran off for the 10 years younger 10 lbs thinner Schmoopie. Five months later I asked him “Are you happy now? Sad sausage look “No”. “What? How could you not be happy? You’re future was looking so bright (his words)?!?” Puppy dog eyes and head hanging. Come to find out he broke up with Schmoopie. For a whole 5 months the grass was greener. Asshat.

    They’re insane. But chew on this for a minute: As CL says, her narrative changes depending who she’s talking to.
    Switzerland friend conversation = “my feelings are all over the place, I feel so bad for my chump and family but I was so miserable and AP was so understanding and supportive but my feelings are SO CONFUSED because ILHBINILWH anymore.” *Sniff* Thus the gifts because, you know, she has a sadz.

    Affair partner conversation=“ I’m so happy we’re together, thanks for taking me away from that verbally abusive jerk who I couldn’t stand to be around.” *sexy smile and lingerie falling to the floor*

    Conversation with your kids =“Daddy is a great guy and we’re going to work together as a team to still be your mommy and daddy *WE* just decided *TOGETHER* to not be married any more but we’re still great friends.” *Pffft whatevs*

    Conversation with the attorney: “Yes absolutely I want every dollar of child support, alimony, the house and all of his retirement account, I mean, he makes way more than I do and I’m a single mom now?!?!!!!!!!” He’s so mean to me these days.” *sob*

    So manipulative. My cheater is this way too. Beware when she comes crying back to you a year down the road. Big soggy alligator tears. Nope, not today, this grass grew back and it is way greener than you ever imagined! What fertilizer do I use these days you ask? It’s called Freedom, works like magic!

  • At the beginning, my exW gave me a bunch of ridiculous excuses, then wrapped it all up by telling me to “blame myself.” Ultimately though, she just settled on her not being “happy.” “I’m not happy, you’re not happy, why can’t we be happy…..I hope someday you’re happy.”

    If you’ve ever watched Ren and Stimpy, the song that would go through my head when she’d say that crap — Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! And I’d have the visuals of Ren beating his head with a sledgehammer, etc.

    Anyway, since her married BF decided to stay with his wife, my ex’s train to Chicago ended up somewhere on the south side instead of on Michigan Avenue. It’s a shame, but since we have school-aged kids, I have no choice but to deal with it for a few more years. So the quest to relive high school…………errr, find happiness………..shall continue!

  • Dude, you came to right place. This might not be Nirvana but it is up the road. 5 years out and life is awesome. Kids are doing great. Ex is hiding out with Ms. BumFuck or whoever is his main squeeze these days. Basically he is irrelevant. Hang on. Not a fun ride but you will survive because you are the real parent partner etc. Life will improve.


  • Oh yes…the unhappiness of fuckwits. I remember that. *yawn* That was my ex’s primary excuse for his behavior: “I was increasingly unhappy in the marriage.” I bought it after DDay #1 and pick-me danced for four looooooong years until DDay #2. When he started to trot out the “I was increasingly…” excuse yet again I stopped him and said I didn’t want to hear it. That time I KNEW it was bullshit because I had been doing all the things he said would make him happy the first time. Four fucking years of pick-me dancing is a hell of a dance marathon and I was DONE with it. Even after the divorce ex was still singing the unhappiness song to anyone who would listen which did not include me. Somewhere along the way I figured out that during the marriage there were two people who were concerned with ex’s happiness – him and me, and there were zero people concerned with my happiness. As far as I’m concerned, his happiness or lack thereof, is just another area of “wifing” I opted out of when I decided the marriage was over. It’s very freeing when you realize that we are each only responsible for our own happiness.

    • This! I pick-me danced HARD after DDay #, lost 60lbs in a year, resolved to not ask him to do chores and instead made myself a daily schedule to spend an hour a day cleaning (so he could have more time to pursue interests) and i hung out with him all-the-time.It got to the point where my therapist asked me what i liked to do and i honestly told her “i don’t know” and she asked what i wanted and i said “singularity”.

      And then I stopped because it was exhausting and i couldn’t keep it up. No matter what i tried to do to make him happy he just kept moving the goal posts. And if i was ever unhappy I was “exhausting” and drove him away. I had to be very concerned about his happiness and he had very little concern for mine. He talked a good game that he “did everything for me” but this is from the man who told me “You have to go to therapy and make yourself happy or I don’t know if i can be in this marriage anymore” when i was sad because i found out he had cheated 3 months prior……

      So i went to therapy and started to find myself and realize how much toxicity i was letting into my life and how much of a fucking doormat i was being. And started doing my own hobbies, and reconnecting with my friends and not running around being homemaker of the year.

      DDay number 2 came along 2.5 years later and i didn’t pick-me dance at all, i left. Less then a month out and i feel good. The person i was after the first DDay was a shell of a women who was miserable and anxiety-ridden. Right now i feel normal, which is amazing.

      If you ask soon-to-be ex the problem with our marriage was my reaction to what he did, perception is reality. It’s funny how I’m not there “reacting” to the marriage anymore and he’s still miserable because the girl he was chatting with this time around doesn’t actually want to be with him so now he has to start over (all the sadz). 2 weeks after i left he friend requested 2 dozen single women on fb and multiple ppl noticed and asked me about it…so i can’t imagine he’s any happier now.

    • My therapist clued me in on the X’s behavior. He’s always been very concerned about his own happiness but not so much mine. I get that I’m responsible for my happiness but he doesn’t even understand that he can derive happiness from making others happy – like making me dinner, helping around the house, doing something just for me that doesn’t require me to return the favor.

      For the past two years, I’ve been stressed. He was ignoring me, and I was increasingly concerned about my late mother’s health. I stopped tending to his emotional needs as I just didn’t have anything left to give. It never occurred to him that maybe I needed some emotional support. Nope, he just saw it as me not tossing him kibbles.

      I will never forgot that there were times in our marriage that I needed emotional support like my mother’s passing while I was still living in our house post divorce announcement and D-Day. He couldn’t even be bothered to ask me how I was doing or if I needed anything. The one time inour marriage that I really needed him, he was nowhere to be found.

      • Great reminder…YES. When the going got tough, he bailed.
        He was very concerned about what he was getting, and was accommodated when he actually spoke up, while I was ignored so often even when I actually expressed a need….I couldn’t even get a new tool box for our garage while he spent six or seven figures on new machines for our business without even discussing with me…

      • When my father had terminal cancer and was very ill the ex said that my father had no ‘worth’ to him anyway. Then later, after his death, the ex tried to console me over my loss. It did not fly. I saw it as a fake attempt to look like he cared.

        • After my dad’s funeral we were going to eat at my sister’s. The Twat went off down the pub, came back roaring drunk about 4 hours later looking for a fight. At his own dad’s funeral in the States only one son was able to go. I only learned many years later that he was drunk there too and on the day they were due to fly back to Europe he was SO paralytic drunk that the neighbour who drove them to the airport hung around in case he was refused boarding. They allowed him on board but my 18 year old son had to deal with that crap too.

          • We flew into a faraway town for my father’s funeral. My father and I had a difficult relationship, but he was my father and I loved him. The day before the funeral, he went golfing with my sister’s (now ex) husband. Then he went to a party (WTAF!? We knew no one but my relatives in the town) and came back to my grieving mother’s home falling-down drunk. The day of the funeral, he was still drunk and suffering from a hangover. So no comfort or consolation from him, instead he needed comfort and care from me and my mother. To make it worse, I was still trying to get over the most recent DDay. So there is no situation in which the needs of others SHOULD come first for these disordered jerks. They will never rise to the occasion; they just stay sunk in their pits of selfishness and disregard and disrespect. It hurts to realize that you can never come first or second or are anywhere on their mind, ever. There is nothing that they will (can?) do to help anyone other than themselves.

  • This question, this dilemma, has festered in my mind for almost two years. I really needed this. Thank you.

  • x and ow spent ten years and many happy hours dreaming of the day her kids would be teenagers and they could finally escape from their torturous marriages and embark on their new lives together. Their stolen moments together were spent showing each other their best selves, hoarding money, definitely not reality based. When they glowingly told her kids that my husband was going to be their new dad ( while us spouses were still in the dark), they were shocked that the kids were not thrilled. Undeterred they stepped over that bump in the road and decided they needed to leave the state to pursue their happiness. Which they did, leaving town while the spouses were at work. Alas they soon realized that they had not stolen enough money to keep them in the lifestyle that they formerly had. Being narcs they failed to realize their respective lifestyles were provided by the horrible spouses. They were forced to come back and outside of the few Switzerland friends who had kept their secrets, they were shocked to find that the rest of our community didn’t approve. Shocked to find their stoic spouses were done with them and getting on with their lives. Reality set in real fast. They didn’t last 6 months. They have been stuck in self pity and rage ever since unable to understand what went wrong. And have concurred it must be the spouses fault. Unhappy people take their unhappiness with them wherever they go. They can’t find happiness within themselves and don’t have the strength to forge on like chumps do. There is a big difference between a side piece and a lifelong partner.

  • Chump Lady,

    This column really helped to explain the “Why” behind the “Why did he get on that train?” debate that’s been going on between the left and the right hemispheres of my brain.

    However, how does one explain the cheater buying a ticket to Chicago, and once they’ve arrived, they love it! They find an apartment, get a job, start eating deep-dish pizza, build a great social life, blah blah blah. Gee, they sure SEEM happy… no pity parties needed here!

    Does this mean that being at home with you truly DID suck? That you were, in fact, everything they claimed you were (a shitty partner who didn’t meet their needs)? Or is all of their newfound “happiness” just another way of delivering impression management?

    My XH of 40 years left me for his married coworker. He devalued, discarded and ultimately divorced me, and she quickly followed suit with her own unsuspecting spouse of 40 years. They not only bought tickets to Chicago, they reserved a berth in the sleeping car! Apparently, they’d started their affair 6 months before he even had the decency to tell me he was “unhappy” and within 3 days, poof, he was gone; that was 6 years ago. Not only are they still together, but they got married 11 months ago and are living in the posh riverfront condo she got as part of the divorce settlement from her wealthy attorney XH. It sure seems like they MEANT to get on that train to Chicago!

    The good news is, I’ve built myself a wonderful life without him, and feel incredibly blessed that I didn’t spend my remaining years living with someone who obviously wasn’t committed (waaaaay better to be single). And thanks to my going Zero Contact 4 1/2 years ago, there is no ongoing communication… just like Jack Dawson’s frozen body slowly disappearing into the cold waters of the Atlantic, the more that time goes on, the less I think of him; very rarely do I allow him to take up any mental real estate.

    But today’s column made me wonder just how often this scenario really happens… how often do these horrible people actually get on the right train and couldn’t be happier once they arrive at their destination? I’ve heard various statistics that say the chance of the cheater and AP getting married is less than 5%, and them staying together for the long term is even lower. Is that correct?

    • MyRedSandals, I get this. I am 4 years out also (3 years divorced and NC) Mine did not last with OW but married very soon after the divorce to someone else (we know this because her daughter contacted my sons to let them know) He has a lucrative new job, new house, new wife and two new step children (discarded my sons). They got my lake house in the divorce (it was my favorite place) and I got all the responsibility and as a stay at home mother, the stress of rebuilding financially with my two sons.

      But you are right, after reading about Chris Watts (killed pregnant wife and two kids) I count my blessings that I got out with just broken ribs. My life is better because he is gone not despite it. That being said, I find it hard to respond to people telling me he will one day be sorry, if he is not sorry does that mean I was a bad wife? I feel like people are struggling to find a way to blame me at times. He will just get angry with me, but not sorry for his choices, he is broken.

      Why wish bad Karma on him, I always tell people just pray for me that good karma finds me and my sons. So far we have been very blessed in this new life.

      • TheBestMe:

        I’m fortunate in that my XH never physically abused me; I’m so sorry you had to go through that!

        No, his methods were limited to cheating (the Howorker he married was AP #14, though I doubt she knows that), and what turned out to be a raging addiction to porn. As I’ve said here before, in order to hide his top secret double life, he developed first class skills of deception that would make a KGB agent blush.

        As far as people telling you “One day, he’ll be sorry”… The version I heard was “One day, he’ll wake up and have an ‘Oh shit, what have I done?’ moment”. No matter the version, what difference does it make? He can have all of the “Oh shit” moments that he wants, but that will never undo what he did, that will never restore the trust he broke, and that will never entice me to “be friends” (and he still doesn’t understand why that hasn’t happened). While I don’t purposefully wish him harm, I also don’t purposefully wish him well. In fact, I wish him nothing at all. I’m not sure if that qualifies for “Meh”, but it is what it is.

        If you believe in a higher power, then your job now is to carry-on with your own beautiful life, love your sons endlessly, and leave the justice to Someone better equipped to dole out the appropriate punishment. ❤️

        • I was going to respond to your previous post by saying I am only aware of one marriage lasting that started out as an affair 40 odd years ago. It was my friend’s father and he left her mother for his secretary. So cliche I know. My perception was he was very happy (even years later) with AP but AP seemed rather sad to me like she accepted her fate. I think both regret what happened (although later on) to their kids during the affair and divorce. Finances were bad after cheater had a string of failed businesses. OWife had to work to support the household. OWife still has a strained relationship with her adult kids as they stayed & sided with their Dad. Neither were bad people (just very weak) and to be honest my friend’s mother was a real pill of course there are other decent ways to end a marriage so I am not excusing him. Owife’s ex husband inherited a fortune shortly after the divorce so there was some karma involved. Reading your second post I can say that there is no way in hell your ex and OWife will live happily ever after. They may give that appearance but a porn addicted cheater is never going to be happy or sustain a normal relationship. It’ll only last as long as OWife is ok with being miserable and looks the other way or cheater finds someone else, like a younger woman that assumes he has $$$ due to his residence.

          • I don’t wish him ill or well – like you say I just don’t wish him anything EXCEPT that he either stays with Schmoopie (or finds another one) because when he realizes he still isn’t happy I know he will try to be back here sobbing on my doorstep declaring his undying love for me and how I have to take him back. The good news is that he can NEVER move back to France (gave up his residence and could probably end up in jail) so it will never happen. Yay me, out of that violent bastard’s clutches!

          • TheBestMe: ironically, there’s another aspect to the story of me and She Who Drifted that might give you some comfort, even if it its quite bitter for me to swallow. You see, when my X and I met she was with someone else. I mean, yeah, we were both young then and she wasn’t married or had kids. But even so, she was in a long-term, committed relationship. I was single and, truth be told, what she did with her new Twu Luv is like God decided to become a Hollywood Producer and say “Hey! That was romantic! Let’s do a shitty remake – except this time, let’s make the guy married too!” Seriously, the messages I uncovered that led to D Day1 were almost word for word copies of how she reeled me in back then.

            I have to live with and own that now. Okay, I didn’t cheat myself but I was essentially a schmoopie myself. I warned her off and told her to stay with him. I told her I’d only be with her if she was single. And I held that side of the bargain. She left him first. But, in hindsight, I was absolutely feeling a Hero who was saving some poor Damsel from her Insensitive Chump, not realising I was just a new source of kibbles.

            The point of this? We were married for 10 years. Up until just over a year ago I felt smug. No midlife crisis for me! Ain’t life pretty grand? Two gorgeous kids! A decent job I enjoy! A wife I love and, most importantly, is my best frien… oh… hang on…

            So it goes to show. You can be happy for 10 years if the kibbles keep on coming and life don’t get too hard. But when it does (and it will – this is Life, everyone gets sick or old) then *poof* they’re gone. All it means is that I was a very good contortionist for a long time. I was “good” at neglecting my own happiness. Go me.

            And if you’ve not been in contact with them for a long time, who knows how they are now? Could be they’re good at Impression Management but complete toxic in private. Who knows?

  • My soon-to-be ex loves to complain to me that “no one is reaching out to ask him how he is” or that “this is hard for him too” and then him-and-haw about how he knows friends are coming over to help me move etc., and wont talk to him.

    I simply change the topic and do not engage in the self-pity.

    In reality, i’d love to tell him that it’s because 14 years and 2 kids wasn’t important enough for him to not spend his free time finding himself girlfriends and disrespecting our marriage vows on the regular. And that I’m lucky that some people in our lives also find his actions fucking stupid.

    But, i keep it to myself. He’s shown his true character in a multitude of ways and i just keep a running list of the moments to reread whenever i start to feel some pity. He’s never going to take responsibility for cheating on me and utterly refusing to connect his actions with my reactions and that is what it is. Some gems in the past month include:

    “I only drank so much because i was unhappy with our marriage”
    “I never cheated on you because I never actually had sex with them” (apparently ignoring your wife and kids to chat online with women all day and hid it and even go on dates with them doesn’t count)
    “Maybe one day I’ll understand this from your perspective”
    “You can’t tell people i cheated, because it makes me the bad guy”
    “You’re to blame for this too” (not sure what i did to make him go on dates with a 20yo *eyeroll*

    He’s miserable now and will continue to be because that’s the path in life he’s currently choosing, I’m no longer on that train with him and it works for me. If he wants to be a lonely alcoholic who jumps from 20-something to 20-something then that’s on him. I’ve got 2 amazing kids, a good job, a new apartment and a network of friends and family who have been by my side and supportive in ways i couldn’t have imagined. I’m one of the lucky ones.

    I finally moved into my own place a week ago and i have to tell you i don’t walk on eggshells anymore in my own home. I finally feel like i cant breath and that is worth whatever dumb shit he needs to say to try and pull himself out of his own misery. if he’s angry the truth makes him look like a bad guy, let him..I’m no longer responsible for him and it’s pure joy.

    • ^^^^This!!! Yes! My ex-husband would throw himself a pity party at every opportunity. He was upset because “our” friends were reaching out to support me and our son. His “feelings were hurt” because a member of his family reached out to me and “took my side” instead of his. Couldn’t people see how hard this was on him too?! Couldn’t people see how much he suffered?! I mean, he was practically forced to cheat on me because he thought I was cheating on him. . . for 20 years. . . with his best friend. Complete bullshit! According to him, this was all my fault because I “didn’t love him enough”. Give me a break!!

      I didn’t force him online to find a girlfriend 10 years younger than me! I didn’t force him to completely neglect his wife and son for over year while courting internet girlfriend unbeknownst to me. All I did was try to figure out why he was acting so weird and bend over backwards trying to make him happy.

      He’s a miserable fool and he will continue to be so because that’s the life he’s chosen for himself. I’m with you 2timechump–I’m free and I LOVE it!! I’ve got an awesome kid, a good job, the best family and friends a person could ask for, and way less drama and stress in my life now that he’s gone. And the best part is, he completely did this by himself so I carry zero guilt or shame because it’s not mine to bear. When he walked out 10 months ago to live with his girlfriend from the internet, I thought I lost everything; it felt like my life was falling apart. But I can happily say now that I’m most certainly the winner and I have put the pieces back together better than they ever were to begin with.

      He can say whatever he wants to his new friends to make himself look like the victim, I honestly don’t care because I know I won. The people who matter to me know the truth. As shitty as it was to have to go through it, I thank him now for what he did because my life is infinitely better without him in it. You truly don’t realize the weight of the burden you carry until it’s gone.

      Cheers to freedom! And cheers to you 2timechump 🙂

  • Well, the thing is they are the authors of their own unhappiness. They blame the chump, society, the government, their hamster who never lived up to expectations in terms of cuddling, whatever… but they live in such a way that happiness is impossible. My cheater spent money like a drunk sailor, got into debt, stole money, but spent that too, never paid the mortgage, got foreclosed on… And he had all these dreams of owning a luxury boat and a mansion. So of course his life never lived up to the fantasy. It’s a physical impossibility. But all that was my fault, you see. I didn’t make enough money. He had expected more, and he was very disappointed. But what are the odds that he is happier now? Same job, same expenses, still no luxury boat. He can’t be happy when he can’t be content. They just want life to offer things that life can’t provide–unlimited fun with no responsibility.

    • Yes, they live in a way that happiness is not possible. Mine turned over every stone to have the family home. Now, my once lovely house is a bloody wreck. Lawn full of weeds, paint peeled, roof rotted. Just like him. They can’t seem to maintain. They can only chase the next rainbow.

      • Agreed. My ex would always yell at me that the laundry was never done and the pets were never picked up after and a long list of other to-dos that weren’t done to his standard. he’d help with when the mood struck. Now that he’s alone in that house it’s more than messy and he can’t keep it up for the life of him.

        And he used to say that he was the only one who cleaned…

        Now I’m in a neat, tidy place of my own and he’s in a mess

  • Thank you for this letter. My x seems blissful in his new life: younger second wife who is prettier and fitter and slimmer than I, cute baby, continued career successes… from all I can see and from what I’ve heard, he can scarcely believe his good luck and thanks his lucky stars that he cheated on and left me. I always imagined it would hurt less if he didn’t seem quite so happy with the way things turned out, but today’s post reminds me that betrayal hurts whether the cheater ends up pleased or dissatisfied.

    • TC, it really doesn’t matter whether or not the x is now the most blissful human being who ever lived or the most miserable, or at any other point along the continuum… what’s essential is that this no longer has anything to do with you. His “blissful” life could change in an instant. Or not. He could be as happy as he seems on the “outside.” Or not. The karma bus may come tomorrow, or in five years, or never. In any case, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Please believe this. It doesn’t matter to YOUR ability to make your own life and your own happiness! But you need to stop giving importance to what you think you see or hear about him… in fact you need to stop that entirely and go NC, which is the only way out of these painful imaginings.

    • Your ex is as happy as a shallow, superficial cheater can be. No one of any quality ditches their loyal mate.

  • Sounds like you could use a big bucket of ice cold delicious No Contact, round about now.

    You know WAAAY too much about her alleged mental state, which is not your circus, and definitely not your monkeys.

    And get some new friends. Switzerland friends aren’t good for anyone who isn’t trying trying to hide large sums of money.

    • NC is the only way. Pain shopping is not good for me. I think about him enough. I sure as hell don’t need to know what’s going on in his life.

  • Billy,

    Loose the Switzerland Friends P.R.O.N.T.O!

    You should have no earthly idea of what they are exchanging with your STBX. That they share this with you is an arrow straight from her to you.

    Please brush up on the idea of No Contact and practice it (discussing only kids schedules). No Contact includes anyone who can invest in any way in your abuser (newsflash: STBX is an Abuser).

  • Ah, the misery of having an ex who is a pro at impression management. Good people (and I assume that includes most chumps) by and large do not worry about whether someone else thinks they’re good. They do the right thing because it is the right thing, and assume most people will figure it out. Cheaters and other people with bad character are often really, really good at impression management. I guess they have to be. They’re really great at manipulating others, and making the rest of the town feel sorry for them and/or buy their brand of rotten baloney.
    My ex is so good at this, she should really be in marketing. She plays the “sad-but-scrappy-and-determined” single mom role so well, she has people paying for her vacations. She ran a race out of town a few years ago, and instead of having people donate to the charity associated with it, she got them to pay for her fees and her hotel. She went to France last year on someone else’s nickel. A couple of months ago, she took the kids on a luxury cruise to Alaska for a week. It was probably $6,000 or more (she makes about $50,000/year), and presumably someone else picked up at least part of the tab, here. As I understand it, she puts up sad stories about how broke she is on social media, and people who follow her feel compelled to give her money. The fact that these gullible people don’t notice this poor-as-church mouse mom is jet-setting everywhere boggles the mind. It really grinds my gears, considering that I’m forced to pay her almost $1000/month in child support for 50/50 custody.
    Meanwhile, I get snarky comments and dirty looks wherever I go. The lies that are told about me and what she did could fill a book. I was told by my barber 3 years ago to go someplace else as it was so mean of me to divorce my ex.

    PS A couple more random observations…if the OM is still living with his spouse, he’s just using that woman for cake, not really “leaving.” By the same token, it was good of you, Billy, to make her just go for good. A “trial separation” is really “I’m going to fool around with the other guy, and if it doesn’t work out, you’re plan B.”

    • Ah, yes. The ordeal of the single mother. My XW has been trading on that for a couple of years (implications that I physically and financially abused her included). Now, though she’s engaged and her AP-cum-fiancé is with her most of the time that she has the kids, she still calls herself a single mother.

      XW is pretty active on a “single academic mothers” facebook group. By pure coincidence, OBS (now an actual single mother thanks to my XW’s blowing up her marriage) posted on a related facebook group, asking that people not redirect her to the single mothers page because the woman who’d wrecked her marriage posts there. No identifying information, no way for this to ever get associated with XW personally, but XW went full nuclear and reported OBS for cyber-bullying, got her thread expunged and her account banned from facebook. Rage, rage, rage.

      • Oh the horrors of having an affair and then having to live with the repercussions!! She must really have it hard. /s

  • Yeah, ex kept acting all sad about the divorce too in spite of the fact that he was all gaga over Schmoopie and made it clear that he had no interest in reconciling with me. I had a family counselor tell me “he’s hurting too”. Well then why the hell was he making the choices he was making if it was making him so damn sad? Why should I care if my abuser’s abuse makes him sad?

    Now, almost a year after the divorce was final, I had to go to ex’s sister’s B-day party an hour early so I wouldn’t overlap with ex and Schmoopie. Evidently this was to avoid “hurt feelings”. At first I thought SIL was worried about my feelings, but it turns out she was actually worried about Schmoopie’s feelings. Schmoopie might be hurt if she saw her boyfriend’s family interacting with his ex in a positive way. Poor selfish self-centered slutty thing. We wouldn’t want her feelings hurt. Now that I think about it, it might not even be her feelings that are the issue, maybe it is ex’s feelings that might get hurt. He got his undies all in a bunch when I didn’t think to invite him to the brunch I had with his Mom, sister plus niece and nephew. Obviously I would not have invited Schmoopie if I had thought to include him. I am sure her feelings would have been hurt if he had gone without her but he didn’t seem too concerned about that, just his own hurt feelings at being left out. Either way, it is ridiculous and I think his sister agrees, but she is trying to keep the peace and I don’t want her to feel like she is stuck in the middle. No need for her to be in the triangle.

    Oh yeah, and that was the other thing that bothered me. While I was visiting, my niece (I still claim her as my niece) asked me “why did you break up with uncle ex?” She probably meant it in a “why did the two of you break up” way but she made it sound like I was the one who broke up with him when from my perspective he broke up with me. None of this was my idea. I told her that was a complicated question that I really couldn’t answer.

    • It’s not complicated. I think telling the truth but not editorializing is totally appropriate for almost all age groups.

      ‘We got divorced because he had an affair, and he didn’t want to reconcile with me. Out of my control, I’m afraid. Pass the butter?’

  • To the OP, maybe she was never happy (it was nothing you did or didn’t do) and perhaps she isn’t capable of being happy …or event content.

    As to the presents from Switzerland friends, I’ll never understand why people get ‘rewarded’ for painting themselves in a corner, but some folks really are that manipulative. Trust that she’s not telling these Switzerland friends the whole truth or is spinning the truth.

    Keep breathing and hang in there.

  • Three years later and my cheater is no happier but by gosh! I sure am!

    As I watched him bolt I knew he’d be no happier but why tell him and ruin my joy

  • It has been a year since dday and I used be stuck in why does he get everything- his family and friends (who all shunned me and my daughter) And a brand new house and business. Now I think – I have the right people around me and the love and respect of my children whom I adore and my beautiful granddaughter that they have no relationship with. So I am the winner ❤️❤️

  • I have to comment. What a perfect post today CL. Its on my Bday no-less.

    My XW went figuratively and literally to Chicago*; with affair #1. Chicago must be too loud, cause she then went to Iowa figuratively and literally for another go at forbidden love.

    Then –apparently– Iowa isn’t all that great since she’s no longer w/ that OM. I guess there was break-up drama and stuff.

    You know what? I don’t know the details. You know why? CN and no-contact.
    DDaughter says she’s seeing someone local now.

    Untangling the thread is a hard-hard task. Untangling the thread of Swiss-friends is equally as hard; why would they not see the injustice of it?

    Its a long road to Meh. But I’m so much further along than I was a year ago.
    I would say to the new chump stumbling upon CN with all the bomb-blast ringing in their ear; “it gets better.”

    *I was born/raised in Chi-town. So love to all the Bear fans….except that one….

    • My Boyfriend is from Chi-town. We went to the Vikings/Bears game at Soldier Field last October. Believe it or not that was his first time at Soldier Field. And attending a football game as a matter of fact. Vikes won 🙂 🙂 Boo Bears….. LOL

  • Funny. She always talked about having missed out on life getting married young. No parties and a lack of sex partners. So at 40 she decided to rectify that. During those years, she did not become a happier person. Just more angry and bitter.

    • Sorry for your pain. Mr. Magoo and I were married very young. We had two kids before I was 22 years old. I didn’t drink or party. At all. I had my first alcoholic beverage at 38. This was after my first discovery of a long-term affair. I started drinking as part of my pathetic pick-me dance, which included many other things that I am ashamed to examine more closely.

      I never felt like I “missed out”. I loved being a wife and mother.

      Mr. Magoo never “missed out”, despite our young age when we married. He drank, partied, went away with “friends” for up to a week at a time while the kids were young. He continued his single life from the very beginning of our marriage right up until late last year when I found naked pictures of him on his phone.

      I guess I am lucky(?) that he cannot attribute his cheating to his lack of experiencing the single life. He acted single for the whole time we were together, more than 40 years. He’s in his sixties now. How many more wild oats does he need to sow? Not my problem.

  • Some great comments to this article. After a year of separation, and hopefully just a few more months (hopefully weeks or days left) before the divorce is finalized, I’m not surprised that our 2 kids want nothing to do w/their cheating mother. She’s forced family therapy on the family, individual therapy on the youngest, yet won’t be bothered to get some IT for herself. The FT even acknowledges, and is trying to make her understand, that she can’t just sweep away what she did and assume her relationship w/the children will be the same.

    I laugh when I get responses like this from her: “I am at peace, my chest is as light as a feather and as happy as I can ever be. I made mistakes, I did not deny it, I owned up to it. Perhaps, you should own up to your mistakes as well this way you will see the pure happiness, not having to feel any heaviness on your chest.” It just shows me that she really thinks it was ok for her to destroy her own family, and surrounding family, and that we have to “accept” her life and be “positive” for the children. From what everyone else observes, she’s forcing a relationship w/the children, and doesn’t understand whey they’re pushing back.

    Are cheaters really this naive, this devoid of remorse, this brain-dead to not realize that they need to look in the mirror and simply say “it wasn’t you, it was me” and own up to their actions?

    • The X was willing to tell me that I wasn’t to blame but I never got a heart-felt apology or saw any signs for remorse. He was not a good husband (his words) and I will add that he’s not really a good person. He’s missing the building block for feeling deep love with his wife or even with his children.

      • Yeah. Mine sent a text saying he was not a good husband and should not have betrayed me.
        But still managed to berate me in person for shite!

  • These people are never truly happy. They could win a lottery and still be miserable. She must talk a wonderful talk (or just plain lie) if people feel sorry for her. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  • Very timely letter and response for me CL. My STBXH has been gone for good for nine months now. He went off to be with her. I have a binder of emails to the OW that I printed from his secret email account during the last months that he stayed in the marriage. Even though he claimed to be working on our marriage, claimed to have completely dropped her and claimed to never have been in contact with her, his emails prove that he was working towards returning to her by tying up lose ends with me. That was how he was already attempting to manage the image of their relationship, trying to convince people that he left me because it was over, not because he had her lined up.

    None of it has worked. He hasn’t admitted the truth of his relationship with the OW to anyone in his family. My understanding is that there are only a few friends (the ones with less than stellar moral compasses) that he has introduced her to. He lost his best friend, who happens to be my cousin. He hasn’t brought her around our kids. Does she not wonder what’s up with this? She was with him for a year-and-a-half of our marriage before he left.

    But, he’s with the “only person he’s ever been able to be his real self with.” His emails attest to his commitment to defend their relationship to the world. He writes about the dinner parties they will have together with the people that matter to them and all the things he loves about her. She is the love of his life (vomitous love-bombing extraordinaire).

    So, why has he been a miserable ASS to me since he’s left? I let him go amicably. Divided up the kids clothes, toys, books myself because he wasn’t prioritizing them in his plans to leave. Put together a box full of art supplies for the kids. Took them over to his new place myself to go through it with them so that they could see that mommy was okay with the change and they could feel better about it (so was the theory). He hasn’t given me any money for the kids and I never said anything for the first six months.

    Yet, he’s been an ASS. Rarely acknowledges a text or email that I send. Constantly short with me. Looks miserable. Gets short tempered with me when I call him out on something he should be doing with the kids. I even questioned him about this treatment recently, and he admitted that he knows he should be nicer. So WTF????

    I decided to go grey rock with him when he left. I only engage communication with matters regarding the children. If he tells me something, I nod my head politely and don’t probe. He noticed quickly and shut down.

    So where’s all the happiness that comes with being with the love of his life? Shouldn’t there be an element of graciousness that comes from his great relief and satisfaction. I just recently started seeing someone (an old boyfriend who was chumped himself two years ago). It’s nothing serious – just great companionship and flattering validation to one another. It’s a nice feeling. When I have to see the STBXH, I feel better. There’s another man who happens to think that I am beautiful, that I am a catch, that I am the one who got away years ago, so when I see the ex I just think he’s the loser who didn’t know what he had. Nothing makes me smile more than that.

    I don’t have to have that attention, but it’s nice to have it. Helps me feel better about me and my prospects in life. So, if my STBXH has been with his love for the last nine months, living in the bliss of twu wuv, and being fed all kinds of kibbles of validation, then why is he not strutting up to my door to pick up the kids with a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye?

    Maybe because he rode off into the sunset with the OW and realized that all that comes from that is that you burn to ashes.

    • Reminds me of the old saying ” be careful of what you wish for, you might get it’. Applies to your ex!

  • Just to let you know Billy, mine did the same. I am 6-mos. divorced and she still has not gone to Chicago. Mine and yours are mindf*cks and you are so better off my friend.

  • So what makes Cheaters and their Schmoopies so special that their “feelings” matter so much more than everybody else’s?

  • Hey everyone – letter writer here! And, quite frankly, Chump Lady’s post and all your replies are a waaaaay better present than anything from my Swiss pals. Seriously, I’m actually a bit emotional here!

    The good news some of my closest friends and family have been hugely supportive. I think CL raises a good point about mindfuckery – it’s been mutual friends we made in the community (neighbours, school, etc) that I’ve mostly felt… I dunno… I mean I can feel they’re sympathetic but at the same time it’s like there’s a frozen look on their face that says “OMG! Major downer at 12 o clock! Veer away! Veer away!”

    Is anyone a fan of the Moomins? If so, do you know about The Groke? It’s a monster that makes everything cold and frosty where it goes and, whilst everyone’s sympathetic to it, the moment they see it they react badly and want to run away. That’s how it feels sometimes on the school run. DS’ Daddy is The Groke.

    But with Her… yeah, a lot more “poor thing, it must be so hard”. But she’s always been good at fixing a polite, friendly facade. Ironically, that was part of what attracted me to her. I was socially awkward. I can’t think of anyone at any social event who didn’t come away thinking she was “sweet” and “nice”. Sure, some long term friends admitted they got exasperated with her. She just didn’t seem to have a good grasp of consequences or constantly let people down or dare I say, came across as rather spoiled. But, to the callow, younger me, that seemed “kooky” and “alternative”. Being such a horribly sensible person, so much of the time the way she breezed through things without a care was enchanting. We always said it made us a good match: I anchored her and she lifted me. Until she decided to breeze through our marriage.

    Everyone says there must have been Reasons she cheated. And I was open to that. When I first found out we did counselling, which she abandoned the moment she felt she was being “judged”. I saw the counselor on my own for one final time and, after exhaustively explaining how I was trying to see her point of view, improve our communication and meet her needs she squinted and said “yeah, okay, but what I want to know is Where’s The Anger?” I hope CL would approve of her. I think even she knew a that point the best outcome for me was to “Trust That They Suck”.

    So… yeah… I still don’t have any Reasons. Unsurprisingly, when I did meet the one thing she thought it might be, she went and broke NC and when I caught her (she was surprisingly bad at covering her tracks – to the extent people have told me they think she wanted to get caught. I think its more likely she’s so self-centred she really didn’t think people would notice, like a kid who closes their eyes and says “can’t see me now!”) she said “oh well, it can’t have been that then”. So it was just because “she’d changed” and we’d “drifted apart”. And, to be honest, by that point, yes we had. Eight months of emotional abuse tends to do that, I find. She could have chosen to water the grass but she didn’t and when it inevitably went brown used that as evidence that the grass had always been poor.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Thanks everyone. This has helped A LOT. 🙂

    • The only reasons that matter –she cheated because:

      1. She wanted to.
      2. She created herself, or was open to, the opportunity to make it happen.
      3. She decided it was worth any risk. (Until, of course, she got caught.)

      (Mine walked out of our first MC session saying, “SEE? I KNEW IT! I knew it was going to be nothing but a ‘dump on KK’ session!!…”)

      So glad you’ve found CN.

    • This blog encourages you to leave a cheater and gain a life. You are halfway there – you just need to work on gaining a life.

      Baby steps. The aim is to get her out of the central position she still clearly holds in your head.

      The way to do this is through absolutely no contact or minimal contact, seeing a counselor to address your own issues (not to talk about her), and getting activities into your life that YOU enjoy.

      For us Chumps it’s a voyage of self discovery, because the Cheater has usually eaten us alive. Pretty exciting and liberating and fun, with scary awful patches as well.

      No Contact is the key tool. If you search this site, you will find tons of good advice on how to do it, and how to stick to it.

      Welcome home, big fella.

    • My X didn’t tend to the garden either. He kept saying the marriage failed and you know what? He failed me just like your wife failed you. He failed to make me or us a priority throughout the entire marriage. If he had done that, I wouldn’t be writing today. They fucked up and now they have to love with their consequences. You and me? We get the chance for a better life.

      • Thanks everyone. Yes, baby-steps but I’m definitely getting there. We’re in the midst of working out custody and finances so enforcing NC is hard. But I’ve already got her to agree to a visiting schedule that makes it easier (picking up and dropping off kids at school mostly rather than having to see her at the house where she’ll treat me like we’re still best mates but just don’t kiss). Bizarrely, given how traumatic its all been, I’m actually feeling more energized and “myself” than I’ve done in years. Guess that’s the sweet smell of freedom. 🙂

        • BillyNP, You are still very much in the thick of it but I am glad you still recognize your worth. Cheaters spend a lot of time spinning their narrative, it’s very much like falling down the rabbit hole. Also relationships with the disordered tend to be very one sided, had you ever felt off balance? even when things were good? and sometimes our wonderful selves are pushed aside. This doesn’t happen in healthy, reciprocal relationships, so I applaud you in recognizing that you are beginning to feel “more yourself.” Pay attention now to what you need. Best wishes too on your journey moving forward.

        • Billy,

          That’s the funniest part of the whole thing. Your heart is broken. Your life is in shambles. Your children are sad. Your finances are fucked and you’re having to deal with attorneys, custody, the mindfuck channel etc but there’s that little…tiny….feeling….deep inside that is almost….happy? The beginning of something good…just maybe. And every day it grows the tiniest little bit…..yes….it’s something good….maybe freedom? Freedom to do as you please and not worry about upsetting her. Freedom to leave the dishes in the sink. Freedom to do the hobbies you always wanted to but you didn’t because of reasons. Freedom to maybe, just maybe, find a good woman who will love you as you love her. I’m 6 months out of DDay. There are minutes and sometimes hours that I don’t think of my cheater and what he did to me…and my mind is free to think about my life and future…it is starting to feel really good. You are well on your way. God speed.

          P.S. Are you in Australia?

          • unexpected: unfortunately not. I’m just a night owl (plus I need to do something constructive when the requisite post-chumping insomnia is kicking in…) 😀

            • Billy– you said “best mates” so I thought maybe you were from Down Undah ….where I happen to be heading in a few weeks for my sister’s wedding.
              (ironic, right?)

  • One of the things that my mom always told me is that people will end up being as happy or as miserable as they want to be, and as it turned out, my mom was right. Disordered POS people like narcissists and cheaters, think that it’s everyone else’s job to make them happy. The narc-hole I was with for a thankfully brief period thought that it was my responsibility to manage his emotions for him. I should always be in a cheerful mood no matter how nasty he was, always make sure he was in a constant state of contentment, pick him up when he’s depressed, and make sure he’s never upset in any way.
    It’s not someone else’s job to anticipate and manage the emotional responses of a grown adult.

    Cheaters also don’t seem to grok the fact that their shitty choices leave them with shitty consequences. Case in point: My BIL, whom I love, but has a history of making dumb choices with women, allowed a still-married, cheating ho to move in with him. The woman is a user who cheated on her husband and is now Vaguebooking about all the “drama” in her life and how some people just aren’t who you think they are and how hard things are for her. Then all her friends rally to her with the typical bullshit. “Hugs! U R sooo strong and wonderful, sweetie! We luv u!”

    Of course it doesn’t occur to her that her life sucks giant assholes and she’s involved in a nasty divorce because she cheated on her husband, moved in with another guy while still married, and has a drinking problem that has led to 3 DUIs and an ignition lock in her car.

    I also think that toxic, shitty people have an ungrateful outlook on life. Even when things aren’t going my way in life, I can see that I have a loving family, a job, friends, plenty to eat, fulfilling hobbies, etc. Basically I know I have a life full of good things, no matter what the current circumstances might be. I can be happy knowing that whatever temporary thing might be upsetting me, this too shall pass.

    Toxic people will never be happy. They think it’s up to everyone else to make them happy, and it never occurs to them that it’s entirely up to them.

    • Oh, yes, this. People who shit on others are just crap people. We think others are like us…but NO, they are not. Cheaters overlook their own poor choices and chameleon onto a new life, but they are incredibly lacking. So many of us grew up thinking we could make princes/princesses out of frogs…Truth is, we can’t fix stupid. ???? And seriously, our exes are going to be the same crap people with their “new loves” that they were with us. Even on Dday I saw the humor in two cheaters getting together. It’s not like they are going to grow new morals or be better for one another. FucktardX has a sterling life. Great everything, just like he had with me (minus his beautiful kids, his choice, and now theirs). Problem is, he is still that same old sparkley piece of shit.

    • Toxic people also only keep track of all the bad disappointing things and never the good. They do not have the capacity/maturity to understand that “this too shall pass.”

  • Billy, you sound like a lovely, grounded, good guy. Don’t fall for her crap when she tries to come crawling back. Life will (eventually) be so much better. Good luck mate!

  • My D-Day consisted of finding out that Asshat was fucking his (now ex) best friend’s wife. He refused to stop the affair, even in front of a marriage counselor (he was in Twu Wuv and refused to ‘negotiate under THOSE TERMS’). Um, yeah. My request was simple- stop fucking your best friend’s wife and concentrate on saving your marriage. That was completely unreasonable of me. Bye, Felicia.

    Three months after D-Day, he left ex-bestie’s wife in a ditch for a new schmoopie, who is 29 years younger than him. He’s 56, she’s 27. Good luck with that, dude. I hope you like Chicago!

    Those winters suck nearly as much as he does.

  • The overwhelming theme here is that these people are NEVER happy. When my cheater and I got married I had a lovely home. He immediately started jumping up and down about how we had to sell it and move some place else because he didn’t like the neighborhood. I had my house up for sale three or four different times during the marriage trying to make that guy happy. Thank dog it never sold. We wouldn’t have one thing paid for and he was lusting after something else. When I finally started putting my foot down about going into debt he found sparkle twat who was more than willing to finance his bullshit because she was uglier than sin and had little hope of landing a man on her looks alone.

    Is he happy? I have no idea but I doubt it. I don’t think these people even know what happiness is. They’re always in search of the next sparkly thing. Nothing or no one satisfies them for long. At least I had him when he was virile and still a sexy beast, she has a worn out (broke) old fool now. Ha!

  • This happened to me last month. My soon to be XH decided for the 15th time that he wanted a divorce because he wanted peace. He cheated on me when we were dating. I did not have hard evidence and DD1 was one month after we got married. His apology was, hold your breath chumps, I am sorry I hurt you but I am not sorry for what I did. I instinctively knew that he will cheat again, I told him that but he said that he is a new, and wants to be a new man. I quashed that feeling and chose to believe him.

    Less than 6 months I knew he was cheating. He would leave work two hours early and come home as if he worked the full shift and sometimes later and pass by a supermarket and pick useless small things. I asked him and he admitted. I never caught him red handed just suspicions and I read some emails with a woman he dated when he was in high school over 30 yrs ago. She lived in a different state so it was not physical just emotion where he talked unfavorable about our marriage. To him that is not cheating. He made a trip to visit his mom without me a week after I saw their email and I begged him to take me *face palm* and he did. The same day we reached his mom’s place the email lady showed up and he went to talk to her after she blew her car horn. She had not reached her parents house but showed up at his moms.

    Over the next 6 yrs we argued over his behavior and he would ask for a divorce, pack a bag and disappear for days. He would then come back and apologize and tell me he was in a hotel or a male friend’s house as he wanted time to think and calm down and he was sorry, did not want a divorce. I would be so ecstatic and take him back. I finally got tired of the emotional blackmail and told him I am done with the threats. He would never admit he never found peace but I know he regrets leaving me because he told me and wishes he could get another chance and do things differently. Like you Billy, I was angry because he blew my world apart for peace but he never got it. I guess he never found the peace he was looking for. He forgot that he was causing the mayhem and never created a peaceful environment. I am on my way to Meh and feeling great. All I need is a job and I will be even better.

    Good luck Billy and know cheaters are never happy. They are always looking for something and blaming whoever is closer for not having it. You are in excellent company.

  • What happened last month was me finding out that my soon to be XH has not found the peace he claimed he could not get with me despite the fact that his behavior was creating disharmony. He thinks he is entitled to peace no matter what.

    • don’t let him crawl back to you with a bunch of BS promises. They are con artists. Walk away and have an awesome life.

  • Billy……all the lying she does to you, she does to the Switzerland friends, and even to herself inside her own brain. They are crazier than a cat in box.

    They are also addicted to attention- including pity attention. They get off on it. Those Switzerland female friends though will eventually give her a side eye making sure she doesn’t try to screw THEIR husbands.

  • Like many others here I had similar experience. Cheater said his GP prescribed him with 18 months worth of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants because he received a formal letter from my lawyer. “I rely on OW heavily for support these days” that’s why he can’t leave her! silly me… We have been together for 15 years and he only needs anti-depressants after he met her but it’s my fault. I think the self-pity is a disguise for a more hurtful message – that we chumps are the villain, that we “asked for it”, that we didn’t do our best to keep them happy.

    He appears to be happy until he realised I am in close vicinity. I think my existence is proof that he’s a terrible person, and that makes him angry. He suggested that “it is entirely your choice” should I choose to kill myself (he’s being so supportive)… Cheaters are Dorian Gary and through us chumps they see the portrait of themselves that they desperately want to hide, and they will destroy us if they can.

  • “Am I being unreasonable to want to shout: “HOW DARE YOU BE MISERABLE!!”?”

    Unreasonable? Absolutely not. Missing the larger picture? Definitely. Billy, she’s a miserable person. You don’t have to look back and question, what if I had done X Y and Z differently? Was I really so bad to be married to? Many of us had those types of feelings, and struggle for a long time to put the blame squarely where it belongs. For you, it’s super clear, she’s just a miserable human being no matter what, and you are well rid of her. In time, you will see this very clearly. And by the way, I really admire your mightiness. Doesn’t sound like you took her crap very long. Good for you!

  • Cheaters are never ever happy. And as I’d like to tell my XH if I wasn’t NC:

    Your dick is not a divining rod, pointing you towards happiness.

    CL this would make a great cartoon????

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