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Good Advice, Bad Advice?

Hey Amazon chumps! You know who you are — sort of person who responds to crisis with research. How many reconciliation books did you buy? Is “When Good People Cheat” still gathering dust on your shelf?

This Friday Challenge is for you. Tell me what unicorn messages you got from the existing infidelity literature. Did you try any “affair proofing” programs and what was the outcome?

What were your feelings when you read these books? Hope? A nagging feeling that this was chump-blaming bullshit? Solace? A mixture of valid relationship advice, but directed to the wrong audience?

At CN, we don’t ask chumps what you did to drive cheaters to cheat on you. Or ask you to “own” your part in not meeting their needs. Or take the sad, broken sausage approach to “waywards.”

So what good advice did you get, and what lousy advice did you get? I need to update the research section here with book recommendations, so lay it on me. And TGIF!

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.
    • Gah! I HATE THAT ONE! Because it is double edged. They tell you, “Don’t make rash decisions. Wait a year.” And then when you do wait a year, they say, “Why are you still bringing up things from the past? It has been a year. You need to learn to let go.” One of the people WHO TOLD ME TO WAIT A YEAR then said, “If you wanted to divorce, you should have done it back then. There’s no reason to do it now.”

      • Exactly what happened to me….”we’re not going to talk about the affair now…..rebuild…remind yourselves of why you are together” BS!..then, “It’s in the past…”
        All of that “therapy” was what really mind-fucked me.
        And I read all the advice about NOT going to therapy with a NPD….and then they said, ‘he’s not diagnosed”…so I went, and was tortured and abused some more.

        Of course YEARS later, I was right, my perception was right, he’s an abusive sociopathic malignant narcissist….said by my attorney, family, friends, neighbors, current awesome abuse therapist, CL, CN, HIS attorney, office manager….the list goes on and on..!

        • Ah yes the “wait a year.” Pairs nicely with “don’t tell anyone, they won’t understand.”

          Wait a year so he can hide assets, hook the next victim and deepen his physical and emotional abuse because he knows you will dump him, just as all his past partners have done.

          To the “Certified” “Sex Addiction” Therapists (CSATs): Next time your doctor diagnoses you with a serious illness, just wait a year to decide about treatment. And don’t tell anyone about it either.

          • So damaging……his CSAT never said don’t tell anyone about it. He said it happened to me and it was my story to tell to whomever I trusted. He ended up with an awesome therapist out of the whole deal!

          • Wait a year has too be the clinche…..I didn’t even realize I was being mind fucked by my therapist.

            • I’m sorry that happened to you and so many others. That’s why I don’t see a therapist. I don’t trust them. The Asshole’s therapist actually said it sounds like The Asshole LMBNILWM. That was enough for me. I’m better off dealing with PTSD myself than shelling out $200 an hour to hear laughable cheaterspeak cliches and be mind-raped. That would only make it worse.

        • no a book but a song that goes over and over in my head. every time i think about my ex and all his FOO issues and the poor me crap he constantly pulls .. .. this song goes thru my head. best song in the world, good beat. Fucking Waste of time by snowthaproduct

          • Love this! And I TOTALLY got the ‘don’t do anything for a year.’ But I only lasted 6 months. The ‘pathological narcissist’ I was married to decided he didn’t need treatment or help. Nothing wrong with him. Just me.

            So I filed at about 9 months after DDay.

            • Absolutely awesome,it tells my story completely. We are not alone, we are mighty!

        • I was truly lucky after D-Day four on D-Day five while I was looking for reconciliation complex help, I was lucky enough to StumbleUpon chump nation, I laid on the floor crying in pool of the snot it was lucky enough for hours to read Tracy‘s words of wisdom and for days I read and read armed with her advice I also called the lawyer quietly lined up my ducks , and leveraged the guilt cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take care of yourself so you can take care of your loved ones because you’re going to get ghosted, and left in a puddle of sadness and despair because no matter how much you pick me dance, no matter how much you try ,it’s never going to be enough! For the empty shell of a human being that you think you love but they don’t love you, Not in the real sense not in the way normal people love, No matter what you do no matter how you do it it will never never be enough. For that empty shell of a cheater panty or cheater pants. Just know you are enough for you, if you have children you are enough for those wonderful beings that you created, and if you have no children you are still so enough for this world and deserve better . Cheater pants , Or cheater panty will never never never never have enough they are empty and hollow strawman or strawwoman. Cheaters are empty !less than an inch deep that’s why it hurts like AMF you are mighty you are strong and you are not empty HUGS it gets better

      • I don’t know about USA but in UK if you don’t file for divorce (on the gorounds of adultery) until after 6 months have passed you are deemed to have forgiven the adultery and your petition will be null and void.
        So, if in UK, make a decision how you want to proceed before the 6 months are up.

        • I think it goes state by state in the USA? But, my state was no fault divorce. So, since you don’t have to have grounds for divorce, you can legally divorce anytime you want. The downside is that you get no legal favor when it comes time to split the assets. However, some faith leaders would consider it “forgiveness” if you do sleep with the adulterer or wait to make a decision and then they’ll try to tell you that you don’t have moral grounds for divorce. Of course, that’s between the individual and God – not man’s (or woman’s) opinion. And reading the Bible, I notice a distinct difference between the way God and Jesus handled adultery and the way mankind handles it.

    • Really good book for me was “The Passive Aggressive Covert Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional Abuse” Debbie Miraz. There is a chapter in the book that talks about how they use sex as a weapon. They make you feel like you have a problem with sex. They have sex with others because you aren’t enough of something. It’s always vague. It was such a huge burden lifted from my shoulders when I read it.

      • my ex always complained about s ex, that we weren’t connecting enough, that we weren’t k inky enough, that we didn’t do it enough

        and i was always left scratching my head cause even up to when i left we were getting together multiple times and week, had one of the most varied s ex lived i’ve come across when speaking with others and i felt like we were connective

        It was just something else to pile unto his long list of complaints

        • OMG, exactly the SAME. We did it more than anyone i knew, and he kept on pushing the boundaries of what i was comfortable with and pouting when i didn’t want it too. He would get mad that i wasn’t thinking up the kink. Everytime i would “overcome” something i didn’t care for, because he said it was important, he would come up with a new thing that he really wanted. It was exhausting and I dont miss it.
          I hope beyond hope he is pushing the new wife in the way he pushed me.
          When i began to date and they didn’t want to do it every 5 minutes i was so confused, then i figured out his appetite just wasn’t normal.

          • You just described my ex to a tee. It was exhausting. Anything i did wasn’t enough.

          • This is my story too lego65.
            I tried so hard to please him….and the ‘goalpost’ was moved. every. single. time.

          • Absolutely!! Another eye opener for me. My STBX would constantly complain that our sex life did not have enough foreplay, but yet, even though I was exhausted from WORK and kids EVERY NIGHT, here he comes. I would have to pull every ounce of energy to pretend I was so into it….and yes the “overcome” to make “him” feel good. And yet, we didn’t have enough sex, married 20 years and had sex like we were newlyweds. When I think about it, I definitely WILL NOT MISS that mess!!! I dreaded bedtime, for me it was another JOB!

            • Sometimes I wonder if our feelings on sex being a chore come from the way our exes tried to have sex with us. Like it is really because of fatigue and being busy that we feel this way or is it because they kept doing things that made sex unpleasant emotionally and physically rather than giving us the things that were very pleasant to us.

              I decided I didn’t like spanking. But, my ex would give me a spank during sex sometimes just because he felt like it and when I complained, he would say “It can’t hurt that much, you just don’t like the sound it makes.” I lacked the vocabulary and knowledge at the time to say “No, what we have here is a BIG problem with you disrespecting my boundaries and it’s been an ongoing pattern…” Later, I started to have pain from my cervix. It may have been because I have hpv, but I didn’t know he had passed that onto me yet. So, I got used to having a degree of emotional and physical pain during sex and now I have mixed feelings about sex instead of simply being excited about it.

              • Sex was definitely a chore for me. I faked orgasms for at least three years, just so he would finish and leave me alone.

                In hindsight, I think my lack of libido was due to the fact my subconscious knew he was having affairs. Another problem was I felt like he was my child. I did 90% of the work around the house and paid 90% of the bills. The last six months of our relationship, I didn’t even bother going through the motions and always turned him down when he asked for sex. I figured, I’ve been having bad sex for years because I felt it was my duty, but it hasn’t helped the relationship at all. So, I stopped.

                He moved out two weeks ago, and my libido is already coming back. It wasn’t me, it was him.

          • My experience as well. He had lots of great sex from me , but he would want to do gross stuff I have now found out he got from sick porn. I’d refuse. and he would whine, whine whine. He’d try to guilt me into sex all the time, even tried to coerce me when I was in terrible pain from interstital cystitis. The kicker is that his mistress only had (boring) sex with him twice just to get him hooked, yet he carried on the affair for many years without once complaining to her about it.

      • I never initiated.

        But when I did initiate as requested, I got rejected.

        I learned to initiate so subtly, that if I got rejected even I could deny that I initiated.

        • That was me too! I was made to feel if the lack of sex was all my fault but he was ok getting the little blue pills for the whore…..jeez

        • Wow. What a complete power play he was doing to you. That is not normal nor is it loving.

        • I know exactly I was told that also, he was annoying to try to please and lousy in bed!

        • I got that too and when I tried to bring it up later when he was telling me all of the reasons why he didn’t feel wanted and had to go looking elsewhere, he said I just wasn’t being bold enough about it so he didn’t realize I was trying to initiate anything. There is no way to win.

        • OMG, this was my life, too! He complained about our lack of a sex life, and that I never initiated. It was all my fault and entirely on me to fix. Just the thought of having sex with him left a knot in my stomach in recent years. But whenever I tried to initiate, he rejected me. Whenever I tried to hug him, hold his hand, show some affection outside the bedroom, engage, he’d extricate himself as quickly as possible. Then when he left me for a skank whore (who was also married with children), he justified it with his “we-don’t-have-a-real-marriage-because-we never-have-sex” spiel.

          • I had the same. My simple request for family and couple time could never be granted. When I explained that my desire for sex was tied to emotional intimacy he laughed in my face and told me I was terrible at sex. My new experience with my significant other is 150% better and I think I am adequate! The narc always told me it was me who had the problem…um, no, not the case! Just another classic abuser tactic..

        • When my kids were little and I worked nights, I was in an endless state of exhaustion so I didnt initiate much then…I remember once he got on that topic and was griping but looking back, Im sure that was just a rationalization for fucking someone else when out and about

      • I was accused of not liking sex because I didn’t make enough noise. As a result I made an effort to make more noise which distracted me from actually enjoying it. It always felt like a test instead of an intimate moment. One I evidently failed.

      • I have just finished this book and it summed up the last 34 years of my life with him perfectly. Since DDay on 17/12/17 l have read over , 15 books – this one nailed it for me. It’s about how they can hide behind their mask for years/ decades. I didn’t realize at the time how much I was being manipulated and abused. Everyone thought he was a decent hard-working Dad/ husband. He turned out to be leading a double life for 13 years out of our 34 together. This book is a life saver.

      • Worst advice was from “Everyman’s Battle”. The advice was to have sex at least every 72 hours. It implied that we weren’t having sex often enough, which is why he cheated. It also made sex for me a chore, an item to click off my list. We had sex when I didn’t want to because it was almost 3 days! It made me think that men had NO control, it was a wife’s job to manage this. Ugh

    • Omg this gets me pumping.
      Cheater says I said I’m sorry so get over it. Therapist says leave the past in the past. I don’t fucking think so. I was run the fuck over and lay bleeding on the street, but hey lets not talk about the disordered fuck that plowed me down. Absolute soul rape. All that did was sign me up for another 10 months of abuse before I discovered another affair and filed for D.

      • This is SO traumatizing…my cheater has been dead for 6 years and Im not over it….I have a great life and am super happy, but I will never recover 100%. The idea that they can do so much damage then decide that discussing it is too much trouble…SO WRONG…it seemed fine when the DID THIS SHIT, but is needing to discuss it is too much trouble…that is some kinda bullshit

    • in the UK there’s a six month time limit on using adultery as the grounds for divorce. after that you’re deemed to have accepted the infidelity.

      although I don’t think they refuse an unreasonable behaviour petition as long as the other party isn’t disputing it.

  • Mine from a therapist who said, “Relationships are complicated and messy.” Never saw her again.

    • You know what un-chumping myself taught me?: GOOD relationships are neither complicated nor messy. You like them;they like you. You both try hard to please each other. You say what you mean and you mean what you say–and so do they. Actually the hallmark of a good relationship is that everything is very straightforward and not some goal post moving game you have to stay one step ahead of. Love doesn’t feel off balance or adrenaline filled with risk. Love feels safe, sure, and secure.

      • Jojobee….I needed to hear this today.
        It really doesn’t have to be so hard.
        It can be simple and good.
        Thank you for posting.

      • The OMG, this means I have not really felt real love then just his fake, masked version. If he had loved me like I loved him then our kids would have 2 great loving parents into old age. Now they have a distressed, traumatised single mum, who is so busy and exhausted that she can’t give them the decent childhood they deserve. I hate him for this!

        • I hear ya. But the pig is eventually going to die alone and unloved by anyone. Hold onto that. You will have justice someday.

      • I feel this is truth, Jojobee. Unchumping myself has proved to be very rewarding. I have a few friendships that are healthy and feel like this, and my thought was, why can’t I have this with a lover?
        I waited 3 years abstinent, and worked hard to heal, grow and fix my picker. I turned down dating and hook up opportunities that seemed only inspired by my libido, or had very real incompatibilities; and took my time getting to know a wonderful person, (we shared a mutual interest,) that I had never anticipated in a romantic setting, nor initially felt the “spark.”
        This has so far proved to be the best decision! The love and friendship grew organically, and existed before we hooked up and decided to try again at a relationship. When I thought about dating again, dating him made sense. There’s no insecurities or obsessiveness or roller coaster….just mutual love, care, trust, and respect…smooth…
        oh, and not to mention that our bedroom chemistry is the best it’s ever been, for both of us! So present, so attentive….mind-blowing! He waited twice as long as me to date again after his divorce. It is well worth it and I believe many of us chumps deserve and will find a mutual and conscious love when we let go of those who are not good for us. 🙂 Blessings to all in your healing journey!????

  • Have to walk through the scary Haunted House. If you walk around it…you don’t do the work and all those feelings pop up later in life.

  • I chumpily and earnestly Amazon-ed “How to Save Your Marriage Alone”. Not joking.

    The *really* sad part: At that particular RIC-phase of D-day, I thought the book had some good points and had hope (hopium) about it. #facepalm

    • Same! I bought the same book. What’s wrong with this picture? It encapsulates the WHOLE MARRIAGE! I had no self-esteem or self -respect at the end, and no idea that I had gradually lost them with the subtle and not so subtle abuse. You can’t save a marriage alone! Save yourself instead, and look for someone to wake you up to insidious abuse and unhealthy relationship dynamics. Someone to help you relearn to be an individual who had needs and should be respected.

  • In my individual session with the MC during our brief stint in counseling he told me not to accept just anything in order to keep my marriage together.

  • “Not Just Friends”. Well, duh, yeah, I gathered that. I got through maybe a quarter of the book and realized that it was just all blather and excuses.

    The inescapable fact – he did it. So the only question that mattered was:
    Do I put up with it and allow him to disrespect me? Or do I kick his ass to the curb and respect myself?
    That’s the only “advice” I needed.

    • I read the same damn book. So stupid!! Blather and excuses hits it right on the head!!

    • Best line in that book, buried in the chapter TO THE AFFAIR PARTNER (?!!!)

      “A man with a history of infidelity is a poor choice for a life partner”

      And I am trying to repair my marriage to a poor choice for a life partner (?!!!!!!)


      • Agreed 100% Velvet! That book is obsolete-like papyrus to CN’s blog. It’s 2018!

    • Yeah we figured out they weren’t “just friends” on our own, pretty much when we realized he was fucking someone else.

    • If you’d read further it actually does discuss leaving being the best option for some and that the cheater is at fault. Not great, but at least some useful advice.

    • I started reading After the Affair. Had the same feelings about that book. Got maybe a third in and was done with it because I realized I was done with him. I would not allow him to treat me poorly.

      And instead of donating the book to the thrift store and subjecting someone else to bad advice, I threw the book in the recycle bin.

  • I wish I could help, but I just want to forget the useless crap I read, heard and watched (EP included. During pick-me dancing days I actually sent sparkledick her TED talk on exuberant defiance. CRINGING IN SHAME!!).

    But I do remember Amazon surfing after I read articles from that couple of psychology researchers from, I think, Seattle, that says they can predict if a marriage will fail or succeed (what is success?). So, following that thread, I come across a RIC book and I read a negative review that sent me to Chump Lady’s book. When I understood her definitions of chump and cheater my life changed.

    • Same here. I had a therapist send me to EP, which I sent to XW.
      Like I somehow understood it better. I was such a schmuck.

  • I bought a book how to help your partner get over your affair. I was going to try to work on our marriage. The book stated that the cheater is suppose to tell the entire truth. And allow the betrayed spouse ask as many questions as they want. For as long as they want. My STBX read part of the book and stated” do you mean I will have to be punished forever? I told you the entire truth. Can’t we just move forward? Even to today he denies that he had a affair with my cousin. According to him he only went away with her a few times as a friend. Yup, he just played pool with her for 4 years and told me he was going away with Bill.

    • I also bought and read that book. I bought Ex the hard copy, and myself the e-book. I finished it in a day…I think he may have cracked it once.

      In my mind, it was a step by step guide for him to rebuild “us.” He played stupid throughout the entire ILYBINILWY phase, the D Day discovery phase, and finally the “I am going to my mom’s…please, please, please break up with Schmoopie and come get me!”

      It said a lot that he didn’t even attempt any of the advice given. He didn’t want “us” back.

      • Yes, that probably was the only book I read that seemed on track and seemed to think fixing this shit was the cheater’s responsibility. If someone had a spouse that actually followed that guide, they may have a genuine unicorn…but, I don’t believe any cheater would actually humble themselves and take responsibility that way.

        • Yep. You’re right about NOT following the guide. I bought at least three books for the cheater to read. Four, if you count the one where I lovingly bought a book about how to fall out love with your affair partner (this was more than 20 years ago when I discovered he was in a long-term affair). I was actually feeling bad that he had to give her up to stay with our family. I should have bought stock in spackle. He read all 4. He did not change one iota. Never stopped cheating, just got more lies and more STDS. Never saw any of the exercises or letters that he would have been expected to share as part of the books that I gave him. He desperately wants to stay together, he says. But he’s still stuck flipping through the charm/rage/self pity channels, rage being his favorite. So I wasted more time and money for no gain. Story of my life with Mr. Magoo. I must have read more than 25 books since DDay number who cares, and Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life is the only one that resonated with me. Thank you, Chump Lady. And thank you to my wonderful CSAT therapist who tells me that I don’t deserve this, I did nothing to deserve this, and that I CAN live without him. And maybe I will break away from his toxicity, one day. The only reason we are still together is that I want him to have a relationship with our family. Since our kids don’t want anything to do with him, they have distanced themselves and their families from me. Thank you, fuckwit. Thank you for all the STDS, lies, betrayal, and pain. It’s almost time for me to cut you loose and live my own life free from the sickness. For all of you who are dealing with your first discovery of infidelity, cut yourself loose now. Don’t waste your life like I did. More than 40 years with the only man I ever loved. He has a different narrative, he has “loved” plenty of others. I stand in awe of those who cut off the future pain to make it on their own despite not knowing how or what they can do on their own.

          • Old crone – it’s not almost time to leave this horrible man, it’s time. It’s a really difficult and scary move to make but life is so much easier and gets better daily on the other side. I can relate to wanting to keep your family as intact as possible, I speak from experience, but we have to accept that just as we have no control over their choices, we also have no responsibility for them. His relationship with his children is his responsibility, you acting as a buffer for his bad behaviour will only obstruct your relationship with your children. Lovely, line up your ducks, feel the fear and do it anyway as the saying goes. Life feels less scary on the other side than you can ever imagine, many of us on here had no idea of the damaging effect our ex’s had had on our self esteem and self belief. When I was considering leaving, I believed I was going to have to jump into a big black scary hole and couldn’t see how it would ever get light again before I crashed at the bottom, didn’t feel strong enough. In reality, the blackness is just a closed door. When you find the courage to make yourself open it and go through, you find a life that’s full of light and happiness you would not have had access to if you’d stayed on the other side. Yes you lose some ‘switzerland friends’ but you’ll be surprised at how many people old and new reach out to you further than they would have. I’d be willing to bet that if your adult children are distancing themselves from you because of him, plenty of other adults have done the same or limited how far they’ve reached out to you over the years for the same reason. I was with someone for 30 years, completely oblivious to this until I left 3 years ago, completely devastated because I still loved him. My life is now fuller and busier than it’s been for 30 years, people who stayed on the boundaries of our life are now firmly in mine, and my life is populated by lovely, kind, decent people old and new – the kind I’d grown to believe didn’t exist any more. Oh – and that feeling of your intestines being wound into a knot you’ve been living with for years? The feeling you thought was part of being an adult? Well that goes very quickly, you’ll be surprised how quickly. And the fear feeling that’s left during the transition – well that is nothing like as bad. And the result is that you regain your strength – because you do have it – and life is nowhere near as difficult to live as what you’re experiencing now. It’s draining, exhausting, destructive and takes a superhuman amount of emotional strength to do what you’re doing now. Doesn’t sound like he’s worth the effort. It’s not as hard as you may be fearing. Step into the sun, old crone, put that energy and strength into a better life on this side. Oh – and please choose yourself a different name! One that celebrates and empowers you – you are clearly someone of awesome strength. If he’s attracted to a shiny new person who’s younger, always remember that says far more about him than it does about you. You’re amazing. Big hugs xx
            PS – If you can’t think of an empowering, celebratory name – ask us! I’m sure we can all make a few suggestions for you to choose from!????

    • i did not read any books. but you just reminded me about the first time i busted wasband cheating on me. we had been separated for close to 2 years and he finally hooked up with his neighbor. i had been in the process of getting him to come back home, all i wanted was for him to admit how much he loved me. while sober and not skunk drunk. .. . anyhow, i literally got on my knees and begged him not to leave the family, not to do this to “us”. .. . and one of the things he said was “you will always bring this up and will never let me live it down”

      although, i actually never brought it up again, i have to admit it was always on the back of my mind. AND YET the second time i caught him cheating i was so super surprised. i was blind sided because i could not believe he would DO THAT AGAIN… i had taken complete responsibility of the first time. ha. well i divorced him the second time. but i was still completely shocked. he never wanted me to bring it up because he apparently wanted to be able to have the freedom (and guilt free) to do it again.

      • Mine said when caught out that were things to continue that he’d be my bitch….. translation he knew that he’d be eternally indebted to me for any forgiveness and that the extent of his shit was far worse than I knew and that he foresaw a power shift. I was completely confused at the comment though but was able to pick up that I was going to jump ship.

    • Yes!! I bought my Ex that book too! I thought it would really help him understand my side of things (back when I thought he had a shred of empathy). He read the beginning of it, and then had to stop because it was making him feel too bad about himself, poor widdle wussykins…

  • “Not Just Friends” also by the marriage therapist – who wanted me to parade around in lingerie to entice my cheater to see what he would be missing.

    Oh my triggers just writing this out.

    I got a bunch of other crappy advice from that “therapist”.

    I still want to go back and give him a piece of my mind about his “advice”. Basically boils down to further abuse of the abused.

    • Write the therapist a letter or e-mail! If they’re not too narcissistic themselves, they might learn something from it.

      And the more therapists that ‘get’ this, the faster the narrative will change. Viva the revolution!

      • I did write the awful therapist who told me that even though “I didn’t have the body” of the AP he’d never met (but was half my age and a semi-pro at finding older gentlemen to support her lifestyle), there were still reasons my husband would stay with me. He also completely dove into what “I wasn’t giving my husband that he needed that made him stray.” He responded to my email I sent a year later after my ex left us, and promised he would check out Chump Nation but it felt just like all the lies I heard during my marriage.

  • Every book about sexless marriage. Learned it takes two invested adults to begin to work in that!

    Lucky that CL was my next stop!

    I was then able to throw all my research resources into the divorce and truth digging.

  • Ugh I self searched the internet and yes, ordered some books both times he left for a schmoopie. Confirmation bias is a bitch when you want to believe that mirage of a unicorn.

    The first time Dr. Cheaterpants left, we had been married for 5 years, our kids were 2 & 4 years old, we had built our dream house and lived there less than a year. After he filed for divorce, moved in with his sister, insisted on putting our home on the market during the holiday season, and chased his howorker schmoopie (married for the second time and history of cheating on both husbands), I did a lot of internet searching. The only thing out there that stuck with me was midlife crisis. We were only 34 years old but surely he had a lot of stress as a doctor although I did all of the child care, home care including groceries, cooking, cleaning, and yard work. I let that fucker beg back when the kids and I had moved into our smaller home right before the divorce was finalized.

    Twelve more years with a high maintenance, needy, self centered, never happy unless everyone orbits him and his wants/needs, and I discover him chasing DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach in our kids’ Catholic high school. Although I did see this as my opportunity to throw in the towel and run, I was devastated for our 2 kids and what their life would be. He could’ve cared less about shitting where we all live with DS16 also in that school, parading around with his young ho from our kids’ school while he’s on the school board and the entire family is active there with lots of friends and parents we’ve known for years.

    That fucker couldn’t believe he and schmoopie were fired from their coaching duties and he was removed from the school board. Sorry, I digress into a tirade. My searches on the internet this time and my confirmation bias found and held on to affair fog theory and limerence. Oh my poor husband is on a ho high! He’s a ho addict and needs our help.

    Thank goodness I came across and Chumplady. It took a bit of no contact and stepping away to realize he is and has always been a selfish asshole and most likely a covert narcissist.

    • I LOVE…..and I too was led through that golden portal of sanity to Chump Lady!!

    • YES! is helping me face some uncomfortable truths I’ve been avoiding at a cost to my well-being.
      Many of the same parts of what I think CL is pointing us to in the “Gain a Life” portion of her message.
      Standing still, living in hope the cheater-X will see what wrong he’s inflicted with his shitty actions/choices is only hurting me. He has the right to leave our relationship. He did it in a hugely crap-tastic way that hurt many people.
      There are some REALLY fucking hard realities to swallow in this shit-show called recovery.

      • I have said many times that as I was waiting for him to come to his senses, I came to mine! It sucks to go through this not only for yourself but for your kids and then you think also for him, surely he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Uhm, yep he sure does and he doesn’t care.

  • I got from helpful people, dye your hair, get a fake tan, I can see how that would help!, people still say how is he, I give nonchalant answers, they know what he is really. There just be snidely. Forgot one why don’t something about my stomach, I was sick and lost 6 stone, apparently they don’t like it overhanging, I say what’s it got to do with you, and also why are you sticking up for a useless c…, she was so disappointed when she found out he had a girlfriend. Some people don’t mind shiting on their own doorstep, sorry for the expression

    • I got “change your hair, change your shoes, change your clothes, put more perfume…” I wrote ALL the suggestions down. Now I have a great laugh reading them.
      The last one: “don’t change anything, you’re great as you are.” <3

      • Pffft. I didn’t matter whether I was size 4 or size 14.

        Whether I was wearing lingerie or grey granny pants.

        When you are not seen as a person, you are not seen.

        I had this weird thing of being ignored at home but checked out on the street. Sadly I believed I was so hideous and unlovable the being checked out was just a figment of people’s insanity or my imagination.

        • This sentence is worth its weight in gold: “When you are not seen as a person, you are not seen.” So true. I lost 40 pounds and my cheater never noticed. It did not matter what I actually was, in his mind I was worthless. I was so startled when I was single, took the ring off, and men started asking me out all the time. He had me believing I was so homely and sexually unappealing that I assumed men were cruelly joking with me when they asked me out. Little by little they chip away at you until you believe you are as worthless and unattractive as they said you were. Nope. Turns out other men thought I was pretty cute.

        • “ when you are not seen as a person”

          That 100% …. unfortunately we were not seen as women/men, human beings but appliances that were serving certain purposes….

          Sexy lingerie, role playing, hair colors- different every few weeks, home made meals etc.

          Nope… that was not enough. Hookers were much better.

          Funny thing… taking into account # of hookers, dates and meet ups… you would expect an amazing sex machine….nope.

  • Luckily for me, I wasn’t given much time to think about it. He told me on a Tuesday and filed that Friday. I never begged him to change his mind. I fought for him for 19 years. He either wanted to fight for me or he didn’t. He chose not too. End of story.

  • Our therapist 25 years ago told me I had to ‘jump off the cliff’ and trust him. I did, and 25 years later he left me and his 14 year old son and moved 1,000 miles away for the SAME woman. They talked for 24 hours before the were a couple and making plans. No. Shit.

  • I couldn’t find a good therapist. I told each one that Cheater was a liar and very-subtle and charming… that they would like him. Everybody likes him immediately. They each refused to believe that *this guy in front of them* would dare to LIE TO A THERAPIST. “Simply being here shows that he’s taking this seriously and wants to work it out… why would he lie?”

    To win. Duh. To gloat over his superiority that they bought it. And they’re *professionals* so they must be right.

    That was right at the beginning. I didn’t bother with anyone else after that… Chump Lady helped more than anything or anyone else, by FAR.

    • Same here. He lied (and/or omitted very important information) to 1 doctor, 2 therapists, and 1 custody mediator (twice). They ALL believed him.
      But at the end, the custody mediator had a doubt and tricked him: “So we agree you would never have done it [teaching dear daughter how to hit kids]… but you think it could be a great solution against bullies, right?”. He smiled and said yes. OMG, smart mediator. She proceeded to register him to a dad class.

    • I said the same thing to the one counselor that we did see (not counting our pastor as a counselor, because he had no clue what he was doing). I told her that he was very charming, she would like him and that he could fit into any social situation. She said, “Like a chameleon?” I said, “Yes, and he lies too” Little did I know I was describing a narc/sociopath/psychopath.

    • Yes, I too was shocked to find out that Ex had lied to our marriage counselor (in an individual session with her) about whether or not he was still seeing his whore. I mean, why bother with MC if you’re going to lie? Of course, I was seeing it from a Chump’s perspective instead of a Narcopath’s. Everything make much more sense now.

  • Books that helped me besides LACGAL:

    “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – Lundy Bancroft

    “Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist” – Margalis Flejstad

    • What NOT to read if you have a gay in denial cheater: “Is My Husband Gay, Straight or Bisexual” by Joe Kort. It basically supports the gay in denial husband and says “Nah, even though you caught him with men he is most likely straight! You just weren’t meeting his needs. Probably just likes anal stimulation (go get a strap on) or was abused (be understanding!) or etc. etc. The book was suggested by the marriage counselor and when I reread it after the initial shock lifted, it filled me with rage.

    • I loved the Margalis book. My ex ticked every single frickin box for a borderline!

    • Love Lundy Bancroft! Why Does He Do That was so eye-opening. And Should I Stay… is amazing as well.

  • I read quite a few, and, many of them did validate the level of pain and trauma. In most , they did describe it as being extremely severe and life changing etc. So, that was good, in that I was wondering if it was just me that reacted so severely. None of them talked about it being abuse, however.
    Best advice I got was from my lawyer and the therapist I saw to deal with this. Both got me looking into personality disorders after I described my XW’s behaviors. It was amazing how both XWs matched the criteria and also amazing at how, gradually, after years of being criticized, given the silent treatment and allowing myself to be isolated from my friends, I had lost a lot of who I was.
    These disordered types, in addition to being cheaters( goes with the territory), seem to have endless energy to devote to conflict. If things are going well, they find issues to fight about. They subject you to long term, subtle, “ambient abuse”, criticizing you, deriding and mocking you, rolling their eyes at you etc. Where they get the energy and what they get out of this as a reward are beyond me. But, it is relentless, and you find yourself doing the ” walking on eggshells” deal.
    I think any book about infidelity should direct the betrayed to researching personality disorders. I have been thrown off a few sites by advocating this as folks who are merely “wayward” could not be disordered, right (the fact that they lie long term comfortably, place themselves above their families, expose their spouses to STD’s, gaslight and watch the betrayed twist in the wind wondering about his or her sanity, etc. is “normal” right?).
    These folks lack empathy. They lie with aplomb with years of practice lying. Most have cheated before and have left a trail of destruction. They are just sickening folks.

    • Yep, I am convinced the X is disordered. I remembered him hitting a dog once with his truck. I was horrified as he could have avoided but gave this long ass excuse about the motorcycle behind us would have hit the dog and probably died. Not of that was true – he did it because he wanted to. I had forgotten about that till this past weekend when I was talking with my cousin. I relived that moment and remembered how sick I felt.

      The las few t years he constantly told me that I was too sensitive. He would ride my ass, make fun of me with the excuse that he’s just joking. Of course, according to him, I used to laugh more and not take it so seriously. A few times can be funny. Constantly joking about the same thing over and over is no longer poking fun. At that point, it’s just mean. I hate people that make fun of someone when it’s not really teasing.

      • Yes. The last point. Exactly.

        I was told I took so much too seriously. And the worst accusation from him: I was apparently restricting his personality and freedom by asking him to stop making those cruel jokes.

        • my problem was that i DID laugh. i was never offended and thought he was just “joking around”.. .. the thing is he was serious. maybe he thought i would get offended and leave him but i just never took it that way. i am way secure and independent. i know who and what i am so it is really hard to offend me. talk about or hurt my kids and i go ape shit.. .. but talk about or hurt me, i just laugh it off. .. . .. so he got away with so much just because i did not get upset about it. . .. .. later on he would say “but i already told you” … .. .. by the end of 15.5 years i was no longer secure and independent.. . he drained and reduced me to a insecure codependent mess.. . and then walked out with the neighborhood whore.. ..

          • Yeah! I thought he was joking most of the time..I mean who could he serious about the stuff he said ? But apparently he was. I remember at one point thinking that I’d better just not say anything that might provoke him for peace sake…then I said fuck this shit! Why should I shrink myself so he can feel I called him out on everything. I told him that he can only feel good if he is trying to make someone else feel bad and that he was a narcissist. ( He claims bi-polar). Whatever . It doesn’t give you a right to be abusive. Then he started low key being mean to the kids and I was intervening and I said fck this.
            No! Just no! It never felt right to my spirit and I could not compromise myself.

      • This! I would always think “how could someone that is supposed to be your biggest support system ‘make fun’ of or point out things that they knew would hurt you, but pretend that they were just joking”!?!?!?! And, then of course I was ridiculed for being “too sensitive”.

        A counselor told me something that made perfect sense, as to why we take some of their shit… “they (mainly narcs & cheaters) are BLAMERS, and we (chumps) are BELIEVERS”. We like to believe that they wouldn’t do it in the first place, and then we want to believe that it was just that one time, or that they are OVER it… and then we HOPEFULLY start to BELIEVE in ourselves and kick the cheater out of our lives and work towards a new life! I am still working on it!

        • I love this phrasing. I need to remember it when (if) I return to dating: Since I am a BELIEVER, I must steer clear of BLAMERS. Maybe two BLAMERS can make a go of it, the this is one kind of “mixed” marriage that won’t work (at least for the BELIEVER)!

      • OMG that’s just like my STBX. He is constantly telling me that I’m too sensitive and that he’s just joking. I used to be able to take a joke and he can’t talk to me anymore. I told him a joke is “a Priest and Rabbi walk into a bar….” not stupid comments about me personally followed by a laugh to show it’s a joke. He doesn’t see it as mean, it’s me not having a sense of humor! But, if I did the same to him he’d freak and go find a hooker to make him feel better about himself! God forbid I ever said no to him or talk on the phone for hours when he was on the road. Constantly criticizing me and things that I do or don’t do but I had to kiss his a** and go on and on about the little things to build him up or he felt emasculated.
        Books that helped: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and Chump Lady FOR SURE!!
        Books that sucked: The Four Love Languages (barf) good if you’re in a normal relationship with a normal person but when you’re in one with a narc….it’s just ways to stroke them.

  • I forgot to add – and CL’s book have helped keep my sanity in check. I don’t know what I would have done without them. The only other book I bought was “Boundaries after a Pathological Relationship”. I haven’t read it yet but need to. I have very poorly-defined boundaries and have never been good at holding the line.

  • The brother of a good friend pulled me aside when he heard about the affair and told me “don’t make any decisions about anything, you’re in too fragile of an emotional state. You need to give yourself time”. He emphatically recommended that I read “Not “Just Friends””, that it was an incredible book that would help me greatly. I was so desperate for a respite from the agonizing pain and emotional turmoil, I immediately ordered the book on Amazon and waited desperately for it to come. When I got it and started reading it, I was FLOORED that the aim of the book (and the advice of my friends brother) was at reconciling with the fuckwit. Understanding how affairs just “happen” to people and not holding them accountable for their behavior, and being willing to take them back JUDGMENT FREE!! (I think that was the basic jist of the book, I honestly didn’t get very far before the nausea at holding such a piece of drivel overcame me and I threw it in the trash!!) Having an affair was my line in the sand, and my exhole knew that if he ever had an affair there was no turning back. Yes, the emotional turmoil and heartbreak was devastating and unbearable, and some days just breathing was the most that I could be sure to accomplish in the beginning . . . but to be advised to SUCK IT UP and TAKE BACK THE CHEATER totally blew me away. To be told that taking him back should be an option just added more emotional trauma to an already horrifying situation. Nope. No thank you. I wish I had found this site so much sooner after D-Day, because reconciliation was the constant opinion. People looked at me like I had three heads when I firmly told them I was getting divorced. Then of course it was my fault that the narc dragged the divorce out for 4+ years. I should have just RECONCILED!!!! Btw, he never asked to come back, he moved right in with his OW, but I made it abundantly clear that I would no longer speak to him, let alone consider anything else.

    • The judgement free stuff burns my ass! In what other form of abuse do we harangue the victim to not pass judgement on the abuser’s behavior? Do we tell robbery victim’s not to judge their assailants actions, but furthermore advise them to let them hold on to our wallets for us? To judge is to discern the difference between right and wrong. I refuse to stop doing that. I don’t WANT to be amoral and I don’t want to be around others who are amoral either.

  • Counsellor: “He is not lying, he is finding a truth while replying to you. Stop asking him questions”.
    Me: “But I need to know when to send him our daughter”.
    Counsellor: Yes.
    Me: He lies about that, too.
    Counsellor: …

    • Marge Simpson was taught to tell “a truth” when she tried to be a realtor since the real truth wasn’t helping her sell houses.

  • It was all bullshit and I knew it. But it was all that I had at the time.

    The worst advice was to “don’t make any immediate decisions, give it a year”. All that year did was waste my time and give me a chance to discover that he was a lot worse than a cheater. I still wanted him gone, only more than ever.

    The best advice was “trust, but verify”. Not so much the trusting part but verifying. And not because living as a relationship detective is sustainable in any way, but because all the policing and tracking and sleuthing gave evidence that helped me keep a grip on reality when he ramped up the mindfucking and gaslighting.

  • From the marriage counselor who watched STBX lie about the affair during our sessions prior to DDay. After DDay, as I was a sobbing postpartum mess, sorting through all the emails and text messages, trying to make sense of what he had told me versus what he had done, she stopped in the middle of the session, looked at STBX and said (as though I wasn’t even there): “This is normal. She’s going to keep trying to put the puzzle pieces together because it’s a way of processing what happened. Eventually, she’ll evolve to a point where she can move on.” I felt about an inch tall.

    Our last session (3 weeks after DDay), she told me I needed to be all in on saving the marriage if we were going to make any progress, and that I should be happy that he “picked me” over the OW. If I were there now, I would cut her down to size. As the beaten-down shell of myself that was there, I told her I no longer felt safe or supported in her office and would not be coming back.

    Also, advice from my sister than I don’t know will end up being good or bad advice until it’s too late: “Remember, if you divorce him, you can’t control what happens to your kids when they’re at his house. If you stay married, you’re always there to look out for them. Sometimes it’s worth it to stay.” Not going to lie, that thought screws with my resolve to leave every single day.

    • NotToday… this broke my heart:

      If you stay married, you’re always there to look out for them. Sometimes it’s worth it to stay.” Not going to lie, that thought screws with my resolve to leave every single day.

      I felt the same way. My son was 3 the first time I caught Mr. Sparkles fucking strangers from Craigslist. I stayed. We went to marriage counseling. Nothing changed, he just went deeper with his lies. But, I didn’t want to give up my son to a 50/50 fuckwit. Over the next FIVE YEARS, my self-esteem eroded as I tried to “fix my marriage” and be everything to someone who made me feel like I was nothing on a daily basis and my son watched that behavior and I wondered if he would grow up to be like his Dad if I STAYED any longer. But, I also took that time and carved out a life away from the fuckwit… my son and I went on adventures… I took him to the zoo, the aquarium, to friend’s birthday bounce zone partys… I was the room parent (yes, I work full-time)… weekends were spent visiting family and friends away from the fuckwit… until my son was old enough to be able to “fend for himself” (age 9).

      Now, we’re free and here is what I have learned. He loves his Dad, I can’t change that by my truth. His Dad tried for 50/50 (because he didn’t want to pay support), but I was lucky… I said NO and he backed down (truth is… I don’t think cheaters want kids around except for the occasional impression management and kids pick up on that quick). My son has dinner one night a week and visitation every other weekend. It is his “normal”… and frankly, after 4 years of it… I find myself looking forward to the weekend respites from time to time… in the beginning, I cried the whole time… guess you could call that growth.

      You’ve gotta do you. Anyway you slice it, it sucks. But ask yourself this… if your husband was physically abusing you in front of your children, would you stay? If not, then what is different? He is emotionally and mentally abusing you every day in front of your children with his lies and behavior.

      We’re here… keeping thinking it through… check out the forums.

      • Thanks for this, ICSTMC. Just to be clear, I’ve decided I’m done with the marriage and STBX knows this. We have two very young kids (DDay was when the youngest was just a couple of months old). We sleep in separate rooms and have separate finances, but work together for daily childcare and sometimes weekend activities. We’re doing a slow transition to separation and divorce so there’s less of a shock to the kids, and because it stretches the budget further. If he is still pursuing OW or other women, he’s doing so discreetly. He treats me with the politeness of a coworker he wouldn’t mind banging, and I treat him with the politeness of a coworker I wouldn’t mind getting fired. It’s a dysfunctional, but not overtly abusive dynamic. It’s leaps and bounds better a relationship than anyone else in my family has, so it’s honestly tough to just tell him to GTFO, especially now that he’s finally turned into something approaching an equal parent. I have no interest in pursuing another romantic relationship for years and years, if ever, so there’s very little urgency other than the constant thrum of anxiety and irritation from dealing with him.

        Sorry, that may have turned into a therapy session. I just wanted to state that I’ve been moving forward on separation, but there are days where I think about exploring reconciliation still, not because I love him (I really don’t) but because I worry about what flavor of crazy he’s going to bring into my children’s lives once we’re divorced. No matter which way I slice it, there are no good choices here.

        • Please don’t do this.You are giving your children a very poor model of relationships, apart from the fact that you are putting your own life on hold. You are blurring your boundaries- to the kids it still looks like you like him enough to live with him, so he can’t be that bad. And you are punishing yourself unnecessarily. ” Dysfunctional, but not overtly abusive” is a REALLY LOW BAR for any kind of living relationship. Would you accept that in a housemate?You can’t get him out of your head if you still have him in the house. It’s not worth the free childcare, and he’s likely to do something shitty even in your own house, unless you are planning to watch him watching them every second, so he can’t be on the phone to OW when you’re out, which is all ” discreetly” means.

        • I worry if you might teach your children things you don’t mean to with regards to a relationship. I think my STBX and I did…..and now I’m trying to think how to fix that.

          Also, you should talk to a lawyer— choices you are making now might have you lose things later depending on your state. The more you know the better choices you can make.

    • I also wrestled with this. I saw my marriage deteriorating and seemed very powerless to stop it from unraveling. (Little did I know that I would later find out that it was unraveling because an OW was in the picture.)

      I was very unhappy but I thought keeping the marriage together would at least keep things intact for my children. Up until DDay where he left and I discovered the real reason why.

      I hate to say that there are many christian resources that aim at reconciliation. Dr. James Dobson is one that comes to mind. These resources seem to put the blame on us chumps and point fingers.

      That being said, it was my own pastor who told me “don’t be a doormat.” And counseled that since it didn’t look like my stbx had any intentions on coming to the table that I was well within my spiritual rights to divorce him and ask for a fair settlement.

      • Yes, this is where I was. I noticed the marriage was unraveling (at least in retrospect I know that this was what it was, at the time, I thought it was stress from having increase job responsibility and a move overseas), but I did not know it was because of OW. DDay made this very clear.

        • Similar here. DDay, although traumatic, helped put a lot of the pieces together. They try to tell you that the marriage fell apart before they strayed, but when you really look at when things started to get demonstratively bad, that’s not really true.

          • Opportunity comes first, always
            Then comes “I’m not happy” or “ I love you but….
            Because you don’t know the cheater speak, your misery starts…
            Meanwhile they continue to up the abuse…
            Until you find out
            The marriage was not the problem

      • My priest saved me when he said “You can’t forgive someone who is not sorry, ” and, “God did not make you to suffer abuse.”

      • the first time i was called a doormat i was shocked and confused. .. .. i was strong, no way was i a doormat. how dare this person say that to me.. .. only i was and i just want not ready to see it. so unfortunately i did not listen until years later. i went back and reread what he said and it made sense.. ..

        luckily, my catholic preist told me that catholics are NOT against divorce.. .. only remarriage. and he advised me to divorce my husband before he pulled me and the kids down with him.

      • That book was recommended by our school councillor. It annoyed me immensley by saying the chump had to be nice to the cheater so they would want to come back to them. Write the cheater a letter telling them that they can’t come back unless they committ 100% to the marriage and then be so nice and respectful to them that they fall in love with you again…Uhhhh!
        I have been respectful through NC.

    • Honestly poor you, that is ridiculous. I wish I could give that MC a punch in the nose.

    • Your sister is right, but her insight doesn’t capture all of the problem. When I was with the Jackass, I could monitor 24/7, but I had to do so in a conciliatory or compromised way. I couldn’t run a household with the kind of ethical standards I wanted my kids to know because their father was always undercutting those standards (whether it was screaming at me or throwing glassware at the walls or making them late for sports practice because he was too busy doing nothing or “forgot” to pick them up from school).

      When we shared custody, they did live in a disordered household in all sorts of ways during their time with him, but most of the month they lived in my healthy household. Eventually, the Jackass lost part of his custody; then he left the state abandoning the rest. My kids love their dad and love visiting him; I imagine they’d prefer to live in his rule-free zone, but not enough to give up the conveniences of a parent who shows up, fills the fridge, buys school shoes and birthday presents, gets the sports physical arranged before try-outs, etc. etc. I wish I were the “fun” parent and the good parent. I fear my kids only see me as the latter, but that would have been true whether or not I divorced.

      And, most importantly for long term growth of my kids: when we were married, I spackled most of the Jackass’s issues for their benefit. I protected them from his lapses; I frequently took the blame for them. Not any more. The kids have suffered the consequences of their father’s selfishness when they were in his custody, and they have slowly learned to hold him responsible for it–not me. They will have their gripes and complaints about me, but at least they aren’t blaming me for his decisions any more.

      So, yes, sharing custody is scary and exposes the kids to all kinds of crap. But it also allows them to live part of the time in a genuinely healthy household. You cannot fully model the kind of adult you want your kids to be if you stay in a marriage with a really lousy partner.

      That said, in some cases, a spouse may decide that the needs of their own children are better met in the compromised household. We are all choosing between imperfect options when we divorce. For example, I don’t know if I’d have been able to make the break if I’d only had one kid. Leaving one kid alone with a disordered jackass would have been even more terrifying than the choice I made. I relied a great deal on my children’s ability to help each other when they were with their dad. It forced the oldest one to mature in ways they ought not to have had to as a tween. I hope it serves that child well; but who can tell?

    • You can ask for visitation only until the kids are old enough. He does not have all the power. You have some as well. I agree that I bent over backwards to make sure the house was safe but kids mature pretty fast. I let her be a kid with me and she was more mature with him. We divorced b/c his mental illness – no cheating involved but the same applies.

  • I never got the whole ‘forgive them even if they dont deserve it or ever hear it’
    I openly told my ex. I’d forgive her and would talk and try to get past it for us and our kids(I know I know. It was the early days) she basically was all ‘Yeah no thanks I’m good’ it because apparently that would disrupt her new fun single dating life and to just pretend I didn’t exist. Just walked away with no remorse
    So why are we suppose to eat a shit sandwich and forgive someone who could care less of we do?
    It’s always for us though right? We’re sad bitter wrecks of people if we don’t show those who treated us with zero respect or thought so for our own good give them a forgiveness pass. Even if it’s just to ‘the universe’
    Wonder how many cheaters are told to put out ‘Im sorry’ to the universe or to their victims for that matter?

    • I’m struggling with this as well. I hear the words about forgiveness being for me but I can’t make it make sense in my head. I wish I could as I understand it should make things better for Me, but….yeah, I just can’t wrap my brain around how that works.

      • See my comment above. My priest said, “You cannot forgive someone who isn’t sorry. There is no absolution without remorse and repentance.” It saved me. It reminded me that the burden is on the sinner to repent–not on the sinned against to forgive in a vacuum.

  • Best Books:
    Leave A Cheater, Gain a Life by Tracy Schorn
    Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie
    I Can, I Will by Joel Osteen

    Best Blogs for dealing with NPD fuckwits:

    Worst Advice:
    – This can be “fixed”… “WE” can fix “US”
    – Spice up the bedroom (I bought a sex toy that would pleasure us both – he acted mortified when he opened it and then try to shame me by saying that he could never use such a thing – this from a man that posts personal ads for “anything goes” and “women/couples/groups”…
    – Stay for the sake of the kids.
    – Drop the adultery complaint. (LOL)

  • Good books: “Why Does He DO That?”, “The Gift of Fear”, “Don’t Shoot the Dog”, “Understanding the Borderline Mother” (he’s male though, but still), “Stop Walking on Eggshells” and “Depression Fallout”.

    I kept calling my FuckedUp Unicorn on his shitty behavior. Which is more than his shitty therapist did with him for years. I also told her he had BPD. She pooh-poohed me. I suggested she keep him for a week and get back to me. She was worse than useless.

    He has since improved and I kept him around. His only affair was non-physical and he barely waded into it emotionally up to his ankles before he told me what was going on. I made it clear that the ball was in MY court.

  • The only relationship book I bought was “The Five Love Languages”. My lying ex-pastor told us to read it. Guess who read and who didn’t? Yeah, chumpy me read it. The cheater didn’t. Years before Dday we did the online quiz to see what our love language was. Guess who used the info for good and tried to speak his love language? Me. Guess who purposely withheld my love language from me? The cheating Disordered One. After Dday he said, “Oh, I thought your love language was acts of service.” He knew mine was time together, but he purposely withheld what I needed and wanted from me. Narcs, sociopaths and psychopaths do this on purpose. They’ll use what they know about you to hurt and manipulate you. My brother and SIL love this book and it helped their marriage, so it’s not the book. It’s who’s reading and using the book that can be the problem.

    Helpful books besides Chump Ladies book:

    Runaway Husband by Vikki Stark. My Kindle copy is highlighted up the wazoo.

    The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick. This book was the lightbulb book that opened my eyes to the fact that I had been in an abusive relationship/marriage from almost the very beginning. This book is a women’s Christian book, but it might be helpful for non-Christians too.

    Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie. The lightbulb book that help make sense of over 20 years of crazy-making behavior by the cheater.

    Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas. This book is right up there with Psychopath Free. By far my favorite.

    Safe People by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. Another Christian book, but helped spell out what makes people safe and unsafe.

    Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.

    In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance by George Simon. His website is really good too.

    How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved by Sandra L. Brown. Yep, it confirmed what I always somehow knew. Men (and women) have red flag behavior that was present from the very beginning, but we ignored or spackled it. My ex cheater had a lot of it.

    Bad advice all came from my ex-pastor who lied to me three times and spiritually abused me. He tried his best to make me take the blame for why my ex is a pathological liar and serial cheater. You know what’s it’s like to be gaslit by a pastor too? I do. And he just added to 20 plus years of emotional and psychological abuse that I had already gone through and was going through with my ex. I will never ever go to a pastor (besides Divorce Minister) for help again.

    • Yes. This is what my cheater does as well. He uses information about me against me. For example, he insists on not turning the light on in the morning when he gets up, even though, I told him multiple times that he does not have to do this and that the light is not bothering me at all.
      He never stopped leaving the lights off and stumbled around making unnecessary noise, because he could not see.

      I mentioned multiple times that when he goes to bed before me that I do not like when he leaves the decorative pillows on my side and only clears his. He never EVER complied, always claiming to forget. I told him this really makes me feel unwelcome in my own bed. He never could remember. I gave up after a few years.

      I did not know he did this on purpose to manipulate me.

    • I also tried to use love languages while he just raged at me and the counselor let him. Later saying that he was trying to let him vent. I was on the defensive from the start! Two months from D-Day the counselor said to MOVE FORWARD” and not revisit the past. We never had addressed it. He was sorry so let’s move forward. I felt abused and unprotected in there. Husband left me to go back to OW for the third time the next day.

  • One of the first counselors we went to immediately after discovery was a Christian counselor. His advise was geared more towards me. That first session was about me forgiving asshat. I hadn’t even processed or began to understand the depth of his betrayal yet. It was a male counselor. That was the one and only appointment with him.

    • Same thing for me, Gina. Male pastor. Right away it was about forgiving the cheater. Right away it was about writing down a list of things that I could do to improve our marriage. The cheater had to write a list too. He just wanted to not even address what the real problem was — THE PATHOLOGICAL LYING CHEATER and his character issues. I should have never gone back to that pastor. He just added to the abuse and crazy-making. Ugh.

  • Well mine were “Detach and Survive: For wives of mid-life crisis husbands” it was OK and the other was “Moving on – A break-up recovery manual” Not bad. Had some good ideas on detaching. There was another book on how to work on your marriage as a couple but unfortunately my hubby was not into working on our marriage. But the best was CL’s book. I have recommended her book to a few friends cling on to hopium.

  • One of my friends who meant well, said “Have you thought about the movie/book Fireproof?” My response to her, “It takes two people who are willing to change.” I was willing, I knew he was not.

    That book/movie is pick me dancing at its finest. I also knew if I did that, it would not be enough, he would demand more.

  • With OW#1 I read “After the Affair” and all of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s books. I didn’t understand what I must have been doing wrong and didn’t recognize myself in those pages as the harpy nag who clearly wasn’t meeting his needs as a man. I figured mid life crisis. We did joint marriage counseling and asshat attended twice but bailed out when we got to his issues.

    9 years later when he abandoned me by e-mail I sought a crisis counselor from my Employee Assistance Program. After 4 visits it was clear she didn’t believe my story (that he moved out while I was on a business trip and sent me an e-mail toodle loo after 28 years married). She was absolutely horrible and yawned her way through our sessions while I sobbed in anguish in front of her.

    I saw another counselor several months later and she helped some but by then I had found CL. Nothing has helped me more and after a few months I realized I had outgrown the counselor and she wasn’t adding anything more to my progress. Chump Lady has been the #1 resource.

    Go get your Patreon sign up if you agree and haven’t done it yet. One year of patronage here costs me less than a single counseling appointment and provides far, far better buoyancy for my psyche.

  • The best advice came from a fellow-chump neighbor: “Have Figment move out of the house straight away to go ‘find himself.’ It’ll either be he hates it, misses you and the kids, and wants back in, or he moves OW in, and they continue their fantasy life. Either way, you’ll have an answer, and you’ll be out of hell limbo with him staying at the house and being all ‘undecided’ about where he wants to be. Oh, and he will have left the house, signed a lease, and you can take that to court to show that he abandoned the house. You win.” We lived in a state where I wouldn’t have been able to kick him out. So, it was a total win. I got my answer, my sanity back, and the house.

    The worst advice came from my sister (of all people!): “You should always live within two miles of Figment no matter where he lives so that the kids have access to him, and more importantly, you’ll want to be available for him if he decides he wants to get back together.” Um. Not just NO! No, hell no! Seriously? Wow. Anyway, I told her point blank, I’m nobody’s Plan B. I took the kids and moved 1,000 miles away.

    The best observation/insight came from my former sister-in-law: “One day, he’s going to seriously regret this. You won’t!” She was absolutely right! NO REGRETS HERE. Figment’s affair was oddly enough, one of the best things to happen to me. Crisis is just another word for opportunity. I took all the emotional energy generated by his affair — a Category 5 Life Event — and put it toward rebuilding every facet of my being from the ground up.

    • I love this! I have finally started rebuilding my life from the ground up too using all the emotional energy I was investing in “our” marriage. I realized just the other day that I absolutely wouldn’t be doing what I am doing right now because I’d be doing back up duty aka my life and career is always second for his oh-so-important career. Fuck his career. I’m working on my career and my life and it’s starting to look better than ever!

      Also my spunky personality is coming back and I’m beginning to start liking myself again. Go me!

  • The worst that i followed was something along the lines of

    “don’t ask him to do anything or expect anything from him, expect that you are responsible for all of the house work and all of the child care; that way, when he does do anything you can appreciate it with gratitude instead of expectation”

    All it managed to do was have me running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing all of the house work and all of the kids stuff while he fretted away his personal time doing whatever the fuck he wanted.

    Also, i didn’t ask for any of my relationship needs to be addressed during or wreckinciliation phase because i wasn’t supposed to be “expecting” anything from him and was supposed to be getting anything i needed from myself. While i was also spending any free time i had doing whatever he wanted and telling him how great he was all the time.

    He frequently stated that those 6 months were the best our marriage had ever been and i look back on it with such sadness and wanting to go back in time and smack myself upside the head.

  • Best good advice was the simple but true “would you want this for your daughter”

    I pictured her crying every night with her husband hiding in the computer room texting other women. I pictured her standing in the hallway while her drunk husband listed everything he hated about her physically. I pictured him flirting with other women in front of her and when she says to stop it he’d say “oh you know you like it”. I pictured her finding out that he had been using n ude photos of her to solicit ppl on craigslist. I pictured her taking care of her kids alone while her husband was visiting another women and her kid at their house.

    That was a huge step in the right direction for me

    • Wow….
      I have actually just begun to snap myself out of the obsessive thoughts and guilt for filing by doing exactly this. By picturing my daughter on the receiving end of a 20 year marriage that became a nightmarish D-Day, followed by the Pick-me-dance, and a failed reconciliation (because it was ONLY me)!

      I remember asking my EX how he would feel if our daughter’s (future) husband had an affair and then expected her to just get over it and move on… and basically blame her for it. He said “Well, if she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to, then…”

      That actually sickened me. And, then when I started to google “no empathy”, (when I lost both of my parents within 2 years), “no remorse”, “no accountability”… all of the NARCISSIST articles came up and I knew then I had to file for divorce. The trauma bonds are hard to deal with some days, and co-parenting can be tricky when they push your buttons, but I have to believe that I am BETTER alone than together with someone who made me feel so alone!

      • My best strategy for myself was to narrow down the list of “wrongs” commited by my ex to the smallest, most imporatnat things. The things no one would agrue were terrible.

        Sending n ude photos of me to randos on craiglsit
        moving out to go on dates with another women
        texting other women that he wanted to be with them

        And just keep telling myself, those things are enough.

        This works because i can’t ague myself out of that those are bad things. I can talk myself down from us disagreeing about an unfulfilling s ex life. I can work my way into his perspective. But those things above are bad an no one can ague those. I find the more time i spend focused on teh what ifs and his perspective the more i feel guilt keeping inside and the urge to contact him etc start.

        I was reading about mathematical symbols and came across a vertical ellipse. Basically it signals that other parts of the equation exist but are not listed because they are not important to the problem. That’s how I’ve been viewing my perspective on what happens to me. Clears the clutter.

      • @2timechump1timecaller and @Hope I’ve actually been thinking the same.

        My future scenario would be to say to STBxW to imagine her oldest daughter (9) in 20+ years time, married with 2 kids, coming to us and saying her H is in an affair, is “madly in love” and wants a divorce. What is she going to say? That it’s ok. This is perfectly natural. That her H ‘deserves’ to be happy. It’s not a problem she’ll lose 50% of her kids’ childhood and of course OW will be a suitable substitute mum for them for the other 50%.

        We’re in the middle of divorce mediation right now so I reckon I’ll leave that one for when we’re with the lawyer and discussing custody, etc.

        …and FWIW if that does happen then I don’t care how old I am DD’s H would be getting a “piece of my mind”

        • This really drives home for me how an affair isn’t just against the spouse and it isn’t just against the kids; it is against family.

          He lost my entire family, including my cousin who was one of his best friends. Every member of my family sees what he did as a personal affront to them as well. “Buddy, you did this to my daughter, sister, niece, cousin…You did it to me.” Considering that in the final months before he left for good, he pretended to commit himself by doing everything he could to save marriage and started to apologize to members of my family for the way he had treated me. This only made them angrier once he left to be with the OW a couple of months later.

          He’s losing his own family too. His parents and everyone of his siblings (and their spouses) has said that they hope he is not seeing this woman because they will never be able to accept her into their homes. They will not allow an adulteress relationship to be presented to their children (12 in total) as normal or acceptable. They continue to reach out to me and include me in family affairs. I no longer do the family holidays together with the STBXH present, but do get-togethers with them regularly without him. They have said that though he chose to leave me, they are not divorcing me.

          Will he ever realize the full extent of the consequences of his actions? The ripple effect? He grew up with good moral examples and a family of high values (both of us from very Catholic families). How did he ever think that this was going to fly and that they would just think “she’s a nice person who just made some mistakes in her life”?

        • Sadly, if her own daughter got cheated on, the OW might take sides with her daughter’s future husband as a way of justifying her own actions. My ex once convinced himself that he raped a woman because he wasn’t “meeting her needs” enough so she just had to go out with other guys and one of those guys supposedly raped her. Then, he learned that she’s a liar and she was messing with his head and that she was apparently lying to a bunch of other guys too. It’s enough to mess with your own head when you have to start buying lies just to justify your own behavior…

    • Powerful. Perfect.

      I tried this in reverse. I asked the X asshat if he would be OK with a 50YO dude from Europe chasing after our 25YO daughter. Especially a 50YO dude who had abandoned his family by e-mail to chase her. Would he want that 50YO foreign dude to move to her city to chase after her in person? The answer: of course not!

      And yet that is exactly what the asshat did. That 50YO is now permanently in Europe to be with the 25YO Schmoopie. Of course “she means nothing” and “there is nothing going on.” Right, nothing but all the fucking. Disgusting.

  • I read alllllll of the books. Oh my god, the money I wasted… I remember recounting entire chapters to him, because of course HE wouldn’t read the books. “When am I going to have time to do anything I want to do?” (What he wanted to do was snapchat shmoopie and fuck around behind my back – reading “After the Affair” was really going to cut into that time).

    What I remember the most about reading the “advice” was constantly wondering what the fuck was wrong with ME that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t trust him. I couldn’t give him space to “mourn his loss” (WTAF?!?!?). I couldn’t invest back into the relationship. I couldn’t discuss where I might have contributed to our relationship declining. I just couldn’t do it. I now see that it was NOT a problem with me. It was a problem with the idea that there is anything we chumps can do to fix this shit, a problem with the notion that there is anything worth saving after somebody betrays you, and a problem with his lying cheating ass continuing to be a lying cheating ass.

    Thank god for this website. Thank god for friends who supported me and helped me see that moving forward without him was the right option.

    And thank god my divorce hearing starts in ONE HOUR. WOOHOOOOOOO.

  • I wrote out a long comment with book suggestions and hit the “post comment”. And now it’s not here. 🙁 I’m not sure what I did wrong. 🙁

  • A book that helped me a lot was The Four Agreements. I know it’s not specifically for dysfunctional love relationships, but it really led me to a better place, and I’ve recommended it to so many people. It’s the advice I wish I’d gotten when I was a very confused teenager! Once I found it, in the midst of the affair nonsense, it was one of the keys to my seeing reality, not gaslighting BS. Along with my therapist, and CL and CN, of course!

  • I spent months reading Esther Perel and googling how I could “win back my husband” after infidelity. I believed if I just better understood his love language he would drop Schmoopie and pick me! Yeah right. It just lowered me further down the rabbit hole and I am so happy that I did all that internet research because it led me to Chumplady and her book!!!!! Saved my life and self-worth.

    My advice to all newly-minted chumps reading here:

    1. Get CL book and read it over and over. It won’t sink in yet, but in time you will see that it’s THE TRUTH.

    2. Read these forums and the archives every morning and every night. Find the ones that speak to u and take back your power and your life.

    3. DO NOT TRUST your cheater. DO NOT think they care and have your best interest at heart. I still cannot believe my “husband” of 15 years whom I trusted my life with had been having an affair at work, planned to leave me and told me he had been already separating himself and our 12 year old twins from me. He was already trying to “win them over” to live with him and I had NO idea. He then drained our savings account, tried to take them away from me, tried to get me off his health insurance policy, tried to take my house out from under me, etc., etc., etc.

    I was TOTALLY blindsided and it took me about a year to realize he was doing everything to hurt me. I just could not believe he would do this to me. Oh new chumps, they can! 14 months out, I finally accept it.

    Lean on your friends and family for support. Tell people! You have nothing to be ashamed about. I’m so touched by the support of my community, family and friends. Because I reached out, I now have so much support that I realize how loved I am and it has helped me get my self worth back.

    Date yourself. Do things that make u happy. Constantly express gratitude for everything, no matter how little it seems. Today, I was grateful for my beautiful maple tree’s leaves turning. Gratitude fosters internal happiness.

    Take on a fun project that takes your mind off of the injustice. I took on a project of painting my master bedroom. I just finished the whole room and did it all by myself! I needed a project to focus on and propel me into my new life without a liar and a cheater. I now have a peaceful, serene “new” bedroom to start my “new” life.

    Today, my divorce is almost final. My cheater treats me like I never existed and I don’t care anymore. He bought a 5 bedroom house for himself and married Schmoopie and her two young children. His phone constantly pings and now I know that the real slim shady finally stood up. All i can say is good luck with that. He cashed in his retirement to buy the new house and will have to start all over PLUS pay me child support. Oh, darn those consequences!

    I would never have come this far if it wasn’t for CL and CN. Take your one precious life and live it without someone disrespecting u. I now know I am worth SO much more and deserve better.

    Love to all and Happy Friday!

    • Thank you. My XH is in the process of doing the same. Hurting me to the max. I still cannot believe he is actually only thinking about himself. I really cannot, but the evidence is there. And he is lying about so much…

      • Inescapable –
        I’m glad it helped. Our stories are similar. My XH blames me for the failure of our marriage as well. But the reality is, I can not even begin to fathom doing the crap to him that he has done to me. NO ONE deserves this, no matter what you did. He blamed me for being “too busy” and she “listened to him” at work. So, he cheats on me and the tries to take my entire life away from me? Including my twins whom I spent years in fertility treatment to conceive?

        They are SICK FUCKS who only think about themselves. During my time on earth, I know I don’t want to be with someone who could treat me like that.

        You will get there. I like listening to the Matthew Hussey YouTube videos as well. He helps me increase my self worth and to not tolerate the emotional abuse any longer!

    • AMEN!^ Never tell yourself “Sure he cheated, but he would never _______.” Yes. He would. And he’d laugh while he did it. Cheaters cheat, physically, emotionally, financially, by smearing you, by lying, by stealing. They would do it and if you give them a chance they will do it.

  • I saw a therapist to consider couples counseling. He said that if stupidhead had another affair I would find out, so I should go ahead and trust him. I *wanted* to reconcile at the time and that still seemed wrong to me! (didn’t see him again of course)

  • This is a painful topic for me, because I occasionally still move down the hopium lane.

    Even before DDay I read all the books that I could on improving a relationship.
    I even suggested therapy to my husband 10 years ago. This he declined. However, he held me asking for improvement to our marriage dynamics as me not liking him anymore and me pointing out that he has flaws.

    I knew that my partner was emotional abusive after a few sessions of individual therapy. After our sixth session the therapist told me “Your husband is a bully.” Until then I believed everything was my fault. Stupid me then stopped therapy and thought I could handle things myself now I knew this. I thought that he would just recognize the wrongness of his behavior if I just did everything right. I really put so much effort into fixing the relationship by doing all the advice given in the books: Set boundaries, call him out, was nice, complimented him on things he did well, avoided triggers.. etc.

    The end result: he got more and more distant and angry with me. He felt that me reading those books was only blaming him. And he acts still today like I became this aggressive person that did not love him anymore.

    He then used it as his major reason on why he had to give up, end our marriage without telling me, and cheat. So, all my efforts according to him, just made things worse and send him down the path of a 3 year affair.

    After DDay, I tried again. I would have forgiven everything, if he just stopped the emotional abuse.
    He claimed that me “twisting his harmless humor and fun loving personality” into something abusive was just the sign he needed to end our marriage. Again, only blaming me for this. He sees me as the non-loving, aggressive, and controlling bitch (actually his words) and he is just the poor victim.

    The only kibble he throws me is that he knows his affair was wrong, but then he takes the kibble away with any follow-on comments. “This is nothing I can change. And it was just a symptom of me being so unhappy. Remember how aggressive your were towards me. How we always engaged in a power struggle? I just could not take it, anymore. A man can only take so much.”

    My new therapist’s first words to me were (right out of DDay): “Are you ready to change what drove him to having an affair?” I now have a new therapist; she is trained in emotional abuse and PTSD; she helps me to avoid spackling. And she helps me understand my lack of self esteem, my confusion, and my self doubt all driven by the gaslighting I experienced. Still, every day I am questioning my memory, my feelings, and my perception — Is my hsuband right and I just overreact, I am too aggressive, I am simply wrong? It is so hard to give credibility to your feelings and give yourself permission to set boundaries and say “No.”

    I am tired of being blamed for the failure, when I tried everything in my power to change the trajectory of my marriage. I am not perfect, but at least I stayed within my commitments and tried to do things the right way.

    • This was me as well – I am not perfect, but at least I stayed within my commitments and tried to do things the right way.

      I loved him, I tried to provide a good and loving home, I supported him in all his endeavors and even when it meant sacrificing family vacations so he could go on an out-of-state hunt. He had an easy life and it was still not enough. After awhile, I just couldn’t keep up the kibble supply. I was tired and never got back the emotional support that I had provided him.

    • Ok, this is blameshifting. You had a right to be angry and overreact when he had an affair. It burns me up when dickheads blameshift and turn this around and make their infidelity your fault. It’s not. There is a genesis to your anger and it starts with his lies and gaslighting. It’s mental abuse.

      • I saw ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ yesterday and one of the characters who was gorgeous and rich caught her husband having an affair. He blamed it all on her because she didn’t ‘make him feel like a man.’

        Big AHA moment for me. I thought, ‘Jeebus, not even in the movies can they come up with a better story line for asshole cheaters.’ I guess they ALL blame their loving chump for their assholism and crap life choices.

    • i know how that feels. having no solid ground. i now know that a healthy relationship doesn’t make you feel crazy.

      I recommend Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That.

  • Jumped headfirst into the books- full on panic and despair. Barnes and Nobles made some dough. Never saw Chumplady’s book on the shelf. If I had my exit would have been quicker. All the reconciliation books made XW excited- I was dancing. A woman in therapy group recommended Chumplady’s book- I had to buy it online. That plus XW floundering in marriage counseling, lying, and then revealing new info post session got my head right and saved my life. Chumplady dug me out from some dark depths of despair.

    As far as people- everyone (including my therapist) told me dump XW (accept my cheater mother). When I broke the news to XW in a marriage counseling session the marriage counselor (a woman) backed me up 100% and shot down the BS that XW started to spout off. Forever grateful for that MC in shutting down XW and her manipulative words.

  • Since DDay #1 involved a variety of close relatives, subordinates, strippers and hookers for three decades, I bought every sex addiction and co-dependency book I could find on Amazon. I can’t help laughing (13 years later) when I remember reading a SA test to Two-Legged Rat one night: he wouldn’t answer so I looked at him and realized he’d been sleeping from the beginning!
    Two and a half years and a couple of other DDays later I kicked him to the curb and took all his belongings to his brother’s house. Among them was a big box of books by Patrick Carnes and other charlatans, next to all the kinky clothes he made me wear (being short and overweight it was a particularly embarrassing experience, and he knew it).
    Six years after that a friend lent me the book Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen. That was my first encounter with malignant narcissism; it was like reading the story of my life. Since then I’ve read absolutely everything on narcissism, sociopathy and psychopathy, but it took me another six years to find LACGAL, Chump Lady and Chump Nation. It’s been a long road but I’m finally free of Two-Legged Rat and all my Switzerland “friends”.

  • I followed that “stand for your marriage” BS. “be the better option”, “don’t trouble him with your problems”

    All it did was give him power and stroke his ego.

    Best book, I kid you not “He’s just not into you” – “a man who is into you will move heaven and earth to make it so” Men who actually pursue you was just such a foreign concept to me by the end.
    Some others that I loved – Brene Brown on self acceptance, and Robert Holden on “happiness is a choice:”

  • I can’t remember the name of the author, but I spent a lot of money on a set that included tapes, tests, pages and pages of foolishness; CL should be the Gold Standard for us.

  • Worst Advice: I made an appointment to see our life-long pastor. I poured out my distress and heartbreak about X’s callous and escalating devaluation of me. Pastor said reassuringly, “Of course X loves you. Just be patient and understanding with him. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.” Cost me two more years.

    Best Advice: During those two agonizing years, my father repeatedly said, “X’s behavior isn’t normal. A good man takes care of his family.” After 27 years of douchebaggery, my idea of normal was warped.

    Worst Book: “The Five Love Languages.” I read it because “discovering each other’s language and speaking it regularly is the best way to keep love alive in a marriage.” I showed X the book and asked him which language he wanted me to focus on. He said all of them. And meant it.

    Best Books: “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft and shout out to the amazing Lisa Kleypas for “Blue-Eyed Devil,” a romance novel with a heroine who was literally living my life. I will never forget my stunned recognition of her abusive husband. I was not alone!

  • I read a lot after Dday1. Spent a ton of time at bookstores. Decided to end our relationship b’c he was “confused”. Loved me but also “had love” for the ow. He came back 2yrs later, we got back together. So, I read more about forgiving and how to reframe his lies/cheating. It never worked, of course, as I had really only learned to squelch and doubt my own intuition and emotions (guidance system). I learned to cry in the bathroom alone for a few minutes and to never let on whenever I was triggered while we were out having a good time.

    He cheated again 9yrs later. I’ve left for good.

    As for the advice I’d bought into while trying to rec? I willingly GAVE them my money and they simply sold me ways to demean myself further. I learned to diminish my trauma, my needs, my self-worth in order to have another round with someone who was fine lying to me and exposing me to disease, extra stress, self-doubt, self-hate, etc, etc.

    I feel betrayed by the ric and as a double whammy I only have my naive self to blame! They prey on human heartbreak and desperation and I fell for the fantasy.

  • The day I put the whole damn pile in a box to Goodwill, I almost took a photo of it…the trajectory of my life in a pile of books.

    How to be a Good Christian wife books x10

    The Power of a Praying Wife

    His Needs/Her Needs

    Wild at Heart (he asked me to read it)

    The Love Languages Book

    Mid Life Crisis

    Depression Fallout

    What to do when a Spouse Wants Out

    Something by Dr Phil about fixing relationships alone

    Widowhood books

    I think I mixed up the order of the books to look a little less pathetic.

    Perhaps the thing I feel most betrayed by is that few of the books ever said that some people are simply too disordered to be in relationship with…they assumed anything was fixable if YOU just try hard enough.

    When reading them, I felt like I was looking for the needle-in-a -haystack rare perfect thing to know that if I knew that thing, I could do it, say it, pray it, think it and he would be better. I didnt realize then that NOTHING about it was within my control…he was a distant, selfish, cheating, manipulative person and was involved in more treachery than I ever knew.

    • So true. I can’t fix him, only HE can do that, and generally cheaters don’t want to fix, what is for them, a fun thing (cake).

      The only thing I can do is enforce my boundaries. Strictly.

  • I luckily did not get into the RIC stuff except in my own mind when he begged to stay after being caught because I found evidence all over our bedroom( pos). I to this day cite that as the worst decision of my life—letting him stay. Going through with the (fake) wedding in Central Park for our 30th anniversary.

    My counsellor at the time said you know what he’s doing why do you need proof? I was so stuck and so traumatized and so trauma bonded that I did nothing except pray and hope for the best which of course is not what I got. He spent the next 4 years getting us into a million dollars of debt and stealing our retirement money. PLEASE DON’T BE ME!!!!!!

  • Best book I read. He’s History, and You’re Not. Surviving Divorce After 40 by Erica Manfred. Fortunately one of the only ones I read.

    One about co-parenting which was fairly sane advice if the other co-parent is sane which of course you have no control over.

    • Thank you Dudders. I may get that one. We were married for 36 years by the time the divorce was final, 2 years after final dday.

  • Book: “When Your Lover Is A Liar”, by Susan Forward, Phd, 1999.

    Though some details in this book may now be dated (paging!), I believe that the content is not, and this book is a must read, narc victim or not.

    (Growing up among non-pathological liars), when I read the chapter titled “Sociopath”, which began with the story of the frog and the scorpion, which I had never heard before, it was mind-blowing and beyond enlightening. As prior to this, I thought that (my narc…I didn’t know about narcs at the time) was the only person in the world like this. It was as if this chapter was squarely written about my narc. This is a type? Did he read (their) manual?!

    Until this time, I had no idea that persons like this (sociopaths/pathological liars) existed anywhere but in magazines. Had I read this book *before* meeting the ex, I would have saved ten years of my life (my thirties), and (gotten married and had kids, as I planned).

  • I like Dr. Ramani Durvasula and I like to watch Richard Grannon videos on YouTube. He is wacky and cheers me up. I read CL and CN every day. As for bad advice – where I live, you have to go to a parenting class if you have minor kids and are getting a divorce. After giving us some good advice about self-care, etc., the woman teaching the class said suddenly, “And you must always portray your partner in the best possible light.” I couldn’t let this just pass, I had to raise my hand. I said, “OK, well I have to disagree with you there. I don’t think we should perpetuate this practice of lying to kids. I think it can be explained in an age-appropriate way, such as ‘Daddy has a girlfriend, and that’s a dealbreaker.'” She said, “Absolutely not. Kids don’t need to know that.” A guy in the class raised his hand and said his wife’s infidelity was in the news; how could he hide it from his kids. The instructor said, “Well that’s different.” A woman in the class raised her hand and said, “My kids found my STBX with the OW.” The instructor said, “Well that’s different.” I said, “It’s not that different. I will not take part in continuing to lie to a kid who has been lied to enough.” She pretty much told me to shut up and sit down. But I had made my point. And I needed that signed paper so I shut up and sat down.

    • Well done for standing up and speaking the truth! Don’t know if I would have had the guts in that situation. I do love to hear stories of chumps speaking up and changing that cultural narrative (best to lie to kids and portray X in the best light…wtf!!!!) Hats off to you, Intothelight!

    • You’re a champ. I bet the other parents who had been cheated on felt less alone and vulnerable too.

      The woman leading the class is an idiot. Or maybe she was a mate poacher herself and it chaps her labia.

    • I 100% agree with your sentiments. One thing my kid will never call me is a liar. I tell her all the time….we are in the circle of trust….we always tell each other the truth. I will not perpetuate a cycle of not telling my kid the age appropriate truth.

    • I had to take that class, as well. Was basically told the same thing…never tell your child the truth of why mommy and daddy divorced and to play nice with your ex. You absolutely must go to this class (and pay for the privilege) within 45 days of filing for divorce. My ex didn’t go until after our court appearance, 2 years after filing and yet nothing was ever said to him by the judge.

      Burns my chaps that we are forced to attend a worthless class, pay for it and told to lie to our kids. Yet, Ex told our boys that he was leaving because I was menapousal. When I told them the truth, I was accused of parental alienation by ex and his attorney. So, what the hell is the point?

      • That’s just crazy and annoying too @Intothelight, “Special snowflake ha” and others. I’m so glad where I live in EU there is nothing like that.

        However our marriage therapist had already made the same statement that we must not talk about STBxW’s affair with the kids and to always portray them as a good person. I kept my mouth shut about our situation for a year until STBxW brought around OM yet again to stay over with the kids in our home when I was away and had written to her previously to forbid this. So when I had the kids on my own I told oldest D (9) about the divorce because of her mum’s affair in a kid-friendly way using all the good advice & examples here in CN. Obviously goes without saying that STBxW was not happy about that

      • I had to attend a class where the videotape they played featured my cheater, RonBurgundy and one of his co-workers talking about doing “what was best for the children.” My consolation is that he had to attend the same class.

  • Oh, was I an Amazon chump. I read so many books, it’s hard to choose just one.
    The worst advice was the one book that told me to just wait her out. She would break up with the other guy, probably several months later, then want to come home. Then, I should welcome her back, but assume that she would be angry and disinterested in me. And, there would be more than one D-day to come.
    I’m sorry, but even if this strategy “works” (and it probably does…from the cheater’s point of view), the total lack of self-respect just made me ill. It was total groveling, letting her have whatever she wanted in violation of our marriage, then come home scot-free. I’m pretty certain this is what almost all people in the wreck-onciliation complex are selling, but this guy was actually up front about it. I have to give him points for his candor about what was going to happen, even if I disagree with it.

    Best advice (several candidates)-
    “Go find what makes you happy. Forget her.”
    “If you take her back, she’ll just cheat again.”
    “To #@** with her.”

  • I went through my Amazon chump phase but I can’t remember exactly what I bought. It was at least a half dozen books. More importantly, though, was that XW never bought a single one.

    She still denies the affair to this day, still claims that she hadn’t given up on the marriage before I moved the family to be with her, but I know the truth: if she had actually been trying, there would have been a half-dozen books on the floor next to her side of the bed. There weren’t, because she had already written me off by the time I got the first indication of a problem.

    • Just a month ago (nine months after STBXH left for good), he actually had the nerve to say to me that he still didn’t know if he wanted to leave, even when he was signing the lease on his own place days before Christmas last year. Yet, he doesn’t know that I have a binder full of the emails with the OW from his secret email account with the OW. Well, he was very clear with her from early November until he left after Christmas about what he wanted to do.

      I go mental on the inside when he lies now. Something I’m working on.

      Or, he’s truthful to me and he was lying to her in the emails in order to hoover her back in. God forbid he leaves a marriage and spends some time alone. Well, he’s her liar to contend with now.

      I’ll let him know about the binder of emails after the papers are signed, just so that he can quit the crap.

  • I read the book worthy of her Trust. My ex actually gave it to me. It was a buck he had gotten from his addiction support group….. He was a Serial cheater and likely an alcoholic. It actually was a great book it put the onus on him and everything he needed to do in order to fix the relationship. For the most part it made it clear that his cheating had nothing to do with me. However he was in able to do anything that the book had suggested he do so it actually helped. BTW the writers of the book where a husband and wife whose husband had cheated on her multiple times for many years and they reconciled, but it was because he took responsibility and he did the work. I however am grateful that we did not reconcile because no matter how much work would have done I am grateful to not be playing the marriage police for the rest of my life.

  • I think the worst advice I heard was on to not judge the lying cheater to be a lying cheater. They are “simply oblivious and desperate people who sought comfort from stressors. It’s not that they don’t love their betrayed spouses, they were just blinded by affair fog and did something without thinking at all about the consequences and how their choices hurt their spouses.”

  • Research actually saved my sanity and accelerated my divorce—before I found CL. After DDay, my XW claimed that she was actually introducing me to polyamory, which was something she had really wanted all along. I read books about polyamory, blogs about polyamory, I even went to a polyamory Meetup, just to find out what it was and what I was (potentially) in for. And every single source, without exception, heaped vitriolic scorn on the person who uses polyamory as an excuse for having an affair. Furthermore, these sources provided a clear picture of what real polyamory looks like—respect for boundaries, care for each other’s feelings and needs—which was NOT what my XW was doing. My XW told me, in no uncertain terms, “I’m going to have him, on my terms, so you’d better figure out how to make yourself okay with it.”

    My four months(!) of research showed me, beyond a doubt, that if it really were to be a polyamorous situation, SHE was the person who was responsible for caring for my feelings, ensuring at every turn that I was safe and comfortable. Which was, of course, the exact opposite of what she was doing (in fact, whenever I objected, she would immediately leave to spend the rest of the day and night with him—and TELL me that it was punishment for my non-cooperation!).

    So I kicked her out and didn’t look back.

  • I bought a book called “How to Save Your Marriage Without Talking About It” because cheater would not have an honest discussion, at home or in counseling. I found it when I was packing up to move into my new apartment a couple years later, chuckled and threw it in the trash.

  • I bought and read so many books I can’t remember what line came from where. The first bad advice came from my therapist, who, like others here have mentioned, said to “give it a year – don’t make an emotional decision”.

    Some classic ‘advice’ that’s been repeated in many books (my STBX is a porn and sex addict) is to ‘not shame them’ – I needed to ‘make him feel safe’ so he would tell me the truth about his 30-plus years of deceitful, betraying, gaslighting, double-life.

    I could never get past that – shouldn’t he be the one making ME feel safe?!

    I filed for divorce. The only thing worse than being married to a narcissistic sociopath is trying to divorce one (and guess what?! I read that in many books also!).

    • At one point during the pick me dance I turned to ex and said “You are the one who cheated so why do feel like I have to do all of the work to make you take me back?”. His response was “yeah, that’s messed up”.

      • I just said pretty much the same thing to my ex sociopath and he got mad at me and walked out. I haven’t heard from him sense.

    • @heartinflight YES divorcing a pathological narc is a nightmare. I had read things but I could not even imagine the hell that awaited me. But all he did after I filed just made me feel so vindicated about filing. He was such an A-hole and terrorist he made it easy not to miss him or our marriage.

      I do however miss what I thought I had terribly. And feel horrible that I bred with such a piece of human garbage and that he is my sons’ father.

  • A lot of the advice for couples and building better relationships is sound. The problem is that they don’t have you do an assessment of the personality disordered first.

    All that advice goes out the window when half the couple is personality disordered.

    • Truer words were never spoken. They don’t play by the rules. They don’t take your feelings or needs into consideration as it’s never about you. As long as the kibble supply doesn’t run out, they may have a use for you. Kibbles run dry and it’s bye-bye for you.

  • I read a lot of books, including “After the Affair” and “Torn Asunder,” but the only book I read which resonated with me was “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” The rest of them are meshed together in my mind like one giant blob of forgettable and irrelevant principles and theories. LACGAL was like a slap-you-in-the-face-wake-up-call minus all the psycho-babble. It was the only thing I read that truly revealed the actual heart of the matter for me. And even though I valued my therapist and her counsel for the most part, I was taken aback by what she asked me to have ex do during one of our initial sessions. She told me to have him to write a narrative of “What It Was Like to Live With Me” so that she and I could go through it, I could “own” the horribleness of me that he pointed out, and then write my responsive narrative outlining action steps to improve. I wish I would have trusted my intuition and told her to stick it, but I conveyed her instructions to ex and, of course, he had a field day! And then I had to humiliate myself and write my suck-up, pick-me-dance response! One of the worst things of the entire ordeal!!

    • I am so sorry….if there was an inventory to be written, it should have been HIM writing down what HE could have done instead of cheating.

      • Right?? He was only too happy to comply, but, of course, he never asked for my narrative of What It Was Like to Live with [Him]….even after I suggested it might be a good idea and make for a more balanced approach to our “reconciliation” attempt. I’m sure he didn’t think he had any faults, so writing such a narrative would not have served any purpose according to him!!

    • OMG… I think that is one of the most sadistic things I’ve ever heard a therapist do. I’m glad you’re okay! I think I would have been traumatized for life.

  • Why couldn’t you just leave me alone?! I was perfectly happy just lurking and popping in with a comment here and there. Well…, I guess I better reply. The first book I bought was the “The 5 love languages” by Gary Chapman. Well, that certainly didn’t work because I think you have to be working with somebody who actually loves you and not “it’s all about me”. Maybe that book is good for lovers that want to improve their already happily married life. That book is not for chumps. Chump marriages aren’t happy and usually the chump tries EVERYTHING before being lucky enough to stumble upon this website. The next book I bought was “Hope for the Separated” by Gary Chapman. That book is for couples “seeking reconciliation”, not wreckonciliation. It only works if two people are committed to making the marriage work. Then I turned online and found the book “Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says “I don’t love you anymore!” by Dr. Nancy Wasson. Well…, let me just say that this was a book asking you to self reflect ‘What did you do in the marriage that caused your spouse to cheat?’ It continued to screw me up. I bought and read SO MANY BOOKS, ordered DVDs, watched YouTube videos, and even bought mystical tunes to listen to and they DID NOT ADDRESS CHEATERS AND THEIR FEELINGS OF ENTITLEMENT. Now though my list of NOT HELPFUL books could actually be helpful in normal marriages where two people are committed to make the marriage work, they did not help in cheater relationships in the least.

    The list of NOT HELPFUL books are:
    1) “Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says ‘I don’t love you anymore!'” by Dr. Nancy Wasson,
    2) “The Healing Code. 6 Minutes to Heal the Source of Your Health, Success, or Relationship Issue” by Alexander Loyd and Ben Johnson,
    3) “The Dance of Intimacy” by Harriet Lerner,
    4) “Making Marriage Simple” by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly,
    5) “Getting The Love you Want” by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly,
    6) “All you need is love and other lies about marriage” by John Jacobs,
    7) “Divorce Without Court” by Katherine Stoner,
    8) “I Love You But I Don’t Trust You” by Mira Kirshenbaum,
    9) “Spousonomics” by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson,
    10) “Collaborative Divorce” by Pauline Tesler,
    11) “Powerful and Feminine. How to Increase Your Magnetic Presence and Attract the Attention You Want” by Rachael Groover,
    12) “The Breakup Bible” by Rachel Sussman,
    13) “The Man Whisperer” by Rick Johnson,
    14) “Every Woman’s Marriage” by Shannon and Greg Ethridge,
    15) “Difficult Conversations” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen,
    16) “Fidelity” by Thich Hanh, and
    17) “Disarming the Narcissist” by Wendy Behary.

    Books that were helpful in escaping my dick-ex: NUMBER ONE IS
    1) “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” by Tracy Schorn,
    2) “Private Lies, Infidelity, and the Betrayal of Intimacy” by Frank Pittman, and
    3) “splitting” by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger

    Books that were helpful in healing myself:
    1) “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend,
    2) “Who’s Pushing Your Buttons” by John Townsend,
    3) “In Sheep’s Clothing” by George Simon, “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie,
    4) “I Need Your Love — Is that True?” by Byron Katie and Michael Katz and
    5) “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood,

    Book that might be helpful in a normal relationship where two people are committed:
    1) “14 Secrets to Better Relationships” by Dave Earley,

    Books that may be helpful under totally different circumstances than getting dumped by a cheater:
    1) “You Can Heal Your Heart” by Louise Hay and David Kessler,
    2) “The Grief Recovery Handbook” by John James and Russell Friedman, and
    3) “Peace is Every Breath” by Thich Hanh,
    4) “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living” by Amit Sood,
    5) “Getting Through the Tough Stuff” by Charles Swindoll,
    6) “There is More to the Secret” by Ed Gungor, and
    7) “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren,

    I read “Leave a Cheater. Gain a Life” twice and I purchased extra copies to give to others so they didn’t waste their time and money like I did with all the worthless books out there! I’m sure I’m missing at least 10 more books in my lists above. But once I read Tracy’s book, I finally got a handle on what I was dealing with, i.e., a fuckwit. As I felt I was dealing with a ‘narcissist’, I proceeded to watch hundreds of videos on narcissism, and dealing with a cheater and controller. Essentially the answer was “Leave as fast as you can!”

    Now you know why my handle is “Amazon Chump”. I recognized myself in Tracy’s book. And now… I have a house that has been neglected because I took the time to respond.

    ( P.S., Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!)

    • Damn girl! Mic drop! We hand the Amazon award to you. (Apologies to your house.)

      • “The Breakup Bible” by Rachel Sussman – I found that one very helpful to get over my ex. It helps you see all the underlying reasons for why it didn’t work (cheating was a dealbreaker for me) so it really helped me to move on.

        So did Getting Past your Breakup by Susan J Elliott. Both great books to help you understand why the relationship broke and why you shouldn’t want it back.

  • I was one of the lucky ones. I found POSARC (Partners of Sex Addicts Recovery Center) shortly after DDay#2 which led me to the Sisterhood of Support (SOS) which lead me to Chump Lady who introduced me to The Happy Hausfrau and my circle of the right kind of support was complete. It really does take a village to end chumpiness. Even with being on essentially the right path for healing from the beginning, it STILL took me years of patience with myself and lots of therapy to get myself free, but at least I skipped buying the RI books and being retraumatized by fuckwit marriage counselors.

  • I read The Art of War during my divorce. I treated the whole process like a battle. I trained physically until I was exhausted and then I studied Art of War and the posted tactics on the Harvard Law website for negotiating tactics that lawyers use to win. I highly reccomend that Harvard Law article if you want to know what to expect so you can prepare. My favorite strategy from Art of War: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    I absolutely kicked my cheater’s ass and it felt AWESOME! He and his OW had ideas about how he was going to screw me over financially and I shut them down so hard. Since my cheater had so little respect for me, he never anticipated my abilities so I kept it a secret and enjoyed my own DDay and caused a massive fiery shitstorm for both of them with the help of my very talented attorney.

    worst books ever- that Just Friends book- I read that over and over after the first time I caught my deadbeat cheater. And that Surviving Infidelity website is bullshit- or it sure used to be. I think it’s harming a lot of good folks.

    • Love that book! Really resonated with me upon reading it about 10 years ago. Since I was young I guess I gave the initial impression I was a pushover, maybe too nice. I actually am a pretty nice person and while certainly not perfect I have never gone out of my way to hurt anyone as it never made much sense to me. Of course there are always the “people” that mistake being nice for being stupid. Those same “people” set out to undermine and ride roughshod over “nice” people. Who knows why, who cares. I’ve had run ins throughout my life, not a lot, but off the top of my head about eight. Long story short…..they never saw it coming from me. I would work quietly behind the scenes to undermine these “people”. Not too difficult as they usually have a history of making lives miserable, having a substandard work ethic, etc.
      I never get tired of the shock & surprise after they find out I’m the one that pulled the rug out from under them…..I can’t stress enough to chumps ready to file for divorce to play stupid or naive to the STBX and behind the scenes go scorched earth.

  • One of the best pieces of advice I received wasn’t advice, but a question: Would you still marry this person? And the answer was “hell no”.

  • My kid’s therapist questioned my “approaches to decision-making” when I told her that I found out about the affair — three years ago this week! — and moved across the country with my kid five days later. Apparently it was a bit rash of me to escape the scorched earth of daddy losing his job and our housing because he was small-town pastor, fucking a church member. Oh no, I should have waited until at least Thanksgiving or Christmas, and wrecked the holidays but good.

  • This one really helped me to put ex’s behavior into perspective and to recognize it as a common pattern that was not in any way original or unique. It also made me laugh out loud at a time when I was feeling pretty terrible. This is labeled as a “Mid Life Crisis” manual, but I think it applies to most cheaters in general.

  • I haven’t read through all of the comments, but one common theme seems to be dumb ass therapists. Well that sparked a situation I had gone through.
    After my son found his dad’s little fuck phone – he was hospitalized for freaking out. Afterward, he needed to go to a therapist. By this time, I had known about asswipes phone (we were separated) and asked to come to one of my son’s counseling sessions. The therapist asked both me and dipshit about our families. Dumbass was talking about his and said that his dad was an only child. UMMMM – his dad has 2 sisters….still living. WTF? Why would someone ‘lie’ about your own aunts? I called the therapist after that session and explained that his dad had 2 sisters and why he would say that is beyond me. And by the way mr. therapist, my stbx is a cheater and an alcoholic. The therapists response: “I knew there was something wrong with that guy.”

    I asked asswipe to go to counseling. He wouldn’t go because he wanted to go 15 years ago when I had my alleged, non-existent affair. News to me. I ended up going to 2 marriage counseling sessions alone and she pretty much told me to dump the shit head and move on. I took her advice.

  • I read a number of them, including the ridiculous one you mentioned, and spotted the bullshit right away. The only
    half worthwhile one is Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass. Some good advice there. I didn’t buy any of them, just went to the library. Why buy a book that might be useless crap? The Asshole also took out a ton of books on developing empathy. So far as I can see, they’ve had little effect. Mind you, it’s only been a few months, but I am sure as hell not waiting around for his disordered brain to rewire itself.

  • How about a book for fixing your picker? Love Factually by Duana Welch is amazing for learning how to establish boundaries early so that you don’t get fooled again.

  • Storytime: desperately surfing just days after D-day, the first thing I found that was actually helpful was a Huffington Post article by Tracy. A few clicks and searches led me to the blog. …and posts about the (then) upcoming book.
    I started reading posts right away (and seeing a truly amazing counselor/therapist).

    At that time, Tracy’s book had not yet been released.

    I really wanted to read that book.
    …and I’m a total #BookNerd.

    So, I went into deep dive search mode…and FOUND an ARC (advanced reader copy) for sale. (Yes, I’m totally aware that those are not supposed to be sold/resold, but…I really wanted to read that book! ????‍♀️)

    I bought the ARC, kept reading the blog, got the ARC in the mail, devoured it, sticky noted it until it was practically double in thickness, and made my therapist smile delightedly when I showed her my beloved rainbow of sticky noted ARC.

    …and yes, I bought the book in print and ebook when it was officially available. I also bought the audiobook when it became available. [That copy is particularly nice on the not-meh days while driving…works GREAT to reinforce and remind myself of what’s real (not a mindf*ck)…strengthening, calming, and snarkily amusing/uplifting. …awesome coping technique for rising ire…press PLAY on Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life…repeat as needed. ???????? ]

    I recommend the book (in various formats) frequently. …sadly. I WISH it weren’t needed by so many, but…royalties for Tracy! Yay!!! …gotta keep her working! We need her! ????????

    Oh…and just so this isn’t just preaching to the choir about Tracy’s book, I also found a few other books helpful…but, I’d recommend them as “further reading” – as in…not immediately after D-day. …but a bit later, after LACGAL, therapy, and at least a little time and distance from the trauma…when the whole world isn’t still careening in a chaotic nightmare…

    Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J Elliot
    (Don’t let the subtitle throw you off. She, in NO way, says that trauma is a good thing. …not ever. But she does have a lot of real life examples of folks who have gained a life after trauma.)

    Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero by Emily V Gordon
    (Gotta love her. Emily V Gordon is delightful in and of herself with some truly unique stories of her own, but 1. She trained and practiced as a therapist for years, and 2. I am a #nerd who found a LOT of solace in superhero stories after D-day. So, the way she applies solid therapeutic knowledge within the context of superheroes? Yeah. Total thumbs up for this book. She’s also really funny, so the audiobook, which she narrates, is pretty awesome.)

    Lastly, I’ve also found that any of the “don’t give a f*ck” books CAN be cathartic. It sounds counterintuitive since, if we as chumps, didn’t care so deeply, we wouldn’t feel pain so deeply, but…notice I said “cathartic.” I’m not sure how much we can or would NOT give a f*ck, but I’ve found that these books can offer a little perspective on our personal priorities and self-care. …also depends on your sense of humor, of course, and each is a little different…

    F*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems

    The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
    (Note: I have not yet read this one, but a friend whose reading tastes I trust has recommended it, so I thought I’d throw it in the f*ck books bucket while I’m at it. ????)

    Happy reading, CN!!! ????????????

  • I am actually ashamed at all the “fixing” I tried to do by trying to read that perfect book that would make me say the perfect thing.

    Site that I followed and read faithfully for a year that was SUPER UNHELPFUL:…..just a bunch of total RIC bull*&@+!

    Then, I read every sex addiction book on the market….and….none of them are really helpful for a person who finds themselves in a position where they discover that their entire life was pretty much a big fat lie.

    This has been a super interesting thread! Thanks CL!

  • My favorite “bad advice” – a blog run by some WS (a guy) who stated that any betrayed spouse should not ask the WS for details as the WS doesn’t want the betrayed “to lose respect for him” in the relationship. He went on to the standard blameshifting tactics and ended by stating that BS couldn’t get over the affair because they were too nosy.

    Doesn’t that seem like remorse? /s

  • I’m still in shell shocked land and I did watch some EP and read some of her books. But all of that is moot anyway. My eyes are wide open and I can’t be with someone who has done what he has done. So the good stuff I am going off of (my saving graces) are CL book and What a Time to Be Alive by Chidera Eggerue. There is so much wisdom packed into these two volumes and they really are keeping me sane.

  • Now that I am in the HEALING phase (2 yr long divorce almost finished) I’m reading a book called The Journey: A Roadmap for Self-Healing after Narcissistic Abuse. Just started but good so far.

    During the 2 years I had Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I may have heard about here. GREAT book. All divorce attorneys need to read it and in fact the authors put a letter in the book for people to give to their attorneys.

  • I began my learning journey by searching Amazon for books on emotional incest. You would think that would have been a teeny-tiny indicator that something was seriously wrong, but noooooooo …

    This was actually just after all the trawling of Dr Google for information on Asperger’s, brain tumours, and Cushing’s disease. Because he must be ill. There was no other explanation.

    (Pantomime Chorus: “Oh yes there was!”)

    Thankfully I found Natalie Lue and Baggage Reclaim, and learned that yes, it was partly my fault – but only because I picked an emotionally unavailable man.

    The skein-untangling now became painful but profitable: she taught me that 1) I had agency, 2) that fairy tales were just that, and 3) I didn’t need this level of shit.

    *And why was I misinterpreting this level of shit as love?*

    I also learned about red flags, observing behaviors not words, doing work on my own baggage, not dating when you’re healing, and – best of all – the Pick Me Dance. Which led me directly via a handy link to ChumpLady, and the rest is herstory.

  • The BAD advice came from books like ‘The Rules.’ Also from well-meaning female friends who genuinely believed that if I just tried harder, I would catch myself this marvellous elusive wealthy bachelor and Good Catholic.

    Because after all, nice Catholic women hunt and trap their men, who are timid and fragile and need bringing down with a tranquiliser dart. Or, in some communities, a blast of buckshot.

    This has happened twice – in both instances, the guy had a middle aged adoring female harem, and was a closet gay with no intention of being ‘caught’. Ladies, READ THE SIGNS, not the advertising.

    But the best thing about the good advice was that I untangled my own skein.

    • If you’re implying The Rules by Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider is about “hunting and trapping men,” then I must wonder if you are criticizing the correct book title? That would be a mischaracterization, and I respectfully disagree with your assertion The Rules is bad advice for Chumps gaining a life. Having just read it again recently, they are good, non-Chumpy, non-doormat-ish standards and strategies for putting your own needs first, having very healthy boundaries, and looking for reciprocity. Similarly good dating strategy books are Become Your Own Matchmaker by Patti Stanger, and Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov.

  • The one advice that was awful as has been stated before was “if you want your marriage, pray for your marriage and pray for your husband”. I am not saying is wrong, but GOD DOES NOT want any of his children abused at all. I believe the worst advice was “all men cheat, as long as he comes home”, and while he’s cheating “love yourself'”.

  • Believe it or not, my google search of “Why do cheaters cheat?” led me to the ChumpLady blog, so it was the best damn research result I’ve ever had. Thank you for all you do to bring hope, joy and laughter back into our lives.

  • Just like many others, the worst advice I listened to was not to make any rash decisions for 6-12 months (thank you [I mean screw you] Mort Fertel). Fortunately I resisted when I saw the $300+ price tag on those programs. Unfortunately, I still read the free emails and listened to the poor advice. During that time, I didn’t pressure my wife to do anything. She “needed time and space” so I just gave it to her. What a dumb, naive chump I was.

    I purchased several books and got more from the library. The standard suite of books…”Not just friends”…”After the affair”….etc. I even picked one up to spice things up again. Not that I’ve used it since I haven’t been able to touch her since. Even reading it made me cry because the thought of her with other men is so painful (call me old fashioned). I couldn’t get past the first few chapters of any of the books because of the blame it was trying to put on me for HER affairs. Wait, she had the affairs but I needed to be sympathetic to her needs and what I wasn’t giving her in our relationship???? That just didn’t sit right with me.

    Other than LACGAL, the one book I purchased and read in its entirety (it’s less than 100 pages) is “Helping your spouse heal from your affair.” I bought it to give to her, but first I wanted to read it. As someone else said, I thought it was a very good book if you had a true unicorn. I thought it did a good job of explaining how I felt and what I needed my spouse to do to make me feel safe again and to try to trust again. I gave it to my wife. She read less than 30 pages of it. She told me she couldn’t finish it “because it was too painful for her to read.” That was the start of me realizing she wasn’t willing to put in the hard work to make me feel safe. That she didn’t get it that she’s the one that screwed up and needed to do the heavy lifting.

  • Best pieces of advice:
    * My therapist told me within our first few sessions “I know this and that is going south in your life, but you have to leave him anyway.”
    *A stranger “Be good to yourself during this time.”
    * Loads of wisdom from CL especially, “Trust he sucks.”
    * Martha Stout’s 13 rules for dealing with Sociopaths…especially the rule on accepting sociopaths exist.

    Best books, “Leave a cheater gain a life.” “Pyschopath free.” “Out of the doghouse.” “Sociopath next door.” and “Living beautifully in uncertainty and change.”

    Worst piece of advice, “It’s not OW you should be mad at it should be him.” IMO OW and the cheater both suck.

  • Worst advice, a couple of Andrew Marshall books and 2 marriage guidance sessions. Total waste of time.

    Best advice, IHG and Chump Lady, also Dr. George Simon In Sheep’s Clothing

  • It’s funny the journey you go on when this hits you like a freight train again and again.

    I threw away the first book I read. I can’t even remember the name of it but it was awful. I paid for and downloaded Dr. Huzingas material, still haven’t read it. Mort Ferrel is all over my google every time I open it up. I listen to one podcast that I like, did not buy their book. They are They acknowledge affair recovery is not necessarily reconciliation and they provide real talk from people who have lived it and how to recover. Some is on recovering and reconciling, some is recovery period. They have chumps that call in and I want to scream at them to buy your book. Some of these women have been through multiple affairs with their spouse. All I can hear is WHAT NOT TO Do and their podcast has been helpful.

    The two BEST books I have read AND listened to at least 3 times are yours, Madame Amazing Chump Lady (I think I love you) and Healing from Narcissistic Abuse by Marsalis Fjelstad.

    Just like a good movie, you have to take them both in over and over for you to absorb it fully. h I would say that has been the biggest part of my healing process. Talking to family and friends, if I could go back in time, I wish I hadn’t.

    I did not think I would survive this but day by day I am. My sparkly turd is now just a turd. I don’t want him back. Our relationship was not healthy. While I am focused on healing, surviving and raising two amazing kids he continues to live in the place he was and will never be worthy. Praise God for removing this person from our lives.

    Thank you Chump Lady. I read your book first and it saved me.

  • I have only recently discovered chump lady. Her words are everything my mom told me. Instead I initially and foolishly pined and validated and spent tons of money on reconciliation site counselors.

    Worst advise:
    1. Link to a ted talk from some religious guy saying we are wrong to have expectations in a marriage. And expectations are the root of problems…something like that.

    2. When i showed my marriage counselor pics of 18 hidden bottles of empty jack daniels she told me “your husband is not an alcoholic. Hes using drinking as a crutch to get through your marriage problems” (later found 5 years of proof of serious addiction issues… 700 dollar withdrawals a week from atms in bad neigborhoods and 200 to 300 a month cc bills from 3 different liquor stores)

    3. My 500 dollar per hour lawyer told me my ex was just a bad spender and it would cost too much to pursue anything. She told me i would have to alternate declaring son as a tax dependent (not legally true as i was primary custodial parent). She was shocked when i found out about his money withdrawals cause she never went through all the submitted paper work herself.

    4. Advised to write a last resort letter where i took onus of all my contributions for a bad marriage. (Thank god i didnt send it. Another forum poster did and his wife used it against him in court)

    Love language book and divorce busters books are not appropriate for people in relationships with addicts or abusers. They perpetuate abuse (especially the chapter on mid life crises ) and dont even bother to acknowledge abuse and gas lighting.

    Best advise:
    1. A psychologist told me i had to quickly file for child support (at that point i had waited 5 months cause i was scared he wouldnt want to reconcile) . She said it would establish me as primary custodial parent. As soon as i heard that, i went to the court and filed. It was the only smart thing i did early on.

    2. Some random poster on a reconciliation site told me “You seem like such an intelligent woman” and then something along the lines of my ex was a loser in which there was no salvaging. Hearing i was intelligent really meant a lot to me. Another poster never admonished me when i could not keep my feelings and reactions to myself (going against all recommended reconcilation advise) told me my “truth darts” and “screaming banshee” were normal and ok.

  • First book that opened my eyes, started highlighting and ended up doing it to half the damn book “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists”. Then the other two were “Gift of Fear” and “Why Does He Do That?”. I think the last two should be required reading in school for every kid at around 13/14 years of age. It would save a shit ton of us from abusive relationships and other crap.

  • Hi, For me (aka might not apply to all), here are some notes:
    Bad advice: get back into bed with someone ASAP to gain the upper hand, the “see? I’m valuable!” Negative self talk (because let’s face it, cheater doesn’t actually care about you and who wants you when they are in junky land). My worth isn’t measured by who left me and who wants me. My worth isn’t even measured by my actions. I am valuable because I AM, period. I can’t do enough good works or screw over enough people to warrant myself worthless. That’s a tough pill to swallow because it also applies to junkie cheater. Note though, I do believe actions do matter, just like junkie cheater’s. At the end of the day, don’t we all believe our actions do define us? As in, if you (referring to cheaters here) choose to do abusive things, isn’t that a reflection of who are/have set up yourself to be? Anyway, just some thoughts I mostly want to see what others think of.
    Other bad advice: divorce ASAP even if you’re not ready today. I realize this is going to be unpopular here but in case there’s anyone else out there like me, I would have wanted someone to tell me that I have the ability to be in control over my actions. Now, since that hasn’t always been the case (aka I have a bad track record of doing regrettable “pick me” Zumba moves) me being in control might mean going no contact. All I’m saying is do divorce YOUR WAY until you realize your way doesn’t work, you’re not a unique case, and wise up IN YOUR WAY! I believe that being careful in determining what “my way” looked like (hint: it wasn’t unique to others but it is unique to me) made leaving a much more peaceful process internally (for me. Cheater had and may be having some heavy diets of sad sausage). I think coming to a place where I believed I was doing what I believed, AND WASNT JUST TOLD TO DO, and what was right for me led to less regrets later. Hopefully you get to a place where you believe what is also congruent with the logic this blog provides. If it doesn’t, you probably need to keep working at it. Maybe you’ll find you get there eventually

  • Oooh!now then. I didn’t just buy Snooki off amazon – I bought the Marriage Fitness program. Lone Ranger track – to try to motivate Mr cheaterpants back into my life.
    Paid $400 for that baby ; got a third of the way through ; read one article on CL and thought “nope, I’m done”

  • Best books (other than Leave A Cheater, Gain a Life):
    When Your Lover is A Liar – challenged me to set MY OWN BOUNDARIES as a means to making a decision for myself about my marriage. I set a few clear boundaries (I was terrified because I knew he couldn’t do it…) and I quickly had my answer. When Your Lover is A Liar put me back in the driver’s seat.

    Runaway Husbands – I was ghosted after 23 years of marriage. The man literally acted like he loved me until the minute I found out. He was a “tidy little sociopath” as ChumpLady described in her blog, “What About the Ones Who Just Leave? Runaway Husbands helped me make sense of what was happening.

    I also discovered the description phrase “Tsunami Divorce” – seems to hit out of nowhere and all of the mess and clean up comes after.

    And finally – the best and hardest piece of advice I got? My therapist (in group therapy) a week after DDAY pointed at me and said, “You’ve been living in a fantasy.” It hurt like hell but I knew it had to be true. It still hurts to look back and see how I spackled the hell out his actions.

    But of course I did…I’m a chump. I’m not wired like a sociaopath…

  • Oh man! I read so many Amazon books…Asshat didn’t read a single one. I knew polyamory is a thing, but he didn’t love & respect any of his Ashley Madison hookups. I so call call bs on that.

    Worst advice: “All men cheat, better to stay with the man you love rather than take a chance on a new guy who will just cheat anyway. Monogamy can’t work. Ever.”

    Best advice: “Transfer all the money into your name. Do whatever you need to do to protect my girls. File. Now. Get out. He isn’t capable of change. You deserve more.” This from my mother-in-law who saw snippets of her XH, an abusive, narcissist, porn addict in her son. So sad.

    “Why are you waiting for him to decide (if he’s staying or going)? You already do everything. You always have. Why do you NEED him? You don’t. Where’s that strong, independent girl I met in school?? You file. Get out. He won’t change. Do this on your terms.” One of my dear friends from college, who I avoided telling because I knew she would see and speak the truth.

    I filed the next week. They both spoke burning truth.

  • I’m a little late to reply to this one, but I think a lot of modern dating advice is just…terrible. And a lot of the “fix your breakup/divorce/broken situation now!” advice is shit at best, almost predatory at worst.

    In the middle of my most painful throws of post-breakup desperation, I kept looking for something, anything, that would give my mind hope(ium). Listicles, books, blogs, even (and these are just…the WORST) breakup “experts” on youtube. This is the epitome of hopium dealers. Seriously. You can’t throw a cat without hitting some self-proclaimed expert (with credentials you can never seem to verify) touting how their method is the tried and true way to fix your relationship/get your ex back/make your spouse love you again, etc.

    It definitely preys on the pain and vulnerability of people fresh out of breakups (usually the people who were dumped and didn’t want it or were hurt by a partner they still love.) They go on about how watch their video and subscribe to their channel to “decode” (untangle the skein) your ex’s behavior, what subtle behaviors show they are “secretly missing you” (hoooopium) and look at the testimonies of people who followed the program and successfully got their ex back! The free videos can help, but if you want special, individualized, custom attention to your situation, click that there PayPal button and buy the full program, but do it fast, because time is of the essence! Every minute you waste not dropping $90 on the breakup-fix program your ex could be banging someone that’s not you, oh, and they only take on a small number of “clients” at a time, so the attention to their situation can be extra super special, so hurry up and give your money before the window closes and you miss it and you lose a whole month of ground on getting back your ex! DO IT! NOW!

    They also put a lot of emphasis on how people who didn’t buy the program, or didn’t follow the individual steps given to them when they bought the program, they failed and completely blew it and their ex rode off into the sun on a unicorn with someone more fabulous. So hurry and spend the money, sign up, and follow the program exactly!**

    **results are not guaranteed and once you give your money there’s no money-back under any circumstances because you literally cannot control other people and if the “method” doesn’t work then it’s very convenient to just say you did it wrong and since it’s your fault no, you will not get back however much you literally wasted on someone who claimed they could fix every problem in your relationship that you found on fucking YOUTUBE.

    CN should be relieved to know that no, I did not ever spend money on any of these Youtube breakup fixer assholes. I actually started seeing a real relationship counselor in an actual professional practice, with a real doctoral degree from a legit educational institution. …I recommend doing that instead.

  • BEST advice: After I let the cat out of the bag that exh2/TEO was leaving me, a very close friend posted this on my wall:

    Worst advice: “just be nice, for the sake of your Autistic daughter” nah, I went grey rock/no contact instead

  • Advice for Chump Game of Thrones fans….

    Reconciliation is like Daenerys Targaryen bringing Khal Drogo back from the dead. Your “stronger” relationship will be like Khal Drogo sitting there, alive, with a blank thousand-yard stare, flies buzzing around.

    Affairs are relationship suicide. My husband’s new code name is Kamikaze.

    The “relationship” without trust and safety is actually an ENTANGLEMENT. There is no relationship without trust and safety. It is dead dead dead.

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