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Dear Chump Lady, My wife kissed a coworker

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Dear Chump Lady,

My wife and I were good friends for 5 years, dated for almost another 5 and have been married for 8 years, have 2 kids, with our 9th anniversary coming up at the end of this month. Prior to marriage, she had dated only one other guy, I dated several others and we were each other’s firsts.

When we were dating, there was an incident with a coworker of hers, we’ll call him Chris. She felt attraction for him as did Chris for her. There was friendly hugging and he gave her gifts such as a Victoria’s Secret gift card and invited her to go to the movies. My wife thought about it for a few days before asking me if she could go. Obviously I said no and we got into a serious discussion. We moved on from it or so I thought.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago from today, she (a type of therapist) was at a crossroads at her current workplace. She was considering going to another company after having worked there for several years. We discussed this together and the idea of her going to private practice came up. I suggested she reach out to her contacts for advice on starting a business and start networking.

One day, she runs into her old high school crush at a coffee shop. We’ll call him “DC”. DC has his own practice (psychologist)and does well for himself. My wife and DC started to talk about it and after a few talks, he convinces her to work with him for a few sessions. He has requests for his services that he professionally cannot take because that’s not his area — it is for my wife though.

They drive out for a few sessions here and there, she does some work free of cost in return of advice and mentorship on starting a business. I notice lately that they’ve been texting each other pretty late and I joke to her about it saying things like “Oh, who’s that secret lover are you texting so late?” I know it’s him because she’s told me who it was and showed me a few texts. The texting at night occurs sometimes when I’m sitting next to her. There isn’t anything unusual in their conversations besides the joking and friendly workplace flirting/teasing.

A few days after I joke about the texting, she comes home an hour later than usual. I ask her about her day and she said she went on a walk around a park with him to talk and catch up on times (remember they used to go to high school together). I also joke about it saying that I wasn’t invited to their date. She says it wasn’t anything like that, it was just a walk and talk kinda deal with a friend/coworker.

At the end of the following day, she comes home crying. She told me that she told DC they could only be friends, she had attraction to him and she was sorry. I was numb. While I had joked about the texting and the walk, I was slightly suspicious of the behavior but chose to trust her.

We had a serious conversation. She was attracted to him and wanted to see how far it went. She states that she wasn’t trying to sleep with him, but was very interested in him. In our conversation, I told her I didn’t fully believe that statement and asked her what would’ve happened if I didn’t joke about it? How far would it have gone?

She admits that she was interested emotionally. She is curious about him. I agreed with her that nothing happened, and understanding feelings can occur (human nature, etc) but had hoped she would taken precautions a bit earlier. After that conversation, things somewhat returned to normal.

Two days later, after we had sex and were going to take a shower, she asked if she could kiss him. She was interested in what kissing him was like. She wasn’t interested in running off with him or having sex, but she wanted to know what kissing him was like. Not just a peck but tongue and possibly makeout session. At this point my heart sank.

After struggling with this, I told her that this was her choice, and like it is everyday, we have to make choices. I did tell her that if you do anything to tell me. I don’t want anything to be hidden from each other and that if you made the choice to kiss him, that things would probably change. At the least, I probably wouldn’t want to kiss or be intimate with her. At the worst, who knows what could happen.

At the end of that day, she told me she kissed him. My heart sank and broke. She had knowingly and intentionally kissed him. I was sad. She admitted that she chose her own desires and selfishness and said she didn’t think she did anything wrong. She keeps telling me she loves me, that she has everything she needs with me/isn’t lacking anything and she only did it to find out more about herself and that she’s done with it. I feel like she’s broken the “marriage” in the sense when we got married, we agreed to make sacrifices and dedicate to each other. We’ve thrown the divorce word a few times. She says she understands and won’t fault me if I leave but wants to be with me.

I’m hurt and I am looking for advice (do I stay, do I leave, do I do something else) or just someone to type and chat with.

JB

Dear JB,

Your wife wants to date other men while married to you. Explore her attractions. Act on them. Accept gifts. Spend special time together.

Where do you fit in? Well, you’re welcome to do all the Husband Things. Raise children, bring home a paycheck, roll the trash to the curb on Thursdays. And you can still have sex, just so long as you’re willing to listen to her natter on about Dr. Dreamy’s kissable lips. I mean, you don’t mind, do you?

Dance, motherfucker, dance.

after we had sex and were going to take a shower, she asked if she could kiss him. She was interested in what kissing him was like. She wasn’t interested in running off with him or having sex, but she wanted to know what kissing him was like. Not just a peck but tongue and possibly makeout session.

Oh sure. Just a kiss. Like a Disney princess. Their eyes will lock in a magic forest and birds and mice will dress her for the ball. Just a few Viennese waltzes and then they’ll just chastely hold hands, until the clock strikes midnight and she transforms once more into a staid suburban mom.

How could you begrudge Ms. Hallmark channel her romantic fantasy? To make out with her co-worker and tell you about it?

JB — is this your idea of marriage?

Look, I’m sure your therapist wife fills her empty head with Esther Perel nonsense, that affairs are Quests For Aliveness and Exuberant Acts of Defiance, and she’s just constrained by the cruel, cruel forces of monogamy. And at least she’s telling you about her attractions! Getting buy in! Before she acts on it. (Trust me, she’s acted on it.)

Let me tell you what this really is — emotional abuse.

She’s fucking with your heart for ego kibbles. She’s trying to provoke a reaction in you, of jealousy, of anger, of hurt — with which she can register her centrality and her power.

And of course she has power to play — because you are deeply invested in a life with her and made small children together and a lifetime commitment. It’s a game of chicken. You wouldn’t risk all that, to deny her mere mentorship?

After struggling with this, I told her that this was her choice, and like it is everyday, we have to make choices.

Yes, everyone here has agency. And you’re allowed to give her a choice — cut this shit out, or I’m gone.

But then here’s what you’re left with, JB — a woman you have to threaten with an ultimatum to commit to you.

Is that a prize worth “winning”?

Don’t go down the rabbit hole of Isn’t It Natural To Be Attracted To Other People? (Yes, sure. The world is full of attractive people. It’s what you do about it.) Stick to the topic of — This Is Not the Marriage I Signed Up For.

Can you ever feel safe in a relationship in which you wife signals her availability to other men? A woman who is committed to you is shutting down a man who gives her a Victoria’s Secret card. And unless he’s a creepy stalker dude, that gift idea didn’t come out of the ether. He’s a guy who knows what underwear she likes. It’s not YOUR job to have boundaries for your wife (“Shut that shit down!”) — it’s HER job.

Same with Dr. Dreamy there. Woman have professional work relationships and mentorships that don’t devolve into make-out sessions. She’s chosen a nice veneer there “oh, it’s for WORK” to disguise her affair.

She was attracted to him and wanted to see how far it went.

JB — fuck what she wants. What do YOU want?

It’s totally okay and normal to want your wife’s full attention and devotion. There are good women out there who would cherish you and not risk your family for fucks and flattery.

I suggest you lawyer up. If she complains, tell her you were considering a life without her. You just wanted to see how far it would go.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This totally sucks, not unlike what happened with my wife. I’m sorry to say it, but your marriage is over.

    You have two choices: Accept it now and move on with the current amount of hurt, or keep dancing the pick-me dance and give away all your self-respect; it doesn’t matter, in either case it’s over.

    Me, I wish I’d followed the first path, but of course I didn’t. Get a lawyer, bub, and never look back.

    • JB, I agree 100% with PLC.

      Your “wife” is a very ‘honest’ pompous, vain ass who wants you as an audience AND as a producer for her mediocre drama.

      Here you are surrounded by people who lived the same mistake because they did not yet have access to the wisdom of Chump Lady and Chump Nation.

      Take care of your kids who have a bad example before them. You WILL survive!

      • I agree too, it’s over. JB she no longer sees you as a partner, you are a friend with benefits. Having been in a long term marriage and together since I was 17 (25 years) I know this all too well. She is telling you about as if you were her girlfriend. She wants YOU to be excited for HER.

        End this right now. Her ship has sailed and it is not coming back to you and if it does she will hold it against you and you will suffer a sad unhappy lingering marriage.

    • JB, I also agree 100% with PLC. Your marriage is over. The dance isn’t worth it. My husband strayed, came back, strayed, came back. I danced and danced aka got more and more humiliated. When I look back, our marriage was over the very first time. Save yourself some heartbreak and time. Chump Nation is the best support and laughter to help you through. Take care!

    • Few things worse than a wife who wants you to join them in mooning over their lost-love AP. I got this as well and was so shocked I couldn’t respond for several days, as I was being told by the RIC to “make the marriage such a pleasant place to be your wife won’t want to leave.” Finally decided I want to be married to someone who moons over me the way I moon over her. Which I have learned is the lynchpin if marital reciprocity.

      I ain’t no secondary male character in an Emily Bronte novel, b*tch.

      Years later my second wife and I (feels like my only REAL wife) are mutual nooners, and my ex could live on the moon for all I care.

      • Yes, losing the “love of their life” affair partners; how tragic. Over 20 years ago Mr. Magoo came crawling back to our family after his MOW cheated on him. Not only did I dance as hard and fast as I could to keep him with us over the next decades, but I also had to shove down my feelings of overwhelming sadness, betrayal and humiliation to comfort HIM. I even bought him a book to help him “fall out of love”. Funny, he didn’t seem to need a book to show him how to fall out of love with me.
        JB, don’t be the sounding board for your wife. Don’t wait for her to find herself. Don’t waste your life and self-respect for someone who has no idea how to be a real life partner.
        My cheater found himself all right, he found himself in the arms and other body parts of dozens of women and men during his journey of discovery.
        Don’t waste another day of your life with her.

        • oldcrone, talk about adding insult to injury! You helped your cheater ‘fall out of love’. If only Chump Lady existed back then for us! What a waste of time! That we have so little of. Take care!

          • Thank you, ClearWaters. Yes, if only Chump Lady was here to apply the 2×4 to my head back then. But back then, she was a happy, carefree girl, doodling in her notebooks. She still looks that way (happy, carefree girl) in her photo, though! She gives me and so many others hope that there is something good just waiting for us. On a Tuesday perhaps?

      • You said it nomar!
        The difference in having a partner invested in you, who moons over you and engages with you when you moon over them is amazing. If only I had known that was possible, much less the necessary component of a successful relationship.
        To me there is no greater thing (outside my child) than a partner who appreciates what I do for him and reciprocates.

    • I had a similar situation with my ex wife. I wish I had expedited up the whole process.

      Just say “sounds like you two will be a great couple” and choose a lawyer and start moving on.

      • Yup. To quote the Rudyard Kipling poem:

        If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
        To shoot when you catch ’em–you’ll swing, on my oath!–
        Make ‘im take ‘er and keep ‘er:that’s Hell for them both,

        • I was the spouse who was cheated on after a what I thought a good almost 30 yr marriage. I have a gf who is having an affair on her husband of almost 30 yrs. who also thinks he has a good marriage.

          It took me almost 7 years to get thur what my husband affair did emotionally to me. I’m very very sorry you have joined our club.

          Seeing my gf do this to her hubby, like your wife, is missing things in her marriage & w him. I guess in hindsite I was & my husband was too in ours.

          But the reality is, the marriage you had is no longer. You both have jumped on two different pages, and you have to decide if this is the person you want to be with. I know it’s soooo hard, cuz I too still loved my husband. I had no intentions ending my marriage. I thought we would be buried together as we were hitting retirement ! And in one day my life change, & not by the will of God .

          But being faithful, was a deal breaker that I didn’t realize how important it was to me until I was met with it. It was so horrible to accept. I had to hurt people who I had no intentions of hurting, and I didn’t even cause it. I suffered the consequences for his mistake .

          Only you will be able to answer your own questions, but sadly, you’re going to start a journey of growth that you wish you never were on learning.

          I knew the moment I found out about my spouse my marriage was over, there was no going back, and it was hell accepting it.

          But I love who I am now.

          Hang in there.

          • Susan, Everything you wrote is my story too. There are no winners when the bomb if infidelity lands in The middle of your marriage and family. It all sucks! I’m 21 months out still cry when I am faced with a memory. This is my second holiday season, the first was tainted by divorce right after thanksgiving. I suppose I could have delayed the divorce until Jan 2018 but wanted to be done and I didn’t want to file taxes with him. Anyway JB I think it is easier on you if you get it over with. She has a roving eye and reading these pages, it seems that is an incurable disease. Best of luck, hugs!

            • Thrive,
              You’re better off than waiting until later. I have a male friend that let his cheating wife file six years after the fact and after 6 years of separation. He wishes he just filed right away. He realized it really wouldn’t had changed much really except save him $.

              I spent far too many years believing I would die, I wouldn’t be able to function w out him, he was my whole world.
              But guess what, I didn’t die, I can function w out him, & he isn’t my whole life.

              All he wants is our old life back. Ha !

    • Get out now before she drains all of your energy doing the pick me dance. Save that energy for a life with you and your children.

    • Just echoing what PLC said and here is a real life example….
      Bad life partner- “I’m me! You don’t own me! If you don’t like it, you can leave!”
      Good life partner- “That bothers you? Oh, I’m so sorry! Believe me, it won’t happen again!”
      And it doesn’t.
      The Worm had to “work” with his Pookie at her house.
      My now husband, while we were just dating told me his ex girlfriend contacted him. Asked me how I felt about it. The no longer a chump me said,” Hey, I think you guys need to work a few things out. I’m stepping away.”
      He responded by ending all communication with her, without me even asking. My feelings were more important to him than anything else!!!!
      That’s the way it’s supposed to be!!!

    • Second this. I too wish I had acted sooner. CL’s advice is spot on. My ex too was just “trying something out.” It’s virtually impossible to get past this kind of betrayal and hurt without an obscene amount of mental and emotional gymnastics. Not worth it. Your kids will be ok post-split if you stay the safe, sane, and stable parent. Mine is. Best of luck.

    • Me too but my ex husband pulled this bs on me. Took me two years till I filed for divorce. He did move out but played mind games and still does years later So sorry for your pain and for your children’s pain. See a lawyer and figure out how to get 50 50 custody of your kids at min. If she is like my ex she won’t want the kids to cramp her style

    • If there are no secrets and lies…
      If everyone knows the truth and agrees on the rules….
      If everyone is informed and in agreement about what’s happening…
      There is no problem.

      That doesn’t sound like your situation, not to mention that if you had that, why would you be here?

      Secrets, lies, deception, and disrespect preclide love.

      24 years ago I suspected my husband was breaking the relationship agreement (monogamy). If I knew then what I know now, I would have left.

      Be sure when you gamble, you are only gambling what you are willing to lose.

  • JB,
    Read that last paragraph over and over agin until it sinks in…really sinks in.
    It is perfect advice.
    If she wasn’t your wife, you would have no problem realizing how disrespectful, uncaring and selfish her behavior ( what you know and all that you don’t know) is.

  • I’m so sorry pal — CN is rife with male Chumps (and you’re talking to #1) who fell for this “I need to find out who I am” bullshit.

    If at age (whatever she is), an 18-year investment in the person she supposedly committed to, and 2 children she doesn’t know who she is, and can only find out by manipulating you into these kinds of head games, that should tell YOU a lot about who she is.

    I’ll caution and advise you to pay very close attention to your gut. Your mind is likely churning 24 hours a day with ways to be supportive of the person you’re invested in, and to keep your precious family intact. Do you see that same effort from her? Again, that should tell you a lot.

    • AND…

      “She says she doesn’t fault me (about throwing around the word ‘divorce’) but says she wants to be with with me.”

      That’s so when it happens, she can spend the rest of her life telling the whole world, including your kids, that the whole thing was YOUR idea.

      • EXACTLY!! After my wife told me she was going to leave me and yet still lived at the house but packed and left every weekend and came home drunk every Sunday night with that stupid grin on her face I told her the next day to leave. She couldn’t wait to pack and then cry to everyone how I “threw her out”. Even our kids rolled their eyes at that bullshit.

          • This is totally in the cheater playbook: “I was willing to work on the marriage but Chump threw me out!”. Such innocent victims, such sad sausages. It is all about impression management to Switzerland “friends”.

            • Yep, after we told the kids about our plan to divorce, my cheater told my daughter that I destroyed our marriage as he was willing to continue working on it. He said the problem was I was just so unforgiving (said with a sad sad shake of his head…).

              • Same same. It’s the abuser’s playbook. Schmucks. JB lawyer up and get out now, for the sake of your kids and for your own sanity. She is playing you. Pretty worthless behaviour. And … get tested for STI’s and definitely don’t have sex with her any more, she might have something she didn’t have before she “kissed” the the other guy.

            • Yes. My ex wanted ‘to be friends’ and live together – UBT says ‘have an open marriage’ or at least ‘get all the kibbles while I can still use porn to my heart’s delight’. When I finally told him to leave – after my stressed-out 14yo son started looking for reasons not to commit suicide – he was angry and said it was my fault because I couldn’t be friends with him. Consequences.

            • OMG!!! I thought I was the only one! Mine told me I never loved him if I couldn’t forgive him. He also believes I am the one who broke up the marriage not him, as I couldn’t love for better or worst, as he just made a mistake (1.5 yr affair) as he had the whole weight of the world on his shoulders to support his family! Unreal!

              • The ex blamed me for him having to leave (I told him he had to go) because I couldn’t be friends with him. Not because he wanted to be my housemate instead of my husband, which eventually I suppose would turn the marriage into an open one; not because the stress in the household was affecting our younger children to the point that one of them was googling ‘Why you shouldn’t commit suicide’. Not because I was being unpleasant or unfriendly to him or not looking after him like I’d always done because at that point I was hoping against all evidence for a unicorn. But because I couldn’t be friends with him. Just goes to show that cheaters just don’t have perspective on consequences. Hugs to you Eileen!

              • oh haha I just realised I’ve said all this before – brain fog still there then! 😀

      • I found a way of dealing with that:

        “i really really want you back. But there are certain things you need you to do to show you respect me.

        So remember – I want to get back with you – and I am waiting for you to show me respect”

        yeah it was my own version of a mind fuck, I knew he wasn’t coming back but I wasn’t going to let him blame me for it and this was even before I found CN but it was a logical way to absolve myself of the responsibility of breaking up.

      • I knew this going in to my divorce Ux and at first it bothered me.
        1 – if he hates being married to me enough to cheat he should just file for divorce
        2 – he’s going to make me out to be the bad guy here by playing sad puppy that I am divorcing him but conveniently leaving out why

        Then, I started to see it as my empowerment, as me taking back my life. Now I know it should have been done sooner without having to wait for the cheating. I should have seen my own value when the discard started and put my sanity and my child first.

        Get out of there JB. It might take awhile but after the divorce is final and you can take the long view of your marriage I am betting you will see many ways she devalued you, made you the scapegoat and used you for her own vain and selfish needs. Good luck to you and keep coming back here for help and support.

        • I approached things a little differently because I didn’t want him to claim that the divorce was my idea. When he first told me he didn’t think he wanted to be married anymore following 30 years of what I thought was a happy marriage, he asked me if I wanted him to move out. I said that I didn’t want any of this. So HE had to decide to move out. However, once he decided to leave, I did nix his idea of only taking about a week’s worth of clothing with him and just coming back when he needed more. I insisted that he take everything he wanted and check with me before coming over to the house for any reason. Why? He was moving into the smallest bedroom of his brother’s very crowded house and I wanted him to be as cramped and uncomfortable as possible. (Thinking at the time that he would want to come back – fortunately, that never happened.)

          I also forced him to file for divorce – again I didn’t want him to be able to claim, in his sad sausage way, that I divorced him. Since then I have regretted my decision not to seek the divorce from him as I think it would have made me feel more empowered and less like a victim. But, it doesn’t really matter I guess. I was too shocked and hurt to lead the way in the divorce, but thanks to friends, family (especially my mom), and my attorney I was wise enough to insist on a good settlement and spousal support.

  • I am so sorry that you are going through this. Your wife is basically rubbing it in your face that she is having an affair. Get your ducks in a row and lawyer up. She obviously doesn’t care about the marriage. Check your finances. Is she hiding money? I made a huge mistake and trusted my STBX and I found out he was hiding money in his parents safe. And he was buying my cousin gifts. And he spent a lot of money on her when they went out. My STBX still to today denies that he had sex with Skankella. No one sneaks around for 5 years and doesn’t have sex,
    Please protect yourself. Get checked for STDs. I am sorry but I agree Piree Le Chump your marriage is over. Your wife made sure of that.

    • I second cuzchump. My ex-husband denied, denied, denied that sex was involved…they were “just friends”…. until I found a photo of the actual deed occurring between the two of them. Then his response? It happened just the once…after all, they were “just friends.” Give me a break.

      It is a hard reality when the person you trust the most is lying to your face. It is the bitterest pill to swallow. Please protect yourself, dear friend. We’re here for you.

      • And let’s just pretend, for arguments sake, that actual sex hasn’t happened btwn JB’s wife and DC. So what? She’s still lacking healthy boundaries, is being intimate with him in all kinds of other ways, is making her own husband pick-me-dance.

        As much as intercourse can be a clear line in the sand, even “only” taking long walks, accepting gift certificates for trashy lingerie, choosing to work together when she knows there’s mutual attraction, confiding in each other and making out are all grounds for divorce, if they are not totally acceptable to you (and they certainly wouldn’t be, to me).

        • I agree. One of the smartest books I ever read talked about how married people (and other people in committed monogamous relationships) are supposed to be each other’s intimate physical partner, emotional partner, economic partner, and social partner–as well as partners in establishing and maintaining a home. When one party outsources one of those aspects of the marriage, it is always trouble. (I’m not talking about polyamory or communal marriage, or couples who make prior agreements to live in separate abodes, etc.

      • Yes, please go back to the archives and read CL’s entry on “Trickle Truth” from July 2017. All of the mention-itis and rubbing things in your face about Dr. Dreamy unfortunately mean the deed is done. That hour “walking around the park” was more likely her delivering a blow job to him in the office.

        I am so, so sorry that this is happening. You are among friendly people here who have walked through the same hell and will help. ((hugs))

        • As cuzchump said, she is rubbing it in your face.

          In my situation, the Python started frequently texting a female friend from his old neighborhood right in front of me and even “showed me a few texts” like your wife did. (But they don’t show us ALL the texts – just the tame ones!) They will tell you there’s no sex involved.

          HA!

          That friend later showed up at my home when the Python was on a work trip to tell me she caught him in a lie, did some digging, and then found out he was married (he had lied to her about that, among a multitude of other things). As soon as she found out his true marital status, she decided it was over but thought it would be better to inform me first and let ME tell him he was busted when he arrived back in town.

          (Some already know this story, but this kind woman brought me a pound of chocolates to soften the blow. It was a surreal moment, for sure!!)

          Unfortunately I gave him a second chance and 4 years later I caught him doing it again.

          People like our spouses have NO BOUNDARIES. The texting right in front of us is a cruel game some of them play. She is not “in” your marriage anymore (if she ever was). She does not respect you or the vows she made to you. You cannot trust her. Sorry, but you really should see a lawyer ASAP.

      • ‘It happened just the once…after all, they were “just friends.” ‘???? So besides cheating on you he also calls you an idiot?

        • Yup, exactly. I suppose I had bought enough baloney at that point, he figured I’d believe anything? I’m sure the next step was probably moving her from Singapore into my house in Alabama. Just a friendly gesture, between friends 😉

  • CL, would you please elaborate on this line here: “with which she can register her centrality and her power.” ?

    Thank you.

    • I’m not CL but I’ve been there. Narcs are about power and winning and screw everyone else in the process. Narcs love the attention generated by the pick me dance.

    • Narcissists NEED to be the center of the universe – that is why they don’t divorce with dignity and THEN look for a new relationship – they NEED to feel that both the spouse AND the AP desperately want them. That reassures them that they are SO important and such a good catch!

      She wants to know that both he AP and her husband want her – will “fight for her” etc. It is all about her, her, her and damn those who get hurt in the process.

      • On D-day which was 3 weeks after Dickhead filed for divorce, i will still trying to pick-me-dance and told him, ‘how stupid can I be, I still love and would try to make it work”. Talking about kibbles and he was already with his exit AP whom he connected with just 3 weeks before the divorce. Yep, I was a chump.

        • Within a week of my STBXH leaving me, just after Christmas last year, I discovered the secret email account that he set up in the last couple of months that he was home “to do everything he could to save our marriage.” He told me he cut things off with this woman a very permanent way, and then was back in touch with her two weeks later keeping her hanging on while he slowly “WRECK”onciled our marriage.

          The emails reveal the extent of their affair, a far cry from the trickle truth he had been feeding me for almost a year. There is even mention of my efforts to apologize to him for varying things that I acknowledged I did wrong in the relationship that I came to from my own independent counselling. He mocked my efforts to be sincere and accountable for my own fixings, telling the OW that all I do every night is “apologize for all the ways I treated him like shit and then go to the bedroom and cry.” Thanks a lot, you jerk.

          He didn’t realize that he left the email open on the home computer when he left. He didn’t realize that I was aware of the hotel room he had already booked at the end of January to celebrate her birthday out-of-town (yet he had just gotten his own place which he could barely afford and would have privacy to entertain her – oh no – lovebombing requires major gifts). He didn’t know that I already knew he had been sleeping at her place every night that he didn’t have our kids with him. So, when several weeks after leaving me, he looks all puppy-eyed on my doorstep dropping the kids off and asks me how I am, I curtly answer, “Just fine.” He starts to launch into how hard this is for him. I immediately cut him off and closed the door. He hasn’t been very nice to me since.

          I cut him off. No more ego kibbles from me. No more sympathy. No more friendship. No more playing two women off each other to meet his needs. No more manipulating me.

          Your wife is feeling you out. She is major triangulating. She is getting her “high” from other men, but she depends on you for security. She’s in a state of career flux, so she doesn’t want to let go of her security, but her affair has cranked up and now she’s stuck. She’s trying to get you to agree to parts of what she’s doing (and there is more going on for sure) so she feels better – how do you say “cognitive dissonance”. As soon as she’s established more secure footing, she’ll leave.

          My STBXH was completing a university degree when he started his affairs (the first was an emotional affair for a few months, the next full-blown affair went on for just over a year and a half before he left for good, and there’s been one one-night stand confirmed as well). He needed my financial security to pay for that last year of school, see him through the job-hunting process and then provide a little time to get established at that job. Looking back now, I realize that as he was getting into a more secure place, he was getting gutsier with his affair. He was trying to make me end it by treating me badly and was shocked when I actually fought for the marriage (these idiots always convince themselves first that you probably didn’t want the marriage either).

          Shut her down. Extreme boundaries that she won’t know what hit her. Cut off all access to finances for her new career move. She can stick with her current job for now and consider a career move when she’s established herself as a newly single mom. Believe me, you don’t want her to be self-employed when you are hammering out a legal separation agreement; she’ll take you to the cleaners claiming no stable income.

          As for her self-discovery, that needed to be done when she was a teenager. If it didn’t happen and she’s having an identity crisis (mid-life crisis as some would call it), then she needs professional help, not other men. She needs to talk to a professional about her willingness to set aside her moral compass, her poor decision-making, her lack of thought for the emotional well-being of her children.

          We are always in a state of self-reflection and inner-evolution. That is part of life. It should not cost us our marriages and families. People who are secure in themselves don’t need to experiment kissing/sexing with other people. People who are insecure about themselves, but have character, talk to trusted professionals about their negative thoughts and decision-making processes in attempt to reset their course in life in a moral way. People who are insecure and have no character detonate nuclear bombs on their families.

          You are walking a minefield. Get off and on to safer pastures. If she cares at all about you and your children, she will do the right thing. If she cares only about herself, then I guess we’ll be hearing a lot more from you JB. Welcome to the club.

          • Option- thanks for this. “People who are insecure and no character detonate nuclear bombs on their family.” This has been hard for me to face-that I chose poorly. After 30 yrs, this person chose this to adjust to his midlife crisis. A man who pounded integrity into his sons heads and hearts. I hope I never understand how this can happen. I just leave him to his journey and find my own path. Hurts like hell and I’m looking forward to meh.

          • And I love this: “I cut him off. No more ego kibbles from me. No more sympathy. No more friendship. No more playing two women off each other to meet his needs. No more manipulating me.”

          • This is a day behind, but in case you ever read the thread again, JB: You need to turn your attention to protecting yourself, your assets, your income, and your kids. That should mean at least two things and maybe a third:
            1. Consult 2-3 top divorce lawyers in your community. Don’t go with one of those national “men’s rights” lawyers. Find local attorneys who are effective at getting the results you want. You want to talk to more than one because your task is to choose someone who will know how to deal with someone like your wife. You need to know what she CAN get, legally, and what the lawyer’s strategy will be to protect you from the “she took you to the cleaners” result. The lawyer I contacted painted a dire picture (I would lose 1/2 my pension and end up paying alimony). That was horrifying, but it woke me up to what I needed to protect. I ended up negotiating my own settlement because I knew HE was afraid I would take half HIS pension…so knowing what I needed to do, I was able to avoid losing more than I could afford to lose. I don’t recommend EVER negotiating with someone on your own unless you can afford to fail, which is not the case where kids are involved. But you can use what you learn from several lawyers to figure out what matters most to you, what you can give up in negotiations, and what kind of strategy an attorney thinks will help you get what you want and need.

            2. While you are still married, run a credit check. Look for hidden accounts or debts.
            3. And consider hiring a private detective. If your W if rubbing your face in her relationship, that’s a very special form of devaluing you, and one that is usually concurrent with an affair.

    • I am obviously not chumplady, but your request is something I spend alot of time on. Almost everything my ex did in the last 2 years of our marriage, through the divorce, and now, is about trying to provoke a reaction that confirms to him that he was the center of my universe, that I could not be without him, and that he was in control of me and the relationship.
      That’s is what is happening here. This is as much about power and control as anything else. The disordered person is not in control of the black hole inside of them, they are not able to have what we have – and they hate that and themselves but they project that hate and those flaws onto us bc they cant be introspective. Who wants to gaze into the abyss of a black hole? Instead villianize you and punish you, by exercising control, by demanding worship.
      And here is your power: if you give power, you can also take it away. Thx arcade fire. She needs her fix: your constant reassurance that she is central to your universe and she has power. How do confirm? Anytime you engage in any conversation that is not absolutely necc. Yeah, I skipped right to that bc that’s what you should do. Now. I only danced for a month but it was soul crushing. And I knew what was going to happen the minute I understood how many texts were going down between ex and OW. Yet I still danced.
      When the dancing stopped, when I followed the magic formula of boundaries, consequences, enforcement; when I signed up for OFW and never allowed another non written communication to occur, when I decided what to react to and how to react…….when i started reading this blog daily and went back to the archives…..power and centrality returned to where it should be: with me.

    • Basically, she likes being in the middle of this “love triangle” she’s created because then she gets all the attention.

  • JB
    Your afraid to have your marriage end.. we here know what that feels like but she’s a low class, selfish person & think of your kids. Do you want them to be brought up with a wife that’s so immature ?
    She’s clearly not in love with you & you seem like a decent guy. Lawyer up & take charge of your life..
    let Mr. Mentor have her for “make out” sessions.
    That’s all she deserves 👎🏻

  • My heart goes out to you JP!! This story is so similar to that of the man I am now dating. He went through 5 years of reconciliation and listening to ‘pillow talk confessions’ until he was like wait a second and went full blown marriage police and blew her double LIVES up – yeah – A LOT more than ‘innocent crushes’ were in the works.

    SO, as CL so eloquently states, the question is, ‘is this the marriage you signed up for’? My estimation: there are a lot of women out there, like me, that would adore a faithful man that shows up in full integrity to build a true partnership. Why make yourself crazy?

    • And love is a choice, a decision to keep your commitment to your spouse. Those ole marriage vows to love, honor, cherish in sickness and health weren’t only meant to be kept during the fun times. If you think about the love you have for your kids, you love them for who they are and you support them no matter what. You wipe boogers, change diapers, clean up barf and you still actively love them. Love is a verb.

      Once you detach and detox from a cheater, you start to see things much clearer. She’s likely a taker in life and you’ve been okay with being the giver. She showed you who she was so many years ago but you listened to her words and didn’t look at her actions. Please realize this is a chumpy mistake many of us made. We aren’t selfish and entitlted so it’s hard to see that others can be. Especially someone we’ve sunk so much of ourselves into.

      • My ex was a giver (time and material) but never for the right reasons. He didn’t give for the joy of giving or because it made him happy to make others happy. He gave to be admired and so that others would owe him. Then he got resentful because he felt that he was always giving and never getting anything back and so he chose to act selfishly and do something for himself “for once” (actually there were plenty of other things he did for himself, buying the airplane comes to mine). I am the one who reciprocated and gave back the most and yet I am the one he chose to betray in the end because he never acknowledged all that I did for him. I think that is what ticks me off the most. I put so much effort into accommodating his happiness and he never even noticed.

        • I had one of those too. It’s not that they don’t notice all their chump does; it’s that they take it all for granted as their due. In my case, the jerk delegated all the nice things he promised to do for others to me, then cheerfully took the credit, admiration, and reputation he did not earn.

          With distance comes perspective and peace.

          • Ha, mine offered to pick a neighbour up from the airport after a very early flight. I knew nothing about it until I got a call from the airport asking where he was. I had to throw my clothes on and drive 90 minutes to pick her up – where was he? He was with the skank sleeping off the latest hangover!

  • I helped my x go back to school to realize his dreams ( ick ). I watched as he ran around like Peter Pan and relived his youth.
    There were other women. He was dating, drinking and disrespecting me while I tried to do 100 % of the parenting and adulting.

    I had not found CL yet. I believed that he was having a Mid Life Crisis. I danced pretty for 10 years. I became a whisper of who I had been.

    The abuse got much much worse when his true love Miss Piggy showed up. But I chocked those shit sandwiches down like a good little chump too.

    Please listen to everyone here. You deserve so much better than this. And so do your children.

    Do not tell her what you are doing – let her think you are a complacent little chump, but get yourself to a good lawyer and find out how to protect yourself and your family!

    • Lucky – I also believed the mid-life crisis bit. To be honest I still do believe that he’s having a major identity crisis. He even admitted to me twice that he thought he was having some kind of crisis, like there were two versions of him fighting and the selfish one was winning. Even one of his best friends pointed out that my STBXH changes with whoever he is with, as in he was noticing a personality change in my ex as he was having the affair, becoming more like the OW.

      Even if this is all an identity crisis, it still doesn’t take away from the wrongness in their actions. Get out.

      My counsellor met my STBXH for a few sessions in another attempt at possible starting marriage counselling. She identified that he did not fully form his identity when he was younger due to how strict his family was growing up. She also told me that who he is being now isn’t the real him either, but that he has to go through whatever this is. At some point, he’ll come out the other end being something in the middle. Thank God, she also stated that none of this is my fault and that even if he comes out of this, he still won’t be the person I married, so it’s best for me to detach and move on.

      I picked me dance for almost a year, and now, almost a year later, I am still dealing with post-trauma stress of the experience. You endured for ten years. My heart goes out to you. I hope that you are your full yourself restored.

      • I’ve come to the conclusion that the mid-life crisis, while a real phenomenon, is not a particularly useful concept. I think of it like a fever: it proves that something is wrong, but it doesn’t really help you identify what the problem is. So yes, people have mid-life crises, but they are so varied that just labeling it as such doesn’t help you figure out what to do about it. Some people go off and meditate for a few months and returned more at peace with themselves; others buy sports cars or facelifts and incur ridicule but don’t otherwise screw up their families; still others (the ones we’re here about) have affairs and blow up their marriages, because they’re unhappy with themselves, or because they resent that they never got to do it in their youth, or just because they can.

        All of these things are “mid-life crises” but the causes and consequences are so radically different that naming them doesn’t provide any guidance as to how to survive them. So sure – call it a midlife crisis or an identity crisis if you want – but don’t delude yourself into thinking that labeling it will give you any traction on resolving it.

        • “still others (the ones we’re here about) have affairs and blow up their marriages, because they’re unhappy with themselves, or because they resent that they never got to do it in their youth” – Ding ding ding. That was my ex. It took me a while to realize it doesn’t matter why he did what he did. He was willing to throw me under the bus and tear the kids family apart in order to make himself feel better and there is no excuse for that.

      • @OptionNoMore , thanks for this. My exh’s parents were very strict, a ‘religious’ family and perfect in company while there were a lot of very vicious fights at home in private. What you’ve said there about not fully forming an identity while he was growing up is really helpful. I have always aimed at not being bitter or despising him and I sometimes need these reminders to keep that up! Not buying into the sad sausage thing but still having empathy for his crippled childhood. Love today x

  • Sorry, but you should walk away from this woman. She will not be faithful. Believe It! Don’t waste your time with her nonsense. Get out now!

  • JB

    Look at your kids and imagine one of them in the future having a spouse who does any of this disdainful, repugnant selfish shit to them. As a parent you would go for their partner’s jugular.

    Go for your wife’s jugular.

    Hire a lawyer, get your financials in order. And since she seems to find so much time to work free of charge being mentored are you the primary caregiver? Document your time spent with your kids. Also visit a realtor to look at the cost of keeping or selling your house and if your family is renting start looking at other rentals.

    Make a pre-emptive strike and get ahead of this disrespectful person. She does not deserve any conversation about “fixing” your broken marriage. She broke it beyond repair. Once she tried on the dating she lost all (if she even had any) respect for her husband. And once respect is gone it never ever comes back.

    Think of it this way. Would she sit by idly if you were flirting it up and “kissing” another woman. Because even if she wasn’t swayed by sexual jealousy this wife of yours would be registering the possibility her ATM might be spending “her” funds elsewhere.

    Stop worrying about her. Worry about you. Of course, you take care of the kids as well. Show them respect is a two way interaction. Take care of you!

  • I especially agree with CLthat gifts like Victoria Secrets cards don’t come out of nowhere. I think she already had sex with this guy she ‘kisses.’ This is just an elaborate game to see what you will do. It is trickle truth.

    In the real world, nobody gets to just decide to kiss someone and do it the next day. If I decided to kiss my married boss, my hunch is I’d get flung across the room while he shrieked what the hell are you doing.

    She already knew she could make out with that guy. Chances are, that’s because that boundary got crossed weeks ago.

    • Ding ding ding! “Asking” if she can kiss someone is a play to get retroactive permission for things she’s already done.

    • Oh my god YES! I was complaining to my friend years ago about my ex and how the OW was still texting him (for two years after the affair ‘ended’) and that my darling husband was just baffled. My BFF whispered that bitch may be crazy, but she ain’t talking to herself.

    • I would like to consider myself to be a fairly sane, responsible, moral woman. I’m telling you that if a man who was not my husband/boyfriend ever gave me a Victoria Secret GC, I would freak out. It is completely inappropriate. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

      It seems like there is already a history here of boundaries. That is a major red flag.

      Good spouses do not let other men/women cross the lines. If they try to explain it away, then they are covering their butts from their own inappropriate activity that invited an outsider to believe that it would be okay to give such gifts at all. No way is that okay.

    • I would like to consider myself to be a fairly sane, responsible, moral woman. I’m telling you that if a man who was not my husband/boyfriend ever gave me a Victoria Secret GC, I would freak out. It is completely inappropriate. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

      It seems like there is already a history here of boundaries. That is a major red flag.

      Good spouses do not let other men/women cross the lines. If they try to explain it away, then they are covering their butts from their own inappropriate activity that invited an outsider to believe that it would be okay to give such gifts at all. No way is that okay.

  • It’s hard for us, those who meant to keep the our wedding vowsto not to give up. We are moral people we choose to do the right thing. The Marriage that you had is over, you now can choose to remain in this one with this new person (but she really was always that person wasn’t she) or not. Staying married was extremely important to me, we have 5 kids! I stayed for 1 “emotional” affair, 1 full blown affair where he left me while I was pregnant, and who knows how many others that I don’t know about. I made excuses, justified his behavior (he had a bad childhood, I don’t keep a clean house etc.) Thank God I read CL’s book after the 3rd woman! I have been divorced since January and am doing great! All of us here will beg of you not to waste your time with this abusive person, it sounds like she is able to twist what she is doing to make it seem normal to you. You have got to get a lawyer, seperate at least, and this stepping back will allow you to see how fucked up she is and it will also show you that you got this! You will see how mighty you really are! Oh and by the way, Unicorns are extremely rare if they even exist at all.

  • Your wife is not a therapist. She is a charlatan.
    Professionally and personally. Spectaculary evil are those in the healing professions who choose to do harm.

    There is no trust or safety here. Therefore there is no relationship. I was a psych major. There is only further trauma for me if I stay in such a relationship, AND trauma for my daughter. I dropped out of college to focus on getting MY shit together because I didn’t want to be the classic effed-up therapist.

    When the house is on fire, the choice is to stay and be burned alive or get out with your children and live. Let her stay in there and burn with Dr. Evil.

    I am so deeply sorry for the pain and fear and confusion you are experiencing. We are all in that lifeboat. No one who loves you would act like this. 😪

    • From firsthand experience and all the stories I hear in person and online, there are a lot of incompetent or royally f*cked up therapists out there ! Choose your therapist carefully. I would love to know what kind of “therapist” this woman is…

  • As always this comes down to what is acceptable to you. The pain in your letter tells me that at your core, this behavior is not acceptable to you. This isn’t what you signed up for and it doesn’t work for you. That’s all that matters now, not what your wife wants.

    In theory she gave you a heads up as to what she was doing. I say in theory because I usually don’t believe what comes out of a cheater’s mouth but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend she was completely truthful. You didn’t rant or rave; you gave her the room to make her choice and you told her that there would be consequences and yet she still did what she wanted to do, to hell with the consequences.

    So let’s say that you forgo the consequences for the sake of keeping your family together? Do you actually believe she will stop herself? Nope, in fact you just made her all uncomfortable by bringing up consequences and batting the dreaded “D” word around. That’s usually when they take stuff underground.

    Is that acceptable to you, JP? I think if you’re here asking the question you already know the answer deep down.

  • Jesus JB, you don’t even have the wiggle room of “maybe he kissed her”, “maybe it *just happened*” she fucking told you she was going to do it. This is premeditated.

    Watch out for “but I’ve only ever been with you and you’ve had lots of girls, it’s not fair” don’t buy into it.

    • Wise Kettle,
      “premeditated” EXACTLY!
      The jury is out, GUILTY!

      And to think this cheater is a therapist!
      Proves what CN experts say, when they warn about choosing a therapist wisely!
      EXACTLY!

  • I feel for you too, deeply. And under a benefit-of-the-doubt assumption that your open-mindedness is an indicator of an accommodating nature and not an indicator that you would like to enjoy the same freedoms she’s seeking, I’m going to drop a little bit more toughlove here — with compassion, but still it might be uncomfortable.

    I don’t see boundaries in what you’ve told her. I see a whole lot of maybe in your words and a distinct mismatch with your actual wishes and feelings.

    Do you want monogamy? If so, it is important to be clear that you want it, AND to be clear about how you define it, with her, yes, but also with yourself.

    Are you ok with what she is doing? If not, you need to be equally clear with both of you about it. It sounds to me like you said the words, but it doesn’t sound to me like you set clear boundaries and enforced them. You said that she needs to make her own choices and that it would change things, maybe like this, maybe like that, but I don’t hear that you said it like “of course, you’re an adult and you can make your own choices, but if you’re pulled to go down this road, you’re no longer interested in the monogamy I agreed to with you, and that means the marriage as we knew it is over. Clearly you want to play around with other lovers, and I don’t want that to be how I participate in a marriage, so it sounds like it’s time for you to be single. I am moving forward with that understanding based on your behavior”

    I don’t mean to admonish you — I don’t think her choice of vulnerable timing on your part was a mistake. And I also don’t think weak boundaries yesterday stop you from setting strong ones today. It is my hope to encourage you to get clear with you, then strengthen your resolve.

    Final thought: I agree with the others that more has happened than you know about. Everything you’ve shared sounds like she is testing the waters to see how you react, a very common cheater tactic. So yes, lawyer up, and if you can find a good therapist she hasn’t tainted, maybe therapist up, too. Just remember that she may be violating ethics statutes where you live and they may be mandatory reporters, so step accordingly.

    You also might consider keeping a log of all conversations and incidences from now on, non-perforated notebook, in pen, dates and times and places and people. She’s sure to know all the tricks in her profession, and you’ll need a log to establish timing to protect yourself.

    • This is absolutely true. I too was not good at setting boundaries. I didn’t think I needed to set boundaries and quite frankly it shouldn’t have been necessary. I didn’t want to be in a marriage where I had to set boundaries. Well, guess what? Now I am no longer in that marriage so maybe it worked out after all. Still, it might have worked out in a less soul crushing way if I had set a few boundaries that could be recognizably crossed and consequences meted out even if I hoped they would never actually be crossed.

      • In every relationship, with every person we love, we must have boundaries. Or else we don’t know when we are being abused.

  • JB, your mind is a whirlwind of emotion right now and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. You sound like a rational guy though, so at some point the emotions will start to drain and you’ll look at this situation logically and dispassionately. And at that point, you’ll see how ridiculous your wife is and wonder why you are putting up with that kind of marriage.

    Then you’ll act. And hopefully this process occurs quickly for you (or at least faster than it did for me), as the longer you wait, the more drawn out your pain will be.

    On another note, you only ever know the tip of the iceberg — she’s gone way, way further than kissing with this guy, particularly if she’s at the point where she’s telling you about it now.

  • JB,

    Come to Chump Lady every day until you get a clue. I fear right now you are going to eat the shit sandwich. And I am sad for you.

    As far as the whole, “human nature” thing. That is complete bullshit. I have had countless male friends whether at church, the neighborhood, or school functions. You can observe in an academic sense that they are an attractive person, bu it is just completely meaningless because of boundaries. On both sides! Natural is a word I am not going to fight, but she could have behaved differently. She was flirting early- probably at the damn coffee shop!

    And she has been fantasizing for years about her life being different, just saying. She may not have gotten enough dating experience to appreciate a good guy, and goes back to a stupid thing from high school. She honestly sounds so immature. She is acting like a high school girl. ” I was attracted to him, and wanted to see how far it went?!” ” I just want to make out with him?” Has she ever been an adult and realized that adults have sex. How is she even a therapist?

    You will see that most married people have pretty clear boundaries with people of the opposite sex. The texting bantering is not okay either, the driving together isn’t okay in general. Men and women know how to be professional and still be nice and friendly.

    This was always more.

    Was the first five years when you were really young? If it was say 12-17, then maybe this doesn’t apply, but if it was different, then yeah, she was never totally into you in order to be friends with you for five years. When you are attracted to someone after age 16 or 17, you want to date them- not be friends with them. She may have looked around and thought- he is good enough. I hate to say it but she settled for you. She didn’t have courage then, and she doesn’t now.

    That is why I hurt for you. She won’t divorce you unless she has someone else she can run to, but it makes me sad that your wife doesn’t truly love you. but she likes having a husband.

    My two cents.

    I usually don’t comment, but I just hope JB reads all of these comments.

    • Even if she hasn’t gone all the way, the wall is crashing down on you. I had a friend who cheated on her husband. Started out with sneaking kisses and lead up to a full fledged affair or two. The thing was – she loved how men, including her husband desired her. It was a defective ego that controlled her. When I read CL’s advice, I thought it was way too early for blowing up the marriage but as I think about it, I think the vows have already been broken. And that’s very sad.

  • I foresee any boundaries you establish here morphing into “you are controlling and she is a victim.” At least that is what she will tell herself to make you the bad guy so he infidelity is justified.

    Psychology is the study of behavior. Google famous psychology studies and you’ll find a wealth of information… Asch Conformity Study, Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith Cognitive Dissonance Study, The Milgram Experiment, etc. What all of these studies have in common is testing the predictability of human responses to given situation. Though this community has no scientific basis, I can say that it’s members have established there is a definite pattern and predictability in the cheater mentality, and number one on that list is a sense of entitlement. But entitlement doesn’t come in boastful proclamations that they are entitled. It comes under the guise of victimhood, double standards, and centrality (their centrality). I’d be curious to see if your wife is okay with you kissing a coworker. If she is, it’s likely because that would give her permission to do so. Which leads me to the second pattern of the cheater – the hidden agenda.

    Seasoned chumps can go on and on about our understanding of the thought patterns of a cheater. That intellectual understanding doesn’t do much for alleviating feelings of hurt and betrayal though. Which leads me to, your feelings of hurt and betrayal ARE LEGITIMATE. You are not crazy, overbearing, controlling, etc. you are RESPONDING to her actions.

    This leads me to the very basis of the cheater mentality… that being, YOUR response to the behavior is the problem, the behavior isn’t the problem. If you try to establish this is not the case, you are going to get the laundry list of “what came first, the chicken or the egg 🥚 … otherwise known as the false equivalency.

    -You didn’t put the milk away correctly the entire marriage
    -The way you fold your socks is a personal affront
    -That one time back in 1999 you didn’t compliment the meal she made.

    If you can make a man believe absurdity, you Can get him to accept atrocities!

    The thing with cheaters is, the only way to save yourself is to

    • “I foresee any boundaries you establish here morphing into ‘you are controlling and she is a victim’ .”

      I was about to say a really Chumpy thing about “Draw a hard line in the sand and tell her to decide right now” and then I read this and realized that this is what her response will likely be.

      She left you in a spot where there are few options and they are all bad (although some lead to a better cheater free life and some lead to more abuse).

      My Cheater only ever copped to kissing his coworker. After he died, I found the hotel receipts. Fucker.

    • Yes. When my first therapist suggested I need to set boundaries with my bullying husband, I was essentially called controlling. That I was in a power struggle with him.
      The curious part is that in at least 80% of all decisions we went with him. So, how he can claim that I created this massive power struggle is beyond me. He simply claimed that I did not leave him with choices, so of course we always went with his choice and decision. He basically took the approach that if he wanted to go to Norway and I wanted to stay home two weeks before we moved across the Ocean, that my choice was not a valid one, because it was not doing anything. Or that when I suggested a couple’s weekend in Switzerland that this was not a valid option, because the kids would not come along. By making my choices sound dumb, he essentially defaulted everything to his way of thinking. Claiming that there were not other options to pick from.

      Controlling is whenever they are not getting what they want or you dare to set any type of boundaries.

  • JB

    Just chiming in with an after thought. If anybody has implied that you did not set boundaries. Umm…

    Your marriage vows set boundaries. Your wife is trying to write codicils.

    Like a lot of us chumps I think you might be overwhelmed by your feelings and the disbelief that she is actually pulling these stunts in front of you. And I think you actually are afraid you might get to see the rest of the infidelity iceberg because she has only shown you the tip of that filthy thing.

    • I struggled with a bit with the fact that our marriage vows did not include the specific wording of “forsaking all others”. At the time I didn’t think that was necessary. Later I wondered if I had somehow given him a free pass by not including those in the ceremony. It doesn’t matter, however, because that is implied in Love, Honor and Cherish which he did promise to do. The definition of Cherish includes not negatively comparing your spouse to others real or imagined. Ex failed at that one a long time ago. You can’t have an affair if you aren’t negatively comparing your wife to another, it certainly isn’t honoring your wife and if my ex truly loved me he wouldn’t have done something that would cause me so much pain and he would know Me well enough to know that I would be hurt.

      • Oh, the “unspoken codiciles”. I had no idea they existed, but, apparently, they did. “I will only remain faithful as long as no other woman hits on me.” “I will only remain faithful as long as you don’t gain any weight” (I was super skinny. Seriously. Unhealthily so.) “I will only remain faithful as long as you let me fuck you in the ass/swallow/whatever other kink I can come up with”.

        But I will willingly share whatever STD I get with you.

  • THIS:

    I suggest you lawyer up. If she complains, tell her you were considering a life without her. You just wanted to see how far it would go.

    At a minimum, you need to see a lawyer, especially if you live in a “fault” state. You don’t want her telling a judge “He said it was ok.”

    You deserve better than this. I’m sorry your “first” turned out to be a fuckwit… trust that your “last” won’t… you just need to be available to find her once this mess is behind you.

  • she wants you to end it as she is already working on “reputation management” and wants people to think you threw her out, or that YOU quit. Get out of there before she uses all of the savings on this new “business” she’s starting up.

    My stbx began treating me badly in hopes that I would throw in the towel and when that didn’t happen, he had to end it himself. I made sure to tell MY truth – that he abandoned me and the kids and he was having an affair. He was FURIOUS that I was telling people the truth. Just last week, he told me that “in his mind, he hasn’t been married for a LONG time.” So now, I guess he believes he’s God, too.

    Walk away with your dignity. You got this!

    • Omg— cheaters are all the same! There really is a cheater playbook: x told his APs (yes, plural because ….cake!) that in his mind our marriage had been over for years! Really?! Then why didn’t he tell me? We had what I thought was an amazing marriage (his charm mask was on): frequent sex, trips away together without the kids, daily calls and texts, tons of joint hobbies, plans for the future, 25 years of shared life, community involvement, a host of joint friends, ……apparently it was all an elaborate con to keep me producing for him until he found another mark. Sick, horrifying…. thank God I kicked him out and finally went no contact and divorced. It took 18 months and was the hardest action I ever took, but like JPC, there was nothing to work with and tons of rage directed at me!

  • Are you okay with your wife fucking another man? With this other guy being inside her?

    Cause it’s gonna happen soon, if it hasn’t already.

    Leave, while you still have your dignity.

  • Hi Everyone,

    JB here. Update –

    Lots has happened in these past 2 weeks and I don’t know if I’ve gone psycho or if my love for her has evolved to be unconditional. I won’t know until years down the line.

    I’m trying to recall the timeline but even if it was within this past 2 weeks, it has been so crazy that I can’t remember all the details. I think it was a Tues or Wed she came home and admitted feelings for another man and said she drew the line as friends for him. She had spoken to her brother in law maybe a few days before that to ask for help. He told her that to remove those feelings were be to go no contact. She couldn’t control her emotions and continued to work with him. The following Thursday, after our discussion, seemed okay back to normal. On Friday morning we had sex then as we cleaned up for work, she asked for permission. Friday night she tells me she kissed him and said she was done. I agonized and didn’t speak or look her in the eye until Sunday Night. We gave each other space to think about it then come Monday night she said she wanted to divorce. I don’t know why, actually I do, at that moment, all I thought was how I love her and I was willing to forgive her. I asked her to keep working for us and to go no contact. Back and forth we spoke then on Friday night of that week, she told me she made out with him and asked for divorce. Again, I asked, let’s work on us. I strongly believe I did it because I love her. After awhile, she said ok, for this to have a chance we have to be friends for now, I won’t contact him for a month, we’ll date each other (her and I) exclusively and after a month if I still have feelings for you that is stronger, then I’ll stay.

    We are now divorcing. I am looking for a lawyer to file paper.

    Yeah, this sounds all crazy. I know that I should’ve maybe ended it after the first kiss. Definitely after the second one, but I just love her so much. We have had several conversations up until today 11/19/18. I’ve learned a lot about us and her and myself.

    1)She was selfish and she cheated. Both of which she admitted
    2)My love for her was much greater than I imagined. More than my own pride and integrity. Didn’t realize I could ever love anyone that much
    3)Both of our priorities are the kids. No matter what. Right now we’re co-habitating and operating as we are a family.
    4)I am mourning and healing and moving on. This pain is so bad. Never would I wish this on anyone.
    5)The other guy she is now dating is divorcing his family. He has a kid almost turning 2
    6)I was not as good a husband and father as I should’ve been. At times I was very strict, I believed in spanking children (not abusing) if they did something extremely bad, I was complacent in myself, not growing myself, exploring interests, etc.
    7)My wife as just as fault for not communicating what she exactly wanted AND needed from our marriage. We both agreed it was unacceptable for her to go outside the marriage
    8)I supported and helped my wife to become a sexual being. She was shy when we started out and become comfortable. She is now also feeling empowered as a woman. I encouraged her to do things she normally wouldn’t. We both agreed those things contributed to where she is today
    9)My wife is very unique in that she wants to explore everything including other/different people. She wants to do this to know what she wants and likes. I’ve come to grips with that. I’ve now understood that what we had was real but she is what you could say a polygamous or promiscuous women. I guess in the current society’s definition, it is looked down upon but if you look at our history and other cultures, it was normal. Isn’t excusable, but I now understand who she is.
    10)I can’t hate her. I love her, mother of my children, her free spirit was what I love about her, but it was also why this marriage couldn’t work
    11)I’ve found some closure in the sense that I don’t blame myself but if I had done things different, things would’ve turned out different. It was all the little things that added up that both she and I didn’t do that also contributed to this. Complicated to explain but no blame her other than on her. These are things I need to work on myself going forward
    12)The love for each other is still there, but the infatuation and freedom, that dating atmosphere is much stronger. Who knows, when she has an awakening, she might change. She might now. I guess you could say again marriage isn’t for everyone
    13)We are really good friends, both her and I. I really am comfortable being around her. Even though we’re not legally divorced and she’s dating the other guy, I’ve accepted reality. I do resent what she did but I forgive her.
    14)This is the weird part that I may get backlash from others who don’t understand our dynamic – we still live together. We’ve had casual sex twice and I was okay with it. First time I’ve had casual sex (we were each other’s firsts). She’s been dating/seeing the guy. I give her advice on what I think about the guy (objectively) as if we were best friends. We talk and I enjoy companionship. Last night we slept in the same room, not same bed. One of my better nights for sleep. I know people will say I won’t fully heal properly if we don’t cut it off, but right now I know that’s what I need.
    15)The healing process – the pain and lonliness comes and goes. I want to love and commit to someone. I want the same in return. I want to come home knowing that person will be there. I want to be able to trust and show a person all about me – the good, the bad and the extremely ugly. Do I miss her and our marriage yes. Do I reminisce, yes. But I know it’s no longer happening and I have to first heal before I learn how to date, date and try to find that partner in life again. I do fear I won’t find someone I can ever heal or be open to but my wife or ex wife will be there for me to talk. You could say that with divorce, we’ve removed the husband and wife label (one where this couple has known and better together for 20 years, date and married) and all the vows and commitments around marriage. The dynamic between us hasn’t changed other than the romantic love and sexual piece. I know her best, she knows me best. We’re better than best friends, but we can’t be “family” per se.
    16)I understand that at one point, we’ll have to separate and no longer cohabitate. I’m very practical in that I may ask to move back in with my parents for a little while. They’re getting old and I want to spend time and take care of them even if I have to endure those pains of nag and lecture from them.
    17)Some of you have said – you should’ve put your foot down and shut this shit long ago. That’s not how she and I work. We are both alphas and equals in this marriage. Knowing her, if I was forceful about this, if she wanted it enough, she would’ve found a way or just resented me if she stayed. Our boundaries were very clear to begin with. There was never a question or concern about that. It’s just she made a choice.
    18)she admits that she doesn’t think she wants a relationship with him. she admits that the other guy is geeky/nerdy but just wants to know. She’s also okay with not marrying again or being with anyone. She doesn’t know and we can’t be married together because there are things we both want that can’t co-exist.
    19)My wife or ex and I’s relationship I believe have reached amazing heights. We both don’t expect everyone to agree or understand why we did things the way we did and are doing things the way we are now.
    20) tl;dr marriage is over, the love for each other is there. I want commitment, she wants freedom to learn and explore. Yes she wronged me with cheating but I forgive her. Our kids are our priorities and we’ll do whatever we can for them. I hold hope for the future. Who knows maybe she discovers that this was the wrong choice or this isn’t truly her or she changes/evolves and we reconcile. I’m not banking on it or hoping for it. It’s just one of many possibilities – only that this possibility is real because of our history and connection. Right now I need to heal and am looking for all the support possible. You guys are awesome. This site is awesome. In a crazy world, i wish we could all be roommates and just share our experiences and learn and grow. Healing takes time and I understand that, but I think now that I’ve understood it all and accepted it all, I will heal much faster than would be expected in my situation.

    • JB – great to hear from you. But oh boy, you are in DEEP SHIT. Put down the hopium pipe; that stuff will kill you.

      “12)The love for each other is still there, but the infatuation and freedom, that dating atmosphere is much stronger. Who knows, when she has an awakening, she might change. She might now. I guess you could say again marriage isn’t for everyone
      13)We are really good friends, both her and I. I really am comfortable being around her. Even though we’re not legally divorced and she’s dating the other guy, I’ve accepted reality. I do resent what she did but I forgive her.
      14)This is the weird part that I may get backlash from others who don’t understand our dynamic – we still live together. We’ve had casual sex twice and I was okay with it. First time I’ve had casual sex (we were each other’s firsts). She’s been dating/seeing the guy. I give her advice on what I think about the guy (objectively) as if we were best friends. We talk and I enjoy companionship. Last night we slept in the same room, not same bed. One of my better nights for sleep. I know people will say I won’t fully heal properly if we don’t cut it off, but right now I know that’s what I need.”

      RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN

      RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN

      Oh JB – do you really think we haven’t heard this story OVER AND OVER AND OVER at Chump Nation? And every time, the person involves thinks they have a Special Bond with the Ex That Other People Don’t Understand.

      We call this the hysterical bonding stage, when the makeup sex is very potent, and makes you ramble like a drunk on blogs in front of strangers. We’ve all been there. “Everything will be GREAT. No really. We have an Amazing Relationship”, as you blunder into the nearest lamp post.

      I have my head in my hands for your sake right now. You. Are. Being. Played. You are lying to yourself, and to her, but you can’t stop yourself because you are awash with dopamine.

      You need to get out of the house, away from her, and go No Contact. You are being used, and will be further burned. This is cake – yet more glorious cake for her.

      Is this your idea of friendship – hanging around someone who fucked you over completely? Would you remain friends with a guy who screwed your wife? Would you remain friends with a woman who has humiliated you in the most intimate and painful way?

      Wake up, kiddo – before you wake up one day and she’s emptied the bank account and gone to the other side of the country with her business partner and your kids, in your car, and you find you’ve been left with her credit card debt AND his, and your house has been sold out from under you.

      • Lola- you are so right! I thought the same damn thing, ” No, we really love eachother! ” JB- everybody here thought the same damn thing!!

        This isn’t what love feels like.

        • Listen to Lola!!! you are now a Cuck JB pure and simple. I’ve never met one who wasn’t lacking and desperate. Make no mistake you are NO ALPHA here and SHE knows that despite perhaps her proclaiming that you two have is the highest form of True Love – fluffing you up to keep the nest for her, and letting you have sex with her on occasion to cruelly keep the flow bonding chemistry in your brain – until her alpha can come and claim her. JB, Her Alpha nuts inside her without having to beg and feel shame and she likes knowing this.
          ***I don’t say this to hurt you – I want you to WAKE UP***
          She got you to buy into her fantasy so that you can help her achieve it. She does not care if it destroys you. And now that you are subdued and fully cucked, she will never respect you. You will always want to please her at the great sacrifice of yourself (your children will also have this as a role model – to aspire to or fall victim to). This is NOT love. One person does not suffer while the other one experiences joy!

          You are reacting to trauma, humiliation, abandonment and preservation for yourself and children.

          Please don’t let her do this to you. She is not a unique and special snowflake. She has crushed your spirt and you are on a long road to recovery. I have no doubt I likely know more than 99% of the wonderful and supportive people here on CN about what you are going through in your exact situation. I am not coming from a moral or religious prospective. I’ve seen it. The only Cuck relationship I know that has worked is where my friend’s husband requested it himself and there are many rules and boundaries that they both strictly agree to. All people she sees is mutually agreed upon and vetted. In fact they meet the person as a couple well in advance. There are no secrets, no external love. It is not for everyone. They have a very strong committed marriage. You are not the primary here in your situation. You are not empowered, elevated, expanded etc. You a victim. And you deserve far better for your spirt.

          She is a selfish underdeveloped woman-child.
          AND IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT – NOT. ONE. BIT OF IT.
          Bravery will set you free.

      • JB, PLEASE listen to Lola…she is so right.

        I said the some of the same things you’ve said in your post. And guess what, the narcissist cheater was playing me STILL! Two weeks after DDay, I finally moved out of our bedroom and started getting some clarity.

        Read the archives here, read articles on psychopathfree.com. Do your research. Your wife is trouble and you need to take care of you and your kids. RUN!

    • PS You are not healing. You are trapped in hopium. Healing is NOT what is happening here.

      Healing begins when you get the hell out of there and go No Contact.

      Healing hurts, but it’s like antiseptic on an open and inflamed wound.

      You don’t have a unicorn here, JB. You have a woman who’s betrayed you, and continues to do so, and will do so again. And again and again and again while you spackle over her misdeeds and make excuses and believe you have a Love That Never Dies and a Special Bond.

      And then one day you wake up. When you do, get back to us. We’ll be waiting with some real help, once you’re ready for it.

    • JB, what you describe I also experienced and the excruciating and debilitating pain allowed me to finally see that it was not “love” but rather a very dysfunctional combination of fear and trauma bonds.

      I really do feel for you. I believe an unbearable amount of pain is headed your way and I feel even sorrier for the example set and modeled for the innocent children that will be damaged by what they are experiencing.

    • Oh my God. I’m sorry, you are in deep hopium shit. Please read the Chump Lady book. And to the comments about how understanding and patient you are- um know- you are a chump, and it is not a good look.

    • I’m sorry, JB, but no. Just no.

      My ex also wanted everyone to think that his way of breaking up our marriage was special and different from other people’s. He didn’t want to f*ck around, like shallow people do — no, he was polyamorous and therefore chasing his bliss, and people who don’t get that are bigoted haters. When he quits a high-paying job to decrease his child support, he’s not a deadbeat — again, he’s following his dreams by disemploying himself so he can have more time for his non-paying hobbies and poly pod.

      Your story isn’t rare, and I understand that it hurts. Just know that everything she’s doing has been done before by others, and it’s all being done for herself. Cake, cake, cake.

    • 9)My wife is very unique in that she wants to explore everything including other/different people. She wants to do this to know what she wants and likes. I’ve come to grips with that. I’ve now understood that what we had was real but she is what you could say a polygamous or promiscuous women. I guess in the current society’s definition, it is looked down upon but if you look at our history and other cultures, it was normal. Isn’t excusable, but I now understand who she is.

      I call BS! She’s not being promiscuous or polygamous. She’s leaving you for another man (an old boyfriend) not a bunch of people, not a woman, not two men and a woman. You are trying to come up with any reason why she would leave you and cause you this pain.

      Plus she didn’t care that the old boyfriend was married and had a family. Apparently, he didn’t care either. Those aren’t good people. People who deeply love and cherish their partner don’t do this.

      I get it, I really do. I was there in your shoes trying to come up with any reason as to why my husband of 18 years would treat me like a piece of shit. Did I not say thank you enough, did I not give him enough BJs, did I not show enough support when he needed it most, did I not tell him that he was special to me? I did all things and none of it mattered – not a damn thing. Because he’s a disordered piece of shit who only cares about himself. He didn’t care that I was falling apart, he didn’t care that I loved with every fiber of being, he didn’t care that my pain was so intense that I could hardly breath, he didn’t care that I had stood by his side for 18 years and just wanted to be with him as a wife, companion and friend. None of it fucking mattered.

    • Oh boy…this is real common, and it’s basically not wanting to separate and “lose” them forever so you accept being a friend, a “co-lover”..ANYTHING to stay in their lives. Ouch. You really need to split up, move out, this is how you gain clarity. You’re in the fog, but we’ve all been there to some extent, it’s scary to think they’ll be gone forever, but really do you think your future partner would put up with this dynamic? She’s screwed you over man, and she’s continuing to do that AND save face by appearing to be a wife/mother to friends and family. She needs to be called out on her shitty actions and choices..and her AP is dumping his wife and 2 year old, see a pattern there? Those are the shitty people that deserve each other.

      • Good point, Kbchump. I run like hell from any man who’s still living with his ex. I don’t care what the reasons are. It’s too much drama for me. I’ll be bold and say nearly any potential partner JB may meet will feel the same.

        • And it could all be a lie! They are not, in fact, getting divorced but are married and plan on staying so while they string along chumps/suckers.

    • JB,

      I was at your stage (and all of us here were at some point), so we understand what you’re going through.
      I was hoping for reconciliation too, trying to forgive and equate my mistakes (leaving stuff out on the kitchen counter, not hanging the curtain rods straight enough, not being “good enough” at whatever) with her mistakes (carrying on a multi-year relationship with a married co-worker). My ex-wife planned matching divorces with her guy too. And somehow I still wanted to think that our relationship was different.

      But guess what, in the end, it wasn’t. There was nothing special or unique about my situation at all. It was just the same played out garbage that everybody else here faced. Married guy/girl wants to “be happy” or find “true love” or “explore themselves” or “live authentically” or whatever the hell word salad they choose. Mine was the “I want to be happy” variation.

      As I said in another comment to you above, someday (hopefully sooner than later for your benefit), you will realize that the person you are married to is an adult-aged child. I guaranty she wouldn’t be nearly as forgiving had you done this to her (selfish people rarely consider the flip side of their deeds).

      The other reason I hope you start to snap out of it soon — financial infidelity always goes hand-in-hand with physical infidelity. My wife was hiding money away for over a year leading up to the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” speech. Your wife is hanging out with a guy trying to run his own business practice — I’d highly recommend you see a divorce attorney soon.

      And make it a divorce, not a dissolution, at least to start. You need to have the ability to subpoena all financial records. Once you’re satisfied that you know everything financially, then turn it into a dissolution.

      I wish you the best JB, it’s a long roller coaster, but in the end you’ll get to a better place.

    • Sorry JB, but this sounds way too familiar. Here it is plain and simple: “You are the backup plan” in case things don’t work out for her. My Ex tried to do the exact same thing to me before I found this site. Thanks to a clown MC, I almost went for it too. The minute you assert yourself she will turn on you like a wild animal.

      Save yourself a lot of pain and heartache. Get out now.

    • Ouch that is painful to read. Your wife is an evil person to bring you so low.

      You need to get a lawyer, get as much custody of your kids as you can, move out and go no contact ASAP. She is going to take everything from you and you won’t even see it coming.

      You were not a poor husband or father She is blame shifting and you are buying into it. Stop that.,

      There is nothing you could have done differently to make things turn out differently. This isn’t about you, it is about her. She has shitty character. Accept it and move on.

      She is the loser here, not you. Stop doing this to yourself.

      She is not your friend. You will find that out soon enough when she tries to screw you over in the divorce. Get your head on straight and don’t let that happen.

      She is not normal. She is a selfish self centered person who doesn’t care about you or her kids at all because her “feelings” are more important than her commitments (you) or obligations (her kids). Remember, she betrayed her kids too by giving time and energy to an outsider.

      You don’t need to hate her (that’s just another side of love), you need to be indifferent to her. You will never be able to heal until you get to that point.

      Please stop blaming yourself and being “understanding” of her. She screwed up, not you. She isn’t worthy of your love. Let it go. Protect yourself and then leave her to herself to explore her “feelings” without you as an observer.

    • You probably won’t listen to this because you aren’t ready, but maybe you’ll come back to our comments in a few months or years from now.

      The situation you’re in is not unique by any means. AT ALL. She’s a standard cheater.

      This is going to be a long road. You need to get some distance from this situation. She’s going to keep coming back to you for attention and comfort once the reality of being alone hits her, or things fall apart with the new guy (who she doesn’t even like that much—what a thing to tell you).

      Quit #14 right away. She already doesn’t respect you. I know that this probably makes you feel connected to her, but she’s using you. You aren’t her BFF. You are her soon to be ex husband. And please stop having sex with her.

      You need to toughen up a little. You need to make sure you don’t get screwed over in the custody discussions. (She would never screw you over? Really?)

      I feel for you, I really do. But I speak from experience (so very similar to yours). Read CL’s posts on unconditional love and cheating as emotional abuse. Keep coming back here. Talk to friends who will support you and help you see reality. Don’t rationalize unacceptable behavior.

      Eventually you’ll see what is happening but it might not be for a while.

      I’m sorry this happened to you, but it will get better if you start separating yourself.

    • You say the other man is divorcing his wife. He is not leaving his family over a kiss. There is way more going on between them. And probably has been for quite some time. Good luck to you.

      • This. I’m sorry, but no man gives up his wife and kids because he’s exchanged one passionate kiss with another woman. There’s more to this than a couple of walks in the park and a smooch. I know for sure (because OBS found credit card receipts going back close to a year) that my wife’s AP didn’t blow up his marriage to be with her based solely on the *promise* of future intimacy, despite both their denials to their respective spouses.

        I mean, not everyone is sexually compatible. He’d have to be a grade-A idiot to destroy his marriage to be with another woman that he hadn’t sexually sampled first. Even if he had no actual loyalty towards his spouse, it just makes sense to try out the bird in the bush before giving up the bird in the hand.

        I, too, am sorry. Being lied to is, in many ways, harder to stomach than the actual infidelity.

    • Ugh, NO! My mouth is agape. Look dude, one male chump to another, I’m going to be really harsh here. Please take it the way it’s meant – to help you see the light before you progress any closer to the dark, soulless life playing the husband who agrees to a graceful ‘conscious uncoupling’. I am so angry for you right now, but what you really need is to be angry for yourself. Here’s what you’ve actually learned about each other and your marriage:

      1) You didn’t sign up for this. You believed that she was a person you could trust. She isn’t. She made false commitments to you with NO intention of ever keeping them. She is NOT exploring herself and has NOT discovered herself. She’s clearly known who she is the whole time, and you’re just now finding out. Embrace that. Be angry. She conned you.

      2) The corollary to #1 is that SHE WILL NOT CHANGE. She has already shown you that. She’s been doing this shit since the beginning of the relationship, AND you knew about it! Stop all the ‘we still have love for each other’ bullshit. She doesn’t love you. You can’t cheat on somebody you love. This is all just a convenient way of keeping you from getting angry and laying down the hammer with consequences. What delicious CAKE you serve!!!

      3) Quoting your #11 – “I’ve found some closure in the sense that I don’t blame myself but if I had done things different, things would’ve turned out different. It was all the little things that added up that both she and I didn’t do that also contributed to this. Complicated to explain but no blame her other than on her. These are things I need to work on myself going forward” – You don’t seem to understand what not blaming yourself means. If you had done things differently, things would NOT have turned out differently. Her cheating has nothing to do with the things you did or didn’t do and everything to do with her fucked up character and entitlement. The decent guy you seem to be has caused you to examine some of your own flaws that you could work on to make yourself a better partner. All decent human beings should strive to be better partners/spouses. Your wife, on the other hand, isn’t doing this….she’s using asinine excuses about self discovery. There’s an excellent point that comes up on this site every once in a while…IF you accept that you each contributed to the negative state of the marriage, why didn’t you cheat as well? Think about that.

      Now for a little more compassion. PLEASE, PLEASE LISTEN to everything written in response to your letter. This many people telling you the same thing can’t be wrong, can they? Others have already said it here, but it’s worth repeating over and over. Is this acceptable to you? It sounds like it’s not. You made a commitment to someone who is incapable of commitment. Feel that. Internalize it. Understand all that it means. Leave this abuse and you will find that your life greatly improves. It’s scary at first, we all get it. Find your anger and your indignation at the nerve of such a fuckwit to dangle this shit in your face. Use that to do the best thing you will ever do for yourself. Graciousness has no place here. (Side note, I’m certainly not advocating any kind of behavior that will put you in front of a judge. You need to be cool on the outside, but roiling with righteous indignation on the inside). Once you can see how your marriage has only served her entitlement and reduced your needs, you will realize that eventually, when you’ve healed, you will be a able to find a healthy, loving relationship based on respect and reciprocity with a woman who actually cares for you. You deserve it.

      Also realize that healing will probably take quite a bit longer than you expect. At first, you’ll have a lot of bad days, then some good days will start to creep in. You’ll slip backwards sometimes and get stuck in a negative cycle, but eventually the good days will outweigh the bad ones. The best thing you can do is learn to manage those self doubts about your contribution to the fate of the marriage. Process them as a way to self improve, but never accept blame by remembering the things above. This will all take a while, but hang in there. You’ll make it out the other side, we promise.

    • The PAIN is real, it is horrific, and we understand all too well what you are experiencing.

      You can take a certain amount of solace in knowing that the fuckwit you married is involved with another cheater. The odds of that working out are slim at best. The chances of one or both of them cheating again are high. Real life tends to take the sparkle out of a relationship, and cheaters don’t tend to do real life very well.

      You AREN’T a cheater. You deserve somebody’s FULL attention, not just a slice of the pie. You deserve to be in a relationship you can trust your soul and health with. You deserve somebody who will work along side you when things get tough, who will hold your hands without looking for another person’s hand to hold behind your back.

      The fact is, and I know this from bitter experience, even IF you got back together….you will never fully trust her again. Is that what you want?

    • JB – the words CL wrote in the book, that moved me the most are simply, “what are YOUR values?” “what is YOUR worth?”

      I thought I was a bad husband…I thought I was a bad father.. I WAS CONVINCED I deserved that treatment. I don’t. I have value. I have worth.

      You’ve got one life to live.

      Cheaters think they gotta fill their empty hearts ask fast as they can, cause times running out (I’m not sure my XW ever will. but it was an excuse she used).

      You want to live like you are? Is that what you’re worth?

      • Yea, I was thinking this too. As someone who’s been there, I get it. As someone who’s made her needs so freakin small so her beloved partner’s unrelenting needs can be met. I feel this.

    • Boy, has she got you snowed.

      You’re dancing and playing the Hopium Polka; she’s enjoying having someone pay for her maintenance while she screws around.

      Don’t be a chump any longer than you have to be, unless you REALLY like it.

    • JB, you are toking on that hopium pipe with all your might, but I get it. I did that briefly whem I found out I’d been chumped. I imagine most people do if they love their spouse. But the idea that this marriage can be fixed is a fantasy. She does not want the marriage. She will not change. She will not learn to value you in time. Her kids are NOT a priority to her and she does not deserve custody. If they were a priority, she would not have caused the breakup of your family, which, as a therapist, she certainly knows is traumatic for children. She cares first, foremost and possibly only about her own selfish pursuit of escapist pleasure. It isn’t about exploring her sexuality or being a “free spirit”. Those are excuses. It’s actually about running away from family and responsibility, which bores her, to get her ego stroked by other men. She’s obviously narcissistic and addicted to the high she gets off attention from men and romantic bullshit. She was getting high off telling you about what she was up to as well. She’s also not “polyamorous”. There’s really no such thing. It’s just a concept slutty people made up to feel better about being slutty.
      The bottom line is she’s just no good, JB. At some point you’ll be ready to accept that but you aren’t there yet. Listen to Chump Lady and the good people who post here. They will tell you the truth. Your sad excuse for a wife will not.

    • Bottom line, Friend, is that as long as you are OK with it, people who aren’t OK with it aren’t your best source of advice. And you really sound OK with it to me.

      You asked CN for advice and CN is giving you “leave a cheater” advice because that’s the worldview here. If you don’t want to leave, don’t leave. If you’re OK with open marriage after a bit of venting, it’s yours for the taking in this marriage. Your call.

      But if you ask us for advice, then you get what you’re getting here, and I won’t apologize for my part of that advice because it isn’t inappropriate in this forum.

      Best of luck to you, whatever you choose.

      • Also, make no mistake, whatever the paperwork says, if you live together with your kids that you co-parent and you are romantic with anyone besides each other, regardless of whether you are romantic with one another, then for all practical purposes, in terms of how it affects the kids, you are in an open marriage. No need to split hairs on that. What happens to you and their other parent happens to them, whether they know about it or not. No exceptions. (And they always know more than you think.)

    • Oh sweetie. I wish I could give you a big hug. I would pat your head and then whisper in your ear RUN LIKE THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE. TAKE THE CHILDREN AND RUN.
      Someone here posted asking what you would do if this happened to one of your kids, if their spouse said this to them.
      here is the worse option- your children will GROW UP to do this to their spouses, because they get to watch their mother being ” unique” at everybody else’s expense. I’m unique. I’m absolutely fucking unique.You are unique. the reason we are all screaming at you with our keyboards is that we know that your wife is definitely not unique because we have HEARD ALL OF THIS BEFORE.
      LISTEN TO CHUMP NATION. READ THE ARCHIVES.

    • JB

      You will know years from now that you got royally mind-fucked by a narcissistic asshole that had her own interests at heart. This person is no longer your wife; she is the enemy. She has no regard for you or your kids. What did you both promise when you got married; not this. This is a serious departure from what we all expect from our husband/wife. It is now time for you to wake up to reality. The rules have changed on you mate and you can’t yet tell. Please spend as much time as you can here with CN. ask questions and listen and think deeply and follow advice. We have your back and don’t want you to suffer any more at the hands of this piece of shit. My ex said she wanted me to fight for her. I said I wasn’t aware I was required to compete for the affection of my wife when I got married, and that had I known I would not have agreed.

      You have the chance to gain real clarity from the people here at CN. Please use this opportunity. Distance yourself from your abusive wife she is muddling your mind.

      Good Luck

      A

    • Man can I relate to this word soup of thoughts and feelings. Been there JB, and I feel for you. It’s a confusing and painful time. You’re on the righteous path by seeking a divorce, and that’s great. I won’t bother with the other stuff addressed here because it will become clear over time. But most of what is said in response to you is correct. CL nation knows. But, let me provide a few notes:

      * She will get ugly during divorce because, unless you completely bend over backwards and give in to her every demand (don’t), she will start a campaign of lashing out against you and being terrible. It will be punitive. Even if you do give in, she will still likely treat you terribly. Once the reality of divorce sets in, for you both, you will both change. You will both become less friendly. Prepare for this. Prepare to be strong, leading to my next point…

      * She will use your love for her to emotionally manipulate you in perpetuity unless you place a boundary. That boundary is no contact (or as little contact as possible considering you have kids together). She will shock and surprise you with her antics. Be ready to stay no contact.

      * RE #6, yea, stop spanking your kids. Every study known to man shows this to be a bad idea and that kids that weren’t spanked are better off.

      I briefly tried what you are attempting–this kind of conscious uncoupling…my ex really pushed for us to be SUPER AWESOME DIVORCED BEST FRIENDS. But that shit doesn’t work when one person has been betrayed and wronged the way you have. Also, it won’t allow you to actually move on. Good luck

      • /I briefly tried what you are attempting–this kind of conscious uncoupling…my ex really pushed for us to be SUPER AWESOME DIVORCED BEST FRIENDS. But that shit doesn’t work when one person has been betrayed and wronged the way you have. Also, it won’t allow you to actually move on. /

        Yep, same here. With both ex-husbands. They both tried to put out the narrative that we were amicably divorcing because we were better off as friends, or that we were divorcing but would remain best friends. Nope nopity nope no.
        It was fine as long as they were up in my business, but if I even dared to comment of their shit going on, nope, I invoked holy hell from them.

    • I will also add that you haven’t done anything really wrong here. You were a faithful and loving husband, you rationally communicated with your wife, you’ve been understanding and patient, you were honest with her and yourself, and right now you are just really struggling with how to handle this mess your wife created…and you’re moving forward with a divorce after a relatively short period of time (this is better than most of us on here who waited years to finally end our toxic relationships). There’s lots of good stuff here, keep up the movement and growth toward the life you and your kids deserve. You’ve done nothing wrong JB. She has. As CL says–by mere virtue of your values, your stock trades high, so don’t accept the inferior offer she’s giving.

    • Yeah, no.
      If you could get 24-48 hours out in clear air and absolute no contact, that’d be great.
      Get clear of the house and her.
      I don’t like raining on anyone’s parade, but you my friend, need it.
      I read your update and felt confused then disoriented. As you were writing it, I think you’re trying to convince yourself that this is going to be OK….it’s not. Not for a while at least once you get clear and get your bearings.
      On minute you’re talking about the pain, and the next you’re talking about giving her advice on her new relationship?!?! Oh hell naw!!!
      Please listen to us. You came to CL for help and advice, take it.

    • Oh honey…

      7)My wife as just as fault…

      Just as…? JUST as? Oh, she’s taking equal responsibility for HER decision to cheat? Well, that’s big of her.

      8)I supported and helped my wife to become a sexual being. She was shy when we started out and become comfortable. She is now also feeling empowered as a woman. I encouraged her to do things she normally wouldn’t. We both agreed those things contributed to where she is today

      So really this is your fault for bringing out her inner slut… right. And if you hadn’t been as GGG, it would have been your fault for not helping her be sexual enough, so she had to go elsewhere, I assume.

      9)My wife is very unique in that she wants to explore everything including other/different people.

      Yeah… wanting to screw around ain’t that unique. This site isn’t here because this literally Never Happens, yanno.

      “but if you look at our history and other cultures, it was normal.”

      So was female circumcision. Just because some jackass somewhere did it, doesn’t make it right.

      “Isn’t excusable, but I now understand who she is.”

      You really don’t, yet, but that’s ok. You need time away from her to clear your head.

      10)I can’t hate her. I love her, mother of my children,

      You don’t have to hate her, but you do need to start looking after yourself – get a GOOD lawyer and start moving out (or moving her out).

      12)Who knows, when she has an awakening, she might change. She might now.

      NOOOOO! She might decide she wants to keep you around because you are useful to her, but she won’t change.

      14) I know people will say I won’t fully heal properly if we don’t cut it off, but right now I know that’s what I need.

      It’s not what you need. It’s what allows you to live in denial. You gotta rip off the bandaid and clean the wound, pal.

      15)The healing process – the pain and lonliness comes and goes. I want to love and commit to someone. I want the same in return. I want to come home knowing that person will be there.

      You aren’t going to be able to have this with her in the same house. You need to get away to get closure.

      17) Knowing her, if I was forceful about this, if she wanted it enough, she would’ve found a way or just resented me if she stayed.

      She sorta did that anyways. This isn’t about being “alpha” this is about you having some mentally and emotionally healthy boundaries and self respect.

      Look, man. People have been there. Half the people on this site have done the exact same thing. All the “but we’re special,” “but if I had made less/more money, if I had used different cheese in the lasagna, if I had given up my pokemon collection, this wouldn’t have happened – really, we both are responsible for this.” Yeah, we get you.

      But you gotta get out. And yes, you probably shouldn’t spank your kids, but that really has nothing to do with your wife deciding to cheat on you. She’s feeding you a line of bullshit.

    • JB-

      All of her “polyamorous” or “promiscuous” ways are fine… but not for marriage. She CAN BE that woman- but she has to let you know and end your marriage contract. FIRST.

      CouldaWouldaShoulda- you could have been more… she could have been less… blahblahblah. These are all GREAT reasons to get a DIVORCE, NOT TO CHEAT.

      She knew what she was doing was wrong.

      THAT’S WHY SHE HID IT FROM YOU.

      You are not moving on… not okay with it. You are just making yourself as comfortable as you can, like a small child getting cozy in their warm, wet pee in bed because you aren’t awake enough to get up and out and clean up.

      Wake up! You are laying in waste and as it dries, it’ll stink. It will become absolutely unbearable.

    • JB – good to get your update!
      Now PLEASE read every one of your replies! This happened to me. It happened to very many other Chumps here. The relationship you have with your ex right now is not at all unusual. But it is unreal and being exploited by your ex. Two bits of advice – stop having sex with her (you’re only fogging your brain with hormones by doing this) and separate properly. Once you get some distance, you’ll see how disrespectfully and exploitatively you’re being treated. And you MUST see this if you are going to become your own authentic self again, with proper agency and self-respect. Maybe in the future – the far future – you and your ex can be friends. That would be awesome, I’m into forgiveness and not being bitter. But you must take a good hard clear look right now at how right now you are being used, taken for granted and betrayed and what a very, very low priority you and your kids are right now for your ex.
      Please get some physical distance from her and go grey rock. Reality will look quite different from this hopium fog. Only then can you decide what is acceptable to you.
      Sending best wishes and clarity x

      • And you must protect your financial interests.

        You may feel “love” for her and that may feel very intense now, but in 5 years what you will most recall is that you should have protected yourself and your kids financially. THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO YOURSELF AND YOUR KIDS. Your emotions, although shockingly painful and debilitating, are beside the point. You have to act in spite of the “love” you feel (which looks to most of us like a trauma bond because you should be way more angry than your post demonstrates) and you have to act because she does not have your best interest at heart. We say you are being played because there is no way the dipshit OM is leaving his wife and toddler after a week or two of walks and a few kisses. Seriously.

        You have to STOP LISTENING TO HER WORDS BECAUSE SHE LIES. This has not yet sunk into you. She can play you because you always believe the rosy version of her. She’s a liar and a cheat. That’s clear as day to us.

  • JB, I’ll be harsh with you. You should’ve dumped her a– the first time she flirted with another man. I guarantee you she isn’t dumb- she knew it was inappropriate to accept VS gift cards and flirt with another man. She was showing you who she was. To the present, they didn’t just kiss. I’d bet my whole bank account they f—-d. Adults do that. Also, normal people don’t text with work people at all hours of the night- normal people have boundaries. Your wife? She’s not normal.

  • JB – I never comment but i have to say, what a patience, calm understanding person you are! When this happened to me, I imploded and it was used against me again and again and again.

    You are too good for this women. You deserve so much better. I wish you all the best.

    Ditch the cheater, gain a life!

  • Run like your hair was on fire, my man.

    And lawyer up.

    And DON’T discuss the divorce with her any longer. Just go see a lawyer, and find out how much, how long, and what’s needed.

    Don’t threaten, don’t go silent, and don’t glower. Try Grey Rock for a bit (google it for tips).

    Know your options. And know your worth. This isn’t marriage. This is Disney Princess bullshit while you get to pay the bills.

    And PLEASE DON’T WRECKONCILE. She’s already betrayed your trust pretty epically, and your gut knows it. Those jokes about the secret lover came from a place deep inside you that already knew you were being cuckolded.

    Wreckoncile at your peril. She WILL do this again.

    God bless you, you poor man. I’m so sorry.

    • Leave , it doesn’t get better they just get better at lying. It will destroy your soul to stay with a person who thinks behavior like this is ok .

      Trust me I know . I listened to all the excuses. All the it’s just friends.

      Let her go already you have nothing to work with . So sorry.

  • Your marriage is over. Get out now. Whether or not she had sex with the fuckwit is irrelevant. It is still an affair and it will only get worse from here. It is already damaging your marriage in irreparable ways. This is just the beginning.

    This is so similar to how things went down with my ex’s emotional affair back in 2007. He let me know she was coming onto him. I let him know that I didn’t want him to have an affair but I trusted him to do the right thing. He responded by kissing her because he felt sorry for her because her husband hadn’t kissed her in five years. He spent time with her. I kept waiting for him to shut it down on his own but their “friendship” intensified. One night during this period he and I got in a tiff about something different and I forget the exact words he used but he implied that I had better be nice to him because he had other options. Finally one night I called him while he was with her. I was terrified because I didn’t know how he would react. When I called him I told him I believed him that they weren’t “doing anything” but that he was there spending time with her when he should be home spending time with his family and it was wrong and I wanted him to come home immediately. To my surprise he did and seemed relieved that I had called him when I did. After that he stopped seeing her although she kept texting for several months. At the time I thought all of this was my fault. I thought I hadn’t been an attentive enough wife and I thought I had failed by not doing more to show I cared if he had an affair or not. I needed to do more to show him I cared. I never recognized it as an actual affair, only as a “near affair”. I can’t really know but I am fairly certain they did not actually have sex but it didn’t matter. The damage was done. That’s when I discovered that he could be tempted, that I wasn’t enough.

    I pick me danced for years after that trying to be the perfect wife and affair proof my marriage. He responded by having numerous close female friends which always made me nervous but there were never any smoking guns. Then eight years later in 2015 he had is first physical affair. I was completely oblivious. By the time he had the second one I was starting to suspect something was up but I didn’t suspect that particular woman until DDay when her husband called to tell me about their affair. Then ex chose to leave me for her. He said that he had always regretted not having followed through on the emotional affair all of those years ago. That is why I finally let him go. I didn’t want him to resent me for being stuck with me and not having the chance to run off into the sunset with Schmoopie. I would rather have him later resent her for everything he gave up.

    This is your future if you stick with this slut. She will continue to have feelings for other men no matter how hard you dance, no matter how accommodating you are of her “feelings”, no matter how understanding, no matter how perfect you are. She will never make the choices you want her to make. She isn’t vested in you or your family. She needs the attention of other men. Eventually she will decide that you just aren’t giving her enough attention, that you just don’t love her enough and mister dreamy dumbo can do better. She will eventually have a physical affair. You can bet on it. It is inevitable and there is nothing you can do to stop it. If you forgive that, she will eventually leave you anyway for some stupid gigolo. Save yourself a few years of her tearing down your self esteem and end your farce of a marriage now. A lot of people will not understand and will turn against you. It will be tough, It will be emotionally and financially costly, but your marriage is going to end anyway one way or another and those costs will still be incurred. People will turn against you anyway because she will tell them how “controlling” you were when you were trying to prevent her from cheating. The only thing you can control is the timing. Do it now and keep your sense of self worth and do it before she drains your finances and before she has a chance to turn the kids against you. Blindside her before she has a chance to blindside you. Protect yourself.

  • Sorry, healthy people in healthy relationships are not “attracted to” someone else to the point of wanting to kiss them. A person might think, “That is an attractive person,” “or she/he is an appealing person,” or “he/she is an interesting person,” but they are not attracted to them.

    I’m sorry, JB, I agree with others that your marriage is over. Sadly, it may take a long time to play out, during which your heart will feel very broken. Sending hugs and strength.

    • So true. I am married again and I am also a very passionate person. I occasionally find myself feeling a strong physical response for a person I find attractive. The only option I EVER consider is fidelity. In fact, I have learned to consider that kind of attraction to be a warning sign that the person is pushing my dysfunctional buttons. There are many attractive people in the world. I am anl civilized adult and I can control myself. I expect my partner to do the same, not because I want him to, but because he wants to.

      Fidelity is as fidelity does. If a person doesn’t consider keeping agreements to be vital on one topic, then you can’t trust the person to keep agreements on any topic.

      • Here’s the other thing. A passionate, attractive person can also notice that someone is attractive the same way I might notice a flower, a lovely home, a painting, without investing my hopes and fantasies in that person.

  • JB, you deserve better than this. It’s very hard to blow up your life and intact family but unfortunately she has already done that. Lawyer up and divorce her for the sake of your self respect and for your kids sake too. Unfortunately you will never be safe with this selfish idiot so get rid ASAP. Your marriage is over, act to protect yourself.

  • I’m quoting Kathleen’s response to one of my post – Fuck That Shit!!

    Like others have said, she’s probably already done the deed and now she’s seeking permission to have fun outside the marriage. If she had any respect for you, none of this would have happened. She doesn’t get to have her cake and eat it too. Take away the fork aka you.

    Now that she has already gone outside the marriage, there’s no turning back for her. Remove yourself, get a lawyer, stay here with us – things are only going to go downhill if you stay.

  • JB,
    Your wife isn’t unique or a different kind of cheater . She is like all the rest . We all thought our cheaters were different, only to find out much later , and many tears later , they are the same . Selfish , self absorbed, narcissistic , entitled , “ rules don’t apply to them “ fuckwits .

    You claim she’s a wonderful mother and loves her kids . I don’t think so . People who love their kids and make their children a priority don’t go a kiss, or fuck other people !

    I’m so sorry . This will not end well , regardless of your feelings .

    Get away from this horrible woman . Stop having sex with her. Go minimal contact . She’s just using you for kibbles .

    You have NOTHING to work with !

    She doesn’t care about you . It’s hard to process , but look at her actions .

    I promise you , when you are away from her and the fog clears from your mind , you will see her for who she really is . A woman who put a premium in her selfish , lustful desires at the expense of her loving husband and children .

    • 👍THIS!
      It’s frustrating that he actually believes she cares so much about her kids when she so blithely destroyed the family unit which keeps them feeling safe and loved. This is not the portrait of a loving mother.

      • Ditto.

        JB – A woman who loves her children does not go around with other men. She would attempt to work out her issues for herself and work out issues in the marriage. If after attempting to work out marriage issues, she still felt it best to leave the marriage, she would end it with honour to your dignity as a man. In doing all this, she would be exemplifying to her children what it means to act respectfully because she would care about being a good model to them.

        A woman who loves children would not engage in an inappropriate relationship with another man who has a wife and children of his own. She would think about the pain it would cause the other woman to have sex with her husband. She would think about what this would mean to the children.

        JB – Even when my STBXH left last year, I so desperately wanted our ending to be amicable. I engaged in countless conversations about how we would co-parent our children. He agreed that we would still get together monthly as a family and do something with the children. I even stupidly agreed to bring the kids toys, clothes and books over to his new place and help him set up the kids furniture, the theory being that if the kids saw mom was okay with it that they would feel better.

        Ah, yes. I continued to toke on the hopium pipe, even when separated. Except the hope wasn’t for a good marriage anymore, but for an understanding separation and co-parenting relationship. Aren’t we all just so civilized and forward-thinking? So very modern.

        It was all bullshit. He already had the OW over at his place the night before helping to assemble the kids’ furniture before I showed up with all the kids’ stuff that I carefully packed. He did not pack a single item for the kids himself. Yet, he remembered to split the good china and silverware so that he could have dinner parties with his OW (as his secret emails pointed out he was longing to do with her).

        I hosted our first family dinner together last January. I have yet to hear from him about our next family outing together (not that I would do it because I am now sane). In fact, I have yet to hear from him about any co-parent arrangement. There has not been one single email, text or conversation about our children that he has initiated. I still do all the nitty-gritty parenting – communication with school. appointments, registering for extra-curricular activities, son’s therapies for autism, daughter’s tutoring, etc.

        Oh, and I also foot the bill for it all. He has not given me money this past year. But, hey, isn’t that actually the modern way? I’m the woman who earned more and so now I pay…and do everything else too. He gets to have his OW, the only one he’s been able to be his real self in his entire life. Now how’s that for self-actualization?

        I applaud your attempt to make this all amicable, civilized and open-minded. She’s special, your special, we’re all special. Until we’re not. Not so special after all. Because a cheater is a cheater and there is nothing new or modern about that. And you have still been chumped. Do not make the mistake of believing that your story is done and that a beautiful bow has just been tied.

        Your story is just beginning. As I’ve mentioned to others before…strap yourself in for a ride. Things are going to get even more interesting (and unfortunately more painful before the storm clears to reveal the sun).

        We’ll still be here.

  • Listen to Chump Lady, especially this :

    “Let me tell you what this really is — emotional abuse.

    She’s fucking with your heart for ego kibbles. She’s trying to provoke a reaction in you, of jealousy, of anger, of hurt — with which she can register her centrality and her power.”

    You may live and trust her, but she’s cheating on you and this will only get worse. Show her the consequences of her actions: losing you and the life you have together. Don’t let this go on too long. It will only get worse.

  • Hi. I think she’s seeing how far she can push you. I think its a cruel pick me dance. Does she say its only a kiss, or we’ve only close friends, close male friends don’t buy your underwear vouchers, she’s crossed a line, and trying to see if your ok with it. What is she like really with your children. Is it you that really does everything with them, or she buys them expensive stuff so they will like her. Are you too dependable, she might think if you love me, you will have me back.

  • Ugh. She is gross. Really gross. What she is asking for is a get out of jail free card.

    I feel there is an awful ending to this story and it is the reason you are asking your question to Chump Lady. You already know the answer.

    I’m sorry.

  • Do you have or are you okay with an open marriage? Because when you say you “told her that this was her choice,” and “if you do anything tell me” that’s the impression I get.

    She definitely has her cake and eats it too.

  • Dude, this doesn’t qualify as love. Get an STD test, a lawyer & follow the directions he or she gives you. Please stop listening to her & listen to what you already know. She’s a whore. Hardest thing for me to swallow was what IS as opposed to what I thought WAS. Plain, ordinary run-of-the-mill whore. Sorry, she’s not special. You are, so start treating yourself as such. Stick with us for strength. It ain’t easy.

    • One more thing. I suggest you take a look at how she has successfully, systematically moved your boundaries to align with hers. Reread your letter & highlight where what she’s done hurt you, but you accepted it. You’re in the process of losing your soul. Please, please gather up what remains of it & save yourself. I love your values & heart. Don’t allow her to finish them off.

      • This x 1000. She has manipulated you, lied to you, cheated on you and has gotten you to move your boundaries from what you wanted: a committed monogamous marriage to cohabitation and allowing her to sleep with you when she feels like and she’s convinced you this is a great deal. PLEASE I BEG OF YOU TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS, this is the story of the frog boiling slowly before he realizes he’s being cooked. She is slowly turning up the heat and you don’t yet realize it.

        Please JB RUN LIKE SHE IS TRYING TO MURDER YOU because she is. She is slowly killing your soul and gotten you to think this is all good. Get out of that house, get away from her. We have all walked roads similar to yours in terms of dealing with these horrible humans and, unlike her, we have no ulterior motives in giving you advice other than we have walked in your shoes and we swish to spare you any more heartache.

      • Wisdom here. And his values–wanting a committed and monogamous relationship–are wonderful. Yet he’s believing her hype. There are plenty of things you can do when you want out of a committed and monogamous relationship…”kissing” a colleague then mindfucking your husband into submission is not a preferred path for anyone with a moral compass.

  • No big lecture or argument here. But I STRONGLY urge you to attend a CO-DEPENDENCY group/workshop. You are in so deep that you can’t see it. If there aren’t any, go to a counselor. Ask me how I know this?! you i’ll never have a healthy relationship until you get some help. There’s no shame in this! But I promise you, you will not respect yourself in the future.

    • Where you are at right now is like drug withdrawal. I’m so sorry to be tough on you But I have been in your shoes before and walked many of miles

    • So true. When you’re with someone since practically childhood–as with JB and myself (and sounds like you too)–codependence becomes a big factor in these situations. It took me a long time and lots of therapy to see how damaging that was.

      • Yes and I would never have believed that ours was that. We had grown up (debatable) together. We were best friends. I never saw the insidiousness of loving an entitled person and the underlying abuse. Until it imploded.

  • JB-
    At this point, you may be thinking “those people on the CN blog-they’re bitter. They can’t possibly understand the complexities of this situation”.
    That may be true, but consider that this is a group of people who wish nothing more than for you to avoid further suffering. Again, the people on this site, some of them suffered for years, decades in this same cycle.

    Chumps like to fix things. We have such a need to say- “It was super fucked up, but I still prevailed!”

    So stay-leave- we don’t have any control over how long you do this. We collectively do know, that the low/no contact turns up the volume on your intuitive voice-which right now is the canary in a coal mine.

  • OP, you only owe her two words : Begone thot!

    She’s a ho, and the fact that you haven’t tossed her out already just shows her she can do as she likes and you won’t have the spine to do anything about it. She will get more and more brazen in her cheating.

  • JB, You know Chumps often think we can do the impossible with the disordered…. JB, you can not fix this. It’s not that you are unworthy, it’s that your wife’s decisions are entitled and messed up. Her character is lacking. Look back at your life together, I am sure there were many red flags. She has made choices before where only her needs mattered. I know thinking “if were a better wife, or husband, that if we were more perfect, our marriage would be saved,” gives you some semblance of control but your wife has always been headed down the path to destroying your marriage. Knowing our worth is knowing that in spite of our challenges we are still worth loving, there are dealbreakers though (addiction, abuse, mental illness that is not addressed, and infidelity were mine). Here’s another thought, your wife is in the helping profession for a reason, most of us who are use this to heal ourselves. Not the disordered, they will use it as a way to self medicate, test boundaries, and repeat unhealthy patterns. Shit life skills, JB. In my case, X married his AP who was once…a family therapist. When that no longer became an option, she went into the family business (fitness clubs) and her pattern surfaced yet again. That’s how she met X; he wasn’t her first married man.😉 Don’t believe you have any control over your spouse’s choices, that her love for you and your life, and history together, will prevail. Your spouse is wired to screw up, she makes her own choices every day, and no amount of perfect will change that. Her actions are what matter. She is only telling you her truth (trickle) because the house of cards she has built is starting to crack.

  • A lot of great comments here but I think the net net of this is: She wants to mess around AND she wants you to give her permission and be ok with it. You need to ask yourself if you can live with this situation. (Most people who’ve signed up for monogamy can’t, and that’s ok!) Also, please note that your wife is a THERAPIST, so she has been trained to push people’s buttons and manipulate them. In addition to legal advice, I would also get a counselor/therapist in my corner to counteract the gaslighting I’m sure she’s doing to you. Yes I know you have kids, but kids can adjust to two happy households vs. one filled with tension. Hang in there and good luck to you.

    • Dear JB, your continued sexual relationship with your ‘wife’ signals consent of her extracurricular activities. This was pointed out to me by my attorney, even in a ‘no-fault’ state, it affects the timing and outcome of the divorce. Oh, I know, you’re not divorcing her right now, but eventually, you’ll get there. Hopefully she hasn’t cleaned out all the bank accounts by then. And if you think ‘she won’t’, you’d be wrong. As plenty of people here can agree, if they’ll cheat on you sexually, they’ll cheat on you financially. And DON”T let her quit her job, hell no! Or are you ok paying for her ‘dates’??
      Get your ducks in a row and file, get a separation agreement in place to protect assets and custody of children. A Post-nup might not be a bad idea. Get all the details worked out ‘as-if’ you’re going to divorce. Then when the time comes, you’re half way there.
      ((hugs)) and a 2 x 4.

      • This, JB, is excellent advice. A post-nuptial that gives you the house, full custody, and all of your pension, no alimony to her.

        Make sure she doesn’t quit a job.

        And hire a private investigator. Trust is fine. But verify.

  • JB-
    Your original letter, and especially your follow up response, are so cringe-inducing (and triggering). You’re in the throes of an epic battle between your brain and your heart. I’ve been there. So many of us have been there.

    Here are some facts that will only become clear to you with more time, distance and hindsight:
    – Your marriage ended a long time ago. In fact, and this is a concept your mind will have a lot of trouble grappling with: your wife never really thought of your marriage the way you did. You have different value systems. To her, you were a placeholder. Your wife wants you in her orbit (around her) but she also wants newer, better, whatever.

    – You’re not an “Alpha” as you claim when it comes to your relationship with your hopefully-soon-to-be-ex-wife. In a relatively short time she transformed your role from husband into supportive “best friend” who (gulp) gives her advice about her relationship(s) with AP(s). That’s pure, unadulterated manipulation on her part whether she’s consciously doing it or not. And you’re compliant because – unconditional love? This isn’t a demonstration of how strong your love is, as much as it’s a demonstration of much suffering you’re willing to endure.

    – JB, my friend, you’re a chump. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to some of the best people! It’ll take some time to sink in.

    In the meantime you need to get yourself to a safe place with minimal/no-contact. You’ll hopefully, eventually learn to LOVE YOURSELF enough to prevent anyone from ever causing you hurt and suffering for their whimsy. You’ll become better at identifying toxic people and excising them from your life.

    You deserve better, JB! You deserve the kind of love you’ve always imagined it to be, the kind of love you’re capable of giving that one special person someday, the kind of love that’s reciprocated. Stop pouring your love into a black hole! GTFO!

    Godspeed, my friend.

    • @GDD. Well said!!! I hope it resonates with JB. Clearly a lot of us had buttons pushed with this post! I didn’t do as good a job, but I hate to see anyone lose the decades that I did. The post was haunting. I guess we all spackled and denied. And remained addicts or we wouldn’t be on this blog.

  • First she tells you that you lead her down the path to her sexual being. Then she’s made you realize everything you’ve done wrong. Letting you know that spanking the kid means she’s considering going for full custody. Then she fills you up with textbook nonsense about the culture of multiple partnering. She’s dating a guy before you’ve even initiated divorce proceedings. Yeah. I get it. She is really full of her goddess of love self. You wish you were back to the day before that texting. When all was fine. Well it’s never going to be fine again. No more sex with her. You’re going to hammer out custody. Get the finances straight. She’s gonna get half. Just accept it. Do not move back with your parents. Sell the house and get your own small place. When you’re going through hell, keep going. Embrace the pain. It’s gonna suck for another year. Just accept that. Love your kids harder. You will survive this.

  • You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce. If you are hurt by the way someone treats you but then you allow and reinforce the behavior then the behavior grows stronger – not weaker. It seems to me that anyone who bargains with people who act like this are really just engaging in self-justification. You don’t like the way you feel or the way you are being treated so you rationalize their behavior and deny any of the negative feedback and the consequence of those choices.
    If your partner is a therapist then they will be very educated in how powerful a tool cognitive dissonance really is and if they are manipulative and interested in exploiting you they will happily use this tool to suit their aims; they know you can’t hold two competing thoughts in your head for too long because it is so uncomfortable. What works best for them is that as you self-justify, you are trying to protect your self-image so you will become locked into your wrong mindset and then make detrimental decisions. Ultimately this leads to behavior that is desperate and misguided (which is often when people start coming to therapy).
    This person you are married to is vested in protecting her own self-image and you are being handled and conned. That’s the truth.

  • My xh was a trained counselor, with a specialty masters degree. He told me our marriage was a gift from god, and in some ways I made xh my spiritual leader, he was more important than me. He was able to manipulate my mind, perceptions and responses, after years of studying me in our marriage. It’s extremely unethical and abusive. Took me years and a number of the kind of talks friends and relatives have with people they care about, urging me to see the verbal abuse and that they’d support me to leave x.

    It was so painful to come to see that he really cared only for himself and his impulses each moment, no matter the cost to me, no matter the words claiming to care.

    Please protect your mind, put your own oxygen mask on right now so you can turn and help your children through this change in their family. Tell them simply why you are divorcing. Start treating her as a stbx, separate because you’ve already chosen to do so. Get away from her mind fucking you. Just get away. It gets so much worse if you stay.

  • People like her are why I stay away from therapists. Imagine how many lives she’s messed up with bad advice. JB, there are women out there who will treat you with respect. Do not settle for this sham of a marriage to an abusive, completely self-involved bitch.

  • You have sex together and then after she asks if she can kiss a man she spends a lot of time with. The fact that she would even ask you such a thing tells you that she is lacking a moral compass. “Lets do whatever feels good.” Nuts.

  • Yick and yuck. My xh was not a therapist, but his compulsive, lying cheater brother was! XH unloaded chapters and verse of psycho word salad babble, completely aimed to undermine, insult and throw me off my base.
    By the end, he was COMPLETELY convinced that his actions were justified and I deserved the fate I got.

    What. Complete. Chit. It took me YEARS of processing, and a therapist friend of my own to point out ALL the babble headed my way. Don’t be fooled. It is not unintentional, it is meant to control the narrative.

  • My STBXH also developed a relationship with someone at work. He also insisted it was just a friendship. He also started hanging around this person more and more. He also then told me he kissed and cuddled this other person. I asked him to stop, and he whined and made me feel awful for “not wanting him to have friends”. This went on for months. The lows I fell into, the humiliation I went through, to try to save our marriage—I look back on it all now and see that it was over the moment they first kissed. JB, save yourself the further hurt and abuse and lay down very strict, legal boundaries. Speak to a lawyer. I’m sorry to say it, but your marriage is probably already over. I’m so sorry.

  • Just an FYI. She is telling you 10 percent of the truth. The 90 percent is this. Was not just his lips I have kissed! And they have had sex. Most likely without any protection. They (cheaters) get off on the excitement of you knowing but not knowing. Lord knows I knew their names just could not make myself believe she would actually do what she did! I spent 4 years jumping through hoops. Pick me!!! What I actually was doing was showing her I had no boundaries which encouraged her to do more! I was as CL stated, a paycheck and a kid sitter while she was out exploring all the things she missed out on. Let me state again…… she is NOT using protection and will potentially expose you to many diseases that will be with you forever!

  • We sympathize with the large investment you have in this person (wife) as many of us have. It is hard to believe you have been hood winkled, bamboozled and chumped, but we all all here to tell you it happened to us too. People that stay always have questions and are in a powerless position knowing they could be hurt again at any turn. Plus questions regarding if she is still seeing this person. (if she says no you won’t believe it anyway. Even harder when you have kids, but even more important for them to see you making healthy decisions. This is NOT your fault! Never forget this!

  • Dear JB,

    Your story is similar to many, including my own. Even though the letter you wrote is not yet filled with a long and detailed list of “Jerry Springer”like emotional abuse, there is a very clear pattern of Utter Bull Shit happening. My personal take-away from your story is: How on earth does your wife justify asking you such stupid question? Who does this? What normal spouse believes this is a reasonable question and/or reasonable behavior? Like … EVER? My final thought of the day is: Where do normal people meet each other that have the very basic character qualities in life clear? No confusion. (Yes or No) No stupid questions. – Ever.

    • Cruel,sadistic people ask questions like she did,that’s who.

      I hope you get away from this woman sooner rather than later. ((((Hugs))))

    • 😂 Jerry Springer! Thanks BA for reminding me of my own experience. You can’t write this stuff (or mine anyway), no one would believe it. Thanks for reminding me of how far from the path we wander and of how LUDICROUS it can all become. Not funny when it’s happening, but ridiculous how you can twist yourself into a pretzel until you don’t even recognize yourself. The game is rigged. You can’t answer the questions right, or “win”

  • The lies we tell ourselves to deal with the pain is truly staggering. We minimize our needs, our pain, our lives, our very existence.

    Of course she has been fucking this man. And others. She has taken great joy in the big dupe. She is happy to have JB stay in his chair in the corner to do the adulting and to triangulate the hell out of the AP.

    Do the humiliation dance JB and AP!

    JB go for that divorce, go for parallel parenting and see how nice she plays then. She is no unicorn or unicorn wanna be. She is playing you to buy time to financially screw you over in her exit. Oh, – You can bet she is bad mouthing you to all the friends and family. Just wait and see…

    Please pull your head out of the sand. Your cheater is no different than any other. Don’t believe you or your case is different or “special”, unless you feel good with daily doses of shit sandwiches and lying to your children.

  • For me, the emotional intimacy she developed w/the OM was what was more damaging than later finding out that they become physically intimate w/him.

    The lies of “I’m taking a call from a girlfriend of mine”; the text of pics of the OM’s children being sent to her; the times we were chatting about something intimate (you know, the trust that married people had in each other); the times when we spent as a family, later finding out that she was secretly texting him. All of this added up to eat away at me for awhile, because I couldn’t understand what was out there that might be “better” than what we had as a couple.

    Ultimately, it’s up to you JB if you want to run through these set of emotions. The concern you should have w/your situation is that your wife has already given you enough queues that she’s not 100% committed to the marriage.

  • JB:

    Love ya bro but you gotta get out of the marriage ASAP. My wife did some things similar to yours and had an affair. Your wife is having an affair. Let me repeat, your wife is having an affair. It sucks to start over but you will be much better off. I am about 6 months post D Day and it has been hard but leaving is the right move and you will be much better in the long run. There are way better women out there for you!!!!

  • I have been through this game before with my ex wife…”.just a kiss, nothing else”. Well it turned out it was way more then that, with way more then just one guy. This is a major red flag your going through. Learn boundaries and implement them ASAP. You think your hurting now? Try seeing what a decade of this does to you with this same “kissing story” game. Not worth it brother. Not only are there plenty of other women, but being a single Dad has a lot benefits to it. The freedom and independence is really nice after you come to terms with the loneliness phase. Don’t be a Cuck!

  • Many chumps here, including me, stayed and tried to make the marriage work only to be hurt even worse years later. Most of us wish we had gotten out at the first sign. That’s why we’re all encouraging you to do so.

    That said, most of us understand still wanting it to work & hoping it will (wishing for unicorns). So, if you just aren’t able to leave & decide to stay, at the very least go to an attorney & get a POST-NUMP!!! I for one wish to God I had done that (didn’t have CN back then & had never even heard of a post-nump). At least a post-nump will give you a chance at protection. Be especially sure that infidelity is spelled out in it (what that is for you = a kiss sex?). If your wife won’t agree to signing a post-nump well, there’s the answer to what you need to do right there!

    I hope you don’t go down the long hurtful road we see for you by staying with her. But if you do, please go get a POST-NUMP.

    • Rosethorn is right…test your wife, if she is serious about saving the relationship let her prove it with a post nuptial….if she doesn’t…she is not serious at all in saving your relationship. Man up and put your big boy pants on. You should be in the position of power not your wife. She broke the covenant, your marriage is dead. The only way it’s going to work is a new marriage with post nuptials. If you think your hurting now, wait till it happens again and she takes you to court

  • JB,

    Rent a small apartment, pack your bags, and move into it. When your wifey asks you what’s going on, let her know that you’re trying out the divorced dad lifestyle to see if it works for you.

    She’s playing chicken with you. Play back. Call her bluff and raise her. Either she’ll dance for you (which she damn well ought to if you want to even consider staying together with her), or she’ll lose interest and move on, in which case you know everything you need to know about her commitment to the marriage.

    Sorry you’re in this position, but it’s not looking too good for the two of you, mainly because she’s putting her desire to kiss this other shrink ahead of 18 years together, two kids, marriage vows, and all that.

    And do you want to spend evenings when she’s out late wondering who she’s kissing this time, or doing even more with? That’s not a fun married life. If I were in your position, I would put the onus on her to completely convince you that this was an aberration that will never happen again.

    Finally, “She says she understands and won’t fault me if I leave but wants to be with me.” Sounds like she’s leaving the door open for you to divorce her. If she loved you, she’d be begging you not to separate, not giving some wishy-washy lukewarm commitment. Of course, if she loved you, she wouldn’t have any desire to kiss old flames, co-workers, or anyone but you.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

  • You just pulled out, post sex- the sheets are still sticky….
    And she asks you if she can kiss another man?

    Find your backbone. Find your balls.

    Tell her to go fuck herself and don’t give her another dime. She’s a lying cunt.

  • Sex has occurred, she just wants after the fact permission. Has she told you that you can too (if you tell her)? That would be typical.

    Relationships go downhill from this point, and she’s betting that you have enough financial and emotional (kids) investment to not dump her. She will abuse you more and more, make you life a living hell, until you are a dried up husk of your former self.

  • JB,

    No judgement. We’ve all been there; trying to let our “true love” pursue what they feel they need, still providing love and supporting our kids.

    Soon you will notice that you are dying inside. Once you do, you will realize her actions are not of someone who loves you. Repeat this: she doesn’t love you. You didn’t cause this. You deserve more.

    Good luck. Be kind to yourself. We are here for you.

    Your future will be so much better, but it may take you a long time to realize this. That’s okay.

    We’ve got your back. Sending love…

  • JB,
    This is what it’s like for you:

    You have a wife who wants you to be like her girlfriend, that means her roomie, her Besty, her kids’ nanny, her bill paying helper, get in bed have some sex, and whisper to you about all the other guys and her feeling about them.

    Not. Your. Feelings.
    You. Don’t. Matter. Except. As. Someone who will let themselves be used.

    She’s going to go explore the world and her life and you’re going to be at home taking care of business, and modeling for the kids what a fukked up marriage looks like, and she’s going let you support that lifestyle because she’s going to keep you around while you’re useful. What could go wrong? STD much? I don’t know maybe you’re kinky and you’re looking to have her find you some action.
    Then you could be best friends talking about these things.
    Doesn’t sound like she’s that interested in your sexual pursuits.

    But when she meets a guy who she really really wants, she’s gonna leave you for him and then you’re going to be fucked.

    Then, if that doesn’t work out she’ll fuck you over in the head some more so you take her back.
    Lather rinse repeat.
    Maybe that sounds okay to you.

    I don’t consider that a marriage.

  • Oh JB…what you wrote was the emotional equivalent of a teenage boy wondering why his girlfriend is calling him her ‘best friend’ and f*cking the popular quaterback. You do not have a marriage. You do not have any boundaries and you are not even remotely acting alpha right now. You are a pushover, an easily manipulated puppy dog that loves her no matter what she does – and she is going to use that and manipulate you to get what she wants.

    You NEED to actually BE alpha right now. ENFORCE your boundaries! Alpha men do NOT let other men fuck their wives. They do not accept being the cuckold in a relationship and they certainly don’t mope around after cheating wives doing everything they say in the hopes that their ‘unconditional love’ will bring them back! You are looking weaker and more unattractive to her every single day you become such a submissive chump. The sad truth is that the more you try to save the marriage – the LESS attractive marriage to you looks.

    People want what they can’t have. It’s why you are having such a strong reaction to her right now – you know that you have lost her and that you can’t have her (not in the way you wanted) so you are loss adverse.

    However, you are waiting around for her and agreeing to divorce and her unholy requests at ‘image management’ for ‘the kids’ like a doormat. You wipe your feet on doormats, you don’t love and respect them.

    Given that you desperately want to save this marriage – I will give you the advice that all dating and ‘get your ex back’ experts will charge you an arm and a leg for: You have to be prepared to lose it all, care less and SHOW the ex through serious actions that you are moved on before you have a chance at sparking curiosity and attraction in her again.

    Let her know that divorce is happening. That you want her to move out. Don’t act on her timeline because right now she does have an agenda. Her agenda is to divorce you as conveniently as possible and then be with her affair partner that she has been mooning over for 10 years. Act on YOUR agenda – get the ball rolling fast and make sure that YOU have everything that you need. Get advice from a lawyer and DON’T TELL HER. Start lining up your ducks and get all the financials sorted. I guarantee that once divorce starts YOU WILL NOT RECOGNISE the horrible money grubbing creature that comes screaming for everything and demanding above and beyond what she is entitled to. You need to be prepared. Infidelity goes hand in hand with financial infidelity. The dream they want with the affair partner doesn’t come cheap and you and the marriage are the gold mine she has to strip before she leaves.

    No one here wanted a cheating partner. The advice you will read was hard earned by people who went through the same thing you did. The best thing you can do right now is act with your head and NOT with your heart. The stupidest and the biggest regret I have was being so honest and broken hearted on my own Dday. I didn’t line up my ducks before I left. It cost me. A year later I am STILL digging myself out of the financial hole that my ex left me in – after I literally paid for his very expensive life saving chemo. They don’t care about how much you have invested in them- they only care how much they can get out of you.

    • “No one here wanted a cheating partner. The advice you will read was hard earned by people who went through the same thing you did. The best thing you can do right now is act with your head and NOT with your heart.”

      This is so so true and a priceless nugget of hard-won wisdom. Act with your head and not your heart.

      What worked for me was telling myself that we could divorce and then if he really became a unicorn, we could remarry.

      Turns out a cheater ain’t never gonna be a unicorn….

    • JB, listen to this. So true. My skanky ex wanted her AP but didn’t want a divorce. Truth is I was Plan B to her to be kept on a leash. I separated from her within weeks of finding out about the cheating and just let stuff happen to see what would happen. Within 3 months I’d filed for divorce as even I could see what was going on. It’s hard to see how your life partner is actually a liar and a cheat and manipulative and actually is just using you for their convenience. This is what’s happening to you. For your own self respect get the hell out.

  • Ya, im about 10 days officiall divorced now after 5 years of doing the dance, setting boundries he never respected, bla bla bla. Thing with his affair is he tried blaming her. He couldnt help it if she contacted him! I finall realized…. Um, where did she get the idea you were available? Wheres the part where u told her to go away, stay away, out of respect for your wife? Wheres the part you blocked her number? If you are *just friends* why are u hiding it all? Why cant I be friends with her too? Why is she signing XOXOX shit to you?

    Leave the back stabber.

  • I’m getting down to brass tacks, as we say. This statement stood out to me: “There isn’t anything unusual in their conversations besides the joking and friendly workplace flirting/teasing.” I suppose 20-30 years ago, I would have thought “friendly workplace flirting/teasing” is normal. I probably did some of it 40 years ago.

    But I learned as a young professional not to mix business and romance. Even the faux “romance” of flirting/teasing. I think flirting/teasing is very dangerous behavior. First of all, if it’s from a supervisor, manager or mentor, it’s entirely inappropriate. And even between co-workers on the same level, it’s unprofessional and the people engaging in it may disrupt both the office and their own lives if one person is more serious than the other or there is a breakup. People doing this stuff are putting their “bread and butter” at risk for flirting. Game-playing. And as people become more aware of the abusive side of flirting between people who have asymmetrical power, those who indulge in this behavior are going to look as old fashioned as the men who expected to pat the secretary’s butt every day.

    You know what “friendly” is? Saying hi in the morning. Giving someone a hand. Treating others as working professionals. Having work relationships that aren’t the focal point of gossip or that don’t make others uncomfortable. “Friendly” is not putting a co-worker’s marriage at risk of a HS crush or whatever it was. So when I see “flirting” referenced as normal activity, I just disagree. Dictionary definition: To “behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.” And that goes into the “intentions” heat up. Flirting with disaster.

  • Thank you everyone. I thought about it more. The more I talked to her, the more I couldn’t figure out why this didn’t hurt her as much or at all. She does have me wrapped around her finger and that needs to stop.
    All of your comments, or more precisely your support, make absolute sense. I just hate to see my kids go through this but first thing’s first. Get a lawyer and finances in order, find a place to stay (might move back in with my parents) and MOVE FORWARD!

    • Trust your gut.

      And above all don’t tell her all your plans, or try to reason with her, or ask her permission to leave. She’s a mind fucker.

      Find out your LEGAL rights from a GOOD lawyer who SPECIALIZES in divorce cases.

    • Thinking of you and your kids today JB. You are doing the right thing. Sending best vibes for clarity and strength today.

    • With you in spirit, JB. This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is going to hurt like hell. Just remember that space = clarity, and if she really is the fabled unicorn (and dear man, she is NOT), then she will understand that financial and legal safeguards need to be in place, given her behavior. If she really is a unicorn, a divorce will STILL be what is needed. She can always show you her contrition after the divorce, and after some space. But JB…she is a narcissist.

      Please get yourself organized with a plan before you tell her anything–I never EVER imagined my wonderful husband would do anything to hurt me, let alone try to take everything in our divorce. But he tried VERY hard, even as he was moving the OW into our jointly owned home while I stayed with my mom and dad.

      This is gonna hurt like hell and you are gonna be tempted to go back many times over. Don’t do it!! Once her true colors start to come out…and they will…it will be easier to see past this extensive gaslighting she has put you through. The bad thing is, her true colors are only going to come out when you push back and enforce boundaries. Be careful, don’t trust her, and be your own and your children’s best advocate. You’ve got this!

    • Stop feeling. Start thinking. Betrayal is the rocket launcher that bombed your life as you formerly knew it. It hurts like a motherfucker but not for long. The consolidated wisdom of ChumpLady and ChunpNation will slap the taste right outta ur mouth. We are loyal and fierce protectors of our tribe. Welcome. Now get the fuck outta there. RUN LIKE YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE! Oh, and don’t forget to dawn your oxygen mask before your children whike forgetting hers. (That one shady bitch!)
      Good luck. You got this. 🌈🌈🌈

  • I could have written this letter! My ex was all about “honesty” and “openness” and was quick to tell me about kissing his co-worker. Then he made out with her. Then there was nudity. Then that one ended… Then came several threesomes (because I wouldn’t so he found couples that would). Then came the ex-girlfriend and oh we are just friends and I love you and nothing is happening. But then something did and later I found out it included secret vacations and bank accounts and a foursome. Then came the OW#2 from the personals on Craig’s list (apparently his soulmate) and now we’re divorced.

    After that first kiss I should have said: If you so much as stand in the same office space with her again, I’m walking out the door.

    People like this guy’s wife and my ex? Give them an inch and they simply WILL NOT STOP.

    Do NOT give her one more inch.

  • I have a question for everyone.

    1) Should my wife or ex waited to start dating the other guy until after we finalized our divorce? If they haven’t had sex, they will very, very soon.

    2)The kids go to sleep at 8 and at times, she and I, when we were together, went out to get something to eat, but we’d be home within the hour or 2. We have webcams that we check often on them. Right now, she’s going out to see the guy – it’s obvious they’re going to get physical. She won’t be home until very late at night or early morning of the next day like 1-3A. What are your thoughts on this? I have my own but I want to make sure I’m thinking straight still.

    3)What are your thoughts about the ex going out to date, sex and all that with kids in her life? The kids are 7 and 4? I called her out and said, don’t bring diseases and shit home and pass that on to the kids. I also said while you say the kids are your priorities and you do things like cook and clean for them, I feel you will somehow negatively impact the kids. I couldn’t explain it but it feels wrong. Not sure if it’s just me being biased, angry or etc. She says it’s her life/time and she’s doing it at night when kids are asleep

    4)What are your thoughts about the other man or men coming to pick up the ex at our house? Even if he doesn’t come into the house? I told my ex that I don’t want he to know our address or anywhere near the house even if he’s parked on the street.

    • Please stop trying to manage her behavior. You have zero control over it. You CAN control yours. Sit your @ss down in your attorney’s chair with your list of questions in hand, find out when you can LEGALLY move out (without being sued for abandonment,etc) & how to procede. The energy you’re wasting on obsessing over this skank narcissist can be better channeled into saving your own skin. You need to focus on being present, safe & sane to your children. Right now it’s about saving your & your kids emotional lives. Forget about her & what she’s doing. You can’t do anything about it anyway.

    • JB, I wonder sometimes if you don’t spend too much of your time second-guessing yourself and asking what other people think – which is how your wife has got you in this mess in the first place. But here goes:

      1) Your wife and the new guy are already having sex, and have been for some time, and she’s lying to you about it – or rather, you’re getting what we call ‘trickle truth’. The tip of the iceberg.

      Are YOU okay with this?

      2) Your wife is using you to babysit your kids – the kids you conceived in love, and had together – while she fucks someone else.

      Are YOU okay with this?

      3) When you have kids, your life is theirs, pretty much 24/7. They need you until they’re adults. It’s called parenting. So what she’s really saying is, ‘Now that the kids are in bed, it’s Mommy’s Time, so you can take over minding them while I fuck someone else. Don’t wait up.’

      Are YOU okay with this?

      4) Strange men are coming to YOUR house to pick up YOUR wife and take her out on dates and fuck her.

      Are YOU okay with this?

      Are you seriously okay with ANY of this?

      Start asking YOURSELF these questions, and finding out what your gut is telling you.

      You already know the answers. You just don’t like them. But this is where you bite down and get the hell out of there, WITH your kids, and give them a better home, away from a mother who prefers her fuckbuddies to her sleeping kids.

    • My thoughts are you need to separate. This sounds just awful, triggering the days when my ex wife would leave Fridays and come home Sunday night…for months. All your questions regarding her behavior don’t really matter, once you separate and get your head on straight and out of the fog you’ll see and be able to answer them for yourself.

    • 1. Yes. She’s dead wrong.
      2. She goes out after.kids.go.to bed and leaves you home with them? Document. Document. Document. Use the nanny cams.
      3. Absolutely not. I had to attend a divorced parenting class/co-parenting and their advice was at least 6.months post-divorce to even think of dating; Others advise a year
      4. Hell to the fucking no!!!

    • JB I can so relate to the way you are thinking. Before I asked my ex to leave, he was able to very cleverly make me believe that anything he did or wanted to do was reasonable and any objections on my part (even unspoken) were the unreasonable thoughts. In literally any given situation. For years. The questions you have just asked have totally convinced me you have been living with a manipulative narcissist, if only because your thought patterns are exactly what mine would have been in the same situation. I only understood this when my therapist said ‘My, you have been well trained haven’t you’ and went on to point out why my husband’s behaviour was outrageous and unacceptable. Reading your letter, your update post and your questions, it really feels to me that this is what has happened to you and has probably been years in the making before this. I cannot emphasise this enough – you must protect yourself from this woman, particularly financially. Please go seek professional legal advice about your situation, even if it’s just to know all your options. If you’re in the UK you can get a free initial appt with a lot of solicitors. Get some counselling to build yourself back up. And start telling other people you feel close to (if you’ve been left with anyone) what has happened and what you’re going through. Seeing their reaction may help you to realise that what she’s doing is outrageous. Make sure your finances are protected. There’s nothing unreasonable about making sure that any joint finances or assets can’t be spent/removed without BOTH signatures. In a situation of trust, why would anyone have a problem with that? It was the smartest move I made. His reaction – ‘hurt’ at first that I didn’t trust him, then trying to make me feel unreasonable, then the anger that showed me everything I needed to know that he’d wanted access to that money without me knowing. It made no difference to me to have the joint signatory set up cos I’d had no intention of spending anything without his knowledge.
      You need some time away from this. At the moment you can’t see it for what it is because you’ve been so well trained. Try to go away for a few weeks if possible with no contact. Do not keave your kids behind. Take the kids away with you to stay with a friend or family member you can talk to, and don’t speak to her while you are there. No contact and talking to others helps to balance your thinking. It’s why no contact is so powerful. If you can’t do that, try writing all this down in a journal, from start to finish, including what she’s said and how it makes you feel. Even if the only way you can do this is to take a day off work while the kids are in school and go somewhere by yourself to do this. Ir’s amazing how reading this back (I filled a book) makes you feel. And it’s very helpful to look back on in difficult times to remind yourself of how awful this felt. What you are experiencing is cognitive dissonance – it’s the same psychological process that makes people forgive and stay with partners who physically beat them. My heart goes out to you – it’s a really tough thing to come to terms with. It took me a while to see the light and it’s a tough process to go through – but when I did my life and wellbeing improved dramatically from day one. We’re all here for you while you go through this tough emotional process, however long it takes you, and however many attempts. Please protect yourself financially, use a lawyer and don’t believe a WORD she says about not doing that. It’ll only cost more if she decides to get difficult, and she’ll know that. Lots of love and hugs xx

    • To answer you, yes, these are all reasonable. REASONABLE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE! Look, this shit is bananas and not what a good spouse – or a good parent – does. You need to look after yourself, get a lawyer, start documenting financials as well as her extra-curricular outings (might be useful if she decides to get nasty for the custody battle).

      Find a way to get away from her as much as possible – separate rooms, one of you moving out (with lawyer’s advice, of course) and no more hanging out together. You’re never going to get your head on straight if you keep letting her mess with your mind.

    • JB, when you look back at this later, you will realize how crazy it has all become. Speak to a lawyer and plan how to separate yourself AND YOUR KIDS from the crazy house. They need one sane parent, not two self absorbed ones. They need consistency and boundaries. THEY are what’s important now, and for their sakes, current and future, you need to focus on creating a nurturing atmosphere for them to bloom in. Not one where mommy rushes off to “her time.” If not for yourself, DO IT FOR THEM. Surely, you realize that you should NOT leave them alone ever. They are too young and this can be used against you both. What she does will only sink her own ship and you CAN’T control it. But YOU need to start making responsible adult choices. They need you now, more than ever. Step up and be their rock. Focus only on what you can control. Tell her you will not play by her rules anymore and then go grey rock. This game is rigged, you cannot “win” because there is no winning here, and the rules are fluid. PLEASE just put your energy into a positive situation for you and your kids. Time and perspective will show you what a horribly painful situation you allowed to happen in the name of “love.” Believe me, and all the other caring and wisened chumps here, THAT’S NOT LOVE. Again, you already know in your gut, the answers. Force yourself to start taking steps to protect your heart (it’s the ragged little scrap on the ground that’s got boot prints all over it) and your kids sanctuary of a safe and loving home.

    • JB, #3 : cooking and cleaning for the kids is the least she should do. You may feel it’s wrong because you feel she has no RIGHT to do this for them after abandoning them for her OM. I felt the same way with my ex. But believe me you will appreciate the help in the future. Please tell her to leave and go grey rock. I did that and now my ex comes over two nights a week to see the kids and usually cooks for them. I go out and pursue my own interests, crafting, singing and dancing. Ideally he would take them to his but he has not enough seats in his van and not enough room in his caravan… You need to start thinking about a life free from the mindfucking ex which allows you to become your own whole person.

    • Just allow yourself to get angry.

      I know how you’re felling, I’ve been there too. You are paralyzed because you are in schock. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong in getting angry. Anger will get you on your feet and moving.

    • Ummm, WTF is wrong with you sir? You are far too affable. Not only does your wife have no boundaries but neither does any man that comes and picks her up. This is YOUR home, your childrens home. If she is going to run on you? Let her leave the friggin house. Meet whomever wherever. Protect your kids home. I mean next thing? They wont even bother going anywhere. Maybe you should let him sit in your favorite chair and offer him a cocktail. I do not understand you at all! There is amicable but there is also being a doormat. Please understand that as soon as you oppose ANYTHING form this point forward you will e labeled controlling and abusive. You are going to be removed from your home and your kids life for a long time during a very expensive and lengthy custody battle. This man is already divorcing, YES? He has his eyes on you home now. You will be systematically replaced. Since you will be NCP? You are going to have to pay this skank to do it! Don’t worry about her. Either get her out. In which she will have another man’s bed to sleep in before the street lamps come on. Or get yourself along with your kids in a new stable home. DO NOT MOVE IN TO YOUR PARENTS HOUSE!!! The courts hate that shit when kids are involved. Please go to shrink4men.com and read CRAZY BITCH THE MUSICAL. Like CL says TRUST THAT THEY SUCK. She WILL NOT change and be better for the next guy. And the next guy won’t be better than you. It is not a contest. You did not lose.

    • Dude, file for divorce and full custody. Document this behavior. Write down what you do for the kids. She’s the one who should leave if she is “dating.” Time to think about moving in with the parents once you have the divorce done and you can think. See the lawyer ASAP. Promise her NOTHING, but tell her if you are dating, hit the road.

      And don’t sleep with her. Get tested for STDs. The WORST thing you can do is LISTEN TO HER. She’s manipulating you. I’m shouting because you are in danger and your kids are as well. Stop talking to her about anything until you see a lawyer. Document. Get your financial documents pulled together while she’s “out.” And maybe find a counselor experienced in trauma bonds.

    • If it were me, I’d be thinking “If you step outside that front door, I’ll change the fucking locks on the house”. This bitch has you wrapped around her finger.

      You claim you are an alpha – no, you are acting like a pathetic beta. Reach between your legs and find your balls, and kick the cunt out. She will not change.

  • PS

    JB: Wish we had divorced when kids were younger. Maybe!?! My three girls (ages 21, 22, and 24) feel the betrayal almost as acutely as I did. They are still reeling now after 18 months… one is in a relationship with a boy that cheated on her and the other just broke up with her boyfriend because she’s too sad all the time.

    Good luck to you! CL is right. There are so many women who would never ever do this! You deserve better. We all do.

    • ((((Cloud))))
      I just read your post and want to send much love and hugs to you and your three daughters.
      It is our children’s pain that breaks our heart.
      I hope your girls can somehow get their pain out and soon feel some relief. We know the cheating part of each of our stories was never our fault and most definitely never our precious children’s fault.
      My daughters are grown. I was pregnant for the second, the first was three years old,at my DDay time. They never knew about the affair. There was no CL, CN. I told no one, pick me danced and spackled. ( I didn’t even know these words back then) I just wanted our old life back. Well we all know that the old life can never be the same, ever, as cheaters are usually narcs and are and will ever be, very difficult to live with.
      YOU are Mighty, Cloud. You did leave. He is dirt in your rear view mirror.
      But, I know he leaves so much unrest, so much hurt, many painful scars etched in your heart and in your daughters’ heart.
      There is hope though and I pray that with the right help each of your daughters can go toward healing .
      I ,and you, have to believe this Cloud.

  • JB, you posted here and are reading these comments but I’m guessing it’s going to take you a good while to believe what we are all telling you with these comments. I was married 22 years, we have children. We were together a total of 27. I too took multiple steps, a few years worth of steps to try and save my marriage, find all the truths. It is beyond difficult to make the decision to end a marriage most especially when there are children. With children involved you will find yourself rationalizing this in your head to no end. What you need to know though is that the trust is gone. It doesn’t matter how much you love your spouse. Doesn’t matter how much you feel you are soulmates. Doesn’t matter if your religious beliefs are involved in making the decision. I could go on and on with these… but the trust is gone. You will always find yourself being the marriage police. You will wonder about each and every text. You’ll always be looking for hidden email accounts. Always be scrutinizing every credit card statement, bank statement, cell phone bill. Every time she is late coming home…you’ll wonder.
    Trust me, it gets tiring. It will honestly make you mentally exhausted.

    What I’ve learned and I’m guess a good number of people on this forum can attest to is that a cheating spouse always seems to bring up the person with whom they are cheating. It’s a strange thing people do. It’s almost like they are testing you. They are wanting you to find out, to ask the tough questions, to do their dirty work because they don’t have the balls to have the honest talk with you and file for divorce. She is trying to get you to do it for her so she doesn’t look like the bad spouse.

    It’s very difficult to think clearly and make good decisions when so much emotion is involved but you must try and muster up the courage. Keep your integrity. Start copying all the documents that you will need for a life on your own. Don’t share an attorney. I hope you have a dear friend or family member that can be a source of guidance during this time. You’ll read so much, be told so much. Some will say it’s better for children to grow up in a divorced home rather than live in a home with unhappiness that is palpable. I’ve never agreed with that as a general statement. What I do believe and have lived through as my children were little when D-day happened in our lives and now we’re a decade down the road is that they only want a stable home environment. They absorb everything. If you end up having a heavy, unhappy presence to yourself for years upon years… they will feel it to their bone. I lost the love of my life, the person I trusted most in the world but I’m able to sleep at night knowing I’m doing everything right for my children and that their home and lives were restored to stability and focus regained.

    I wish you strength.

  • Related to the post: Dude, just ditch her. Not worth.

    Unrelated to the post:

    I know this might sound crazy to some, but I feel like the end credits song “Want You Gone” from Portal 2 ought to be the theme song for “meh”.

    The main refrain “I used to want you dead but now I only want you gone” says it all. While the character who sings the song (GLaDOS) has some issues to work through–obviously, because she’s still lashing out at everyone she meets with deadly neurotoxin–the words she speaks suggesting the other person should JUST LEAVE instead of feeling the need to either hurt them or worry about what train wreck they are going to cause are absolutely on point.

    Selected lyrics, you can find the whole song on YouTube.

    […]

    You want your freedom? Take it
    That’s what I’m counting on
    I used to want you dead
    But now, I only want you gone

    […]

    You’ve got your short sad life left
    That’s what I’m counting on
    I’ll let you get right to it
    Now, I only want you gone

    […]

    Goodbye my only friend
    Oh, did you think I meant you?
    That would be funny
    If it weren’t so sad
    Well you have been replaced
    I don’t need anyone now
    When I delete you maybe
    I’ll stop feeling so bad

    Go make some new disaster
    That’s what I’m counting on
    You’re someone else’s problem
    Now, I only want you gone
    Now, I only want you gone
    Now, I only want you gone

  • I haven’t read all the comments, but CL is spot on, as usual. Except I’m not convinced that your wife is intentionally hurting you or trying to triangulate or any sort of thing. I think it’s worse. I think your wife doesn’t care for you at all. I think you’re just a fixture, or an appliance in her life. That’s pretty common with cheaters. Cut your losses and go. It’s only going to get worse.

  • I have read a lot of these comments and the large number of male chumps here is what makes CN such a good place for guys to get what we need. Not empathy & sympathy but direct words to tell us of the cold hard brutal truth of our reality. We so much want to live in denial and I did myself for the best part of a year. But when you get out of the fog you will feel so much better for having ended this.

    JB, it’s almost guaranteed she’s done a lot more than she’s told you so far. Trickle Truth, one of the many cheater clichés. Now she’s testing you to see how far she can take this. If she doesn’t respect you, as clearly shown by what she’s doing, then she doesn’t love you. The longer you stay and put up with this, the worse it will get.

    Want to be an “Alpha”? Then throw her out of the house. “Actions have consequences” as I so like to say myself. Personally I would not be the one to leave, as this can be used against you in certain areas as though you were the one to “abandon” your kids. At the very least move into a separate bedroom and no more intimacy with her (not even a hug, nothing). The ideal is No Contact but with kids it’ll have to be Grey Rock. I’ve been doing this since the summer (as I still have to co-habit due to finances). It’s hard but eventually you will just get into a habit of ignoring her and moving on.

    Also, ignore what she says. Any apology is nothing more than empty words. Just focus on her actions. And be careful, as one of my aunts so rightly said, it will get nastier (especially once she realises you’re not “Plan B” any more)

    Good luck JB — post in the CN forums

    • JB
      Excellent advice from OutFromTheShadows, as well as all the advice from a whole Nation of Chumps.
      Each has told you, ( and will continue to tell you), in the archives, and in the forums, that you must Leave.A.Cheater.Gain.A.Life.
      You are thinking of your children in doing this. You are putting them first. They will come to recognize, to know, and to love YOU, as the sane, present, loving parent.
      The road is long and bumpy, but when you read, you will find that many Chumps even go on to reach a land called Meh. Follow their roadway JB, hold your head high. You can do this. Be Mighty, even when the pain and disbelief drag you down. Get back up, go toward the light.

      Your cheater is toxic. Hell, she not only wants cake, she will soon want the whole bakery.
      Be strong JB, shut her out. She is poison!!

      Hugs to you and your true gems, your children! ❤️

  • JB, I might be old-fashioned or a worry wart, which I am, leaving your young children home alone while you are out eating is not a good idea. Webcam or not, you are not there to head off an emergency or if they wake up.

    And this could be used against you by her. There won’t be a guardian ad litmus or judge around who agrees with you and your wife’s decision to go have dinner while your children are at home, unattended. Bad, bad idea.

  • JB

    Your wife is living in the fantasy fog of the affair. There is no better time to get custody of the kids and get everything you want in the divorce. Even pro marriage infidelity forums tell you this. It’s how I was able to get my kids, house, no child support, no alimony, etc…my ex wife was so infatuated with her lovers she just wanted the divorce done….but there will come a time when they wake up and realize they need your money and stability. But still want the divorce anyway. You are early in the game. This is your time to make the winning move. If your wife truly wants to save the marriage you can always do that later. But I’m willing to bet that you will wake up and realize there are many loyal woman who want and value you more then your current wife does. I don’t know what your religious beliefs are, but as a Christian, marriage is considered sacred and divorce is for the most part not an option except for infidelity. That should tell you how terrible and destructive affairs are, that even a loving forgiving God doesn’t tolerate it. I’ll be praying for you buddy.

  • “They (cheaters) get off on the excitement of you knowing but not knowing.” This is really resonating with me, DavidB. My cheater husband continually called his 10-year long affair partner “wife number 2”. To me, his wife. All throughout his secret (to me) affair. When I asked him not to call her that, he would say that he was just joking. For years, I asked him to stop hanging out and communicating at all hours with her and her family. I called him out numerous times whenever I saw or heard them do something inappropriate RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I always knew that his relationship with her was inappropriate, just didn’t know how inappropriate it really was. As she was a neighbor, he was fucking her literally right next door to me while I was home alone. She was “gracious” enough to tell me the sordid details via hateful, venomous and disgusting texts to me after he dumped her. About how they would fuck in front of her bedroom window, looking down while I worked in the yard or relaxed on the back deck. About how he would say that I (meaning me) wasn’t able to excite him like she did. No doubt, we were legally married. Where’s the excitement in that? He didn’t have to sneak around with me, he didn’t have to hide our relationship from friends and family. But, apparently he also wanted an audience; so sorry (not) that I was oblivious to his performance and wasn’t able to give him that extra charge he would have gotten if I had known what he was doing.
    It sounds like JB’s wife seems to want that charge of extra excitement she gets by telling/not telling him what she is and wants to do. And she definitely doesn’t care about how much pain she is inflicting just by her words alone. I truly hope that he is listening to Chump Nation today.

  • You guys are simply awesome. When I heard of others being divorced, I never imagined what kind of issues there would be. Going through it, I now understand.

    It sucks that I have to go through all these emotions. It sucks that I’ve been co-depended on this person because of our history.

    I kind of see now that I have been enabling her. Have been helping her when I should be helping myself. I would consider myself a person who provided great stability and security and she’s using that for her own pursuits – .

    I’m blessed that her family loves me. I never ever would’ve thought that another family that I wasn’t born into would cry for me, care for me. I never thought friends that I’ve neglected would reach out. I never thought strangers on the internet would send me support and care. Some faith in humanity has been restored!

    Right now, all that I do is either for myself and my kids. If I have to co-habitate with my EX so my kids are happy and secure, I’ll do it. Obviously, there are lines that need to be drawn – some of which I keep to myself, some of which I’ll tell her as needed.

    All in all, this is sort of a blessing in disguise. Able to reconnect and connect with friends and family. A sort of personal awakening and reminder of things I needed to work on.

    I ask that you continue to provide me your support, care, love and guidance. It’s selfish but I know I need the help.

    I leave with one question for now – do you guys believe in physiological changes when you’ve been married and going through a divorce? Not necessarily stress or anger related, but a body’s natural change from going to married to single? I’ve had nights with little sleep, but last night I slept pretty well but was hot and sweaty like I just worked out. Not sure if I had an intense dream or ate something, but found it interesting.

    • I can only speak to the changes brought on by stress, and grief. I lost 20 lbs. I sobbed every night for weeks. Then every couple days, for weeks. I dreamed of their wedding and that I was strangling the OW (coincidentally enough, I dreamed this at about the time they were getting married in real life).

      It has been a year and a half. Almost. I regained the 20 lbs. I don’t cry anymore. As Cat says below, I have learned grace and evolved. I don’t look at other divorced people the same way as I used to…as though they failed where I am succeeding. I know now that it is far more complex than that. I am proud of my strength, though I do still get lonely. I hold out hope for the future.

      I think at this point, for you, it’s going to be a lot of stress-based change. And that’s ok. Remember to give your body and your mind room and comfort. Watch movies, eat comfort food, be silly with your kids. Allow for a little bit of spacey-brain. You are going through a major trauma, be kind to yourself.

      • To clarify–I hold out hope for MY OWN future. I no longer see or speak to my ex husband or his OW-turned-wife. I wouldn’t take him back if he offered me a thousand bucks.

        I’m not at meh yet…I would still kick him if he fell down in front of me. But I’m working through that.

        But I am hopeful that I will meet a kind man to fall in love with someday.

    • Lovely JB, what a relief to read you are taking this mess serioisly and acting on your gut as I didn’t until too late. It is not selfish to ask for help, it’s self-care when you’re going through something as traumatic as this. It’s a long troublesome road but all of us can tell you it’s the right path to take and it will be so worth it in the end! Please keep posting and never be ashamed or worried about asking for help. Best to you and your previously tonight.

    • JB, you can’t be happy and secure being around your ex. The kids will pick this up. Get away from her then parent on your own terms. I miss not being with my kids 100% of the time but it is a living hell to share with a cheater. I had to put up with 9 months of it, awful

  • JB
    Look up symptoms from PTSD. I shook for a year. Lost a ton of weight. Didn’t sleep. Etc. the body and mind ARE connected.
    You are not alone. You will grow in grace and become a more compassionate person. And you will learn that you cannot love without boundaries. Grown up live is conditional. You can choose to learn and evolve from this

  • wow . . . what a complete mind fuck to have a therapist spouse cheat on you. I can’t even imagine the drivel that she’s laying on you, and she’s a PROFESSIONAL in the field!! That must be so hard for you to discount. Chump Lady is not a therapist, and yet she nails the behavior, the bullshit and the appropriate response each and every time. Trust what she says and get out. Your wife has already had an affair (Look at it this way, it’s like getting pulled over by the police after leaving the bar and they ask you how many drinks you’ve had. Nobody tells the actual TRUTH, they tell a small portion of the truth. “Just 2 beers officer”. Which is always total bullshit, and comes right before they get charged with a DUI). Trust that if you become the marriage police you will find a lot more evidence of her being intrigued by other people. Wth is that?? Please. Kick her out and serve her with divorce papers.

  • JB,

    Just wanted to chime in about the kids (yeah, we’ve all be there).

    It is not best for the kids for them to see you treated like this by their Mom. It never has been (because she’s likely been selfish your whole marriage, you may realize it slowly over time as you look back on things). It will be better for them to see you, calmly and civil-y, set boundaries and stand up for yourself. Not continue to participate in her image management efforts. Her choices have consequences. You are no longer her support system. You should only be with someone who wants, with their whole heart and being, to be with you! Model that sanity for your kids!

    And in my opinion, you cannot gain clarity on this until you are no longer living together. So make that a priority as best as you can – or get her to move out (much better). Get advice from a lawyer. Watch for her to play dirty on this divorce – DO NOT TRUST HER. She has shown she is untrustworthy. She will show that over and over.

    It will be better for your kids in the long run. You can show them what healthy relationships look like. Don’t show them that this is normal or ok. (Imagine if it was one of your kids in this situation! How would you want them to act?)

    You control you. Let her go. Buh-bye. Expect to see sad sausage or rage channels when you impose boundaries and consequences.

    This is all advice I wish I’d gotten early on. We KNOW where you are. We understand the blunders you’re going to make. We’re just trying to get you to sanity faster than we all got there. It will take a while to internalize this advice. Just keep re-reading it over and over. Read the archives here.

    It will be a roller coaster. It will get better. And the divorce will likely not go as smoothly as you think…

    Sending you strength and clarity and support!

  • been there, dude.

    my ex didn’t give a fuck about breaking my heart, and i let her do it multiple times. it drove me insane and i picked up all sorts of problems as a result (drinking, painkillers, resentment, anger issues, depression). my fault for having poor coping skills and sticking around when i should’ve gotten the fuck out of there.

    work out what you want in terms of a settlement and childcare, organise a lawyer, find a place to live nearby (so you can see the kids) and get out. she’ll cosy on up to the high school boyfriend, introduce him to the kids and do all kinds of shit that will upset you massively. fuck them. let them alone and become a man that nobody fucks with anymore. you won’t regret it.

  • JB here again.

    You’re going to get a kick out of this. While we haven’t filed for divorce (finding a lawyer), we are legally still married and our 9th anniversary is tomorrow. In practice, we aren’t married and we cancelled our plans for tomorrow (11/21).

    She came home today after work and tried to be friendly to me. She had the nerve to ask “can we go out and celebrate tomorrow? celebrate our friendship on 11/21”.

    Man..the nerves…

    • lay hard hard boundaries, ask her to leave the house. After all she walked out of the marriage. Don’t have sex with her, at minimum move her stuff out of your bedroom. Take your power back.but be calm about it.

    • I ended up signing papers on my 11th anniversary, JB. I hate that for you. People like that, like our cheating spouses, have something wrong with their consciences.

      Someday you will find what you deserve. ..someone better. And your anniversaries will be fun, not horrible, empty, and sad.

  • Update from JB again

    This morning (11/21) she wanted to talk. Apparently, the other guy she was with wants to stop seeing each other for awhile because he was afraid he won’t get to see his daughter anymore (I assume custody issues?). How do I know? My wife/ex told me that.

    At the same time, she wanted to see if “we” were okay. She wants to be friends and continue to have that connection and bond. She doesn’t want to get back together but she wants to have that united stand for our kids. I told her that if she wanted that bond/friendship and united stand, she shouldn’t have done what she did.

    For someone who has a master’s degree in behavior therapy, I can’t believe how shallow her thinking is. Example: Last week, I told her that I do not want my kids to see, hear, feel or even smell whoever she is with. No gifts from them, nothing. We agreed because we don’t want to have our kids see people go in and out of their lives. Guess what? 2 days ago, she gave the guy our home address? Why? Because he could park on the street and pick her up for a date. The guy never came into the house and was never offered, but I told her “WTF”. Why would you give the guy our home address and put our kids in danger? She said she trusted him not to do anything. That’s how shallow her thinking is.

    I’m starting to realize how much I supported and gave up for her. I loved her for all her beauty and flaws, but man, this is quite surprising.

    • I was married for 20 years. Never saw it coming. It boggles the mind what they become (or always were) the things they do and say! When the dust settles, you realize one important fact. They never loved you. Probably you will look back and note a lack of empathy. Not for the public but for the ones she lived with. Mine was always helping others, but when I got sick, there was no what can I do to help. Get out of bed you are not sick! I wish I had found CL back in 2011. Lord knows I bent over backwards. Fulfilled her every wish and demand. There was always a new hoop to jump through….. my weakness gave her the green light to just carry on and expand her behaviors. I have made every single mistake one could make. Self destructive behavior. Listen to what all the great people here say, don’t cave and end up like me! I lived through 4 years of pure hell. Don’t be that guy!

    • Ahhh consequences!
      I can’t be friends with my ex. I can be civil, polite and even helpful – he’s a manbaby – but not friends. True friends don’t do what he did to me and our kids.
      JB, you’re mighty! Please now sit down and figure out boundaries for you and your kids that YOU are happy with. It would be far better if she moved out and you went grey rock. Beware hopium!
      Hugs, you are doing fine!

    • JB,

      My wife was basically dating her married COW while we were married. She allegedly had planned matching divorces with him, but when it came time to move, he ran back to his wife. Idiot me kept my wife around for another year before I finally woke up and filed to divorce her. This is also a terrible time of year for this to all happen — but this is the exact same time it happened for me — right at Thanksgiving. I couldn’t even eat during the dinner I was so nauseous.

      My advice to you is to please not sit around like I did for another year. During that time, all my wife did was lead me along while she was hiding money and still seeing her BF behind my back. I constantly played marriage police, was stressed out of my mind, and lost who knows how much money to her while she was hiding it. You need to get the attorney and get ready to file right now.

      If you need to talk yourself into filing, tell yourself that you can always dismiss the divorce if you have a change in heart. But I have a feeling once you start, and once you learn more about what she’s been up to, you’ll see that it’s inevitable and best that it occur now.

      P.S. I asked my wife out to lunch on our 10 year anniversary (we were also going to dinner the following night), and she told me she had already planned to workout at lunch with her married COW. This was before D-Day, and one of the countless red flags that I overlooked/spackled. Our wives are clones – much like the ex-wives of the other male chumps on here. Just know, that you’ll only ever be relieved of the stress of dealing with her after you divorce her.

    • Thanks for the updates, JB.

      One thing concerns me… “Apparently, the other guy she was with wants to stop seeing each other for awhile because he was afraid he won’t get to see his daughter anymore (I assume custody issues?). How do I know? My wife/ex told me that.” How do you really know the other guy wants to stop seeing her? Cheaters lie, ALL THE TIME, even when there’s nothing in it for them but the rush of telling a lie. My guess is she’s lying about the other guy wanting to break it off in hopes of getting you back on her good side, and therefore, keeping you as plan B while still sleeping with plan A.

      Please heed the advice of the posters here. Lawyer up, get your ducks lined up and don’t tell her a thing about it.

      You can do this!

    • JB, please read all the posts here. We’ve all been here. Your wife is a liar and a cheat and a user. You deserve better. End of. A great life awaits when you get the user pond scum out of your life.

  • The time you’re spending chitty chatting with your abuser could be better spent getting terms laid down with your attorney.
    How do you know WHAT? That she can’t be trusted & is constantly lying to you? That she’s using & making a horses ass out of you? Good God, man. Open your eyes & smack that hopium pipe out of your hand.
    What’s “quite surprising?”
    We’ve all been where you are. She’s just a sparkly turd. Read today’s letter. Make a move for YOU. Your wife is a pig. This is how they act. Nothing surprising here to anyone but you.
    Let us know how lawyering up is going. You do care about your kids, don’t you?

  • The same way your wife’s boyfriend woke up to reality about the consequences of divorce. You need to do the same thing to your wife. If you haven’t done so already. Seperate finances. Talk to a lawyer about making her leave the house and custody of the kids before she does it to you. She s not to be trusted at all. I also suggest no contact or gray rock to limit the pain and games she will cause.

  • Run his name through various databases (Va/DC/Md) and ascertain whether or not there are other legal issues he’s had that may make it necessary for him to stay the hell away from your children.

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