Hi Chump Lady,
I’m a chump, my ex-wife cheated on me with a man twice her age, 59, and then left me and moved in with him after I found out. We both have decent jobs, had the house of our dreams and neither of us wanted kids, so we had plenty of freedom. The man she left me for is on disability, and works part-time where she works, is overweight and penniless.
So my question is, could I really have been that bad of a husband she would downgrade to the bottom of the barrel?
I admit my faults, I have my own demons that I am revealing through therapy, I’m booked for the next year every week, in fact. But I feel like as a married couple you fight the demons your spouse has together, not abandon him for an old ugly fat and poor dick fuck.
Please help me get the thought that maybe I deserve to be a chump out of my head.
Dear Ultimate Chump,
No one deserves to be a chump. And this idea that there are deserving and undeserving chumps — those that Drove Them To It and those who had a Bad Thing inflicted on them — is what makes the whole infidelity discourse fucked in the head.
We don’t compel people to abuse us.
Deceit is not a problem-solving relationship tool.
And yes, I’m saying cheating is abuse. It’s risking your health, it’s emotional abuse and mindfuckery, there are opportunity costs (wasted years), financial costs… it’s the theft of your reality.
Everyone (and I’m talking to you shrinks too!) needs to drop the Deserving/Undeserving Chump dichotomy. Oh well, you weren’t meeting her needs. Oh, you didn’t lose the baby fat. Oh, you were too invested in your career/children/Pokemon cards… DESERVING! Oh, you were with a cunning Lothario/ruthless Delilah. Poor boo. UNDESERVING!
Do you see what this does? It puts every chump on the defensive. Cataloging their faults, weighing which ones were powerful enough to make people betray us, and which were more benign. The emphasis is on proving our worthiness to NOT BE ABUSED. Whose character is not being examined? Who’s rights are unquestioned? The abuser’s.
Well, maybe if you hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have hit you.
We don’t tolerate that shit any more. Why do we tolerate it in situations that could result in default judgements and paternity tests? STDs or broken homes?
Things fall apart. I get it. Relationships fail. And people suck — including chumps. Heck, UC, you might suck. I don’t know if your battery of therapy appointments is merited or if you’re better off spending that money on a self-help book and a trip to Cancun.
My point is — there are ethical ways to end things. To address problems. To treat the people we purport to love.
Let’s say you’re just Nebulously Awful. There’s therapy, difficult conversations, divorce lawyers. Did she do those things? Or did she express her unhappiness by screwing the mailroom guy?
Or let’s say you’re Truly Awful. You’re dangerous. You’re an addict. You’re harming innocents. She must leave. Okay, then it’s no contact, divorce lawyers and reports to authorities. Why would Grandpa Disability be in the picture? Why would your marriage only end after you found out?
It’s not a bad thing to examine your faults. But your faults, real or imagined, didn’t make her cheat with Dick Van Wrinkle. Those choices are on HER. She let you invest in her, extracted value from that relationship, and let you believe you were safe, until you discovered you weren’t.
She owns all those decisions. Her shitty life skills are not a reflection of you. Neither is Part-Time Fat Fuck.
Yeah, yeah, Tracy. Trust That They Suck. We’ve heard it before.
Internalize it. Every chump has the nagging thought: What if I suck? How do I trust it wasn’t ME?
Did you wake up under the fetid breath of the unwashed disability dude? Did you cheat? Or did you love with your whole heart and get played?
Did you respond to this crisis with mindfuckery? Or did you book a year’s worth of therapy appointments?
Did you try? Or did you abandon?
Seems to me your humanity is pretty intact, UC. I don’t have a big sample to go on, but it appears your reactions to adversity are admirable. I bet you’re a pretty good guy, and she’s an idiot.
Maybe she’s better suited to Penniless I Fuck Other Men’s Wives Guy. Maybe because you’re NOT that guy, you’re a bad fit for her, a “bad husband.” Thank the sweet Lord baby Jesus, right?
You didn’t deserve to be chumped, UC. You deserve a better life. And you’re getting one.
(Her? Not so much.)