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Which Came First, The Dead Marriage or the Affair?

cloudsDear Chump Lady,

I spend a lot of time thinking about the chicken and egg question — which  came first, the death of the marriage or the affair? My soon-to-be-ex said that it was never good from the beginning, (which would be 35 years ago). I know that isn’t true, but I don’t know when things started to go bad.

Now that I know what a crappy person he really is, I suspect there were signs years ago that I either didn’t understand or ignored. But what I really believe now is that he would have at least put some effort into the marriage (other than going to marriage counseling and lying) and I wouldn’t have heard ILYBINILWY if it hadn’t been for the affair. I now believe that, being the impulsive and addictive person he has always been, he got involved in an affair because it was fun and exciting. It was new and, of all the things I could not be, I could not be new.

Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating. I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me. Once he got into the affair, he found out how “wonderful” she was — he couldn’t even think of one bad thing to say about her, except she didn’t like it if he put his elbows on the table. She was so “loving” (puke here).

Anyway, my point is that I have been beating myself up for years. (It’s almost one year past the fourth and last D-Day and I am waiting for the final divorce decree.) Every time he wanted to come home to me, he ended up leaving again because he “missed her so much.” I remember every cruel thing he did — we were on an isolated beach on the Virgin Islands, just the two of us — when he said he didn’t love me for the first time. Even though that was five years ago, I can go back to that feeling in a second. And there have been many other instances of hurt and cruelty.

He told me (referring to her) “even a word can get you hard.” He also called me from the pharmacy where he was buying Viagra in order to have sex with her, and told me that I should watch porn by myself — the implication being that maybe if I was as skillful sexually as she was that he might have stayed. Then there was that time that he charged 64K on my Amex for his business, didn’t pay it, and walked out because I was “nagging him” to pay the bill and not ruin my credit. She supposedly didn’t want any money from him; she just wanted him to be happy with her. (Yeah, right.)

Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60. The logical part of me knows that he drags misery wherever he goes and he will soon ruin that relationship, which started out with the stink of betrayal and lies. It would be easier for me to know that I didn’t waste 35 years (40 if you count before the marriage) with this asshole and that some of it was real. (Of course, I have my son, who is the love of my life.) I do believe that he had to justify what he did by saying that the marriage was dead before the affair started. But I would like to know, which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair that killed it? Was this an exit affair and, if it was, why did he come back four times before I finally had enough?


Dear Lostandfound,

Does it matter? Dead is dead. Does it matter if the corpse was crushed to death by a falling piano, bludgeoned with ball-peen hammers, or poisoned by a genetically modified cookie? It’s DEAD. That’s either a sad thing (wow, Bob had a good inning, we’ll miss him!) or a relief (Bob, what an asshole, set another place setting, Satan…)

What exactly is the point of your autopsy?

Who killed Bob? Bob killed Bob. Was Bob a waste of 35 years? He sure sounds like a waste of space. But that chump question is best answered by realizing that YOU were real, that you invested, that you loved — and that’s the only story we control here — our own.

And that’s where your focus needs to be — not on “was this an exit affair?” or “was Bob ever truly happy in 35 years?” or “why did he keep coming back to me?” but “Why did I tolerate an asshole like Bob?”

I realize you had many years together and deep sunk costs, but when someone tells you they don’t love you anymore, the proper response is “Buh-BYE.” NOT the Pick Me Dance. Not being part of the rotating cake buffet. Not sitting around to listen to their many suggestions of how you can improve yourself. (And when they do that? Share! “I should watch porn to improve my performance? You should watch Jane Austen. I need you to be an early 19th-century English work of fiction. With a castle. Why can’t you be more like Colonel Brandon?”)

Did the marriage die before your ex had his affair? I don’t know. Maybe it did. News to you, I’m sure. Then it was incumbent upon him to either try and save it with some therapy, or leave honestly, fairly, and definitively.

Marriage counseling is fine if you’re in an actual marriage. You know, with TWO people. Then, sure, share your sexual fantasies and frustrations, work on how you both can improve yourselves for the better. But when a partner is cheating? Then it’s just a pick-me-dance competition. That shit is doomed.

Your ex is a typical cheater. Why did he come back four times? CAKE. And because you continued to be of use to him. (Or your American Express card did.)

By your description he was cruel, unfaithful, and financially abusive.

Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60. 

You were “left” without a cruel, unfaithful, financially abusive fuckwit. That’s GOOD news.

He didn’t get a character change when he left. He’s still the same creep. She “won” a creep.

Hope she’s got a good credit score. She’s gonna need it.

The one ran before. I’m on vacation the next few days!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • These fuckwits are all the same. They say the marriage died years ago. They say they fell out of love a long time ago. They gaslight and criticise. They had every right to cheat because the chump drove them to it. They are cowards who will not admit that they cheated because they wanted to.
    Looking back I should have divorced my husband 20 years ago. I wasn’t happy. Felt lonely and hopeless. But, unlike him I did not use loniness as an excuse to cheat. What a young fool I was.

    • I know exactly these losers I agree are all the same and it’s funny because a real man that loves you, “DOESNT” cheat and their are many. These creeps screw around on their wives I believe because they are not man enough to make you feel important and to feel like a woman!

  • To me my marriage ended on D Day so the affair killed it

    To Him ? I have no idea when the marriage ended for him but a long time ago i guess so he devalued and devalued me in his head so much so he gave him self permission to have an affair .

    He just never told me this was what he was thinking .

    • I have been trying to understand why I stayed 30 years. I truly loved him. That is all I know now. I wanted it to work.
      I’m two years out and I will never understand how he could have been so bold as to actually come home with massive hickey. Maybe the affair came first and he was such an asshole he did not have the guts to end the marriage.This was after I suffered a permanent spinal injury. I was no longer “perfect” for him. These dickheads can never love anyone but themselves.
      I’m still making my way around in a wheelchair with the help of my daughter but my life is much better now. I am more at peace.
      Last I heard he is everywhere with his whore and a kid about six years old. Go figure!
      So what really came first????
      They really have zero brains and zero compassion!

      • Oh My Lioness!! He came home with a Hickey – Ewwww what a pig and the mental age of a 14 year old boy !!

        You are 100% Correct they all lack guts to end the marriage properly . From what i have learned reading the archives it seems to be they can’t do it in case THEY end up alone . The exact same thing they do to us .

        I am so sorry about your spinal injury but it you are Mighty and have managed this like a boss with your daughter . I am so glad you have gained some peace

      • I think it is important to consider if the marriage died first or the affair killed the marriage and in my case, married for 4 yrs and then discovery, then divorce, I believe the marriage was actually dead from the beginning because he was cheating the whole time. That said, I couldn’t tell so I invested like it wasn’t and I remember so often feeling like I was investing in a immobile, unresponsive thing. He would get tickets and I would pay them. He would forget to do xyz and I would fix it. He didn’t want to talk to his mother and I would comfort him. I do have to admit that our marriage was one where I enabled him, which I wish I would have taken as a sign that the other member isn’t responsive and something is not working. Alas, I thought that was just marriage until I discovered his chronic cheating and left him.
        So returning to this persons origional question, did the marriage die first or did the affair kill it? For me it’s a yes and yes. And thankfully, no matter how I answer the question, neither was my doing! I loved and cherished that man child and then I divorced him. I do have to deal with why and how I enabled him since I don’t want to repeat it but he has so many more issues to deal with, should he ever realize them.

    • “he devalued and devalued me in his head so much so he gave him self permission to have an affair.”

      Exactly this. Looking back I can now see the slow, subtle devaluing over the last bunch of years. In the beginning he thought I was wonderful, and treated me like a valued, admired, equal partner. I felt sooooo lucky to have met someone who found me as wonderful as I found him. How many people find that? No “lover” and “beloved” but two people who are equally devoted. The perfect relationship! And, since that idea was set in my head during the “lovebombing” phase, I continued to believe it, even through what I now recognize as years of slow erosion.

      Sometimes I still can’t get my mind around it. It felt so real. To me, it WAS so real. But he’s not the man I thought he was. He never was that man. So, like you, Karen, it ended for me when I finally recognized that truth. There’s no way to know when or why it ended for him, but it did–a long time ago. I wish I didn’t care, but part of me still does.

      • Beautifully said, NotAfraid! It’s the story of my 30-year marriage too, but 12 years after GTFO day I’m convinced it never died because it was never alive for him. It’s all make-believe, and I guess the love bombing is so effective, as you say, that we can’t notice the slow, abusive changes.

      • NotAfraid, thank God I had the ability to stop myself from crying in the airport after reading your reply.

        MY relationship and MY marriage to her were awesome, practically perfect things with goals for us set and kept in mind. Did we deviate some when real life happened? Then we got it back on track. So I thought.

        “How many people find that? No “lover” and “beloved” but two people who are equally devoted. The perfect relationship! And, since that idea was set in my head during the “lovebombing” phase, I continued to believe it, even through what I now recognize as years of slow erosion.”

        “Sometimes I still can’t get my mind around it. It felt so real. To me, it WAS so real. ”

        She NEVER was who she pretended. I fell in love with and was devoted to a construct. She used The Mirror Technique, which she came up with naturally as a bad adaptation to dealing with people as a child, apparently.

        Reality with her is such a stark difference, I temporarily (Okay, only half) thought of myself as being trapped on an alternate Earth, an alternate Reality, like Quinn from that old sci-fi show “Sliders”. I was stuck on messed-up Earth2 with wife2, who was a heartless faker. I sadly hoped that Me2 would find

        One thing we can never be for these narcissistic people is what they eventually feel they need, “some strange”. We can’t be new.

        • This describes my marriage as well – thank you for stating things with such clarity.

      • You couldn’t be more descriptive of my marriage if you tried. I too believed the story that was set during the lovebombing, only to be shocked to my core when the mask slipped. It’s taken me months to see the absolute emptiness behind that mask and to recognize the raging narcissism that I lived with. Glad to know I am not the only one!

      • NotAfraid

        Another ‘me too’ to what you have said.

        Thanks for reminding me of the cycle – overvalue, devalue, discard.

        I spent over 30 years in all of the fantasy of the lovebombing phase and hoping that once the kids were out of the house we could then resume our relationship caring for one another until death….

        Hummmm Never expected he had a line up of followers….

        Going it alone, although painful, is a heck of a lot simpler!

    • Exactly that’s what happened to my marriage he devalued I believe me to the point that he was fullied owed, “CAKE” so he can have his cake I wasn’t playing the pick me dance!

    • Yes mine too but he has the guts to keep telling me he loves and misses me but puts no effort in reconciliation. Not going to happen.

  • They totally want to justify the exit from the relationship weather you spent 10, 20, 35 years together. They (abusers) don’t want to be accountable of their actions so they blame shift the guilt on us the chumps.
    This is call gaslighting effect.
    Do not listen to it, just know you did your best and treated your marriage vows with honor, respect,love, etc…walk away with the awesomeness moments you both had together.

    • This is alllll correct. You are analyzing your life based on the words of a known liar. Stop listening to him. Actually you need to really stop listening to him as in, no more phone calls, no more words, no more voice mails, no social media, no more anything. No Contact is the path to the truth and the light. As long as you are still in contact then he remains central to your life. You spent years making your needs small and putting his needs first. He has someone else to do that now. Let her. You are free. Free! Free I say!!!!! It’s time to go running into the street throwing confetti and whooping it up. You are no longer responsible for taking care of an asshole. This is wonderful. You can go enjoy your life. Do it.

      • So true! I was 64 years old when D day occurred. 47 years together well sort of. I would not call it “together” when the ex was cheating and lying the whole time. I knew I had put in 100% and knew something was not right but had no clue how bad it really was. When I realized that I was totally free to go and do whatever I wanted it was liberating to say the least. No contact occurred about 6 months of trying to figure out what went wrong. Then I realized who cares what caused his cheating. I was real and honest and he never was. It was an eyeopener to realize your entire marriage was a total lie. But life is pretty sweet now. Surrounded by honest friends and total family support. Divorce was final 2 years ago this month. I have never been happier. CL and CN played a huge roll in my achieving happiness. I will be a Patron member for life!

        • I am sorry @COFox, I believe it is always harder regardless the age but even more after many years of marriage.
          God Bless You!
          Bye bye narcissist ????

    • I love it I so agree and Narcissists take “ZERO” responsibility for anything so forget “MARRIAGE” counseling with them as they are already “PERFECT”!

      • Spot on, Carol!
        The narc has ZERO fault in the entire fiasco!!!

        To me-that’s the most difficult part-that he will never admit to any blame-and, as he used to tell me-“Every day I wake up and just try to be the best person I can be.”

      • Yep! This is what they truly believe of themselves; they are perfect.

        After D-day, my XH said to me and this is a direct quote, “I think I have the PERFECT personality to be in a relationship with.”

        He’s delusional. He lied to me for 23 years. I have no clue how many women he cheated on me with. He is a porn addict and also f-cked around with Canadian strippers well over ten times, but he’s perfect relationship material? Puleeze!

  • “Marriage counseling is fine if you’re in an actual marriage. You know, with TWO people. Then, sure, share your sexual fantasies and frustrations, work on how you both can improve yourselves for the better. But when a partner is cheating? Then it’s just a pick-me-dance competition. That shit is doomed.”

    Over 3 years since dday and it still helps to see this.

    When he left, fuckwit referred to it as “my marriage”. Everything was, is and ever shall be about him.

  • Lostandfound, if you are here please give an update on how you are and what has happened.
    Other chumps take note. Don’t hang on for another 5 years or for some even longer for the same end result. Most of the time that person really is not staying because they are serious about working it out. Usually it is financial.

    • I agree 100%, gentlereader. My X crashed and burned after I kicked him out (for anonymous sex with men in our house), and pulled himself back up on his feet… by shacking up with another woman who agreed to support him (what was she thinking?!). This isn’t about a live and thriving relationship, its about someone who uses and abuses people, who is utterly transactional. Cut off their credit sooner, rather than later!

  • This post is a re-run but somewhere in this world is a new chump being told that “their marriage was over a long time ago” and the dreaded “ILYBINILWY” both ripped right from the first chapter of “Things fuckwit cheaters say!”

    There is no such thing as an exit affair. Exit affairs boil down to one person finding someone they like better and instead of leaving the marriage honestly, they take the cowards way out and cheat. So it should really be called “I couldn’t put on my big girl panties to have conversations about my (supposed) unhappiness, so I just fucked someone else, and by the way it’s your fault so I am going to leave now.” I don’t know, maybe that’s too long to be catchy but there it is in a nutshell.

    And as far as ILYBINILWY goes, I think somewhere in the recesses of their tiny little pea brains they believe that phrase is a nicer way to say: “Hey I’m selfish so I fucked someone else.”

    So OP, if you are out there somewhere don’t bother trying to figure out what died first. He killed the marriage the moment he started having sex with someone else. He’s out of your life now so the OW can change his depends and provide him with money he never has to pay back. No more pick me dancing for you so hang those tap shoes up for good and enjoy the fuckwit free life!

    • Agreed, CS. And it starts with looking.

      That damn pickme dance is because one would think a spouse or partner would come first.
      Nope. It’s our cue to EXIT. This person isn’t capable of basic respect or integrity.

  • “Then there was that time that he charged 64K on my Amex for his business, didn’t pay it, and walked out because I was “nagging him” to pay the bill and not ruin my credit.”

    He should have a right-hand seat by Satan’s side. Please tell me your chainsaw divorce lawyer made him responsible for that bill!

    What a complete and utter waste of fresh air.

    • I second this. My ex “reconciled “ for 4 years and spent that time stealing the retirement fund , before leaving for a new schmoopie with a rich daddy and a good pension plan.

  • My 60 year old neighbor isn’t sitting around contemplating her cheating ex-husband. No staring at a skull nor reciting Hamlet’s “To be or not to be.”

    She and the little herd of other ladies who meet at the gym are headed to Las Vegas this weekend.

    When she asked me to keep an eye on her house, I reminded her “What happens in Vegas….stays in Vegas.”

  • *sigh*

    My marriage was over when the wedding invites were printed.

    I was a stuck pig when the pregnancy test was positive after 12 weeks of marriage.
    We need a baby!!!!

    Barefoot and pregnant and under total control. And what does any mother do? Make it work no matter what.

    We were duped.

    I’m not ashamed of being duped by my husband and the father of HIS CHILDREN.

    I was played by a grifter.
    A really scary one.
    Dulos husband comes to mind.

    I’m grateful every damn day – I’m alive-

    • Word!
      Every damn day!

      It gets easier the longer you are out. I got treatment for the PTSD and I sleep in peace through the night a lot now. I also got answers to the “why did I tolerate and asshole?” question and I’ll never to taken again.

  • Remember the translation of Traitorspeak of “the marriage died years ago”….


    Marriages going south don’t reroute and head north by betraying your partner.

    When you get a flat tire, do you get out of the car and flatten the other three? Well, adulterers do, so run away!! You don’t want to partner with a cruel idiot who has no understanding of what love is, and that’s what adultery proves.

    • My marriage began a slow death 9 years ago when I stopped drinking and he continued to drink. (But He tells me he fell out of love with me 2014, 2014, 2015 “something like that”) He resented my sobriety. I resented his drunkenness. He would not stop drinking no way no how. I worked a program and bettered myself. He would say that I was the good one, he was the bad one. Lots of pity there. Then he found someone who drank as much as he did and left me. That is when he murdered the marriage. That’s what he told me that he murdered the marriage.

      When I get down and lonely I remember he left me for alcohol. I also remember during my month after DDay that he told me “stop drinking? I’ll never stop drinking!” I wanted to rescue him from his demons, but I realized I can never do that, he has to do it himself. Him Choosing to cheat with a fellow drinker and choosing that lifestyle reminds me that it’s never been about me. It’s HIM and his choices he made himself to betray me. And it shows me what is important to him.

      Im back to attending more meeting a week than ever. Making new friends. Feeling younger and more alive every month. It’s been 7 months since my DDay. Divorce is in process. I’ve been seeing a counselor and I’m going to start seeing a different one that works with relationships and people in recovery. I finally believe that I’ll make it through to the other side with my sanity intact.

      Rock on chumps!!!

      • Wow! You are strong. Alcohol addiction is a bitch. I wish you tons of luck in your journey!

      • I see a big link between cheating and addiction….cheaters are loaded with resentments, non-communicative, blaming, etc. When an addict/alcoholic is lying, they are likely also getting loaded. An affair is DEFINITELY a Category 5 dysfunctional relationship. Both have rocks for brains and seriously stinking thinking.

        I look forward my #33 chip on August 15
        (Al Anon, AA, etc)

        If there is addiction present in a relationship, when one person gets help, the other person follows OR the relationship ends. I learned this in 1986 and I agree, and for me it is the simplest explanation for what happened in my relationship.

        One of us was bailing and wondering where the F the water was coming from; he was drilling holes in the hull while I wasn’t looking.

        Nuf said.

        PS…I have been going to at least one meeting a day…making at least 5 phone calls to check in and stay connected….it has been a major lifesaver, especially with therapy and Chump Lady. My ultimate pit crew.

        • Velvet-

          The most malignant, heinous human being on earth can be totally sober.

          And there are millions of them.

          As in dead straight sober. Never took a drink or smoked a joint kinda sober.
          Incredibly beautiful and successful , worth more than 200 million and totally sober.
          Ticks all the boxes and you will never meet the SO in any room. ANY ROOM.

          Your SO does not to be on the addiction spectrum to be vile.
          Vile can be scary sober.

          Vile is just vile.

          • Yes I know. I have met plenty sober jerks in my lifetime.

            Sobriety is just showing up at the ER.
            Recovery is everything that needs to happen after you get there to amend the condition you’re in.

            Sobriety and recovery are two different things.

            • @VH….”Sobriety is just showing up at the ER.
              Recovery is everything that needs to happen after you get there to amend the condition you’re in.” I love this! I’m actually just working the 8th step with a sponsee and shared this with her. Thank you! And, happy 33rd anniversary! I’m following on your heels 9/27 with 31 and I too am a daily AA or Al-Anon meeting attender… in the middle of the herd safe and protected with my HP!

              • Thank you so much! Lots of love to you and Happy Birthday in advance!!

  • After 5 years of dating and 36 years matured the Limited said, “It was always about the thrill of the chase.” “I’ll leave her too.” It was the first honest statement he made.

    What comes first? Tolerating abuse and not recognizing it as such. Believing the person you love is capable of reciprocating. Accepting small acts of kindness as proof you are loved.

    • “What comes first? Tolerating abuse and not recognizing it as such. Believing the person you love is capable of reciprocating. Accepting small acts of kindness as proof you are loved.” THIS a million times. This neatly sums up the three plus decades I spent with ex. Once I understood he was simply not capable of loving anyone and reciprocity was never going to happen it was easy to walk away. I knew ex from the age of 16 until he was in his 50’s. If he had not developed a good character in all those years there was zero chance he was going to suddenly grow one – for me or anyone else.

      • Lack of reciprocity is a big tell. I thought (wrongly) that if I showed the Disordered One how nice it is to be treated well, he’d take that clue and learn to treat me the same way. Nope. Never. For him, it was always better to receive than to give.

        • Yes, the lack of reciprocity and utter disregard for my feelings. My ex did “nice things” for me, but I mistook these for actual care, concern, and love, rather than recognize how little he actually considered ME.

    • The Cheater said to me on dday ” I don’t love her or any of them, I am a liar and lied to everyone” He cheated on me since we started dating with multiple women and men (which I never suspected). He also said “Don’t you get it, I’m sick! I like dirty sex, but I do love you” Then he went on to tell me his sex fantasies with me and how he wanted to stay married. That was the day I realized we didn’t shared the same values and that I was married to a stranger.

      • He’s sick, simply put. However, I have to say they enjoy the duplicity, having power and control. Actions are decisions, one after another.

        I’m sick, says I’m unaccountable and shouldn’t suffer consequences. It’s a hall pass. Yup, the Limited wrote about his DARK SIDE, and how I saved him from it. WTF does that even mean?

        It’s an admission of knowing what he is, a covert pathological liar whose image needed to be maintained.

        EVIL meet Nanthony, your mirror image.

        • Doingme, that is exactly what “I’m sick” means, “because I’m mentally ill, I’m not responsible for my actions.”

          Cheater’s older brother once said to me “he is one lucky bastard, he never gets in trouble for his actions” Although he was referring to getting in trouble with their parents, this comment makes a lot sense now. Cheater grew up learning to be Mr.Charming to get away with evilness.

          Oh yes, Cheater also apologized for not confiding in me about his about his Dark Side.

  • To Lostandfound-
    I have almost an identical story. CL is right, every morning I now wake up and remember why it’s such a good day because I’m not married to him. It’s so hard to shift your thinking to the real belief you’re worth so much more. Once it happens, there’s no going back. 35 years, three great kids. I pat myself on the back for accomplishing that all during a sketchy, unloving marriage. You can do this!!

    • Shelly,
      Just today I was talking to someone I know who has had 4 cheaters in her life. I have known her for 20 years. Out of the blue a thought crossed my mind like I finally ‘got it’. I know she is a good person. (as opposed to a ‘nice’ person. Nice doesn’t = good) And somehow it clicked that I AM a good person too.

      I know CL blasts that to us all the time but it has never really sunk in – 30 years of being devalued by a covert narc. did its work drip by drip by drip.

      Your words stirred that experience in my mind and I am thinking that maybe now I won’t go back anymore. Like you I spend 30 yrs in a relationship that was a sham despite all I did to speckle – didn’t even know that is what I was doing or that he was a slut the entire time – complete double life that wore him out so he had no energy to do anything around here…guess who did it all?

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Shelly,
      Just today I was talking to someone I know who has had 4 cheaters in her life. I have known her for 20 years. Out of the blue a thought crossed my mind like I finally ‘got it’. I know she is a good person. (as opposed to a ‘nice’ person. Nice doesn’t = good) And somehow it clicked that I AM a good person too.

      I know CL blasts that to us all the time but it has never really sunk in – 30 years of being devalued by a covert narc. did its work drip by drip by drip.

      Your words stirred that experience in my mind and I am thinking that maybe now I won’t go back anymore. Like you I spend 30 yrs in a relationship that was a sham despite all I did to speckle – didn’t even know that is what I was doing or that he was a slut the entire time – complete double life that wore him out so he had no energy to do anything around here…guess who did it all?

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Why would you rewrite your past? The only feelings and intentions you ever really know are your own. With the info you had and the effort/love you put in, if you believed yourself invested and happy, then I say you were invested and happy.
    If you were lied to and cheated on, when you found that info out you had a new reality.
    In a relationship over time something solid and value able SHOULD have formed. This relationship’s value is worth protecting. Many of us here developed that connection. It’s natural and healthy.
    I thought xh was there, too. Not my fault he couldn’t grasp it, nor is it my fault I couldn’t figure out his hidden brokenness. I don’t have ESP.

    Do I go back now and rewrite everything? No. That’s what cheaters do. I know what I felt, how hard I worked and how much I trusted. I was happy with my life and I accept that just fine. His malfunction is on him.

  • You have to go back to the beginning. The day you met him. A loser and a waster. Your marriage never stood a chance because he was not a complete person. You filled in all the gaps for him. Maybe with OP he will finally grow up, but don’t count on it.

    I have been listening to THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR. This blog is full of victims of them. Most are not ax murderers. They are soul murderers because they don’t care…….at all. Ever.

  • Let’s see. I imagine the ” drinking, drugs, traffic violations, binge eating ” and his strong devotion to his dick “getting hard” , plus his lying and committing adultery are what killed your marriage.

    This guy is a class A turd, his whore is a class A turd. Please don’t base your opinions of yourself in shit that swirls in a toilet.

  • “It was new and, of all the things I could not be, I could not be new.”

    Wonderfully written, raw and very true.

    • I agree. This is at the core of every affair, and was certainly the true meaning of ILYBINILWY in my marriage. Whether you call it limerence, lust, infatuation or “new relationship energy”, shiny new affair love will always trump mature, sedate married love. Once your spouse has decided that you need to compete with the affair partner to “win” your spot in the marriage, you’ve already lost. My XW made doubly sure I would lose by hiding the affair in the first place: she can now tell herself that AP is the better man and I deserve everything that happened to me.

      • All of this exactly. Same old, same old can’t compete with new and shiny. While the AP is sending “you are so hot” texts, the spouse is texting you that the kids need to be xyz at such in such time and which one of us is going to take the car to the shop and what should we cook for dinner when the inlaws show up on Friday? Not sexy, just real life with a real partner. It would be easy for the weak minded and emotionally immature person to imagine that the one who doesn’t share any actual responsibilities is more interested and more loving.

        • The difference in communication that you note is so true. My STXH complained that conversations with me were all about responsibilities, complaints, or going on about work. She listened to him. They talked about all sorts of topics. It was fun.

          Well, I was also fed up with how mundane life had become. I was also fed up with an emotionally disconnected husband who hadn’t planned a date in almost 10 years and expressed that it turned him off of doing it when I requested it of him. But, I don’t remember a single time when he sat me down and said, “Honey, we need to go out, get out of the house and have some fun. One rule, no talking about anything serious. We deserve to have some fun, so let’s go and just be young and free.” I would have been over the moon. I would have been so grateful and inspired, and I know that it’s what it would have taken to snap me out of the funk.

          But, he put the energy and effort and time somewhere else. I would believe the adage “the marriage was already dead” if he had made those attempts over time to no avail. But he didn’t, Most haven’t. It was easier to start over with someone else and press the reset button to repeat of our early relationship 16 years ago.

          No the marriage was not dead. You simply chose to leave.

  • “I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me.” This is so true for so many of us.

    The MC that’d we’d started seeing together (just before the big blow-up) agreed to see me personally after I’d said “enough!” After establishing the ground rules for the change in approach, she said, “Based on what I observed, I can tell you this — she wants you to be her father.”

    Here’s a tidbit from a Quora post that might help explain the lack of adulting skills that we’re all so familiar with:

    “Toddlers experience mistakes, frustrations, limitations, perceived criticisms, weakness. They cry and have little tantrums. In those moments that seem unimportant to us, these little people are really miserable, so miserable that the rest of the world does not exist. For them, it’s a “major” meltdown. That’s the way nature wanted it. That’s why we are the only animals that produce tears.

    Why did nature provide us with this behavior? What is supposed to happen? Mother reacts to her child’s tears and comes to the rescue, with her soothing hugs and consoling voice, her compassion and her patience, and her gentle encouragement.

    What just happened? First there was shame; then there was shame repair.

    This training repeats itself over and over until gradually the toddler develops brain circuitry that performs its own shame repair. That is the essential skill he acquires that allows him to go out into the world, a world of human beings where handling one’s own imperfections and the imperfections of others is essential for healthy, stable relationships, of all kinds. It is Mother Nature’s glue that a keeps human societies (tribes) together.

    If these little lessons of emotional pain and emotional treatment do not happen, the toddler’s brain remains deficient in the skill of shame repair, as does the emerging adult. That is the birth (hard wiring) of NPD. And it cannot be unlearned, just as you cannot unlearn English. NPD behavioral circuitry can be tempered but not erased. Acquiring shame repair circuitry is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and has to happen during the second year of life. There is no second chance.”

    • UXworld: Although I do agree that the ability to shame repair in childhood is a crucial skill to acquire, it can’t be all mom’s fault if this skill is not developed in her offspring. Yes, some mothers are deficient in nurturing their children, but I know mothers who were “there” for their kids, and not in a suffocating, overbearing way (which apparently also breeds NPD), and they have offspring who show severely narcissistic traits. So maybe Dad is the one at fault? Or maybe there is simply a genetic propensity to narcissism? Experts in NPD point out, that this personality disorder runs in families. Nature or nurture? Probably both.

      • This excerpt is not to assign gender blame or responsibility for “why” the injury happened. I assume the writer uses the mother figure only because traditionally the mother is is the stronger role in terms of nurturing children. (You’ll note as well that the damaged child in the example is a “he.”)

        I speak from experience — this dynamic plays out in a very similar way in father/daughter relationships as well.

      • This is a really interesting question. In my X’s case, his mother was emotionally needy and emotionally absent (a totaly narc, that he recognized and hated), and her own trauma at that age came from her loss of her dad and her mother’s long/severe sickness, so the trap of being the mommy that I blithely fell headlong into was set long ago by the accident of sickness and no antibiotics in that day. But I worry about this with my own kiddo, since I’m doing almost all the parenting. How to balance them feeling attended to and supported with them taking responsibility for their emotions? I feel like its a project that goes well beyond toddlerhood…

        • EstellaO, you must be a good parent, because you’re concerned about how your daughter can be a good person. Basic, I know, but missing in some households!
          I think my sons turned out kind and ethical, in spite of X’s Narc behavior, and alcoholism, and I think the key is accountability. I always talked to them about cause and effect, owning your consequences, and how to do better next time. They listened and applied these ideas. Just my two cents! It wasn’t easy raising them, with little help from him, so I’m pretty proud!

          • Wise words! Thanks for making that point! (and thanks for the compliment–working on being better myself every day!)

  • To all you chumps out there who are getting blamed for a cheater’s cheating, let me remind you that it is textbook DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim and offender) and it is the classic asshole defense mechanism.
    After D-day, the Worm repeatedly told me he “hadn’t been happy for a long time”. The precise time table kept changing, eventually he had “never been happy”.
    After I got remarried he sent me an email that basically sang my praises and he wrote that he often looked my on his time with me as “a river of happy memories”.
    What a crock of horse shit on both counts.

    • This! His timeline changed with me, too … keep them talking, and they’ll contradict everything they say.

      If a disordered fuckwit says anything, and you’re not around to hear it, is it still bullshit? Yes!!!!

      I gotta say I am an amazing human being now that he’s not living with me … he keeps telling me!!!!! Oh, be still my heart. OMG, he sang my praises repeatedly (while living with the OW) until I shut that shit down. He’d call me out of the blue and tell me something else wonderful about myself. “When you made me tacos, that was an act of love!!! I realize that now!!!” Coming from him after the fact could mean that he had regrets (then why isn’t he coming back?), he’s all grown up (so why is he not apologizing for the previous abuse?), or he’s tormenting me (“Hey, your tacos were such a loving gesture but OW’s tacos are better … nyah nyah nyah … I’m not coming home!!!”)

      Don’t stick around to listen to this … it hurts no matter what.

      • “keep them talking, and they’ll contradict everything they say”. So true. I wish I had thought to record our conversations in the first two weeks or so after DDay. He contradicted himself every day and would then deny he had said what he had said the day before. I thought he was seriously losing his mind and not just because he was busting up our marriage over some random woman who was in the right place at the right time and willing to fuck somebody else’s husband.

        During that time he also said his memory was going and he really couldn’t remember much of anything since he was twelve. Maybe that explains why he “can’t remember anything good ever coming out of our marriage but the kids”. If that’s the case then he is probably telling the truth about having no memories at all. He probably only remembered the kids because they were there in front of him and he didn’t want to look like an asshole by implying that they weren’t something good.

      • “keep them talking, and they’ll contradict everything they say.”

        Yup. They make it up as they go….which is why questioning and talking it out with a cheater is a total waste of time. You’ll never hear the truth. The truth being, you fit his/her needs for a period of time but something new and shiny came along that paid attention to them so bye bye. It’s so simple but the cheaters have to make it complicated and confusing.

    • They live in delusions.
      It seems like they believe whatever they can make up!

      • Yeah, and any “compliments” you might get aren’t for you … it’s just for them to relieve their guilt/shame and maintain their image of “nice guy”. Also, I know some instances where they’re being coached by their OW … because she’s just soooo understanding (and she’s trying desperately to keep her meal ticket). It’s gross.

        After cooking a low-salt, low-fat diet for him for years, it turns out I had high-salt and fat needs and was robbing my own body … I feel so much better adding salt and full-fat dairy … I’ve lost 185 pounds (180 were him).

        • Ugh, I just remembered ex said the whore “liked me being married to you, you are good for me.”

          I’m assuming I eat supposed to be flattered by that? My real thoughts are she realized what an ass he is and she wouldn’t have to put up with him that often. I actually think she used him for some sort of ego boost without any real effort.

  • I still don’t understand why they wanted to end the marriage, either honorably or not. We had it good in our lives. Really good. And he blew it up.

    Even if he had done it honorably and said he was through and no other woman, I don’t understand where that would even come from. I was completely blindsided by DDay because I thought we were both reasonably happy.

    • Yes. Me also. This week will be four years since Dday…three years divorced in November. Unfortunately, the timeline keeps playing in my head and all of the horrific things that he did. I truly miss the person I thought he was and cannot stomach the thought of what he actually IS! I really am so much better than I was four years ago, but, sometimes there are steps backwards.

      • I sometimes think some people like to live in chaos. Maybe they feel more alive? Or they think their own disordered behavior is hidden by the general madness? So they just blow things up, over and over again, really just for the hell of it. I can’t imagine… I just want peace and quiet as much as possible these days.

        • Bingo! Drama Queens who love chaos. Especially if it all swirls around them. I’m so central! I’m alive! When CN mentions the black hole at their core, I think it rings true.

        • They need it because it’s a shortcut. Rather than take the time and energy to carve out an authentic self, they just siphon from others. Then when bored and not so fun real life creeps in, pattern replays and they move along.

          What’s the phrase, there’s no there there?
          Its pitiful in a lot of ways, what a waste of our limited time here to just run from one immediate gratification to the next. At the end, your job st a collection of used up moments, never anything integrated with no real contribution to the world.

          • Bingo, I think CL’s post some time ago on “chaos” was the best ever. That was my ex 100%. It was exhausting!

    • I think these narcs do not know how to express their true feelings or they don’t want to because they always need to be in control. They can’t tell you how they really feel and think because they would be giving up some of their power.

    • All of this WrecktheRIC

      I thought we had a wonderful life together . I thought we were both very very happy I adored him & i thought he did of me . He use to tell me every single day he loved me

      D Day shook my world to the core & i don’t think i will ever get over it

      I Just think he fell in love but not with me

    • He’s not normal. Don’t project your values of love, honestly, concern for family, gratitude for your blessings, and hope for the future onto a jackass who doesn’t share those values.

  • I understand the pain & humiliation of being cheated on
    after 35 years of marriage. I discovered the affair of 2 years in the most cruel way. When he told me he didn’t love me anymore my world came crashing down. It was obvious that I was the only one that wanted to keep our life together. I finally accepted the fact he was a narcissist & his life with me was over. Left without an apology or looked back. He was in love.
    Karma hit them a year ago for the Owhore died then he immediately moved into another woman’s house.
    It’s almost 3 years I’m divorced now but my days/nights are improving. I’m struggling with finances & lonely at times but I realize it was never about me..
    it was his insecurity & selfish ways that destroyed our life together. He never truly loved me or our family life.
    Just living on Viagra & being taken care of by any woman. “Any port in a storm “. So very sad ????

  • I struggle with this all the time too but I need to keep reminding myself I was covertly abused slowly over time. I also need to remind myself when he threatened the marriage. I asked him if he wanted a divorce, or are u saying u don’t love me anymore, or do we need marriage counselor. That fucker looked me right in the face and said no. I said are u sure because u said or else. No replied. Well after that I didn’t want to here he wasn’t getting enough sex every week or having him feel so neglected when he was living the life of a single person while he kept me me living a life of a wife and a husband in a marriage. I Fuck’n did everything he truly bled me dry. Cheater used me until he found another source then discarded me and our nuclear family.

    But not anymore. I am working on me to learn my my worth and do right for my son.

    Thanks to cl and cn for helping me get my power back and move on. It hurts but the crazy has stopped and I feel free.

  • Great post! Have not read this one before!

    Enjoy your holidays CL! You deserve it!!

  • Two things.

    1) Marriage is not a meaningful concept or institution to these people, so the question of what killed it is immaterial. It was of use to them until it wasn’t. Has zero to do with those of us for whom it is meaningful.

    2) The one word that can get him hard (eye roll) is apparently Viagra. So wtf-ever to that.

    • Oh, and, once the Viagra is on board, the word could be anything: lint, bumbershoot, crabapple, turquoise, mica.

      Amusing to consider. I thank the universe for not allowing me to be in the position of coping with cheater’s Viagra induced “passion”. Shudder.

      • Oh hallelujah! Me too! After Asshat moved out because “he just wanted someone to light up when he walked into the room” and “someone that couldn’t wait to jump his bones”, I got a notice from my insurance agency because he was still on my policy. It was from a urologist. When I asked him when I saw him what that was about, he didn’t tell me…. fast forward to the discovery part of the divorce and lo and behold, there was a huge payment to CVS pharmacy. That viagra is so expensive! I spend 30 years avoiding him, telling my my stomach hurt, feigning any illness so I didn’t have to think about sex. If we were still married and he was on that in addition to being a complete and total narcissistic asshole, I might be tempted to “Bobbitt” the sad sausage! I stopped being attracted to him the day he told our son he was a “son of a bitch”. DS was about 4.

    • Really, that “hard” comment is soooo disgusting to me. I think the word was (also) blowjob, or anal, or bondage or something along that line.

      Whatever it was, I think he’s just using it to try to make his wife feel bad about herself. My major purpose in life isn’t too get some asshole “hard”, this guy is just truly disgusting.

      • Yeah, it’s so nice not being used as a trampoline for AGES because he couldn’t get off (after 2 bottles of wine)!

  • I reckon the affair was the jumping platform for him to leave the marriage.

    The marriage was ill-fated from the start, it always had a sell by date because of HIM. I do not hold any responsibility for the failure. I hold responsibility for my behaviours up to the affair but nothing after it, because it was DONE to me. I had no say in the fact he bludgeoned it to death with a pick axe and waltzed off into the sunset with Poly Filler.

    He couldn’t leave without someone to be with, so he would have stayed, being a total shit until some other poor young woman with low self esteem and lower morals came along and fluttered her eyelashes.

    He turned me into his mum with his toddler like inability to take any responsibility for anything.
    Just like the squealing toddler he can’t control his impulses and ran off with the shiny new thing.
    She validates and feeds his narcissism wheras I wouldn’t. I was too busy getting a psychiatric evaluation for our child with SEN, so that’s my excuse for why the marriage wasn’t fun. And let me tell you it wasn’t fun for me either, but I’ve been brought up to fix things and stick at things and he just doesn’t have those core beliefs. So I’m glad to be free of him.

    I cared about my marriage, it was real to me, that’s all I know. I thank god for the OW, she’s done me a favour in my opinion. It didn’t feel like this at first but now I know what he is I get it.

    These shitty people are everywhere, it was written in the stars. My rebirth is up to me now – I get to rewrite my happy ever after all by myself, which is great, because I quite like ME!!

    • I may have shared some of the responsibility for the weakened state of our marriage, but he is the one who unilaterally chose to blow it up in the most hurtful way he could.

      • Thanks for this Chumpinrecovery, seconded. And even our responsibility for the weakened state can’t really be estimated fairly because we were reacting to and making decisions with someone who just wasn’t on the same page, so our reactions and decisions were likely to be flawed. Does that make sense? Not sure how to frame my thoughts!

        • Oh, I so needed to reminded of this today. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been slipping a bit on the self-blame track.

          I know that I always wanted a better marriage. I know that I made many attempts over the years. My social worker friend once had me list all the ways that I attempted to reach out…many requests begging for MC, monthly date nights, scheduling sex to get the mojo going again, weekly meetings to keep concerns limited to certain times, daily touching, etc. She asked me what he had suggested. I couldn’t come up with any overt suggestions but I recognized some attempts to reach out (eg: Hey do you want to watch a show together tonight? or “I know that I can be more supportive and I want to do that for you.”), but they were very sporadic.

          I shut down, My resentment grew. I got passive aggressive sometimes. My complaining grew. I was sometimes a nag. Then, according to him, I simply became just like his mother and he felt like being mean to me as he would see his dad being while growing up.

          So I teeter between sometimes still blaming myself for the breakdown of the marriage, although never for the cheating those last couple of years. I worry about how I might be in any future relationship. Am I broken? But, I also know that I was reacting to a situation. We were not in a situation that fostered our capacity to be our best selves.

      • “ I wasn’t happy for a long time…” really? News to me. My cheater and I were together for 27 years before I discovered his affair and for a year and a half I played the pick me dance , even after finding secret cell phones as the affair continued, her hair on his clothing and in our vehicle, pictures on his cell phone of selfies on the beach, and wait for it…semen stains on his clothing and I continued to beg this man to stop the affair or leave and I would believe him when he cried and told me he was so confused and he loved me. Geez. Looking back I see so many red flags and twenty years prior there was a discovery of an affair and I realize looking back that this man more than likely had been cheating on me for years and years. During the final year of all that I discovered a major porn problem as well. I see how messed up I was constantly walking on eggshells to avoid the silent treatment for some misdeed, eventually looking the other way when he would check out other women in front me because I was over reacting and seeing things. It was a damm nightmare that last year and a half as his mask fell off and I was riding the crazy train. I eventually put his stuff in trash bags and left it on the porch . I was done. That asshole almost destroyed me. We have been separated 2 years, not divorced . Not because I am holding out for reconciliation, that is never happening but because at 55 I am just fine with him depositing funds into my account for the mortgage and being under his healthcare insurance, if that changes I’ll file. He lives with his parents, my in laws love me and it is a complicated extended family situation. As for the whore, she’s married with 2 kids
        ( almost 20 years younger) and still with her husband. He’s an idiot. And I am healing from the total mindfuk.

        • I relate to your situation very much. I am in that limbo state after I filed for divorce, and the financial decree is in dispute. At this time we are both putting our paycbecks into joint funds and paying on credit cards we jointly own. It’s tedious because he has a whole other set of credit cards that he is blowing up trying to look rich and successful It’s about to hit the fan, there isn’t enough money to pay our routine joint expenses PLUS the credit cards from exotic vacations and florist deliveries. He’s even paying her rent ($2K/month) and reality will hit THIS WEEK. For the first time he will have to pay a partial balance on his “girl expense” credit card. I’m a little scared that he may have money I don’t know about squirreled away, or that he will liquidate something that we have listed in the divorce decree we are negotiating. The uncertainty is about to kill me. I am still on his insurance and keeping my expenses down to normal daily activity, and I know this is all about to change. I am finding this thread to be EXTREMELY RELEVANT to me, and am so glad it was rerun. It is profoundly meaningful and I will always be grateful to CL and CN.

      • Chumpinrecovery,

        I would question the validity of you shouldering some of the blame IF your spouse was a serial cheater in which case you were being duped and had no way to respond in any other fashion.

        While the magnitude of my betrayal is horrific when I found out that he had been a cheater from the get-go of our marriage any blame I felt for practically anything to do with ‘us’ completely fell away.

        I should clarify a bit. When I first found out and all I could find on the matter was the RIC rhetoric I did take on blame because that is what was being said about the spouses which, of course, made me pick-me dance at a voracious speed. When I somehow found LACGAL all of that came to a crashing halt and the tremendous load I had been carrying for so long fell with a loud crash onto the floor. What a relief to be told that I wasn’t to blame and that what I was experiencing was PTSD – simply put – more of less a fancy name to express what a person experiences after profound shock that includes a number of disturbing symptoms that can appear to be random and are completely out of your conscious control.

        All a very twisted sick game that takes time to unravel – not in trying to figure him out but to see what was going on – to take off the rose colored glasses – to un-dupe oneself from the quagmire.

        I am still pretty tightly wrapped up but less tightly than I was a year ago so I am hopeful and get more so every day when I read here and hear stories from those who have followed this path ahead of me.

  • 13 years into my 20 year marriage I knew it wasn’t 100% ok, but just didn’t understand why. I kept taking the hopium. I know I tried everything and gave all I could to make it good, to the point of exhaustion and tears. I did the heavy lifting, leaving him be as he often blamed depression – never treated though. I was so naïve. It was only when I finally confided in a friend about these feelings of despair I realised my ‘normal’ wasn’t her idea of normal. And she said ‘It’s not you, it’s him’ reeling off her reasons my relationship was hugely one sided.

    I am ashamed to say I ignored her. I just trotted out the normal excuse – ‘It’s just X, it’s just how he is’ Even when, years later, faced with the deliberate mentionitis of Schmoopie, and the downward spiral and nastiness towards me before he went I just ignored the huge red flags. What a Chump. He dropped hints – just didn’t have the spine to be completely honest. I was so used to the poor treatment towards me by then I just accepted it and ignored it.

    But him leaving, after gaslighting, exposing the truth and most importantly, hurting the kids by his lies and actions, was when the veil was finally lifted and I went straight to the solicitor. Ex MIL said she was amazed I acted so quickly (she didn’t like the exposure and whole X family stayed away and continue to blame their grandchildren for not towing the family line of compliance)

    So I guess one led to the other. I ignored and hoped until I could ignore no more. The divorce has shown the true disorder of both him and his family and I am so thankful I found this site to explain why I felt the way I did. I’m glad he left – it’s the way he left I cannot forgive.

  • While there is no set timeline for healing–it depends on so many individual factors–if you are still frequently processing what happened in the marriage two years after D-day, please read as much as you can on trauma bonds (start with Kim Saeed, who has some very good materials).

    While I was able to move past my 24-year relationship to Hannibal Lecher within a year or two because I had become so disgusted with him by the end, D-day was almost a relief since I had a clear reason to leave his sorry ass. But I admit to a trauma bond with exBF, that kept me emotionally hooked for 6 months after the breakup. He had appeared to be a kind, honest man, so the juxtaposition with his lying, cold self was mind-boggling to me. Reading up on trauma bonds was the main thing that allowed me to see his emotional manipulation was so subtle, that I didn’t realize I had begun to walk on eggshells around him, to avoid confrontation on valid issues, and was being subject to an intermittent reinforcement of kindness-withdrawal episodes from him that led to the trauma bond.

    Those of you with seemingly-nice-girl/guy cheaters may have to do extra work to wrap your head what happened. But it was NEVER your fault. Was the marriage dead before the affair? It was never alive; there is no way to make a marriage work with these people. You can get through Act I, or Act II, or Act XXX with them, but they never had a substantial investment to begin with.

    • Tempest- this is powerful, and hits home in my experiences too “Reading up on trauma bonds was the main thing that allowed me to see his emotional manipulation was so subtle, that I didn’t realize I had begun to walk on eggshells around him, to avoid confrontation on valid issues, and was being subject to an intermittent reinforcement of kindness-withdrawal episodes from him that led to the trauma bond.”
      Intermittent reinforcement made me into the half crazy lab rat. Which is really hard to face when you’re actually very intelligent and rational (in all other situations). It doesn’t feel like manipulation at the time. It just feels confusing, and like there must be something I’m not seeing because I can usually find a solution!!! Frustration and Exasperation is an indicator. I guess this is part of the mindfuck process. You nailed it.

      • I think chumps are also heavily prone to empathy, so we try to protect and nurture those we love, not realizing that we are giving them power to control the situation, much as we might a vulnerable or overtired child. What the coverts are not doing is meeting us as adults in the situation.

      • Intermittent reinforcement has been referred to as slot machine love. I’m not interested in being a one armed bandit !

    • I have one of those “nice guys” to deal with. No one expected this behaviour of him. He was an accommodator, always going along with things, quiet, even-keeled. But, really he harboured resentments that he wouldn’t communicate and it festered. I am a very action-oriented, passionate person, and he felt that he couldn’t stand up to my strength (as he puts it). So, basically, his take is that I drove him to seek validation outside the marraige (b.s.).

      Because he had always been a nice guy, it’s one of the reasons I took so long blaming myself, and still struggle with this. Perhaps I was so domineering that I emasculated him, which drove him to this behaviour, has often been my thoughts. It makes it harder to process what happened.

      It’s also more difficult when you have young children that forces you to always have to see this person at pick ups or drop offs. Throw into that the fact that he’s stayed with the other woman, and the salt just continues to be rubbed into those wounds. There is a lot of anxiety around having the kids exposed to this relationship.

      I have no doubt that the healing would have been quicker had he left honourably. If he had taken time to be on his own to work on himself, some equilibrium could have been achieved sooner. But, he went to her, and figured that he was respecting me by keeping it on the downlow to allow for some healing, – aka – to provide a buffer for his image management of this relationship post-marriage. It’s deranged.

      I am now 19 months out. Doing better but wishing I there was more.

      • As my therapist said, you can’t trust their yes if you can’t trust their no.

        Real adults realize honesty, even about their own needs, might be uncomfortable and come with conflict or consequences. Conflict avoidance is a kind of passive-aggressiveness, where a person can not express their needs, and then take it out on the other person that their needs were not met. Again, not adulting.

      • Exactly the same here. Mr quiet nice guy and yeah apparently my dominance made him turn inward. I now just think he is such a coward. I hate the child swaps which I have set up a routine that means they don’t have to happen often. Daughter hates it too. He had the audacity to refer to OW as her guardian the other day. It’s all so horrible I wish it would just all go away. She is only 9. Years of this ahead although I am a bit as NC as I can be your lives are linked and it sucks big time. I actually fear the future. He has done that to me. One day at a time.

      • Optionnmore

        ‘accommodator’ =TFC=passive aggressive=DARVO (deny, accuse, reverse victim/offender

        It is part of the dance.

        You are not to blame.

        ALL set up by HIM.

        In order for him to live with himself he HAS to see himself as the victim.

        These cretans think differently.

        YOU are not to blame!

        I would have loved him to handle stuff. Lots of talk but when it came to action – he wasn’t around and if he was he would get mad at me for being the ‘rule’ enforcer with the children…the rules he wanted them to follow!!!!

        Yes, over the years more slid onto my plate and I did do the dance because he was the ‘bread’ winner.

        Thanks to daily doses of CL and CN I now see through this ruse.

        Glad you are seeing the light too!

        • elderlychump : “In order for him to live with himself he HAS to see himself as the victim.” BRILLIANT!

      • I am dying with the uncanny way you describe my life. My stbxh went to alchohol treatment, and never came home, having found his 11th cheater-whore on Tinder right from the treatment center. He is known as the home town boy, nicest person ever, brilliantly intelligent, and does pretty god for himself on salary (which he now has to share with me). The world has not been ready to hear that this GOD was a cheater. I have a lot of work to do, can’t wait to start looking up trauma bond…a new term for me. Thanks!

  • DEAD IS DEAD but it was our lives and it does matter that we make our own sense of it and write our own narrative…i understand the writer’s need to know. It changes the way we put it to rest for ourselves.

    I tend to believe these men aren’t selfless enough to keep years of misery to themselves and the affairs kill the marriages not the marriage died first but that’s just my assessment. All marriages ebb and flow but don’t require kamaze piloting. If they were so good at keeping pain to themselves why wouldn’t they just leave for shmoopie and end the future of the marriage without also taking from us the past and our memories of what we thought we had via all the “this marriage made me miserable for years” etc.

    I call bullshit on the marriage was already dead rubbish. And if it was, SO? It isn’t a golden ticket to cheat – its a signal that you should do something….the least of which is communicate.

    Well good riddance to these kinda peeps.

    • Our marriages weren’t “already over anyway”. They forgot to divorce us. They need to learn to clean up their messes before making new ones.

  • “Just a word from her” and he’s hard, but he needs Viagra? Lol. They are so full of shit. They will say anything to beat down the Chump. And I really think they live in their own fantasy world.

    I hope she’s enjoying her Viagra fueled sex. He’s probably telling her “just a word from Lostandfound and I’d get hard. You should watch some porn on your own”. Fuckwit.

  • Been there, done that. Like ChumpLady said, the question that matters is “Why did I tolerate an asshole?” And maybe “What signs did I miss?”

    Learning I was a chump was incredibly painful, but asking these two questions taught me a lot that has made my life since so much better.

  • I don’t have to get past this sentence:
    “Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating.”

    This woman was married to an addict. That is always and 100% a lopsided, narcissistic situation, with all the good stuff you bring flowing to the addict. My XH the substance abuser was a long-time alcoholic and random substance abuser. In his younger days, he could be charming and smart and lots of fun. Even though I new better, I was sure I could “handle” the drinking. Not.

    Whatever an addict or alcoholic about the OW is beside the point. He or she always has to feed the addiction center in his brain. You would always be about #6 on his list. I came after 1) Booze 2) Drugs (he asked me for my pain meds after surgery, since he knows I will never take opioids); 3) his adult kid, field with 4) his grandkids; 5) his drinking buddies; 6) the bar (the food! the servers! the bartenders! the booze!; 7) his backyard, including the TV on the screen porch. I used to think I was #5 or 6, but clearly I was an optimist. He liked my paycheck and how I handled the big problems and could plan ahead. Typical drunk.

    I hope the woman who wrote this letter stopped wasting her mental energy and her brain space on an abusive addictive jackass. If you’ve got one, block them all on social media and phone/text. Focus on your own life and don’t untangle the skein, beyond educating yourself about addiction and the narcissist’s cycle of abuse, because believe me, addicts LOVE that playbook. It’s not you.

  • If he felt the marriage was over, before the affair, then why didn’t he tell you so and ask for a divorce.

    There is no excuse, ever, to have the affair.

    If someone is unhappy in the marriage they have two honest choices:
    1) Tell the spouse and get help to fix the issues.
    2) File for divorce.

    If someone chooses to have an affair, it is because they are pathetic chicken shits (not enough guts to do either 1 or 2 above), or selfish (they like having you both and don’t care what how it affects you).

    Either way, you deserve better.

  • ‘Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating. I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me. Once he got into the affair, he found out how “wonderful” she was — he couldn’t even think of one bad thing to say about her, except she didn’t like it if he put his elbows on the table. She was so “loving” (puke here).’

    So he found a new mommy whose boundary was, “Don’t put your elbows on the table. Everything else, I will tolerate.” He’s her problem now. I do hope you get the money back to clear your card from the divorce proceedings.

  • I love Jane Austen and Shakespeare!
    Unlucky my young self didn’t learn to apply their messages. I was love bombed into being Lydia Bennett!!
    Hamlet has great descriptions of Love Bombing and Gas Lighting.
    Lucky I’d read a lot of both before my 25 year reading ban imposed by the XHole.
    I’m now stepping into Meh Land by letting go of thoughts of revenge in favour of channelling Lydia Bennett’s awakening 🙂

    • Elizabeth Bennet’s awakening!!!
      I have some serious catch up reading to do 🙂

  • Dear Lostandfound, Your story is so familiar however mine was + 15 years. D-Day 2 weeks before our 50th wedding anniversary. That’s past us now, let’s concentrate on what we can do to help others. Women are raised to be agreeable, therefore we never put ourselves first or even in the running for that matter. I didn’t know that I did matter. Seems so many men and I use that term loosely, have deep character flaws which can not be fixed usually. Especially after that many years of progression. It’s a recipe for disaster to put those two kinds of people together. We need to put more effort in knowing ourselves before we commit to marriage. Honor yourself, think for yourself, change yourself.

  • It’s a he said she said. He said our marriage is dead, therefore, I had an affair. I said, you had an affair, therefore, our marriage is dead. I didn’t get the ol’ ILYBINILWU, I got I don’t love you anymore.

  • A friend of mine taught herself to think, when she was caught up in self-recrimination and untangling the skein of fuckedupedness, to just think “Thank you for loving me enough to try to keep me from finding out what an asshole you really are.” And then just moved on. Maybe it assigns more self-awareness than they really have, and it isn’t love in the sense that we want it or give it, but it’s what they were able to give till the pressure of what asses they are overcame their willingness to pretend that they aren’t.

    For what it’s worth.

  • I will tell what came first; my military cheater’s dishonesty. He was always a liar, a cheat, a manipulative narcissist. I was the only one in the marriage and didn’t know it for decades. I was married, he was on the prowl.

    I was blind to his faults. I forgave him. I believed him. I “spackled” in Chump Lady terms.
    Now I see him as a disordered freak. I forgive myself. He has no power over me.

    He is trying so hard to exert power and control. He demanded I give him a list of every lawyer I ever consulted. I didn’t respond. He has hidden money, changed banks, changed the locks on our house, renewed the registration and sticker on my car and kept those documents (the registration expires at the end of this month) accused me of stealing a gun from him. He triangulated my oldest son instructing him to ask me if I took a gun. That is what he thinks of me, that I am so stupid I would steal a gun, bounce checks, and not realize I needed a new registration for my car. He has always underestimated me.

    I do wonder what other tricks he will try to pull. Any ideas from Chump Nation?

    • freeze your credit by going omline to the three reporting agencies. that way he can’t get loans without your consent. get a lawyer and divorce docs filed or separation agreement so you are no longer responsible for his debts going forward. freeze credit cards. good luck – he sounds scary. hugs

      • Thrive, he is scary. I already have a lawyer and have filed. I took the dog and moved out. Thank You for the idea of freezing my credit.

  • I divorce my cheater tomorrow. He tends to be difficult but I’m hoping it will go smooth. I’m proud of myself for doing this bc he never would have.

    • some here told me,…Oh! CL did!….

      act like you’ve got more important shit to do, like your nails.

      Congrats on surviving some the shit.
      its gets better.

    • Chumpy, you did it! Yahoo! You will be a free birdie! Congratulations!

  • Lostandfound,

    My story has many similar points and long hx and lying in counseling when he would go. Me believing it was me and being the perfect chump.

    When I found about LACGAL it was a life changer. I dropped the RIC regime I had been on which was like a starvation diet, headed lickedy-split to Al-anon and found this site.

    Someone in AL-anon loaned me the book Sex and Love Addicts Anon. and from the moment I read the author’s own story I knew he had been a cheater from the get-go. All self-blame drooped off of my shoulders despite his trying to continue to blame me. The Truth did set me free!

  • “YOU were real, that you invested, that you loved — and that’s the only story we control here — our own.“
    I burst into tears when I read this. The waste of all the years being chumped is a painful reality. I did not love perfectly but I was devoted and gave myself completely to marriage. I did not fail, the marriage did.

  • Learning-
    Marriage is like an LLC or a C/S Corp.

    If you agreed and signed a “ partnership “ in a S / C /LLC Corp-

    Would you burst into tears when you found out your S/C/LLC partner had siphoned off funds to a 3rd party?

    No ,you would not.
    You would sue the fucker.

    The marriage contract does not state- Love Perfect. If you don’t -I can cheat on you. And Cheater defines LOVE PERFECT? They think they do.

    See how inherently FU ‘ed that mantra is?

    You got scammed.

  • It doesn’t matter which happened first…

    The appropriate response to a dead, “we’re done,” “we haven’t had a spark in years,” DNR, “I care so little about this marriage that I don’t even want to try” marriage is… A DIVORCE.

    Not – NOT – an affair. That the marriage probably was dead before he had an affair is not an excuse for it.

    When someone dies, you don’t carry the body around with you. You bury it. You don’t drag the body around until you find a live person you want more. Disgusting.

    When the marriage was dead, and he knew it, he should have filed for divorce. Bury it. Gone.

  • Yabutt-

    The zombie you were married to – likes dragging bodies around-
    Including yours.
    The more bodies the bettah!

    Trust this- the marriage means nothing. Nothing to bury.

  • Don’t spend energy wondering when cheater stopped being happy with you or the marriage. Cheaters don’t do real happiness. Inside their brain is a really messed up dark place. Their perception of happy is different than normal people.

  • I prefer it when Chump Lady is the bashful voice of reason and unquestionably points out that Cheaters Gonna Cheat. When she really makes that truth come out of how “Marriage was Dead” is just one of their million excuses to justify behavior which they did BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO.

    It DOES NOT “therefore follow” that because a marriage is dead, then the logical consequence is cheating.
    Like Chump Lady usually points out, there is a tree of choices there. Fix and stay, be ethical and leave. Take up a hobby. There is also DO NOTHING. Your married life is getting you down, maybe you don’t have the energy to do anything but stare at the wall. It’s better than go out of your way to get your marriage single-handedly into bigger trouble. Cheating is completely counterintuitive, that’s why any given reason is a LIE.

    How was it going to help your partner’s sexual performance that YOU fucked another?
    Should have suggested she go out and try it, not him LOL

    Cheaters are LOSERS, because they lost YOU.

  • When I finally outsmarted my cheater and detected his ever so clever hidden secret life of infidelities for 31 years, he escaped. Previously it was by just staring and not answering, walking away, or blame shifting. Only this escape had to be final, or he was going to have to finally answer. His escape was to remove himself permanently with suicide. They say suicide is not the answer, but this chump believes otherwise. When these selfish bastards create a false reality for their wives, put us on a shelf and give to prostitutes, affairs, and hookups, what should be for us, and do it for years, they deserve the death penalty. My advice to you is not to give him any more of your time and energy. Doesn’t matter if the marriage was dead first. There is NO excuse for lies, cheating and poor treatment of you. Mine did me a favor. I didn’t do the pick me dance. I get to move forward and can find an honest, loving, faithful man who appreciates me, and you should too.

  • Jennifer Frey, your story sounds exactly like mine (apart from the suicide part) I am eight weeks NC today! I read LACGAL three times at least over the last few months waiting for Captain Toxic to leave for good, he refused to leave until our son who is now a young adult left school! Because he was soooo delusional, he thought our son and himself would be “great friends” going forward! After him telling our son about his 5 year affair with a foreign Schmoopie 22years younger than him and with a child he says is not his!!!! (Really!!) paying all her bills etc. (Oh and cheating on her with escorts, prostitutes and hook ups) my son wants nothing further to do with him and has gone NC too which is probably driving the asshole nuts judging by the emails, texts and voicemails. The lies, gaslighting and projection would have to be seen to be believed! I believe his “hooker habit” has been going on for years, was married for 26yrs to the narc. I educated myself being an avid reader, I have read nothing but books on this issue and watching utube , armed with this info, I played the asshole at his own game until I was financially sorted and then grey rock for months which made the mask slip further and further to the point when every time I saw him I imagined he had cloven hoofs! He liked to portray himself as mr. perfect but people are now beginning to see though him. I have wonderful supportive friends and am looking forward to the rest of my life toxic free! Stay strong chumps! These assholes are not worth it, the marriage was a mirage and you were married to a total figment of your imagination, these dicks do not leave until you catch them out, cake is everything and I had too much self respect to do the pick me dance! Hope they are very happy together!! LOL

  • I may have said this before but I believe that cheating is a progressive disease just like alcoholism or porn addiction or chocolate, ok not in the same category but follow me here. Once the flirting starts, if you have an immature character…you just run some yellow lights. Tip toe in their .Hey wait she/ he responded. Your ego says..look at me..I am shiny —they like me!!! Brush a hand, tell a joke, they Laugh. Hey, I am special. Then start running more yellow lights. Then you have to lie to yourself, over and over. I’m not cheating…naw…once you lie to yourself, then you start to run red lights. This does not happen over night. It just gets easier. Once you cheat and get away with it, the red lights look Pink and if you can BLAME SOMEONE else in your head…then believe it outloud,you are off to the races. Zero consequences, all the fun. I had 2 husband’s cheat and both tip toed in, then got away with it. It got easier and then it didn’t matter with who or when. You are always to blame. You have to be the responsible person. It is so sad. Tracy is on target. If the marriage was almost dead, honesty might have saved it. But when you are secretly abused and lied to and about,you have zero chance. A cheater puts a bullet to the heart of a marriage instead of using words to resuscitate it. Reconciliation is attempting CPR and then putting the marriage on a ventilator. I had to pull the plug x2. It was the most merciful thing to do. I could never live with a cheater. It made me too sick.

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