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Dear Chump Lady, She left me for her boss

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Ooh, pick me!Hello Chump Lady

I am really struggling to cope with the end of my marriage because my partner has been unfaithful.

My wife and I are gay. We have been together for 9 years and got married 6 years ago. My wife was really in love with me, and over the years would say I was the best thing that ever happened to her.

When we met, she was financially struggling and after dating for about a year, I asked her to move in with me rent free; (she did pay for groceries and bills). She did her master’s degree a couple of years later and I was happy to support her while she studied, by doing all of the housework, grocery shopping etc.

My feelings for her deepened and when she proposed, I was so happy to accept and become her wife. I too was in love, although it had taken me a little longer for these feelings to develop than it had for her.

Our relationship was fun and loving, and following our beautiful marriage, we agreed that I would sell my apartment and we would buy a house together. We did so 4 years ago and we made the house a gorgeous home for ourselves and our beloved cats.

Things seemed fantastic. We were financially comfortable and took many trips away with friends and as a couple.

She did say to me that she found it difficult when I was stressed due to work pressure (I do suffer from anxiety) and I admit that instead of trying to seek help for that, I carried on and let our downtime together be the cure for those feelings of being overwhelmed at work. She too wasn’t perfect; she was often controlling, but no person or marriage is perfect, we just accept one another for the humans we are.

Last year, my wife told me that she had a new boss and as time went by, they deleloped a strong friendship. My wife would talk about her a lot and one day she came home from work and said that her boss had given an amazing presentation and commanded the entire room of people. I knew then that not only did she admire her, she was attracted to this confident person. I asked her whether she had a crush on her, as we were always open about this sort of thing and I believe crushes are completely healthy. She got defensive and denied it. She didn’t speak about her as much after that.

One evening I came home from work and noticed my wife looked sad. She opened up and said she wasn’t happy and had “developed deep feelings” for her boss, who is married to a man. She said they shared a taxi home after a Christmas night out and had held hands on the journey home, while under the influence of a lot of alcohol.

She said she had considered leaving me but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to cope with this breakup. I was devastated and felt I had been punched in the stomach. There were no warning signs and I thought everything was normal. I was very calm however and after listening to her telling me about her feelings, I asked whether we could try couple’s counselling and she agreed.

We gave counselling a really good try over the space of a number of months. My wife didn’t really open up however and I felt she was perhaps holding back. I remember her saying to the counsellor that she wished I had more confidence in myself. To me, she was comparing me to her uber-confident boss.

We finished our conselling sessions. My wife told me she felt so much better and her feelings for her boss had gone away. She said she only wanted to be with me and I had nothing to worry about. We went on a number of trips away together and we were regularly having sex. We had a wonderful trip in July and she told me when we returned home that she felt she had fallen in love with me all over again.

From time to time, she would tell me her boss had said she was unhappy with her marriage and wanted to leave her husband. I felt a bit insecure by this, but my wife kept assuring me that she wanted to be with me and again, had nothing to be worried about.

We celebrated our anniversay in August and in the card she got for me, she listed 10 things she loved about me and said she was happier than ever and was looking forward to another wonderful year ahead with me. A week later, on another drunken work night out, they kissed.

My wife admitted this to me a couple of weeks later and said our marriage was over. That devastating news was 2 months ago. I have since been off work with the shock and have been seeing a counsellor. I immediately moved out to stay with my parents when she confessed what had happened, as she said she needed space. She will be moving out of our home in a couple of days (day after my birthday), and I will move back there while we decide what to do with the house.

My wife and her boss have disposed of their marriages to be together. I am truly grieving and feel like a loser and a fool. I have lost weight and can’t sleep.

I don’t think this new relationship will last but either way, my wife doesn’t want to be in our marriage and blamed the reason on the fact that I was suffering from anxiety and letting work get me down.

I feel truly gutted and lost right now. 9 years of a relationship which I feel was mostly very happy and fun, just put in the bin. My family and our mutual friends cannot believe this and her own sister thinks my wife is not in her right state of mind.

Any advice you can give me would be gracefully received.

Thanks,

N

Dear N,

I’ve been doing this Chump Lady gig for awhile, and I filter letters through my cheater bullshit lens. You think you’re telling me your relationship history, and I’m doing this mental checklist. ✔Chump. ✔Chump. ✔Chump…

✔ When we met, she was financially struggling and after dating for about a year, I asked her to move in with me rent free

It’s not a relationship of equals and you’re a nice mark.

✔ I was happy to support her while she studied, by doing all of the housework, grocery shopping etc.

Classic rookie chump mistake — lopsided giving with the assumption they’d do the same for you. (But that situation never materializes.)

✔ I too was in love, although it had taken me a little longer for these feelings to develop than it had for her.

You were love bombed.

✔ we agreed that I would sell my apartment and we would buy a house together

By which you took a pre-marital asset (your home) and now have a joint marital asset (your house) of which she’s now legally entitled to half. I.e., you’re fucked. Talk to a lawyer. (BTDT, have the legal bills.)

✔ One evening I came home from work and noticed my wife looked sad. She opened up and said she wasn’t happy and had “developed deep feelings” for her boss, who is married to a man.

Sad sausage channel mindfuck. She’s not inappropriately attached to her boss, you fail to appreciate her ennui.

✔ She said she had considered leaving me but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to cope with this breakup.

Pick me dance goading. The affair is already in full bloom. This isn’t holding hands in a taxi.

✔ I remember her saying to the counsellor that she wished I had more confidence in myself. To me, she was comparing me to her uber-confident boss.

She wishes? Yeah, and I wish you weren’t fucking your boss. People in hell want a cool drink of water.

✔ My wife told me she felt so much better and her feelings for her boss had gone away. She said she only wanted to be with me

Intermittent rewards. You won the pick-me-dance! In the fuckwit Thunderdome, you are VICTORIOUS!

✔ we were regularly having sex

Cake is glorious.

✔ From time to time, she would tell me her boss had said she was unhappy with her marriage

Pick me dance goading again. Did you think you won? No. The point is cake — both of you competing for the fabulousness of a fuckwit.

✔ I felt a bit insecure by this, but my wife kept assuring me that she wanted to be with me and again, had nothing to be worried about.

Riiight. That’s why she brought up her affair partner’s case of the Sadz — to reassure you.

✔ she listed 10 things she loved

In her back pocket were the 1,437 Reasons You Drove Her to Cheat.

✔ My wife admitted this to me a couple of weeks later and said our marriage was over.

It was over when she started fucking her boss, and you were the last to know.

✔ My wife and her boss have disposed of their marriages to be together.

Must’ve been one hell of a drunken kiss.

***

My advice?

All the newbie advice that is on this blog — first and foremost is LAWYER UP and realize she is NOT your friend and she does NOT have your best interests at heart. Protect yourself.

Stop talking to her sister about her mental state, or focus any of your energies on untangling the skein. (That ball of fucked up isn’t going anywhere. You can untangle later. Or do something more improving like scrape gum off your shoe.)

This person wasn’t worthy of you. And as I wrote yesterday, it takes awhile for the heart to catch up to the head. While that’s happening, you need to navigate yourself toward safety — all the adult stuff, protecting your finances, your credit, your stuff. And most of all your heart. You protect that with NO CONTACT. (But do consider reaching out to the boss’s chump husband. And deposing HR if settlement talks stall.)

Then, you rebuild.

I’m going to leave it here, with this wonderful comment left on the CL Facebook page on yesterday’s post, by “Liz.”

In my experience there is a direct correlation between how quickly this happens and how busy you get building your new life and digging yourself out of the hole.

I got busy. Not as a way of avoidance but because I recognised that to get where I wanted to be I needed to put in the yards to get there.

And it takes massive amounts of radical acceptance of your situation. Not engaging in the “not fair/this isn’t where I should be/why me/if only” thinking. Radically accepting all the injustice and knowing that no amount of wishful thinking will change it. Accept that and you’re half way there.

Then it’s just graft. Graft that makes you feel proud of yourself. And the focus is totally and 100% on YOU. Not him, not her, but YOU.

And somehow you get rewarded for that with a reciprocal energy that does not include him or her and you think less and less of them because for the first time in eleventy million years YOU are your focus.

Then six months, 13 months, three years have passed and you think of them as nothing but someone you used to know.

Get busy.

((Hugs))

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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.
  • Hang in there, Nat. CL is right, you need a good attorney and documentation. We’ll be here for whatever else you need.

    • My partner also left me for a woman that she met at work. She also had a million reasons why this was actually my fault, not hers and I believed that I was lacking something that the OW actually had. Until I didn’t. Until my therapist helped me to recognize all of the ways she had fucked with my head and made me feel 100% responsible for the marriage when she clearly did not. Don’t believe a single thing she says about you, not a thing. Believe that what she actually does says far more about her as a human being than anything coming out of her mouth.
      I am 1 week from the first anniversary of DDay. We happen to be meeting with the mediator that day (giggle snort). I can tell you, it gets so much better. It really, really does. You will not always be so desperately sad. Run, don’t walk to a therapist. Get representation and be incredibly kind to yourself. You’re worth it. This isn’t your fault and you are doing the best that you can. There is nothing wrong with you. ((Hugs))

  • Doubt that two people leave their marriages because of one drunken kiss. This is a full-blown affair that’s been going on for a while. But don’t talk to her about that, talk to your lawyer, right after you tell said lawyer that you want to keep the house. She fights you on that? “Hello, HR.”

    • The toughest struggle on my journey was dealing with the stage of “I was just used.” (Financially and as a step parent)

      Once I busted through that wall….it was smooth sailing.

      • I have boiled ‘the reason I removed him from my life’ down to this:

        “He was only interested in being with me so that he could use me”.

        I’ve finally become indifferent to his indifference.

      • Me too Superduper. I’m not sure it was intentional using to begin with but the Twat would have had nothing if not for me. Had we done it “properly” he would have got nothing out of the house either as I put all the money in to but I knew there was a chance I would end up dead if that happened! His rage was out of control. My sister once hauled him up a wall and pinned him there (in front of his mom) and said “you would have nothing if it wasn’t for her. Touch her again and I promise you I’ll kill you”.

      • SuperDuperChump…..I totally agree!!! Being used hurts like a MF and trying to accept all of what he has done has been beyond painful. They are true evil pieces of shit.

      • I was used for the same reasons, SuperDuper. It hurt a lot when I realized that. But, once I got over that hurdle, I realized my ex will treat the AP the same way he did me. There’s some justice in that. I’ll move on and be better, he never will be. He’ll keep searching for happiness by using other people, not knowing he’ll never find happiness that way. Happiness can only be found in the self, and my ex will never introspect.

      • Wow Super, then I haven’t busted through that wall yet. Almost every day I feel used. Not just by cheater, but by his entire family. I could win a Fun Friday how-you-were-used contest.

        On the days I don’t feel used, I never can remember what it was that kept me away from the feeling. Probably just what Liz said: I was extra-super-busy that day.

        • ClearWaters I too, looking back, felt like I had been used for my competence. It truly does suck. I guess the only plus is that once Cheater is out of your life, we do even better as we don’t have their dead weight and emotional vortex draining us. I know financially it can suck, but in so many other ways there are pluses.

  • Amazing Chump Lady, I am surprised that some of your followers are not crucifying you for giving advice to a lesbian couple. You may recognize my name (not my real name) from the secret group we were in together, that I was an admin for, well you also may remember the hubbub that occurred when some people found out there were some BI women in the group, well those women came to that group from a larger organization who denied this vehemently and because of our differences of philosophy, I could no longer be a facilitator representing that group.
    Anyway, kudos to you for being a compassionate soul who can help anyone in need.

    Hang in there, at first this feels like teh end of teh world, allow yourself to wallow and then I am confident that you will bounce back stronger and wiser. I am a man that was married (still married) to a lesbian for 43 years, she came out to me 4.5 years ago and because of our situation, we go our separate ways but remain married for financial and insurance reasons.

    • I don’t recognize you, I’m afraid. And I don’t underestimate the compassion of CN for fellow chumps, whatever their orientation.

      From the start, I’ve made this site gender and orientation neutral. CN is a rainbow nation — anyone can be chumped.

        • Agreed! People here probably don’t agree on every detail of everyone’s life, but that doesn’t me we don’t all have the compassion to feel deeply for someone else’s hurt. I’m pretty sure there are people here who don’t agree with everything about my life, but everyone has been largely kind to me. So yes, kudos for Chump Lady for making a place where everyone has been given the gift of compassion when they need it most.

      • I, SuperDuperChump, would NEVER crucify Chump Lady for her advice. After all she has done for me, I still read her column daily as I finish my coffee and prepare for my day. Her column is a daily reminder of where I have been, where I am at, and where I am going.

        I have so much to accomplish both personally and financially and every morning there is always some tidbit that I stick in my mind that helps me on my daily journey.

        I also don’t care about your “disclaimer”……race, color, religion, sexual orientation, financial status, etc. If you are a human who is hurting….I salute you and will be your biggest cheerleader.

        I am extremely and humbly indebted to Chump Lady and her advice. THANK GOD I found her while laying in a hospital bed after having almost died.

    • Uh, ok, so I have no idea what secret group you were or weren’t a part of, but the CL community has extensively addressed queer issues. Gay male couples, lesbian couples, bisexuals, gay men finding out their boyfriends were closeted and married, straight men finding out their girlfriends cheated with a women, women whose husbands cheated with men… we’ve had it all, and at no point did anyone have any problem with the writer’s sexuality, that I can recall.

  • Slots and tabs don’t matter when two people are married (or tabs and tabs; slots and slots; whatever). What matters is that your wife cheated and stomped on your heart while picking your pocket.

    Lawyer. More therapy. Decide what YOUR future looks like and soon enough you will see that there isn’t room for a cheater in it.

    Big, big hugs!

  • Hi, I always try to add this piece of advise to Newbies. Be very careful in how you select your inner circle right now. Let no one in that doesn’t think cheating is abuse. Ask them point blank, “Is cheating abuse?” If they can’t offer a swift, “Yes!!”, move away from them. Don’t debate them on this point – you’re too vulnerable. Block them on your phone and social media. Don’t feel guilty about having to turf these people. You can sort all that out later. Right now,

    lawyer up.
    start to build an inner circle of Team N with zero Switzerland (use your trusty question above)
    change ALL your passwords.
    Then get secure off site storage for all your important and critical valuables and papers

    This will keep you busy in these early days.

    Big hugs and tons of love are here for you on Chump Nation so keep us posted pretty please!

    • Hi NoMoreNarcs.

      This is a big problem for me. I have a dear friend, she really helped me before the separation. She was here for me. Available, despite having a lot of work, patient, understanding, helpful.

      However, she was wrong all along. She fed me shitloads of hopium for two months. She told me ‘nobody could have seen it coming’ when my X-wife finally said it was over after I punched a hole through a door in my living room (it took me a while to get angry, but when I did…) And much later on she told me ‘she cheated on you? Who cares”. It makes me sad but I’m afraid I won’t talk to her anymore.

      • Francois, your ‘friend’ was a getting loads of kibbles from ‘helping’ you. And who knows what other machinations she has in the works. She could be a vampire or a flying monkey, and who cares! You owe her nothing.

        Go find people worthy of your trust, and always ask early on, “Is cheating abuse?”

    • I agree. I got the comment, “Well…, I don’t know both sides of the story…” and “I’m not going to take sides…” So I was done with those. Let them be friends with the cheater. I don’t need friends like that.

    • Dear N, YES to this that NoMoreNarcs shares, all of it. Find your support system. How do you know you’ve found them? They are on your side, see your view, take care of you with zero interest in “both sides of the story.”

    • N,

      Please listen to what NoMoreNarcs has stated above so clearly. Others have said the same thing so I am not going to repeat it.

      I will say that I was in such shock after Dday it was my friends who helped me proceed through these steps. I hesitated in the beginning because, after all, he was my life partner – the person I trusted more than anyone else – decades worth of trusting. I kept thinking, ‘They are over-reacting; if they knew him like I really knew him” I now know they were spot on and clear headed and I am so grateful that they put up with my resistance for as long as they did.

      Just Do It ASAP even if you do not feel like it DO IT.

      Also, I have read many here who have shared how they didn’t take heed and pick-me-danced for weeks, months or years and all wish they hadn’t. ME TOO. Dump and Run.

      Take caution to not make shortcuts with finances. It can be tempting to let it slide in order to get on with your life BUT the decisions made are what you will be living with once the dust settles. Don’t short change yourself. YOU are worth it despite what she may say. Go for as much as you can. Do not feel guilty – or do feel guilty but still go for as much as you can and deal with the guilt later 🙂

      If you haven’t already, read as much as you can in the archives. There is a wealth of knowledge here – Tracy’s as well as the folks who make up CN. Take what you want and leave the rest but READ. READ. READ.

      CL – You nailed it on the head for me once again with all of your ‘check’ marks. Wish they didn’t describe me to a ‘t’ but they do. Shit. Thank you for your supreme clarity. Your words continue to put order to the chaos in my betrayed little brain and slowly but surely I am trudging my way to Tuesday/meh.

  • Always remember she is not ur friend or family anymore. Ur stbx wife fucked u over in the nastiest way. Lawyer up. It’s just business now. The mask is gone protect urself, ur interests and future.

    Keep gaining a life. It will get better protect ur self and focus on u. 💪🏻

  • Yes to everything CL said and please specifically notice this one small thing you said:

    “I remember her saying to the counsellor that she wished I had more confidence in myself.”

    This is something you admitted to the person who you loved because you wanted support and safety in your relationship.

    When the time was right, she (like my cheater) weaponized the very thing you trusted her with, the knowledge that you sometimes lacked confidence.

    then

    She then (like my cheater) used it as a means to send you off on a wild goose chase of “if I fix this thing in myself, they I will beloved” when in reality it was just a way to keep you spinning and hopeful to add to cake while she did whatever.

    In counseling my cheater said he wanted me to nurture a better relationship with my parents. He may as well have said that he wanted me to go to a “viper petting zoo” since the end effect was the same.

    My cheater knew I had deep sadness in me about my parents because of neglect and abuse…something I had shared with him in deepest trust.

    and yet, when they put frosting all over the turd of their comments, it can sound so reasonable…you need confidence, I need to reach out to the rents.

    Its crap. get your half.

    • I really like this Unicornnomore. This is very wisely and coherently stated; thank you. I felt like I was playing a game for which the rules kept spontaneously changing. All the things I was running around doing, changing, improving never did change the outcome (as you said), not even temporarily. It just queued up the next fruitless mission to make him happy/ stop raging/ be satisfied/ be part of the family/ help his confidence…

      All his assholery was under the guise of “deep down I’m insecure.” This is apparently why he was a serial cheater, screwed strangers, raged, was condescending and rude to everyone, was a bully at work…. any negative thing he ever got called on came down to his pity party, “deep insecurities.” Therefore no one could ever hold him accountable because who criticizes an insecure person? My therapist called this one so well. She said that’s a great gig, be an asshole and then get everyone round you building you up with constant praise and admiration to make you feel better. She said our society has this BS thing where we excuse bad behavior with the “deep down they are insecure” for the mean, passive aggressive, non-empathetic, narcissists, bullies, etc. We are actually feeding the monster. People who act like they’re better than others and above the rules are not insecure. They are entitled. And they DO think they are more deserving, better, and smarter than everyone else. This was a huge revelation for me. So simple, so true, and yet not what I ever would have instinctively thought.

      • Adding that actual insecure people are timid, unsure, often overly accommodating, bit anxious… not aggressive assholes marking their territory with affairs.

      • “It just queued up the next fruitless mission to make him happy/ stop raging/ be satisfied/ be part of the family/ help his confidence…”

        OMG, were we married to the same guy?

        endlessly malconteted, cranky, raging, never satisfied, zero gratefulness, lived on the fringes of the family (occasionally saying we were his everything and acting like we were nothing).

        To this day, I have no idea if the seed of plutonium in the dead center of his soul was profound inadequacy or profound entitlement and that is a knot in the skein that will never be untangled on earth. He and God can pick at that one together, its no longer my business.

        What I know is that whatever his demon, he manifested it in a legion of cruelties.

        At some point, I realized that one thing you cannot influence is the relationship people have with themselves – all the drama takes place in an arena we have no invitation to. It is, I believe, the responsibility of each of us to deal with any demon which causes us to inflict pain on others.

        I thought I could help, could bolster him up while God fixed him. Trouble is he was having none of it.

        • LOL-Yes we kind were… I have read many of your comments and been in awe of the similarities! I read here quickly and only comment sporadically because I have 2 FT jobs and I am crazy busy thanks to my meek abilities during the divorce. (Basically super sick, stalked, threatened to where I signed away a lot to be done / survive the process.) Anyway, your comments have jumped off the screen on several occasions because of the similarities.

    • What is it with abusive cheaters and using parental abuse against you??? I guess they realize it works in their favor if several abusers can tag-team abuse you to keep you exhausted and off balance. My cheater abuser LOVED to abuse me further whenever my parents abused me. I’d complain to her about something awful my mom said and cheater would respond by threatening and screaming at me. Gotta love the tag-team abuse efforts. Thankfully cheater is now long gone and I keep my parents at a careful distance.

      • Some of the worse abuse I got from him was in the form of tag-teaming:

        – “Now I understand why your parents never liked you”

        – “you and I could never be as happy together as Susan and I could be, you see, she had a happy childhood like I did and you had a sad one, so you and I would never work.

        • No, I correct myself, that wasnt the worst of the abuse, but it was cruel and heartless in its own horrid way

        • Oh my gosh, here’s another similarity Uninomore!! I did have an awful mother. She was bi-polar but refused to take meds because she love the mania so much. I was her fav punching bag and asshole used it to gaslight me. On several occasion when I’d actually have the gall to ask about weird absences, fake conferences, why a local hotel called and asked about our stay, he get me crying and apologizing to him because obviously my childhood and issues w/ my mother had made me: paranoid, making things up to seek attention from him, made me dramatic, a bad communicator, hyper-sensitive…. I can’t believe how blind I was to it. For decades! I also now connect (from therapy) that growing up like that DID contribute to my staying in the crazy as long as I did and to how I minimize any needs and try to fix people and make them happy and love me. Hindsight is an amazing AND frustrating thing. ;o)

          • Bless you, I so relate. These people set us up to relive their abuse. The hardest thing was to acknowledge this and understand they don’t want what is best for me but to keep me begging for approval. It’s so messed up. I hope you have moved on to healthy, reciprocal relationships.

    • Thank you Unicornnomore, my wasband said as we split “I really want you to put yourself first” and my response was “no I will always put our children first!”.

      I’ve often internalised that if I put myself first more he wouldn’t have cheated. Now I can see that he was just using something I believe and like about myself as a weapon….

    • Yes, and it’s all diversionary tactics: ooh look over there (or look at yourself) so you don’t notice what I’m up to. Lawyer up asap, your wife has used you from the get go to have her needs met, sponsoring her education and solving her life problems and now she thinks she’s taking the next step up. But while she’s still in the love-sparkles stage with her boss, get yourself organised. I agree about the whole, you sell your house and put the proceeds into joint assets, she has been sitting in the boat enjoying the scenery while you’ve been doing all the rowing, and she’s probably like, ah well, if it ends, at least I’ll be financially better off. Start leverage on her re HR etc and get as much as you can. See it as what you deserve for running the relationship and her life for her. This woman has been a grifter, and now she thinks she’s onto a bigger payday.

    • “Weaponized the thing you trusted her with.”

      During our courtship and marriage I shared trauma from molestation, alcoholic narcissistic abuse from a parent, and a #metoo event, mostly to explain why certain situations were triggering for me. I thought he was so thoughtful and caring to listen and sympathize, but he just was cataloging my pain for future use.

      When I confronted him about his Craigslist whores on DDay, he told me that the reason he’d cheated was due to some inappropriate “possibly sexual” behavior of his mother, and how he suffered because of her depression. He had AMPLE time and safe space to share any of that with me during our time together, but he trots it out like it’s some sort of “get out of jail free” pass; he thought I should be sympathetic and make allowances because he has sadz from his childhood. When I got mad and pointed out that my shitty childhood didn’t make me a cheater, he then switched the narrative to other blame shifting channels.

      He is a user and not a safe place for anyone’s heart.

      • The first time he subjected me to a rage, I was horrified (but way too inclined to forgive and miss the red flags flying) but he explained that he was upset because he missed his family who lived far away. I thought we were having a moment of emotional intimacy…I now see that I was being played.

        In that moment when he raged, we were seniors in college and on our way to an event where there would be a lot of his classmates. I now think that he raged because he had a girlfriend he was dating at school and if we arrived together he might get busted.

        He once told me that I “used my childhood as an excuse”. I very calmly said “an excuse is what you give to get out of consequences for doing something wrong. I let you know that my childhood makes me sad, but I never offer it as a reason for doing something selfish, inappropriate, mean, or unkind…in fact it makes me try harder to be good to my family. Can you give me an example of me ever doing something wrong and offering it as an excuse?”. That stopped him weaponizing in that way, but he found others

    • Ooooh, TRIGGER UNM!

      Vulnerable things being weaponised. But I have to admit that he would use things in counselling like that to get me off his back – not to wilfully hurt me. If I had left him alone (stuffed my distress) he would have been as happy as a clam.

      If your H was not dead? I would kill him for that ‘wish’. That is seriously one of THE meanest things I have ever heard.

      You have gone and truly shocked me now! Love and hugs to an amazing person xxx

  • After finding out about an affair, you can make two decisions: one is to hold on trying to make them realize they are throwing away the best spouse and family ever. Or let go. Just drop the ropes that bind you, accept the current reality and let them fly off. I held on and fought ‘for us, for my family) until one day I realized that if I won, what exactly would I have? Pretty much a lying, back stabbing walking ego trip who just didn’t have any values I could appreciate. My spouse did monster things – smiling and faking while lying cheating stealing. I didn’t want that back. Holding on had diminished my strength and confidence. The whole thing was crushing. So finally I just started negotiating my best deal and ended it. My advice to my fellow travelers in this situation is not to fight but to just let it go. And like me, they don’t want that. And they resist. But in the end, after being worn down, they let go. Having wasted their youth, beauty, inner strength, confidence and self belief. I wouldn’t drop that rope. But he’d already cut it and there wasn’t anything left. And I wasted so much of my own currency. Don’t be like me. Go. Run. Be free. Go.

    • I VERY much agree with you, Trudy. I believed the dick when he said that he wouldn’t do it again because I just couldn’t see throwing in the towel after 26 years of marriage. We had so much invested to include kids and extended family. In my efforts to save our marriage, I told him that we were stronger together than apart. If one of our children became disabled and needed long-term care, we could do it better as a team. And if we got divorced, I told him that if our children had troubles in their marriages, it would be easier for them to throw in the towel rather than stick it out, after all, “mom and dad got divorced.” So we stayed together for an additional 4 years only for me to find out he was still seeing the skank. I didn’t even try the second time around. I called him a fucker at the top of my lungs and divorced him. I wasted 4 extra years. Many churches want to save the marriage at all cost, but when someone feels entitled to cheat, there’s no marriage to save. Get divorced. If the cheater REALLY wants to save the marriage (s)he’s going to save it whether or not the divorce goes through. If the cheater is remorseful, they’ll be remorseful after the divorce and do everything in their power to fix things. But after what I went through, and what I hear over and over again on CN, cheaters aren’t remorseful. EVER. They feel entitled to do what they did. And they’ll feel entitled to continue to be self indulgent and they will only blame shift and gaslight the chump. Why? It’s because that’s who they are.

  • The one that was a big check mark for me was…”She did say to me that she found it difficult when I was stressed due to work pressure.”

    This may not be a glaring red flag, but it really resonated with me because of a tiny book called 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics. I found this quote under the section about invalidation:

    “How someone responds to your emotions and perceptions will indicate how much they respect you, how much they care about you and your feelings, how capable they are of empathy and intimacy, and how much they are trying to change or control you.”

    My ex-wife didn’t like it at all when I vented about a particular annoying co-worker. She would always be the neutral party instead of taking my side or even seeing things from my point of view! Plus my tendency to vent about the co-worker was annoying to her.

    I’m not saying someone couldn’t get compassion fatigue, but this was about anything. She never wanted me to bring down her mood.

    • This was a HUGE missed red flag for me.

      When I was 21 and we were dating, I was in a near miss collision with a motorcycle where the crash would have been 100% my fault and likely hurt the guy on the motorcycle. I had also been spending the previous 2 weeks working in an ICU caring for a teen who had been in a motorcycle accident.

      I care deeply about people and was distraught at coming so close to hurting someone. I desperately needed consolation, kindness and support but he laughed-at and tormented me. His reaction was not drama in the moment, it was later as I recounted the situation to him (I had been alone when the near miss happened). His cruelty on top of my preexisting distress almost destroyed me in the moment and I did not see it for the real pathology it displayed.

    • Yes, this. I think that statement basically says, don’t bring me down, you are doing a good job of being an excellent supply and making my life real comfy, but if you lose your confidence, then that supply might be cut off and then I’d have to go looking for something else to latch onto. Don’t stop doing for me, okay? No empathy for OPs side of things, just keep being fun and providing the lifestyle or things could go South.

    • Yep, my covert narc wasband found work stories annoying and he claimed as a manager to deal with coworkers’ drama all day so he didn’t want to be triggered by hearing about my day. Earlier this year I got promoted and told him how embarrassing the day was because instead of a recent headshot being used sone genius used a headshot from when I was pregnant many years earlier. He had no empathy and snapped to just be happy you got promoted. I rationalized that since he’s a man he didn’t understand. For the last year I had no idea I was being gaslighted and chalked his moods and criticism up to work stress.🤦‍♀️

  • Loyalty is a core value in a person or it isn’t. Your wife is a disloyal person who considers partners interchangeable. Run for the hills and don’t look back.

    Sure we provided many perks for them so they stayed. Till they spotted greener pastures. You can do better than her.

  • That bit above about radical acceptance is so key. You can process and grieve (and you will have to) at a later date. Right now, you have to protect yourself from this abuser (because she is an ABUSER), lock down an inner circle, and protect your financial assets as much as possible. Radically accept that she does not view human relationships in a healthy way. Radically accept that she is out for #1, and always has been.

    If you haven’t joined already, I want to invite you to join the private Reddit group–people from all stages of the “discard” are on there, from brand new chumps to those who are well into mighty new lives. We all listen and advise and support each other, and try to carry on and apply Chump Lady’s wisdom.

    As a chump who is almost 2.5 years post-discard, I still find this site and the Reddit site to be invaluable support. Grieving takes time. I’m just so, SO glad I circled my wagons the way Chump Lady suggested when my cheater threw the bomb on me. Hugs to you as you get through this.

    (P.S. I’m not the Liz from above in Chump Lady’s post. But I love her advice!)

    • Hi, Liz, re the reddit group, how does one get on it?

      I thought I’d joined, but don’t seem able to join any discussions. I’m chumpnomore6.

      Your wife is a selfish, manipulative *user*, like all narcs. Please take all the wise advice above, and *protect* yourself. I’m so sorry you have to be here, and I know it hurts like nothing else ((HUGS)), but start the divorce process *now*, you have nothing to work with here. xx

  • That was a neat trick of Jedi mindfuckery your wife pulled in counseling…”I am going to use you, abuse you, and slowly destroy your self worth. But it is on YOU that you arent self confident like my super awesome boss!”
    What a jerk. No contact will help you as you detox from this poisonous relationship.

    • As if Cheater wasn’t undermining her confidence the whole time–because if she was cheating or thinking of it, the discard was well under way before N knew about it.

    • Yeah, and considering the boss’ cheating, it’s not unlikely he’s narcissistic. Lots of narcs are SUPER confident, because they actually believe they’re that good, that special, that deserving of all their entitlements ….

      Nah, you don’t want to have that kind of confidence.

      I agree w/the brilliant response above; because we love and feel safe, we make ourselves vulnerable. Then the assholes use our vulnerabilities against us. (Then they complain about the emotional turmoil this abuse causes in us, the insecurity or the anxiety or the frustration and resentment …)

      I actually tested this on my Ex a couple of times, as it gradually became clear to me (in the years between Affair #1 and Affair #2) that he was not who I had thought he was. I was upset by a difficult experience or situation, considered not telling him as he might later throw it in my face. Realized I might be unfair in thinking that, so tried it out. Yup, threw it in my face the first time after he needed a weapon. No more sharing the difficult stuff with him, I went to friends and family that I knew I could trust.

      I am a smart person, and know far more about Cheater Narc Ex’s vulnerabilities than he knows himself (ditto for alcoholic ex-husband). But no matter how angry, hurt and upset I have been at them, I have NEVER thrown their most painful experiences and feelings in their faces. To me, that’s like hitting people (or perhaps even worse); it’s just not one of the options.

  • As I read this letter, I did the same thing. Mental “check” for every aspect of the love bombing, gaslighting, abuse. The wild goose chase of making yourself better, because if you “fix” your issue then you will be worthy of love and your spouse won’t be forced to find it somewhere else. But you ARE worthy of love exactly the way you are. Your spouse is not supposed to weaponize your vulnerabilities, they are supposed to help you with them. All of us here have pretty much gone through the exact same thing, because the cheater playbook is rote and unimaginative. Don’t fall into the “but my wife has feelings and genuinely loves me” trap, that is just the pick me dance for cake. Cheaters LOVE cake, and people who treat a loved one the way our exes treated us are just evil. Stay strong, get a lawyer, move on with your life (as excruciating as that is right now). You deserve so much better.

    • At some point I realized all the changes were on my side. It came to me when I was trying to comply with his demand of dressing more sexy. I thought, why am I doing this? Why is it always about what pleases him? He never changes anything for me. He doesn’t even take me out. Not that I really want to dressed like this. It was lose/lose for me and win/win for him, always.

  • Yeah, she got it all set up nicely didn’t she – free accommodation, supported during her education, progressing to joint assets but it sounds like mostly your financial input – then 2 years later starts an affair with her boss, strings you along for another few years (get the mortgage down a bit so she gets more money in the split?) and then leaves you. Nice. Lawyer up and keep as much of your assets as you can from this manipulative mean person. And make sure you get your beloved cats. It sucks ((hugs)), but it will suck more of you don’t get a lawyer and really look after your own interests. CN knows.

    • Yes, N’s stbx sounds extremely calculating. The super duper boss may just be another stepping stone to possibly enhance her career. Cheater may not like doing any heavy lifting and seeks out people (love interests) who will help with her ambitious agenda. Super Duper boss is more than likely the next chump.

    • I kept hearing in the 6 months prior to his discard, I don’t want to go on a family vacation let’s pay down some credit card debt first (mostly zero interest and mind you I sold an inherited item that paid off his credit card yet it seemed like the next month there was a $4,000 balance somehow). Whatever, our kids haven’t flown yet and we have a free place to stay in Hawaii so I booked the tickets. Now soon, I’m taking the kids on the vacation and his ticket is getting cancelled. He gets to be in the cold to celebrate his 40th birthday while the kids and me will be enjoying Hawaii. A little bit of karma since he enjoyed his married howorker the last year of our marriage.

  • Oh I am so sorry, that your wife betrayed you like this! How awful!

    But we in Chump Nation have been in your shoes. We get it. And we know that CL is right.

    You absolutely need a lawyer. Do NOT tell your STBXW that you’re filing. Just interview a few lawyers, find out what you can expect in your particular jurisdiction, and go with the lawyer with whom you feel most comfortable and who has the most creative approach to property division so that you can come out of this slightly ahead. A good lawyer will ask you where you see yourself 6 months, a year, 5 years out of the divorce.

    You also need a therapist, someone who’s familiar with trauma bonding and relationship abuse. In fact, you can ask the therapist if they believe that infidelity is abuse. If they hem or haw, find another therapist!

    Your therapist should work with you on setting and maintaining relationship boundaries, and in trusting your feelings. You need to see that when your STBXW blames your anxiety for her cheating, that she’s blameshifting. Remember that it is NOT you; it’s her. If she thought it was so hard to be around someone who exhibits anxiety or lack of confidence, then she’d not have proposed.

    You can get through this. Trust that she sucks. No Contact is your friend. You deserve better.

  • Hi, –
    I wanted to greet you as a fellow same-sex-married chump. My STBX first cheated in 2004, when our older daughter was 2 – and this was after a lot of weird crushes that had made me feel uncomfortable since our big commitment ceremony in 1998. But she was so contrite and willing to do all the therapy, and I was just realizing that I was tired all the time (as a result of cancer therapy? Or being married to a cheater? Who knows?), so I stayed with her. A couple of years later, STBX kissed her best friend but told me right away – but of course, stayed friends with that (married) person, and I didn’t raise a stink. A few years after that, STBX said she couldn’t stay married to me unless we had another kid. Worn down, I agreed. Then her mom died in 2018, and within weeks, she had embarked on another affair, and I did therapy with her for a year. Count the chump checks there, and also the sheer number of different sources of narcissistic supply. (Me! 2 APs! Kids! Friends! Family!)

    The moral of the story here, as I hope you can see, is that it’s better to get out of this situation the first time your partner reveals their disorder. (The nature of the disorder doesn’t matter, as CL says.) I know it hurts like nothing else, but I hope in time you’ll see how great it is that you didn’t invest even more time with this person. And, it sounds like you don’t have kids, so there’s nothing keeping you from going No Contact immediately. Please don’t let her Hoover you back in when the other relationship blows up (which it likely will – keep in mind that your STBX’s boss is a cheater, too).

    All my best rainbow wishes to you!

  • This is an unfortunately common chump/cheater scenario, and it makes no difference if the couple involved is straight, gay, black, white, Martians, etc.

    Cheater found an easy mark to mooch off. Put in the minimum effort to keep things comfortable and beneficial to cheater financially. Cheater made sure to keep chump somewhat off-balance throughout the relationship with subtle mind fuckery and tear-down of self-confidence. Eventually, cheater found a new mark that could offer more financially. Cheater dumped chump once the new mark was secured, but will absolutely do everything possible in divorce to destroy chump financially.

    Notice I mention nothing here about love, because beyond the thrill of the chase, the excitement of fucking strange, and the smug satisfaction of getting away with lying to the chump, no emotions were involved on the cheater’s side. However, cheaters do get off on hurting the chump once it’s clear they are of no further use beyond being the cheater’s emotional punching bag. They love inflicting pain, and that’s about the extent of their capability for love.

    I know it’s easy to say, hard to do, but waste as little time as possible in trying to untangle the skein. Your wife is a mooch, a liar, a cheater, and a horrible person. Don’t think for one second she is going to change for the boss; she isn’t. All you can do is hire the best divorce attorney possible, and do everything you can to protect your assets. Focus on yourself, and have as little contact with the cheater as possible while working through divorce and then go full no-contact once it’s finished.

  • Check with your lawyer about the sale of your apartment. If you used those premarital funds from the sale of your apartment to purchase the house you may be able to get credit. Hopefully, you still have the closing documents from the sale of your apartment as proof.

    I know these legal particulars are probably very difficult to digest right now because you are in an emotional tornado. Try to let your head rule. You can deal with your heart after you secure your financial future.

    You will get through this. You are strong and you are a most lovely person which is obvious from your letter. You did not cheat. You did not do the dirty. You love with your whole heart, you are kind and forgiving. That makes you a catch. She will reap what she has sowed. You don’t cheat on your wife with a married woman and think your life will be grand. It won’t. Your payback is that she is a crap person with crap coping skills which will not change because she fucked a married woman.

    • ^^^^^^^This in spades.

      What makes it worse is when the new primate is another narcissistic, psycho, never-married, 52-year old gorilla. And when you try to to scamper away from the hairy beasts, you keep getting intentionally hit by branches. It took me awhile to realize it was just to enable the new primate to pound her chest and proclaim herself superior. Sometimes just getting out of the shit sandwich forrest takes so much strength and energy.

  • This is what I struggle with too, he used me, as a step parent and for fininicial stability. Oh, I feel for it all, ” love of his life” BS, until he needed to show it. ✔✔✔✔ I was an idiot. 12 yrs. No more rose colored glasses!

  • I feel for you, big hugs! I too was blindsided 100% by my best friend and a near-perfect relationship, blowing up my whole world. It was so hard to see MY person in this light but there he was, a complete stranger in front of me and I could not wrap my heart around the concept at all. I tried in hopes he would pick me, but he didn’t. He had already said goodbye, long before I knew what was even happening. After a month of no sleep, no food, and so many lost tears I could cry no more, I picked myself up, took what dignity I had left, lawyered up and filed for divorce.

    Your wife is not the person you knew or thought you knew. Regardless of what is going on with her, she has made it clear you are not apart of her future, therefore her problem is no longer your problem anymore.( I know it hurts to hear that.) Actions speak louder than words, and when people show you how they feel, believe them. I know it hurts to walk away when all you really want to do is stay but would you tell a friend or loved one to stay in the situation? Of course not, because we don’t want to see anyone hurt like that. Be sure to have the same self-love for yourself in this situation.

    It won’t be easy. It’s a life change you didn’t want and didn’t see coming but you will get through this. Protect yourself against her, (get a lawyer or mediation, just protect your financial being 1st and foremost) be gentle with yourself and keep pushing forward. It may take a while because healing always does but you will be stronger in the end and hopefully will realize they actually did us a favor. I don’t want to be with someone who thinks I am disposable. I didn’t deserve it and neither do you.

    Big hugs again!!

  • “Our relationship was fun and loving.” That’s what I thought, too, for the first several years.

    Until he cheated – and lied thousands of times in order to pull it off – I had no clue that he was a highly skilled narcissistic performer who created a sparkly persona to get what he wanted from me. So much of his behavior toward me had been fake. And I found out that he lied to me FROM THE BEGINNING about stuff large and small.

    And while I wasn’t rich, I had more financially than he did and I was all too willing to subsidize him.

    I know now that a pathological liar and user like that is NOT mentally healthy, though I would have sworn that his sunny disposition (at least, early on) was a sign of very good mental health.

    It hurts like a mofo to find out it was all an act, that your spouse was not the person you believed them to be, that you weren’t loved despite being sincere in YOUR love for them. I found it to be disorienting, because my world had been turned upside down, not to mention the rug being pulled out from under me.

    You MUST act strong now, even if you don’t feel it. Like CL says, the first order of business is to get a LAWYER. You have been preyed upon in addition to being betrayed. She will try to get everything out of you she can. Get a strong advocate for your rights ASAP.

    Hang in there. It DOES hurt less with time. I promise!

    • “And I found out that he lied to me FROM THE BEGINNING about stuff large and small.”

      That was a very strange reality for me to begin to grasp. People say to look for “changes” in them to identify an affair but maybe the reason I never saw a change is that never was one, he was most likely a cheater from the day we met.

      I foolishly prided myself on being able to “read” him but in reality I was WAY WAY off. He avoided real emotional intimacy with me because he had way too much to lose if I ever came to understand what really made him tick.

      There were some things on his surface that I adored and I think I created a narrative about who he was. I thought he was a good man deep inside who sometimes got so upset that he acted like a jerk. I now think that he was a deeply flawed person who wanted a lot of pay-off in life for very little investment.

      • Yes, yes, yes! I would read articles on cheating and deception and they all tell you to look for changes! But con artists play you from the start and there is not abrupt change, just a slow eating away of your sanity for which you know no beginning.

      • “I thought he was a good man deep inside who sometimes got so upset that he acted like a jerk. I now think that he was a deeply flawed person who wanted a lot of pay-off in life for very little investment.”

        Yup, switch the ‘upset’ for ‘stressed’, and you have my life w/Cheater Narc Ex in a nutshell. And unfortunately, my kids’ too ….

  • I’m so sorry for all you are going through. You sound like a lovely, kind, forgiving and generous woman; she doesn’t deserve you!! She deserves a cheater, so let her go and get what she deserves!!

    She wished you had more confidence in yourself? Well, why don’t you grant her wish and dig down deep and let your inner badass out. You know she’s in there waiting to come out. You said you are in shock and not going to work, so it sounds like you are in the first stage of grief — denial and isolation. The next stage is anger. I’m not sure if we can do anything to help us get to this stage, but anger is like jet fuel. And if used wisely, this jet fuel of anger can help you get stuff done. Until the anger comes (and it will come), get up and get going! I don’t say this lightly, because I know how difficult this is to do when you are in shock and depressed. But force yourself to do just one thing each day. First things first is getting a great lawyer and filing for divorce. You need to protect yourself and your financials. Every single mighty thing you do will show her how confident you are in yourself and she will be in shock when you start standing up for yourself. And every single mighty thing you do will increase your confidence in yourself. And one day in the future, you will look back at this time in your life and you will marvel at how strong and mighty you were during the most devastating time in your life. I know it’s hard to believe that right now, but I guarantee this will be the case.

    There is a wealth of information here at Chump Lady’s blog on how to get started on being mighty. Make a list of each mighty thing you need to do and start the process of getting this abusive woman out of your life.

    1. Start interviewing lawyers. Ask a family member or friend to go with you so they can take notes or help ask questions. This was very hard for me to do on my own, so my sister and a good friend went with me. Hire the best SOB lawyer out there!

    2. Make copies of all important papers and secure them in a safe space outside of your home.

    3. Take anything that belongs to you out of the home (photos, things you treasure, etc) and keep it in your safe place.

    4. Open your own checking account and have your paycheck direct deposited into it.

    5. Cancel all joint credit cards. Or call and get your name off the credit card.

    6. Doctors appointment for depression and anxiety meds. Get tested for STD’s, because you never know what else she’s been doing behind your back!

    ^^^^ These are just a few mighty steps to take and along the way there will be more. But you can do it!! We are here for you at Chump Nation any time you need to talk and vent. (((HUGS)))

    • in addition to the above, I froze my credit which is simple to do and can be done o. internet. go into website of each of the 3 reporting agencies and freeze. put the code they give you in a safe place with all your other passwords. these people have a tendency to take out new credit
      2. passwords – change them all
      3. get copies of all financial documents if you have an Ira, set up a new one. your obligation is too accurately list assets. these people have a tendency to raid savings accounts
      4. get a quick will in place that dictates allocation of funds in event of your demise.give to trusted friend or relative
      5. discuss separation agreement with lawyer to ensure any new charges, credit etc is hers not yours. sometimes this is important if there is a long time to divorce.

      this totally sucks and she is a POS. be kind to yourself, do nice things for yourself and get yourself free and go live your best life. hugs!

  • I’m sorry this has happened to you. CL is right in that your situation marks the checklist that every one of us carries who has been through this – textbook case. The advice here is sound. Follow it and be the textbook case of becoming mighty. Only good can come of that.

    There will be doubt…”But what if my wife turns herself around and I miss the opportunity because I lawyered up?” Well, a true turnaround would not let a lawyer stop her. But, sincere redemption is very unlikely, particularly if the OW has already left her husband, which means your wife now will have guilt tying her to her affair.

    Our first year of marriage, my ex was laid off. I supported his pursuit of a career change into policing. After a year of going through the paces, he didn’t get the job and ended up back in his former industry. I encouraged him to try again, but he never did. Another four years later, he got laid off from his job again. He decided to become a consultant. I ordered business cards for him in support of this endeavour. Two years later, I was fed up with his commute times for clients and he was bringing in half of what I earned. I drew a line and begged him to find anything in town for better work-life balance. Even offered for him to go back to school full-time to earn a degree he had been chipping away at for a couple of years. He went back to school full-time for three years. I was the sole-income earner. Mid-way through the degree, he started the affairs. Over two years of this and he left for the OW despite 13 months of pick-me dancing after I found out he had this “friend”.

    He had the nerve to say that he felt I didn’t support him. I was controlling. I made him quit his job. I never let him have a say in anything. He never loved me. He regretted marrying me shortly after we got married but stayed in because he had made the commitment. He hadn’t felt anything physically for me in years which is why he had been suffering ED. In fact, my physical presence was as uncomfortable as a stranger in his personal space. He felt we never had anything in common.

    Years of birthday, anniversary, Valentine cards. Two children. Trips. Pictures of our shared “happiness” which evidenced all our shared experience in our common goal to build a family and a life together. None of it was real?

    The real problem here is that he was never my equal. Your wife is not your equal. The real problem is that my ex is an emotionally immature person of weak moral character with awful relationship skills and a skewed understanding of love. Ditto for your wife. The real problem is that my ex is a liar and a cheater. So is your wife.

    But, the solution here is that you are a decent, moral, loyal, committed, hard-working, fun, supportive, open, loving, warm, kind, and strong person. YOU ARE! Those amazing qualities that you possess are your real foundation to build on, and what an amazing foundation to possess. Find your footing under you again. Surround yourself with the good people in your life who truly love you and begin to re-build.

    The woman you thought your wife no longer exists. She is not your friend. She does not really care about your well-being (even though she might appear sincere). She already has dished out all sorts of mindfuckery, don’t allow her space to do it anymore. You will have to mourn her loss; this is very much a death. There will be a grieving process. Learn about it and seek the same supports that you would as if an actual death occurred.

    You are loved. You are not alone. Hugs to you.

    • This-^^^^^

      Welcome to CN! Read as much as you can, it will help. Get a lawyer ASAP, separate all your finances ASAP, cancel all joint credit cards ASAP, start pulling all your financials together. It’s go time! Put your emotions aside and keep telling yourself you can deal with that later…right now, move strategically and swiftly.

      Hang in there…you got this!

    • So much THIS:

      “The real problem here is that he was never my equal. Your wife is not your equal. The real problem is that my ex is an emotionally immature person of weak moral character with awful relationship skills and a skewed understanding of love. Ditto for your wife. The real problem is that my ex is a liar and a cheater. So is your wife.”

      I would only add… and without a character transplant this is all he/she will ever be to ANYONE they get involved with in the future.

      Lawyer up. You and he OW ex-husband should be aligning your strategies.

      • Yes, and it could be interesting for the OW’s ex to know what you know and vice versa. His wife could have been bullshitting him with all kinds of gaslighting. You might be able to fill in the gaps and make things less painful for him (ie if she’s been saying he made her unhappy) and he may have some tidbits that help put things more in perspective for you.

  • “From time to time, she would tell me her boss had said she was unhappy with her marriage.”

    Red flag.

    Rule: Married people should not talk with their “crushes” about spousal/marital problems. Doing so strengthens the “crush” into a bond, and it creates a “common enemy” in the spouse.

    Fully functioning adults inherently understand this rule, because it’s part of the BOUNDARIES anyone in a long-term relationship must enforce.

    Cheaters, on the other hand, don’t believe that BOUNDARIES apply to them. They are special. So, they complain about their marriages to their crushes … and then they “accidentally” fall in love with their crushes.

    Nothing “accidental” about it.

    The grass is greener where you water it.

  • Never fall for the comparative analysis of a cheater. It’s meant to paralyze. Put your mighty into gathering all the financial evidence you can going back over the years.

    Get credit reports, credit card statements and interview with a few top attorneys in your area; she can’t use them. File. List her ten shitty shitty actions and use them to fuel your badass anger.

  • Hi Nat. You landed in a great place full of great people who want to help you.
    Not sure I can add better advice than what is already here but I will tell you two things:
    1 – No Contact is the path to the truth and the light. Go into the light. There is peace in the light.
    2 – Your birthday this year will suck. I am sorry for this. You might feel like you will never have another good birthday again. I’m here to tell you that is not true. My D-day was my actual birthday. It hurt so bad I thought about picking a new date to celebrate. Four years later I look forward to my birthday. I consider the loss of a fuckwit from my life to be an amazing present. I hope someday you can see that in your life as you spend this birthday away from your home. You will lawyer up and get things worked out and maybe next birthday will be in a new place with no memories of your fuckwit and you will start your path to a fuckwit free paradise.
    Here’s to you and your future Nat.

    • Jackass started the big discard (unbeknownst to me) just before my birthday. He dragged himself to the house for the last time to take me out for a movie and burger and then…poof. Fast forward a few years and he announced his marriage to The Next Victim on my birthday. But me…I just had the best birthday ever–surprise birthday trip designed to check off a major bucket list item. Life will definitely get better once you decide to never again get involved with a parasite. Kindness, respect, and reciprocity. Those are the sexiest qualities of any potential partner.

  • I think that Chump Mental Checklist should be the basis for a new book–a guide to avoiding chump decisions in many aspects of life, but especially the Checklist of Chump Behavior to avoid when considering moving from dating to cohabitation and/or marriage.

    No one who isn’t rich should ever convert significant equity in a property into a joint asset. I get it that people want a “family house,” but that’s the moment that a pre-nuptial agreement should kick in. And for sure, there should be questions about what the other party is going to kick in–something from a retirement fund? More to the mortgage fund? The business about N “supporting” the Master’s degree work while the Cheater whines about N’s work anxiety and belittles her confidence level is an interesting case of how “support” runs in one direction only.

    • Yeah, unfortunately we have to protect ourselves. And if we’re with a truly caring partner, that will be FINE!

      A signed agreement (get a lawyer to prepare something enforceable$) about $ equity being re-established in some way post-separation if one partner puts significant pre-marriage equity into a jointly-owned home, if one partner supports the other through studies (during which the studying partner isn’t able to pay half of basic household expenses themselves), if one partner gives up their job to stay home with kids and facilitate the life of the working partner, if one partner moves and leaves a good job or career to facilitate the other partner’s career progress, if one partner supports the other while they build a business…..

      A marriage license used to provide many of these protections, but it no longer does, and if you’re living together, there are even fewer protections.

      We need some kind of ‘standard’ cohabitation financial contract, enforceable and sold in every bookstore and office supply store, right beside the standard residential leases….

      • I can’t “like” this enough. If only more people could read/hear this advice before they got married, and follow through on it! So much pain could be avoided.

      • Karen,

        Great advice but … how to get the word out there before the shit hits the fan.

        I have taken it upon myself to do what I refer to as ‘public service announcements’ whenever I get the chance to talk to young women who are stay-at-home mothers. I tread lightly but encourage them to keep a foot in the working world if at all possible, I didn’t and that cost me a lot!, and I recommend that they have bank accounts, savings, investments in their names only. I did and that was one less thing to have to deal with after Dday with a serial cheater who had been cheating throughout our 3 decades together….

        Of course no one really wants to hear this because the ones I have spoken to are all at the budding family stage – raising their young children and supporting their spouses while they climb the corporate ladder – or whatever ladder they happen to be ascending.

        I tell ’em anyway just in case one of them does listen or remembers and can act on her behalf if necessary.

        By the way, doing this goes against everything I believe about marriage but the times they are a-changing.

        I know my own daughter doesn’t need to be told any of this. She has seen what happened to me – has lived the life already….

  • N,

    A lot of us can look back on our former relationships and realize that the failure of it was not just about the cheating. There were other underlying issues in play as Tracy pointed out. We focus on the infidelity, but we were just an instrument, something that other person used and exploited for their own selfish purposes.

    I hope you will do the work you must in order to feel happier in your work life and to find other things in life to fill you up. These rats are just distractions, things that divert us away from the good people and good things in life. Once you get your finances and the house sorted out and bring fresh new energy into your beautiful new space, you will begin to feel better. After a while, you will realize that you didn’t even think of her that day.

    Remember, she isn’t worth one of your tears.

    Be strong.

  • N,
    I don’t have much to add to the responses from fellow posters. Just wanted to express my sympathy (empathy). You sound like a loving, loyal person who deserves love and respect. My last partner would sometimes get upset with me for crying on his shoulder. (I was under a great deal of strain while I was with him, looking back now, partly due to the way he (mis)treated me.) I wish that I hadn’t cried on his shoulder so much, but now, two years later, I realize that he was cruel as well as dishonest. I used to occasionally ask him if everything was all right. He would often evade answering or act irritated at me for asking if he had met somebody else or was displeased at me. Yet he would not tell me that he was upset with me. How could I ‘fix’ myself if I tremendously loved him and thus wanted to please him but didn’t know how he was upset with me? He used to tell me things like, (after I got in a car accident on the freeway after leaving his house and calling him), ‘You wouldn’t have gotten into the car accident if you hadn’t come up to visit me.’ Also statements like, ‘You can hang around (me) but no lovey dovey,’ and ‘I’m afraid my ex-wife (who supposedly cheated on him numerous times) might see me with you’ when we had a chance to appear in a giant group photo at a party together (after 30 years of what I thought was friendship)’ among numerous other horrendously hurtful gems. Lacking self-esteem, chump that I was, I stuck around for 2.5 years with multiple barbs like these until he left me for his young work subordinate, now second wife. If I had scraped my self-esteem off the ground when my last (abusive) partner first started mistreating me and instead of doing the Pick Me Dance, thrown all my energy into improving the lives of my kids, me, and others, I (and probably many others) would be much better off now.

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