I come to you as perplexed and heartbroken. When you think about how many people experience this kind of betrayal, it is really a sad thing. I had been with my soon-to-be ex-husband for almost six years. Despite his two children from his first marriage, (and another child he found out about during our marriage that was 4), I always maintained a confidence and proud disposition regarding my marriage to my husband. He was charming, funny, and we just seemed to really enjoy each other’s company. A year into our relationship, he proposed, and we were married a year after that. Fast forward, we had a daughter who will be one next month and just purchased a home.
On D-Day, I finally decided to check the phone bill when he wasn’t answering my phone call or returning home. I saw a number — and not just once or twice, but all DAMN DAY LONG. I called the number. A woman answered said number and declared her name. I asked who the fuck she was. She hung up.
I spent the next hour dissecting every text and phone call on that bill, and when I realized it had been going on since December, I literally screamed. And began bawling like crazy. In the midst of my bawling, I also got out every possession he had in our home and put it in a nice big pile in the garage. I texted his apparently Very Close Friend and told her to let him know that the jig was up and I knew what they were up to. I then left a voicemail on cheater’s phone instructing him that his things would be in the garage and he would be hearing from my attorney soon.
That was that, in my mind. Not only had he been cheating for many months and very blatantly, I completely carried us financially. He makes pennies because of all his other child support. The deception and cheating on top of the money made it a very easy decision for me. That being said, I am struggling with several things. Why? Why didn’t I get to yell and confront him? Why would he leave our really wonderful home, life, and daughter to shack up (and as I would find out later, impregnate) a woman who has 7 kids already?!??!!
How did I not KNOW??? I am not a stupid woman. I just made the stupid mistake of trusting my husband. I believed his excuses and really felt it was something I was doing to make him so upset. When in reality, he was purposely picking fights with me to leave and validate his behaviors. Disgusting. That being said, Chump Lady, will I ever recover? Will I trust again? It’s all so daunting. I really do feel like he died though. The person I thought he was died the moment I discovered how deceptive and cruel he was. I mourn that man I thought I knew. What can I do to get answers to these questions? I know the answers don’t matter, but they float around in my brain at night.
Relieved but Human in TX
You are only ONE month out from D-Day. ONE. And you threw the motherfucker out. You didn’t pick me dance. You didn’t ask him for reasons why. You didn’t read a hundred save-your-marriage books on Amazon. You didn’t go to a therapist who asked you to own your part in his being a cheating, abandoning fuckwit. No. You packed up his crap, righteously placed it in the trash, and THREW THE MOTHERFUCKER OUT.
A standing ovation here from Chump Nation. Well done, Texas. Well done.
And now you’re standing there in the wreckage, with an infant, wondering what the hell happened to your life. You’re untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Why would he do this? What made him into this sort of person? How did I not see what was happening? Untangling the skein is a coping mechanism and frankly, it’s a rather useless one. The fast track to healing is no contact, not analysis. Just stay out of his orbit, communicate through lawyers, and get support to help you through this terrible time.
I know you want to untangle anyway. Sort through that wreckage, look for the black box… Untangling the skein is an expression of grief. It’s going to take awhile to accept what happened and who he really is. But I’ll answer your questions anyway.
Why? Why didn’t I get to yell and confront him?
Because you’re smart. As you said, the jig was up. There was nothing to be said. In that horrible moment, you had clarity. Don’t wish for the fog that comes in on little chump feet. You spared yourself the mindfuck of his excuses and blameshifting. There is zero satisfaction in confronting a cheater. Either they stare at you contemptuously and derive kibbles from your sobbing, or they mindfuck you with faux regret and you start seeing unicorns.
Texas, you confronted him with consequences. That’s the only confrontation that matters.
Why would he leave our really wonderful home, life, and daughter to shack up (and as I would find out later, impregnate) a woman who has 7 kids already?!??!!
Implied in this question is the assumption that he should recognize a good thing when he has it. That being wonderful is some defense against being chumped. It isn’t. I’m sure his first two children and wife thought they were wonderful, and it wasn’t enough. It’s not about the other woman, if she’s a train wreck or if she’s a National Merit Scholar, it’s about CAKE — having the respectable face of married normalcy, AND an extra portion of affair kibbles. It’s about gaming the system to his advantage.
And Texas, he did not LEAVE your wonderful home — you threw his ass OUT of it. He’s with this other woman because parasites need a host.
You wanted to believe you were special. Instead, you were of use to him. It’s not that you’re not special or deserving of love, it’s that he’s a user.
How did I not KNOW???
Every chump asks themselves this, Tex. To answer this question, I must balance not blaming the victim with acknowledgment of red flags.
Let’s start with not blaming the victim (you). It’s difficult to imagine things we would never do. Here’s an example from my own chump story — when I married him and moved to another state for his career how did I not know that he was cheating on me the whole time, had a mistress of 20+ years, an assortment of other affair partners, and a grown-ass kid? Answer? Because I’m not a sociopath. How on earth could I imagine that host of horrors? It boggles the mind.
We project our moral world view on to others. I don’t have a double life, so I assume other people, especially those nearest to me, don’t either. Chumps tend to think of themselves as rational, intelligent beings who make rational, intelligent choices.
You projected your values on to a man who did not share your values. Sure, he may have pretended to, which takes us to the red flags. We can’t control the fact that sociopaths walk among us, we can however, use our powers of discernment and fix our pickers. That means going forward, paying attention to character as it is revealed through actions over time. That means healthy skepticism and having boundaries with users.
So, you were married six years and dated for two. At some point a four-year-old child emerges. Was that during the period he was with you? Or his first wife? Did at some juncture did it occur to you that he was a cheater? How did he explain that child away? This is a red flag of Communist May Day March proportion. So is his willingness to let you shoulder nearly all of the financial burden.
Texas, red flags are not excuses for being chumped. No one deserves to be chumped. It’s never okay, and it’s never excusable. I’m pointing them out so that when you’re scanning the wreckage of this marriage, you focus on the things you can change — YOU, and leave off the things you can’t — HIM.
Will I ever recover? Will I trust again?
Yes, of course you will recover. (The pain is finite and stops on a Tuesday.) It’s early days still. Be kind to yourself and resist every urge to reach out to him. A guy with two other kids, and one on the way, is someone I suspect won’t want to be too involved in your child’s life. I hope he leaves you the hell alone and you have full custody of your daughter.
As for trusting again — the only thing we take away from betrayal is what we learn from it. You’ve learned that you are MIGHTY. You threw that motherfucker OUT. Your mightiness is even deeper than you ever imagined. You’ll parent your little girl and will be a great role model to her. She’ll never eat shit sandwiches, because her mother knows her worth. We don’t get guarantees about other people, but remember, that for one cheating asshole, there are going to be at least a hundred people on this thread alone who will lift you up. Their goodness and the goodness of those who truly love you outweighs the damage of one aberrant cheating asshole.
You want to trust again? Trust your resilience.
This column ran previously. It’s Thanksgiving week. I’m hosting. And I’m working until Wednesday. So it’s reruns.