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‘I’m Trying to Show Her the Guy She Fell in Love With’

Hi Chump Lady,

Great website!  I just discovered last Sunday that my wife of 13 years has been cheating on me with “some one she has very strong feelings for” for the past two months.  We have 3 young beautiful children and this guy is married with two kids.  My wife wouldn’t tell me his name because she doesn’t want me telling his wife because he doesn’t want to leave his wife.  She did tell me I don’t know him and has come clean about the affair and a lot of the details.  So some honesty. She definitely hasn’t crawled back or even really apologized for the affair (just that she is terribly sorry she hurt me).

We’ve had our issues and we have both really neglected our relationship.  We’ve drifted apart. She told me she wanted to get out of our relationship for over a year and didn’t have the guts to leave, so this was the way.

I’ve done all the things you recommend: get informed, finances, friend group, std check, eating, sleeping (lots of Valium night), exercise, individual counseling.  She’s also getting counseling.

We’re still living under the same roof. I told my wife I will support her talking to this guy and even seeing him face to face on the basis there is no physical contact and on the basis we are completely honest while she figures out what she wants to do.

I’m trying to show her the guy she fell in love with 17 years ago is still there.  Likewise I am trying to spend time with her to see if I can find the woman I feel in love with. It’s been awesome. We’re talking for the first time in a long time, and identifying a lot of big issues in our relationship which caused both of us stress and unhappiness in the past and drove us apart. I’m thinking I may want to reconcile because it may be best for our children and we may even have a stronger relationship than when we first got married if we can start communicating more and change some of our behaviors (noting it’s only been a week and I’m in shock).

I know a big test will be next week when the marriage counselor (who we already met with once) asks my wife if she’s ready to stop seeing this guy and to tell me his name.

However, I’m beginning to worry that maybe reconciliation is the easy way out and I should just toughen up and split.  Is this normal?  Am I a chump?  How long should we try for?  I just can’t have her cheating ever again. And more importantly,  I want to be with someone who loves and respects me.

Would appreciate your thoughts, especially considering you normally advocate to leave a cheater.


(Give Me a Name)

Dear Yes You Are a Chump Stop Chasing Unicorns (or “Bob” for short),

My thoughts?


How do you walk anywhere when your legs are so furiously pick-me dancing?

You have absolutely nothing to work with other than your desire to have something to work with. Your wife is lying to you, withholding, still seeing her affair partner, and is blameshifting this clusterfuck on to you.

And you’re there ACCEPTING it and pronouncing it “awesome.”

Dude, if you snorted any more hopium, you’d get your own wing at the Betty Ford clinic.

I’m sorry. I know this is coming as a giant bitchslap. What you’re going through is indescribably painful. And having been a hopium-snorting, unicorn-chasing chump once myself, I know the fear-that-feels-like-love-that-feels-like-a-gut-punch. You don’t want to lose your family. The future is terrifying, and after fight and flight, there’s “fawn.”

That’s where you are now, fawning. Trying to win this person who has abused you, so she stops abusing you.

STOP it. Please take back your dignity.

My wife wouldn’t tell me his name

Fuck this very much.

She feels entitled to her secrets, and the power of them. Ergo, she’s not one bit sorry. Ergo, you’ve got nothing to work with.

because she doesn’t want me telling his wife because he doesn’t want to leave his wife.

Fuck what the man who fucks your wife “wants.” There is an innocent woman who is in the dark, who has NOT had an STD test or a lawyer consultation and Douche McGee should not get to make any more unilateral decisions about her life without her consent. What Douche fears is consequences. Just like your wife does.

She did tell me I don’t know him and has come clean about the affair and a lot of the details.  So some honesty.

So the health department shut down the restaurant, but a few of these biscuits on the floor are okay to eat. I think. If I brush off the ants…

Bob, she won’t tell you HIS NAME. You’re dealing with some Timid Forest Creature bullshit.

She definitely hasn’t crawled back or even really apologized for the affair

NOT SORRY. Why do you think you have something to work with? Because she’s THERE? A potted ficus would make a better wife.

We’ve had our issues and we have both really neglected our relationship.  We’ve drifted apart.

Who did you fuck and lie about? Oh, you didn’t cheat? Your relationship issues, whatever they are did not compel her to cheat. Her lousy character did that. STOP accepting responsibility. This is a “SHE IS IN AN ACTIVE AFFAIR” problem, not an “us” marriage problem.

I’ve done all the things you recommend

Except lawyer. I didn’t see lawyer on that list. Or protect your finances. Do those things please.

I told my wife I will support her talking to this guy and even seeing him face to face on the basis there is no physical contact and on the basis we are completely honest while she figures out what she wants to do.

This is not up to her! It’s UP TO YOU. Is this relationship acceptable to you???!

To cheat on someone requires lying to them. Why are you expecting unvarnished honesty from a liar? Do you REALLY want her to see Douche McGee, or is that something that SHE is demanding?

You’re putting “don’t touch” conditions on this because of fear. She doesn’t have boundaries and you’re demanding them. That’s not how boundaries work. We only get our own. Restate this as “If you continue your affair, I’m out of here.” See, that’s YOU taking responsibility for YOU. You don’t control what she does.

Look, she doesn’t want to see this guy to swap cookie recipes. She’s been screwing him for 2 months (multiply that number by a factor of a dozen cookies…) Has “strong feelings” for Douche. What on earth do you think she wants to see him for? A proper goodbye? (Please don’t fall for that line. It’s a very old line. A thousand raised hands from CN who got the line about understanding those private, drawn-out farewells…)

I’m trying to show her the guy she fell in love with 17 years ago is still there.

The guy you were 17 years ago wasn’t being cuckolded. He didn’t have three small kids and a ton invested. The guy you were 17 years ago was care-free and didn’t know the object of his affection would betray him. You cannot be that guy. You’re THIS guy today, a man who is being cheated on and having his family life threatened. Who is grief-sick and angry and in shock.

You can’t spackle yourself away. You can find your strength and step away from this madness, or you can suck up to it. I strongly suggest that you not devalue yourself. She’s devalued you enough already.

I’m thinking I may want to reconcile because it may be best for our children and we may even have a stronger relationship than when we first got married

You’re drinking deep from the RIC Kool-aid. This blog is full of rueful warnings of what happens when you model dysfunction and Stay for the Children.

we may even have a stronger relationship than when we first got married if we can start communicating more and change some of our behaviors

Your communication styles DID NOT CAUSE HER TO CHEAT.

Her ENTITLEMENT did that.

It’s not an “our” behavior problem. It’s a “her” behavior problem.

 I want to be with someone who loves and respects me

You’re not with someone who loves or respects you. How do I know? By the way she is treating you.

I’m sorry. I think you should see a lawyer not a marriage counselor.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • If I, as a woman, had 3 kids and an affair, I know the natural consequence is being put out if the family home.
    It is the home for the family, not the betrayers.
    Change the locks, get childcare sorted, legal up and take a breath.

    • I agree with Cheryl except for the bit about changing the locks. Don’t change the locks without legal advice. It can hurt you in court.

      • Yep. I agree. Get a lawyer first but in my old state, I couldn’t change the locks until he signed the quit-claim deed to the house over to me. (I still can’t believe he did that without even knowing what it was, but he did. 🙂

      • I was told this by my lawyer. Can’t change locks until he’s off the title. Until I found out he had a raging meth habit, multiple affair partners not just the one, and caught him stalking me in the carport (he’d moved out months prior), so police and legal advice were to change the locks, and the cops paid for it (well, cops passed me over to refuge who paid for it).

        Definitely don’t change the locks without legal advice, but try to get property sorted ASAP so you can. It’s vital. And install cameras, with or without changed locks. They were my biggest safety net. Still are nearly two years out. And yes I caught him stealing things on camera too.

        These cheaters are next level entitled.

    • Agreeing with Cheryl here. Pack her clothing in garbage bags, set them on the curb, change the garage door code, cut of all access to your financials (not hers), make certain she knows you’ll be taking care of the children full time until a court orders you to share custody with her, and let her see how it feels to be discarded like trash. She has been incredibly selfish in all of this, disregarding the sanctity of marriage and your family. Cheating is a choice, not an accident. She wants to prance around in secret, pretending that you don’t exist…free her up to go live her “best life” without you in it. Funny thing – her affair partner is probably playing her for poo-nanny, refusing to leave his family. She’s likely to get discarded by him soon, too. What goes around…

    • I agree with you Cheryl, except for changing the locks (as others have pointed out).
      I’d add TELL FRIENDS AND FAMILY why she’s being kicked out of the house. Nothing wakes cheaters up like exposing their extra-curricular activities.

      • Absolutely all of this! But keep in mind; the goal is NOT to ‘wake up’ the cheater or show them what it’s like to be discarded. Neither revenge nor their gaining some insight (like that’ll happen, ha ha ha ha!) is what’s important here.

        What’s important is to GET AWAY, preferably as No Contact/Low Contact/Gray Rock as possible, so that Chump’s head can clear. So Chump can get control over their own life back, can regain some self-respect, can figure things out without so much drama (which strangely enough, always makes Cheater the centre of everything). Can start to recover and rebuild their life.

        • Exactly this. When you’re being fed with lies, bullshit and gaslighting all the time from cheaters, it can do a number on you.

          Get away, to get some perspective – preferably your own (and not the cheater’s – they can talk until the cows come home, and it doesn’t matter one bit what they think, feel or want.)

      • Yep, once you boot her out you need to spread the word far and wide about why you’re divorcing…because i can GUARANTEE you she is already trashing you to everyone who will listen as part of her blame shifting

        she wants you to stay quiet because that allows everyone to shrug and look away…thinking “well, nobody knows what goes on between two people”…which is true…BUT ONLY UNTIL YOU TELL THEM WHAT WENT ON

        and as a fellow Male Chump who quickly converted his STBXw’s social world to smoldering, radioactive rubble in about 72 hours i can assure you that in this phase your gender offers you a Huge Advantage

        one of the many odd, inconsistent ironies about Sexism (at least as practiced here in the United States) is that while it’s now unacceptable to judge any women publically for actual moral failings

        the reflexive disgust & contempt people (esp women!) have for a Woman Who Would Do This

        simmers just below the surface, like a high-pressure oil field just waiting to be tapped into

        whereas for Male Cheaters there still exists (unfortunately) a fairly wide streak of “boys will be boys” which is, of course, simply culturally-excused blame shifting and makes me want to puke

        and so while all thinking people should abhor all forms of sexism and gender inequality, the landscape is still the landscape, and after you LAWYER THE FUCK UP you need to make a plan to make sure everyone (especially HIS WIFE) knows exactly what she did

        remember, her only path to “victory” is if you stay quiet and obedient and let her dictate the narrative about what happened

        don’t do it, my man

        you got this

  • Bob. Poor, dear Bob,

    Listen to Chump Lady. Your wife is a cheater. She is ENJOYING this. If she loved and respected you she would never have cheated. I think you should go to the meeting with the marriage counselor to see if she’ll give you the name of the other man. Then bust this mess wide open. Lawyer up. Inform the man’s wife.

    Here’s the thing…I have 5 children. I stayed until 3 of them were adults. The kids who had the longest exposure to that horrible, dysfunctional marriage are the ones who are the most deeply scarred. Staying “for the children” doesn’t work. It’s bad for them. Don’t do it.

    Put down the hopium pipe and run, don’t walk, to the exit of your horrible, dysfunctional marriage.

    • “She is ENJOYING this.” Fucking-A right. This is the best time of her life, but she can’t admit to that because it would reveal who she actually is.

      She’s doing short-term damage control. Don’t think for a minute that she’s not trying to figure out ways to take things deeper underground — if not with this guy, than with somebody else.

      She’s trying to determine how much she line she can run with, and you’ve giving her the entire reel.


      • “She is ENJOYING this.” Fucking-A right. This is the best time of her life, but she can’t admit to that because it would reveal who she actually is.

        ^^^^ This! I was about six months into this all to familiar shit dance, when I eventually realised he was having the time of his life.

        • “She is ENJOYING this.”

          ^^^ yes, this is truth. Do you remember that *smirk* you got when (s)he was reliving in detail where they had sex, (in your house here&there) and more detail than I asked for? If that’s not complaining it’s gotta be a big huge fucking GLOAT. Yep…the look on his dark eyed (once blue-eyed) face seemed to smirk and gloat. Then, he had the gal…gal I tell ya…to tell me he wasn’t angry at anybody and he truly hoped I would get over my anger or it would not be good for my health…to hold such anger. YIIII

          Good grief. When I think of it now.
          He has lost his very good name and reputation and threw away friends of 40 yrs..and hiding in the busy city somewhere.
          I don’t think he visits his once-close family much.
          Nobody has any respect for his morals, so what did he win or achieve?
          Nothing but a big black mark and 1/2 his money.

          I’ll bet you he’s now thinking pretty clearly how life works outside the head in the clouds.


          • Oh the smirk during dday
            I was absolutely frozen and “ out of my body” while listening to him…. I looked composed- no tears, no drama no yelling… just polite questions… and I was listening… completely frozen inside:
            -About the tough way to get a girl x or y
            -About having sex with a women met on Craigslist, and going crazy because she didn’t want to continue the relationship ( apparently he was a single guy while I was taking care of his 2 small kids while hearing bitching about not looking good enough)
            – about his need for viagra
            – about list of hookers and experiences with them

            All that- with a spark in his eye, telling me things with a pride…

            I crushed few days after that.
            My heart will never be the same. There is no heart anymore. Just ashes.
            I don’t believe in Romantic love anymore.
            I decided to give 100% and I lost everything.

    • Sorry to be so blunt, but yes, Bob and gold-medalist unicorn-chaser, your “wife” is indeed enjoying this! Ask me how I know.

      As CL repeats and repeats and repeats to Chump Nation: cheating is all about power and taking unfair advantage of a vulnerable human being.

      Character is formed in infancy and early childhood. It takes a LOT of depth and courage to change a bad character, most people do not have it.

      If you love your three kids and their young minds and souls, do not put them through the craziness and mental pollution of this useless sport of unicorn chasing.

      My Dad was like you and his unicorn vanished and he was left with a very sad end of life. I cry every day for him.

    • Dude, you need to find your anger over this gross injustice! Use that anger to energize you to not take this abuse anymore.

      She has the gall to insist you improve yourself as if she is the prize. Instead, she ought to be begging not to be kicked to the street like the lying adulterous spouse she is. She blew up your home and the home of her AP. Awful!!!

      By not giving you her AP name, she is choosing him over you. Your marriage is over. She is out. But she is happy to watch you lose your dignity by dancing for her. Stop. Just stop. Go into stealth mode and learn what you can about the affair on your own plus get that lawyer. Protect yourself. She is not your friend.

      • “By not giving you her AP name, she is choosing him over you.” This can’t be repeated enough, Bob!! You are second. Her children are second. It’s time to put YOU first!

      • “You need to find your anger over this!”

        Yes! Exactly. What a fantastic way of stating it.

        His cheater is drenching him daily in a waterfall of disdain and disrespect. The only way out is to reclaim his self esteem and insist upon being treated as a human being. And that requires getting angry at not being treated as such.

        What I recall most vividly from my post-d-day is struggling to retain my image of my cheater as a decent person. “Surely,” I thought, “she’ll apologize.”When she didn’t, it morphed into “surely she’ll acknowledge my right to feel hurt and angry.” But, no.

        Eventually it became clear that she wasn’t decent at all. If only I had heeded CL’s advice to “trust that she sucks.”

        The discovery that she sucks produces anger. At least it should. Because the alternative is accepting the cheater’s implicit decision that you’re not worthy of being treated with respect.

        • Observer is spot on. I was so shocked upon discovery that I too believed my wife was a decent person who would apologize for feel bad for the hurt. It’s such a hard transition of thinking and feeling (especially after 13 years) but you have to accept it.

          Your wife’s behavior is completely unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that she won’t tell you his name. It’s more unacceptable that she STILL SEES THIS GUY. But bottom line, it was completely, completely unacceptable that she cheated with this guy and she has feelings for him.

          You cannot give her the choice of “trying to figure this out”. You have to punish her for her behavior. You need to end the relationship immediately and get her out. That is the only way she will ever respect you again, but more importantly you will respect yourself.

          Personally, if her AP were willing to leave his wife she probably would have already left you. Do not give her this power of choosing to end the relationship or not. She cheated. You end it. Your kids will learn so much from you.

          Be strong and let your wife know that you will not tolerate this behavior and she does not get to be in a relationship with you anymore.

      • “By not giving you her AP name, she is choosing him over you.” So much this. She is also choosing to put another unwilling, unconsenting victim in the line of fire of potentially life-threatening STDs, all levels of abuse, sexual abuse/assault (the husband lying to her to maintain the sexual relationship), financial destruction, and destruction of the family and children. In other words, she is choosing to be a predator of the worst sort and harm SO many innocent victims while she gets her power and control ricks off.

      • Yes, you need to find the anger Bob.

        You can meditate, you can spend thousands on self-help books, marriage counselors, RIC crap, essential oils, family photo albums, second honeymoons…but none of that shit is going to make a difference because the problem isn’t you. The thing that will change this situation is you getting angry. ANGRY.

        Anger will propel you to a lawyer. Anger will set up boundaries. Anger will let you see your own worth. Anger will be the fuel that pushes the words “I deserve better than this” out of your mouth. And Anger will be the thing that lets you see she SUCKS.

        Recently, my therapist did me a big favor. I beat myself up all the time about not being good enough. Even though the jerks from my worst relationships are gone (“polyamorous” ex husband, abuser/cheater after him, a guy who lied about wanting to get married…) I kept feeling like I was never enough, there was always something wrong with me, I had to keep working on myself, keep trying to fix whatever was still wrong with me that made me so undesireable, every time something fell through I would internalize it and wonder why I was still so broken…but then she said one very, very…simple thing:

        “You know those guys suck right?”

        That’s it. No caveats. No qualifiers. No questions about why I thought they did those things, no postulating on their personal neurosis, no questions about what flags I missed or what I could have done or should do to prevent it from happening again (which always made me feel like I fucked up by “letting” it happen again every time something fell through) nope. Just “You know those guys suck right?”

        I told her it makes me angry what they did to me. She said yeah, you should be. They did cruel things. I said I’m angry that I haven’t been allowed to feel angry, I’m always being pushed to not react and be the better person. She said yup, I have a right to feel angry about what they did, and I have a right to feel angry about not being allowed to express my genuine feelings. She gave me the space to get ANGRY regardless of when these things happened. It was liberating. It was like a literal breath of air.

        “You know those guys suck right?”

        Bob, you know they suck right? Women who cheat on their husbands suck. Men who cheat on their wives suck. Women who cheat on their husbands then tell those husbands not to tell the wives of the married men they’re cheating WITH suck. Women who trickle-truth and blameshift when they get caught suck. Women who stay in contact with their (married) Other Men after getting caught suck. Men who want to cheat but not leave their wives so they can have their cake and eat it too suck. Men who sleep with another man’s wife suck. Women who sleep with another woman’s husband suck.

        They suck, bar none, and you are allowed to, NEED to, get angry.

    • Dear Bob,

      I won’t say that your wife doesn’t care about you. In her way, she may believe she loves you.

      But if I had known in 2005, what I know today, I’d have cut my ex loose back then and not lost another decade of my life in further sunk costs (look that term up if it’s unfamiliar to you).

      In total we were married 35 years…and at least a 1/3 of that was more or less pick me doing some form of pick me dancing.

      The kicker is, ultimately CHUMPS LOSE THE PICK ME DANCE ANYWAY.

      Get out before you’ve invested more decades in this, years of self haunting doubt, eroding self esteem, periodic sick to your stomach with fear episodes, because – in the end – at best you’ll lose yourself anyhow.

      These situations very rarely improve. In fact, in the end, the cheaters practically force us to leave OR they leave us!

      Don’t believe the lie that the pain of leaving would be endless

      versus the pain of staying, which you mistakenly think will result in less pain and even peace in the future.

      It’s the opposite.

      The pain of leaving is temporary, and the pain of staying in a pain filled losing battle, lasts as long as you remain “married” in name only.

      Please benefit from our ordeals. It’ll make something good come out of this.

      Cut your losses.

      Get a kick ass therapist for YOURSELF (& a lawyer) and be the sane parent.

      Good luck

      • Doctor’s 1stWife, You hit the most important nail on the head. Direct hit: “Get out before you’ve invested more decades in this, years of self haunting doubt, eroding self esteem, periodic sick to your stomach with fear episodes, because – in the end – at best you’ll lose yourself anyhow.”

        Most chumps in the first weeks and months are trying desperately to either save the marriage/relationship or save their good opinion of the cheater, a form of hopium (“Hey, he’s really a good guy/my best friend/high school sweetheart, etc., so he’ll come out of the affair fog and see what he’s losing…”). What we all NEED to save is ourselves. Our SELF. We need to recover our sense of self-worth, our sense of autonomy, our confidence in our ability to survive tough blows in life. We need to recover who we were before we gave our “self” up to the relationship. What do we love? What sparks joy in us? What sort of life do we want?

        Instead of trying to fix the marriage, fix you. Figure out YOU. Who are you? What do you want from life? What sort of partner would be in your life, if you could choose again? For most of the people here, the answer to that question is “not a cheater, a liar, a manipulator, an abuser.” Time and distance from the cheater drama helps us figure out this stuff.

      • “ These situations very rarely improve. In fact, in the end, the cheaters practically force us to leave OR they leave us!”

        This!! Initially my cheater wasn’t very remorseful at all and left. Then OMG its a unicorn! I thought. Became attentive dad and helped ‘take care of me’ since I was on antidepressants due to his actions and basically zoned out all the time trying to figure out WTF my life was.

        Living the pick me dance will make you lose yourself. Then when it gets worse…because it always does, it’s a pattern…the worst of the cheaters won’t even have the decency to leave you. They will cause your world to become so unbearable that you have NO CHOICE but to leave! And your children will be even more confused and reeling.

        Kick her out. It’s time to worry about yourself and your precious children and to accept the bitter pill that she doesn’t! Get her out and get the lawyer to handle your trash AKA your wife and I promise that in a year, no matter how much pain and change you are in, it will be nothing compared to if you stay and lose your life to her treachery.

  • Reading this just reminds me how deluded I was at first. I am only seven weeks from Dday and am in the “it was really my fault that I drove her to cheat” phase, but this is a stark reminder of the spackleing I tried to do. I feel his struggle and being in the initial shock phase is horrible. I only had to tolerate my exe sticking around for six days before she left to go be with her married AP in a different city.
    Bob you deserve so much better and being the guy that holds your wife’s purse while she goes and screws her unnamed AP is just sad.
    Please turn in your man card or grow a pair.

      • I understand your motivation here Rumblekitty (helping the original poster), but by the same token, calling Sorryforeverything terrible names (when I believe he really is trying to help the poster) isn’t probably helpful either. I wish as fellow chumps we could all come to the place where we believe that all of our motivations here are good. Some people may phrase things in ways we wouldn’t–but honestly–I think that is good. I know that I personally needed to hear things very bluntly. Sometimes even in terms that were hurtful and offensive to me at the time.I had a friend tell me to “find my spine” “pull my head out of my ass” and “stop being the stupid bitch he believes you are.” That last one really hurt, but it was true and I needed to hear it. I don’t know necessarily what works with men in general or this man in particular–but I don’t know what doesn’t either. Maybe he needs to hear this–maybe he doesn’t. But considering the level of delusion in his letter, he very well might. In either case, I don’t think Sorryforeverything is trying to be a “dick” as much as he is trying to deliver a 2X4 of truth. Let’s try to all support each other. We don’t all think alike, or have the same manners, but we can all be singularly focused on helping people get away from cheaters. Maybe it is my inherently chumpy nature, but I want to believe this is a place where everyone is trying to help–even if its not what I’d do or say.

        • Grow a Pair of Balls and Don’t be a Dick are both pretty high on the Bawdy Meter. They’re both shaming and not helpful. Guess I’m not getting the fine discernment between Grow a Pair being noble and Don’t be a Dick being oh so mean.

          • I guess I failed miserably here. I wasn’t trying to say anyone was either noble or mean. I mostly just meant that sometimes the things we say with very good intentions can come across differently to different people. And also, that someone’s use of bawdy terms isn’t necessarily mean-spirited. I don’t believe Sorryforeverything OR Rumblekitty mean harm here. I know I certainly didn’t.

          • ???? Totally agree. The use of sexist stereotypes such as saying he is not a “man” because he does not behave in a certain way is appalling. “Grow a pair” is not as bad because we say that to both genders and it’s actual advice. But “turn in your man card” is nothing but an insult and a truly dickish thing to say. Lots of male chumps respond like the OP has to being chumped. I have yet to see a female chump admonished for the same response with anything like “turn in your woman card”.

            • Yes, thank you. Demeaning someones masculinity or femininity because they are having trouble finding the courage to act in a certain way due to shock, hurt etc, is hurtful not helpful.

  • I was you. I truly believed that he messed up and that we could fix it. Be stronger! Better than ever! He was “honest” and told me “everything” except he didn’t. The truth trickled in. The 6 month affair was actually 9 months and then it was actually 14 months. He only “saw” her at lunch and nothing was going on except that wasn’t true. We were “working” on our marriage except he was still f*cking her. He would do “everything to win me back. Would work hard everyday to earn back my love and trust”. D-day #1, D-day # 2, D-day #3, D-day #4 (also known as “get the fuck out day”.). 8 months of hell, emotional and psychological abuse as he tried to figure out what he wanted. I’m currently 14 months out from GTFO day and in a MUCH better place. No contact. Please read CL’s book. See all the signs and what you are doing. You deserve so much better. Be kind and loving to yourself.

    • So much ^this^

      I got “I’m sorry for hurting you” but never got “I’m sorry that I’m an abusive narcissist with sociopathy and an unhealthy porn and sex addiction”.

      I got “we’re special we can work through this and be better and stronger from it” but never “I’m going to keep fucking them all (plural) even when you’re pregnant and when we get married and especially when you’re working your arse off I’ll have them over for hot tubs and cocaine and tell my boss/dad I’m looking after the kids”.

      I got 7+ years of gaslighting, raging, 15kg of spare fat from emotional eating and drinking (which disappeared as soon as I dumped him. I got kids who lie because Daddy explodes when they own up to normal kid transgressions. I got double my mortgage to pay out (thanks capital gains and housing crisis). I got humiliation and my own shame for thinking we were, I was, special.

      I freaking hate the “I’m sorry I hurt you” bullshit. That really means “I’m sorry I got caught”. Think about that Bob. If putting her AP’s need to continue cheating on his wife ahead of your own need for truth, trust and transparency isn’t evidence enough she gives no shits about you and your kids, I don’t know what is.

      • I don’t think she’s trying to protect AP’s cheating behavior. She’s trying to protect how her AP sees her. Even if she’s still having sex with AP (which is likely), she probably realizes that this affair can’t go on forever, and wants to let it fade out in a way that will leave him thinking fondly of her and fantasizing about her whenever he has sex with his wife. If she outs him to her husband, he’ll hate her forever for it. So she’s chosen to prioritize her AP’s image of/respect for her over her husband’s.

    • Chumps need to figure out what THEY want to do, not give cheaters their time to figure out what THEY want to do—which will either be keep cheating and stay or keep cheating and eventually leave when they’re reading. And often, when they’re ready is when the chump is most vulnerable: either with young kids still at home or as the nest empties, so they don’t have to pay college tuition or other “adult kid” expenses. And many times, the cheaters deplete assets as the years go on, so there is nothing left for the chump to build on.

      Protect yourself financially. Look ahead. If you take a cheater back, are you prepared to face this problem when you’re in your 50s and left with only one income? Or your 60s when there is no time to recover financially? Are you prepared for your kids to learn, from the cheater, that it’s OK to devastate their families when they marry or, from you, that relationships are asymmetrical, that one person has the power and the other gets the shit sandwich?

  • “This was the way.”

    Does she think she’s The Mandalorian?


    1) She won’t tell you his name. But she wants you to believe you don’t know him. Yeah ok, if you don’t know him then knowing his name wouldn’t matter. Even if she told it to you, searching him on social media wouldn’t make a difference because how would you tell him from anyone else with the same name?
    I’d bet you do know him and she’s protecting that.

    BUT if you don’t know him “she doesn’t want me to tell his wife because he doesn’t want to leave his wife” is bullshit. THEN HE SHOULD NOT CHEAT ON HER. She finds out and leaves him that’s exactly what he deserves so who gives a fuck about his sensibilities? He’s fucking your wife and cheating on his. He doesn’t get to be treated with delicate hands.

    2) I 100%, 110%, 1000000% guarantee you if she stays in contact and sees him face to face there will be physical contact and she will not figure out what she wants, she’ll just keep cheating. She won’t exercise boundaries or honesty. She’s going to take this as absolute permission to do whatever she wants. Give a cheater half an inch and they will take a continent.

    3) Your kids will learn it’s ok to cheat as long as you fake sorry when you get caught. They will learn to play the victim, they will learn to manipulate from mom and to be a doormat from dad. They will learn to chug the RIC complex. That’s what will happen.

    4) Your marriage will not be stronger, she will figure out she can get away with cheating blatantly in your face as long as she yanks the right heart strings. Or I should say puppet strings because she has you doing the Pick Me Dance so hard your feet broke and she replaced them with Pinoccio’s shoes.

    Get a lawyer and get out. Her disrespect is so in your face it’s disgusting. The problem here is not communication, it’s respect. She has none for you and you’re not going to get it from her.

    • Bob. It’s not that you’re not deserving of respect, it’s just that she’s a fuckwit and doesn’t realize that you have value. Bob. It’s all about her. You do have value. You do deserve respect. Your value does not depend on someone else’s inability to recognize it. Bring this pick-me-dance to an end. You don’t have a marriage and you cannot fix it. Trust us!!

      • Exactly.

        Whenever someone asks me what I think is important for a strong relationship I don’t say communication. I also say respect. A partner who doesn’t respect you won’t communicate with you no matter how much you try. It’s trying to pin jello to a wall.

        • I wish I had known “a partner who doesn’t respect you won’t communicate with you no matter how much you try.” My dick-ex evaded any kind of confrontation when it became too touchy for him. He’d evade by pretending sleep, by going to the bathroom, by saying he didn’t have time because he had to . I will definitely give this piece of advice to all my children, hopefully before they marry someone who refuses to talk about issues.

          • Yes, this. Mine even had the chutzpah to claim I was the one who didn’t want to talk. When I would bring up something that made him uncomfortable, he would squirm, and say something like, “Well, that is a conversation we should have when we have time.” When I would ask, “Why not now?”, there was always a reason why it wasn’t a good time. Those times just never seemed to occur. Funny that. Then he told the MC that I (!!!) didn’t want to talk.

          • Yes, cheater whenever I became (what I consider) righteously angry over his behaviour, or wanted to discuss uncomfortable (for him) issues, I got the “I’m not talking to you when you’re like this, and I’m not putting up with it” speech and he would leave until I’d ‘cooled down’. He liked to just leave a conversation that was uncomfortable and then pretend it never happened. Great life skills, buddy. It did my head in.

            • An ex of mine pulled that shit too. It’s the It’s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction thing.

              This dude would do something really messed up, like he’d disappear and not answer calls or texts with no explanation (huge red flag) or he’d start going on about his ex wife and how great she was (found out later all they did was cheat on each other…) or say something that was wildly stupid and provably wrong (according to him, Japanese internment camps didn’t happen because the government couldn’t have known who was of Japanese descent…*waves hand* yeah guess who’s grandmother narrowly escaped being interned…) And obviously I would react to these things with anger (Hey asshole, read a dang history book, ask him to maybe not talk so much about his ex, or WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?) and I’d be met with crap about how I sound resentful, I’m being dramatic and crazy, and how dare I ask him to pretend his past didn’t happen??? His favorite was Everyone is Entitled to the Pursuit of Their Own Happiness (Re: He’s entitled to do whatever he wants regardless of the damage it does to others) and he’d just shut me down so it became about how I was acting and not the fact that he was doing incredibly shiesty things.

              I told him he’s an avoidant, he creates drama and then runs from it when it’s time to take responsibility. He said he feels like that’s a good thing, he doesn’t want drama in his life. I realized it was totally pointless to explain to him there’s a difference between not having drama in your life and actually creating it, then running away from the mess you made. It was just completely pointless. He’d always just try to divert, blameshift rather than face what he’d done. All else fails RUN AWAY!

              It’s a waste of time.

        • This is so true. RESPECT is the most important thing in a mutual relationship. When somebody wants to communicate they don’t come home stinking drunk at 2 am wanting to talk (in drunken slobberspeak) Your previously sleeping spouse does not want stay up with an unintelligible souse in the middle of the night. Especially if your wife has to get up at 6 am to get to work on time.
          x championed the you never want to talk. When he was sober he was holed up with his phone or laptop in another room (usually watching porn or surfing AM I discovered later). Would get right cranky if I asked if we could discuss anything about our future (it was always his pension, his promotions, his training courses…)
          The most damning of red flags in a relationship is how your spouse discusses the future. Start getting really worried about the words I, me, mine being much more frequent than we, us, our.

          • So true. We had bought a 2nd home so he didn’t have to live in a rental during the Work week and I thought we’d have family weekends here & there. He was very controlling when it came to me decorating the place – even voicing his dislike of a minimalist wreath I made for the front door. Then he would say things like this is my house. I vividly remember correcting him and saying both our names are on the deed. Only a narc sociopath uses a 1 year plus exit strategy and has 1 year plus affair with married howorker.

    • This!

      My FW was reluctant to reveal the AP’s name as well. But I demanded the name of the person who had participated in ruining my life, as should the OP. It is his right to know. I got the name, then looked her info up, told her husband, and her little playhouse got burned to the ground. She was a serial cheater (multiple ONS, often with strangers, as well as several LTA, one of them being with his best friend, simultaneously with my husband) who refused to use condoms. The man needed to know he should get checked for STDs. So does this man, and this bitch and her “strong feelings” should to be kicked to the curb.
      Yeah, I got the “strong feelings” line too.
      The gall of these cheaters, expecting us to sympathize with their alleged feelings for other people.

      • Sorry, meant to say “so does this woman”. Got confused about the gender of the betrayed spouse for a second.

    • Kara, I couldn’t have said it any better. Especially the blatant in his face disrespect. Mine did something very similar and rubbed it in my face. I left her two weeks after D-Day. I walked in on mine right after the deed. He needs to listen to CL.
      This is the way

  • I gotta tell ya, I lived this story 2 years ago. Let me fast forward you through time.

    25 years together. Affair discovered. We divorced “the nice way” which meant she took everything from me. The only thing I kept was 50% custody of the kids. She instantly remarried, and NOT her affair partner – her high school boyfriend. I kept notes and records of everything she put the kids through, then I went after her for custody after the suicide attempt. For the past 8 months, I’ve had full time custody of my kids and a restraining order against her husband. This past weekend was “mom”s first shot at having every-other-weekend custody and she sabotaged the event.

    I’m not saying you’re destined for the same train wreck I’m on, but the beginning of your story is eerily familiar. And if I could rewind, I would have cut ties and built up my walls sooner.

    Best of luck

  • Bob,

    My first D day was June 2016. I am single now and FINALLY doing well. Do the calendar math. Do not be me.
    Chump Lady is correct on all points. How do I know? I lived all those points! Three years worth.

    Brother, buckle up and drive your OWN car. Do not expect your cheating wife to buckle anything. Expect her to continuously jump out of the car at every opportunity. If you see her in your rear view mirror, chasing you. DO NOT STOP! If she truly wants to catch up, she will be in her own damn car.

    You have my deepest masculine empathy for the road you’re about to drive.

  • Bob – I feel sad that you want to be that guy of 17 years ago. He doesn’t have the life experience, maturity and knowledge that you do. He hasn’t had the joy of fatherhood or learned patience and tolerance through years of partnership like you have. He’s not YOU. What you’re saying is, you want her to love you and the now You isn’t good enough. Fuck that. Lovely Bob, the fault is not in your looks or your character or your actions or your communication, it’s in her character. If she hasn’t seen the real you and doesn’t love you after all these years, she never will. I am so sorry for your and your children’s distress but her selfish actions and nothing else is the cause of it. I wish you all the best x

    • Artist: This is lovely and thank you for writing it for all of us chumps. One memory I have after discovery is my husband sitting on a chair in our room as I was standing not far away, and he was looking at me. Said: “you really are a lovely person” as if he had not thought so before and was seeing me for the first time or having to convince himself or maybe trying to appeal to my need for Meager stroking of any kind. Definitely he had been treating me like garbage and telling me I deserved contempt and hostility and threats of leaving etc. We had been married 28 years! I had raised his 4 amazing children! Lots of people thought I was a lovely person; I had worked hard to be a kind and loving and funny and interesting person, and especially to my husband who had habitually used his difficult childhood to justify his nastiness to me. What he said was such a cutting “compliment.” Possibly one of the worst things.

      • Yeah, they do that. The implication being; “You’re a lovely person but I’m just not into you. I’m into schmoopie, who is exciting and fun and you’ll never measure up to her.”
        It’s a variant of ILYBINILWY.

        • Yep, there’s no way that you can do anything about it. You’re lovely, so there’s no way for you to improve the relationship, because the connotation is that you’re fine as you, but you’re not their flavour. You’re vanilla and the AP is tutti-frutti.

        • What I find interesting about the “not being fun” is that most people who knew us would say that I was the fun one for sure. Every BBQ, dinner party was initiated by me. I tried pointing out to my ex during the pick me dance all the things that I suggested that were fun, but he would always deflect the ideas. Then, what did I get from him? That he just didn’t want to do those things with me. So the problem isn’t that I wasn’t fun, it was that he wanted to do those things with someone else. Then, I got from him that life with me was just too busy. So, I’m not so boring but too active and need to learn to relax.

          It was a no win-situation with him.

          What he finally said to me that I think was the closest thing to the truth that he was capable of and the most telling of what our problem really was in the marriage…”I just need to be with someone who isn’t so strong.”

          I dared to be strong and he wasn’t man enough to handle it. How’s that for a kick in the teeth of feminism?

          • Actually it’s a great endorsement of feminism. We need to be strong, AND only accept strong partners, who treat us with respect. That also means they need to have respect for themselves (not at all the same as entitlement!) and everybody else too.

            BTW, he only said that because he knew it would hurt you and sound like some kind of justification. They actually listen carefully to us, in order to manipulate us into being as useful as possible to them, and to save up that knowledge to throw in our faces. Never mind the whole ‘I will under-function so much that you will HAVE to over-function’ that is so common with selfish, entitled people when they are in a relationship.

            If you show your moments of weakness, he would say you were too weak, if you were smart, that’d be too much for him, he was intimidated. If social, too much so, if a homebody, too boring. And if you changed something about yourself to suit him? Then he’d just move the goal posts and criticize you for that, or something else.

            • Well said KarenE. I was told by a well-meaning friend (who shouldn’t have been giving advice) that perhaps I was too intimidating and too responsible, and the reason he was attracted to the skank was because she was needy and that maybe if I acted a bit more needy, he would be attracted to me. (Just another mindfuck.) As you say, “he’d just move the goal posts and criticize you for that, or something else.” In any event, I’m not changing who I am for anybody. If someone doesn’t like me just the way I am, then I don’t need that someone in my life. (And I am very responsible. Woohoo!)

            • I think we need a good blog post of asymmetrical relationships, including this underfunction/ over function dynamic.

          • You “weren’t fun” because you’d caught onto the fact that he sucks. People like him will always need shiny new people because once someone gets to know him the fun will disappear and it will reflect badly on him and make him see himself for the loser he is.

  • Hire a PI. He/she will take about two secs to find the guy. Tell his wife. Contact an atty. Get a divorce.

    That was the story version. Look at your finances. Everyone except billionaires are living beyond their means. Downsize and realize you never needed that big house, that expensive car, all those clothes. What you need is financial solvency and peace of mind. You won’t get it begging for crumbs or being the marriage police.

  • About a year ago, I discovered that my wife was having an affair — the mother of one of our older daughter’s best friends. Let’s just say it was a mess.

    My ex-wife blameshifted me and tried to get me to “own my part in this”. Are you fucking kidding? She gave me a laundry list of stuff that I had allegedly done that drove her to have an affair. As Chump Lady says, it’s entitlement and a crappy character that caused them to have an affair. And she lied, and lied. And she puts herself above you, the commitment to you, and your kids.

    Ask yourself if you want to spend the rest of your life married to an entitled, adulterous, dishonest, selfish, abusive (affairs are abuse, sorry), deceptive woman who lacks empathy for you or your kids and is unwilling to invest in making a marriage work before fucking another dude.

    Trust me. Get out. You have no idea how much better life feels when you start pushing away these people who don’t deserve you. A for your kids, I’m sorry. But my kids are doing just great — good grades in school, and we spend even better quality time together now than we did when we were “happily married”. You’ll discover that your wife polluted a lot of other areas of your life, too. Get a lawyer. You can do this.

    • Mine wanted me to agree that I was 50% responsible for his affair(s). Oh, hell no. They want to blameshift so they can keep their delusion that they are a splendid person. Period.

      I agree with one of the previous comments, and would bet you absolutely know this person. That seems to be part of the whole thrill: parade the AP in front of your chump as a “friend”. Mine didn’t want to tell me either, but I guessed immediately, and was right.

      I danced for two years, then finally (FINALLY), in spite of what CN had been telling me, realized I truly had nothing to work with. He kept me around only because I was useful to him. Period.

  • Hey Bob,

    Get low-grade tech savvy. I assume you have access to the phone bill.
    Just pull hers and look up the number that’s most frequently called at times you aren’t around.
    Then plug it into . 99% of the time it’s right on the money if who owns the number.
    Another good one is you can search the number there as well. That website gives in depth stats.
    Also, whitepages or just simple google. Or on facebook in the search area, a lot of people have their number associated with their FB acct.
    Once you have the name, you can start searching for the betrayed wife.
    Take your balls back. She’s strung them on a keychain and flicks them every time she goes to meet AP to fiddle with his nutsack.
    Do not be OK with this situ cause it will only cause more pain in the future

      • Was not familiar with Spydialer, thanks. Will keep that for future reference just in case it’s ever needed 🙂

    • I used a free app. “Online reverse lookup”. That has a logo of a blue square with a white phone receiver. Worked great. Got every number.

    • @mg fucking spewed my tea at: “ Take your balls back. She’s strung them on a keychain and flicks them every time she goes to meet AP to fiddle with his nutsack.”
      Like a preverse voodoo ball thing. Chuckle.

  • Bob – Get a lawyer AND get those kids paternity tested. You may still legally be on the hook for child support even if one or none of them are yours – but you may find out that she has been cheating on you far longer than 2 months (*cough cough*).

    One way to know that this isn’t her first time cheating is to suggest 23andMe or Ancestry kits for the entire family! If she gets angry or the blood drains from her face, then you’ll know this isn’t her first affair.

    When you get tested for STDs, make a point of asking to be tested for herpes. It’s a blood test and you have to ask for it specifically.

    Run Bob – RUN! For your own sake and for your kids’ too. They will NOT learn healthy relationship behavior if you stay with their mother.

  • So glad she’s agreed to see her lover with your permission to look-but-don’t-touch! ????????

    This reminds me of a fellow Chump’s story of finding a hotel receipt in Hubby’s pants, and accepting his/OW’s story that they met there just to talk. Honest!!

    Look, Bob. Your wife is protecting herself & her Lover, not you/your marriage. But silly you thinks this arrangement is awesome?
    I remember sitting in on one of my ex’s counseling sessions then a private chat with therapist afterward. Said therapist said ” he’s getting there, but it takes TIME”. Translation: trickle-truth is ok. Plus, it’s more billable hours for these hacks!
    Time to put your foot down & be mighty. Cheater wife doesn’t get to call the shots.

    • Why would she need to see her lover, touching or no touching? She should be on her knees, begging for forgiveness and scheduling counselling to get insight into herself (not into what he supposedly did wrong). Seriously!

  • BIG CLUE on her Honesty and Willingness….


    Please don’t set up base camp at the Red Flag factory.

    The wife of that AH needs to know what her loser husband is up to, STAT. She deserves to make an informed decision about her life based on the truth. PLEASE don’t enable these two lowlife companions in abusing her. TELL. If only someone had told me!

    Wedding vows say “forsake all others”. That’s because when we act on attractions, we create Feelings and Relationships. Like watering a garden. Your wife was watering some other dude’s garden. Treating YOU like she treated HIM and NOT acting on her attraction to him is how you make your marriage better and stronger than ever.

    The traitor in my life moved out two years ago. We are divorcing. HE IS STILL LYING TO ME.
    I found out a year ago he has been hiding money from me for 20 years.

    You thought your house was pest free. This is the ultimate reality check. You woke up one night, turned on the kitchen light, and saw a cockroach on the kitchen floor.

    It always means there are 45,000 more in hiding.

    I am extremely and genuinely sorry for the pain you are in. STAY HERE AND READ AND LEARN AND LISTEN! Hopefully we can save you more heartache.


    I think every single one of us has been in your shoes.

    • Velvet Hammer – I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I just love you. You have a way of articulating that blows my mind every time. And Bob – listen to each and every one of us at CN even though your head hasn’t caught up with your heart. It will, in due time. You don’t believe it right now, but as our beloved CL reminds us, the pain is finite. I didn’t believe it at the time, but as always, CL was right. Take care of yourself and your lovely children. Put yourself first, which is difficult for chumps to do. Listen to your head and your heart will eventually catch up. Xxx

    • Velvet Hammer – Your response “Wedding vows say “forsake all others”. That’s because when we act on attractions, we create Feelings and Relationships.” The dick told me, “What’s between me and SAB has nothing to do with what’s between me and you.” I was truly mindfucked. I believed him. I thought there really was something wrong with me. It wasn’t till after DDay that my cousin said something that resonated with me: “The time he spent with her is time he stole from you!” Yep. He was committing adultery before he actually dipped his wick.

      • Time they steal from us (and kids, if any), emotional investment, relationship-building efforts, intimate conversations, light chats, shared jokes, sexual energy …. All stolen from their rightful partner, and invested in the affair.

        Then they are so surprised that they now have ‘feelings’ for the AP and not for their partner.

        • This is so good.
          What people put their attention on, their time on, gets bigger.

          What people take attention away from and time away from, gets smaller.

          This is why no contact (physical and mental) helps us heal.
          It’s why cheaters get attached to APs (because they INVEST time and energy).
          It’s why “taking time to decide” is not deciding.

          • KarenE & LAJA
            The two posts above are PURE GOLD.
            I have etched them in my heart.


            I have to say these are the most outstanding posts I have read on CL.
            I regret that I read them so late in my life, and even late in days reading them, makes me sad.
            But,for new Chumps, going over the archives ( as many do) please please take these two to heart!
            They are GOLD.
            Also new Chumps, anything that KarenE and LovedAJackAss share here with CN is expert advice!
            Absolutely Golden!
            Leave a Cheater Gain A Life is the only way out.
            Go Toward the Light!

  • Dude! I understand the shock you’re experiencing right now but for fucks sake you’re sugar coating this so much I have to check my glucose numbers . No name ? Sorry if someone is getting to fuck my wife I at least am entitled to know who. She’s protecting this varmint from getting barbecued by his wife and enabling his cake and eat it too. While still wanting to fuck him some more . I don’t know who’s more fucked up on hopium you or her. She’s getting played pure and simple as are you and both of you seem ok with it . The whole “for the kids thing” lacks perspective . They are watching and will model their lives accordingly . You have to show a lack of tolerance for shitty behavior , show King Arthur like courage , and saintly moral structure . Otherwise you run the risk of raising future douche bags seemingly like their mother is. The bullshit that is construct of the RIC needs to be replaced with scorched earth . As my handle suggests I’m a nut bag. While I don’t encourage violence (but I can always hope ) you can be certain I will find out who he is and he would suffer , I have a history with that. Your so called wife and you have no right to let the other betrayed spouse be an unwitting partner in this magilla . Let your balls drop back down , lawyer up, keep anecdotal notes (very important ) and demand the truth . I repeat your kids are watching

    • Neither of them wants a divorce! They don’t want to give up 1/2 or more of their income and they don’t want to give up the person who stays home and does most of the work. And some of them (maybe many of them) don’t want to give up their interlocked triangles. This type LOVES deceiving people, having secrets, smirking at what they know that you don’t know. That’s what I take from Bob’s wife’s refusal to give up the AP name: they want to keep on with the affair and pressure from both spouses or impending divorce makes that harder.

      That’s reason #12 to file for divorce. If you want to make the affair tougher for them, kick their butts out of the house and make them live in the real world of consequences. It’s not the #1 reason (your self-worth) or the #2 (your health), #3 (financial protection), #4 (teaching the kids healthy relationships), #5 time to heal….but filing will change the affair’s situation. Now, sometimes they cut their losses, get married to each other, have kids, etc. No guarantee that won’t happen. But they will have to do that without the delight they get from fooling you or making a fool of you. And that takes the fun out of it for many of them. Jackass’s little affair fizzled when he knew I knew and could tell his MOW’s husband.

  • Bob – theres gonna be an ton of emotional responses of us yelling at you to get jumping. Get moving. Its very scary. Its very hard. But look at your children, look in the mirror. What is your worth? What is their worth? You’re using old measurements; she destroyed the ruler.

    You can do this. You’ll have to likely anyways; if not today, the next time you find about another affair. Or the next, or the next. Your marriage -as you know it – is done. You didn’t break it. Plenty of time to think that all over, but get moving. jump in, swim. You can do it.

  • On the advice of my therapist, I had been journaling when dday hit and rereading that play by play now is just so puke inducing. Much like this situation.

    We had been seeing a MC for 1 year just to help us reconnect and work on comm. The first time we went back after DDay, I literally got on my knees and told my wasband I was happy he was finally telling me everything he hated about me and our marriage so now we could addres it bc me and MC had known he was holding something back for a while. And now we could fix it and our marriage would be stronger than ever…..puke. I got lucky bc he refused to end his “friendship ” and I had enough self respect and family support to say gtfo then. But I begged, I gave him time to think, blah blah blah

    I found CL about 2 months after dday and stated to read the archives and comments and realized my wasband didnt even have the decency to be original – same crap everyone else heard.

    Oh, letter writer, how I wish you had a unicorn. But you dont. And you are going to find that out. I’m terribly sorry.

  • Bob,

    Your wife said: “she is terribly sorry she hurt me.” That is cheater language for she is terribly sorry she got caught and it is a line that fuels hopium, but it is a lie. Cheaters use lines like that to pretend that they are kind people when the opposite is true. My ex-wife told me “you are the last person in the world I would want to hurt.” I fell for that line initially and it made me have strong feelings of affection for her, then I started thinking that if it were true, she would never have gone off repeatedly to a “Love Shack” with her schmoopie. She would have pondered the consequences of sleeping with other men before she went down that path. What your wife has done is a deal breaker and you will never trust her if you remain married to her. She is living a double life and the woman you thought you knew is imaginary. There is only one course of action that will lead to peace of mind and it is not reconciliation. There are kind women out there who won’t betray you. You can do much better. Good luck and stay strong!

    • “You will never trust her again” is absolutely correct. Is that a person you want to spend the rest of your days with?

    • “My ex-wife told me “you are the last person in the world I would want to hurt.”

      But she did. So that’s not true, is it?

  • Ahh yes, “the affair will make my marriage better” assertion. Yeah, Bob unfortunately that RIC cool aid is spiked with Hopium. Affairs make marriages better like getting shot in the head makes your IQ go up.

    It’s hard to see this now while you’re in the middle of it. You need to escape that particular forest to be able to appreciate the dangers inside of it.

    Lawyer up, protect your health and finances. There is no easy way out of this but it’s the best course of action. Take it from a former RIC surviving, hopium smoking, wreckconciliation survivor.

  • Space helps. Kids are resilient. She will leave you or try to convince you to accept an open relationship, or both if she imagines that can work (think an ongoing pseudo-marriage to you, indefinite “separation” complete with a ton of emotional labour and none of the security, fidelity, or trust of an actual marriage).

    I have three small kids, I know how impossible it sounds to leave. The first while after you find out are a wash. Keep coming here, be brave, take big and little steps when you can!.

  • The fact you wrote in, Bob, is a good sign that underneath the shock and pick-me dancing, there are doubts ….. Do unicorns even exist? Is reconciliation ever a good option? Might we be the exception to all the very very very similar situations I read about on CL?

    If you can’t bring yourself to declare your marriage dead, then at least do the common sense thing; hope for the best, prepare for the worst. SEE THAT LAWYER, find out what you would have to do if things don’t work out, and how to protect yourself NOW in case they don’t. Then you can try just as hard as you want to make it work.

    Then make a list of what you’d need to see, in order to continue trying. Read over CL’s GINR post, look at the reconciliation books you’ve bought (I know you’ve bought them, most of us did!), think hard. Even the RIC says there has to be a complete end to the affair, honesty, real remorse and willingness FROM HER to work hard at repairing. Not from you, not yet, it’s her turn right now. Yes, there were problems in the marriage, but SHE is the one who took the nuclear option, so it’s up to HER to lead the reconciliation process. Figure out what you would SEE if she were ‘really trying’.

    Then keep your eyes OPEN. Is she actually doing any of this? Is the marriage counsellor pressing her on this stuff? (If not, find another marriage counsellor, one who doesn’t think keeping the marriage on life support is the only acceptable goal.) Are you the one doing the work, while she does the absolute minimum to keep you on the hook? Figure out what it would LOOK LIKE if she were all in. Because there’s so often a mismatch between words and behaviours with these fuckwits, look for the actions.

    Then set yourself a deadline; if she’s not 100% all in, and SHOWING it (not just saying it!) by X date, I am done. No ‘trial separation’ (ie license to get 100% into the fuckfest for a while, then come back to her comfy life with you once things don’t work out so well w/the AP), just DONE.

    Please please please talk to people about all this as it progresses. Listen to those who tell you that you deserve better (because you do), that your wife allowed herself to do this, and therefore can probably easily allow it again later – especially because you’re AGREEING with her justification about how bad the marriage had gotten.

    I have been where you are, did all the ‘right’ things according to the RIC, stuffed down the data that showed me that Cheater Narc wasn’t doing HIS part, and was LOVING being the judge for the pick-me dance, thought so much about how my kids’ family deserved this effort from me …… And of course, the relationship continued to be a lopsided one (as it always had been, a terrible model for my kids), and he cheated again 7 years later, then was ASTOUNDED that I not only kicked him out, I wouldn’t let him come back.

    Don’t be me, Bob. Learn from the hard experience of so so many members of CN.

    • “Figure out what it would LOOK LIKE if she were all in. Because there’s so often a mismatch between words and behaviours with these fuckwits, look for the actions.

      Then set yourself a deadline; if she’s not 100% all in, and SHOWING it (not just saying it!) by X date, I am done. No ‘trial separation’ (ie license to get 100% into the fuckfest for a while, then come back to her comfy life with you once things don’t work out so well w/the AP), just DONE.“

      Bob, I get it. You aren’t willing to walk away yet. You need to know in your heart that you tried everything to save your marriage.
      I was like that too, but after multiple D-days I finally told my (now ex) husband that he had a year to help me improve the relationship. He agreed, made all the promises, had the “heartfelt” conversations, and then promptly forgot all about it because to him, I would be the doormat I always was. A year to the date, he came home from work to tell me he developed feelings for a woman he rode the bus with.
      That was it, that was the answer to the question “could we work this out? Could we get back the couple we used to be?”
      I divorced 4 months later and have never looked back. I know I gave him every chance and I sleep with a clear conscience.
      (If you can see clearly enough to leave immediately that would be even better for you and your kids)

      • Boudicca, I too felt some consolation that at least I had done everything I could for my relationship to work, and to protect my kids’ family. After Affair #2 and Wreckonciliation, it was 6 or 7 more years until he cheated again and I kicked him out.

        Then over the couple of years following the separation, I began to see how much damage Cheater Narc could do to the kids, who loved and trusted him at that point BECAUSE I HAD RECONCILED AND SPACKLED. Spackled not just about our relationship, but also about what kind of person and what kind of father he was. And now I see some of the results of the kids growing up in a household with one under-functioning, selfish, negative and critical parent, and one over-functioning spackler who was often in too much distress herself to be the parent her kids needed.

        You are absolutely right, leaving immediately would be best not only for Bob, but also for his kids. The earlier, the better, the less damage done, the more time to raise our kids in a healthy atmosphere, with one healthy parent, at least half the time.

    • And if you give her “time,” get a post-nuptial agreement in your favor. She moves out. You get primary custody. She doesn’t get your pension, etc.

  • You may read CL’s reply and try to convince yourself that she is wrong….but don’t! She is right. It’s time to see a lawyer, not a marriage counselor. If you do see a counselor it needs to be for individual counseling. Your wife is in an active affair and it’s time for you to set boundaries.

    You are not alone in this, all of us have been here at some point.

  • Bob, what incentive does she have to change or end this affair?

    She still gets to see her affair partner and now she has you, her husband, jumping through hoops to win her back. You’ve given her all of your power.

  • Bob,

    Shes’s a lowlife whore. You are golden: a loyal caring family man. Get rid of her and let time heal you – it will take about 2-3 years after you are divorced to be at Meh. So many gorgeous, loyal, women of character will want to get to know you… just wait and see. You won’t believe you ever wrote the above but be kind to yourself, you are in trauma-mode and those trauma bonds are strong. Act even if you don’t feel like it. Come here and on Reddit closed CL group for daily support.

  • Bob, you are working hard to minimize a horrendous betrayal. If people feel they are drifting apart in their marriage there are 1000 things you can do to work on it. Sneaking around to bed a third party doesn’t even cross the mind of normal people. Your wife is chasing rainbows, she is a fool who thinks that there is a perfect soulmate, a perfect relationship out there somewhere. She doesn’t value fidelity, morality or basic values. Her moral compass is absent.

    Don’t go along with this crazy shit, tell her if she wants a shot with you she has to go zero contact with this bastard. What kind of man screws a married woman with children? No one you want around your kids. It’s a damn shame for you and your kids that you have this woman in your lives.

    • What kind of man screws a married woman with children?

      The lowest….whaleshit.. I finally resigned myself to the fact that they they deserved each other….. I got FULL custody of my two kids 2 and 4. We divorced , she came around 2 weeks later teary eyed telling me I was the best friend she ever had. I told her to hit the road and don’t look back…she eventually married the scumbag , it lasted about 4 years till he found out who she really was and left her for another. In my case Karma is real.

  • I remember the intensity of those conversations and feelings following my discovery of the cheating. Looking back, I think my ex really enjoyed that part as much as the secret cheating. I believe my ex is very shallow and that shallow people just don’t feel much of anything unless they manufacture drama. An affair is like mainlining drama. So is reconciliation. Toss the two together and it’s even juicier. Add a divorce and omg do they ever feel alive! Act as a point on their affair triangle -jackpot! Lots of feelings! Lots of centrality! So. Much. Focus. On. Them!
    So, if you reconcile (like many of us have tried) just know that when things settle down (if they do), while you are doing what normal people do and enjoying ordinary life, the craving for that intense drama begins again with them. And you will suffer. You will mourn a past that was not true. But your children will suffer more because they will model this same behavior either as the abused or the abuser in their adult relationships. And then you get to feel the repercussions for teaching them that and so you never really truly recover. So you have a lot more to lose if you stay than you realize today.

    • “I remember the intensity of those conversations and feelings following my discovery…”

      Yes, I responded strongly to this in Bob’s letter, too, because after my now-ex came clean about himself I thought we were experiencing a re-commitment and closeness we hadn’t had in a long time. It was a short lived euphoria, because what was really going on was that my boundaries were being tested, in the form of “I’ve told her a lot, what will she tolerate?” I was so so grateful for his finally telling me what had been “wrong” in our marriage, and so conditioned to believe that whatever he’d done it had to have stemmed from a shortcoming of mine that I was hell bent on doing whatever I could to fix myself and heal the marriage and prove I was the right person for him. Cue naked-pick-me dancing. Cue trauma bonding. Cue rationalizing on my part of what was abuse on his part. Cut self-deception founded on hopium on my part. Cue continual entitlement and narcissism on his part. Cue manipulation, minimizing, blame-shifting on his part. Cue shame on my part that I could ever have talked myself into believing the lie and in unicorns. Cue I finally got a clue and a divorce.

  • “An affair is like mainlining drama. So is reconciliation. Toss the two together and it’s even juicier. Add a divorce and omg do they ever feel alive! Act as a point on their affair triangle -jackpot! Lots of feelings! Lots of centrality! So. Much. Focus. On. Them!”

    This x too many millions

  • This letter is not real. There is NO WAY this guy could have gotten his affairs in order and both he and his wife engaged in counseling since LAST SUNDAY.

  • My question for Bob would be:

    Do you think you could ever trust your wife again?

    I tried after the first D-Day over 11 years ago.

    We stayed together until I caught him cheating with a friend of mine.

    Oddly enough-l was angry but mostly RELIEVED.

    I hadn’t realized how much I had shut down towards my ex for his betrayal.

    I WANTED OUT -and discovering that he and my ‘friend’ were having an affair was my out.

    Looking back-I realize that I gave my ex a test: I knew that the friend had always flirted with my ex so when we were having dinner together with her husband-she got a call from a friend who gave her 2 tickets to an NFL game. When she got mad at her husband for not wanting to go-I mentioned that she should take my husband.

    Well-the test was to see if he would go with her-and he did-and that’s where that affair came into being.

    At first I thought, “He failed the test.” Now I realize: That affair was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

    I was miserable with him AND his double standards of constantly being suspicious of me.

    It was okay for him to flirt with women ( he’s a total creeper who used to go to our neighborhood 7-11, buy a cup of coffee and a pack of cigs and stand out in the parking lot trying to pick up women). But if I was talking to any men-I was a cheating whore ????.

    That affair gave me the needed kick in the ass to leave that dickless butt munch.

    All I can say is, “Thank you for behaving EXACTLY how I thought you would, asshole.”

    I’m a BILLION times happier now than I have been in the past 15 years.

    Bob-let her go-she isn’t worth it and she’s playing you like a fiddle.


  • Bob, she seems entitled. Let her go. I did the hopium thing for 2 years and it did not help me, save my family or children from a self-absorbed, liar. I gave him too much credit rather than focusing on giving myself more love and trust to find someone who values me. Put her stuff in garbage bags and ask her to take it out herself, change your beneficiaries, your life insurance policies and protect your finances. I’m sorry about the kids. I know how hard this is. I was married 17 years and the person you trust is not who you think they were. She is totally selfish and I can bet her family will protect her character and may have the same qualities. Unfortunately, the in laws screwed me too..I learned the apple does not fall from the tree.

  • Wow…..where to start. Bob. Your wife is in love, possibly obsessed with the OM. This is the person she constantly thinks about, wants to be with and imagines a life with him when he comes to his senses and leaves his wife/family for their true love. She has absolutely no use for you other than a contributor to household expenses and child care. Right now it is not in her best interests to leave the marital home, divide assets, etc. Divorce is disruptive and she has nothing to gain from a divorce at the moment. I think you are reading too much into her throwing verbal crumbs at you, basically saying things you might want to hear. However, she will dump you in a NY second if the OM leaves his family. So your life, your future, is based on what the OM may or may not do….he is holding all the cards. You’ve got squat and he has all the power. Get a lawyer and find a partner who respects you, loves you and wants to be with you. First get some counseling as to why you would even consider being with a person that has treated you like something stuck to the bottom of her shoe. Also, as for saving the family, what a bunch of horseshit. Your kids shouldn’t be exposed to this nonsense and what sort of mother puts an affair partner ahead of her kids?

  • Time for you to keep a secret. Go see a lawyer or three. Don’t tell your wife. You need to find out your rights, and if you want anything more than 50/50 custody, you want someone experienced in father’s rights.

    Forget trying to show her the guy she “fell in love with.” That was your relationship THEN. The only question you need to ask yourself now is “Is this acceptable to you?”

    My guess is that the answer is No. Your gut is telling you this, and that’s why you wrote to Chump Lady. You, like many Chumps, are under the impression that you “owe” it to your Cheater to try to work things out. The fact is that your Cheater broke the marriage vows. Your Cheater betrayed your trust. You know in your heart that you can’t ever get that trust back.

    Chump Lady has hit a lot of the red flags. Let me touch on a few more.

    <emI just discovered last Sunday that my wife of 13 years has been cheating on me with “some one she has very strong feelings for” for the past two months….She definitely hasn’t crawled back or even really apologized for the affair (just that she is terribly sorry she hurt me).

    So, let’s talk about this discovery. Did she tell you out the blue, “hey Bob, I’ve been cheating on you for the past couple of months” or did you discover incriminating evidence? I’m guessing that YOU were the one who discovered the affair. Why do I think this? Because you say, 1) she hasn’t crawled back and 2) she hasn’t apologized.

    Real Remorse requires that she be humble. She needs to apologize. The fact that she has not tells you that she is not truly sorry. And if you tell her now that if she were sorry she’d apologize, then when she does apologize it won’t count because she’s doing it to avoid consequences, not because she’s sorry.

    The other thing I notice about your letter is how you talk about your situation:

    We’ve had our issues and we have both really neglected our relationship. We’ve drifted apart.

    We’re talking for the first time in a long time, and identifying a lot of big issues in our relationship which caused both of us stress and unhappiness in the past and drove us apart.

    You’re assuming blame for HER actions. Fine, your marriage had some issues–and no marriage is rainbows and butterflies all the time–but only one of you cheated. Dollars to doughnuts that after you discovered the affair, she told you that you drove you to cheat because you neglected her needs or similar drivel.

    As a result, you are Pick Me Dancing up a storm. You’re trying to show that you’re Worthy. You’re trying to show that you’re a better choice than I’m a Married Man who Cheats on my Wife with Other People’s Wives.

    Stop dancing. You don’t need to prove you’re better than her AP. You ARE better than her AP. You didn’t cheat!

    Go lawyer up. Get yourself some individual therapy from someone who understands trauma bonding and has experience with infidelity. You’re not looking for someone to heal the marriage here. You’re looking for someone to help you figure out why you’re okay with a wife who cheats.

    Go talk to a divorce financial planner. You need to get a handle on your finances and figure out the best settlement you can get, while still remembering that the strong likelihood is that you will have to pay child support (I am assuming you are the higher earning spouse) and that your kids deserve financial stability even if their mother is an entitled asshole.

    Be honest with your children. Sticking in a marriage that doesn’t work is not at all good for the kids. When your marriage involves deceit, the kids learn to normalize this. Tell the kids that you’re divorcing because their mother had an affair. You don’t have to editorialize her moral character, just tell them that this is a deal-breaker for you. You know that they’ll be sad and that you’re sad, too, but things will get better and be okay. Get them into therapy as well.

    You deserve a better partner than what you have. Kick her to the curb and fix your picker so that you will be ready for someone who truly loves and appreciates you.

    • “ You’re not looking for someone to heal the marriage here. You’re looking for someone to help you figure out why you’re okay with a wife who cheats.”


      After 10 years of asking “why does he do that?” I started to ask “why do I put up with it?” and individual counseling became much more productive.

      Please note: I am not trying to blame/shame the victim.

      The chump absolutely did not cause the affair. The chump isn’t bringing the cheating onto their own heads.

      Everyone is at a different place in their journey, for some it’s too early to hear stuff like “why am I putting up with this?”

      But for me, at that time, it was exactly the question I needed. As always, YMMV.

  • Bob,

    You’re getting some excellent advice here today. I hope it sticks. I’m sure the best of it, the toughest messages, just sounds right now like people expressing bitterness as they recall their own experiences. But that’ll change. You’ll come back to this post months from now and it’ll be stunning how different the advice and insights will feel to you. It’ll feel like sage wisdom, and you’ll realize how much you had to learn. Right now you still think you know the person you married. That person exists underneath this train wreck of external circumstances that caused this, right? And you can pull her out and save things. Fact is, you never fully knew her. That’s perhaps the toughest fact to actually understand and accept. Right now you’re also in shock (as you rightly identified) and reacting with “trauma bonding” – grasping at ideas and rationalizations that might offer a way out of the hell you can sense suddenly surrounding you. You just want some sense of control in the process that’s exploded your life. Right now you’re also pretty sure your situation is unique enough that maybe these bits of advice don’t entirely apply to you. How can these people know for sure who my wife is and what she’s really doing? Maybe that was their experience but I know x and y and so on. Bob, it is so clear who your wife is. You’ll come around to it either by learning from this advice or by learning from hard reality. This group sees a woman exploding her family, the protective environment around her three small children (what flawed communication skills did they exhibit?, did they drift apart?), and attacking an innocent woman and her innocent family, and the fact is pretty plain: she is profoundly broken and permanently internally flawed. These people exist all around us (though a minority) and they have all manner of exteriors that thoroughly cover their core condition, until it doesn’t. It’s not uncommon that they “live” differently than their core reality for years at a time. It’s not that circumstances change them, they merely reveal them. Not that she acted all those years. She was being who she is, but you interpreted it to mean she was like you internally when it wasn’t. She didn’t just wake up one day and decide to alter her core identity into someone who could now betray every person and value in her life and reign down horror on another family when previously she couldn’t possibly have done that. Can you imagine telling your previous image of your wife that you’re cheating and are going to withhold information and keep her hanging in trauma as you “decide” this and that? I mean, that’s pretty clearly a seriously broken person right there. No amount of drifting apart creates that. She’s broken – actually was never fully formed – and she cannot be fixed. She is using convenient story lines of drifting apart, haven’t been happy, etc to explain completely unrelated behaviors to you and the world. You even apparently buy them too. They’ve been established go-tos for eons but they are non sequiturs when it comes to family destruction. She is simply entitled to a grandness that all others, even innocent children, are required to either supply or take a back seat to. She’ll be a little patient perhaps, but ultimately this is all that she is and all that everyone else amounts to in her life.

    • TKO…..your post really resonated with me as I have been trying to figure out, with my therapist, if my STBXH was ALWAYS this way….no moral compass, dishonest, not connected…or if something caused this infidelity. My therapist thinks he was always broken and disordered….what I think you have articulated. When you say “circumstances didnt dont change them but merely reveal them,” what circumstances do you mean? The fact that they (she/in my case he) found someone else they deemed to be better? More fun? Loving? Exciting? I welcome any observations you may have. Thank you for your insights.

      • Your therapist is almost certainly right — STBXH was a shark in disguise. See comment below by Tessie. Summary: Many cheaters wear down their partners so they feel not good enough. Cue the pick-me dance.

      • Pennstategirl, Sorry for not responding sooner!

        There nothing external to the cheater that “causes” the behavior of cheating or infidelity. That would be like saying there’s an external cause for embezzlement. What would that “cause” be? Not paid enough? Financial needs? If those are actual causes and not merely rationalizations for acting on a set of internal flaws, then embezzlement would be occurring tens of millions of times per year. Everyone wants to be paid more, everyone has financial needs. But only certain people embezzle. External factors therefore cannot be the cause. And no court would ever buy a defense that the actual cause of the embezzlement was a terrible boss or crappy company or too low of a salary or anything outside of the perpetrator themselves.

        It’s the same with infidelity. In fact, it shares so many things in common with embezzlement. Both are entitled deceptions breaching relationships of trust; purposeful planned theft and betrayal of innocents.

        The circumstances I meant to refer to are entirely different from the kinds of examples you offered. You first have to grasp and accept that a disordered person’s brain functions differently than your own. This is the hardest thing to get one’s head around. I’m not saying your STBXH is disordered. But he operates at some point along the spectrum closer to disordered than you or I. We see their micro expressions and hear their word choices and interpret and project onto them our own internal experience – but it isn’t so. For whatever he displays or even claims, his emotional experience of himself and the world is fundamentally different. It is more childish in a nutshell. And it is an automated process from toddlerhood to dress this up for the world and make it appear more adult-like. He doesn’t even notice the activity or contradiction in doing so.

        The circumstances then, which influence someone like this are not logical, at least not on adult terms (even though they try to pull such explanations over their behaviors), they are bare infantile emotions. The simple emotional range which a very young child experiences. Unlike you, they cannot fully experience the vastly superior and durable emotional rewards of a known shared bond that is committed through good and bad times, strengths and imperfections. I can’t fully explain these rewards. If you’ve felt them you know them to be a warmth, a comfort in knowing, a home-like sense of things. Ultimately it’s some combination of oxytocin or dopamine or whatever. It’s one of the strongest things we feel. They don’t produce this though. They instead feel a limited comfort, kind of like when we know a stressor is past or a source of fear is distant. It’s not so much a positive as it is an absence of a negative; and it’s not a sense of reliable permanence but rather a good for the time being that they sense. They present this interior experience to the world the way the world has shown them it ought to be presented, so it looks to us like our own experienced state. But it never is and it never was. They literally can’t feel what we do, and the least disordered among them have no idea this is so. But what they do feel, most powerfully, are the shallower more ego-centric emotions. Anything that tittilates or aggrandizes the self, the ego, the body. That’s their emotional power-range. We experience these too, but balanced by higher other-focused or bond-focused experiences. For us these occur within the context of a much wider range. For the disordered, it’s the only truly positive emotion they experience – the others are merely non-negative. And it’s all they know.

        So they can live in non-negative emotional territory for long periods of time, and survive seemingly quite well. But for them it’s sort of a holding pattern. Safe, comfortable, but mostly uneventful. Internally they they seek the only emotional highs they can experience: simple childish emotional needs from within an adult body. The very fact that you know their imperfections virtually ruins any chance of you producing this in them. That’s too adult. They need to feel a zing of superhero in their feed for it to register. I can’t be The Batman if you’ve washed my smelly socks.

        So circumstance is more about that. It’s an emotional circumstance that reveals their developmentally stunted internal condition, not an external circumstance whereby they are internally whole but seeking adult ends. If that were the case, they could not endure their befoulment of their own former deep bond and your own. As it is, they did never and can never experience that.

    • TKO (???? cool handle)
      Dayum. This bit was a KO. ☝️????❤️
      I was hearing the High Sparrow’s calming, gentle, reassuring voice when I read this advice.
      This is what I wanted to read when I arrived here in shock. I hope Bob reads this too.

  • Get out man.
    Don’t believe what she says. As a matter of fact: assume she is lying about everything. Also about the AP. She is making him sound less of a threat by saying he is married and doesn’t want to leave his wife. Plus it can be a cunning way for you to look in the wrong direction and dismiss single guys you know and she is in contact with. My ex used a decoy too.

    • Yep…..when I found a love note the dick got from a coworker he said “oh that’s nothing, she’s just a fat O4 who has a crush on me”…….riiggghhht. After he abandoned me and our home years later, I found cards from their “Valentine’s Week” and 2 years of emails. They had a 4 year affair and that one note was my only clue. They lie about everything. Wish I had left then.

  • They guy she fell I love with 17 years ago? She treated him like crap, took advantage of him and abused him. She KNOWS that guy well enough. She did this robots BECAUSE you were a good person and easy to do this to. Plus, I doubt you could be anyone else if you tried.

    The person YOU fell I love with 17 years ago? Likely never existed. That was certainly the case with my cheating ex-wife (22 years for me). Mourn—while taking action.

    I also echo those who say your stock will trade high after you heal. Wishing you strength for the journey.

  • I would like to add, cheaters subtly devalue us for so long it becomes second nature for us to accept blame for everything just to smooth things out on a day to day basis. This leads to us thinking we have to tap dance to prove our worth in everything, because we become conditioned to perceiving ourselves as less than. Our self worth just plummets. They, the cheaters, love this because it gives them centrality and power. It is also progressive. That means that the worse we are treated, the harder we tap dance to prove our worth to everyone. The more we dance, the more emboldened they become with their abuse……on and on until they can perpetrate absolutely horrific acts and feel justified. After all, only they matter, not the reviled and insignificant chump. Through no fault of our own, we become locked in a escalating cycle of abuse.

    The only way to stop this is to get off the crazy train. So we can get a pit bull lawyer and start the process of dismantling the abusive sham of a marriage, or sit back, continue to spackle, continue to smoke hopium, and remain miserable.

    One thing is certain, it will get worse unless you take action, my friend. She doesn’t care about your feelings. In fact she is enjoying your pain. The sure way to tell where the truth lies here is in her actions. When she says she wants to build the marriage, but keeps cheating, keeps stabbing you in the back, that’s what is the truth. That’s who she is. She doesn’t love you, she is incapable of it, and you can’t nice her into it. She isn’t going to change.

    You have nothing to work with here my friend.

    I am sending you great big hugs. I know from experience, this a such a painful place to be. Once you get away from her, you are going to feel so much better, I promise.

  • Bob…Bobby…


    You need to ask yourself: am I ok with (probably) paying a majority of the bills and having my wife treat me more like a parent than a spouse/partner while she flits off with another guy, basically becoming the 4th child in my home?

    If the following is true: “She told me she wanted to get out of our relationship for over a year and didn’t have the guts to leave, so this was the way.”
    Then she’s already decided what she wants to do. She’s just waiting for you to do it for her.

    • ^^^^THIS THIS THIS!!!^^^^

      Bob, you don’t need to wait for counseling to know what your wife will say (or not say). She’s already told you. It’s probably the one truth she has spoken to you.

      She. Does. Not. Want. To. Be. Married. To. You.

      This is what she’ll repeat to the marriage counselor. I got my XW to go to a marriage counselor about three weeks after she told me she wanted a divorce (by text) and a week after DDay. At my next session with the marriage counselor alone, she began by expressing her sympathy that my marriage was over and recommended DivorceCare. I wasn’t ready to put down the hopium at the time, but a few months later that session replayed in my mind over and over as I filed for divorce. My XW had nothing to work with, and neither does yours.

      • P.S. I was you three years ago with three young children. Found out later that XW had begun the emotional aspects of her affair while pregnant, if not before, and kept it quiet until the baby turned one since I was useful in helping with an infant. Realizing this complete lack of character and human decency is what ignited the anger that pushed me forward despite the devastation of losing the family unit I thought we both wanted. Disrespectful people like my XW and your wife are not worth your time and investment. Take the loss and move on so that you can focus on those three kids. They’ll be much better off with a divorced dad who can devote time and attention to them than they would be with a wreckonciling dad who is too busy pick-me-dancing to make sure his kids are getting what they need.

          • No, I haven’t. First of all, the timing of things makes a decent probability that the kids are mine. I know, I know, that doesn’t rule out that XW had sex with another guy around the same time which is why I struggled with it for a while, but then decided that, for now at least, it doesn’t really accomplish anything. If one or two turn out to have a different sperm donor, I can think of only two things I could do with that information: 1. Keep the info to myself until the child is old enough to tell, at which point I think it’s a good possibility he would feel his life had been a lie. I don’t like the idea of keeping a secret like that from my kid, and I have no idea when the appropriate time would be to reveal that. Or, 2. Immediately renounce paternity and give up all rights to my son, which is an even worse and unacceptable mindfuck for him than the first option.

            I realize that there are genetically linked diseases that might arise in the future when it would become necessary for my son to potentially find out that I’m not his biological father, and he might feel some of the same resentments as in option 1 above, but at least I wouldn’t be complicit in secret-keeping as an added insult to the fact that his mother fucked around and never told anyone.

            There are also questions about the rights of the biological father and the rights of a child to know who his/her biological father is. If I knew for certain, I would have to tell both parties. But the harder question is since I’m the one with suspicions, am I the one who is obligated to verify so that the biological father can be notified and the kids can choose whether to pursue a relationship? If no OM has ever expressed the desire to find out that any of my kids are biologically his, perhaps that is a moot point. I don’t really know the answer here.

            Ultimately, I’ve kind of decided that ignorance is bliss in this case. Finding out that one of them isn’t biologically related won’t change how much I love each one. Rather, I think it just adds more complicated instability to their lives with a mother who has already done more than her fair share of screwing up the world they live in.

    • She definitely wants you to do the dirty work of leaving the marriage, which is why you need to be clever if you do. She’ll use the opportunity to play victim because you ended it.

      So take a little time to line up all your ducks. Get evidence, and it’s there if you look. I did the pick me dance for 13 months after I discovered the existence of another woman. At the time, he claimed he only knew her for less than two months and he was only doing some accounting work for her. I believed it. In order to show him my trust I told him that I wasn’t even going to have him show me emails or cell phone records. That was very naive of me as I gave him carte blanche to continue the affair right under my nose.

      You act with integrity, but she does not. She is a person of low character and she isn’t going to suddenly mature emotionally out of the blue. Your integrity will simply give her greater opportunity to manipulate you. We’ve all been there. That’s why we call ourselves chumps.

      When my ex left me for the other woman, 13 months after D-Day. I finally started investigating. Of course, he had gotten rid of a lot and thought he had gotten off free of any direct indication of an affair. But, I got savvier than him and he got sloppy. Ended up finding the secret email account that revealed that this woman had been around at least 20 months of my marriage. Dates, overnight trips, gifts, etc. Then, I discovered a woman before her. Also discovered a fling in the final weeks he was leaving me to be with her (so much for true love).

      I accept that there is probably even more that happened and that I’ll ever know. I know enough. In fact, having this evidence to present to his family, my family and our friends is what has made it possible to ensure that none of them has accepted this woman into any of their homes, and it’s been two years since he left. Thank God we are surrounded by principled people.

      He doesn’t know that everyone know the truth of what he did. Somehow, everyone has kept mum about it and stood their ground. He’s been very frustrated with why people haven’t accepted his narrative that this woman was only a friend when he was with me and that their relationship blossomed months after he left. Well, it’s because his emails pretty much outlined this plan and no one is falling for it. So, he started to slander me. Then, he tried to be the benevolent nice guy to me. None of it has worked in his favour.

      So, you need to get in front of this. Get the evidence. Share it with the people who matter to you. Surround yourself with good people. Take ownership of the narrative. When things don’t go well for the cheater, you will be surprised by the evil that gets unleashed. I don’t recognize the man I was with for almost 15 years anymore. I see now how easily he lies to me and disrespects me. He still thinks I’m stupid, and for now, I still keep my cards close to my chest.

      You don’t have anything to work with.

  • Bob,
    I am so sorry about what is happening to you. It’s not fair. It’s wrong. If you are like me, you are so shocked and appalled you can’t even think straight. Sleepless and taking valium. I was there too. I was such a wreck I just couldn’t make a decision for myself and thought the best course of action was “save the intact family!” I actually felt pity for him being saddled with “sex addiction” and I told him I would have sex with him anytime he wanted to help him in his recovery….(face palm – UGH)
    I am now 3 years divorced and look back at that wreckonciliation time with empathy for myself, but I do wish I had kicked him out a lot sooner. His weeping and swearing that he was glad I found out because he wants to be the man and husband he was meant be (blah blah blah) gave me pause. What if he was telling me the truth? He was not telling the truth. His parting gift to me was a one-man porn video shot in my beautiful bathroom.
    If you are frozen into inaction and not ready to make a move, take it in baby steps. Do things that will empower you without showing your hand. Lawyer. Financials. Get a therapist for you. Chill and breath.
    When you feel stronger, do the rest. You have nothing nothing to work with. 3 small children? It’s beyond belief and she is woman with no moral compass and no integrity. (((Hugs))))

  • Bob,
    Great advice here so I will only add – Go see a lawyer now. You don’t have to tell her you are. But you need to start protecting yourself.

    You will be amazed of how quickly things deteriorate. This person who you believe is working on your alleged “combined” issues has not changed and will not change. People who cheat on you do not love you and is not invested in your relationship. It sucks, and it’s painful, but it’s true. You’ll see it eventually but right now, you’re still shell-shocked.

    Lawyer up and keep it to yourself!

    Also, that scumbag’s wife needs to know. Yesterday.

  • Bob, sadly, the only reason your wife is communicating with you is that you are still of use. You see, cheaters need their chumps to keep the home fires burning. To keep the bills paid, and the children cared for, and their fine-family-person image intact so they can do as they please.

    You’ve been serviceable for 17 years; surely there is more there for the taking.

    Please protect yourself. Now that her cover is blown, your wife will 1) try to restore the prior order of things, and/or 2) take everything you have or hold dear as retribution for upsetting the status quo.

    Unless you are okay with being lied to and cheated on and used, you marriage is not going to work. Those are the baseline terms your wife has imposed on the relationship. The ball is in your court. You can play her game by her rules, or you can build a better life for yourself and your children. You need to decide. Good luck to you, and please do come by and let us know how you are doing.

  • Bob I was you. And I didn’t do what Chump Lady told you to do (because I was fully immersed in all the reasons you’ve stayed as well as the reconciliation industry bullshit – thought he had changed, he seemed to be different, didn’t want to hurt the kids, we had a “better” relationship) and you know what? He continued to cheat for TWO more years. Do you know how much trauma that is??? Listen to chump lady she is RIGHT! They are all the same-she will drag this on and on and on. Your wife’s cheater boyfriend is doing the same thing to her husband. You are letting two sick selfish screwed up people decide your fate.
    Don’t be someone’s second best, their fall back. You deserve more.

    • And PS-she did NOT come clean – trust me she’s lying. And she is NOT having a “friendship” with him – I heard the same thing and it was so far from the truth.

      • Yes, this. Now that you know about them and this intense situation has erupted between you two, it will set off an exciting new phase in their affair. They’ll have something new to whisper and commiserate about. That’s why she needs to keep up her contact with him—to fill him on everything going on with you, before/after having sex.

  • Bob, the problem is that right now she is in the full throes of her feelings of love, lust, infatuation, excitement, fantasy, newness and the feeling of butterflies in her stomach for new sex, kissing, touching, hand holding and anything physical with her affair partner/new man. Her head is mile-high in the fog of the affair. There is no amount of pick me dancing that will be stronger than the endorphins that she’s experiencing right now with someone else You are the familiar, reliable, predictable, partly boring, partner of household chores, duties and child-rearing (all the normal, every day things). While the previous feelings don’t validate the affair, someone who is in an active affair will not give those up easily. There are many reasons why this happens to disordered people (which isn’t the point of my post) but the main thing to get from this is that it won’t be easy for her to give up on those feelings, especially if she is forced to by you, a therapist, his wife, etc… Which is why the majority of the cheaters quickly resume their affairs after they have promised to go no contact. I’m not sure if a cheater can ever change and genuinely work on the marriage, but believe me it won’t be under the gun. Therefore, the timing of reconciliation is not in your favor. There is no reconciliation while she still holds feelings for another man and I really don’t think that those feelings will go away and be replaced by newly discovered feelings for you. She’ll be chasing the butterflies forever and will always be disappointed that she doesn’t feel them with you (anymore). Your relationship is over once it gets to this point.

  • Bob,

    Your wife has betrayed you. And, she feels entitled to another woman’s husband. Entitled to the father of other children. Her actions harm two families. Run Bob, run like the wind.

  • Trust me when I tell you, Bob, this is what’s coming next:

    “I feel so bad about how I left things with HeWhoShallNotBeNamed. He played no part in our marriage issues — they existed long before anything ever happened between us. I think it’s only fair that I be allowed to speak with him, he gives me an outside perspective on things that might be able to help us — as I’m sure you’re getting advice from people as well. I’m just trying to establish some long-needed honesty between us. Don’t you trust me?”

    PLEASE learn from our experience. We have all heard this.

  • Do you want the perspective of someone who stayed after a spouse’s affair? My advice: Don’t stay.

    I’m now almost 8 years out from D-Day for my husband’s four-year affair. We stayed together. I think one of the worst parts of it was realizing he had such secret contempt for me when I read one of his texts to her. Another terrible part was realizing how well he could and would lie, and how selfish he could be.

    At first, he was just sorry to be caught but was still trying to minimize what he did. Once he saw the damage to me, he seemed genuinely remorseful and has made many behavioral changes. He also immediately complied with my conditions for me staying in the marriage (cutting off contact with her, etc.).

    I’ve changed too. Not because I contributed one iota to his decision to have an affair, but because I started taking better care of myself. I hope I’m never that vulnerable ever again.

    And I’m now aware I’m married to a weak, selfish man who hasn’t had a character transplant.

    I’ll never be the same. I don’t fully trust that he’s sincere even in the consistently loving and supportive ways he has acted and spoken to me since D-Day. What a shame I can’t enjoy that and lean back on him in security and love and trust anymore. More of a shame if he’s now sincere.

    You deserve better. So do I. So does anyone.

  • Wow. Reading this is so painful. I can taste the hopium in the post. Sure is a hell of a drug.

    “You can’t spackle yourself away” is my new favorite CL quote, I’m gonna make a sign and hang it in my living room.

  • By refusing to tell you who the AP is, she is not protecting her AP or his wife, she is protecting her affair. Please wrap your head around that. It means she has zero intentions of stopping, but likely plans on going well underground with it.

    Even if she does come out with the info during MC….too late. That’s not honesty, it’s damage control and saving her own skin at that point. Either she is hoping you’ll have cooled enough not to contact the AP or his wife or if you do, no worries, she’ll find another AP later and just be that much more careful about it. Cheaters hate consequences and will do their own dancing to avoid them, aka lying and then lying some more and pretending a lot.

    As for you telling her to go ahead and talk to the AP…..come on. What you are saying to her is basically “please go ahead with your affair so long as you don’t leave me for good” – is that really how you want to live? I mean there are couples who live like that and it works for them, but I doubt you’d be writing in here if that works for you.

    That said, wrapping your mind around the mndfck that is cheating is a process. Be careful with MC though….a lot of therapists are bigger narcs than the one you are married to. You wouldn’t be the first where the therapist teams up with your cheater and makes you out to be the guilty party. So be conscious that MC might not go how you expect. A case of hope for the best, but also beware.

    Ultimately, consulting with the top three divorce lawyers in town is a very very good idea even if you aren’t ready to file today. At the very least, those are the lawyers she won’t be able to hire against you should the proverbial shaite hit the fan.

  • I could have written this two and half years ago…exactly! This post brought tears to my eyes because it is so similar. The hardest parts of this process has been for me to see him as a liar (which he is) and then not trust him (don’t trust her!). Get a lawyer. Protect yourself. Find out this OM and tell him. He deserves to know. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done but worth it. I am now divorced (and still healing) but have peace in my life.

    • This mind shift is hard! It’s taken me years but now when I see my ex I feel mostly pity (cause he has to live with his broken self). But not me. I got out and life is so much better.

  • Bob. You need to recognize that you and your wife were never really right for each other. She is treating you badly. You still care about her feelings, but she doesn’t care about yours and never did. She is a selfish, self-absorbed person who will never be able to recognize, acknowledge or care about your feelings. Is that really how you want to live?

    What triggers me is the “We weren’t communicating” part. I got that line too. Yeah, these assholes sure aren’t “communicating”. They are failing to tell us they are screwing around on us and that’s why they are treating us so terribly because they are comparing us to new and shiny. These days my ex is willing to take full blame for the breakdown of our marriage but he presents it as “I wasn’t speaking up and communicating my feelings”. Well that is certainly true, but it isn’t the full story. He makes it sound as if he was being abused and just wasn’t sticking up for himself and that if he had, then everything would have been ok, but he has completely ignored the other side of this. It wasn’t just that he wasn’t speaking up, he also wasn’t listening. Every time I brought it up when he was doing something that made me feel bad he would put me down and explain why my complaints were unreasonable and I would end up apologizing to him for being bothered by the way he was treating me (and that’s what I did wrong). He wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sticking up for himself. In all of his self-reflection and self-blame, he seems to have forgotten that I have feelings too and that our marriage never had a chance if he wasn’t willing notice and care about them. Honestly, if he had “communicated” better I think we would have ended up divorced a long time ago. On those rare occasions when he did speak up and let me know when he was dissatisfied, the only way to satisfy him would have required me to change the very core of who I am. In other words “if you aren’t willing to give up a piece of your soul for me, then you don’t love me and I can’t love you”. If it would have required me to give up a piece of my soul for our marriage to survive, then we were never right for each other anyway. There was a lot more going on than “we weren’t communicating”.

    • Exactly. They don’t listen and they gaslight you or ignore you when you point out problems that need to be worked on. It’s a statistical fact that the cheater is more likely to be the cause of marital dysfunction even before they start cheating.
      That would be because they always sucked. Most of them are emotionally abusive to some degree prior to the cheating.

    • I also think that if I had stood up for myself much sooner, my marriage would have ended sooner. He wouldn’t have communicated…, he just always sucked. And in all actuality, I KNOW ME. I know that I had to have tried communicating throughout 30 years of marriage and that he always had an evasive technique or some sort. I honestly believe that people don’t change. If the dick-ex would have been the kind “to communicate”, we would have communicated at the beginning of the marriage. Instead, he was the kind to avoid any type of difficult conversation and then come back in some way stating that I was unappreciative or that I just didn’t make the effort to understand him. So whenever I think that the dick-ex will be different with the skank, i.e., that ‘they’ll communicate’, I always tell myself, if he had been a decent guy to begin with, I would never have gotten a divorce because he wouldn’t have been a cheater. Nope. I trust that he still sucks.

  • Don’t be paralyzed by hope or by fear.
    Most relationships don’t recover from this.

    Like you, I thought I’d be the best husband ever and win her back. I gave her leeway. She abused that too, and the affair continued unabated. It crushed me even more.

    A divorced home was never what I wanted for my kids, but I was left with no choice. And I survived. And I surpassed. And my kids are ok.

    Good luck. It’s not easy, but don’t avoid the inevitable.

  • Watch the Netflix movie “the Marriage” to see what will happen…get a lawyer quickly!

    And, I understand how you feel now based on your letter. Unfortunately, if you stay this was you are going to discover her f’ing this guy and she will also have had more time to figure out ways to f you over.

    The sad truth is that The Moment you found out about her affair, your marriage was over for all time. It takes time for the chump heart to catch up to reality…but the sooner you do, the sooner you get a new life (which will likely be awesome believe it or not).

  • PS. and tell your wife that if she contacts AP at all you two are through. Except that at this point you should already be through anyway. I still remember when Schmoopie demanded that ex go and see her in person so that she could break up with him after he had already broken up with her so that he and I could reconcile. I let him go, thinking I was being compassionate and giving him a chance to see her one more time for closure. It didn’t end well for me.

  • Kara, I couldn’t have said it any better. Especially the blatant in his face disrespect. Mine did something very similar and rubbed it in my face. I left her two weeks after D-Day. I walked in on mine right after the deed. He needs to listen to CL.
    This is the way

  • Dear Problem Solver

    Your wife is not your problem to solve anymore! She has taken her love, attention, sex……and .problems to another. I repeat she does not value you and she is not your problem to solve anymore.

    Former Problem Solver

  • RUN!!!
    I “stayed for the children”.
    We ended up the same way if I had left after the first D-day.
    They aren’t worthy. Better to realize it now when you are still young than many years later after you’ve spent years with the mindfuck & start to think that you deserve the abuse. No one should be abused! Marriage is a commitment to each other. 3 people in the marriage is emotional, psychological & financial abuse.
    Be strong & get out now.
    Wishing you the best outcome possible.

  • For the cheater they LOVE this- it’s like a drug to them. It excites them. They have the adultery and they have the panicked chump running in circles. They did something bad, but they are not getting in trouble. Trouble would look like immediate divorce filing- someone walking in and serving them at their place of work. Since that isn’t happening, they think they are getting away with it. They are NOT sorry- in fact they are proud of it (ask me how I know).

    You will never have true happiness trying to “make it work” with a a cheater.

    • …Thanks,

      (Give me a name)

      How about…’DadDown (n)’ , otherwise known as Bob?

      IDK y’all, I’m thinking this fella wanted Tracy to give him a screen name maybe?
      Or it’s a Freudian slip? GIVEMEANAME!!!
      I can see that just burning Furiously in his psyche.
      A protective man would pursue that tidbit of knowledge,…personally for me, it was more like demonic possession.

      ML: “Fuck This Noise!! Hold my beer!! This won’t take long.” …and it didn’t.

      Not for the first AP’s name. He was easy. The second AP’s name didn’t take much longer either. 3 weeks Later. No wife.

      3 years later New life.

      So (Give Me A Name )(Bob)
      You’re here for a reason. It’s Divine Intervention!
      Fact 1.

      Thank the cosmos. Thank Your Higher Power.
      Thank Yourself. You made it. You’re amongst friends now.

      ABC. Airway. Breathing. Circulation.
      The 1st three things to check and treat for someone in shock. Like you.

      The first two are OK. You’re bleeding internally now and we’ve got to stop it. An operation is inevitable. Prepare yourself.

      Much Love ❤️ my beautiful Brother

  • Even if you’re not sold on ending your relationship with this person, you should still consider putting your foot down. Tell her you’ve thought about it and now that the shock has worn off a bit, you’ve decided she needs to move out. Go no contact with her for a fixed period of time. It doesn’t have to be forever, just long enough for you to deal with this initial whiplash. You say you’re looking for the guy she fell in love with all those years ago, but you’re doing that in desperation because you want her to pick you over this other guy. Instead you should focus on finding that guy FOR YOURSELF. Being cheated on drops a big bomb on your life and your pride. You won’t regain that so long as you’re competing with some stranger who will absolutely continue fucking your wife despite what she might claim. Clear your head. If she turns out to be a unicorn, she’ll be there waiting for you in a few months once you’ve had time to process all this (having dumped the other guy and informed his wife). Stay with her now and you’re just kicking this can down the road. There’s a move called “the 180” recommended by people bent on reconciling with their cheating spouses. The idea is that you can restore your relationship by playing a power move and kicking the cheating spouse out, filing for divorce, going no contact, and hitting the gym. Once they see how awesome you’re doing without them, they will theoretically dump their affair partner and come crawling back to you and agree to restart the relationship under your terms. The whole point is winning back the cheater. I’d suggest you try this method out, but with the alternate goal in mind that once you pull this 180 and jumpstart your life after this disaster, you’ll realize you’re better off without her after all.

    • Oh, not the 180. That’s just playing the manipulative game that the cheater prefers.

      I agreed with the above advice up to that point: it makes sense for anyone in Bob’s situation to get the BEST lawyer, file for divorce and majority custody, kick the cheater out and take time to get perspective. One of the most dangerous aspects of dealing with what you learn on D-day is wanting things to go back to the way before you found out. But you can’t unknot what you know. So the very best thing to do is get out from under the mindfuckery and deception and take a clear-headed view of what (who) you are living with. She’s clearly not who you thought she was. The refusal to give you the name of the AP is clue one.
      The insistence on seeing the AP is clue two. No remorse. No respect for your marriage or you. And no concern for the kids, or she wouldn’t be blowing up their home.

      1. Lawyer. 2. Kick-ass therapist. 3. A separation, at minimum, to get you past the desperation stage so you can think. The very best thing my therapist said to me was, “You can never go back.”

  • Oh yeah (Bob )(Give me a name), 1 last thing…

    Baby step No. 1

    Do NOT SLEEP IN THE same MARITAL BED ???? WITH HER AGAIN. It’s defiled.
    In fact, take it to the dumpster. Burn it in the backyard. Tomorrow.

  • Bob , why are you trying to show her the man she fell in love with. She is not the woman you fell in love with. She never will be again. She’s tainted. She’s opened Pandoras box (no pun intended) . That genie will never , ever go back in that bottle.
    My first strike . A grocery sack full of harlequin romances novels. Nothing else , no sci-fi , no detective drama , no horror books….all romance books….hmmmmm
    Second strike. She let a friend (friend?) kiss her in our own living room while I was in another room. When discovered , she said she did it because “I didn’t think you cared”…….narc blameshifting
    Third strike. Caught her red handed , said to her “If you love this guy , you need to be with him”…(How’s that for and eloquent dismissal) she turned indignant and was gone in an hour.
    Dude , it’s been said so many times before ” When someone shows you who they are , believe them.
    Yeah you need to get mad. What worked for me? Think of the raunchiest porn you can think of. Put her in the lead role. The recurrent imagery should be enough. It was for me.

  • Dear Bob,

    What I read, from your letter, is how intent your wife is on protecting both her AP and her relationship with him. If she is withholding his name from you (and yet you can bet that he knows yours and plenty more, about you) you can see where her loyalty lies. She is INVESTED in keeping the lie going–in only letting you know half of what is going on, and in keeping her AP’s spouse in the dark. Her value system is shit, and she is showing it in plain daylight, without remorse. I also wonder if it really is someone you don’t know. My ex withheld the name for weeks on end; when I found out, I learned that it was a woman I worked with. These snakes keep things secret for a reason.

    I am sorry for the pain you are going through right now. But a marriage where someone is more loyal to a lie they wove behind your back than they are to you is no safe place to be at all. Best of luck to you.


  • Ugh, this one was hard to read.

    I know exactly where you’re at in this process — you still have some hope that your marriage is recoverable. You’re ignoring the billion red flags and patiently sitting in some marriage counselor’s office while your cheating wife says “I don’t know what I want.” You’re me, one year ago, and while you’re able to write a seemingly positive and sincere letter about your “dilemma”, you’ve found this site after reading endless number of infidelity articles on the internet. You’re being hopeful, patient, and your world is falling apart.

    I feel for you man. I’ve been there, we all have. You’re in good company. From one male chump to another: you’ve got this.

    It’s going to be hard, really hard, but you are going to get through this. You are going to sleep without Valium again. But first, you have got to start protecting yourself. The time for marriage counseling is over. It’s time to see a lawyer. It’s time to start protecting your finances and doing what you can to get a favorable custody arrangement.

    It’s also time to start accepting some harsh truths.

    “I told my wife I will support her talking to this guy and even seeing him face to face on the basis there is no physical contact and on the basis we are completely honest while she figures out what she wants to do.”

    She’s already figured it out. Your wife wants to continue having sex with someone who is not you. Oh, she’ll tell you that she’s still trying to figure out what she wants for as long as you let her, because it’s awesome to continue screwing guys who are not her husband without any consequences.

    Listen to Chump Lady. As hard as it is to swallow, she is right-on.

    I know it sucks, but I promise you it sucks more to stay married to someone who can’t quite figure out if they want to stop cheating on you. You’re going to have to rip the band-aid off. Go see a lawyer tomorrow. Give your wife a divorce petition for Valentine’s Day, and take your 3 beautiful children to do something awesome while she figures that out. The you one year from now will wish that’s what you did instead of going back to the marriage counselor next week.

    She won’t tell you the other guy’s name? FUCK THAT NOISE. Figure it out on your own. Hire a private investigator to find out who he is. Talk to a lawyer.. there are legal ways to figure out the identity of the person who is having sex with your wife. Blow the lid off that shit!

    “I’m trying to show her the guy she fell in love with 17 years ago is still there.”

    Why? She doesn’t care. You need to be trying to show yourself the woman she is now… the woman who is ACTIVELY and OPENLY cheating on you, and isn’t quite sure if she wants to stop!

    “However, I’m beginning to worry that maybe reconciliation is the easy way out and I should just toughen up and split.”

    NO! Reconciliation is NOT the easy way out. It’s not a way out at all. It’s the wrong way back in.

    “Is this normal?”

    Cheating on your husband and the father of your children is not normal. It’s fucked up. It’s abusive. Feeling confused and hurt about being abused by someone you thought loved you is totally normal. Being pissed off about this is normal. Your feelings about this situation are normal.

    “Am I a chump?”

    Yep. Welcome to the club.

    “How long should we try for?”

    You should stop yesterday.

    “I just can’t have her cheating ever again.”

    Then don’t. Get rid of her. Let her abuse someone else. You don’t need that shit in your life.

    “And more importantly, I want to be with someone who loves and respects me.”

    Then do! Gain a life, brother! (see step 1).

  • Last week I went with my husband and kids to the Imax theatre to watch a movie about great white sharks. These 3 freedivers swam back to back, with great whites circling around them while the narrator tells the audience that the most important thing is to maintain eye contact with the shark. That otherwise they will always try to get the upper hand, and prefer to come at you from below or behind.
    My husband was a cheater/abandoner who returned after 16 months. He was sorry. He fucked up. And I wanted to believe.
    But right now I’m completely out of my element. I’m swimming, I need equipment to breathe, and I spend my days afraid to do anything but maintain eye contact with the shark. Everything inside of me is screaming to just get out of the fucking water.
    This is reconciliation Bob. It’s really hard.

    • Wow. Thank you for this. I hope you either have a unicorn, or you GTFO at the very first teeny little sign something’s off. Please keep us posted.

    • Listen to your instinct. It’s there for a reason. You deserve to be loved and cherished. Mr. Abandoner cannot offer that, he can only offer misery. You get one life—80 or 90 years if you’re lucky. How many of those do you want to spend maintaining eye contact with a shark?

  • I am very sorry for what you are experiencing. It is so similar to what I am going through right now, the only difference is that I found it out several months ago. Every relationship is different, but the affair patterns are ridiculously similar, so I can tell you what is likely to happen after 5-6 months.

    No remorse/no apology are major signs of where you are going in this relationship. I understand that you are hoping to reconcile, but there can be no reconciliation unless she shows remorse and huge effort to change things. Even if you get to that point, you will need to be able to trust her again, so it is a lot of work . It might happen, but it is rare.

    My husband showed no remorse either. I was just like you, in the same house with him. I thought that this will help us get closer and connect again. Our conversations were positive and hopeful. He said he was confused about what to do, but one thing he knew was that he did not want to lose me. At some point he told me that he had stopped the affair, wanted to work on us, and showed sincere affection. Until, I found out he was lying about stopping the affair. I want to warn you, it is very common for these people to lie to keep both sides at hand. My husband was an extremely honest guy until the affair. He has almost become a pathological liar since. These people can easily manipulate their spouses to get what they want; in short, both the marriage and affair.

    I did everything to remind him the woman he fell in love with 10 years ago. The more I tried and hoped that he was finally getting there, I realised that he was just taking his time and enjoying the situation. I wanted a permanent separation and he started to drag his feet saying he loves me and he does not want to leave.

    You might likely experience similar things in the upcoming months. Therefor, it is very important to make a firm decision once you are ready. Do not leave the decision to her. Like I said, she is very likely to continue both relationships as long as you you give her options. Please do not believe in when you hear “I have no contact with him anymore”. It is most likely to be a lie as long as she shows no remorse or does not acknowledge the damage she has done.

  • To All,
    this my first post and I visit daily. Bob’s situation is mine twelve years ago; I reconciled, and then she did it again. The details are cruel and horrific. Now I’m coming up on two years since divorce, have been no contact beyond kid related email 2.5 years. It’s 2:30 and I can’t sleep: in the morning my youngest of three gives important school speech, and while I’m proud I’m dreading being in same space with his mom. Even after two years the physical, somatic effects of the trauma persist: body spasms, a carved out as if with a blade cavity in my stomach, utter waves of sheer existential dread. I had separated twelve years ago, and was free, and then I went back. Reading all these notes to Bob has been so very helpful to and validating for me: reminding me of, well, all of it. There is so much hard-earned wisdom here. I’m grateful to this community.

    • Good luck with your kid’s speech today. I know the feeling you’re describing all too well. Hang in there, you got this. Keep being that awesome Dad….

    • Go in there with your head held high and peace in your heart knowing that you live your moral truth. And that my friend is priceless.

  • I just can’t begin to stress enough how little you probably know. Usually you only know .5 of 1% of what she’s actually been up to behind your back.

    I’m so very sorry. You chose a partner unwisely.

    Dump. Rid yourself of this horrid ghoul. Move forward, and yes, even though you are probably looking at having to pay her for the next however many years, realize the dating world will be much kinder to you, a man, than it is to us 40+ year old ladies who live this shit every day.

    Trust she sucks. Get a lawyer. And for the love of Pete tell other man’s wife what you know, so one day she is not on wild goose chases trying to find the truth.

  • What about getting a post nuptual agreement signed by her ASAP that states if she sees/ meets up with this guy again you get all assets and custody and don’t have to pay alimony? Negotiate down if necessary but not much and keep as much custody as humanly possible. Put in agreement that she accepts you to monitor her for a year or two or 5? Leave the definition of “monitor” undefined or as vague as possible. If you ask her to put her money where her mouth is you’ll see if she’s sincere. It’s the absolute best and really the only way for you to know what the reality is instead of hoping and wishing. I understand the great feelings you’re getting from the talks. You feel so close and even relieved, right? My ex-husband tricked me and I fooled myself, into staying after 2 D-days, I left on the third. We had two small kids, too. My biggest regret was not getting something in writing that gave me legal power to get what he promised me during those oh so wonderful, late night, “you’re the only one for me, i just let it go too, far, she’s nothing to me especially compared to you, I’ll end it with her and never see her again cause i would never put you and our daughters through this again”, post affair discovery turned out to be -BS sessions. Make her sign a legal document. It’s perfect. If she does you’re covered if (probably when) she betrays you again and if she won’t you have you answer – she has no intention of stopping her inexcusible, damaging, disgusting ways. Draw one up today and put a battery operated, GPS tracking monitor on her car undercarriage using an industrial strength Earth Magnet. You’re both on the title, right?
    I know this is “policing your marriage” and many people will disagree but I feel like while I was trying to muddle through it all and decide what to do, while still working and parenting our kids, I was policing anyway. I was going through all the work to find out who he was cheating with and when and where cause he seemed so repentent but i of course, wanted to see if he was still lying. If only I had a true, binding agreement I could have gotten so much more and what he promised me in whispers while we talked about our love and reconciliation. Lies. Lies. Lies. The next morning he turned around and met her in elementary school parking lot to screw in the back of her 4 Runner, next to her kid’s car seat (she was married with 3 kids). I had to divorce. So while I wouldn’t suggest to you that you spend the rest of your life policing your marriage, I would strongly suggest you get something in writing, right now, that will help you get what you need and custody, which is what’s best for your kids. You’ll be covered if/when she continues to CHEAT ON your FAMILY.

    • Sociopaths don’t respect legal documents, restraining orders, etc. Tracy mentioned the BILLIONS of dollars of unpaid child support in the U.S. and I’m sure the sum is astronomically high for alimony in arrears. Who else saw the “Dr. Phil” episode this last week about the divorced couple (40 ! years of marriage) where the ex husband was sending thousands of dollars to his online/fantasy girlfriends every month ? Not paying his elderly ex wife what she was due but had plenty to pay the Nigerian Yahoo boys. She was the one who wrote to Dr. Phil hoping he would her ex “see the light”.

      Get out now.

  • Bob,

    I hope you are reading this comments. From one chump brother to another, I’ll try and give you my advice.

    My XW was pulling this stuff to do – “figuring out what she wanted” and I did the same thing as you. Trying to show her the man she fell in love with. At the time, I only knew that she had drunkenly made out with the guy and she agreed to never see him or talk to him again. Flash forward – here is my advice:

    1. There was way more going on then she told me. It was a full fledged physical affair, not just a one time drunk mistake. Along with other affairs. (There is always more that you don’t know)

    2. By taking time to “figure out what she wanted’ – she was just buying herself time to set up the exit she wanted. Made sure she had the place, the job, the community, and the commitment from the new guy before she came clean about what she wanted.

    She was monkey-branching. I wish I would have been strong and followed my instincts in the beginning. The bomb of the whole story, followed by her easily moving on to her new life sucked.

    Good luck brother. This is the absolute worse thing in the world. But stay strong, we have your back.

    • Also 3. She told me she stopped seeing and talking to the guy. And I had “nothing to worry about”. Surprise, that was a lie. She didn’t stop seeing him or the affair. She just got better at hiding it.

  • Whatever you think is “awesome” will turn to horrible real fast if she ever gets actual consequences for her actions, like divorced. Trust me. She will turn on you like a cornered honey badger if she’s ever really held to task. And it won’t be awesome, it’ll be terrifying and exhausting and soul crushing during a time when your soul is already pulverized. Ask me how I know.

    I wish I’d gotten out early. I wish that for you too.

  • Hands up! I had forgotten about the final goodbye cliche which followed dday 1.
    OW came to our house and sat crying while I was kind to her…trying to nice him back by being all bigger person and understanding. I agreed to a farewell meeting that afternoon and he dropped me and our 3 year old son off in town on his way to meet her.
    Well he later admitted that the farewell had extended to banging her in a field!
    And it wasnt really the final farewell as they met for another one 2 days later.
    These things suck and in the history of time has seldom if ever saved or improved a marriage.
    Even if it is OVER…completely and without protest. Even if the apology is deep and sincere. Even if therapy is booked and attended by the cheater. If, if, if all the right boxes are ticked then it is still an almighty uphill struggle to regain an iota of trust and get past the pain.
    With hindsight it is so clear…but I was a chump. By the way I won that particular pick me dance…til I got chumped again.

  • She’s not telling you his name to make it easier to continue cheating with him. Cheaters HATE exposure. I was ruining ex’s reputation by telling what he did. Not by him actually doing those things.

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