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Did She Cheat Because She’s Bipolar?

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Untangling the skein of fuckupednessHi Chump Lady,

You have a very unique perspective about infidelity that I appreciate, even though it directly contradicts everything I’ve tried to convince myself of to stay with my wife.

My wife had an affair at work, literally at work, for almost a month. After she was forced to finally confess by taking her phone and threatening to text him pretending to be her, she attempted suicide by trying to overdose on antidepressants which were prescribed to her by a doctor after she confessed and of course became depressed.

She was kept at the hospital for 3 days and then Baker Acted and had to spend a week in a behavioral hospital where she was diagnosed as bipolar. What’s odd about that is just before her attempted suicide, she shared with me research she had been doing online about what may have driven her to behave so erratically when she had the affair and she was convinced it may have been because she was bipolar.

I stayed with her and we did marriage counseling and she’s been going to therapy and taking bipolar meds now and she’s actually really treating me and the kids super good. She takes care of everything and goes above and beyond all the time and constantly shows remorse and thankfulness that we’re still together. She has been a phenomenal wife and mother for over a year since this happened. She was a great wife and mother before it happened also, just didn’t have the extra oomph that remorse causes I suppose.

I have often questioned if I have been played this entire time. Did she really want to die? Was this all a ploy to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to make herself and myself feel better? Will she be able to keep up this phenomenal wife and mother thing for much longer if is faking it? Am I a chump that was easily tricked into staying with a cheater that was 100% only out for a fling of excitement?

What do you think?

Question Guy

Dear Question Guy,

I think you’re asking the wrong questions. You’re untangling the Is She Bipolar skein, when you need to ask yourself — is this relationship is acceptable to you? Was the cheating a dealbreaker? Do you feel loved? Respected?

Yes, but, but… extenuating circumstances, Tracy! Bipolar! 

Okay, do you feel safe in a relationship in which someone needs to take her meds to stay faithful to you? What if her meds become less effective over time or her disease worsens? (As it sometimes happens.) Then what? Will you be tiptoeing around her condition? Are you one treatment modality breakdown away from another coworker affair? If she’s the sort of person whose mental illness is expressed through sex with coworkers, does she think it’s fair of her to stay married to you? Or anyone?

Do you have a post-nup? You’re a bit vague on the specifics of her remorse. What’s “above and beyond”? How is she showing you she’s thankful you’re together? Words are nice. Basic adulting, like taking care of her children and not ignoring her husband for her phone, should be givens. (We call wanting adulation for such ordinary feats of decency “bitch cookies” here.)

She has been a phenomenal wife and mother for over a year since this happened.

By what measure? Is this your relief that she’s not cheating speaking? Is it phenomenal or is it contrast?

Here are my thoughts on this particular skein:

1. ) Mental illness does not absolve people from responsibility. If you’re psychotic and you hit someone with a crowbar because you think he’s a demon, you’ll still be arrested for assault. Mistaken Demon is still injured. Actions still have consequences. Mental illness may be a mitigating factor in terms of a legal sentence, but it’s not a pass. Treatment for illness isn’t a punishment, it’s a necessity for the public good and for the health of the person suffering. It’s really irrelevant to Mistaken Demon if the person who hit them with a crowbar is treated or not. The injury persists despite the mental condition of the person who inflicted the harm.

2.) The presence of a disease does not absolve you from having to make hard decisions about your personal health and welfare. As the injured party in all of this, you have to consider your own well-being. Again, we’ll use a mental illness example. If your wife were schizophrenic and the voices in her head told her to burn your house down, you would not hesitate to grab your children and run. You would protect yourself. Your wife’s schizophrenia would not prevent you from protecting yourself, even though it’s the illness that is clearly causing this crisis. You would wonder how safe you could ever feel, even if she got treated and never thought to burn a house again, you’d wonder — is she thinking about it? Is she capable of it?

No one can make this hard call for you, but if you are going to consider your future, it’s fair to consider your wife’s mental health in that equation. It cannot both be the excuse for her behavior and something that is invisible when considering your marriage.

3.) Is it mental illness or is it poor character? I have several close family members who suffer with bipolar. I have a cousin who locked himself in his apartment for three months and made obsessive Christina Aguilera fan videos while imagining he was royalty. He was committed and now functions on meds. My personal observation of this illness is that while manic, or depressive, people with bipolar are sidelined by it. They don’t have the sort of executive functioning and planning skills to conduct a clandestine life. Cheating is not an impulsive thing, it’s a planned thing. So I find it odd that her bipolar is manifested by an affair with one individual. For an entire month.

When my cousin was King, he was King to everyone. He couldn’t be manic to just some people and not others.

I am not a mental health professional. I’m a skeptical person with critical thinking skills. If your wife is bipolar, it could simply be that she is both bipolar and a person with lousy character. The two things may not be related. Plenty of people have mental illness and don’t cheat. Plenty of people cheat who don’t have mental illness.

4.) Her suicide attempt should not be a factor if you stay or go. Suicide threats are not uncommon after discovery. My advice to everyone is if your cheater threatens suicide, call emergency services and have them committed. If they’re saying it to manipulate you, you’ve just made the cost of that manipulation very high. If they’re saying it because they mean it, or have attempted it, they will get the help they need.

Question Guy, in your case, her suicidal tendencies ARE NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Good article here and here on this exact dilemma. You should not feel emotionally blackmailed into this relationship.

It does occur to me that her mental health crisis immediately sucked all the oxygen out of the room and put all the attention back on her. Now it isn’t what you suffered, it’s about HER suffering. And, hey, she’s sorry. But she’s also very delicate right now. Best not to push things lest she relapse is the subtext I’m reading. We call that the Timid Forest Creature ploy here.

Question Guy, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought on this difficult decision. Another good resource for you is  Out of The Fog on personality disorders. Best of luck.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Suicide attempt, my ex, pretended to do that, pretty convenient isn’t it, they have good timings don’t they. If your ill do they care or feel sorry for you. I don’t think so.
    Bipolar disorder, they spend money like its going out of fashion, but do they rely on you to sub them, i suspect my ex is bipolar but i think he has poor coping skills, emotions etc. I was diagnosed with bipolar, not medicated, but i have to be financially stable, calm etc. A lot if mental illnesses have the same symptoms, each time you see a different psychiatrist they can diagnosis you with a different condition. A symptom of BD Is loosing 10% of your body weight.

  • I know a woman whose bipolar episodes has her in hotels all over the country spending money. Here’s the thing. She was obviously ill to her family, friends and neighbors. She wasn’t just bipolar in one place. She can’t work because her mental issues get in the way. On meds she functions ok. Off meds she’s skips town again.
    My question is why did hers only show up at work?

    • Hi, I just posted a comment a few moments ago but I wanted to share this part with you to hopefully get your take in it. I’ll paste it here….

      As far as the Bipolar diagnosis goes, she had been spending a lot of money leading up to the crisis and even opened up a secret credit line on a website to go on a shopping spree, in my name. The doctor and subsequent doctors we saw afterwards for second, third and so on opinions all credit the diagnosis on the spending sprees, the suicide attempt, a family history because her grandmother, and of course the recklessness of the affair.

      • Spending was a VERY big issue for my ex too. We had damn good incomes between the two of us and he nearly ran us aground even then. Suffice it to say that with just 50% of that previous income now I have tons more money saved. His pension is more than twice mine, the gf works and they still can’t make it. It is a very very big factor in bipolar (but not all big spenders are bipolar either). Good luck to you. It’s hell!

        • Same here Attie! With less earnings I have more money.
          AND I have my pension. However, when sparkledick retires his pension will pay for just his health insurance or his rent or his bills (meager diet, no AC on utilities bill, no vehicle, etc.)

          I think this urge to spend is less mania and more part of their dishonesty and narcissism: sparkles (and my cheating mother who is always in debt) loved to walk into to fancy shops and be coddled by salespersons and make people think he was rich or something. It’s a way of feeling powerful.

          Question Guy, read about the difference between Real Remorse or Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse in Tracy’s book.

          Good luck, I hope you sort things out. I used to wish sparkles would have real remorse. specially for our children and because I am in my sixties. I don’t anymore. In fact, in spite of decades of marriage, he now feels like a stranger to me. A classmate that you vaguely remember. I don’t care what happens to him. If he showed up at my door I would scream for the neighbors to get the police.

      • Hi QG
        The fact that she spent money a lot, but did it under your name secretly, does not sound bipolar to me. Bipolars in their manic state do not think that what they buy is wrong whatsoever. Plus they dont contemplate is, but just do it. No time for thinking about a scheme to go undetected..
        Just as CL says; the behavior spills over in every facet of their life. Not just in 1 place with 1 person. Believe me: if your wife is manic, you will find there is something very very wrong with her and would be calling for help.
        In my opinion a lot of people with a bipolar diagnosis are wrongfully diagnosed borderline personality disorders. I think that fits better under the circumstances and her responses you describe.

      • IMO, opening a credit card without your knowledge and in your name is not Bipolar. That’s theft. She knew what she was doing was wrong, so she hid it from you. And the affair. God knows what else she’s been up to that you don’t know about.

        I’d get a weighty post-nup in place. If she balks at that, that’ll tell you a lot about her and her alleged mental illness.

      • The diagnosis of “bi-polar“ by a professional leaves little doubt that your wife is indeed bi-polar. But as others have said, there are other sociopathic behaviors here that can’t all be blamed on being bi-polar.

        It’s interesting that you suspect she’s faking it. I wonder what else you might have observed that would lead you to believe that. In my case, there were a couple of instances when my then-wife would gasp and almost swoon with supposed remorse, but something about it just didn’t ring true. Once, in a weak moment (for me), she asked me to hold her and she began quietly sobbing. But it was so utterly unconvincing, like a child play acting, and so obviously staged that it took a Herculean effort not to call her out right there and tell her to cut out the phony act.

        With time and distance, and with a clearer mind, I came to realize the full extent of just what an extreme narcissist and sociopath she really was/is. Again, I wonder if you’ve observed other behaviors or slips of the mask that led you to believe it’s an act.

      • Sir, this woman is very calculating. I would bet the farm this was not her first rodeo and it won’t be her last. Get your credit reports and find out if she has taken out other accounts you don’t know about. She knows what the hell she is doing. She is playing a part.

  • Wow. Very good points to consider and you are spot on about bi – polar disorders. I hope he chooses to help himself and move on without this individual. Best of luck to him and his kids.

    • Question Guy, I left a long term marriage (34 years) to a disabled Veteran. I’ve lost friends and family over what seems to them a capricious choice. How could I leave a sick man who so honorably served his country?

      I left because Adultery is abuse. I had to live with the abuse of adultery. I had to live with his multiple cruelties. It wasn’t acceptable to me. So I filed, took the dog and left.

      I left him and life is so much better. Escaping his gaslighting and abuse is worth any public condemnation. I will not sacrifice any more of my life to his military service or his image. Now my goal is to live a good life for as many years as I wasted in a marriage where I always waited for the next devastating discovery of his infidelities. Don’t do that. Don’t be the “marriage police”. Don’t walk on eggshells. Don’t wait for the next time.

      • Excellent points. My spouse also thought having some issues that were not his fault gave him carte blanche to be as abusive, dishonest, and selfish as he wanted. I think he believed he was untouchable due to his issues. And he got a lot of leeway for years from me (and employers and friends), but no one could put up with it for long. Some people did criticize me for leaving him, but aside from his family members (and even his siblings supported me), none of them knew him well.

        • It was very revealing when i finally started calmly calling him out on his mean behaviour (i wasnt recognising it as abuse yet). I got self pity and rage (never charm). But the last time, a couple of days after the rage subsided i said calmly in a quiet moment that if i was making him so very unhappy he should go, leave me in the family home until our youngest was 18, then we could sell and go our separate ways. He was shocked and with some anger told me if i was just nicer to him he would be better. Very telling. Needless to say his abuse escalated significantly after this. It certainly started me on a very slow and reluctant and painful journey out that culminated 2 years later in my planned and clinically executed exit when the opportunity arose. But it still took all my courage and more to carry it through and leave it to him to try to make it right if he wanted to (he didnt – thank goodness. If he’d made one conciliatory move I’d have gone back). It really does come down to honestly facing the truth of what your relationship really is or is not and who your partner really is or is not and answering that question “is this acceptable to you?”. People can help and support you and tell you the truth of what they see.
          But boone can make the decision for you.

      • Good for you 33! I divorced finally after 30 years. And though I thought I was finally at ‘Meh’ (divorce was 5.5 years ago), I just had an unexpected recurrence a week ago. I was moving some subscriptions around from one account (that I set up years ago with the dick’s name) to my personally-named account so that I had better access to everything from one screen and one logon ID. While doing so, there was a subscription that I didn’t recognize, but rather than cancel it, I moved that subscription and figured that its purpose will be gleaned shortly. After I had done it, I immediately got upset with myself and panicked. I thought, “Oh my goodness! It’s probably the dick’s! He’s going to call me up and be angry with me and say, ‘WHY DID YOU DO THAT!!!'” I’m telling you my heart raced and it took me nearly an hour to calm down. I kept telling myself to stop panicking, and I repeated over and over again, “That man has no more control over you!” And yet apparently he still does. Geez! What a DICK! Fortunately I was only on egg shells for about 30 minutes where it waned after about 60 minutes total. And now, if the dick was to call me, I’d just tell him the circumstances. And if he yelled, I’d say, “I’m no longer your wife. You can talk to the skank like that, but not me” and I’d hang up. Life is so much better when you’re not walking on egg shells. I think it messed with my brain. Maybe those fight-or-flight reflexes got tied to the dick. Do you ever get panicked? Or does that eventually go away too?

        • Amazon Chump, yes! I have a very definite fight or flight response to being around him. Being in the Courtroom with him is an anxiety ridden ordeal. He is blocked on all my media. I changed my phone number. I forwarded the one text he sent me to my lawyer. I figured out I am afraid of him. I spent decades placating him. Now I see him as the narcissistic bully he is. I don’t have to tolerate a second more of his abuse. No Contact is the solution for most of my triggers. Neither does Question Guy. He just has to take off his rose colored glasses and lay down the spackling trowel.

          Hang in there, Amazon Chump. My therapist tells me it is a good idea to plan my responses to him. I like, “I don’t wife for you anymore.” and “Fuck off cheater.”

        • AmazonChump – I’m experiencing it right now. I’m in Ontario, Canada, we just shut down our schools for three weeks in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. I’m an educator, so I’m off with the kids. My ex works for the federal government, and he just got news of being able to work from home. He’s let me know that he can take the kids some days.

          He texted me this morning about when to get the kids tomorrow and proposed 11 or 12. He usually has them on Tuesdays after school until bedtime. I have no problem with him spending a longer day with the kids. But, then he texted to clarify that he wants the kids for the night. Now I’m in a panic. I worked really hard for the arrangement we have now. I have the kids 65% of the time because they spend all school nights, except Thursdays, with me. He gets them Thursday nights and then through the weekend when it’s his weekend. Then he has the Tuesday night visit. Our son has autism and it was found that he did much better in school when he had a more consistent sleep schedule at home (I kept the marital home down the street from the school) on school nights. A family counsellor helped us cope through the changes in arrangements to arrive at this. It’s been this way for two years.

          My ex resented that it gave me more than the 50/50 or 60/40 access that absolves him of child support. So, I chose not to collect child support from him in order for him to agree to the current access. I make 40% more than he does. I don’t need his money so I don’t enforce child support with him at all, and he hasn’t really tried to spend extra time with the kids beyond what’s outlined. But, I know he resents being vulnerable to me.

          So my heart is racing. I waited five hours to text him back that I will drop off the kids to him at 11 tomorrow and they will be returned at bedtime. I can even pick them up if it is more convenient. First, there is no way I want my son sleeping there, then here, then back there on Thursday, then back here because it’s my weekend. Then, my ex will want this done every week. Second, what if our government-imposed social isolation lasts more than three weeks. There is already talk that school might be declared over for the rest of the school year (the province of Alberta just announced that their school year is done). I don’t want my ex using this to get a change the current access.

          So I’m in a bit of a panic, anticipating the worst, and wondering what happened to the strong woman I used to be. The one that this man accused of being so controlling, a-type, emasculating. I’m trying to hang on to my shitz because I’m afraid of push-back from this man.

          But, no worries. I’m standing my ground with this. I don’t care about extended days. I’m not trying to keep the kids away from their father, but I absolutely will not budge on changing the sleep schedule. When he has them for his one week vacation in the summer (which he is entitled to two weeks, but last week we confirmed our summer schedule and he only asked for one week – God forbid he uses up two of his three weeks annual vacation on being with the kids), he can do what he wants then.

          But I really don’t know why I cower whenever these sorts of things come up with him. I get that it’s trauma-related and I’ve gotten so much stronger, especially now that it’s all in writing in the legal separation agreement, but I still anticipate moves from him, whether or not it’s real.

          • I’m so glad you’re standing up for yourself and enforcing the rules. But I really know the panic you’re going through. Maybe you can play-act the expected (and possibly unexpected) scenarios that you’ll go through when you see him in person. That way you’ll have your bio-feedback contained because you know what you’re already going to say. And please let us know if this tactic is successful.

          • Stick to the regular timetable, in your childrens interests. Don’t let him upend your schedule for his convenience. Huge boundary violation right there. Better still, keep the kids and tell him that it probably isn’t good for them to be moving from house to house at all as it will add significantly to their risks of exposure to COVID-19. Especially if he is a Disney dad who takes them out lots of places. You can resume their schedule when the curfews and bans are lifted. Don’t discount the fact that him keeping them for the night might be a prelude to him saying that they have to stay with him now because they may have been exposed …

        • Amazon Chump, I get it too but less and less, and for shorter and shorter periods. My son lately decided to live full time with me and not have contact with his dad any more. The other day a letter came from my son’s school that evidently went to both parents. I received a snippy email from ex’s work email that I had neglected to block as it was ‘never to be used for private communication’ (!). Deep breaths. Remind myself I do not have to answer. I slowly tell myself that he has no say or or sway in my life, and now my son is 17 he has no say or sway in his life either. He can demand all he likes, if he wants information he can get it elsewhere other than from us. He did nothing to help said son when he did have time with him but ignore him except to criticise and belittle him. Then I blocked the work email address. THEN I got to work arranging tutoring for son (who has some anxiety issues, has suffered long term emotional abuse from his dad), discussing his future life aims, how he would find it least stressful to get through his final school year, having an interview with deputy headmaster to make some practical changes to subjects to ensure graduation and keep him on the pathway post-school that he would like to pursue. No judgement, no recriminations, just honesty and practical help to remove unnecessary anxiety and stress from my son and still give him the chance to follow his chosen path. And if it doesn’t work out and he flunks, well so what? He can try something different. He’s such a good kid, he almost hugged me outside the deputy’s office after we’d sorted things out, until he remembered he was at school!

      • 33years, my husband took anti-depressants for some years to help manage his anger. I did everything i could to make life easy for him (like I had done the whole of our 25 year marriage). He weaned himself off them without medical supervision, then without me knowing went back on them, blaming me for it in the middle of a fight. That really got up my nose, his anger problems were his own not mine. He had everything but was convinced apparently that he had married too young and that I had seduced him and stolen his youth. D*ckhead. I no longer have contact and it does make it a lot easier to steel yourself to use the “F*ck off” type response. If any response is ever needed.

  • My ex husband was not diagnosed with a mental illness and would have manipulated the Clinician/counsellor if he’d ever put himself into that situation; his image management was closely self controlled. He cheated all the time over at least 20 years of our 29 year marriage; he’d gaslight and love bomb me and I would stay! I had my heart broken over and over but I stayed and with hindsight, absolutely nothing really changed, he never made any real, prolonged effort to be the man I hoped he was/would be! I changed though – I swallowed or buried my self respect, my self esteem was rock bottom, I didn’t even know who I was in the end!! Even at the end when I said enough was enough and drew a line in the sand, he couldn’t or wouldn’t make the change in his behaviour. I know now that he wasn’t capable of change – ever. I could have gone on compromising myself, taking his cake crumbs, loving him when he was nice to me, but I guess that I just grew tired of pretending. The last 6 years since the split have be very hard indeed but it’s got slowly easier.
    It really is about what kind of relationship you want Question Guy!

    • Sue T
      I know the pain you went through. Sounds very similar to my 35 year marriage. Because I loved him I thought
      he’d stop seeing the Owhore but he didn’t. I ignored red flags for 2 years lowering my self esteem. Once I found them together at her home I knew my mental and physical health was at stake.
      It’s been hard but it does get a little better with time.
      Good luck to you. 🍀

  • Oh Question Guy, I feel your pain. I spent years trying to get my ex to accept medication and treatment for his bipolar disorder. Focusing on that was a way for me to deny to myself that he was a genuinely terrible person who was deliberately cruel to me and my children. Focusing on his diagnosis and refusal to be treated meant that I could idealize how great things could be in the future. It also allowed me to put up with ever intensifying levels of CRAP in the meantime. Finally my counselor told me “Bossy, it doesn’t really matter if he is or isn’t bipolar. What matters is that he treats you terribly.”
    For the record, I did not stand up for myself and my children. He got worse and worse and finally texted me in the middle of the night (on our 10th wedding anniversary ha ha) to say he was moving in with his girlfriend.
    I WISH I had just started focusing on myself and my kids and trying to protect OUR mental health. Best of luck to you.

  • Thank you so much for responding. Sorry for the vagueness in some of my question. As far as the Bipolar diagnosis goes, she had been spending a lot of money leading up to the crisis and even opened up a secret credit line on a website to go on a shopping spree, in my name. The doctor and subsequent doctors we saw afterwards for second, third and so on opinions all credit the diagnosis on the spending sprees, the suicide attempt, a family history because her grandmother, and of course the recklessness of the affair. Thank you also for the additional resources you shared. They have all been very enlightening.

    Also I should mention that she has been very against me blaming myself. Naturally I go into and out of that cycle a lot and everytime she takes full responsibility of her actions and won’t let me take any sort of blame that I try to put on myself at times. A common phrase we both have shared throughout this ordeal is that her disorder is a reason but not an excuse.

    As far as what I meant by being a “phenomenal” wife and mother now goes, I did note that she was a great wife and mother all the way to to the incidents. Now she just does extra things in a way. It’s hard to explain. She tries to take more interests in all the things I like and find ways for both of us to experience them together much more than she used to. She genuinely seems sorry for what she did and works everyday to try to prove it to me.

    Thank you again for responding. I seriously became a huge fan of yours very quickly and spent hours in one sitting going through the archives here which is why I wanted your opinion so badly.

    • My ex never felt sorry for what he did. He never expressed any remorse. You have something to work with here; she is acknowledging that she hurt you. There is no harm in being cautiously optimistic. But should she cheat again then you will have to self protect.

    • Like Tracy, I highly recommend Out of the Fog by Dana Morningstar. My serial cheater ex lied and gaslighted me for 20 years. Somewhere on this website someone recommended this book and I read it. The lights went off and I realized what I was dealing with. I had no clue that my ex was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Plus I learned so much about personality disorders and how to protect myself and my kids. No matter what you decide to do with your marriage, it is good to be educated and prepared. Best of luck Question Guy!

    • Well, she may not be a unicorn but she might be a horse of a different color. You still need to be prepared for what behaviors she may exhibit in the future if her medications become less effective.

      You may also want to read “Healing from Hidden Abuse” by Shannon Thomas.

      I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world, QG.

    • Not to be a Debbie Downer but I think the suicide attempt was just to manipulate and take charge of the narrative that she wasn’t a selfish cheater, she has mental health issues so basically while she says how sorry she is, it really isn’t her fault. Your wife may actually be borderline or bi-polar but she cheated with another man and with your finances. She’ll do it again. Waiting for the other shoe to drop is no way to live. I would demand a post nup and be very interested in seeing her reaction. I mean really, you are giving her another chance after she royally screwed you over. What is she doing for you? As for the good wife and mother of late argument, she’s supposed to be a good wife and mother, just like your supposed to be a good husband and father. She shouldn’t get a star on her forehead for doing what she is supposed to be doing.

    • The way to make her responsible is to have her own the consequences. Was she using the credit cards to buy coworker gifts or hotels? Sorry, you don’t have an actual timeline on the overlap of events. Check every purchase. She took great measures to abuse you financially. How much of a spending spree are we talking about? I’d get the prenup ASAP, get tested for STD and check every last purchase on those cards. File for fraud on those cards immediately. The medication, diagnosis, and suicide attempt don’t excuse the consequences. Do a credit check on both of your names.

      If you’re here you’ve already considered divorcing. Actions are dealt with serving up a consequence. On the one hand you think she’s changed and on the other you question the justification. I’d move forward with consequences.

    • A therapist suggested my Ex was a “sex addict” and he jumped on that option when presented. I was dragged through mind-fucking partners therapy while he claimed remorse, rigorous honesty, attending 12 step meetings and therapy. After 8 months he couldn’t keep it up and became more abusive, manipulative and lying more than ever. Oh and hiding money.

      Please always keep in mind your wife may be using bipolar as a convenient EXCUSE because she got caught. My ex and I saw 5 different therapist, individually and together. All were happy to give him the lucrative diagnosis of “sex addict”. Very few health practitioners offer a diagnosis of cluster b personality disorder absent psychopathic violence. There’s NO MONEY for them in such a diagnosis because the recommended course is to get the hell away from these people.

    • So what happened with the coworker? Is he still there? Is she still there? Was he married? Was his spouse told?

    • I’m sorry. My husband was very remorseful when he was caught. (His girlfriend’s significant other called me and played his voicemail message to her from her phone.) we did all the marriage counseling and he acted really remorseful. We had children x2 with fertility after the D day! Meanwhile, he was stockpiling porn at work and watching adult movies there too! They had several lockers full of porn magazines. I saw them in the bathroom one day at his place of employment. Because it’s manly! Then they hired a female and all that stuff had to be hidden or purged for fear of discrimination and grievances.

      No bipolar diagnosis just porn addicted, PTSD, and a bunch of other things he now claims he is cured of. Yeah right, with a few mere months of treatment. (he was caught by me downloading pornography to our computer, after I went to work while our children were still at home. They could have caught him masturbating and seen the videos.). Sure! We are now in the midst of a very ugly divorce, custody agreement, child support three ring circus. My advice is to bail! It’s not what you want to hear but if you love your children, RUN!! Let her prove herself and regain her place in the family. If you really think she’s reformed, get her to sign the paperwork for a postnuptial agreement. If she refuses, divorce her lying 🤥 ass. She may just be playing with your mind. They’re very good at it.

  • My ex was diagnosed bipolar and invalided out of work with it. It explained an awful lot of his behaviours – the constant spending, the need for constant excitement, going days and days without sleep. But taking lithium and still continuing to drink like a fish was never going to work was it. At the end of the day he was still a violent alcoholic and he ended up cheating. I hung in so long thinking “oh he’s mentally ill, I’ve got to help him” but in the end only he could take the treatment and drop the booze. His bipolar showed up EVERYWHERE, not just at work. In the end I knew that the next beating could be the last one and when he ran off with the skank I went straight for the divorce. I guess what I’m saying is there comes a point (maybe) that you realize you can never forgive or that the way he/she treats you is totally unacceptable and you have to let them go. That’s what they did to us when they cheated anyway isn’t it!

  • If a stranger assaulted you and put you and your children in the ICU, would you be wondering if you should be their best friend and invite them to all your birthday parties?

    The confusion we experience is from being assaulted and having severe trauma inflicted on us and our children by the person closest to us that we should be able to trust NOT to do that, of all the people on planet Earth. The ultimate mindf**k.

    If I would not accept this treatment from a stranger, if I would not want my daughter to marry someone who could do this, I NEED TO GO!

    I am the one who needs mental health treatment in this situation. Let the traitors worry about themselves. That’s all they were doing before they got caught.

    Below is a link to a new book that I regard as an excellent companion to Chump Lady’s work. We need all the help we can washing our brains after the brainwashing and indoctrination we underwent marrying cheaters.

    Cheating in a Nutshell: What… https://www.amazon.com/dp/1948158000?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

    • If someone takes a knife and stabs you in the back, does it matter where they got it? How big the knife is? If it’s a Henckels or a santoku with a granton edge? Whether it came from Williams Sonoma or on sale at Macy’s? I think all that speculation can be a distraction from a painful realization that someone knifed you in the back on purpose.

      She’s proven to you that she is hazardous to your emotional, mental, psychological well-being. And that of your children.

      He chose not to talk to me, to get divorced first before seeking out others. He chose to rip off my time and my life, which I can never get back, and hold me hostage by pretending to be married. He stole my freedom of choice, my vote, my opportunities to have what I wanted while making sure he was enjoying what he wanted.

      It’s been helpful to me to look at the damage I sustained and remember it was inflicted intentionally, not accidentally.

      SHE MAY BE BIPOLAR BUT EVIDENTLY SHE KNEW IT WAS WRONG. That’s the test of sanity in a court of law, right Mr. CL?

      • If your child had mental illness and attacked you would you write them off? Most people consider their spouses ‘family’. It’s so damn complicated.

        • My mother abused me. At 40 I had had enough and ended my relationship with her.
          She has been diagnosed as a true narcissist and an alcoholic. She does not treat those conditions. It wasn’t complicated for me.

          A spousal relationship is not the equivalent of a parent/child relationship. They are both family but different relationships. I don’t see the issues as equivalent either. Infidelity would not present as an issue with my child. If I had a mentally ill child who was abusing me, my response would be different and depend on the circumstances.

          I believe infidelity is abuse.
          I support ending a relationship with a spouse who is mentally ill, demonstrates the capacity to know right from wrong, and chooses to abuse their partner in any way.

          I don’t sanctify the concept of family for its own sake.

          I disagree that we should accept any and all behavior from family members, maintain family relationships regardless of the cost to the individual family member. I think it’s tragic that in many instances a family member can get away with what a stranger would be arrested for. I think making allowances for the unacceptable because someone is family actually perpetuates
          the problem….

          ❤️

          • You’re correct Velvet Hammer, making allowances for the unacceptable because someone is family actually perpetuates the problem. However, as a mother it’s so, so hard to distance yourself from your abusive child. In my case, I have ‘been distanced’ from my youngest son. Like my dick-ex that discarded me, my youngest son ‘discarded’ me about 2+ years ago because (I can only assume) I had called him out on his inappropriate behavior like…, cheating on his wife, and then after divorcing her, going through girls like a revolving door. And though I tried my hardest not to bring up my displeasure in his shenanigans, and kept to what I thought were benign subjects, like “what are your plans? Are you going to finish college?”, apparently that was just too much for him. He stopped answering my phone calls or responding to my texts. I haven’t heard from him since. Then my middle son happened to mention the same to him about 2 months ago, i.e., “You need to finish college”, and he also got ‘shunned’. Two weeks after he got shunned, he got a text from the youngest saying, “That’s why I stopped talking to mom. She wouldn’t let up on me.” My middle son heard the threat behind the text and has since been very careful not to say anything that could be construed as ‘pressure’ so the ‘baby’ won’t be angry and stop talking to him too. My middle son’s wife doesn’t agree with pussy-footing around just so the ‘baby’ will keep in communication. She said, “Fuck him!” But she’s not the baby’s sibling or the mother. And my oldest son also pussy-foots around so he also doesn’t get on the ‘baby’s’ bad side. We are perpetuating the behavior (or at least they are since I’m shunned indefinitely.) All I do is pray that the ‘baby’ eventually grows up. If he ever tentatively allows me back in, I cannot say that I would act my normal self with him. I know it would be rewarding bad behavior, but when it’s your own child, it’s hard not to perpetuate the problem.

            • I agree that children are probably the hardest. But that’s exactly why I made therapy part of my life at 22 like a doctor and a dentist. I don’t cut my own hair either! My health insurance and my therapist were the two non-negotiable line items that I have always made sure I had money for no matter what.

              I have used the professional guidance of two brillant and beloved women therapists since 1985. I don’t try to figure out big deals on my own. If I had a Big Deal situation with my daughter, my response, as with every other situation I am inexperienced with and baffled by, would be with their guidance. They’re the first people I call when new s**t happens and I am uneducated how to handle it. They haven’t steered me wrong yet.

              Have you gotten outside help with your situation above?

              ❤️

            • PS…being a mom means teaching our kids what is right and what is wrong….I don’t know if anyone is ever too old.

              Same brilliant therapist told me I had to let people fly around and be mad. Setting boundaries guarantees anger from people who don’t have any and don’t want any. (Your son?)

              Being on this website and reading for so long, I admire you for standing up against infidelity with your son. SO MANY PARENTS stay silent and enable this, which is part of how we all end up here!

              “They may not like you but they’ll respect you” was something I heard in Al Anon years ago, about speaking up.

              I’d rather be respected than liked. Especially if I am disliked for standing up for what is right.

              I’d be willing to bet that while he’s
              flying around being mad he respects your integrity even if he’s unaware of it. Keep me posted.

              I know you know the hardest part of being a parent is tolerating anger when you set a boundary……

              • Will do! Thanks! It’s so nice to talk to people that have also had so many boundaries crossed. They can offer advice from personal insight. Speaking about my troubles with my siblings (who have never dealt with any of the crap that I’ve had — and I thank God that they haven’t), I don’t feel that their advice is really good. At least with people here on CN, they understand betrayal and all the emotion-rape that goes with it. They may not be able to tell me what to do, but they can commiserate. That makes me feel not so alone. Thank you!

        • Consider the following :
          Because you are blind in your eyes , doesn’t give you the right to poke out my eyes .
          Because you are crippled and can’t walk doesn’t give you the right to take a bat and cripple my legs .
          Because you are sick in the head , does not give you the right to fuck with my mine.

          This is my response to anyone who infers because someone is “ mentally ill “
          I should accept abusive behavior .

          FUCK.THAT

    • Mental illness is contagious. Read how the people here ask what happened to me and now have to reconstruct themselves after years of abuse from a mentally ill person. Sometimes I feel bad about divorcing a mentally ill person, but what good am I to my kids if I am destroyed? Maybe you have unicorn, but probably not, if you decide hang in there be ready to go if it happens again. I just gave this advice to my nephew.

      • Yep. I ended up with 2 auto immune diseases and C-PTSD because of staying 24 years with a XW with mental health issues. A lot of disfunction was modeled for my kids. I had to put on the oxygen mask.

  • Bipolar doesn’t appear overnight. You must know the symptoms of it by now. Did she display the symptoms of BPD before her affair ? That would be key.

    • “Bipolar doesn’t appear overnight. You must know the symptoms of it by now. Did she display the symptoms of BPD before her affair ? That would be key.”

      ^^^^^THIS!^^^^^

      *psst*

      The acronym for Bipolar Disorder is BP. Borderline Personality Disorder is BPD. We don’t want to mix up apples and carrots. Plus some people can have BOTH and that is no fun for anyone concerned. Or it shouldn’t be fun.

  • Yeah – no – she knew what she was doing was wrong. That’s why she hid it from you.

    It doesn’t matter if she never actively yanks down another person’s undergarments or not. The question is whether you want to stay with someone who very deliberately lied to you about something that was such a personal violation.

    It’s your call and your life. It is completely ok to tell her, the kids and the world that NO – fucking around is NOT “good for the marriage” and that you no longer trust her. Also, if you decide to stick with her and the ongoing mind-fuck, that is a valid decision too. Not one I suggest you embrace.

    Even people with mental illness are supposed to consider and/or be held accountable for the consequences for one’s actions. What consequences has she endured?

    “She was a great wife and mother before it happened also”

    Not really. She was expending time, energy and resources on her fuckbuddy. I think this is “sunk costs” talking.

    Your STD panel came back negative, right? You asked for the blood test for herpes?

      • Oh yeah – definitely do that. Some of the sites are having a sale in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. May not stand up in court, but at least you will have fewer doubts on that score.

        Ugh.

  • Hi Question, I know a bit about bipolar but I’m not an expert. Several of chumps who are often here are, and I’m sure they’ll express their opinion.

    As far as I know, both sexual inhibition and excessive spending can be symptoms of bipolar. However, BOTH usually don’t include long term premeditation in only in specific environments/ circumstances. Meaning, as CL pointed out to you it takes a repeated premeditation to cheat on somebody with the same person (colleague) and be aware enough to hide it from others. Think Britney Spears showing her commando private parts. I believe that was bipolar.

    By the same token, it takes both premeditation, consistent effort and clevetness to open a credit card on somebody else’s name. Usually, those affected spend openly as if there’s no tomorrow.

    Sorry, I personally don’t buy your wife’s story. And attempted suicide is a very common story after discovery. I’m not saying I’m right though.

  • This one really hits home. My XW was a “phenomenal mother” as well. She was also a wonderful wife to me. Then out of the blue she told me she was unhappy, threw a scorecard at me of perceived offences, and told me she wanted a divorce so that she could marry an already married man, with whom she had spent three days of time in the past two months. In my desperate search to find a reason for her sudden and bizarre change of behavior, I started looking at her prescriptions for treating anxiety and depression. It just so happened that at the time I noticed she was projecting and blameshifting me, her internal medicine physician had changed these medications. On top of that, she started going out regularly and drinking copious amounts of alcohol with her best friend (enabler). One of these medications was a benzodiazepine, which can trigger manic behavior when combined with alcohol. So I believed I had found my answer!

    Bringing this concern to my wife’s attention, she took herself off all these medications, but was still drinking and running around in public with her married AP. After a crazy incident occurred with my wife coming on to another woman’s husband in front of the wife and their friends, my wife curbed her drinking for fear she may lose custody of her children. A month later, she had the audacity to tell me she was thriving without meds, all while she continued to rip apart two families and parading around in public with her married man.

    This once very religious woman showed deep down she had no moral character. The same could be said for her family as they eagerly accepted the AP into their lives once his divorce went through, even though our marriage had not yet been annulled. What I eventually found is I had been deceived all around. Neither my XW or her family were as devoted or as faithful as they claimed to be. Nor did our marriage mean much to them. I also found out there were incidents of infidelity by my wife going all the way to the beginning of the marriage. That is why our annulment was eventually decreed.

    So the bottom line is her affair and “bi-polar” behavior were purposeful, and planned. She sought out an affair partner, and admitted to other affairs in her private writings because she was “exploring” herself and her wants. Incidentally, she also hid $75,000 of hidden spending. My XW easily lied to my face, and was intimate with me right up to DDay. She pretended to be the perfect mother and wife, all while singing in the church choir every week. But all the while, behind my back, she was seeking greener pastures, and used depression to justify her behavior.

    • XP-Chump, your story sounds remarkably like mine. We were a Catholic homeschooling family of 8. Like you, my wife out of the blue gave a list of supposed (made up) offenses, and demanded a divorce to hook up with someone she said she had just gotten together with (no, it had been going on months and I had my suspicions). Rather than alcohol, she began smoking pot. Well, at least she stopped trying to hide it so much. Her family, and some of our supposedly Catholic friends have embraced the AP and congratulated her. Last weekend I trolled her Facebook account to see who was still friends with her so I could unfriend them on my Facebook account. I have her and her family blocked, and set up a fake account to check her page out. It was shocking. Now I know who I can’t trust. My wife also used depression as an excuse. There was no depression. She did not display any signs of depression. It was a made-up excuse. She also had a history of faking injuries to avoid housework. For example, she complained of numbness in a glove pattern on her hand, which is non-anatomic. Like you, she was intimate with me up until D-Day. The mental illness ploy is image management.

  • I have a friend who is Bi-Polar. She was undiagnosed with it. During one manic episode she ran off to Trinidad to be with a man. She lives in the NW USA. After the weekend she realized what she did and went home.

    When she got home she was admitted to a psych hospital and diagnosed with Bi-Poplar. Got on meds, got mental help and got on SSDI.

    Her XH divorced her anyway. She has tried to reconcile with him for 7 years and he has refused to reconcile with her.

    My friend (she is very repented and has taken 100% responsibility for her cheating) said it is his right to divorce her. She is heartbroken. But still has to live with the consequences. She said Bi-Poplar isn’t an excuse for what she did.

    Because of her attitude I am still her friend. But my mom, who is a very close friend of her mom, detests what she did. Calls her stupid for what she did. Bi-Poplar people can be impulsive but to have an affair is a whole another thing.

    I have some mental health issues But have never cheated. You have to see if this is acceptable to you. My XW has mental health issues and had multiple affairs. Don’t be me by Excusing her cheating because of mental health issues. My XW just got more abusive as time went on.

  • I dont buy it either. You may have something to work with here, you may not. I would get a post nup and then see how serious she is.

  • Please be careful. My X finally got diagnosed with Bi-polar after our marriage was already destroyed. He actually reveled in the diagnosis: me, me, ME!! I can’t help all those horrible things I did! And will continue to do because I can’t help it!! Never mind the meds: they are boring. They make me “normal”, and who wants to be that? His diagnosis became just another excuse on which to pin his poor behavior.

    Where does one draw the line between BP and flat out character defects? I don’t know. I DO know that I don’t have to put up with it. I believe my X had serious character defects in addition to BP. At this point, not my skein to untangle, thank God.

    In my limited experience with him, and with a few friends who have BP, there is an unfortunate tendency to go off the meds because, hey, I’m feeling better! I don’t need these anymore. IF your wife actually has BP, and has medication for it, and IF you want to stay in relationship with her, she must take her meds every. single. day. She wouldn’t skip insulin if it was required, would she? Same thing. BP is a chronic condition, it cannot be “cured”. At least, not yet. It can only be managed. Period. And you will either have to trust that she is taking her pills, or stand over her and watch her do it. Is that really what you want to do?

    • Yes people often HATE tbeir mood stabilizers. Once my ex was saying that he didnt want to take meds because he didn’t want to be “an overmedicated zombie”. When I told my best friend that she said “Well, better to be an overmedicated zombie than an undermedicated ASSHOLE!”
      Ha ha ha. It still makes me laugh even all these years later.

      • He didn’t want to be “an overmedicated zombie” because it was all about him. If he had truly cared about the havoc he was causing in your marriage, he would have continued the medication. Fortunately for you — NOW — he was just an unmedicated asshole because you’re free of him. And you’ll never actually know for sure if he had bi-polar disorder. It may just have been his excuse.

  • If she realises that was a huge error of judgement, is remorseful, values her family and thankful for another chance,

    and you are prepared to give her another chance, I wouldn’t destroy your family over a month.

    Its those long term relationships and ongoing secrecy that are more difficult to explain away.

      • That and the fact that she never admitted to it until she was caught. The secrecy. The lies. I seriously doubt she’s remorseful. The only remorse she has is that she’s sorry she got caught and now she’s having to walk the straight and narrow path. It has been a year since she was found out, so I’m betting she’s getting antsy about the restriction and is getting ready to find some adventure again.

  • CL makes an interesting point and this story really exemplifies it. No one wants to be the one to ditch the sickness and health part the their vows…at least none of us chumps. Our cheaters would, obviously. But the real question is where the line between sickness and selfishness lies. If someone has a mild mental illness, it may not be detectable as such early on. People are moody, some more than others, and bipolar disorder could appear to be a manageable personality quirk. We all have them. Many adults have undiagnosed ADHD and get accused of interrupting and hijacking conversations, and are quick to anger (and often quick to calm down). Adults with depression can lapse into periods of being less responsive and engaged, which can look like distancing. to another in the relationship. Medication can temper all of these things, and one would expect patience on the part of a partner. Almost invariably both parties in a relationship have their flaws. So, if someone struggled with these personality problems and you, as the partner, were near the breaking point, I would say that, of course, you should stay. I think that more severe bipolar disorder is associated with bouts of promiscuity but…as CL pointed out…not planned, monthlong affairs. I’m not a psychologist, but it would seem to me that narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathy are more consistent with that behavior and I don’t think that many of us feel the same drive to empathize with those two disorders. Maybe she wouldn’t do this while on her medications. But then, is she willing to stay on them for the marriage? Or is she going to say that they negatively impact her in some other way, ask you to understand, go off them and then cheat again. Only you can decide that. But I would caution you to take CL’s advice. Mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder are usually a bit more random than a premeditated affair. A one-night stand and bipolar, maybe. But an affair is usually the act of a sound and selfish mind.

    • I just want to add a Narch having a partner with ADD / ADHD gives them a smooth path for gas-lighting and controlling behaviors. Can’t find XXX? You know you probably left it somewhere / lost it. I told you that, you just where distracted and didn’t hear me. You didn’t tell me that, you just think you did. You are so disorganized… I will handle the finances since you can’t keep track of anything.

      The ADD co-morbidities of anxiety and depression are just icing on the narc’s cake.

  • It was her actions that destroyed the trust in your marriage, it’s her actions that have to happen for you begin the process of rebuilding trust in her.

    Set your boundaries / requirements , clearly communicate and document them so she is well aware of the consequences, and if she violates (on or off meds) them then you can plan your next steps accordingly. Consider / investigate a post-nup agreement so consequences are contractual.

    It’s her responsibility to make sure she is on meds and that her meds are working appropriately. You certainly can be a bellwether for her but ultimately it’s on her and her medical team to make sure her health issues are managed.

    Is she willing to take responsibility for her actions with not just you but your families, your friends and her community? Is she willing to be vulnerable, willing to sit / process other peoples disappointment and judgement of her? Is she willing to do this for however long it takes for you to reach a place where you can trust her again. (And it’s not going to be next week or next month… more like a year … or more.) Is she OK with the fact it’s not going to easy or fun for her and she is going to have to commit 100% to rebuilding your marriage and family.

    IMHO there are multiple “tell” opportunities – does she balk at any of these requirements? Is she being fully transparent with her time, her technology? Does she shirk away from, discard or redirect any valid criticism? When she falls short in forgivable ways (forgetting to call, not being on time, etc), how does she deal with that? We all make mistakes – the tell is in how we deal with it.

    I know that CN doesn’t like the idea of relationship policing but I know when I wanted reconciliation it was what I needed to see from STBX so I could start to rebuild my trust in him. (He refused most of my boundaries and blew through the ones he did agree to.)

    YOU decide what is best for you and your family. YOU decide if reconciliation is an option. She lost the option to being “WE” or “US”. She has to EARN the right back.

    Added thought / question…

    Why do we treat mental health and physical health differently? If your partner had cancer, lupus, MS, etc would you rationalize their infidelities? I know I wouldn’t.

  • XW was getting treatment for depression and displayed paranoia and obsessive compulsive disorder with hair pulling. Later, I discovered she was taking an anti-psychotic as well. Not very forthright about any of this and declined to let me get involved in her treatment with her doctors. She started drinking heavily, which I believe corresponded with an escalation in her affairs. She stopped her meds and her disagreableness at home spiked. Told me she wanted a divorce and I discovered the affairs.
    She got destructively violent at home in front of kids and I got a restraining order to kick her out! Terms of modifying the restraining order included seeing her Dr. regularly. She got healthier over time, but was still a pain in the ass with fantasies about how our marriage was going to end in her favor.
    In my chumpiness, I would have taken her back if she had stopped the affairs and changed jobs. (affairs partners were at work) Fortunately, she screwed that up and saved me from years of torture. In retrospect, I believe her mental health issues and affairs fed each other.

    • that’s potentially because her own disorder prevents her from thinking rationally. In manic (and depressive) episodes the individual is run by emotions. It falls back on character to make the right decisions…so I still maintain this is someone who has it in her to fuck coworkers. Other bipolars go on gambling sprees or try to write down a whole orchestra piece…the fact that harm to someone was involved makes some difference here.

      • She was thinking rationally enough that she was researching the condition online. That’s NOT typical of someone in the throes of a manic episode.

        My point is that she’s full of shit. Even if she is my bipolar, she never reached the point of losing her faculties.

  • Nobody here is a psychiatrist who can give a 4th diagnosis. The fact is that various mental disorders tend to occur on a sliding scale and different individuals can act in different ways. There is no one size fits all but for the very extreme cases. If 3 different psychiatrist concluded that she is BP, then I’d defer to the professional opinion you already have.

    So where does that leave you Question Guy? Stop focusing on her and focus on yourself. It wasn’t just the cheating, but also the stealing and putting you in potential financial jeopardy by opening those hidden accounts, etc. This is a lot to process and you’d be insane if you weren’t terrified that this can happen again. Moving forward in either direction (staying or going) means that you need to deal with the fallout of this kind of betrayal and sorting out for yourself whether or not you can or should get past this. You’ve seen what she is capable of and you can’t stick your head in the sand and ignore it like it didn’t happen just because she is being wonderful now. It’s really why you are here in the first place.

    Problem is that other people’s horror stories are not your story or your situation. You need to step back and work out for yourself where you are at. If you choose to go forward, there are changes you’ll need to make to your finances, to her access to such, etc. Talk to a very good accountant how to manage that. Also educate yourself well what it means to be in a relationship with a BP and understand that yes, meds fail, they do have lapses, etc. This is never going to be a perfect road forward even if she genuinely has the best determination in the world to control her mental illness, so be sure you are prepared to handle that IF you choose to stay. If you decide that this isn’t a way to live for you – always waiting for the other shoe to drop – then know that you are well within rights to walk away for good and it wouldn’t make you a bad person for doing so. Only you can figure out what works for you, but that means that you have address your own issues and fears and uncertainty and resolve it one way or another.

  • I stayed for years with my husband who developed serious mental health issues. He did incredible damage to my self-esteem as he blamed shifted his unhappiness on me. He would move out overnight, get more depressed and I’d take him back etc- all kinds of unhealthy behavior. He’d be wonderful for a year while taking meds then he’d go off the meds and the same cycle would happen. I blamed his saying that he didn’t love me on his depression etc. Anyhow, if I had to do it again I would leave right away. I don’t think mental health issues are an excuse for treating your partners extremely poorly. Many people have bipolar and they don’t cheat. Leaving is easier said than done I know. We had little children. All I know is staying with him did an unbelievable amount of damage. Sometimes when there are children involved, you never know if the person is staying for you or just because they don’t want to break up the home with their young children. So even if they stay and it’s not for you, you end up eating subtle shit sandwiches throughout the years.

  • Question Guy, this post and the advice of CN is all spot on. Like many chumps, I too tried to find excuses for my XH’s multiple infidelities. I actually found myself hoping he had a brain tumor, bipolar disorder or early Alzheimer’s! But I am a mental health professional, and in my experience dual diagnoses are actually common. You can be bipolar and have narcissitic personality disorder. Which came first? Who knows? Once you recognize the behaviors of a narcissist, you see their actions in a context that you have been living with throughout your marriage. It’s the narcissism which makes the marriage break down. Narcissism is the deal breaker. Unless you are codependent and hang in there as I did, hoping for some reason, some excuse, some life preserver. I was married for almost 35 years and am now divorced for more than 5. I can now look back at my sporadic journals and reframe all the Narcissistic Moments. They are not pretty. There was so much drama going on, so many crises that we had to work together to address, in things I thought were outside our marriage and weren’t we a team, solving problems?! Now I see he caused most of the drama, the crises, the financial devastation by his actions. So now, I go back to that wisdom of Actions Speak Louder than Words. Listen to your own inner voice as you pay attention to her actions. Take your time but protect yourself.

    • Spot on Meg! I am not free but deciding I was no longer willing to solve his problems put on the right path. I am no longer responsible for him and his mistakes!!

  • QG – The only reason that she confessed was because you took her phone as an attempt to send a message from her phone number to the dick to get him to respond to show that the affair WAS STILL ONGOING! Else you wouldn’t have found out about it and the affair would have continued. And then she panicked and stupidly – AND STUPIDLY – took pills to end HER pain, NOT YOUR PAIN — HERS! After the behavioral hospital stay, she admitted to herself what a stupid stunt it was to try to commit suicide. It was a huge inconvenience to her self-entitled life. I’m with chumplady about basic adulting and bitch cookies. Don’t give her bitch cookies for ‘being a good mom’ and treating you ‘and the kids super good’! THAT’S HER JOB! Maybe she has been a phenomenal wife and mother for a year since this has happened, but THAT’S HER JOB! I hope for your sake she really, really is a unicorn, but it was my experience that when I found out about his infidelity (he only admitted to it after I found out), and that when I was going through a divorce and he realized everything he was about to lose, did he ‘appear’ to be remorseful and seemingly become a model husband. That lasted 1 year. The second year he started slowly reverting back to his selfish tendencies. By the 3rd year I was starting to walk on egg shells again trying to keep him happy and not be angry at me for doing something wrong. Fortunately at the 4th year point I started getting suspicious and checked his phone calls and noticed that he had been in contact with the skank for at least a year. I divorced him. In a way I wish I had divorced him the 4 years prior, but in a way I’m glad that I didn’t. I know ME. Had I divorced him 4 years prior, I would always have doubted that I was too hasty and that I should have given him another chance when he appeared remorseful and that he was a changed man. After giving him that 2nd chance, I realized that people do not change and there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that I did the right thing to divorce the dick. I hope that the fabled unicorn really does exist for you, but if it doesn’t, then be prepared to go through with a divorce without hesitation. I don’t believe in unicorns. I do believe that she’s only remorseful…, until she gets bored again. When that happens, she’ll be out spreading her legs for another man. And the next time she’s not going to try to commit suicide (because she knows that was stupid), she’ll just complacently say, “Well I was never happy, and I have a right to be happy.” The difference between you and me is that my children were grown and gone. Yours are still young. Are you going to model bad behavior to your children? What are you putting up with that your children are seeing as acceptable? And are they going to allow someone else to do the same to them because ‘it’s normal’?

  • I am not a shrink, but am familiar enough with this disease to know it sounds a little off – it seems there should have been some other signs besides the cheating. But, if she was diagnosed by professionals, maybe that’s enough.

    CL didn’t really address the remorse piece. I followed CL’s guide for genuine remorse verses GINR to decide whether to stay pr go. It was clear I was not getting real remorse. I don’t think the narc cheater can keep up remorseful expressions for long without slipping into GINR. If you have read the signs of true remorse, and she is CONSISTENTLY exhibiting it, I think it just boils down to a question of whether you are able to rebuild trust.

  • A young woman (now deceased) who was like a daughter to me was married to a man with bipolar disorder. He went off his meds and did a lot of crazy, awful stuff, most of which was directed at her with rage and cruelty. None of his behavior for was a secret, except for his whereabouts while he was full-on manic. His family had opposed the marriage because they were afraid he would be destabilized, but their cruelty and ostracizing of the couple actually produced what they most feared. My point is that true bipolar disorder requires medication, careful monitoring, and structured routing.

    I say that to make the point that Question Guy’s wife is probably bipolar. She may be fine on meds now. But he shouldn’t assume that she’s permanently “better.” If she’s taking meds, it’s unlikely she was faking her disorder. But she may well be on her best behavior because divorce is expensive and will require her to do the extraordinary work of single parenting during her custody time.

    CL, as always, has the right questions: “Is this relationship is acceptable to you? Was the cheating a dealbreaker? Do you feel loved? Respected?” And if this is her “second chance,” what dealbreakers do you have in place? Have you seen an attorney about your rights and what’s best for the kids if she goes back into a manic phase? Where are the boundaries, the lines, in what you are willing to accept?

  • I am bi-polar. I did not cheat. My ex claims my illness caused him to stray. It cuts both ways. If someone wants an excuse to leave, they follow the script and cheat. They lack character and are not happy from within and so they seek the greener grass to fill the emptiness.
    I know my boundaries and take my meds. It is like diabetes, something doesn’t work right in my body and so I take care of my health. It doesn’t matter that it is the brain or pancreas issue.
    I keep waiting to get manic and clean the house… lol.

    • Thank you so much for chiming in!! I’ve heard the expression, “If you need an excuse, any excuse will do.”

  • My father was bipolar, and wouldn’t take his meds. Life with him was hell. He was physically violent and verbally and physically abusive. I once pulled him off my mother when he was choking her. She wouldn’t leave. My siblings and I all have FOO issues from living in this dysfunctional mess.

    In one of her posts, Chump Lady says that if one partner is not able to be present in the marriage–for whatever reason, including mental illness–you can’t have the reciprocity a marriage requires.

    Life with your wife may be good…now. Bipolar is a tricky illness, so life with her may go down hill later. I suggest you decide now what your boundary will be. Bipolar swings tend to get more wider (higher highs, lower lows) over time. What will it take for you to say, “I’m sorry; I know you’re ill but you are unable to do what is required for a healthy marriage and family. This situation is not acceptable to me, and we will have to divorce.”

    I also suggest you get a post-nup. It’s prudent to protect yourself and your kids, especially when your wife has already shown that when she’s manic she spends money.

  • I agree about everything, except your wife’s illness being your responsibility. It is, if you stay married to her. In sickness and in health. But if you felt that you didn’t want to anymore or couldn’t, an ethical way to opt out exists and it’s divorce.

    But I also would not dismiss AT ALL what your gut is telling you. The simple fact that you are doubting “was this all a very articulated ruse?” makes the chances go up and, well, it would be within borderline territory to set up articulated drama, so it puts you back to square one.

    No one can tell you what happens tomorrow. If you have it in you to give it a go, give it a go, but be prepared. Financially, logistically, legally to step out as soon as you need to. Same advice true for anyone.

    I think when it’s time you leave is the time you just leave, you know?
    Good luck!

  • My husband did have bipolar, he was also an asshole. Believe me being the super supportive spouse rarely pays off with these types. He had a medical doctor on call, a life coach, a psychiatrist and a cognitive therapist. I made sure his life was as stress free as possible, he barely worked because he couldn’t hold down a job, I provided a very nice life for him all the while i dealt with his anger rages at me, his constant need to buy things and things and more things, his making every holiday or special event hell and I was always the understanding doting wife. Guess what it got me, nothing,

    After dday number I don’t even remember I remember him pulling out the “bipolar” card as his excuse and I finally had the light bulb moment that was this: he wasn’t in a crazed mental state like a Schizophrenic break, he very carefully planned, hid and executed his MULTIPLE affairs. For a guy that claimed he was too “sick” to remember to take out the trash he was somehow capable of keeping up with dozens of sex meet up sites, hidden cell phones, multiple hidden email accounts and juggled multiple women he would hook up with while I was at work or traveling on business. As bad as I thought it was it was t until after he died that I learned ALL OF IT and let me tell you it was worse than any nightmare you can dream.

    Trust me if they are sane enough to hid it because they know it’s wrong, it isn’t mental illness, it’s bad character and you can’t fix bad character. Run fast, run far, don’t look back.

  • It seems to me that Question Guy has already decided to give his wife another chance and that their relationship is acceptable to him. I agree with others who have stated that he should put together a plan to be executed when his wife cheats again.

    I know a young lady who is playing the waiting game. She caught her fiance cheating; now he’s exhibiting remorse, going to couples therapy, doing the assignments. She is giving him another chance, saying she won’t leave him until she has done everything she can.
    I was like that too. A nightmare reconciliation of 4 years that should never have happened….but I wanted to try. What a waste of time! However, I did not have Tracy’s book. My young acquaintance does. I hope she reads it.

  • Question guy, while I was reading your note to CL it seemed to me that you really hope/think that maybe you have a unicorn. And from the comments most people think you do not. I have been reading CL and CN comments for a long time, and have read over and over again about how people stay with their cheater and later regret it because cheating happened again and they felt they wasted many years. I think most people here just don’t want you to have to go through that.

  • Question Guy,

    How can you REALLY know what’s in her soul?
    When you’re not around? The dick-pick technology and work-around apps available today seem custom purposed for cheaters. Burner phones, etc. I found a few of those with saved messages BTW. You cannot un-hear reality just as you cannot un-read It. Pain Eureka

    The sexual acting-Out was like a teenage rebellion IMHO. My xw was 12 when she left me. She’d found the greener pasture.
    The “You don’t tell me what to do” type. A covert challenge or revenge for some perceived slight is what I saw when the mask fell off. Exuberant from covert orgasms. What a mindfuck.

    The spending. Oh let’s definitely go there!!
    When xw’s daughter got married , xw intercepted the mail and took my (new expiry) credit card. I was unaware it had expired until I tried to use it.
    I was shocked to find she’d spent $9K+ on the event planning. I froze the account immediately and confronted. “Oh but you said I could”! 👈. See that!? Great example of Gaslighting. And Fraud.

    I paid $11K to settle a court action that placed liens on our land for an auctioneer debt.

    $4K to settle a secret credit card debt (court action) about to garnish her (new job) wages.

    I paid to bury xw’s mother. So Yeah. Surreptitious Financial malfeasance is common.

    In hindsight I’m now saying what was I thinking?

    What EVERYONE ON THIS SITE HAS IN COMMON is that we were all utterly deceived by someone we thought we knew. THEY LIVE is the sci-fi movie (starred Roddy Piper and Keith David) That is the closest I can come to describing “the mask falling away”. Demonic possession? WTFK

    Keep reading. Chameleon recognition is an acquired skill. ICD-PX470

    • Great post Marcus. The deception is SO layered it’s surreal. When I think of the steps he knowingly took to make me lose my home, forcing me to move and leaving my daughter homeless it’s nothing less than evil.

      When his slut ran me off the road in her new car I was shocked to him staring through black soulless eyes of pure hatred when I reached a ref light.

  • My friend’s ex was also diagnosed as bipolar as he cheated and left her for another woman. Mine was diagnosed as being a “sensitive man”, whatever that means. You may have something to work with here but I think it’s a way to deal with her guilt. No one can predict if she’ll do it again but be very careful with your family. My friend’s ex has had a magical recovery from his bipolar once he took her trust fund and married his twu wuv.

  • Yeah, cheater ex had a bipolar diagnosis too. As a former psych nurse I believe it because he was prescribed lithium, started to take it and it worked. He started to even out. Then he decided he didn’t like how he felt “evened out”. So much for meds. During that time he was still a colossal asshole and I continued to line up my ducks to leave.

    You all know the rest of the story. I’m not saying that everyone who is bipolar is dangerous, but some who are untreated with comorbid personality disorders can be.

    Anyway CL hit the nail on the head. Is this acceptable to you, having to live your life around her “fragility” and having to ignore your own needs and feelings?

  • My ex thought I was bipoplar because I got so angry with him when I discovered all the lies and cheating going on. I was so disoriented and was suffering PTSD that I would literally just black it out and try to move on from all the non-sense and gaslighting. I was on terribly unstable ground thinking how I can figure out my life post D-Day. Of course, with his standards my anger was not normal had to be labeled as bi-polar. He’s such a jackass. Still can’t ever take accountability for any wrong doing. It’s laughable now how much of a loser turd he is and he seems dumbfounded I no longer react to him, because a) I just stopped caring about him and b) I don’t care what he thinks or spews out of his cheater mouth.

  • in situations like this, I tend to make decisions on what I know to be true. Here, you KNOW she cheated on you and stole money from you. You THINK she did this because she’s bipolar, but even if that’s correct, you KNOW then that her coping mechanism for her disorder is cheating and stealing.

    I know very little about bipolar, but in my personal experience, the folks I know who claim to be diagnosed have this uncanny ability to turn it off and on. Like, at a family function: bipolar! At a hospital being threatened with involuntary admission: not bipolar! I dunno, maybe that too is part of the disorder.

    I used to be a real “till death do us part, in sickness and in health” believer, but, how much suffering is enough? Are you and your kids content?

    Truth is, if my ex had shown true remorse I would have made it work. Maybe that’s what you have here. But, no matter, you’re gonna be on high alert for years.

  • My bi-polar diagnosed ex was also very understanding and kind after d-day 1. In tears, he would say “I never realised how much I would hurt you. I could NEVER do that to you again”. He repeated this many times over the subsequent years, along with marriage counselling, letting me know exactly where he was at all times, avoiding being alone with women, lots of communication and full disclosure. Because of this, we had a very close relationship and partnership. He was a very good, present Dad and family man, a unicorn!

    At d-day 2, he told me that I should never have believed him. He spent the 7 years between 1 and 2 in stealth mode. Maybe not at first but there were two or three more women and I was so blinded by his fake declarations (and actions) that I didn’t realise.

    If you stay, make sure you decide now that you will walk away next time and let her know this is her one and only chance. With the decision already made, it was easier to move on without pick-me dancing (it also benefitted the kids). I am not sure about the post nup because my ex told me about all of his infidelities, I have never found evidence, I only had his word. If we had a post nup, we would probably still be married now because he was an ‘expert manipulator’ (his words) and an excellent liar and I would be none the wiser.

    On untangling, my ex was also diagnosed with ADHD, Major Depression, Dysthymia and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The bi-polar was diagnosed by two different psychiatrists based on depression (being the low) and affairs (being the high). If you look into NPD, you will find those same symptoms but it is a much better fit for my ex. If it is NPD, get out! Nothing will ever change.

    It is OK to move on even though there is a diagnosis. You may have vowed to care for her in sickness but you did not agree to accept abuse (cheating, lying, gaslighting). As well as reading all the great books mentioned, spend some time working on yourself, reading and listening to podcasts to figure out what type of behaviour you accept from others, why you do it and how to create boundaries so you are treated with the love and respect that you deserve. This will help you immensely either way you go.

    • Eliza, with all due respect to mental health professionals and people who are affected with mental health issues – but your ex’s diagnoses just don’t make sense. You can’t be really diagnosed with dysthimia and depression as they are one and the same thing – dysthimia is a low level depression.

      • Yes, you’re right, they are both forms of depression but different intensities. All of the diagnoses spanned 16 years and were from 4 different psychiatrists and several psychologists. Some said one thing, some said three and others said a completely different thing. The diagnoses were also different depending on how he presented at the time.

  • it seems to me that you’re not completely trusting of her, otherwise you mightn’t be asking for advice here. are you worried that things now seem a bit too good to be true, or is this just residual suspicion after having been cheated on before? or something else?

    do you have any evidence that she may still be cheating?

    mental illnesses are like responsibility buckets for cheaters. claiming a mental illness makes it much easier for these people to seem remorseful. as though they are just the poor victim of a monster that controls every aspect of their lives. but it doesn’t really control everything. this is obvious when you just take stock of the cheater’s life. do they have a decent job? spouse? kids? house? car? friends? a university degree? social skills? why would something so controlling only sabotage a single aspect of someone’s life?

    why did she go looking for an excuse for her behaviour? does she genuinely not understand her motivations or does she want to obscure them?

    a truly remorseful person is able to summon the courage to be vulnerable in front of the person they’ve hurt and own their actions 100%. there’s no need to ascribe them to some other entity.

  • Do you know you can get proof of infidelity?
    Do you know you can get the peace of mind you deserve?

  • OK so I’m just curious here. It seems like the large majority of you are saying that she was not in fact exhibiting signs of bipolar mania. The topic then must shift to whether or not the mental health profession and the professionals involved are a hoax or not because like I stated, four different doctors all agreed that she did show classic signs of a manic episode. They credit their diagnosis with the affair, the spending, the suicide attempt and the family history because her grandmother was also diagnosed. Could she really fool that many doctors, or are they all phonies anyways in most of your eyes?

    • Yes it is possible to fool physicians. They do not have years of time with this woman and they can put too much stock on her family HISTORY rather than the person sitting in front of them who WANTS AN EXCUSE.

      Even if she is bipolar, look at how it manifested. She lied about her identity to get a credit card in YOUR NAME and racked up spending on it. Have you reviewed the receipts? How and on whom was YOUR money spent? Plus she CHEATED. She didn’t get obsessive about bicycling or writing a book or collecting stamps.

      So if she is bipolar and has a relapse in the future you have more of the same to expect. Identity theft, financial theft, adultery with all the risks of STD’s and unplanned pregnancy.

      Get your kids DNA tested. Their medical histories may be incomplete because you aren’t their biological father. They are still your kids, regardless. But she may have cheated more than once. This was the first time she was CAUGHT and she may have had reasons to put on a very convincing (and DISTRACTING) show for you and the crisis team in the psych ward.

      If you decide to carry on, get a post-nup drawn up that ensures stability for you and the kids. She goes. Kids stay. She pays child support. She loses equity in the home and no portion of your retirement money.

      She chose not to “forsake all other” at least once. You really don’t owe her another chance to rob and gut you emotionally.

      Plus the kids learn that robbing & cheating has consequences.

      It is your life and theirs to consider. Do you really think she is teaching them honesty? Respect for themselves and others? That cheating hurts them?

    • Question Guy,

      I don’t think anyone here can be an authority on if your wife is or is not bi-polar or counter her doctor’s diagnosis. While some here are mental health professionals (I am not), no one here knows your wife and most mental health professionals are reluctant or just refuse to “diagnose” someone who is not their patient.

      I think what CN can be is an authority for providing you with suggestions / actions to protect yourself and your kids as you move forward, ongoing emotional support and a community that fully “gets” what has and is happening to you.

      You have been in this for a year with her being treated, showing remorse and showing commitment to your marriage. I am wondering if you sitting on the cusp of wanting to get your marriage / home / family back to a state of trust / normality / emotional security but are scared shitless to take the leap? I think I would be.

      I have only been reading CL for a year and chiming in to CN for the last several months but IMHO this is a group where most members experience is that if stay, for whatever reason, you will be cheated on, lied to and abused again … and again… and again. CN’s warnings are an attempt to prevent you from further pain, abuse and heartbreak but, Question Guy, that risk / reward analysis can only be done by you. (Ideally with the help of a great therapist…not your marriage counselor, YOUR individual therapist.)

      You may have a unicorn. However if she is a unicorn, she has special needs due to her health issues and due to those you may not ever be fully able to trust her. Again it’s up to you to decide if you are willing to continue your marriage under those circumstances. And guess what? At any point in the future…YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND.

      If you stay, I really think you should get a post-nup. At least talk to a lawyer about it. In my mind, it takes on some of the responsibility of being the “police” and hopefully can provide you emotional, financial and parental rights security. If your wife refuses to discuss, consider and sign the post-nup that also will inform you as well.

      My last piece of advice based on my personal experience – if you do get divorced now or in the future do it before the kid’s are teenagers. It’s a shit show everyday.

  • Yeah I got stuck on something similar for a while – did Dr Narc cheat because of PTSD? For me working towards a divorce is the best option, grey rock stops the manipulation best I can and I am no longer interested in knowing why he behaved the way he did!

    Why is it only after finding out about their appalling behaviour the diagnosis begins? Searching for something to blame me thinks 🤔

  • Please notice that she didn’t attempt to commit suicide DURING the affair- you know because she was all torn up about the horrible thing she was doing. The suicide attempt occurred because she got CAUGHT. It was the fear of consequences, getting caught and losing her “fun” thing she was doing (as in doing you and the other guy)- yeah that’s the weird twisted gross thought patterns cheaters have.

    It’s your choice to stay. Just realize that cheater persona is still inside the outer shell that chooses to show you.

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