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He Says ‘I Better Behave’

Dear Chump Lady

My husband cheated on me, I didn’t find out through his phone (he doesn’t have one, he doesn’t like them). Didn’t find out though his laptop, (again doesn’t have one of those either). I found out though him.

He was feeling guilty, so he told me, his version of it, which after he told me and I asked questions it seem to change.

He was relieved after telling me. Everything all good he thought. Nope. I cried, a lot couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t doing very well, health-wise and mentally. He stopped seeing OW. He told me that while I was trying to recover from his betrayal, and to figure out what I wanted to do, he was seeing her as a “friend. “

Since I couldn’t forget or forgive him, he suggested a trial separation, so I could figure things out, he was “trying to help,” not!! He was securing the notion that he could now date and not get into trouble for it.

So date he did! He thought it was in secret, that I didn’t know, which I found out. I should of left, but I was told not to leave because I could lose my rights to the house, so I didn’t leave. But I kept a journal of all that he did.

I have now gotten to the point where I don’t care what he does. Even though he broke up our marriage, our life as I knew it, the biggest part that hurts me isn’t the fact he has a different plus 1, it’s what he did and said to me.

He said so many horrible mean things, that hurt me so deeply. But because of financial reasons we are forced to live in our family home. I have my own room as he does too. Separated we are, for me it’s real for him it’s when it’s useful.

He has told me many times that I’m worthless, and I won’t be able to take care of myself, because I don’t know how to do anything, so I better behave. And then tells me, “Oh by the way, our marriage is a lie.” He never loved or wanted to be with me, so I have wasted 40 years of my life with him. I am in my 60s now. I don’t know if I can start all over again. (I have never lived on my own).

I am scared!! But I don’t feel worthless! I just want to find what’s right for me, which clearly isn’t him. What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused,

I suggest you don’t behave. Focus all your energies on leaving him. Quietly, stealthily, start making plans and lining up your ducks. You don’t tell him this. You pretend as if you’re just numb, agreeing to this separate lives while living together thing.

This is going to take a lot of strength, but C, it’s taken a lot of strength to live 40 years with a fuckwit. You can do this. I have faith in you.

What he’s doing to you — especially now, during a pandemic! — is abuse. He’s risking your health “dating” and he’s emotionally terrorizing you. Unfortunately, it’s a very difficult time for abuse victims now, the usual escape valves — the courts, domestic shelters, are closed. This situation is changing every day, and what’s open or not is very local. So the first thing I want you to do is go sit in your car, or walk around the block, and call a family law lawyer. (That’s a link to SuperLawyers if you’re in the U.S.) Get professional help immediately.

You will feel SO MUCH BETTER when you start protecting yourself. Abusers want to isolate you, make you feel like you can’t do anything without them. Fuck that. Take the first step.

I better behave.

This is chilling. It reads like a threat, and verbal threats are as damning as physical ones. Tell your lawyer about the verbal abuse and if you can get an emergency protection order. (Again, this is local. Some courts are open for emergency orders now.) If you can get an order, you may be able to force him out of the house until your temporary order becomes a permanent one.

Oh Tracy! It’s not as bad as all that!

Victims of abuse minimize how awful things are as a coping mechanism. You know how you can tell you’ve been minimizing this to yourself? When you drop the silence and tell someone — a BIT — of what you’re dealing with, and they’re shocked for you. And maybe you try to walk it back, or spackle over it. But their shock is your REALITY CHECK, that yes, it’s that’s bad.

Let the professionals — your lawyer, a women’s shelter, help you determine your safety level now. Some further reading here:

Women’s Law — email help line, divorce laws in every state

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline

Mosiac Threat Assessment — helps you assess a DV threat for women and men

Infidelity is one flavor of abuse, verbal abuse is another, controlling behavior is another. I don’t think your husband told you he was “dating” as a kindness. It sounds instead like he’s finished with you as a wife appliance. And he gets off on the cruelty.

So, in the short-term, while you’re stuck in this ring of hell, this is what I want you to do.

1.) No contact, as much as possible. Don’t interact with him if you can at all avoid it. He’s in? Go for a walk, drive, mask up and get groceries. Try not to be in his space. Especially as right now his “dating” is dangerous as hell during a pandemic. Lysol all the things.

2.) If he tries to verbally abuse you, distract or agree. “You’re worthless!” Yep, I guess I am. Do. Not. Take. The. Bait. He abuses to get a reaction, deny him one. Be incredibly boring. “Oh hey, I made toast. Wheat toast. I like the multigrain, but I couldn’t get it…” natter on. That’s distraction. What you do NOT do is counter-attack.  “I AM NOT WORTHLESS!” Do not stick your head in the mindfuck blender. Let him be spiteful.

3.) If he tries to charm you, be boring. Do. Not. Take. The. Bait. Charm is just one more channel of mindfuckery. If he wants you to sign something, or act like your old buddy, or behave in anyway you perceive as feeling “guilty”, don’t buy it. To him, you’re just numb. Boring. Let him think he has you where he wants you — compliant and vulnerable.

MEANWHILE

4.) Line up ducks like a motherfucker. Get all your financials together. Make lists of what you own. Take pictures of every room. (So when you move out there’s no argument of what existed and what didn’t.) Prepare asset statements for the lawyer, figure out your debts. Run a credit report. Call that lawyer. Do whatever homework they ask for. Are you going to have to work? Make a resume. Go research jobs for people over 50. (That link should help.) Keeping busy with these tasks will help when you feel overwhelmed. Just do the NEXT THING.

5.) Imagine freedom. What kind of throw pillows are you going to have on your fuckwit-free sofa? What’s the birdsongs like in that apartment? What friends are you having over? Visualize yourself there. Indulge this fantasy of you FREE from this nightmare. Free from him.

You can “start all over again.” People do it every day. We’re here on the other side, please join us.

***

Legal caveat — remember, I am not a lawyer. I am a chump with a blog. Reach out to professionals for your situation.

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.
  • Guys, I’m getting a big uptick in letters from women stuck in domestic abuse situations. Messages from Facebook in particular. I know this virus situation is making bad situations worse.

    Please consider doing a couple things — share this post on social media. Those links, to lawyers, DV resources, threats — are all in one place, and they may help someone else.

    Also, if you’re feeling charitable, reach out to your local domestic violence shelter. They could probably use masks and groceries and donations. I know everyone is skint right now, but if you’ve got anything to spare, these places are underfunded in the best of times, and they could use the help.

    • Our local woman’s center has been operational throughout this pandemic.
      Some help might be via phone or computer but hey are 100% available for all, especially victims of DV.
      They have been collecting supermarket cards and funds for women who desperately need help.
      Please don’t assume that everything is closed! Call every helpline you can find until you find one that is open.
      Library researchers may also be available virtually. They can be a wealth of community information and are wizards at computer research. Many are still being paid and have time to help.
      Please use every resource you can think of!

      • Absolutely. Please don’t give the message that Courts are closed. In England they are operational via, remote hearings and our DV services are still accepting new arrivals. Lock down does not apply to victims of DV in the sense that the government have said if you need to move to get away from an abuser then you can.

  • If you end up needing work in a hurry, don’t rule out temp agencies in the short-term. Saved my butt when it needed saving. In the end, the job I am in right now only came open to me because I entered it as a temp. I just hit my 10-year mark.

    The place you are in right now is like treading water in the middle of the ocean. It’s an awful feeling. I empathize deeply, and I am certain that you can totally do this even though it sometimes looks impossible from here.

    A person can only really do one thing at a time, so just do that. The whole situation moves with each thing you do. CL’s advice is spot on. Line up one duck at a time and eventually you will have a glorious line of ducks.

    And keep coming here for support. We’ll keep supporting you as you go. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    • Same with me in the temp job! Entered as part time filing. In the end they hired me full time taught me the business and I was office manager doing scheduling and entering Medicare billing information. When that company was sold I moved to a larger company doing the same thing and I now have a career that I have been in for 10 years.

      Temp agencies rule! Here is the secret tip. Call them every week. The lady told me she only gives jobs to the people that call her every week because she knows you are a go-getter. Straight up told me I’d be surprised how many people don’t call her even after she explained how she’ll get you jobs.

      • You’ll find work when you’re ready. Temp work is a great way to get hired full-time. It happened to me out of college.

        But what you want to do, for sure, is talk to a lawyer [on the sly–don’t signal what you are up to]. You can start with a call. You will want to be looking for work–believe it or not there are lots of jobs open in supermarkets, etc. right now. But you also want to find out about ALIMONY while you get on your feet.

        You can use this time to find a good therapist who will help you develop your confidence that you can take care of yourself. Because you can. You can.

  • He’s trying to provoke you. He has to justify his abusive behaviour. Your prolonging the misery in living with him. She’s his friend is she heck. he probably spends his time trying to annoy you. the ow with tell him what he wants to hear.
    You wanna ask him why he’s friends with her. I personally think cheating and the misery that goes with it is abusive behaviour.
    Was he abusive in other ways. Health, financially he’s emotionally abusive already. Health unfortunately he may have sti(s).

  • I’m not sure if it’s appropriate in this context but I’ve learnt how to deal with nonsense from my narcissistic father.
    “You’re worthless!”

    “You’re right, I am”
    “If you say so.”
    “You must be right”

    It’s boring and gives no fuel. Keep disengaging, if you can, that’s the best.

      • My Ex-Wife gave me (repeatedly) the “you’re worthless-you’re useless-you can’t cope without me-you can’t get anything right-no-one will ever want you” bullsh*t – often in front of the kids.

        I would simply (and calmly) say “If you are going to tell lies about me, you may as well make them big ones. Some people will believe some of them some of the time, but the truth will out” and then walk away.

        Turns out that: I’m not worthless; I’m not useless; the kids and I are able to cope without her and; I get a lot more right than I get wrong.

      • Dear CONFUSED

        I’m now 60, living in Europe in a new career. My D Day was 4 years ago, when I was suddenly in the Neuro ICU for a week.

        My DOCTOR husband of 35 years, was nowhere to be found. I had not worked outside the home in 18 years, and after a series of ugly discoveries and betrayals, and a divorce that cost ME far more than it cost him (financially speaking), I can tell you —

        2 things I KNOW FOR SURE –

        1) Yes you CAN start over & learn to live alone (though my dog would take exception to my claim of living alone) and be happy,

        AND

        2) You have NO CHOICE but to leave. Why?

        Because he’s on his way out anyway. He will either leave you AFTER he’s lined up HIS ducks, taking whatever savings and investments and security you THINK you have by staying…or by forcing you to leave before the last shred of self respect disappears.

        = Your choice is NOT between staying in a shitty but financially stable fake marriage –

        AND losing all security & and being homeless. I’m sorry to tell you this but –

        YOUR REAL CHOICE IS

        BETWEEN ENDING THE MARRIAGE ON YOUR TERMS, OR ON HIS.

      • I agree. I would rather see: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “That’s your point of view.” “I hear that is your opinion of me.” Words matter.

    • My go-to response to my now ex when he’d threaten me, was: “Oh, that’s nice. Please put it in an e-mail.” and then walk away. Keep your cellphone (get one if you don’t have one) on you at all times. I had to call the police a few times during our separation (we lived together) because he was being extra abusive.

      And it IS as bad as all that. It’s nearly 4 years (to the day) that my now ex came home and told me he wanted a divorce. It was 7 1/2 months of hell living with him after that day. My family is overseas and my dad was too ill to travel. I had to keep my life together for the kids. It was hell. My father has since passed, and finally my mother is able to visit me here in the US. During my separation she had her own crap with my dad going on, and I didn’t tell everything he did so they wouldn’t worry. I told her a bit more when she visited, and she was utterly horrified. It IS that bad. You’re just in survival mode right now. Once you’re through the divorce, and the peace settles in over you, you’ll realize just HOW bad it was. Allow yourself to grieve what you thought you had.

      But here on the other side, it’s pretty awesome. <3

  • Lawyer. Divorce. Alimony. Your husband is one cruel piece of work. He didn’t want to unburden himself by admitting to cheating, he wanted to deliberately hurt you. Do you have children? Unless they take after dear old Dad, they must know their father is an asswipe. Maybe they will be willing to help. If not you need to start interviewing lawyers, like yesterday. I’m sure you can call rather than show up to their office due to the pandemic. If you have been in the family home for years it may be paid off or at least has substantial equity. Sell the house, buy or rent a small condo or cottage with the proceeds. If asswipe threatens you call the cops and have him removed from the home. Be careful. I know of one cheating narcissist that provoked his wife, she “responded” as he knew she would, called the cops and had her removed from their home. She had to relocate to go live with her mother 2000 miles away as she had nowhere to go. He didn’t care one bit he just wanted her out of his life so he could be with his new girlfriend.

  • Run! Get to a lawyer. Find a safe place. Don’t tell him what you are doing. My X was also emotionally, verbally abusive. I was so beat down I didn’t see it. I kept a journal, as instructed by my therapist. Reading back over the things said and done to me is chilling, but at the time, I thought it was all normal. If you can, find a good therapist who has worked with victims of abuse. It’s hard, but you can do it. Your life is precious and you deserve better.

  • A few minutes after the bomb drop one of the first things my RH said in his narcissistic rage was ” don’t you dare hire an attorney”. So the very first thing I did was….hired a badass attorney!!!

  • “…but I was told not to leave because I could lose my rights to the house,”

    Told by who? Your stbx-fuckwit, or a divorce lawyer? Do not take advice from your stbx-fuckwit. He is a creep.

    Get the hell out, using CL’s advice, and don’t look back. You can do this.

    • Also, document the abuse with the police or with a domestic violence agency or a lawyer. That way if you do leave, you have evidence that you didn’t “abandon” the family home, you fled for your safety.

    • My lawyer said the same thing. Couldn’t move out until after first court meeting. 2 1/2 months of hell.

    • Cheater’s ass needs to move the hell out! See an attorney. If you have proof of his adultery especially (emails, call logs, texts, credit card bills, etc.), get those ducks lined up and then present them to a lawyer. File for divorce on grounds of adultery. Get a pendente lite order for temporary support put in place. The courts don’t want to see someone out on the street after 40 years of marriage…. you have rights and he has obligations to you as part of the marriage contract. And don’t feel guilty about it – and he’ll try to make you feel guilty. If not, you can still file and get the support order put in place for some peace of mind. You can also quietly get things in place while you absorb the shock, if that’s all you can muster right now.

      God, these asshole cheaters are such POS. My heart breaks for those who were in marriages for so long, thinking they were safe, only to be hurled into this nightmare. You can do this. You MUST do this. Living with the cheater is akin to torture right now. Reach out for support to friends and family. And a domestic violence support system through your county…. he’s emotionally abusive. Sign up to volunteer and temp work to get your confidence and some skills back. Many here have been through the horror of this panic, wondering what you’re going to do. That was my first thought too. Terrifying. But you’ve got this. You’re very much worth it and you need to believe that. It’s going to be hard and it will suck, but you deserve better than this. You can do it.

  • I wish I had known about Chump Lady in my early days of discovery. I soooo would’ve gone after a protective order and reported to relevant agencies when he threatened to blow his brains out or when he wrestled me for his phone during discovery or even for being generally horrible to my kids. I was too busy pick me dancing. I had all top lawyers, (I switched a number of times), no one ever thought to ask me about abuse. At least one, having the details, didn’t think I should report. Some of them have a bias to keep things “amicable”. Had I reported up front, had I known there is only wreckonciliation if there is anything to save at all, I would’ve filed a report before I removed myself and kids from the home to go stay with my family out of state. Instead, when I arrived he had already filed, and his attorney threatened to have me arrested if I didn’t come back. It was surreal. However, I still wonder if I would’ve had more leverage to stay for awhile instead of being forced back to cohabitation with him. I just still believed there was something to save. My understanding of reality had had no time to catch up with his reality. It was really amazing that I took any steps at all. . .I had a couple of friends who talked hard truth enough for me when I hadn’t even caught him red handed yet, to demand full disclosure (via a lie detector), and call a few divorce attornies. I still thought I was going to be able to save it all. Trust that they suck. Have no sympathy for them. Go on the covert offensive and when your ducks are in a row, get the protective order.

    • Hindsight is 20/20. But here you are–a survivor, sharing your story. That’s mighty.

      We never know what we need to learn when crisis strikes us. We do the best we can, and if we keep mind and heart open to listening to the SELF and not just the cheater, we can get to the other side. You made it out. And that’s what matters.

  • Please don’t let your age make you feel it’s more difficult to be alone. I’m a little younger than you and went through this garbage. It’s been 2 years. the divorce isn’t over and I have young children (had them late), and a lot to worry about, but I won’t. I’m more beautiful than ever and you will be too.. stronger and better once you get away from this abuse that makes you feel less than you are.

    • Good for you, Kathy! I, too feel more beautiful than I have ever felt, even as a slim teenager.
      And strong- I feel rock solid in a way I never dreamed possible.
      Just for reference, I fled the home in Sept 2018. Divorce was final Oct 2019.

  • Oh my goodness I feel awful to hear this but not surprised:( I am so glad you posted resources!!! Thank you for what you do to help CL

  • I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m 58, married 30 years, two adult kids. In hindsight, I found out mine used me the whole marriage, hid money, led a double life. Once I confirmed the cheating, I lined up my ducks, got a separate bank account, detached from him, did gray rock, got another car, came to CL, read about disordered cheaters, exercised and worked on the inner me. I am waiting for the judge to review my case and hope to be divorced soon. I took on more debt but I am getting lifetime alimony and working on a life insurance policy to protect that alimony. Each step you take towards freedom will make stronger. It will get better and I’m glad cheater is out of my life…

  • He’s happy because the worse outcome that he imagined upon telling you did not occur. You didn’t kill him. You didn’t leave. Instead you cried and stayed. Out of shock largely but he didn’t factor you being broken by his confession.
    Now all gloves are off.
    He is not lying. Some people can fake entire relationships.
    Now you know, use the knowledge and protect yourself.
    He doesn’t love the other woman either.
    He has a high degree of self loathing and probably has more since these events. As such he has an even greater need to vilify you.
    Protect yourself. He is not your friend.

    • “He has a high degree of self loathing and probably has more since these events.”

      I seriously doubt that. What this piece of *shit* has is a high degree of entitlement and pleasure in cruelty.

      • I I agree that he does but its all to overcompensate. My ex said that he really hated himself in moment of lucidity (self pity, who knows? I wasn’t offering any). The more shit he did the more he needed to make it seem that everyone was the problem. The only way he could find to feel good about himself was to try to make me feel bad. When left alone to deal with it he was tormented. It is like they are possessed.

        • wow, Mandy….that hits home. I see my ex doing the same. What made him tell you all that? He seemed very self-aware of what he was doing.

          • I think they know. They are just so driven by a base side of them that they lack control to stop.
            I dont know why he said it. Sometimes he’d have these moments where everything seemed to spill out then he’d catch himself and clam up. I used it as moments to peep inside the chaos. It evoked nothing in me but intrigue. Can à mind be this sick and still be functional? Yep. When he started to cheat he said to me that he rationalised that he could manage family life and the other life he was trying to create…his double life, he called it. He said alot of things that in his delusional mind made sense and so there was no need to filter because it was a rational thing to say.
            At every stage he justified/rationalised his actions. At each stage he talked himself out of what was right in favour of what was wrong.
            But it cost him and it cost our family.
            I think of it as a descent into darkness. Eventually he was not able to make his actions add up so he had to attack me. Which is why I said that he reached a point where he got his feel goods from my feel bads.
            In any case, I’m free! My life is good. He continues on his downward spiral but I’m sure he can rationalise it.

      • Who cares WHY? Self pity channel. Not real. Designed to keep it all about them and to keep you entangled in his skein of f*uckupedness instead of hiring a lawyer and protecting yourself. Not compunction, manipulation. Keeping you focused on him and his ‘needs’. Entitlement writ large. Trust that they suck.

      • You know what I’m going to say: don’t untangle the skein of their fuckedupedness.

        We have the basic facts: He lied, cheated, gaslighted and abuser her. But he doesn’t want a divorce because….[insert form(s) of cake: sex, money, control, property, social status, not wanting to share, built-in family buffer or babysitting, no desire to remarry an AP…]. Fill in the blanks.

        We don’t need to name the black hole where a heart, empathy or conscience ought to be.

  • Actually HE should leave and pay but that’s in a perfect world. The temp service for sign is good advice they’ll assess your interests and abilities. Amazon, you can deliver envelopes and packages from your car.
    You know your worth. Don’t get overwhelmed. One thing at a time but don’t be afraid to be more aggressive.
    I had a commenter tell me go stop looking at him as the guy I love.
    He made plans to see the ow. It took guts. And the years of holding his secret. I’ve been in the same room with her a few times. There’s a fine chump but if I’d only known.
    We’re in separate rooms. It hit me last night. He’s STOLEN ten years so far. HeSTOLE it from me knowing I wouldn’t CHOOSE that. Not after knowing l. That’s his daughters mom he was with. Claims it was six years ago. Going through the years I realize I was duped. Cheated out of so many things. And looking like a poor little sap. Thinking HE was supposed to be my friend right? We don’t do that to friends. Let alone a partner for life.
    Please follow chump lady and the others’ advice.
    One day at a time. And NEVER too late to be the you you were intended to be~

  • I’m so sorry confused. I am 17 months post D-day after 44 years of marriage. I am 61 and have never lived by myself until now. My husband cheated many times and I always went back. We have eight kids so it was complicated. I have been in counseling for a long time or I never would have left for good. Here’s what I did:
    He told me he was going on a trip. (He only did that when he met someone online to meet in another state) I knew what that meant. I found a friend that would rent me a room in her house cheap. I borrowed money to put a retainer down on a lawyer. The lawyer was a referral from a friend. I started moving boxes of things that meant the most to me out of the house when he was at work. I stored them in another friends garage. I gathered paperwork and made copies. His retirement, tax returns, mortgage information, insurance documents etc. I got a group of friends to help me move, rented a storage unit and moved out while he was gone on his “trip.” He came down with shingles, got stuck in Indiana in a blizzard, and couldn’t get out for ten days. He came home to a dark, cold, empty house. I was terrified. He had convinced me for years I was nothing and could do nothing. DO NOT LISTEN! He is lying to keep you under his control. I got a job shortly after I left. I was diagnosed with PTSD from abuse. You can do it. Get out of that house. I did the same separate bedroom thing, it’s horrible. It’s very scary and incredibly worth it. I am still going through the divorce. He has pulled everything imaginable of course, but I have my own place now, I have peace daily, I love my job, and have so many good friends. I have maintained no contact since I walked out the door. I didn’t even realize how messed up I was until I had about 6 months away from him. Put yourself first, you deserve serenity. Love and prayers to you.

    • All of what Mistake 44 says. Do it.
      You are in survival mode. Let the fine folks here at Chump Nation help you through. Keep your search for and hiring of a lawyer secret from him. You may not like the way it feels or you may want to throw it in his face when he is being an asshole. Just trust us on this. He had his secrets now you get to have yours.

      -Anything of sentimental value in your home needs a safe place outside of your home. I crammed seven boxes of stuff into my tiny work office when this happened to me, thank goodness my boss was the son of a chump and understood.
      -You also need to find, copy and return all the financial documents. If you can’t get them to a copy machine in this pandemic then get a burner phone and use it to photograph each page. Make sure it is legible in the photo which means some pages may require a photo of the top half of the paper and a photo of the bottom half.
      -This person does not have your best interest. Do not listen to him. Do not play his games. Do not go back and forth with him about anything. You have established that he is a liar and incapable of loving you. Pay attention to actions, not words.
      -Make No Contact, the path to the truth and the light, your ultimate goal. It may be impossible as you live in the same house right now but get as close to No Contact as you can. This will make him mad and he will respond by escalating his attempts to drag you into a fight, so resist. Do not raise your voice, and do not react with any emotion to anything he says. He is looking to make you react so he can fight with you, trash you, tell others how you are impossible to live with or crazy. Just don’t play the game.
      -look up Tracy’s The Mindfuck Only Has 3 Channels. Identify his channels and watch out for them.
      -Keep coming here for support or the Facebook or Reddit pages. Chump Nation is here for you.

      • CL added the “chaos” channel that works in conjunction with 3 Mindfuck channels (self-pity, charm and rage). With the pandemic already creating chaos fuckwits can use it to really turn the screws now.

        Mistake44 and AllOutofKibble are on the spot – please take their advise.

        I want to add that you are at the greatest risk of physical abuse when you STOP reacting to him and start protecting yourself. It happened to me – when he saw he wasn’t able to manipulate me into doing what he wanted my STBX physically attacked me. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. If you can move out, move out. If you can’t put on your mask and go to the hardware store and buy some type of lock that you can easily install on the inside of door of the room you are sleeping in. Keep your cell phone on you at all times.

        Also, I wouldn’t believe for a second he doesn’t have phone / computer. My parents are in there 80’s and have cell phones and computers.

        Please know that CN is here for you!

        • They make smart phone flip phones now for the older people who really like their flip phones but want internet access. My parents have one. Not my cup of tea, but whatever phone makes them happy. 🙂

      • My left right after Christmas with three weeks notice. In addition to many of the things already suggested here to line up ducks, I also did the following:
        – took any of the points cards I had and cashed in all the points for stuff that I knew I was going to need as my cheater was already dividing up our household items to go with him
        – made a bunch of purchases on my credit card for other items of need and passed it off as XMas shopping
        – made an overpayment on the major bills that are not static every month – utilities, hydro, credit card. It wasn’t huge but covered an extra month so that it was a bit helpful during that first really shitty month of having to replace a number of things

        Stored all the new stuff at my mother’s place until he was gone. In the end, it was about $1800 worth of brand new stuff (bedding, small kitchen appliances, towels, tools) that I got great XMas deal for. At some point my cheater asked about dividing up points on our different cards, and I told him that I’ve been using them up through the last few years for different items and gifts. He accepted that.

        Small victories.

        – made an overpayment on the major bills that are not static every month – utilities, hydro, credit card. It wasn’t huge but covered an extra month so that it was a bit helpful during that first really shitty month of having to replace a number of things

    • Mistake44 you are MIGHTY! What a bonus (I’d call it a gift from God myself!) that he got shingles and you got enough time to get out cleanly! I did the same thing after 25 years and 5 kids. It was the most painful, scariest thing but i I am so glad now 3 years later.

  • What an absolute shitbag, cruel evil *bastard*!!! 😈😈😈😈

    God, these scum make me sick to my stomach. And to do such a thing is vilely cruel at the best of times, but in the middle of a *pandemic*! There are just no words bad enough for this piece of shit.

    Confused, everything Tracy is telling you is spot on, and great advice. Get legal advice ASAP, and don’t tell the fucker a damn thing.

    Don’t worry about being in your 60’s, I was 65 when I found out; 3 years later I’m divorced, NC, and still living. It will get better, I promise, but you have to get through all the shite first.

    Write down everything this piece of shit fucker says and does, it may be useful to your lawyer, and it will be useful to you if the pig switches channels to charm/self-pity if his whore dumps him.

    Keep coming here, we’re all here for you, and get that lawyer! ((hugs)) ❤️❤️

  • Please Be careful to keep your phone and journal safely where they cannot be accessed. Be careful full stop. Do take the sreps CL recommends. You deserve so much better!

    • Very true about the phone. My XW put a tracking device and back door on my phone. Could read my text messages, emails and see who I was calling. She was tracking me where ever I went. Took me 6 months to catch on…..

      • It’s also possible to put spyware on your computer. If you backup the files and wipe out the computer, then reinstall the operating system, that should get rid of the spyware. Burner phones like tracfone can be had for cheap. It’s easy to get them at places like Walmart and just tack them on to your “grocery bill”. I’ve been getting tracfones for 20 years because I’m that cheap. Or maybe it’s possible to wipe out your phone?

  • (((Hugs))))

    Well behaved women seldom make history.

    Make HIM history…..don’t kill him… just leave his sorry ass and take every damn thing you can. “Line up your ducks like a motherfucker.” You are likely ENTITLED BY LAW to way more than you realize. Take it and show him what happens when HE doesn’t behave.

    We’re behind you… were cheering you. You may be 60, but honey, unload that dead weight and your best years are ahead of you. We believe in you. So may of us ARE you…..

    Come to this side. Leave that asshole to his own devices.

  • CL has given you wonderful practical advice. I would like to add that now is the time to reevaluate your outlook on life. You are a little younger than I am, and I can tell you that most of my assumptions about life were incorrect. The things I thought I needed, and needed to do to be happy were not at all what I needed. You can live quite happily without many material things, and you do not need to be part of a couple to count as a person. Sometimes drastic change sets you free. For example, do you, as a sixty year old single woman, need the family home? Probably not — you would have much less work to do to take care of a place suited to your needs, and you would feel safer and better without him around. Sale of the home, or letting him buy you out as part of your divorce may give you the money you need to make a transition.

    You already have some excellent advice about finding a lawyer, and employment, so I am only going to talk about feelings, My mother stayed in a bad marriage for 40 years, to get her children raised, and to wait to divorce until after her parents passed. She didn’t want to “bring shame” to them, or be thought of as a failure. Her mother was a child of divorce in a time when that was very unusual, and her father was a religious zealot, and this made quite an impression on my mother. She endured too much verbal abuse from my father, and didn’t seem to recognize the abuse he also provided to all of the children. But finally, she divorced my father and set out on her own at 59. I won’t say her life has been easy since then, but she has been much happier. She knows what freedom feels like now, and she never regrets the decision. She has also come to understand that verbal abuse is hurtful, and causes long term problems. She can see the results in all of her children. We don’t blame her, but each of us have found coping mechanisms to deal with the problems his abuse caused. We are all happy that they are not married anymore. We all have our own way to deal with our father, we know who he is.

    We all are supportive of our mother. So divorce was a good thing for her, a good thing for me. It might not be what either of us dreamed about for our adult life, but the result of living in peace and knowing freedom is amazing. Do not ever believe you are worthless. Your husband found you to be a great wife appliance for many years, he is now suffering from delusions about his own value as a result of his affair. He also feels powerful when he bullies you. None of his delusions of grandeur will last when the reality of consequences hit him. It is probable that the affair won’t be nearly as thrilling when he discovers it doesn’t hurt you anymore. He is a selfish, nasty man, who has blamed you for all that is wrong with him, probably for a long time.

    You will be going through a tough time, for awhile, but on the other side you will find a new life. You won’t have to worry about taking care of anyone else’s needs but your own. That peace and freedom will be dramatic for you, and it may be hard to get used to. Look at this as an opportunity to escape from life with a cruel man, to life where you can wake up without worrying what he will do next, and even better, you won’t care what he is doing at all. Take a step forward, then another, and you will find your way to MEH!

  • We care about you! We’ve walked in very similar shoes. Get a new lawyer— one who will take all steps to get him out! Talk to as many lawyers on the phone as you need to to find the “one” who will FIGHT FOR YOU! I’m a lawyer and we are all working overtime right now – especially family law attorneys. The courts are open expressly for domestic protection orders, which you can get within hours in most situations. Once you get physically away from him your stress hormones will start to calm down and you can begin to think more clearly.

    Come here every day. Join us on Reddit for real-time support.

    In a few years -after divorce and a lot of no-contact days strung together, life will be wonderful. I absolutely promise you.

  • He’s doing what my abuser ex used to do: Keep you terrified of what happens if you leave, so you stay where he wants you. That’s how you break someone down to make them NEED you, I assure you, when he gets the first opportunity he likes, he will discard you without a second thought. He’s getting some kind of narcissistic, abusive, payoff by threatening you into staying in the house.

    Your abuser (because that’s what he is, he is an abuser) is telling you you’re worthless, you’re nothing, you’d better behave, you’ll lose everything if you leave, sounds like mine.

    “You won’t be safe anywhere else”
    “I have to tell you how to behave don’t I?”
    “You should be thanking me for every day you’re here”
    “You’d be on the streets without me”
    “You’re lucky I put up with you, everyone thinks you’re crazy”

    He also used to say mean, cruel things anytime he argued with me (which he often picked arguments out of nothing, I never knew what would or wouldn’t set him off.) and he would just say that’s how adults argue, ask me if I’ve even ever had an adult conversation, and even told me if I can’t handle verbal abuse, I’d never make it in the real world.

    Everything your ex says to you, the threats if you don’t behave (and they ARE threats) calling you worthless, telling you you’ll lose your house if you leave, it is designed to internally break you down and make you too scared to move. It’s what he wants.

    And yes, he has a phone, he has a laptop. I guarantee you he does. Telling you he doesn’t is designed to keep you in the dark too. He’s got both of those things, just not anywhere you’re aware of. It’s tools for him to have a leg up on you. Don’t believe him when he says he doesn’t have those things anymore. How do you think he’s been meeting people to date? Yeah, cell phone. Computer.

    The fact you know you’re not worthless and what you need for your life is NOT him, means you still have enough of a spark of self worth left. I’m not a lawyer either, but you should definitely check out the links and resources CL put above. Her advice is spot on. Don’t feed into his garbage, grey rock him as much as you can, and start making some phone calls and sending some emails. Your ex is wrong when he says you’ll lose your rights to the house if you leave. That’s not true. You don’t lose any rights to that property if your name is on it. Not without a long legal process, and he cannot force you off it. I’m sure he’d like to think he has that power, but he doesn’t.

    Get yourself a lawyer. You have rights.

    • Good point. Abusers claims that you will have nothing and not be able to support yourself are abusive and likely to be no so. Glad you are out now Kara. Also left an X who sometimes raged abusive statements along these lines. Now so much better off emotionally, and managing everything else fine. what he said was aimed to scare and it turned out to be not correct.

  • “Victims of abuse minimize how awful things are as a coping mechanism. You know how you can tell you’ve been minimizing this to yourself? When you drop the silence and tell someone — a BIT — of what you’re dealing with, and they’re shocked for you. And maybe you try to walk it back, or spackle over it. But their shock is your REALITY CHECK, that yes, it’s that’s bad.”

    So this. My ex wasn’t nearly as bad as some (no financial abuse and no character assassination) but he was still being a dick. It wasn’t until I told a handful of people and got their reactions that it became clear that, yes, he really was being a dick and it wasn’t my fault. I picked up the “it wasn’t my fault” pretty quick but I still tried to spackle his behavior for a while. It became more difficult to spackle the more second opinions I got.

  • Dear Confused: My STBXDick left when I was 54, and I had never lived alone before either! I sold the house, packed up my shit and relocated to another state, alone. Turns out, I am LOVING living alone very much! Please don’t ‘behave’! Or else?? Or else what?? Who died and made him King of anything?
    Wrangle those ducks into a straight line and find a lawyer. Call them by the end of this week, ok? Set up a separate bank account for yourself at a different bank and start stashing money.

    Follow Tracie’s advice here! Line up those ducks, find your inner BADASS and he can GTFO as soon as possible. It is much better on the other side of this! Trust CL & CN to bring you great advice and lots of support. Wishing you strength and courage. This is an EMERGENCY, so treat it accordingly.

  • This is counter intuitive, but he is tearing you down because he is afraid of you and afraid of the consequences you can unleash on his head.

    He is telling you to behave, he is telling you that you are worthless, he is telling you that you can’t live without him….not because any of that is true, but because he stands a lot to lose if you actually divorce him. This behavior of his….very very interesting and very telling that he already knows that he will lose more than what you know right now. He actively wants you immobile so he doesn’t have to face consequences and pay the price for his cheating.

    So, please call up the best, most aggressive divorce lawyers in town. Make sure he doesn’t know. Get formal consultations, they can be done over the phone during quarantine. This man you are married to is hiding something more, he is afraid. There is a really good chance that you will walk away from the divorce way better off than you realize. Start taking quiet action and start quietly digging up information for yourself and learning your rights.

    As for starting over….there is no such thing as starting over in life, there is only moving forward, changing directions, deciding you’ll live your life fuckwit free and that it will be good for you. This idea that you will have to start over is an illusion that keeps you stuck in a bad place. Time to drop this illusion and move forward to a better place.

  • He doesn’t want to cut up the money. Well that is not his choice. The abused women’s centers are fabulous resources, they helped me call it abuse, which is was. Don’t let this joker play with your mind. Follow CL’s advice. You deserve better. You can be more alone in a marriage than outside of it. Don’t play your hand to him. But plan out the end to his abuse and control.

  • Please take Chump Lady’s advice. Get all your ducks in a row. Contact a lawyer. You need to get out ASAP. Not only did your Husband cheat(which is abuse). He is also threatening you. Verbally abusing you. He may be financially abusing you as well. Protect yourself.

    I wish I had someone who could have given me advice and guided me. I am sure if you look back. Your husband was abusive your whole marriage. Mine was. I remember one day my ex said to me that if he ever would want a divorce he would have me offed. Then he pretended he was kidding. Through out his affair with Skankella. He was verbally abusive to me. Called me names and made me feel useless. I understand now that he was abusive to me because he was cheating and needed to make me look like a worthless person. It justified his cheating, I later found out that he was stashing cash in his parents safe. You need to put yourself first. His intentions are not good.

  • I hate these bullying tactics, I hear you that this is worse than finding out they’ve slept with someone else or whatever, it’s such an attack from someone you love. This stays with me way more than the rest that he was capable. It’s well documented by us lot, doesn’t reflect on you AT ALL even though it hurts like a mo’fo. Try to get out of his way but expect a bit more. I look back now and wonder how I didn’t literally lose my shit based on the horrible things he said. What a mean and nasty person. That’s all you need to know. And it’s so cowardly as it’s just a way of justifying his crap behaviour.

    It’s hard not to believe it too I know but it’s all designed to keep you off balance. I never want to be around someone like that again in my life. I mean never.

  • Going against the grain here but I disagree with a lot here. There are a lot of legal disadvantages to leaving the marital home. And hey its her home!!!

    If she moves out schmoopie could move in adding more insult to injury. If anyone should leave it should be him. As long as he is not physically abusive, I would make his life so unpleasant, he will willingly spend the majority of his life at schoopies house or leave altogether. Hence peace and quiet in her home. I would emotionlessly respond to his insults calmly with “you dont matter to me anymore.” And walk away doing your own thing. This will sting the entitled turd.

    Im quite certain she is entitled in most states to 50% of assets, and half his social security is a given. Half his pension, half his 401k. She can use this knowledge to curb his abuse. Every time he risks her health, or slings a verbal abuse she should remind him guess hes cruising to lose half of EVERYTHING his has accumulated in life real real soon. Guess thats what hes aiming for or hed better straighten up and back off!! Youd be surprised when you remind them on how much it will hurt them $$$ that they change their tune quick and go into the love bombing strategy which is easier to deal with. In the meantime plan your escape!

    • From confused. Yes your right about If I move out he’ll move her in ,That’s my fear too , There was a time I thought he was going to do that This is my home , I haven’t don’t anything wrong he did he should move , but he won’t until OW is ready for him , but thanks for your thoughts

      • Talk to a lawyer about who moves where. It’s not worth destroying your life staying with an abuser because you’re afraid the OW might move in. (The OW was sighted on my front porch the day after I moved out, hauling a mattress. So….) I survived and you will too.

  • I just wanted to say protect your privacy. I had to live with STBX for a year after separation and it was hell (complicated situation with kids and he refused to leave and I couldn’t kick him out with physical abuse). My son told me one day that his Dad had set up a video camera in his room and that really freaked me out because where else could he put tiny recorders or trackers. My STBX pulled back the mask and I saw his terrible character, I couldn’t fathom that he would actually record in my own home but I realize they are paranoid because of what they do. Take care.

  • One thing many of us have in common is that our cheaters devalued us so they could avoid taking responsibility and feeling like crap for their cheating. It is kind of the foundation of the cheater’s handbook. So when your husband calls you “worthless,” please keep that in mind. He also does that to take away your power, so you won’t rain any consequences down on his head. Right now, he gets to live in the house and come and go as he pleases, and doesn’t have to suffer an impact in his financial situation. Time to put an end to this outrageous cake party of his.

    I am 54 and had gained 20 lbs from the stress of being promoted into a leadership role, saving for our retirement, paying for all of our benefits, running home to cook dinner, and trying to raise a kid and having zero time for myself. My husband (underemployed for 2 years, then totally unemployed for another 2.5) took the opportunity to visit escorts and blamed me for not having more sex with him. All last year, he acted like he couldn’t stand me and wouldn’t come near me, was really a jerk, and I thought it was because I was working too many hours, was too fat, was not enough whatever. When I found out a few days before Xmas, I kicked him out and lost 20 lbs from the stress. Now he has decided that I wasn’t so bad after all and wants me back. Fuck that. This guy would not look for work because the jobs out there were “beneath him” and he was fine letting me work like a dog and carry the burden, and then blamed me and found me less attractive because I put on a few extra pounds when I had not a second to exercise and take care of my health as he sat on his a** all day for years. This guy is not someone who will ever have my back. Please don’t believe your husband when he says you are worthless – if you internalize it, that just means you need to work on your self-esteem, because it is not true. I believed it at first, but then with some time, I realized I was just dealing with an a**hole and that it didn’t have anything to do with my worth.

  • Mine used to tell me I couldn’t survive without him. Piece of crap! I did internalize that…UNTIL CL and all of you helped me realize my mighty truth.

    Confused,
    A good friend of mine used to tell me “confusion isn’t a character defect; it’s not having enough information to make a decision”. ChumpLady gave you very sound advice! Stay close to the members of this community… they’ll help you save yourself, too!

    I’m so glad you’re here with us! Welcome to the ONLY spot where this type of abuse is called what it is & helps us to escape & recover! You are safe here! You are very important and valuable and in no way anything that f*wit has been telling you!

  • This is domestic abuse, plain and simple.

    Courts are closed but still doing business. My next court hearing is scheduled to be conducted by telephone. I filed the petition by email. Notification was by email. Evidence will be submitted by email.

    So far no one has mentioned a victim advocate. A victim advocate is a trained, experienced person employed by a crisis center or women’s shelter or police department to help victims of abuse find and use the available resources.

    There are so many resources! I had no idea. Just by saying a few key words, literally, just the jargon vocabulary I needed to find the right web pages, a VA opened so many doors for me. Now I have legal protection, law enforcement protection, no-cost psychotherapy, and I am looking at getting financial support.

  • I was 62 on D-Day — and was fed the same lines: I was worthless, he “carried me” for years, I was stupid, ugly, etc. Six weeks after, I had my financial ducks lined up. That was one of the smartest things I could have done. I ended up having to leave with what I could carry (and the dog) because I was afraid he would kill me. I rented a car and drove a thousand miles before I felt safe. I ended up living with my best friend who had just lost her husband to cancer. When the divorce was final, I got a job. I waited because I didn’t want to have to pay alimony to the fuckwit who burned through his money and most of OUR money before D-Day. Now I have a job I enjoy, my own apartment and money in the bank. I hope to buy my own house within the year.

    I was terrified about starting over because I was sure I was too old. No one would rent to me, no one would hire me, I’d never find love again. Well, maybe I won’t find love — but it won’t be “again” because Mr. Sparkly Pants never loved me. I was one hell of a wife-appliance, though. And now I don’t have him and his tantrums, “depression” or generalized meanness to worry about. Believe it or not, I’m HAPPY now. I never would have predicted that!

  • My left right after Christmas with three weeks notice. In addition to many of the things already suggested here to line up ducks, I also did the following:
    – took any of the points cards I had and cashed in all the points for stuff that I knew I was going to need as my cheater was already dividing up our household items to go with him
    – made a bunch of purchases on my credit card for other items of need and passed it off as XMas shopping
    – made an overpayment on the major bills that are not static every month – utilities, hydro, credit card. It wasn’t huge but covered an extra month so that it was a bit helpful during that first really shitty month of having to replace a number of things

    Stored all the new stuff at my mother’s place until he was gone. In the end, it was about $1800 worth of brand new stuff (bedding, small kitchen appliances, towels, tools) that I got great XMas deal for. At some point my cheater asked about dividing up points on our different cards, and I told him that I’ve been using them up through the last few years for different items and gifts. He accepted that.

    Small victories.

    – made an overpayment on the major bills that are not static every month – utilities, hydro, credit card. It wasn’t huge but covered an extra month so that it was a bit helpful during that first really shitty month of having to replace a number of things

  • “He has told me many times that I’m worthless, and I won’t be able to take care of myself, because I don’t know how to do anything, so I better behave. And then tells me, “Oh by the way, our marriage is a lie.”

    Holy crap he is an abusive shit heel. I hope you have called and emailed everyone from whom you can expect some help (lawyers, counselors, etc.) and are starting to think about what YOU want and what you are ENTITLED TO RECEIVE.

    40 years of acting on his part? Bullshit. He simply doesn’t want you to challenge him and stand up for yourself. But surprise him with a huge kick to the frontal lobes.

    Be quiet about it. No one wants you to be hit, strangled or kicked. But think about what your next moves are going to be. Take photos of EVERYTHING in the house, as well as gathering and making copies of every piece of financial information you can find. Including taxes, pay stubs, utility bills, grocery bills, etc.

    He’s playing tic-tac-toe, you are a grand chess master. Or Go. What he doesn’t know about your depths will hurt him. As it should.

  • The city of Chicago is providing hotel rooms for people in domestic abuse situations, because the shelters are closed. I hope something similar is being offered in other places!

    “Those who need a room can call or text the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 877-863-6338. The hotline will place a hotel reservation for the caller to protect the caller’s privacy.”

  • Thank you CL for being here for people that don’t know where to turn. You have given so many of us a path to freedom when we felt that no one cared, not our families, not our friends. We didn’t know how to reach out and find help. May God continue to bless you in all that you do. Much love.

  • Encourage folks to rethink your approach to things. Remember most things are replaceable. Well-used things may be nearly worn out. Antiques and family heirlooms may be valuable, or your life could be lighter without the items. It becomes a game to them, anything to see themselves as winning or power over, and becomes another way to try to make us flinch. Use of reason is for reasonable people. Consider where it makes sense to step away.

  • From Confused. Thank u CL any all of the rest of u for giving me hope , it will take me alittle while to get though this , I’m still unsure about some things , but I’m willing to try and find my best path I know I’m tried of being scared , He has been in control of me and my life for a long time that he has me second guessing myself I have just now begun to make my own decisions , which again can be scary I want so much to believe I can start a new life just have to I get the nerve to stand up to him I also have to figure out what I want to do with my life , But I will try Thank u all so much it’s nice to know someone has my back

  • From Confused. Thank u CL any all of the rest of u for giving me hope , it will take me alittle while to get though this , I’m still unsure about some things , but I’m willing to try and find my best path I know I’m tried of being scared , He has been in control of me and my life for a long time that he has me second guessing myself I have just now begun to make my own decisions , which again can be scary I want so much to believe I can start a new life just have to I get the nerve to stand up to him I also have to figure out what I want to do with my life , But I will try Thank u all so much it’s nice to know someone has my back 😊

  • Great advice.

    Get that LAWYER!!!! you don’t have to divorce but get advice. I wish I had gotten out sooner, but was someone who didn’t want to lose her family.

    You don’t know what they know…which is they are up to no good financially. He was hiding things, lying, doing things behind my back all they while pretending he wanted to reconcile. It is pure evil to do that to another human being. I was loyal and faithful for 24 years, none of it mattered him to him. I just got off the phone with my lawyer yesterday to find out we have an additional money in retirement that I never knew about but spouse had to reveal because of the discovery. More is missing and I will have a forensic investigator and accountant coming in soon.

    The lies and double life are so egregious. Today I have been grieving a lot. Most days I am doing ok. Looking forward to MEH

    Hang in there

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