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Is It Okay to Give a Cheater a Second Chance?

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The Unicorn of ReconciliationDear Chump Lady,

I find your advice spot-on, and I share you skepticism of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. I’m wondering if you ever could be convinced in any case of reconciliation?

The cheater in my life’s affair wasn’t nearly as egregious as the people who write in — I get that isn’t saying much since the cheater bar seems pretty low based on what I’ve read from your followers. I typically read about other incredulous situations and think “run, girl“ or “why would they put up with that?” But because I am still with my cheating husband, I feel like I can’t think that. A chump’s a chump.

There was no pick-me dancing on my part and a helluva lot of needed change on his part. I have told him I’m never forgiving him, but I agreed to hold off on a divorce. If I had amnesia about his 8-week affair, I’d say we have a good marriage. Are there ANY circumstances where you think it’s ok for a chump to give a cheat a second chance to be a much better husband than before he spent a half dozen Wednesdays sinking his dick in an old girlfriend?

I feel like the harshest critic of the decision to stay is me based entirely on the idea that I declared would leave a cheater when I was a member of the Smug Unknowing class. Do I have to leave the cheater to gain the life?

Sheepishly Reconciling Chump

Dear SRC,

It’s your life. If you want to reconcile, reconcile. I just hope you’re doing it with full-panel STD testing and a post-nup. You left out the particulars of your husband’s remorse. How long has this “helluva lot of change” occurred? As much as you claim skepticism at the RIC, you seem to have bought a major tenet of its faith — you’re going to get a “much better husband” after infidelity.

I remain skeptical. Not that he won’t cheat again (I don’t know that), but that you’ll have a relationship worth preserving. You say you’ll never forgive him and you’ll have to stifle the knowledge that he was willing to risk your relationship to “sink his dick in an old girlfriend.”

So, you don’t respect him, you’ll be hurt forever by this, but you’re willing to stay with him. Okay. That doesn’t sound like an upgrade.

SRC, you’ve conveniently posed this issue as just being about deserving a “second chance” — a solely theoretical question, without giving me any of the particulars of your situation. Only that he’s not “as bad” as others you read about here. (Ahem… bitch cookie.)

Second chances tell us a lot about ourselves, and not much about the people we confer them upon. Understandably, we want to be seen as forgiving, altruistic, optimistic, and not bitter or grudge-holding. And that’s before we consider sunk costs like shared history and children, or financial vulnerability, which might tilt us towards reconciliation over self-preservation.

Most people attempt reconciliation before they divorce. I get it. I did it myself. Frankly, I regret it, but some people feel better that they tried. I would weigh that warm fuzzy against the costs — financial loss, STDs, emotional battery, and time you can’t get back.

To ask me if I believe in second chances is like asking me if I believe in potential. In theory? Sure. Of one particular penny stock? No.

Here’s what a two-month affair tells me.

1.) He doesn’t respect you. You didn’t pick-me-dance? Okay, you didn’t leave either. You really have no consequences to test his remorse against. I don’t know how you can un-know that he was willing to risk your relationship, your health, and your emotional well-being to screw his ex-girlfriend.

2.) He’s got manipulation chops. To fuck his ex over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. Six times. Assuming that’s the extent of it (a big what if), he has the ability to lie to your face for two months. To conspire. To go through with it. Again and again and again and again and again and again. How do you gage his sincerity after that? This is why I recommend tangibles like post-nups. Sorry is as sorry does. Show me the sorry. Show me how he walks that back.

Do I have to leave the cheater to gain the life?

A new life? Yes. Gaining a life is about captaining your own ship, scary as that is. I think it’s less scary than staying with a cheater. What you gain when you reconcile is the false sense of security that you can continue your old life. The “great marriage” you had before the knowledge of D-Day.

The RIC tries to spin turds into gold with the sales pitch that your marriage will be BETTER. This entire blog, and the weight of millions of comments from people who’ve lived it, is that no — it’s not better. You can believe that, or you can try it yourself and see if it’s different for you.

Read Real Remorse or Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse and tell me which you have.

Not everyone values fidelity in a marriage. It really depends on your values and what you can live with. 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.
  • If you do, just go in with eyes wide open. You may need to give him the second chance in order to stay true to your own values. However if he cheats again, you will feel dumb for having put yourself in that position. That’s OK, it may still be worth the try, just utilize some of CL’s tips and tricks to protect yourself. And if he does it again? Zero deliberation, just walk out. You’ll know it was bullshit all along.

    • I’m SRC — I agree wholeheartedly , HM. I actually had divorce papers filled out and was planning on divorce. He begged for a second chance. I just read the real remorse article for the first time & it does describe his actions … I will never say I’m thankful for the affair – ever. When he asked for a second chance (I told him there was a 5% chance), I just told him he had up his husband game a lot.

        • Yup this 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻 I demanded that as a bare minimum to the very high risk of spending my life with a known con artist/practiced liar. The rage in response was all I needed to know.

          • The “known con artist/practiced liar” bit is the main issue IMO. A single drunken incident during a 2-month business trip? Ok, maybe. But once someone’s proven they’re capable of the piles of lies upon lies necesarry to conduct a full blown affair? Nope.

            You just have to admit that they’re capable of completely blindsiding you and screwing you over, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Oh, he’s making promises now? Well, the promises he made on your wedding day before all his friends and family (and his god, if you’re religious) meant jack shit, and all the times he told you he was just working late or whatever was a lie, so why the fuck would this latest bunch of promises be special?

        • Yep. I thought I had the real reconciliation deal but he refused a post nup. Now we’re going through the divorce I see he was never ever sorry despite all the apology letters, the therapy, the phone tracking. If they lied like a demon during the affairs they can do the same in wreckonciliation

      • Be careful.
        They can show all the remorse signifiers and it’s still fake. Mine did all the things CL suggests, except he wouldn’t stop lying and being emotionally abusive. Watch his behaviour towards you. If he’s disrespectful, mean or you suspect he’s not telling you everything, bail.
        Mine even gave me all our assets, bought me a new house and is renovating it for me. But he’s still an asshole.

      • Yes. Get a post nup if it is the right legal decision for you. But, be aware that not every state upholds them. Some states (like mine) do not acknowledge them. So consult a GREAT LAWYER. There are ways to transfer property and set up other legal things to protect you in the event that he cheats again (he will). My state has a “your name on it, your property” approach. Ask him if he is willing to put the house, car, stocks, whatever in your name alone. Real remorse would. When he sniffs a real consequence, my guess is he won’t just acquiesce–he’ll flip through the mindfuck channels. It will look something like this:

        Pity–“You want to destroy me and punish me. If you ever loved me you’d believe me now. You wouldn’t throw away a good marriage. You could leave me with nothing. Then I will have lost everything.”

        Charm– “Let’s not talk like that. I realize what I almost lost. You are the love of my life. I promise that if we stay married, I’ll do everything you ask. I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”

        Rage–” Why are you being such a bitch? Who do you think you are? You act like you are perfect. You never cared about me. You never rotated my socks on laundry day like I asked you. There was that time two weeks after giving birth that you refused sex! You didn’t let me take that Carribbean vacation alone just because you were working 60 hours a week to pay bills! I had to cheat you were so fucking frigid and controlling.”

        While you are deliberating and giving second chances and looking for unicorns he will be draining 401 K accounts without your knowledge, transferring money into those Carribbean accounts he set up on vacation you let him take after all because he blameshifted all that guilt onto you; stashing money in a safe at his parents’ house; purchasing property on the side in his name only; running up the credit cards to wine and dine schmoopies and sticking you with what will become half your marital debt. DO NOT THINK, “Oh, he might cheat–but he’d never do that!” Yes, he would. He has already hurt you in the worst way possible and shown himself perfectly selfish and capable of deception on a massive scale. He has all the characterless traits in place to do exactly that!

        Keep reading this forum. Over and over you will see how they financially abuse by hiding assets or irresponsibly rack up debt. You will see how that vow renewal and second honeymoon do nothing to prevent the HPV he will give you in two years that will lead to cancer. All his promises will mean nothing when he has gotten HIS ducks in a row and then walks out on you with a prostitot teenage schmoopie three months after you have that “forgiveness” baby.

        Learn the soft lesson of seeing other people make mistakes, not the hard lesson of willingly making them on your own. I get it. Most of us tried reconciliation. All of us are here because it didn’t work (millions of hit on this blog to get a sense of the statistical chance you have). Cheaters do all the things I’ve listed and many more–over and over and over again. You are an exceptional woman who deserves everything good–but you very likely are NOT an exception to the cheater rulebook.

        • totally agree with jojobee. I did not even fathom the financial abuse that came as soon as separation started (not even divorce). My exH took it to a level (and continues to try to abuse me financially 10 years later). I also count financial abuse as me having to contact my lawyer and send legal letters because he continues to violate our custody order. I spend a few thousand every year that could be spent on my child.

          Now my exBF (also a cheating narc) was fine with me spending hundreds on counseling that we attended together all while he was already onto AP #2 but acting like we were “working on things.”

          Please protect yourself.

        • Yes jojobee, great advice to learn the soft lessons of others’ experience. CN accumulated wisdom and experience got me out of my 25 year increasingly abusive marriage safely, quickly, cleanly and financially ok. And it was all contrary to my own highly chumpy instincts and inclinations, which made it even harder. But now, 3 years later from my own safe, peaceful home i say: Go with the stats and the facts. He’s got away with it with no consequence that caused him any inconvenience … and SRC got a world of hurt that isn’t getting better.
          Cheaters don’t change, they just go underground. Trust that they suck.

    • Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

      After denying affair since 1994, I finally had concrete evidence which he couldn’t deny. Asshat felt confident after all that time he was invincible. Having been caught so red-handed, he didn’t have an out, and I had cut him off from his harem (he was still in contact). Begged, pleaded, prostrate—trips, jewelry, new home…………buying time for now Howorker wife to infiltrate in 2016.

      I don’t regret giving him a “second” (who am I kidding? how many, right?) chance, but I do regret not getting a post-nup. Although, my Asshat is an especially heinous covert narcissist and would have twisted himself into so many pretzels to avoid the terms so I’m learning to not beat myself up for that.

      So he took the opportunity of time to re-calibrate and get his balance. He sent out a whore bat-signal and received a response from a co-worker and whom had been a guest at my table. And he’s still in contact with his “first” Howorker, as I’ve seen that she’s commenting on Instagram photos of my daughter.

      So up to you to stick around……..but I am the fool who believed that the father of my children would treat me kindly during the discard. He didn’t, and I regret not believing who he was the first time his mask slipped.

      Trust that they suck……

  • If you are going to do this i 1000000000% agree with the post nup At the very least it would have protected me from the massive financial abuse heaped on me and it may have ended my marriage much earlier. It’s a massive test of his “sorry”. If he won’t do it run like your hair is on fire. I wish I had known about it

    • The “post-nup” is really a metaphor for the whole range of things that SRC and other chumps should do to protect themselves, whether they stay or go. The post-nup is about what happens when he cheats again.

      But in the meantime, SRC should make sure they have separate checking and savings accounts. If they stay, one checking account for bill-paying only and joint review of it every month. Money goes into that account proportionally. Run a credit check on both of them and monitor on a credit monitoring service. SRC should Strict attention to paying off any joint debt and make sure the post-nup lays out what debt is the cheater’s along. Knowledge and regular review of all investments, including retirement accounts, pensions, etc. SRC should be consistently putting aside gift cards to use if things go sideways. She should plan to replace items that are at the end of their useful life now, while he is contributing financially. If he buys booze or drugs, she should take the same amount and sock that away.

      • In Canada, whatever is in ANY account either of you have belongs to both (unless you can show you had it before marriage or inherited it, and it was NEVER comingled), if you’re legally married and even in some situations where you’ve been living together quite a while. So having a separate account is not at all helpful.

        Fortunately I live in the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t have common-law marriage, and Cheater Narc was sure I’d let him come back at some point, so he was quite generous, financially, for quite a while.

        Talk to a lawyer about how to protect yourself. And absolutely you need to know every single detail of every single financial fact of your couple/family life – EVERYONE DOES, always!

  • My question is pretty straightforward. Who ended it…..him or her? The only way you might find the answer is to talk to her. But then you know cheaters do lie. You need to get to the answer no matter how you do it because if she ended it then you are Plan B. That means he still has all the power in your marriage. That never ends well. Either he’s going to give himself permission to go back to her if she wants him, or find someone else, or you might give yourself permission to look outside the marriage. Who knows. Find out.

      • And if you hadn’t discovered it, then what? He’d still be at it, regardless of what he says right now about regretting it and wanting a second chance. What he wants is not escape the consequences for his action, he’s hard at work on you to make that happen, and you’re responding just as he wants you to. You put the divorce papers on hold. You’re minimizing two months and the many decisions he made to cheat and the 60 days he every day lied to and deceived you as “six times,” as if only the sex act itself was the problem.

        I hope for your sake the pendulum swings the other way and you realize you’re being had, because in your current mind frame I would bet that you will not make him sign a post-nup.

        • Exactly. If they didn’t end it themselves, it’s a red flag that they’ll cheat again as soon as they think the coast is clear.

        • I discovered my ex’s (3-year!!!) affair with his subcontracting housepainter (married, w a special needs child & skank-smell you could detect from a photo). His fish-flapping responses were ridiculous: “She’s just a friend.”
          “She’s like a sister.”
          “I was thinking of ending it anyway.”
          Sure…if you buy thongs, perfume & sex toys for your sister, of course! I told him that if that was his concept of sibling relationships, I would deny him access to our teenage daughter since his values were so fucked up. He was desperate and it showed.

          Today is the first anniversary of my divorce, CN! I celebrated by setting a boundary with a man who was pursuing me and saved myself a WORLD of heartache w a single text.
          Mighty? Hell, yeah! Meh? Yes, Tuesday came. I never thought it would, but it did.

          SRC, I get where you are. I’ve been there. I did not have the self esteem, ego-strength or support to see past the pain of pulling off the infected band-aid that was making the wound worse. I drank that RIC Kool-Aid and saw what I wanted to see. The years that passed between just upped the ante of my sunk costs until my last Dday w this same selfish fuckwit. For all I know he never stopped. And that’s the price of the second chance I offered. I trust that he sucks. I know *I* was true, and that’s all I control.
          He was able to mimic what appeared to be love for me, as well as what he thought remorse might look like. The bottom line is always the bottom line:
          Is it acceptable to me?
          Nope.
          My new life is so FULL of genuine love from a circle of friends who showed up when I was at my lowest. Many f2f friends, and I consider CN members to be friends, too. They mirrored my truth for me until I could do what needed to be done.
          We’re here for you, SRC.

      • So the comment I just wrote got disappeared by the system, so I’ll try to recreate it.

        And if you hadn’t discovered it, what then? It’d still be going on.

        What your husband wants is not to suffer the consequences for his action, and he’s working very hard on you so that he won’t have to, and you’re doing just what he wants you to. You have walked back the consequences; you are minimizing two months of deception and lies, sixty days of it, sixty days of waking up and going to sleep with you and eating meals with you and having sex with you, all the while he’s thinking about their next meet up or their last one, as six instances of sex.

        I hope for your sake that your pendulum swings back the other way after reading our comments, because in your current frame of mind, in which you seem convinced that reconciliation is going to work, I bet you won’t even ask him for a post-nup.

        • I have no issue asking for a post-nup. I guess I didn’t know they held up in court. In my case I care a lot about custody. I will look into it.

          • For a postnup to hold up in court, it needs to be fair. A postnup that promises you 100% and forfeiture of his parental rights is as good as no postnup at all.

            You would need to approach it as if you were actually getting a divorce and what your best case scenario would be if you were going in front of a judge.

            For this reason, if you’re going through the expense and the stress of hammering out an air-tight postnup, why not just get divorced and move in with your life?

          • What a post-nup requires him to do is contemplate what divorce will look like. What it requires you to do is plan for a future without him, if it comes to that. You should be doing that anyway. But someone who will cheat with someone else will often cheat about money, too. So pay attention to the money. Prepare yourself. One thing you may not be allowing yourself to think about is that he could leave YOU, perhaps not now but when the kids are older.

            • This!! ^^^ about cheating financially. They go hand-in-hand. Entitlement doesn’t compartmentalize itself. Mine accused me of the financial fraud he had been committing for decades.

              I’m sorry there is so much SUCK here. But, there is life on the other side of it.

          • Even if they don’t hold up in court his response to you asking him for one will tell you all you need to know about his ‘remorse’

    • Let Go, who finished it – him or her? There’s another question – is it finished? Mine is a similar story. He minimised what had happened; he was sorry though he took many liberties and strung ‘the End’ out. I wanted to save my marriage; I loved him and keeping my family together was important to me. Once I was in, I continued to give it my all. To find, 11 years later (after 28 years married) that that affair had continued and perhaps there were others! I called time on it at that point and I deeply regret the wasted time! I should have walked away when I was 42 and not waited til I was 54 to start again. It’s been so painful and I’d not want you, SRC or anyone in a similar situation to go through that! This phrase is so true – Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me, Fool me a third time shame on both of us – is so very true.

      • THis is the truth. He wanted to work on the marriage after he was caught. We went to RIC. We had a child through hard fertility. He contacted her!!! To tell her we had a baby separately from all the other people he announced the birth to. And she replied back to him!!! He saw nothing wrong with it!!! I wanted details and was on hopium and hormones from delivering a baby. It was hell. We went for more counseling and had the second child. He kicked me in bed while I was pregnant with number 2!!! RUN AWAY!!!

  • No-you just get the same behavior later. Just worse next time and they are better liars. Post nuptial would be good if you feel you need to give second chance.

    • Unfortunately I don’t know a single person, out of Many chumps so at least we’re all in good company, who have ended up with a fabulous marriage or partner on the 2nd try. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but the odds are not in we Chumps favor in this regard. Additionally, in my experience, once trust is broken in this regard it never truly returns and that is a whole new level of mindfuckery that I wish I had skipped experiencing.

  • I think most cheaters think they will be taken back. You will never hear the truth from them, because they don’t respect themselves or the chump, unfortunately.
    The complications ie money, childcare, bills they know your life will be harder. my ex spent his money on ow, drugs, alcohol. never on the kids or me.
    Your dammed if you don’t and dammed if you do.
    If they loved you they wouldn’t have cheated on you.

  • In RIC, you’re supposed to place trust in a person who promises not to do what he already promised not to do in the first place. It’s complicated and shitty when you see a cheater for what they are. But they tell you exactly what they are. Actions speak louder than words. We all deserve better than a cheater. The hard part is believing it after investing so much of ourselves in them and walking away from that investment. It’s much easier when you finally realize it was all a lie and there’s nothing real to hold on to with a cheater.

    • You are exactly right MC. It took me six months to get my head around the reality of my situation (3.5 yrs. post DD – 2.5 years divorced) but when the veil is lifted and you realize that your entire 40 year marriage was a lie (serial cheater from day one!) and that there is nothing to “save” it is like the weight of the world is taken off your shoulders. It allows you to do what you have to do to save yourself both financially and mentally. I remember when I first started reading CL online I felt I would be the exception. I quickly realized that I too was trying find that elusive Unicorn. How could I possibly think anyone who cheated over 40 years could change! I agree with CN – does not matter if it is 40 years or 2 months.

    • A month ago when he “confessed” that he and his ex were cheating together (supposedly 6 years ago) my initial response was GET OUT! He acted like he was as we feuded all day I packed his clothes he started getting TVs and other bs that didn’t matter- he said I can’t do this I don’t have anywhere to go. WHY did I feel bad? I know we’re in a pandemic and it’s kind of difficult to go… anyway we’re here. He still acts normal from the couch. Doing yard work laundry dinner etc. I fee I’m trapped in what I thought was real vs reality. Please help this is the toughest thing ever. We’ve cried screamed everything – several times

  • Even without the 6 times * coughs * of sex what about the build up to it ?

    You know the sexting , the flirting , the secret phone calls the having to manipulate you so you would think he was somewhere he wasn’t .

    Then coming home every Wednesday sitting having dinner with you , sleeping in the same bed as you and you just getting on with your daily life all the while he knew the following Wednesday he’d be doing exactly the same thing .

    Maybe it’s just me but the sex my husband had behind my back was the least of my worries . It was the lies , manipulation , the gaslighting and basic disrespect that did it for me .

    I wish you all the very best in the future if you reconcile or not . Good luck to you

    • Good point. There is always the initial flirting, emotional affair stuff that prefaces the sleeping together. How long did that go on before the 8 weeks of sleeping together every Wednesday? Plus if he admitted to 8 weeks, it was more than likely longer and there may have been a few Thursdays or Fridays thrown in as well. If he had only slept with her once or twice and stopped because he felt terrible about cheating, you may have something to work with, but this cheating went on for awhile. I’d love to know how it ended, did cheater admit to the affair or did he get caught?

      • It’s also the DECISION. That decision requires the cheater to DEVALUE his spouse, to tell himself his promises to her don’t matter, the pain she will feels doesn’t matter, that it’s fine for him to know the truth about the marriage but she must be deceived, and that his lover will know, in word and deed, that he thinks it’s fine to deceive his spouse.

        What hurt me to the core was knowing that they had to talk about me, and that his words made me look like a fool or a bad person or not worth anything at all. The affair signals a profound disrespect.

        • Many of these men will use the excuse of “not wanting to hurt my wife by telling her” to the potential affair partner. They weave a tale of all sorts of excuses to themselves and the AP why not telling the wife is a more noble thing than telling her he wants to do extracurricular activities.

          • Yes, SkunkCabbage!
            It would be TERRIBLE to TELL the chump.
            Not terrible to: fuck around, deceive, expose to STDs, devalue, marginalize, manipulate, steal from, yadda yadda.
            It would be terrible [for cheaters] to tell the betrayed spouse because CONSEQUENCES, not out of concern for betrayed spouse’s feelings. Because, UF they WERE concerned, no fucking around. Cheater Logic 101

        • LovedAJackass,
          You exactly summed up my feelings about my husband’s betrayal. During my post-D-Day phase of several weeks worth of obsessively searching for info about his affair, I found a text message exchange between them in which she mocked a heartfelt belief of mine. (She had followed me on Facebook.) He brushed off what she said and texted back, “That’s just Effie being dramatic.” (We’d been married 18 years at that point, and he didn’t really know who I was and what mattered to me — even when I had told and shown him my beliefs. He was mocking my being an atheist as “just drama.”) We are still together, because I wimped out.

          • Dear Effie, it’s never to late to un-wimp-out. That man who didn’t know or respect you then still doesn’t know or respect you now, pretty much guaranteed.

            Think about what you would need, to consider a life independent of cheater. Talk to a lawyer, and a financial advisor or career counsellor and a goooooooood therapist about what you would need, and where you think that independent life could lead you.

            Lots of people here spent time lining up their ducks, and their heads, and made it out. You can too! And you deserve so much better than what you have with him.

          • Effie…I read a bit of your blog. As much as your husband is disrespectful and dismissive of you, so you are to him as well. He appears to behave in classic passive-aggressive ways. This is absolutely maddening; I get it. I am so thankful; grateful to God that I am free of all that.
            You don’t have anything to work with.
            Cut bait and get out. You will be glad you did.

        • What has me so conflicted about my own situation is the he lied to her about having a wife! Would things be any different if he’d told her about me and still made the decision to cheat? Doubt it, but, hell, he didn’t even give the OW a chance. I’m still filing for divorce, but the ball of emotions I’m experiencing is overwhelming!

          • BofC, it doesn’t really matter whether he lied to the AP, does it? After all, it’s HIM you were married to. She might have turned him down if he’d been honest, but he’d just look for, or ‘stumble upon’ somebody who wouldn’t care about that – there’s plenty like that around. If it hadn’t been her, it would have been somebody else.

            The AP in your case may be collateral damage. It only means he was willing to lie to and fuck over TWO women at once!

            I’ve thought about this kind of thing a fair bit, because my Ex is a super passive guy with very few social skills, who fortunately for him is very good looking, with a gorgeous voice. I don’t think he’s ever pursued a woman in his life, he just accepts EVERY TIME a woman pursues him. So if he hadn’t met the quite-predatory AP #2, would he have cheated that second time? Probably not at that moment. But sooner or later, yeah, of course he would have.

            Do I want to be with a man who is only faithful because no easy opportunity to cheat has presented itself? Or who hadn’t cheated only because he was honest about being married and the prospective OW turned him down because of it? Hell no.

            I’m so sorry this is so hard, but I promise that will pass, and you’ll be so much better off without him.

            • Thank you, KarenE. I needed to hear that! My husband is – was – appeared to be a stand-up guy and, like your Ex, very passive. I’m pretty sure being 7 hours away from home for work training for months at a time contributed to his confidence in initiating an affair.

              I never would have expected this from him. And he seems so remorseful and full of regret and guilt. I am constantly contemplating a second chance, but know deep down I would be truly unhappy in a relationship without trust, never being able to fully give myself to him again. And every time I read the messages they exchanged (the OW was kind enough to send screenshots at my bequest), I realize the emotional affair was the most damaging, although he claims it was just sex and everything else was just telling her what he thought she wanted to hear.

              I always maintained that infidelity is unacceptable in a relationship, but I didn’t think he would ever find out how serious I was. Man, this shit hurts so much!

              Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place. I haven’t talked much about all the details with many people since D-Day (2 weeks ago). I’m still flustered and dealing with incoming texts from him that have my questioning my resolve. Luckily, I have all the divorce papers signed – just waiting for the courts to open back up!

              Frequenting this blog has helped, so I’m very appreciative of CL and all the other Chumps.

              • A month ago when he “confessed” that he and his ex were cheating together (supposedly 6 years ago) my initial response was GET OUT! He acted like he was as we feuded all day I packed his clothes he started getting TVs and other bs that didn’t matter- he said I can’t do this I don’t have anywhere to go. WHY did I feel bad? I know we’re in a pandemic and it’s kind of difficult to go… anyway we’re here. He still acts normal from the couch. Doing yard work laundry dinner etc. I feel I’m trapped in what I thought was real vs reality. Please help this is the toughest thing ever. We’ve cried screamed everything – several times

                The divorce papers are in the car where they’re safe from being found and destroyed. I told him I have them. He said I don’t want that and I want you to know there’s no more bs. You can trust me and I would never in my life cheat on you again. I don’t care if he didn’t cheat again it’s getting through what I KNOW. 6 years ago or not! That “baby mama” will still be around another 6 years before their daughter turns 18! THEN my step daughter has children- guess who is the gramma?!? Not just ME!
                Help
                Why am I so scared to move???

        • Wow, your comment was like an arrow to my heart. Exactly what I have felt but could not put into words. That hurts like hell. I actually saw a msg exchange between them that by the date it happens when he was blaming me for leaving me and talking to her like he was an 18-year old that had just met her at a dance club. This is what I meant to him? Here was he crushing me and they are having a laugh.

          • These kind of things still have the ability of hitting in hard. I was lucky enough never to read these kind of exchanges. Yesterday, after 1 year since D-day, my 6yo told me that her father in an attempt to rationalize and explain his fuckfest had once shown her a picture of him and ho-worker in a forest having a picknick! 6yo said, but daddy never did picknick with us and he doesn’t like going to the woods. So maybe that was just a background in a photo studio (hopeful eyes but in doubt)? But, then, well they re not photo models or celebrities,so I guess, it’s not a background…
            Breaks my heart. Sets me on fire but I don’t have anything left of his stuff to burn or smash.

    • Karen- I totally agree. (And there was some Saturday sex thrown in there once, too. And a lunchtime BJ. I was just keeping it simple for my letter not because I trusted what he spilled initially). That’s what really bothers me, the morning messages and the naughty pics she sent. The build-up and the lies were as offensive to me as the sex if not more so.

        • I imagine that would be followed by a quick clandestine and whiny communication with the OW about how the controlling SRC “made” him do that, how he just needs a bit more time, blah, blah, lie, lie, manipulate, etc.

        • My ex staged a “breakup call” with her AP, in front of her family, no less, to prove she had ended it.
          It was all faked. They planned it beforehand. After her family left, she was locking the door on the spare bedroom to text or call him.

      • The devaluation of you and the marriage. The terrible disrespect to you. The idea that he could know the truth but you couldn’t. That’s a terrible power imbalance.

      • So you know about eight instances of extra-marital sex . . . there were probably at least sixteen. Cheaters never admit to anything that you cannot prove. Two months of physical cheating. Probably two months of longing gazes and flirtatious text messages or emails, long phone calls, future faking (with you, with her, with the gal who lives down the street that you haven’t found out about yet).

        I get it. I took my first cheater back and gave him a second chance. I was young, stupid and my pastor, my parents, my therapist and my friends all told me that cheating wasn’t a big deal, that marriage is a sacrament, that I owed it to him to give him a second chance. And after I got treated for some sexually transmitted diseases, my GYN sat me down and told me flat out that the only way I’d be getting these diseases would be if I was in a non-monogamous relationship. I was faithful — was I SURE he was? Turns out he’d slept with our “friends,” neighbors, co-workers, the woman he rear-ended at a stop light, the woman who interviewed me for a job I really wanted (for two YEARS while we were engaged and newly married) the nun who lead our pre-Cana classe and my sister. I kicked him out and changed the locks. That was 42 years ago.

        Cheating is profoundly disrespectful. Cheating is abusive. If he loved you and respected you, he would not have cheated. He’s just trying to avoid consequences. Cheaters hate consequences.

        I’ve dated several men since then, and I’ve told every one up front that cheating is a hard boundary. They cheat, they’re gone. I’ve had to get rid of a few cheaters and you know what? I’ve never regretted it. Even the one I was married to for twenty years. I left him at the age of 62 after two years of retirement . . . walked away with what I could carry and got a job and started over. I lived in my best friend’s basement for two years. It was worth it.

        Take a really good look at your “great marriage” and decide if it’s really great or if it’s just what you’re used to. Before I got cancer (and he brought two women into pre-op holding to “visit” while I was waiting to have my boob cut off) I would have believed I had a great marriage, too. Looking back, I can see many, many red flags and instances of profound disrespect. I’m fairly certain that if you look back with a critical eye, you’ll discover a few (or quite a few) things that weren’t really what they seemed at the time. I hope you learn more quickly than I did.

        Despite everything I’ve heard from the therapy community and my priest (who was actually fucking my second husband while telling him that “it’s not cheating because it’s not sex, because there’s no chance for procreation”) that cheating makes marriages stronger, I have never personally known anyone for whom that was the case. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents stayed married, but theirs were marriages of convenience — it was quite clear to me even as a young child that they hated and disrespected each other. My sister cheats, my cousins cheat, and I’ve been with cheaters. I’ve never known a single cheater who would admit to the whole truth, who was genuinely remorseful or who had an epiphany and stopped cheating. I suppose that the fact I’ve never seen a unicorn is not absolute proof that they don’t exist . . . but I’m not betting my health, my finances, my safety or my emotional well-being that I’ll ever see one.

        If fidelity isn’t important to you, if respect isn’t important to you and if you have such a tight grip on your finances that he cannot possibly screw you over, give him as many chances as you want. But I’m hoping you LEAVE the cheater and GAIN a life.

        • Ex Mrs Sparkly Pants, aka, Ms. Sparky Pants!

          “it’s not cheating because it’s not sex, because there’s no chance for procreation”

          Oh man, this is the barfiest thing I’ve ever heard from a Christianity persuasion. I’m sure we’ve had many more on this subject with The Stupidest Shit Cheaters say – The stupid shit Cheating pastors say!

          The amazing justifications just keep coming…
          I mean, apparently I snored too loud for him to share a bed….ok, but then they’re’s the odd hotel room night…I’ve found myself on the floor many times.

          (Embarrassing!)

      • What he spilled “initially”?

        So he trickle truthed?

        If that’s the case you’re wasting your time. But I get that you have to get to this conclusion on your own.

        For me, it wasn’t worth living with a guy I knew I would never trust again. And I can tell you that I was right…my ex is still carrying on with the whore he swore he couldn’t remember the last time he talked to.

        Are you sure you want to spend the precious years of your one life with a guy you know deep down you can’t trust? What’s going on now is manipulation and damage control. He’s already shown you who he really is.

        • The trust issue is key. If I had stayed with my now ex-wife/whore, I would never have had any peace of mind. I would have been compelled to be a full time detective, wondering what she was doing every minute. Once you’ve been abused by infidelity, there is no trust and without trust there is no marriage.

      • ^^ Yes, this. There is no optimal way to make sure that your spouse has ended it for good. Anything you ask for will likely be relayed to the affair partner and to friends as “SRC is making me do X.” If you ask for access to devices, etc., then you’ve become the marriage police. And for how long?

        My STBX originally wanted to get back in touch with her AP (we’re all women) after 6 months to see if they could be “friends” – even though they had slept together within hours of meeting as strangers at a bar. It was like pulling teeth to get STBX to see that was a bad idea. I remember thinking, at least she was relatively honest about that – though she ended up lying about other things: she couldn’t answer my questions honestly, which is one point CL makes in her Genuine Imitation Naugahyde post. But my point is, maybe lots of cheaters think they can go back to being “friends” with their AP.

        SRC, is your husband going to make a case that he should be allowed to stay in touch with this ex of his, because they have “shared history”? (Barf.) If he does, or if you have any indication that he thinks he’s entitled to further communication with her or with anybody who knew about the affair – yes, potentially including his best mates – then run for the hills. The biggest indication I had after D-Day #2 that reconciliation wasn’t going to work was that STBX dragged her feet at every reasonable request I had to end all contact with AP forever, curtail or end friendships with people who had known about the affair, etc. STBX didn’t – and still doesn’t – understand how to be on my marital team. And I hope it goes without saying: if you catch your husband in even a small lie, you need to levy a serious consequence like separation – or even better, run for the hills. All best to you!

      • SRC
        You might not realize that having sex with your cheater after your discovery of his infidelity constitutes forgiveness in some states court systems.
        On discovery day I shutdown all sexual encounters and made the whore sleep in the guest bedroom. She was disgusting to me at that point, an anathema.

    • You would actually be giving him a seventh chance, not a second one. (Even though you didn’t know you were giving him the first six chances.)

      • ^^ THIS! ^^

        If my cheater had just cheated once, and fessed up immediately, I would have tried for reconciliation. In fact, I did agree to let her come back home after she had admitted to one time.

        But I suspected there was more and kept pressing. Once she admitted to a second time, I felt we had to separate, likely divorce, but might be able to start over. Then, I caught her with yet someone else. That was it.

      • Very true! We don’t know what we don’t know. And they will never admit to what we don’t know. And in the end they think they committed only ONE mistake because in their view numerous infidelities are really all wrapped up into ONE mistake. Heard this many times during 25 years with a serial cheater & it’s total mindfuckery. They don’t change because they don’t want to change.

    • The stuff you list is bad enough, but what about financial abuse too? I don’t know anybody who’s suffered infidelity whose partner wasn’t abusing money too. Affairs are expensive. Shmoopies need gifts, hotel rooms, “a loan”. And while we’re at it, Hubby might as well steal some off the top for themselves too.

      Cheaters have already proven themselves dishonest, otherwise they wouldn’t be cheating in the first place. And they’re clearly good at it, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to hide it for long. If someone can look you in the face at breakfast and not even blink after betraying your wedding vows, how can you trust they’re not stealing money somewhere?

      This isn’t paranoia, this is experience talking. I don’t know any abuse survivors who didn’t experience some form of financial abuse tacked on to that. Cheaters love to steal our money AND our time and leave us destitute.

  • The thing that most gets my attention is, how is it that he was in close enough touch with a former girlfriend — after whatever courtship you shared PLUS the process of planning and executing a wedding, PLUS the time you’ve spent being married — to reconnect, plan, and share multiple covert sexual encounters that involved actively and purposefully deceiving you?

    That doesn’t feel accidental or unintentional from here.

    Like CL, I say, you are empowered to pilot yourself through you one wild and precious life, so whatever YOU decide is OK is, in fact, OK for you.

    It’s just hard for me to see someone whose personal ethical construct already included all of that deliberate deception possessing a version of “much better” that’s good enough for the title “husband”. Being a marital partner is about so much more than sex. The person is fully integrated in your whole life – finances, retirement, healthcare, parenting (or not), family, traditions, celebrations, friendships, recreation/travel, hobbies, home management… It is hard to share even one of those things with a person who is willing to be deceptive and to risk your well being. In some cases, it’s more that difficult — it’s life-threatening.

    I know my personal opinion is clear, but you still need to form your own. I’m just providing more data.

    No matter what you choose now, you can always choose differently later. If you want to watch and see for a while, do that. I only suggest that you strive to actually see, as things actually are, not as you wish they were. ⭐

    • I’m Sheepishly Reconciling Chump…. as far as how long he has been changing — Dday was about 14 months ago. He is an alcoholic who also quit drinking . As

      • Then he needs to be in some serious therapy because “putting drinking” is not the cure for what makes alcoholics drink. As me how I know.

            • RUN like your hair is on fire! See the comment I made above. Addicts lie; it is what they do. They lie to everyone (including themselves) about what they do, think, and feel. There is often an enormous sense of entitlement at the core of addiction. Their “want” for what they want will always outweigh every very real “need” everyone around them has. Our culture spends a lot of time focusing on addiction as a disease. It spends very little time focusing on the personality disorders that often spawn the addiction or are co-morbid with it in the first place. Even if the addict quits the drug, they are often still the same selfish, lying, manipulator who just happens to be sober now. I find it interesting that your first letter doesn’t mention the alcoholism. You have been groomed and trained to protect him and his bad behavior at all costs. Please get out. Don’t let your children grow up in a home where they see that one parson in the relationship gets to be selfish, manipulative, and destructively hurtful–while the other has to be endlessly kind, forgiving, nurturing, and working on everything alone to the point of physical, emotional, and psychological breakdown. They will learn to either be the abuser or be the abused. Ask me how I know this.

              • “I find it interesting that your first letter doesn’t mention the alcoholism.”

                That’s denial to the nth power.

            • But you see–that is how he has learned, over years of experience, to get what he wants or perceives he needs. He lies. That’ s now part of his character.

              I don’t know ADOA?

            • This is a new twist with addiction. I would say yeah get out. Who needs to be waiting for the other shoe to drop at any given moment? Be it cheating or drinking. Life is so much better without worrying about if he is late, is he drinking or with another woman?

      • He’s an addict, too? Those who are serious about kicking addiction believe they should experience the consequences for their actions. He wants to avoid them by asking you to carry him. Not a good bet.

        • I mean this in the nicest of ways, SRC: you don’t have a unicorn, you have a hopium problem. A severe one. You’re just spackling over more and more of his awful problems.

      • One of the things cheating and addiction have in common is recklessness and absolutely no consideration for health and well-being of himself and others.

        These are character flaws that you need to decide if you can live with. Today it’s booze and fucking ex-girlfriends, tomorrow it could be gambling or financial fraud.

  • He sounds like an elusive unicorn. How do you know he won’t cheat again? Because he says so? He showed no qualms about lying multiple times to cheat 6 (or more?) times. You will never be able to fully trust him. Do you want to be the marriage police? Personally I think the betrayal of cheating is a deal breaker.

    • Yes, this is the thing about reconciliation that the RIC doesn’t ever tell you–that you spend the rest of your life with a cheater. And he/she may not be cheating right now, but there is a demonstrated willingness to cheat. You can never trust this person. And in the end, you usually get betrayed again. But even if you never discover another affair, you just never really know. It’s a terrible way to live, not trusting the person sharing your home and your bed.

    • Question- who initiated counseling and scheduled?
      What voluntary action has he taken? Shown you his phone ?
      Offered to put something in your name? Anything?
      What is his idea of how to reconcile?
      Actions speak louder than words and if you are the one ASKing for him to take action then he is waiting for you to get over it.

      • And if the Chump is the one who researched and booked the therapy, bought the books, figured out what would have to happen for reconciliation to occur and informed the Cheater about it, then coached them through that … you are so fucking doomed. You’re just repeating the entire history of the relationship probably. Non-reciprocity, Chump does all the work, Cheater gets a free ride …

        Ask me how I know….

        No Contact makes the patterns so clear, after a while.

  • Noooooope!!!

    You 👏 deserve 👏 so 👏 much 👏 better!

    But you might not realize it yet, but it’s 100% true!

  • Even if he never cheats again (an unlikely scenario, to be sure) you are always and forever participating in a 3 person marriage, because of what you now know he’s capable of. You can’t undo what’s already been done.

    • In theory, anyone is capable of cheating, lying, stealing, murder, etc.

      He has already DEMONSTRATED he is capable of doing so. Exactly what are you working with here?

      You can roll a cat turd in powdered sugar and call it Turkish Delight. You may even convince someone to take a bite, but once they know what it is, that person has choices.

      Take another bite?

      Buy another from the same person?

      Or toss it aside, tell others and neverdo business with them again?

  • My husband cheated with his ex (daughters mom) in our dating phase. I forgave, chalking it up to many things- having a baby together, being confused/torn, weak etc
    I eventually trusted again as far as cheating, but NOT in terms of his capabilities.
    Moving forward, we got married.Although I loved him, Things were never quite right. He still talks about some anger issue toward him that I have.
    Recently, he confessed to cheating with her (again) six years ago. This is all the info I’ve received other that me forcing out of him that it was in “a car”. Her car? Your car? A stolen car? WTF? But I’m really sorry and I’ve regretted it ever since. I love you and didn’t want to lose you. Because of this, I can’t ever fully trust him. I feel dumb because she’s a piece of work I don’t consider her a real “woman” and now I look at him as equally trashy. This is a person that according to him, was always a rotten cheating girlfriend who’s had many children with multiple men… polar opposite of me. Although I was the one he married- we had no kids (thankfully now) and no talks of retirement which we should be doing at 44 rather than deal with this nonsense.
    It hurts I know. You want to believe, I know. I do all the crying, moping around, reading writing in my journal, praying- everything. Im a nervous wreck I get scared and jump when he walks in the room. I understand you wanting to work it out. Why give him up to a skank, right? Well at More than, one point he didn’t give a shit about your well being.Personally I don’t give a rats ass about the cheating it’s the ability to deceive and take full advantage of my loyalty.
    I’d love to hear her version but, no way am I asking.
    “I learned my lesson ok?” Is what I keep hearing. I’m stuck in this house with him and want to puke
    This may not help you much but it sure takes a lot of effort to stay

    • I hope this won’t come out rude. When you compete with a cheating shit and he has difficulties to decide not to stray, aren’t you two women seen on equal footing in his eyes? It should be you to tell him sorry darling but I’m so out of your league. Swines don’t understand the value of pearls, they just like to wallow in mud. But you should know how much the pearls are worth.

      • Amen! If XAss couldn’t see what a gem he had in me, and needed supplementary attention, that’s his loss. And 4 years later, I think, somewhere in the dim recesses of his deluded mind, he realizes what he has lost and will NEVER get back. (And that is where most of his rage at me comes from.)

    • Shann, if he spontaneously confessed, why would he not answer or volunteer the car information and each and every question you have about the cheating? For that matter, why spontaneously confess at all? It seems to me it’s all manipulation. He is trying to get you to pick-me dance or upset you so much you are distracted (i.e. perhaps while he’s bleeding you dry financially).

      As LAJ said, you can leave. You can take steps toward leaving this marriage right now. Select an aggressive lawyer. Fill out the paperwork. Make plans for YOURSELF. You’ve thought about him and his AP long enough.

  • You do you. I had weird phone calls from men early in the marriage. Guys asking why their wives had my husband’s name and phone number in their purses. Tried to get the information but they would refuse and eventually hang up. I’ve had training in getting information (think bomb threats) as to background noises, speech patterns, etc. The people didn’t sound familiar like his coworkers. Disney daddy claimed it was a work prank call. They do it to each other. Now I’m thinking it was just a warning of him constantly being on the prowl. I know of two definitely. There are probably more. You may discover more also. Only you can decide what you want and can accept.

  • This is a major nugget of wisdom when deciding what you want to do with your cheater: “Not everyone values fidelity in a marriage.”

    I have a friend who just found out her husband was cheating with a woman from our book club. In her first day post-discovery, she confessed to me that this was far from the first time this has happened, but by God… she has sunk costs; she’s not giving up on everything she has worked for; she just can’t start over again. Infidelity is not a deal breaker for her, apparently.

    And when I suggested to her that she at least get a Post-Nup, she expressed the fear that the almighty HE would never agree to it and HE would leave her if she asked. So, there’s that Everest to climb.

    Not everyone is ready to leave (or stay and protect themselves) after the first discovery. I stayed for 4 years after the first discovery and then HE LEFT ME. Ah, the irony. But then I found Chump Nation and CL and I knew I had finally found my tribe (and my cajones).

    We are all on a different journey. Know your values; know your deal breakers; you do you. I will only say this (which I wish I would have said to myself back in 2009… “do you really think this is the first time… or just the first time you caught him?”… and can you live the rest of your life sleeping with one eye open?)

    Good luck, whatever you decide, we’ll be here.

    • I’m Sheepishly Reconciling Chump…. as far as how long he has been changing — Dday was about 14 months ago. He is an alcoholic who also quit drinking .

      • He replaced the habit of behavior with an ex-girlfriend (lying about what he is doing, with whom, how often, etc.). So, setting aside that she is a skeeze, he is using at least two people like objects to service himself and his desires.

        You and the her. Maybe more.

        You know as the spouse of an alcoholic that they have to face real consequences. I suggest that a divorce is the real consequence he needs to face.

        • Or at least a long-term separation. Me, I would never again even date a man who had a drinking problem of any sort because I spent a lifetime dealing with drunks, both ones who were using, ones who were abusing, and ones who were dry.

      • SRC… not everyone is a fan of 12-step programs… but if you’re living with an alcoholic cheater… I’d start attending Al-Anon meetings (you can probably find online) and get a post-nup in place. Recovery is a long hard road without adding sexual infidelity to it. When is the last time you ran a credit report? Financial infidelity should be considered and looked in to as well.

        • And when he relapses–and the odds are very high he will–you need to leave for good, for the sake of your children if for no other reason. Kids do not learn healthy functioning in a household that revolves around addiction/alcoholism.

          If you don’t want to do Al-ANON, then get into therapy with someone who understands the narcissism and entitlement inherent in cheating and addiction.

      • Dear Sheepish, I had a first early marriage to an alcoholic in my 20’s. Of course I didn’t know until it was too late. And I had two lovely children. We split up when I was 26. At 31 I fell for another guy who hardly ever drank. 20 years later I discovered he was a lying cheating narcissist. The character traits are the same. I’ve gotts say the non-drinking Narc was even worse than the alcoholic (who also cheated on me). But this is weird, the alcoholic seemed more honest in his confusion and did less damage than the N. Either way I lost a lot of time. In my 60’s now and very very happy!
        I very highly recommend Getting them Sober Volume 4 (Separations and Healings) Often you can get the e-book for about 5 bucks.
        https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0051OT47U/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

        You can read it quite quickly, and it will sort out many many questions. It is a GREAT book, on par with Leave A Cheater Gain A Life.
        Good luck to you. You sound like a good person, and you deserve a good life. Only he can get himself straight.

  • Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he is a golden unicorn. You may forgive him, but you will never forget what he did. He didn’t break a promise to wash the dishes, he took his risks with your life and well-being because…

    But okay. He is a golden unicorn. He truly repents, never does it again, is as terrific a spouse as anyone could ever hope for BUT you will never forget what he did and why he did it (for kicks, because he could, because he was a scheming dirtbag). Will you ever stop feeling like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head? Will he?

    Is there any reason to continue to have a relationship that is now founded in distrust? It sounds exhausting and demoralizing for both parties. Particularly you.

    But it is YOUR marriage and whatever decision you make today can be changed in the future, if you wish to do so.

    At the very least get a post-up that protects you in the event that he betrays you and the marriage ever again. It may or may not be legally binding though. Check on that. Make certain it is though.

    • I agree with what other people said. It’s not just the weekly sex, there was a lot of build up to this, flitting, planning, talking, texting ….. he devalued you, it’s a huge betrayal.
      It really sucks when life deals us this blow. The affair won’t unhappen. You have two unfortunate choices now. You either stay with somebody who has proven that he can lie to you, devalue you and easily throw your marriage to the curb, or you leave with all that entails.
      It’s not what you thought it was. If you divorce 5, 10, or 15 years from now will you wish you had left sooner?

  • A post nup doesn’t protect you from STD’S. You’re with a cheater plain and simple. He’s just like all the others we write about daily. He CHEATED. It requires lying, financial abuse, and the expectation of not getting caught.

    Staying says there are no consequences; that boundary you previously had was meaningless. What makes you think he’ll change? He won’t. They will find ways to continue the affair.

  • This sentence bothered me…”The cheater in my life’s affair wasn’t nearly as egregious as the people who write in…” Yes, he was. It sounds like you are trying to justify staying in a relationship because he didn’t cheat as much or as bad as other people…The facts are he had an 8 week affair that he admits to, I would bet it was longer and probably a lot more egregious than you know. Cheaters will admit to what you already know, the will not give extra information. Most chumps only learn a tiny bit of what really happened.

    • Very true. My XW lied for years that she never had any Physical affairs. That they were only “emotional” affairs. Took me 15 years to get concrete proof of one of them that lasted TWO YEARS. I suspected she Had many more. They will only tell you what you have proof of. They have already proved they are liars. How can you trust what he says?

    • Yes – when I read the “egregious” statement, I was thinking: So, was this just a one-night stand? But no, it was EIGHT WEEKS. And your cheater did not ever come clean on his own.

      After having experienced two D-Days 14 years apart, this is the ONLY scenario I could imagine reconciling under: One time, someone has a one-night stand and immediately regrets it, tells their spouse the next day, and vows to do whatever it takes to restore trust. No deception for any length of time whatsoever, no telling friends/family before the spouse. If there’s a second D-Day, that’s it. Of course, even then, there’s still the problem of trust in the future, and the reconciling chump would need to do some serious work around self-awareness and not letting the little stuff in a marriage slide.

      Any affair requiring multiple choices to double-dip, triple-dip, etc., and deceiving your spouse and family the entire time, is egregious in my book. Anytime the cheater does not divulge the truth right away is egregious. Anytime the cheater tells other friends/family members about the affair before telling their spouse, and expects to be able to maintain those relationships after D-Day, is egregious. For me, any of those would be an instant deal-breaker now.

      And SRC, I hate to say it, but you have several of those going on. Plus the additional issues you’ve alluded to, having to do with addiction. I fail to see how you can really restore deep intimacy under those conditions. As other chumps have pointed out, the fact that you have come here to ask this question demonstrates that, deep down, you know your marriage is over. Please show the strength to call it now, for everyone’s sake.

  • So I’m 6 years after reconciliation, 7 years since discovery. I finally feel like we have a chance of making it. Why? When I see the OW on occasion my heart does’t hurt anymore, I don’t want to kill him anymore, I don’t reflect back to the painful memories , I don’t compare myself to her anymore, ect. When I found CL years ago, she saved me, not my marriage.I had the divorce filed and signed and I was 1 month of it being over. HE was the one that said, ” what can I do?’ So I had him read CL, and follow her advice on what to do. My marriage had to have him do individual counseling , a post-up, complete open electronic, policy, and he had to be willing for me to have so so many meltdowns!
    It’s not an easy road to choose. You always wonder if another smiling OW might come down the road, but it’s a risk and a choice. Don’t stay for the children, or family, or memories, because, they will be damaged anyway after the affair. Stay because, He is willing to truly make a change in himself, and you are able to be your hurtful, crying, angry, insecure self through the many healing years to follow. And let me say it’s YEARS!

    • Believing they can change and reconciliation relieves YOUR pain. Believing allows you to forgive and yet you’ll always doubt. A smiling AP isn’t the problem. The issues was and will always be a lack of character. Facing the pain after decades of believing will follow. These aren’t mistakes, they are choices.

      • Yes, it’s hell, as LaJ says.

        LivingMyLife, I can’t say that your story will be like mine. But I will tell you this: my STBX, a lesbian feminist, had her first affair in 2004 when our older daughter was 2. We did therapy, I thought things were better. And I thought STBX was making necessary changes. But I also allowed her to keep violating my boundaries in other ways, and our marriage really was not healthy. Still, by a decade out from the first affair, I hardly thought about it at all.

        And then STBX’s narcissistic mother died, and her world fell apart, and she slept with a stranger in a bar less than three weeks later and turned it into a full-blown affair – much, much worse than the first affair.

        I hope that your spouse doesn’t cheat again. But just be aware: in times of stress, or major life transitions, people who have shown an ability to lie/cheat/steal/turn to addictions in the past are very susceptible to resorting to those behaviors again. I hope, for your sake, that’s not your experience. But I now realize, as LaJ so clearly wrote above, that I was living in hell the entire time between the two affairs and just not recognizing it. Our marriage deteriorated because I knew, even if it wasn’t conscious, that I was being devalued. Please do whatever you need to do to maintain self-awareness and make your boundaries crystal clear to your spouse.

    • ” … hurtful, crying, angry, insecure self through the many healing years to follow. And let me say it’s YEARS!”

      But why would anyone choose YEARS of being angry, hurt, crying, and insecure? Why?

      • Years of that, PLUS the likelihood that it may well happen again, and all those years of pain will have happened for NOTHING.

        Why would the Chump have to pay this price, on the off chance it will eventually, maybe, turn into a decent marriage that doesn’t blow up in their face???? Didn’t the Chump already pay their dues? They loved, they made the commitment, they were faithful. Most Chumps are excellent spouses, good parents, hard working, caring, loving …. Why isn’t THAT enough to earn us an equally loving partner and a truly reciprocal relationship?

        This sounds so incredibly unfair. Cheater betrays and Chump gets the consequences! I don’t think there’s a relationship in the world that is worth this, and that would be even if there WERE a guarantee the cheater wouldn’t cheat or otherwise lie and betray again.

        And I say this as someone who reconciled, and didn’t suffer like this!

    • And you can never be sure he won’t do it again! All those YEARS that you could have spent taking care of yourself instead of dealing with a cheater you can never trust again! The worst thing about this is that he has manipulated you into thinking he has changed and you will not realize that as long as you are with him!

  • Are there ANY circumstances where you think it’s ok for a chump to give a cheat a second chance to be a much better husband than before he spent a half dozen Wednesdays sinking his dick in an old girlfriend?

    Yes. It is okay for a Chump to give a Cheater a second chance IF this is acceptable to the Chump. This is exactly the answer that you got from CL. The only question worth asking yourself is whether giving him a second chance is acceptable to YOU–not to him, because he may beg a second chance–but to YOU because you want to do this out of your own desire, not out of a desire to be nice to him, to be accommodating to him, etc. This must be a decision that you make for you.

    One thing to remember is that you control only you. You can’t make your spouse uncheat. You can’t even make them stop cheating. Sure, your husband may have “only” sunk his dick into OW every Wednesday for 8 weeks, but that’s 8 occasions to contract an STI. Were you able to control that? Nope. So your only “control” here is that you exercised your option to give him time to be a better husband, sans cheating. Now it is on HIM to show you that he is serious about changing.

    Another thing to ask yourself is how you feel about being marriage police. At some really basic level, you are going to have to ask yourself if it is okay being married to someone you know is capable of cheating. If you can say to yourself that sure, you didn’t like the cheating but basically you’re okay with having a spouse who can cheat, then that’s fine. If you feel that you have to monitor him in any way, then that’s telling you that you are not okay with being married to someone you know can cheat.

    Remember that you control only you. You can’t make your spouse uncheat. You can’t roll back time. That’s why you have to ask yourself why are you REALLY wanting to give your cheater a “second” chance (or is it a third chance? Remember you know about only THIS affair!). Do you want to believe that the man you married is the man you thought you married? Do you have loads of sunk costs (mortgage, joint business ventures, children, etc.)? Are you afraid for your financial vulnerability? Are you worried about your children having to spend time split between their parents’ homes?

    Ultimately, the decision is yours, but make that decision with your eyes open and knowing exactly why you feel it’s so important to give your cheater this chance. But if you do opt to go this route, then set conditions. You need a post-nup. You need him to seek therapy. Go read CL on real remorse and what real reconciliation would look like.

    Good luck.

  • “If I had amnesia about his 8-week affair, I’d say we have a good marriage.”

    The very definition of sparkle. Of delusion. “If I had amnesia about his killing my puppy, I’d say we have a good marriage.” “If I had amnesia about ——, I’d say we have a good marriage.” Fill in the blank.

    You can’t “unknow” something. You can only spackle it or go into denial. I don’t have any problem with reconciliation if it comes with actual consequences and change. The cheater can go find an apartment or stay with his mother and live apart from the family for a year, continue to support the family, sign a post-nuptial favorable to the injured spouse, agree to 80/20 custody in the event of divorce, etc.

    Of course, cheaters want to reconcile. He didn’t want to MARRY the old girlfriend. He likes the old wife appliance just fine as well as being able to preserve all his financial assets. However, once the kids are grown, there is zero guarantee that he won’t decide that he can live just fine on his old salary with a new Schmoopie.

    Change takes time, hard work and usually suffering. Ask Chumps. We’ve changed because we suffered and learned. None of it was easy or in a straight-line. (How many times do we pain shop or break no-contact or give in to some cheater demand before we CHANGE and stop that behavior?). Sorry, SRC. Whatever you’re looking at, it’s not “a helluva lot of needed change.” It’s just what he needs to do to keep you from kicking him to the curb and levying some actual consequences. And why would he need a “helluva lot of needed change” if you have a good marriage? The spackle here is so thick that the walls are closing in.

  • Mine cheated for 2 months…I left him immediately and he waltzed right into her life. What would your husband do if you left him? Would he start right up with a relationship with her? If so, is that ok with you?!?

    • Personally my husband says he doesn’t want his ex. I do believe that BUT it’s still not ok. He jeopardized so many things the supposed “few times” he met up with her. It was right after our wedding 6 years ago. I’ve seen her since. Just a couple times. Ohhh if I only knew! How dumb I must’ve looked. I see why she looked me up and down not in a weird way in a studying mesmerized-way. A way such as I need to see exactly what he’s enjoying as his “life” partner. She studied in about 10 seconds time- my boots all the way to the top of my head. Again: if I only knew! We were there for his daughters (minor) surgery. It was one of the few times I’d been around her just because were different people. I couldn’t talk to her as an adult. Never came together as parents. As much as I did for their daughter. As hard as I tried to IGNORE the fact they were messing around while we dated. I never would’ve known until she must’ve gotten angry and reached out to me on social media. Even saying how she paid money to find my address. Saw his car. And that he was lucky to still ha e windows in it. WOW!
      So moving forward SHE is the one he chooses to disgustingly meet up with while he’s supposed to be working a night job. The very one who threatens custody put him/us in debt with ungodly amounts of child support while WE continue to support her and all the extras she does and has. Clothing activities EVERYTHING.
      When he confesses they were together six years ago and he stopped it never looked back- didn’t tell me because I’d leave. ONLY told me afraid she would tell and because HE didn’t want “to live with this shit anymore”… even after having a really cool relationship with him some awesome memories and a nice little home- I CANT DO IT ANYMORE. How is it fair that while you’re being Suzy homemaker out working getting A mortgage taking care of THEIR kid LOTS of times… that they hide this truth that IF I’d known and had a choice- would not be here. I’ll take the good memories. Chalk it up as life lessons. I loved. Maybe he even loved but I don’t want that kind of love. Anymore. PLEASE ladies realize how short life is. That every wrinkle are both earned yet NOT the last. God bless you all with strength and dignity. From CL on down! Oh and the few men here, too! Sorry:)

  • I’d wager he’s taken this underground. It’s as rare as unicorns that a cheater ends their little dalliances after getting popped. The majority of them take it underground, or put it on hold for a bit.

    If I’m wrong and he did end it, I guarantee he will pick it up again at some point, or end up with another side piece. He’s broken that trust with you. That’s not something that can be repaired, and he knows it.

    Also, he hasn’t had true repercussions for his affair. Why wouldn’t he do it again?

    There really are no unicorns. These cheaters all read out of the same playbook. I have yet to see a marriage withstand infidelity with the chump completely happy with that decision. What I do see are people waiting for the other shoe to drop for the remainder of the marriage, and that’s no way to live.

    • Plus he’s an alcoholic who is currently not drinking. I don’t know why people don’t understand that the moral, emotional, and psychological development of alcoholics stopped when the addiction started. So she could be living with a man who is functionally 10 or 24 or 28, depending on when the drinking started.

      • What is his recovery program? Is he attending meetings? Does he have a sponser? Working the steps or provding service of some sort? And is the original poster participating in Alanon? If one or both are refusing, it is unlikely they are willing to be held accountable.

        • And is he in therapy? Serious therapy with someone who understands the roots of addiction. Addicts are a poor bet as partners, whether using or not.

  • SRC-
    There’s no one answer for anyone. Every chump has to find their way. Some people walk as soon as they find out. Some people stay, and stay, and stay. Some people give it an honest go and get left for their trouble.

    I worry about you. Your comments seem to be about how you are willing to take him as ‘the devil you know’. You make it sound like you’re aware that trust and intimacy with him is undeniably changed and potentially ruined, but that… what? You’re not worth more?

    You are. And if he’s sticking it with an old girlfriend, it’s potentially not his first, and probably not his last. You deserve someone who cherishes you and has the same values. So if your values are ‘hmm. Shrugs. I guess I’ll only steal cookies sometimes.” Or ‘doping for the Olympics is fine as long as you get through the qualifiers on your own’ Then- fill your boots, your man is a winner- hes good sometimes. But seriously it seems like you’re staying because you’re scared. And that’s a shitty (and commmmmmmon) reason to stay.

    I would rather be with someone who is honest and real all the time whose honesty hurts, or the relationship is finite, than always be worrying that a fellow who is outwardly nice to me was sharing my bed and lying through his teeth. I would never, ever feel safe. But that’s your decision.

  • I needed to try to reconcile. I was in such shock that it happened that I couldn’t just end it immediately. He acted completely shitty and I had 3 or 4 more d-days in 3 months. The last try he seemed the most sincere. I had already filed for divorce and told him that this was it. I wouldn’t try again. He never once admitted to the affair. I had to discover it each and every time. Part of me was embarrassed that I gave him multiple chances, but I gave it multiple chances because the marriage was important to ME. (My counselor helped me reach forgiveness of myself.) I think YOU have to decide if it is worth it. I will say that I’m glad that my ex’s attempts at reconciliation were short-lived. I’ve forgiven him. I would have forgiven him if we had stayed married, but I never would have trusted him. I don’t want a marriage without trust. You probably don’t either.

    My pastor compared marriage to a vase. She said every time he broke that trust was like hitting the vase with a hammer. Eventually, you wouldn’t be able to put it back together, and you wouldn’t want to try.

  • “Up His Husband Game”? Is This simply to keep his penis in his pants, or was he a sucky husband in addition to his cheating?

    It kind of sounds like the latter is probably the case, which begs the question: Is he really worth all the trouble?

    That’s the question I finally asked myself, and I decided my ex wasn’t a good enough husband to fight for.

    I let the whore have him. She seems like a much better cook, maid, and blow-up sex hole than I could ever be. She wins!!! (Although after two and a half years of shacking up, he still hasn’t married her. I’m hoping I ruined him for all other women!)

  • The best reason to give a cheater a second chance is so that you won’t have regret or second guess yourself next time when he/she cheats again and you do leave.

    I know I was an idiot for putting up with bad behavior (not just cheating) for as long as I did. But once I left, I never looked back or wondered “what if I had tried counseling, allowed him another chance, given up my priorities so that ‘our marriage’ could be central,” etc. Nope. I did all that. Made no difference.

    Sometimes the second chances are for us, not them. We need to believe in the possibility of change. We need to believe we aren’t hasty or unforgiving. We need to take the high road.

    Just make sure you don’t repeat your mistake and give him another chance if he repeats his mistake and cheats again.

    That said, if I were to remarry, I wouldn’t give the next partner a second chance. I not only know my worth more fully now, I also have less fear about leaving a bad situation.

    • I initially was glad I had given my Ex a second chance, even after kicking him out when Affair #2 happened, 6 or 7 years later. I thought I’d at least given my kids the best chance I could of having their parents together as they grew up, and of having a good relationship with each parent.

      It took a while to realize that those 6 or 7 years of ‘second chance’ had done my kids a LOT of harm. My super-critical, selfish and moody Ex had made our son shut down and feel terrible about himself (too different from him, right? Narcs can’t stand that.) and had taught our daughter to be entitled and arrogant. The kids had watched me bend over backwards and walk on eggshells, trying to keep the Narc happy. They had seen that in a marriage there is one who takes and another who gives, and gives and gives … with no ACTUAL expectation of reciprocity (expecting, even demanding reciprocity is one thing, but staying when you consistently don’t get it is quite another ….).

      And I had spackled, coached, facilitated SO MUCH for him as a father, and managed their relationship so much, that it was a heartbreaking shock when he gradually abandoned them over the first year after I kicked him out.

      I really, really regret reconciling, because of how it impacted my kids.

      So don’t think you’re doing your kids any favours, here. It’s not a healthy lesson for them to have, that one of their parents has no dealbreakers, will accept being disrespected so badly. If he’s been drinking all their lives, I’m sure they’ve already seen plenty of that.

      We don’t stay for the kids, we leave for them.

  • OMG he “sunk his dick” should be enough. That makes me gag. That he did that for weeks should be you answer. Dump this guy.

  • I was never one of the smug “if-he-cheats-it-is-over” people. But I think what was going on in my head was more along the lines of “I could forgive/forget if it was a one-night stand, he was drunk, he is ashamed and remorseful, and understands he is a complete shit for doing that and will never do it again.” Instead, I got a 7 year affair, with millions of clandestine words exchanged between he and Schmoops, numerous trips with her to places I would love to have gone, but wasn’t allowed because “professional conference” blah, blah. I got gaslighting, manipulation, and lies. So many lies.

    I truly believed he was an honest man. That is one of the most heart-breaking realizations for me, that I could have been so blind for so many years.

    He will now, and forever, be “the cheater” in my mind. Hopefully the day will come when I no longer think of him or her. Not to Meh, yet.

  • I stayed for 2 years and we went to the lawyer and drew up a post nup that was notarized. There are so many sunk costs that make us want to preserve the marriage if at all possible. And it takes time to see if they are truly sorry, willing to change and to make amends. The thing is cheaters are master manipulators so they can put on quite a show of remorse. Mine cried often, took on all the cooking, made his computer and phone completely available to me etc etc… I was hopeful at first. He couldn’t sustain it for more that 6 months though. I got the subtle blame shift – my lack of forgiveness was the real problem, and there are two sides two the story (whhhaaaat?). My continuing anger showed him that I had anger issues (huh?). Then his entitlement flag starting flying high. He was entitled to his reputation so under no circumstances could I tell anyone what he did – the double life that went on for years. He was entitled to money (I would have to pay him alimony and I was very generous in the post nup because I really hoped we would reconcile). As we were creating the post nup I asked him if it would be enough to live a comfortable life – OMG quintessential chump!!! He was entitled to his children’s forgiveness. He was entitled to happiness (everyone deserves happiness KathleenK, you angry shrew).

    Long story short, I guess I needed to see the truth and really know for sure if he was a unicorn, but my life would be better had I just kicked him out. MY reputation suffered because I was the walking wounded for 2 years and since I kept his secrets, I had some real psychological fallout from not living authentically – I carried his lies. So when we did divorce, many people assumed it was because of me and my “depression” – people noticed a significant change in me. He is all about the image management so he tells people that his children (S21, D23) don’t talk to him because I poisoned them against him. At least I know unequivocally that his remorse was FAKE. I still pay him alimony and will do for 4 more years, but he’s getting married in May. Now he’s fucking with my children emailing them and telling them that he hopes that they can celebrate with him and that he is concerned that they have become unforgiving people – and he just doesn’t want that for them…Leave SRC!!!!!

    • “I still pay him alimony and will do for 4 more years, but he’s getting married in May.”

      Wait – what???? Alimony stops when the ex remarries. Check with your state’s laws, divorce decree and/or attorney, etc.

  • I decided to give my wife a second chance and in the end, things never changed. I believe good people make mistakes, lose their way and act selfishly. I do believe second chances can be given but with caution. I wish I was more cautious, I immediately went into action to save my marriage after DDay #1, doing a major pick me dance and accepting all of the blame. I truly wish I had the courage to watch her actions and weed thru the BS. She never truly apologized other than the required “I’m sorry”. I went on to think we had the best year after that, truly believing we reconnected and she was 100% committed to us until DDay #2 came along, then the lies and excuses and stories for another two weeks. Until finally she confessed (by text BTW) that it never ended last year and she just took it underground even further. I asked her to leave the house, she never came back. Even with the horrible pain of a fake reconciliation, I still don’t know how I would have handled the first DDay other than with more courage to hold her accountable and earn my trust back. I just gave it back to someone who showed me they were unworthy and I got burned….big time. If you decide the path of reconciliation, it requires true courage on your end.

  • My sister was cheated on early in their marriage, she took him back and it’s many years later now. It was her choice and we respected it. We have witnessed his extreme jealousy of her, and his obsession with how clean she keeps the house. From what I hear they always had a fantastic sex life. Different people have different values and priorities. Who are we to judge? Get the post nup, watch him for signs of telling you it’s time to ‘get over it’ and give it 6 months or a year. If that is the only way you can feel certain.

    I think the vast majority try to reconcile. I did. But I could not offer a cheater and conniver the support and love that a wife should be able to offer. It felt false. If a meteor had come out of the sky and killed him after Dday I could have cared less. Not a loving couple lol

  • Src-hugs! Sounds like you have been through hell! I hope you too are in AlAnon, treatment, securing your finances, etc. I have seen alcoholics completely change when they have done the work to get sober and stay sober. You too have to do the work of understanding your codependency. Good luck!

  • SRC, your original post and follow-up comments lead me to believe that giving him a second chance really is not acceptable to YOU, that it’s not the advice you would give a good friend or sister in the same circumstances.

    It’s come out in your follow-up comments that the Cheater is also in early stages of recovery for alcohol addiction. He does not sound like a good bet to stay on the sobriety or the fidelity wagon. Plus, it’s all going to be about him and his journey, not you or your relationship.

    I don’t think whether you should give him a second chance is the right question. It’s whether you will give yourself a second chance at the life you want and deserve.

  • I gave mine a second chance. Guess what happened 4 years later?

    Think he’ll never do it again? I wanted to believe that. Boy was I wrong.

    Lying, by omission or any other kind, becomes easier to those who do it over and over. And they get better at it with practice. Deception and doing things behind your back are like a game to them. It gives them a rush. Duper’s Delight.

    Unless he got a character transplant, the odds are you will have to wonder not if but when will he cheat again. I’m so sorry you’re having to consider giving him a second chance because I was where you are. I understand wanting to have hope, but he is probably going to disappoint you. Again.

  • As CL says it’s your life so if you want to reconcile, you should reconcile. I went that route for 3 years post my discovery of the ex’s cheating. I honestly don’t recommend it but sometimes you have to live through something before you finally understand why it’s not recommended. At the time, (2010) there was no CL to tell me it was a bad idea. Only the RIC telling me to dance prettier, not to ask too many questions and take half the responsibility for creating the environment that “made him cheat.” I did all that and whatever was left of my self esteem was obliterated in that process. I told myself I had a remorseful unicorn but that was just me spackling.

    Just my opinion but if you have to ask if reconciling is okay, you’re probably not onboard 100%.

  • I don’t understand why the spouses who have been cheated on don’t just file for divorce, have their cheater’s sign off a fair divorce hammering out custody and finances, and then divorce. That way they can see how forthcoming and remorseful their spouse is. Then, and only then, work on reconciliation. If the cheater has changed, it will show. And if he or she hasn’t, it will show and you can just kick them out because you’re already divorced and who gets the home has already been decided. Why put off the divorce? You can always get remarried later if the relationship pans out. Either way, you’re fully protected.

    • Oh yeah, my Ex asked for ‘another chance’ about a year after I kicked him out post-Affair #2. But he wanted to move right back in immediately and have everything back the way it was. He hated the consequences of his REPEATED decisions, and wanted them to end.

      I never even got to the point of setting conditions for him to come back (although I’m sure he would have refused them/raged/seen them as another reason he ‘needed’ to cheat!)

      When I realized what was happening, I pointed out that he was still in a ‘serious committed relationship’ w/OW and was trying to cheat on her with me. He said, in the MOST pitiful way, ‘I had to be sure you’d take me back before I broke up with her! Just like I had to be sure she’d have me before I left you ! It would just take too much strength to do it differently!’ (Neatly forgetting that I kicked him out, and it took quite a bit of leverage for me to get him out!) In other words; I am completely incapable of spending even one minute without a woman catering to me and saving me from my own problems!

      Cheaters are not good relationship material, they’re just not.

    • One lawyer told me that right after he left me and I should have followed her advice. Lots of problems and unnecessary trouble would not have happened. I thought that if I did that he would never come back. Guess what? He never did and 4 years later still not divorced, he’s been with OW anyways, my future still uncertain, I hadn’t moved on, all a mess. If they really want to come back and regret what they did NOTHING will hold them back. No divorce, no pride, no mountain high enough.

  • SRC – I am sorry. But have to question that you had a good marriage except for cheating. If he was an alcoholic – did that not impact your marriage? If he had other lies other than the affair – did that not impact your marriage? How was it good? Did the kids see an alcoholic parent? You deserve better.

  • Well, I have a second question. Who broke up the first time? Were they young when they dated? There is research that seems to show some form of imprinting happens to young lovers. So many people leave their long term spouses for their high school sweethearts. It happened to my neighbors. He went alone to his high school reunion, came home, packed his bags, left his business, left his wife and children and was gone in a day. Every time I ride by the house they built I feel so badly for them. They all moved so I wonder what happened to their children. If this is his history then be wary. Someone had to make the first move. What, when, where, how are questions you need answered. Anytime someone hooks up with an old lover my first thought is, “Uh oh!”.

    • They want to relive their youth. When everything was fun and exciting. On one side you have the person that was dumped, they never got over it and now they have a second chance. On the other side the person is seeking someone that adored them and they kinda need that in their pathetic life right now. This relationship rarely works out as both parties are bound to to be disappointed.

    • There’s no ‘imprinting’, there’s just people who don’t grow up. They remember that intense early love, they remember how light everything was (no responsibilities, no kids, no real life together!), and they want all that back, and are too immature to realize that a) that’s never coming back, you’ll never be that young again, and b) that’s not how real life long-term love, with all its rewards, works.

      But that’s OK, it helps us sort out the idiots … eventually.

  • I admit that I did the typical chumpy thing and gave reconciliation a chance for a good six months. What occurred during that torturous time only reinforced my gut feeling that nothing could be salvaged. But I felt I had to at least give reconciliation a shot because I wanted to believe my ex is a good person (she isn’t), divorce was going to affect our kid (it did), I still had chumpy feelings for my fuckwit (cognitive dissonance takes a while to process), and I really didn’t want to face the unknown (fear of the unknown is the reason most people find themselves stuck in shitty situations).

    I don’t think anyone relishes the idea of divorce, certainly not chumps. But unchecked, the situation will fester to a point that you can’t ignore it away. A leg with gangrene will begin to kill you if it’s not removed. A gangrenous marriage will kill you in a different way.

    Regardless, it takes a hell of a lot of gumption and courage to file for divorce. And the process mostly sucks. Like having surgery to remove a rotting leg. But the sense of relief that comes once it’s over is priceless. And eventually you come to realize you have a new lease on life, a new normal. You own all of it and you have the freedom to make the best decisions for you.

    Your kids will be affected in the short term. But kids are resilient and have a better ability to adapt than you do. Eventually they will be better for the experience of seeing that boundaries matter. And their future relationships will be healthier for it.

    Best of luck to all!

  • My husband left me for her. I wasn’t given the chance to reconcile so I’m not one to give advice. He’s been gone a year now and I wouldn’t take him back now. Yes secretly I want my family back but my biggest fear is that he’d just wait until he found someone else and leave again.

  • I’ve had a similar situation, in that my husband had an 8 week online emotional affair. There was one fruitless attempt at giving him oral, otherwise no sex.
    I am a year out from D day, and doing pretty well. I have a new understanding of our relationship, however, and the “ gild is off the lily” at this point. It will take me a very long time to feel truly safe again, and I’m not sure I will ever get back to the feeling I had pre affair, but I do believe that in some unique situations reconciliation and a better, more honest and realistic relationship can be formed.

    • Phoenix, I really hope it does work out for you. But I don’t think one year out is anywhere near enough time to figure out whether this is going to work. I hope that better, more honest and realistic relationship can be formed, and NOT JUST BY YOU.

  • h/t to another poster who once said:

    “The problem with someone who behaves better because they are trying to avoid consequences for themselves is that they are constantly recalculating that equation as conditions change.”

    He is being a good boy because he got busted. Cue his resentment and development of a long list of why you are Just So Awful, to be delivered upon D-Day #2. I am sorry, but there will be a D-Day #2, the only question is how long it will be. And you will have to bust him again because he will never admit it ahead of time and be a grown up about his choices. So polish up your marriage police skills.

    Upon D-Day #2 you will get to hear how it is all your fault including how your willingness to take him back after D-Day #1 forced him to go underground because you couldn’t handle the truth. How he never, ever loved you. How she is his soulmate. How you are so angry, controlling, and judgmental and he deserves to be happy. How his addiction is also your fault.

    All that said, I understand wanting to give it a try. I did, and it was 9 years between D-Days for me. In the end he abandoned me while I was out of town and sent me an e-mail, completely future-faking me right up until the moment of my departure. OW#2 was our daughter’s age. I was screamed at that I was 100% to blame for the destruction of my 28-year marriage. I, the faithful appliance to this cheating, cowardly, lying asshole, I was the one at fault per him. It has taken me 3 years to fully understand it was never my fault.

    In the end I can say I gave it my best shot and will never have to wonder who the real piece of shit was. Very importantly, our adult children know it, too. Had I left after D-Day #1 it might not have been so crystal clear to any of us and he probably would have been able to work the charm channel with our kids and likely would have hoovered me back after his latest Stupid Life Plan failed. I was horribly betrayed by that colossal fucknut but I can still say that I probably did need to go through the false wreckonciliation to finally be free of him.

    So line up your ducks, protect yourself, and be ready to be gone. Either now or after the inevitable D-Day #2.

    • You are so right with your comment, that is exactly what happened after DDay #2. It was my fault that I forced her with my guilt to stay in the marriage after DDay #1 and “remember I told you how unhappy I was” and “I stayed because of guilt for what I did but I did not feel bad and did not have remorse for what I did”. The truth about how they really feel about you definitely comes out after you discover DDay #2 and be warned, if you thought DDay #1 hurt like hell, DDay #2 will knock you on your butt so hard you won’t know what hit you. You picked yourself back up, you put trust in someone who proved to be untrustworthy, all to try to save the marriage they destroyed. It’s even worse when you’ve done the pick me dance and have spackled all over the lies, pain and deceit. Please be cautious. I am still fighting everyday to recover from DDay #2, it will forever be the day that changed me, my view of the world, the lives of my children and a pain I’m still struggling to comprehend. DDay #1 is cruel but DDay #2 is purely savage.

  • “I have told him I’m never forgiving him, but I agreed to hold off on a divorce.”
    Ah, this is the issue, isn’t it? Marriage is a relationship based on 100% implicit trust. You can’t share a life together if you can’t get over this, or if you worry that the other person would do this again. Or if this person ever stopped. Read the blog and see how many people went through multiple D-days. This is something the RIC doesn’t grasp.
    Cheaters only tell you what they think you’ve already figured out.
    SRC, I would ask you to think hard on these things:
    How do you know your husband’s affair was “only” 8 weeks? Because that’s what he told you?
    How do you know he won’t go back and see her again? Almost all cheaters do at some point.
    How do you know he ever actually stopped?

    Why did it stop after this 8 weeks, as he claims? Because he realized the error of his ways, and told you about it? Or, more likely, because he got caught?

    How are you going to trust someone who you know had no problems starting an affair, and going to all the lies and deception needed to continue it, even if those failed?

    Do you really want to be in a marriage where you can’t trust your spouse?

  • Also, SRC – you should have him live elsewhere, but contribute the EXACT same $ to the house for awhile. You need the time away to think and be on your own to figure out things as much as he needs time away to see if he can work on his alcoholism and cheating. As you know, 14 months sober is nothing… not a real breakthrough. And infidelity on top of that is not just because of the alcohol or his poor decisions while drinking – that is abuse to you and the kids. He needs to have a consequence that he isn’t part of your life 100% while you work on this. If he can live on his own, date you, keep up with his recovery, contribute to the house as if he were there financially, make being an authentic person his priority, and not drink or turn to someone else for emotional and physical support… maybe he’s worth it. But that would be 4-6 months out of the house and slowly integrating into your and your kids lives again. And the kids need to know that something he did was hurtful to your family and he is working on it. I just think he has had no consequences except having to stop drinking so far… and that isn’t going to fix how his brain has been processing.

  • You can expect that:

    1. He will not see this as a second chance, but as proof that there weren’t any real consequences, so he can do it all again.

    2. He will learn to lie better. Not behave better, lie better and cheat more efficiently. It’s what he knows. It’s what has worked (see #1) and he will revert to it.

    3. He will, while continuing to be unfaithful, complain because you don’t trust him enough. You will be expected to forgive on his timetable, or he will call you names. Your continued anger will be his excuse for the next infidelity. “I can never be good enough for you, so I just gave up.” *After not trying very hard.*

    4. The addictive behavior will escalate. Next time will be worse, and he won’t be as sorry. There will be weird complications.

    Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. Wore it out. Bought another. Finally left.

    You will be forced to choose between denial and contempt in your dealings with him. Neither is good for a marriage.

    • This comment corresponds closely to what I was going to say.

      If I had understood then what I understand now I would have left not only after the first time he cheated but when I thought he might be cheating. I don’t recommend to people one way or the other whether or not a person should stay with or leave their spouse after discovering cheating unless they ask me directly. I cannot navigate someone else’s relationship for them, but I do relate my experience and why I am so much happier and content now. We believe we are happy with cheaters because more often than not, we are actually the ones creating that happiness. That is one of the most important things I discovered. I realize that we enjoyed good times as a family but the happiness we experience – we’re creating it.

      From my own experience, the only thing staying with my cheater taught him was that I would tolerate cheating. He figured out the mistakes he made and the next time he cheated, he made sure he didn’t make those same mistakes. Beyond the lack of respect he showed me by cheating on me, he respected me even less for tolerating his cheating and staying with him. A person who is able to cheat on you repeatedly (8 weeks is repetitive) does not value you or their relationship with you in a way that is necessary to maintain a fulfilling, mutually loving and respectful relationship.

      I will not advise you on whether to stay or leave, but I will say if I had it to do all over again, I would have left the first time.

      Good luck.

      • “We believe we are happy with cheaters because more often than not, we are actually the ones creating that happiness. That is one of the most important things I discovered. I realize that we enjoyed good times as a family but the happiness we experience – we’re creating it.” This isn’t the first time I’ve read similar words, but it IS the first time I got it.

        I’ve had to take a good, hard look at this statement, and I finally realized you’re 100% correct. We had some happiness . . . because *I* created it. Internalizing this, I can look at those “happy memories” from a whole different angle. *I* created “our” happiness. If I can do that while dragging along a kicking, screaming, tantrum-throwing fuckwit, I can create my own happiness without the anchor dragging me down.

        Thank you for the insight.

  • Wow great response and sad to read too, because I remember wanting to try and save “what we had” and not lose our stability (kids), and lose my home. After I read your FIRST book I knew I had to leave and it HURTS! This woman is not ready to face that painful break and loss. I almost lost my mind that first year but I am so very grateful I did leave and filed for divorce. My true friends are too.

  • I agree with getting a post-nup. If he balks even one little bit, there’s your answer. You also need to demand STD testing for both of you, and a polygraph. You write the questions. Again, any reluctance on his part is your answer. It’s amazing what the threat of a polygraph will bring out, as far as more details.

    I got my husband (now ex) to sign an agreement that I would open a bank account in my name only and fund it with money from our joint account. The agreement stated that this would be my means of support until I could get on my feet if we ended up apart, and would also be my sole asset if we divorced. At the time, he was willing to sign anything because he didn’t think I had the strength or courage to ever leave him.There were so many affairs (very likely same sex also – lots of suspicous relationships), so much deceit, betrayal and gaslighting discovered over the next 8 months that it would have been emotional suicide, and possibly even physical suicide, to stay married to him. During the divorce he challenged me on that bank account – said I took advantage of him when he was vulnerable because of his guilt… I don’t know if that agreement/account would hold up in your state, not even sure it would have in mine, but he backed off and settled when he realized I wasn’t backing down and told him I was willing to take the divorce to court.

    My ex worked really hard at making everyone think he was such a great husband, father, and successful businessman. I never would have believed he was capable of the level of deception, betrayal, and abuse that he inflicted on me, his own kids, our family and friends, or how he could put the company at risk with multiple affairs with his secretaries. I think the final straw for me was when I realized I’d spent over 31 years with someone I didn’t even know; if I had no clue that he was capable of living a secret, sordid life for over three decades, what more was he capable of that I may never find out about?

    Cheaters inflict emotional, psychological and sexual abuse on the people they claim to love more than anything in the world. Isn’t it funny how much they realize they love you, AFTER you’ve found out about the betrayal? Most cheaters are caught – they rarely come clean out of guilt, so how much longer would they have cheated, with one or multiple partners, all the while ‘loving you more than anything’?

    It’s an excruciating decision whether you choose to stay or leave. I wish my ex hadn’t conducted himself in a way that made it impossible to stay married to him, and that we could have stayed together ’til death do us part. I can honestly tell you, however, that while it can be lonely at times, I don’t miss the suspicion or fear that he was cheating or would cheat again, I don’t miss the gaslighting or manipulation, I don’t miss the circular conversations where he’d flap his lips for 10 minutes but never answer the question. Over 31 years together and I do miss having someone that I thought was ‘mine’, but I truly do not miss him.

  • SRC I know everyone is giving you different responses, and yet they seem so eerily similar. These are our stories. Your story is that, your story. No one here can tell what you should do, they can only recommend based on their experiences. Life sucks and no one ever told us it would be this fucking hard. I too believed that my husband was the true unicorn. Six month affair, swore to me it was over, then I found a burner phone and then complete devotion to me, swore to me it was over….. or so I thought. I found another 2 years later.

    The moral of the story is, only you can tell yourself what you want to do. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. I listened to the stories and I swore I wouldn’t be a chump a second or third time, but I was. That my man was different, he wasn’t. But it had to be me that finally figured out with the 2×4 to the head, that this wasn’t what I wanted. I was the only one that could say, enough. I’m over this shit and I’m over you. My heart and head needed to be bashed in repetitively to get me to see what my future would be. I had to be the one to say, no more.

    I hope that if you stay, you at least take the steps to protect your finances, your health and you. My husband had changed his paycheck to divide a portion of it into another account he created, I was none the wiser. Because he worked over-time the amounts were different and we had direct deposit.

    Do a post-nup, tell him he is getting tested for all STD’s (although mine did too) and take the advice of how to protect yourself from those above. Listen to you head, not your heart. Maybe you need to know that you gave it your best shot before all hell breaks loose.

    Or just maybe he will change. Maybe, just maybe you have that unicorn. I wish you the best SRC and I hope everyone on here treats you well. We’ve all been there. You need support and friends, not judgement. Good luck.

  • After discovering infidelity, your sanity is put to the test when you’re immersed in a seemingly constant storm of emotional pain. Then your spouse is “nice” to you, providing temporary comfort from the pain.

    In my case I found myself grasping at straws, trying to figure out an ever-elusive solution to restoring that sense of comfort, which I thought meant saving my marriage and my family. I was stuck. I hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that my wife’s bad character was causing the pain and I couldn’t fix it. It was crazy-making that she didn’t even think she had a problem. Her world view was “Everyone has affairs. Get over it.”

    My first step on the path to being fuckwit free was the epiphany that came from reading “Do not seek comfort from the source of your pain.”

    That became my mantra for a time, serving as a reminder that I was married to an abuser and that I needed to realize I was in an unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship that was harming me. It took a while to come to terms with the fact that things were broken beyond repair and that I needed to get away from her to save my life.

    My family was destroyed by my ex-wife’s bad character, not by the decision to divorce. At the time I felt my entire world was destroyed. I was wrong.

    I have a much better, fuckwit-free life now. What was also reassuring was that my kid quickly figured out I was the stable, loving parent, making me a rare dad with primary custody. I’m now at “meh” most days, taking comfort in a wiser, healthier approach to living.

  • I honestly believe that anything more than a one-time, drunken, unplanned, one-night affair, for which a cheater immediately copped to and demonstrated full remorse in a unicorn-like fashion, is irrevocable. Anything else involves way too much planning and lying and stealing and cheating. And why would you want to be with someone who does those things? How could you ever trust someone again who does those things?

    As someone who had to give my ex a chance to redeem himself before pulling the plug, I get it. And, I’d probably do that again, for my piece of mind. But, ultimately, I can’t be with someone with such character flaws and values that are so different than mine. Can you? Should you?

    It’s a waste of a perfectly good life. You deserve to be cherished and loved. This guy has already shown that he is not capable of that.

  • SRC: I was you. It wasn’t “so bad.” He was remorseful and did everything I asked. He became a model husband. We went to therapy together and individually. I sank three years into reconciliation before I discovered that it was all fake.

    The things (and people) he had done were much more extensive than I originally thought. SO much worse! After I found out, he didn’t stop, he just got better at hiding it. His post-discovery spurt of initiative wore off after a year, and then he went back to taking me for granted. All those passwords he gave me to his phone and social media accounts so I could check up on him? He got a burner phone and created new accounts I didn’t know about.

    And even if he had stopped cheating altogether, I discovered that having to police my marriage was exhausting, and knowing he had devalued and disrespected me made it impossible for me to feel the same about him ever again.

    Liars lie. Cheaters cheat. You can reconcile, certainly. Just be totally prepared for him to continue, and have plan for what you will do if/when you find out again.

  • Isn’t it amazing that in the middle of a fucking pandemic, chumps advise others to leave the cheater (without mentioning the pandemic). I think it illustrates the “run like your house is on fire” danger and pain that cheating causes.

    It is just all so sad. There are no do overs in any of this.

  • I so wish I did not give him a 2nd chance, or 3rd or 5th….. I would be so much further along in my healing. I know some people don’t believe this, but once a cheater, always a cheater. I was young and stupid (17) the first time he cheated but I thought I could change him and 32 years later I could not. I wish I had been strong enough to kick him to the curb the first time!

    • NOW I tend to think; ‘good for him if he changes, grows up, never does this stupid shit again. But it won’t be with me.’ And I am FINE with that. He already blew his chances with me.

      I think some people who cheat when they’re very young do figure it out and not do it ever again, it may be a huge wake-up call for them. Young usually means immature, and often means more self-centered than we are once we really grow up. But even then, I think they need the consequences to learn from their mistakes.

  • I love your question and I love the answer – Chump Lady nails real remorse. I agree with everything she said in that link. I had a Jesus Cheater. He was so impressive. Many girl friends told me “I wish my husband was more like yours.” He was lying to me for seven years (porn addict). I’ve been dropped into Alice’s terrible porn rabbit hole of sexual addiction for two years now – AWFUL. I asked my cheater just yesterday why any woman would stay with a cheater (because he’s begged for our marriage too). He said “because I don’t want to be a cheater. I don’t want to be that guy. I really don’t. I’ll do anything.” Now please understand his recovery has been so painful and terrible. He’s doing all the work (which I will list below). But know it’s a brutal process. You’re the closest person to him. And I don’t know what it is about these guys, they really seem to hate women on some level. So get ready to have this leaked onto you from time to time.
    Read David E Clarke’s “When He Says I Don’t Love You Anymore”
    Please understand cheaters are delusional LIARS!
    Drop all your friends who will judge you or make you feel bad in any way.
    Post Nup (we call it a divorce plan)
    Find a CSAT who is APSATS certified. From here on out only listen to parter trauma sensitive specialists.
    The CSAT will determine if he’s an addict or not – this will let you know how intense the therapy will need to be……
    Get a therapeutic disclosure followed by a polygraph. This will take him about 6 weeks to create. It will be all the ways he’s cheated on you sexually for your entire marriage. (My Jesus cheater initially gave me a napkin-size list ;). That turned into a 16 page disclosure
    He must agree to yearly polygraphs to confirm his faithfulness
    The therapist will let you know how much therapy you each need…. (him, you, couple. If it sounds expensive, sadly it is. And also sadly it’s mostly RIC. Only see APSATS trained specialists and even then, demand to be treated like a queen at every step of the way)
    He needs regular support – if he’s an addict he needs to do the 12 steps
    You both must agree that your self care is PARAMOUNT for a long time! If he’s initiating this, it’s a good sign
    He will treat you like he’s the luckiest man in the world to be in your presence. Sadly these guys have a lot of deficits, then the acting out has an affect on their brain that destroys any character they had before hand. They have loads of entitlement, self delusion, fantastical thinking of all kinds, justifying their lies, minimizing their wrongdoings, usually a personality disorder, super fragile egos, narcissistic tendencies, zero emotion regulation skills, and almost always family or origin issues and unhealthy attachment style/abuse history is usually to be expected. Many think personality disorders can’t be “healed.” These people have to learn an entirely new skill set. He can face all this and change it but PLEASE KNOW there is NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING you can do to help this. If he can’t do his work with you being mad as hell, then he can’t do it. You don’t need to give him any special treatment. All his masks and charms will be removed during this process. It’s really hard to learn the great guy you loved was a hologram. You’re just a passive observer. So if you stay (as I am for now as long as he stays sober), do it purely for you. The reasons Chump Lady listed are totally fine – no shame. He can take care of you financially, your kids, your history, to keep your house or any of your values. But know once the virginal trust cherry is popped, you never trust the same again. Trust is a vital (if not THE vital) component of a healthy relationship. So, it’s just gonna be hard to be in relationship. This is the sad truth. This is what they squandered when they thought with their dick. There’s a very high price to pay. I am so sorry you’re here. There really isn’t a silver lining, except that your husband will get a one-way ticket into a boot camp that will turn him a marionette with a lying problem into a real man. That’s about the only upside, and it’s not yours. Sorry.

    • Oh one more thing, learning the glorious art of detaching has been life-saving. You don’t have to cook for him, do any of his chores, etc. You don’t have to respond emotionally to him. You don’t have to ride an emotional roller coaster with him. Consider separate rooms – that was self care at its finest for me. My husband hated it but did it for me. Go gray rock and you’ll see who you’re really dealing with.

      • oops one more thing 🙂 He has to follow a set of boundaries that I set to keep me safe around his previous acting out behaviors. We have a very strict set of things (no internet on his phone, never on the internet alone, never stays up later than me, doesn’t work late, attending accountability group and more). He must comply happily. Remember you’re losing something of utmost value that you had invested which is a secure marriage. His boundaries are small in comparison.

        • Wow Jane, that sounds like a miserable process. And in the end, you hope to have a TOTALLY DIFFERENT SPOUSE than you did before. IF it works.

          Seems to me like it would be a lot easier and faster to divorce and really get a totally different spouse right off the bat. One that’s already mature, able to communicate, wants a reciprocal relationship …. I’ve learned the rule; if you want a happy, mature marriage, marry a happy, mature person (and make sure you are one, too).

          Sorry if this sounds facetious, I don’t intend it to be, but … wow.

          • Eww, boot camp marriage. Sounds like hell on earth to me. No person I have ever known could even begin to accomplish the tasks in your list. Or financially afford it.
            Who wants to be the feared drill sergeant in their own relationship? Awful stuff!

          • I agree with you all – it’s a terrible process. It really is. So far my husband is complying…. I am sticking it out so far for my kids and so I don’t have to rush out into the workforce after homeschooling for 20 years (although I do have two part time jobs because I can see the writing on the wall). Also, he did confess. Then he begged to make it right to save the marriage and said he’d do anything. And so far he is…. We shall see if it sticks. It’s marriage boot camp (addiction treatment and complete character over hall as well as treatment for all family of origin issues) for sure. Not fun. Not easy. No sure returns. He would say it’s worth it for his marriage and family…. (at least so far. 2 years in) I’m definitely a Chump. I thought he hung the moon before Dday. However after Dday, I didn’t believe a word he said. Still don’t. Proof – time will tell.

        • I offered this to my ex-hat. He filed instead. I couldn’t believe it. It does make a good line in the sand and takes courage. You get to be the good guy that tried, they are the ones that refused marriage counseling. (albeit with a lie detector). One caveat though, financially he would get a slap on the wrist in our divorce.

        • All of this sounds MISERABLE for the Chump. I would not want that at all. I would rather spend my time on the one person I can control: me. Best wishes to you.

  • He cheated. You did not. He lied. You did not. He left the relationship, you did not.

    Pretty black and white.

    There is nothing in the world that will ever convince me that a cheater or my cheater…only did it once or twice…or for a few months. Nope. Ask anyone on here, once the divorce is underway, ALLLLLL the truths come out. No man in the history of the world has only cheated “once” or for a “brief” period.

    He cheated. Divorce the selfish prick. Save your sanity.

    Don’t waste your life.

    Go to sleep and wake up knowing that no one has lied or cheated on you today. Gotta say, and I’m speaking from experience…it feels pretty fucking awesome.

    Stand up and walk out girl. xo

  • Your husband did not just cheat on you for two months. It might have been two months that he amped the relationship to physical status, but the cheating (or the variables that lead to cheating) existed before those two months.

    A person does not just decide to have an affair from one day to the next. There is a “discarding” process that occurs over some time. At some point, your husband started to devalue you. He entertained thoughts, maybe tested the water a bit with some monkey branching (going out and acting like a single man), got flirty, started conversations with another woman, maybe met for coffee to chat. He started to compare you in a manner that had you coming up lesser when comparing you to another woman. He started to tear you down bit-by-bit in his mind, find you lacking. As a result of his cognitive dissonance, he started to convince himself that it was okay to have the affair, that he deserved it, that he doesn’t love you, that you deserved this treatment, that you probably didn’t love him anymore, that his happiness is more important than your well-being.

    It’s all very insidious. Go ahead and try to forget the “two months,” but the reality is that the issue of your infidelity in your marriage is far bigger than two months. And, time and time again, the experience of people here is that there is usually so much more to what has occurred with our cheating spouses than what we initially believed.

    Please be very careful that this doesn’t eat you alive. For thirteen months, I was so convinced that I had it all together when I really didn’t even know that I was just pick-me dancing. I thought I knew what I was doing, that I was strong enough, that God would see me through and grant me the marriage I knew we could have, that I was well-supported.

    In the end, I really knew nothing. I was naive and then I was an emotional wreck. Even now, 2 years and 4 months later, I am doing really well but I still occasionally manage symptoms of post-trauma anxiety. The truth that I have since learned about my ex is still like ice in my veins. It is chilling to realize that the person you have been most intimate with in your life is someone that you barely know, and yet, in many ways, once you realize what they are truly about, you become the person who likely knows them better than anyone else as they move on to pull the wool over other people’s eyes.

    Please be careful.

    • OptionNoMore, you are spot on –

      “It is chilling to realize that the person you have been most intimate with in your life is someone that you barely know, and yet, in many ways, once you realize what they are truly about, you become the person who likely knows them better than anyone else as they move on to pull the wool over other people’s eyes.”

      And they always move on to someone else, their family, their friends, and repeat what worked for them for so long – pulling the wool over people’s eyes. They get off on it.

    • Man, but made my blood run cold.

      “There is a “discarding” process that occurs over some time. At some point, your husband started to devalue you. He entertained thoughts, maybe tested the water a bit with some monkey branching (going out and acting like a single man), got flirty, started conversations with another woman, maybe met for coffee to chat. He started to compare you in a manner that had you coming up lesser when comparing you to another woman. He started to tear you down bit-by-bit in his mind, find you lacking.”

      I think I reread your entry a dozen times, OptionNoMore. Even having passed through the gauntlet of high-conflict divorce, it still brings me up short how deep the betrayal went. You captured this beautifully — thank you.

      • And I’ve read your post a dozen times, Salty. I didn’t get it the first time the thoughts appeared, from OptionNoMore. I didn’t even get it the first time I read your post. But I’m starting to get it now.

        “There is a “discarding” process that occurs over some time. At some point, your husband started to devalue you. He entertained thoughts, maybe tested the water a bit with some monkey branching (going out and acting like a single man), got flirty, started conversations with another woman, maybe met for coffee to chat. He started to compare you in a manner that had you coming up lesser when comparing you to another woman. He started to tear you down bit-by-bit in his mind, find you lacking.”

        I think I’m going to read it a few dozen more times and maybe, just maybe it will sink in.

  • SRC – if reconciliation is going so well for you, why are you here?

    I am thinking it’s NOT going well for you – that this relationship is NOT acceptable to you.

    I wonder if you’re standing there looking at the recruitment poster for the Marriage Police force, and wondering if they offer good dental.

    And also wondering why you aren’t happy.

    These are all signs that your gut is alive and well. It’s trying to tell you something, very loudly.

    If I were you, I’d listen to your gut, because it’s your best friend right now, and it’s trying to save your life.

  • I used way always can’t heating isn’t a sackable offence, boy was that a dumb move. I gave him a second chance, and a third chance, fourth, fifth, tip I stopped counting. I saw changed behaviour, but I didn’t see the behaviour that wasn’t changing behind my back. It’s seriously exhausting living in a marriage with no trust, no remorse, no details, just endless gaslighting telling me I need to move on.

    After D Day 8 or 9, 7 years of D Days plus a baby and a wedding I finally moved on. It’s possible to move on, just not by staying with a cheater.

  • SRC,

    I was in my first years of recovery from alcoholism and recovered childhood sexual abuse memories when I learned about my ex’s marital infidelity. In fact, as he later told it, the first (!) affair began the day I went to treatment for my abuse. His reason? “I was afraid I was going to lose you.” Mindfuckery par excellence!

    He, too, had quit drinking & drugging, after I did, but he wasn’t working a 12-Step program. Yeah, his “program” was fucking strange, courting strange, flirting & devaluing me.
    I reconciled after filing for divorce. Wanted to believe that sweet-talk & Genuine imitation naugahyde remorse. By the time I did that, I had realized at least 2 overlapping affairs. But, there was a lot of pressure from his sponsor, my sponsor, our recovery community to “choose to trust” him. I swallowed.
    Then I trusted. Unicorn!

    For years I looked around AA meetings, wondering which woman he might cheat on me with in the future. It kept me from reaching out to many of the very people I needed.

    It took another 26 years for me to uncover his 3-year affair with a skanky subcontractor who I had met a few times. I briefly considered reconciling, but the universe led me to CL and CN: the keys to my freedom.
    Today is the first anniversary of my DIVORCE! Today, I am so happy to know I’m not being lied to,deceived, manipulated and devalued. This is priceless. Just as giving birth to my children involved great pain for greater joy, so has the transition of giving birth to my new life been painful and transformative. I’d rather experience the grief of real death of a marriage (that wasn’t) than to break my arms giving CPR to that corpse in trying to avoid facing reality. I know this in retrospect. I suspected it was possible 29 years ago. But today I know and I stand in my truth. I was worth it all along.

  • Dear SRC:

    If your Dday with your husband was 14 months ago, then why are you now asking Chump Lady about whether you should stay? Perhaps there was a delay in your getting your letter published here? But, if not – if you have recently submitted this letter after 14 months of living with your cheater – after Dday -then, you must not be very happy with him. Let your happiness or lack thereof be your guide. Sounds like you are not content or you wouldn’t of written Chump Lady after 14 months of staying with him. Listen to that voice in your head.

    I too gave my ex a second chance. I was amazed at his ability to callously lie and at my ability to allow it. I wish that I would have listened to the voice in my own head and left him the first time. It never “felt” right after I found about the first time he cheated. It was a very sad time knowing what he had done. I tried so hard to put it behind us. I cannot get back that time. He too (at least it appeared that he had) “changed” for years! But, after another 6 years, it happened again – the cheating. If I hadn’t caught him the 2nd time, we would still be together. After I kicked him out, I discovered letters and evidence that he had cheated throughout our 20 year marriage – it was only interrupted when I caught him.

  • They say it takes 5 years to get over it, that’s a load of horseshite. You never get over it, it’s very very hard to reconcile. People do reconcile and over the years the pain is less but you never get over it. It will always be there and you will have flashbacks causing you to feel the pain, humiliation, and rage with the same intensity you felt on d-day. Infidelity changes the chump for life. I hope it works out for you, I like seeing people have successful marriages, but it is going to be hard.

    • As it’s been said here in the past, choosing to stay in a marriage after infidelity is like living with a shattered vase that’s been glued back together. It’ll never be as strong as it once was.

  • You wanting to get back with a cheater shows that you are insecure, codependent, and you think you can’t do any better. Why are you find with being with someone who disrespected you in the worst way possible and broke your trust in the worst way possible? Get out and make something of your life. You don’t need him and you can do better.

    • I’ve told the following story in many comment sections here, and will continue doing so because I think it’s so important: I know an older couple who have been married since their college graduation. Husband cheated on wife with a number of women over the course of about a year (they were in their early 30s, then) and ended up giving wife an STD. Had 2 young children so wife stayed with him, intense therapy, much apologizing, etc. And, truly, I think he stopped cheating. I’m not a betting woman but if I were, I’d put big sums money on the fact that he’s now been faithful to her for more than 40 years. And, for that I say, good for him.

      So, happy story, right?

      Hmm. Wife has never, ever felt truly okay about the marriage since then. She loves him and feels loved by him, but some of the factors that led to him cheating — his ego, his inability to deal with profound emotions, his insensitivity — are just part of who he is, even though he has grown and put in the work. He broke the marriage and what they salvaged from the wreckage is not stronger or healthier or more real. Just a sad, mangled version of what was.

      So, even if you get the unicorn of a spouse who is able to stop cheating forever, are YOU enough of a unicorn that you can be the scorned spouse who not only forgives but also feels safe and glad in the marriage after that?

      • Nope. I’d be twitching till the day I died. I would be marriage police and never truly sure. Always on guard for the next DDay. But that’s just me. I know what Disney daddy is capable of and it’s a lot. He took it underground for over 7 years. Then he switched to porn his gateway to OW where I caught him several years later. Granted he never attempted the actual work in your story. But sounds like she was never truly a happy ever after chump.

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