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
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.