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My Sister Is the Marriage Police

Dear Chump Lady,

My sister is a chump, she actually sent me to your site years ago when she still seemed to have some sense. I still read your articles (as I love your humour and spot-on advice) — but she doesn’t read this blog anymore as she is a firm unicorn believer.

So, it’s been 5 years, she is still pick-me dancing, and still crying on my shoulder every time her husband spends time/calls/mentions the OW (these crying/screaming session happen about once a week).

I love her, but I think she’s going overboard being a chump. It’s like it’s her mission to be the BEST CHUMP THAT EVER LIVED. What are your thoughts? Is this normal chump behaviour? I’m worried about her. I’m supporting her, but I have made no secret of the fact that I believe she should LEAVE THE TURD. I haven’t seen him in years as he stays away from us (his in-laws) as he knows we loathe him.

  • She knows her husband is having an affair (5 years now) but still wants him back.
  • She firmly believes the OW tricked him, seduced him, and he was a helpless victim.
  • She is still sleeping with him (not using protection for STIs).
  • Oh, I should mention THEY STILL LIVE TOGETHER but he often sneaks away (even on weekends and she’ll have no idea where he is).
  • She has been to three different therapists (alone) and gave up on all of them as they all told her to get a divorce. She then sent letters of complaint to all these offices, complaining these therapist were on the OW’s side and not on her side.
  • She recently had their wedding rings re-polished.
  • She drives him around for job interviews (in the OWs town)
  • She has started making great lunches for him and visiting him at his work to have lunch together.
  • She has a tracking app on his phone. When he turns his phone off she jumps in her car and goes looking for him.
  • Their teenage kids want nothing to do with him, but that is not opening her eyes, she’s setting a terrible example and not protecting her kids from this abuse. They have screaming sessions at home in front of the kids, and she is teaching them it’s ok to take back a cheater week after week (this point bothers me the most). In fact their oldest daughter is now also in therapy because of this fucked up situation.
  • She’s turned into a woman who is constantly crying/screaming and extremely hurt. She thinks the OW will go away one day and this will all go back to normal.
  • Neither of them wants a divorce (yeah CAKE CAKE CAKE).
  • She’s doing things for him she never did before — fixing ‘her’ mistakes of the past (this includes bedroom antics).

I think you get it… I could go on and on. What do I do? Is there anything I can do about this trainwreck? He’s not physically abusing her or we would have dragged her out of there and locked her up with us to keep her safe.

Marg

Dear Marg,

We’re living through a pandemic. Actually he is risking her life every time he goes out and fucks OW strange and brings it home.

But yeah, my advice is still going to be the same, Marg — no, you can’t do anything about this train wreck. We don’t control other people. If we did, your brother-in-law’s dick would behave like an organ grinder monkey.

It’s absolutely awful to love someone who behaves self-destructively. My heart goes out to you. You want to save her. And clearly that’s part of the dynamic with your sister and her fuckwit — she deludes herself that he needs “help” — not that’s he’s making CHOICES. Oh, the Big Bad OW is leading him down the path of perdition! When nope, he’s tra-la-la-ing there quite happily.

Your sister is making choices. They aren’t happy choices, they’re shitty ones. There’s no furtive orgasm at the end of the rainbow, but there’s the illusion of Controlling Scary Things. She’s hooked on hopium.

It’s one thing to be chumped — you’re unknowing. It’s another to continue to volunteer for this shit.

I understand the siren call of reconciliation — most of us here do. It’s one thing to try with someone who is appearing to try, or jumps through a few flaming therapy hoops. It’s quite another to “reconcile” with a cheater who is demonstrably, unashamedly still cheating. That’s a five-year-long pick me dance. It’s a daily kick in the teeth. And apparently, she needs a few more kicks in the teeth to understand this is broken dental work, not winning.

What can you do?

Every time she slops her grief on you, stop her. Kindly. Remind her she is choosing this. You can state that a variety of ways. “You are choosing this.” You can put it back on her. “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” (No.) “What are you going to do about it?”

TRACK HIS CAR!

“No, sis, I mean about yourself. You can’t control him. You only control you.”

Next, reiterate that you believe in her. Not in her superpowers to control the wandering dick — but in her powers of resiliency. “I absolutely believe you can do it on your own. I absolutely believe you’re mighty. You are stronger than a couple of fuckwits.” I think a lot of what keeps people stuck is the terror that they can’t do it alone. If there are economic vulnerabilities, encourage a new job, education, a life of accomplishment that doesn’t revolve around a fuckwit.

Okay, being the cheering section to a hopium addict can be exhausting. But I do think it can help, if you can find the strength.

My next suggestion is detachment with superficiality.

I know, you want a close relationship with your sister. Where you tell each other everything. You don’t have that relationship now, because your sister is an addict (to hopium) and addicts are not available for relationships. Not deep ones anyway. It’s all about the latest installment of What Fuckwit Did Today. No one’s got time for that shit. We all see how that story ends.

So, flip the channel. When she starts on about him, “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” and “You’re making a choice to continue it.” AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT. Refuse to chase the unicorn with her.

“Hey, how about those peonies!” or “What’s (niece) up to right now?” or “Did you see my puppy meme?”

Light. Shallow stuff. Keeps the lines open, but doesn’t exhaust you with fuckwit drama. And bonus, it reminds her that there’s another world out there.

There’s also the hard line of detachment. “Sis, I can’t continue to watch you do this yourself and put your kids through this.” Don’t pick up the phone for the daily debriefing. It’s totally okay to hit “pause” for as long as you want.

It’s not your job to save her. (It’s noble and controlling the way codependents are.) Let’s pray she saves herself.

Hugs ((Marg)).

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Also would be a good time to remind ourselves of the Dr. George Simon axiom — “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

    It’s not that she doesn’t understand she’s a hopium addict, it’s that she doesn’t want to put down the pipe.

    • They’re all enabling her behavior. When she starts with the husband, maybe somebody should point out the damage she’s doing to her children.

      • My daughter’s well being is what finally turned me. I realized I was a pathetic father(damn, that is still hard to type) by staying. Yeah, by keeping my family intact with No Change, “I” was bringing misery to my daughter and myself.

        • I’m with you there Blue. My first wife was a practicing alcoholic our entire 13 year marriage. I got and stayed sober a year and a half into it because I made the conscious decision to Not raise my daughter in an alcoholic home as I was.
          Many sponsors told me I should divorce her for my sobriety as well. It was painful, took me many years to see they were right, and I’m convinced that had #1 gotten sober with me that we’d still be together today. She was not a cheater but had un-dealt with core issues she could never overcome. Her alcoholism killed her several years later. It still haunts my daughter that her mom’s not alive. The good news is that she’s turned into an impressive adult. I drug her to thousands of AA meetings with me. It was a daddy daughter trudge to happy destiny. She was raised with the knowledge that She Too was a candidate for the disease of alcoholism.

        • In addition to the Hopium, she probably gets something out of sister and family telling her husband is a loser and she needs to leave- maybe is attention, maybe she just enjoys triangulation- who knows.

          Best thing you can do is what Tracey said. Don’t beg or try to control, step back and let her control herself.

        • And while I have faith in Jesus Christ, there is also the element of religion. Some churches encourage the sanctity of marriage over all else. This can give scared people the feeling of being right for not putting down the hopium.

    • My sister called me out on what I now know was ridiculous and a total suspension of reality. She just said “I am not convinced”. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear even though I was far from convinced myself. I had saw friends roll their eyes. The subject had been changed abruptly. Colleagues had been supportive but horrified at even the edited verosion I chose to share when I broke down at work.
      Nobody could save me but me and it was a long, painful and expensive lesson.
      Going NC helped…and getting a lawyer. The gloves came off then and Mr Nice Guy disappeared for ever.
      I agree with CL here. You won’t convince your sister unless she is ready to let go. Be there for her then but meanwhile do not play a part in the drama.

  • This letter brings to mind the saying, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.” It is terrible to watch people self destruct (including replaying my own video of chump past), so maybe this situation does call for a little tough love. In retrospect it may have made a difference in my life. I hope sis takes CL’s advice.

    • Good saying…. It also applies to explaining versus understanding why we need to flatten the COVID-19 curve …

  • “When she starts on about him, “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” and “You’re making a choice to continue it.” AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT. Refuse to chase the unicorn with her.”

    YES.

    Don’t just do something – sit there. Refusing to engage is totally counter-intuitive, but it works like a charm.

    “Doesn’t exhaust you with fuckwit drama.”

    Let this be your guide: “Am I exhausted with fuckwit drama? No? In which case, I’m handling this correctly.”

    ‘Is this relationship acceptable to you?’ is the Chump Nation equivalent of psychology’s ‘Miracle Question’.

    It completely throws the onus back on the person, and reminds them that they (a) exist, (b) have some say in this, (c) have a choice, and (d) have agency.

    It’s amazing how many Chumps have lost hold of the fact that they exist, have a say, have a choice, and have agency. Systematic emotional abuse does that to you.

    • Thank you Lola Granola for this: “It’s amazing how many Chumps have lost hold of the fact that they exist, have a say, have a choice, and have agency. Systematic emotional abuse does that to you.” – I will be saving it…

      In retrospect, my ex very deliberately and systematically broke me down so that I truly believed that not only did I have none of those things but that I did not deserve them because I was such a broken and messed up person who destroyed everything I touched. On the final dday, my children who were in their teens and early 20s, rallied an and literally reminded me that what he said about me could not be further from the truth. They gave me the strength to crawl back from the dead. I hope Marg’s Sister can find the strength through her kids if she can’t find it for herself.

  • Her husband will enjoy playing them off against each other. Her husband is a fuckwit. How does he act around you. Secretly she probably blames herself, and is deeply embarrassed. He probably acts lovely around other people. But he’s a load of crap isn’t it. Does he tell her one thing then do another.
    He’s probably loving all the attention. I be worried that the more effort she puts in, he treats her like crap. She could become violent.
    I know of several ow, and the crap that comes out of their mouths is unbelievable.

    • He’s a Narcissist my ex husband is also these guys are crazy! They live for drama and triangulation. I agree she needs to get out!

  • I have a good friend who is going through exactly the same thing. In her case, as much as she is truly suffering from being a chump (they’re not married – he’s her “wild lover”) she is also in some way enjoying the drama and intensity. This is what she thinks love is, love is volatile and passionate, and besides “he can’t help it” because of (fill in the blank). A normal relationship with a decent guy would be boring to her. And in choosing to “love him despite everything” she deludes herself into believing she is the Queen of Love, and the powers of this great love will conquer all.

    Since she is daily volunteering for this shit show (going on three years now) I’ve made it clear that I do not want to talk about him when we are on the phone. I’ve detached from this part of her life with love, but have managed to keep the friendship going by talking about other things. I certainly can’t control her – I can only control my response to her situation.

    • Yes, believing they are the Queen of Love. “I love greatly in spite of ——–. I love greater than those that divorce and give up”

      I see this used as a coping mechanism when the choice is made to stay with the cheater. We can all re-frame things to fit out decisions, us chumps that divorce as well — but then it still comes back to “is this relationship acceptable to you”, and facing the cold hard fact that the cheater’s ACTIONS in fact show how much supposed ‘love’ (which should go hand and hand with respect), they feel in return for us.

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  • The cheater is job hunting? If he is looking for a better position it is for the OW, not his family. I believe the only reason he hasn’t moved out is due to OW not allowing him to park his ass at her house. Smart. It is also possible OW would be a drain financially but I’m betting it is the former scenario. Sister chump is kidding herself if she thinks cheater doesn’t want a divorce. He’s already checked out but has no motivation to file yet. He’s being treated like a king at home, when sister chump is not screaming, begging and crying and OW hasn’t fully committed. Even if cheater and OW do not work out he will find someone else. He has lost all respect for his wife, she’s a joke in his eyes. Five years she has put up with this nonsense. She is hooked on the roller coaster chaotic life and has failed her children miserably. Failing her children will be her biggest regret down the road.

  • Except for the organ grinder monkey, this letter and Tracy’s response make me so sad.

    Tracy’s advice, as usual, is spot on. It’s such a waste that Meg’s sister will never take it.

    But, Meg, I do hope the question method will work, please try it on sister! “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” “What are YOU going to do about it?”

    If only here were epiphany magic wands.

  • Whatever you’ve done and said in response to your sister, STOP DOING AND SAYING IT. Don’t be an auditory garbage can for her to dump the trash in.

    My longtime trusted beloved therapist who was a tennis player always uses tennis as an analogy for dynamics between people. I don’t run over to their side of the court; I up my game on my side of the net.

    I understand chumps often need time to make the leap. I also know that when I am starting to feel upset listening or doing for, it’s time for me to leave the court.

    You’ve reminded her where the well is. Ironically, the same well she showed you years ago. You can’t make her drink from it. You’ve done your job.

  • At some point your sister stopped being the marriage police and became the affair audience. No maintenance of law and order—Purely passive other than some booing at the bad guy (the AP, in her mind). That is apparently acceptable to her.

  • A conversation stopper with sis when she brings up the drama is to say, “You have all the evidence you need.” Period. I was stuck in the ‘I can’t believe’ patterning learned from my abused mother.

    I suspect he’s waiting until the child support period ends as she has teens. He’s clearly planning his exit. Advise her to do a credit check. It may open her eyes a bit wider.

    • You are right…as long as your narrative is “I cant believe” the thing that is happening right in front of you then you are a participant in all of it.

      Sadly, I was (for too long) entrenched in this sort of thinking. I still struggle with the fact that I never left. I did save money and had mentally drawn my line in the sand and had told myself that I was done if he violated that specific boundary and believed that he likely would within a few months. His sudden death changed everything and I will never know exactly what my response would have looked like when he crossed the line.

  • When people can no longer listen to other peoples’ tails of their suffering over choices, they could try something like “every time I listen to you talk about this I feel like I’m listening to you screaming while you’re sinking into quicksand and I can’t do it anymore -it makes me feel sick listening to you suffer because I care about you.
    I am here for you when you decide you want to get out of the quicksand . Or some derivative of that …

    I mean, some of us who are separated and no longer with our cheater have had family members who have told us that they can no longer listen to talk of the cheater – at least I’ve had that – there’s only so much people can take!

    • Yes, I was told that. Shit or get off the pot. And I appreciated their honesty. It’s not gaslighting to say you are being abused and need to get out, and I cannot listen to this any longer, please leave him/her.

  • I do suspect that Marg’s sister may be addicted to victimhood also. I found out that was a thing when I had a friend who seemed initially to just need support, but never improved. She just needed more and more and more support. She was addicted to the attention she got by being the victim. Eventually, she was insisting on talking to me for hours every day. I finally tried to restrict the amount that she talked to me, because I was exhausted. She then threatened suicide and checked herself into a mental hospital. I didn’t visit her (as I think she assumed I would), and soon she was angry with me for not supporting her during her mental crisis. Soon I broke off talking to her at all.. and surprise! She suddenly started fixing her own problems.

    I think sometimes we enable fellow chumps by giving them a lot of sympathy and attention when they are behaving chumpily. For some, this can be kibbles that they are not getting from their cheater. Thus, they develop a kibble addiction to being a victim. Sometimes this is a personality disorder, and sometimes it is a temporary state of anxiety. But either way, it is good to encourage them to stand up on their own and do something about the situation. It is good to be sympathetic… but not to the point of enabling someone to be a hopium addict forever and ever.

    • There’s a type of narcissism that is based in this victimhood/support-seeking dynamic. My Ex’s mother is completely like this! It takes quite a while to recognize, since the person’s situation often is really difficult. But after a few years, you realize that they repeatedly put themselves into/don’t get themselves out of situations that are difficult. They keep expressing how powerless they are, even though people suggest and provide options that might help. They LOVE the drama and the attention they get through this. They manage to make even other people’s difficulties a source of suffering and attention for themselves – to an exaggerated degree. They can seem kind and caring (when not focussing on their own dramas) and very sociable, and don’t have the arrogance that other narcs show. But if you have a disagreement with them, their focus is 100% on how they feel, never on whether you, too, might be upset or hurt, or whether they’ve behaved badly. Like other narcs, the problem is never what THEY do!

      It really clicked for me when I noticed that my at-the-time-MIL had new ‘best friends’ or ‘close friends’ every few years. People get exhausted and pull away, or frustrated, or both.

      So now my clue to narcissism is ‘is this almost always about THEM?’ If so, I back away slowly ….

      • Oh, my! I wonder if I have that. It kind of describes me but at the same time, I’m going through emotional abuse. I see my friends getting angrier at me, though and I resent them for that. Not sure how can I see for sure if I am one of those….

    • Carol39 has met my mother – addicted to victimhood and the attention it delivers. She didn’t want solutions – just drama and pity.

  • Speculating about addiction to victimhood is counterproductive. Ask her why she stays. Then question that. Show her the way out. In a life that featured a lot of chronic illness, I can tell you that when someone tells you “you’re enjoying the suffering and you’re choosing it,” all you feel is hurt and stuck. I didn’t want it. I just didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t need simplistic answers: I needed concrete, step-by-step help.

    I stayed for over a decade after the first D-Day. I stayed mostly because he had me convinced I couldn’t survive on my own. The gaslighting was so total and pervasive that I could have stayed my whole life. A family tragedy dragged me hundreds of miles from home for several weeks, and there I discovered I was competent on my own and people respected me. That was the beginning of my independence; it took a few more years to get more sanity and physical healing and job experience under my belt and get myself out.

    You can refuse to discuss him; you can ask her “What about you–what did you do today that wasn’t about him, what did you do to make your own life better?” But don’t put her down with, “You must be enjoying this.” That just feeds into the gaslighting. It does the abuser’s work of keeping her down because she’s so “flawed.” Offer her a vision of a life without it, and keep offering it. She’s scared and hurt and angry and stuck. Don’t make it worse.

    • Thank you for this very kind and wise comment. You are absolutely right that telling her she enjoys this would be doing her gaslighting abuser’s work for him.

    • This comment is spot on. The “you must be enjoying it” does not help – it is a dagger to the heart. After I got out a close family member said to me “you must have enjoyed the abuse”, it hurt more than the nasty things my ex said to me because I completely did not expect that person to be so hurtful.

    • I’d like to say that getting physical distance can help being insight and perspective. When I travelled a thousand miles to my mother’s 90th birthday, and was with my mother, my sister, and my cousin, I said to myself, “If I described the situation I’m in to them, what would they say and what would they tell me to do?” The answer as immediate: They’d say it’s crazy and to get out. And that’s what I eventually did, although it took me longer than I now wish it had.

  • Sending three separate letters of complaint to the therapists practice about three different therapists —— Hmmmmm

    • Yes this caught my eye as well and for that reason, I don’t think that sister is a chump chasing a unicorn, but rather an active and aggressive participant in an intense, ego driven competition. This isn’t about love or things going back to how they were, this is about wining this game over the OW at any and all costs, including the mental health of her own children. This will come to an end when either the OW walks away or hubby divorces the sister and not one second before that.

      What you do, Marg, is start accepting that your sister is a different person from who you are, has different values, and values different things. Accept that and step away from the drama for your own sanity and protection. Meaning refuse to be her shoulder to cry on anymore. Plentiful suggestions on what to say and how to change the subject already on here.

      Your sister currently doesn’t need your support. Your nieces/nephews however need some sane stable examples in their life. Be that sane adult for them as much as possible because these children desperately need help. Your sister is doing what she wants and it’s best that you don’t project your chumpy values to those who don’t share them, aka don’t spackle over your sister’s personality issues that are well beyond her cheating hubby issues.

    • I noticed this as well. Marge’s sister does not exactly fit the typical chump persona where the chump is beaten down or has been blindsided. She is ignoring her children’s pain and distress and is only focusing on her cheating husband, the OW & her “victimhood”. I get that being cheated on can make you not think straight and engage in crazy making but it has been five years. So sad these kids have two dysfunctional parents.

  • When I started college, I became friends with a group of girls that I still stay in contact with today. Over the years, each and every one of us has done something stupid, and we all have helped each other through good times and bad. Most of us married at least twice. So probably normal? (I’m never exactly sure what that is!)

    One of those friends went to college to search for her MRS degree. She never made good choices about men. We loved her and advised her, and helped her to survive broken heart syndrome. Although she always wanted to marry, she never could convince any of her terrible partners to do that, until she turned 34 and met a monster who thought that marriage was a good economic decision, he could gain a working roommate, they could split bills 50/50 (even though he made a higher income), and he could reduce his cost of living. I know, romantic, right?

    We begged her not to marry. She said we didn’t understand because most of us had married, and her love would change him. We all groaned. Her best friends all tried to convince her, on her wedding day, at the church, that we could gather her stuff, slip out the back door, and even tell her parents she had come to her senses, and decided not to marry this jerk. But she married anyway.

    I guess you all know how her plan worked out. So she turned to her group of friends for support, and we listened and all told her to divorce him. And we listened again. Same advice. No action on her part. Cycle after cycle, until finally we met without her, and as a group we set a strategy. We would love her, but we would not listen to her grievance litany. Every time she brought it up, we shut her down. It was awful on all of us, but finally she went to a therapist, who told her to divorce, and finally she did. We rejoiced. Her family rejoiced. She was no longer in daily misery, but she still refused to be happy. She felt she had failed at marriage, no matter what support we gave her. Eventually, she married again, to a divorced man who was not nearly as bad as her first husband, but she still never made it to the dream she continued to believe in, despite all evidence to the contrary. She rationalizes with religion, saying God wants her to be a good wife, and sustain through better or worse.. So she sustains, and she doesn’t complain much about this one, because she doesn’t want us to stop listening again.

    The point of all this is you can love someone, you can tell them your truth, you can be supportive, but you cannot change them. She chooses to live the life she lives. She probably thinks there is something wrong with me because I choose to live as a single woman. I think I am much happier than she is, but that is my opinion. She probably doesn’t understand my choices, and I do not understand hers. Whatever choices we have made, we can still come together s a group and have a good meal, and laugh and talk about the old days. We cannot control each other, and we do not have to be the same. I think that’s normal (but, again, I’m not sure what that is). It may not be all there is, but it is what we have, and it is enough.

  • I guess I’ll be the one to say it: if Sis is having screaming arguments in front of her kids, she needs some parenting classes, and some different priorities. Apparently her kids aren’t a priority at all because she’s spending all her energy on chasing F@&kwit.

    Maybe Marg needs to start being there for her niece/ nephew.

    • I so agree with you. She’s sending her children a very unhealthy message, that they aren’t a priority. Also, if she can do so much policing she’s got far too much time on her hands. Is she employed? Is policing her only hobby? She’s so focused on him that she can’t focus on herself (hence she can’t properly see what kind of damage he’s doing to all of them).

  • I have a friend whose life went to hell about five years ago. It had nothing to do with cheating but everything else in the world happened to her. Now things have calmed down, and settled down, but she is still constantly on guard. It’s catastrophizing. It almost becomes a disorder. Reality is no longer in her view. Right now she is constantly being bombarded with adrenaline cortisol and other toxic hormones. She lives on the precipice. This is your sister.
    There must be some way for you to help her to back off from that and I would assume it’s from just not responding the way you have been. Don’t get angry. Just don’t engage. If she calls crying tell her you need to get off the phone because you’re busy. Every time you respond you are reinforcing the craziness. She’s got someone along for the ride in her crazy car. Look at it this way you have had five years of trying to help her and it has just reinforced all the things that are wrong with her life. You’ve done it out of love. Now back off out of love.

    • Hit the nail on the head. 5 years is along time to wait for a different result. Time to try something new. I’m an advocate of hitting the pause button on relationships like this so that one can properly assess what role, if any, they were playing in the disfunction. Co-dependence is pretty insidious.

  • I would say that your sister should stop being the marriage police, BUT the writer should not become the sister police.

  • Thank you for this very kind and wise comment. You are absolutely right that telling her she enjoys this would be doing her gaslighting abuser’s work for him.

    • I am stuck on Marg’s comment that if the piece of shit was physically abusing her sister they would have drug her out of there and locked her up to keep her safe. Cheating is domestic abuse. The only difference between harming someone physically and cheating is that the wounds are not visible on the outside.

      She is dying inside a little bit every day she tolerates this abuse. I always say we all have our own journey through this shit show and my journey, the sister’s journey and everyone’s journey on this site is different and very personal.

      Now that I have removed myself from my own personal shit show I can see the mistakes I made, and I made a lot of them. I feel badly for the sister and the hell she is putting herself through tolerating such gross abuse. Sad to say we all know it’s not going to end well for her. And also sad to say only she will know when she has had enough but at what cost.

      • I agree. Sister is in Ongoing PTSD—trauma. I acted like that for 6 months after Dday. I wasn’t thinking correctly. I couldn’t sleep or eat. Couldn’t stop the ruminations, the terror. Couldn’t read or even watch TV. XH’s narcissistic abuse after Dday was literally the most profoundly damaging mental abuse I had ever experienced and that’s saying something as my mom and dad were abusive alcoholic narcissists. I almost killed myself over the situation.

        I do not have advice, just empathy. This is the dark side of narcissist abuse. Heartbreaking for the entire family.

  • I think it is hard to guess what is going to be the right motivating force for someone. Many chumps on here can name off the moment when they knew it was over; they were done. The question that got me thinking about my situation more clearly when I was busy smoking the hopium pipe was “Would you still marry this guy if you knew then what you know now?” That one question planted a seed that started a change in how I was viewing my situation. Eventually, my cheater threatened me with a restraining order, and that threw the reality of my life in to focus like nothing else. I was done with all of it in that one moment.

  • I would tell her straight that he is abusing her, and you don’t care to discuss the details any longer. It may be harsh, but it’s become abusive to YOU to listen to this crap.

    I know a woman who went from one stupid relationship to another. Her adult children finally said enough, and told her she can visit the grandkids, but not if she is going to mention her latest dramatic man problems. They said they are stepping back from her ongoing soap operas. Their mother seems to thrive on the excitement and intrigue of meeting and jumping in with a series of losers.

    People have to right to make stupid choices, but we have a right to protect ourselves when they have had 1000 examples of why this person is a deviant creep and they still expect us to hear about it and let them cry on our shoulder.

  • This may be a controversial idea, but I kind of think there’s a point where a chump stops being a chump.

    I don’t know what point that is; I don’t think it’s a hard and fast line.

    But at some point, you know they’re a cheater, you know they’re a liar, you know they are cheating on you and lying to you regularly, and yet, you stay. Are you still a chump at that point? Or are you an enabler?

    I was willing to give my ex-husband’s final affair partner the benefit of the doubt that the relationship started out innocently enough. He probably told her that he was separated and divorcing his wife. She probably didn’t know he was making her an “other woman” at first.

    But I contacted her, and I told her everything, yet she continued to see him. In that moment, her innocence evaporated (if it ever existed). Even if he told her that I was his “crazy ex” and was lying, she had the opportunity to follow up with me and hear my side of the story in full. She didn’t.

    Years later, after she married a pastor and joined the staff at his church, I reported her to their leaders. They eventually got back to me saying she was claiming she was my husband’s “victim,” too.

    I laughed. There is no universe in which she was a “victim.” She knew he was married, she knew he had a baby under the age of one and a disabled older kid, she knew his wife loved him and didn’t want a divorce and was trying to save the marriage. That’s all the information she needed to make better choices. She doesn’t get to say “I’m his victim, too.”

    My point is, perhaps Meg’s sister has crossed the line. I’m not saying she didn’t start out as a victim. I’m not saying she wants to be cheated on. But five years is a long time to put up with this hell. She has all the tools and information she needs to make better choices, yet she keeps making bad ones.

    But maybe I’m wrong and it’s once a chump, always a chump (until you leave the cheater and gain a life, that is).

    • Some chumps are as blind to their ways as the narcs are.
      The ow in your case, not a victim.
      This sister/woman today… Stockholm syndrome. Started out a victim… Turned enabler. Crazy making and crazy made.

    • “This may be a controversial idea, but I kind of think there’s a point where a chump stops being a chump.”

      Exactly five years of apparently the same OW, children are severely distress with all the fighting and dysfunction and then lodging complaints against therapists that gave her solid advice. I’d say she is well past the point of chumphood.

    • When you go from victim to volunteer.

      Yes, it’s hard to draw that line, but the line definitely exists.

      • Lola Granola, that line absolutely does exist, I’ve seen it in one of my friends. The is this acceptable to you question pretty much ended the friendship. Truth is tough. I’m still here for her but not for any more excuses … I’ll help pack her stuff but not unpack her skein.

    • I think it’s one thing if they at least wished they could leave and still don’t and there are some actual obstacles. Not that they shouldn’t focus on overcoming them, of course. But it’s different when they’re staying just because they’re hoping to “win”. That’s narcissistic, too, in fact. It’s a power trip.

    • I agree. She’s choosing this, she is volunteering for this. She doesn’t care about herself or the kids. It’s a competition with the OW for a booby price. Some people don’t want help. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be rescued. But you could help her kids and reach out.

  • Sis – What is stopping you from putting an end to it? Money? Job? Loneliness? Because even being married you are still lonely and emotionally at his mercy. Plus the physical risks he is taking when he cheats. Every time he does it he chooses to put YOUR life in danger.

    You don’t need to be rescued by anyone. You can do this for your own sake and for your kids’ too. What you are teaching them by example now is what they are going to do or put up with as adults. Is that the legacy you want them to have?

  • At some point I do think the crazy making actually makes you crazy. This lady sounds nuts. Absolutely nuts. This whole situation has caused a mental break in her. It’s sad and frustrating. But she is not the person she used to be.
    Even those of us who make it out are forever mentally and emotionally scarred in some way. Hence why we wish we had left sooner. The longer you stay the more enmeshed you get… Then they up and leave and accusé you of being crazy, by which point they are correct.
    He’s going to leave her sooner or later. In his mind she is just pathetic.

    • Exactly. When chumps finally have enough of the facts of the abuse, but then start attacking 3 non-RIC kind of therapists who told them to leave, and enable their kids’ psychological torture—- I mean, they are now crazy.

      Never breaking that trauma bond, and tripling down on supporting the abuser is straight up crazy after half a decade of actively knowing about it.

  • It’s so hard for me to understand the sister’s mindset (especially if she started out her in CN). But, one of the most effective tools I find in these situations is to ask questions rather than make statements – ones that will hopefully provide some insight into her mindset (for you or hopefully for herself). Some examples might include:

    1. What reason do you think he will eventually stop seeing the OW?
    2. Do you think he might be viewing the nice/kinky things you are doing for him as rewarding his continued cheating?
    3. Do you think you could ever trust him again if he did stop seeing the OW? What reason do you think he won’t find another OW if even he does happen to leave the present one?
    4. How do you think this situation is affecting your kids, and what would look like for them if you separated?
    5. What are your fears about divorce? Even if all those came true (which they probably won’t), would that truly be worse than what you are currently experiencing?
    6. Is there some reason you do not feel like you deserve someone who will put you first and treat you well?

  • I should have listened. After the talk of becoming a sister wife, the pictures, the dinners I actually believed he distanced himself. Instead I swallowed my resentment for a over a decade wasted and tried to better myself. I spent plenty of time to encourage my chump to file for divorce when I am to weak to do so myself. I married shortly out of high school and am merely a house wife. What am I going to do? How will I afford a divorce little lone living expenses with children?

    • in front of the other. One day at a time. With every minute you move farther away from the situation. It will alter you. But it is far better than what you left. Be gentle with yourself.

    • “I’m merely a housewife”.
      I call Bullshit!! You’re a Mom. A guide.
      You created life. That’s Mighty.

      Gird yourself up and walk through the walls of fear. The word ‘fear’ has two definitions:
      ☝️1
      Future. Events. Aren’t. Real
      ☝️2
      False. Evidence. Affecting. Reality.

      Your strength is inside you. All you’ll ever need resides there as well. ❤️

  • No doubt your sister is just holding out for some hope. But she has all the evidence she’ll ever need. Tell her that, give her a hug, tell her she’s worth more. Write it down so she can see it. Then tell her you can’t hear anymore of her self destructive tale. I agree with CL-redirect to puppy memes and tell her to look at your letter when she feels the need to cry to you. That totally sucks. He’s an abuser waiting for the best time to leave her. What will she do then?? Maybe you could paint that picture for her too. Good luck

  • I know it’s hard to see this and accept it. But coming from a person that is completely destroyed and blindsided by her husband, sorry to say, but I understand your sister. I still hold this thing inside of me that he will go back to who he was. It’s weird because I’m sure of it. Although I know I’m not supposed to and that I’m delusional, but actually I don’t really think I am. I just know. And you could shake me until I die and for now, I would still know. I always thought the worst of women like me and I am not ashamed to admit it, I am delusionally delusional. Only I’m not. Because I know he will come around. This idea keeps me going and keeps me from collapsing but destroys any chance I have on living a normal life. It’s oxycontin times 2000000. Maybe I need to overdose to get real.

    • ‘This idea keeps me going and from collapsing …” It sounds like a survival strategy. Maybe you just need a bit more time.

  • HelloChump you are simply high on hopium. We get it. When you put the hopium pipe down to hold your devastated kids, have the STI tests and check your finances your head will clear. ((Hugs))

    • He left me, already done STI tests and everything. He won’t divorce me, though. I just don’t know what to do anymore because depression is a bitch and some days are ok but some days I am hallucinating about my loved ones receiving the news I killed myself and saying they’re ok with it and they understand. This happened three times already and scared me.

      I’m very alone. Very.

      I fear for this person because I think that her sister is still the only person she can count on. I am losing people who were supportive.

      I understand the need for tough love but all I can say is: be careful. My mother said things to me the other day that could have led me to suicide if my kids weren’t with me. Despair sometimes gets worse with time.

      It’s all fun and games when you’re not dealing with a severe depressive person. That’s all I can say. I am not committing suicide because of my kids, this is something it’s ingrained in me. But like I said, some days it’s like I’m not in control of myself.

      Please be aware that you need to help people to get mentally healthy BEFORE anything. Rule out any type of serious issue BEFORE either abandoning her, ignoring her or doing any kind of TOUGH LOVE.

      People grieve differently and society puts a big amount of pressure on getting over things that are extremely hard if you don’t have underlying issues, but when you do, it’s almost impossible.

      Careful of what you say here, guys. Coming from someone that can understand your frustrations and understand that I AM WRONG AND STUPID does not change the fact that I am mentally ill and need extra work.

      • You are not wrong and stupid. You’re in a bad situation and you need help. Can you get in touch with a local women’s shelter, carefully, and discuss your situation with them? They have seen it all and don’t judge.

        Please take the best care of yourself that you can. You ARE worthy of a better life and there is help.

      • In no way are you “wrong and stupid.” Betrayal + mental health problems is a terrible combination. Regardless of the veracity of your beliefs in your ex, we cannot really control the thinking and behavior of others. So, avoiding stereotypical “tough love” is one thing, but it’s a whole other thing to continue to co-sign toxic behavior. And, everyone is entitled to remove toxic relationships from their lives, even if the toxic person is a depressive rather than an aggressive. That is like domestic violence prevention rules 101.

        So, maybe the letter writer can hold on a bit longer and explore mental health issues with her sister. Or maybe she’s maxed out and needs to remove the toxicity from her life. Both responses are ok. If removing a toxic person from your life so that you can thrive is “tough love” then perhaps that’s what needs to happen sometimes.

  • My sister’s a recovering addict…I’m thankful for her sobriety, but it wasn’t always that way. I think hitting the pause button on a close but dysfunctional relationship is a gift you give yourself. It’ll give you time and space to discover if something you’ve been doing is enabling her behavior or if you are just too emotionally co-dependent yourself. And, it sends a very strong message. When one sister takes a break from the relationship with another sister in a definitive way–that is, when a new and strong boundary gets erected, it can be a serious eye opener.

    She’s clearly co-dependent on you, so it’s possible that in your pulling away for a while–and letting her know why–you make a bigger impact then any talking could ever have. It’s possible that your care and concern has been fueling this fire and that she’s, in part, addicted to being an object of your worry.

    When you pause form her I’d ramp up involvement with your niece and nephew. Start a text thread, do some facetiming, let them know that you’re there for them validate their reality–yes, you’re parents are insane, yes it’s unfair, yes I’m here for you. This is where you can truly be of service.

  • Apparently we have the same sister.
    I realised i was spending up to 2 hours a day listening to the latest rotten thing he did to her, then hear nothing from her when back in the honeymoon phase.
    I avoid all the fuckwit drama and just stick to other topics.
    She’s close to 60 and it breaks my heart she wasted her life on a fuckwit.

  • Your sister is CHOOSING this life. This is obviously what she WANTS. Love her, but refuse to discuss her marriage any longer. If this is the life she wants, I think that she has lost her right to complain about it (after 5 years!).

    She had 3 options. Change it (she can’t), Accept it (she can’t) or Leave it (she won’t). There’s nothing you can do about it.

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