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The Resentment Rap

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Dear Chump Lady,

It seems if people aren’t on the Esther Perel train when it comes to their relationship ideologies, they talk about the Gottman’s. The Gottman Institute has put out all kinds of info and studies over the years, and my complaint isn’t with their ideology. However I do get frustrated when people cherry pick with “The Four Horsemen” and criticize a spouse for having resentment or contempt for their wayward spouse’s behavior.

“Your relationship is doomed if you can’t let go of your resentment.”

“You need to let go of your contempt if you want your relationship to survive.”

But isn’t resentment and contempt a natural reaction to selfish, manipulative, or abusive behavior by a partner? I guess I get frustrated by this part of the narrative, that it’s my reaction to my partner’s behavior that’s the problem. Although, I suppose my ex would agree?

Why don’t people stop to think about where that resentment comes from in the first place?

I understand people can resent someone for reasons that “aren’t fair,” but if I resent you for racking up a five-figure gambling debt behind my back, is that really crazy? If I resent you for getting fired from a job for forgery, why is that bad? Why am I expected to have the patience of a saint and not resent you for going to football games with your “just a friend” and her family instead of spending time with your daughter and me? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Sincerely,

Curly Chump

Dear Curly Chump,

Who are these people resenting your resentment? Your EX cheating gambler? Did this expectation of perfect magnanimity come from him? A barmy therapist? Some Switzerland friends of your acquaintance? A cultural zeitgeist? Some insipid article in a lady’s magazine?

Who thinks your reaction to being cheated on is the problem?

Because fuck them.

To resent is to find something unacceptable. To react is to do something about it. You divorced him. There, we’ve solved the resentment problem.

If someone thinks your reaction to be cheated on (reacting with a consequence) is the problem and not the cheating, they’ve got a blame-the-victim problem.

What are your choices? Stay in the marriage and resent? Or stay in the marriage and eat the shit sandwich buffet of cheating, gambling, familiar no-shows?

I don’t know the work of the Gottmans, but perhaps I should let the Universal Bullshit Translator have a look sometime. (It’s splayed on a sofa recovering from Jada Pinkett Smith at present.) But they may have a point about resentment.

“Your relationship is doomed if you can’t let go of your resentment.”

That’s true. No sane person wants to live that way. Being resented, or constantly inwardly seething at your spouse. Ugh, that’s not a recipe for relationship happiness.

But THAT is the Devil’s bargain you make when you CHOOSE to reconcile. You will eat that shit sandwich and you will learn to let go and move forward. “He fucked the nanny” cannot be your eternal weapon of marital warfare.

You have to do the mental gymnastics to live with the knowledge of what they did. When you stay, that’s what you’ve signed up for.

What crazy-talk is this, Tracy? I can’t be angry with my spouse for cheating on me and blowing the rent money at the dog track?

Yes, you can be angry! But after anger comes “And what am I going to DO about it?” Remember, that’s all you control. YOU. You can STAY and resent. You can believe his pledges to not be an utter asshole. You can take away his credit cards and put a significant asset in your name. You can move to your mother’s. But RESENTING is just conceding your powerlessness. It’s anger without action.

“Your relationship is doomed if you can’t let go of your resentment.”

Your relationship is doomed when someone unilaterally destroys it. Your reaction to that unilateral act — cheating, gambling, an empty bank account — isn’t the agent of doom. IMO, it was doomed when your husband let his dick wander and felt perfectly entitled to come home and find a marriage waiting for him.

Perhaps the Gottmans and I disagree on that point.

That’s why I find this whole “wayward” set-up a racket. No mentally healthy, self-respecting person should tolerate abuse in their relationships. No mentally healthy self-respecting person wants to be friendly with their abuser. (Civility is required when co-parenting, carnival cruises are not.)

To encourage people to stay in abusive marriages — cheating is abuse, marital theft is abuse, abandonment is abuse — is madness. There’s no mental script powerful enough to tolerate the intolerable. There’s just gaslighting and the self-harm known as spackle.

When your mind rebels at strictures, it resents. But it’s a cage of our own choosing — we can LEAVE.

We can also ignore anyone who thinks less of us for it.

If you’re going to put your powerful brain towards a task, try that one.

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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.
  • I think the focus of resentment should be on the cheating spouse not the betrayed.

    When you read any of the writings of a cheater, they almost always have this huge resentment towards the spouse for nothing at all. That’s why they come up with all the stupid stuff they say because they know there’s resentment but they aren’t smart enough to identify the cause and fix it. So you get the “you put 4 cheese in the lasagna” BS.

    • Exactly, my XH “resented me” because I had thoughts of wanting to stay home with our two young children. This is how he started his discard, with HIS resentment towards me, having a feeling about something.

      • I always interpreted the 4 Horsemen this way. They are the behaviours of the cheater that will lead to the marriage failure. The resentment is held by the cheater. I don’t believe it is about reconciliation or the chump. However i agree with CL. After licking ones wounds the chump has to deal with their own anger and resentment.

      • I know exactly my ex Narc wanted a stay at home mom so I was then he decided one day, got greedy for more money but didn’t tell me of his plans so my son found out he was screwing around in our “FAMILY” home while I went back to work overnight to aid “HIS” lifestyle. Makes me vomit

    • I agree the Xh “resented me” for resenting him. 3 decades of misdeeds from someone who obviously has no personal integrity. I finally came to terms with his secret life of lying, cheating and gawd knows what else. So many respected him that it was simply easier to place the blame on faithful me. People are just lazy and don’t want to face the truth. If he could lie and cheat on me (his best friend) then hey, he will lie and cheat on others as well.

      Like I said, no personal integrity. Hold your head high and try as hard as you can to move forward. Remember “they SUCK”. I HATE and get angry at whatever God does. It only matters what I think about the situation……….. call it resentment IDGAF. 🙂

    • Precisely my ex cheating husband, my lawyer said these men and women are all the same that cheat. It’s something inside of them that’s wrong but they “BLAMESHIFT” instead of adulting and fixing the problem!🥶

    • Right? They are allowed to cheat because they resent the BS for running out of salt, or too much red sauce etc, but God forbid the BS resent them for sexual/financial/emotional abuse against them and the marriage.

  • I love this. Thank you. I’m so often portrayed as bitter and fueled by resentment. But I divorced her. I stood up for myself. And my actions post-divorce have been nothing but to be there for the kids and leave the door open for mom to participate. It’s HER choice not to. Everything along the way has been HER CHOICE. Before. During. And after. I’m not fueled by resentment. I’m fueled by trying to do the right thing I’m impossible circumstances.

    • BITTER is an acronym for

      Being In Totally Truthful Emotional Reality

      That’s Ms BITTER, thank you.

    • It’s okay to be bitter. You have the right. I certainly was for a while and several ‘friends’ made comments on my bitterness and that I just had to get over it. I’ve learned which are ‘friends’ and which are not. And truthfully, I didn’t like being bitter. I knew that it was eating out my soul. The dick had moved on and “was happy” long before. Fortunately, with great counsel, I got over my bitterness and realized that the dick is the one to pity. (And I do pity him… a tiny, itty bit.) I think the way I got over my bitterness is by getting on with my life and enjoying every bit of it. I found that each time I was enjoying myself, the dick would pop up in the back of my mind and I’d contemplate about how he’d be making my ‘enjoyable’ time miserable. And that’s when I realized the truthfulness of what a good friend had told me, “Trust me. Someday you’ll realize that he did you a favor.” And she was so right. He did me a favor. I’m enjoying my life so much and I’m certainly not bitter anymore.

      • You told me that , Amazon Chump last year when I was totally abandoned ( still am never once ever contacted me )

        That he did me a favour , I screen shot it ( as I do with all the amazing advice on this site ) and you are 100% right it’s better being abandoned than a cake eater .

        Thank you so much for your wise words and support . I couldn’t see it at the time ( I still struggle to be honest ) but I just KNOW you are right . Thank you

        • Only a completely unhealthy, cowardly, selfish person would be capable of that.
          Accept that he is one screwed up man who was unfortunately in your life, and fortunately he’s not now.
          I agree with AChump

      • That’s awesome I wish I could get to that point but I’m still just bitter 3 1/2 years later. I can’t believe I was do dumb to marry that cheating idiot!😡

      • Amazon Chump, he absolutely is pitiable because he no longer has you, a faithful loving spouse. All he’s left with is a lower and degraded version of himself, a proven cheater capable of cruelly hurting someone he’s supposed to love and care for.

        Our cheaters did us no favours, WE did ourselves the favour by choosing to assert our boundaries and leaving abusive relationships.

      • I agree. I think the only way for the most part to get over the resentment is to let them go and concentrate on our own life. It worked for me.

        I think it would take someone almost not human to stay with a cheater and not hold resentment for a long time. The problem is the RIC many times pushes the BS to stop resenting, most times before they have even had time to heal.

  • Of course, even if you take action to leave, commit fully to no contact/gray rock and (if you have kids) remain civil for co-parenting purposes, some will harp on your “resentment” and “bitterness.” Unfortunately that comes with the territory and will remain so until the narrative changes.

    The ex told the guy she was secretly fucking (in our house, after our daughters got on the school bus) that I was hitting her. I make absolutely no apologies for my resentment. Anyone who disagrees can go fuck themselves.

    • It’s apples and truck tires in a comparison between your X and my X’s actions, but I also experienced great resentment when XAss told everyone who would listen, including the court, that I was physically and emotionally abusive towards him. How you might ask? – by flicking him in the head! What was one finger flick (and not even hard) on the shoulder one day when he was being an idiot turned into “constantly and repeatedly flicking him in the back of the head over a period of years”. It was absurd. It was ridiculous. It was delusional. And I did resent the fuck out of him trying to turn his bad behavior back on me. Now I just derisively laugh whenever I think about that. (Oh, and the judge rolled his eyes hard on him when he heard that!)

      • You flicked him behind the head?
        He fucked others behind your back.

        Doesn’t take a genius to see which is the abusive behaviour.

        I’m eye rolling with the judge!

      • Ugh. Wasband played the abuse card as well. If I was the one abusing him so badly, why was I the one to flee the marital home and go no contact?

        Skunkcabbage: if the flicking supposedly lasted for YEARS, why did he go so long without mentioning that it bothered him? If you insisted on doing it anyway, why didn’t he get a helmet? Or walk away when you came up to him with your flicky hand out?
        Makes ZERO sense.

    • It’s weird to me that Chumps get the “you’re bitter/resentful” talk by people outside of the marriage but no one really says much to the cheater.

      The cheater doesn’t have people telling them “you’re a cold hearted cheater”. In fact, most people don’t even say much to the cheater.

      Why is it that Chumps get a negative label? Our society is so backwards.

      • It sure seems that way. No says a word to his face, yet I cop ‘maybe if you stayed hot, or had some self-esteem, or if I was just a more positive person etc etc etc.
        All I know is maybe if I had trusted myself, the abuse would have still happened, but I would have got the hell out the first time I smelt a giant rat. Instead I got the love bombing and he questioned whether there was even a ‘rat’ at all? I had trust issues, that was the problem. Well yes, not trusting myself. 😢 Trusting him was not warranted at all, confirmed once his double-life was exposed.

        • Does this all stem from our collective childhoods? No one likes a tattletale? You’re not fun if you don’t run with the in crowds? Just a thought as to why everyone else wants to easily side with the charming narc and not the suffering chump.

          • I think it’s another way (as C lady pointed out others will do –) to dissociate from the chump. If chumps are painted in an unflattering light after the fact, it goes to reason that maybe we weren’t so great in the relationship…. And that explains to them – why the cheating will never happen to them
            -as opposed to somebody feeling bitter after an accidental death, people would be more empathetic (even though the person isn’t dealing with betrayal on top of loss)

            I also think that some people think the cheater was an asshole and don’t understand why the betrayed person can’t move on faster -because clearly the cheater was a piece of shit.

            -and then there’s all the cheater apologist who buy into the sad sausage story…and life happens attitude (since it didn’t happen to them, there’s a lack of empathy)

            • You’re right Zip, completely.

              I think the last one, lack of empathy people, are the ones I can’t stand the most….but really I can’t stand any of them.

    • I get this a lot… “why are you still so ‘angry'”… “why can’t you ‘let go'”… and it frustrates me because it is usually when Mr. Sparkles has made a giant flaming leap over a boundary (think Evel Knievel) and I’m trying to maintain No Contact/Gray Rock as a co-parent to a person who I believe has NPD.

      I’m firmly in the land of meh (it happened on a Tuesday, it took four years). I do not resent “him” anymore. I “nothing” him… truly, it’s blissful.

      BUT… I will continue to actively encourage and lobby for people to see how Cheating is Abuse and how it is a black and white issue for me… consequences and freedom are the only reasonable outcomes.

      • As an aside to this topic, Thank you for saying it took 4 years. I’m having a rough day and thinking “It’s been 2 years since DDay(s) I should be Over this by now dammit!” and feeling like a complete loser. Your 4 years comment made me think I’m not all that horrible. Thanks again.

        • It’s been 5 years for me. I think I hit ‘meh’ sometime over the past winter. The AP X girlfriend contacted me (yes, she still trolls him 3 1/2 years after she left him!!) to tell me that he’s trying to hook an Asian lady. Trying to get a rise out of me.

          I found that other than wondering if, when and how he would tell his teen age son about his new “love interest”, I really couldn’t care less.

          • His AP contacted you to tell you what he’s still up to in his personal life?!? I find that so odd.

            I’d be like, “why are you calling me?” haha

        • You hang in there TC… at two years out, I was just finally getting the divorce papers filed and through the courts. He was still with the OW (though she was just about to find out he was cheating on her – I wasn’t at meh yet and was cyberstalking him and found his new personal ads that she didn’t know about and I made sure she did)… third year was after the divorce was final and my son was older and growing used to the visitation schedule (so my heart wasn’t breaking as much on my “off” weekends)… just give it time. It takes what it takes… but No Contact/Gray Rock are paramount to getting to Meh. You have to let go of him and forgive yourself for accepting the abuse. You’ll get there!

          • Thank you for this, and for sharing your timeline. I am completely NC; forgiving myself isn’t going to be an easy task. I hope things are going awesome for you. =-)

  • The work of the Gottmans is more for sane healthy relationships with 2 people who want to make their relationship work. It’s useful for before an affair but not really so much after… It’s like the articles that tell you to look at your part in the relationship and what YOU did wrong.
    Not that much you can do if you check in to ensure we’re good and the other party yes and lies right to your face.

    • Ashley,

      I agree – the Gottman work is appropriate for healthy marriages when both parties want to learn ways to improve and fix. It is not appropriate for a situation with cheating, lying and abusive malignant narcissists.

      And CL is correct – if you choose to stay and eat shit sandwiches, then you need to own that decision and not resent them for everything. Again, with most cheaters this doesn’t work – you are admitting that you are going to continue to accept the abuse. That is just wrong.

    • I think the “resentment” the Gottman’s refer to is not the reasonable resentment felt by a chump after an affair, but rather the resentment the cheater uses as an excuse to have an affair. My X resented my insistence on getting a “frost-free” fridge after he insisted I would be the one responsible for defrosting the thing. He resented my desire that he give up his charade of being an “environmentalist” by storing his trash in my kitchen cupboards (no joke – hundreds of empty ice-cream containers). He resented me when I wouldn’t cough up big bucks to pay for whatever toy he wanted, while I was trying to be fiscally responsible. And yes, he resented me when I quit having sex with him after he gave me herpes.

      There is also the kind of resentment that can rear its ugly head that could be considered “reasonable”, I suppose. When a spouse constantly works late, misses appointments, is a complete utter slob. Those are the type of resentments the Gottmans refer to, and can happen in any marriage. The goal is to head them off at the pass, before they become insurmountable, and to work towards solutions together.

      I like the Gottmans. I don’t think they chump-blame. In fact, they come down hard on cheaters (my take).

      • I agree, I think the Gottman Institute is right on with their advice-
        should be a required premarital course!
        -it’s by no means relevant to blaming a chump around feeling resentment

        • In fix it mode I booked a Gottman Intensive Weekend. Its great information for helping marriages be stronger and better. Unfortunately my house was burning down and that weekend was one more trauma.

          • Crap 🙁
            And I’m sure hardly anyone goes to these workshops or to marriage counselling when things are going well…

  • I love this, but I would phrase it slightly different. It is TRUE that my “resentment” doomed my marriage. I have no doubt at all the if I had simply shut up and cheerfully smiled while the EX screwed whores and blew through all our money, I could have stayed married to him. For that matter, if I even now went back to him bewailing my “mistakes” and pleading with him to take me back, he probably would (although he’d make the most of it and play up the victim role and go on about his “forgiveness” of my sins).

    So yes, resentment dooms marriages. The issue here really is this: The marriage is not the ultimate good. We shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice people for the sake of the marriage. Marriage is supposed to serve the greater good–provide stability, companionship, sexual satisfaction, etc in a loyal, trusting relationship. When adultery happens, the marriage is toxic and no longer serves a purpose.

    This reminds me of human sacrifice in ancient times. The people who cut out the hearts of victims on the altar actually wanted good things for their community–rain, good crops, no disease, etc. And they honestly thought that cutting the throats of victims in sacrifice to the gods helped them achieve that goal. The problem is that you don’t sacrifice PEOPLE for the sake of some higher goal. It’s not okay to murder someone even if your purpose is something that benefits you and the rest of the community.

    Going on about resentment for adultery is like saying to someone walking up the steps of a Mayan pyramid to his bloody death, “Why are you upset about this? You really need to let go of your resentment. We’re going to have some nice crops now.”

    The victim says, “Sure, YOU may have nice crops. But me? I’ll be a mangled heaps of blood and bones. Why is that okay with you?”

    And that’s my response about my marriage. Sure, the EX may love to have his wife appliance and nice home. The community may be more comfortable when families stay together and there are no nasty divorces and court cases. But what about ME? Why is it okay that I am a heap of mangled blood and bones? Why is it okay that I have an STD and I’m in bankruptcy court because my husband spent all my money on whores? Why is it okay that my daughter has to lock her door to keep her dad from coming into her room at night?

    It’s not okay to sacrifice people.

    • Carol39– Read Earnest Becker. One of the power perks of being the shaman or priest regardless of celibacy rules was generally getting laid. Not for priestesses of course. Double standards and hypocrisy are nothing new

      I get your point though. If we pretend cheaters and their apologists have noble intentions, it still doesn’t justify the ghastly results.

      • The point Carol is making is “the marriage is not the ultimate good. We shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice people for the sake of the marriage.”

        A marriage is a contract. Cheating breaks the contract. The “marriage” as it existed is over. Then it’s either ended or a new contract is negotiated. “Reconciliation” is actually, in this view, a form of denial of reality.

        My analogy is a business contract between 2 partners. One follows the agreement. The other lies, steals money and resources, diverts those resources into another business, and resists any consequences. Do you “reconcile”? Forgive and forget? Almost certainly not. Most people wouldn’t even consider entering into a 2nd partnership with that person. The “ultimate good” is the emotional, psychological, physical and financial survival of the wronged partner.

        • I agree completely.
          Marriage is a contract and, in general, the basis is that you not have sex with other people.
          Once it’s broken, that’s it.

          What’s the point of staying married if you are the only one who values the contact?

          I think more and more that infidelity is the same as physical abuse. No one would encourage a spouse to stay with someone who beat them.

          • It’s absolutely the same as physical abuse.

            Chumps don’t consent to have sex with their spouse, while fully knowing they are sleeping with other people as well.

            We never consented to that!

            Cheaters use chumps bodies for their personal pleasure. It’s disgusting and it’s abuse!

          • Sadly, I think there are many people who WOULD urge a spouse who was physically abusive to stay. I think there is a huge difference between what people SAY they will support and what they actually support when it comes to the point. The EX sexually abused a 14-year-old girl. People I knew STILL didn’t want me to divorce him. He committed fraud using my name and putting me in danger of going to prison for things I didn’t do, and people STILL didn’t want me to divorce him.

            I was told over and over that the best thing for the community was staying married, that it would hurt everyone and upset everyone if I got a divorce. Nobody seemed to care what happened to me or to my kids.

  • Had a few people tell me, “you need to let that go” about my ex’s cheating. One of them was my ex-mother -in-law and she said it with a smile on her face, ugh.

    It’s not like I wanted to keep the sadness, disappointment, anger, anxiety. I didn’t enjoy living and feeling like that. Who would?

    Constantly worried your spouse is slipping again, questioning if you’re doing all the right things to make them happy so they don’t cheat again, over analyzing every conversation or look they give you to wonder if they are hiding something, waking up each morning with them laying next to you and knowing someone else had that view too (heartbreaking), I could go on and on.

    I could never escape it, his cheating even haunted me in my dreams. I still have nightmares about it.

    After my first D-Day (there were several), I never felt like he was mine again. I didn’t even feel like myself. It was the worst three years of my life. Some people will never understand the pain & trauma he caused. Broken doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    • We understand the pain & trauma. I contemplated ‘ending’ it (inappropriately). Thank God I didn’t!! Once you get rid of the fuckwit, the pain is finite. And then happiness. And then peace.

      • I thought about ending it too AC. I was so defeated after finding out about the third, I felt like I was out of options. I realized though that my XH would just probably use it to say how crazy I really was, and not see it as how heartbroken I was. Glad I didn’t go there.

        I’m glad you didn’t either.

    • I can’t even imagine someone telling me to my face “you need to let that go”. The utter audacity. And balls–I don’t know anyone in my life who would have the balls to try to tell me that to my face even if they did think it. The bad part about that is I tell it to myself and am probably doing my harm to myself that way than if I was able to go batshit on someone who said it to me.

  • Great article. I love the Gottmans and agree with their work. I don’t think their reference to resentment has anything to do with cheating. I think they have a point that you can’t perpetually be resentful in your relationship and expect it to thrive. I think you have to have hard conversations and like CL says, do something to resolve your anger or let the relationship go. The resentment isn’t helping anyone.

    But also like CL says, I don’t think you should try to reconcile once abused. Just accept, walk away and work through your anger and resentment until it fades and you find yourself with a better life of your making.

    • Yeah, the GOTTMAN method is good & rational

      if you have two flawed but honest people

      who want to work on strengthening/repairing their relationship

      by recognizing, being accountable and hopefully improving

      the counterproductive patterns that can harm any long term relationship

      …the issue is that, as Chumps, we are simply not members of that group

      our “partners” are dedicated to deception, blameshifting and avoiding consequences

      which makes the GOTTMAN Method

      kinda like taking your horse to jiffy lube

      & then getting mad because they don’t stock horseshoes

  • There’s an unspoken assumption in most people’s minds that “letting go of resentment/contempt” automatically means “releasing all resentment/contempt of what’s actually happening and continuing forward with everything exactly as it is right now”. That is a false equivalency.

    It can be true that releasing resentment and/or contempt requires releasing the person whose behaviors prompted it, meaning removing that person from my life. It can be true that I realize that I can’t ever feel truly free and unharmed until you aren’t ever going to be anywhere near me again, so the only reasonable solution that will get me to my desired state of free and unharmed is to do what’s necessary to ensure you’ll never be anywhere near me again.

    Gaslighters know if they move the goalposts furtively enough, they can DARVO before we even see it coming. They know if they keep our minds and hearts heavily occupied with confusing dramas, we’ll lack energy to cut through the crap and clearly see what’s actually occurring.

    Learning to re-evaluate such mondfucks by starting with re-evaluating the base premise of a person’s justifications has been a true lifesaver, and it’s really CL who taught me how to do that.

    Suggesting that letting go of the resentment or contempt you feel about being abused by an abuser must include never holding the abuser accountable for the abuse — or removing the abuser from your life — is equivalent to reading
    you half of a story then rising and leaving the room.

    Resentment and contempt aren’t solely negative. No feelings are solely negative. They serve as beacons of wrong-ness, light beams shining on dangers and barriers and harm, guiding us to see what we need to address and change. Gaslighters try to use them a sources of easy blame, but that is a false premise. Your unpleasant feelings are simply letting you know where you need to open the space, diagnose the metaphorical tumor within, and remove it. How you excise it is up to you, not to the tumor.

    • Very smart analysis. The roots of the powerful negative emotions evoked by cheating are indeed “beacons of wrong-ness,” our warning systems that we are in danger.

  • Yes you do eventually stop resenting, it’s called “Meh”.

    “Meh” is the best description of moving forward in your life. Those who are preaching forgiveness to you ask them what forgiveness is to them? Many of them have the rose colored glasses view of “being friends “ with your ex and the OW.

    My ex and OW are the same self centered narcissist they have always been. I am certainly not friends with them and would not be friends with someone who treats people like that.

    • I can’t be friends with cheaters either. I have a family member who cheated on their spouse and left them.

      I don’t go out of my way to talk to them and if they say anything to me, I just keep it short and simple.

      I don’t want anything to do with cheaters.

      Don’t know if all Chumps feel like that or not. I just can’t even be in the same room with someone once I know they’ve cheated.

      • Same – I stay FAR away from anyone I find out also cheated. Male or Female. Lose all respect for them.

      • Absolutely feel like that. I am able to be polite, but, no, I won’t go out for coffee with that person.

        • I recently got back from visiting family for the 4th of July. In the 7 years since I had been back, I had gone thru a divorce that was very difficult and the kids and I came out the other end quite battered and worn but we made it. To say I have changed is a major understatement both physically and definitely emotionally. I trust no one and sometimes not even myself. I believe my x is a covert narcissist and he left a cemetery in his wake.
          I literally could not wait to leave while I was at my cousins house. He is a cheater and left his wife of 24 years for a coworker. I love her and I still call her my cousin even tho she’s not (he is my blood cousin). His nonchalant attitude, his gorgeous huge house, his boats and sports cars in the garage just made me mentally scream “you’re still a loser and a cheater, dude!!!” I barely met his new flavor of the week because I wasn’t introduced to her and I knew she wasn’t going to be in the picture for very long. Supposedly she’s a psychologist or therapist or something like that but she’s not observant enough to see the writing on the wall. Pendeja.
          The other instance was a family friend of my brother. His on again off again gf and her kids (none of which are his) is a train wreck and I didn’t even look at her. I couldn’t even be in the vicinity of her. I swear she put a spell on him. He is so completely head over heels for her and she’s married to some other dude!!
          After being rung thru the divorce my tolerance level is gone. I have no time for this bs. I am blessed with a face that tells all and no matter how I try to cover it up it never works. I just went with it and excused myself. I literally could not be in that cesspool of damaged people. There is no amount of bleach or water shock that could clean that thing up. I spent the 4th of July with my parents In their house while fireworks blew up over head. I never once looked outside to see the beautiful twinkling lights or smell the acrid powder of burnt fireworks or walk thru the blue gray fog of the aftermath. I watched my kids do that and stayed away from the cheating chaos outside.

          • I just can’t, it’s like I’m suffocating when I’m around people who have cheated.

            I even have a hard time being polite. I’m never mean, I just try to not interact.

            I don’t ask them how they are doing, I give quick and short answers to their questions trying to remain vague. I don’t even want to discuss the weather with them.

            They just make me feel sick.

  • No one would tell you to “let it go” if you were in excruciating pain because a safe fell out of a twenty story window onto you while you were walking along minding your own business.

    Yet, when it comes to the very real and excruciating pain caused by intentionally inflicted trauma, MASSIVE intentionally inflicted trauma, we’re all supposed to have superhuman powers of waving that pain away at will. Would that we could.

    Those people are emotionally disconnected people that I need to stay away from. I’m grateful I can now regard those comments as the freak flags they are.

    • PS….

      I LOVE the description of resentment being “anger without action”….THANK YOU Chump Lady!

      THAT is the key to unlocking the doorway to the Meh. For me, acknowledging the feeling, then deciding on the ACTION that I need to take. The denying/inaction/helplessness/feeling powerless keeps me on the spin cycle.

    • PPS…

      “What’s missing is not sex but the genuine honesty (emotional intimacy) that comes from airing problems and trusting each other with feelings”
      -Charlotte Kasl

      In a long term relationship, as I’ve been educated, if you’re not a robot, the footwork outside the bedroom is what determines what happens in the bedroom.

      Charlotte Kasl is one of my favorite recovery authors. I call her once a year to thank her for her critical contributions to my recovery. I love my annual chats with her.

      I love this quote because it so succinctly summarizes THE essential element of a healthy, functional relationship. There is no room for resentment with regular genuine airing of problems, sharing genuine feelings. I behaved that way in my marriage; his contribution was deception, embezzlement, secrets, lies, betrayal. There is only one outcome as a result and that is DIVORCE. Two people putting in sincere creative energy are required for a successful marriage. The deceptive destructive abusive input of only one is required to kill it.

      • But then again, I now believe affairs are about sex as much as rape is…as in, NOT…..

        • Yes, Velvet Hammer. My STBX craves New Relationship Energy and the sex that comes with it, but mainly because sex/NRE are the purest form of emotional supply. Basically, she needs to be adored because she doesn’t know how to love herself. (She told me so herself in a rare moment of honesty after D-Day #2!)

          And I think the notion that affairs are not really about sex is true for a lot of chumps too, esp. those of us who were married for a long time. I was never tortured by images of STBX having sex with AP – and when I read through her 500-page text dump, I just chuckled through all the juvenile sex talk. What really bothered me were the times STBX disrespected me, deceived me, suggested that I was not an adequate spouse appliance, talked behind my back to other long-term friends, etc.

    • This is a great point, VH.

      Whenever I come across someone blithely advocating a “let it go” strategy…it quickly becomes clear what they mean is “stop being so clear and precise about your boundaries and how they are being violated”

      “There was a time when I believed STBXw was a safe, honest person who wanted the best for me and our children…unfortunately, her behavior indicates that belief was incorrect.

      So I LET GO OF the marriage relationship she was using to hide her abuse, and MOVED ON to the current phase, in which she is treated with the trust and respect she has earned, which is zero. So I guess my question for YOU is why you can’t LET GO of your incorrect perceptions…”

      Boy, they really don’t like that.

      Not at all.

      Boy,

  • Hi! Thanks, I needed this reframed for me. Yes, a marriage loaded w/resentment can’t survive, but it’s a consequence of shitty choices. I was so hurt he asked for a divorce over a year ago, but after coming out of the mindf*ck that was being married to him, I realize I’m sooo much better off. Had I been more honest to friends & family about what was going on, I think I would have realized I had a lot more support to set my boundaries and been willing to leave. Back then I was caught up on being a “cool wife.” Not talking about any of our problems, afraid to look controlling by setting hard boundaries. Still figuring out parallel parenting, but this site has been amazing and I’m so grateful for the people here that “get” it.

    • It’s not “controlling” to expect someone to keep their promises. The chumps here didn’t marry or enter other committed relationships expecting their partners to lie, gaslight and manipulate.

      • It might be “controlling” to stay married and become the “marriage police” because you are married to someone who cannot be trusted and in fact has broken trust and done nothing to earn it back.

        • You’re right! He still tries to pull the “controlling” card while we struggle to coparent. Thank goodness it doesn’t work on me anymore! I’m not trying to control you, I’m trying to protect our daughter & insist on responsible parenting. They always resent the expectation to be responsible & think about how their actions affect others, don’t they?

          • That’s why you don’t “co-parent.” You can only parallel parent with manipulators. If you parallel parent, you take care of the kids on your time, you stick to the court order, and you realize you can’t control what the STBX/X does–other than insisting on following the court order. That alone is often a struggle. But if you could really “co-parent” with most of these people, you wouldn’t have divorced in the first place.

            • You’re right, I should have put parallel-parent. I’ve given up trying to work out our unresolved stuff with a mediator & am just letting my lawyer handle it. Progress!

    • My cheater used the Gottman 4-horsemen research as weapons against me. He wanted to keep eating cake, so he agreed to go to marriage counseling and continued to cheat on me the entire time. Then used the counseling sessions to point out all my flaws and how I resented him for the cheating, etc. He is truly evil, using a therapist to push me down even further with more gaslighting and blameshifting.

      I had my own therapist (a different one) and finally saw what was going on. CL is really the only sane voice out there as it relates to infidelity issues.

      • Geez. My X went to counseling with me, but when I started to describe things he had done to the counselor, I glanced up at him, and he was shaking his head with a look in his eye that said, “don’t tell him THAT”. The counselor noticed, too. We both stopped and looked at my X, and I finally said, “we are wasting our money if you refuse to be honest.” I remember the counselor looking at me with sympathy, and I suspect he knew, even then, that our marriage was doomed.

      • Mine did too. I spent 5 years asking him to please see a therapist, our kids were very young and the marriage was in the shitter, due to his gaslighting, manipulation and constant lying. I gave up asking him and created a plan to divorce him. Then out of the blue he comes home with the Gottman book, tells me he found a gottman certified therapist and thinks we should go. I went to one session and knew this was a giant waste of time, he wanted cake, he wasn’t there to save our marriage. I told him and the therapist that this wasn’t going to work for me and left. In the ensuing months I finally uncovered the trail of financial infidelity he had racked up, was made aware that he owed the IRS thousands of dollars, his numerous secret social media accounts, and the girlfriend. We divorced 4 years ago and my kids and I are thriving. He is still drowning in debt, and every woman he hooks up with dumps him.
        No amount of therapy works if you’re with a cheater who has no morals or ethics. And resentment and anger are valid feelings to be embraced so us chumps can be spurred to action to get the hell away from these fucktards and live the lives we deserve.

  • How much i loved the cheater is how much i resent him now. There has to be something to fill in the enormous hole where the love once was, and between baseless hopium and justified resentment / righteous anger, I’d much rather have the latter tqvm.

    However i do try to sit down with my resentment and talk it out. It’s unhealthy when it’s a symptom of something else, or if it’s your dominant emotion. After all, its hard to appreciate how good life without a lying cheating asshole is if I’m is too busy resenting them.

  • Is part of the message supposed to be “if you hadn’t done these 4 horribly damging things then your spouse wouldnt have felt less than, looked elsewhere and cheated on you. Its your fault”? Because I WASN’T contemptuous or critical, I was loving and accepting and he STILL cheated on me. He stonewalled ME everytime I tried to ask him what was wrong or could we please talk about this. Not buying the message.

  • I am not familiar with the Gottman’s work but I since I stayed in wreckconciliation for 3 years I feel qualified to say this: You will absolutely not be able to stay in a marriage that is full of resentment and I discovered over that three year period that I couldn’t perform the mental gymnastics required to be happy after discovery. It made me bitter and angry all the time because there was literally nothing I could do to make myself not resent what he did while remaining in the marriage.

    I had zero control of his actions to cheat; to blame shift after discovery; to cut off all contact with the OW; to make me feel safe in my decision to stay with him. When I finally took agency and divorced him, slowly but steadily and surely my resentment faded away. I will not be friends with him or really ever interact with him unless my children get married and have children of their own. I feel secure in the fact when that day comes, I will act with civility and never be tempted to take a carnival cruise with him. I don’t see that as resentment as much as self preservation though. Perhaps I am wrong but I’m okay with that.

    • THIS.

      You’re lucky in that he does not constantly press you for continued engagement (“for the sake of the children,” “for your own psychological well-being,” “because it’s the right thing to do,” etc.). Some of us aren’t so fortunate.

      • Bummer! Stay the sane parent. Eventually the children will grow up and realize who really is the sane parent and the most responsible. In my case, one of them (even though he knows who was at fault), has a relationship with his cheating lying dick of a dad but none with me. I racked my brains over what I did wrong to cause the lack of relationship. I did nothing wrong. My heart hurts, but one thing I realized by dealing with the dick is that you cannot make anybody do anything. They’ll do what they want to do. Even your children. Oh…, that child also cheated on his now-ex wife so maybe that’s why he doesn’t have a relationship with me. He wants only affirmations for his behavior and I am not one to do that if the behavior is bad. Stay the course and model good ethics. If you’re fortunate, your children will be decent human beings. But don’t get a guilt trip if they’re not. Each person is responsible for their own behavior and actions. Good luck to you.

      • Yeah I probably should have qualified my statement with the fact that my children are adults and the ex is completely blocked from everything in my life. He also does not bother to try to keep me engaged. Unfortunately Ux, you are not out of this yet. If I were you, and still under constant attack I don’t think my resentment would fade at all.

        Hopefully once the girls are adults KK will find another house to haunt!

  • Ugh! This reminds me of the Crappy James Dobson book someone gave me to read…your partner cheated because they lost repect for you and the solution is:
    to make yourself a fun, happy and unresentful person again so they will want to come back to you.

  • All of these reconciliation groups that treat the “relationship” and the marriage as more important than the person who was deceived, manipulated and abused, who was lied to and gaslighted, who was robbed of time and money, who was used as a spouse appliance.

    When someone cheats, the contract is broken. There are only two ways to fix that problem that actually protects the victims–the chump and the kids.
    1. Leave a cheater. Gain a life.
    2. Separate while the cheaters address their problems and demonstrates over time by giving up their entitle behavior what they are willing to to do to save the marriage. Why would anyone stay with a cheater without insisting on time apart to see if the cheater is willing to make a new contract and live by it?

    Either way, the chump should be protecting assets, strengthening support networks, building career options, and getting clear about their own self-worth and self-efficacy.

    • I truly agree. Those are the only two options. The one I took (choosing to believe the cheater and stay with him) was the wrong option. I should have legally separated to include all assets. I would have seen his lack of ‘trying to save the marriage’ much sooner instead of finding out about his ‘lack’ four years later. That will be my advice in future to anyone trying to save their marriage.

  • I had so much anger and resentment it hurt. Resentment that he had abused me physically, mentally and financially and it was so hard to let it go. In the end I learned that divorcing him at 53 (51 when he left) enabled me to live the REST of my life as I saw fit. I’m now happier than I probably would have been with him even if he hadn’t cheated. It’s not what I would have chosen but there are definitely positives to coming out the other side and letting the resentment go!

  • “Your relationship is doomed if you can’t let go of your resentment.” I knew this. When the dick said that he’d ‘never do it again’, and I was desperate to save my marriage, I actually said to him (when he didn’t want to kiss me), “I know where your mouth has been and if this marriage is going to work, then you better start kissing me.” I had to CHOOSE to trust him else I knew the marriage was not going to work. So I chose to trust a lying cheater. And sure enough, the lying cheater proved that he couldn’t change. Most recently my son finally gave up on his lying cheating wife. All the way up to the last week he was saying, “Mom, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.” I said over and over, “Trust me!! You’re doing the right thing” and then I went on to say that these people cannot change. They wouldn’t have done the crap they did if they were decent people in the first place. His (now ex) wife kept saying, “This time I’m really going to change!” I told him that she really does believe that this time she really, really will change, but after three times of shenanigans (affair, nudie texts, etc.), I told him that just like before, she’ll be good until everything settles down again and then she’ll just go back to doing what she did. Past behavior is indicative of future behavior. Sometimes I wonder if God had me go through all of the crap that I did so I could provide counsel to my son. I didn’t have Chumplady when I went through my crap. I had lousy counselors. My son won’t go through 30 years and 3 children before he’s finally done. He got out early. Thanks be to God.

    • My son’s wife announced in April that she “had feelings for someone else” and would like a trial separation until September and then see if they wanted to divorce. He was blind-sided. He absolutely loves his wife and there was no indication that this was going to happen. It was during lockdown and he spent 5 weeks in an airbnb on his own because he wasn’t allowed to cross the French/Swiss border and move in with me. BUT, I’ve discovered my son had balls I didn’t know about. He told her he wasn’t ever going to be her Plan B, he loved her but he wasn’t sure he would ever trust her again and let’s just forget about the trial separation and go straight for divorce. It has shaken her up to be sure and he is heartbroken but I have been able to talk to him à la CL and told him he is doing the right thing. So yep, maybe you’re right. We had to go through this crap so that we could help them!

  • Carol39– Read Earnest Becker. One of the power perks of being the shaman or priest regardless of celibacy rules was generally getting laid. Not for priestesses of course. Double standards and hypocrisy are nothing new

    I get your point though. If we pretend cheaters and their apologists have noble intentions, it still doesn’t justify the ghastly results.

  • Anger and resentment serve as a warning signals, a necessary reaction for survival. The problem is when things fester for too long. As a ruminator, I know all too well the downside of letting these feelings linger years after the threat is removed. In my case there is a lot of time and distance between us, yet I am still triggered by things, especially since I moved back to the area where I knew him though he is thousands of miles away. He did contact me recently after all these years. The anger and resentment served me well in that scenario. There is a reason we have these feelings. I doubt our species would survive without them.

    • Research shows that place is associated with our feelings and affects our emotional response. So moving back to the “scene of the crime” would indeed have an affect on you. I think that’s why some of us just up stakes and move.

  • I follow some blogs where couples are reconciled and the souls crushing resentment the non cheater feels breaks my heart and reassures me that my decision to toss out the cheater and divorce him was absolutely right.
    I cannot understand the upside of staying once one knows they were betrayed….what does the relationship offer? Do people really believe the children are better off with a lying cheating parent and a resentful, angry one? Is long term pain better than short term pain?

    I can’t see it. Yes, it was very hard to kick out my spouse. After 24 years we had a huge amount of history and financial entanglements, but 18 months post d day I have survived and am absolutely meh. I have a lovely life…better than I could have imagined when this all went down.

    And I have no setting resentment and anger. Just occasional disappointment that things did not turn out as I had planned, but, they so rarely do.

    Maybe I am jaded, but I don’t think any relationship is worth salvaging once one party has secret sex with someone else. They have nothing left to offer.

  • Remember the statement, “The Truth will set you FREE”? When you find the truth you might not be happy about it, and you may resent it. You find the truth and it changes your life, you have consequences to endure because of someone else. You do the time, and you didn’t do the crime. You trusted someone who turned out to be a cheater, and now you have to disrupt the life you worked hard to build — sell the home, move yourself and your children, face the world with a reduced income. You have to lose a partner, and intimacy, and love. How can you NOT resent this?

    CL is absolutely correct. The cure for resentment is the action you take. It does not mean you won’t remember the truth you discovered, or lose your opinion about how unfair the cheater’s decision was in the first place. Your world changed. You were set free by your action. Ready or not your focus changes from working toward your dream of a good marriage, to how to survive today and tomorrow. After so many tomorrows you think more about you and less about the cheater, you start to feel good about your ability to adapt and change. One Tuesday, you wake up and your first thought is anything else except the cheater and your past life. You have entered the land of MEH. Memories exist, but no longer have the power to hurt you or control you because you took action, and you are free.

    Don’t ever underestimate the power of realizing you are free. Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but there was war, and people died, and people still felt enslaved. It was signed in 1862. It’s 2020. Is it any wonder there is still resentment? There has been action, and reaction, and change has been slowly achieved. But there has not been enough tomorrows, and MEH is still some distance away. Like it or not, it takes time.

    We struggle with our individual path to freedom. When you feel overwhelmed, maybe it would help to look at history and see how long it truly takes to change things that need to be changed. We are all part of a bigger struggle to be free. If resentment fuels your fire to be free, then use it to burn your path to freedom. No one else is entitled to judge your pursuit of happiness.

  • Ugh, the “resentment” crap. That seemed to be one of my ex’s favorite words to throw at me just to get me to shut up whenever he was doing or saying something shitty. It was one of my shortest relationships, thank god…

    “Hey could you please stop telling me about how great your ex wife was? That’s the only thing you’ve been talking about all day…”
    “Stop being resentful that I had a life before you! Resentment just breeds negativity.”

    (While he’s showing me this youtuber who goes around South Florida “outing” gold digger women on camera)
    “These videos look really staged.”
    “You’re just resentful that those women are hotter than you.”

    (He’s complaining to me, yet again, about a pregnant 20-year-old girl who wants him to raise her child that is *supposedly* not his, and this girl’s ex boyfriend, the *supposed* father of the child keeps coming after him.)

    “Why are you still communicating with her if you don’t want anything to do with a child that’s not even yours?”
    “Don’t be so resentful that she’s looking to me for protection.”

    …Yeah. Sure. ….The problem here was my resentment. …Uh huh…

    That guy is out of my life and I have no idea what happened with him and the baby that *wasn’t* his. I don’t care. Good riddance. I will sit here and be resentful all I want with that.

  • The “Four Horsemen” of relationship have nothing to do with cheating or chumpdom. They basically found that couples, where one or both partners engage in criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling as means of communication are more likely to fail than couples that don’t engage in these behaviors. This is nothing to do with resentment for rightful reasons. As anything with behaviors, it’s all a sliding scale.

    In fact it rather accurately summarizes fuckwit communication traits and behaviors considering that fuckwits tend to bring all four to the table on the extreme side of the scale. I’d think we all are quite familiar with the joys of destructive criticism (you don’t fold my socks right), contempt (the act of cheating), defensiveness (it’s chump’s fault he had to cheat), and stonewalling (I won’t acknowledge how you feel or that I did anything wrong). If you think back – these were present in many aspects of the relationship long before they got caught cheating.

    ^If you really want to apply this research to cheating, then quite frankly it fits like a glove and the end result is exactly as predicted – the relationship will fail. This is literally telling you that relationships with fuckwits are doomed.

    Anyone trying to twist this to fit onto the chump as some type of reconciliation failure by chumps is either engaging in some serious gaslighting or needs to actually read the research properly.

    • Could not agree more! My cheater tried to twist the 4 Horsemen on me (after multiple D-days) and the manipulation worked for a while. He is a sick f*ck. So glad I am away from him and at Meh. In the end, I believe he really did me a huge favor.

    • Yeah, that’s what I understood the research to mean. The “four horsemen” are not things that are exclusively reactionary to cheating, they can exist in a relationship independent of infidelity. Cheaters often do bring all four to the relationship on their own, regardless of how the spouse reacts to it. They are characteristics of poor communication, and cheating can create them. Cheating can cause a betrayed spouse to become resentful, feel contempt, defensive, and criticized. A cheater almost needs to be all of these things (contemptful, resentful, critical, and stonewalling) in order to carry out an affair.

      But you can also get someone who is just a really terrible, selfish communicators, but not unfaithful.

      A cheater who gets caught and tries to use Gottman’s research as a defense is just more of the same cheater holier-than-thou garbage. Trying to seem morally or intellectually superior when they really have no fucking idea what they’re actually talking about.

    • I had never heard of “The Four Horsemen”, but now that I have, I’ll make sure to keep this information handy! Thanks.

    • Thank you! I like the Gottman’s work, I just get so frustrated reading about / hearing people talk about the need to let go of resentment /contempt when those are natural reactions to someone else’s poor behavior. It’s the twisting that’s frustrating (I guess it’s another flavor of the Jesus cheater dialogue).

  • As I understand the Gottman ‘four horsemen’ theory (and I’ve known about this institute for probably 30 years now), it’s not passing judgment per se on a spouse’s resentment. It’s merely predicting the success or failure of a marriage in the presence of contempt and resentment.

    In other words, a spouse may or may not have legitimate reason to resent his/her wife or husband, but the presence of that resentment is predictive of the success of the marriage. Eventually, the marriage will end in divorce – regardless of whether or not the contempt is justified. Just my $.02.

    • Fair point. However, to discuss resentment without distinguishing between justified resentment and unjustified resentment is to encourage a false equivalency, and therefore (intentionally or by negligence) a form of gaslighting.

      • Disagree. Identifying the presence of resentment is just a tool to assess the viability of a marriage. The reason for the resentment (whether it’s justified/unjustified) is irrelevant, because either way, its mere existence is what counts. It only becomes relevant when trying to fix the problem so that the marriage has a better chance of surviving. Then, of course, it matters very much because the work of fixing it depends on the cause of the resentment.

  • I got this exact mindfuck from a Gottman-trained couples therapist right after D-Day #2. The therapist was very young and inexperienced, just out of training. The only reason we went to see her is that her practice was recommended as LGBTQ+ friendly, and none of the other therapists there were taking new clients. It turned out to be a terrible idea to see her, and I should have walked away from her earlier because I didn’t feel supported by her, but was literally sick from trauma at that point and couldn’t imagine finding an alternative. (As it happened, the next two couples counselors we saw were equally unsupportive. It turns out it’s really hard to find a therapist in the suburbs who really knows their field, and who can identify and challenge a covert narcissist.)

    Anyway, this inexperienced Gottman person made us read the Four Horsemen article as soon as we started seeing her. She would sometimes refer to it in general ways during our joint sessions. Later, several months after we stopped seeing her, STBX informed me that the therapist had told her in an individual session (so I wasn’t there to defend myself!) that she sometimes felt that I was expressing “contempt” in the Gottman sense. Yeah, you think?!?

    And of course as soon as STBX heard this, she was able to shift all blame onto me and absolve herself. I would strongly advise all new chumps who are doing any kind of therapy with their cheaters (hopefully to mediate a divorce, rather than to try to reconcile) to make sure that their therapist doesn’t try to pull that crap on them. As others have noted above, a chump’s natural devastation upon experiencing the pain of abuse is NOT the same as contempt in Gottman terms.

    I have thought about writing a letter to this therapist, hoping that she could be educated so she’s not complicit in the abuse of others, but haven’t yet had the time/bandwidth to do so.

    • Let’s hope she becomes more experienced and doesn’t give such lousy advice to anyone else. If you can find the time, please write her. She needs to be enlightened.

  • Abuse experts (like Lundy Bancroft) will tell you that the abusive partner who wants to make a real change must be ready to accept and amend any grievances he caused.

    Now, that’s not giving the offended partner a leeway for mistreatment, of course, it’s just righting a wrong.
    If they don’t have the patience to go through the CONSEQUENCES of THEIR ACTIONS, they have no business being, much less expecting to be!, in a relationship with you.

    Know your boundaries!

  • Hi.

    As a pofessor of interpersonal communication, I’ve found Gottman’s work to be incredibly useful and scientific in its development. However, it sounds as if is being mis-applied / weaponized by the people OP is quoting.

    The Four Horsemen are Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, and Contempt. These are present to some degree in every relationship, but it is the frequency with which they occur that signals the degree of relational dysfunction.

    I think we can all relate to the fact that cheating involves application all of the Horsemen – especially Contempt (by cheaters for chumps), which Gottman finds to be the most damaging. There is an honorary Fifth Horseman, Belligerence, which has been studied in relation to abuse, which we know cgeating is a form of.

    TLDR: Gottman is not the problem, cheaters and their defenders misapplying / weaponizing it is.

    • Professor– Great point. To quote Margaret Atwood (I quote Margaret Atwood too much), “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.”

      Ideas are also not responsible for the people who weaponize them. Still, my favorite philosophers and thinkers are those who build into their approaches all kinds of qualifiers and obstructions against misapplication and misinterpretation. My favorite example of this is Karl Popper’s principle of falsification (as many probably know, the idea that, if something can’t theoretically be disproved, it’s not science. Therefore any time a form of “science” is officially placed beyond skepticism, it should raise red flags). I think the principle was a brilliant, deliberate attempt to obstruct “scientism”– the cult of false and expedient state science that underlay every totalitarian regime in history.

      Maybe the Gottman Institute has a little more work to do.

  • I’ve gotten over resenting or being angry that the goal was me being dead by accidental causes.
    Or being driven so crazy that I thought me being dead was a peaceful thought.

    “Horsemen” … is another word for sick abuse.

    Gottman can take his “horsemen “ and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    Ya all can buy And read every book ever written.

    You know when the hair on your neck stands up ? Do not ignore that.
    Just as PSA.

  • I don’t think I’ll ever read another relationship book ever. How are you supposed to single handedly fix a marriage anyway? All those damn books did was teach me how to spackle better.

  • I think resentment is neither good nor bad on its own. What can be good or bad is the purpose it’s applied to and what’s being done with it. There’s a lot of data in trauma and anger is part of processing that data. Resentment is just anger with a continuous loop of ruminations and head films thrown in. I think of it as the brain’s attempt to squeeze any possible wisdom out of an experience in service to survival, learn more about human evil in order to be safer from it, etc. It’s autonomic skein untangling.

    In my experience, if anyone finds themselves really stuck in resentment that doesn’t eventually at least graduate into a more abstract, sociopolitical type of passion, it could mean there’s false data in the system. Typically the false data comes from the abuser mentality. Abusers con themselves as well as their victims.

    Reasons for not graduating:

    –Perpetrators of various ugly things never move past it because they’re invariably feeding false data into their own processing to reduce the appearance of their own culpability to themselves and/or bystanders. False data like “I was a hapless victim of circumstance who couldn’t help hitting him/her or fucking my coworker, etc. ,” “my ex didn’t love me unconditionally/didn’t fold my undies properly so it doesn’t matter if I gave them syphilis because they are subhuman”; “My love for my children is telepathically snowflake special enough to outweigh the fact I financially fucked them over and emotionally neglected them while robbing their only sane parent of energy and hope”; “I was the biggest, bestest victim in the world!” etc. They never get closure as much as some put on the “dime store Buddha” act (thanks for that epithet CL– priceless) just to extra-stick it to their own victims. Trust that they suck and trust that they *never* move beyond what they’ve done, not really.

    — Side pieces never move past it because they’re also guilty of consciously harming others as co-conspirators and also force-feed their basal ganglia with bs narratives. They rot from the inside out on apologias or romanticization of what they participate in.

    — Victims are often bombarded with false cultural messages like the stuff typically dished out by RIC or the cheesier religious communities– that victims “contributed” to their own abuse or they didn’t forgive properly, etc.

    — Victims believing the abuser’s DARVO accusations because abusers put far more passion into those attacks than they ever did while saying anything nice and, due to systematic social isolation of their victims, abusers managed to make themselves the only source of feedback.

    — A continuation of above– lack of social support for victims to recover from posttraumatic stress. A sense of simply running out of time to have a do-over– the “telescoping sense of life expectancy” and feeling that one will never be happy again that’s typical of PTSD.

    — Victims failing to accurately access the scale of abuse. Until the enormity of the abuse is acknowledged and receives social support, there’s no genuine moving on. If someone finds themselves stuck, consider the possibility that their abuser and the abuse may have been far worse than even the victim themselves has factored. The abuser might have been a Jeffrey Epstein type or Jeffrey Dahmer (let’s just call them all Jeffreys). Our lizard brains pick up on this kind of potentiality in people around us even when our conscious minds can’t handle the information. Closing the gap between what we consciously think and the truth is the only remedy.

    — Pragmatic inability to leave the abuser like disability or economic factors or the abuser has too much power and could feasibly take custody of children or destroy the victim in some other way.

  • Ugh. I read the Esther Perel books in the early days after DD#1. That shit sent me backwards. BUT, I do love the Gottmans. I went to a Gottman certified therapist and read lots of Gottman books. It helped me. It’s practical and research based counseling. I don’t consider Gottman therapy as part of the RIC. In fact, there is Gottman-specific therapy about leaving a relationship.

  • Hell of a Chump, thank you for that really insightful note, it’s got me thinking about my own situation. I have felt my soon TBX’s resentment towards me for the last few years, but now that I can piece all the jigsaw together I can see that it started in 2009 and he only left in 2019! He actually told me while very drunk in 2015 that “I d have left you years ago only I couldn’t afford to”. I am so glad that this narcissistic, alcoholic cheater of a husband has left, but so resent that he didn’t leave years ago! I put up with such horrid behaviour. He used me as an ATM! I’m so cross that I was so blindly trying to keep such a wretched relationship on life support for so long! I need to leave those negative feelings behind and realise that the silk-tongued snake (as my son calls him) has been banished and life can only be better!

  • Tried to post this for yesterday’s column, but wouldn’t work. Since it’s still about Gottman…

    Definitions of the Gottman 4 horsemen. This is how things played out in my marriage, from his mouth during MC, although supposedly there was no cheating, just almost. Regardless of the cheating, there was verbal and emotional abuse perpetrated very subtly on our son and me for more than 15 years. Please Coronavirus go away. Even though he doesn’t yell much any longer, so many other traits are still there. I want OUT!

    Criticism-diapproval based on perceived mistakes or thoughts

    Contempt-beneath him, worthless

    Defensiveness-behavior intended to defend or protect

    Stonewalling-refusing to give answers or giving evasive replies

    It started with me finding out he’d been looking at porn, with our toddler in the room. He received consequences. CRITICIZED my thoughts about him. I folded his Tshirts wrong. CRITICIZED my perceived mistake.
    The criticisms grew in his mind from pebbles to boulders, then came CONTEMPT.
    Long story, but shortened, he tried to pick up the owner of a venue at an event we attended right in front of me. She was 20 years younger. My hackles went up a couple days later. I checked our phone log, first time ever, and discovered he was texting with her. My 1st clue, really! When I asked him why they were texting, the lies and gaslighting began. DEFENSIVENESS!
    Other things were uncovered by me snooping, saying I was crazy, forcing me to go to Dr. and therapist to find out if I was bipolar or had dementia (I ‘m was 58), lying by omission, hence the STONEWALLING, which has continued for the last 3+ years!

    If you can put this together in your story, IMHO, you have all the ingredients for resentment. Funny thing is, you did none of this! It was all created in their fertile minds.

  • I am pretty sure the Gottman’s are neutral on the outcome of someone’s marriage, they just provide the insight as to how to have a healthy marriage.

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