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How Do You Leave a Cheater?

How_to_leave_a_cheaterDear Chump Lady,

When you discover cheating, how do you break the news?

I’m a strong person. I help domestic violence victims, I have an answer for everything. I don’t know left from right today.

Today I’m rereading emails my other half sent to a woman he believed was a Craigslist honey wanting to get naughty with him. ( I made an email address and messaged the Craigslist ad I suspected was him and low and behold….)

I took the opportunity to gently quiz him about his past with Craigslist, so “I know what to expect when we meet and am waiting to hear back what his sexual limits for the meeting will be” and he described other sexual adventures he ran off on while I was sitting at home 2 years ago pregnant and thinking I had this great future ahead of me with him.

The above mentioned time period is where I used to reflect back, to remind myself that he once loved me when I don’t understand why he’s indifferent and withdrawn. He’s withdrawn because he’s focused on porking pigs.

I am braced for the retaliation and epic smear campaign that is going to happen when I approach him. I’m just not sure how to break the newsflash to him.

Thank you for all your writings. They have helped me wrap my brain around this situation and lace up my F.U. combat boots.


Dear Jenn,

Oh hey, why don’t you “break the news” to him in the kind, gentle way in which he broke it to you?

Sucker punch him.

Line up your ducks and see a lawyer, so you can hit him hard and fast on your way out the door. Unfortunately, that means being a very good actress for a little while.

The first thing you must do is disabuse yourself of the notion that you’re going to have a nice chat about his Craigslist adventures, and he’ll see sense and recommit to his marriage and family. That’s not going to happen. Start lining up the consequences and PROTECT YOURSELF.

You already seem to know what you’re dealing with if you think he’ll react with a “smear campaign.” All the more reason to prepare carefully.

Here’s a refresher course on How To Leave a Cheater. (Also, shameless plug for my book — the first chapter is on rookie mistakes and how to avoid them.)

A) Don’t confront him. He will just take his affairs underground. He’s demonstrated how deceptive he is. All the Reconciliation Industrial Complex advice aside, having an “honest conversation” about his extracurriculars, “Hey honey, tell me how your needs for stranger sex weren’t being met…” — is setting yourself up for MORE manipulation.

Manipulation has been his strategy all along. Why would he change tactics now when so much is at stake? His goal has been cake — his affairs and his chump. He will cycle through the three channels — rage, self-pity, and charm — to keep you in your place.

B) Know your deal-breakers and grieve later. Don’t get caught up in who you thought he was, or who he could be — deal with WHO HE IS — a man who is brazenly cheating on you, and risking your health. (And who risked your health while you were pregnant.) It’s normal that you’ll still feel some love for him and raw emotion that your family life, as you thought it was, has died. Don’t let those feelings paralyze you or get in the way of you protecting yourself. It’s time to be a field marshall. You can fall apart later, in safety.

C) Get your finances in order. While you’re lining things up, make copies of all your financial documents. Run a credit report. Figure out your debts and your income. Do some sleuthing if you suspect he’s been siphoning off funds for his double life. Sadly, financial abuse often goes hand in hand with infidelity. These are monies you can ask for back in a divorce. Check out Vickie Adam’s blog My Divorce Financial Planner for more guidance.

D) Get a support network. You are dealing with a monumental shock and you need all kinds of support now. You can find online support with Chump Nation in the Reddit forum. (Ask a mod to join, you’ll need a Reddit account.)  But also get some IRL support too — your own therapist to help you enforce your boundaries (not a marriage counselor), a trusted friend or family member(s), a church community, if you’re religious — it’s okay to lean on others now. That’s how you get through crises. Do NOT, however, lean on your husband. You will fight an overwhelming urge to seek comfort from the person who hurt you — resist those feelings. They make you vulnerable to more manipulation, the consequences of which could be very costly.

E) Get STD testing. Cheaters live in a magical reality. Don’t trust a cheater to have safe sex.

F) Be the Sane Parent. When the going gets tough, focus on being strong for your kid(s) right now. Model self respect and resiliency to them. Don’t model codependent chumpdom. Their dad is checked out of family life — you can’t afford to be. They need you to have your wits about you.

Jenn, I’m sure Chump Nation will weigh in with more suggestions. But, for now, I hope these help you lace up those Fuck You boots and march forward into a new, cheater-free life. ((Big HUGS))

This one ran before. Got an early morning. 

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  • I would like to add a suggestion. Secure your personal belongings. Move them to storage, leave them with a trusted friend or family member. I am not advocating being the Grinch and taking everything. I am telling you to secure your personal belongings before you leave.

    It has been fifteen months and that ass is still refusing to allow me access to our home to retrieve my belongings. There is never a time or date that is convenient to him.

    He just ignored the latest court order. So get your belongings out before you leave.

    • She is right gather your belongings. Have backpack ready with the essentials.

      I was blindsided about his cheating.
      I had go back a week later to get the important stuff. Like bank cards, ID, driver’s license and credit card.
      Of course SBXH was waiting for me to show up. So he could gleefully rub his affair in my face.

      • I’d cancel the joint credit cards. Perhaps, ask an attorney about that. I took his credit card out of his wallet when he was sleeping and cut it up. I also opened my own banking account and transferred some money into it over the internet. Try to find a way to NOT live with him during the divorce proceedings.

        • Once I ‘lost’ my purse…..and had to get all new cards with new numbers. I just took him off as they were all in my name.

          Unfortunately I stayed…..and he got the cards back. Then he left us (me and 14 year old DS) for someone he had an affair with 25 years before (Hence my name).

          He didn’t change, only got sneakier… others said, act your heart out and make a plan. Start taking a little extra out on you debit card when you go for groceries for a nest egg. Find a safe place for things — a bank is not good for your nest egg. Remember at all time he, his family, your mutual friends can’t be trusted. Once you see how things shake out you’ll know who to keep in your close circle. I treated every interaction as if he was filming / recording it.

          Do take your personal things — and anything else you need to be able to set you and your child up.

          I send you hugs and wish you the best. I know it might not feel like it, it will get better. Just do what you need to do to protect youself.

    • Exactly! I waited a month after DDay to file. In the meantime, I rented storage and took out belongings box by box. He never noticed. Whenever I was alone in the house, I scanned and copied whatever I could find, and took video and stills of the inside and outside of the house. By the time I walked into counsel’s office, I had a stack of documents and was one-up on financial discovery.

      • I did this as well. I rented a storage locker and started packing up my own personal belongings. Given that CheaterX was in the IT field, which often involves long hours or weekends, this was not hard to manage.

        He didn’t notice what I was doing. We had a lot of stuff, for sure, but I brought most of the household goods to the marriage. I packed anything that I wasn’t using day-to-day. Since he was entirely disinterested in most household matters, he simply had no idea this was going on.

        • Good job. In our state it was incumbent on the person who files to get the financial documents together and pull the “case” as it were; together.

          So I convinced my ex to file since he was the one who wanted the divorce.

          That gave my lawyer options for a better maintenance pkg. He could have of course drug it out, but then my lawyer had options in that case too. He got all the paperwork in quickly because schmoopie was pushing for marriage, she wanted to come out of hiding. What he didn’t know was he was going to have to sign a maintenance agreement, or we could continue to fight it out, delaying the divorce even longer.

          I still think back some times and wish I had gone for the three year package, but a year wasn’t bad. Actually 6 months of that was the time I requested, and after that he started delaying.

          I had control of the house, so I could take my time in going through stuff. Plus, all the locks had been changed, and he knew I had people watching the house.

    • Yes secure the items that you would take in the event of a fire! While Dr. Cheaterpants was out of the house wining/dining young schmoopie, I was packing up baby pictures, family keepsakes, things that were important to me to take and store somewhere else (my mom’s). After my lawyer consultation, she advised me to put my jewelry in storage and I though to myself ‘he’d never take that’. Uh, yep he would. Nothing more infuriating than to see schmoopie wearing your stuff.

      • ^THIS^

        Secure or get anything out that you value and / or high ticket item that you want to keep (or at least negotiate for in divorce settlement).

        Fuckwit is STILL shopping the house when I am gone – he just lets himself in under the guise of seeing the kids (college student & teen) and takes what he wants. I have resorted to putting keyed locks on my bedroom and closets / storage areas. He also swaps out cheap crap for the good stuff; I went to watch a movie and quickly figured out that the sound was “off”; low and behold totally different, bottom barrel equipment.

    • Go back to court: file a motion for contempt, seek fees and an order that directs the sheriff to accompany you at a set date and time.

    • Yes, when the court ordered my ex to give me back my cherished items he went to the thrift stores and then sustituted junk for my things. Boxes of this crap were left on my porch. And I was told that it would cost more than the items were actually worth to get them back through a court process.

      You’ve printed off all the Craiglist things hopefully.

      • Did the court say it was more expensive or did he say that? If I were you I would have brought the cheap junk to my lawyer and told them this is what you got instead of the items the court told him to give back.

    • I made sure my most important items were out of the house or win my (increasingly large) purse: my mother’s silver, copies of financial records, passport, journal, credit cards (and I shredded any statements or anything else that had the credit card number), prescription medications, valuable jewelry, sentimental jewelry, cash, spare keys to the house and cars, photos (I scanned those and kept copies in the cloud). I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting right now. I put a whole file drawer worth of financial documents into a plastic box and had it mailed to my best friend. It cost about $30, but it was worth it!

  • Never tip your hat to a cheater EVER

    This is the one thing I’m proud of even before I found CL . I found out about Ex affair on the Saturday by the Friday I had him served at his work the formal separation papers back dated to the Saturday . No way was I letting him rack up debt in my name then I did my digging .

    We have a 1 year minimum separation period and I got divorced within 29 weeks ( adultery ) all without uttering a word to him . I served his lawyer my divorce application never even bothered with him .

    Get all your ducks in a row as quiet as a mouse then never deal with them again and never show your hand . They will only use this against you

  • You’ve got this, I promise. It’s so so shit, but honestly, follow the advice above:
    – don’t worry about the nice, rational, best way to discuss it. I’ve been there too, and I hear you, but he doesn’t need prioritising anymore.
    – grieve later. This one is important. He’s not the man, or the father, or the future that you thought. He’s not. And that needs to be grieved for, but not yet. Gather that determination, and game face, and strength and KNOW that you’re better off. Just a bit more strength, you can do it, I absolutely promise you.
    – be 100% completely honest with some people you trust. They’ll help you to maintain your boundaries and make sure any BS that comes your way doesnt creep into your mind. They’ll also protect you and help get you through this.

    I know it’s horrible. I know it is. But I promise you that this situation will, one day, simply be a moment in time. And it will not always be this hard. You’ve got this. And you’ve got a community here to help.
    Message me if you need, but I promise you’ve got this.

    • I agree. There is no rational discussion with the irrational. Cheaters don’t think in terms of peaceful and rational discussion. They think in terms of “Me, me, me, I, I, I.” The only time they think of you is when they are trying to blame you.

      • Amen to that. Head in a blender is the correct analogy. You go into it expecting to have a logical discussion, present facts and maybe get them to acknowledge the deceit and remorse. Instead, you get mind effed and blamed for their shit and get reality completely altered. My ex had me doubting my own eyes of seeing her kiss another man.

        That’s pretty good.

  • Part of protecting yourself and family – don’t get pregnant.

    Know that there are well meaning people in most of our lives who will directly or indirectly (through their spouse) tell your spouse everything you tell them. Sometimes part of being in an abusive relationship is isolation from friends and family. Call a domestic abuse hotline or shelter to connect with someone outside your social or family circle if you need to be cautious.

    Good luck!

  • Totally! Stay quiet, lawyer up and secure all personal items once you are ready execute your exit serving him with a lawyer legal document.
    I know it hurts but no other way, a cheater doesn’t leave you any other option meh!meh! dood luck and look for your Tuesday, it will come maybe after few months or 2-3 years aprox ????

  • Arrange a meeting/sexual encounter with your fake craiglist email. Have divorce papers ready. Take someone that knows both of you and serve him when you go to meet him. 😉 He won’t be able to talk his way out of that one as we all know otherwise he would.

    Like everyone else has said… get your personal belongings out first and everything you might need for court. ie.. financial documents, vehicle titles, you kids birth certificate and any pictures you may have or if they are on a computer make sure to get the computer OR make a copy. Also, make copies of the emails you have read of his to craigslist ads. This may not help in court for your divorce but if you go through a custody evaluation it could help paint the picture.

    Good luck, don’t fall for the charm. Remember You were pregnant and he was doing this. Mine did the same thing. He is not at all a good person.

  • A cheater will try to stay because he/she wasn’t expecting to get caught. They haven’t made plans to live elsewhere, at least mine didn’t. He thought he could come and go from the marital home when I wasn’t there. I couldn’t change the locks according to the police because the home was jointly owned, so I unplugged the garage door opener and barricaded the rollers on its track, & filed a petition for him to be removed from the home. Expect the unexpected!

    • I was chumped twice by Dr. Cheaterpants for yet a different schmoopie (stupid me wreckonciled after the first chumping when the kids were toddlers). Anyhow I knew how he would behave already. After the first time he left and moved out, I would come home with the kids and he would be sitting in the house waiting for us. He would eat supper, play with the kids a bit, then head out for schmoopies. He would come and go on the weekends, I was so confused. When the kids and I moved into our own place after we sold the marital home and before the divorce was final, he could no longer come and go. I’d find him walking around the house–I know, I know creepy. I let that fucker come back.

      When I caught him pursuing DD14’s 20-something sports coach in our kids Catholic school, I got my ducks lined up and secured my keepsakes at my mom’s. In a fit of anger while he was using our DD to snag schmoopie, I let the cat out of the bag. Ugh. I rebounded by telling my lawyer I wanted to put in the separation agreement a timeline for him to remove any belongings so I could change the locks. He had 30 days to do so per our separation agreement, I helped him pack up his stuff when he moved out–he thought I was being so helpful. Then when the 30 days were up, I changed the locks. He dropped DD14 off at home while the locksmith was there and he was shocked!! Then he started texting me for stuff from the home – I shut that down by letting my lawyer tell his lawyer to stop. Then he started having the kids retrieve stuff–ugh. What a loser!!!!

      • twiceachump: my STBX does the same thing yours did after first D-Day. STBX left over a year ago for AP, who he has been with off and on for several years. (Karma nugget: she’s not the only AP.) He filed for divorce, but I have had to handle the settlement agreement (his lawyer filed him for lack of response after he filed).

        I was able to push through refinancing our home in my name only earlier this year. Interest rates have been super low, so I did it under the guise of making a responsible financial decision to save “us” money.

        Since moving out last year, STBX has been at my house every day. A lot of times he eats dinner with us, pretends to hang out with DD (mostly just follows me around) and sometimes jokes about sleeping at my house. Why do they do this?!?!

        I would change the locks, but until I get a signature on the settlement agreement, I’m trying to play nice. I’m looking forward to the day when I can lock him out though.

        • It’s another form of cake. He gets to play family man when it suits him and bang schmoopie when he wants. They convince themselves they can keep the ‘good parts’ of both relationships. And go ballistic when consequences are served up.

          • So true.

            Why are they so surprised when the Chump no longer hangs on their every word? I mean I get that they have found twu wuv, and schmoopie has a magic twat, but you would think they are at least smart enough to know that once they choose B, they no longer have access to A. Or at least most of the time they don’t.

            • B is never as good as A and I think somewhere in their peanut-sized brains they know that.

              I’m constantly one step ahead of my “husband,” so I hear a lot about his twu wuv relationship. She lives with her mom, has a child who she conceived with a cousin, can’t hold down a steady job, has a drinking problem and constantly tends to “shove” “husband” when they fight. I recently found out that husband also has another AP — 11 years his junior, single mom, former-co-worker. My “husband” and this AP (plan C) were both fired earlier this year for racist comments, among other things. Both are overweight and have tons of tattoos. (Aside: this is not me passing judgement on either of those things generally, only in this specific case.)

              I am not perfect (I would be a narcissist, like “husband” if I said I was), but to say that I am the COMPLETE opposite of these twats would be an understatement.

              I think “husband” tries to keep me in contention because he knows the APs don’t measure up. I just want him to give me some financial information so we can move on.

              • Ha, you comment reminded me that my ex said (long after we were legally separated, that she was different than me, when she gets mad she throws things.

                I thought that was funny. Yeah, I get it. I am not perfect either, but I was a darn sight better looking and smarter than she was. The fuckwit was not her first married man rodeo, but he was the first one that was her supervisor. She roped him good.

                But, I don’t think these guys are going after better, just available. She got fired from her job, soon after their relationship was discovered. Not for that reason, they had moved her to a different job, where he wasn’t her supervisor, and she effed it up big time.

                It isn’t like they have, (at least in my case) a lot of money to throw around to attract a super model.

                But, hey I stepped aside and let her have him. After I let him come back once to “try again”. Lasted a week and I kicked him out. My only fear was that he wouldn’t marry her. I was so afraid he wouldn’t marry her, and he would be free to have fun. So funny when I think back now. But at the time it seemed important to me that they get chained together.

              • Yep they go for the underlings. I used to think Dr Cheaterpants was naive to cray cray women looking to score a ‘rich’ doctor. Now I know he was a predator looking for easy targets he felt he was superior to. All about the power and control of both the chump and the dumsel in distress.

              • “Husband” (I need a better name for him), WAS a police officer. Its all about power and control for him. He found his next two victims (one of which was also a police officer) and is still trolling around waiting for me to throw my hat back in the ring. Nope. No thanks.

  • Not easy but try and be financially independent. Of course child maintenance is your right. Cheaters don’t live in the real world. Don’t trust them to do the right thing. Some women have strange views on men, this is what some women have told me “any man is better than no man” “you have to make men happy”. you ex is probably using is acting skills, people will say I thought he was nice, he was nice to me.
    One woman said “he would murder his girlfriend but he was nice to me” yes that is the truth, you couldn’t make that up could you.

  • Damn, this is the dark, evil version of “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” — no parody lyrics needed, except at the end, when they meet at O’Malley’s . . .

    . . . So I waited with high hopes
    And she walked in the place
    I knew her smile in an instant
    I knew the curve of her face
    It was my own lovely lady
    And she said, “Oh, fuck you”
    Then she gave me a summons
    And I said, “What did I do? . . .”

  • Follow all of CL’s advice. She is brilliant and spot on.

    Start recording conversations. If he finds out he got caught and switches to rage, you’ll want evidence of it. Test if your recording app pauses with an incoming call or text. You might need to put your phone on airplane mode for a reliable recording.

    Download credit card statements, bank statements, toll tag statements, etc. If you know his passwords, get his Google location history. If you jointly own cars, you should be able to put a GPS tracker in his. Even if evidence isn’t found admissible in court, it can be used to justify Discovery requests. Talk to your lawyer about all this. Send copies of all evidence to a trusted friend or family member. Take photos of everything in the house.

    Do you have a toddler with him? That sucks. Once you split, do NOT give him the child overnight. That sets precedence. Don’t agree to any informal custody split without your lawyer being involved.

    For the smear campaign – only trust a select few people while you secretly get things in order. But after you serve him, tell everyone. If you tell people in writing, keep it factual. (“I recently obtained a written confession from my husband that he has been cheating on me since I was pregnant. This is unacceptable to me, so I have filed for divorce. I appreciate your love and support during this challenging time.”) I managed to tell most people what happened before he had a chance to spread his lies. Most people will believe you, some won’t, some are cowards and will claim to be neutral, and a few assholes will enable and support the cheater. Don’t trust your in-laws.

    Hopefully he will move out. You can request Temporary Orders that give you the exclusive use of the marital residence. Get Temp Orders ASAP.

    Who is the breadwinner? If it is him, be prepared for the fun financial abuse. Move at least half the money into an individual account. If you don’t work, move more. I would even split any investment accounts. I’m currently locked out of all my joint investment accounts due to BS red tape.

    Get on anti-depressants if needed. Expect to go crazy for awhile. That’s normal. The first months are the maelstrom.

    You’ve got this. You are already so much more prepared than many of us were.

  • Just to emphasize a couple of CL’s excellent points:

    To protect yourself from his attempts to mindfuck you, do not attempt to “discuss” what you found. He will lie: “This was my first time. I’ve been unhappy. I didn’t really have those other encounters I described having. I was just feeding ‘her’ a story I thought was what she wanted to hear.” Your sanity and your resolve is best served by serving him, after you have gotten your ducks in a row.

    Setting your grief aside is tough but necessary. Put your feelings in a metaphorical shoebox and put it on a shelf in your mental closet. Believe me, they’ll keep. You can take that box off the shelf later, after you’ve protected yourself and your child, and work through the grief inside with people who have your back and whom you trust: a therapist, your friends (none of them Switzerland friends), supportive family.

    • Similar to when someone close dies. You’re so busy making funeral arragements, writing the obit, dealing with attorneys if things are in a trust, selling property, cleaning out the house, distributing who gets what. So many things to do there is not much time to grieve, which may come later or not at all.

      • I am not fond of the president’s personality, but I am politically conservative (my poor grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave). I was politicaly middle of the road until living in a European socialist country for almost a year. Came back to the mainland U.S. after living off the continent for 10 years to polarization and people constantly whining, with no idea just what they have. Old friends and family using the “you are conservative = you are a bad person” thing so prevalent for the past almost 21 years since my return to the U.S. If you want to use the chump analogy, then this feels like trying to explain yourself and your side of the story when you’ve been chumped. No one wants to hear it, and they imply something is wrong with YOU. If we learn anything in CN, we learn to stand up for what we know is right and speak our truth. Yeah, maybe “Go away” is a bit harsh, but so is the way Trump and conservative bashing is OK, welcomed,”cool” and acceptable these days almost everywhere. The other side doing the same thing is not. I am not posting here to say my political beliefs are right or wrong; they are simply mine. I don’t even talk to most of my friends about it, and I really don’t want to see it on a sacred place for chumps.

  • My sister gave me her wedding ring to keep before serving him. It was a one carrot single diamond. He loved that ring, told everyone how much it cost. Eight months latter she asked for it. Lol, forgot where I put it at first. To get a little revenge she decided to have it made into a necklace. Turns out it was cubic serconium (sp) worth about $50. Right from the start it was all a facade. We both married narcissist.

    • I’m sure there was autocorrect at work with the “carrot” but it made me lough out really loud. A carrot woul actually be preferable and more honest.

  • Jenn,

    Ok, this is probably going to sound odd coming after the previous advice (including CL) and from a man, but I’m pretty sure someone in CN said this in response to another new member of CN (this was from when I first found CL, so I may have gotten it thru going thru the archived posts. Another good thing to do. Lots of stored wisdom there):

    Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t/aren’t able to handle everything perfectly in leaving your cheater. You’re human, you’re not perfect, it’s ok if you make mistakes. That’s normal, both in this specifically and life in general.

    Am I advocating you don’t take CL’s advice or the good advice from above? NO. If you can follow CL’s advice, and the first three posts in response to this post (that was what was up when I started writing this reply), you’ll be well on your way to handling your cheater adeptly.

    I represent the group that might have done better early on except I had no idea about CL, her book LACGAL, or CN until at least six months post D-day. You’re well ahead of me in that respect, and that’s all the better for you. But if you’re like me, and this feels like you’ve been cut in half by the person you loved and trusted most, then tortured by this same person, and can’t seem to function anywhere close to normal, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP TOO MUCH.

    Is the above advice from CL and the first three reply’s to this post the best way to get going in dealing w/your cheater? Absolutely! But even if I had found CL right away (or ahead of things like you did. I take my hat off to you for doing that!), I don’t know that I could have followed it that well, let alone to the letter. I’m sure there are many who could set aside their grief and forge ahead as suggested, dealing w/their grief when it was safer, but that was not me.

    Now, knowing what I do? Yes, I could follow this advice. But back then, when I was having my eyes and soul wrenched open by the shameless betrayal of my now FW XW? No. I was a mess. Just ask my sister or brother. I alternated between being extremely angry at the FW XW, and trying to play the pick-me dance. I thought maybe I could save our marriage by some herculean efforts on my part alone (to my mind, anyway).

    Here’s a glimpse into how things happened w/me early on: after the FW XW walked out the door 13 days after D-day, I had already shown controlled, white-hot anger towards her on and immediately after D-day, then softened w/in a week to telling her I loved her too much to let it all go w/out trying to reconcile w/her. She considered it for one brief night after a mutually tear-filled discussion of my faults and the flaws in our marriage, during which discussion it was repeated often by her that “I couldn’t get out of my own way” regarding my depression, the dawning realization that I might have diabetes, all the crap that came from those two things, as well as most of my natural flaws as she saw them.

    Afterwards, in that same short night, where for the first time in a week I convinced her I wanted her back in our bed. The FW XW had been sleeping in our younger daughters room w/said daughter (home from college on Spring Break, I think), as I was initially too angry to have her anywhere near me; not for sex, but because I knew I truly loved her (or at least who I thought she was), and by that point it just felt wrong after over 24 years of marriage not to have her next to me in bed.

    After about four hours of sleep, my PTSD woke me up after less than four hours of sleep (yeah, that went on for at least over a year on a fairly regular basis). I then came up w/a list of ten reasons we should give our marriage another try. I emailed it to her, then when she finally woke up, she read it, started to cry, then hardened up and said they were all good reasons I came up w/, but she was in love w/her POS, 15 years older, multi-millionaire, 40 years married-with-two-grown-daughters-boss and that overruled those reasons.

    Within a week or two after the FW XW left the house to move in w/her boss into a brand new apartment complex literally a half mile down the street from what was our house (exit-affairing me, her AP’s wife and flaunting it super-locally for me), she announced she and a male friend were coming to move her large dresser out of what was our, but was now only my bedroom (I made it clear her AP, POS boss wasn’t welcome and should watch his back by this point). Chump idiot that I was, I offered to help her move! I was reading e-books on how to win her back!

    The night before she was coming to move the dresser while I was at work (oh, she still had keys to the house for a LONG time after she abandoned me and our son, our youngest of three children. Our two older daughters were mainly away at college still), I got gut-punched by my realization that this was really happening, and it was happening on the FW XW’s schedule (her and her AP had CLEARLY planned a scheduled list of things to do to fully and quickly exit-affair both of their former spouses to their liking). So my anger got up again, and I realized that the FW XW had left behind her jewelry box on top of her dresser, and in it she had left behind her wedding and engagement rings. I took them, and when she later realized that, she wasn’t very happy. Too bad, fuckwit.

    So, that’s just a snapshot of some of the things I did early on after D-day. I made plenty more mistakes until I got to 6 months of separation from her, when I only STARTED to realize that maybe I WAS better off w/out her, if this is who she truly was/is. Until that point, I had cycled freely from intense anger at the FW XW to how I couldn’t live w/out her and would try to save the marriage single-handedly on at least a daily basis. I couldn’t sleep much more than four hours a night, waking up from PTSD. And I was taking on more hours at work to make sure I had enough money to support myself and my kids, especially my son, who was w/me the most, and was only 11 yo.

    I started to wise up after that initial 6 months. I started getting my ducks in a row w/the help of my attorney, family and friends (the FW XW kind of waited on me to do the heavy lifting in getting the divorce. That’s not uncommon w/these fuckwits, at all, so don’t be surprised). I still made mistakes and had missteps in the process of divorcing the FW XW’s ass, but I started to see a path to getting a life for myself. I’m frequently hard on myself in normal times, and this was no exception, but I did realize that I couldn’t blame myself for everything, not even fully half of everything surrounding the FW XW’s need to exit-affair me and abandon both our family and me.

    She chose to do it unilaterally, w/out even trying to work things out. Same w/your STBXH. He made a unilateral decision to fuck around on you. Nobody put a gun to his head to make him do that. Whatever flaws you and I had as spouses in our marriages, we at least deserved a clean, honest break if our spouses weren’t happy enough w/us (the only exception to the rule might be if there was true abuse involved. I didn’t abuse my XW, and I doubt you abused your STBXH).

    So, if you stumble in your pursuit of a fuckwit-free life, give yourself a break. Then get back up and try again. If that’s the best you can do (it obviously was for me), then that’s ok. You’re human. If you’re able to close off your emotions and get things done, more power to you. Do it. I couldn’t. Knowing what I know now? I probably could. But not then. I never thought a person I loved so much could hold such resentment against me for so long, and be so cowardly and deceptive to me about it (oh, I got cryptic, passive-aggressive hints about the FW XW’s anger/unhappiness throughout my marriage, I now realize. That obviously helped us????).

    The FW XW and her AP deceived and planned a double exit-affair on their spouses, over at least a four month period. That’s on them, and them alone. They had at least a few better, morally acceptable options to end their marriages, but chose one of the shittiest ways out (only murder beats it in my mind). And I’m doing ok, at 3 1/2 years out from D-day, and 1 1/2 years out from absolute divorce. You will too, I’m sure. You’re already WAY ahead of me, and I’d guess most of us here at CN this early after D-day.

    So, listen to and follow CL’s advice, and the advice of those first three responders today, IF YOU CAN. Do your best, and if you fall off the path, FORGIVE YOURSELF, pick yourself up, and keep going. This is heavy duty shit you’re dealing with.

    Jenn, we’re all here for you if you need us. There’s a lot of communal wisdom here. Take advantage of it as much as possible. Get CL’s book, ASAP, if you haven’t already. Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life. It gets to the heart of things for us chumps quickly.

    I’m wishing you success as you leave your FW STBXH. I know you’ll find peace and happiness w/time, but I also know you’ve got a hard road ahead. We’ve all dealt w/it in different ways. You’ll find yours. You’re stronger than you realize. Stay safe, stay healthy (take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to support your kids well). I’m so sorry you have to go thru this, and I know it’s not going to make everything ok, but remember you aren’t alone, even though it feels like it (frequently!). Sending lots of love and hugs your way.

    • Your story and timeline are very similar to mine, thelongrun. I’m sorry you went through that but it’s comforting to hear from people who have survived the same abuse, and validating to know their reactions were similar your own. Thank you for sharing.

      • I’m so sorry my story is similar to yours, YogiChump. I hope you’re in a better situation now after what you’ve been through. May peace, love and meh be in your life.

  • The Long Run– The PTSD insomnia is terrifying. My health started crumbling during the gaslighting stage before D-Day. I couldn’t keep weight on no matter what I ate and was so tired I was a zombie most days. I fainted several times at inopportune moments and was so spaced out my NYer street radar failed and I was assaulted (attempted, anyway) before Mother’s Day near a a crowded street parade while going to the bank.

    I also made the mistake of confronting the cheater directly because an informant notified me the alcoholic AP was in the process of trying to get “accidentally” pregnant to expedite divorce and because she grew tired of cheater’s excuses for why he wouldn’t dump his family. I figured that’s all my three kids (and one with an expensive chronic health condition) needed was a half sibling with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

    I scheduled the confrontation in a public place to keep cheater from bellowing and DARVOing. I was very numb, barely audible and to the point. I heard a lot of garbage over the next month, rewriting of the marriage, blame-shifting, etc. Like Jenn, I was also a domestic violence victims’ advocate before the kids were born so I basically diagnosed what he was doing on the spot. “You’re neutralizing your culpability by altering my identity and rewriting the past to justify your abuse.”

    But, like being awake yet paralyzed on the operating table from faulty anesthesia, you can have a total intellectual grasp of what’s happening in an abuse situation and still not be able to stop your own hardwired traumatic response to it. Cheater even used my past work against me, saying “How could what I did be abuse? You would never put up with abuse– not you of all people.” He cobbled together the latter self-exculpating mindfuck spiel with the help of a misogynist old bastard of a therapist. Some people harbor rage at APs. Personally I wanted to throttle that therapist, who also informed cheater that I could not have been assaulted because “that doesn’t happen anymore in the city” (ignoring the massive women’s marches in 8 cities the month before protesting state response to a string of murders and assaults).

    Other than squeezing a lot of practical information out of cheater, the whole exercise of direct confrontation was, in the end, like sticking my head in a blender. Like you, I figured that I’d done the best I could under the circumstances.Though the information I got when he was just robotically spitting out the facts (and before he snapped awake and later tried to spin those facts) did help me piece back together my shattered personal narrative, the process exposed me to more mental abuse.

    And though he did dump the AP immediately, admitting he’d used the marriage as a way to avoid having to commit, this just added to the sense that I’d married a two-faced fraud which is really the hardest thing to face in the immediate aftermath. That’s just painful to live down no matter how you slice it.

    At least I took my lawyer’s advice and secretly audiotaped the confrontation (because it was legal to do so where we lived then). Cheater did spill a lot that day. He had some Manchurian Candidate robotized thing going on during the affair and couldn’t seem to stop himself from admitting certain details. He also relinquished the password for the secret “affair credit card” so I was able to itemize the cost of the affair and forward it to my attorney, saving a bit of time and money.

    • Hell of a Chump, this is so accurate! “You’re neutralizing your culpability by altering my identity and rewriting the past to justify your abuse.” Together for 20 years and now, all of a sudden, he never loved me. Then, why propose? He claims that he knew that I was a good person and he hoped that he would grow to love me. What a crock! Because seriously, what can he have in common with his boink fest Thai village girl that barely speaks English? He calls her his wife, and me his roommate. Bummer for you, Stupid One. The laws of the state of Colorado call me your wife.

    • Good God, Hell of a Chump. What a shithead your ex was/is. Thank God you got away from him. As for PTSD, yes, it does suck, doesn’t it. I just had to deal w/it last night. Which is quite unusual these days. I hope you’re not troubled w/it anymore. Lots of hugs to you. I hope meh & Tuesday are in your sights.

  • I sure wish I had the opportunity to read chump ladies post way before.
    I did everything wrong. I am so ashamed how I acted and responded to hubby’s affair 9 years ago. I am still paying the price for it, and still living the life in limbo.

    Don’t confront, … not yet, and don’t, don’t, let him make himself out to be the victim.

    • I would have loved to have something like CL. Mine was in the late 90, not even internet.

      I did ok given the situation, but if I had know a lot of what I found out later, I could have done even better in terms of how I managed. I think though that what helped me was that I was in such shock, the it prevented me from acting out in too much anger.

      I also recognized soon after Dday that this man was dangerous, so I pushed legal separation early on. Though in my heart I was hoping still for a miracle. Thank God by the time he started trying to pull me back in his web, I knew it was dangerous for me and I needed to get away from adultery.

  • I sure wish I had the opportunity to read chumplady’s post way before.
    I did everything wrong. I am so ashamed how I acted and responded to hubby’s affair 9 years ago. I am still paying the price for it, and still living the life in limbo.

    Don’t confront, … not yet, and don’t, don’t, let him make himself out to be the victim.

  • Chump Lady is right. She has the ability to see through the fog and pain of Discovery Day like a sharp knife through soft butter. Be strong and cry later. Here’s what I also learned a few months past Discovery Day – my 28 year marriage to a Physician with a Hooker Habit (30 prostitutes that he can now remember…) – here’s what I learned the hard way…..” nobody cares….” At least in my life, nobody cares – I wrote to the Chief of Police in Beverly Hills about the rampant prostitution blatantly advertised on-line when my fkwit paid one whore Extortion money – the reply was “it’s not illegal to sell time….” I wrote to the Mayor of Beverly Hills and the City Council – nobody cares – “whores are good for business in the luxury hotels….” was the whisper down the lane I got. It’s “Pretty Woman” the movie – whores are good for shopping and business. REALLY??? While I’m putting coins in my parking meter and keeping a payroll of 30 employees going in BH?? I had to spend $30,000 to get a Criminal Protective Order against his last whore who was threatening me – the restraining order is good for 3 years but it cost $30K. The whore got FREE tax payer rehab because the courts felt sorry for her. HER?? Here’s what I learned…. nobody cares. Compassion Fatigue among what few true friends you many have wears out – they have problems too – leave him or shut up. Lawyers may or may not call back. Therapists are just human beings – their are some good ones, but not many. I have a master’s in Clinical Psych and a Law Degree. My fkwit went to a psychiatrist to figure out his hooker habit – he picked Sweater Man to a tee who blamed me for being gone too much for work and blamed his (dead) mother for being too over-bearing – then they sat together and re-read my fkwits on-line reviews on The Erotic Review of the whores he saw – like two dirty old men with play porn calling it therapy. So….at the end of the day – you are alone with your heartache – except for here in Chump Nation – it’s a life line for good, faithful, generous, kind, chumps with dignity, honesty and integrity. Before I grabbed our two beautiful dogs and left the fkwit physician he asked me if I would consider marriage therapy – I said; “NO, I don’t need marriage therapy, I’ve been a good wife for 28 years – I know how to be good partner” He’s the one who needs help. Good luck and don’t give up and don’t let a bad partner make your good heart hard.

    • Jo,
      You are so right, no one cares, but I won’t let myself become one of them w the new people I meet. I’m really glad you were able to walk away.
      I haven’t been able to yet as he has provide a golden gilded cage for me that I’m just to afraid to fly out. After 30 years together & x amount living separately, it’s so hard to start over.

      • That’s ok Susan. You don’t have to leave, honestly after 30 years it’s a very different scenario for those of us in these long term marriages than the younger gals with kids. In law school the professors would shout at us “ get smart people, don’t get mad” The cards are on your side – be calm, be calculated, be kind, be smart, being calm will drive him nuts, don’t give anyone reason to say you were a screaming crying mess, do that alone, do your best Academy Award performance, I know Chump Lady says do you want a life or a lifestyle? The answer for us is BOTH. I could easily take him down big time – but that’s not my goal – let him keep working and feather that golden cage – it’s only a cage if the door is locked- fk him – fly in and out of that cage for as long as you want and you don’t have to make any apologies to anyone for your decisions. You’ll go when you want to, bank money separately from him, little by little, Have your cake and eat it too. As long as he is not physically abusive and you can see through his emotional abuse and laugh to yourself- be smart- take the high road – at the risk of sounding self serving and I dint mean too- many of us at 55+ look better than we ever did – I modeled all through college and grad school and frankly the last thing I’d ever want is another man – but we have a lot of good life to live yet. Don’t shoot your Golden Goose cheater – use him. And, a,though you’ll find nobody cares, trust that I do, Chumps do.

      • I get that. Each situation is so different. As long as there is no physical abuse, and the house is calm; it can be the best decision.

        I was 40 when my crap show was revealed. Had I been 50 or 60, I might have handled it differently. One thing I know is, if I had been 50, I would have gone for the three year legal separation that my lawyer said he could get me. Sometimes now I regret it. It wouldn’t have really changed my life, but it would have garnered me more time to save money, and would have made him suffer the bitching of schmoopie for a longer time.

        Though since he actually delayed the final divorce by six months, I am not sure he would have minded that. There was some reason he was delaying, and it sure wasn’t because he wanted me back. By then, he knew that was never happening.

      • Oh………..true, please no politics. We are in enough of a painful and polarized environment as it is…but I feel for the person who posted the statement – they might be a good Chump just disgusted with their Cheater and alone and perhaps didn’t know the narrative’s etiquette of no politics – I felt a quick sharp punch with the “Go Away” statement. Maybe just “please refrain- thanks” Who knows, this person might have just as big a good and broken heart as the rest of us – who knows and being told to ‘go away’ when perhaps they have no one to turn to can be even more devastating. I don’t know….I’m new to all of this too. Chump Nation is a country none of us wanted a passport to but the plane/marriage was hijacked and landed here. When served a shit-sandwich as I have been by my 28 year monster hooker habit physician husband – the one thing I will not let him destroy in me is my kind heart. He may have used it and abused it but he cannot destroy it. Let’s be kind – strong but kind. Generosity and kindness are not a sign of weakness – they are a sign of being able to be strong in the face of monsterous adversity.

        • I am not fond of the president’s personality, but I am politically conservative (my poor grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave). I was politicaly middle of the road until living in a European socialist country for almost a year. Came back to the mainland U.S. after living off the continent for 10 years to polarization and people constantly whining, with no idea just what they have. Old friends and family using the “you are conservative = you are a bad person” thing so prevalent for the past almost 21 years since my return to the U.S. If you want to use the chump analogy, then this feels like trying to explain yourself and your side of the story when you’ve been chumped. No one wants to hear it, and they imply something is wrong with YOU. If we learn anything in CN, we learn to stand up for what we know is right and speak our truth. Yeah, maybe “Go away” is a bit harsh, but so is the way Trump and conservative bashing is OK, welcomed,”cool” and acceptable these days almost everywhere. The other side doing the same thing is not. I am not posting here to say my political beliefs are right or wrong; they are simply mine. I don’t even talk to most of my friends about it, and I really don’t want to see it on a sacred place for chumps.

      • So true!

        I think *all* politicians are shit – all of them are fucked up in one way or another; as a UK chump, I give you Boris (BJ) Johnson, a serial cheater and liar.

        The only reason for mentioning politicos on here is if they are cheaters and liars (sorry, somewhat redundant ????).

        I’m conservative myself on some issues, liberal on others. What strikes me is that politicians, as a class, are the epitome of entitled, self involved narc/sociopaths.

        And that entitlement *always* involves cheating on their spouses. So many examples!

        So whilst I agree commenting on politicians should not involve commenting on their policies, I think commenting on their *character* (or lack of) is in the context of this web site, quite legitimate.

        • Don’t forget Bolsanoro, Putin/Puto/Putana ! A lot of politicians (all flavors) seem to be a wee bit narcissistic

  • The “Do not confront yet” is the hardest thing to follow. Your emotions are wrecked and you’re erratic. I only managed to keep it inside for 24 hours before she knew that I knew.

    I didn’t discover CL until three months after D-Day (there was no wreckonciliation thankfully) but it helped me tremendously navigate the bullshit and go NC.

  • I left in the night with my daughter and dogs once I hired a detective to follow him to his girlfriends house. The detective was great and in addition to packing a suitcase guided me to pack important records, take pictures of the home and make sure I had emotional support (my family came to get us). I also changed the login for my Macbook. My parents helped me purchase a new one and at setup, I basically downloaded the new one with all my records from back at home. The next morning when he came home, I told him I decided last minute to visit family. My attorney instructed us to “visit” family as long as we can. It’s been 3 months now. I kept the narrative going with him several days after discovery until I was able to get my attorney to file papers and my detective offered to serve him in front of his girlfriend. It said everything without me having to say a word.

    • Bek, that is awesome! I love your detective!!! He earned every penny. Way to be mighty. Congrats on skipping the pick me dance.

    • Nicely Done!

      As with many here, If only I had read LACGAL before the 9 months of lies, gaslighting and abuse. I just could not fathom (or admit to) the depth of his loathsomeness and perversion.

      My favorite verse from “Sleep at Night” from The Chicks:

      You’re only as sick as your secrets
      So I’m telling everything
      Half of the shit
      You won’t believe
      But I know it’s not unique to me

      If / when The Chicks tour let me know if anyone is up for a CLNation concert meet-up!

      • It would have helped me so much. I am sure there were books like that available, but I didn’t know about them.

        If I had understood the anger at me and the treatment he was giving me, from the get go, I could have at the very least gotten out of the mess so much sooner, and I could have thrown his adultery right out in the open. (he was well known, and involved in politics) Would have killed a lot of the fun of sneaking around for them. Also, he likely never would have been promoted to Captain. ???? win/win.

        He was only Captain for a year, then he got busted. Mayor tried to pretend it was for “restructuring” but it being only a year makes it pretty obvious what the reason was. He also busted the other married guy (who was promoted at the same time) who was screwing around with a female PO. Then a couple years later the mayor divorced his wife and married the same female whore PO.

        What a bunch of freaks.

  • When I caught the Stupid One, he had used his credit card to upgrade their tickets from Athens to Paris. Guess what, when you know what to look for, you can “read” Thai with Google translate! Her name was all over his papers for “missions work.”

    First two friends that I reached out to, said, “Bust him.” But, next I reached out to a friend that had a cheater, and she said, “Don’t! Get your ducks in a row!” Best advice ever. That was the hardest 4 months of my life, because he was back for 2 of them. At that point in the marriage, he was treating me like a roommate, so that did make it easier. Waited for him to go back to her in Thailand. I emailed him on my birthday, but he didn’t get the email until Valentine’s Day. That was some good karma knowing that I blew up their day of love!

    • “I emailed him on my birthday, but he didn’t get the email until Valentine’s Day. That was some good karma knowing that I blew up their day of love”

      Mine was served with divorce papers on Valentine’s Day, his rat faced whore opened the door to the process server. Process server said, “he wasn’t happy”. ????????

      • That’s funny.

        Of all days when I got my final divorce decree, it was stamped by the judge on 14 Feb. I got a laugh out of that.

        I never went to court, so I had no idea which day it would be finalized, other than notices from the lawyer.

  • It is hard to think rationally when you find that your whole world is a sham. You have to look at your life as if your home was on fire, and what do you need to get yourself and your children out and to live safely. If you can contain your anger and sadness, and get your ducks in a row, the recovery process will be much smoother, and quicker.

    You have to be your own Emergency Management worker, and it helps if you get a professional team together to help with all the tasks. This is not the time for an emotional breakdown. You need to get as much of your investment of time and energy and love out of the burning house as you can. You won’t get everything you want, but if you think this through and act rationally, you should get what you need.

    This is not the time to worry about pride, or what others will think. This is about survival. I actually believe that even if you are in what is presumed to be a good relationship, that you should have a secure, off site place to stash copies of income records, insurance policies, duplicates of pictures, and any special memory items in case some natural disaster happens. Videos of your home and furnishings and personal possessions could come in very handy under many circumstances. Also, fine jewelry needs an appraisal and a separate insurance rider or policy. That way you know what you have, and what it is worth, if lost. It is one thing to trust. It is another to believe that nothing bad ever would or could happen to you.

    Another thing to remember about possessions — if sold in an estate sale, or at auction, you only get pennies on the dollar of your original investment. Some items are hard to sell in this world of changing values. Material goods will not be as valuable to someone else as they are to you, particularly family heirlooms. I am not telling you to throw away everything, or give it away, or let some undeserving freak take it from you. I’m just saying you have many intangible things in your life that are worth so much more than your material possessions.

    Most important of all, if you are married to someone who is determined to burn down the house, get out. Save yourself. If you spouse sets the fire, let him burn.

    • Portia, your comment is so perfectly well said it should be engraved in stone. You described the entire shit show so well. You are absolutely right that this is not the time to be emotional – this is like studying for one of the hardest exams of your life – complete with memorization and a trip down what was supposed to be a happy memory lane is now a trip down a dark rabbit hole. You’re so right – when your husband burns down the house – get OUT – and let him burn. Thank you for such a well written description of heartache meets shock meets the necessity for administrative and legal organization – all while you’re holding a broken heart you must keep a clear head.

  • I’m in! The Chicks are on replay in my car right now 😉

    The gaslighting, manipulation and abuse was the reason I scheduled a consult with an attorney in the first place. First thing she said was he’s having an affair and here’s the name of a detective. Do this first then call me back. Oh boy was she right. I had the wool pulled over my eyes up until that day.

    It’s so important to suck up the cost and get a good attorney. And trust them and do what they say. It was priceless to me. I would still be living in it if it wasn’t for her.

  • So how do we join the reddit? I have an account. Still not sure how to join the forum here (is there one?) or the reddit. Have been following the blog for four years now (so helpful-THANK YOU!).

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