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Wife Wants to ‘Renegotiate’ the Relationship

Dear Chump Lady,

Without going into too much detail with our past, my wife and I are at a bit of a crossroads with our marriage.

Long story short, there has been a history of insecurity and trust issues on my part due to various instances of her emotional cheating, sending inappropriate photos and messages to guys, both known to her and not, and generally a lack of mutual respect of boundaries.

My wife openly admits to mental health issues, and in the past has seen this behaviour as she has something wrong with her, goes to counselling, I’m given (what seems) partial access to her phone, things get better with time. As this has happened about 3-4 times in a 5 year marriage, there is an obvious cycle and pattern.

While we and only we set the rules and boundaries for our marriage, we both went into this marriage with clear expectations around acceptable behaviour, or so I thought. Her previous husband encouraged this side of her, and I made it pretty clear I wasn’t up for it. I’m a pretty black and white kinda guy with old-fashioned values. She’s a bit more spontaneous and grey with her thoughts and feelings. She recently asked if we could try a threesome — I said I’m not interested.

We had a great run for about 18 months, but what’s different this time is rather than her trying to fix something, her psychologist has asked if she’d embrace these thoughts and has asked if I would consider renegotiating what is acceptable. I’ve told her many times that there’s nothing wrong with having fleeting desires, but she needed to be really clear on what is a need and a want.

We sat down last night and talked over many things. She said she’s thought about what her grey area looks like, and wanted to reassure me she does not want to open the marriage, does not want to sleep with other people, nothing sexual with anyone. She does however want to feel less judged, but also know I’d be ok if she flirted with people to keep building her confidence.

There were other things, but she feels she would only focus on telling me the things she won’t do, as opposed to what she would. I wouldn’t be privvy to what those are.

She then proceeds to tell me that she had 3 guys in the space of two months recently willing to sleep with her. Her ‘reassurance’ here was that if she wanted out of the marriage she would have considered it, however on the flipside tells me she would never go through with it. She values everything about me as a person, values our marriage and children, etc.

Which lead her to this renegotiation.

Considering my own personal history of being cheated on by my first wife, all of this has really pushed me to the brink. I’m struggling to see any benefit out of this that takes my needs also into consideration. All I see here is her trying to get me to accept this is who she is, and that her needs are more important than mine.

I’m also no contact with my immediate family, so my support network is next to none at this point. We don’t share any children together.

I told her I’m not willing to stay married if it’s purely out of comfort. I’m quite aware of the term cake eater, and I’m struggling to see how any of my needs are being put on the table. We’re quite aware that no-one can give anyone else complete fullness in their lives, but the difference is I’m the type of person who just accepts it for what it is, whereas she has a need to fullfill any gaps.

Would really appreciate any insight or ways I could calm my thoughts or ways forward. Couples counseling is one, however she’s told me she needs to continue focusing on herself.


Black & White

Dear Black & White,

Of course she needs to continue focusing on herself. Narcissism is her basic operating system.

There are no “calm thoughts” or ways forward with this person, unless you masochistically enjoy the pick me dance. Peace is on the other side of the divorce summons.

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that’s what I’m known for. And you were chumped in your last marriage too? Consider this letter a public service announcement on Fixing Your Picker. At some level shrinking your needs into tiny imperceptible particles feels normal. You’ve put up with this shit for five years. There’s an issue to work on in therapy. (Just you. She can go boil her head.)

And no judgement from me, my friend. I’m a two-time loser in the pick-a-life partner sweepstakes (but I got it right on #3, have hope!) I know exactly the Failure Is Not An Option feelings when a second marriage goes pear-shaped. But failure is always an option if you learn from it. And this isn’t YOUR failure, it’s hers. You signed up for marriage under what you thought were mutually agreed up boundaries, and she unilaterally changed those terms. For her own ego gratification.

There’s nothing here to save. She has demonstrated herself to be a person who UNILATERALLY changes the terms of arrangements! You cannot negotiate in good faith with such a person. Game over. I don’t care if it’s swinging, or wombat sex on Tuesdays, or polyamory book club — you can’t rely on someone who routinely violates boundaries to respect boundaries.

But, but Tracy! Exuberant quests for aliveness!

She can do that as a single person. Why should you be humiliated into playing hypotenuse to her triangles? (rectangles, dodecahedrons… I never tire of this joke.)

She’s not offering a “renegotiation,” it’s an ultimatum. I say reject it. Now, let’s parse your letter.

here has been a history of insecurity and trust issues on my part due to various instances of her emotional cheating, sending inappropriate photos and messages to guys

Why are you owning HER inappropriate shit as YOUR “insecurity and trust issues”?

There’s been a history of insecurity and trust issues on my part due to my business partner embezzling the pension funds.

Do you see how ridiculous that sounds?

You’re feeling off-balance because you’re being goaded into the pick me dance with random men. This wasn’t what you signed up for (I guess you failed to check the “cuckold kink” box on the marriage certificate). You don’t trust her because she is behaving deceptively.

These are SANE reactions to an insane situation.

My wife openly admits to mental health issues

That express themselves as a compulsion to send strange men naked pictures of herself? Does she do that with everyone or just people she fancies? Is she treating that condition? Sounds like she wants to indulge it further from what you wrote. Which is generally not the way healthy people deal with mental illness.

I hear voices from outer space. GET ME A MEGAPHONE! I WISH TO COMMUNICATE! Get my point?

Her previous husband encouraged this side of her,

Huh. And they aren’t married. Funny that. You realize she’s probably a liar too, and anyway it doesn’t matter because YOU AREN’T HIM.

I’m a pretty black and white kinda guy with old-fashioned values.

Let’s reframe that as you’re a guy with a moral compass who respects boundaries. I.e., you’re a stock that trades very highly. A faithful man.

rather than her trying to fix something, her psychologist has asked if she’d embrace these thoughts and has asked if I would consider renegotiating what is acceptable

Don’t pay the bill. When the psychologist demands payment, tell them you’re reconsidering what is acceptable.

Oh, but you had an agreement to pay the bill? They trusted you to pay the bill? Exactly.

does not want to sleep with other people, nothing sexual with anyone

She just asked you for a threesome. Bullshit.

She does however want to feel less judged, but also know I’d be ok if she flirted with people to keep building her confidence.

You know what builds confidence? Character. Also lifting weights, public speaking, or learning to sew a fucking button.

And what does this say about YOUR attention and desire for her? It doesn’t compare with random people online?

There were other things, but she feels she would only focus on telling me the things she won’t do, as opposed to what she would. I wouldn’t be privvy to what those are.

That’s word salad. The takeaway is — she gets to keep secrets from you about what she’ll do with other men. While married to you.

Do you find that acceptable?

We’re quite aware that no-one can give anyone else complete fullness in their lives, but the difference is I’m the type of person who just accepts it for what it is, whereas she has a need to fulfill any gaps.

I’ll avoid the filling gaps double entrendre…

It’s not okay to self-medicate with other people. They don’t exist as ego-kibbles for one’s flailing self-confidence. She’s telling you that’s what she needs — to constantly use people for her own gratification. And your investment in her will never be enough.

That is very useful information as you consider the future of your marriage. It sounds impossible to me. But if you want to bail water into a sinking vessel your whole life, okay.

Also, being devoted to someone for the rest of your life (marriage) isn’t missing out. It’s a GIFT. It’s partnership to weather life’s shit together. It’s being loved and desired and cared for. It’s deep intimacy. It’s long conversations and car rides. It’s taking your partner’s parent to their chemo appointments. It’s inside jokes. It’s morning snuggles and finding the coffee made.

She wants all those benefits, and none of the commitment. She sees giving you her full devotion as MISSING OUT.

That’s a fundamental value shift.

Quit saying you’re black and white (read judgmental, rigid, controlling). You don’t share her values. She wants attention. You want a relationship.

There’s a better life on the other side. Please dump her.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Black and White,

    There are a thousand women on this site alone that would love to have a relationship with you- A decent man with good values and doesn’t need kibbles from others and doesn’t cheat. As CL says that stock trades high.

    CL I cackled so hard at not paying the shrink’s bill lololololololol. Funny how things just can’t be “renegotiated” when you’re on the receiving end of all that nonsense. I can just imagine!

      • I had this situation in 2000 when i married my guy who said for his ‘self esteem’ he needed to flirt with women, i was hurt but trusted him. He had mental issues and healing to do and to his credit did do alot of work on himself this made me feel it would all come right. Also because i had no intention of ever cheating i believed he wouldn’t either. I loved him very much or i felt kind of sorry for him and thought it was love and confused my belief in him getting better, as the real thing maybe. Just let me sadly warn you – i was told countless times to leave him by professionals and I thought they were being really hard on him and stopped seeing them. Countless friends told me too and so i stopped being their friends and my family just bit thier lips rather then lose me. i listened to his selfishness, dressed up as theraputic or self pityeous child hood abuse and his blaming others especially me and i tried to help him and tried to do better myself so as to help him (talk about hopeless codependant). He got worse ie more entitled more selfish and it wasnt worth trying to point it out we would end up arguing so i jsut listened to it and ignored it eventually. He ended up not to telling me what he wanted to do with other women and behind my back just went ahead and did it – he was probably acting out his childhood abuse rather then heal it like i did. He had a secret life that he justifies to himself to this day and i was CHUMP’d. so many people were basically saying – you are about to be serially chumped over and over again. 17 years later i got the picture when he told me how many women he slept with (multiply that by 10 to get actual number i’m told) and emotional affiars he had and the countless (his words) lap dancers he paid for. Then, yep classic he blamed me and said he was not sorry, it was a necessary evil. Well my friends therapists and intuition all screamed to get out for years and i finally did. Now i have, i am free and so grateful to him for telling me and letting me go. I pinch myself every day that i am free from the crazyness his crazyness. I am re-married now and he is like me a grown up with the same values and morals and is not a cheater and has empathy and is level headed and kind like me. Narcassists hunt people like us and most of them cheat sexually and financially. Divorce is really really hard but man was it worth it for me. I think you may have what i had as a partner, a hopelessly immature selfish child that married a parent and has no real love for you because they have none for themselves. I do not feel bitter i am grateful to be peaceful and whole again.

  • “It’s not okay to self-medicate with other people. They don’t exist as ego-kibbles for one’s flailing self-confidence. She’s telling you that’s what she needs — to constantly use people for her own gratification. And your investment in her will never be enough.

    That is very useful information as you consider the future of your marriage. It sounds impossible to me. But if you want to bail water into a sinking vessel your whole life, okay.

    Also, being devoted to someone for the rest of your life (marriage) isn’t missing out. It’s a GIFT. It’s partnership to weather life’s shit together. It’s being loved and desired and cared for. It’s deep intimacy. It’s long conversations and car rides. It’s taking your partner’s parent to their chemo appointments. It’s inside jokes. It’s morning snuggles and finding the coffee made.

    She wants all those benefits, and none of the commitment. She sees giving you her full devotion as MISSING OUT.”

    Worth more per gram than Californium 252, folks.

  • Oh Dear Black and White, that cheater doesn’t value you. She prioritizes her own selfish needs over your marriage. You can’t fix this. Prioritize your health and safety. Have you had a STI panel? Checked your finances? Cheating and financial abuse are frequently simultaneous activities. Value yourself and make a plan to leave her cheating ass. You seem like a rational, thoughtful, careful person. Take off those rose colored goggles and put down your spackling gun. Now look at her, she is a cheater, liar and expert manipulator. She does not value anything about you. If she did, she would never cheat.

    You deserve so much more than a cheater for a wife.

  • She seems to have poor impulse control. She wants you to allow her to flirt with men, but not have sex with them, she has issues from her childhood. Does she pretend to be happy, how is she with her parents. The relationship between her parents. issues with substance problems with parents. Narcissists don’t do well in therapy, they toy with the therapist. I would suspect sexual abuse, abusers could anyone in authority, people who seem too nice are normally not.
    She’s having fake relationships with men, and there’s a reason behind it.

    • It doesn’t matter what the reason is when she uses it as an excuse to abuse him.

      Past trauma, mental illness, etc. these things are real. But they are NOT justifications for the chronic disrespect and mistreatment of others. There are millions of people in the world who have suffered trauma, sexual or otherwise, who do not abuse or cheat on their partners. It’s actually more common for sufferers of trauma to be more empathetic, as they do not wish to see others experiencing the same kind of pain.

      Her relationship with her parents, her exes, her childhood, none of this is a justification for her terrible treatment of the OP, nor is it his responsibility to fix. He does not have to accept abuse just because she may have had a bad childhood. Those are two separate issues with different solutions.

  • Once again – beautifully put, Chumplady. I love your last point: how commitment is a gift, not missing out. I know my ex was stifled by the drudgery of everyday life – work, cooking, cleaning, whining little ones, a nagging spouse (but I know I was no more nagging that anyone would be with an absent partner, fucking his secretary, unbeknownst to me).

    That’s what life is all about – finding joy in those moments. Just when those whiny kids test your last bit of patience, they crack a smirk that warms your heart. Working hard to build a family is rewarding, even if it is difficult. There’s nothing better in life. These freaks don’t see that. And it truly is their loss…

    Building that life on my own is so much better.

    • Ditto!

      Black and White – dump her selfish, entitled, ass immediately. Everyone has mental health issues. What she has is behavioral issues. Let her get used up and riddled with diseases on her own time. Go find a woman who will cherish your commitment. (Hint: they’re all around you!)

      • Thank you CQ – appreciate knowing there are others who have a moral compass and values, just not entitled pieces of shit.

  • Yup, CL, I have heard so much on the “missing out” part. My stbx of 30 years gave me that spiel the end of May, when I found out about the hooker—yes, hooker—with whom he was exploring his feelings (and having sex with at our home and his medical office during business hours). But hey, I was too black and white; wanted a “fantasy” marriage instead of one that allowed him to run free while he was still young enough (53) to use all of the sugar daddy websites… ugh. When will my “meh” arrive?

    • Sugar daddy, ????.

      Why is monogamy the fantasy, but porn, backpage meetups, and paid or trade for sex the Real thing?

      This world….

    • “Exploring his feelings” with a hooker.

      Oh boy…don’t you just love the ones who really believe sex workers are into them…-_-

      • Yep. ????

        There’s one in the archives where the fuckwit thought the prossies he was fucking were his ‘friends’ and he had a real relationship’ with one? of them. Utterly delusional. ????

    • Is there an age cap on the sugar daddy websites or can they sign up for them as long as they have one working eye and one working finger to pay sugarbaby (untraceable) allowances by app? Or not even. Sugarbabies can play treasure hunt and dig around under daddies’ dewlaps, jowels and colostomy bags to find hidden jewels or cash. No functioning spinal muscles required.

    • What is it with doctors and prostitutes? My ex used heroin addict skanks in our home and his office too. He said it was to “help him cope” with his severe erectile dysfunction.

      • Same here, physician ex with hooker and sugar baby habit. 25 years of hundreds of thousands spent on hookers, massage parlours and sugar babies. Knowing little about sugar babies when I first started collecting evidence, I went on some sugar baby forums. Girls swap tips on getting their daddies to pay for more, etc., how they’re so empowered in their sexuality, and their disdain for wives who if they were satisfying their husbands (instead of “vanilla” sex), then they wouldn’t stray…

        Luckily, I found the secret cell phone and the two dozen babies who’s lifestyles he had been subsidizing and that had only been over 2 years. Sadly, I had much more to uncover. For my doctor ex, it was his control freak, God-complex tendencies, and access to cash that made it a perfect storm for his already colossal sense of entitlement.

    • Meh arrives when you accept how much better your life is without wifing for a lowlife liar scum.

    • My ‘meh’ came a month ago and the rage lifted (three years of it). But actually, it’s better the ‘meh’ at the moment i feel the type of relief a person might feel seconds after a truck just missed hitting them. I am grateful i mean i am properly grateful for those prostitutes, and emotional affair partners and friends of mine who he made out with, i am so grateful to all of them. I am not just saying this my pain and resentment towards them and him lifted (alot of good therapy and emdr) But I would still be there blind to the narcassism, so confused, taking blame, less then, scarred and deeply hurt from all the de-valuing that was then dressed up as his needs being more important then mine cos he was more important (made maj of money). I was saved girl. I literally walk around at the moment so grateful he did such terrible crap that he let me go and that it was bad enough for me to go. I cannot now believe my freaking luck! His cheating and me finding out is the best thing i now see, that could have ever happened to me. I now feel a feeling of ‘thank you’ when i see him while i pick up my son and yeah more then ‘meh’, it’s ‘yay’ and i did not expect to feel this good about finding out my husband had been cheating over our 17 year ‘monogomous’ marriage.

  • Dear Black and White,

    Dump the “gray” b**ch! She’s awful. She’s disrespectful. She’s sick. Things will only get worse. You’ll feel better if you’re away from her.

    Also, I’d be suspicious of whatever she tells you about what her therapist advised. She lies! This rendition, for instance, could be total fabrication: “…her psychologist has asked if she’d embrace these thoughts and has asked if I would consider renegotiating what is acceptable.” I call BS (unless the psychologist is terrible, which, unfortunately could be the case). Either way, know your worth and move on.

    Good luck!

    p.s. Maybe check out Codependents Anonymous.

    • Oh they lie about what their therapists say.
      -My XW told me her therapist diagnosed me as a narcissist, even though she never met me and XW was being treated by psychiatrist with antipsychotic drugs. Nobody would believe her account of anything.
      -While going through a futile wreckoncilliation with a very good therapist she tells me that our therapist called me a narcissist. She seemed to forget that I was in the room everytime she spoke to her and it never happened. (Therapist later told me that XW had a “lot of problems” and I was dodging a bullet to divorce her)

      • Yep.

        Stbx told a friend (recorded conversation) that our marriage counselor said I had a personality disorder and recommended that he make me take a psychological evaluation
        that would cost $30,000 to $40,000. And that the results of that test would likely cause me to lose any access to the kids.

        This is the same marriage counselor who called him out for lying and cheating and advised me to use his adultery in court against him.

        Their lies are insane.

        • Let me guess who pockets the $30-40,000 from the “evaluation” ? This marriage counselor, right ?

      • Oh to be a fly on the wall at my ex’s therapy appointments!

        Ex definitely made up shit his therapist had told him. Or his messed-up mind actually distorted what the therapist had said and believed the distortions. Who knows?

        Sometimes I wonder if my ex’s male therapist (also in his 50/60s) got off on my ex’s weekly descriptions of his affair. And it would have been mutual masturbation because my ex probably derived major kibbles from the rapt attention of another man as he described his sexcapades.

        I know for a fact that my ex believed other married men were jealous of him, that they wanted to cheat but didn’t have the balls. What a morally depraved man! I wonder if he still feels this way after losing him family, reputation, friends….

        My ex used to have a badass female therapist like CL’s tiny Jewish woman. She had his number (narcissist, borderline). Alas, she retired before the affair, at least I think it was before the affair. Who knows?

        [Note: The badass therapist didn’t really retire. She suspended her practice because of illness but then took most clients back. But she didn’t take back my then-husband. He was crushed. My chumpy former self comforted him by saying, “It’s probably because you’re doing so well. Don’t take it personally.”]


        • Oh, I’ve been thinking about the lies he told about what his therapist said. I am not sure if it was his therapist or the AP. It really makes me want to vomit when I think about all the boundary crossing – in his life and in his mind. He believed so many of his lies!!
          He cried over and over about “my therapist dumped me.” I dumped him soon after when I found out about the affair and the lies. I am sure the therapist put most of it together, too, and that is when she refused to see him as a client anymore.
          Black and White – you have a chance to be free, please take it.

      • Yeah, they will use “my therapist said” B.S. all day long. Mine claimed his therapist advised him to use dating apps. It turned out to be the opposite. Therapist had warned him that if he didn’t cut his shit out he was going to end up a lonely, desperate old man with a pathetic profile on dating apps.

        The right idea is not to believe a word a cheater says unless they can provide absolute proof. Better yet not to have to, because you’ve given them the boot and no longer have to listen to their yapping.
        I sure hope OP does that. What a horrifically entitled, wretched creature his fuckwit is.

      • Mine lied about HAVING A therapist!!!!!!!! He even had a name for her!!!! ALL made up!!!

    • Or the therapist knows good and well that personality disorders can’t be fixed, let alone cured.
      So told her to go ahead and tell her husband straight up that she is going to keep on cheating, take it or leave it. Let the husband decide if her cheating is acceptable to him or not and proceed accordingly.

      In a way, the therapist is sending a very loud message to the husband, “Leave, run, save yourself and your sanity before it’s too late.”….or become really good at turning a blind eye on a cheating spouse and wear condoms because sooner or later you will get something from her if you don’t.

      Black and White, don’t kid yourself that she isn’t looking to have sex or hasn’t boinked any of those men she is sending pics to. Please stop lying to yourself. Adults have sex, they don’t just chat. Sending pics to random strangers is actively seeking to turn them from strangers to fck partners.

      Owning up to the fact that you married a cheater twice is hard, but living with incurable STD’s is harder and living with a cheater is living hell. Stop twisting yourself into a pretzel or calling basic human decency and loyalty as “old fashoined” – it’s not old, it’s normal. Actually it’s most people out there.

      So please, find the courage to leave this cheater and before you date again, spend a great deal of time actively working on yourself, your self esteem and your picker. When you end up with cheaters, you are literally passing by thousands of good fish to reach to the bottom of the barrel and pull out the most rotten one and then you tell yourself, it’s not the stench of rot, it’s just “special perfume”. Way too much spackling going on, aka lying to yourself. Time to roll up your sleeves and delve into your own darker recesses to figure out what’s driving your choices, as unpleasant as that may be. You’ll find that life is actually so much better than you get rid of cheaters and actually do fix your picker.

      • Also wanted to add – cheating is not a mental health issue. It’s not like schizophrenia where a person has an actual mental illness and takes medications and goes to counseling to keep it under control.

        Last time I checked, there is not medication called “StopCheatafall” to make fucking strange unappealing. Side effects may include finding a conscience, loyalty to your SO, no fucking other people, no desire to even chat or flirt with strangers. Talk to your doctor if “StopCheatafall” is right for you to preserve your marriage and save your spouse’s sanity.

        Joking aside, the point is serious – cheating is not a mental illness, it’s an unfixable character issue and what your wife is telling you to your face is this is who she is – she will continue to cheat if you stick around and gaslight you to kingdom come as well. Her first marriage didn’t break down because her ex encouraged her whoring, it broke down because she is a whore. Sorry, harsh words about your wife, but you really do need to snap out of denial about who she is. She is not a mentally ill flower who needs your care and tenderness, she is a cheating, lying, manipulating, gaslighting whore.

    • I was told by my cheater that our family therapist said i was mentally ill (at a session i was not at) when i asked her about it she said that HE was mentally ill. haha! They twist anything round to suit their need to act out thier abuse and avoid the childhood pain that others work through and heal from.

  • Like so many cheaters, she doesn’t want a spouse/partner, she wants a good parent: Someone who’ll “be there” for her and provide all the comfy take-care-of-me and make-me-feel-safe things. Someone who wants her to feel good about herself and reach her potential and won’t bother her with their own needs and wants. That’s not a relationship between two grown-ass people. Let her go. It will hurt like a bastard, possibly for a long time, but in the end you’ll be much better off.

  • It’s either OK with you or it isn’t. To me, writing Chump Lady indicates it isn’t. One of the side effects of an abusive relationship (entanglement) is losing the ability to trust yourself and your feelings.

    Compromising on things you are unwilling to compromise on is a great way to hurt yourself and deny yourself a partnership with someone who will help you shine brightly.

    ALONE IS BETTER THAN A BAD RELATIONSHIP. You can’t even have a relationship with a narcissist; they don’t RELATE, they USE. Think vampire or parasite. Leeches. Fleas. Flesh-eating bacteria. Soul sucking jerks.

    Every time you go around on the crazy merry-go-round with your current wife, your life force ebbs out a little more, your light dims.

    That’s not living.

  • I’m so sorry this is happening to you and around you. It sounds so overwhelming and all-consuming and I can hear in your writing that you’re feeling lost, vulnerable and doubting how you feel / what you think / your own perception of what’s happening.
    The main thing I wanted to say was trust.your.gut. You know your moral code is clear. You know what she’s saying just isn’t ringing true.
    But I can also hear that you’re doubting it. You’re trying to see things from her point of view. You’re trying to convince yourself there is a way through this, using communication, logic and compassion.
    I honestly can promise you, with full personal experience, that walking away will feel so counter-intuitive (because you’re a committed, caring, supportive partner), but that you WILL be able to see how completely your boundaries are being ignored. It will happen quickly and it will happen in a way that will soon make it blindingly obvious for you, even if you can’t see it yet.

    You can’t be told this stuff by anyone else, but even by you stepping into here and articulating this stuff, I have faith that you’ll get there.
    Be strong – the relief and realisation will be worth it.
    Oh, and you have an entire support network here. You are NOT on your own.

  • Oooh, Tracy, what about this one? “Her ‘reassurance’ here was that if she wanted out of the marriage she would have considered it, however on the flipside tells me she would never go through with it. She values everything about me as a person, values our marriage and children, etc.”

    She values me and our marriage! She said so!

  • I was married to a person like this, a person who unilaterally changed the terms of our marriage in a fundamental way, who indulged himself behind my back and believed that because of his “needs” this was his right, and didn’t respect boundaries he himself had set, all the while wanting to exact from me exactly the behavior that he himself was not willing to adhere to. There was no reciprocity with him, only expectations from him, because he’d decided his sexual needs entitled him to fulfill them in whatever way he wanted to, and if I didn’t like it, that was my problem to fix because I needed to get with his program.

    Yes, there is a “cycle and pattern” in your marriage of her stepping out. But there’s also an another one, and that one is the dynamic that has grown between the two of you over her actions. It’s one in which she tells you what she’ll do and lays onto you the burden of acceptance. You, meanwhile, have taken onto yourself the terms by which she manipulates you, with all those instances of Chump Lady re-framing your characterizations examples of just how your thinking enables your wife’s outrageous expectations.

    You have nothing to work with, and the impulse that made you write to Chump Lady says you know this. Your next move is to visit a lawyer, and start the process of un-chumping yourself by getting out of a marriage that is damaging to your self-esteem and self-respect.

    • Exactly. The cycle he was talking about is the textbook definition of the cycle of abuse. She throws out some intermittent reinforcement like “I value you and our marriage. I would never end it.” to get him to accept her outlandishly emotionally abusive demands like “But I neeeeed to flirt for my self esteeeeem. How about a theeeesome for my self esteeeeem? My therapist agreeeeees. My ex encouraged me to fuck other men for my self esteeeeem.”
      I can just hear her plaintive, self pitying voice as she’s saying this utter tommyrot.

    • You have no children & not married very long. Divorce her,.. it doesn’t get better. She will cheat, Talking from experience, my husband flirted with women in front of me. Now forty years later find out he had an affair for four or five years, I was ready to get a divorce and he had a massive stroke. I’m left taking care of him, Black & White. Get out before it gets worse and it will.

    • I love this Marge! It really cuts through all the endlessly looping mental garbage. Short and sweet. Thanks for saying what I needed to hear!

    • The Groucho Marxprinciple is at work here. The type of person who gets off on receiving a married/committed person’s nude photos, moreover who gets involved with a married/committed person, is the type of person whose esteem kibble, attention and regard are worth exactly NOTHING. So what’s the draw?

      I can’t wrap my head around this icky little subculture of creeps creeping on other creeps and feeling smug and bekibbled about it. It’s like ordering a Harvard diploma online and hanging it on the wall.

      • totally – they are creepy and smug and not worthy of attention or regard. Now…. if I could just get the creeps out of my head… soon, Tuesday is coming.

  • “She has demonstrated herself to be a person who UNILATERALLY changes the terms of arrangements. You cannot negotiate in good faith with such a person.”

    Advice that is GOLD in ALL areas of life. ChumpLady, thank you for putting that so neatly.

    To readers with kids, I’d like to add on this point: Teach your children well.

  • “she’s told me she needs to continue focusing on herself.” That pretty much says it all.

    • Right…so get a divorce and she can have all the “self focus time” she needs.

  • B&W, you are the type of man (loyal, caring, devoted, aware of the devastating abuse that is cheating) that I wanted to meet after my marriage ended when XH cheated. If you heal the part of you that picks people like that flaming narcissist lying whore you’re married to, you will be a VERY sought after partner.

    Dump that slut today. Go completely no contact and thank your lucky stars you didn’t breed with this sociopath.

    Save yourself. Spend the next year, minimum, sorting out yourself— it’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

    There’s nothing here to save…. there never was any chance for a normal reciprocal peaceful marriage with this trash. Game over, good riddance…. once you go no contact and divorce and get away from the mental abuse, you’ll see it. We all do.

    • Thank you for the kind words – I’m working my way through them all but I wanted to say a personal thank you on this one.

      • B&W… happy to hear it! I’m a very successful attorney, fit, look like a Barbie, love sex, great mother, cook, love to care for my family…. I‘m not kidding when I say that someone with your qualities would be high on my list of desirable potential partners. Don’t worry. Do the hard work of extricating yourself from this mess, go no contact, focus of healing and building your new life. There are a lot of women like me out there who will treat you well! But…. not if the cheater is hanging around. ????????????

        • I’m more than prepared to do that, once I clear my head and a way forward out of this. I value myself far too highly, but it’s debilitating when the deceit is of this magnitude. Just will take a little time.

          Thanks again, knowing others have those similar values is reassuring!

  • I apologize if it seems I’m insulting your spouse. She is a terrorist! Never negotiate with a terrorist. The terror of uncertainty and confusion over your status as a couple is likenable to being held as an emotional hostage. Her moving the goal posts should never be a part of negotiations ,EVER!. To my way of thinking this a fairly obvious attempt to show younger She has in fact moved past the merely flirting stage. I’m sorry if that sound like a Reddit post response. It ish what it is and my bullshit alarm went off reading the first paragraph. You are worth far better sir. There is no shame in taking control of your life. Chump Lady is correct ?”failure is can option” however failure in this case is subjective , empowering is how I see it. Good luck.

  • Maybe at my age it’s a moot point, but even when I was younger I would have had no idea that three men wanted to have sex with me in the space of two months. If she’s married why is she even going there? Sadly this reminds me just a little of my soon-to-be-ex daughter-in-law, who sprung it on my son at the end of May that she would like a trial separation for three months and during that trial separation they could “consider themselves to be already divorced”. It totally blind-sided my son as as far as he knew they were happily married (married 3 years, together 14), but to his eternal credit he said he was nobody’s Plan B and it was HIM that pushed for the divorce – which should be through any day now as there is no communal property and no children. While I don’t for one minute think that my DIL was doing any of the stuff that your wife is doing, what the hell was she thinking to throw away a man who loves her for the sake of a potential fling?

    • Sorry about your son’s situation but kudos to him for not accepting doormat status!????

    • You raised your son well. My cheating Ex, after D-Day, proposed a similar “exploratory separation” to see if she could “find her way back to me”. She was shocked when I had her served 3 weeks later. Tells the children divorce is my fault because I “Didn’t wait for her”. He dodged a bullet.

      • I love when cheaters are “shocked” when we decide to leave and end the relationship – really gave me a sense of satisfaction. Attie – your son has grit! Yay!! Another good man who has a chance of finding a good woman!!!

  • I understand that it’s more difficult to leave a second marriage — been there. Done that. I was determined to stay married “if it kills me.” When he strangled me into unconsciousness and dumped me on the highway, I was done. Don’t be me. That second marriage nearly did kill me, and it wasn’t worth it. It was a shitty marriage to a shitty person. (Claimed it wasn’t cheating because Father Steve told him it wasn’t really sex. Sure looked like sex to me when I found him and Father Steve together!)

    What are YOU getting out of this marriage? She gets her needs met, all of them — even the ones you mutually decided were deal breakers going into it. You get to prop up her ego at the expense of your own needs. How is that acceptable to you?

    I would have loved to have met a good man who was faithful, recognized boundaries and had a moral compass. When you get this shitshow behind you, you’ll meet plenty of women. Work on yourself in the mean time so that this time you’ll pick someone with character. You can do this!

    • Thank you so much – I hope to move past this once I get through the next god knows how long.

  • Where do people find these horrible, enabling, toxic, lethal shrinks? My cheater’s shrink told him it wouldn’t be “helpful” to tell me about the cheating. Now I live with the Sword of HPV Damacles hanging over my head for the rest of my life.

    Leave a cheater, SAVE a life. The modern rate of STDs is a very simple, practical reason to bail on a liar (see earlier post and discussion thread about chumps only finding out how deep the FW rabbit hole went after the fact). For instance, the most deadly strains of HPV are asymptomatic and not covered by the vaccine, can lurk for up to 15 years and there are no blood or antibody tests to detect silent infections. 90% of sexually active people will contract one strain or another.

    No, seriously, don’t pay that shrink bill. Don’t pay any of her bills. Document her nonsense, run a credit check, get medically screened, get a great attorney and get out.

  • HER psychiatrist has accepted that thoughts and behaviors are set. He/she is HER therapist. What would make HER happy. You are chopped liver. I suggest you pack a bag and run. If I were your therapist I would strongly suggest that so you could find your happiness. There wasn’t any in your letter.

  • Don’t let this horrible person fuck with your head. She enjoys taking swings at your moral foundation and her ability to make you wobble. This isn’t just gaining some sort of fake ‘confidence’ from other men; it’s about the power derived from destroying one. Get out.

    What sort of slag needs to tease men for cheap thrills? Plus its only a matter of time before she will need to up her game once she’s bored with just flirting, and of course having men fighting over her is the biggest cake from the best bakery in town. You deserve waaaay better, bud.

  • My XW lied about her past to make me feel sorry for and to overlook many bad decisions while she was single. Your wife is lying to you about her ex husband. More then likely she cheated on him, not him encouraging her to flirt with other men. My XW is a narcissist/BPD, I put up with it for 24 years and bred with her. Run away as fast as you can. Work on your self esteem, which was probably destroyed after the first marriage. Examine why you choose her and fix it.

  • Black and White,

    You say you are struggling to see any benefit out of this that respects your needs. That is because she doesn’t give a damn about your needs and never will. You have nothing to work with. That “great run” you had for 18 months wasn’t real. Most of us on this site thought we had a “great run” with our cheaters only to realize later it was bogus. I can recall a romantic weekend at a Four Seasons Hotel with my ex and thought our marriage was great at that time. Later, after d-day and extensive fact-finding, I discovered that just prior to that trip she had slept with her boyfriend for several days, when she was supposed to be attending a women’s yoga retreat. She lived a double life throughout our 30 year marriage and I suspect your wife has too. You will NEVER have an open and honest relationship with her. Your only path to peace of mind and happiness is to dump her and cut your losses. Life is far better post-Fuckwit.

  • Oh boy. I’m going to parse this out too. This is going to be a long ‘un.

    “Without going into too much detail with our past, my wife and I are at a bit of a crossroads with our marriage.”

    The past is important. You need to look at it. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, especially in your case. From your letter, your wife: Has cheated multiple times over only 5 years (I’m not separating it into emotional cheating vs physical, she cheated. She sent inappropriate photos to other men. Both men she knows, and random ones. That’s cheating. End of story.) This is her second marriage, she’s pushed you for a threesome (knowing you don’t want it), and she has a history of cycling multiple partners while within the context of a marriage. All of that matters, because that’s not the past, it’s the present. It never stopped. You can’t call it the past if it’s still ongoing. It is, and she’s trying to rope you into going along with it.

    “Long story short, there has been a history of insecurity and trust issues on my part due to various instances of her emotional cheating…and generally a lack of mutual respect of boundaries.”

    This isn’t insecurity on your part. This is her demonstrating untrustworthy and disrespectful behavior, and you having a reasonable response to it. It is normal to distrust someone who has lied to you and violated your boundaries. If she is telling you you’re insecure, that’s her trying to shift the responsibility of her dishonesty and disrespect on to you. Notice how you begin this part with framing it as your history of insecurity, and not HER history of cheating? Who said it was you being insecure? Her? I’m betting it was her. If you’re convinced the problem is you and your inability to trust her (when she is untrustworthy) she’s got you hoodwinked and that’s exactly what she wants. Notice also, that she has not stopped the behaviors that caused the lack of trust? That’s important too.

    “My wife openly admits to mental health issues”

    Your wife does not have a mental health problem. She has an abuse and cheating problem and she’s using mental health as an excuse. Mental health does not cause abuse and cheating. It can make the worst tendencies of abusers and cheaters worse, but it does not CAUSE these things. Do not let her use mental health issues as a scapegoat for her disrespect.

    “and in the past has seen this behaviour as she has something wrong with her”

    There IS something wrong with her, and it’s her value system. She sees her behaviors as normal, and that you should accept them. Again, mental health issues can be real, and they can be debilitating (ask me how I know) but they do not cause abuse. Once someone starts using mental health issues as an excuse to abuse and cheat on you, stop listening. It’s a pity ploy. It takes the issue of their hurtful actions (cheating, lying) and directs the spotlight onto them and you feeling sorry for them. That’s what your wife is doing. If you’re so worried about her mental health, then you’re not focusing on her lies. Either way, she’s still made it all about her, her, her and what SHE wants.

    “As this has happened about 3-4 times in a 5 year marriage, there is an obvious cycle and pattern.”

    It’s called the Cycle of Abuse. 4 times in 5 years? That’s not a good batting average. I promise you, those periods where it “gets better” will get shorter and shorter and will eventually disappear entirely. That will happen when she feels like she has you secured and you won’t leave no matter what she does. I 100% promise, guarantee or your money back, THAT WILL HAPPEN.

    “While we and only we set the rules and boundaries for our marriage, we both went into this marriage with clear expectations around acceptable behaviour, or so I thought. Her previous husband encouraged this side of her, and I made it pretty clear I wasn’t up for it.”

    No, she sets the rules. That’s what SHE thinks. You and your side of things don’t factor to her, because she doesn’t believe they matter in the face of what she wants. This is something very important you need to internalize ASAP: Abusers/Cheaters don’t do anything they don’t believe is morally correct. No ifs, ands, or buts. They do things they believe are right, justified, and correct, and they don’t just believe it’s their way or the highway, they believe they are entitled to do what they want, and get what they want, through whatever means they deem necessary. CL and CN say “cheaters are entitled” a lot, so the word might feel like it loses meaning, but this is the truth. She doesn’t care about your needs, or what you want. She acts like this because she feels like she is justified and entitled to do so because what she wants is the top priority. I’m sure you did make it clear what you wanted, she just doesn’t care.

    To the second part of this: “Her previous husband encouraged this.” As CL pointed out…and yet, they are divorced. Here’s a big thing I have to ask here, how do you know this? Have you spoken to her previous husband? I’m going to guess no, you have not. So the only source of information you have on him is her word, which she’s demonstrated is trash. How convenient it is for her, to have had a partner in the past (whom you don’t speak to, don’t know, have never met, and therefore cannot challenge) that bolstered all the behaviors she wants you to put up with. I’m betting her previous husband did NOT encourage this, but she did whatever she wanted anyway. Liars LIE. And they will have no issue lying if the feel it will get them what they think is their just due. Another thing to internalize quickly: There ARE people in the world who will do anything, including lying and hurting others, all in the interest of their own personal gain. Full stop.

    “I’m a pretty black and white kinda guy with old-fashioned values. She’s a bit more spontaneous and grey with her thoughts and feelings. She recently asked if we could try a threesome — I said I’m not interested.”

    It isn’t “old fashioned” to expect your wife to not lie to you, cheat, or want lots of other men at her feet 24/7. That’s just normal monogamy. Which isn’t old-fashioned either. It’s pretty darn common and there’s nothing wrong with it. Hell, that’s what I expect. I left my marriage because my husband wanted to be polyamorous and I don’t regret walking away from that for two seconds. My ex husband was more “spontaneous” and “grey.” He’s got three wives and multiple girlfriends now and for all I know, he’s actually happy with that…somehow. He can go do that if he wants, just not with me. I’m now able to pursue something with ONE partner who doesn’t balk at the idea of not getting 5 other rotating women every night.

    Your wife is not “spontaneous and grey.” She’s abusive and manipulative. It’s helpful for her to have you seeing it as spontaneousness (Esther Perel is that you??) rather than the reality that she doesn’t care what you think as long as she gets to do whatever she wants with however many men she chooses, and she sees lying and manipulation as fair game if it gets you to take the responsibility for it. Again, there are people in the world who do think this way and see nothing wrong with it. This is not the right kind of person for you.

    “We had a great run for about 18 months, but what’s different this time is rather than her trying to fix something, her psychologist has asked if she’d embrace these thoughts and has asked if I would consider renegotiating what is acceptable. I’ve told her many times that there’s nothing wrong with having fleeting desires, but she needed to be really clear on what is a need and a want.”

    18 months isn’t even two years dude. And you’ve only been married for 5. Again, not a good batting average. Here’s another VERY important takeaway with this: Abusers can, and do, weaponize their therapists/counselors against you to further their mission of always getting what they want. Your wife is not having fleeting desires, she’s having affairs. Big, BIG difference. I can guarantee you again that she has convinced her psychologist they’re “fleeting thoughts” and the only reason they’re asking you to accept this is because your wife has framed it as something very minor and passing. Abusers (I’m just going to use that term from here on out because that’s what this is) will minimize their role in conflicts, turn themselves into victims, and make you into a monster during therapy sessions, then weaponize psychological terms and concepts against you. The therapist becomes an unknowing “Flying Monkey” in their arsenal of manipulation. (A “Flying Monkey” is someone who, knowingly or unknowingly, helps an abuser strengthen their power against you by supporting their narrative. This is a term from a book ‘Healing From Hidden Abuse’ by Shannon Thomas.) Your wife’s psychologist has probably unknowingly become a Flying Monkey.

    As far as needs vs wants, the only thing your wife sees is she Needs to get what she Wants.

    “We sat down last night and talked over many things. She said she’s thought about what her grey area looks like, and wanted to reassure me she does not want to open the marriage, does not want to sleep with other people, nothing sexual with anyone. She does however want to feel less judged, but also know I’d be ok if she flirted with people to keep building her confidence.”

    All of that is bullshit. Well, she doesn’t want an open marriage, she just wants you to live with the double standard of her having multiple men and you being monogamous. You sit at home and be a good loyal husband while she “builds her confidence” on the dicks of other men. And she wants you to shut up about it. Also, we’ve seen her definition of flirting seems to include sending nudes to strangers. That’s not flirting.

    And lemme tell you a short story: Once upon a time, I dated a man who said he needed other women to compliment him to feel confident. I said “I tell you you’re handsome all the time, what’s wrong with when I compliment you?” He told me that’s not as good because me, as his girlfriend, I’m expected to do that anyway. This man also would yell at me when I told him about times I had been harassed on the street, including the time a group of men followed me down the sidewalk, shouting obscene things they were going to do to me if I didn’t turn around. He said I must have been doing it for attention, and how dare I tell him about other men thinking I’m attractive! Don’t I know he has low self-esteem? I must be telling him this to make him feel bad, boy he sure wishes other women who be into him like that…

    This man cheated. Multiple times. With a total of 6 women.

    Black & White, your wife is full of shit and she doesn’t need a confidence boost. Her “confidence” is already sky high. Her confidence has gotten so high it’s shattered the ceiling of confidence and breached the Egosphere into Arrogance and Entitlement. She’s up in the MElky Way Galaxy with her confidence.

    “There were other things, but she feels she would only focus on telling me the things she won’t do, as opposed to what she would. I wouldn’t be privvy to what those are.”

    Yeah, that’s a HUGE problem. There is a reason she doesn’t want you to know. Because she will be doing things she knows damn well you would not be okay with. This is another abuser tactic, keeping you in the dark. You’re not allowed to know what they’re doing, but I bet she wants you to lay out everything you do. This is garbage on a hot tin roof. If you agree to not knowing what she is going to do, then if you catch her doing something underhanded (which she will do, I promise) she can throw it back in your face that you “agreed” to it. This is a SET UP. Do NOT take it.

    That same guy I mentioned who cheated with 6 women also did something similar. He would want to know what I was doing all the time, would walk in on me at any point of the day no matter what I was doing. He always had access. But he would get really, really angry, to the point of yelling, if I walked in on him when he was masturbating (whether I knew that’s what he was doing or not.) He would make a big deal about how that’s “his time” and “I don’t need to be around for that” and couldn’t he have some damn privacy? NO HE’S NOT HIDING ANYTHING HOW DARE I!

    He was absolutely hiding things. Specifically, other women. I promise you, your wife is, and will be, hiding other men.

    “She then proceeds to tell me that she had 3 guys in the space of two months recently willing to sleep with her.”

    That was meant to hurt you. That’s literally the only reason she said that. To make you feel like shit. Period.

    “Her ‘reassurance’ here was that if she wanted out of the marriage she would have considered it, however on the flipside tells me she would never go through with it.”

    No, this isn’t reassurance. This is part 2 of a statement meant only to hurt you. Part 1 is “I have three men who want to fuck me.” This second part is intended to make you feel bad for not trusting her. It’s a guilt trip. The total package being “I have three men who want to fuck me, and here I am with YOU, loser. If I wanted to cheat I would have done it, you’re so insecure and mean for not trusting me!” Again, she’s flipping the situation on its head, turning herself into a martyr and making you into the one with the problem. This will never, ever, ever change.

    “She values everything about me as a person, values our marriage and children, etc.”

    No she doesn’t. And you don’t have children with her so that’s a non-starter.

    “Which lead her to this renegotiation.”

    This isn’t a renegotiation, this is her bullying you into living with her abuse.

    “Considering my own personal history of being cheated on by my first wife, all of this has really pushed me to the brink. I’m struggling to see any benefit out of this that takes my needs also into consideration. All I see here is her trying to get me to accept this is who she is, and that her needs are more important than mine.”

    Bingo. You hit the nail on the head. Your needs are not going to be considered, and there is no setup with this where they will be. She will be satisfied with nothing but her wants and her needs being met only. You have nothing to work with.

    “I’m also no contact with my immediate family, so my support network is next to none at this point. We don’t share any children together.”

    ^Again to the point that she cannot value your children, you don’t have any. She’s full of word-salad. I’m certain you have friends, if you don’t have many friends, time to start building your circle. Do it WITHOUT her in your life. I promise if you start making friends, male or female, she will find a way to throw that in your face too.

    “I told her I’m not willing to stay married if it’s purely out of comfort. I’m quite aware of the term cake eater, and I’m struggling to see how any of my needs are being put on the table. We’re quite aware that no-one can give anyone else complete fullness in their lives”

    That is absolutely, unequivocally NOT what this is about. You’re not asking her to be your only source of happiness and support. You are asking her the bare minimum of respect and faithfulness in your marriage. If she is framing it that way, again, it’s a manipulation. She’s trying to turn you into the irrational one making unhealthy demands. You are not. You are making very fair and reasonable statements about what you want in a monogamous marriage.

    “Couples counseling is one, however she’s told me she needs to continue focusing on herself.”

    Do NOT go to couples counseling with this woman. She will do the same thing to that therapist that she is doing to her individual one, and the same thing she does to you. She will flip the script into turning you into the irrational demanding monster and she’s the poor victimized soul only seeking confidence and aliveness. It will be a disaster. It will go up in flames, and you will feel even worse. Read the second half of your sentence there “She needs to continue focusing on herself.” Yeah, she does. Because that’s all she does. That’s how she operates and exists. Her idea of healthy and normal is everything and everyone focusing on HER. Her value system, her idea of marriage, her whole worldview is entirely focused on her and what she wants. Abusers want what they want, when they want it, always. There is no negotiating that.

    Black & White, you’re not a marriage alchemist, you don’t have a Philosopher’s Stone that can turn water into gold here. You don’t have a negotiation with your wife, you have an ultimatum from an abuser, which is: “Let me do whatever I want when I feel like it or fuck off, I’m going to do what I want anyway and you’re not allowed to know about it, so just accept it and be quiet.”

    If you read all the way to the end of this, I hope it helped. This woman is not a good partner for you. Or for anyone for that matter.

    • Re: compliments from other women counting more than from you: My XW accused me of never telling her that I loved her. I thought about it for a beat, and then said “Yes I do!”. To which she responded, “Yes, but you *have* to because you’re my husband”. Unsaid (because she’s never admitted to it) was “… unlike my AP who’s married to someone else, so when he says it to me it counts extra special double!”

      • That’s a mindfuck if I ever heard one…to complain that you never say you love her, then say it doesn’t count when you do? Jesus…

        That was some bullshit to keep you twisted up mentally. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d rehearsed that in her head before throwing it at you. Wow.

        • Ah yes the twisted mindfuck routine. Whatever you do will be wrong. Despite being unaware there was any problem I remember suddenly, out of the blue, my ex saying something random like I was ‘suddenly being affectionate with him but it was too little too late’. I thought eh? So you are saying I wasn’t affectionate enough but now I am being and that’s a problem. My poor little mind couldn’t really fathom this stuff out at all. And you know why, when ADULTS act like this, like your wife, it’s just to put you off their scent and to blameshift and project something onto you.

          It’s surprising really how good they are at this stuff and if you are not it’s not understandable (which I take to be a great personality trait frankly).

          Whatever you do, for sure, will be wrong and you’ll be put through the wringer just trying to work it out. Time that could be better spent watching paint dry.

          • Yep, I was always wrong too. My husband went bald and I told him how sexy it was. He was like, “no you don’t think that.” I had to argue with him that I was being sincere. How weird is that? Also, when I did nice things for him he started getting really upset about it. He picked fights with me that were so mind fucking it’s hard to remember what happened. And, towards the end, he always, always assumed the worst in me. Such as if I let him sleep in, he would say, “why did you let me sleep in? are you trying to make me fail?” It was really horrible, but I think it was just the devaluation phase in full swing. He got to the point where he just acted like he hated me, and that I hated him, but I didn’t. I do now!

            • Yes I do now too! I wish there had been a genie Chump Lady on my shoulder when I was dealing with all that saying, do you understand what’s actually going on here?

              First argument I think we EVER had, he suddenly turned round and said that ‘everyone could see that our relationship was terrible and said oh the cult of Ms Dudley, so bloody perfect blah blah blah’. I was so upset and taken aback. Guess what, he started his affair about two weeks before you know. Dickhead.

    • Kara, that was a *brilliant* analysis.

      B&W, listen to Kara and CL. You need to get away from this horrible person, ASAP. ((hugs)) ????

      • Thanks. I’ve been making long comments lately and sometimes I hesitate to post them just because of their length, but honestly with this one I didn’t feel like I could shorten it and still hit all the points that stood out to me the most. This woman has more red flags than a bullfight.

        • Don’t forget that when we write to other people on the blog, we are also writing FOR ourselves. Writing is a powerful tool for processing experiences and emotions–and here it is double so because we are, thanks to CL. a community in conversation.

    • This is an incredible reply, thank you so so much for this. I’ll be re-reading this plus all other comments over and over until it sinks in.

      • Black and White, you must be feeling so shell shocked just now. Just to say you are in the right place here to hear the truth, your heart will catch up to your brain, you will be ok and you will reach the wonderful Land of Meh. Best wisjes to you and hope you are finding some comfort inside the whirlwind.

        • Thank you. I think I’m already on my way. Just unsure how long it may take.

          Baby steps.

  • I’d bet money that the threesome offer is for you to sit crying in the corner while your erstwhile wife is screwing some random guy.

    Chiming in here: Consult with a lawyer, get tested for STI infections, and divorce her.

  • Develop character and learn to sew on buttons….
    I laughted so hard at this, thanks CL.

    But actually thenI thought about it some more..when I first in moved with ex, I sewed a whole heap of missing buttons on his shirts.

  • Adults don’t just flirt, they have sex. Please dump her cheating ass and take care of you and your kids.You will get plenty of female attention when you are ready and you are worth so much more.

  • B&W, I don’t think your wife needs therapy. She’s perfectly happy with herself and is completely aware of her motivations and desires; she’s doesn’t want and doesn’t feel the need to change.

    On the other hand, the mental toll of years of emotional and psychological abuse is apparent in your letter, which is filled with jargon and vagaries (she’s “renegotiating boundaries;” black and white vs gray). Your wives have throughly manipulated you and distorted your thoughts and feelings.

    Fire the marriage counselor and please find an individual counselor, one that is 100% committed to helping YOU, not your marriage.

    If you’re not ready to file for divorce just yet, then I recommend that you use condoms, get regular STD testing, and don’t take on new debts or real estate purchases.

  • The threesome bit is only a ploy to give her “carte blanche” for fooling around with other men. You’ll have to condone her cheating because, hey, you agreed to an open marriage. Bottom line: she’s bored with you and she is looking for someone else. Run.

    • Yep. Listen to KB22. If you agree to any of this nonsense, you’ll find you’ve agreed to all of it.

    • This. When D day comes she will say that he promised not to judge her and to be more accepting of “who she is.”

      A Narcissist’s Prayer
      That didn’t happen.
      And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
      And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
      And if it is, it was your fault.
      And if it wasn’t, I didn’t mean it.
      And if I did…
      You deserved it.

      Although I would change that last part to:
      And if I did…
      You agreed to it.

  • People like your cheater always have a ready excuse. Mine used the “mental health” issues, too. They absolutely know their behavior is unacceptable in most marriages, so they look for some convenient excuse to hang it on.

    This isn’t going to get better, no matter how much dancing you do.

  • “Also, being devoted to someone for the rest of your life (marriage) isn’t missing out. It’s a GIFT. It’s partnership to weather life’s shit together. It’s being loved and desired and cared for. It’s deep intimacy. It’s long conversations and car rides. It’s taking your partner’s parent to their chemo appointments. It’s inside jokes. It’s morning snuggles and finding the coffee made.”

    This is so lovely, thank you CL!

    • 100% agree! Even after many years I still do not comprehend how this made my ex so unhappy.

  • If she needs the sexual attention of men to feel worthy, that’s a big issue. Her saying she could have screwed three men who were willing to fuck her is a huge issue.

    She’s going to do it. Heed the warning that she’s giving and decide if you are going to go full chump in this thing.

  • “All I see here is her trying to get me to accept this is who she is, and that her needs are more important than mine.”

    Yes, that is exactly what is happening here. She is also trying to convince you that what she wants is reasonable while what you want is not. I experienced something similar when I found myself trying to explain to my ex what I thought monogamy meant, and that his desire to have threesomes with strangers did not fit into that definition. My ex argued that if you view the third person as an object, then it isn’t cheating. Right then, I knew I’d married someone who did not share my values. Monogamy and commitment are a gift, and something to be celebrated; not something to work around.

    Your wife doesn’t share your values, and sadly, that can’t be fixed. See a divorce lawyer and get out.

  • Asking you to be less judgmental irks me to no end. She tramples all over your clear boundaries and then accuses you of “judging” her for it? This is the crazy-making, reversing victim and offender, behavior that twists chumps like us into knots, so we never know which way is up.

    Oddly enough, it does seem she is being honest in a way, she is letting you know that she will never honor your boundaries and needs, and that she values the attention of other men more than your feelings. Believe everything she says in this case. Maybe there’s some skeevy guy out there for her that would be cool with that. That guy is not you.

    • Agreed. I thought this too. At least, on this one thing, she’s been forthright. Sure, she may be desiring him to stay and even cajoling him, but he has some pretty good intel that many of us did not.

  • Even if you find you cannot yet bear to divorce your wife (lots of us have ridden the merry-go-round too many times ourselves), use this “renegotiation” to your advantage. Get her to sign an agreement giving you the house or renouncing her claim to your retirement fund or something else of value (consult a lawyer to make sure you understand what is legal in your state and how such an agreement needs to be structured and notarized or even filed with the courts).

    She’ll complain and say it isn’t “fair” or that she only wants to renegotiate sexual boundaries not fiscal ones, but hold your ground. Make it clear that you need the title to the house (or whatever) to bolster your self-confidence.

    I suspect once she understands that the “renegotiation” includes her making concessions that she finds uncomfortable even as you do the same, she’ll lose interest in the plan, and the need to move straight to divorce may become more clear.

    • This is a good idea. Seeing as how she claims she just wants some flirtatious attention, and asserts she will not cheat, then she should be more than willing to sign away her right to their shared property if it is discovered that she did, in fact, cheat.

      But, lol, as if she’d ever agree to this. But I bet if he pushed it far enough, he’d see her flip to the rage channel right quick. They always flip to the rage channel when facing actual consequences.

  • Let’s take CL’s post title first: “Wife Wants to ‘Renegotiate’ the Relationship.” That’s bold. 18 months into a lifetime commitment and she wants to negotiate. And we can extend this issue to those Chumps who are now divorced with custody agreements, whose FWs want to “renegotiate” a couple of months after a judge has ruled.

    This is all about power and control. It’s about creating a permanent unlevel playing field, where the rules are always changing because anything and everything can be renegotiated–whether it’s a promise made in front of family, friends, the state and a Higher Power or a ruling made in Family Court by a judge. Rules don’t apply to these people.

    Did you sign up to spend a married life up to your ass in quicksand? Did you sign up to build your marital home on the lip of a volcano? It’s hard to pull the plug on a 2nd marriage. I know that first hand. But think of it this way: you only have one mistake to correct, picking the wrong life partner. Fix your picker and you’re good to go. CL got it right with nomar. I got it right when I picked ME instead of another relationship–and now I have a kind and lovely man as a companion, since I’m past the point where marriage is attractive. Choose you. Fix your picker.

    Finally, so many chumps have the concept of trust backward. CL is absolutely right to challenge what you said here; “There has been a history of insecurity and trust issues on my part due to various instances of her emotional cheating.”

    Let’s rephrase that: “Because of her cheating, whether emotional or physical, my wife has destroyed my trust in her and created a situation where I cannot feel secure in the marriage.”

    See the difference? You are RIGHT not to trust someone who hides things, lies, sneaks around, and breaks the most significant agreement she will ever make. You’re RIGHT to withdraw your trust in someone who says, point blank, that she won’t tell you what she is doing or is going to do. You’re RIGHT to notice that you do not feel secure. [And when you say you have “a history of insecurity,” you are making that a characteristic of yours, rather than a rational response to someone betraying you. It’s insane to feel secure with a burglar in your home, when there’s a global pandemic, when you bank account is in the red, when your job is about to lay off a thousand people. How you respond to situations that involve “insecurity” is one thing; that’s about trust in yourself, resilience, courage, and clear understanding of your dealbreakers.

    • Oh, PS. I know you have been married 5 years to this whack job, B & W. But the clock started on her “renegotiation” when things started to go south after the good 18 months.

    • Yup. It’s not a trust issue when you don’t trust a liar – it’s just a sane, normal reaction to lies. You are NOT supposed to trust people who lie and manipulate you.

  • You have nothing to work with. I highly doubt she would be ok if you proposed the exact same behavior to her. What’s good/ok for the goose is NOT ok for the gander, i.e. spouse with these types.
    I’ve learned a very valuable lesson when it comes time to decide to walk away from the relationship. If the person you’re with does things you would NEVER do to them, it is neither a healthy nor a reciprocative relationship. Get out when you start to evidence this.

  • Black and White,

    I’m sorry but this is a tough situation. I went through the same thing in marriage with my XW. She had all these needs too, and she made me feel like I was being insecure because I had a problem with all these men she was giving attention to.

    It was all BS. At the end she admitted that she had affairs with all of these men. CL said it well that adults don’t just tell each other they like each other, they sleep with each other. That’s what adults do. Mine kept up this charade until she found the next guy who set up a life she wanted and left. If she is acting this way with other men, then you need to tell her is unacceptable and leave. It’s tough, but be strong.

  • B&W

    Old fashioned means I Don’t Share (my wife)
    I share my Life. I’m in that school Bro.

    get this tune into your brain ????


    WHITE NOISE (Neil Perri and The Underground Thieves)

    End the static in my head
    Wash my face and go to bed
    Stop! The Ringing.

    I make the best of every day
    She never has good things to say
    Stop! The Ringing

    Her words of White Noise
    Her words Are White Noise

    End the bleeding in my ears
    Sent from all the lies I hear
    Stop! The Ringing, Ringing.

    Breathe It In, Take a Breath
    She’s not the person that I met
    Stop! The Ringing, Ringing

    ….. you’ll have to listen for the rest

    Trust your gut. You know what you have to do.

  • Black and White,

    You’re getting played. Let me shared my story to help you:

    My husband asked for an open relationship when we got married 25 years ago. I declined as I didn’t want that AND I’d seen our best friends be devastated by an “open” marriage which meant he was fucking another women and then he left his wife when the OW demanded he leave – she wanted him all to herself. Why, after that, my husband wanted it I thought was crazy. Then, after a period of intense work stress about 15 years into the marriage, my husband went to a counselor. He came home and said, “the counselor says I’m depressed and she said one thing that’s really good for a marriage is having an open sexual relationship”. I basically said, “WTF does she know?” And I actually believed what he was saying but I thought the counselor was an idiot. I was really angry but stupidly I blamed the counselor for that. Fast forward to my husband bombing me with the phrase that I’m “too vanilla” in bed and that’s why he wasn’t having sex with me anymore. We had a heart to heart and I said that I would be more adventurous and that I would consider a little bit of fooling around for a small period of time for him to have an outlet – but I had VERY strict rules in place. He said he’d consider what I said. Then I went away on a holiday with our daughter. He spent about $4k on our credit card, hotels, air bnbs, restaurants, pharmacies, etc. while we were gone. When I came home, I confronted him. He said, “yeah, i have a girlfriend. What I’m going to do is stay with you a couple of days a week, then go to hers for the rest of the time. I’ll come around, hang out with you a bit, mow the lawn, do the taxes, that kind of thing, but then I’ll go to her to get all my needs met.” He said he needed a girlfriend because it’s safer for me – no more random hook ups, no more hookers. The days that followed as I kicked him out, he gave me more details of the truth. That included at least a 13 year history of cheating on me with multiple women, who, he beats up for sex with his domination games. I found his sex toy bag – it was full of violence. My world imploded. He began to hate me and be abusive. He has tried to control me and he now uses manipulative power tactics all the time. He’s cruel and he essentially abandoned the marriage, left me to pay everything and he says he is now the big victim. He’s rewriting the narrative to tell everyone that I was a bad communicator, I was overly sensitive and I wasn’t meeting his needs. As CL says, he tells everyone he’s just a great guy and, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” I’ve been left to our family home to discover layers upon layers of lies – he left himself logged into computers so I’ve managed to piece together at least some of the horror.

    I’m telling you this because your wife is cheating on you, and she will continue. Listen to what she’s saying – she’s telling you what and who she is. She won’t change. My didn’t, 25 years later. He just did what he wanted to, all the time, behind my back. He was an entitled prick right from the beginning and he was just slowly trying to get me to see his way. I thought he abandoned the idea of an open marriage because I said no. I remember telling him that he shouldn’t marry me if that’s what his ideas of marriage were. He insisted that he loved me and that it wasn’t really a big deal. He stayed with me because I was the appliance wife, and it sounds like you are making it nice for your wife too. Get out now, 5 years is early. Big hugs and I hope this story helps you see that she is indeed telling you what’s going on – you just need to see it and run.

    • FormerlyKnownAs – you are a hero. I freaking love your moral compass. Mine also requested an Open Marriage (he was already having one)

      • Thanks ChumpedChange.

        Yes, the good ol’ retrofitting the truth. Classic move. He has even told our daughter that, “your mom said I could flirt with other women, then when I did, she got mad and kicked me out.”Unreal. I can’t blame the guy for asking about an open relationship – but I said “no”. And he agreed that because he loved me, he would respect that. Not to mention, he always said, up until the end, that he loved our sex life and was satisfied. The gaslighting I endured throughout our marriage is mind bending. The history rewriting is next level. According to our friends, he truly thought I would accept his girlfriend as a side dish fuck to our marriage and he was shocked by my reaction. Also, this young woman is someone who wanted a family – my family to be exact.

        I know of no open marriage that has worked, but I suppose that if they did, it would have to have more honesty than most – not less. I’m really pissed off that open marriages are just another form of cheating from what I’ve experienced. And I’m really pissed off that my husband accused me of being less mature than other people who can handle open marriages. This was all a huge lie.

  • B&W,

    If I was your sister, and I wrote this letter to you…what would you tell me?

    ((Big Hugs))

  • B & W, you decide. Who does she think she is? You decide if she’s. for. you.
    Doesn’t sound like it.
    The shrink is working for her –
    tell him to marry her and put up with this shit.

  • Being unappreciated and taken for granted by a self centered narcissist is not a relationship. But I am sure that she love bombs him as much as needed to keep him attentive and on the hook. Sad. Being alone is better than this sick game. She tells him she has 3 men who want to sleep with her? This woman should not be in a relationship with anyone. She is abusive and deviant.

  • Let’s UBT these ridiculous statements.

    -My therapist encourages my cheating and wants you to to be okay with it.

    UBT: My therapist encourages me to get a divorce and hopes you run for your life. Either that or he just occasionally murmurs “uh huh” in between cat naps sas I prattle on and on. I’m not sure.

    -My ex husband also encouraged my cheating.

    UBT: That’s why we’re divorced. He was totally fine with it and we had the perfect marriage. It’s a shame my ex was so much better than you, but you could dance harder, you know.

    -I neeeeeed to flirt for my self esteeeeeeem.

    UBT: I need to fuck other men to abuse you and feel superior to you. I am also an attention whore of the highest order. In fact I belong to the Royal High Order of Attention Whores, so show some respect.

    -My mental health issues cause my behavior.

    UBT: I suffer from cheatabusomania. The only known treatment for this form of mental illness is being unceremoniously dumped. Please help me to get treatment.

    -I value you, our marriage, and our kids.

    That’s why I suck mucho dick and hurt you, the marriage and the kids. See how much I value you, the marriage and the kids?

    -I would never want to end our marriage or do anything to cause the end of our marriage.

    UBT: Totally not my jam. Just ask my ex.

    -Your attitude is stuffy conservative and old fashioned.

    Imagine expecting the monogamy you were promised. Does the patriarchy know no limits?

  • This is a common pattern; the cycles, giving just enough information, and moving the goalposts after getting married. Her needs tell you she’s a run of the mill cheater who wants to lead a single life while married. She can throw out all the contingencies to keep you in place. Say hell no. You didn’t sign up for any of her bullshit. The fix? Divorce her ass.

  • Gray is coded language—adopted by those in therapeutic industry—which suggests those operating by Black or White perspectives are unsophisticated and less evolved. Grey, in this context, oozes condescension.

    Feelings and Understandings certainly wander grayly along various spectrums, and as they wander, one explores one’s self (often in therapy, or with a religious counselor) to establish values and guidelines (like, even if one feels tempted, or angry with one’s partner, one does not cheat).

    Feelings certainly invoke shades of gray. And contradictory feelings are often present. Kids can hate and love their parents, for example, simultaneously: that’s part of growing up.

    Actions, however, are Black or White — and Actions always speak clearly and for themselves.

    Rationalizations, Explanations—of course these convey shades of Grey. Anything can be explained and depending on the distance one has from the event it’s possible always to explain things through multiple lenses.

    Explanations (in all their multitudes) explain why, which is fine. A murderer kills her husband because she failed Algebra, lost her pet, didn’t go to prom, has a mental illness, hates persons: there is one explanation among a possible thousand others all invoking shades of Grey. The explanation also doesn’t alter the fact of a dead husband’s body.

    Grey is a useful idea for a person working through conflicting emotions or double binds: it’s self work, and often necessary. To impose the self onto another human being, though, is to violate that other’s boundaries and sovereignty, and typically that violation leads to abuse of that other.

    And Actions? Actions are specific and the result of one set of values winning out over another. So, when one is injured by the betrayal of another, one can say: Ok, I understand why it happened; Life is complicated; and one can also say: despite shifting sands of rationale, Betrayal is an action regardless of explanation and that is a fact to which I will reply, despite my own emotional shades of grey, and after circumspect reflection, by leaving the relationship.

    What I hear:

    The Wife is bullying, feigning emotional sophistication, while making threats;

    The Wife is not happy (and likely will struggle always to know herself genuinely);

    The Trust has been broken and, having been broken, is unlikely to repair.

    The wife is blameshifting and not accepting responsibility.

    Regardless of the Shades of Grey affecting the wife’s behavior, it’s wise to look closely at the behavior of the wife (and not the reasons for it) to determine if it’s destructive and hostile to oneself.

    Words obfuscate. I’d ignore all explanations, I’d watch closely, and then I’d act by speaking privately and immediately with a lawyer. In the face of betrayal, I would also never telegraph advance notice of my reply to one who aims to harm me. Look, measure, act, and speak only to confidants. The least painful way to let go of a destructive relationship is to let go.

    Saying something is not okay really is okay!

    In fact, it’s an emblem of integrity, courage, and strength.

    • I really really love this insight Epictetus. It reaffirms I am not crazy at wanting to end this abuse, and I should not feel ashamed of it either.

      Something is fundamentally broken in her psyche, and it is not mine or a random sex partners responsibility to fix the internal mechanism that is human decency.

  • Since you describe yourself as a black and white sort of guy, I will boil this down to the essentials:

    Original negotiated agreement = Married
    Renegotiated agreement = Divorced


  • Holy cow B&W,

    Don’t be me. My XCobra was like that, but I was a thoroughly programmed chump raised by a narc mother. I thought I just needed to be a nice understanding wife while he flirted with anything he saw. We had 2 kids and the abuse went full blown, then the grand discard to move in with his slut.

    She is lying about her ex. She has clearly told you who she is. Believe her.

    Run to the divorce attorney, and go radical no-contact.

  • I have grown tired of cheaters using “mental health issues” as an excuse. It’s so tacky and cheap of them to do so. I struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I have never cheated. They are two unrelated things, unless you choose to use them as an excuse. Just want to include that here, because I see many of us Chumps being understanding of shitty behavior because of the cheater’s mental health issues (I did it myself with the cheater). They know us well enough to play that card.

  • B&W,

    She only cares for her needs & has a horrible therapist if they are not having her look at your needs as well.

    I know this will be tough, but you need to really think of you want this the rest of your life. If divorce is too drastic at this point, perhaps separate so you can get some space away from her to really think about your marriage, etc.

  • Hi everyone, B&W here. I want to personally thank all the replies flying in. I’m really humbled by a community of people I’ve never met providing so much valuable insights into my situation.

    I am working my way through all comments, re-reading as needed, and will continue down the path that I need to take. Sure I’m still in some fog for now, but please have faith in me.

  • Came here to say that your cheater is probably lying about what the therapist said- looks like someone else beat me to the punch. Add me to the list of people who got lied to about what a therapist said. I asked the therapist about it and got told the truth. Anyway- most of the comments here are great so i have not much else to add other than “look at all these people with similar stories” it proves that indeed- this kind of person is selfish and doesn’t change.

  • Black&White,

    I am a therapist in training, and was a behavioral scientist in the military. Of course, that does not make me brilliant, or anymore qualified then any of these other fabulous people commenting. They are spot on in my opinion. Please listen. I hope you especially secure your finances.

    She sounds like she is not only a narcissist, but also has a borderline personality disorder. She is overtly sexual, and uses her sexuality to get attention, but I detect something very unstable about her. I do hope you get to therapy soon, and start the healing process… sound like a principled man, and kind to boot.

    When I wrote to chump lady about my circumstances, she lined me out, and told me the truth. It took me a year to finally listen, but listen I did. Today my divorce is final after 24 years. Nothing, and I mean nothing is more painful than finding out you are more vested in a relationship than your spouse. It is the worst pain imaginable. Mine defrauded me of my household good, car, money, he was an absolute nightmare. When the mask gets pulled off, it seems there is nothing stopping the egregious behavior. To ask for a threesome is just sick. You didn’t mention it, but is she a substance abuser also? I hope so, the alternative makes me shudder.

    Please take care of yourself, and yes, as Birdchump says, please keep us updated.

    • Thank you Geniebobeanie, appreciate the reply.

      Early days, but I am determined to get through this for the betterment of myself. Our lives are intertwined in a way that makes a simple cut off almost impossible. Nothing is more important than my mental health, so I will be taking proactive steps to get moving, it just make take a little while.

      Not a substance abuser, however the influence being thrown around worries me further. At the moment shes really ramped things up even after we tried to talk it out. I mean really ramped it up.

      Please have faith in me, as I do in all of everyone here who’s come out the other side for the better.

      • Check yourself for hopium. I cannot think of a single person here who had a “simple cut-off” — that’s why this blog exists. To help you with what is difficult — leaving a cheater. Everyone here had an entwined life with a toxic person. Mortgages. Shared businesses. Children. Decades of shared family, in-laws, friends. We get it.

        This doesn’t get better. You will feel the bargaining stage of grief, oh if I try this, or give it time. You’re stalling. Take BIG, active, END IT steps. See a lawyer (don’t tell her), check your finances, save records, get all those ducks lined up. And STOP for the love of God trying to “talk it out.”

        There is NOTHING TO DISCUSS. She has told you who she is and what she wants. You can believe it or not. If it’s unacceptable ACT like it. We only control ourselves.

        • Thanks CL – I’ve left a comment update below, and I think I’m already on my way.

  • Overtly sexual behavior is more characteristic of histrionic. Not that cluster b’s can’t intersect. Borderline actually leaves you more vulnerable to abuse- I have Borderline and kept getting gaslit with my mental illness to justify the cheating and awful behavior. “Anyone else would not be angry- youre just mentally ill”

  • Thanks to everyone in this community for the kick in the ass i so sorely needed. A little bit of an update for those interested.

    I had been second guessing myself since posting part one on the weekend. Eventually we got to a point where I was actually comfortable laying shit raw and honest with her. We talked for over 3 hours, she blame shifted constantly, still believes her not fucking anyone is her compromise. But it runs way deeper than that. Her issues are incurable and a disease of the mind.

    Trickle truths and a massive compromise on my behalf saw us in an informal renegotiation. But, it didn’t ease my mind one nuance. I wanted to give myself some time to own my feelings, however my gut wasn’t letting me.

    I ended it last night. No remorse from her. No emotion.

    I’ve since found out she’s been using her burner work phone since June to continue to disrespect me and our marriage. Some moron she’s run into at a coffee shop, a teacher, dick pics, his face, full blown sexting, a hilarious photo of someone sitting in a car pointing camera at a dumpster in an alley (a place to fuck), apologies over arguments, and more. Shit an actual couple would deal with, not this fantasy world. Pretty sure this is one of the guy she *could* have fucked but said she didn’t.

    There was a I cannot go through with this message, unsure who sent it as the chat history is ridiculously confusing, deleted messages, forwards from her other phone of screenshots etc.

    This morning snooped phone again and she’s still forwarded a dick pic he sent from last night onto her other phone after I ended it.

    This, plus her need to post daily to a private Facebook group of over 400,000 guys and gals basically weeding out fuck partners for each other. Bottom feeders who think it’s hot and ok to objectify each other.

    And. She. Likes. It.

    400,000 people who get her lingerie, seductive and practically naked photos before her husband does. Her asking single and desperate guys to inbox her.

    There’s my fucking concrete, and it happened on a Wednesday.

    I have photos of the proof. Do I show her? Wasted time sure, but fuck even a tiny piece of retribution at this point feels oh so right.

    Have faith in me on my long journey decoupling out of this absolute shit show.


    • Do NOT show her- read chump lady’s rookie mistakes page. Don’t let her know You know anything nor your sources. Document everything and only consult lawyer from here on out.

      • Also gonna add- the best retribution is gonna be that you’re gonna have a wonderful life without her.

        She’s gonna be used and abused by these dudes and one day wonder “gee why can’t I find a guy who’s interested in more than x thing”.

        Youth is not everlasting either. The type of guys she’s attracting are gonna look for younger once she’s aged out. She will run out of kibbles, then what? She will realize what she left behind. Or maybe she won’t- maybe she is soulless which means your discovery of her affairs won’t even affect her. In fact some people even get turned on when their partner feels emotional about the affair, and make it a pity party. She’s not gonna feel humiliated or sorry or any of these other feelings normal people have.
        I’d rather be in a relationship with a partner who will be with me through the bad and good, who will travel with me, journal with me, and not just value my ass and tits.

    • Black and White,

      It is not easy to leave someone you have bonded with, even if she has abused you. You are doing the right thing. Stay strong!

    • Hi,
      I recently went through a similar experience. I caught my wife sexting 15 different men on the daily, caught her asking three men when they would be in the area during the week to hook up, she kept having an affair with one man for several months and being caught four times, she started secretly buying lingerie and sex toys, she started suddenly wanting to go for walks (she was hooking up in his car), I found all this on her phone one night whilst she was passed out drunk.

      In our 15 years together she had never been a drinker but all of a sudden she is downing bottles of gin. She even urinated on the kitchen floor one night as she was so drunk. She was constantly hiding her phone. She had men saved under female names. I recorded all the evidence and no doubt it’s only the tip of the ice berg.

      You see I found out that the boyfriend she loved with before I met her, she cheated on him with multiple people, even had two guys in their bed. I packed all my belongings and she sobbed and swore she was not cheating anymore. I caught her three days later taking sexual photos of herself to send to him. Next day I filed for divorce.

      Be careful. We had the daily arguing and her pleading she never wanted a divorce and did not want me to leave and how she was broken and was not cheating, yet her actions were still hiding her phone and she started making arguments with me. Nothing I could do was right, whether leaving towels in bathroom to apparently giving her dirty looks when I was not. Suddenly she has suffered the past ten years of marriage and she has been the one to carry the marriage. Never once mentioned any of this previously.

      I then got arrested for suspicion of assault. I was removed from the home and I’m not legally allowed near her. She had zero bruises or marks and no witnesses and no evidence. Lawyers and others say they believe I was set up. So now since we have been separated and I’m moving on, she will contact me about how she regrets everything and just wants me to hold her and love her. When she brings the kids to see me, she breaks down in floods of tears. It’s just mind games.

      Here is the kicker of it all, she sent me a message saying how she dreads that I will start dating other women. How she feels so broken and the thought of me touching another woman is driving her mad. I’m 36 years old and already have girls interested in me. This is the same STBXW who recently grabbed me by the balls very hard and said if I even dare touch any other girl she would cut my balls off so I could never get an erection ever again.

      • This sounds fucking awful, I’m so sorry. I hope you’re in a better place, both physically and mentally now.

        I copped the same love bombing and bargaining you described. She broke down in crocodile tears telling me how the thought of me being with other women eventually will haunt her, but what’s good for the goose is not for the gander. I gave my everything, much like all us chumps here to keep shit together. It’s all a waste of time.

        We had a pretty rough argument this morning where I made it very clear of my intentions moving forward. More blameshifting, then wham her second personality exploded and she blocked me on all social media.

        I refuse to negotiate with a terrorist, and she is terrorizing my mental health at the moment. The absolute and utter disrespect by even floating the idea we could be friends, keeping our kids seeing each other for their benefit. I can’t see it now, but I feel any connection I keep with her through our kids may push me back into self doubt territory in the future.

        I’ll need to cross that bridge, but at the moment burning them and protecting myself and my son is all that matters. The kids are being told tonight, they are going to be devastated.

        • I’ll be thinking of you and your kids tonight B&W, it will be incredibly hard. I don’t recall how old you said your kids are, but age appropriate truth is the way to go; “Mummy isn’t going to be living with us anymore because she has a boyfriend and that makes me very sad.” I made many mistakes around telling the kids, the first one being letting him tell them on his own, although he had already ambushed me by telling our 15yo son alone, in his van on the way back from watching son triumph in our small town pantomime. My gorgeous son has that fun and avhievement forever marred by that trauma. I didn’t tell the kids about his affair until we finally moved away from him 2 years later, after I had pick-me danced and taken him back, putting me and the kids through many horrors. I’d do it very differently now. All the best B&W

        • I’m not surprised to hear your wife also states she does not want you with another woman. It’s so clear to me now that I’m out of the house and away from her that it is simply another form of their abuse. They don’t want to lose their grip on us. They want us to only pine for them and only desire them. Carry out the pick me dance. For years I thought she was jealous of other women because I was hers and she deeply loved me. Now I know different. I’m viewed as her possession.

          One time she was at a friends house and I went to pick her up. I was in the yard with her friend and my STBXW said out loud to her friend that I would never date her because she was to thin. I turned red from sheer embarrassment and we argued on way home. I had no sexual desire at all for the other girl as I was friends with her husband and I was married. But my STBXW took the opportunity to say that to her friend. Few months later the friend cut all contact with her.

  • Black and White, yep it is an utterly banal, dismally sordid shitshow, but it’s the truth. I can tell you’ve seen it now. That world is not compatible with ours and it is NOT the ‘normal’ world, no matter how often we get told that. Proud of you! We can all tell you though that you still have a long trek ahead of you, we’re cheering you on all the way

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