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Does Mental Illness Make Him Less of a Cheater?

Hi Chump Lady,

Your blog and book have sustained me since I learned last Monday (merry fucking Christmas) that my husband had an ‘emotional’ affair starting in 2014 and didn’t tell me until I finally made myself sick with paranoia and confronted him seven days ago.

He has indicated that he’s not sure if he would have ever told me if I hadn’t brought it up (and guessed the OW).

We have been married for 26 years and together as a couple even longer. We have a 22-year-old son.

The OW was a paralegal at his law firm and he was the managing partner at the time. We had been having some struggles when the affair began — and I feel a lot of them had to do with his depression (which he wasn’t really talking about) and the fact that he had major gripes with me, that he never told me about (guess I was supposed to read his mind). They made out in the park and ate lunch every day for a while but he’s adamant that they never had sex. The affair (IMHO) finally ended when she found a new boyfriend and a new job in 2018.

Bonus points: the OW was Dutch and he’s been studying the language for a number of years since he got involved with her and he encouraged me to take two trips to Holland in the last 5 years. I can’t make this shit up.

Now that I’m aligning timelines, he was experiencing the ’summer of love’ right before our 20th anniversary and while we were in our first round of family therapy. Two years later we went back into therapy when he told me he thought he was no longer in love with me. I asked at the time if there was someone else, but being a lawyer, he said no figuring it wasn’t an ‘active’ affair (whatever, Bill Clinton).

It’s clear to me that both my therapist and his knew about this affair and neither of them compelled him to confess and so we went though a year of tandem marriage therapy with me not knowing that there was a MAJOR piece of information missing. Our son had major depression issues and I remember begging him to be more involved — guess I know why he didn’t have the bandwidth now.

I always felt there was something more going on both during and after the second round of therapy. I told him I had trust issues after, but still he never could cop to it. But he slept with me the entire time!

Flash to now and I’ve conveniently discovered trove of emails pining over her, saying they were in love, he shared more with her than anyone else and I’m basically only mentioned (and very infrequently) as the person who is mean to him, materialistic, and at least was good in bed. Needless to say, I’m feeling like the back up plan/consolation prize.

Not he’s contrite and seemingly committed to getting his depression under control and has made contact with another marriage counselor.

My question for you is: he claims that Anhedonia is the reason he was feeling so low and vulnerable to the paralegal’s advances and also the reason that he demonized me. I know you’re not a therapist, but should I give him a bit of slack for that? Or is this just a continuation of the gaslighting he’s submitted me to for 6+ years?


The Excuse Maker’s Wife 

Dear Soon-to-Be-Excuse-Maker’s-Ex-Wife,

You’re being gaslighted. Your husband shared a lot more than sandwiches with his paralegal. For at least six solid years he was absolutely fine driving you stark raving mad with misdirections, and pinning his misdeeds on your “trust issues.” That kind of psychological abuse would make anyone insane. So who did you fuck?

I mean, there you are, going to shrinks. Struggling to make sense of your marriage. Feeling sad. Feeling off. Feeling disconnected. And……

You didn’t have a 6-year sandwich.

Why? Because you have good character and empathy, and he has none. You experienced terrible mental strain and distress, and yet, you did not conduct and conceal an affair.

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, a symptom of depression. If he cannot feel pleasure, then a lusty paralegal would feel no different than a loving wife or a new pair of shoes. All sensation would be flat. And yet he made a multiyear project going after this person he feels no pleasure with.

Moreover, the sad sausage had the executive functioning to demonize you. You’re right, I’m not a shrink. I’m a person with critical thinking ability. This all strikes me as total bullshit.

It’s clear to me that both my therapist and his knew about this affair and neither of them compelled him to confess and so we went though a year of tandem marriage therapy with me not knowing that there was a MAJOR piece of information missing.

That sounds incredibly unethical to me. I would think that the proper thing to do as a shrink in this situation would be to withdraw your services, rather than be party to the further abuse of your client.

Our son had major depression issues and I remember begging him to be more involved — guess I know why he didn’t have the bandwidth now.

My guess is your son probably knew or suspected and was pressed into conspiracy against you, to keep his father’s secret and not hurt you. I’ve read a lot of stories here and often the chump kids, who know before the chump knows, have depression, eating disorders, and all kinds of acting out.

The best thing we can do for our kids is model resiliency when going through this shit. Be mighty. It’s better for you and your son to not be living under Dad’s Secret.

Not he’s contrite and seemingly committed to getting his depression under control and has made contact with another marriage counselor.

Yeah, you let him do that. Play along. Meanwhile, PROTECT YOURSELF. Gather all the financials, find a family law lawyer stat, fire the awful individual therapist you were seeing. Get on the boards here for 24/7 support from peers who have lived this. And if you get another shrink, find one who is schooled in trauma and knows that infidelity is abuse.

Next, get an STD test. He’s been fucking around. Sad lawyers don’t have chaste picnics in the park for six years. Nor do they stop fucking around just because their fuckbuddy has a boyfriend.

another marriage counselor.

Oh, and here’s a clue that he’s still the same entitled asshole he’s always been. YOU DO NOT NEED A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR. The “marriage” didn’t make him fuck a paralegal. His shitty character did that. He’s trying to blameshift with couple’s therapy! He needs mental help for HIMSELF. You go do you. (Collect financials, see lawyer, protect your health, etc.)

His present “the anhedonia made me do it” theory of fuckupedness will only be served by someone who treats that malady. You don’t HAVE that malady. (I doubt he does either.) Would you bring your partner to your pelvic exam?

he was feeling so low and vulnerable to the paralegal’s advances and also the reason that he demonized me

Oh, did she seduce him with a ham on rye? He’s blameshifting there too. His fuckbuddy didn’t make him cheat. He chose to cheat. She didn’t make him demonize you either — HE did that.

Wife, you have nothing to work with here.

Don’t tell him what you’re doing. Just get out there and line up your ducks for divorce.

Vaarwel, klootzak!

(That’s Dutch for “farewell motherfucker.”)

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I went through many, many years of hell with my ex. The drinking, the violence, the spending, and eventually screwing the OW. He actually stopped coming home for six weeks in January 2010 and moved in with her. I had bruises, walked on eggshells and he was running up debts and DUIs faster than I could borrow money to pay them off. He was eventually diagnosed bipolar – which helped explain just a little (maybe the spending I suppose), BUT in the end I realized that that didn’t excuse the beatings I got, the cheating and I realized I could no longer tolerate the sleepless nights and walking on eggshells. He had excellent medical insurance and a superb employer. It was on HIM to get the treatment that was so readily available to him – and that should never have involved taking lithium and drinking beer and whiskey. I allowed him to get away with so much “because of his illness” until one day I just couldn’t any more, realized it wasn’t my job to “save” him and so I told him that was it, filed for divorce and told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Schmoopie was welcome to him, although she only stuck the violence for three years! Get out. You’ve got nothing to work with!

    • Absolutely agree I got out 4 years ago but it’s been very difficult “FINANCIALLY” but I won’t stay with any man that doesn’t respect me and my boundaries!????????

  • Vaarwel, klootzak! Indeed! The odds they didn’t have sex are extremely slim. Start quietly interviewing lawyers for the divorce. You want to keep them from being able to represent him. Does he have any attorney enemies? Other attorneys that don’t like him? Start there. Don’t let him know any of your thoughts and certainly don’t damage yourself further by going to “marriage” therapy.

    • This. This is exactly what I was going to say.

      And if you think he was lying to and manipulating you before…every fake nice conversation, every fake sad sausage emotion, every fake kindness, is just an act to soften you up to play nice, suss out your game plan, and keep as many of “his” dollars/assets in his pocket as possible. Time to get real familiar with your family’s financials, including his law partnership. Probably should hire a professional divorce forensic accountant to help you. But you need to keep it completely secret from everyone, and then strike hard. Your fuckwit is a professional manipulator. Literally. You need to be more than equally armed.

    • Eh. I’d recommended faking it until you get your ducks in a row. Let him set up “marriage therapy” if he wants. Odds are he won’t get around it and if he does, harden your heart and realised that said therapist is likely an idiot.

      Also report your previous “therapist”. And leave a bad review.

      FYI: Him going to individual therapy won’t change him. Remember what happened last time – the therapist just enabled his behaviour.

  • Dear Excuse Maker’s Wife,

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. He really sucks. CL is right. If he had anhedonia, he wouldn’t be able to derive joy from much of anything.

    That she’s Dutch and he wanted to go with you to Holland is creepy and disgusting. Even there, he had his little secret. The guy gets off on keeping you in the dark.

    The only time I might excuse someone for cheating is if he/she has a brain tumor that truly affects executive functioning/decisionmaking. I’m not sure there’s such a thing but wiser chumps here may know.

    My ex is dysthymic (and that’s a mild diagnosis, probably given to him to protect his ego). I’m not a psych person, but clearly he has always seemed depressed and displays narc tendencies. He used his depression and obvious sadness to lure women. I fell for it myself. When he fessed up to the affair, he told me that the OW had comforted him on the anniversary of his brother’s suicide. Turns out it sealed the deal for him. Hugs and a major boner! Kibbles from death!

    Anyway, CL is right! Get STD tested. And get your legal and financial ducks in order. Because he’s a lawyer, I would recommend that you find a great one (interview several). Ideally, it will be a lawyer who will intimidate the crap out of him.

    Good luck! And come back here often for support.

  • My dear,
    My husband also has a mental illness — bipolar disorder — that contributed to the circumstances around his own affair. It was a factor, but not an excuse. People who have mental illness are generally still able to know the difference between right and wrong (unless they are in active psychosis, for example). That is why he went to such pains to conceal it in the first place. In my case, genuine remorse looked like: daily medication to treat the bipolar disorder, individual cognitive behavioral therapy for him for 3.5 years, continued quarterly check ins with his psychiatrist (almost 10 years now), 2 years of marital counseling, a separation, apologies to me, our children, and my parents and siblings, renewed engagement with and responsibility for his share of parenting and caring for the household, cancelling of social media, and so on. Oh, and he is responsible for cleaning up any and all vomit that happens to occur in our lives (this is less relevant now that our kids are older). Did this erase the damage done? Not completely. But it is a better marriage than it was 10 years ago. Don’t fool yourself that this kind of repair work can be waived due to a mental illness.

    • My X finally got diagnosed as bi-polar, but, for him, it became the excuse on which to hang ALL his character flaws. “I can’t help it! I’m bi-polar!!” Like that somehow made him special. Oh, and since he missed the highs, he would go off his meds regularly.

      He used his mental illness as a way of garnering attention and pity. Medication took that excuse, and attention, away. His issue was not really being bi-polar, but being a narcissistic FW.

      My point is, BEWARE whiny medical excuses, especially when the condition is blamed for making them fuck other people.

      • Same here. Nitwit was diagnosed bipolar, which became his go-to excuse why he stayed up all night playing video games. He was prescribed pills for bipolar, but I remember he asked for lithium instead. The shrink refused to prescribe lithium for him. His shrink also asked that I come to his sessions and pointedly asked me questions about abuse. I said he never hit me, which was true, and the shrink shook his head sadly and said not all abuse is physical. Looking back it’s clear he was trying to warn me but couldn’t outright say it in front of Nitwit. I also remember Nitwit telling the shrink he had suicidal thoughts every day, which didn’t tally with the behavior I had observed. Needless to say towards the end he stopped going to the sessions and went off his meds.

  • Did I write this question? Are we living parallel chump lives? I think so. At least we are not going through it alone. These men think that they have some sort of entitlement to do such wrong to people that they vowed to be faithful to. They don’t. Neither mental illness, nor sex addiction, nor darkness of night will keep the divorce lawyer from his appointed route.

    And that route is to kick the ex’s ass to the freaking road.

    • I could have written this too: down to the details— XH attorney, same mental diagnoses, same length of marriage, same blameshifting, same so-called therapists who knew the truth about his affair(s!) but didn’t tell me and let him rage at me in marriage counseling, same son (and daughters) who were suicidal and bulimic and using drugs and getting arrested because they knew and dad threatened them if they told me….. it’s shocking how similar these types are. Almost spooky.

      I’m 6 years out. Divorced 4. I finally stopped smoking hopeium (thank you CL!) and told XH to GTFO. I got a very aggressive attorney but he didn’t know shit about this conduct as abuse. Wrong move. That attorney fired me and gaslit and blameshifted- after charging me $40k. The second attorney was much more compassionate and a known successful adversary to XH’s evil attorney (a genuine woman-hater who tried to destroy me in her 9 hour cross-examination of me). We ended up having to go through a 10 day trial after two failed mediations. I won everything we owned and full support. Judge said he wished he could have given me more. He said I had proof for all my claims and XH had only lies. He said he was concerned for my safety and couldn’t believe that someone as disordered as my husband would continue practicing law, earning a ton of money, or living long. BOOM

      It took getting through the divorce, moving into a new home, kids healing and becoming stable, and starting a new career and the healthy love of a new partner for me to reach Meh. It was worth every second of that hell to be free of X.

      Buckle your hatches and get prepared for the fight of your life. You can do this. You are worth it. Come over to our FB group for real-time support— we are here for you.

      • Wow! Motherchumper. My God! And I’m so impressed that you did so well in what must have been a nightmare of a trial. Respect! And glad you and your kids are in a better place.

        Also, you wrote this: “…same so-called therapists who knew the truth about his affair(s!) but didn’t tell me and let him rage at me in marriage counseling..” Is this a thing that therapists do? The letter writer wrote the same. It just seems wrong/unethical.

        • It’s a thing, one I’ve run into. I’ve encountered marriage counselors who asked me what I did to deserve abuse (he threw me down a flight of stairs — cement stairs), marriage counselors who told him that since I wasn’t in Intensive Care, he didn’t really have a problem and a marriage counselor who spent entire sessions talking about her husband cheating on her. And still charging me.

        • Congrats Motherchumper99! Kudos to you for sticking out what must have been a horrible legal battle.

          Excuse Maker’s Wife,
          Please take note of Motherchumper99’s comments regarding hiring a lawyer. I too had a lying lawyer ex. Thank goodness I hired the toughest and smartest lawyer who was well-respected by other lawyers and judges. Not only did she know how to handle cheaters, she hated my ex as much as I did. She was also my second attorney. Learn from us and get the best lawyer you can find from the start.

          As for the therapist who kept the cheater’s secret, YES that happens all the time! My ex had a fancy Park Avenue psychiatrist who didn’t take insurance AND kept his secret when we had joint sessions!!! I’m only sorry I didn’t punch him when he shouted out “would you two get divorced already”. I truly regret that.
          What an ass and all those sessions came out of joint funds for years. Now I know he was having an affair for all those years.

        • No, this is not what reputable therapists do. You do not allow someone to abuse someone else, especially not in therapy!

  • Hahahahahahahaha, Vaarwel, klootzak, Hahahahahahaha!! Oh that made me laugh out loud!!!

  • The only mental illness he has for sure are sociopathic traits, period.

    And yes, it’s easy for a narcissistic idiot to have “depression” or “anxiety”, because it’s easy to be in such a predicament when you don’t own the whole world and everything upsets you..!

  • Re: “Marriage Counseling.” My STBX, a doctor who suffers from depression, narcissism and extreme self-pity (is that a diagnosis?) has used that to hook in two wives (I’m #2) and numerous other female “friends” and the OW with whom I’ve just been pleased to discover he’s been having an affair with for the last 7 years.

    During those years we tried marriage counseling. The gall of these guys! The counselor in our case I’m sure had no idea of his affair, nor did I, and his goal was to manipulate her to his “side” and get her to feel sorry for him as well, which she didn’t and he ended up stomping out.

    The gall of these cheaters to show up to counseling as if we’re actually working “together” on a relationship while they still hold the ace in the hole. Astounding. Mine assured me that the whole time he was having the affair he was “trying to claw his way back to me.”

    • My XH attorney also stomped out of that farce of MC and raged and threw things…. marriage counselors continued taking our $200 a session and booking sessions to find out what “my part” was????‍♀️????‍♀️????‍♀️????????????

      • I couldn’t afford counseling when I went through my divorce, this was early 90s. I am beginning to thinik that was a blessing in disguise for me.

        Yes I know there are good ones, but what are the chances, especially back then of finding one. I wouldn’t have know the questions to ask to determine if they were a good one. such as, do you hold the victim accountable and if you do, bye.

        • I don’t know if you were referring to marriage counseling or individual counseling.
          My individual counselor (MSW) saved my life. If she hadn’t pushed and pulled me thru DDay, the whole divorce process and the l o n g road to healing, I wouldn’t be here today.

          • I have no doubt there are good ones. Unfortunately there are a lot of really bad ones, always have been.

            The bad part is if you are emotionally a mess and need help, you won’t know for a while if you have a good one or a bad one, if you did know; you likely wouldn’t need them. And back then I am pretty sure they were blaming the betrayed in large numbers, just like now.

            I did go to a group counseling session sponsored by a church. But, it was focused on life after the divorce, moving on etc. It was pretty good.

            MC was never an option.

            • “If you are emotionally a mess and need help, you won’t know for a while if you have a good one or a bad one, if you did know; you likely wouldn’t need them.”
              spot on.

    • My STBX initiated and insisted I attend MC to deal with my “trust issues.” A week later I snooped and found out my issues were actually intuitions. He was cheating like it was his full-time job for our entire marriage. These guys have gall like you wouldn’t believe. Our shitty MC also allowed all kinds of raging and verbals abuse in sessions even though he knew full well what this asshole was up to. I had to stop going when being in the room gave me panic attacks. Then, I was unwilling to work on the marriage. Ha.

      The entitlement never ends and too many MCs are willing to dial it in and cash the check.

    • Oh gosh, he sounds like a real charmer… “clawing his way back to you.” As if the ow had him chained and trapped at against his own free will. They really can come up with some creative twists that paint them as the victim. This guy seems to have the ultimate victim syndrome.

      • Indeed! That’s his story and he’s sticking to it! He hated every second of it, she guilted him into staying because she got pregnant (!) and had an abortion (!) and he couldn’t leave her. She KNEW that he loved me and was going to make it work with me the whole time (he was “trying” to “claw (his) way back to (me).” Writing it here really helps me see the craziness – but he is utterly convinced of this narrative!

        • @Wooshy,
          So sorry, that’s a lot to take in. He not only cheated but you’re aware he got ow pregnant and she opted to abort the baby. I’m so sorry, they suck. The logic is just beyond, it’s no wonder many of us stay for so long we are literally confused which way is up. They prey on our good chumpy nature. Then act like “how dare you be angry, I’m the victim here, I was stuck with this woman, she tricked me and got pregnant. Hate her, not me!” Always, easier to see from the outside looking in.

          Feet in stirrups, oh my!

    • Wooshy,

      Oh the sad-sack, covert-narc docs!!! They get all the nurses, lab techs, and drug reps to feel sorry for them.

      I was married to one as well. He used his oh-so-sad manner to lure women.

      He also told me that his individual therapist, who knew all about the multi-year affair, recommended we go to marriage counseling and that he wouldn’t have to mention that affair at all!! WTF???

      Thankfully, we didn’t go.

      I think it’s unconscionable that a therapist would recommend this (unless my cheater ex was lying, which is possible, of course). Had I gone, I’m sure my ex would have used it as further ammo against me. Dodged that bullet.

      • @[email protected] all co-dependent nurses just feed the ego, grade A supply. My stbx also works in healthcare as do I. I know exactly the types, nauseating. I’ve seen the affairs happen over the years, not realizing it was happening to me too. Sorry it happens to you too.

        • LC, I’ve worked in healthcare for decades, and absolutely agree – hospitals are the worst. Maybe it’s because of all the beds….. My friend walked into her OB/GYN office one weekend day (attached to hospital) and discovered one of her docs was “up in the stirrups” with an anesthesiologist! I swore I would never marry a doctor and then I foolishly did, notice where I am.

          • I’ll never marry another doctor that’s for sure. My ex ticks all the boxes for sociopath.

        • Should also mention that the two docs she walked in on having their way in the stirrups were both married to other people, of course.

        • Longtime Chump. I’m sorry you’re in the same boat.

          What is it with doctors and nurses? Geezus!

          My doc ex’s OW is a much-younger nurse. Cliché! (He became enraged when I pointed that out. Really? He thought their relationship was different. Oh brother.) He said they bonded over taking care of sick patients. So, by that logic, I would guess that my ex and the OW must think that all health care providers are justified in having affairs. I mean, surely there’s lots of bonding over sick patients.

          My ex and his OW must feel that their relationship had honorable beginnings–saving patients together!

          There’s no end to the justifications. UGH!

          • Oi with the nurses and doctors!!

            My cheater’s OW was a nurse too. When I found out I felt so pathetic because wow she’s got this great career yadda yadda…

            But being a nurse doesn’t mean you’re a good person. Sure as hell doesn’t mean you’re…even a good nurse (I’ve met some that make me wonder how the hell they got their jobs.)

            Also, I’m on track to get my BSN anyway, and I bet I can do that job both better than her, and WITHOUT fucking someone else’s boyfriend.

          • [email protected],
            Oh gosh, “bonding over sick patients” that’s absurd. I’ve taken care of sick patients for a long time (I’m a nurse) and not once did it make me want to fuck anyone in the call room. Quite the opposite, it generally made me love and appreciate my family more.

            Apparently hospitals serve as a real aphrodisiac for some… I don’t get it! Except when I started to learn about narcissism and realized how most nurses are co-dependents. Add the fact that the staff are a captive audience to docs, reps or narc predators and it’s no wonder it’s such a breeding ground for infidelity.

            My stbx is a device rep and I know, the stigma.. should have known! But he was different, haha!! He had so many female contacts, “just doing my job”… I finally realized all his “contacts” many nurses, techs, np’s, and other reps were just great supply sources. And I’m not sure how many he’s fucked along the way. I just know of 2 that became full fledged multi year affairs. And like the others he’s the victim. He never cheated, I’m mean and don’t appreciate him.

            • Hospitals– shudder. It must be a particular breed that gets turned on by fluorescent lights that show everyone’s pores in stark relief, peeling white vinyl cladding, the smell of disinfectant and smeared blood stains left on drab flooring tiles by checked-out cleaning crews that I sense aren’t treated or paid well.

        • Sooooo, my ex retired from full-time doctoring last year. He does a very limited amount of part-time work. Clearly he planned his exit from me so that he wouldn’t have to make large alimony payments. The sneaky bastard!

          Anyway, he no longer receives a steady dose of full-time kibbles from all the nurses. I doubt the part-time gig provides enough.

          Of course, he’s living full-time with the OW nurse now (to my knowledge). My not-at-meh self likes to think she’s working full-time and my ex is in a constant state of worry and jealousy. After all, she cheated on her husband with my ex. They are both cheaters!

          They deserve this fate.

          • I still think (with rare exceptions) the best revenge against these low life’s are that they end up together. I don’t think I could have designed any revenge that would have affected my ex FW more than his miserable existence with his fat little whore. And she got a cheater, who cheated on her soon after they married. More than once. And they both gambled up massive debts and lost everything. Good times.

            I wonder if they ever looked at each other and said, yeah we are really piles of shit aren’t we? Nah, they just go on blaming everyone else.

              • It would be. I don’t know her, but I can see him blaming her. After all the sparkle wore off her twinkie early on, or he wouldn’t have started screwing around so fast.

                I do know they had some knock down drag outs, because they lived in an attached mother in law apt to my son’s house. This was years ago, not long after we were divorced and they were married. I don’t know what they have been like in later years. But, as CL said I doubt they had character transplants.

                My daughter in law and I are close. 🙂

          • I think you’re right he likely is worried she’s cheating, being around all the covert-narc-docs like himself. She also is likely worried as he now has more time on his hands. Who will feed him all the kibbles now?! Doesn’t take long for the ow to lose her sparkle and he’s not going to change. That’s the karma bus. And of course they will make it all appear rosy, that’s what these people do, live fake, shallow lives. I personally think of how I made things appear nice, most people didn’t know the shit that was going on.

      • Spinach, oh yes. A nurse, 20 years younger of course. He was seeing a therapist who he claims “understood” why he had to keep it a secret!!!!!! Oh and he was actively being pursued (and swore he was “just friends”….ok they “only kissed once” but then stopped because they knew they couldn’t go there) by another female doc….whom I’d asked him not to see outside of work because it made me uncomfortable. But now he still insists that wasn’t cheating. Uh huh.

        • Fuck that!

          Also, he’s blaming the nurse. She “actively pursued me.”

          Mine said the same gd thing. He told me he was “naive.” “She said she gets wet when she sees my coat hanging in the closet.” I think he thought I should understand. Dear God!

          • Surely you understand that! What’s a highly educated but naive man to do? Good God.

            Mine blames the nurse for guilting him into staying with her for 7 years. He claims that from the first f*ck she told him it wasn’t just going to be a one-nighter, and then a few months later (this came out trickle truth later) she tells him she’s pregnant and is having an abortion. She then told him he can’t leave her (according to him) because of what he “put her through,” and he, being the good Catholic boy he (supposedly) is, allowed himself to be guilted into continuing the relationship for 6 more years. The whole time trying to “claw his way back to” me, according to him. More guilt over whatever he put her through than what he’d done to me/our marriage.

            Just ugh. Entitlement.

      • Hi Spinach. I always enjoy your responses.

        As I said, worthy of an individual CL letter, MIL was widowed young and this is her only son. There is a daughter, but she doesn’t seem to matter much to her Mom

        MIL never seemed to like me even when her son and I were dating, it was almost a challenge to somehow “win “her son – an immature mistake on my part. She talked about me behind my back, she was critical,
        I never thought she treated my children that well and she always implied I did not treat her son well
        She did not use my first name, I was either a she or all her son’s experiences were just Him alone. She hoped he had a nice vacation, and ignored the rest of the family.
        When our marital problems first started becoming public about five years ago she said well one door closes another one opens. She never dared critique his behavior or give any value to his family or for that matter her grandchildren‘s family.
        With this latest turn of events and the actual girlfriend in Mexico, MIL is
        beside herself with happiness.
        She is so excited, she cannot stop complementing the woman and using her name, she cannot stop complementing the woman’s family, everyone is lovely. She’s so excited by his “grand adventure”. She’s “been there done that” with this kind of excitement. She hopes he’s having a wonderful time.
        Not one mention of our children for whom their father has been absent the entire holiday season. We are still legally married and this is only going to make the divorce process worse for him. She doesn’t care or she doesn’t know
        My therapist has made a couple of suggestions. One my mother-in-law is living vicariously through either her son or the other woman.
        She was relating to their experience. Two there’s something very wrong and the dynamic between mother and son some sort of icky enmeshment issue with sexual overtones ( sorry). But she feels her son is not capable of taking care of himself even though he is in his late 50s and she just feels he needs to have a woman there at all times. And I was never good enough.
        Personally, I feel she just hates me so much she’s happy to see me be hurt. So yes, Spinach, if he’s not really like his mom it seems as if he’s trying to please her by doing this. Why someone would sabotage their own child’s life I do not know

        I know this is in the middle of another thread but I would be curious if anyone else had this level of mother-in-law issue. I will put it as a goal to send a separate letter to CL on this.

        • @meanwell there is a huge subreddit for JustNoMIL you might be interested in. I’m amazed how common is bad behaviour from MIL’s !

  • His mental problems didn’t stop him from lying and hiding his actions from you. So no, it is NOT some sort of get a free pass.

    Don’t disclose your plans to him but do everything to protect yourself and get a divorce rolling. Tell him he needs to lead by example (therapy) and no, you will not be attending with him at this time. Make him work for it while you take care of yourself.

  • Only thing I’ll add is that unless your marriage counselor told you, and NOT him, that they were aware of his secrets, then you do not really know if that is so.

    He telling you this factoid could just be more gaslighting.

  • CL is absolutely right. He is such a manipulator he is even lying about having a depressive symptom to get you to excuse his behavior based on mental health and continue to invest in a bankrupt marriage. People who are truly mentally ill don’t need to invent symptoms. Their symptoms are obvious. Nor do they usually have the wherewithal to be so coldly machiavellian because they are well occupied with the struggle just to continue to function. It sounds like he self-servingly diagnosed himself based on symptoms he googled and came up with this anhedonia bullshit. Based on his dishonesty, if I were you I would question whether he even is depressed. Anhedonia is clearly not there, as CL shows, but he may have the terrible feeling of emptiness typical of a character disordered person who is not getting either sufficient narcissistic supply, psychopathic goals met, or the borderline’s necessary reassurance that he/she will not be abandoned. His manipulative and abusive behavior is suggestive of cluster b, like it is with so many cheaters. He could be a depressed cluster b as well, but it also could be a manipulative tactic to pretend he is depressed to keep you on the hook. They use whatever tactics work and hijack your good qualities to do it.

    Do you actually have proof he was diagnosed as clinically depressed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, rather than just a marriage counselor or other less qualified type of therapist? Does he exhibit any other symptoms or just he just claim to have symptoms, claims that he can’t really back up? Be extremely suspicious of any claim a cheater makes that is being used to avoid accountability and keep you invested. My guiding principle is that if they can’t objectively verify it, they are most likely lying.

    At any rate, depression doesn’t cause cheating and it isn’t relevant to whether you should stay with him. Many of us chumps have gone through situational or clinical depression as a result of the chronic stress and trauma of our horrible marriages to cheaters, but did not resort to cheating. If depression is combined with shitty character, you could have the perfect storm, but it certainly doesn’t create shitty character.
    Whatever else ails him, your husband is an asshole and the former does not excuse the latter.

    As CL says, line up your ducks while he’s lulled into complacency and then dump him. He most assuredly did have sex with her, and possibly with others. He is lying, blameshifting and excusing himself based on mental health, so that means he has learned nothing and will probably do it again. Do not go to MC with this creature and give him, and a crappy counselor, more chances to treat you like shit.

    I know the reality is tough to accept. Many cheaters have a variety of mental health issues and it’s okay to have some compassion for them, but you should still remove yourself from harm’s way. You matter. Your mental health is in jeapordy if you stay in a toxic marriage.
    Listen to the chumps who stayed, were forgiving and understanding through multiple d-days and were thanked for it with a brutal discard or worsening abuse. They use your compassion against you. Don’t use it against yourself. Wishing you Godspeed in getting away from this shitshow.

    • ^^ Amen to all this. My STBX has gone back on antidepressants, when really the core problem is her cluster B need for constant kibbles. Meanwhile, I self-diagnosed as having anhedonia (as opposed to clinical depression, which is different – antidepressants never helped me), but think that the real problem was living in the toxic stress of my marriage, on top of my history as a cancer survivor, etc. I hope to experience more pleasure and rest as I heal from the trauma – at this point, maybe after Covid resolves and I don’t have to keep fighting with STBX to help safeguard my health & safety. And, as others have noted, despite my own symptoms over almost two decades, I have never cheated or lied to STBX about anything. (I probably should have withheld more from her as we headed into divorce, though. At that point, proactive honesty is no longer a virtue.)

  • Again, depressed people don’t feel like doing anything, including having sex or having mental energy to pine after somebody and run after that person twice to the Netherlands (and have you going with him as an idiot). Depressed people also don’t have energy to make up stories, string you along to therapies, lie, deceive, and plan to cheat (or to plan picnicsh, if you want). They’re depressed.

    Depressed people also don’t have neither energy nor mental energy t play startled virgins when discovered (poor depressed guy, a victim of predatory employee).

    How do I know these things? I’ve been depressed in my life and didn’t feel like coming up with complex lies and plans, didn’t feel attracted to anybody or to date (let alone cheat) or to travel to the Netherlands or Surinam.

    I also know that the lawyers should be more than aware that having emotional, let alone sexual affair at work spells out as “sexual harassment” of your subordinate.

    Stop wasting your time on this liar who makes you go to the marriage counselling therapy when he knows very well that there’s something wrong in your marriage and he’s responsible for it. Focus on yourself.

    • Yeah, as someone who suffered from depression and still does periodically, you do not feel like doing anything, going anywhere, eating anything, let alone chasing women. You’re basically thinking of whether you want to live or not.

      Now, a cheater may feel depression after not getting attention for five minutes or their big plan not working out quite like they thought but they’re not like you and I.

  • Two single people hooking up on the down-low??? Sounds shady. Not for me.

    • Right, they are sneaking around for some reason. and one of the sneakers may not be aware of the real reason for sneaking.


  • The sneaking around IS cheating. They are lying to the partner in order to see someone else on the sly, someone they know the spouse would feel insecure and hurt about them seeing, and usually for good reason. That violates the relational bond, which requires honesty, loyalty and transparency. Honoring a relational bond also requires that you consider your partner’s feelings more important than your silly whims and impulses of the moment.

  • I don’t care WHY.

    I care about HOW.

    As in Honest, Open-Minded, Willing.

    As in HOW I am treated in a relationship.

    As in HOW do I get away from him and help myself heal from this?

    As in HOW do I help our daughter who has been extremely traumatized as well?

    I also don’t care WHO he’s fucking, WHAT he does, or WHERE they are other than how those things impact me and our daughter.

    WHY is not a spiritual question and will drive one bananas trying to figure out. It doesn’t matter. I got married for love, to have a life partner, truth, security, loyalty….all the things illicit relationships prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I do NOT have, so what in the Sam Hill is the point of staying with a cheater?

    (And THEY won’t have those things in their dysfunction-baked-in either).

    • How does one even feel comfortable with a cheater ever again? Part of the reason why marriage was good (at least in our minds) was the comfort level, the trusting of each other, the intimacy that occurs between sharing all that life throws at you (definitely the reason sex is often good) so when you discover you’ve been defrauded, what exactly do you gain? A ghost of what you thought you had?

      To me, it’s like carrying a rotting limb.

      • You have Khal Drogo, after he’s resurrected from the dead by the witch. (Game of Thrones)

        No thanks.

        Loyalty is the soul and the food of an intimate relationship. Without it, you have Krab Stix.


        Equally beyond my comprehension is why anyone would want someone who is disloyal to their committed partner. (And like Tori Spelling are surprised when they get cheated on too).

  • Or wait, did you mean two single people sneaking around, because people in their lives or their employer might disapprove of their relationship? Not cheating, but could be unethical depending on the situation.

    • Why would it mess up the career of one of them? Two single, non-coworkers dating has to be kept secret why? What are you not saying?

      • ????

        There is information missing for sure.

        For instance if a lower level clerk is humping the big boss who he she is beholden to for promotions raises, evals etc, and both are unmarried and not with other SOs, the issue likely is that it is unethical. That is where harassment issues come in, and it doesn’t matter if it is consensual or not, there are still federal, and company guidelines. For a reason.

        It can also cause a hostile workplace for other employees, who may be affected just by suspecting it, and also they may lose promotions due to preferential treatment towards the direct report.

      • I took it as a Parks and Rec storyline type scenario where one is dating a higher position/subordinate. No other reason to hide anything.

    • If they are breaking company rules, then yes it is cheating the system.

      If there are no company rules against it, why sneak? In that case I suspect one of the sneakers is hiding something, might be another SO, or could be because they are ashamed of the person they are with. I would say if there are no other SOs, then I would call it unethical, vs cheating. Either way someone is going to get hurt in this situation.

      I can only speak for me, but I would never be in a relationship with someone who wanted it kept secret.

    • Dear A Viewer,

      A different question. Is there a person that is asking you to keep your relationship with them a secret and they are telling you it must be that way because it may effect their career? If that is the case, I would be very careful and cautious to check out that story. This is one of the many excuses that cheaters use to keep people in the dark about their real life and motives….

    • LGBTQ+ people have lived this scenario for centuries – dating in the closet – and it sucks. Now that the culture in most places in the world has shifted, I doubt that most of us would be willing to go back into the closet with our relationships. But, that’s something that has to be negotiated between a couple. It is NOT the same thing as an affair.

      • I agree LC, but we don’t know if this is the case.

        If it is just to side step HRO rules and laws, then while it may not be technically cheating, but it is ethically wrong and possibly illegal. One or both could get in legal trouble.

        Whether it is a straight couple or gay couple they should not be sidestepping ethics. Using a gay couple as an example, if the gay supervisor is having a relationship with a gay employee in the same chain of command, that is an ethical violation most likely and can hurt the gay employee (because of power levels) can hurt other employees because of favoritism and lastly and least importantly can hurt the person with the power in terms of lawsuits and job loss. I say less important because the person with the power is the last person I am worried about.

        If there are no ethics involved and they just want to keep it secret because of how they think they will be perceived by bigots, I think as in gay relationships that is certainly an exception, and I wouldn’t blame them. I am in no way saying that would be the only exception, but could be one of them.

        It would help to know what the situation is in order to judge it. And he/she is asking for a judgment.

        • Except that the person with the power will keep their job; the one without the power is more dispensable. Disposable. I’ve seen that happen several times.

        • Again, this is not the place to storyboard your book. This forum exists to help people through horrible trauma. I won’t speak for everyone, but I find it a little offensive that you’re wanting to milk people’s worst pain for … fiction?

  • CheaterX blamed his cheating on Dissociated Identity Disorder, what used to be called multiple personality syndrome.

    Yeah, I didn’t believe that, either.

    Part of being a Chump is having to accept that you got blindsided. That’s the horrible truth of betrayal. You trusted this person deeply, and then they used that trust against you, knowing that because you trusted them, you would overlook the late nights, the inconsistent stories, etc. You trusted them so you spackled over what other people would see as big red flags.

    If your Cheater is mentally ill, then that seems to take the sting off. They really didn’t mean to betray you. Yes, they cheated, but they couldn’t help themselves.

    Nope, that’s not how it works.

    When I discovered that CheaterX was cheating, I wanted to see it as a result of his own mental health issues. It was clear he was battling some sort of depression. His father had died the previous year and there were many FOO issues that he’d never addressed, let alone resolved. He wasn’t sleeping well, and threw himself into work, staying long hours and still complaining about the terrible management, his co-workers, etc. I begged him to seek out therapy, telling him that his constant fatigue and inability to sleep were classic signs of depression.

    When I discovered the cheating, I wanted to believe that Schmoopie saw this very vulnerable man and exploited his vulnerability. I knew I didn’t want to be married to him any longer–I have way too much self-esteem to be married to someone who uses affairs as a coping tool–but I didn’t want to see him for the total schmuck that he is. I mean, I’d been with him for about a decade before we married and we had been married for about 15 years. How could I have been so wrong?

    Well, I didn’t immediately confront him. Thank God I found Chump Lady first, and I’d also read on another site that confronting the cheater just puts them on the defensive and drives the affair underground. Cheaters trickle truth or lie. I saw a lawyer, worked out a budget, and saw that I needed to prepare myself financially before divorcing.

    During the time I lined up my ducks, I learned a lot more about CheaterX. First, I learned that he ticked the boxes for Borderline Personality Disorder. Prior to our marriage, he used to fly into rages over nothing. Sometimes, he’d get angry because I agreed with his position, but for a different reason! However, he also had high blood pressure and just before we got married, his doctor put him on a medication that also kept him on more of an even keel. Unfortunately, about a year before the affair, he discovered the medication wasn’t working, so he switched, but the new medication didn’t affect behavior. He also saw things as all good or all bad, nothing in between.

    I also learned that he lied. A lot. He was an IT professional, and weird hours come with the job. Those sleepless nights when he was texting in bed? It wasn’t to China, as he’d told me (his company had a plant in China). It was to Schmoopie!

    Those days where he’d be nice to me? They always coincided with the days that he and Schmoopie got into an argument. As soon as they got back together, he’d go back to his normal self.

    I got a glimpse of the shark under the human suit, and didn’t let myself forget what I saw.

    Fast forward after the divorce, and he married Schmoopie within months. It didn’t go well, and he left me a sad sausage voice mail about how things weren’t going well, she was filing for divorce, etc. and could “we” get together to see where “we” could go after the divorce dust settled. I didn’t respond. Then, a few months after the voice mail, he sent me a rambling voice memo, stating that he had Chiari malformation, and that the mental health professionals just couldn’t see the mind-body connection, and that even though they wanted to explore BPD, ADD, and some other issues, he knew that he had Dissociative Identity Disorder and that the personality who cheated was a different personality than the real him.

    Fuck that.

    He knew right from wrong. He kept the affair secret because he knew it was wrong. He was also pretty happy with me. I was a great wife. If I’d been a lousy wife, he’d have divorced me. Instead, he liked the benefits I brought: clean house, home-cooked meals, etc. But he saw me as a good Wife Appliance.

    Excuse Maker’s Wife, you deserve better. Don’t go to the marriage counselor. Those people are for couples who want to work on making their marriages better. They are for people who know that marriage is about mutuality and need help learning how to be better at it. Instead, you need an individual therapist who is experienced with abuse and trauma bonding. Cheating is abuse. Remember that trust thing? Cheating absolutely exploits and abuses your trust. A good therapist will help you unpack your sense of betrayal, help you to see the cheater as they really are, and helps you learn to set and maintain healthy relationship boundaries.

    And see a kickass attorney. They don’t have to be the most confrontational in town, but they need to have experience with narcissistic types. Learn what you can expect from a settlement and then go for it.

    He didn’t cheat because he’s mentally ill. He cheated because he’s a POS cheater.

    • ” It didn’t go well, and he left me a sad sausage voice mail about how things weren’t going well, she was filing for divorce, etc. and could “we” get together to see where “we” could go after the divorce dust settled.”

      That pisses me off just reading it. The unmitigated gall of these fuckers.

      My FWs version of that was, “if you love someone let them go and if they come back to you, you know they were yours”

      Yeah fuck you and the whore you rode in on.

    • I’m so envious of your ability to control your emotions and not confront. I made it exactly 24 hours before she knew that I knew. You’re erratic during that time due to the trauma of the betrayal from a spouse and not everyone can think logically.

      Gosh, I wish I could have redone it. LOL Oh well.

      • Ha, I understand that.

        On Dday (25 Dec) I finally admitted to myself what was going on. He hadn’t admitted it yet, but I knew. We were visiting family.

        When we got home, I literally would pretend to leave then look through the back window, and sure enough he would pick up the phone as soon as I left. Just stupid shit like that. Remember this was in the pre PC/cell phone days so there wasn’t much else I could do. He did have a cell phone, but there was no texting. It belonged to the police dept.He kept me going out of my mind for a week, until the day after NYs day, when he told me he was confused and needed space. So he started moving into his own apt.

        I was pretty much helpless to stop it. He came back about a week or so later and confessed he was in wuv and wanted to marry this “girl”. Wouldn’t tell me who it was, but turned out it was his direct report (dog catcher) and she was a 35 year old woman. she hadn’t seen girl in many moons. He and I were 40 and quite frankly she looked older than either of us.

        I was envious of the women who got left for younger prettier women. It was quite the insult.

        Some of it is funny looking back on it. I was so freaking naive. Some would say stupid, but I like to be kind to myself.

      • I waited 30 mins…found the messages and photos (yuck). Took pictures of everything using my phone (as I knew he would delete everything and make put I was insane). Woke him up and confronted him.

        Good for you for having the steel nerve to organise yourself first before confrontation.

        • I waited seconds. The shock was huge…..lasted for months.

          ‘When I discovered the cheating, I wanted to believe that Schmoopie saw this very vulnerable man and exploited his vulnerability’ …. Chump that I am, I actually said those words to him! He protected Schmoopie and said he was a big boy.

          • I didn’t think of who initiated, but he brought it up and made sure to tell me he had initiated it and schmoopie was a delicate flower, who just couldn’t help herself. Like I didn’t already know she was the town whore, and he knew I knew.

            And to quote Phoebe Buffay:

            He knew, I knew, he knew, I knew.

            I think I just stared at him. like he was a monster, because he was. And is. Later on in the process, he came over to try and make some more excuses, I did tell him I can’t believe he did this with a whore who had hustled a string of married men. He got pissed, but he didn’t deny it. I was angry and it just came out. Then I said leave, I can’t stand this.

            I don’t know why I couldn’t believe it, it isn’t like innocent, virtuious, delicate flowers and lining up to fuck married men.

  • I think CL handled this with grace. I have no more bandwidth for the gaslighting crap of “it wasn’t my fault, it was (insert excuse here).” Mental illness is serious business. There are real issues that people contend with. But blaming infidelities on everything (“my wife didn’t do enough… my wife gained weight… my wife has great s*x with me but is mean sometimes… I am addicted to s*x… I am addicted to drugs… I am addicted to porn….I am addicted to alcohol… I have depression… I have the sads… I need more attention… I had a crappy childhood… blah blah blah blah”) — FFS take some responsibility. No matter his demons, unless he is completely out of his mind, a 6 year secretive relationship with his coworker (which clearly involved multitudes of intercourse, but he’s still unwilling to admit to) is his CHOICE. It’s a choice. 6 years? It’s completely on him. I hope the Excuse Maker’s Wife gets an attorney, protects her finances and health and gets free of him and never looks back.

    • Amen, Michelle!

      I can’t stand the constant excuses. Screw that noise! I don’t need to hear you rattle off a hundred reasons why you’ve done a terrible thing- “My dad (insert sob story from 30 years ago)” “I was an only child” “I thought I had___” “I don’t get to play music anymore” “Being a mom is too hard.”

      One of the worst things about our culture is the constant attempts to avoid personal accountability/responsibility by blaming everyone and everything. No, that’s your character. That’s who you are.

    • ALL OF THIS! A mental illness diagnosis obligates you to get treatment, but does not obviate you from responsibility for your actions. Depression causes infidelity? Nope. But it does mean that, in order to be fair to your partner, you must get treatment for it.

      I know of a small number of extreme schizophrenics who may be the exception to this rule and truly cannot tell the difference between right and wrong at times, and lose all impulse control when their meds get off track…but the rest of us folks can still abstain from fucking another person, even in the depth of depression.

  • The emotional affair is what they cop to while denying the physical affair that absolutely took place but they don’t want you to know that. My ex copped to an emotional affair almost four years after the fact. Guess what? Trickle truth proved that it turned physical within months.

    Never buy the emotional affair BS (even though that’s really bad) because adults act on those. If you don’t have boundaries to protect against emotional affair, you don’t have boundaries to stop a physical affair.

    • I agree. “emotional affair” is just the precursor to the physical. And except in rare circumstances, it does not go on for long before it becomes physical.

      Grown ass adults, who are attracted to each other do not spend years in close proximity to each other, eating sandwiches and making out.

  • He was having more than a ham sandwich in the park. He cannot be trusted. I’d imagine you felt depressed being married to him, yet you didn’t turn to the gardner for pleasure picnics.
    The new interest in Dutch is just another indication of the affair. My stbx changed some things to please his howorker, and I noticed they seemed to copy each other’s phrases, words and inflections.

    My stbx also claimed that I am so mean. I finally realized that I was his dose of reality, responsibility—“no you can’t disappear for 2 days the kids need a father” or “I need you to help with the children”. Meanwhile the howorker was telling him “you deserve time away”, “don’t watch the kids”, “you work so hard”, blah, blah,blah. I even found emails of “thank you”, “you’re welcome”. I mean give me a break, who has time for that!!! Of course I couldn’t compare to has amount of suck up supply, I was holding him accountable to his responsibilities. That’s not sexy to these fuckwits. They want ham sandwiches in the park.
    Or in my case canoodling in his truck. It’s not his depression that caused him to cheat, and do not buy into that he didn’t fuck her.

    • They absolutely change themselves for APs. Whether it’s losing weight, new clothes/underwear, grooming, taste in music/culture, or even vocabulary, they resort to a high school-like mindset. My ex suddenly had the mouth of a sailor despite rarely cursing during our marriage. Suddenly, F bombs all over the place because that’s how her stoner high school BF spoke.

      When it comes to competing with the AP, it’s not quite a fair game, is it? One shares children, finances, and responsibilities with you. The other gets to escape away with no kids or responsibilities or shared anything and act like high school kids. I’m sure it’s easy to be the “fun one” when you don’t have to carry the responsibilities of a spouse or parenthood.

      • ” they resort to a high school-like mindset. ”

        Absolutely, it is horrifying to watch. After Dday the FW even tried to tell me about his “first time” with the whore. I stopped him and said “I am your wife, why are you telling me this” He hung his head. Like I was his freaking mother or frat brother.

        • Exactly like a high school relationship! Texting and grinning, hiding to talk with this person. Lying to see them. Making the chump like the parent. It really does just someone else said they totally hate adulting! Mine seriously acts like a teenager.
          I know his ap is a controlling, not so sparkly woman. She also had a very jaded past. Things don’t always look as pretty once the light of reality shines down. I wish them well, if they’re still together.

      • Yup. Got an instagram account, was posting all sorts of vacuous shit. Sent flowers to her very regularly it would seem the whole time. Reading Sylvia Plath and Satre and posting pictures of the books on bookface when I hadn’t seen him read a book in 10 years. It was like a love-struck teenager, not a 45 year old man. In fact it was so cringe.

        Later realised he’s shaved his pubes and when finally he was ‘free’ after D-Day went out and brought expensive shampoo which is the sort of thing he would never ever do.

        It’s risible. I spoke to a woman in a similar situation on a walk recently and we had such a laugh about the list of changes that we were so silly we missed. She said her started wearing trendy brand drainpipe jeans and pointy shoes. Out of nowhere. We did have a giggle.

        And when I pointed some of the things out of course I was the evil harridan who had made him ill and stop looking after himself.

        Sling your hook you pathetic specimen of a human. Don’t like adulting do they?

        • They hate adulting.

          My buddy’s ex wife was cheating on him with their son’s coach and discovered it. They filed for divorce. She refuses to work so she got a lot in alimony, took half his 401K and blew it on a boob job, and now has an Instagram account where she consistently posts provocative pictures. Did I mention this woman has two small children?

          I’m embarrassed for these people. Growing up is fun. You’re supposed to move on from the mind of an idiotic teenager not resort back to it in your late 30s, 40s, and 50s.

          • Super cringe. And with social media it’s there forever. That said, once I’d found out what I needed to in my discovery phase on social media and then made it Palin what I knew it was amazing what was immediately deleted. Then I was blocked. Shame I’d taken screenshots of it all though isn’t it.

            When you look back it was so blindingly obvious but the couple of times I raised a concern I was very much reassured that despite some difficulties the reason he stayed was for love and all this sort of shit so I can’t hate myself for not seeing it now, I was certainly thrown off the scent.

            I still haven’t shared the poem I found in his room with Chump Nation. It is comedy gold.

        • FW all of a sudden started shaving his pubes regularly. He also posted to one of his FB friends, thanking him for the suggestion of a Khalil Gibran book he would be buying for “a friend.” (When it arrived from Amazon, I opened the package, started reading it and dog earing the pages and – whoops! – splashed a little coffee on it. Guess he would have to buy her another copy. lol) And making CD music mixes with a list of the meaning of each song for OW. He was doing this crap as a grown ass man in his 30s.

          Then when he was caught, oh, he’s a sex addict! It’s an addiction! This falls under the “sickness and health” clause and I surely can’t leave someone who is mentally sick. ????

          • After D-day we had a family weekend in Barcelona with ex’s Dad (who is lovely) and daughter and he hadn’t quite moved out but things were tense but we went for them really.

            Anyway in the car he was playing this playlist he’d made, I can’t remember, it didn’t quite name her but it came up on the screen with something that made it clear it was for her and the songs were things with titles like Awaken My Love, Now I am Free.

            It was so blatant and I was in such a bad state at that time I actually couldn’t believe it was happening. First and second song I thought, is this just a coincidence and then the third and the fourth.. I just blew up in the car and said are you having a fucking laugh. He was furious with me. I can’t imagine the number of playlists he made for her. This has a country and western song on (and believe me he has never EVER listened to any country and western) but as she chose it for him it was on there. And he’s in his mid ’40s.

            So that’s two similarities there then MrWonderful’s Ex (along with the shaved pubes yeuuuuch).

            I wish I could that childish.

      • They change the packaging. They can’t change who and what they are. It’s all a mask, a fake.

      • Fantasy island – always a forbidden date – getting high time, while sneaking around behind their ‘parent’s’ back.
        And they don’t grow up later and take responsibility after the fact either. Then it’s all blame shifting, sad sausage stuff.
        And people buy that it was their lonely quest for aliveness.

  • If a tree falls in the forest, but there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

    Seriously, what you’ve said–“If two people are doing the sneaking around of an affair, but neither person is cheating on someone or each other, is it still an affair?”–is like a zen koan.

    In the case of the tree falling, the answer is “yes.” It’s yes because the falling tree moves air and generates sound waves that could be heard if someone were there to hear it.

    In the case of two people who are sneaking around and hiding their relationship from others who have an interest in knowing about it, and this relationship siphons off the energy that should be devoted to someone else, then yes, it’s an affair. An emotional affair. And in my book, cheating can occur without fucking.

    If there’s no one to cheat on, then it’s not cheating, and it’s not an affair. It’s a relationship. If it’s a relationship that is being kept secret because of, say, work requirements (supervisor/subordinate) it’s an inappropriate and legally liable one. If it’s kept secret because of family concerns (differing religions, for example), then it’s a clandestine (and risk-laden) relationship.

    • Second thoughts on the word “affair.” We do, of course often say we’re having a “love affair” when we’re involved with someone–and both parties are single.

      So maybe the answer to your question is really that we speak of different kinds of affairs: marital affairs are cheating, while love affairs are not.

  • “It was just an emotional affair” = “We just kissed”

    I know your brain doesn’t want to believe it but any time this is stated is utter BS.

    • So very much this. As Chump Lady says, grown ups have sex. It’s what they do.

      One of my friends was married for a decade to a narcissistic, emotionally abusive asshole. She knew that he had emotional affairs with other women because she could read his FB messages. She refused to believe that he had physical affairs because he was always home and that these women were in other parts of the country. I reminded her that he was a university professor, they were professors, and there were regular conferences. She assumed that sex involved more time and commitment.

      After seeing that CheaterX could be 5 minutes late from work yet still carry the receipts from a coffee shop for both he and Schmoopie, I know that Cheaters always find time and that it takes remarkably little time for sex to happen.

      • And even if they are across the country, physical sex can happen. It is still cheating, if they are engaging in phone or text sex.

  • Dear Seeing the Truth Now:

    (I don’t want to call you Excuse Maker’s Wife. That’s who you used to be.)

    Your letter scares me for your safety and your son’s safety. I don’t mean emotional safety (though that is important too) but your actual physical safety. I don’t think your husband is mentally ill, I think he is evil. My worry is that when you file for divorce that he will harm you and your son.

    It seems to me from what you have written, that your husband enjoys hurting you. He gaslights you to an extraordinary degree. Of course he slept with her. Repeatedly and for years. Fuckwit is trying damage control, because he was this woman’s boss when the affair happened, and managing partner, and an affair with a subordinate is a terminating offense. Here you are with tears running down your face, feeling crazy and begging him for the truth, and your husband lies to your face to save himself. My husband did the same, for years. Understand that everything he says is designed to protect himself. Understand that his affair with this woman was very likely only the tip of the sexual deception iceberg.

    Can you tell him you need a therapeutic separation for a while, with him living elsewhere temporarily while you process the information of his emotional affair? This will make it far easier for you to reach out to lawyers, make sense of the financials, and plan your next steps…and most importantly, you and your son will be safer.

    His learning Dutch meant he had plans for the future with this woman. His encouraging you to go to Holland was him being evil. He enjoys making you crazy and victimizing you without your knowledge. The suffering of his own son means nothing to him. This is a dangerous man.

    It sounds like you and MotherChumper are soul sisters. I’ll bet she can help you a lot. I’m so glad you are here, where you can get real support.

    • My ex tried to make me change religions, to OW’s religion of course. I guess he thought he could use me as a cover to convert to hers, since that church won’t marry outsiders.

      Yes it hurts when the puzzle pieces start to fall together after the fact. We were pawns.

  • Hello Wife–

    Sorry if I presumptuously offer info that you, as the wife of a lawyer, may already know. But one of the smartest friends I have is currently divorcing a chronic, sociopathic cheater who also happens to be a lawyer for an evil global firm and this guy spent years and years disinforming my friend about the law as his long-game form of gaslighting. By the time she discovered the latest affair, she’d been mindfucked into the ground and said she didn’t know which end was up. Because nearly every lawyer she went to was intimidated by the cheater’s status in the field, some bullshitted her about her rights as well. Anyway, the following is not to question your smarts, just encouragement.

    REGARDLESS of whether you presently feel ready to divorce him, get all the ammo anyway. Be a badass and get into your predatory mind frame. It will shake off your trauma trance a bit. And even if he is “sick,” there can be no recovery without full disclosure of everything that happened. Be a martial artist and take the ready stance for every possibility.

    Since he’s a lawyer, you’re going to need a better one than him and his law partners, plus a PI and a forensic accountant. He can’t know any if this is going on so lock up your phone and regularly change passwords. Consider whether there are recording devices in your home and take calls to lawyers outside the house. Beware of tracking devices on your car. Cheaters can be paranoid.

    I also agree about getting your financial ducks in a row and getting prompt STI testing. So many STDs are asymptomatic and there’s no way to test men for the silent cancer-causing strains of HPV.

    You probably know that if you’re in a fault divorce state, evidence of affairs and the extent of affairs can really impact settlement. But even in no fault states, evidence of dissipation of marital assets for an affair can affect settlement. So get that forensic accountant and find the money trail. Your lawyer can also subpeona Dutch Shmoopie and depose her under oath to disclose gifts, trips, hotel stays, expensive grub, bar tabs, etc., and demand she turn over her phone. Would she be willing to lie under oath and risk going to jail for perjury for the sake of cheater? Maybe– until your lawyer explains to her that cheater claims she seduced him. It would be a good chess move if you can stealthily get that claim in writing from him or any other crap he dishes about shmoops.

    The money trail can tell you how far that affair went and if there were other affairs or hookers. There are apps that can recover deleted texts from phones. A good PI can guide you on state law and the latest spyware. If you end up with an abnormal pap test one day, proof of infidelity will matter when you sue the living shit out of him. And no, contrary to recent media spin, HPV doesn’t lurk dormant for 26 + years. Beyond 10-15 yrs, dormant HPV is a statistical unicorn. If you have anything, he gave it to you.

    I think it’s pretty certain he fucked her and she probably wasn’t the first, at least not the first obsessive fantasy pursuit. He’s likely emotionally abused you the entire marriage to keep you in the dark about his creepy double life and to control you. The fact you think you did anything wrong enough to contribite to his betrayal shows how much he’s gaslighted you at this point. Furthermore that so-called Anhedonia sounds like the garden variety numb, glazed, ruminating, covert-rage state of a typical porn zombie. It’s become a genuine global epidemic. See the reddit sub, “Female Dating Strategy” to read about the horrific effects this epidemic is having on the dating scene (it will also warm your heart to see smart single women warning each other about shitty married old pervs). He may have been hooked on porn or cams at least since streaming services launched in 2008. Frankly he doesn’t sound special enough to have avoided the Pornhub pitfall.

    About mental illness, the general view in criminology is that while domestic abusers are certainly “disordered,” it’s a *criminal* disorder– not the same as sad-snausage “crazy.” Domestic abusers don’t abuse because of addictions– rather they form addictions so they can abuse. The need to victimize others is the primary “disorder.” Domestic abusers don’t typically abuse their bosses or street cops in the way they abuse their spouses. They can pick and choose when to express their disorders, cover their trails and conceal their intentions. Genuinely crazy people can’t do any of that.

    If you’re going to form a view of what’s wrong with this guy for pragmatic reasons ( in order to predict what he does next), skip all the sex addict drivel (young field without real science behind it) and read “The Batterer” by Canadian criminologist and clinical researcher Donald Dutton. As a former advocate for dv survivors, I’m fully convinced that cheating is just battering that veers left before the fists come out. In my view, it’s the same syndrome with the same recidivism rate (97%).

    Particularly sons of domestic abusers can be psychologically impacted by fathers’ abusive behavior. You probably won’t see it until you’ve got some distance but all abusers are shitty parents in one way or another.

    So sorry you’re having to endure this horror show. Stick close to your allies to keep your head above water. As CL and others say, what you’ve gone through is ABUSE. Real abuse, real trauma. That just makes it rather extraordinary that you’re still able to string a cohesive sentence together moreover still exhibit common sense and gallows humor. You should be getting combat pay and a medal of valor, not second guessing what you did “wrong.”

    • Great point about him possibly being a porn zombie and excellent post overall.

      They do indeed use substances and deliberately facilitate becoming addicted to them in order to further their abusive goals. Anyone who thinks an abuser abuses because of problems with booze or drugs is looking at it ass backwards.

      • OHFFS– Just look where the idea of substances/addictions causing domestuc abuse led to in the past: prohibition and all the woes that came with it.

        Carrie Nation was only going off the medical myths of the era– that the demon whisky caused rampant DV. Now it’s known that abusers seek out getting high to fascilitate violence and betrayal, both for the disinhibition and numbing of conscience as well as the “Poor me haz an illness” alibi.

        Currently watching the dramatized series Mindhunters based on real interviews with serial killers and there are two traits that stand out in most killers: the elaborate justification systems that dehumanize if not outright blame victims and the slickness with which each manages to feign crazy or pitiable when caught.

        Sounds extreme but I suspect serial killing is a kind of spectrum criminality– just a very exaggerated form of garden variety fuckwittery. On the light end you’ve got, say, college exam cheaters and petty thieves; around 3/5ths along the scale you’ve got cheaters; at 4/5ths you’ve got batterers; at 15/16ths, non-lethal pedophiles; and, at the far left column, Ted Bundy, Aileen Wuornos and friends.

    • Hell of a Chump — you’ve got great instincts. One of my main tip-offs that he was dishonest was his rampant porn consumption — often when I was in the next room (and once outdoors on a couch where our teen son was steps away). I started to think if he’s disrespecting me this way, what are the other thinks he feels entitled to do??

      I thought he was so thoughtful to go home at lunch to let the dogs out — seems I was thinking of the wrong dogs!!

      • EMW– “seems I was thinking of the wrong dogs!!”– I just bit my cheek laughing, ouch. ????

        “Pornsick” seems to be a thing these days– a really icky, bad thing. DEFINITELY check out Female Dating Strategy for a dose of validation on your gut reaction to porn use. They pal with another sub for men who’ve rejected porn called (get this) “No Fap.” Lots of facts, figures and statistics on this are passed around, discussions of political ramifications, trafficking, etc.

        Best of luck and hugs.

  • Phrases in the traditional marriage ceremony, like “in sickness as in health” keep chumps hooked. We make vows. FW’s repeat words with no intention of honoring the commitments made with those words. They have been doing this all their lives, so it is like breathing to them.

    When I instinctively joined the marriage police, to find out what was wrong, my chump self wanted to find an illness, even a psychological one, which could explain aberrant behaviors. I was also looking for a cure, “to save” FW from himself. At that point I didn’t know how porn changed the brain, and sex addiction was a new explanation, too. I wanted to believe there was an exculpatory reason to show FW had lost control of his rational brain function. I looked for a reason to save what I thought we had.

    As the evidence mounted, and my investigation and education increased, it became apparent that I could not “save” anyone but myself. No matter what I wanted to believe, what I had been culturally programed to believe by my FOO, FW did not want to change. He thought he was perfectly splendid and entitled to carry on with ever increasing porn, and a string of meaningless affairs.

    The most embarrassing thing of all, for me, was that it took me marrying and divorcing two FW’s to finally figure out that although their damaged personality disordered choices ended the marriages, it was my chump expectations which enabled them, and which caused me to tolerate their behaviors. It was only when I started setting boundaries and re-evaluating my world views that my life really changed for the better. I had to identify behaviors that would no longer be acceptable to me, and stop believing I could positively change others. I had to accept that I could only make choices for myself, and set boundaries to protect my heart.

    All of this took years. I did not find an easy fix, or have a moment of transformation. It was more of a gradual realization. It was like a slow motion moth turning into a butterfly. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe it is possible for new chumps to process a lifetime of misconceptions and heartbreaking mistakes in a few days, or weeks. Unfortunately for me, it took years. Fortunately for me I am determined, and a good student, and I stuck to my path of self realization. That is MEH for me.

    There are many short term immediate courses of action a chump needs to do early on to legally protect their own interest. There are some excellent advisors on all of those things on this site. But the work that you need to do to spiritually advance your own belief system can only be done by you, and move at your own personal rate. It is a goal, not a contest.

    My advice is to stop worrying what is wrong with the FW. Concentrate on your needs, and your children’s needs, and do the things you need to do immediately. When you are safe, and start to think more clearly, then start examining your spiritual needs. You will soon see the results of focusing on feeling better about yourself and your decisions.

  • XW was treated for depression and various psychiatric issues with talk therapy and anti-psychotic drugs. I tried to support her and was empathetic towards her pain. But she would exclude me from participating in any way. Seemed puzzling until I discovered that she was having sex with co-workers and living a double life. For years. Even changing jobs to accommodate her relationships. From my perspective her depression and fucking around were symbiotic. They fed each other. Cheating felt gratifying, but left her depressed in her Jesus cheater soul, so back to cheating for the thrill that chased off the nagging guilt.
    Rinse and repeat.
    In between she would grade school papers at the kitchen table drinking wine until face down. Nice painkiller.
    None of this was clear to me until long after the divorce. It took finding more evidence and getting far enough away and enough time passing for my brain to process what had happened.
    Blissfully N/C for many years now.

    • You had a Jesus cheater too? Oh, buddy we could swap stories about our Jesus cheater ex wives. LOL

      • Jesus cheaters are the worst.
        While I remain a Jesus follower, I cannot stomach most of what passes as Christianity in this country. The last 4-5 years have been highly revealing to those not caught up in the cult aspects.
        My own personal experiences.
        -My XW went to her AP’s church the morning after their Jack Daniels fueled night in a cheap motel. Her Baptist pastor brother who married us gave me zero support and refused to return my calls.
        -My current wife’s XH got remarried in church by the pastor that teaches no remarriage except for infidelity or abandonment. The XH and AP were guilty of both. He did require to live apart for three days before wedding.
        While leading divorce recovery groups in Churches I heard stories
        -Pastor of local ultra conservative church told woman that her husband had repented of mistreating her and she was now obligated to return to him and submit to his headship. The husband had put a loaded service revolver in her mouth and raped her.
        -Woman was told by her pastor she could never remarry after divorcing her husband. He was flagrantly having affairs and had abandoned his family in poverty. We would give her food so her kids could eat.
        Not pretty

        • I totally agree, Bruno. What passes for Christianity today is what I call “Mall Christianity.” It’s like a social country club where it’s universal grace and no one gets called out.

          Jesus cheaters love the mask of a Christian which hides what they are to others. One of the main reasons I married my wife was because of her faith. I thought she was such a better person than I. Nope. Lived a double life. She also likes to butcher scripture and ignore anything that mentions lying and adultery. LOL

          My ex went to a “Christian” counselor a few months ago about her relationship with her affair partner and how she suspected he was cheating on her. The ex also claims her counselor said “The problem is with your accusers not you!”

          I want nothing to do with people who pervert truth and further abuse of betrayed spouses. Luckily I had counselor who reassured me I was okay to leave my wife due to her adultery and refusal to repent and how I can be at peace knowing I did everything I could to save my marriage (glad she didn’t take me up on it for those months post D-Day). But man, the Christian marriage books are awful. It’s nothing but victim blaming. I’m pretty soured on Christian marital counseling after some of the atrocious advice by some.

          My ex tried to get back with me months after I filed for divorce and I told her I don’t believe in reconciliation and she listed off how marriages could be better after affairs and how many people I respected that were Christians had gone through the same thing. Ugh no thanks.

          I do find myself being super cynical and skeptical of Christians and married couples just wondering how many people are completely full of crap and putting on a show.

          • I feel your pain brother.
            I had two licensed Christian counselors. One helped me a lot with PTSD symptoms by using EMDR, but also told me my wife would repent and come back. Nope.
            We did try a wreckoncilliation with another therapist. She was good. Shut down XW blaming and lying excuses right now. Led to a clean break with XW. Therapist greatly validated me and said XW has a “lot of problems that don’t involve you.”
            Avoid unlicensed Christian counselors like the plague. They are unsupervised, unregulated and founts of abusive misinformation.

    • I had a “Namaste” cheater– he grew up “recovering Catholic” with a mother who was a devotee of an infamous Eastern guru cult that turned out to be run by pedophiles. He learned about the child abuse and gave up the practice years ago but secretly reserved the special snowflake cult entitlement like a housewife hiding candy bars in every junk drawer. His mother, who remains devoted to the toxic guru, is a covert narc and one of the worst passive aggressive emotional abusers I’ve ever personally dealt with. The cult didn’t make her this way but it’s why she was drawn to it.

      I respect religion but hate cults. Cult forms of major religions like Christianity usually directly contravene scripture (Jesus said “My kingdom is *not of this world*” = no paradise on earth, folks). There are existential cults as well so not even the concept of a higher power or life after death are necessary. Instead a cult is defined by its promise of paradise on earth free from sickness, pain and evil and runs on the concept of a transcendant, morally advanced elite class (which, for $2,999.00 or blowing the swamis/VIPs or volunteering all your free time to grunt devotional tasks, you can be a member of!).

      If Darwin and the bible agree on one thing only, it’s that primal nature = “original sin.” So forget about an inherantly morally transcendant class. Can’t exist in our species . But these lies are why cults are catnip for clinical narcissists.

      I have religious friends but we talk about these distinctions openly.

  • I read something Frank Pittman said – and thank you to the chump who mentioned his name – something to the effect that the bulk of the damage is done between the friendship and the first kiss.

    IMO – whether he stuck it to her or not (he did), the damage was done.
    As someone who tried and tried & stuck around for years (so many therapists etc ) because ExH had real MH issues – I would say take CL’s advice. I’m so sorry, reality sucks sometimes.
    This was an unbelievable betrayal – even if there was an excuse (there’s Not), I 100% think
    ( based on my experience ) if you stay there will be more damage done to you.
    I wish somebody had forced me out way sooner.
    And it’s not you – it’s him.

    • I mentioned Frank Pittman. His books are awesome medicine for infidelity.

      My therapist whom I was lucky enough to find in 1985 did workshops with him and I am eternally grateful she told me about him.

      Private Lies and Grow Up! belong in the chump medicine chest along with LACGAL, Cheating in a Nutshell, and Parents Who Cheat (now pictured as Frequently Bought Together on Amazon…..yay!)

    • In premarital counseling, we were taught about the importance of putting a moat around your marriage, put alligators and barbed wire fence, do joint facebook accounts if need be. One of us took this to heart (me) and I wouldn’t be alone with another woman or talk privately to a woman. I was an open book with my phone.

      Little did I know years before I found out about AP #2 (Thought he was #1), the ex used Snapchat to start her affairs, the app that deletes everything after it’s sent. No need for texts that way. Anyway- all affairs are so predictable. I had a pastor who used the tennis racket analogy. Someone hits a ball to you (Message on social media- how are you?)- you hit back (Great), they hit back (Let’s meet for coffee)- and down the slope we go.

  • A sidenote as a Dutch guy:
    We use the term klootzak the way you would use asshole. You can use it in settings where motherfucker would be frowned upon.
    Klootzak literally means balsack
    For the term motherfucker we use: motherfucker 🙂

    • Good to know! CN is also a great travel guide.

      Boludo means big balls in Spanish. Used ubiquitously and not as a compliment. It’s come to mean “idiot.”

  • As CL often reminds us here when we’re still being gaslighted with BS “we just kissed”… for six years… nope, adults f*ck… it’s what happens across six minutes, six hours, six days, six weeks, six years for cheating fuckwits.

    Interview the best divorce lawyers in your town and hire the best one. Run a credit check on his and yours SSNs… find out if you can determine if he’s ever had a bank account out of your country (e.g. Holland). Sounds to me like he’s building a “mental incapacity” defense for his future plans, whatever and with whoever they may be.

    Give you son something to cheer about – seeing his Mom stand up for herself (and in some way, for him). And keep coming back here for the support you’ll need to get through it.

  • First, Happy New Year CN! All the best for a healthy and healing New Year. You all and CL. have been so important to me. Happy to be a Patreon.

    Dear Excuse,
    I also could have written your letter. My 30 year marriage and 35 year relationship is about to end due to this kind of obsession. ( Fetish says therapist), with the obsession not only being the woman, but the culture. I feel I should say this has nothing to do with the particular language or culture, it could have been Dutch… or any language just his flavor of f*** upness as CL says.

    My STBX is CEO of his own company and started an EA with a divorced women is his Accounting Dept. Never anywhere near a direct report, about 4 levels down the org chart. She was bi lingual Spanish English and he became obsessed with her AND learning Spanish. (Her body con Lycra dresses did
    not hurt either). The early stages of the affair were listed in his calendar as “language lessons” and the two began going out to lunch, dinner and the lessons turned into sexting.
    He developed “strong feelings” for her, came to me, confessed, cried, promised to stop and expressed the “abyss” he felt loosing me, our family and our life together.
    I took him back.

    He went deeper under ground with her. Finally, I used my wife power and went to HR and had a memo put in her in her file, and his, that they were to have no contact with each in any form, she had an actual boss and there was no need for her to be near STBX. I never trusted it completely, but it seemed to douse this one. She would occasional push the limits, but because I was on marriage police duty, I caught it and intervened.

    Fast Forward 4 years of my precious life, and Don Juan (born in Baltimore)), was at it again, on line. Obsessively, compulsively on language learning websites. Duolingo etc, . He started watching Spanish TV and movies, wearing cowboy boots, reading books in Spanish and Mexican History.
    He would lure the women in with feigned professional questions and then transition to personal and sexual. Almost all were thousands of miles away, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico and more. He would text through meals and try and hide by going outside ( windows are glass, thank you) he would drop his phone like a 13 year old boy.

    To save my faith in womanhood, many women did not bite, figured him out, researched and found him married and stopped. But a few did not.
    He developed several intense on line distanced video relationships where they would lay in bed together at the same time, in different countries, and “speak” lovey dovey to each other.
    Bad English, Bad Spanish, really painful to listen to.
    I finally confronted him again and this time he basically told me to f off.
    He would not stop.
    He verbally criticized and sliced me. Blamed me. I told him I would file, he stuck his nose in the air and said do what you have to do. I filed. Two weeks later he came to me and said he did not want a divorce and would accept ” radical change” in himself. When I asked him what that looked like, he stood up and walked away.

    Our Divorce has been held up by COVID and business issues, I want my fair share.
    He finally found a real live women in Mexico with whom he has now flown down and begun an actual sexual relationship. She speaks almost no English. Thanks Viagra. This ripped me open again. Like D Day all over again. He is expanding his business to Mexico and looking for a place to live there.
    My young adult kids barely speak to him. My Mother in law is thrilled for his “Great Adventure”. She is worth another letter by herself. Another day.

    I contacted my attorney and he is now not going to be able to return to the marital home once he gets back to the US. COVID violations helped. I am proud of my actions, but still gutted.

    I was blessed to find good therapists. He went too. Not one confronted him. The conversations centered around how unhappy he was and if should stay or leave the marriage. The best one said he would bear the consequences of his actions. No one hinted at any value in saving this long term marriage, life invested, family. Nothing. One guy hinted at narcissism. No one told him to stop. No one gave him any ownership.

    Dear Excuse, It hurts. You are fighting fantasy and mental illness. No one should live this way, and you do not know if he will go deeper into delusion. If my story is helpful, please leave and give yourself a healthy future.

    • meanwell,

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. What he did was so hurtful and crazy! Shattering!

      I know this was a tangential reference on your part, but my “Mother in law is thrilled for his “Great Adventure”. WTF?

      Let me guess: he takes after her.

  • This reeks of some hail-Mary “oh shit, I don’t want to divide assets and lose money” over any kind of mental illness confession.

    This asshole sounds eerily familiar to my own. Mine was a serial cheater since before the marriage even started I found out during the divorce process. But he still pulled the sad, disabled me, “I am having reconciliation fantasies” once he learned his rage and threats were not stopping me from seeking divorce. (His plan was to separate not officially with the state, and he would help me if “I behaved myself.” I had been a SAHM at his bequest for 10 years.) Of course that was totally fake, as proven by communications with current whore.) One the reality of losing money was clear, he tryed the sad-sausage routine of fake reconciliation. Being that I’d done that sit 10 years prior (from which he became an even better liar and cheater) I was not going down that path again. And low and behold, I ws right, it was totally about money.

  • In the vain of how they all operate from the same playbook, the ‘Holland’ thing…….

    Surprisingly common this behaviour too. Mine showed me pictures of a members only place and said it would be nice if we went there (I’m not a member and though it was a bit weird) but I think I know who might have been (OW) and also talked about taking me to a restaurant that he took OW. Always ‘we should do this’. A bit strange (given he hardly ever arranged a bloody thing) but it’s always some weird form of projection or control.

    As for just ‘eating lunch in the park’. Would you believe it, mine stayed out overnight and admitted it was with her when I found out of course, not before, but guess what, he stayed on the sofa fully clothed!!!!! Bwahaha hahahaha.

    a) how stupid do they think we are b) you do have to give them some brownie points for their duplicity and absolute bare-faced cheek to give them any credit at all.

  • He had sex with her. He’s absolutely lying about that. Cheaters only cop to what they think you already know. He knows you are already aware of the emotional affair, the email correspondences, and the meetings in the park, so that’s all he’s going to admit to.

    But please, if you’re dating someone that you supposedly love for 6 YEARS…would you really NEVER have sex with them in that whole time? Come ON…No. CL is right. Adults don’t hold hands and read bible verses in the park. They fuck. Especially adults who have no problem with sneaking around on their spouses.

    Also, consider this, at the time of the affair, he was her boss. If he admits to sex with her, then he knows he’s looking at a legal problem. So it’s in his interest doubly to not cop to having sex.

    At the very least, he’s not going to admit it because it will give him more leverage for his sad sausage story, and minimizing the impact of the affair. Cheaters cheat, liars lie. He had no problem lying to you for six years, he’ll have no problem lying to you about the details to make it seem less serious and downplay his responsibility in the matter.

    He’s a lawyer? Get a scarier one. Find one of his competitors/rivals. And don’t tip your hand until you’re ready to serve him is walking papers.

  • I’m not sure what the fine line is but from experience I would add to NOT give them a name to a feeling (sadness/depression). You know how they are behaving around you but do not have a clue to what is really going on due to their secretiveness.
    I mentioned he seemed depressed and should address the issue by making an appointment and I would go with him and support in any way possible. Depression became his buzzword around me and probably others for sympathy. Never heard him say that word until I mentioned it. His only apology was through text -I’m sorry my depression hurt y’all. At one point he said he has never felt anything and is completely empty inside. It gave me pause because I know it was a truth so he really doesn’t feel any emotions concerning others therefore no depression. He’ll react if he thinks he’s being slighted etc then the three channels will come out. He will also copy others reactions and emotions to situations. He’s just unable to manufacture anything genuine because there’s nothing to work with. Pretty scary.
    I know depression exists but have a hard time thinking he has it. Entitlement =1000%.
    I guess I should be happy I didn’t suggest he seemed murderous aloud.

    • Diagnosing him based on his claims or the opinions of unethical counselors is spackling.

      Look at his behavior. Is it acceptable, on any level?

      • He never said he was anything except unhappy and I was at fault until I gave him the word depressed. I thought brain tumor, borderline, depression etc. I covered his behavior for 33 yrs. I realized I had to get us out of an unsafe and unhealthy environment.
        The meditator called him a loose cannon, my attorney said at the very least borderline, my therapist who trained within men’s prison said psychopath -antisocial- and all other under that heading.
        It’s not you!

  • The questions are: Is this behavior acceptable toy? Is how your H treats you acceptable? Is what he is doing to the kids acceptable to you? Is getting gaslighted by 2 therapists acceptable to you?

    I’m guessing that you stay because you made a commitment, you “love” him, you have kids, and he’s a very good provider.

    But you are in the catbird seat here. First, you have email of him having a relationship with a subordinate. He will not want that to be public. Second, you have an idea that 2 therapists were in the know about the affair and didn’t tell you. That’s abuse there, as well as unethical. Third, if he’s Mr Big Buck partner, you should be able to get enough to allow you to start over.

    He will never tell the truth. He doesn’t value you. You’ve been discarded, although you live in the same house. However scary divorce seems, there’s a life on the other side where no one is lying to you and you aren’t sleeping with your enemy.

    Get your ducks in a row. Hire the biggest badass attorney you can to get a fair settlement and alimony. Let him start working on his own mental health.

    What do you want your life to be like on New Year’s Eve, 2021? What do you want it to be like 5 years from now? What would be happiness for you (apart from any hopium dreams you have about the cheater)?

    • I would make an appointment with your former individual therapist and ask him/her point blank this question: “What did you know about my husband’s affair when I was doing therapy with you?” (Not “Did you know…?” which would make it easy for the therapist to lie. Have your antennae up for signs of deception. What makes you think this therapist knew? Be prepared with this evidence for follow up questions, e.g., “How do you explain X?” Take notes.

      The point of doing this is, first, to see what you can learn about why this aspect of your abuse happened. Second, you may be able to depose this person in a divorce action. Get what you can now. He or she may lie to you, but then those lies can form the basis of a deposition. She will have a tougher time lying under oath.

      You aren’t angry enough. You should be so angry that you can’t look at this jackass for one more day.

    • Therapist, not psychiatrist?

      Your divorce attorney can ask for AND RECEIVE all notes taken during any and all sessions with a therapist in most states. That will give you a lot of insight into what he was saying, doing and whether or not the therapist was calling him out on his behavior.

  • I used to believe that every marriage problem could be fixed. No longer. I also used to excuse certain behaviors that I now believe are deliberate. When someone has a big failing like you describe, you have to believe that your well-being was not on his radar. Not AT ALL.

    Mine believed the line that if a man cheated, his spouse was at fault. I bought it for a time, but no more. Whose pants were unzipped? Who could have walked away? That belief turns men into children who can’t control themselves.

    And sure, I could have coped with an affair. But I didn’t. I could have developed a drinking problem. But I didn’t. People go through all kinds of things in their lives and don’t do things that torpedo their marriages. I kept life going even though he despised me.

    You have to weigh your options here. As others have said, don’t scrimp on your attorney if you start the divorce process. Mine was out of my price range but an excellent match for the one my ex chose. He chose one of the most expensive ones for miles around, someone who took selfies with wealthy clients and had a lifestyle to match. I chose one who knew exactly how to work with my ex’s attorney and get it done. There are certainly efficiencies with someone like that.

  • I am so grateful for all of these responses! I contacted our town’s ‘shark divorce attorney’ today. I can’t tell you how much your feedback has helped me process (or begin to process) this crazy situation. Thanks to every single one of you fellow CHUMPS!

    • Well done!! I hope you’ll keep us updated on how things go! Would love to hear how this arrogant cheating douchebag lawyer finally gets his “freedom from the meanie he doesn’t love anymore”…er consequences.

    • I am so glad you found this website. We are all here for you and like Stacy said 24/7 baby. I read my email from her every freakin day.

      Right now, I am so mad for you. The shit they say….. we all swear there is a secret playbook they run with….

      Take care love and know YOU will SURVIVE and be better once you are on the other side. it’s hard at times, but it is better than wondering if they are fucking around.
      Much hugs.

  • I would also add…to make sure to get a lawyer that doesn’t know your fuckwit and has no ties at all to his law firm.

    And, remember, he is the enemy now…he did not keep you in the loop…be sure to not keep him in the loop. I.e., He did not play fair, so now you should return the favor.

  • This is crazy, and anyone who genuinely felt that their mental illness contributed to such behaviour would probably be beside themselves with remorse. To him it’s just a convenient excuse.
    My only other thought is – you’ll need to be in super stealth mode to get prepped and retain someone as your legal counsel, lawyers are a chatty bunch and news can spread fast off the record, if you’re not careful. Get someone that you know isn’t pally with your STBX, in fact if your ex has every actively disliked or whined about someone that they were up against in court, they might be an option. All the best.

  • I noticed an awful pattern with my ex-asshat WAY TOO LATE:
    1 – When I found out he gave over $15k to someone online (twitch — HATE THAT SITE) his said she was in an abusive relationship and he gave her the $ to help her and her kid leave. I explained to him that we don’t spend lots of $ without talking to the other, and that he only had HER word for it, and if he wanted to help abused women (he was sexually abused as a child… probably) there were local shelters who were vetted.
    After I finally said ENOUGH with him, I “befriended” this woman and she told me that she had found out her fiance had cheated on her and she was leaving. She never asked for $. I think it was all projection on his part.
    2 – When I found out that he had been seeing someone specific for 18 months behind my back, he became defensive — “she was physically abused by her ex!” Like that was a justification. But, much later, found out that was BS. They are now married. Good thing he already showed me marriage means nothing to him and she showed me that she’s good with him being a cheater and liar, otherwise I’d be hurt.

    What people wrote above is right — even if your SO has been diagnosed with a mental disorder/disease (which is very specifically tested via the DSM; too many people here diagnose their exes informally) it does not EXCUSE him. Just like being diagosed with diabetes, cancer, or a physical illness, it is then a responsibility of the SO to get and follow treatment.

    • I diagnosed my FW as a selfish, sadistic, bastard. Hopefully, I don’t have the diagnoses wrong.


      • LOL — I’m sure it’s spot on! We should make our own version of the DSM!

  • Well, I’m a physician, not a psychiatrist but here’s my take on things.

    Depression can be a terrible illness, indeed taking away all feelings of pleasure. It also takes away motivation, energy, the desire to do things that once gave meaning. So, your husband is a managing partner in a law firm? A demanding role that requires a pretty engaged and switched on brain? But so impaired by depression he had to shag a paralegal? I call BS.

    The category I’d classify him is closer to a spouse beater. A person who says they get “provoked” or “frustrated” by their SO so much they are forced to hit them. However they manage to control themselves and not to do the same to their unreasonable boss or the 6’6 tall man at the bar mouthing off. In other words a hypocrite and dickhead.

    He gives people with genuine depression a bad name.

  • Please, please understand this was not an “emotional affair.” I went through an almost identical (crazy making) experience with x. When, after years of being lied to, I learned the TRUTH, I was as angry at the years of lies as I was about the cheating. The emotional betrayal was unforgivable.

    And yes, we were also in counseling. When I was begged for answers, he acted like I was crazy and, of course, was contrite after being discovered. His lies destroyed our marriage.

    I am so sorry. You just won Cheater’s Bingo; your husband has done every single thing that cheaters do the world over. Your hubby is not unique, and his depression did not cause him to cheat.

    I know it is scary, but I can promise you that divorce is the best thing you will ever do, and it will also show your son that cheating has consequences. Get a game plan, be kind to yourself and know you deserve better!

  • The only help for you my friend is no contact to break that Trauma bond. My husband had been diagnosed with bipolar disease and high testosterone levels. Those two true diagnosises gave him the right to jump on any woman he wished and he did. 2 or 3 years at least. With other emotional affairs and intimate abuse towards me through our 32 year marriage. This man prayed with me, held my hand in church, wanted me to watch The Shack with him to learn FORGIVENESS and appeared to love me between rages. Your husband is a lying lier that lies. Believe he sucks and run for the door. You are sadly being used as I was
    It was a cake 🎂 🥮 🍥 buffet and I wasn’t even the main dessert. With a lovely STI and in the office up in stirrups for more antibiotics, I said enough. Oddly, my husband wanted to come to the doctors office to comfort me. I could not make this up. PROTECT YOURSELF AND RUN!!!

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