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5 Things NOT to Do When You Discover Cheating

Very few people navigate chumpdom gracefully. Accept that you’re going to wobble and fail sometimes. It’s okay. The goal, upon finding out that you’ve been cheated on, is to take back your power, maintain your dignity, and not do anything homicidal.

Some pointers on what NOT to do:

1. Do not confront your cheater until you’ve gathered evidence. Most cheaters will lie and gaslight you unless you catch them dead to rights, and even then they usually only cop to what they think you already know. If you confront them before you have the evidence, there’s a good chance they’ll take the affair more underground. Put all your evidence in a safe place (preferably a lawyer’s office in a fault divorce state). Never reveal your sources.

2. Never accept responsibility for their cheating. She didn’t cheat on you because of your penchant for wearing dark socks and sandals in public. He didn’t find fuckbuddies on Craigslist because of your post-baby muffin top. Nor did he cheat because you’re a bipolar, alcoholic shrew who emasculates him with your rages (although you sound pretty lousy as partners go). People cheat because they feel ENTITLED to. Cheaters are 100% responsible for their decision to cheat. If they were unhappy, there are many other ethical choices on the decision tree. They could’ve gotten counseling, had hard conversations, filed for divorce, taken up scrapbooking… really most anything other than abusing your trust and endangering your health. People cheat because they value ego kibbles and affair sex more than your well-being. People cheat because they’re selfish escapists.  Many of them are quite happy to blameshift their crappy decisions on to you. Don’t let that happen. Be very clear on what is yours to own (i.e., dark socks/sandals offenses) and what is NOT yours to own (i.e., making unilateral decisions to fuck other people.)

3. Don’t give them any time to “decide.” Have you heard the expression — don’t make anyone a priority who only makes you an option? You are not an option. You are their spouse. This is not a contest. They made a commitment to YOU. They don’t get to  renegotiate the terms. Stalling for time, acting all vague about how they intend to make this right, talking a good game and never coming through on the particulars — these are all ploys to keep them in the affair. You CANNOT “nice” someone out of an affair. Oh, I’ll just make my needs smaller and smaller, or I’ll be so wonderful I’ll win them back! are tactics doomed to failure. All you do with appeasement is give the cheater the green light to abuse you further.

4. Do not beg for your marriage. Do not cry or plead or attempt to win them over. Maintain your dignity. When you do the “humiliating dance of ‘pick me’” — all you do is feed their egos and give them YOUR power. Now is the time to practice detachment and take care of yourself (see a lawyer, protect your assets, get IRL support). Set aside your grief and make room for righteous ANGER. Let it fuel you forward. You are not anyone’s consolation prize.

5. Do not waste your time trying to figure them out. Seriously, people, this is a time suck. If you’re like most chumps, you spend a lot of time in pointless arguments yelling at your cheater “WTF?! How could you DO this?” or “Does her pussy have some gravitational pull that you’re helpless to resist?!” or “That fedora-headed, hipster douchebag? REALLY?” You’ll posit theories. You’ll deconstruct their FOO issues. You’ll order a dozen infidelity books on Amazon. All this does is keep your energy focused on them. Not YOU. You only get to control yourself. So what do YOU want? Is this person someone you want to invest in? What is acceptable and unacceptable to you? And what are YOU going to do about it? If you’re so busy trying to uncode them, or predict what they’ll do next, or prevent them from doing some awful thing — you will just stay stuck. It doesn’t matter why they are how they are. You can’t fix it. But you can save yourself. Invest your energies there.

What do you regret doing upon discovery? Any hard-won advice? Help the newbies.

(This is an updated classic.)

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Keeping in mind that I was not chumped in a marriage, but in smaller relationships that got intense too fast – do NOT let your boundaries wobble. Doesn’t matter how good the cheater can fake being who you need, it’ll just cause you more long-term grief. If you’ve said it’s done – IT’S DONE.

  • You are correct. 1 and 2 were easy. 3, 4, and 5 was a hard lesson learned.

    I also learned it’s ok to go crazy because all of a sudden you’re hit with this Shock and it literally feels like a ton of bricks. No reaction is bad. It’s ok to fall. But after – get up, dust yourself off, and kick some ass – figuratively speaking.

  • I regret not securing my belongings in a storage unit before I left. I regret not taking half of the money in our mutual accounts. I regret not leaving sooner. I deeply regret not leaving the very first time he cheated. Instead I stayed for a shitshow of decades. Here it is twenty-one months after I filed and I’m still not divorced. But I’m “mentally divorced”.

    Newbies, listen to Chump Lady. Do your research, plan and be then prepared to accelerate your departure. Don’t stick around and become a statistic. Have faith in yourself. You are going to be just fine. Better than before, once you walk away from the cheater.

    • I regret ignoring the red flags for 2 years because I was terrified of losing this person I loved for 35 years. Not realizing at the time I was being abused in every way possible. After finding them together
      at whores home I knew I was done.
      4 years later, I may be financially strapped but I’m free of the pain/abuse. OW died and he quickly moved into another woman’s home.
      Wish I should have divorced him when I first found out. Monsters do walk among us. 😈

        • Yes, and though they are not perfect and likely we know some of their issues; we loved them and just knew that they would have our backs.

          To find out that they value a whore over us (at least in my case) is just almost more than one can bear.

            • Its like having a treehouse, where just you and them have a club for many years, filled with incredible moments, trips, adventures, children…
              THEN you find out there has been another in the treehouse…
              And that all those things that you value did not matter to them…
              Phew, so glad he is in my rear view mirror

              Tell me what is it you plan to do with your ONE wild and precious life?
              (Marry Oliver)
              ❤️Let it snow

              • Good analogy!
                Even though our club was not great, to find out that there was a third member in our treehouse for 8 years that I did not invite in, was devastating.

          • I hear you Susie Lee. I (thought I) knew all his weaknesses and flaws, including that he was selfish and often abrupt and too blunt (lacked empathy). But I loved his charm and wit and work ethic and our shared history and family…and I was loyal – yes to a fault!

            I fell in love with him when I was 19 years old and I fell hard. I admired him and he seemed to become a part of my DNA…I loved him at a cellular level.

            So the idea of NOT trying to understand why the hell all of my plans and the decades of deferred gratification due to the DOCTOR’s career demands – never occurred to me. And it was simply impossible to stop it for a long time.

            It’s been over 4 years now. I see him for who he is, regardless of how long he’s been this way or how much I obviously enabled him…and yet I still struggle on about a weekly basis, with “HOW COULD HE WANT THIS???” before I put down the skein again, and turn the focus back on MY LIFE.

            Because It really is irrelevant. What matters is that he could do to me what I’d NEVER EVER have done to him AND he has no remorse for it. And he’s abandoned our children as well.

            (No GOOD person does this ^^^ and it matters NOT why.)

            We were replaced. Of course it’s mind boggling. I don’t know anyone in my circles who literally never speaks to their ex of 35 years (he blocked me and that’s despite my never once texting or calling him – until our daughter was in the hospital).
            I don’t know anyone in our circles who has no contact with an adult child and has not seen any of them for the whole 4 years since we split and did not invite them to his wedding to OW, (whom they’ve still never spoken to or met.)

            I never ever would have predicted this behavior in him. Truly. Maybe I should have, but I really truly did not.

            But what it comes down to is this, – WE cannot understand their choices because WE do not have the same values or world view AND because they lack self awareness and often, they lack empathy.

            Those character flaws^^^ are deep & very significant. They’re not repairable. And even if they were repairable, it’s not our job to fix them. God knows I tried for a DECADE…I just could not imagine that he was not as invested in our family and marriage as I was.

            My biggest regret by far – BY FAR – is how many years I spent hiding from the obvious truth about my wasband,

            which is WE just were not that important to him. (I would love to refute that painful realization, but it’s SELF EVIDENT.)

            It’s a terrifying reality to face. Terribly painful and it’s haunting. It strikes at our perceptions of reality, our marital history, our very purpose in life & planned future…

            But then we wake up and- in time – we can live authentically and eventually, we find a peace we really would not have found if we had kept hiding from the truth.

            But the longer we hide the worse we make it for ourselves AND for our children. Worst thing ever is to know you put up with way too much shit and lost self respect AND lost the respect of the cheater, who never ever decides we are worthy of more – WHY should they choose to give us what we deserve when we are evidently willing to accept less??

            (I know – this ^^ Seems so obvious now.)

            • Yep all so true.

              I am years out, and have had a great life with a wonderful man. I just wish all these folks going through this now could know that they will get past the intense pain. Oh scars will remain, but it does get so much better.

              I can’t imagine how a parent can abandon their children. But, my ex blew up his relationship with our son years down the road. Over his own selfish wants. They got past it, mostly due to the efforts of my son. I am glad they did as he (my ex) just recently died, and I am glad my son was able to have at least some relationship with him before he died.

              To be sure I will never understand the how’s/why’s of what they do. I just couldn’t do those things to someone.

            • Oh, I feel so deeply for you and I am so very sorry. My son and I were discarded like this, too, and I have such a similar story. The word “haunting” stuck with me as did phrase “ deferred gratification.” What a kick in the stomach. I am doing and feeling so much better, but almost two years later, I still sometimes get that feeling like, “is this possibly real?” I am sending you and your kids so much love. And THANK YOU for keeping a beautiful home and caring for your kids so well and lovingly all those years. That’s important. That matters. That’s real and good and remarkable.

      • I don’t know why I’m always amazed, but there are so many of us Chumps that have the same stories. I’m also at 4 years DD#2 this April. But for the financial insecurity, I’m totally better off and should have split much sooner. But I can’t look back, only forward.

        1: I did the marriage police for my entire 25 year marriage. Some advice is play it cool. It’s a game and you need to play to win. Detaching at this point would have put me in a better position when Asshat went divorce scorched earth. Research covert narcissism and passive aggressive behavior. You are divorcing a monster. They will not treat you kindly, even if you are the mother of his children.

        2: I took on partial responsibility for his first affair. I now understand what an entitled bastard Asshat is. I had NOTHING to do with his choices. He knew he ordered a vanilla ice cream cone dipped in butterscotch when we got married. He choose to want to lick additional flavors throughout our marriage, so much that he couldn’t enjoy what he had. He should have been exploring sprinkles, M&Ms & marshmallows exclusively with me. Instead, he was a gluttonous pig and will never be able to enjoy what ice cream he is served.

        3&4. I so regret the pick me dance. He took every opportunity to have his cake and eat it too for far too long. So much so, that he “served” me divorce papers (not proper service by the way) just to have one last fuck. Must have come as a surprise that I actually said no, that he sent me a three page sexual rape fantasy later that night. And the divorce torture began. Narcissists get so upset when they are exposed and their kibble supply dries up. It was hell and my attorney was horrible, but I got out. Please cut right to maintaining your dignity and focus on your settlement. Trust your gut with your attorney and don’t be afraid to get new representation. I played the chump with my attorney, stifling my inside voice to my financial detriment.

        5: You’ve carried the deadweight of a Fuckwit far too long already. Put them down, and continue on your life journey. He/she are no longer a part of your life or family unit. Treat them as dead. NC if no children or grey rock if kids. They will continue to mess with the kids to get to you. It’s unfortunate, but you can no longer protect your kids from Fuckwits. Be the sane parent. Respond and don’t react. Cool, Wow, Bummer. It’s hard but helps you get to meh.

        I’m not quite to Tuesday, but I’m so much farther away from DD2 with the help of CN.

        • THIS IS EXACTLY ME Ginger!!! You and I could be the same damn person…. everything… argh… i should have left the first time! instead it twice… ugh, i was just in love with my husband! 25 years into ONE person… the monster. now thinking of the meanness of the gaslighting, how that must have just egged him on.

          But 6 years physical years later divorced and 2 years mentally divorced with a good counselor: I AM FREE…. and it is wonderful.

          No more checking for signs of cheating/other things that were “off”. phones, email, smells on the neck or kisses that were just to damn quick when greeting me from “work”. eewwhhh now that just makes me sick….

          No more crying about the plans we made, the promises made, the work into the home we made for retirement, no more…. all done cryin’….

          That was the super hard part for me – 4 years of mourning. Everyone is different and it just took me that long. He has not talked with our three kids and grandchildren since we all found out. He just got a “new family”…. Asshat…

          Tuesday is on the horizon, thank you Covid for giving me more time at home to ruminate and get that shit right out of my mind!

          I read CN every day and still get something from it. Thank you Tracey and CN.

          • I love your “physical” and “mental” divorce milestones. My divorce was May 2018 and I feel like I should be further along. But I’ve known Asshat since we were 18 (1983) so there’s a lot to detangle. This gives me more breathing space.

            Your marriage police brought up a memory I had completely forgotten about. It was around 2008 and Asshat came home late one night (he often worked long hours while I did the heavy mom job lifting). He jumped in the shower which I thought was weird enough to comment on. He said (narcissists are so good at making it up in the moment) he had taken a poop at work and it stuck to his butt hair!! I almost laughed out loud. These are the memories that help get me to meh. Glad to know I’m no longer married to an Asshat who is incapable of wiping his ass!!!!

              • Yes. Absolutely. And I knew it at the time, but didn’t want to admit it. That’s why I asked him why he was taking a shower as he never did they. Surprised I even spoke up as I usually stifled my voice. Which after so many years of doing that, I lost myself.

              • He’ll have to find another woman to wipe his ass and wash his shit stained underwear in old age. A wife, girlfriend or home care aide. By the way, many female aides refuse single males as clients. Too pervy and grabby.

              • Me too, just weeks before turning 19. Married at 21, divorced at 47. If only that sweet, caring girl in 1983 could have known…

    • 25 months since I filed, divorce trial is in July.

      I’m proud I started moving personal money when I knew something was wrong, I wish I had started sooner. I also regret not seeing the lawyer he would hire just so he couldn’t. There was missing from business. Wish I had hired PI when I got strange text messages while on trip with him. Just couldn’t believe he’d implode our life at this stage.

      I did suggest post nup, He called me from office saying the lawyer was there & would call me Never happened.

      Regret I didn’t file immediately instead of 4 months after D day. Married 36 years when filed, been with him since 18. I’m 62.

      • I was 18 when we married. We had met when I moved to his town just before my Jr year in HS. We were both 16. Still can’t believe how much I trusted him.

      • I have told very few people this, but I did hire a PI. It sounds so dramatic and Jerry Springer and non-chumps can’t understand. It is the very best thing I did! Honestly I am proud of myself for being able to take this action when I was barely functioning. I have had other chumps tell me they wish they did the same. We were together since high school, married 30+ years. I had complete trust in him and was blindsided. He was never going to admit to the affair and he became nastier and nastier to me behind closed doors. When I asked he kept denying and telling me I was crazy with a little “ha ha” added. He also started making comments to our kids about Mom being crazy. When he involved our kids and thought he would pit them against me..That’s where the switch went on…I needed proof that he couldn’t wiggle out of. Proof so that I would stop doubting myself and get it through my own head that this person is not who you thought and they are cheating on you. Also proof to let my kids know without a doubt that wonderful Dad is having an affair (kept it short and simple) and that is why I am filing for divorce. I did this so that he couldn’t put the blame on me but also to let my kids know this isn’t acceptable and it’s not an easy or casual decision to end a 30 year marriage. Believe in yourself, believe in your instincts, and also focus on yourself instead of the cheater. This site has been a godsend. I hope sharing our own stories can help support other chumps. Stay strong all xxx

        • “Believe in yourself, believe in your instincts…”

          Good advice! When I was married to ex-FW, I had so, so, so many dreams of him cheating on me. I am a big dreamer and remember a lot of my dreams, yet I didn’t “believe” these dreams as truth (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar) at the time. Also, my gut instinct/subconscious led me to other patterns of behavior that sort of acted out the repressed rage I had for him at the time. I was young and not as wise as I am now so, again, I didn’t understand it at a conscious level. In my gut and my subconscious, I DID know what was going on. My thinking brain just took a longer time to get there.

          On a recent note with my parents’ divorce after 54 years of marriage, I hired a PI to see what my FW father was up to. I had other local contacts (he’s in a different state) who updated me also, so the PI didn’t necessarily tell me anything I didn’t know, but he did get pictures to show proof. Other people filled in the details around what those pictures meant.

          Know whom you can trust and whom you can’t. If you don’t think you can trust anyone, then be very careful because you could be tipping him off. In my FW father’s case, he is so self-absorbed that he has no idea what I was doing behind the scenes to help my mother. And he has no idea that there were a number of people in his town calling to tip me off. He’s made a number of people mad so they were happy to rat him out.

          • I had the dreams of cheating or leaving me for someone else as well, they coincided with him actually cheating on me, but I was having them before I caught up to it and started having doubts. I would also tell myself they were just dreams, or that perhaps it was a fear I had.

            Now I know better than to not listen to my instinct, but I’m not sure I really needed to learn this lesson.

            • Yes I had same dreams. When I’d tell him he’d laugh and say I was crazy. He was cheating for years. Multiple women at the same time. Found a list of over 60 names and numbers.

              • Multiple affairs for my cheater as well; women, men you name it. I probably don’t even know the whole lot.

              • I made a spreadsheet of all the names, numbers, emails, and the exact words of the messages sent back and forth. I hope to enter them as evidence at court. I actually felt less bad that he was such a slut because I felt like there wasn’t one OW he fell for and had a twu wuv. He was just a slut chumping lots of people. There were a handful who knew he was married and didn’t care. That was the only message I saw that hurt a but was him telling one of the many OW that he was married to a woman “who doesn’t understand how stifling it is when she tries to make everything a two person proposition,” Now I laugh because, yes, I expect fidelity, you snivelling twit. How DARE I!

            • I also had bad dreams before I ever knew. Id wake up crying and he’d ask me if I had another ‘bad Charles’ dream in a kidding way. In these dreams he was cheating, totally different person being very cold and no love toward me.

              Strange so many of us have had the uncanny dream warning. Mine occurred on and off for years. Was it intuition or subconscious is smarter than the conscious? Or God warning us?

        • THIS:

          “ He was never going to admit to the affair and he became nastier and nastier to me behind closed doors. When I asked he kept denying and telling me I was crazy with a little “ha ha” added. He also started making comments to our kids about Mom being crazy. When he involved our kids and thought he would pit them against me..That’s where the switch went on…I needed proof that he couldn’t wiggle out of.”

          I did the same thing and it was the ONLY THING that protected me. Because I KNEW I had proof, all his cruelty and gaslighting couldn’t take hold— but it was excruciating and soul-crushing regardless.

          At my lawyers request months later, I confronted him in a meeting, told him I would be happy to bust out the pictures and texts. His lawyer called for a break, and when we came back in, he accepted my terms. I only wish I had demanded more than half.

          He is a smug, self-serving, morally bankrupt cheater who, when he blindsided me with divorce said “he needed time to think” and asked ME to move out of the house with our son. When I said “YOU should find a place,” he literally whined “I can’t move …ALL MY STUFF IS HERE!!!” snd then proceeded to try to push me and our son our for 8 months.

          Chumps, get your game on immediately. These types of people are BAD ACTORS. Don’t let them take advantage of your decency (but do remain decent yourselves. Your character will help you get through this!)

  • I regret being so angry when he left (after telling me as a parting shot that he thought I had never liked or been interested in sex), that I told anyone who would listen that he had NEVER, in 25 years of marriage and 6 months of dating, ever given me an orgasm. (We met when we were both very young and he could never be bothered with foreplay for me. Foreplay for him was OK, of course.)
    It would have been far, far better to have maintained a dignified silence.
    (Incidentally, I’ve met a lovely man since, so it was lucky for me that he left.)

    • I LOVE that you told everyone, Hazel! To heck with dignified silence! Let the world know just a bit of what a selfish idiot he was!

    • I don’t think it’s so bad that you told everyone that. I must be demented. haha I’m glad you told people that. I mean, how selfish! But I guess the barista making your latte didn’t need to know. 😜

  • My biggest mistake was not following rules 1 and 5. I found incontrovertible evidence of cheating and chumpily thought “Wow, this is so bad already surely there couldn’t be more and worse.” Of course there was. But by the time I stumbled across that evidence a couple days later I could tell he already had deleted a lot of *other* evidence after I confronted him. As for 5, for the first six months post-DDay his skein felt like The Most Important Thing In the World, and he was happy to play along with that. LACGAL helped me realize how backward that was.

    I’d add #6 although it’s redundant for anyone already reading this blog: Spend *more* time on Google. When you start searching “what to do when my husband cheats on me” the first couple pages of results are all RIC bullsh*t and Esther Perel and Dan Savage. That garbage felt wrong to me but since it was the only stuff I was finding I began thinking maybe the problem was me. It was only after I googled other things like “criticism of esther perel” that I found this blog and the book.

    • Like many other chumps I am grateful I found this safe sane place. Thank youCL and CN. It always shocked me how the cheaters seem to have a play book because all of our stories seem the same. It was reassuring to know that what the narcissist cheater did was not uncommon. To know that I wasn’t crazy. To help me over the sobbing parts and move on. It has given me hope that the light at the end of the tunnel does exist and I will get there. Meh has hit with rare exception and when I have that moment of remembering something crazy he did I can now just shake my head and say “he was really fucked up”. It wasn’t me. So thanks for the life I have now. It’s mine. Choices are mine. That plan I had back then would not have worked with cheater. But my life now is what makes me happy. And I love it. I love not worrying about what I need to do to make cheater happy. So for anyone struggling…it does get better. Have that faith. You will be happy again.

      • Oh yes. I was a fan of Esther Pearl. I even sent her video to that asswipe thinking this will wake him up. Ugh. So stupid. She’s full of shit

  • Don’t let them change the subject from the affair. That is what has killed the marriage. Focusing on “communication” issues or other marriage issues at this time is a complete waste.

    • Communicating with them at all is a waste of time. It also increases their Arsenal of words to use against you or manipulate you with. No talk, only action.

      • He had a habit of going there post DDay and one day I said, “Marriages tend not to work when one person is a liar and a cheater.”

        That was the last time he said anything about the marriage “not working”.

        No dude, YOU were the problem.

        They pay out lots of rope you can hang them with. Learning to keep my mouth shut and calmly listen has been extremely beneficial.

      • “Communicating with them at all is a waste of time. It also increases their Arsenal of words to use against you or manipulate you with. No talk, only action.”

        Absolutely. The shock and reeling after finding out your spouse is having an affair, it’s almost instinctive to want to know everything. Don’t go there…you’ll never get the truth and really it doesn’t matter. Line up your ducks and get moving before they know what hit them.

        • 👍

          I remember in one of the very few times I ever even mentioned the whore, he said “well her mom and dad want the best for her. I said “and they think a married man who is cheating on his wife is what is best for her; that is their standard?”

          Asshole really thought he was a prize I guess. By that time, I knew they deserved each other. My only fear at the time was that he would escape her. He didn’t.

    • This is excellent advice. It’s what I learned during our (very brief) marital counseling. We did not have “communication” issues. We had failure to participate in communication issues.

      • “We did not have “communication” issues. We had failure to participate in communication issues.”

        Sounds like you got at least one thing worth learning out of your counseling.

        By the end of our marriage my ex had redefined his actions right out of existence, and insisted “our problem was communication.” But we had exactly what you state: a failure to communicate. He’d told me several times in the reconciliation phase, “I know I need to communicate more,” but he never did. In the same conversation in which he declared “our problem was communication,” he blame-shifted it all onto me, saying “I didn’t feel as if I could talk to you.”

        • I think once they start devaluing the spouse to a whore, (or to anyone) it is done. They convince themselves that they are the sad sack victim, and the spouse is the bad guy. I don’t blame the whores, they are doing what whores do; but the mate poachers have honed their craft and they know how to zero in on an opportunity.

          I was told after it went down by a couple folks that worked near them, that whore would come in his office and spend hours telling him of her woes, it was only a matter of time before she weaseled her way in the marriage.

          Again, not blaming the whore, he was a whore monger and that is where the issue was.

          That was why down the line when he wrote his “letter of apology” it did nothing for me. I just stood there looking at it and thought, so? I didn’t realize when I got the letter that it was the precursor to him setting up a meeting with us with the preacher. Yeah, no thanks; that went over like a lead balloon.

          I do still find it strange (yet so common) that these guys can stomp us into the ground, say all sorts of hurtful shit to us. Tell us they never loved us etc, then circle back and want to “try again” Really? how would one ever get past all that horror?

        • In the same conversation in which he declared “our problem was communication,” he blame-shifted it all onto me, saying “I didn’t feel as if I could talk to you.”

          Same happened to me. He got the counselor to side with him saying that when I had suspicions or problems, I wouldn’t communicate with him about them, either. I said to them that there ceased to be a point because he would just argue at me that I was wrong and never hear me out. It is only now, years later, that I realize he was tossing word salad at me, blame shifting, and gaslighting. I didn’t have the words to describe what he was doing but so much DARVO was going on. But I was supposed to “communicate” more.

          And when I said back, “Well, why don’t YOU communicate how you feel instead of going and finding another woman to hook up with?” that was the response I got. He didn’t feel he could talk to me.

          Every time I think of the counselor, I get angry. She died a few years ago. Thank goodness she can’t mislead more poor chumps,

          • My ex did the “we just stopped talking” bullshit.

            Um yes, I backed off and stopped talking when you were in full discard mode, telling me it was just work and you needed space.

            He managed to talk every time he went in to t screaming fit of anger of the stupidest things, like running out of salt. Running out of salt was a heinous crime on my part.

            • I have been yelled at for putting my purse in the wrong place. My son has been yelled at for eating a piece of pizza by lifting it up with his hands instead of using a fork. He has wigged out if leftover food is not on the correct shelf of the refrigerator or if the milk jug has not been washed when brought in from the store. We also are not allowed to drive the car when it is raining or if there are puddles out it might touch and get dirty. He got mad because I had washed all the windows in the house but hadn’t applied Rain X to them. When I couldn’t help him lift a refrigerator up the stairs into the house, he raged that I am so weak because I don’t work out. He flies off the handle at the littlest thing. I keep thinking one day he will give himself a stroke and I need to be long gone before then so he can find one of his OW to wipe his drool and change his diaper.

              • They are bat crap crazy.

                I wonder sometimes what the commonality is in terms of compulsiveness. But, I hear some folks say their cheater is the opposite; so maybe it is just that the cheaters go full throttle with their crazy after a while.

                You refrigerator story reminded me of when the ex and I were young and lived in Hawaii (military). He had gotten a fridge from the base, and he had a guy helping him; they couldn’t get it lifted enough to put something under it. Any way he called me out and said stand on this board. He had put a board under the fridge and was I guess trying to use leverage some way. So I dutifully stood on the board, and of course the fridge didn’t budge. Here I was 5ft 5inches weighing in at 135, and he was expecting my weight to lift the fridge. The other guy who evidently had half a brain just sat there looking at my ex like, what the hell is wrong with you.

                Later he did apologize and said I don’t know why I thought that would work and I shouldn’t have had you do that. I just shrugged. I thought it was stupid, but I had learned not to argue early on I guess.

                Why he didn’t stand on it to test it, I don’t know. He was 50 pounds heavier than I was.

    • I think you make an essential point, DM. Cheaters always want to “both sides” everything and creates an impenetrable web of false equivalence.

      Cheater has an affair. The Chump eats crackers in bed. So the lethal blow to the marriage gets lumped in with normal life and small annoyances or even more serious issues, like “Chump is spending too much money on a hobby” or “Chump criticizes me about my eating habits.” None of that stuff matters in the context of an affair; the affair or the cheating with prostitutes is the house on fire, and the fire is not an accident. It’s arson.

      There is really no dealing with any of these other issues because one party has voided the contract of the [monogamous] marriage. At that point, the Chump must take action to protect health, property, finances and kids.

      • I shut that motherfucker’s “both sides”’shit down too.

        He’s gotten remarkably quiet about his side since I pointed out and underscored that his side is coming from a liar and cheater and a thief.
        They’re so desperate to be right and for everything to be fair, and their very own actions are contrary to all of that.

        The less I say the bigger the foot in his mouth gets.

  • Ahhh, so much great advice in one post!

    Of these, the one that has helped me the most is: “People cheat because they feel ENTITLED to.”
    It’s about their lack of character and their inability to giving a flying f*ck about their partners.

    Sure, marriages go south. But, as CL explains, cheaters don’t choose ethical options to address their supposed unhappiness.

    To the newbies who are reading this, please take it to heart. Know that none of this is your fault. You didn’t ask to be abused.

    That’s not to say that we chumped people are perfect and saintly. Obviously, we’re not. Therapy and meditation have been helping me. My wonderful therapist let me grieve and complain in session after session, but then she shifted gears, which I resisted because I liked focussing on my FW ex and his numerous flaws. At one session, she stopped the presses and said that examining him wasn’t going to help me move forward. Instead, I needed to explore my own issues (we all have them).

    So one good thing to come out of my ex’s selfish betrayal is that it’s caused me to pause and work on myself. What do I want? What makes me tick? Why did I stay in an abusive relationship (and how did I not recognize that it was abusive)? It’s a slow, frustratingly non-linear process that’s essential for truly gaining a life.

    Good luck to all the new chumps. Keep coming back here. Oh, and read and re-read CL’s book. Mine would be dogeared if they weren’t in audible and kindle formats.

  • In hindsight…do not pay attention to their words, pay attention to their actions!
    He was saying all the “right” things -sometimes with messy tears, but he wasn’t actually doing what a remorseful person does if they want to save their marriage. I later realized the affair never stopped including while we went to marriage counseling, talked to our kids, and did a weekend marriage retreat. Sick to be able to lie like that.

    • This advice seems tp work for everyone except me…my Cheater was notoriously cruel with words even when he didnt act so bad. He told me that he was divorcing me for sure (but then didnt) and making a life with Susan of Seattle (which he seemed to pause) thus I felt like his actions said “there is a chance” even when his words were mean as hell.

      I dont know if there is anyone out there who will benefit from me telling this part of my story, but my Cheater was a strange person in many ways and what I needed to have seen is that he told and showed me regularly is that he did not value me.

      I hoped and I stayed and I was too scared to admit t myself how toxic the marriage was.

      • Yeah, I think I had blinders on. Fear kept me from seeing reality, from appreciating that he was treating me like shit.

        When you’re eating shit stew all the time, you’re taste buds go numb. And when the cheater tosses a tasty piece of bread your way (to soak up even more of the stew), you get excited. “What a kind act! The bread is even fresh!” Stockholm Syndrome and fear kept me stuck.

  • I regret believing that she was capable of acting like a reasonable human being and treating our children and I with respect, compassion and decency. After all she is a nurse and a Christian, and she will have been painfully aware of the damage that her father’s cheating caused on her family.

    Nope nope nopety nope.

    It was dumpster fire of sh*t; she lied, cheated and stole to get what she believed she was entitled to and she did not give a damn about whether I – or our children – got hurt in the process. The divorce was drawn out, expensive and high conflict because her “go to” negotiation tactic was always “give me what I want or things will get even worse.”

    Thankfully my legal team got our children and I through it all …. but when people wonder why I am still single nearly 6 years out and have significant trust issues, all I can do is roll my eyes at them.

    LFTT

    • Trust issues!!!
      You can leave the cheater.
      You can arrive at meh.
      But damn it! Those trust issues linger.

      Not only do I not trust men, but I also don’t trust my picker.

      Just last week I met someone I’d connected with on a dating site. I let myself get carried away. I developed a crush. I thought he was “the one.” I told him about my trust issues. I let myself be vulnerable. And then it all went south.

      For now, I’m putting my “love life” (pandemic style) back on the shelf. It’s been 16 months since D-day. Too soon for me, I guess.

      Yet another reason to resent these cheaters. Even for those who’ve arrived at meh, I can’t imagine there isn’t some lingering resentment.

      • S@35,

        I guess that it all equates to a loss of innocence.

        Finding out that those you should be able to trust the most can’t be trusted at all (other than to put their needs first and damn the consequences for everyone else – I’d trust Ex-Mrs LFTT to do that all day long) is a really sobering moment and its effects are enduring. I am now very careful about who I trust; and my ability to trust is now so very fragile in a way that it wasn’t before.

        On the upside, she now lives with her AP; he has to deal with her toxic sh*t on a daily basis and I (and our kids) don’t.

        So we have that going for us. 😉

        LFTT

        • Yup! Our cheaters are their problems now. I have to remind myself that they haven’t changed for the new person. They can’t change.

          • 👍

            In my fws case, I really don’t know who got the worst end of the deal, him or schmoopie. But, because we share an adult son, and the son and his wife lived on the same property as them for a few years. (son owned the house, fw and schmoops lived in the guest house) I knew pretty much from the get go, from them and from a couple friends that their union was one long shit show.

            They just can’t make it better, because wherever they go and whatever they do; they are there. Whether they ever recognize it or not.

        • These people are disordered and simply won’t change and she will do exactly to him as she did to you. My ex wife cheated on her first boyfriend she lived with, cheated with multiple men on him. No idea how many as she is a pathological liar and she went on to do exactly the same to me. They are broken toxic people. Not my problem anymore thank god.

      • Spinach, it’s pretty normal to have a crush, right? We all get crushes. During the discard, I had a crush on Donnie Wahlberg (and he’s way too young for me, anyway). And in real life, I had a crush on a guy I saw regularly at a professional site.

        The problem is not having a little crush. The problem is how we think about it.
        *”I thought he was “the one.” — This is way too fast. It was only a week! It will take a long time (measured in months and years) to learn if this person is the right fit (character, values, lifestyle, goals, personality) for you.
        *”I told him about my trust issues.” —Too much information, way too soon. If someone is a predator, you’ve just handed him a road map to abusing you. Read Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” to learn how important it is not to telegraph to new acquaintances your vulnerabilities.
        *When you don’t yet know a person, it’s not appropriate to be “vulnerable.” People have ti EARN the right to access the tender parts of you. (See Brene Brown, “The Power of Vulnerability” and other books).

        So when you first see someone (especially a stranger you’ve found on the internet), remind yourself:
        1. I don’t know this person.
        2. It will take at least a year to assess this person’s character.
        3. It’s OK to be attracted but I’m aware that my “picker” tends to choose alcoholics or narcissists or weak people who need support or people with a mean streak. So pay attention to signs that you picked the wrong thing.
        4. The people who have been “your type” might be unhealthy for you. For example, many people value certain kinds of looks or body type or income level or type of job rather than looking at how this person treats others over time, signs of deep kindness (rather than just “niceness”), honesty, relationship track record, etc.
        5. When I start to feel like someone is “the one,” I’m having a fantasy, especially if I do not know this person.

        You don’t even know if this person leaves the toilet seat up or yells at his or her dog or has a hidden racist streak. I can remember being attracted to someone I met during an activity and after a couple of months of spending time with others in this activity, he said to me, “I have a mean streak.” Well, that was very helpful. I still like this person. I enjoy his company in a group setting. I would have dinner with him. But I wouldn’t date him.

        Slow down. Don’t be in a hurry to find a partner. You can trust your picker if you trust yourself to be happy living on your own, if you don’t NEED a partner, and if you know what you think a good person is (as opposed to “the one.”)

        The fact that you can unpack this experience so clearly is such a good sign, and a real help to others.

        • Thanks, LovedAJackass!!!!

          Great advice!!!

          FYI: I definitely don’t NEED a partner at all. I would never marry again. And it would take a minor miracle for me to live with someone else.

      • I went through this before internet, unfortunately, I didn’t have the great advice of those who preceded me in the horror of betrayal.

        However, I found CL and a couple other sites, not because of my divorce/betrayal; but because of the crap he pulled with my son years down the line. I started researching these types of personalities.

        I moved on as best I could in the time frame that it happened, got through and met my now husband at work. We have been together for many years, and we spent several years together before marrying.

        All this to say, I don’t think most ever totally get over it. We go on to have good lives, many of us (and likely you) will love again; but we still carry some baggage/scars. Why wouldn’t we, anyone who has lived through heart break will have some scars.

        I am not one who thinks you have to be totally “over” it to move on.

        Be as sure as you can, fix your picker, sure; but there are no guarantees in life, and don’t we all know it.

        My H was dumped by his wife too. I know he still has scars; but it hasn’t stopped us from having a good life together.

        You are still fresh in this, but I believe you will soar, and you will be ok no matter how you choose to go forward.

        I wish the best for us all. We deserve the best.

        I also think this pandemic has screwed over Chumps royally. It has made going on and living a normal life so much harder.

      • Yes, those linger trust issues! I think I’ve arrived at Meh finally (3 years since the divorce) – and I am also trying to date. I want to trust people but I’m finding that I just don’t. And even worse, I don’t trust my picker either.

        I’m hoping that by going really slowly and keeping my heart in check that I’ll get there…. I really want to have a long term loving relationship but at 61 I think it may be like winning the lottery.

        • Norma Kamali, the fashion designer, got engaged at 75. Her first marriage ended decades ago when Mohammed mismanaged her business and spent money on other women. Norma Kamali OMO stands for “on my own”

        • My Aunt married the first man she dated (way back in the 50’s) and had two sons. He left her/them destitute and moved to another state. The ‘single mom’ label was a heavy burden at the time. She was also quite ‘bitter’, i.e., truthful, about her situation. She got engaged and remarried at 75yrs old, much to my surprise! He was a long time friend (as was his wife). His wife passed away, and after a few years of widowhood, they fell in love, married, and she had a lovely 5 years with him before he too passed away. She knew him for a long time, knew his character, and he made her feel safe and cherished. Took care of her post-humously too, as he had the means and the forethought to be sure of that. It may indeed be like winning the lottery, but there’s one story for the ‘never say never’ camp. I too am 60, and with the pandemic upon us and no social/traveling available for organic-in-person meetings, I don’t like the odds. I have trust issues and probably always will. I cannot see myself ever wanting to co-habitate again. It just seems like way too much effort to go through, just to always know that the relationship could implode at any time… My heart cannot take that again in this lifetime. But, like the lottery, your chances of winning are very slim, but yet, somebody does win it every few weeks.

      • My husband 2.0 was single for 12 years with one gf VERY briefly halfway through. His exwife (who was difficult but he never imagined divorcing her, his family is populated by long marriages and almost no divorces on either side) blamed & belittled him, moved his only child far away and got as much money as possible. He did not insult her when he told me his story…I had to put the pieces together myself.

        It took him a long time to trust me and we will never mix our investments (he has been fair but has kept some investments locked up with no key- we agreed to it pre marriage).

        We both feel very fortunate to have a trustworthy spouse.

    • I’m just never planning to build anything with someone else, so I don’t mind the lack of trust because I’m never trusting again *to that extent*. Blind trust was wrong anyway, and I don’t intend to blame myself for it, but it was naive. There’s no such thing, people can turn on you anytime and the connection you build through shared history to some people just doesn’t mean anything.

      It’s easy to feel resentful of it, and I do as well. But I also feel wide awake.

      • I also feel like I won’t go down that road again because I have so much more to lose than when I was younger. Now I have a child and significant financial assets. Before I met FW, I used to go on international vacations and had so much more time for hobbies I loved. Those are things I enjoyed quite well solo and after my son moves off to college, I would be content to enjoy those things solo once again. I wasn’t looking for FW when I found him and he had me convinced that I could keep being myself once we married but then proceeded to criticize everything about me from the colors I chose to wear to what I chose to eat or how I spent my time. I lost myself and I don’t feel like ever risking that loss again. I can’t even imagine wanting to date. I have so many other goals.

  • I regret ignoring the glaring red flags early on that he was shady, didn’t prioritize me, and was a passive aggressive conflict avoidant coward that was as nasty as he could be but then played dumb because he didn’t have the balls to own it and married him anyway.

    Sorry for the long sentence.

    So finding out about his skank, 5 times married ex gf shouldn’t have come as a surprise but somehow it did.

    As my kids aren’t his I consider him a complete waste of 13 years of my life.

  • If they get stuck on the charm and self pity channels, line up your ducks as you can. Do not show weakness. And yelling and crying and throwing things… it’s weakness. And blame and anger will rile them up and they will flip to rage. If they are in the mindset to sparkle and Hoover and promise … do not hesitate to use this to your advantage to secure your exit strategy. they have used you for ages. You have a small arsenal of tools. Use them and use them wisely. You are a ninja.

    • My brother called me a ninja and it brings me so much joy to this day. He thought it was hilarious that I packed all of our monogrammed wedding items, sentimental items, travel souvenirs, old greeting cards with his pledges of love, etc. into each of the ManChild’s boxes. (He couldn’t be bothered & my lawyer said the judge would frown upon a Waiting to Exhale reenactment. Sigh.)

      I like to picture his AP helping him unpack and finding a little reminder in every single box that he is a liar and a cheater, and she “won” herself a turd by starting a relationship based on deception and betrayal.

      Clearly I haven’t made it all the way to Tuesday, but I can see it on the horizon!

    • FW saves his charm for image management with the neighbors. He is stuck on pity these days, thank goodness. And I’m over here, duck, duck, duck, duck….

  • I’d also add: close down any opportunities for them to run up debts in your name (e.g. if they are a named second user on your credit card). Close down any opportunities for joint debts too (e.g. a joint credit card) if you can do so without making them suspicious (perhaps you can say it makes budgeting easier if you each have your own separate credit cards).

    • Yes, we agreed money in a settlement agreement and I couldn’t get a joint account shut down (as needed us both). he pretended he was doing it and instead took over a quarter of the money he’d given me back. You never believe what they are capable of. Get everything into your name, if you can move money into separate accounts.

      It’s such a horrible way to think people are going to act and boy did it catch me off guard so heed our word.

      • Yep.

        I shut down the joint credit card, and took his name off the account my check went in to. I assume he took my name off the account his money went in to, though he might not have. He knew I wouldn’t mess with it. I pushed him to file within a few weeks after he left. I told he we should get our finances separated. He seemed to like that idea. I assume he thought I would pay my way he would pay his until we were divorced, which in our state you can get a divorce with a two month waiting period, and it is a no fault 50/50 state. Yeah, didn’t work that way. That is just the minimum (starting point) I had a really good lawyer, he hired a sad sack loser lawyer. I was truly blessed.

        While I am sure I didn’t get all the money back he stole from me, I got enough back to pay my lawyer, and save several thousand dollars before our D became final.

  • I regret trying to reason with him, to get him to see my side. That was beyond pointless, and he just used it against me.

    Example: Refrain from sending articles about affairs and how they don’t necessarily happen in happy marriages. 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • And lean on friends and family! Hold close those who will sit in your grief, who will just be with you while you’re crying and complaining, who will let you repeat the same stories over and over.

      I couldn’t have made it through without my sisters and some other close friends. I’m forever indebted. You really learn who your true friends are.

      • Or who think “saving the marriage” is the most important thing.

        Save the chump. Save the chump’s health, finances, dignity, emotional life, and future.

  • My first encounter with this site was when I Googled Michele WIENER-Davis’ “180” and this came up:

    https://www.chumplady.com/2014/07/the-pretzel-logic-of-the-180/

    I remember reading it and I can still feel the sensation of the truth of it confronting all the confused insanity swirling around in my brain. It was a great feeling. Therapy is an indispensable part of my life, but so is the experience, strength, and hope of people in similar circumstances. Chump Lady became my 12 step group for recovering from infidelity. The wisdom here is invaluable. One Chump talking to another is essential first aid that a therapist can’t provide.

    The infidelity library I had gotten from Amazon went into the recycling bin. Especially the Esther Perel and Michele WIENER- Davis books. (I think she’s one of those RIC leeches profiting on people’s pain and hope and therefore a WIENER).

    My only real regret is that I did not find this site sooner. The other stuff I did that I regret, I could not have done any differently. Chumps, please don’t beat yourselves up for things that you did out of a desire to keep your marriage and family together. That is not anything to be ashamed of. Put that shame in a bag on the doorstep of the cheater, light it on fire, ring the doorbell and run away. That’s where it belongs.

    He recently said, “maybe if I had talked to you we would not be getting divorced.”
    Duh. But he didn’t talk to me. He talked ABOUT me, so the destruction of the relationship was inevitable. I do not want to be married to him. I wanted to be married to who I thought he was, and that person DOES NOT EXIST, which means no one else gets him either.

    • Yep. Communication is certainly key but even if he had been talking to you, the sticking his privates into other peoples privates is a bit of a ‘sticking’ point…

      • Even without infidelity, if your partner is conflict-avoidant, does not communicate, holds resentments and deals with grievances by talking about you instead of to you, the relationship is doomed to failure.

        • So true!

          And if your partner punishes wish silence, withholds emotions, gaslights, blameshifts, projects, stomps around the house, seems disdainful of any talk about what makes you unhappy, and generally doesn’t give you the time of day, you are being abused EVEN IF the sex is still good. I made the mistake of confusing sex with love. I regret that.

          If you catch him lying, trust that he sucks (in the words of CL) and that you have nothing to work with.

          Leave the cheater, hold your head high, channel your anger into a good divorce settlement, and fight for your new fuckwit-free life.

        • Velvet Hammer, I am actually applying some of the “180” strategies as I am mentally detaching from my marriage. My husband is very conflict-avoidant and we only resolved and are resolving some major issues because I insisted on talking about them and seeking help. I have to be careful of how I bring up an issue (tone of voice, how often I mention it), otherwise I get blamed for nagging and bullying him or forcing him into decisions because he is afraid of me (he also withdraws attention and sex). It took me a panic attack and seeking help for myself before he finally agreed to seek help for feeling low for the past 4 months (my Mum committed suicide following depression so his state brings up all those feelings of fear and powerlessness in me). I feel like a mum who has to convince her child to eat vegetables, not like a wife. So, yes, I am focusing on myself now and mentally detaching from him to keep my sanity. I am polite, courteous and cooperative but I am not seeking his attention. He noticed this and perhaps he thinks I am playing a game. Unfortunately for my marriage, I feel more at peace like this than I did when I was close to him emotionally and physically 🙁

          • “Tone of voice…”

            Oh, fuck them! My FW cheater of a father talks to me about my “tone of voice” when I am talking in as much of a grey-rock tone as possible. My affect is flat. I am not friendly or engaging or complimentary or anything. Furthermore, I am not YELLING. He then will lecture me on how to talk to him. And he will tell me exactly what he wants me to say and how to say it. The first time he lectured me like that I thought I was going crazy because I did not understand *how* he could think I was yelling or doing anything other than talking to him. The problem, I realized, was that I challenged him on his behavior and he does.not.like.that. Nobody challenges him. Except me. Fuck you, you don’t get to tell me how to “behave” FW father. If you don’t like it, you can fuck right off!

            Teranina, it sounds like he is trying to control your behavior under the guise of his “sensitivity.” I would bet that because of your mother’s suicide (((I’m sorry))) he knows what buttons to push to get you in line.

          • There is a lot of good info in MWD’s 180, but it’s good for GETTING AWAY and DETACHING….I believe her intention is to manipulate the cheater into staying with you.

        • I wish I had learned that lesson decades sooner. My conflict-avoidant, non-communicative, resentment-cherishing and talking-about rather than to me spouse WAS cheating, but I was already fantasizing about leaving him because of those other issues. When I found out about the cheating (supposedly nothing more than an “emotional affair”) I went full-on rage and left him. But those other reasons were more than plenty good enough reasons to leave.

          • Yeh- I totally get it. Hindsight is 20-20 but hey- that’s what this site is for. Share so others don’t!

    • “Chumps, please don’t beat yourselves up for things that you did out of a desire to keep your marriage and family together. ”

      I agree, it is hard not too; once you realize who they are, or rather who they aren’t.

      I remember I wrote him a note right after Dday, telling him I loved him and was sorry for anything I did. God I regretted that. Almost immediately; but I was in shock and I think in those early days I thought he could snap out of it and I would have my old life back. It would be ok, etc.

      Even without reading anything, or talking to anyone, I automatically took some of the blame, why do we do that?

      Oh I made it clear down the line that he was a piece of shit, but still I regret that note.

      • I think ‘why do we do that’ is- because it’s so hard to believe this person would be so obtusely violently reckless with the life we have built with them. It’s brain warping to realize someone you thought was your person is actually your nemesis and had no intention of safeguarding your heart mind and physical being. We have been taught that we are punished for our folly. So we search for the ‘cause’ of this effect. And so we take on blame. It sucks and it’s false logic.

        • 👍

          I remember a while later (while we were still legally separated) I caught him at our River property that he conned me into signing for framing it as our “retirement property”. His mom and I had driven down on a Saturday morning to get some things that she loaned me. (she didn’t want schmoops to have them)

          We caught them there. He told me he was working that day for the mayor. Anyway, mil looked at schmoops and said “you should be ashamed of yourself”.. Schmoops fled with mil walking after her. I stood there and looked at him and said why are you doing this to us? He said, this is who I am. Likely the only truth he had spoken in several years.

          And weirdly I remember thinking; he looks so small. I mean he was not a real tall guy, but in that moment he looked so small, I am only 5′ 3/4″, and I know he is a couple inches taller than me, but he looked so small.

    • Velvet Hammer, thanks for the link to the “180” strategy. Having read it, it looks a lot like a mental divorce and a good strategy to get on with your life without the cheater! I wonder if Michelle Weiner-Davis realised that 🤣

      • Velvet Hammer, thanks for the link to the “180” strategy. Having read it, with ChumpLady’s “modifications” it looks a lot like a mental divorce and strategy to get on with your life without the cheater! I wonder if Michelle Weiner-Davis realised that 🤣

        • I am actually applying some of the things there currently as my spouse is very conflict-avoidant and does not like to face pretty much anything. We only resolved some things because of my repeated urging (for which I am often accused of nagging and bullying or making decisions he was forced to because he was afraid of me). After 6 years of trying to overcome some serious issues in this way I gave up on trying to get him to act. I feel like a Mum who needs to convince her child to sometimes eat vegetables instead of junk food, not like a wife. I am pulling back and concentrating on myself for my own sanity and to see whether I really want to spend the rest of my life living like this, not to win him back or making him notice me.

    • By some miracle, I found CL when I was lying in bed crying inconsolably after my then-husband fessed up to years of cheating. I’m not sure what I searched for, but I’m so grateful that I didn’t slip into the RIC rabbit hole. CL saved me. I played the audio version of LAC;GAL every day for weeks.

      And, of course, CL’s blog and the wisdom of my fellow chumps keep me on the right path and often make me laugh. For all of you, I am so grateful.

      Newbies: I can’t say it enough: read CL’s book and come back here often.

      • 👍

        Yes, regardless of what really went down (they are such liars, many of us will never know the full truth) they are toxic to us, and they need to be let loose to live their miserable lives. They will not turn into great people, either they never were or they have become seared of conscience. For them without a lot of work, which few will do; they will continue their cheating ways. Most will not live happily ever after, regardless of any show they might put on.

    • Velvet – I chose to stop drinking a few months before I left.

      I knew I needed to make “sober” decisions. And I chose to begin attending secular AA meetings because they were local, frequent and low cost. I was able to stop drinking without difficulty, but benefited from the programs support in more healthy thinking. I suppose I could have attended Alanon, but that would have continued to make him central.

      I wish that a 12-step secular (rather than Divorce Care) meeting for infidelity existed with LACGAL as a big book!

      • Al Anon is not about making him central….it is actually the opposite of it. I have been in AA, Al Anon, ACA, CoDA, CA for decades…I cite that because I might have been Betty Broderick’s cellie without those years of recovery when DDay hit. I have found Al Anon to be particularly helpful for infidelity.

    • Whoa, that is so true. In our many, many discussions and fights about our relationship over the years, he only ever said things *about* me. He never spoke *to* me or asked me questions. Never. He was either in attack or defend mode. I found myself constantly saying, “That’s not true!” to bizarre statements about what I was thinking or feeling or had done. Just more evidence that I was never a real human being to him. I was a character in his screenplay about himself and his life, and he kept rewriting me as either an angel or a demon depending on how he was feeling about himself. So sick.

      • I was speaking literally when I said that. He did not talk to me about grievances concerning me. Instead he talked about me behind my back to other people, which I found out after DDay, which if you can believe it I never knew for 27 years.

        One night when our daughter was almost ten, she said, “Do you know what Dad said about you? He said you are selfish and only think about yourself.” It blew my mind. They went off to the father-daughter dance at her school. The whole time they were gone I was flat on my back on the couch with tears pouring out of the outer corners of my eyes like a faucet. Before that night I had never literally one time known him to ever say anything negative about me, either to my face or anyone else. I found out he was in the habit of dissing me to other people. I was shattered. I had no idea. I never ever did that and it was another incidence of conferring my qualities onto him.

        I learned after DDay that talking about me behind my back to other people, including our daughter, was his regular MO.

        In sick families, people don’t talk to each other. They talk about each other. Nothing ever gets resolved or brought up with the appropriate party.

        In recovery I learned that I don’t say anything about anybody unless I say it to them. I taught that to my daughter and her friends. It prevents a world of problems…..

        • I’m so sorry. I know exactly how heartbreaking it is to trust that someone has your back only to find out they just used that trust to maneuver themselves into good stabbing position.

      • Same. NEVER addressed me directly or asked me a question about anything remotely significant. Never checked in about my feelings or opinions. In all those years. It is very strange, isn’t it? And never a straight answer, either.

    • I really screwed up on 4 and 5. After 31 years and no clue what was going on, I thought it was just a 1 time thing. The truth is that he was leading a double life for 4 years with 2 women. I finally saw through the BS and the fog. When ever I start to think about what I missed in those years, the words of my very wise daughter bring me back..”Just remember someone else has to clean his shit stains off the toilet now” That pretty much sums it up

      • “Just remember someone else has to clean his shit stains off the toilet now” ”

        YES!!!! And bring him breakfast. And lunch. And make dinner. And take him to doctors’ appointments. And book travel. And act a certain way in front of others. And take his abuse of rage and screaming (with never an apology). And run his errands. And go to the pharmacy and prepare his pill packets. And deal with insurance companies. And go to the grocery store. And fetch him coffee. And jump when he screams your name from the other side of the house.

        My FW father is so gross I cannot imagine anyone actually wanting to partner with him and take care of him. He rarely showers. He wears the same clothes every day. He farts in his chair and leaves skid marks (eeeewwwwwww!). He has horrible breath. He rarely brushes his teeth. He walks like Frankenstein. He is a porn addict. And liar. And cheater. And thief.

        The only thing he has is money.

        • He will find somebody since he has money. Especially since we’re entering the Great Depression of the 21st century. Desperate people will do whatever it takes.

          My father, who presents as innocuous, is married to Hell, wife 3.0. They will be married thirty years in a couple of months. My parents were together for over twenty-five.

          Harlow and Hell come from very different backgrounds yet are both shallow narcissists. She definitely married up-hypergamy. It works-she’s his personal ego inflator, blowing smoke up his ass. “Your father is a remarkable man” she wrote in a recent email, for example.

          I wasn’t in the car one time during one of their visits to the west coast from NYC. H. started to apologize to my older brother and Hell interrupted “You were a wonderful father !” Harlow wanted to have contact with his only grandchild. She talks incessantly to be the center of attention and interrupts and verbally bullies others.

          I had a thought last week and found her public high school yearbook page. I always knew she was a gold digger and found confirmation below her senior portrait “Hell just loves to argue with teachers…hopes someday to marry a millionaire”

          Well she got what she wanted. I forget if she targeted my father through work (my grandfather’s law firm where she was a paralegal) or their shared hobby, stamp collecting. Before her niece married her own cheater (another story for another day) Hell encouraged niece to take up said hobby “These men have 💰!”

          Her late father told her the ideal woman has big boobs and a poor sense of smell. Keepin’ it classy. A reference to your father’s farting BSandLies (I’ve read your blog since we both post as daughters of cheating fathers).

          I’m pretty certain Harlow and Hell started screwing when Harlow’s second wife R. was dying of pancreatic cancer. Heartless people, which is what cheaters are, do cruel things. I didn’t attend Harlow’s second and third weddings but he chuckled about presenting R. with a prenup to sign the morning of their nuptials. He stood to inherit a lot of money when his parents died late in their nineties.

          Lots of financial aid for her family. A couple of private mortgages, one for her son and d.i.l., satisfied after a month. College fund for her older granddaughter. Her younger granddaughter is severely autistic and needs lots of special therapies (not covered by insurance)

          She is a bossy, controlling wife appliance who will carry all the shame and guilt Harlow dumps on her to secure her son’s future. Shortly after their marriage, Harlow jabbed at her weight with a nasty holiday card. A morbidly obese Donner and Blitzen crashing through the roof.

          The cheater never trades up and doesn’t improve for the next person.

          • Hell’s parents both died when she and her three siblings were teenagers.

            Her second husband died of cancer and she became a single mother to her ten year old son. She dated for seventeen years before sinking her claws into Harlow.

            She wouldn’t tell us who her first husband was or what exactly led to its demise. I smell cheating. My father abused my mother and his second wife died of cancer. Narcissistic mirrors. Peas in a pod

  • I regret telling my daughter that ‘mummy and daddy weren’t getting along’ and we were splitting up. I can’t recall now if I was 100% sure about the cheating at that point but with hindsight I would have YOU sit her down and tell her you are LEAVING ME. I knew fuck all about this and this ain’t some mutual decision going down right here. The advice seemed to be that you had to stand together. Fuck that noise, didn’t turn out well for me. She 100% believes all their lies and thinks I am a horrible person because I was upset about them getting together, at times didn’t cope with it well and I don’t like OW and she knows it (although I’ve never actually said that to her). I would go back and totally change the way I did that. But hell, water under the bridge and it suits her to believe this and paint me as the unhinged evil person then so be it. The whole sorry episode is not something I was equipped to deal with as I’ve never encountered anyone acting in such a horrendously abusive way in my life, I have no drama like this in my past/family life and I am lucky for that. Trash took itself out if you ask me but I sure regret how that conversation was crafted.

    • “I would have YOU sit her down and tell her you are LEAVING ME. ”

      Yep, I told my fw; when he left you get on the phone and call son and tell him you are leaving and why. He did call him. My son called and said he just said he was leaving me for another woman and then he hung up. Still I am glad I made him do it. Clean up his own shit. It was part of the reason I insisted he file. He wanted out, do the dirty work.

      He would have preferred I file, then he could walk around and tell folks I made a mistake and she kicked me out.

      I hate that your daughter is blaming you. I hope that changes, has it been very long?

      I tried not to put my son in the middle, and I did pretty good. But, danged if I was going to do his dirty work. But, my son was grown, so that makes it a little easier to deal with.

    • I guess it depends on how things go. In my case, I intend to file because FW never will and I won’t relish doing so but I would be fine to tell my son that I chose to end the marriage because I want him to know that I put an end to it when my boundaries were violated. A very simple, “Daddy wanted to have a girlfriend and did have girlfriends while we are married and that is not OK.”

      In my case, my son noticed when FW stopped wearing his ring and asked me about it. He said, “But you still wear yours!” I said yes, “because I am married and I promised to love your father and let everyone know that I love him and want no boyfriends by wearing this ring.” And my son said, “He never says he loves you when we hang up the phone with him, either. You say, ‘I love you,’ and he says ‘OK Bye.’” And then he said, “But I love you and tell you all the time!” And I smiled and said I love him, too, and let those who love us love us. We can only be good and kind of love people but not everyone we love will love us back. He just nodded and moved on. He sees it. I think he will be sad but not surprised.

  • I’d add another bit of advice–prepare for the worst. Your cheater knows how to manipulate you. Are you vulnerable to accusations that you aren’t making the best decision for the kids by divorcing? Will you feel guilty about “breaking” your marriage vows if you get divorced? Do you feel an obligation to your spouse because once-upon-a-time they made a genuine sacrifice for you (moved across country, gave away their cat due to your allergies, let your wacky cousin live with you for 18 months–whatever). Because your cheater will beat and berate you with your vulnerabilities in an attempt to control you once you begin to demonstrate that their actions have consequences.

  • I regret asking ‘him’ not to give up on me and to give me a chance!! to get over his infedelity.

    I begged for him to be patient with me following D-day and continued to be supportive cause you know…..he was going through such a hard time. Who cares about my broken soul.

    I regret (post D day) trying to fall pregnant and seeing fertility doctor after fertility doctor….i honestly thought if I gave him a child he would pick me!! Sadly I miscarriaged twice. He left 4 weeks after the last miscarriage.

    Sigh.

    • Any one who has been through it, and loved their spouses understands this. Which would be most of us here. I mean if we hadn’t loved them, it wouldn’t have been so hard on us.

  • I was chumped pre-Chump Lady (day after Christmas 2009). I needed to look at the next year’s calendar for an upcoming event. The closest one was his planner. I saw notes on the nights he had dinners with the Owhore – a subordinate (hmmm, I guess she was the client he had to wine & dine) and even the night of their 1st kiss a few weeks earlier.

    I couldn’t keep it in. He was my best friend for over 26 years/24 married. I immediately asked him if he had a girlfriend. And guess what? He put his hands over his eyes, leaned against the doorframe & said, ” I can’t do this anymore.” I asked what that meant & he said he couldn’t be married to me anymore. I never saw it coming.

    I just fell apart. They was no getting my ducks in a row. I was in a stooper for days not eating or sleeping. He immediately moved into the guestroom & announced two days later that he no longer loved me & was moving out shortly.

    My story is the rare one here as he was a runner, an abandoner once the bean were spelled. I’ve spent countless hours, weeks, months & I hope not years looking for the red flag & there just weren’t any. I appears his affair was in the early weeks & he was sloppy about it. It didn’t last – she was a divorced mother of 5 without custody. He did go on to married someobe who wasn’t even born when we got married.

    I did get a good attorney & got a lot of retirement money & the house with 99% of the contents. I’m about 10 years ftom retirement & will continue to struggle financially until then. Even though I still see a therapist regularly & know that he sucks, I am still crushed that he turned out to have a huge sense of entitlement & a shitty character. I found Chump Lady in its infancy & still come here everyday. I’ve also referred a few other chumps as well.

  • This classic is also helpful in dealing with a demented family member.

    My mother is a narcissistic, histrionic, pathological lunatic. I know people throw those words around- but the bitch is the WORST.

    The one thing my sister and I say: SHE NEVER GETS IT RIGHT.

    Where would I begin? Beating us because we were sliding in our socks in an empty Sunday school classroom and we knocked over some chairs? Telling us our father was Lucifer when she was getting a divorce and asking us to testify against him- ages 12 and 9? Then telling us he was going to burn up alive in the house at night? Faking a migraine at my college graduation party and lying on the couch in the middle of my studio apartment while my then BF and few friends looked at me with pity and then left? Detailing her money problems to me when I called home from Austria after I won a travel scholarship from college?

    Other kids were answering excited questions from their parents about skiing and fondue. I was listening to her bitch about her job and money. I WAS IN AUSTRIA.

    Asking me for money while I was in law school on FULL LOANS and was eating rice and beans most days?

    (The debt that still haunts me and I will never pay off)

    Dragging her to specialists over and over and they come out- subdued after exploratory and invasive tests and tell me: There is nothing wrong with you mother.

    And these are just the highlights.

    She is a disgusting horrible piece of shit.

    And it makes me sad.I want a jolly, happy, peaceful mother who loves me and is wise and kind. But I am not wasting anymore time wondering why and how, and shaking my fist at the sky that my mother is such a monster

    (SHE HAS NOT BATHED SINCE SEPTEMBER.). She says this is because I will not buy her a Re-Bath.

    She can’t steal another day. I was a chump to her for so long. Buying her things, having fantasies about winning the lottery so she would be happy.

    There is a wonderful scene in the Sopranos where Dr. Melfi tells Tony: You have a mother that is incapable of experiencing joy.

    Run from those people. No mater if you share genes, children, great sex, bank accounts.

    It never gets better.

    • Sultana Roo, my FW father is the narcissist. One of his favorite sayings is “you can fool anyone for two weeks.” Whenever he says that, he is referring to *other people* and not to himself. But as narcissists are prone to do, he was actually projecting. Once he retired, had a health issue, and was home all the time (versus on the road for work my entire life that I probably never spent more than two weeks with him at a time), I realized that he fooled *his family* for two weeks at a time. And then the truth of who he really is started coming out.

      Like you, I wish I had a “normal” father who was kind and loving and thoughtful and made his family a priority and didn’t cheat on my mother with women younger than me and taught me things (other than how to be a co-depenent people-pleaser who trusts no one) and mentored me and all the things that “good dads” are supposed to do.

      Like Dr. Melfi said to Tony, one of my therapists said to me “he is incapable of….” showing love, engaging in the self-reflection, saying I’m sorry, participating in family therapy, taking responsibility, not being a shitbag. It really sucks, doesn’t it?

      He and my mother signed divorce papers yesterday (YAY MOM!!!!) and are waiting for the judge to sign the final judgment today. I will help them get everything divided up as that will take some time. I’m walking the line about walking out of his life after this process is over. Even though the papers are signed it might be another six months before everything is cleaned up (stuff sold and divided).

      • That’s freaky you mentioned the sopranos as I’m sat here watching the sopranos and a scene with dr Melfi was just on.

    • My mother… same. I had a full scholarship to law school but took a ton of loans to keep trying to bail her out financially. The day of my wedding, my attendants were helping me get ready and the photographer was taking photos. She stormed off that she wasn’t the center of attention and cried in the hallway.

      The sad thing is that my dealing with her primed me for being taken advantage of by FW. In hindsight, his love bombing was sweet relief from her. All she wanted was me to get a great job and support her the rest of her life. Oh, and to keep living with me and bringing strange men in the house and have sex with them in MY bed while I was at work. (“Well, you should have let me have the nicer bedroom!”) FW was an escape. Getting married to a military man got me away from her and she couldn’t keep leaning on me for money when I had a joint account and a husband saying “What the hell are you giving your mother all this money for?” I left and she had to get her junk together.

      And now as I see divorce ahead and a home of my own, I fear she will expect me to let her move in. I can’t have a narc living with me again. I won’t.

  • I failed on four of the five but got it together in less than four months and filed for divorce.

    1.) I never got the chance to confront. I gathered an enormous amount of evidence, saw the phone records, caught lies, saw a Snapchat photo, and saw her kiss him with my own eyes. I went the next night she was with him to confront her, to just let her know that I knew…well, her AP spotted me while they were on a date and like the coward he was, advised her to call the police.

    My ex was such a coward that her refusal to face me knowing she got caught (wasn’t the first affair either) that she filed an EPO at the suggestion of her AP. She claimed to be afraid despite zero confrontation and never have I ever threatened her. In hindsight, it would’ve been better to not have let her know I knew but I was overwhelmed with trauma and I also got to see what she was capable of doing to her spouse and father of her kids.

    2. I got mind effed by RIC people who made me apologize for my failures (ridiculous exaggerations and pet peeves about me- not character issues). At this point, I thought my ex wife was just manipulated into the affair (haha). I cringe at the early journal entries. It’s BS.

    3. Giving them time to “wake up” only delays your life and allows their ego to be fed because their affair requires your participation of wanting them. You just get more lies and their cheating never stops.

    4. Don’t beg for your marriage? Yeah. I did everything I could think of immediately post D-Day and my ex wife could not have been more cruel and dismissive. I watched as she got herself ready for her affair partner at her vanity while I begged for her to not do this to our family. It’s a moment I’ll never forget because the next day, I woke up and the pain in my chest was gone. I knew there was nothing to salvage. You should never have to beg for your own job.

    5. She had every theory of why she cheated for years. I heard it all. It’s really quite simple like CL said- it’s entitlement and selfishness. Nothing more to be known. Don’t waste energy on it.

    • I could have written most of this myself. I was lucky that when she threatened a completely fabricated DRO I immediately threw her out of the house with my adult son as a witness. Told her I would NEVER be alone with her ever again. Smartest thing I ever did. At that point she realized the jig was up and became a stark raving money grabbing banshee during the long divorce. They turn dangerous when you see behind the mask.

  • I never knew these things.
    I never knew that I would have to know them.
    I did everything wrong.
    I paid dearly.

    New Chumps: EVERYTHING.THAT.CL.SAYS

    • Same here.

      My time was well before CL, or any internet presence that I could have done research on. I just went to work during the day, came home closed the door collapsed for a few hours, then started over again the next day. My family was ll out of state, though they called me and did everything they could.

      I had one close friend, but during the time; she was working all the time trying to build her career after being chumped multiple times.

      I didn’t tell my preacher how he had treated me during the discard year, I was ashamed and thought it was my fault; because that was what he told me. I didn’t even tell my family how bad it was during that last year. Not until years later.

      • I am sorry Susie Lee. I know how you felt.
        I trusted him, loved him with all my heart.
        I never told anyone. I carried on loving and caring for our 3 year old, tried to eat healthy for unborn child. I paced, I vacuumed a lot, worked my part time, rewarding job. I had good friends, all my age with tiny children. I told not one of them. I only cried very occasionally when I was alone. My family lived far away. I never ever told them.
        You see, my cheater decided to stay, but not because I was such a great pick me dancer( although I was), I believe he stayed because he lacked the guts to tell OW that pesky wife appliance was pregnant. ( she already felt bad about taking him “ away from tiny child” . I never ever knew her name or one thing about her. He eventually changed jobs and we moved away.
        The thing is a person who will cheat in the first place, they have so many other self centred character flaws, being a Narc a biggie, of course.
        But, in my day,as you also said, there was no internet, no CL, no support. I just did what I felt I had to do.
        No Chump comes out of this ahead, but in your case, now you are in a much much better place.
        It truly looks so good on you.
        Thank you for the understanding. It really means a lot.

        Oh, now that my children are older I still feel I can never tell them. You see he did not want the baby I was carrying and I, as her Mother, know that this would hurt her deeply.

        Myself, I am ok. I guess I have even forgiven, but I will NEVER ever forget.

        • I am so sorry you went through all that.

          It hurts no matter what, but I still contend that having small children makes it so much harder. I was spared that. I was 40 and our son was fully emancipated. Of course it is never easy, but I didn’t have to be worried over my child along with my other fears and hurts.

          The conversation may come up later, and you might find a way to connect without causing the child pain.

          My son was great to me when it went down. I tried to not put him in the middle. But just recently his dad was having health issues, and he would get so frustrated he would call. (son is 51 now) He asked me some questions and it opened up some of the thing that happened. He had no idea of some of it, and I didn’t tell everything. But, I did tell him of the most painful parts, I just though it might be time for him to know, since he was asking questions.

          His dad passed 20 Jan, and he just went to the final service yesterday. I know it was difficult for him, though his dad was also (a couple years ago) abusive to him and his wife, of course he still loved the dad he remembered.

          These folks go about their life and cause so much pain, it just isn’t right; but all we can do is the best we can.

          I don’t think anyone can forget that deep of pain. I just don’t.

          • I agree Susie, there will never be a way to ponder the marriage or the DOCTOR without some pain.

            I’m not numb to it, nor am I overwhelmed by it. I was, but I’m not now. There is progress in the universe.

            There’s a scar and lingering pain that gives me pause with other men. Yes, there are huge trust issues. Occasional haunting self doubt and insecurity.

            AND YET there’s NO WAY I’ll ever be mistreated again, and stay.

            So in a way, I think I should start to feel braver about all this^^.

            I’ll never be “all in” again, and maybe that is good. Regardless, it’s the truth.

          • Susie Lee,
            I am sorry for your son’s pain.
            I am certain he is thankful for your strong presence in his life.
            We constantly try to put our children first.
            How a parent can hurt their own flesh & blood is something a Chump can never understand.
            Yes, “all we can do is the best we can”

  • I regret not going NC sooner. I ENGAGED!!! Big mistake. Granted, we were selling houses and untangling 35 years of joint finances, so I couldn’t go completely NC, but I could have gone Grey Rock before I did. I was sloppy and emotional. And although I regret that, I have compassion for my newly chumped self and am awed by her strength. Damn she accomplished a lot and held her head high!

    Life improved for me (and become considerably less fun and kibble-rich for my ex) when I started to send all his emails to my lawyer. Bwahaha. Worth every penny!!! Thanks to CL for this advice.

    Oh, and be alert to any hoovering attempts.

    • Speaking to that, I do believe that I’m getting a hoover attempt! I couldn’t be more surprised; I have one of them newfangled covert passive aggressive conflict avoidant coward narcs and I’d have never EVER thought he’d have the balls to reach out. I don’t know if it’ll turn into a full on hoover (completely doubtful) or if the timid little fella is just tapping a toe in the water to see if anything happens in the ripples, but I’ve got just a little more time while we sever all the ties that bind before I’m able to go back to full NC. Until then the most I can say that I feel about it is that the phrase “curiouser and curiouser” keeps popping in my head.

  • This list is gold. I would add that before a newly minted chump drops the bomb on their scummy spouse, they should obtain copies of all financial statements — the last couple of years’ credit card, checking account, savings account, mortgage and retirement account statements. Also, mobile phone statements, which often have phone call history listed out. This stuff can be fiendishly difficult to come by after the scummy spouse feels all sad and victimized by having their infidelity discovered.

    • I set up a new bank account the morning after I discovered. I didn’t say anything yet. Failed in a lot of other ways though.

    • Yep, lord knows how much money he spent on the whore. I am certain he handed cash to her a lot.

      Right after he moved out (he wasn’t admitting to it yet, but I knew) I called our credit card company, (we only had one, that I knew of) I requested two years of history, they mailed it to me. Quite frankly I am surprised he didn’t intercept it from our mail box. He had to know something was up because I cancelled it on the spot. Anyway it showed a lot of money spend on women’s clothing from a store in the city that our river property was in. I had never been to that store. There were also charges for a boys clothing and some toys. (my son was grown and in the AF) I am sure that was just the tip of the ice berg of financial fraud, but that and some sketchy bank statements sent to my lawyer helped me get some time and financial assistance to get on my feet. My lawyers stance was, he lied to you, stole money, and planned this for at least tow years, now you need some time to plan, and he needs to pay back some of that money, evidently the judge agreed. And we were in a no fault 50/50 state, but even then fraud and relief for that fraud can be accomplished.

  • My advice to new chumps: The best way to tell if you have a unicorn versus a jackass with a carrot on his head (thanks for that image, CL) is to take calm, swift, and decisive action to leave the marriage.

    If the cheater’s reaction is to take unequivocal responsibility for the marriage’s demise and move mountains (in real, tangible ways, like VOLUNTEERING to sign a postnup, PROACTIVELY offering up devices and financial records for scrutiny, etc) with NO PROMISE of reconciliation required, then MAYBE you have something to work with. But if such a cheater like that existed, they probably wouldn’t have cheated in the first place.

    Anything even remotely less that— or any sign of whining, anger, moping, or resentment even when doing “all the right things”— then proceed with divorce and don’t ever look back.

    If I had take this advice, I would’ve known immediately that my marriage couldn’t be saved. Instead, I wasted 3 years of my life I can never get back.

    • “If the cheater’s reaction is to take unequivocal responsibility for the marriage’s demise and move mountains (in real, tangible ways, like VOLUNTEERING to sign a postnup, PROACTIVELY offering up devices and financial records for scrutiny, etc) with NO PROMISE of reconciliation required, then MAYBE you have something to work with. But if such a cheater like that existed, they probably wouldn’t have cheated in the first place.”

      Yes.

      My mother confronted my father about possible divorce or post-nup about 8 years ago. His response? “I’ll be ruined.” No moving mountains there and she stuck around for another 8 years.

      Their divorce settlement was agreed to yesterday and is awaiting the judge’s signature today to make it final.

      Don’t waste time that you cannot get back. My parents were married for 54 years. While they had some enjoyable times, I’d say the bad outweighed the good – especially when my father started cheating and flaunted it in front of my mother. DMs from APs on Instagram, emails to APs, GETTING OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING AND TAKING A SHOWER AND GOING ON A DATE, and inviting whore one-night-stands back to the house for sleepovers (and even inviting them to stay while my mom was out of town).

      Fuckers don’t deserve your time, energy, attention, or attempts at reconciliation.

      My piece of advice, however is to PLAY THE LONG GAME. This will work in your favor if you can “go along to get along” while you get all your ducks in a row and get ready to file. Selfish, egotistical narcissists can have no idea what you are planning because it is all about them and they don’t think you’re smart enough to do anything on your own. Prove them wrong!

      • I wish a tranquil life for your mother in her remaining years. And your father can die alone, mourned by no one.

    • Yep to everything.

      I also love “unicorn versus a jackass with a carrot on his head”

      I really only let him come back once, a couple months out from Dday, it was a disaster. He treated me like shit, and I kicked him out at the end of the week. I should have insisted he go to counseling for a few months before I even thought of letting him come back. He was only using me. He would have never gone to counseling.

      Later on when he wanted to “try again” he set up a meeting with our preacher. That lasted about a half hour or less before I said nope, we are done here and walked out. To be fair, I knew going in that I was not going back. I was just curious about what he would say, and I wanted the chance to reject him. Felt good at the time, glad I did it.

      The ass’s first comment was to bring up one of my faults (his perception of course, which wasn’t even true). There was some other really odd stuff, but when he turned to me with his arrogant look and said, “I can’t make any promises” I thanked the preacher for his time and said “we are done here” and I walked out.

      My guess is his willy was still wet from schmoops when he showed up at that session. Dupers delight and all.

      Preacher called later to apologize, said he (the ex) didn’t say anything like he was expecting.

      He just wanted to destabilize me, as he knew I was moving on. I am sure in his mind I would jump at the chance to compete with the whore for him. Yeah, no. She was welcome to him. I can’t think of any two people who deserved each other more.

  • I wish I had waited to confront to get more evidence however the way it all unfolded so quickly it wasn’t a possibility. I don’t really care if I have hardcore proof now but I do think it would have helped me in the beginning with all of the gaslighting.

    I should have immediately called a lawyer. He called his lawyer immediately and filed. I signed us up for therapy while debating my next move.

    One thing I am proud of though is I immediately cut off him, his flying monkeys and his family from my life/social media. There was nothing to discuss or vague post on social media.

    • We just do the best we can in real time.

      I wish I had asked him to file the day he moved out to “get his head on straight”

      It took me about 3 weeks to recoup enough to call and ask him to file. I remember just being so much in shock. I called him at work, which I had not talked to him since he confessed and moved out. He said, I want you to file as I don’t want to hurt you. HA. I said no, you want the divorce, the least you can do is file and take responsibility for it. So, he hemmed and hawed and said well, I don’t want you served. I said I am a big girl, that is nothing compared to the pain I am already in.

      Then I said, I think we need to get our finances separated, and if you want a divorce the only way to get it is to get it started.

      What he didn’t know was I had already retained a lawyer, and though I did really want himn to file to own the divorce, I also knew that him filing would work to my benefit. The lawyer was ready to pounce with a really good maintenance plan. He said he could fight it, but likely given his public situation wouldn’t’. He said even if he fought it, he would likely lose. He didn’t fight it, which surprised me. In fact down the line he drug his feet and the maintenance period lasted longer than I had initially asked for.

      Looking back without emotion, I have wondered what the hell was going through his mind. He certainly knew the marriage was over, he had blown that to smithereens. He was paying out a lot of money, and he was a tight ass, so weird.

  • When they insist you are a villain, agree, say “yup”. I transformed into Magneto, super villain, If you are going be cast, better pick a good one. BwaAaaHhahaAAAhHHaaaaa.
    After years of non stop untangling the skein of “what the hell just happened?” I found out I came to a dead stop of that thinking with two thoughts:

    #1. You can’t make a moral choice for anyone else. Even if you could, would you want to?
    #2. Most relationships deepen as they age. Most partners realize that there is an intrinsic value for both partners in the union that should be protected. For you it worked the RIGHT WAY. No wonder the loss hurts so badly, it is a natural result of the loss. That attachment value did not form or happen on cheaters side.
    (Don’t worry, it most likely will not develop in future relationships, no matter how good they are at faking it.) THAT is not natural. That is not normal.

  • #1 cannot be emphasized enough, and no your cheater is not different. Tell them nothing about your suspicisions and gather everything without them being the wiser. Once you tell confront them it gets so much more difficult to find anything. They cover their tracks based on what you believe to be their evidence. Confronting him too soo and staying too long is my biggest regret. I’m now left with a vault of information that I’ll never know, and otherwise may have been able to figure out. But that plays into #5, the wasting of time trying to figure them out. What a waste, I spent a full year on this, one I’ll never get back. In the end I believe mine is no better than a con-artist. If we had been business partners he would go to jail for the financials, but since the contract is marriage he gets away with little consequences. Why is that? And seriously don’t blame yourself. I remember thinking it was my fault for a while because I was so busy with out children and prioritized them– Spoiler alert, its not the children or the fact that I put them first. He was cheating from the moment we said “I do”, years prior to children. Its also not our appearance. I was in great shape in my 20’s and he was still cheating (with women not even attractive at all!- if that tells you it not about appearance- they like the thrill of it all and the power it gives them). The cheater is flawed.

  • My divorce was begun back in 1997. No Chumplady then, just some AOL message boards about reconciliation versus divorce. Women were pretty rabid on those sites as far as who has it more difficult, etc. Cat fights, not supportive like this site.

    I flew by the seat of my pants, and pretty much did all the things CL said.

    His wasn’t a long drawn out affair, he had that before we married (and I married him anyway, duh). He knew if it happened again I would walk.

    He was chatting up a gal online that he “met” in an AOL sex chat room. Told me about her, but said although her profile said she lived in the next state over, she really lived farther away, which I knew was a lie.So my antennae were out and watching. I learned he was talking on the phone to her soon after. I bought a voice activated recorder and a thingie that plugs into it and the phone jack,before cells were common, and found out that he met her in a motel for the first time the day before, when he pretended to me he went to work.

    I was SO ANGRY I started getting my ducks in a row. Separate bank account, changed my direct deposit, copied every piece of paper I needed, took the deed, met with a shark lawyer that was recommended to me. Lawyer told me to take half of the $$ in our accounts and put it in mine.

    Within 4 days I confronted him. He had met with her again and I already knew it from the phone tap. He blamed me and I threw it back in his face. Made him listen to the tape. Actually I chased him around the house and made him hear it, all the while he was yelling “You’re taunting me”. LOL. He couldn’t deny it. My anger carried me through. Went No Contact, had a realtor find a townhouse for me to move into, and let my lawyer handle everything. That part wasn’t easy, there were times when I felt sorry for ex, didn’t want to take what I was due. But my therapist insisted “You hired the attorney to handle this, let him handle it. Stay out of the negotiations”.

    I ended up with a fabulous settlement. Realized I was at Meh when I unknowingly pulled up behind him at a toll booth on the NJ Turnpike and he waved and it took me awhile to figure out who it was, and then I didn’t care. I didn’t wave back.

    So newbies, follow what CL advises. Find your anger, it’ll propel you forward to do the things you need to do. Confide in family and friends if possible, don’t hide what has happened, it’s not your shame to bear. People who have been through this understand best, it’s a pain unlike any other. No contact is absolutely essential, I was going nuts with his sweet talk for the 6 weeks it took me to obtain different housing. I cut off contact with all his family and friends. He was such a liar I knew he was spinning tales, and sure enough he even lied in the interrogatories, etc. Writing in a journal is excellent for letting your grief out. I have a dysfunctional FOO, so therapy was very much needed. And be prepared for the roller coaster ride that divorce is. You can be doing so well for a couple days then you’re crying in the car, in the shower, in your pillow. This is all normal, it’ll get better.

    • “That part wasn’t easy, there were times when I felt sorry for ex, didn’t want to take what I was due.”

      Yep, I said to my lawyer, I want to be fair. He said, fair? he has been lying to you and planning this for at least two years, this is about giving you time to get on your feet. He had time to plan, now you get yours. He was right. After that I just told him what I wanted and he took care of it.

  • For the record, I did some nutty shit post D-Day, BUT I totally LAUGH ABOUT IT NOW and forgive myself. In fact, forgiving myself is something I don’t even have to do, it’s just merely words to describe I did some things that in a normal mental state I never would have done.

    …I made sure his co-workers knew, called/texted the OW (several), raged, ranted, sleuthed, broke things, etc. The cheating f*cker made me crazy. The stress of it all literally changed the chemicals in my body and altered my way of thinking. I have never experienced that altered state of mind ever in my life except during the intense days of discovery, discard and endless gaslighting. Today, I don’t give a sh*t.

    I will not feel bad about one iota of the things I did post dealing with a sociopath and surviving severe emotional and mental trauma.

    • True.

      It has been a long time, but thinking back. I don’t really think I regret what I did as much as the things I didn’t do.

      I should have been a lot nastier. I also wish I had extended the legal separation (maintenance time) for the full three years. He deserved that. At the time I thought he would harass me, but in hindsight I realized he likely would have been fine with it. For some reason he was not in a hurry to divorce. I suspect he was desperately trying to save his ass at work, and delay remarriage. Lol. What an idiot.

  • Everyone who has gone through infidelity needs to read this blog post over & over until it sinks in!
    This is the best advice ever!

    You can only control yourself & your actions.
    Focus & invest in yourself not the cheater!
    Self love ❤️ is a good thing!
    I wasn’t taught this & it kept me stuck for years.
    Love thyself as you love others.

  • I regret not going NC right away and having all communication go through lawyers. It would have cost more $$ but been worth every penny because even though he had been abusive for the entirety of our 20-year relationship, old Best Regards (I call him that bc that’s how he immediately started signing emails to me after abandoning me for a colleague of mine he had known for 3 weeks) saved his cruelest mindfuckery for after DDay. I would have paid anything to have spared myself that. And I would be farther along now on the road to meh. But like ImaPhool says above, I was in shock, and I hadn’t woken up to who I was really married to yet, so I have to cut myself some slack for staying in contact with him and trying to get him to explain to me what was going on and why he was doing this to me.

    • “I was in shock, and I hadn’t woken up to who I was really married to yet, so I have to cut myself some slack for staying in contact with him and trying to get him to explain to me what was going on and why he was doing this to me.”

      Absolutely, I mean we are human beings with real feelings, they might not be anymore, or maybe never were; but for us it was real.

  • Between D-Day #1 and D-Day #2, I kept Amazon in business with all the books I bought. I wasted SO much time trying to figure him out. After reading several unhelpful books, I finally read LACGAL.

    I wasn’t a total badass when D-Day #2 came but I DID have a firm boundary ready in terms of knowing it was a deal-breaker and the marriage was over (thank you CL and CN!). And I did move fast to take advantage of his not wanting to move out right away (he had become a hoarder) – I got a favorable-to-me post-nup done quickly.

    But the year or so of in-house separation was AWFUL. The only upside was I benefited financially and in terms of health care coverage (the U.S. needs truly universal health care SOON to prevent people, mostly women, from feeling stuck in bad marriages in order to have health insurance). Newbies: find a way to avoid in-house separation! The stress of it has probably shortened my life. Once they know you’re aware of the person they REALLY are, there’s no more incentive for them to hide behind the mask. He was mean and nasty and a total asshole.

    The Python (my ex) slept on my couch and trust me: having a huge snake spend the night in your living room, even if you’re upstairs in a bedroom with the door shut, is a very creepy feeling!

    • I’m so sorry about the in-house separation; that sounds like a nightmare.

      I also spent a ton on books about narcissism on Amazon in the early days. Funny thing about that, though: they all went on Best Regards’ credit card because of a long story that’s not worth telling about how he threatened to cut off all my credit and then never followed through (b/c follow-through is hardz). I don’t think he got to see what titles I ordered b/c that info was listed under my account on Amazon, but I still chuckle every time I think about how many narcissism books my narcissist bought me….

  • I might have overshared with friends and acquaintances.

    When I vented to close friends and family, I did so for their support.

    When I vented to not-so-close friends, I did so (I confess) to sully my ex’s rep, to get my narrative out there.

    I probably shouldn’t have bothered. And I suspect I put people in an awkward situation. I mean, I didn’t have to tell people that they slept in our bed. As Mr. CL says, “If it feels good, don’t do it.”

    At least I didn’t rent a billboard.

  • Move your half of the assets from any joint accounts ASAP ! Upon discovery, when you separate.

    Paulina Porizkova, one of the top models from back in the day, popped up in my news/gossip feed. I didn’t follow the details when her husband Ric Ocasek (the Cars) died. Oh brother.. They were legally separated but still living together in their $10 million townhouse in the Gramercy Park neighborhood in Manhattan. She was caretaking him after a major surgery when he croaked.

    Unbeknownst to her, he rewrote his will, excluding her and his two sons from his first marriage. He was married three times and fathered two sons with each wife. Paulina was wife #3. He stole her half with his will and she was a high earner (the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, for example) !
    Now the lawyers will sort it out and take a large chunk.

    Granted, Ric was an asshole (one of the disinherited sons called him a narcissist) and Paulina was a wifetress. I don’t see any mention of cheating, just Ric being an aging jerk. Read her bio to understand all her childhood trauma. This is advice to NOT wait a few months to get organized. Act quickly to protect your financial future.

    • Paulina is trying to get gigs to earn money. Her modeling days are over so I see USB hired her to discuss older women and finances.

    • I remember reading about that within the past few months and was praying that my mom would outlive my FW father before they got divorced so that my brother and I didn’t get screwed. Aside from all the cheating, lying, and abuse she put up with, the final straw was when she and my father were renewing their wills and trust. My mom wanted a “bimbo clause” in case she predeceased my father so that if he remarried my brother and I would still receive an inheritance. He said “no, I get it all and the kids can have what’s left.” That was what made my mom file for divorce – to make sure her kids received her share of the assets if she died first.

    • Ric monkeybranched towards wives 2.0 and 3.0, as a cheater. A twenty year age difference between Paulina and Ric. His first wife was pregnant with their second son when he bolted. What a p.o.s And a homely one at that 🤮💩

  • I don’t know.

    I wish I had told more of what went on in the devaluation phase. I think so many folks (who haven’t experienced it) romanticize infidelity. To them, it happens get over it etc. Because they have not experienced it (that they know of yet) they don’t know about the nights spent alone because he is out (riding around with one of the patrolmen), that he is using massive amounts of money to “date” while the spouse is working and watching his or her spending because money is tight, that they are conning the unsuspecting spouse into financial agreements based on what the betrayed spouse thinks is a solid marriage. So many other things.

    I believe these things need to be shouted from the roof tops. I wish I had. I should have given the stuff I wrote to help myself to at the very least our preacher. If I had, he would have seen the fw for who he is, and likely would not have agreed to a meet up to “try and work it out”.

    Also, the preacher had to have dealt with others since he was the police chaplain, maybe that knowledge would have helped him help future betrayed spouses. I know our preacher was a good man, and though he eventually figured the fw out, I could have helped him help me. But as I said I was ashamed. The only person who knew for years was my husband. I was totally open with him as he was with me.

    But, thanks to CL and a couple other folks; this hidden shit is getting out there now.

    • I agree that nobody ever thinks about the money spent on the cheating partner. And no one realizes that we were being devalued (even if in subtle ways) the minute they started an emotional affair with someone else. I started getting depressed, but he was Mr. Wonderful, so I don’t think it had anything to do with him – I thought it was me. It took me a while after Dday to realize that the funk I had been in was because of his withdrawing and detaching from me… ever so slowly.

      • Yes, we sense it, just can’t put a finger on it. At least for a while. In my case he said it was work stress, and he just needed space, so I backed away and gave him space, opened the doors wide open for them to have their fun. Thought I was being a supportive wife.

  • Your advice could be mandatory reading for every child, teenager, young adult, and every marriage preparation program.

    Twenty-seven years ago was my first D-Day – it was a different generation. My husband (now STBX) came home from a business trip & confessed to a one-night stand. He seemed remorseful, based on his facial expressions & the words he said. He totally controlled the conversation. I accepted his apology & genuinely thought he would be able to control himself. It seemed so contrary to the person I knew, & that my family knew. I began a version of the pick me dance: I tried to be a better person & sexier than any nameless woman out there. But I lost all desire for him in a physical way. I did not lose the desire to have him love only me, and care for our family. Back then, I had read enough Ann Landers’ columns where the standard advice was that if the man strays, heat it up in the bedroom so he would not want to go outside of marriage for his “needs.” Hahah- I just could not do that. And I ended up taking more blame on my shoulders. He went more underground, and I found out 13 years later that more was happening. Again, no good advice & by then we had had 2 more children & I was truly stuck financially.
    He told me who he was – and I didn’t believe him.
    I never once thought that he had other ethical choices – I took the blame all on my shoulders.
    I begged for my marriage by my actions – and he took that as consent to keep up the abuse.
    I did not get STD testing 27 years ago OR 20 years ago on D-Day #2 OR 10 years ago on D-Day #3 – and ended up with HPV.
    I did not tell anyone about his cheating, so no one had the opportunity to tell me anything.
    I wasted time and money trying to figure out why our marriage lacked joy and comfort. He didn’t have the same concern, he said he was happy & he appeared happy. Over the years (ugh – 36!) enough facts became apparent, but I will never know the full truth. After complete re-education from CL, a trusted counselor, and other friends, I finally knew that I didn’t want to be with someone who could hide his real life from me, risk my health, and use our money for what I did not agree to using it for.

    To anyone new: on D-Day – don’t take the blame. Don’t freeze & do nothing. Don’t continue to believe in the impression your spouse or partner wants to project. Don’t ignore your gut feelings. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Don’t continue to treat your spouse as your friend. Don’t neglect your health. Don’t be ignorant about your finances.

  • Do not accept any blame for their cheating. Do not let them try to foist it on you.

    Do not hide everything they are doing from the children. Depending on the age of the children give brief true facts. My ex demonized me to our kids, and I protected him, during his affair and the aftermath. This was not fair to me. He was doing and saying awful things about me. I should have said that your father was seeing someone else and this is what is causing the tension.

  • I had the tv on today while I was getting ready to go out. I would like to add one piece of advice to CL’s today, about things NOT to do if you find your spouse cheating. Do not go on Dr. Phil and let the whole world know you and your spouse are complete idiots. There was a couple on who claimed to want to save their relationship, and both of them were the most toxic people I can imagine. I doubt either of them were telling the truth, or would know it if it bit them in the butt, but they both looked awful. The woman especially annoyed me, she would not let her spouse or Dr Phil talk without saying or doing something distracting, and her accumulation of “irrefutable” evidence looked like a homeless person’s shopping cart. It was awful. I did not see the whole episode, and I don’t know what advice Dr. Phil offered, but mine would have been to run, not walk, to the nearest mental health facility and check in.

    These two looked like prime examples of emotional vomiting. Both were jealous of any attention the other received, and prone to cursing and violent vandalism. It was a sad sight. IMHO, no one should be married to either of these people, and it really did not matter if one or both of them were cheaters. This is a really bad look for anyone.

    You don’t have to deny your truth, or protect your cheater. You do have to act like a sane person in public. If you have a come-apart like this, you deserve the title crazy ex. You don’t need to be married to anyone. She kept harping, “I just want him to tell the truth, the whole truth, and then I will forgive him.” Not really folks. She wanted him to admit what she thought was the truth, but she couldn’t even answer a direct question herself. Every transaction between these two was full of rationalization.

    I’ve been in some dark places in my mind, during hard times in my life, but I am proud to say I never lost it in public like these two. Cry and scream if you need to, but do it someplace where you will be safe, or with a trained professional. Have realistic expectations about what friends and family members can stand to hear. In the end, if here is that much anger, you are far better off getting as far away from the toxic person as you can. Don’t drink the poison, and expect the other person to die.

    • The few times I have watched Dr. Phil and it has been a while, it looked like Jerry Springer type stuff.

      My pride kept me from doing or saying too much. Even to my own detriment. I should have told my preacher the whole story.

      But, I was humiliated, walking around in a daze and for a while just existing. Once I started to come out of it, I was more in control or at least in control of my emotions.

      • Unfortunately I think all the reality shows, and the Springer type shows, and even the shows that sometimes do offer some help seek the sensational cases to increase the viewing numbers. This one caught my attention because it was about cheating, and whether to stay married. I like to listen to alternate points of view sometimes, just to see if I need to alter my own. These two people were really pathetic.

        The only thing that interested me was both attempted maneuvers on the marriage police force, and dribbling the truth, and asking a question back instead of answering a question. Both wanted to make the other look bad, in public. Both succeeded, both looked bad. It is the kind of display that makes you cringe, and promise yourself you will never do THAT!

        I know when you are devastated, in shock, in a rage, you can do or say things you later regret. But these two had no pride, no filter, no boundaries. Even if you have video evidence of your ex cheating, you don’t share it with his mother, or your children. It’s just not appropriate, or necessary for them to understand he did a bad thing. It does not reflect well on your judgement.

        I only commented on it today because of the topic. I wondered if it would make some of us feel better about mistakes we had made, because at least we didn’t do THAT!

        • Ha true.

          The only thing I remember doing out of anger, was when his mom and I caught him and the whore at our River property that he conned me into signing for. They had left and I saw the ten year old kids BB gun on the couch. I had already seen the credit history when he bought that gun for the kid before we were separated. I picked it up and threw it on the floor.

          We left. The fw called me at work and said you broke whores son’s bb gun. I said if that is the worst thing I do, you should count yourself lucky. I paid for it, I can do what I want with it. Then I hung up on him. I honestly didn’t think I dropped it that hard, but I don’t care that it broke. Luckily I didn’t think of shoving it up his ass, I could have gone to jail for that.

          That was my only “violent” act. Honestly after that, I pretty much started getting stronger and stronger daily. I could feel it. I was moving on. Down the line when he tried circling back, I said no thanks. I had lost all respect for him. He just looked small and pitiful to me.

  • Does anybody not do these? I did # 2 – 5 big time. And I’m someone who had previously been dumped many times in my first marriage ( he kept changing his mind until I finally left) ….. and I swore if that ever happened again I would not ask to work things out. It’s hard for me to imagine being very in love and very invested with children involved… and jumping right to ending it.
    It’s been a year and I’m still working on my detachment game. It’s getting better though but Covid hasn’t helped. And I just want to add that even if your physical health wasn’t risked, they all play with our mental health. The minute they start investing in somebody else… they start devaluing us, and all that goes with that.

  • I regret having done all the wrong things, the first time around. This was a few years before Chump Lady appeared, there was only the RIC.

    Thought he’d be grateful for the second chance. Hah.

    At least by the second affair, I was much clearer in my head, and heart. And my kids were big enough to have a say in custody time division (fortunately early here, around age 12).

  • #4 – Begging for my marriage…my lowest point.

    After “pick me” dancing for a year, the alien that I believed would sometimes take hold of my husband’s brain returned. It was probably the 6th or 7th time that year that he did this. After appearing to work on things and it seemingly going well, he would regress, and life would become the Twilight Zone. So, there he was, again, saying that he was not feeling anything for me. Just a month before he swore how he was going to do everything in his power to fight for the marriage. We were out on a date when he told me how happy and relieved he was that he was with me. And, then boom!

    How did I react this time?

    I gave him an article I had just come across that interviewed a couple that had been married for more than 50 years. The focus of the article was how the couple admitted that there were times they didn’t feel in love with one another over the years, but how they persevered, believing that even though you may only see clouds, the sun rests assuredly behind them. I thought it so poignant to our situation. I had him read the article on his own and take some time to mull over it.

    Then, I walked into the living-room with my chart paper. Yep, chart paper. With the title, “Why It’s Worth It,” and bullet points outlining my argument for why our marriage was worth saving. I had prayed on this so hard and really felt that I was being moved by God in the argument that I laid out. I gave the most epic speech. Beautifully sad, really. Surely my husband would be so inspired.

    There this man sat, with his wife, the mother of his children, the one who had just supported him through full-time studies for a university degree while in his 40s, pouring every ounce of her being into fighting for him. What husband wouldn’t want that? What husband would not recognize that this is a woman who is for life? That this is a woman who will care for him when he is sick and defend him through any battle? What an amazing life to be had together.

    What man? My husband.

    I am a well-accomplished woman, well educated, great job. I try hard to be a good person. Volunteer in the community, work with teens, help in my kids activities. Blah, blah, blah. None of it mattered to this man anymore. I’ve worked hard in my life, but there has never been anything that I poured myself into more than that evening I made my desperate plea. Five weeks later, just after Christmas, he was gone for good and joined his affair partner. To this day he maintains that they were only just friends. He doesn’t know that in the last week before he left, I discovered the secret email account and printed everything there between him and the OW. Their relationship was just over 21 months of our marriage.

    The reality is that a part of my spirit broke that night in my desperation, blind to my reality and fool enough to believe that I possessed any control over the situation at all. I was not dealing with a normal man who thinks and feels in a healthy or normal manner. I didn’t understand that. That is the darkest side of cheating that will hurt us more than the actual act of cheating itself. That is why you don’t ever beg or try to reason. You detach immediately.

    Three years later I am not broken any more. But, I don’t forget my lowest point and the callousness with which I was treated. I know exactly who and what my ex is. I also know own worth. Should I ever meet the love of my life, he will get the woman who knows how to stay, but he will never get a woman who will allow herself ever to be treated like an option again. And a good man will never do so.

    • You are right, They don’t think or feel the way normal folks do. Either because they have seared their conscience, or they had always been that way and we just didn’t know. One is the same as the other, they are gone, and we are better off without them. Hard to go through though. Very hard.

      I am glad you have come out healthy on the other side.

  • I regret imagining that there was a way to “go back” to what I thought I had. It helps to grasp, from the beginning, that a breach of trust of this magnitude has to has consequences for the cheater. I regret writing the “doesn’t x and y and z mean anything to you?” letter. The fact that he cheated already answered that question. I regret writing him even one word in which I showed my pain.

    That would be on top of my “don’t do” list:
    1. Don’t talk to the cheater about your pain, your suffering, or how much you want to save the marriage/relationship. The person who should be explaining is the cheater. The affair itself is the indication that the cheater is indifferent to your suffering. You can’t make someone who lacks empathy “feel” your pain, and telling them just gives them ammunition to use against you emotionally (“you are clingy/too emotional/overreacting”) or strategically (if they know it hurts, they can do it again to gain advantage; if they know your tender spots, they can manipulate you).

    2. Don’t keep their secrets. If you have parents or siblings or other relatives who will be supportive, tell them what’s going on. You don’t have to give details, just, “FW has been having an affair with T-BallHo, one of the T-ball moms. I’m seeing a lawyer on Tuesday to figure out my options.” If the in-laws call to guilt you, say “Cheater is having an affair. He broke his promises to me.” If you are a mess, as I was, a therapist will be very helpful as you struggle to get through the part where it feels like your brain is full of snakes.

    3. Don’t forgive. I never had this issue because Jackass did the full discard to me. But if your first move is to forgive the cheater, you have things backwards. What is he going to DO to show that he has actual remorse, not Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse? It won’t be words, flowers, a vacation, jewelry or a vow renewal ceremony. This person was fine with lying, gaslighting you, manipulating you and cheating. What indicates that his or her character has changed? And a month of two of making dinner twice a week or putting the toilet seat down doesn’t cut it.

    “Forgiveness” is about your readiness to give up your feelings or anger, bitterness, sadness and grief in response to the wrong someone has done to you. It really has nothing to do with the Cheater, in this guess. Cheaters want “forgiveness” because they want to move on and pretend it never happened and that they are still in control. It is not in any chump’s interest to put their own feelings aside to “forgive” make the one who cheated more comfortable.

    4. Don’t get confused about trust. The issues is not that you don’t “trust” the cheater. It’s that the cheater is not trustworthy. So if the cheater starts in on you not “trusting,” the response should be: “You broke my trust for you. It’s up to you to figure out ow to earn trust again. But it will take a long time for that to happen, if it ever does.”

    • “I regret writing him even one word in which I showed my pain.”

      Same here. I mean it was early on, and I got stronger fairly fast, but dang I hate that I wrote that note. He was still at home, I knew he was cheating but he was still just saying, “I think it will work out, I just need space to get my head on straight”

      That was the line he used to get out of the house easier. Then he came back a week later and dropped the whore bomb. Used all the typical cheater lines: “I have been unhappy for ten years, I have dated for ten years, I never loved you yada yada yada” I basically just stood there and took it.

      When he described his first sex act with the whore in a loving way, I said “I am your wife, the mother of your child, you don’t tell me about sex with another woman” I can’t remember the exact words, but it was close to that. He left. These fw’s are vicious. It is like they have to totally blow up the bridge. No compassion whatsoever.

      • Susie I wrote a note like that to him too, early on
        I was so mad that I did it, I went and found it in his bad and destroyed it
        Fucker
        ❤️

      • ” It is like they have to totally blow up the bridge.” Yep!
        My XW effected her discard the same way. She could’ve just walk out the door, she didn’t had to burn down the whole damn house! (metaphorically speaking, of course) She treated me horribly – I didn’t deserve it; no “chump” deserves that.

    • There is a difference between forgiveness and absolution. Forgiveness is for us. What our FWs want is absolution – to be freed from guilt, obligation or consequence.

      No way!

      • I think that is what that “lets be friends” is about. If they can yuk it up with the Chump; then well they can say Chump and I are fine, it was mutual.

    • That’s a tough one. You can try handling it yourself, or through family/friends or maybe a therapist/counselor, but genuine parental alienation typically has to be vetted via the court system…which can be a lengthy process requiring considerable evidence.

      In the mean, keep your the kids out of the middle of it all and always take the “high road”.

      Also, sometimes, the alienating parent’s actions can backfire; the kids figure things out for themselves (they’re quite intuitive!) as to what’s going on.

  • We have not had sex in 10 years. (Been married for 28). Just found out in November that he was screwing his secretary for the past 8 years because I “refuse” to have sex with him. (Nope, didn’t refuse – just got tired of being his blowup doll at 2 every morning in order for him to be able to sleep. Controlling, demanding, demeaning, and already had two affairs. I just gave up and we stopped having sex). I knew it was not healthy, and I watched “their” relationship and knew theirs was not appropriate, either. But didn’t realize the extent of it until I came home from work early and found them in bed together. His response? “It’s just sex. Nothing has to change”.

    And yet, EVERYTHING has changed.
    So now all I hear are excuses as to why it’s my fault. He says he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me, but won’t stop having sex with her because if he stops having sex with her, he is doomed to never having sex again. He doesn’t feel like he’s cheating, because he’s ONLY having sex with her, and not both of us.
    I’m not doing the pick-me dance because I don’t think I even want to have sex with him anymore.

    I do feel somewhat responsible – because it’s true – we haven’t had sex. I have read just about every blog post and every comment and have not come across this situation. It seems to be unique. Has anyone else had the situation that their husband cheated because of NO SEX whatsoever? I mean, who can blame him? (I did tell him, if the marriage was that horrible, don’t cheat. Just get divorced already!)

    He wants our life to stay the same. CAKE. Everything stays the way it is, only he sleeps with her. (And she comes to our house to work out with him 5 days a week.) He loves me, wants to grow old with me, work together with me, travel with me, retire with me. But sleep with her.

    Oh – and he’s a pastor. If I leave him it doesn’t just affect me. It affects our church staff of 12 and the 100 people who are members of the church and the hundreds of people who know us as pastors. It will be a scandal, leaving a mark on the church. Another minister fallen.

    I’m at a loss. I have told him I am leaving but he made me promise that we will do it “properly”, and quit the church together. (End of summer, after certain events are finished and we sell our house.) Our home atmosphere is civilized, even friendly. He doesn’t seem to believe me that I’m leaving and we have to have the same conversations over and over again. (Just had it again tonight when he made mention of something different he wanted to do with the Christmas lights next year. I said, “are you really expecting me to still be here next Christmas?” He acted shocked, as if he was hearing it for the first time. We’ve had this conversation 4 times already.

    Oh – and we are overseas. Our life is here. When I leave it’s not just packing up and moving across town. It’s moving back to the United States.

    • Pastor’s Wife,

      The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

      Since you’ve been tolerating abusive behavior for years, he doesn’t take your leaving seriously. Cheating is sexual abuse but I’m glad in your case he’s only porking the woman that comes to your house (!) for “work”. Contracting hpv and aids comes to mind. Get a full std panel. Mr. Erection poking you in the middle of the night sounds dreadful. No woman wants to be treated like a blowup doll.🤮

      Will your church recognize financially all your contributions as a pastor’s wife when you leave and move back to the States ?Consult with a financial professional.

      Good luck to you. Join the support groups on Facebook and Reddit. I’m sure other pastors’ wives have walked down the path you’re taking and have good tips.

    • You aren’t the only one. I stopped having sex with FW 4 years ago. I had made sporadic attempts after D-day #2 but when I saw him out with another woman while my then two-year-old son and I were driving to the grocery store (he was supposed to be at work – not leaving the park with a woman and a picnic basket), that was the end of it. He had cheated on me when I was pregnant. I was 7 months along when D-day #2 happened and he had claimed sex addiction. In my head I wanted out but was financially trapped. I knew it would be a long time until I could go. Over a year or two, I wasn’t really seeing evidence of him cheating. I was exhausted with the baby and had suffered some serious damage with birth such that I couldn’t have sex for six months without horrible pain. Seeing him with OW was the end of any last ideas about trying any more. About six months later, a babysitter saw how controlling FW is. She survived a FW herself after 30 years of marriage. She introduced me to her books on narcissism. I then knew I was right to want to go.

      He has slept around so much, looking at him is gross to me. He threatened me with divorce twice over this past year and the second time I told him go on ahead. He hasn’t and it has given me time to copy important documents but only a bit at a time because he now works from home and never leaves.

      I’m sorry you are stuck overseas in this situation. The church will survive your FW spouse and so will you. I hope you find a way out. Me, too!

      • Thank you! It is hard not to feel somewhat responsible for not having sex for so long, but this was also not his first affair. This Saturday we will be married for 28 years. The first one was 7 years after we were married, lasted for two years, and she was the love of his life. He swore they weren’t sleeping together, they “just kissed”. I was so naive and believed him. We got counseling and stayed together for the sake of the church. During that time we WERE having sex at the same time he was having sex with her. (So the lack of sex was a non-existent issue during that affair, so that could not be used as the excuse. He was just in love with her.).

        Things were never the same after that. He said he never loved me and only married me because everyone thought I was a “good wife” for the ministry. He grieved the OW and resented me for having to leave her and stay with me. (She was also married, and both she and her husband worked for him). They both quit the ministry and soon after that she got pregnant and started a family. (Of course I kept tabs on what that baby looked like, but she is a replica of the OW’s husband, so thankfully that was not an issue for us).

        We moved on and a few years later he had an emotional affair with another lady who volunteered in the church. I watched it for an entire summer and when they realized I knew about it, they stopped and swore it wouldn’t happen again.

        Our relationship got worse and we just “quit” having sex. My husband is a highly sexed person, so I didn’t know what he was doing to fulfill that need, but I didn’t really care. He was mean and demeaning and controlling, and my body just did not respond to him. I felt like a blowup doll every time we had sex. He masturbated a lot, so I figured that was it. Turns out after DDay In November, I found out that he really WAS sleeping with the lady during the first affair and not just kissing, and he had been sleeping with the 2nd woman from the emotional affair for the past 8 years. Says it is the only thing that has kept him sane and able to be nice to me and to pastor the church. Otherwise he would have gone crazy. He feels no remorse as he thinks the current OW was a “gift” from God that saved our marriage. But apparently she’s VERY GOOD in bed so he’s not willing to get rid of her and try to rekindle the flame with his wife. He thinks I am the most “non-sexual person he knows”. He said he does not love her, he loves me (so NOW he loves me), and with her it is just sex. He is really good at compartmentalizing, so I kind of believe him. But I know that for HER it is not “just sex”.

        If it wasn’t for the church and the fact that I live on the other side of the world, I would be gone already. I love him but can’t have a husband who sleeps with another woman in order to “stay sane”. I have more self-respect than that. But living in this same house with him is no fun at all. He’s mopy, sullen, polite but quiet. He blames me for ruining his life and ministry. Makes me sad.

        I hope you find a way out, too! It’s hard to live with a narcissist!

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