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Am I Selfish for Leaving Him?

leave a cheaterHello Chump Lady.

This is hard to write to you — but I am not sure if it’s hard because of the situation, or because I am bracing myself for the chumpslap across the face that I know is coming.

I need to know that leaving isn’t selfish, horrible, and downright bitchy.

Married 13 years. 3 beautiful kids. Good jobs, nice house, blah blah blah.

This year, I was finally gaining traction. In the midst of a pandemic, I was doing great in my job, my kids were thriving, we were on a roll. And then — I had that strange guy feeling settle inside of me again. The one where I know something is just… off. After getting SUPER paranoid, I went to an all new low… and I saw everything I was praying I wouldn’t see.

My husband was video chatting again. With men, again. For months at a time, again. See, this is the third time I have found my husband emailing/chatting/video chatting/sexting. And it’s always men. Of course he cried and apologized and minimized and deflected and tried to get me to feel bad. But this time something just…. snapped. I don’t even feel angry. I just feel stupid. And like the biggest loser with no self-respect and no value. How do I leave — but how do I stay? I don’t really know.

I come from a very conservative, fundamentalist Christian background, where “Divorce is not an option.” But I find myself flipping the bird and cursing him out every time he is near me with his back turned. He says he’s not gay (he says he WON’T be labeled that, it’s not what he wants), but I know he is.

I have lived with this for 10 years (the first time I saw chats), and I think I am just done. And EVERYTHING I have read about my situation (straight person married to a not straight person) is very telling — almost 95% of these marriages fall apart — it’s just a matter of time.

Do I just deal with it now? Our kids are so small… and I am terrified of what I would do. And how they would handle it. But if I wait, I don’t know how I will not just lose interest in EVERYTHING. I am not the person I was when we got married — something is broken inside of me. And he isn’t the man he was when we got married — he never told me the whole truth. I empathize with him.

It can’t be easy to be told that what you are is wrong and sinful, and be expected to try to change that your entire life. But on the flip side- he didn’t have to drag me into this, and now our innocent kids.

Oh!! And he says “I’m not walking away from US. We’re better than this! We’re worth more than my mistakes.” Cue flipping of all the birds when he walks away.

Help me. Tell me I’m not the selfish one here…

~Straight Spouse in Need

Dear Straight Spouse in Need,

You are not the selfish one here. He is for making you his beard.

He’s not begging for you, he’s begging for cover. For his Straight Male Christian Life with his Christian wife and beautiful kids and nice house and veil of acceptable heteronormative pleasantness. You leave him? He has to face himself.

He’s not fighting for your marriage, he’s fighting to keep his lie alive. A lie that is working for him, but killing you.

Leaving him isn’t selfish and horrible, it’s self-preservation! I’m not going to bitchslap you, lean in here for a hug. You are WORTH it. You MATTER. You deserve a partner who is attracted to you and who loves you for YOU.

Leaving him isn’t about dishonoring marriage or hating gays. You leave because you refuse to be part of sham. You want a REAL marriage, not a lie. And you cannot respect a man who isn’t true to himself or to you.

I need to know that leaving isn’t selfish, horrible, and downright bitchy.

Bitchy? You’re allowed to be angry about this. Your husband keeps insisting you invest deeper in his mirage of loving, committed straight partner. Bitchy is like, I didn’t get the right sort of mineral water.

You know what they say about bitches? Being In Total Control of Herself.

I’m sure he won’t like you asserting yourself. Oh hey, you didn’t enjoy being cheated on.

See, this is the third time I have found my husband emailing/chatting/video chatting/sexting. And it’s always men.

Please get an STD check. Adults don’t invest years of their lives messaging one another to only hook-up virtually. It’s meeting men and it’s fucking men. And it’s risking your health. And that’s unacceptable.

Of course he cried and apologized and minimized and deflected and tried to get me to feel bad.

He’s not sorry. Not one bit. His dick comes first. Before your health, your sanity, your children’s home life. When faced with your pain, he DARVOs to make it about him. Why would you want to stay with a man who does this? There’s nothing to work with.

I have lived with this for 10 years (the first time I saw chats), and I think I am just done. And EVERYTHING I have read about my situation (straight person married to a not straight person) is very telling — almost 95% of these marriages fall apart — it’s just a matter of time.

Marriages don’t just “fall apart.” You have to leave them. That takes work and bravery and a hard self reckoning. You’ve spent a decade invested in this shit. It endures. Find your strength and GET OUT. I’m glad you’re done. You take all that righteous anger and instead of flipping the bird at him, use those fingers to dial a lawyer.

Do I just deal with it now? Our kids are so small… and I am terrified of what I would do.

Terrified of what? Modeling sanity to them? Not being abjectly miserable? Having the chance some day to model a healthy loving, reciprocal relationship to them? Having one with yourself?

Kids take their cue from you. Be resilient. Sounds like you have your life together, with a career and an education. Just imagine how free you’d feel relieved from the burden of chumpdom! You’ll soar.

I come from a very conservative, fundamentalist Christian background, where “Divorce is not an option.”

Divorce is always an option. (Unless you live in the Philippines.) A loving God would not want you to subject yourself to abuse. Divorce Minister is a good blog from the Christian evangelical viewpoint on leaving cheaters. If you need some Bible verses to pull the trigger? He’s your go-to guy.

I am not the person I was when we got married — something is broken inside of me. And he isn’t the man he was when we got married — he never told me the whole truth. I empathize with him.

Empathize with yourself. He’s sucked up ALL the bandwidth on the self-pity channel. (Works for him. He likes the lie. You pay the price.)

Homophobia is real. Coming out is hard. These are truths. And it’s also true that he’s using you. You’re not going to fight homophobia by enabling your husband to stay in the closet. And you’re not going to honor all the brave LGBTQ people who live honest, open lives by promoting his lie. Don’t confuse his struggle with your struggle. YOU go be authentic. Maybe with God’s grace he’ll follow suit.

Help me. Tell me I’m not the selfish one here…

You’re not selfish. But really selfish, not selfish (can I have the last cookie?) is beside the point. This is not WORKABLE. This is not SUSTAINABLE. He is risking your health and your sanity. This is not ACCEPTABLE.

End it. No more analysis paralysis. Save yourself. I grant you permission to be “selfish” and bitchy! You will feel so much better on the other side. I promise.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • God loves you more than he hates divorce.

      I’m from the same background of superchurchy. I was scared and ashamed and had all this wired in guilt for how I failed.

      Your ho-man- gay or straight- is a liar and failed his family. Lies. Lies lies lies.

      His orientation isn’t sinful, get him a card for a united church in his neighborhood, wish him well and refuse to subject your kids to what will be years more of gaslighting of you, them and sadly- himself.

      Lies. You are a godly woman worthy of pearls.
      Drop his ass. Or figure out how to get your ducks in a row and then leave him when you’re ready but it fucks with you emotionally.

      But you can’t stay. He’s a monster. The reason you don’t feel like you? It’s because you’ve been pouring your soul into a vessel with a hole and he hasn’t cared.

      You know the song ‘I’ve got the joy joy joy joy…’ from Sunday school? Leaving him will get you there- it takes a while. But you will. And if he doesn’t like it- he can sit on a tack.

        • Hello lovely! I had a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion and fell in love with God. Four years later I met a man who’d been brought up in an apparently Christian home, and fell in love with him too. 23 years and 3 gorgeous children later I divorced him when he lost his heart to a girl in his band. Not because he fell in love with someone else, people can’t help who they fall in love with, but because he deceived me, lied to my face, broke promises and spied on me. Human marriage is supposed to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus’ relationship with the Church, His loved ones here on earth. The manipulative , dishonest relationship I and now you were in was not worthy of the name.
          In the bible, a good wife is worth more than rubies. That’s you. He isn’t being a husband to you, he’s exploiting you and endangering your physical, emotional and psychological safety. Your children are young, it will be dreadful but they will recover and see you modelling a self-respecting, resilient, Godly woman. It will be very hard for you with all the fears of loneliness, loss of income, social branding – but you have a good work ethic, you have the self-respect to see he is using you, you will leave a cheater and gain a life. Your Church, friends, in-laws and family – now’s the time for THEM to go through the biblical refiner’s fire. If they don’t support you and help you to their last breath, they’re dross. The bible quote that really helped me was ‘Gentle as doves, wise as serpents.’ The last thing God wants us to be is doormats, excusing and enabling dishonesty and betrayal.
          There’s a mountain here for you to climb sweetheart, but Chump Nation is exactly the place for you to be, to rid your life of this ugly web of dishonesty and hypocrisy. We’re here for you ❤

        • My pleasure. There’s so many of us here who know exactly the inner tummy gymnastics you’re dealing with. Do not hide in the belly of the whale. Not standing up for your right to be treated well? Not standing up and asking to be respected and loved in a godly marriage? That’s running from gods plan. If you allow the man you married to use your whole life, and your children as a veil. It’s hypocrisy. It’s not ok. He’s not acting in God. Faith and god and religion isn’t a thing for me anymore but I love and respect many still in the church and I have a mad mad mad pile of righteous rage when people use the church to hide their wickedness.

          He needs to own who he is. If he’s not straight- cool beans. That’s actually not the problem. It’s that everything he’s done to hide that from himself and others has corrupted him, and put you in danger. For that? He can go to hell.

          Do not let him drag you with him. It’s not your job to expose or protect him. It’s your job to live your life as you feel god wants you to. Keep your children safe. Teach them to be true and honest. Teach them to love each other and others- embracing that lgbt is not the enemy. Lies and manipulation are going to do a lot more damage to a lot more people than who someone chooses to play with at bedtime, if folks could just step off and get over that issue.

          Embrace your career. Embrace your church family and let the idea that this is at all about you go. Your new chapter is making your life and your families awesome. The man you married just isn’t a part of that anymore.

    • Thanks, CL, for the shout out! For those struggling with the “never divorce” shaming regarding divorce, I would just point you to a few ideas:

      1. Adultery is condemned in the Ten Commandments, not divorce.
      2. God divorces Israel over cheating in Jeremiah 3:8 (and God cannot sin).
      3. The God hates divorce passage is really about men cheating on their first wives and God calling them on it. (
      4. If something is never acceptable (namely, divorce), then everything else IS acceptable (i.e. ongoing adultery and abuse in a marriage–which is NOT godly).
      5. Joseph was described in the Bible as a righteous man when he had resolved to divorce over what he had thought was infidelity (see Mt 1:19).

      Hope some of these short thoughts help!

      Pastor David (aka DM)

      • I struggled as a Catholic with divorcing my cheating husband. I stayed for years. And what I realized is that infidelity is immoral. Knowing my husband has a girlfriend and continuing a marriage is enabling immorality. I had no desire to live in an open marriage – that’s not my church’s definition of marriage. And that’s what he was insisting that I do for years, because he wouldn’t stop sleeping with his girlfriend. And I also wasn’t modeling what I wanted me children to believe marriage is- love trust and respect and at the core commitment to one person forever.

      • DM –
        ever since I read this reply I have been blog-stalking you.
        Your blog is literally the first one I have found that isn’t telling me that I MUST work to make this better – that I MUST forgive.

        I have so many questions… so, SO many questions. Do you do counseling with people you meet on CN?
        If so, I would love to connect.

        • While I am not a counselor, I do offer pastoral care to those who email me. My email address is on my blog. I also have talked with folks over the years who have questions as I am able around my day job and family life.

  • “Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ You have to leave them. That takes work and bravery and a hard self reckoning.”

    Careful here CL — it depends on who you’re talking to.

    Cheaters wil argue that their marriages ‘fell apart’ and left them (emotionally, psychologically) to pursue satisfaction elsewhere, while keeping the benefits that the partner provides. That does not take work and bravery and a hard self reckoning. That’s as easy as falling into a strange set of gentials.

    • Well, exactly. That is what cheaters say. “Our marriage fell apart.” Or “We drifted apart” or whatever. It’s all a guise for cake-eating. They very often do not leave.

      My point is marriage ending is not passive. It’s active. Our letter writer shouldn’t wait for it to “fall apart.” It won’t. He’ll keep extracting value. She needs to end it.

      • First thing I love how in your illustration, the name is “Bruce”. PERFECT
        your advice and outlook are always so spot on I feel like if I had the words, it came from my mouth! Instead it comes from the soul. You’re speaking from true grit life experience and so genuinely conveyed.
        I ALWAYS appreciate the emails they truly keep me in my empathetic toes!
        Been on this journey of chumpdom for a while. It doesn’t go away. Digging my way through to find myself filing the papers. I first have to learn how to say “filing for divorce” out loud.
        Praying for everyone here!
        Specifically the writer.
        Please know that this is his battle. This is who he is and tou don’t have to coddle his choices. Your life is waiting and I love to tell all the women here: there’s a lovely soul waiting for you in a coffee shop who is genuine and SINGLE♥️

      • I’d also add that many of the jackass cheaters “leave” the marriage and leave the legal, emotional and financial heavy lifting to the people they leave behind. These people are willing to relocate their sex lives and where they hang their hat and coat but don’t do hard work on anything. So your point, CL, is that actually leaving a marriage in an ethical and healthy way is active and it does take bravery to own that decision.

        • LovedAJackass…TRUTH. He hung his hat at his APs house the day after he dropped the surprise divorce bomb and left me with our 1 and 2 year old babies in diapers, hot coffee on the counter, dirty clothes on the floor, and the ENTIRETY of our entwined lives to untangle. She encouraged him to do that, even though she was a single mom and knew exactly what that meant for me. She didn’t give a crap what happened, so long as she got her prince. Gag.

          I had to pack up and move cross country with 2 babies and no help from him. I even had to file the divorce. He just moved from one life to the next with no warning, no pre-requisite marital strife that would have clued me in that it was coming, leaving every bit of the heavy lifting to me for…life. In the 7 years since he left, he visited our children once, six years ago. He’s $50,000 in arrears in child support. Can’t believe I was so blind to the person I was married to. He was very skilled at the secret life thing and an astonishingly convincing liar. Nevertheless, I feel stupid for being duped.

          He definitely had duper’s delight on that day of horror, smirking as I died inside when all he’d ever done is show kindness and respect to me in the 14 years we were together. It was like an alien had taken over my husband. But as I know now thanks to CL, he just finally let the mask fall off and what I actually saw was the real person for the first time.

          Now, his wife (AP he left me for) is posting things on her FB complaining about men who leave all the work to women. How women can’t just ‘walk out on their life’ like men can because they have ‘little lives depending on them’. How unfair life is for us because men will never understand responsibility as we do. Facepalm INFINITY.

          • So why do you think she is posting this kind of thing? Are they still together? I have read your blog and she was super mean and vindictive and his 180 degree turn was mind boggling.

            • Hi Been There! I thinks she’s just finally seeing who she married. Just added a blog post about it. I can say with joy that despite the fact that I indulged in peeking in on the train wreck after all this time, I am 95% of the way to MEH. I think the last 5% may never come because of the kid’s pain about growing up without their father. I pray I’m wrong, but seeing my children suffer sure can unwind my progress like nothing else can. Getting there, I think. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for asking and thanks for reading. 🙂


        • So true! My ex left all the hard work — retaining the attorney, financial settlement paperwork, closing of joint accounts, cleaning up his stuff he left behind — to me. He had the affair, but I was the one who had to say “this marriage is over” and take the appropriate steps. Like a child, he took his musical instruments, CD collection, golf clubs and his summer clothes. Even in the marriage ending, I had to be the adult and make things happen.

          • Oh my. This sounds familiar. Fuckwit made a list of things he wanted and said I could keep the rest, like he was being generous. Well “the rest” is things I owned before marriage + a bunch of usable but secondhand stuff. The only thing he might want out of it is some Sonos speakers, and I guarantee he just forgot to put them on his list. And I’m sure he expects that I’ll be cleaning out the house for sale same as last time, when he got all his stuff then “had to work,” so I paid a co-worker to help me do demolition and haul stuff to the dump. And back then, pre-DDay, I was feeling bad about MYSELF because it took me so long to get it done. Fuck that guy, for real.

            • This makes me so damn mad. I’ve got the same shit. He was fucking strange for most of our 25 year marriage, told me about it as if I should be happy that he found a girlfriend rather than having to go to hookers, walked out, left his shit, abandoned the mortgage, won’t engage with lawyers, patchy child support and somehow blames it all on me. He lost his job at our firm which meant losing the shares, doesn’t work now, bought a dog, seems to live a nice lifestyle with girlfriend but can’t lift a finger to separate. What the fuck?

        • This! My ex fled and left me to tidy up everything. Mortgages, bills, loans, children, his clothes and possessions, his mother’s fury at me for some reason, his girlfriend who was our tenant, his bomb drop of lies from 20 years ago that he carried seamlessly throughout our relationship. He fled as his lies caught him up and out.
          The damage he left has been horrendous. It looks so very abusive in hindsight.

          • That’s because it was abusive. No unoffending spouse should be left to handle the disentangling of a shared life, especially with kids in tow. It’s abhorrent that people feel like they can just walk away, like ‘the maid’ll clean that up’. So sorry!!

    • Yep. And the cheaters always forget to send the chumps a memo about the “falling apart” part…

      I got this same BS from sparkledick and that is what I answered, adding: “But you did not forget to send me your dimwit family’s bills to pay, credit card bills for flatterfuck’s fancy shoes, all while I was wiping your invalid mother’s dirty butt.

    • FW is the one that wants to divorce, yet, he hasn’t file. He refuses to talk about it, he just wants to keep it as it is until it deteriorates to the point that there is nothing else to do. FW is a spineless coward. He has no courage to face what he did, to deal with the kids pain, to file for divorce or move the f out. He just dabs here and there keeping the good guy image, serving him self and his needs, while coming home once in a while to pretend that he cares about us to feel less guilty. I’ve come to the realization that it is going to have to be ME the one that is going to have to end it. If I do, then he gets the victim seat, the anger to fight me and I can be blamed for what HE has done. I can’t live in this limbo anymore, I am drained and tired, while he is out there riding his hoes living a carefree child free lifestyle.

      • Indeed, Queen of Chumps. Fuckwits are lazy cake eaters. He did what he wants…he’ll continue to do what and who he wants.

        But to actually do the work of leaving properly and ending it? Nah. That’s haaaarrrrd. That’s expensive. It’s nicer for him to keep pretending that’s he’s the nice one and continue to live with you and do what he wants.

        Save yourself, my friend. File and get him out. Who cares if he claims the victim seat? Respond to anyone you need to that he’s cheating and asked for the divorce, so you filed. Ta da. Nothing more to add to that really. But once you get free…. ahhhhhhhh you’ll breathe again. Hang in there. You can do this. (follow CL’s advice on how to move forward with this — don’t clue him in, just get your ducks in a row and seek counsel)

      • No matter what he is going to play the victim, whether he files or you file. He’s also going to resent dividing assets and place the blame on you. Sitting back hoping he’ll file won’t make him take the high road or make the divorce any easier. Sorry but it is on you to get out of limbo. Once you start the process you’ll feel more powerful and less like a deer caught in headlight. All the best.

      • This is why CL says go get the best lawyer you can afford and keep up your physical and mental health as best you can. It will be up to you to do the entire divorce while FW whines and chatters with his flying monkeys about what a bitch you are. Mine assured me if I went and got the papers he would sign them. I went the next morning and paid the lawyer $2500 to begin the case, telling her that there would be no fight, etc. She just smiled and reassured me of the process. I remember wondering about her quietness and what she saw that I didn’t see.

        I was the one scanning documents and sending them to her to determine our assets. I scanned and cried, scanned and cried, while he was out f***** shmoopie and telling everyone how happy he finally was in his life.

        10 months later – after him not filing much of anything in documents – and stubbornly sticking to his version of how the split should be in financies…….we had to go before the judge because we had absolutely no agreement for the attornies to work with. My attorney got in their and fought (because she had all the documentation from me). He pouted and puffed his chest and acted like a cranky toddler not getting his way. The judge watched it all and then awarded me my half of everything I had asked for.

        You will have to do the work, as CL says. You will end up with most of the attorney fees. My FW couldn’t even open his mouth to say he was unhappy in his marriage. He couldn’t be bothered to tell me about shmoopie and their secret escapades. He did what is called an “Exit affair” meaning he knew when he did it that he was leaving me to clean up 100% of the bombed out mess he left behind. Like a toddler walks off and leaves a shitty diaper.

      • My mother asked my father years ago, “do you want me to leave?” and he said no. Of course not, because he wants his cake and all the side kibbles he can get his dirty hands on. About eight years ago or so my mom was going to set up a post-nup and file for divorce. What did my dad say? Not “I’m so sorry” or “let’s go to therapy and try to work on our issues” (which they actually did and he narc-charmed the therapist so my mom looked like the bad guy) or “please stay, I’ll change my ways” (which of course he wouldn’t). Nope. What he said was “I’ll be ruined.” That was enough right there to show where his concerns are. Not with the family or the kids or the pain he has caused or the issues he needs to work on or even an apology for generally being an asshole. All of his focus was on HIM. How this looks to his co-workers (some of whom he slept with, but that’s beside the point), his business colleagues, the neighbors, the country club people, the extended family, the whoever…. But his concern wasn’t for anyone else.

        That’s what the OP is dealing with here. Someone who is clinging so hard to a self-serving image, all the while not actually giving a sh!t about how their actions affect anyone else in the family.

        Dump him.

        • Ah yes – ex didn’t want a divorce because ‘Its always the men who are ruined financially’. So he wanted me to stay shackled to him, unable to move on as I DO believe in fidelity and marriage as a sacred contract, while he presumably enjoyed an open marriage which I’d never agreed to. Selfish and cowardly.

      • I agree with Michelle. End it. I’m a fundamental Christian and the FW didn’t want to get divorced. He said, “I don’t think divorce is the answer” but he wasn’t willing to stop seeing his skank of 15 years. He just wanted us to stay married but living separately. And being the fundamental, gaslighted Christian that I am, I almost fell for it. Thank God I filed for divorce! My life is so, so much better without a FW in it. And yours will be so, so much better too.

        • It is amazing how much they value marriage once the drop kick us.

          I went through an annulment process (for church purposes only) and I had to send him a letter to have his say if he wanted to. I told the rep, that she could send it but I would not read it as he has said enough and I don’t want to ever hear from him again. She said not to worry, I didn’t have to read it, and it would not affect the processl.

          Anyway my daughter in law said that he just threw it away because he didn’t believe in annulment, you know because he placed such a high value on marriage. What he didn’t know was what he did just made my approval easier. When I filled out my paper work, I stated that he said he never loved me and had always cheated on me. That pretty much made it a slam dunk. As the annulment isn’t about invalidate the legal marriage or the children, it is just to determine if the marriage was based on honesty and should have happened. Obviously my ex lied from the beginning.

          And even if he was lying to me about never loving me, well he said it; so that is all I had to go on.

          When my daughter in law told me, I said “Well that is understandable (that he tossed it) because we all know how much FW values marriage”

      • I can understand you and feel
        Your frustration and pain right now!
        My husband is home still. I see he won’t leave. He knows I’m miserable I’m just not yelling freaking out regularly and he takes it as being “better”. I’m not better I’m just exhausted. Him sitting here suffocating me every night is not what I need or needed. Bare minimum is what he’ll do. I don’t believe he’s cheating now but will always be a little liar.
        I have wrestled with the guilt his parents maybe even mine will put on me. They just don’t understand the depth of betrayal and pain. Perhaps because they ALL put up with this in their lives
        I say we’re right. Just really don’t look forward to the tears. And questions.

    • Yep my fw used me for the last two years of our marriage to help him build a political name in the community, work at the volunteer work he signed up for, but because he was so busy he couldn’t make it. Conned me into sighing for a river property for our “retirement”, and I helped him get his Captains bars by doing all the volunteer work.

      All the while he was screwing schmoops and they were scheming to replace me and they hoped to leave me penniless in the gutter. They almost succeeded, but I pulled myself back up, by working hard and getting a few promotions.

      In my case “we grew apart” and I wasn’t a good enough house keeper. Didn’t matter that schmoops made me look like Martha Stewart. My daughter in law told me that.

  • No one puts Chumpy in a corner!

    Come here, let Mutha make it all better and believe me, it does get better. Leave his cheating ass.

  • Straight Spouse,

    If you won’t be selfish for yourself, be selfish for your kids. They’ll be better off without a father who abuses their mom and lies. Remember, our kids know more than we think.

    Although I didn’t have a gay spouse, I did marry a louse (still stuck on yesterday’s challenge) and stayed with him too long (35 years). My now-adult children wish I’d left him when they were young.

    I hope you have family and friends who support you. Lean heavily on others. Now is the time to be both mighty and vulnerable.

    Good luck!

    • I hope my children feel the way your do one day. The physical split hasn’t happened yet, but I finally realized I was not protecting them by staying. I’m still scared of how he’ll spin this to the children. I just hope they come around one day, as your have.

      • It’s hard if you stay and hard if you leave. But by leaving you live an honest authentic abuse free life.

        And yes he will groom the kids as much as he can. If they are honest kids they will see through him in time.

      • Be the living, sane parent who is always there for your kids.
        Always be very honest with them and teach them your values.
        Life will be different for them but they will be fine. They will grow up to be empathetic, strong and morally centered adults. Some take longer than others but it will be worth it.

  • Straight, NO slap. LOTS of hugs.

    You and your children are going to make it. Because your letter makes it clear that you are NOT stupid, and that you are honest, fair, generous and SMART. That’s all you all need.

    Coming out is your cheater’s homework, not yours and, for me, the main, most important message from Tracy is:
    “Empathize with yourself. He’s sucked up ALL the bandwidth on the self-pity channel. (Works for him. He likes the lie. You pay the price.)

    Homophobia is real. Coming out is hard. These are truths. And it’s also true that he’s using you. You’re not going to fight homophobia by enabling your husband to stay in the closet. And you’re not going to honor all the brave LGBTQ people who live honest, open lives by promoting his lie. Don’t confuse his struggle with your struggle. YOU go be authentic. Maybe with God’s grace he’ll follow suit.”

  • SSIN,

    The first principle of First Aid is not to become a casualty yourself.

    Your husband clearly cannot be trusted to act in a manner that is not harmful to you. Cheating is abuse; he is abusing you and he is abusing your children. As a consequence, taking active measures to protect yourself and your children is not selfish; it is sane, rational and appropriate. Do what you need to do and don’t let anyone (including those who say that “Divorce is not an option”) tell you otherwise.


  • Honey, if you stay in this marriage you will be miserable, at best, destroyed at worst. Be strong and end this charade. There’s no reason he can’t still be in your children’s life as a loving father. You just don’t need him as lying, cheating FW! Do the right thing for you and for your children!

  • By the way, this is a word-salad head-scratcher: “I’m not walking away from US. We’re better than this! We’re worth more than my mistakes.”

    I guess there’s some truth in this cheater utterance. I mean you are indeed worth more than his mistakes. That’s why you must leave.


    • Yes, an infidelity word salad covered in grammatical e-coli. He hopes this will be read as, “You should, like me, see the marriage as worth more than was indicated by the cheating.” But he glosses over the fact that . . . HE DID THE CHEATING, which only reveals how little HE values the marriage.

      So, he’s bullying you to value a marriage that his own actions show he doesn’t value himself.

        • So, he’s bullying you to value a marriage that his own actions show he doesn’t value himself.


          After 35 years of marriage to the DOCTOR, I think my biggest regret is believing I should stay FOR the kids. In reality, I should have left FOR the kids and a lot sooner than I did.

          Do not invest even more of your life with someone who will leave you someday anyhow, OR force you to leave with maybe a tiny scrap of dignity intact, and after maybe 10 more years of wasted time and heartache with a FW.

          Hey – There’s no painless way out of this. You’re in the shitstorm right now.

          But there is a much healthier option than staying – and it’s leaving.

          The pain of staying in this so called “marriage” will never end well for YOU.

          (It can’t. It’s not in him to change – and thank God it’s not in you to wallow in denial anymore.)

          But the pain of leaving this torture will only be temporary. And on the other side of that pain is tremendous peace and growth and yes, happiness.

          Learn from our hard won struggles — and cut your losses. There are gains to be had out there – like Gaining a Life.

          • My story is almost eerily similar to DOCTOR’s1stWife&3Kids’–cheater doc, 35 years of marriage, 3 kids.

            I, too, regret that I stayed.

            Please learn from our mistake. The sunk costs are staggering when you stay as long as we did.

            p.s. ((hugs)) to my fellow chump in the 35-year club!

  • What part of a Christian marriage, or any marriage, includes your partner lying, deceiving you, sexting random strangers.

    Why do the rules only apply to the chumps ? Why do chumps accept this?

    He has groomed her to accept this garbage lifestyle. And she is his beard. He is good at confusing her and playing her.

    • Mitz…
      School me. WTF is a “beard”!?
      Somebody? Context of vernacular usage?

      Clueless here. Geez I must be getting old… vet, dox,etc.

      … I’m Going back to the 70’s now. Thx

      • A “beard” is a straight woman that homosexual men use to give the image that they are heterosexual. They maintain a relationship or marriage with them so they look to be heterosexual.

        • I’m 45. NEVER KNEW!
          Thanks for this. It’s creepy by the way haha
          Rock on warriors❤️

          • I’m just a little older than you. haha To be clear, I have a friend who didn’t realize he was gay until he was 45 years old. He had many relationships with women over the years and he was always disappointed he had not found “the one.” Then he figured it out. It was almost like on the old show Ellen. Now those women he dated were NOT beards because his intent was not to use them to seem heterosexual. He really thought he was at the time. So it really is based on intent. And there are women who don’t mind being beards because they settle for a nice house, kids they always wanted, or maybe feel like they are helping a dear friend stay in his closet. So not every beard is unwitting in her situation. I have known about it since I was college age. Strange thing.

  • He’s already broken the vows you made, three times.
    You’re not leaving a marriage, you’re leaving an illusion.
    I’m so sorry this is happening to you, but please take care of yourself. Maybe by living your truth, it will encourage your husband to live his.

        • Acts of cheating are like cockroaches or rats. You find a few and a lot more are hiding behind the wall. Do cheaters ever come clean with the real number of times or f*ckbuddies ? Nope

        • When my cheater died, I would have sworn on my children that he had had one affair. He had always had a strange affect (from the moment I had met him 29 years earlier) but I just thought that I loved a quirky person.

          About a year after his death, I found papers proving that the whole explanation of the affair was riddled with lies. About a year later, I found out there had been numerous previous sexcapades .

          In reprocessing my life, I now look at odd, inexplicable moments (like that time we planned a family weekend then he threw a weird tantrum on Friday afternoon – out of the blue for no reason at all and refused to go). He had been in the military and traveled far and for long periods. I can only surmise that he lied the entire time.

          I wouldnt wish learning this on anyone. Ive been tempted to hire a Medium to tell his ass off, but my best revenge is to live a great life now. He would just hate my new husband – everything about him…I like that.

          • ” He would just hate my new husband – everything about him…I like that.”

            I like that. My daughter in law told me not long after we divorced that my fw hated my husband with a passion.

            Don’t know what it is with these fw’s, they toss us but they don’t want anyone else in the picture.

  • There is almost always a sentence that resonates in these posts, despite other differences.

    “But I find myself flipping the bird and cursing him out every time he is near me with his back turned.”

    I did this, too. It was unlike my behavior with anyone else. I was normally polite, but assertive, when required. But, my STBX did not listen or contemplate or apologize. And, even if he had, it would have needed to be followed by real actions.

    I have sometimes focused on my behavior behind his back. Was I really a bad wife? I am now reminded that he turned his back on me, our marriage and the truth.

    • Thank you for your illuminating comment. You articulates clearly a feeling I had but could not put into words. As Chump Lady says “there is nothing to work with” if ex only shows their backside

    • You point out another excellent reason for chumps to leave our cheaters, Almost Monday. If we stay too long, the toxicity wears off on us, and we can start feeling like we’re losing ourselves – doing and saying things we normally wouldn’t, because we’re triggered. So we aren’t doing ANYONE any favors by trying to square that circle. For our sakes, our kids’ sakes, even our cheaters’ sakes, we need to get out of the toxicity to restore sanity. It’s not being “bitchy,” it’s a necessary response to trauma and ongoing toxicity. All best to you and to Straight Spouse.

      • Thanks for this… I’m in this. I don’t want to be! My thoughts aren’t clear anymore (it’s also covid related I’ve had it a month now)
        I am finding myself sinking in not knowing what I really want to do or need anymore.
        He’s just here with me. Carrying on while I die inside. Gets us dinners and wants to watch movies and comedies since I’ve been sick.
        Why should I feel any guilt. Regardless if he’s sorry or hasn’t cheated in years as he says it.
        It’s still the damage.
        I feel so crappy and do those things I mumble things under my breath while walking away. I roll my eyes. Feel
        Like a giant brat. And now baby being sick so long. Have to find my normal again

        • Am so sorry you’ve been sick, Shann. I can’t imagine dealing with Covid on top of all the trauma-related fatigue I already experience. But at least I’m away from my cheater.

          I don’t know your situation. I will just let you know that (like many chumps here) I was chumped twice, 14 years apart. The first time (in 2004), our older kid was just 2 years old, and the offense didn’t seem so terribly bad, and my STBX was very contrite and did all the therapy, etc. So I stayed in the marriage. None of our therapists recognized in subsequent years my symptoms, which are very clear to me now, of post-traumatic stress. After many years, I hardly ever thought about the first affair, and I have no reason to think that my partner was engaging in other actual affairs. But I was still drained all the time, because I was still living with someone who had the character of a cheater – think of a “dry drunk.” STBX always had unrealistic expectations, and engaged in “affair lite” behaviors like intense friendships with people she was attracted to. It all blew up with her second affair in 2018, and now I’m out and will be filing soon.

          Now I wish I’d left in 2004. I would urge you to think about the quality of your relationship outside the cheating. Come up with rock-solid boundaries and enforce them. They might help you to feel better and less resentful regardless of whether you choose to stay in your current relationship. But even more, think about what would happen if your partner cheated again. Based on past behavior, this is highly likely, even if it might not happen for 14 years, as it did in my case. If you know you would leave at that point, perhaps you can spare yourself the pain and additional trauma by leaving now. Believe me when I say it’s even worse the second time.

          I hope you feel much better soon!

    • I did this too!! The anger and hatred I felt for him was terrible. But really I was hating myself for staying in the marriage. I had lost all respect for me. Once I finally left, the anger left too.

    • I’m still not separate from FW and he gets the bird daily. He storms in, looks around for something to complain about, jaws at me, and then the bird rises like a phoenix at his back. I feel like I have no voice. The bird at his back is all I have until he leaves.

    • I found myself doing the exact same thing: my internal language became uncharacteristically harsh and bitter, and I would glare and give him the finger behind his back (and even envision kicking him in the shins!). It broke my heart to feel this way around the person I shared my love and life with. Before I knew about the betrayals he was hiding and excusing, and before I understood shame and projection tactics, I thought his resentment and detachment were because something was wrong with me.

      I’m 5 months out, and while I’m still furious and wounded, and while there is still a terrifying void in my life – I noticed recently that I do have my own words back. I couldn’t be authentic in an abusive relationship. Breaking the cycle and going NC are helping me return to myself and my values.

      • I thought I was going crazy. He was treating me like crap, staying out at night under the pretense of riding around with one of the guys (police dept). I bought it, when I questioned him about why he was not spending any time at home, and he was throwing fits over the stupidest thing, he said “work pressure, I just need space to get my work done” etc.

        Then of course, I backed off and gave him space, and well the rest is history.

    • I do the flipping him off thing too lol. I also call him filthy names under my breath…and I spit on his truck…its on of the few things he loves and I have never been allowed to drive..

  • Dear Straight Spouse–You are not being selfish, you are longing for a healthy, honest life. You can be kind and firm with your husband about why you are leaving and what you expect of him. You will tell people the marriage ended because he was unfaithful, and you’ll leave it at that. If he, however, wants to lie and blame shift, you’ll give more details when it suits you. Basically, refuse to participate in the sham marriage and give him the freedom to figure out his own identity issues while you take the freedom to live honestly.

    It will be hard sometimes. And it will be exhilarating sometimes. And exhausting. And, yet, you will probably sleep better most nights.

    The kids will be fine as long as you model for them the value of all human beings–yourself, gay people, struggling Christians, committed Christians, non-Christians, etc.

    Some people will treat you poorly because you are divorced. A few people who shunned me or were awkward around me seemed to think that I must be shopping for a new spouse–in their kitchen. Other people expressed sympathy, but from a distance. As if my divorce might be contagious, and they didn’t want to catch it. BUT–more people came out of the woodwork to tell me about the first marriage they left, one I’d never known about, or offered to help because they hated the way my husband treated me, etc.

    A lot of us fear being selfish. That’s why we stay after the first infidelity or betrayal. That’s why we move to a new town to start over with our spouse. That’s why we try counseling. That’s why we quit our jobs to support our spouse more fully. That’s why we . . . but eventually it becomes clear that the only one committed to the marriage is us. Your spouse is denying you his time, his attention, his love, and his fidelity. He is denying you the ability to live your life honestly and fully. He is the one being selfish.

    I hope you have some people in your life you can confide in. Keeping secrets is corrosive–even when they are other people’s secrets. You need someone to talk to whether it is a friend or a therapist or a trusted family member. And, of course, there is always this community.

  • Dear Straight Wife:

    This man has so much vested in living a deceptive life that I worry for you when you initiate the divorce. I think you will see another side of him, a very angry and unstable one, and that he will do just about anything to prevent you from “telling.” Ask me how I know. And will bring up the children to convince you to be silent…but the children’s well being is the last thing on his mind. I hope you tell everyone who matters the reason you are leaving. Not to harm him, but to protect yourself.

    • I echo PrincipleLife’s warning. When I left my (straight) FW for good and finally advocated for my financial rights, a greedy monster reared his ugly head. For all I’d come to accept about his cowardice, selfishness and dishonesty, I was still shocked and unprepared for what unfolded.

      It may be hard to believe based on the man you “know” now, but these abusive people (which your husband has already shown himself to be) are desperate and deceptive when their masks come off, their true identity is revealed, and they no longer have the power to play puppet master. Existential fear surrounding your husband’s closeted sexuality will only add to the volatility. Please take care of yourself.

      • *I want to clarify that I noted my ex is straight only to acknowledge that I don’t have personal experience with the fear of exposing a partner’s sexual orientation when he/she/they want it kept a secret. Otherwise, gender, sexual orientation, etc. are irrelevant details. My comment was about the scary transformation that can occur when the ruse is up, an abuser’s true nature and identities are exposed, boundaries are enforced and consequences are introduced.

  • My husband and I recently separated (and soon to be divorced) for similar reasons. He was having an affair with a man and eventually told me, but at the time stated he wanted to stay together. He was bisexual (so he said at the time) and I loved him to pieces so we made the decision to get marriage counselling and try to make it work. Good in theory, not so good in reality.
    The secret ate him alive and within months he was a shadow of the person I married. He was struggling with his own inner demons and he could not be the husband I deserved or the father he needed to be for his infant son. Although I did not want to admit it we couldn’t be together.

    I may seem calm about it now but this is after a lot of therapy and a lot of good medication lol! I was a complete and total wreck. Time helps. Your kids deserve parents who are well adjusted and not living total lies. If you think the kids don’t know (or will when they are older) that dad screws men on the side you are kidding yourself. They know. They almost always know. Being your husbands beard (ugh, I hate that term) also sets the example that there is something “wrong” with being gay/bi/trans/pan etc and something that should be hidden, lied about or ignored and will screw your kids up big time in the long run.
    Face it, even if your husband doesn’t want to “label himself” the fact is he lied to you about his sexual preferences when he married you and you need to decide if this is a deal breaker for you. Did you enter your marriage thinking he was the man for you and you were the happiest you have ever been in your life while all along he felt you were good enough to marry but not good enough to be honest with? Good enough to help him keep his secret, but not good enough to be faithful to? Hurts like hell but it’s true.

    My last piece of advice is your husband is a piece of shit because he cheated, not because he may or may not be gay. It seems impossible now but with time you will be able to focus your anger on the affair and not the gender/sex of the person who he cheated with. If he truly is your person/best friend etc then you will want to see him happy and living his most authentic life, even if it is with a man. This will take a buttload of time to get to this point but hopefully you will.

  • HE is selfish and horrible. As for bitch, I’d share my definition of BITCH but Chump Lady already did. That’s Ms. Bitch, especially to selfish, horrible people.

    This is the obituary of my friend Carole. She died of AIDS in 1992. She was heterosexual and intimate with three men in ten years. She learned she had AIDS after she donated blood.

    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a very open-minded health conscious place with a large and active LGBTQ community. I lived here way back when no one knew what AIDS was and it was ripping giant holes in that community. Yet chillingly there exists a trend called “barebacking” which refers to unprotected gay sex. You’d think history and the number of funerals here due to a sexually transmitted disease would have had an impact on being careful, considerate, and mindful in one’s sex life.

    I don’t think we think about it or say it enough, but someone’s secret sexual double life can cost you YOURS.

    Run run run.

    (and if your hair’s on fire, STOP DROP AND ROLL….)

        • I somehow made it to 54 without getting them. They were a parting gift, the shitty prize I won in the horizontal Pick Me dance. Man I wish I had not done that.

          Don’t Pick Me dance, chumps.

          • There once was a dancer named Velvet
            Who had sex without “wearing a helmet”
            From him blisters arrived
            They were herpes, not hives
            I wish I had told him to “shelve it”…

          • That is so sad about your friend, that could be any Chump. The fact that I’d not gotten an sti or had abnormal paps made me think that mine wasn’t cheating. I guess that sometimes viruses are dormant or the cheaters just get lucky for a period of time. It only takes one.

            • Five years after cheater-ex was gone from my life I developed genital warts. He was the only man I’d ever been with sexually. This set me back a bit as it was concrete evidence that he had in fact cheated & not even my health was of any concern to him. Hope his dick developed lots of them.

  • He’s not treating you badly because he’s gay, or because he wants to have sex with other people, or hot-chat with other people, or whatever other deceitful things he does that he wants to do.

    He’s treating you badly because it’s ok with him and he wants to.

    Asking a person to be in a relationship that doesn’t meet their needs or honor their boundaries is 100% the textbook definition of treating someone badly.

    Leaving this relationship is not a statement about your own entitlement compared to his. It is solely a stent about how you want your life and parenting to be in the world while YOLO. You don’t owe him your whole life your whole future, and/or your ability to feel joy.

    Would you ask one of your children to do that, for any person, ever?

    Of course not.

    He will call you selfish. That doesn’t make it true. He can say all the things he wants. We know him to be a liar, so it’s reasonable to choose not to believe him about you.

    Go away from this constant source of harm and breathe and heal, says me. If for no other reason, it’s the only way you can be the best possible parent to your kids, and they ARE entitled to more than he gets by default.

    He made it a choice between him and yourself plus your kids. If you can’t choose it just for yourself, choose it for them and the parent they need you to be.

    • it’s my story, too. 1st D-day was 12 years ago, I forgave and started over. 2nd, just 5 months ago..he cries and begs for a new beginning, AGAIN?!!? I, too, curse and flip him the bird behind his back. 6 months ago, I woke up every morning being thankful for the life I thought I had. Now, I start every day with CL, you all keep me sane! 64 years old with a 37 year shit sham marriage, I am tired and so sad, but I know I have to leave.

      • 32 years of marriage at D(isclosure)-day. It took me three years to leave. On our 35th anniversary I swore to myself it would be the last one. I finally left 6 months later. It’s been three years since I left. My life is better in every way. You can do it. And your life will be better, too.

      • Me too! My ex begged and begged for a new beginning on his knees with tears streaming down his face. I really did feel sorry for him. I capitulated and we struggled on for 2 years. The night before he moved out, he made a porn video of himself to post on his gay/bi/straight masturbation website. There was never any real change – he wanted cake and put on a show with his crocodile tears. I have been divorced 4 years and he has remarried. When people ask him why we got divorced, he shakes his head sadly and says, “her anger issues”.

        That’s what happens when you stay. It’s not good.

      • Kathy I’m here with you!
        Thanks for your openness
        Forgave and started over nearly ten years ago.
        Found out there was more about 8 months ago. He claims it was after 4 years together. And hasn’t happened since.
        But NOW we can be great, says he!
        What the heck am I supposed to do with that?

        • Leave and divorce and let him lead his “happy life” while you go lead yours.

          F**k him sideways with a cactus.

        • Forgave and started over in 2014. In 2018 it happened again, and then he left.
          (I think his boyfriend insisted HE wouldn’t be in a relationship with a closeted gay man, so he dumped the wife and kids)
          I wish I’d left the first time, but I didn’t.
          Divorced 2 years on the 19th of this month. It’s starting to feel better.

          He’s just selling the con game a little harder with that “we can be great”.
          If you could, you would already be. That’s my thought on that.

        • oh yeah, I know exactly what you mean! my POS husband suggested we renew our vows and gave me a xmas card that said, “here’s to starting over in 2021″…hahaaaa. you got that right buddy!
          I will never believe another damn word that comes out of his mouth and you and I have to be strong enough to get our shit together and get away from these toxic situations! CL has helped me so much to see through the bullshit!

          • I remember about a year before our 20th anniversary, I said we should take a cruise or go on a special trip. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just a celebration. He said what about vowel renewal, I said no we haven’t broken our first vows yet. Ha, what an idiot I was. As I found out later he was already balls deep into schmoops.

            I also remember about the same time we were discussing that, our HS reunion was coming up, and he wanted to go to the reunion. I said sure I will go. He said I am proud of all we have done. For some reason the reunion and anniversary talk got quiet a month or so later and he got more immersed into his “work”.

            A year later I was drop kicked.

  • Dear Straight Spouse in Need:

    Your marriage, as you knew it, is over. You are being abused. He will not change. If you stay, his infidelity will always be front and center in your mind and you will always be looking for evidence. It does your children no favors to stay in a marriage where you are being disrespected. It teaches them that staying in a bad situation is the thing to do. Your only option for a good life is to get out. There will be a grieving period, but that will happen whether you stay or go. Healing is best accomplished with the person who hurt you out of your life. You will have to see him for co-parenting, but you will no longer have to pretend to be part of a happy couple. Leaving him is not selfish; he is selfish because he wants to have his cake and eat it too.

  • He broke the marriage contract. He also abandoned the marriage for other men. I thought “men lying with men” was a sin also.

    I would recommend ignoring those who are giving you grief about the divorce. You don’t need that in your life. I would also recommend getting counseling not only for the divorce, the abandonment but also the spiritual abuse.

    There is a Facebook group you may want to consider joining; it’s called Life Saving divorce for separated or divorced Christians. It has been great to help “untangle the skein”
    I also recommend “Divorce Minister” book and blog.

    Good luck!

  • I had a visceral reaction when I read “I am not the person I was when we got married — something is broken inside of me.”

    I, too, felt broken after all the discoveries and dealing with all of the pain from the devastating betrayals from the person I invested in as my life partner. It’s taken my insides a long time to heal from the feeling of brokenness.

    But the old adage holds true – time does heal. And with self-care, the ability to apply logic, healthy boundaries, a healthy sense of humor, and surrounding myself with a community of sane people, things eventually have gotten better. Life gets better.

    After years of “floating” I finally find myself regaining a sense of satisfaction from my work and my relationships with family and friends that I thought I’d lost forever.

    It’s gratifying to be finding myself again. I suppose that’s the feeling that comes from achieving “Meh”. All chumps have an unfair burden to bear. Godspeed to all who come here to steel their spine and find encouragement. Have faith that it does get better.

    • Bro,
      … THIS HERE ➡️ “… surrounding myself with a community of sane people…

      This accerates healing x10. Scary AF
      But when the fear falls away…

      Eureka moment. These people aren’t fucked UP!! (maybe a smidge …er’body fu a lil)????
      I should try rap. Ha!
      “Finding Me”. Great song

  • “He’s not fighting for your marriage, he’s fighting to keep his lie alive. A lie that is working for him, but killing you.”
    This is it! It summarizes why I called it quits on 35 years of cheating and lying. In the horrible last three years, in which he was doing all kinds of gyrations to attempt to save the marriage, this was it. He just wasn’t prepped to be outed as a cheater and liar. I spent those three years thinking he was sincere. Don’t waste that precious time. I was dying a slow death. When the jig was up with the final secret app discovery, I felt relieved and couldn’t stop smiling. I could end it knowing that I gave it my best shot.

    • Shelly,
      I totally remember the feeling when I found his secret phone and jewelry receipts, plus some other things. I knew I wasn’t crazy, he really was cheating!!! Mine still says he didn’t cheat, despite so much evidence, and still it gets in my head and I think maybe I’m crazy. I think just as yours, he didn’t want to be seen as a liar and cheater. He’d worked hard to protect that secret life, for 13 plus years. I still feel like an idiot for not seeing it sooner.

  • I sure need this one today.particularly the question of am I selfish for leaving him. Although he has more interest in online “communities “ and young 20 somethings from community college and made it clear he has no more interest in me, he started to try and make some deal with me so he could continue to do what he wants and treat me like I was invisible and being downright mean. And telling me he’s been unhappy since he met me 30 years ago, I said no I don’t think it is fair for me to live with let alone be married to someone who feels that way about me. We are now separated. The thing is I still have pangs of guilt and I sometimes think, maybe I should sit and listen to his alleged 30 years of misery with me. Maybe he would be nicer to me and realize what we have had together or how much I have supported him both financially with all of his layoffs and emotionally. But then I realize he just wants to maintain his own lifestyle which means I work and pay for everything while he does whatever he wants with no effort toward a relationship. One way I realized that is when I think back on his behaviors in the past. They may not have been as mean and cruel as now but they were warning signs. I often have to keep these things in my head so I can keep moving forward without him.

  • Dear Straight Spouse,
    He lied and deceived you and now wants you to carry his burden and continue playing the “happy family” role. In my experience they all do this to some extent, your just happens to f-men while mine (as far as I know) prefers to f-women. They love to make everything appear happy and great to the outside world, they get a great deal of kibbles from this. Meanwhile, at home he’s arranging his next hookup on a cheater app while you’re putting the kids to bed. This arrangement is great for them, they love it. For us, the chump, it is soul sucking and pure hell. Be bitchy, stick up your middle fingers (I still do that on occasion when he turns around), they are abusers. I’m not on the other side yet either, my seperation is taking forever because he still wants everything his way or no way. I hope that it is better on the other side, I know that life like this cannot sustain. I see what happens when people stay… autoimmune disease, alcoholism, depression, cancer… it literally will eat people alive. Its a hard path but living in a marriage like this is painful and lonely. Sadly, he’s gay, and that is not a sustainable marriage.

  • How hideous. To enter a marriage misrepresenting oneself regarding one’s sexual orientation.
    So sorry.

    • Yes, I forgot to add the initial fraud that happened at the time of marriage to my list of “Conversations We Never Had.”
      Mine would go like this:
      Him at 24 years old: “Honey, I think we should get married. I’ve used porn for the past 15 years. I’ve tried imitating this stuff with other girlfriends & they hated it. But you’re different. You’re the first one who said no to BJ’s! I am hoping that getting married to you will help me lose my urge to masturbate 2 times a day. And maybe with time I can push your face down there.”

      Five years & 2 kids later: “Honey, I’m back to porn & masturbation, and I’d really like to try some hookers. You’re failure to give me BJ’s really bothers me. In Missouri hookers at the five motels I visit are really cheap. Is that ok with you?”

      10 years & 4 kids later, 5th on the way: “Honey, you’re doing so well at home with all the kids. Is it ok if I go on more business trips, and pay for all kinds of sex with 2 ladies each night? We have $500 extra each month. What do you think?”

      Straight spouse, it was selfish of my husband to not have these conversations with me. And worse, it was trickery, fraud, whatever you want to call it, because I did not have the correct facts on which to base a decision.
      You still may not know all the facts. Don’t rush to describe yourself as selfish
      First, focus on being safe physically. Get tested for STI’s.
      Second, begin to separate emotionally from the liar & don’t misplace your empathy.
      Third, read some secular books on emotional abuse- Lundy Bancroft, George Simon are good to start with.Then read Omar Minwalla on Why what she doesn’t know will hurt her.
      Best hopes for you! It isn’t an easy road but the harm has already happened & healing can now begin.

  • Do your husband a favor and divorce him.
    He is not living an authentic life and he is holding you back from your own.
    I have a friend who was a music pastor, married with three kids. It took him years to admit he was gay after trying to “pray away the gay”. He had done so much damage to his ex wife and kids while in denial. He finally came out and ended the marriage. He has a lot of regrets, but the biggest is not doing it sooner so that he could have released her to find a real relationship. He now has a good relationship with their kids and a working relationship with their mother.
    You are absolutely entitled to your anger and sense of betrayal. Now use it to resolve your marriage. See a therapist to heal your heart and head and an attorney to end the marriage.

  • I also was married to a closeted man. Like your husband, he was willing to sacrifice me to preserve his closet, and had convinced himself he was entitled to do so, was entitled to my sacrifice, because of homo/trans/phobia, to do so. Understanding that my husband was willing to sacrifice my health and my life to his secret, was key for me in understanding that he did not love me. He loved his closet and he tolerated me and our life together as long as I was willing to serve as his beard, but we didn’t have a marriage except in name only. As I looked at our 35 year marriage, I saw just how clearly he had signaled his lack of commitment, from serial affairs on down, and just how much I had taken on, while spackling over his lapses.

    His secret is not yours to keep, and his shame is not yours to bear. He would like you to believe both those things, however, and will say and do whatever he can to keep you in line so he can avoid having to come to terms with himself. I love Chump Lady’s truth here: “You’re not going to fight homophobia by enabling your husband to stay in the closet.”

    • Adelante, this is beautifully put: “His secret is not yours to keep, and his shame is not yours to bear. He would like you to believe both those things, however, and will say and do whatever he can to keep you in line so he can avoid having to come to terms with himself.”

      As for your other comments, isn’t it interesting how things come into focus once we’re free?

      Most chumps seem to have versions of your story. Not all of us were beards, but all of us spackled over lapses and blatant shitty behavior.

      It’s only now, in retrospect, that I can appreciate the hurt and pain I (and, much to my shame, my kids) endured while married. He was an emotionally abusive SOB. For some reason, I put up with it, surviving on breadcrumbs. It became my normal.

      p.s. Thankfully, my three adult kids have accepted my apologies. Forgiving myself is a tougher hill.

  • Straight Spouse in Need,

    Your story is heartbreaking. Your husband is gay but wants you to be his beard and help him live his best life in secret. Meanwhile, what’s in it for you? His ask is completely selfish. It’s not even an ask… he’s just using you.

    For at least 10 years, you’ve felt obligated to stay in this — for religious reasons… out of guilt… out of empathy.

    Please – you deserve better. He doesn’t get to live his life and make you suffer in silence. You deserve a happy loving relationship too. You deserve to live how you wish, just as he wants to live how he wishes.

    My heart is breaking for you. Please get free of him and don’t feel guilt about it. You gave him 10+ years — he should feel guilty.

    Short story about someone else. I have a friend that was married to a man who finally decided to come out and live his truth. My friend was madly in love with her husband. He wanted a divorce. He wanted to date men. There was no malice… he still cared deeply for her. But he was ready to leave and didn’t want to be in the marriage anymore. She clung hard. She wanted them to still “work it out.” It was 3 years before she finally gave in and allowed the divorce without a fight to save their marriage. And after the divorce, they remained friends. He came over and helped with the kids. He did (and still does) handywork around the house for her. They would have dinners once a week together with the kids. And together they eventually let the kids know he is gay (once they were old enough).

    Please don’t cling or let him cling to a marriage that can’t be. You aren’t in a marriage. You’re in a charade. Best wishes to you — I hope you are free soon

  • Straight Spouse,
    You are not selfish or “bitchy” for leaving a one-sided romantic relationship. I’m so sorry your (soon-to-be-ex) husband is so fucked-up.

    As a queer woman, I have great empathy for other queer people who have grown up in the enormous mindfuck of societal homophobia. Straight Spouse says she comes from a very conservative religious background; I bet her husband does, too. I’m hoping that future generations will be less likely to be so desperate to crawl out of their own skin that they subject others to false pretenses/relationships. (Sadly, there are other mindfucks developing, like kids these days deciding that exercising discernment in relationships is “judgey,” as I mentioned the other day. But I digress.) I appreciate Straight Spouse’s empathy, and think CL hits the nail on the head. I do NOT appreciate when other chumps (looking at you, Gone Girl) suggest that being gay or trans is horrifying in itself. I get that discovering your partner’s hidden identity might add an extra level of shock to the trauma of being chumped, but of all the reasons cheaters lie to themselves and to others, internalized homophobia is pretty darn understandable.

    Here’s the thing: we chumps might have great empathy for our cheaters for a number of reasons. My empathy for my STBX kept me stuck for a long time: I could see very clearly how her FOO contributed to her disordered thinking. BUT, traumatized people don’t have the right to turn around and inflict trauma on others. As soon as they see that their actions are harming others, it’s on them to do the necessary work to become safe. And anyone experience trauma and abuse has the right to do whatever they need to do to be safe. Straight Spouse, if you DON’T leave this marriage, you might end up paying your trauma forward. (See my response to Almost Monday above.)

    I can empathize with my STBX, but she can’t really empathize with me. The very instant our partners DARVO us, that’s the one and only sign we will ever need that it’s time to leave them. As CL quite rightly says, we need to take care of our own business, while their take care of theirs. Straight Spouse’s husband’s internalized homophobia may not be ultimately his fault, but it makes him an unsuitable husband for her.

    HBO recently released a documentary called “Crazy, Not Insane,” summing up the work of Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, who was one of the first to recognize that most serial killers experienced brain damage and/or serious abuse in their formative years. She has advocated for sparing them from the death penalty, because their actions might not be their “fault” in the judicial sense, but she very clearly articulates that these people need to be locked up for life, so that they don’t endanger the public. Likewise, we as chumps can have empathy for our cheaters in the general (“judicial”) sense – not wishing death on them, at least! – while protecting ourselves with No Contact. That, to me, is achieving Meh.

    All best to you, Straight Spouse. I hope we can all keep changing the narrative, so that others can be spared your specific brand of pain.

    • Agree so much with you LezChump. Don’t for a minute think it is ok fo your husband to do what he is doing due to the homophobic world we live in. We all have a responsibility to live ethically no matter what cards we are dealt. Also, it’s 2021. While it’s no gay paradise it’s not the same as when I came out in the late 80s in SW Ohio. Your husband can find therapists and other support systems to make the transition. Will it be hard for him? Sure but an authentic life is always hard in some ways because it doesn’t involve shortcuts and taking the easy way out of challenges.

    • I think you misunderstood her context, which was denoted by use of quotation marks.

      • Am not sure what context you mean. I think I characterized Straight Spouse’s situation pretty accurately…

  • I lived through the hell of being a straight spouse. In my case, I was married for 15 years to a closeted lesbian who had an affair with the woman down the street. Chump Lady responded to my letter almost two years ago — search for “Beard Boy”. There was also a follow-up letter about a year later. I left, and it was unquestionably the right choice.

    As far as your feeling “selfish” for leaving, consider that a reflection of the special kind of abuse that is being married to a closeted, adulterous gay spouse. They utterly, completely, selfishly use us as the main stage prop in their attempt to fake a “normal life”. Before I knew my ex-wife was a lesbian, I moved heaven and Earth to try to keep her happy. I felt like a failure. And then, once I blew the cover off of her affair, I realized that I was a failure not because of what I was doing, but because of who I am — a straight dude. Rather than being “selfish” for leaving, you are finally looking out for someone who has not been looked after for a long time — you.

    My ex-wife also came from a very conservative, south Texas “Christian” (I use “Christian” loosely given that she felt free to ignore the Commandments about lying, adultery, and coveting thy neighbor’s wife) background. She wanted to blame the demise of our marriage on all sorts of bogus reasons. I have been very loud and proud about promoting the actual reason. It’s the truth, it’s my story and why should I take any of the blame for this situation. I fought valiantly for our marriage. One day, I’ll make an excellent husband for someone else.

    Get out.

    • Thank you for sharing your story.

      I found out a year ago that my wife had been having lesbian affairs for the majority of our marriage. It has been a tough road, especially considering we have a young child.

      Your and Chump Lady’s thoughts are very helpful. Thanks again for speaking out.

    • You will indeed make an excellent husband. ????

      In a sense, all chumps have been beards. We’ve been used as the PR department of our marriages, making the cheater look “normal” on the surface. The principle is the same whether we are cover for them being a gay cheater or a straight cheater; once we know we are just window dressing and a convenience for our partner, there’s nothing to do but close that chapter of our lives.

  • Straight Spouse,
    I loved reading that you flipped him off behind his back. That is you asserting your power. Harness that!
    When ex lived here, I would mutter “asshole” behind his back. Who knew I would take that little bit of power and get him out of the house, get divorced, and start building a new life. It is hard and scary to do, and some of us need a little more time that others. Please believe me, your marriage has been over for a long time and it’s so much better to be free living an authentic life.

    Oh and my ex, who cheated w men, has a new wife now! They aren’t kidding when they say they don’t want a gay lifestyle. My therapist says who knows if he’s bi, gay or straight, she thinks he objectifies people and uses them – doesn’t really care what sex they are. He once told me it was hard to get women on Craigslist to meet in a hotel room; it was easier with men. See? Doesn’t really care – just liked sneaking and feeling super special.

    • Gay-in-denial spouses are often so deep in the close that they can see Narnia. You have to credit their actions — gay porn! same-sex hookups! — rather than their self-affixed labels.

      But who cares whether they are “pansexual”, “bisexual”, “fluid”? All that matters are their actions, which clearly tell you that they aren’t straight and are definitely adulterous. That’s two deal killers right there. Done.

  • “And EVERYTHING I have read about my situation (straight person married to a not straight person) is very telling — almost 95% of these marriages fall apart — it’s just a matter of time.”

    SSIN, my cousin (M) was married to a lesbian for a number of years. I also had a friend (F) who was married to a gay man for a number of years. In both cases, it seemed obvious to me that the relationships were not heteronormative (apologies if I’m using that term wrong), but as an outsider I thought it was something that each couple had agreed to on their own. It wasn’t my business if they each decided they could have sex partners outside of the marriage to fulfill their sexual needs.

    But that’s not how it was. Both marriages had one partner who assumed that they were in a heterosexual exclusive relationship. Ultimately, they got divorced because their marriage was built on a lie and the heterosexual person in the marriage did not seem to see the reality of their marriage situations during the marriage. You are not alone or the only person to have gone through this so I hope you take a small comfort in that. As CL said, you were used to be his beard. It isn’t YOU per se that he wants to keep as a marriage partner, it is the image of what you represent: the happy heterosexual church-going couple with kids and a dog and a nice house and good jobs and “wholesome values.” What you got is not that and you now know it.

    “Do I just deal with it now? Our kids are so small… and I am terrified of what I would do. And how they would handle it. But if I wait, I don’t know how I will not just lose interest in EVERYTHING. I am not the person I was when we got married — something is broken inside of me. And he isn’t the man he was when we got married — he never told me the whole truth. I empathize with him.”

    Two things here. As an adult child of a FW father who was a serial cheater, I have to think your kids know something is off. I did. From a very early age I knew my dad was leading a double-life, I just didn’t know what it looked like. I always had a strained relationship with him and I never felt comfortable around him as one would hope to feel with a father. Kids are more observant than people give them credit for and so I wouldn’t be surprised if your kids feel “off” somehow, yet they don’t know why or what is wrong. I always knew my parents weren’t happily married yet I always wanted them to stay married because I felt some sort of “security” there having an “intact family unit.” Flash forward almost 55 years and my parents are now getting divorced. I think they both would have been happier if they had done it sooner. I wouldn’t have felt like most of my life was a lie. I wouldn’t have been subjected to psychological abuse (or maybe I would have, but not the same sort) of having a cheating, absent, neglectful, serial-abandoning father. Perhaps I would have learned to stand on my own in ways that I haven’t because of C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse. Anyway, I think you get the gist.

    And the second thing with regarding having empathy for your husband. Regarding my father, I have come to the position where I have compassion for him as a human being who is suffering; however, I don’t have sympathy for him because he is responsible for making the bad decisions that he made and he has to live with the consequences. I am not in a position of feeling love for him. I, too, spend much of my time flipping off my phone when I’m talking to him. I understand he is in pain, but we all are in pain and we all don’t act out by betraying our families in such hurtful ways.

    You take care of you. By taking care of you, you model so much for your children. Self-respect, boundaries, independence, compassion, strength, standards for behavior, resilience, nurturing, and so much more.

    Best wishes to you.

  • Just to emphasize that Straight Spouse is NOT being mean to gay people. Below I quote Harvey Milk, a San Francisco politician and pivotal leader for gay rights. Milk insisted that gay rights couldn’t be achieved while the truth of gay life was covered hidden by lies. So he insisted gays be honest with their friends and family, and not hide in the closet. Milk turned out to be right. Milk would call BS on your husband’s expectation that you live a lie.

    “If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of all human activities… the expression of love… then life itself loses its meaning.” ~ Harvey Milk

    “Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better”
    ― Harvey Milk

    • This is a tough one. As a queer person, I don’t think it’s okay to shame other people into coming out if they’re not ready. It’s hard to live this life, especially in certain places/situations, and a lot of people lack the necessary spine. That’s unfortunate, but a fact of life – it’s a particular form of hopium, of magical thinking, to believe otherwise. As CL rightly reiterates, we can’t control other people.

      Of course, I also don’t think that it’s okay for people in general to deceive their spouses, and we all have the right to set our own boundaries. Demanding that LGBTQ+ people should come out to a hostile FOO or work environment is very different from championing honesty in intimate relationships. Most queer folks these days would not be as strident in our rhetoric as was Milk, though we certainly will do our utmost to support our rainbow family in coming out and living honestly. Given that many marriages happen when people are still quite young (in their early 20’s), there always will be mismatched marriages of various kinds, and the important thing is that partners are honest with one another as they learn more about themselves. Societal homophobia sadly makes it more likely that a queer person will lie to themselves and others. As I noted in my comment above, this is not okay, and straight spouses should absolutely act to protect themselves as soon as they learn the truth.

      I consider straight spouses victims of societal homophobia, as well.

  • Straight spouse,
    He is using you yo keep his secret. I bet it has not just been video chats. Too bad he doesn’t want to be labeled. Tell the truth. He is gay. You have every right to be angry and do not let anyone blame you for this. Please call lawyers and get this started. Be ready for him to get ugly.

  • Being gay in a straight marriage doesn’t give anyone an excuse to cheat.

    I know because I am gay and I was in a straight marriage for 14 years and had children with him. He was the abusive cheating arsehole while I worked my damned hardest to make a marriage that I had committed to work. I never cheated, I never even thought about it.

    It’s not homophobic to leave someone who is cheating on you, because it doesn’t matter who they’re cheating with, only that they’re cheating.

    Now that I am thankfully free of the man who almost succeeded in destroying me, I am free to get with whoever I like (and have never been with a man since, but have also never cheated on any of my female partners). Let him go. Let him do what he likes. Don’t let him continue to ruin your life and destroy YOU, don’t worry about what people think of him – that’s his concern.

    You can do this, and it’s ok. ❤️

    • Kudos to a fellow rainbow chump! As you’ve seen in this forum, there are several of us. You can find me, at least, on the Reddit group if you ever want to chat.

      Cheaters will always make us chumps feel guilty about leaving them. In my case, my STBX went with “my narcissistic mother died, so you should get over it!” That doesn’t account for the years when STBX was devaluing me and exhibiting “affair lite” behaviors like intense friendships with people she was attracted to.

      Straight Spouse’s husband might play the homophobia card, but it’s just another excuse. Sounds like he’s been lying for years, and any evidence of DARVO is a hard pass for me. His sexuality has nothing to do with those actions.

  • I was a straight spouse of 43 years before I figured out what was going on. My ex is still in the closet at age 71, not for religious reasons but because he’s a coward.
    I believe he was promiscuous with men the whole time and probably did get some STIs. But since we rarely had sex I never caught any.
    It sounds like you have found the Straight Spouse Network and their Facebook support page. If you’re lucky you live in an area with local meetings, although I’m sure they’re virtual now. They’re the people who helped me the most. Both my therapists had no insight at all.
    I miss being married but I feel so much better being without him and his covert, abusive, narcissistic ways.
    Just one more thing -get your financial ducks in a row before telling him you’re leaving and I hope you find a good lawyer.

  • You reminded me of the period of time when we were living together but separated: I flipped him off behind his back plenty of times!

    I am not the kind of person who uses that gesture as a rule – but there I was, doing it A LOT.

    I understand delaying the inevitable because I did it too. But you do become someone you don’t recognize. It’s not healthy. When you FEEL trapped, you allow yourself to actually BE trapped. You don’t have to allow it anymore.

    And frankly, I love the idea of women reframing/reclaiming the word “bitch.” Taking it as our own, thinking of it aligned with terms like “righteous anger” and “strong” and “don’t take shit from anyone.”

    Do NOT worry about being perceived as bitchy. Embrace your inner mighty and fierce female!

    Repeat after me:

    “I am not a bitch.
    I am THE bitch.
    MS. Bitch to you!”

  • One thought comes to mind, to help you navigate what comes next, REMOVE narrative of his being gay or BI or whatever. Bottom line… HE CHEATED ON YOU. HE BROKE YOUR CHRISTIAN MARITAL VOWS. Now, it is your responsibility to yourself (always put your own oxygen mask on first) to talk to a lawyer, start reviewing your finances (he likely spent marital assets on meet ups and web sites), and determine your plan to file for divorce. God loves you just as you are – and ask yourself this – would God have given you the instinct to challenge the mirage if he didn’t have a bigger plan for your life. Only the Devil would want to you stay in this marriage. Mirror resilience for you and your kids… leave labels out of it and just leave a cheater and gain a life.

  • There Once was a lass named S-spin,
    Confused and Afraid to jump in.

    The pool it was deep,
    The cliff it was steep.

    She’d forgot she knew how to swim

  • “And EVERYTHING I have read about my situation (straight person married to a not straight person) is very telling — almost 95% of these marriages fall apart — it’s just a matter of time.”

    That’s not true. He’s just an asshole.

    I’m queer and have been with men, women, and genders between. I’m monogamous and the promise of being with someone of a gender other than my partner isn’t even a thing. I love who I love and don’t need my various itches scratched. Being LBGTQIA+ doesn’t equal cheating. Entitled assholes are cheaters.

    • I don’t think that’s what the writer meant. She wasn’t gay-bashing, just admitting that MOMs (mixed-orientation marriages) usually don’t last. Some straight spouses try very hard to stay with their gay/bi spouse, for many different reasons, but eventually find that it doesn’t work in the long run.

      • Yes- thank you! Not gay-bashing at all! Just doing research about MoM’s and seeing the writing on the wall, it seems…

  • You should be more terrified of getting HIV than you are of leaving, but you tell yourself it’s just chats. It isn’t.
    You are worth so much more than being this asshole’s beard. Your kids deserve better than being used for cover, too.
    You’re flipping him off and swearing because you’re angry, very justifiably so. The constant rage will eat you alive. There is not a single good reason to stay in this marriage.

  • An openly gay 36 year old photographer violently tried to strangle and rape me when I was 17. This happened in a European country that, at the time, rarely prosecuted rapists and usually humiliated and pilloried victims. I got away and did attempt to approach police but they just made sleazy remarks to me so I gave up. I at least had the satisfaction that I’d drop-kicked the psycho with the one self defense maneuver I’d ever learned, quite poetically taught to me by a tiny gay ballet dancer.

    I was raised liberal agnostic and my decision not to report had nothing to do with concerns the perp might be discriminated against in the justice system. It’s just that there *was* no justice system. All the same, a little bell went off in my head years later when I was watching the film Shawshank Redemption and the naive protagonist asks the seasoned prisoner Red if the gang of prison rapists are homosexual. Red says, “No, they’d have to be human first.”

    The guy who attacked me was not gay. He’d have had to be human first and he was not. He was what I call an “abuso-sexual”– a distinct criminal category that the gay community at large wants no association with just like any other non-criminal collective.

    This was brought home to me again last year when my journalistic idol, a writer who’s been on the NY Times bestseller list three times over and has been a celebrated AIDS activist for more than 20 years, stayed at my house with his opera singer husband for a few days. Another young artist friend (cis guy) came to dinner with us and described how he’d hesitated to report sexual harassment by an older gay supervisor when working in a state sponsored arts program for children because the young artist recoiled from doing anything that might be perceived as “gay bashing.”
    At that point my writer friend and his husband flew into a semi-tirade, saying in effect, “WHY TF WOULDN’T YOU REPORT CRIMINAL HARASSMENT?? JUST BECAUSE THE GUY WAS GAY?? HE’S A F-ING ABUSER. WORKING WITH CHILDREN. YOU’RE A MANDATORY REPORTER, NOT THE PC CAPED CRUSADER.” Or something like that. They were both offended that this young guy was running his choice past two gay men as if all gay men would circle the wagons around a freak and put identity first.

    So, yeah. Abusers are abusers first. That trumps any other identifier. To quote a Taoist expression, “Never rob anyone of their consequences.”

    Cheaters are abusers. I’d even go so far as to say they’re typically “rapists by deception” because they phyically endanger while robbing sexual consent from victims.

    • I absolutely see it as rape by deception and I like the term abuseosexual. I think all cheaters get off on abuse to some degree, otherwise they could not bear to rob us of our consent.

    • Excellent points, Hell. I have always been struck by that line in Shawshank Redemption as well. I’m very sorry you had that experience earlier in life.

      I see what you’re saying about “abuso-sexualism.” But I want to suggest some nuance there. I don’t view my cheater as a rapist. It’s a different kind of abuse to physically restrain and harm someone, and I would imagine it’s a different process to work through that kind of trauma. My STBX has rarely lied to my face – she clearly tried to avoid doing so, even if her distinction proved to be largely arbitrary. Hers is a more passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, with lots of deceit by omission, and different forms of manipulation. I don’t think I would call her abuso-sexual; she doesn’t get off on the idea of hurting me or others, or of non-consensual sex. She just lacks adequate empathy for the other ways in which she abused me. And in the end, the yardstick always lay with me, not with her: as CL says, chumps must consider what is acceptable for us. I would hope that, for a lot of people, the level of acceptability would fall well short of “abuso-sexualism.”

      I think it’s important to make these distinctions precisely because our cheaters often can seem more like confused, sad sausages than rapists, and we want to lower, rather than raise, the evidentiary bar for chumps. We don’t have to conflate all forms of abuse to trust that they suck. Any red flag is one red flag too many.

      • Infidelity, especially serial, long term cheating that is under the radar, is not consensual. How is it not sexual abuse? Infidelity is accompanied by an abuse of power, the risk of STD’s, and extreme shame on the part of the victim. Being in an abusive relationship, even before I understood what was happening, negatively affected my sexuality in so many ways. My ex allowed me to perform sexual acts, be naked in front of him, express intimate desires, have unprotected sex, etc., all while he was also having sex and being intimate with other women. It is humiliating and sickening. Then when I learned of the betrayals, I felt incredibly violated, and I still do. especially when I look back at the pick-me dance phases, when I still didn’t know the half of things. I also felt angry that I’d neglected my own desires and allowed myself to feel less than a woman for years, all while my “partner” secretly watched tons of porn and had multiple affairs. I realize now that he even derived power from neglecting me and never complimenting me, feeding my well-founded insecurities about his love; this kept me small and kept me dancing.

        I do see your point, LezChump, and I have wondered about this myself quite a bit. I do not think I’ve been raped (although I can’t definitively say my ex is not a rapist, when I consider all he’s done to me and other women, while lying). I have also never been sexually assaulted, and I would never compare my experiences to those who have and cannot imagine the horror (although I’m sure many women on this site are also survivors of sexual violence – whether perpetrated by their cheaters or otherwise). However, I am still haunted, and I guess traumatized, by the physical and emotional violations that accompanied my ex’s cheating. I am almost certain this will follow me into my next relationship, for even the thought of physical intimacy terrifies me after all of this.

        • I agree with you that it is abuse: sexual, emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological. Hard to argue it is not sexual abuse when the innocent partner dies of AIDs, contracts a cancer-causing virus or is robbed of her fertility. Or is unable to be intimate with potential future partners due to an acquired medical or emotional condition. It needs to be recognized legally as abuse, and the betrayed spouse needs to be made as whole as possible and compensated with the lion’s share of marital assets.

      • Most rapes don’t involve physical violence or restraints; psychological and emotional coercion are enough. It is still rape.

  • Straight Spouse,

    You write, “I come from a very conservative, fundamentalist Christian background, where ‘Divorce is not an option.'”

    While I did not come from a fundamentalist Christian background, I did come from a conservative family and I went to a Christian college. I was the first person divorced in my family, so I know a bit about the anxiety that comes from seeming to give up on a marriage. In my own case, infidelity wasn’t involved. I was very young and I had married an abuser. But what you are experiencing is also a form of abuse.

    Divorce is an option, even in the Catholic Church, which makes it very difficult for those who end marriages. But all marriage requires both parties to enter a marriage in good faith, knowing the other partner and allowing the other partner to know them. You were denied this basic right of knowing your future husband’s sexual orientation. HE knew. You didn’t. That is itself is a form of fraud.

    I value faith and spirituality. But I hope we are moving past the point where human institutions can force people of faith to spend a whole lifetime in a sham marriage. It isn’t a sham because YOU weren’t committed. It’s a sham because you were lied to, abused, and used.

    If your husband is a decent man, he will sit down with you NOW and offer generous child support and give you full legal custody. You can work out visitation. At some point, your kids will learn that Dad is gay, but if he’s smart, he will do the “weekend dad” during daylight hours and take the kids out for dinner on Wednesday night until he gets his act together. If he’s not willing to offer you a generous settlement and the chance to keep the kids in a stable environment while he puts his life back together, get a tough-minded lawyer and let STBX know that if he wants to stay in the closet, he needs to do the right thing.

    Part of that is taking responsibility for the divorce and the deception he perpetrated on you. He needs to tell the kids the age-appropriate truth, that he promised to be faithful and broke his promise. No need to go any deeper than that. But he should not make you the bad guy here, the one breaking up the family.

    He may decide to stay in the closet. That’s his choice. But what you are about to find out is if he’s also monstrously selfish and cruel. Put him to the test. Tell him you need to divorce and put what you want out on the table and see what he does.

    • I agree with all of this, LaJ, except with the part about assuming that the husband knew he was gay when he married Straight Spouse. We don’t know what the husband knew at that time, and ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Maybe he suspected he was primarily attracted to me, but honestly believed he could make a straight marriage work. It’s quite likely he was disgusted by this aspect of himself and pushed it down as far as he could. So it’s not quite the same as intentionally perpetrating a fraud in marrying a woman. To my mind, the real abuse has taken place more recently, in his refusal to be honest in the last decade, and then DARVOing Straight Spouse.

      You and I have had this discussion before, LaJ, about the fact that most marriages begin so early in life, when most people (whether they’re queer or not!) are still just getting to know themselves. Since we all change throughout our lifetimes, ideally we should be communicating openly about those changes with our committed partners. The “fraud,” if you can call it that, is when people choose to deceive their spouses about things they know the spouse would want to know, whenever it rises to the level of consciousness.

      But that’s an ideal, and we can’t control other people. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, esp. when it comes to internalized homophobia. Once we learn some new truth about a committed partner, we need to be prepared to act on that knowledge, regardless of the partner’s stated intention or understanding. Genuinely confused people can wreak as much damage as professional hucksters can, if we let them. And chumps are already inclined to tie ourselves in knots to give our cheaters the benefit of the doubt. Far better to focus on what’s acceptable to us!

    • Just a quick Catholic comment: a spouse being gay is grounds for a Catholic annulment, even if the couple has had kids.

      And especially if there’s evidence that the gay spouse deliberately concealed their orientation. That’s rightly recognised as fraud.

      There’s no problem these days with Catholics divorcing (especially if there’s abuse). There’s always going to be a problem with them remarrying without an annulment.

  • Straight Spouse,

    Ten years of this??? No wonder you’re exhausted!

    This guy is a monster, and you’re no longer in a marriage but a hostage situation. He doesn’t care about your health, safety, or feelings. You need to get out of there.

    You made a promise before God to honor your vows, and HE broke them. Do you know what happens in business when someone breaks a contract? Somebody gets fired and/or sued.

    Don’t you think marriage vows are even more important than a business contract? Therefore the consequences need to be even more serious aka divorce.

    You didn’t break this marriage. YOU are not responsible for it failing. Your husband is. Any shame from God falls squarely on him. Don’t own his bad behavior.

    Get out of there before he steals more years of your life or gives you an STD or traumatizes you and your children any further.

    God is good and He wouldn’t demand you sacrifice your safety and happiness (or that of your children!) for an abuser.

    • Exactly! Those of us on the other side understand what a toll those 10 years have taken. We understand what it means to regret spending years of our lives trying to solve these unsolvable problems, when leaving was truly the only thing that can improve your life. I wish I could get those years back and could have gained a life sooner.

  • I read a blog where the person discussed the sticking point of whether someone was gay or not. He said that people shouldn’t quibble over the definition and get bogged down in that, instead describe the behaviour, men who have sex with other men. It was enlightening. Your husband seems to be a man who has sex with other men, and is that acceptable to you? Hugs, it’s hard when you feel like you have to be ‘the bad guy’ by blowing the current narrative to smithereens. Take care.

  • You have nothing to work with here in terms of continuing your marital relationship. That is over. You could choose to be one of those couples who “stay together for the kids but live separate lives outside the home.” But, that almost always ends in disaster and is inherently filled with more deceit and lies, specifically toward your kids. Lots of gaslighting down that road.

    Instead, you can choose to live an authentic life, filled with integrity, honesty, and positivity. To get there, you’ll need to navigate the waters of divorce…and they are tricky! But, it’s worth it. Not for nuthin, but imagine where you could be in your life if you had used all of that emotional energy you’ve spent on this issue on something else…like your career, or your kids education, or an exciting hobby. Basically, anything but playing cover up for Mr. Cheater man. Your life can and will get better, but you have to take the action to get yourself there.

  • StraightSpouseinNeed here!! I wanted to say thank you so much for posting my letter! And wow!! Thank you so much for everyone’s comments! I am trying to read them all.
    This is such a crazy place to find myself in… and I am trying not to die. Or kill him either. ????
    I don’t know how to move, not yet. All my options feel like a cliff I need to jump off of… and they will all kill me.

    • I would stop exploring all of your options and just work on acceptance of the one option that ends your relationship with this guy. Everyday, wake up and make it your practice to accept that your marriage is over and it’s time to formally end it because that is the only fruitful path forward for you and your yours kids. It’s the only functional answer. Repeat this mantra to yourself throughout the day “I must end my marriage, I’m being abused and used, my children deserve a better life. I deserve to be loved and cherished.” Again and again and again. And, keep tuning in here. We’ll set you straight. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt like we were gonna die. And, yet, we’re still here.

      I’m four years out from ending my marriage to a cheater, and I’m in the best part of my life. Everything feels so much lighter and more carefree. My daughter is doing great too. She’s thriving. I’m with a loving and loyal parter who adores me. I took all that energy that I was putting into my troubled ex and toxic marriage and went to law school then became a lawyer. Life is fantastic. It’s worth going through hell to get here. I promise.

    • SS, I just want you to know I’m in the same glittery boat and my discovery was 8 years ago. Lord, so many gut wrenching gymnastics and continued lies in those 8 years.

      We can do this. We can leave.

    • Straight Spouse,

      For whatever this is worth: I’m a bisexual woman telling you don’t get bogged down in whatever your husband tells you about his sexuality. Whether he identifies as gay or bi is irrelevant. Whether he’s struggling with his sexual orientation is irrelevant. Whether he has internalized homophobia is irrelevant.

      He broke your vows! He’s abusing you and your children! It’s a dealbreaker. Period.

      I feel for people struggling with their sexual identity, but my sympathy ends when they break vows and abuse loved ones.

      At the end of the day, he is entitled and a liar. Don’t waste more of your time trying to figure him out either. It’s energy down a black hole that you will never get back. It’s not your job to tolerate someone’s “confusion” (let’s be honest, he knows EXACTLY what he’s doing).

  • Wow, talk about gaslighting.
    You’re being used and abused.
    And your children are too.

    You know the truth.
    Now, act on it.

  • My ex FW is the same as everyone else on here….selfish and doesn’t have a bit of concern for anyone but himself.

    I will say that the longer you stay “for the kids”, the more damage that is done to them. Eventually, they start to empathize with the abuser and you lose them. Sometimes for good. One of my kids is doing drugs and not in a great place. Wish I would have left when they were babies, even though it would have been horribly hard.

    This man is a complete creep. He knows what he is doing is wrong, and using you for “his cover” is complete and utter evil. You deserve to go out there and meet a really godly man who will love you for the wonderful person you are, not abuse you, lie to you, and basically sacrifice you on the altar of his image.

    Good luck and big hugs….you can and will do this, and come out in a better place. Keep coming back….

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